Sunday Lowdown #172


Well, hello. This week has been full of ideas and realizations. I’ve applied for a few jobs and not even gotten an interview, so I’m stuck in this sad place where my resume makes me look overly-skilled, but my present status as a college student on summer break means I’m not applying for a full-time job. There are opportunities for students to do internships, but that’s not what I need, and some jobs even say they’re looking for undergrads. That’s not me, either. I feel like I need some cleats to get me across the land.

Resigning myself to not really fitting what the world is looking for, I decided to seek out volunteer opportunities. Okay, that sounds dreary — “resigning” — but it’s how I feel. I had a long conversation with a person who has a PhD and used teach, like me, who doesn’t have a full-time job, and they mentioned that some of their academic friends leave their master’s degrees off their resumes because no one calls for interviews. What we are on paper doesn’t always fit with what we’re looking for at a certain point in our lives.

To reframe things, I need to remember that volunteering is not only an opportunity to do good in the community, I can also make connections, gain future references, and perhaps learn more about myself in the process. I signed up with my local library to volunteer at the Friends of the Library weekly book sale. The manager was truly nice and so grateful to have me. Although it stings because I’ve applied for many jobs at that library and mostly just been sent a “sorry, no” letter, I’m also happy to uplift this manager, who is new in her role and feeling a bit wobbly.

Then, I signed up to be a companion/office helper at a hospice place only half a mile from the new house. That manager was also incredibly pleased to have me, largely because most of her volunteers have graduated and moved back home out of state. My family has always supported hospice, we’ve used hospice, and now I’m volunteering at one. One element that applies to my ASL interpreting program is that I will continue to practice my confidentiality and ethics skills.

Oh, and I joined two virtual horror movie clubs, one out of Ottawa and one in Alabama, for which we watch a movie on our own and then discuss it as a group. These are loads of fun and giving me such life right now. Plus, it’s fun to hear how both groups sound (literally) so different compared to my Midwest self. Lastly, I joined a horror book club, and the novel they have us reading, Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman, is riveting and terrifying. I think I’m figuring out what’s up with “those across the river,” and it’s something I’ve never read before!

You may be wondering, how does Melanie have all this time for reading and movies and volunteering. Just remember, that’s all I’m doing! I’m not a titan of doing. I put my bra on one boob at a time, like everyone else, and I have neither a job nor children. Plus, you all voiced that you’re more comfortable with two blog posts per week instead of three, so that leaves me time to read more books that don’t appear on Grab the Lapels.

Frog (toad?) in the landscaping in front of our house.


Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier certainly caught everyone’s attention, revealing to me just how much we all love pirates and du Maurier. OMG, WHY DO WE LOVE PIRATES??? Remember when real pirates from Somali were all over the news? Those pirates were not fun. And then that Tom Hanks movie with the pirates came out, the one based on a true story, and everyone was sad? What is wrong with us?? I know why we all love du Maurier. I even suffered through Joan Fontaine’s very “meh” autobiography — in which she barely writes about being in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca!!! — because I love du Maurier so much.


You’ll get an inside look and follow around a couple of interesting students at a Deaf school in New York when I share my thoughts about Train Go Sorry by Leah Hager Cohen. In case you haven’t noticed, when I’m interested in or passionate about something, I read about it until I can’t see straight. My hope is that you are noticing the differences in each nonfiction and fiction work I share by or about the D/deaf community. That you’re not having an “oh, this again” experience. If you’re not, let me know so I can do better.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 181
Owned Books on TBR Today: 181

Thanks to Karissa @ Karissa Reads Books for her recommendation!


  1. You are a hoot Melanie. You have such an upbeat way of describing things that are hard, I’m sorry about all those job applications that went nowhere. That much be so disheartening. I hope you find something soon, but good on you for volunteering. Maybe one of those might lead to a paid job. It can happen I know, because I’ve been able to empty the odd (as in occasional, not odd-odd) volunteer in my life. But, there’s no guarantee and I know you can’t always volunteer in the sort of place where you want to work.

    Re your virtual horror movie clubs, this reminds me of my son who is in a similar movie discussion group though they don’t focus on any particular genre. I’d like to say art-house but that sounds a bit hi-falutin and may not be quite right. I think some are art-house but I think the choices are eclectic. Anyhow, they do the same as you and I know my son gets a lot out of it. I’m thrilled that he does it. His is a group of mates who all know each other but live around the globe! Most in different parts of Australia, but there’s one in California, and maybe another in America or OS somewhere.

    And sorry, as you know, I don’t love pirates but I dit enjoy the discussion.

    Finally, I aim to do three posts a week, but I’ve done a few two-post weeks recently and the world didn’t crash down around me.

    Anyhow, keep well and good luck.


    • I’m trying very hard to keep whacking at the weeds in life and moving forward. I often get tripped up when I think that nothing I do would be possible without Nick and his job, and that’s a thought I shouldn’t have because it leads me down a scary mental rabbit hole. I’ve spent the last few days preparing for the volunteering: background checks, drug test, fingerprinted, TB test (now the draw blood, ack!).

      I know what art-house films are. It’s an acquired taste, but the folks who love them are completely devoted. I’m glad your son is also taking advantage of internet friendship. I can’t believe that before the pandemic we had all this technology sitting in front of us, and we failed to use it to widen our friend groups because we “have” to meet in person. There are so, so many reasons I do not want meet in groups in person, many having to do with accessibility, but also time spent driving and parking and being away from Nick, but also because online groups force you to use better manners. With Zoom, you can’t talk over top of each other because Zoom filters that out.


      • “I often get tripped up when I think that nothing I do would be possible without Nick and his job, and that’s a thought I shouldn’t have because it leads me down a scary mental rabbit hole” Don’t go down that rabbit hole Melanie. There’s nothing there worth seeing and I reckon Nick would say the same thing. A good partnership is just that, a partnership, which means everything brings different things to it, with those things usually changing at different times.

        Interesting comment about before the pandemic, because I discovered and made lasting internet friends long before the pandemic, indeed long before blogging, in the late 1990s through listservs. I learnt then, that online friendships are real and can be powerful. We were so lucky when the pandemic struck to have these forms of communication available to us. It was way less isolating than it might have been. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like without it, isn’t it?


        • You’re right; Nick does not want me to go down that rabbit hole. I need to think more about this. May is mental health awareness month, so no time like the present.

          Before the pandemic I had blog friends, and I also talked to people I knew in real life on a chat service called ICQ. However, the use of has really changed things for me, as it seems a lot of people are dedicated to making friends online without the expectation that they will go back to person when things feel safer. And I’m starting to think that if some of my groups dissolve or do decided to meet in person, I will start my own dang group!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. You have remarkable resilience Melanie to be able to take as many knocks as you have and to pick yourself back up again and take a different path. The volunteering idea is a great one – as you say, you are giving back to your community but at the same time you are getting out and meeting people. The social interaction is important.

    I know you have applied for tons of jobs – have you done any networking? It might get you over the problem of people reacting to what is on paper without getting to know what you are actually able to offer


    • My mom will tell me about when times were hard when she and my dad were first married and in their early twenties, but I am awfully worn down from living in my second once-in-a-lifetime recession and my once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and my second housing bubble.

      I like your idea about networking, but I’m not sure what all that would involve. Can you tell me more?


  3. I’m sorry about the job hunting trials, Melanie. That must be frustrating. But volunteering is so important and I bet you’ll come away with some good experiences. Good for you.

    Also good for you for making all this virtual connections! You’re such a social person. 😁

    I want to read The Sentence. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.


    • Yeah, Karissa and I talked about how Erdrich is always on my TBR, but I never get around to here because I re-read the synopsis and have doubts, but The Sentence, which Karissa recommended, sounds like a great place to start.

      Haha, I am a social person, even though I am an introvert. I think part of the “problem” is I always have something to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to hear that the job hunting is so frustrating – I hope that the volunteering at least brings you some enjoyable experiences, though.

    That image of Buttercup watching horror films made me laugh! I went to see the new Marvel film at the weekend, assuming that the “horror elements” would be a couple of jump scares and maybe a bit of gore, and discovered it was full of witchcraft, demon possession, and necromancy – it was only a 12A and even that level of horror was too much for me.


    • For some reason I picture you watching the new Downton Abbey movie before the Doctor one from the Marvel universe. There are so many Marvel movies, and they are all in the same universe, so if you don’t keep up with them, you miss details. I hate that! Maybe if each character had one movie, but these days they have about three apiece, plus the Avengers movies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t actually like Downton Abbey! I’ve never been able to get more than a few episodes in. It glamorises the class system too much for me, and I can’t stand how unpleasant everyone is to each other. I do like many of the Marvel films but I haven’t watched all of them – they work for me as big stupid action films and that’s all I want from them.


        • Ahahahahha, Lou that’s so funny about being big stupid action films! I went to a panel a few years ago that had a few comic book artists and writers. One guy talked about how the problem with superhero comics is that nothing is really at stake. Sure, they blew up the city, then they blew up the U.S., and now they’re headed for space, etc. etc. But at the end of the day, it’s all fixed up magically, so you don’t really worry. I hadn’t realized that was something that bothered me until he put it into words. And I know this sounds stupid, but I really hate how people in superhero movies do things humans can’t do. I get how silly that is — they’re superheroes for goodness sake — but it just makes me feel small, useless, and bad, I guess. I get the same feelings about romance movies, too. Even though I’m madly in love with my spouse, our lives still don’t look like the ones in rom-com films. And in the end I feel sad. I guess these are part of the reason why I like horror movies. Typically, the scenarios are so far-fetched from anything I would experience that I don’t put myself in any of the characters’ shoes.


  5. That is a toad, m’lady! He/she is super cute.
    You could also look at it like this, that new librarian may keep you in mind for future jobs because of how helpful you were as a volunteer. They now know you personally and know how kind and helpful you are. That will give you a leg up on the competition. 🙂
    Recently, I was going to apply to be the Shelter Assistant at a farm animal sanctuary. I really wanted it and I know the shelter director. However, the insurance wasn’t good and I’m old enough now that I can’t just run around without insurance anymore. Plus, Rob has enough health issues for the both of us. It really brought me down though. I really want out of my profession, but I’m stuck because I finally have good insurance. D:


    • I thought you guys got market insurance? Or did your boss finally cave in and realize you deserve your insurance? I know some people will take a job with no insurance that pays more and just get their own market rate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, we got it through work finally. Through market place the deductibles were $17,000 and you paid for everything until you hit that amount. That’s essentially catastrophic and not real insurance.


        • Good on your employer, though it’s been a hell of a journey. I mean, come on, dude. I’m hoping The Great Reshuffling made him realize he’s playing a risky game. I know when I was working at the theater that no one, not even the head boss guy, had insurance. The hope was to pay everyone a tiny bit more so they could get their own market place insurance. And then because this is America people do things like let the local dental students practice on them for a free or reduced teeth cleaning. OMG. That hurt my face to type that.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Ok very excited for you to read the Louise Erdrich book, I think I would like it too and I hope you do as well! I’m not surprised Karissa liked it.

    Also – volunteering is truly a fabulous idea, and I have no doubt it could lead to meaningful employment (should you want it to). What’s great about volunteering is that it gives you the room to truly discover what you like to do, and what you are good at. Finding the meeting point between those two things is really the key to happiness in this life, I feel so strongly about that. I’m always in awe of your ability to find things you enjoy and committ to them – the clubs, the volunteering, the schooling. It’s all good!


    • You know, you just made me realize why it would be a good idea for a person who just graduated high school to spend a year volunteering in all sorts of fields before going to college. I know studies show the gap year is a strong predictor of a student who will do much better than their peers, but it has to be a meaningful, well-spent gap year. Like, working as a waitress won’t teach you a ton about what you want to do in life, for example. You do a lot of volunteering, don’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I try to yes, I think that volunteering is one of life’s greatest hidden secrets. If done intentionally, it can bring so much joy to one’s life, and I’m sure as a person who volunteers yourself, you know exactly what i’m talking. It weaves you into your community the way nothing else does…


        • I haven’t quite volunteered much, but I’m working on it! Last time I volunteered it turned into a job. I wonder about that. Should we have to donate our time to be employable? I’m pro-volunteering, except I don’t get why we have such low wages and then I need to give away my time to get a job. I’m not saying that’s what is happening this summer, but I do hear about folks who have their job now because they volunteered first.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness, why do we love pirates?? My kids love pirates because they show up in books and movies etc and then Rose is asking me if pirates are real and I don’t want to explain the reality of modern day pirates to her!

    It sounds like you’re able to find some interesting things to do and be involved in. I hope the right job materializes for you!


  8. Sorry about the job stuff. But you have some interesting volunteering gigs that might lead to something down the road.

    All your horror stuff makes me laugh. I cannot watch or read horror. When I was a kid I could, even watched Amityville Horror while babysitting. But sometime around 19 or 20 it all started giving me nightmares so no more horror for me. Gothic is ok though, and psychological horror like Shirley Jackson is ok too. But people getting chopped up or possessed or chased, big nope.

    The Sentence! Such a good book! Plus it was fun to read a book that takes place where I live 🙂


    • I did think about how The Sentence is in Minnesota and wondered if you’d read it!

      I definitely had a long, drawn-out zombie dream last night, so I cannot fault you for wanting to avoid all that. At some point, I realized my brain gives me horror dreams whether I watch horror or not, so I might as well enjoy myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. lmao “I put my bra on one boob at a time, just like everyone else!” XD Do you watch Bob’s Burgers??
    Nice work with all the volunteering! I second what C&M said about the library gig too. Hopefully it can lead to wonderful new opportunities for you. ^_^


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