Everything Has Changed…And Yet Stays the Same


This is one of the first pictures we took together. It is still one of my all time favorites.

From the very beginning I have been sharing little conversations, whole realizations, affirmations, and tons of pictures of us on social media. When I decided to undertake this project of writing about our relationship, I knew I was going to start by going through those posts and using them essentially as writing prompts. Already I can see that it will be easier than I originally thought.

After just a few minutes of scrolling I found from the first month, hell the first few weeks we were together this simple post:

Sharyla: Are you realizing now how long this process is taking!?

Brakk: Oh, I knew. It’s you who needs to understand.

Now- on the surface this might not make very much sense, and if you don’t know us personally, it probably makes no sense at all, but that’s why we’re here, for me to hash it out with you.

I have never been known to be a patient person. Ever. In high school I managed to begin a year of border line anorexia simply by not being patient enough to wait in line for my lunches and subsequently realizing that I could go a very long time without feeding myself.

When we first started dating I would hear at least once a day “I will do this at a pace that is good for me!”. As the impatient person that I am, I struggled with this. However, I was so attracted to him and the way he used his words that I would stand and wait for him to finish whatever it was he thought was so important. But from the very beginning I realized our interactions were making me a more patient person. I think it was the first change that I noticed in myself and it was like a breath of fresh air. Not being patient was always a struggle for me, and for others when interacting with me.

He has opened up my eyes to see life less as waiting for the next thing to hurry up and happen and more to living in the moment. Sometimes this is done by simply making me wait and sometimes through long conversations about why waiting is not necessarily the worst possible thing in the world.

He also has realized that dealing with me is much easier if the waiting is entertaining and also that there are some things that are actually important and that we might need to hurry up from time to time.

I no longer hear “I will do this at a pace that is good for me.” because I have learned to recognize when waiting can be necessary and fun, and he has realized that sometimes we need to put on our shoes instead of play with the cat.

All in all the above quote simply sums it up. He taught me to realize that if I understand that I might have to wait, it is much easier to do so.

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Shrakk’s First Recipe : Brakk Brakk’s Fiend Casserole

I didn’t realize the name of this recipe is a scant misleading until after I typed it just now. It’s filling like a casserole, but all it takes is a frying pan and a few minutes until you’ve prepared yourself a meal that is sure to lead to a nap.

Brakk and I thoroughly enjoy cooking with each other. It’s a grand adventure that always ends with something deliciously white-trash on our plates. It’s a relationship building exercise because the kitchen is one of the many places we both want to take full charge. There’s a bay leaf incident that still cracks us up when we think of it yet likewise it’s a solemn milestone in our relationship. For a while now we’ve been throwing around a couple of ideas when cooking:

Writing down in the form of recipes our favorite concoctions


Using our cook time together as blog posts, pairing reading material with the dish we’re cooking and eating (we’re going to be expanding our library of short story authors)

When Brakk made this last night for dinner it was scrumptious. I have a cold, so the spices he used helped me breath and I was able to taste it when everything else seems so bland. Another bonus about these meal, we’re poor, so it’s fairly cheap. When he asked me today if I would write down the recipe I figured a blog post was the natural evolution.

You'll notice in this picture there are larger pieces of sausage. It's jalepeno cheddar smoked sausage that was added today for lunch. Not in the recipe, it's a great addition if Brakk ate all the meat from the original meal already.

You’ll notice in this picture there are larger pieces of sausage in the top right of the bowl. It’s jalapeno cheddar smoked sausage that was added today for lunch.  Not in the recipe, it’s a great addition if Brakk ate all the meat from the original meal already.


Brakk in all his chef glory. Edited by me while a little high…

Cook Time

I didn’t think to time him when he made this. ‘Till it’s done seems fitting


5 pack of hot Italian sausage
2 1/2 – 3 cups water
2 1/2 – 3 cups white rice (instant)
Frozen Tater Tots (2 handfulls)
Cajun seasoning
Louisiana buffalo sauce
Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 can of cheap ice beer


In frying pan brown the sausage in the beer. Do this by adding the beer to the pan in small increments. Brakk fills the frying pan about a quarter of the way up the side. Add Montreal steak and Cajun seasoning liberally. Brakk likes to be able to see the spices clearly on his meat.
Cook beer around sausage until it creates a foamy layer, not completely evaporated. When you’ve used all the beer and you have your last bit of sausage/beer foam
Add water and rice
Stir frequently until rice is tender. (you know what rice looks and tastes like when it’s done)
Cook tater tots as directed. (In the oven…you should know how that works too)
When tots are done, crush them up and add to mixture.
Add buffalo sauce and ketchup to taste.

Taste food a number of times during preparation.

Max isn't amused with my fever antics.

Max isn’t amused with my fever antics.

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Bookish (And Not so Bookish) Thoughts: Shrakk’s First Clothing Swap


Like so many of my friends, when I moved to Pittsburgh I was dead broke. I had something like $180 dollars in my wallet, and I lost my wallet the night I moved to the city. I didn’t get a job for about a month, and that first pay check takes two weeks to be issued, sometimes three.  It wasn’t much.

While struggling to survive financially something major was changing in my life. I came here weighing something around 200 pounds and that weight was coming off as I continued to find parts of myself that I had thought long gone. It was  a pretty amazing transformation, but to be honest, I couldn’t afford it. I moved here in August of 2012 and by September of 2013 I weighed around 140 pounds. I now keep my weight between 132 and 140 and feel better at 29 years old that I did from 21-27. At first, though, it was a blessing and a curse.

I had no money to actually buy new clothes and for the first time in my life I genuinely needed an entirely new wardrobe.

This is when I was introduced to the idea of a swap. A bar, called Sonny’s holds (or held? I haven’t been there in quite some time now) a seasonal clothing swap. I didn’t make it the night of the swap itself, I got something just a little bit more fun my first time around. A friend who knew a couple of the bartenders made a phone call after listening to my constant lamentations about jeans that wouldn’t stay up.

Sonny’s is a bar built for drinking. You know the type, there’s a newfangled jukebox, a couple of televisions, and dartboards. None of them set up in a particularly comfortable way, but that’s okay, darts and sports are rarely the primary reasons for a visit to Sonny’s. There’s a back room with another dart board and this was my destination the night I discovered free clothes. When I walked down the steps into the colder space where the staff of Sonny’s store old decorations and live band equipment I was met with a small lake of black garbage bags. Every bag was filled with clothes that if I wanted, I could take. I left that night with one of those bags completely full.

The rules of a clothing swap seem pretty simple:

  • Go through your closet and pick out clothes you were planning on selling in that yard sale you never had and most likely were going to donate to charity…eventually.
  • Call some friends, have them call some of their friends, and designate people to maybe bring refreshments.
  • Put clothes in a house or like above, in a bar.
  • Leave the clothes you don’t want – Take the clothes you do.
  • Find a charity, something like PickUpPlease.org  (Vietnam Veterans Association), that will take the leftover items
  • Have a blast. Seriously. This is pretty much what it takes.

Now, I recommend thinking a little more thoroughly than I did when I hosted my first swap. You might want to make sure you have lots of hangers, a few tables, something to hang clothing on, and such. Even some signs to indicate sizes or types of clothing, but we didn’t do that and people found items just fine.

After Sonny’s I was hooked. I am a true clothes horse with no budget for my appetite. It’s easy to see how a clothing swap is pretty perfect for my needs. After my second swap, this time at a friends house, I knew this was something I could do and desperately wanted to. As soon as we moved into our new apartment I made plans with my room mates to get something put together.

In the end, I should have budgeted for more snacks and refreshments, but all I had to do was mention that we couldn’t really afford much and our guests rallied. We had quite a spread. We rigged up a piece of bamboo found in our basement to the mantle in our living room using tack nails and yarn (this failed us once, but only because of my overconfidence in our engineering) and the couch and coffee table were at one point almost indistinguishable under the mass of clothing our friends brought. I was blown away. It was so easy and remarkably fun. So much so, that while I intended on writing this post and had planned to take many pictures of all our guests, I ended up with only a few blurry photos and a ton of great memories. Oh, and my entire closet got a reboot. I haven’t worn the same outfit twice since January 23rd.

I will be holding another swap in the next season, and I challenge every person who is reading this post to do the same. Seriously, how could you go wrong? The amount of money I save knowing that I don’t have to spend 25 dollars on a sweater from Target, or hell even 5 at Goodwill is insane. You’ve been coveting at least one item in your friends closet and if you knew they were willing to part with it, I bet you’ve been coveting more than one. Beyond that it’s just a good idea. Less money being spent on non necessities, community building, and charitable donation all wrapped up in one. No waiting in lines. Wine. You can have wine while you ‘shop’.

So now- Pictures!

Here you see one hell of a jacket and in the background, our bamboo clothes line.

Here you see one hell of a jacket and in the background, our bamboo clothes line.


A better view of the jacket and the beautiful person, Maria, modelling it.

My very good friend Kez and I. The sweater I'm wearing left her closest that evening and took up residence in mine.

My very good friend Kez and I. The sweater I’m wearing left her closest that evening and took up residence in mine.

The radiant Kristi taking stock of the bamboo mantel closet. As you can see I was just so happy everyone was having fun, my photography was lacking.

The radiant Kristi taking stock of the bamboo mantel closet. As you can see I was just so happy everyone was having fun, my photography was lacking.

A fun photo of Kristi and I.

A fun photo of Kristi and I.

Here you can see I am wearing the most fun of dresses donated by Kez, while Kristi is holding her picks to try on!

Here you can see I am wearing the most fun of dresses donated by Kez, while Kristi is holding her picks to try on!

Kate Monster and I discovered at the swap that we own pretty much identical muppets. She took some time to make sure mine got a new wardrobe as well. The green jacket Kate Monster is wearing is also a clothing swap grab!

Kate Monster and I discovered at the swap that we own pretty much identical muppets. She took some time to make sure mine got a new wardrobe as well. The green jacket Kate Monster is wearing is also a clothing swap grab!

This picture was originally taken to send to my husband who isn't nearly as interested in new clothes as I am, but I am still pretty pumped about my sexy new corset thing and my comfy pajama pants.

This picture was originally taken to send to my husband who isn’t nearly as interested in new clothes as I am, but I am still pretty pumped about my sexy new corset thing and my comfy pajama pants.

And finally, the only major fail of the night. I was convinced that because we could hang SOME clothes on bamboo tied with yarn to a fireplace mantel we could hang ALL of the clothes from the bamboo. I was wrong. Thankfully someone brought a more traditional clothes rack for us to use as well!

And finally, the only major fail of the night. I was convinced that because we could hang SOME clothes on bamboo tied with yarn to a fireplace mantel we could hang ALL of the clothes from the bamboo. I was wrong. Thankfully someone brought a more traditional clothes rack for us to use as well!

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts is a weekly installment hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It’s a great way to get to know other bloggers, find new blogs, or even get to know the writer’s of the blogs you already love. Visit Bookishly Boisterous and check out what others had to say this week too!

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The Shrakk’s First Little Free Library Visit

CAM03229Last night when our room mate, Jonny, came in from walking Cosa ( the dog) he was carrying a National Geographic in his hand. He told me that he found a stand that had books, and said to take one and leave one. “It even had Christmas lights on it and the whole nine”, Jonny said.

I immediately knew what he had found! I’ve known about the Little Free Libraries for some time now, but until recently I lived in the middle of fucking nowhere and had never happened on one myself. Now, I live just 6 blocks away from one of these delightful libraries, and while talking to a friend today found out there is another quite near me!

Earlier this evening, Brakk and I decided to take Cosa for a walk to find this tiny library.

We live in East Liberty, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We just moved here from Lawrenceville (also a neighborhood in Pittsburgh) a few months ago and by the time we were finished getting settled in the weather was much too cold to undertake any large amount of exploring. I’m terribly familiar with the landscape from my house to my bus stop, but side streets have been largely untraveled by the Shrakk’s.

Of course I took pictures

We open

We open

We read

We read

We pose

We pose (but we are too distracted to move the poop bag out of frame)


poop fail


A surprising variety of books conveyed the impression that this little box held many worlds inside. I found Satan Says by Sharon Olds who I hadn’t heard of. Looking the book of poetry up for this post, however, has my interest piqued. There was a cook book that looked older but great for those eating on a budget. Children’s books, romance, thrillers. It’s all there.

Cosa began to communicate that her interest in our walk was slipping due to the fact that we weren’t technically walking any longer, so I didn’t get to really investigate as much as I would have liked to. I did pick up a book and didn’t leave one, so I’ll be returning tomorrow and will take a better look around. I grabbed a Booker Prize Finalist by Rohinton Mistry titled A Fine Balance. I’ve looked up Mistry and taken a cursory glance at the information the internet has to offer on the man, and his books look interesting and beautifully written.

I know incredibly little about India, where the book is set, and even less about India in the 1970’s. The novel is about four people who are dealing with a turbulent time in their country. The reader gets to journey with them as they end up living all together in one home and after an apparent period of distrust they are all going to be friends. Or so I have gathered from the description on the back.

Taking into account that the evening walk was a tad nippy, we had a wonderful time. Our neighborhood is near some beautiful houses that remind me of home and yet, I finally live where there is a Little Free Library just a few blocks away. It was a good day.

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Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts


I struggled last week to not write about the cat I love. He’s not even my cat. However, since then I’ve decided to make him a regular on the blog and I figured I should take a moment to offer some background about Max (the cat).

When Brakk and I moved in with our new room mates after we got married, we left behind a cat we both loved very much. We have a habit of living with people who already have the maximum allotment of cats in the house which is honestly fine because we are sometimes children who can barely take care of ourselves.

Pogo & Brakk

Pogo & Brakk

Pogo is a very handsome kitty.

Pogo is a very handsome kitty.

Seriously...how could one deny the cute?

Seriously…how could one deny the cute?


Dweezle doing what he was good for. Entertaining Brakk.

Pogo stole our hearts. I don’t know how it happened but at some point months and months after moving in with this cat and his family I realized he was fucking awesome. Aloof like a cat and determined to do what he put his mind to, Pogo spent much of his time indoors with the likes of us. Unfortunately he also enjoyed hours of prowling the city streets but somehow never came home with a mark on him. He had a buddy, Dweezle, a Siamese with mostly annoying qualities.

We spent a lot of time with both of these cats and eventually came to think of Pogo (alias Favorite Centaur Moe) as our own in a way. Sadly we had to move and we were unable to bring Pogo along with us. Dweezle relied on Pogo and his mentoring quite a bit so it is best that he is still with his partner in crime.

Our new home came with two amazing room mates and one sort of absentee room mate. There’s also La Cosa the amazing human-pitt mix, Pumpkin Brains who really seems to come straight from The Aristocats, and Max (the cat).

At first I was steadfast that I would not love any of the animals that reside here. I was missing Pogo in the worst way and had no interest in falling in love with another precious animal just to have to leave him behind. My husband, on the other hand, had no such qualms. Day by day Max became a bigger part of our routine, until all at once it seemed like he dominated our at home time. How could he not? He’s too adorable for words.

We love a good snuggle

We love a good snuggle

Max has a crooked face which, according to our room mate he got after having an abscess under his lip. He had to have some major surgery to have it removed and the surgeon apparently had to do some fancy work putting everything back together.



He loves to lick when he’s being pet, but I hate it so he doesn’t do it to me as much. Brakk however gets ALL the licks.

Max is a great companion for us. Brakk gets to play with the cat as much as he wants, but in turn I also get a nice calm snuggle-buddy. Max is happy to lay near me OR on me, whichever works best for me. Unlike many cats he lets me read without laying on the book, he comes when he’s called and even tried to rescue me once when Brakk scared me while I was taking a shower. We know, of course, that eventually we’ll move on and we won’t be able to bring him with us. In the meantime, we consider ourselves like foster parents to Max, who’s Mom is away for long chunks of time and doesn’t get a chance to visit often.

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts is a weekly installment hosted by Bookishly Boisterous and is not only an awesome way to connect with other bloggers, but a great way to get to know the bloggers you love. Check it out!

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Shit I Learned For Free: John Brown’s Holy War

I took the notes for this post January 10th. It has taken me this long to sit down and write it. It seemed daunting. “You’ve bitten off more than you can chew.” that awful voice boomed inside my head. I took tomorrow off work on a whim and decided that I would spend a chunk of this ‘extra’ time in my life working on ‘the blog’, as I refer to it.

I started this evening with my email account.

Anyone who has a blog knows that at least 80% of the experience is the networking. Like Facebook, Deviantart, and (remember?) Myspace, blogging is a lot about getting people to pet your pretty pretty ego.

To me, blogging is a little less honest about it, but this is made up for by what the stroker gets in exchange. When I hit like on a friend’s status about how yummy their brunch was I don’t get to eat a piece of that brunch. Which sucks, because I have the munchies most of the time I’m on Facebook. However, when I come begging for readers via Twitter, Facebook, or Bloglovin’ (which I barely understand) I’m offering you the best art I am able to give, and all I really want is a comment.

If this isn’t your first time reading you’ll know that I have a few basic blogging rules set up for myself this go ’round. I don’t want to write any half-assed posts and I don’t want to leave half-assed comments. In the end, to really network, this means a lot of reading. I read probably 25 blog posts tonight, of varying lengths. I enjoyed most of them and found a couple of blogs I will now be going out of my way to read. One of them is Reading Rambo. I read a post about these riots in England that killed 800+ people and there was a silly man involved named Gordon.

And I thought of the notes hidden in the coffee table.


I know, that’s disgusting.

The first thing that caught my attention when I watched this documentary by PBS Ameican Experience was that John Brown was competitive. So much so that when he was 17 he decided to open a tannery that would be in direct competition with his father.

I Googled “John Brown’s Tannery Site” and what came up blew my mind. The entirety of my teen age years were spent (according to Google Maps) 41 minutes from exactly what I entered into Google. There’s a museum. It has free admission and in the winter it will open on appointmentI have no idea how I didn’t know about this and how I haven’t been to this place. However, learning this place exists at all wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t like documentaries, didn’t like reading, and blogging, and didn’t push myself just a little to do the thing.

Now armed with at least one topic I could write about, I kept on Googling.

The Secret Six-

Fundraisers for John Brown. You can read more about them on the PBS website itself, which offers a blurb here. Once I started clicking on links, though, I found some pretty badass stuff.

If you click HERE you can read about each of the six individuals and HERE  you can read the testimony of Samuel Howe when he was grilled by the Senate Committee Investigating the Raid on Harper’s Ferry.

But wait! There’s MORE! I searched “samuel g howe testimony” and found THIS which is a Google Book titled “Senate Documents Volume 130: Volume 22. Here you can just read the documents from the case, and I believe as much testimony as you can handle. For free.


Tragic Prelude by John Steuart Curry

I’m still no artist or art history professor but I noticed this painting  while flying around the internet and the colors really caught my eye. This is beautiful and if you know anything about John Brown and his fight to end slavery the painting is breathtaking. There is Old John Brown, bigger than life, bigger than everyone else. He holds a gun in one and hand and what I would assume is the bible in his other. I think you can even see a silk page marker in the book itself. He stands with the sons of the north and south dead at his feet. At his back is a tornado which I believe (all assumption here) would represent the dangerous area of prewar Kansas.  To the right you’ll notice the world seems to be on fire which is beyond fitting, because during the Civil War it sort of was.

If you want to read an actual analysis of the painting you can go here, however, if you click HERE you can print out a symbolism worksheet and coloring page!

The documentary itself is great. It’s an hour and twenty minutes long and I’m not going to tell you how many times I (and my wonderful and patient husband) have watched it, but I would recommend at least one viewing. John Brown was one major catalyst of the war, he turned Frederick Douglas a little violent in a time when abolitionists were still a peaceful group, and he was willing to sacrifice not only his life but the lives of his family for the cause he died for. Brown, unlike so many others of his time, did not write newsletters and pamphlets (though those who did were taking their lives into their own hands as well) but he took action. Any time I read or watch anything about John Brown I always feel a little sad that he didn’t get to see that his cause won in the end. Or that his predictions for the future were on point. Instead, he died a man of his cause, thought to be crazy and definitely a zealot. The federal government who tried and hanged him would eventually (and not long after) take up his cause and lose more lives than anyone could have predicted.

I’ll leave you with this:

Max (the cat) and I snuggling

Max (the cat) and I snuggling

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Bookish (And Not So Bookish Thoughts…)

When I decided to return to blogging I set ground rules for myself. No blog hosted reading challenges and no “Mailbox Monday’s” posts were two of these rules. The number one rule, however, is not to spend more time trying to get people here than I spend reading books and subsequently writing about them.  These rules are inspired by my past blogging experience in which I often put incredible pressure on myself to move traffic towards my minuscule chunk of the internet. This pressure is now coupled with a lack of substance. I don’t want to write half-assed posts and I don’t read enough or buy/trade/receive enough books to feel as if I can really write a post centered on those subjects.  If and when, in the future, I am able to devote that type of time to books and the entire experience of the written word I will participate with glee. Until then, my goal here is to strengthen my personal discipline skills with regards to reading and writing.

Nevertheless, I have been obsessively refreshing my blog, anxious for new hits and comments. While taking time from this fanatic clicking today I discovered the perfect solution to my desire to network and the rationale to break two of my ground rules in Bookishly Boisterous’s archives.

The author of said blog has found it fitting to help connect bloggers and readers through a weekly installment called Bookish (And Not So Bookish Thoughts…) I’ve decided to take advantage of this and add to my goals of 2015 a weekly blog post centered around any aspect of my life my fickle mind can decide on and tie that topic to books if I am able.

I guess I’ll just start with a bit of an introduction:


That’s me! At my wedding Nov. 1, 2014!

I’m 29 years old and I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I’m a data entry monkey by day and a shut in by night. I enjoy long walks back to my house from where ever the hell it was I had to go in the first place, cold cereal and milk at 9:00 p.m., and binge watching my 28 year old husband play Skyrim or Fallout.

I met Brakk, my wonderful husband in March of 2013. He is my best friend and my rock.

Awesome Squared

Awesome Squared

Max, the cat, is a recurring model in our photo shoots.

Max (the cat) is a recurring model in our photo shoots.



One of the greatest gifts this breathtaking man has given me is the provision of support in our relationship. No matter what it is I’m aiming to accomplish, he is behind me, gently helping me retrain my brain to think positively. Sometimes he’s in front of me pulling me away from the dangers that self-doubt and disbelief impose on creativity.

Here’s a little story about how his support got me to this moment.

For a few years now I haven’t been reading like I did when I was younger. There are a million reasons, none of them of any lasting importance. Until recently I didn’t have much urge to lose myself in a book. I have read a few books here or there, to pass time or because I found a particular story to be interesting, but I haven’t read just to be reading. I used to revel in the feeling of going slightly deaf in reality while an entire other universe spins into existence inside your brain. Or maybe your soul. Most likely both. As of late, however, my mind has been entirely too distracted.

Then, he read Dune. Due to our being quite poor and living in the city, a few months ago Brakk was on the bus a lot. Twice a day he took a half hour ride from Lawrencville to Homewood and on those rides he read. We took the bus together a lot in the morning, but I had much less ground to cover and always got off first.. (go ahead and giggle, that’s what she said)

I’m obsessed with my husband. I’m gross about it and I’m shameless. Every morning I would get off the bus and as I walked down the street I would watch him through the window. The florescent bus lighting seemed to work as a spotlight in the wee hours of the summer days and by the time we were passing each other his black backpack would be on his lap the hands attached to the man I was going to marry would be reaching into it to retrieve a book.

So I wanted to read again, and with that came the urge to blog and here we are. Except it’s not really like that. It took me months to actually sit down and read some and this post alone has taken me 3 days. Every time I think I want to stop because I don’t like it, or it’s not good enough, or uninteresting, he is there. I read all of this to him, sometimes in huge chunks, sometimes one sentence every twenty minutes. He reads over my shoulder even  when I gripe at him not to and he smiles at what he sees on the screen. He knows how many likes my Facebook page has.

and here we are.


Brakk and Max (the cat)

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Shit I Learned For Free – From Jesus To Christ

In our bedroom, directly across from the bed, is a 27 inch flat screen Sanyo television. I highly doubt that this comes as a surprise. Most people have a television in the bedroom. Between the bed and the t.v. we have a coffee table with an equally unsurprising and low cost laptop on top of it.

I would wager that 75% of the time there are video games on the t.v. and a documentary on the laptop. We watch a wide variety of documentaries, mostly via YouTube and Netflix, but also on the PBS website and Al Jazeera.com. When I’m working I sometimes listen to music, but most often I have some documentary going as background noise while I enter data into an ancient computer program.

From these programs and the internet as a whole I have learned a lot of shit for free. I wanted to share what I thought was interesting, open the floor for some debate and or a chance to learn even more.

This post was inspired by a PBS Frontline documentary From Jesus To Christ: The First Christians

I have been interested in the history of most religions and faiths for a long time now, so when I noticed this documentary while watching something on prisons or whatnot I was really excited to watch it. In the last week I have listened to or watched it probably 4 or 5 times. If you have ever watched any Mysteries of the Bible or Bible’s Burried Secrets then you have most likely seen many of the historians and archaeologists that are in this four-parter.

I’m not a historian and I’m not a film critic. This is not a review. I can tell you I felt as if the director or writer made sure that there were many educated opinions but that is about the best I can offer. I watched the damn thing 5 times and this video alone is an hour and fifty minutes long. Obviously I enjoyed it.

But here is the free shit I learned


I didn’t even know that was a word, and until I just typed it I still didn’t know how to spell it.

Eschatology is a branch of Christian theology. This branch seems to be mostly concerned with the end of things. According to Merriam-Webster the word itself is not as old as it’s ideas, first being used in 1844.

Did you know that Golgotha and Calvary are the same place? Also that Golgotha means skull. I had no idea. Honestly, as an avid Kevin Smith fan I thought it had something to do with excrement.


I learned about the last days and moments of Saint Perpetua (astonishingly a real name a not just a snobby character in Bridget Jone’s Diary). This woman died in a way that was apparently perfect for her, nevertheless, reading her account made my stomach turn a few times. She was arrested for being a Christian in a Roman world and killed after refusing to give sacrifice to whoever it was they wanted her to. Like most martyrs Perpetua was happy to die with her brethren and for her faith and like however many Roman victims she did so in front of a large crowd of people eager to watch her perish in the most graphic way their twisted little minds could think up. One of her fellow prisoners was attacked by a bear while being held in stocks, another killed by a jaguar, and Perpetua and Felicitas (Felicity) were netted and attacked by a crazy cow (heifer to be exact, because the Romans were kind enough to match victim and means of death by sex).

Reputably the short chronicle I read was partially written by the hand of Perpetua herself, though I will admit after the first few paragraphs I was unsure who in the narrative was ‘speaking’. This is definitely a piece of Christian history but it does not matter what faith you follow or if you follow no faith at all. Persecution sucks. Persecution by means of manic farm animal sounds like it would be an overabundance of suck.

I would like to point out here that I have so far gathered all of this information for free. Moreover, it didn’t take long. When the documentary mentioned Perpetua I typed her name into Google and within seconds I was able to access her words. I didn’t even have to take my feet off the couch.

Anyone can learn this shit for free.

Adding to the list of titles I do not hold; I am not an artist, art critic or art historian. I am, however, a human with eyes. I like pretty and shiny things. I like documentaries because through them I learn about pretty shiny things that I would never be able to see otherwise. For instance, there is a Mona Lisa of the Galilee. She looks like this:

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

She is just part of a larger mosaic, according to Wikipedia it is 15 panels, set in the floor of a banquet hall discovered in Israel in an ancient town known as Sepphoris. The mosaic is mostly dedicated to the Greek god Dionysus, includes 28 colors and an astounding 1.5 million stones. (Bible Places) Here’s some more:


It’s not always quiet contemplation and scholarly chatter in the bedroom of Shrakk. Often we are poking fun at the commentators, names of the ancients, or discussing the production of the documentary itself. So here is a gem:

If you know who Richard Cheese is and have a minute of time, scroll down to the bottom of this post and click on the video I have included. At minute 42:30 you will hear a man singing. I’ll go ahead and assume it is some sort of religious song, but it is in a language I don’t speak. I am convinced, and after playing it for him multiple times so is Brakk, that it is really just Richard Cheese singing “Lady lady lady” over and over again. If you do listen and you do not agree with me, smoke a joint, then try again.

I have done my best in this post to include links to where I found the information I have shared. It might not all be legal, and it might not all be right, but it IS out there and I welcome you to show me any where I have gone wrong.

Below I’m including the video of From Jesus to Christ and a picture of Max (the cat) because he makes Brakk happy.


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Hiroshima by John Hersey


Hiroshima by John Hersey (978-067972103) and the cat, Max

A handful of weeks ago when my husband left to spend the night with friends for drinking and male camaraderie, I did not expect him to return with the material I would need for a blog post. I also didn’t expect to read Hiroshima in a day while waiting for my father-in-law to return my husband to the city days after Christmas. As a newlywed and all-around needy wife, I don’t really enjoy it when Brakk is away, but both aforementioned times, it worked out rather well.

Our copy of Hiroshima came to us via a friend named Chris. Chris read out loud to his friends during a drunken get together and for whatever reason Brakk asked if he could bring the book home. Chris declined. However, he gifted this book as consolation, and I’m glad for it.

When I sat down to read I did so thinking it would pass some time while I was eating lunch at The Sandwich Shop and waiting for two of the most easily distracted men to pick me up. Ninety pages later, the diner closed and I moved on to Crazy Mocha (a coffee shop) down the street. The book is only 116 pages and by the time I got home that evening, I had 16 pages to finish it up.

Reading Hiroshima feels a lot like when you’re walking down the street and the sidewalk changes level unexpectedly. That step down, just a half an inch in difference, and your entire world seems to shift and all is a land of confusion. This is a sensation that is normally brought to a swift end once the second foot steps into it’s rightful place. While reading Hiroshima I seemed to live there.

As soon as each ‘character’ the author followed experienced the flash of light, everyone was simply grappling for a sense of normalcy. A touchstone to remind them that this is not the way their world always was or always would be. While the majority of these victims were desperately seeking medical attention and/or loved ones many were simultaneously preparing for the day ahead. But that normalcy never came.

I read a review of this book on Goodreads in which the writer complained that they did not like the ‘dramatization’ of the book. I think this reviewer expected facts and figures, which when important the reader does receive. This book is not intended to be a scientific text on the subject. The author tries, and succeeds to show this horrific and world changing event through the eyes of not even the vast majority, but six simple people.

What struck me most is how different they seemed from each other when I read the first chapters and in the end they were all sadly, and not by their own hands, roughly the same.

The book is depressing, this is not a disputable fact. Nevertheless, one finds incredible humanity in the wake of this tragedy. One man, while stepping through dead and dying to help others apologizes endlessly for having supplies, for being uninjured, for being alive.

Our copy was printed in 1959 and cost $.35 and I had no idea this was a famous read when I popped it in my purse. I wasn’t aware it was a Pulitzer Prize winner or that the author had written more than this title. I learned that from Wikipedia. All the same, I am not surprised that this book floored many Americans and while it was a painful and heartbreaking read, I will return it to the shelf just a little bit wiser.

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Reflections & Promises

Like so many others I have spent this day in relaxation and reflection. I’m watching Ken Burn’s Civil War for the seventy-billionth time, reminding me that nothing really changes, while laying in bed next to my new husband who constantly reminds me that things can change in the most wonderful ways.

My resolutions are simple. I will leave the negative of 2014 where it belongs, and carry the positive into this new year.

2014 taught me quite a few awesome facts. The best of which is that I am loved, thought of, and listened to. Due to the nature of the holiday season this has most recently been shown to me in the form of gifts. Books as gifts, and therefore, the greatest gifts.


Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller (978-0-7611-3985-0) and The Most Notorious Crimes in American History (1-933821-08-5)

My wonderful friend, Kez, gave me The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller, which proved immediately to be awesome. Within an hour I’d figured out why the ends of my blankets and throws were wavy, a week later I taught myself a stitch I had struggled with for months, and now I have plenty of gift ideas for friends and family. I highly recommend this book to those self taught crochet nerds who may be struggling with the little things in crochet. There are also some bad ass patterns in this book for hats, sweaters, and this shirt that is gorgeous. They seem intimidating to me, but remember that a few weeks ago I couldn’t crochet a straight edge.

For Christmas I received The Most Notorious Crimes in American History (a book put out by LIFE) from Brakk’s cousin. I haven’t spent a HUGE amount of time with his family, but we do connect on holidays and through social media. I was incredibly surprised to receive such a spot on gift. Something I would really enjoy and appreciate. As it turns out, he had remembered from the year before when he received the book as a gift that I said I would have loved it. I remember my jealousy now. It’s an interesting book and I can’t wait to sit down with it. Looks like a simple and straightforward read. Lots of pictures.

It feels like it’s been a million times that I’ve ‘started blogging again’, but here I am. My interest is renewed and my ambition to stick with it just as strong as every previous time. This time I waited a few days. Instead of getting a wild hair up my ass and then spending an entire evening collecting twitter followers and starting email accounts I thought about what I would want out of the experience. That would be one of the lessons of 2014 right there.

In years past I have participated in reading challenges hosted by individual bloggers. This year I am challenging myself. I have a reading challenge I nabbed from facebook, printed out at work and taped to my wall. I even checked one off a couple of days ago. Not something I would normally do, but my goal is not to start and finish the challenge, but to simply finish it. This challenge is a hodgepodge of requirements, a book over 100 years old to a Pulitzer Prize winner. It would require I read 54 books and so I’m going to attempt to read a total of 55 in 2015.

If I don’t, that’s not a big deal, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of life to live this year as well.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful New Year’s day and that you are prosperous and happy in 2015

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