I’d rather be reading

She-read-books-as-one-would

Happy World Book Day!

If you’ve visited this place before then you know I’m a big fan of reading. (See here, here, here and here. Oh, and once again here.) One thing I love about World Book Day (besides the fact that a holiday celebrating books exists) is its  focus on young, budding bookworms and reading in school. Whether you’re a 35-year-old bibliophile or a 13-year-old one, chances are you developed your love of reading as a kid. (Check out these adorable kiddos who celebrated today by dressing up as their favorite characters from books.) One teacher in particular influenced my love of reading.

Her name was Mrs. McDorman, a tiny, older woman who had a big reputation as a  hard ass. When I was placed in her third-grade class way back in 1997, I was a bit intimidated by what I had heard in the hallways about her.  She was in fact a no-nonsense old broad, but she remains one of my favorite teachers. Third grade was the year I discovered the American Girl books. When Mrs. McDorman noticed that I was whipping through an American Girl book every two days, she suggested to my mom I try something more difficult. She went a step further and recommended I read the Little House books.

So I started reading Little House In The Big Woods, and—just like Mrs. McDorman predicted—I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her childhood tales. Before that, I had always enjoyed reading, but the Little House books opened up a new world to me. It was then I realized, “Whoa. There are so many books in the world for me to read.” Books beyond the shelves in Mrs. McDorman’s room—even beyond the (what seemed massive at the time but was fairly average size) school library.

In honor of World Book Day and little girls who dress up like Hermione Granger and school libraries and, of course, Mrs. McDorman, here’s a list of my favorite books. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these are the ones that have continued to stick with me.

There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island. —How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

  1. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  3. I’m With The Band by Pamela Des Barres
  4. My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares
  5. The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  8. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
  9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  10. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  11. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
  12. Columbine by Dave Cullen
  13. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  14. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  15. Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  16. Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  18. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
  19. Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey
  20. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  21. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene
  22. Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  23. The Color Of Water by James McBride
  24. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  25. John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman
  26. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  27. How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
  28. Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
  29. Blessings by Anna Quindlen
  30. Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
  31. Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quindlen
  32. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  33. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  34. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  35. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  36. A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  37. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  38. Night by Elie Wiesel
  39. Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  40. The Book Thief Markus Zusak

#bmocooks

bmocooks collageWhenever I’m feeling a mad case of writer’s block and have convinced myself there’s nothing left in this world for me to possibly write about, I inevitably end up thinking, “I should have started a cooking blog.”

If you’ve ever moseyed over to the Blog Crushes page on this site, then you already know that when it comes to blogs, I tend to play favorites, and my favorite favorites are those revolving around all things food. The fact that there are people who get to combine writing with their love of feeding people is totally mind-boggling to a food-/word-loving gal like myself. Often times, whenever I read a new blog post from one of them, I get this crazy notion that I could totally turn my kitchen into an office and churn out drool-worthy blog posts several times a week.

But then reality strikes, and I remember that these badass women didn’t become food blogger celebs overnight. They worked their asses off, quit their day jobs, mastered Photoshop and the intricate workings of their DSLR cameras and learned how to run a business. They’re the kind of people who when they have a disastrous kitchen fail, don’t give up. They dust the flour off themselves and start over, creating an even more amazing dish.

I’ll never be a food blogger celebrity for a few reasons: 1) I’d rather follow a recipe than create/adapt my own; 2) I don’t know what half the settings on my Nikon D40 do; and 3) Although the idea of having one set topic to write about seems appealing at times (i.e. during a mad case of writer’s block), I know that my blog is the one place in my life where I don’t want to limit myself.

Since I can’t be a badass food blogger, I’ve decided to be a badass food Instagrammer. (That’s a word, right?) As someone who loves cooking and taking pictures of what I cook, sharing my kitchen concoctions on Instagram was a no-brainer. When I realized that the majority of the photos I was posting were food-related though, I knew I needed a way to keep track of them. Enter #bmocooks. It acts as a record of what’s coming out of my kitchen and it keeps my friends salivating and wondering when I’ll invite them over for dinner. (I tell myself that if I keep feeding my friends awesome food, they’ll never want to leave me.)

My college friends have been calling me B.Mo since our first year. When my freshman roommate got her housing assignment a few months before school started, her brother looked at the paper, saw my name and said, “Hmm, Brittany Moseley. B.Mo.” It didn’t take long for my roomie and I too become best friends and for the new nickname to stick.

If you’d like to see what dishes I’m churning out, follow me on Instagram @brittany_nm and check out #bmocooks.

If you’re looking for some more kitchen inspiration, might I recommend these cookbooks from some of my favorite food bloggers?

The write inspiration

snoopy-right-wordsLet’s talk about writing. And inspiration. And goals.

After looking through the past seven years of This Is Fact Not Fiction (and cringing at some of my earliest posts), I realized that although each year has been better than the last—as far as page views, frequency/quality of posts—there’s still much more I can do.

I’ll never be the blogger who is able to churn out a post every other day. I like my posts a bit meatier. The kind that makes you go, “Let’s settle on in, because this is going to be a reader.” When I started this blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t just write to fill space. I’d only write when I had something to say. And while I still stand by that, I realize I’ve used that as an excuse to slack off at times. I think there’s a happy medium between having a thorough plan, complete with bullet points and a bibliography, before you sit down to write and going in completely blind,  Hunter S. Thompson-style with nothing but your wits.  I’m aiming for that nice, cozy middle ground this year. If I don’t have something interesting to say then I’ll just have to look a little harder until I find it. My blogging goal for 2015 is to write at least twice a month. If I have a plan, great, but if I decide to throw that plan out and see where the keyboard takes me, that’s okay too.

All my planning for a blogging-filled 2015 got me thinking a lot about what inspires me to write. Now that I’m back in the full swing of job applications and interviews, I’ve been hit with several variation on the following question: Why do I like to write? Do doctors and lawyers and cowboys get this question? If they do, I imagine it’s an easy one to answer. “I want to save lives” or “I think everyone deserves a fair trial” or “I look really good on a horse.” But journalists? To say, “I write because I like to” sounds a bit simplistic and selfish. But it’s the truth. Sure there are other reasons I like it (a love for storytelling, the power of words, etc.) but at the end of the day I just really like writing. Even with all the ups and downs that come with my career path, I still can’t imagine doing anything else.

To get me motivated to blog my heart out—and to offer some inspiration to other writers who struggle with summarizing why they love what they do—here are a few quotes from some people who knew a thing or two about writing. Because when you’re at a loss for words, a good Hemingway quote can be a lifesaver.

“That is part of the beauty of literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.” –Anne Frank

“I seem to live while I write—it is life, for me.” –Elizabeth Barrett

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.” –Tom Stoppard

“Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.'” –Jef Mallett

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” –Ernest Hemingway

“As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘You are nothing,’ I will be a writer.” –Hunter S. Thompson

My favorite albums of 2014

favorite-albums-2014-collage

Because there aren’t enough “best of” end-of-year lists out there, I figured I’d throw my hat in the clickbait ring with my favorite albums of 2014. Originally I planned to limit the list to 10 albums. People like that number. It feels safe and warm and cozy. But then I thought, “10 isn’t a lot. Especially with all the music I added to my iTunes this year.” (106 albums, EPs and splits to be exact.) So I’m going with 15 albums. Cause punk. Cause anarchy.

Note: These aren’t ranked, just listed alphabetically. It was hard enough picking only 15.

1. Most influential album of the year
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
A while ago I wrote a blog post the day Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender. Fast forward two years and she’s taken the experience and created one of the best albums of the year, and easily the most important album Against Me! have made.

2. The album that makes me wish AIM still existed so I could make 10 away messages that correspond to each of its songs
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
Chances are you listened to Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin in high school. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard from Andrew McMahon, pick up his debut solo album. It will remind you why you fell in love with his songwriting all those years ago.

3. The best pop album made by a couple of punks
Antarctigo Vespucci – Soulmate Stuff
Once upon a time, Chris Farren (Fake Problems) and Jeff Rosenstock (ex-Bomb The Music Industry!) got together, became BFFs and wrote seven killer pop songs. Good dudes making good shit. The end. 

4. The album I never expected to like
Beartooth – Disgusting
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait… Beartooth. Isn’t that the new band from Caleb Shomo, former king of crabcore/Attack Attack! vocalist?” It is indeed, but no crabs were harmed in the making of Beartooth’s debut album. On Disgusting, Shomo took all the bits and pieces of metalcore and washed out all the bullshit that makes people roll their eyes at the word “metalcore,” leaving listeners with an album that’s heavy, catchy and at times inspiring. Side effects include: Sudden desire to go to the gym and get your swole on.

5. One of many awesome 2014 releases from Tiny Engines
Cayetana – Nervous Like Me
Tiny Engines is the little record label that could. This year they released a zillion awesome albums. (I rounded up.) Philly band Cayetana’s debut album, Nervous Like Me, is on that roster of awesome (along with Somos, Dikembe, etc.). Listen to it, become totally smitten with lead singer Augusta Koch and her tales of adorable awkwardness then give it to your girlfriends—or boyfriends! We’re all-inclusive here.

6. Best pop-punk album for people who don’t like pop-punk
Chumped – Teenage Retirement
I love a good old pop-punk jam about hanging with my friends, hating my hometown and listening to Saves The Day as much as the next person, but change can be good. I adore Chumped’s 2013 self-titled EP, but their debut full-length blows it out of the water. There’s a reason Teenage Retirement is turning up on everyone’s best albums of 2014 list.

7. The sophomore album that didn’t disappoint
Have Mercy – A Place Of Our Own
Go ahead and keep talking about the “emo revival.” While you’re doing that, I’ll be over here listening to Have Mercy’s latest album on repeat.

8. Another phenomenal release from Tiny Engines
The Hotelier – Home Like Noplace Is There
Tell you what: Just go to tinyengines.limitedrun.com and listen to everything in the label’s catalog. But only after you finish reading this list.

9. Best album to definitely not under no circumstances stage dive to
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
Whether or not you agree with Joyce Manor’s views on stage-diving, there’s no denying this album is 19 minutes of fun punk sing-alongs. (Just go with it.)

10. Best album by a band that successfully changed their sound
La Dispute – Rooms Of The House
Granted, La Dispute didn’t change their sound so much as tone it down. As someone who was quite of fan of frontman Jordan Dreyer’s pained, ragged vocals, it took me a little time to get used to his quieter side on Rooms Of The House. After several listens though, I soon realized Dreyer’s voice may be subdued but the passion behind it isn’t.

11. Best album by a band that everyone will be talking about two years from now
Marmozets – The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets
Marmozets remind me a lot of Paramore, and not just because they both have female singers. It would come as absolutely no surprise to me if in the year of our lord 2016 everyone is talking about this band. Just remember: You heard about them here first.

12. Best album by a band whose lead singer is the musical son of music’s great frontmen
Plague Vendor – Free To Eat
I have such a major crush on this band. Frontman Brandon Blaine sashays around the stage like a young Mick Jagger/James Brown/Iggy Pop—and he’s got the chops to back up the swagger. His fellow band members  weild their instruments with just as much skill, melding punk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll into a sound that’s unique, refreshing and a hell of a lot of fun.

13. Best album by my favorite band
Say Anything – Hebrews
Time to come clean: In 2012 I did a list of my favorite albums of the year. One of them was Say Anything’s Anarchy, My Dear. Truth be told, it wasn’t one of my favorites of the year. I just couldn’t bring myself to make a list and not include my favorite band. Two years later, I can say with 100-percent honesty that Hebrews is indeed one of my favorite albums of the year.

14. Best album to silently weep/sing loudly to in your car
This Wild Life – Clouded
It reminds me of being 15 years old and totally in love with the way Chris Carrabba sang. *swoon*

15. Best album by my favorite new band
Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living
I still remember the first time I heard Tiny Moving Parts. It only took two lines before I said, “I loveeee this. It reminds me of Say Anything and La Dispute.” I also remember my friend replying (with a big dose of snark), “This is what I imagine you listening to while you’re in your bathtub staring at a poster of Ryan Gosling.” Maybe…. maybe….

I miss Mondays

It’s Monday. The time is 12:09 a.m. By now, most people in my time zone are in bed, gearing up for another work week. Tomorrow they’ll probably post some Facebook or Twitter status about how awful Mondays are. Something like, “I need a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus to get through today!” Maybe they’ll even post a photo of a sad-looking animal with the phrase “UGH. MONDAYS.” in bold letters across the top. I won’t be doing either of those. For the past three months, my Mondays haven’t been any different than my Fridays or Sundays or Wednesdays. They all blur together when you’re stuck at home scouring the internet for job listings.

I miss Mondays.

I miss getting up (after hitting my alarm clock one too many times), fixing coffee and listening to CNN in the background as I get ready. I miss getting in my car and having somewhere to go, having work to do.

I miss work.

I’ve never been one who’s excelled at sitting still. When you’ve been clinically diagnosed as OCD and self-diagnosed as type A, you tend to do your best work when you’re in a constant state of motion.

I miss that state.

As I was washing dishes tonight, I realized that tomorrow all my friends will go back to their normal grind, and I’ll still be here, probably in the same clothes with the same unwashed hair. And I felt a lump forming in my throat.

This isn’t my first time being unemployed. After college I spent one year and three months living at home applying for every journalism job in the continental U.S. Although it was 50 shades of terrible, I could rest a little easier knowing I wasn’t alone. I had graduated in 2010, the class of future unemployed workers. But eventually I did find a full-time job. And then I found a better full-time job—my dream job. And then I lost that dream job.

When I moved back home after college, right around the one-year mark, I began to seriously consider a new career path. I was ready to break up with journalism. Hell, I even blogged about it. Of course, it wasn’t long before we were back together. I’m not breaking up with journalism again. This time it feels like it’s breaking up with me. (This is turning into the makings of a great/terrible emo song.) Every time my friends ask me how the job search is going or if I have any leads, I want to crawl across the table and shake them. Leads? That implies that there are more than five journalism jobs available in Northeast Ohio at any given moment, let alone jobs I’m qualified for. I know limiting my search to Cleveland isn’t helping my odds, but I’m not ready to leave this city. I feel like I just got settled. And I like it here, quite a bit.

So what do I do?

If you figure it out, please let me a comment below. I’m not ready to give up on journalism or Cleveland. So I suppose I’ll keep freelancing and applying for jobs and discovering new interests and—with a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus—I’ll eventually make it out on the other side a bit wiser (and a bit more bitter, if we’re being honest).

In defense of introverts

introvert textLast week, in an attempt to keep me reading and clicking and clicking and reading until I looked at the clock and realize 30 minutes have passed, BuzzFeed posted a list of 21 Texts Every Introvert Has Sent. As the dictionary definition of an introvert, I found this list all too relatable and can attest that I’ve sent all these text several times.

But after I got a good laugh out of the list, I started to think about my own introverted tendencies and the bad rap us quiet types tend to get. I’ve been shy since I was young. (Except in school. That was the one place where I loved to shine. The only thing strong enough to take on my shyness is my love of learning and type A overachiever personality. It’s the same reason I chose journalism as a career. I love finding and telling stories to strangers. As long as it’s not my story we’re talking about.) When company would come over to our house, I would stay in my room for as long as possible, mentally preparing myself to go downstairs and face people—usually people I was related to.  In one of my lesser moments I hid in the closet for an embarrassingly long time. If you go through the photo albums from my pre-kindergarten days, you might think I was a perpetually grumpy kid. I never smiled if I was forced to pose in a picture. I would mash my lips together and suck them in, like I had a secret I physically had to work to keep. The secret was that I was scared of smiling, of being exposed.

Even now I still tense up when strangers talk to me. Whenever someone gets in the elevator with me, I let out an inner groan because I know the person will try to make conversation, and I’ll have to say something. And if my fellow elevator companion doesn’t say anything, I spend the whole ride worrying that he or she will. This probably makes me sound like the most awkward social turtle, but like most things, there’s a chance I’m being too hard on myself. If someone says “hi” on the street or chats about the weather in the elevator, I’ll say “hi” back or offer some lame comment like “It’s so nice out!” but I’ll never speak first or ask follow-up questions or try to engage with you beyond what’s socially required of me. I’m no longer hiding in closets, but I will never excel at small talk or flirting or socializing. Once, in a fit of rare confidence, I RSVP’d yes to a Meetup of twentysomething women living in my area. But the day of the event I panicked at the thought of being in a room with 15 strangers who were going to want to talk to me. I didn’t go.

Once I become friends with someone and we’ve gotten to the point where we’re comfortable saying whatever to each other, I usually hear this: “I thought you were kind of cold or above everything at first, but now that I know you, I see it’s not true.” That’s the tough part about being a grown-up shy kid. What once came across as cute is now seen as standoffish. When I hear this, I’m not offended. (Okay, maybe I am a little. Us introverts are human after all.) I mostly felt surprised that someone even noticed me enough to make a critique of my character. That’s the thing about introverts: We spend most of our time trying to go unnoticed.

So what is the point of this post about my insecurities? Consider it a PSA for you bubbly extroverts. Cut us introverts some slack now and then. We know we can come across as unfriendly, but we really think you’re great and are hoping some of your charisma rubs off on us. Sometimes we do prefer to just be alone. Don’t take it as an insult. We still think you’re great, but it’s just something we have to do for us. Sometimes we like being quiet. It doesn’t mean were mad. (Again, we think you’re great.) It takes a while to crack through to us, but once you do, I promise it’s worth it.

Sunday.

Autumn is officially in full swing, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve picked my pumpkins, drank my apple cider and eaten my share of pumpkin doughnuts. I hope your Sunday is filled with all kinds of fall festivities.

Here are a few things that I’ve been reading, watching and listening to recently.

  • Last night I finished reading I Am Malala. Talk about an inspiring book. The story of 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who just received the Nobel Peace Prize, is one everybody should read. As someone who loved school and still loves learning, I cannot imagine my right to education being taken away from me.
  • I started watching The West Wing last month, and I am officially obsessed. I love Aaron Sorkin’s other show, The Newsroom, but unfortunately its upcoming season will be its last. Thank goodness I’ve got six more seasons of The West Wing to watch.
  • When I’m not listening to NPR’s addicting new podcast Serial, I’m playing new albums from the Marmozets, Have Mercy and the Smith Street Band. The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets is already out, and Have Mercy and the Smith Street Band will have new records out this month. I’ve already heard them (the perks of being a music writer), and trust me when I say you’re going to love them. Unless you don’t love good music. Then you’ll hate them.

In other news….

  • I want the job of running Barbie’s Instagram.
  • In case you’ve been living under a giant boulder that has no wi-fi signal, Taylor Swift released a new song this past week called “Out Of The Woods.” I really like it, maybe even more than “Shake It Off.” I’m excited to hear all of 1989.
  • Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for speaking out on the massive leak of celebrities’ nude photos: “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.” Read more here or pick up the new issue of Vanity Fair.
  • Let’s end things on a positive note, shall we? Specifically, this 10-year-old girl who was SUPER EXCITED to meet Hillary Clinton. Can’t say I would have acted any differently.