Dovetail: A Novel – Bookclub Discussion Questions

I run a twice yearly bookclub and I’m always perusing the internet for discussion questions. As luck would have it, I can basically NEVER find decent discussion questions for the books I choose. So, as I spent some time making these up, I figured why not put them out there in case someone else has a club who has chosen this book. Feel free to borrow these. A few notes: These are LITERALLY the notes I’m bringing to my book club tomorrow and I have NO interest in correcting the grammar, rewording the sentences, etc. These are my rough notes – if you like them, but you don’t like my casual format, just reword them. I only ask that if you do borrow these, leave me a comment! Thanks so much. I’ll try to do this for all of my book club choices going forward.

  • “its a small world” – are you ok with how the author connections the lives of the characters, or does it present a problem for you? Are there holes in the story that make you uncomfortable?
  • Do you wholly feel for Alice and/or Pearl, or do you fall someplace in the middle?
  • Why do you believe Pearl & Frank married?
  • Has Pearl redeemed herself?
  • The narration switches often – between time period, character point of view, narration style, etc. do you have an opinion on the necessity of this? Did this bother you?
  • Are there loose ends that made you uncomfortable? (how about how Joe never even asked his grandfather’s name, or things along those lines?)
  • Was this the ending you wanted?
  • Pearl is a central focus in the book, but overall we learn very little about her life. Is this missing from the story, or do you think the omission is important?
  • Was this predictable?
  • One reader says, “in order to enjoy the story the reader must park the belivability factor at the door.” Do you agree, and were you ok with this?
  • Is Joe cured, or should his family history of mental illness be explored further?
  • Ricky is clearly a total jerk, but does Frank have any redeeming qualities?
  • Pearl says, “I’ve long believed that no one should be judged on the worst thing they’ve ever done. And not on the best thing, either, for that matter.” Agree/disagree?
  • A few reviews compare this book to both “Quantum Leap” and the idea of reincarnation and/or soul mates. Is this that?
  • Once Joe & Kathleen realize that “living” a dream makes it go away, were you annoyed that they weren’t more mentally prepared the night of barn dance?
  • Do you think the lightening tree is a reference to Jane Eyre? Or was that just me?
  • Do you find Joe & Kathleen’s reaction to having dreams that relive the lives of ACTUAL PEOPLE IN THEIR LIVES to be underwhelming?

Ain’t Never Had A Friend?

Guys, this post has been on my mind and my heart for years, but I’ve been so reluctant to write it for fear of sounding, oh I don’t know, pathetic? Attention seeking? Something. I’m not too sure what, but I have to believe that some of you can identify.

I feel like social media puts a lot of pressure on us to have certain things, act a certain way, and have achieved certain things. And, while I’ve always felt this way, its been exacerbated by the internet.

What is that thing that I don’t have? Guys, its that archetypal “best girlfriend.” And I doubt I ever will. And I’m not 100% sure that I’ve come to terms with this fact.

Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of great friends and tons of lovely acquaintances. I even have a handful of friends that I’ve known for almost 30 years, but with time and adulthood our lives have sort of gone separate ways and we don’t see each other very often. If I threw a big ole party I’d like to think I’d have a good showing… but would anyone show up with the biggest gift with a card attached that said “Thank You for being a friend?” Nope. In fact when I typed out this sentence Siri wanted to auto fill “friend” in the previous sentence with “bitch” so even my phone isn’t that into me.

I remember 20ish years ago when I read The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood I was just in awe and so jealous of that friendship thang… and, yet, I’ve never been able to make it work for me.

Believe me, I realize that I am a huge part of the problem. For one thing, I am certainly not an open book. I am incredibly guarded with what actually goes on inside my head and if you think that you know me, chances are that you actually have no idea.

And for another thing, and the biggest pitfall I’m sure, I’d characterize myself as an incredibly fun person to gossip with. I like to make people laugh, and I like to be funny. So chances are if you’ve ever chatted with me and there’s someone that you’re bitching about, I will go all out and try and make you laugh by completely destroying this person. I honestly don’t mean to be malicious, I just have a really harsh sense of humor. I know this isn’t nice. I also know that every time I’ve done this, like literally every single time, it has gotten back to that person and bit me right in the ass. So, there’s that.

And so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that at age 41, I’m probably never going to find that forever friend. The person with whom I’m apparently supposed to sit around in PJs and a bra and drink wine and, I don’t know go on vacation together or some crap.  Maybe have our husbands out in the yard barbecuing sausages while we bake a pie together inside or something. As you can see by this paragraph I’m clearly not an expert. 

Honestly I’m not sure why I wrote any of this. I guess I just wanted to get it out of my head. To you ladies that have these relationships, enjoy them. I think they’re much more rare than you even know.

Is Facebook Making Me A Jackass?

I’m pretty confident that most people feel me on the whole love/hate relationship with Facebook (or Insta, or Twitter, or whatever the social media of your choice may be) and I’m pretty positive that most people have had that fleeting “I should just delete this crap” thought… and, yet, here we are. Most of us share way more on social media than we probably do in normal conversation with people we actually know in real life. And I’m not really sure why this is.

Actually, that’s not true. I totally understand why this has become the norm. It’s because it’s incredibly anonymous and easy to share all kinds of semi-personal stuff when it’s in text and you don’t have to utter the words yourself aloud. For example, not a half hour ago I was compelled to share a message about how difficult it was to assemble some stupid Pokémon toy that I bought for a dollar. Was it necessary to share this? No. I don’t even know why I did. I guess on some primal level we all like a little bit of attention and we just want to talk 24/7. Look at me, look at me!!

That’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about why it’s so hard to disconnect from Facebook.

Let me first say that I have no intention of deleting my Facebook. If you’re one of those people that is able to walk away from Facebook and forget that it’s there, that’s excellent. Additionally if you’re one of those people that deactivates yourself because you know that if the app is available you won’t be able to help yourself, I understand that as well. If you’re one of those people, however, who makes a grandiose announcement that you’re fed up with Facebook and everyone on it and you’re about to delete your account in 24 hours, then please know that I roll my eyes at you and think you’re being dramatic and narcissistic. And I’m no stranger to drama or narcissism so I know what I’m talking about, you attention whore.

I genuinely like some aspects of Facebook. I have tons of photos stored there. I’m in several groups that I would miss and it would be incredibly inconvenient if I was not able to have access to them. There are people, not everyone but a good amount, from my past and from high school etc. that I would not keep in touch with otherwise. And I do like seeing photos and reading about what they’re up to. 

But I feel increasingly like Facebook is not helping me to be a better person. It feeds my insecurities; it often makes me feel inadequate; I sometimes feel jealous or dejected or just plain left out of something. I scroll through my feed and I see tons of holiday events, many of them are just posted by mere acquaintances with whom I have never even had occasion to socialize. But for some reason seeing all of these “fun” things happening makes me feel like… Wow, I wish I was having some fun. Here’s the thing, I do have fun! We even hosted a little holiday party and we enjoyed it so much that we didn’t even take a break from what we were doing to take pictures to share on social media! So I’m not sure why social media is such an energy suck for me.

I remember when I was in eighth grade at the end of the year there was a big formal dance… The eighth-grade formal! How aptly named! Anyhow, after the eighth-grade formal a girl in my larger group of friends was having a big party. And she made sure to invite every single person in our crowd except for me. I didn’t really know her that well so I wasn’t sure why she disliked me so much, but I’ll never forget that feeling of being the odd man out. I’ve always been on the quiet side and a lot of people misinterpret that as snobbish, but really I’m just reticent especially in larger groups. Anyhow, I’ve always remembered how I felt that night, and in fact when that same gal randomly friend requested me several times earlier this year, I declined every single one of them. You might think that’s petty, maybe it is, but I have no use for people like that in my life. 

And so all of this, seeing peoples highly curated super awesome Facebook lives and all of these awesome social events and everyone’s beautiful houses and vacations and purchases and labrador retrievers and whatever… How is it affecting me and making me worse for the wear? Well, it makes me do stupid things to make my life look extra curated and perfect. Maybe I’ll post a random video of myself singing or maybe I’ll post some pictures of me in a new outfit or with a new purse. By the way all of these things I have now deleted because I felt silly afterwards. Because at their core all of these things are… what? I guess fishing for attention? Showing everyone how awesome and perfect my Facebook life is? And while my life is great, and I do love it, as we speak my kid just threw a laundry basket against my Christmas tree and there are small pieces of paper clock all over my living room floor. And some days I let him eat a lollipop at 9:30 in the morning. 

So what’s the solution? I don’t know. I try so hard to do all kinds of tricks to cut back on my dare-we-say obsession with social media. I move the app to different folders, I removed it from my iPad, I’ve hidden people who seem particularly showy… But at the end of the day, I just have to assume that behind the scenes at every fantastic holiday party, at every amazing workout class,  on every flight down to Orlando for everybody’s amazing Disney vacations, there’s a big white laundry basket being launched at somebody’s Christmas tree. At least all of the lights work this year.

The C Word in Our House

Guys, I’m talking about co-sleeping. For the past year I’ve had a chunky little bedfellow. And I need you to stop judging me about it.

If you weren’t judging me, then we cool. But let me expound a bit anyway for everyone who has felt the need to tell me, unsolicited and unprompted, that I should get my kid out of my bed stat.

For the first two years of his life not only did Jake not sleep in our bed, he didn’t even sleep in our room. Not even on night one home from the hospital. Proof positive that the nutman wasn’t always our roommate:

Truth be told, Jake has been a crappy sleeper since birth. We had a little luck because of the automatic Rock n Play, but once he outgrew it the transition to his crib was rocky. Side note: despite its questionable reputation this item was a godsend and without it I surely would have had a nervous breakdown that first year. No, my kid didn’t have flathead or torticollis. But once he was able to operate the controls by himself it was time for him to move on up, but instead of his crib most of year 2 he much preferred to sleep in his pack and play in the living room and we indulged him.

Eventually he was just too big for the portable crib and we transitioned him to his big cribby, which he didn’t care for. At first he would wake up a time or two each night, I’d lull him back to sleep on the couch, and return him to the crib.

Around age 2.5 these wakeups became increasingly frequent… often every (damn) hour. EVERY. DAMN. HOUR.

Guys, I was exhausted. So I took a trip to target, bought a bed rail, and made myself the monkey in the middle betwixt my husband and my son.

And I slept 7 hours that night. Seven glorious hours. I may have had a fat little foot kick me in the belly a time or two, or I may have been woken up by Jake demanding that I “close the gate!” ie spoon him and wrap my free arm around him, but guys… 7 hours!! That was huge.

That being said, I do try and put the boy into his crib, now a big boy bed, every night, but invariably some time later – maybe four hours, maybe ten minutes – I have a banana man climbing into my bed. And I let him in, because at the end of the day I NEED SLEEP… and its not like he’ll be 15 and still climbing into my bed, right?

My Deep Winter Face & Some Olives

I fondly remember thumbing through the latest issue of Teen or YM magazine at age 14 and taking some sort of quiz that told me what my “season” was, and thus promised that it would help me forever and ever choose the best red lipstick to complement my most-likely stunning 1990’s outfit.

I could never settle on an answer, because I felt like my coloring was so unlike any of the choices. I have dark DARK hair naturally, super black eyebrows, my skin is very very fair, but my eyes are a very dark grayish blue. Basically I matched nothing. I have no idea what color my wrist veins look. They looked like all of the choices! And to be honest, I’ve never had luck picking out the best makeup colors for myself, because nothing really seemed to match me. Awesome. The un-matchable face. But now, at age 41, I watched a random YouTube video the other day that pushed me way way down the “find your colors, find your seasons” rabbit hole, and it’s been surprisingly illuminating. PS – this is the channel I’m speaking of – her videos are helpful, and her voice is very relaxing. Plus now I need to purchase like 6 tweed blazers. Audrey ala Mode

She said something in one of her videos (sorry, I’ve now binged on about 890809 of them, so I cannot tell you which) that was like light bulb turning on over my head. She said, and I paraphrase, you can have very fair skin and still have an olive tone. WHAT? I thought olive skin meant you were darker? NOPE. Just means you’re green, apparently. She said, once you notice that your skin has a very slight green undertone, you can’t unsee it. And she was right. I am green. One of the telltale signs that sets a fair skinned olive gal apart from the other fair skinned maidens is that despite what one might think, we actually DO tan. I just choose not to as an adult, because I eschew the outdoors & the hot weather, but in this photo I clearly match Jenn Molloy, and this is proof positive that I can, and have, gotten tan in my younger years: 71573480_435162730684735_343837949093216256_n

And now what? Well, I don’t know. I’m green I guess. But this just encouraged me to take it one step further and explore the idea of what “season” I might be. Concurrent to this, I was having a personal crisis over a pea green sweater. I bought the sweater, but didn’t try it on in store, because I actually LOVE the way this color looks on other people. I also purchased the same exact sweater in a sky blue that day (which I did try on) so I figured that the pea green (I keep accidentally typing pee green. Hm) was a shoo-in. But, it really just exacerbates my green-ness. I become a pea. So, I got to the bottom of all of this drama by taking a color quiz. I took it three times with three different photos, and my result was the same each time. Again, it felt a tiny bit inaccurate because my eye color doesn’t typically GO with my hair/skin color combination, but I believe that the colors it suggests for me ARE the ones that I most prefer on myself. Here is the quiz – take it! Why not, right? Colorwise Season Test

As it turns out, I am a deep winter, which is lovely because I generally enjoy all things winter. And apparently so does my face. These are absolutely the colors that look best on me (I also think that clear winter would work for me, but my eyes are a very dark blue)

No wonder I look so crappy in the pea green! And in camel! And beige! And yellow! Here is the infamous sweater… which is horrid, until I add a grey scarf next to my face. Notice how the same sweater in the light blue is so much more complimentary, and the all time best is the teal shirt that I’m wearing today. Same mirror, same lighting. Now, I’m not going to say that I will never wear items in my “worst colors,” but I’d probably choose to wear them on my bottom half, or in an accessory, and not right next to my big old green head. Take the quiz! Its fun ladies. And let me know what you score!!

Creating An Easy Work Uniform

Who among us hasn’t stood in front of an open closet, packed with clothes, on a Monday morning just staring blankly at the hanging garments while thinking, “Wow, I hate every single item I own.” And if you’re me, you’re doing this with a needy three-year-old wrapped around one ankle… oh, and you’re already 25 minutes late.

First, you really have to take some time and purge out the old crap. Read this for some inspiration Closet Purge

Second, I highly recommend finding yourself a good work uniform. Yup. I remember back in junior high I actually wistfully yearned for the archetypal school uniform, replete with some sort of a pleated skirt, because it would have taken some of the drama out of getting dressed. Alas, I attended public school so my teen years circa the 90s were chock full of belly shirts and acid wash Z Cavericcis. Anyhow, I digress…

The concept of a uniform makes perfect sense, both financially and logically. Once you figure out what your preferred uniform is you won’t have to waste money and energy on items that don’t fit into the template. You’ll build a collection of interchangeable items that work together, and it will save you the hassle of that daily staring contest with your wardrobe.

My personal uniform consists of three key pieces: dress pants, a sleeveless blouse and a cardigan. Obviously I have other items in my collection, but I’d estimate that 75% of my wardrobe fits into these criteria. It just makes life easier. If you’re curious about numbers, I’ll be honest: I have 8 pairs of various dress pants, 8 different colored cardigans, and about 15 tops. Ill typically pair these with chunky boots in the cooler months because I’m incapable of walking in heels.

Here are three outfits – and each features the same exact pair of charcoal grey trousers from Loft, which I actually bought secondhand from Thred Up.

This pair is less than $40 from Jcrew Factory and is available in sizes 00 to 24.

Of course, a classic grey from Loft.

These are similar to the type of top I usually go for from Loft, Kohls, and Loft again. Because, Loft.

Cardigans! This pink one, from Jcrew Factory, is actually the one I’m wearing in pic 3 above. The tan blazers style is also from Jcrew Factory, followed by a classic grey sweater from Walmart!! $13.44!!

So, do a little introspection and figure out your ideal uniform. Maybe you love skirts, dresses, skinnies & tunics… once you find your comfortable niche it’ll make getting dressed less of a crapshoot stressball pain in the ass experience.

Bargain Alert – Heather Shops Anywhere

If you read fashion bloggers and fashion magazines (are those even a thing anymore?) you’ll see lots of people suggesting that when it comes to buying basics, you should spend a little bit more and invest in a piece that will stand the test of time. While I do you believe this for some items (ummm Tieks??) I’m here to tell you that when it comes to certain items I wholly disagree!

And what I’m going to focus on today are black tops.

Maybe I’m immature, but I just can’t keep a black shirt nice from season to season. Maybe it’s because I have cats, maybe it’s because I’m rough on them… I really have no idea. But after three or four months of wear my black tops are pilled and gray and just generally gross.

I do need a new black long sleeved top, as well as a new black cardigan for the fall, and my game plan was to send some stuff into Thred Up and buy some items there… But then Jakie and I stopped into Walmart to pick up some cat litter and I decided to look around.


Guys, a lot of the stuff there is crap. But a lot of the stuff there is pretty nice! So I grabbed myself this cardigan for $12.44 and this black super soft longsleeved shirt for $8.44!

Outfit 1: Here’s what I put with the cardigan to make it look much more expensive! The blouse and tweed trousers are both from Loft, obviously. The shirt I bought last year, but the pants I’ve had for at least 10 years! The little black booties I just bought recently at Old Navy and they are surprisingly comfortable. They’re also waterproof! And I think they were only about 30 bucks if you’re in the market.

Outfit 2: I imagine I’ll wear this shirt with a ton of different things, and I’ll probably go back and get a white one as well for layering, but for fall I think this will look really cute with a maxi skirt, from THE BRAND WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED, Chestnut Tieks, and this LC denim jacket from Kohls LC Jacket

So guys, next time you run out for some dish soap and toilet paper, take a roam through the ladies department. There are lots of cheap little treasures to be found!!

LLR “culture” or Mean Girls Peddling Leggings? Oh, and that body shaming incident

I’ve often said to other LuLaroe gals that I never quite understand why there is so much hate for the brand and the company amongst retailers who have moved on to other ventures, but writing this post 24 hours after receiving our contract cancellation notice, and three days after what I can only liken to a massive case of computer-balls bullying by a group of other retailers, I now can fully report to you: I get it. Like, guys I GET IT. The anger, the betrayal, the frustration… the disgust. All of it. I’ll tell you my candid and 100% honest story now, because I think that the nice girls who still sell LuLaroe – and I have had the opportunity to get to know so many of them – have to demand that this type of bullying and self-policing comes to an end. They have to insist that Home Office no longer condones, or even acknowledges this behavior. Its the only way that the LLR “culture” or, sisterhood if you will, will ever survive… because I promise you there are too many ladies out there who thrive on taking another woman down, and it makes me so, so sad.

Here is our story. It is 100% unedited truth, and if someone from HO or LLR tells you otherwise please know that they are full of it. “It” can mean a variety of things in this instance, so I’ll let you fill it in as you see fit.

As you may know, I’m part of a duo, but you should also know that all of our “complaints” were made solely against me. Lest you think I’m a crappy partner for allowing this to happen, know that although less outspoken Karen certainly shares my feelings on the company, both prior to and post termination.

Report #1 – this happened months ago. I used the word “jackass” in passing and I was reported for conduct not befitting for a retailer. Also know my comment was as follows, “If you’re the retailer who reported my friend G**** for having a mystery sale, then you are a jackass.” Btw, I stand by this statement.

Report #2 – Ah, the body shaming and my unethical breasts. So, I posted the pic you can see below in my CLOSED VIP GROUP!!! to get a little feedback on a few old items from my closet. Not for sale, btw. Now I’m not sure if the person who reported this image (what you see below was the actual screen cap sent to LuLaroe that I received in my email from compliance) was offended by my actual body, or the fact that I use the word “boobs,” but either way it is completely appalling that a fellow woman would take offense to somebody else’s body and suggest that it is somehow unethical or morally “wrong.” Image two shows you the corresponding assessment of this photo by home office. So let me clarify: some woman (or more than one, who knows) is offended by my body and to shame me she complained to the company that I formally represented and they agreed with her to the point where I was contacted by compliance!!! I am utterly disgusted. Disgusted that another woman, or other women as this case may be, would act in this way, and further disgusted that the company would agree with her! Now, I may not be a supermodel, but I am not ashamed of how my body looks in this photo. Shame on LuLaroe for implying otherwise.

Reports #3-6 – Ah, the disparaging remarks. Indeed, I made them. Many of them. But in my closed VIP group, and out of frustration following that horror show known as the Amber launch. Yes, I may have said something like they’re run by assholes? That they’re a half ass company? That it was thievery that they took our $$$ for Ambers but attempted to give us merchandise credit instead of our money back until we opened a case? That I couldn’t wait to be done with LuLaroe soon? I did say those things, again, in my closed group because they are 100% true. I may have also tied a pair of leggings around my neck during a live sale in “the dress” and asked my group if that made my outfit more ethically appropriate. Yeah, that got reported too.

Here’s what ticks me off the most about this: LuLaroe accepts and even encourages this “self policing” crap, and in turn they’re really perpetuating a culture of petty, catty women who care more about catching another retailer slipping up than they do about running a successful business. It just paints such a poor picture of womanhood; like its truly impossible to lift each other up. Its so disheartening because in the aftermath of this drama many, many retailers reached out to me, and some even complained about this issue to HO. So I know that there are many women out there who are really trying to make a success of their business while attempting to keep that shred of sisterhood alive. Ladies: make yourselves heard. These malicious snakes slithering through your pages, your group pages, your upline pages and ISO groups have to be a stopped, and you have to demand that Home Office doesn’t waste time on pursuing this crap when we all know they should be spending that time trying to work more Dorito prints into the 2.0 rotation. They’re so missed.

Xoxo – H

I wore this today.


As promised I’ve continued to photograph my outfits for posterity. To be honest I actually don’t really know what that means. And, yet, here I am doing the posterity thing.

I actually loved this outfit. There are few things in life that I love more than a pair of wide leg pants. They make me feel as if I’m ready for some impromptu boating excursions or maybe some sort of art gallery thing. Both of which obviously happen to me constantly.

I paired it with a white tee, the cluster of bracelets that I’ve been favoring lately, some big earrings & my beloved brown Havaianas. Let me tell you about these shoes. Once upon s time 13 years ago I went to California and thought it was a good idea to walk around Manhattan Beach in big ass platform espadrilles. With bleeding feet, in desperation, I stopped in a little boutique and picked these up! Lifesavers! And they really stood the test of time.

This is my new bag from Wanderers Travel Co. Never will you feel softer leather… I was just tired of carrying the same Coach & MK bags as everyone else. I wanted a bag that looked as if I picked it up from some little artisan while on holiday in Spain.

Things I Wore This Week – 1

Well, I’ve decided to try something new.

I took a browse through some of my old blogs and I realized that many of my photos were, well, crappy. But all of my LuLaroe experience has, at the very least, taught me how to photograph clothing layouts.

So, I started taking pics of my outfits flat. Because apparently I assume everyone wants to know all of the details of wardrobe. You’re welcome.

Outfit #1 – This is my new navy/white LuLaroe Jessie. It feels nautical and, thus, summery to me. Added some bracelets, flat Jessica Simpson sandals and this bag from Wanderers Travel Co, which I loveeeee.

Outfit #2 – This sleeveless white top came in my latest Stitch Fix – it’s a good, classic piece. I added a denim pencil skirt from Loft, navy blue cardigan from Jcrew Factory, and some old sandals from Kohl’s. The earrings here also came in the fix, but they were $28 which is a bit steep for me for costume jewelry.

Outfit #3 – I am actually wearing this right now. It is my lone pair of shorts (Lucky Brand) Jcrew tee, Jcrew flips and the same group of bracelets from outfit 1 – it’s an anchor bangle from Alex & Ani and two metaphysical crystal bracelets.

Feel free to ask me for links for any of the items pictured!! Stay tuned for more outfits!!!