A close up at the best bookstore…ever

A long time ago I wrote a post called Beautiful Bookstores. In that post you got a glimps of The Barns and Nobles located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. 

Last week I decided it has been too long since my visit to this amazing book store! This time I went prepared to take pictures and share them with you!

   
     

  

  

  

  

  

  

 I know some of the pictures are blurry  but I think you can still see the awesomeness! 

If you ever visit Baltimore you’ve got to check out this bookstore!  

Change 

Change. 

It’s a word that makes me excited and strikes fear into my heart all at the same time. 

There’s lots of different types of change. I like to categorize them into four general groups.

The GOOD- This is the kind of change that all, any human welcomes eagerly. This change in life’s story involves something awesome happening that you’ve only dreamed of happening. And you embrace it, with all your heart. For example: You just won the lottery! 

The BAD- this change isn’t actually bad…it’s a great thing. Its change that is saving you from something bad–your saving grace. This second group of change is tough but it’s necessary. This type of change usually involves our willpower. We don’t eagerly accept it.  We fight through it because if we realize if we don’t change we are headed for disaster. Example: losing weight, getting out of a bad relationship, overcoming an addiction.

The UGLY- This type of change refers to situations in which we have no control over. It is thrust upon us without our choice.This change is usually very unexpected and often unpleasant (at first). Example: losing a job, getting bit by a super spider and becoming Spider-Man.

And then there’s that last category of change–the one the bulk of this post is about.

The CHOICE. This category of change is  when in life you find yourself facing a path which leads two, five, or seventeen different ways. Each one of them means change, you just have to decide which path to take. You know you can’t just stand there and not ever choose. These are the changes that you are in control of but often leave you with questions and the dreaded task of making a decision and sticking to it. This type of change involves taking a risk or a chance. And sometimes you don’t know how it will turn out. Haha! Can you guess which category of change I am facing right now!? ūüėČ 

As I was thinking about change and making a decision, this thought hit me. 

What really makes a good life? 

You do. 

It’s not money or a perfect job or a house on the beach…you make your life good. It’s up to you. Even though I’d love all those things….I can still be happy without them. There’s nothing more dangerous than waiting for something to happen to live and fully enjoy life. You’ve got to choose happiness where you’re at, you’ve got to choose to make the most of your life now. If you live each day to its fullest–smiling, thankful, laughing, building good relationships, loving people, helping people, exploring, etc., no matter where life takes you…rich or poor, moving here or there…you will have a good life. There are so many things we have no control over in life, but what we do have control over is our attitudes and actions. 

What’s the point of all of this? 

Change happens. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes you have a say in the matter and sometimes you don’t. But no matter what change brings your way…you can always be in charge of how you face it or reacte to it.

Stay positive! Do good! Make people know they matter! Try your best! Be the best possible version of yourself! Enjoy the little things! If you’re doing that…no matter what path you take, what change you embrace…it will be okay!

Bathrooms, wall to wall carpet and other mysteries of the universe

The universe has many mysteries.

One such mystery is why…oh why, did people ever decide wall to wall carpeting in the bathroom was a good idea?

bathroom-carpet

I suppose this mystery isn’t completely unsolved to the masses of the world. You may be one of those individuals who put carpet in your bathroom. WHY???

I am bringing up this topic today because I am one of those people who own (I guess I should say rent? but that sounds strange!) a bathroom in which the entire floor is blanketed in carpet. I should note that I DID NOT put the carpet there. I’m pretty sure it’s been there for nearly 50 years. (Along with all the appliances in the house! The house is like a well preserved view of life and interior designing in the 1960s.) At one point I think the carpet was pink, matching the tiles on the wall and shower; slowly it has faded into a dull, liver and pink colored monstrosity.

You ask: Autumn, why not just rip the carpet out and tile the floor? Stop fussing!

My answer: I rent.

The people I rent from are ever so nice! They are literally the nicest of the nice. But they like the carpet in there. I cannot bring myself to ask why. It might change my opinion of them. I’M KIDDING! They like it because tiles are cold and hard and carpet is a softer, warmer option. All I can think is: True…but what if the toilet over flows? What if you spill your hair gel on it? And again…what if the toilet over flows???

Another reason I am bringing up this topic today is because over the weekend an incident occurred involving the said carpet.

It all started on Friday.

As I was getting ready to head out to work, I run into my bathroom and do a final ‚Äúdid I unplug the curling iron & straightener check.‚ÄĚ

Whoops! I didn’t! Glad I checked. The cords are ripped from the wall and I am whirling around to turn off the light and leave.

But then…

Huh? Is it just me, or does it look like a section of the carpet is extra dark– more liver colored than the rest?

Perhaps it is just the lighting. I inch closer. Strange. Then I remember the time. Got to go! I will investigate later.

Later…

I return from work, walk into the bathroom and jump back.

Yeah…that’s not discoloration. Or the lighting.

It’s Lake Eyrie.

A sopping, puddle of what I imagine probably emerged from the toilet has taken over more than half of the bathroom.

The only thing one can do in this situation is scream in horror.

Toilet water. It may be clean looking, but we all know the word clean should never be used to describe toilet water. Oh! And how the carpet loves it. It is drinking it right up.

I have no idea how the water has escaped its ceramic prison, as no one used the toilet at all that day, but the fact of the matter is… it has.

I am an adult. And being an adult means you have to do things you don’t want to do. You have to pay for things you don’t want to pay for. I had to clean this mess up. After soaking up the water the best I could and pouring sterilization cleaners on the carpet I realized…how can it ever possibly get truly clean? Carpet has so many nooks and crannies, twists and turns.

Light bulb!

I could burn it. I could burn the blasted carpet and be rid of it FOREVER and the bathroom would be clean once again.

It is too bad burning it was out of the question. But I think I just might have the winning argument for ripping the carpet out and tiling. Cross your fingers!

I‚Äôll end my story now, and put it in that lovely storage room of case files filled with the mysteries of the universe. With a big permanent marker I‚Äôll write across the top, ‚ÄúThis file contains information to solving the mystery as to why people carpet their bathrooms wall to wall‚Ķand evidence on how this practice SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!‚ÄĚ Lengthy, but necessary.

JUST ASK

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in life so far as a twenty something year old (and still learning) is the power the following phrase has: JUST ASK 

How many times do we analyze, ponder, worry our brains out for hours…days…months…even years because of situations that have happened in our lives? A friend turning suddenly distant, never getting the promotion, that relationship we want to happen never happening…

We rack our brains trying to handle these situations…figure them out–but we never dare ask. 

We end up wondering around for far too long in a gray space of uncertainty and often insecurity. And if it goes on for too long we get bitter.

But what if we just had asked? 

Just asking can be scary–It is absolutely scary because the answer will leave you no longer hovering in the gray area. The answer is black and white…it has the potential to fulfill your dreams or take them away. Out of fear we often tell ourselves we like the gray area because at least there’s hope there. We tell ourselves things will sort themselves out!

Let me tell you from experience the gray area of unasked questions is an exhausting area to be. It steals your energy, joy and confidence. It robs you of your own potential and growth in life. The gray area is a thief of dreams, and we don’t even realize it. The gray area is a life of what ifs. 

Just asking opens doors, windows, those dusty old closets and let’s the fresh air of certainty in. 

Just asking also closes doors, sometimes with a painful slam that leaves us reeling for days. But after that door closes and we pick ourselves up, something amazing happens: We start to search for a new door or we finally see the door right next to the one that is locked for eternity, wide open with sunlight streaming through it. 

Just asking will lead you to new friendships, amazing adventures and to where you are supposed to be in life. It will lead you to moving on to something better for you or will show you how to unlock that door you so badly want to open. 

Kiss the gray area of uncertainty and what ifs goodbye and JUST ASK. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Saturday! ūüėÄ

The little seed that sprouted into a book

I was thinking today about the first little thought I had that led to the creation of my book. What was it? Where did it all begin? What was that one little seed of an idea that led to something huge–hopefully really huge, as in published huge–?

The idea of my book literally came from a dream I had a long time ago, when I was in my teens. 

Several types of people show up in dreams…there’s you, the main character; then sometimes, many times your best friends, they are the side kicks or the Robin to you, Batman; then there’s the people you think about ALOT, the Prince Charming of your dream. Of course you have your dream villains who come out in every shape and form (cafeteria lady, random customer, your arch nemesis, a cupcake….etc.). Beyond these main players in a dream you also have random people–the fillers; they make up the backdrop. I don’t know about you but half of the time I am like “who are these people?!?!” I don’t recognize them at all…not a bit! I’ve told myself they come from images my mind retained but I don’t remember at all. For example–the people you pass by in Walmart. 

Getting to the point, one of these filler people appeared more and more in my dreams….slowly working up to becoming Robin status. And I wondered if the person really existed out there somewhere. 

There was the idea. 

My book is about a girl who in her dreams is madly in love with a guy who in real life doesn’t exist….or does he? I threw in a murder and a wedding, to spice it up. 

So that’s my story on how a little thought sprouted into the creation of my book. ūüėÄ

What about you? What was the idea, life moment that led to your book? 

Writing Update

Writing update! 

Last week ended on a high note with lots of writing and editing done. For several weeks I was¬†frozen at this one spot in my second book, but finally the words started to flow. The inspiration flow all started with research on the meaning of flowers. Haha..yes, flowers. The two books I am working on are right now are¬†set in the 1920’s, and the second one involves a serial killer who leaves a certain flower by each victim. For the longest time I really wasn’t sure which flower to use, so I got to work looking up the meaning of flowers.

During the Victorian Era people spoke through flowers, which I find fascinating (but I’m so glad it doesn’t really work that way today!). Flowers, colors of flowers, leaves off or on…it all meant something. A red rose meant I love you…but a deep red rose meant “bashful” or “shame”. A thornless rose meant “love at first sight” and you better hope no one gives you an orange lily…it means they pretty much hate you. (How sad! What if orange lilies were your favorite flower?). Some other interesting meanings I found: one of the meanings of the herb Dill is lust. Hmm.. just doesn’t scream lust to me! And Bachelor Button, as the name suggests, means “celibacy”, “single blessedness.” Pretty interesting stuff. Kind of strange that it got the writing juices flowing for me, but there you have it!

Other Updates: 

I am getting a new computer. At the beginning of February I did my taxes. I bought a certain tax system, downloaded it onto my lap top. Apparently it was too much (too depressing?) for my lap top and right after I pressed send (thank goodness!) the screen turned into a mess of black, blue, orange, green, pink, etc. lines. Then it went black. =( My poor laptop. The good news is after letting it sit for a day I figured I would go ahead and try to turn the thing on…and it actually still worked! The bad news is I could no longer get on the internet. BIG SIGH.¬†It has been interesting using my phone as my main source¬†for access to the internet; I only attempted to write one or two blog posts through my phone (haha…that was fun!)…so thankful for friends and family who let me borrow their laptops for blog writing. To make a long story short, I should have a new computer by the end of the week. Yay!!

Hiking Season is here! YES! Went to Rocks’ State Park in Maryland, which if you are ever in Maryland you should check out. My favorite part is a group of rocks called the “King and Queen’s Seat”; Indians used to hold meetings here years and years ago. By the way…I love hiking, so any trail recommendations, if I am ever in your part of the world?

What I’m reading: The final books of the Sebastian St. Cyr series. I held out until my birthday and got them as a gift. Speaking of this series, I got my little sister reading them! WIN.

I hope everyone is having an awesome Wednesday! =)

Peter Pan Must Die

Peter Pan Must Die

Peter Pan Must Die, John Verdon

Book Review
I received this book, Peter Pan Must Die, from the Blogging For Books program, in exchange for this review

The first thing that drew me into this read was the title. Somehow I sensed this book wasn’t about Never Never Land, Tinkerbelle, or never growing old. This book was about a murder. And let me just say…WOW.

Peter Pan Must Die is tells the story of a perfect case–a wife accused of murdering her husband; overwhelming evidence; life sentence; a woman nicknamed the black window– a woman capable of committing a murder‚Ķonly she didn‚Äôt do it. Detective Gurney sets out to find the true killer, in a murder case with twists, turns, and one that leaves the reader wondering‚Ķwho is Peter Pan (and all of us thinking find him before he finds you!)?

I have to confess though, the reason it took me so long to put up a review on this book was not because it was painfully boring to read. When I decided this book would be the one I MUST review I suddenly realized my only option was an e-book or in my case, a download onto my computer. I thought, ‚ÄúIt will be no big deal‚ÄĚ. But yes, yes it was! I never felt like grabbing my bulky laptop and curling up in bed and reading from the large screen with its‚Äô blinding blue lights. In case you haven‚Äôt guessed I am a huge fan of hard copy books, books you can smell, books you can hold in your hand. I am not an e-book / kindle fan!

Final thoughts on Peter Pan Must Die‚ÄĒif you love suspense then you will enjoy reading this book. I was actually scared for the main character, thinking, ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs gonna die, he‚Äôs gonna die!‚ÄĚ The author really brought about a unique and terrifying antagonist‚Ķone that you won‚Äôt soon forget.

 

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When life doesn’t do as we say…thoughts on waiting

Sometimes, dreams don’t come true when we want them to. Sometimes, waiting can be the most impossible feeling. Sometimes, we wonder if life will ever take us where we want to be. Sometimes, life takes us where we need to be.

I have had an interesting month…full of potentially life changing decisions. At the start of the month I have to admit, I looked at the lives of my friends around me from college and turned green with envy. Among all of our lives, I felt least successful and sort of trapped. When I was little and thought about being 26, I imagined myself traveling the world, married, having a successful career, and of course at least one book published. I was a big dreamer! ¬†As¬†we grow up,¬†we realize¬†that certain dreams can’t come true as fast as you hope and life doesn’t exactly “do as we say”.

So what do we do in the middle of waiting for our dreams to come true? A thought hit me last week. I had made the decision to turn down a job offer where I saw certain dreams of mine suddenly in reach. After my decision, of course I was like, “Crap! I totally threw my chance away!” And I really wondered if I had made the right decision. I thought to myself, Autumn, true, you may have been unhappy at work, but you would have had this…and that…you wouldn’t have been in this horrible¬†phase of constant waiting.

stuck in traffic

We humans are impatient creatures. I mean…we LOATHE waiting for things.¬†Take being stuck in traffic, for example. No one in their right mind¬†says,¬†“I LOVE traffic jams!” We all hate them! We left the house¬†a¬†happy and kind person and then suddenly turn into¬†a roaring (green) beast, waving our arms, shouting, honking, about to mash things hulk.¬†Most technology these days all has the same goal: to be faster.

I was hit with the thought, life will be full of waiting…no matter what we can invent…we will have to wait…it is just life. So what do we do, while we wait? Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are…be a good one.” No matter what phase you are in life, be good one, strive to give your best. No matter what job you have, find what little ways you can excel and even learn. No matter if you are married, engaged, single, or dating be the best one…be the type of person who you would want. No matter if you are a national best seller or a writer¬†which whom no one knows your name…don’t make any excuses, give it all you got. Waiting for things can actually be a gift. Maybe we aren’t given things now because now we aren’t ready for them as a person. Maybe if we got¬†all of our dreams¬†at the snap of our fingers we wouldn’t have the experience, the growth to succeed with them. Learn to take the wait and do all you can in that time so when your dreams come true, you’ll be ready. You’ll take those dreams and fly.

Have you ever laughed at someone else’s misfortune…that YOU caused??

And you tried not to laugh, you really tried, but it could not be helped. The laughter came out in suppressed waves of giggles and then finally erupted into flinging your head back into the air or hugging your stomach that hurt because you could not stop laughing. You kept trying to stop, but you were no longer in control. You felt like the terrible person you were.

This is one of those stories.

It was another¬†summer day at the zoo.¬†We had just experienced what we termed “A Rain-Forced Rush”. A Rain Forced Rush was the unexpected¬†and sudden visit of thongs of people filling the restaurant do to rain. On a day that had been already so busy our food supply was nearly wiped out, we were unprepared for the sky to turn gray and thunder to rumble and drops of rain that sent a literal mob of people that were all “Hangry”.

People of all shapes and sizes squeezed into the restaurant, exceeding the max capacity by a crazy number. They filled practically every corner of the place, and it didn’t help half of the them were¬†manning monstrous strollers that were¬†practically the size of a smart car (you know those strollers with three wheels and enough seats for the entire family to be pushed around in). Kids were screaming, adults were screaming. It was madness.

By the time the people were done with us we had about two ice cream cones, a hotdog, and a squeezed beyond recognition bag of cotton candy left over.

Then! There is was! The sun! Breaking through the clouds the sun beamed into the restaurant signaling the rain storm was over and we were saved. The people left just as quickly as they came (so quickly I was afraid someone would be trampled!) and in their departure a disaster. Cups strewn across the tables and floors, red cherry slushy mixture and melted ice cream puddled the floor, napkins here there everywhere, tables and chairs upturned, mashed French fries and half eaten corndogs littered the area.

Our manager knew that the day was rapidly coming to an end and there were still nearly half of the staff that had not gotten a break. He sent them all on break and the rest of us unlucky ones who already had our break were on clean up crew.

I had the wonderful task of tending to the trash. There were about 10 trash cans, each of them filled and overflowing and foul. I put gloves on and moved from trash can to trash can, lugging the 30 lb. filled bags back to the backside of the restaurant where the dumpster was. trash

For my story to make sense I have to quickly explain the room where the dumpster was. It was like a mini “garage”¬†attached to the end of the restaurant.¬†¬†The dumpster was elevated about two feet above the small walkway, I’m not sure why this was done but I can tell you it made tossing trash into it quite the exercise, especially for those of us who are short. Opposite side of the dumpster were two chairs and a bucket for cigarette butts, this was our lovely “break area”. Not even a coffee corner! Haha! Most of the time I ate outside, I mean facing a trashcan while you are eating your lunch is hardly appetizing.

Once I had gathered all the trash bags in a nice pile I set to work on getting them into the dumpster. I greeted my friends Will and Mike who were on break and occupying the two chairs in the “break area” and joked about how I was going to have crazy arm muscles after all of this heavy lifting. I had an art to how I got the trash in the dumpster, I¬†perched on the edge of the stairs¬†that were the same height as the dumpster and tossed the trash bags in from there. It was an angled toss, but I had become an expert. Quickly I tossed in bag after bag, feeling disgusting by the revolting smell that seeped from the each bag. Mean while Will, the Zoo’s jokester was making joke after joke and laughing in his usual way.

Every now and then you will get a trash bag that I call a “juicer”. Juicer trash bags are the worst because like the name implies they are filled with “trash juice” (an unholy mixture of all liquids that are in the bag…diaper juice, oil, ketchup, soda, ice cream, slush, etc.). I picked up the bag, it was the last one! When I picked it up, I didn’t notice the bag was punctured and trash juice was spilling onto the ground.¬†At the exact moment¬†Will opened his mouth widely, roaring with laughter at some joke Mike cracked, I tossed the trash bag into the dumpster. All I saw was a reddish brown juice fly through the air. And splash! It made contact with it’s¬†victim.¬†¬†The juice flung¬†across Will’s face…and into his wide open mouth.

It was like everything was in slow motion for a few seconds. Me and Mike stared at Will in shock…and then at each other. Did that just happen? Will’s eyes were huge and filled with the most awful look of horror. The red juice dripped down his face and his open mouth was frozen in position.

Mike said, “Dude…”

And I…began my apologizing. “Will! I am so sorry! Oh my gosh, I’m so so so so sorry. I can’t believe….bahahahahahahahahahahaha!” The laughter began to take hold of me. My voice began to shake and my body trembled because the laugher longed to escape. Finally I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Wild laughs exploded out of me. I felt awful but I couldn’t stop! I tried, but I just… was rolling.

trying not to laugh

Trying not to laugh

laughing

Not succeeding…

bursting into laughter

laughter has taken over

Will got up, groaning in horror and ran to the dish washing sink and using the commercial sprayer sprayed his mouth and entire face off.

Meanwhile, I watched, still laughing.

Will did forgive me

….eventually.

What kind of hugger are you?

What Kind of Hugger are you?

This past weekend I was caught up in thinking about hugs and huggers. It started off because¬†I had one of those blue days where¬†I was¬†just sad and I felt like I was in desperate need of a hug,¬†which then led me to think even more about the many hugs I’ve experienced and given along the way.¬†And then I ended up coming up with the following¬†categorization of¬†huggers. ¬†Where do you fall in the list?

Sider slider – We have all experienced or even delivered this kind of hug. Sider sliders are slick. You reach out to hug them and somehow¬†you end up getting a squeeze around the shoulders, from a side angle. The side sliders keep it safe. They don’t want to be rude, but they also don’t feel comfortable with full blown hugs.

awkward side hug

The Pros- The Pros are confident huggers. They know just how much to squeeze and exactly how long to hug. They usually keep it casual with a small tap on the back that seems like the “this hug is ending” signal. The Pros can read people like a book-they know who to hug and who not to hug.

 Hugaphobic РThis category describes an individual who would spray raid on someone, anyone who attempted to hug them. If you have even attempted to hug an individual in this category, you probably remember that dreaded feeling that you were on the verge of death the moment you wrapped your arms around the person, but it was too late to pull back. You were committed. And once you survived the encounter, you will never make the mistake again.

no hugging

The Free Hugger- The individuals in this category of hugging probably own a “free hugs” t-shirt. No not really ;). These people walk around fearlessly giving hugs. In fact, don’t expect or even try¬†to leave the presence of a free hugger¬†without getting a hug. They will come find you. “I will find you….and I will hug you.”

photo credit: coolspoters.com

photo credit: coolspoters.com

Anaconda¬†Hugger-¬†Anaconda Huggers believe in squeezing love into people. Once you are in the grip of an anaconda hugger, take a deep breath- it may be the last breath you get to take for the next few minutes. Anaconda Huggers are usually people with huge hearts…and strong arms.

Oh Wait! You are just an Acquaintance Hugger- Huggers in this group aren’t much for hugging people they don’t know very well, but they will do it. If you have ever been on the other end of¬†a¬†hug delivered by a person in this category you probably remember reaching out for a firm hug (because you’ve watched them saying good byes¬†to their friends and they give them firm, back slapping hugs) ¬†and then felt them just slip away and the hug is over before it even began. You walk away¬†literally feel like you’ve just been hugged by a mannequin¬†that thought you smelled bad (and thinking I thought we were friends!).

Awkward hugger- Individuals in this group feel lost. They don’t know when to give a hug, when not to give a hug. They don’t know how long to “embrace” so it is either too long or too short. They don’t know whether to give a side hug or a full hug…and usually it ends up being a weird combination of the two. And the poor awkward huggers can’t recognize a hugaphobic when they see one….it can get ugly.

hug


 

Out of all of these categories of huggers I am a little bit of an awkward hugger and the Oh Wait! You are just an Acquaintance Hugger.¬†Hugging friends and family is something that just comes naturally but,…I don’t know you… I don’t know you very well…I just don’t know what to do! To hug or not to hug?

We should all try to hug more. Hugs make us feel safe, they make us feel happy, they make us feel loved. If¬† you aren’t comfortable hugging everyone, that’s OK! Hug the people close to you…hug them more often. We all need hugs (even those of us who don’t really like getting them!)…we all need to know we are cared about. The Huffington Post has an interesting article on the health benefits of hugging called, “7 Reasons Why We Should Be Given More Hugs”. find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/health-benefits-of-huggin_n_5008616.html