Sunday Lowdown #204


It’s 9:30PM on New Year’s Eve as I write this Sunday Lowdown. I always want to tell people that I’m dressed in a cute, sparkly outfit, blowing on a noise maker, just having the time of my life. But let’s be honest, that hasn’t happened since I spent New Year’s Eve in a frat house in 2005. Instead, I’m closing out 2022 like a droopy plant in need of water, wearing sweatpants, and wondering who these famous (this is what I am told, but I recognize nary a singer) musicians celebrating on TV are, and why I don’t understand contemporary celebrity fashion. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not in my early 20’s anymore, because it looks awfully silly.

But, I’m not Droopy Plant because I’m a curmudgeon. Nay, the spouse and I have been travelling all week, so I’m feeling a little peaked. We stayed at Biscuit’s house until Wednesday and then drove home. Thankfully, the weather had warmed just the tiniest bit, making freeway travel a breeze. Still, it’s over three hours in a car. I listened to a few more A Lot Like Christmas stories by Connie Willis and am still enjoying her style.

We spent one day at home, not even bothering to remove our toothbrushes from the carrying cases because on Friday we left to visit Cupcakes & Machetes and Ignited Moth. At this point, the weather was over 50, meaning we left in hoodies and navigated through the rain.

Ignited Moth, Me, Cupcakes & Machetes

We three bloggers brought the spouses, too, who are sitting across from us. There are no more photos from this night, and that’s probably to protect the innocent after some of the stories and actions that went down. I had a great time and spent much of it laughing heartily. And also doing this new thing that people my age are doing: comparing notes on which age- or mental health-related issues we have. Who takes pills? Which ones?! Do they work? Etc. Honestly, it’s interesting that people with mental-health issues gravitate toward one another, because then when you look around, what you’re experiencing seems very, very normal, e.g. you assume everyone you know has problems getting to work or school in the morning because they have anxiety-induced intestinal distress and thus plan their routes around available bathrooms.

Nick and I ended up getting to bed around 2:00AM and decided to wake up no later than 8:00 so we could get together with the bloggers for coffee and get the most mileage out of our nearly three-hour journey to meet them. I’m not sure how you guys function, but I cannot do a whole day with six hours of sleep, and thus I took an evening nap, which is always a mistake unless you are Biscuit. And here we are, Droopy Plant mode, with me writing my Sunday Lowdown a few hours before 2023.

Photo by Brett Sayles on


I got my stats up for the year! There’s part of me that wonders what these stats all mean. Do they mean anything? Do they actually inform me, or my readers, of what my year was actually like? Interestingly, I’m not sure! Maybe the section about genres and how my reading interests change year to year? As Laila @ Big Reading Life pointed out, she never knows what I’m going to read because my selections are diverse, and that was something I hadn’t realized about myself.

I know most of us look at whether we read men or women, authors from our own countries or abroad, and if we picked up books by white authors or the minority populations from our area. But is there information that you are more interested in personally? I’m considering tracking these stats:

  • The main emotion I felt when I finished the book.
  • If I read the book alone or with someone else.
  • Would I want to own a copy of that book (not saying I would buy it, but would it make me happy to own it).
  • Is this a book I would recommend later, after my review, meaning I’m still thinking about it?
  • The job the main character had (we in the U.S. are obsessed with “What do you do?”)

Do you have other information you are interested in?


Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts is likely the author’s most famous book because it was made into a movie in 2000 with Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, and Sally Field. I fell into Letts’s books when I noticed a cool title at a used bookstore — The Honk and Holler Opening Soon — and have been reading her ever since. The novels come off as too convenient, too sweet, and then punch you in the face with tragic events, death, racism, etc. It’s an odd balance for an author to achieve. Review Wednesday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 182
Owned Books on TBR Today: 182

I added The Green Books, which are student texts for learning ASL.


  1. 7pm here, you’ll be up soon. Hope you feel a bit rested. Milly and I thought about going out, maybe walk down to the river to see the early fireworks, but, nah. A quiche, a cryptic, a bottle of wine and I went off home. Saw the fireworks from the bridge as I crossed the river. Ok-ish. And was soon asleep. I can’t remember the last time I stayed up till midnight, maybe 1988 – our “bi-centennial” year, 200 years since the English moved their camp from Botany Bay to Sydney Harbour and began the colony.
    Just four days until you start at your new college. I look forward to next week’s Lowdown.


    • I must confess I’m pretty nervous about the new semester. I’m not even technically registered yet, as I am waiting for my advisor to return from the long holiday break. I’m not sure how it is in your area, but here, if a holiday is on Saturday or Sunday, the vacation day gets bumped to Friday or Monday. Thus, for us, a lot of folks had off Friday-Monday for Christmas and the same for the New Year.


    • Don’t worry, we Australians never pass up the opportunity to take a public holiday/long weekend – and a couple of sickies to join them up if needed. The big problem with truck driving was that public holidays were “rolled up” – that is we were paid extra in lieu so that we would work straight through. I think the rate now is somewhere over $50/hour x 60-70 hours/week, so it was worthwhile. And we still got double time xmas and easter anyway.


      • That’s what Biscuit did, add three vacation days to make it all stretch together. Most of us Americans get fidgety if we have too many days off in a row. We’re not used to it.

        I hope you made some sweet cash over the break, then, and had just enough down time to remember why you work.


  2. 6 am here. Typically we are out on New Year’s Eve. My exciting day started with fasting labs ordered by my Doctor with breakfast in a restaurant shortly thereafter. Then we went for a car ride for the rest of the day. When we go for a drive I read. Right now I’m reading Lisa Gardner’s Before She disappeared and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s the Purple Hibiscus. We were just not feeling in the party mood. The smooch and I were tucked in by 10pm! Haha! Happy New Year!


    • I still can’t believe Greg Gross didn’t have a random party or invite you out, but then we talked about how he is a grandpa now. I can’t picture him slowing down, but I dunno… He missed out on partying.


  3. Happy New Year Melanie … love that pic of you with lgnited Moth and Cupcakes … I thought it was only oldies who talk about (and are told not to) health. I disagree about the telling not to, I think we shouldn’t whinge but discussing health issues among your peers can be informative, helpful and sometimes reassuring. It’s not that you wish your issues on others but that knowing others share them does make you feel that you are not alone.

    This, “wondering who these famous (this is what I am told, but I recognize nary a singer) musicians celebrating on TV are” made me laugh because we put on the NYE show here, and kept saying “who’s that?” However, we did stay up, we went to the rooftop of the apartment complex we are at in Melbourne at 9pm – with a glass of sparking – and watched the sunset and met some people like us. We returned just before midnight, with another glass, and met the same people (and others) and watched the fireworks from afar. It was a pleasant evening – maybe 68°F (to you) – and we enjoyed the lighthearted fun. We usually stay up – with friends or just watching the fireworks on TV. But then, we rarely go to bed before midnight anyhow so it’s not a challenge.

    Re stats, sorry but I don’t have any ideas, except that emotions might be useful if you could find enough different ones to make it interesting. It’s emotions, really, that I remember most from books. Not plots, for example, or endings.


    • I’m surprised you are up so late every day! I think time creeps away from Nick and me on a regular weekday, so that’s followed by racing around to accomplish all the night things before bedtime with the hopes of getting in at least 8 hours of good rest.


      • I seem incapable of getting 8 good hours … if I get 5 or so I’m usually fine. It occasionally catches up with me but only a couple of times a year. Not sure if it’s good for me given all the “rules” about sleep and health but so far so good!


  4. Happy New Year! I was in bed and asleep by 9:30 so you were up much later than I was 😀 I am glad you had such a great blogger meet up, what fun! Super cute picture too. How much of a break do you get before your classes start up again? However long it is, I hope you get to relax and enjoy it!


    • Total, I have met three bloggers in person now. During 2020, I met several more on video chat, but those folks have since vanished on me, as many bloggers tend to do.

      The first day of school is January 5th, so not much longer now! I am glad; I do not enjoy long breaks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy new year! I’m glad you got to visit some other bloggers – looks like a fun time. This New Year’s Eve I actually DID put on a sparkly dress and go to a party. For the first time since 2010, I think. It was really fun but I am paying for it a bit today with a bad headache. Not a hangover, just lack of sleep and too much rich food over the past week! So I’m having my sweatpants time tonight!


    • Yeah, our tummies were dicey for a few days from so much travel and eating on the road. It’s not something I prefer but it also could not be avoided. Please share a sparkly dress picture in the future, if you have one!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I neglected to get a picture of myself but I will share one of the girls who dressed up for their night at the grandparents!

        My stomach is excited to get back to some regular eating this week, I think. I could do with another week of holiday, just being at home this time.


  6. I’d be interested in main character jobs! I feel like characters in fiction always have the same few jobs (teacher, lawyer, journalist, PR) or have a special literary fiction job that has some thematic resonance (professor of the economics of happiness, person finding lost words for the dictionary, etc 🙄) I love books that feature unusual jobs that aren’t the silly lit fic kind.


    • Noted! I’ll add a category on my spreadsheet right now. Thanks for your input, Laura. I feel like a lot of books I read have people doing glamorous jobs we all would like to have, but that no one achieves in real life. You know, like columnist in New York City or editor at a publisher, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy New Year! We were all awake at my house when midnight rolled around but my son was watching a YouTuber livestream and I had on the network stuff and we said Yay! And then we turned it off and went to bed. Not too eventful, lol. NYE has never been a big deal for me, even when i was young and partied.

    I’m glad you got to have a fun blogger meetup! That makes me happy.


  8. Happy new year! I’m normally at a friend’s for New Year’s Eve – not for a big party, I think the most we ever had was about ten. Last year it was just three of us, the same two people I went to Peru with earlier this year. The friend who organises it was in Mexico over Christmas and New Year, though, and I couldn’t be bothered to organise anything else. I spent most of NYE sewing a new top, and then went to bed at around 2300. I didn’t sleep because there were fireworks from 1800 right through until about 0130! So I had my droopy houseplant time the next day. And today I am back at work, feeling like I actually had a proper rest over the festive period, which is nice.

    It’s nice that you got to visit some other bloggers! Most of my blogging friends are in other countries so I’ve never really done that, but it looks like a lot of fun.


    • Ha, ten people sounds like a large party to me, though that is through an introvert’s eyes.

      I hadn’t realized your crafty in the ways of sewing. I keep looking at a pair of second-hand jeans I bought cheaply that need hemming, wondering if I can find some trick on YouTube to fix them. Biscuit says just cut them, but I don’t know.

      Happy New Year to you, and best wishes in the spring semester!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not crafty in the ways of sewing yet – I’m currently trying to learn! I bought a second-hand sewing machine towards the end of the year and I’m starting at the beginning. The neckline on the top I made at the weekend is a mess, for instance. But I am learning a lot and slowly getting better! There are absolutely tonnes of sewing tutorials on YouTube so I’m sure you will be able to find something for your jeans.


  9. Getting dressed up for NYE is highly overrated. Dani and I were couch potatoes covered in dogs and it was great. We watched a werewolf movie that had us so torn. The werewolves, costumes and locations were great. The plot and dialogue were awful.
    We also power napped later that day after our ham hunt lol.
    We really had a great time with you guys! The boys were absolutely ridiculous together. Lol. I can’t wait to do it again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy New Year! It really was so awesome getting to meet you guys! ❤ And I love our silly photo we all took together. Definitely gonna have to hang out again. Maybe some time we could make the trek out with Mr. and Mrs. C&M to your neck of the woods. 🙂
    I really like the points you mentioned possibly keeping track of when reading this year and it makes me want to take the time to ponder those kinds of things too. Plus, they would make great discussion points when talking about the books you read for a Buddy Read with someone! 😀


  11. Oh wow the mention of the Billie Lett’s novel turned movie led me down a Youtube rabbit hole! Looks like a weird movie LOL

    I love your ideas re: new stats for the books you’ve read! very creative, and I’d be curious what the results are.

    If it makes you feel any better, as a fellow 37-year-old, I didn’t even make it to midnight on New Years, we were in bed by 11!


  12. Those would be interesting stats to record for sure! I went to bed even earlier than usual on NYE, I was just shattered! I was woken at 11.30 pm by fireworks but asleep again by midnight.

    I know I’ve read The Honk and Holler but before my blog. I liked it a lot, so must pick up more by Letts! Happy New Year!


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