Song Challenge: From Your Childhood

Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks floated around my house quite a bit growing up. Here’s one of my favorite songs by her.

Could’ve also been this song or this one.

PS – One more week and then it’s a new challenge!

Food for Thought: Smile


There comes a time when you meet someone and you just want to make them smile for the rest of your life.

Of Keeping Memories and Identifying Clutter

Donating clothes leaves me with a lot of hesitations.

Actually, donating anything leaves me with hesitations.

There are some things in my life that I just know I need to get rid of: the stuff at the back of the closet that I’ve kept around for ages. The rolled up shirts and shorts and pants creased to hell because I’ve tucked them out of sight on purpose because somehow, part of me knew I wouldn’t wear them.

The knickknacks — oh, the knickknacks. Oh the legions of tiny ring and pill and ceramic and wooden boxes just stuffed in every corner. Filled to the brim with wads of carefully folded-up cotton bedding and rectangles of tightly pressed tissues that are so hard by now, you could hurt someone if you threw them around.

They carry so much junk: old rings with the metal bands snapped at the jewel. Broken necklaces with one — count it, one — nice rock hanging off a chain with no clasps. Glittering rocks from middle school geology lessons on minerals. Plastic bracelets with LIVE STRONG and SPIRIT engraved in it.

Stuff I haven’t worn since they bought it for me. Stuff I was given as gifts and forgot about after I banished them to the dark recesses of my room. Stuff I don’t think twice about including in my life again, but…

But. Part of me, the part that controls my hands and heart, hesitates over the garbage can.

Part of me can’t just throw it all away.


This part of me remembers everything. Nostalgia is both king and queen in my room and it hovers over the hordes of — apologies to my younger self, who believed in the value of all these tiny things so much — total crap.

Anne Lamott once said in her book Bird by Bird that she carries index cards in her pockets for when inspiration strikes. Sometimes inspiration is a paragraph, but other times it’s a word. She mused that after she’s long gone, her son will excavate her work space and uncover these index cards filled with momentary inspiration. She said that some things she can’t remember what they meant, but others… Where one word on a card might not mean much to her son, to her, that one word could represent a whole universe.

That’s what this feels like here. I open my dresser drawer, a space big enough to fit my clothes and half my childhood, and I see a kingdom of years. I open a cardboard jewelry box and find a Peridot-green rock the size of the first digit on my pinky finger, and I know immediately where it’s from, who was there, what we were doing, how long it stayed glued to the paper we’d been handed to identify “minerals” with.

I remember the desperate search for the “best rocks” — the pyrite, the pretty pink quartz. I remember being caught up in it myself, silent in my desperation, working slow and steady over a tub of brown-gold sand in the middle of our science room. Wanting to appear inconspicuous and too concerned with doing the work than finding the stones the boys were screaming about either finding or not finding yet, just one table over. I remember not wanting to appear desperate, to be one of the special kids who just comes across it magically and with so much nonchalance that you wonder what it must be like to care about more things, better things, than finding a pretty stone.

And that’s just one of the rocks I’ve stashed away. Other boxes contain pictures of my old crush, Orlando Bloom. Some, his picture pops out of, poorly arranged in its little pocket. There are others, though, where his picture is a surprise I left for myself, a secret wish and daydream I kept when middle and high school boys were still too boyish and not yet men.

Then there’s Grandma’s stuff. I’ve never seen so many crucifixes in one house, but each one reminds me of how fast I captured them all. They were important to Grandma, so we can’t get rid of them, I told myself when I smuggled them out of her home after she’d died.

I thought I was being so cool, so slick. I thought no one would notice. I hoped no one would. I didn’t want to think about what it would mean if someone caught me with four bibles (one the size of my chest), four rosaries of various make and size, five crucifixes, a head scarf, Mother Mary necklaces, and a picture of Jesus’s wide open chest.

I didn’t even know what I’d say if they had caught up. I wasn’t sure what I was doing with all these things, myself. They fascinated me, but I didn’t understand them, but I also thought I could, if I just…I don’t know. Kept them long enough.


And now, too many years later for me to really count with any surety, they’re scattered across my bed. They’re waiting for the anvil to fall and launch them into another lifetime, one separate from my grandma or me or our family. Something about that makes me sad, like they’re leaving the only home they’ve ever known.

I have to call in Mom. She’ll push me where I won’t push myself, but where I need to go.

“Throw it out,” she says to my old rocks and broken jewels that are probably just colored glass I tricked myself into believing were diamonds and rubies. “We can donate that other stuff, just keep a couple small things as tokens and anything with writing in it.”

Makes sense. I gather it all up. Five seconds of deliberation apiece and they’re sorted: keep, trash, donation, keep, keep, trash trash trash trash, donation. Donations. Lots of donations.

I have to turn my back. I have to ask permission. Can I get rid of old art projects Can I get rid of these ceramics Can I Can I Can I?

Yes. Yes, she reminds me. And each yes lets me further out of a cage of my own making, one I didn’t realize was locking me down.

I turn my back when she and Sister 2 bring the donations off to the textile drive. I push my trash cans farther out of sight. I box up the rest of the not-textiles and rearrange the things that will stay. I won’t let myself mourn things I never valued in the first place.

How does your spring cleaning usually go? Do you regret losing stuff? Does it free you to throw it all away?

PS – Since Little H had an issue with being called Little H, I’ve delegated her Sister 2. Big H is now Sister 1 and L is Brother. The changes are slightly vindictive, but if they have further issues, they can write their own blogs and call themselves (and me) whatever they like. (Dibs on Lamest Butt-Headed Older Sister Ever.) <3

Artist Seb Lester freehand famous logos

I love this. Calligraphy is so cool!

Food for Thought: Mental Illness

mental illness clmannarino

Mental illness is like fighting a war where the enemy’s strategy is to convince you that the war isn’t actually happening.

Unknown, but Source

Song Challenge: Makes You Feel Guilty

I have a lot of personal feelings tied up with this song. Not because it was “my song” or an “our song,” but because of the introspection that came with it when I heard it in conjunction with events going on in my life at the time. Yuck.

(It’s also a song that I’ve had stuck in my head in the past.)

PS – I have one more item in this challenge to complete, and then it’s going to be a new challenge (I’m thinking photos). That being said, creativity is often a collaborative thing. So: thoughts? Yes, no, tell me below:

Food for Thought: Support Trans Kids


Scent Matters (Like, a Lot)

My shampoo smells like peppermint and eucalyptus, according to the bottle. It’s supposed to tingle when you use it because it’s supposed to represent a deep clean, and it did, the first week. It’s stopped tingling since.

The soap has a scent, too, but it’s a homemade bar (I think), where the edges are rough-cut and abrasive on your skin when you’re first bathing with it. The last bar smelled like lemon and poppy seed. But by the time I get enough hot water going in the shower, the steam clogs the air and my nose runs and I can’t smell the soap anymore. It’s nice to put on your skin, though. There’s a softness to it, like rubbing on moisturizer.

The towels live in the in-between stage of being recently cleaned, but also being cooped up in the linen closet for a day after. They either don’t have a smell, or smell with too much use.

I use oil after the shower now. Two or three years ago, we turned up the heat without using a humidifier and my skin dried out. Places like my knees, elbows, the backs of my shoulders and shins, and my waist would itch uncontrollably. For a while, I put Aveeno on it. Last year, I left my skin alone — the summer wasn’t hot enough to dry me out and we didn’t use a lot of electric heat that winter.

Then I tried making my own perfume…or a version of it. I’ve been using almond oil on my skin ever since. It seems to help the dryness, and the acne.


My room smells like stale air in the winter if I don’t open the windows enough. In the summer, it smells hot, maybe a little sweet with rain, thick with humidity. There’s a sharp, bright tang from my deodorant and a chemical smell overlaid with vanilla from my actual perfume — Victoria’s Secret Vanilla Lace.

I keep the door closed a lot, not only to keep the dogs out of my trash bin (they like tissues a LOT), but also to keep the ever-lingering smell of closed-up stale air and growing, sleepy boy from getting in from my brother’s old room. I don’t remember how it got that way, but it’s wafted out ever since, and the smell is like a kaleidoscope: it changes, but only a little, with every body that passes through and leaves another imprint.

My car used to smell to me — that new car smell people seem to like so much and actually smells very chemically manufactured. I got strawberry air fresheners to mask it and that turned the chemical smell into something like a plastic bop on the nose. It filled the car from back to front and spilled out the doors or windows when opened.

Those now live in the glove compartment. During warm days, the windows slide open and the slick, cool-water smell of fresh air chills the seats. During cold days, the heater roars on with either a hushed or a blasting tone, but it always tingles my nose. It’s like pushing my face into a comforter fresh from the dryer.

The office smells like carpet and computers covered in light layers of dust: dry, enclosed, and always changing just a bit from air conditioner and heating to whatever the neighbor has to eat. Indian food, usually, or some kind of fish. I haven’t smelled coffee in a while.


Boyfriend’s place smells like a place recently closed up. The smell of food — rice, steamed — cooked in the last few days hovers with the smell of his soap and the smell of old hot water soaking dishes. When we first were going out, it used to startle me with how potent it was, but now it’s familiar and comforting. It feels like a good hug around the waist.

Home, for me, smells of all things childhood: sauce and open air. The basement is cool and musty and forcibly dry because of the laundry.

I didn’t realize how integral smell was until I read an article about how women often gravitate towards men who smell really good to them. The article made me think of how potent certain scents are among women (coconut, vanilla, even lavender) and how guys’ scents either smell really bad to me (Axe) or really good (some body wash thing that has a sweet tone to it). It also occurred to me that smell changes how you feel about a place. Usually, the first thing you sense before sight, and maybe even sound, is smell, but it’s so understated.

Perfumers must have a helluva job. (Although I have a romantic idea about doing that one day.)

What scents surround you? How do they influence your day — does smelling burned coffee give you a headache, or smelling fresh breakfast lift your spirits?

Making-of the CHANEL Métiers d’Art 2014/15 Paris-Salzburg collection

The intricacy of these clothes is just mind boggling.

Food for Thought: Water

water clmannarino
You don’t think of water as privilege until you don’t have it anymore.
  • Adventures in Growing Up

  • Caitlin L Mannarino

    I'm not a fan of big dogs, but I have The Hound, so what's that say about me? Dunno. I write about myself, and what's happening around me, and how I interpret the world. I also like books and nature. Sometimes, I like them together.

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