Back In the Game

I know I’m not alone when I say that the last couple of years have been a complete and utter cluster-cluck. The pandemic was hard enough with school going virtual, work shutting down for a couple of months, wondering if we were going to be unemployed and lose everything. We survived it, but 2020 decided to go down swinging.

A couple of days after Christmas, I took my husband to the emergency room for severe abdominal pain that had been building for weeks. His primary care doctor hadn’t come up with a correct diagnosis after multiple tests, and I was not going to wait anymore. I’d have taken him on Christmas except that it had snowed so much there was no way to get a car out or ambulance in due to the steep hills every direction, and it wasn’t possible for him to walk to the nearest cleared road to catch a ride from there. When I think about it at all, I can still feel the suffocating anxiety. How would I get him to the hospital? Would they be able to figure out what was wrong?

At the emergency room, the doctor said it sounded like classic gallbladder symptoms and sent him for a CT scan. Two hours later, he was in emergency surgery for a baseball-sized bowel obstruction. Six more hours passed alone in the surgical waiting room until I learned from a surgeon I’m fairly certain is still in middle school that the obstruction was a tumor, likely cancer. It amazes me the ease with which doctors can toss around words like “cancer” and “chemotherapy,” weightless as feathers instead of life-altering bricks raining from the sky. A biopsy later, and cancer was confirmed. We learned entirely new vocabulary. “Clean margins.” “5FU.” “Neuropathy.”

The following six months were lived in two-week increments. Chemo one week, recover the next, lather, rinse, repeat. The nice planner I bought for 2021 lay collecting dust on my dresser. Goals shifted from writing a couple thousand words a night to “get dinner on the table. Wash dishes. Did The Destroyer finish his homework?” Our lives were measured out in episodes of “The Office,” “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune.” Our social connections consisted of friends dropping off a meal the evening after treatment. We kept our heads down, and kept moving, one foot in front of the other.

Chemo ended a year ago. We began to make plans. Not big ones. We’re going to hike Gregory’s Bald, LeConte Trail, Charlie’s Bunyon. Next year. We’ll hike. We’ll get out and do it in 2022. Because we can. With this kind of cancer, if it doesn’t return in 2 years, it’s unlikely to ever come back again. We like those odds. 2023, we’re coming for you.

I don’t know when it happened, but one day I looked up and realized that we have moved on. One clear CT scan led to another, and then to another, and now we’re living our lives as though cancer never existed. It is a blip on a radar, a speck in the rear-view mirror. We adopted a dog-monster. Her name is Storm, and she has the energy of a caffeinated hurricane. I would never have considered adding chaos to the household if we were a cancer family, when we needed life to be as uncomplicated as possible.

We’ve hiked, too. Boy, have we hiked. We hit all three of our target trails within the span of a month, about 30 miles and God only knows how much elevation gain. On Gregory’s Bald, I kept thinking we would eventually run out of “up.” The Padawan even joined us for that one. We missed the peak of Flame Azalea season by about 10 days, but it was still worth it. We did it. We survived, and now we thrive.

Our next adventure is a trip to Peru to work on reforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. The Padawan is joining us for that one, too. Two weeks in the forest with no electricity or running water? Bring it. I did finally think to clear it with the oncologist a couple of weeks ago as an afterthought. She shrugged. “I don’t see why not.” Me, neither.

And here’s the best news. 2 years is considered cured. We learned at our last visit that the clock started the day they removed the tumor, not the day chemo ended. On December 27, we’ll be celebrating that two full years without cancer. We don’t have a year and some change to go; we have four months. In four months, this whole episode can be chalked up as a major pain-in-the-ass inconvenience and nothing more. We’re here. We’re back. We’re in this game to win it.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Squirrel, Interrupted, Adventures in wild animal rehab

One Girl-child, an injured baby squirrel, and a rehabber who couldn’t take him until morning adds up to one memorable night.

I am writing this from my doctor’s office. I am getting my meds adjusted. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, this rough patch will pass. I am keeping my frog consumption realistic, but I am still going to work on some small things. One tiny step forward. I’ve got this.

what’s on the menu for you today?

The Day of Reckoning

So, I ate some frogs yesterday. A rather lot of them, really. I didn’t think about it. I just snarfed them down. I went to the gym, I made a doctor’s appointment to possibly up my Cymbalta, I worked on a Christmas present that has lots of fiddly parts, did laundry, made dinner, and I cut the dog’s nails, and I even picked up a whiny kid from basketball practice and didn’t just leave them in the parking lot. Yay, me. I did it. I’m doing it. A bunch of frogs, all taken care of.

Have you ever had a frog, though, that got kind of big and just kept growing? For months? Like, went from egg to tadpole to frog right in front of you? And you watched it grow, and not only did you not really try to contain it, you actually fed it MORE? Ya’ll, don’t believe that garbage about frogs only growing to the size of their enclosure. They will outgrow you if you let them. And boy, did I let my metaphorical frog outgrow me.

Time to transfer to the new enclosure. For reference, the froglet is sitting in a 1/4tsp scoop.

My family’s motto is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Words to live by, and boy, do I. My heart comes alive in the spring, and what feeds my soul are houseplants. Lots of them. This year was no different, with one tiny exception. I often make starts of everything I can find because creating something new is beautiful. And powerful. And then I come across a plant or two on the clearance shelves at the home improvement store and add them to my little collection. And then I start more. And rescue more. Lather, rinse, repeat. All while forgetting for the moment that the total count of cat-proof windows in my house is exactly one. I’m a hoarder collector. What can I say?

My husband has learned not to say “You bought another plant?” because he is a patient man. And also because he would rather not find a cactus hiding in his pillow. But as the Fall draws near, I can tell he’s thinking it. By mid-October, so am I. And today, the frog I REALLY didn’t want to look at, much less eat, was bringing them inside for the cold weather.

When I say I have a lot of plants, I mean I have a LOT of plants. I gave 30 plants away, but I’m left with at least 60. For a single window. Does anyone see why I might have procrastinated on eating this particular frog?

I decided to make my life easier and buy a plant stand, and voila! Another cat-proof window. But, it’s Halloween. And I love Halloween. And my husband found the decorations. And it looks SO GOOD!

I mean, there are a FEW plants on it, so technically it’s still a plant stand, right?

So I got another set of shelves. And, because this year, not only did I add a million plants to my collection, my love lies toward succulents and cacti, I also had to get some grow lights. But fairy jars are so cool! And they make great gifts! And Christmas is coming. So maybe I created a few more fairy jars than I actually have space under the lights for. But PRETTY!

And maybe I love all the “strings of things” plants (dolphins, turtles, bananas, watermelons, hearts, and let’s not get started on the VARIEGATED ones!) a little too much and have plans of setting up a table at the farmer’s market in the spring. So I have boxes of propagations. Again, they make great gifts. And I only have to house them for, like, two months for Christmas.

So I bought another set of shelves. Because why wouldn’t I?

I mean, what else was a girl to do? It looks really good, and the only down side is that there are so many grow lights that if we go in the living room, we should probably put on sunscreen. I’m okay with it. I’m just pretending that we still have to find room for all of my trees. Has anyone ever bought a vacation house for their plants? Asking for a friend.

What frogs have you eaten today? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments.

Eating Some Frogs

It’s been a while. I’ve had a lot of thoughts to share, but not so much energy to share them. A lot has happened in the last ten months, and my brain went on vacation. It didn’t invite the rest of me, and I’m a little bitter about that. The only thing I’ve been crushing lately is candy. But husband’s treatment is done, his first post-treatment scan was clear, and now it’s time to get back into life. Is my blog life? That is yet to be decided and largely hinges on whether or not I can figure out the new format on WordPress. But it’s time to actually start living again. I’m ready.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a challenge by Jon Acuff to get the ball rolling. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s a personal development speaker and writer. He has done things, and he likes queso. His writing is very accessible, and his books are short and to the point. His tips make sense. And he’s funny. Anyway, I signed up for a goals challenge, and I liked it. So I signed up for his new course called “Full Potential.” I also started listening to his podcast.

As I listened to the podcast, I started making a reading list of books that were mentioned in the podcast, either by the host or by the guest. This week, I have read Born to Win by Zig Ziglar, Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff, and Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. The last one is REALLY short, but it gets right to the point. Based on the Mark Twain quote “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” Eat That Frog lists 21 ways to tackle the onerous tasks.

Lake Titicaca Frogs, also known as Scrotum Frogs. Please don’t eat them.

There’s one thing all of these experts have in common. More than one thing, really, but this one thing especially. The most effective people are always working off of to-do lists. It’s how they stay organized and focused, and it’s the best way to keep track of what frogs are left to eat. So I have made some lists. I used the ColorNote app to organize daily lists for work because I can have my lists in my pocket, and it’s easy to cross stuff off. It’s also easy to uncross the stuff so that I can reuse the list.

I’m eating frogs. I’ve stumbled, one foot in front of the other, for a year, and I want to get back to who I was. So I make my list, and I eat my frogs. The goal is to free up as much time as possible for the things I am passionate about. What I’ve learned, though, is that at this moment, I’m passionate about nothing. I don’t love anything. And I realized that I am more depressed than I thought I was because if you know me, you know there’s a lot of stuff I normally dearly love. Today, I don’t care about diddly squat. But future me will.

I know that this depression is a biological thing, a combination of life stressors and biology (this weird genetic liver thing I have can express in some serious psych symptoms. I know that this will pass because I have dealt with it for years. It will pass. Today, I don’t give a rat’s hind parts if I sink or swim, but tomorrow I might And the lists I am making may help.

There’s something about seeing a list of stuff crossed off at the end of the day or the week or the month. I might not care that I did it, I might not be interested in thinking about the end results right now, but I know that not doing anything at all makes me feel a million times worse. So I have my list of frogs. They might be tiny ones right now. But I am trying.

Today I did a big one. I went to the grocery store last night, and there was an error on my receipt, and customer service was closed. That meant I had to go back today if I wanted the refund. And I did it. I got my $8 back. Today, I went for a walk. I took my older kids to an open-air market. I planned out the things I want to get done this week, AND when I am going to do them. Meals are planned for the week. I crossed things off my list. Tomorrow, I will, too. One day at a time, one list at a time, one tiny item at a time. I am going to eat some frogs.

You know I love this guy. I know I love this guy. I will tap into my passion again. It’ll happen. Until then, lists.

Make a Paw-print Rubber Stamp! #PenPalooza

I’m fairly certain that most of us are aware that 2020 lasted about a decade. A long, lonely decade. I haven’t hugged my mom in over a year. It doesn’t look like restrictions will be (or even SHOULD be) lifted for several months, but in my opinion, it’s more important than ever to make connections to actual humans, even if I can’t do it in person. Enter PenPalooza, a network of over 10,000 humans who are dusting off the lost art of letter-writing.

I have a few pen pals now, and sending mail is great fun. Receiving it is even better. I’m a bit basic, so I haven’t invested a ton of money into it. I get the best note cards and writing paper the dollar store has to offer. But just because my stationary isn’t expensive doesn’t mean it lacks flare. I like putting my own mark on the stuff I send, or in this case, my paw print.

I thought I could show how simple it is to make a rubber stamp of a pet’s paw-print using really inexpensive materials and the cooperation of a pet.

Step 1: Collect the stuff you will need.

  • Liquid Nails
  • Corn Starch
  • Rubber gloves
  • A disposable container
  • Food coloring (optional)

Here’s all you need.

Step 2: Dump some of the corn starch into the disposable container and squeeze the silicone onto it. Mix with a stir or with a gloved hand. It will be sticky, which is why you are wearing gloves. Squish it, fold it, mash it so that it takes up the corn starch. If you opted for food coloring, add it in this step. I don’t use it because I don’t have any.

You will add more silicone as you go

Step 3: Treat the mixture like bread dough. If it is too sticky (which it will be to start), add corn starch. If it is too dry and the mixture cracks, add a bit more silicone. When the blob no longer sticks to your glove, it is about ready. It takes about five minutes of mixing, sometimes a little more, to get the mixture just right.  

Step 4: Roll the blob into a ball, flatten it a little in the container, place the container on a hard surface, and press your pet’s paw into it. It helps if you roll the paw from left to right to get the print, like you would if you were taking prints at the police station. If you don’t like the result, squish the blob back up and try step 4 again. Once you are satisfied with the print, set it aside and dust it with a little corn starchWhat you have now is a negative of your pet’s print. You can stop here if you like, it’s hard to get a good stamp from  a negative. I prefer to create a positive. To do this, repeat steps 1-3. 

The negative paw print. It’s hard to see the toe beans at this stage

Step 5: Take your new blob of mixture and press it gently into the mold that you made. You dusted it with corn starch, right? That’s to keep the two parts from sticking together. Peel them apart immediately. 

Press the fresh blob gently onto the negative. Be sure to dust with corn starch first!

Step 6: Set your new stamp aside and let it air-dry for a couple of hours. Then it’s ready to use!

TA-DA! TOE BEANS! Gently press the edges of the stamp down flatter than the toe beans

Before you use the stamp, rinse it with cold water to get off any extra corn starch. You can use your favorite ink to stamp, or you can use it on warm wax. You can even use it with tempera paint. Wipe your stamp down after each use.

Don’t throw your negative away. If you write enough letters, you may wear out your first stamp and have to make another one! 

What cool things do you like to add to hand-written letters? If you’d like to join PenPalooza, check out the hashtag on Twitter!

Signs You Are A #MAGAt

I know in these trying political times, it can be difficult to parse out all the hashtags out there. Are you puzzled over what you should get your knickers in a knot over? Do you look over your shoulder to see if people are making fun of YOU? You’ve wondered aloud “Am I a MAGAt?” I am here to help. Because I am a giver.

If you are wondering if you might be a MAGAt, take this short quiz.

  • Do you refuse to wear a mask because no one can tell you what to do! Because FREEDOM! ‘MURCA! though you honor policies that dictate “No shirt, no shoes, no service” and generally keep your pants on in public?
  • Are you experiencing any of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief because Parler is gone?
  • Do you believe that bakers should be able to refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples but that Amazon, Google, and Apple are fascists happily stomping on free speech?
  • Have you had one or more accounts deleted by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LiveJournal, WattPad, or MySpace?
  • Do you have 10 digits following your Twitter handle because all your other accounts got removed?
  • Do you believe with all your heart that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen, despite complete and utter lack of evidence, despite courts from SCOTUS down to Sbarro at the mall throwing out suits due to lack of evidence just because Spanky the White House Clown said so?
  • Did you put the erection in “insurrection?”
  • Are you currently angrily typing “There IS no ‘erection’ in the word ‘insurrection, stupid!”
  • Is Fox News too leftist for you?
  • Is your heart full of hate?
  • Do you have a “Fu#$ Your Feelings” shirt but are crying because someone called you a MAGAt?
  • Have you used the word “cuck” in casual conversation?
  • Do you wish harm on politicians who voice disagreement with your leader?
  • Have the only parts of the Constitution you have actually read been the First and Second Amendments?
  • Is the racism of your leader not a deal-breaker for you?
  • Do you cheer when the current administration rolls back protections for marginalized people and the environment?
  • Do you believe the phrase “Black Lives Matter” means that no other lives in the rest of the world amount to a hill of beans?
  • Do you think kids belong in cages because their parents committed a misdemeanor?
  • Are you genuinely afraid of the Biden Administration because you are certain paybacks are hell?
  • Do you laugh when followers of the opposing leader cry?
  • Do you genuinely believe that the administration has done a great job?
  • Do you admire Spanky the White House Clown because he says all the things you wish you could say?
  • Are you upset or angry that you can’t leave a comment on this blog and didn’t realize that just by visiting, you move the blog up in SEO ranking?

Friend, if you answered any of the above questions in the affirmative, there is a good chance that you are a MAGAt. The only treatment for this condition is to push the button behind your left ear to re-engage your brain and head to a surgeon to see if they can reboot your empathy.

It’s A New Year. Now What?

It’s a New Year. You’ll have to excuse my lack of enthusiasm. I used all my confetti when I actually found bakers yeast at the grocery store.

Like many others, I kind of built up 2021 as being a magical demarcation in time, that line in the sand where the bad cannot cross. I invested in a beautiful new planner a few months ago. And when I say invested, I mean it. The thing cost me $50. It is a tome, weighing in at maybe more than my mini dachshund, but it prayerfully walks me through my goals for the coming year. I was scared of it delaying gratification, so that I put off opening it for several weeks after it arrived. Can I really meet goals that I set? Maybe? YES, I CAN! And what better time for new goals than the new year, am I right?

But what I didn’t see coming? I no longer have any goals. I was set to make a plan to pay off the house, build my Ebay business, submit more writing to various publications and competitions, hatch more Spider Tortoises. After spending nearly a week in the hospital following my husband’s emergency surgery, after a cancer diagnosis, a lot of stuff has slid off my goal list. It’s hard to get stoked about building a business. I have bigger fish to fry. Or maybe smaller fish.

Now my lovely, $50 planner seems as big as a Bible and just as esoteric. Things are a little overwhelming right now, and I’m not even sure how to begin. It’s hard to think about building a business when it’s hard to even get out of bed. But it feels like defacing a fine book to put in the milestones that are actually achievable. But let’s get real. For right now, I need to dial it back a notch if I’m not going to be curled up in the corner sucking my thumb. And forget about looking at a whole year. Seriously, one day at a time is about all I can deal with.

Instead of giant goals that threaten to smother me in my sleep, I’m making some smaller, daily goals. Yep, I’m lowering the bar, but the bar is adjustable for a reason. I’m not looking to do a Fosbury flop to break a world record. I just want to get OVER it.

  • Take a shower
  • Make necessary appointments
  • Print out paperwork for necessary appointments
  • Fill out paperwork for necessary appointments
  • Eat at least one real meal
  • Do a load of laundry
  • Put on clean clothes (WOOT! I can cross this one off! Today, anyway)
  • Pick up kid from school
  • Read something. Anything. The back of a cereal box? Count it! The ingredients list? You got it!
  • Watch twelve episodes of Pawn Stars
  • Avoid politics. I keep thinking that I just need to hang on until the 20th, and the nightmare will be over. Watching the GOP misbehave does me no favors.

I think sometimes we set up ourselves to fail when we put so much weight on the new year. It can be a blank slate, but really, so can tomorrow. What’s important is not that we’re moving forward. Even treading water beats moving backward. Sometimes standing still is progress. I will hold my ground. I might even decide to put on something other than sweatpants. Not today, though. I’ve done enough.

I did go out today and bought Lumen a new bed.
And now her goal is to get it back from Penny!

Does the new year feel different than the old one for you? What are your plans and dreams for 2021?

For the record, I am fine. Just really, really tired. This is going to be a blip on our radar. Even the surgeon said “Eh, you’re strong and fit. You’ll be fine.” I’m just tired. And cranky.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I discovered that I am magic and have the power to grant my own wishes. I did not know this, or I’d have been more careful. Apparently the wish granting is less “I Dream of Jeannie” and more “Monkey’s Paw.”

It started on Christmas eve. We were expecting a cold snap, complete with a dusting of snow. Lovely! I was dreaming of a white Christmas and all that. The paw twitches. Ha. Dusting of snow, my hind foot! Try five inches. My neighborhood is uphill both ways, and here in the South, our communities don’t invest a whole lot in snow equipment. I got my white Christmas, sure. But then I also got a mile walk in the snow and a three hour wait for someone to haul me to work on Christmas.

German shepherd in snow in the light of a streetlight with a boy in a University of Tennessee Hoodie (I know. Hoodie in the snow, but it's his fault if he gets cold), and a woman in yellow coat smiling at camera
Don’t judge me. The kid decided he wanted to leave the house in a hoodie. Eventually, I gave him my gloves.

Husband always gets a little glum at the holidays, especially this year since we’re socially distanced from extended family. I wished he would quit his bellyaching. The paw twitched. He did, but it involved emergency surgery to remove the source of the bellyache.

Husband and I had wished for a little getaway, just the two of us. The paw twitched. We got it. But this is the worst hotel ever. It’s the most expensive hotel we’ve ever stayed in, but the only thing on the room service menu is ice chips, and the good drugs are only given to one of us. I am pretty sure the bell hops are vampires because they sneak in here in the middle of the night and steal blood. And sometimes urine. That last one has me puzzled. I learned everything about vampires from Twilight, and they didn’t cover pee, Maybe it’s a wolf thing?

I think we might be staying in the Hotel California, because we checked in, but they won’t let us leave. Well, they don’t seem to care if I’m here, but it’s not a fun vacation if husband can’t sight-see with me And since we’re still in our hometown, so there aren’t that many sites TO see. So here I sit, watching The Office and texting home to make sure the children haven’t gone feral.

We wished for more time together. The paw twitched. Now we have nothing BUT time. A type A personality and type… Z? locked in one room together for days on end. Husband keeps telling me how to clean, and I may have threatened to smother him with his advance directive.

I’m hoping that we’re back on track soon, and that maybe my wish-making was just a 2020 phenomenon. I’m going to be careful not to make any more wishes, just in case there is any leftover 2020 floating around. I might try again in February, but not like I did last year, when I wished for travel and the whole world went to hell.

Lumen wishes you the happiest of new years. She didn’t know any better. Sorry.

Who Needs Coffee When You Can Sun Your Bum?

I hate waking up. Once I get my feet on the floor for good, I’m fine. It’s just getting to that point that is a challenge. I can “just one more snooze” myself all the way to noon if I think I can get by with it. Even with coffee, by midmorning, I am made of yawn. That’s all about to change, though, thanks to Metaphysical Meagan.

I am going to have to odd, because I just… can’t… even.

I did not include the photo of Miss Meagan’s daily routine because this is a family show. But (butt?) it’s on the great, wide web. You can look it up.

To summarize, Metaphysical Moron Meagan has been studying the Tao of the derriere, or something like that. And she swears by her tried and true technique to improve life. Did you know that 30 seconds of direct sunlight on your howdy-doody is like a whole DAY of sunlight with your clothes on? And the reason Meagan knows this is because 30 seconds is probably all she gets before the neighbors call the cops again. They are so unenlightened!

Meagan attracts people who are “on the same frequency and wavelength” as her by tanning the ole tushy, too. After you brown your downtown six times, you qualify for a free “I Tan My Taint, Doo You?” t-shirt, available in six shades of brown. Pick yours up at Big Wally’s Yurt down on the corner. It’s so great to meet other like-arsed people, you know?

Still not convinced? Meagan promises “surges of energy!” And I’m totally sure it’s, like, metaphysical energy, and not, like, a sunburn on your stink hole. But either way, it’ll wake you up. And it “connects you to the earth!” Slap them glutes down on the asphalt and see what I’m sayin’!

You can “attract your desires and intentions, too.” As long as your intention is to attract flying insects and the occasional looky-loo. It also “prevents leakage of your chi.” We wouldn’t want that leaking out of your backside, now would we?

Bronzing your badonkadonk is an “ancient Toaist practice that has been around for a while,” unlike other ancient practices that are very recent. You can totally trust it. She learned all about it from a guy who cleans himself with dirt and advocates increasing your body’s voltage. Now that I think on it, he might actually be an eel. Shine on, friend.

Is the only sunny spot your driveway? No problem. Don’t worry about the neighbors. When they catch you shooting a moon, you can explain you’re really just catching the sun! Invite them to join you! You’ll be the toast of the HOA.

Now, remember to start small. Meagan says “the goal is NOT to tan your butthole.” Yeah, Meagan, that’s your goal. Gotta get that bunghole summer ready, amirite? What’s a little skin cancer of the keister among friends?

So what are you waiting for, friends? Put your tooter in the air like you just don’t care! I reserved us a spot at the park!

Satisfaction not guaranteed.

The 17 Stages of Alexander Hamilton

After listening to the soundtrack to Hamilton approximately three times a day for a year, I decided I should probably get around to reading the book it was based on. Unfortunately, it was out of my price range until the day I found it remaindered for $5. I think they were selling it by the pound. This thing is a tome. But no pain, no gain, right?

But be forewarned. This book is a process.

Stage 1: Oh, my gosh! I’ve finally got the book, and now I will understand what the musical is talking about because I know so little about his role in history! Whee! I am not throwing away this shot!

Stage 2: Wow, this book is, like, really long. On my e-reader, it’s 1300 pages. I might be reading this for a while. Eh, what else do I have to do?

Stage 3: Gosh, Ron Chernow can write! This is so, so good! That poor little boy, abandoned and orphaned!

Stage 4: Wow. I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks already, and we’re not through the Revolutionary War yet.

Stage 5: Dude writes a lot of pamphlets. A man of many words is Hamilton.

Stage 6: More pamphlets. I did not see that coming. It’s been three weeks, and I still have 800 pages to go.

Stage 7: Another pamphlet. Or seven. Or 31. I’ve lost count. Along with my will to live.

Stage 8: I am glad this book is good because I am pretty sure I will never get to read another one in my life. Oh, look. He wrote another pamphlet. Did not see that coming.

Stage 9: Wow, Burr is a snake in the grass (sorry, snakes)!

Stage 10: YAY! I’ve read 800 pages! Oh. I still have 500 to go. Annnd there’s another pamphlet.

Stage 11: If Dude writes another pamphlet, I might shoot him myself. I have to finish this book so I can finally get the soundtrack out of my head!

Stage 12: The author just mentioned that Hamilton has only a few years left. I might throw a party.

Stage 13: C’mon, Burr! You gonna let him get by with that kind of smack talk? You should call him out for his big mouth.

Stage 14: The DUEL! We’re here! Yay! Click, BOOM!

Stage 15: Oh, gosh. He’s dying. Don’t die! Live, man, LIVE!

Stage 16: I… finished it. Don’t talk to me for a few days. I need to grieve.

Stage 17: Wow. So, so good! I…  I think I need to read it again.