I read a comment on a blog…

If you will indulge me…. I’d like to share my reply to a comment I read on another blog. The blog belongs to John Scalzi, the guy who wrote the book Redshirts (which I loved.)  In this particular post, he shared a video of a song by the Doubleclicks about internet trolls.  You should listen to the song – the lyrics are funny and poignant and smart.

The comment that bothered me:

The one time I was accused of being an internet troll, I thought I was being constructive, but the members of the “group”–nerdfighers–thought I wasn’t. So I stopped watching vlogbrothers videos, unsubscribed from John Green’s blog, and never looked back. By the way, I really don’t like the song–she’s cute, sings well, it’s okay–but the lyrics? Nope. Don’t like ‘em. Not that it matters. The way I handle comments now is that I never look at them again, so if someone thinks it’s trolling to say you don’t like something, well, I’ll never see your replies.  (by someone named Jude with no links to anything he himself has created)

This is what wrote:

It’s not that you aren’t allowed to dislike something – that isn’t why people hate trolls. People hate trolls for the same reason your mother told you: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” As they say in the song. What is the purpose of saying you don’t like something?  What are you trying to convey?  A negative opinion is worth exactly the same as no opinion, which is nothing.

Constructive criticism looks like this. “Wow, your voice is great.  I didn’t really like the song, I’m not sure the lyrics are all that relevant to my life, but that’s ok, I know you weren’t writing it just for me.  Keep up the great work. It is awesome that you have the talent to create and the guts to put it up there for all to see.”

My solution to the troll problem:  Only people who also create are allowed to comment on other’s creations.

Here is what else I might have said…

Hey Jude, I think for your own sanity, you really ought to unplug yourself from social media. We, the active participants in social media, the bloggers, the writers, the singers, the actors, we don’t need your ‘constructive’ criticism.  Really.  I’m sorry if you truly meant to be helpful, but it isn’t helping.  It’s just hurting.  So, just turn off your computer and go away.

Better yet – go create something.  Write a song, with better lyrics of course.  Or write a blog post – a careful dissection of the lyrics explaining exactly why you didn’t like them, and how they could be better, or a post on how trolls are helpful to social media. Make some art and post it on tumblr or behance.  Create something, anything, and it will stop you from hating the people who create.  Because then you will be one of us.  A part of the Creators Club.  Our work isn’t the greatest, but we put a lot of effort and love into it, and we are awfully proud of it.  You can do it. Everyone can do it.  And when we are all creators, then no one has to be a troll.

Here is what I didn’t say because I didn’t want to be a troll…

You mean to say the ‘one time’ you get slammed with negative comments, you gave up and walked away from all Nerdfighteria?  Well then, that tells me two things, one – you didn’t belong there in the first place and two – if the negative comments on your comment hurt your feelings so badly – I would think the song should resonate with you more than any one!

And lastly…

“she’s cute” Really?!?!?!?  – how does that have anything to do with the song?  ARG!

 

 

A Conversation over Lunch.


Star Field

Kate sat in the dining hall across the table from Kella and tried not to look as uncomfortable as she felt.

“Is it the windows?” Kella asked, “They aren’t real. It’s just a projection.  A lot of people get claustrophobic after months and months on the ship. The projection of the stars and space seems to help.”

“No, I’m fine,” Kate answered.  She looked down at her tray of food and wondered why she’d selected the peach pie for dessert.  She’d really wanted the chocolate cake, but there’d only been one slice left and it seemed wrong to take it.

“So, I’ve met your father,” Kella said with a knowing glance, referring to the way he flirted with the ship’s Matron every chance he got, “But I don’t know anything about your mother, I hear she is in the government on Tinwin?”

“Not in the government, not really.  She works for the News actually. She’s the government correspondent.” Kate took a bite of a pressed meat-like patty with its smothering gravy and chewed for longer than necessary.

Kella waited, sipping from a mug of creamy soup that looked and smelled delicious.

“She reports the goings on in the capital on the News every evening.”

“Ah, so I guess she wasn’t home much.”

“Well, sort of.  She was gone in the morning before I woke up for school, but she was home every night for dinner, her segment was recorded, not live.  We’d watch it while we ate.”

Kella nodded, staring at Kate with thoughtful eyes.  Kate felt pitied.

“She was a good mother.  Busy, of course, but we had nannies and housekeepers and all that. We were well cared for.”

Kella nodded again.

Kate looked down at her plate, wondering what was in the green mush.

“It’s mostly kale, but they generally add some other flavors as well,” Kella said.

Kate looked up at her, it wasn’t the first time Kate felt the other woman was reading her mind.

“I never knew my mother.”  Kella said. “I mean, I knew who she was, she came to visit me when I was little.  But children in the Society grow up in the nursery with just a few people to look over them, and then, as soon as they are able, they’re sent into training.”

Kate knew the Wavers called themselves ‘The Society.’  It seemed pretentious.  ‘Wavers’ was more descriptive, since they were the waves of people who’d emigrated from Tinwin many decades ago.

“What did you train as?” Kate asked.

Kella looked at her, confused, “Well, as a Ship Matron, of course.”

“Oh, you didn’t get to choose your job?”

“Choose? No, we’re tested for the first time at about five years old and then again at about seven, it depends on individual maturity levels and such. The test determines what you can do best, what would make you the most satisfied and how you could be the most useful to the Society.”

Kate shivered at Kella’s tone. It seemed so cold to Kate, telling a kid what job they’d have when they were only seven years old, never giving them the freedom to dream or explore.

“Kate, I love my job. I’ve never been unhappy with my work and I am useful and respected. Can you say the same?” Kella looked away after speaking and took a large swallow of soup.

“I’m sorry, that was rude,” she said, looking back again. She smiled apologetically at Kate, but Kate didn’t sense any real regret in her look, only condescension.

“What happens with the kids who don’t test into a job that is needed?” Kate asked.

“What do you mean? Every job is needed.”

“I meant, what if the test says a kid is a writer or an artist.”

“The test doesn’t work that way. If someone has artistic abilities, then they are probably good at designing new software or new ships. We don’t need pretty pictures.”

“That’s what I’m asking. What happens when the test says all this kid is good for is painting beautiful works of art.”

“That would never happen.” Kella said into her mug.

“Never?” Kate asked, holding back the smile.

“Never.” Kella insisted, while looking out the fake window into fake stars.

Part of an ongoing Serial: A Life Investigated 

 

Gut Reaction

A fictional tale of unexpected, and slightly silly, heroic rescue.  

Wendy reached out to turn off the alarm and cringed, waiting for the hangover to slam into her head. After a moment or two, when nothing happened, she opened first one eye then the other to the midday glow emanating from around the edges of the shut curtains.  Still nothing. No pain, no queasiness. Random thoughts from the night before bounced around her brain without chronology or context, but one thought was clear: she’d drank a lot. More than she ought to.

Sitting up in bed, Wendy looked at the clock and saw it was a minute past noon.  Exactly when she wanted to awake, plenty of time to recover, shower and dress for Sunday dinner at her parents house. Perhaps the lack of hangover was due to the ten hours of sleep she’d just had.  Ten hours.  When was the last time she’d slept ten hours? Groaning, almost wishing for the distraction of the hangover, Wendy prodded the memories of the night before like she would a sore tooth. She remembered her uninhibited hands groping in strobe light, a cute guy with soft lips and muscular arms. She shook her head wishing the embarrassing memories away, imagining instead the dinner tonight. She would plant herself in a safe corner, watching her loud brothers dominate the conversation at the table and their uncontrollable sons tear the house apart. She’d try to get a few mouthfuls of her mother’s cooking, and maybe a word or two with her parents, before escaping into the quiet night.

She got out of the bed, spent a few minutes in the bathroom then went downstairs to the kitchen.  Her tiny rented house, with its mini backyard and single-person sized rooms was a dream after four years in a dorm and a lifetime of sharing space with others.  She started the coffee maker then went back upstairs to dress.  With bra and underwear on, she’d just started to put one leg into a pair of comfy sweatpants when she heard a scream from outside.

Wendy thrust back the curtains and threw open the window to see into the neighbor’s backyard. She hadn’t lived there long, only a few weeks, and hadn’t met her neighbors yet. The only thing she knew about them was their ownership of a small, yappy dog.

That dog, visible only as a bundle of white fur, currently occupied the space between the talons of a huge bird.  A raptor of some kind, its neck long and snakelike, its wings stretched in a protective circle around the meal in its claws. The sound of the continued screaming originated from a woman, just now falling to her knees, maybe ten feet away from the bird, her fear warring with her desire to save the dog.  Her hands reached into her short hair, fists pulling uselessly at the roots.  The bird clacked its beak and hissed.

Wendy’s first thought was to simply watch the drama unfold, like a bit of National Geographic wildness happening live before her eyes.  But the neighbor’s pathetic wail sliced into her ears, a cry of pure helplessness. Wendy couldn’t say later what it was that spurred her into action. Maybe it was the high feeling from the missing hangover, or the rare ten hours of sleep. Something in her clicked from observer to participant, and she found herself searching the bedroom for a missile.

Wendy had an excellent arm, she’d played softball since she was little. Her eyes scanned the room finding nothing round and throwable. But there, just behind the trash bin, the rejected birthday gift for a nephew, a toy spear and shield. Wendy made the mistake of showing the gift to her sister-in-law before wrapping it.  “No, I’m sorry, we don’t allow our kids to play with toys that encourage violence,” she’d said.

Wendy held onto the toy, even though it made her mad every time she’d noticed it.  But now the thought of using it made her smile.

With a leap, Wendy grabbed the spear, a flimsy plastic thing with a soft rubber tip, ripped it out of its packaging, and bounded back to the window. A giggle bubbled up, and even as she threw the silly toy, the giggle turned into laughter.  The spear flew from her fingers, sailed the short distance to the scene below, and amazingly, hit the bird.  It only bounced off a wing, but was enough to startle it.

The bird leapt back and released the dog which bounded away, straight past it’s owner’s welcoming arms, and in through the open door to the house.

Wendy’s laughter burst out of her in a loud guffaw.  The shocked neighbor looked up, a hand poised as if to wave, but frozen as she stared.  With a squeak, Wendy saw herself as the woman must see her, with long, bed-tousled hair, clad only in her underwear, cackling hysterically, after having just thrown a spear.  She drew the curtain then fell back on the bed, clutching her stomach, overcome by her laughter.

After she’d recovered, wiping tears from her eyes, she finished dressing, and went downstairs to have her coffee.  She stood in the kitchen, gleefully imagining the surprised faces of her brothers and their kids at dinner.  Tonight would be her turn to dominate the conversation with a tale of heroic rescue.

There is this really fun website called Seventh Sanctum that will generate prompts for all sorts of writing. Last night I clicked through several ‘Writing Challenge’ prompts until I landed on one that said, basically, that the story had to happen at noon, involve an eagle, and end with a spear.  Not sure if this story makes a whole lot of sense – but it was awfully fun to write… Hope you enjoyed it!

A ‘Real’ Writer

whatmakesawriterWhat makes a ‘real’ writer?

I write every day; it is the way I think. A pulse between synapse and neuron becomes motion from mind to hand, a scribble of black ink on white paper. Those ‘think on paper’ words live in a vacuum. A time capsule. They are not written for reading.

But sometimes, a specific thought will stick around after being scribbled.  The scribbling brings it into a clearer focus, separates it, cleanses it of superficial emotion. An idea is born. It takes on a life of its own.

I take the idea, the thought, the plot or character, I poke and prod it, examine it for strengths and weaknesses.  Will it work as fiction or non, first person or third?  Maybe second person future perfect. (Can you imagine? ‘You will have entered the room and you will have sipped the liquid in the glass that you will have seen on the table.’)  I work on paper first, sometimes, sitting at my kitchen table with coffee or wine, depending on the sun’s position in the sky. Sometimes I start on this screen.  Some words land in their final resting spot on the first try, some are rewritten, replaced or deleted.  I read it all aloud, listening for trips and snags. I write for my own ear, for my own taste.

Afterwards, with the act of reading, a stranger cuts the cord that binds the words to their creator.  The words need a reader to live on their own.

In this new world where the artificial filter of agents and publishers is breaking down, does the click of that blue button – labeled ‘publish’ not ‘post’ by the way – does it really mean published in the old sense of the word?  Must the definition of publish contain the words print and/or paper?

Am I a writer by virtue of the ingestion of my creation regardless of the method of consumption?  (And can I get away with a sentence like that – or is it proof that the old ways are best?)

If ten people read these words, is that real enough? How about a hundred or a thousand? Do large numbers of readers imply validity?

I ask all this because I have one and only one wish for this short and meaningless existence. All I want is to sign my name: “Jill Schmehl, Writer” without having it sound like a lie or an exaggeration.

Can I do that, yet?

On Sharing

My mother says when I was a child, I was generous with my toys.  I always shared with my siblings.  I like sharing, its easy for me.  I don’t think about it, I just do it. I want everyone I care about to have what I have.

My generosity doesn’t extend to strangers. I very rarely give to charities. Strangers aren’t really real people to me.  They are just anonymous numbers.

But when a stranger crosses the line, makes eye contact, speaks, gives me their name, they become real and meaningful.

PhillyLove

I was at the gas station, filling the car’s gas tank, when the man approached me.  His ragged clothing, dirty hair and face told me he was homeless.  There are a number of them in our part of the city, more now since the surge of gentrification hit its peak about a year ago.  I did not turn to look at him, I am afraid of people I don’t know.

The man reached out a hand and said something to me.  I did not understand his words, but since it was daylight and there were many people around, I turned my head and looked him in the eye for a moment, smiled and said “I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash.”

He motioned with his hand and I noticed the pile of coins he had there.  He said, “No, I’m not asking for money, I have money, I want soup.”

I was utterly confused, and slightly embarrassed, thinking I’d been mistaken in thinking he was homeless.  I turned all the way to face him and looked more closely.  He was middle-aged, unshaven, smelly. He had dirt-crusted hands and red-rimmed eyes. He wore way too much clothing for the summer day, and all of it ragged. He looked about as homeless as anyone could.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t understand.”

“I have money, I want soup. Cup O’Noodles.”  He gestured to the convenience store behind me, “They won’t let me in.”

Something exploded in my brain. I nodded my head and said, “let me finish with the gas, and I’ll help you.”

I didn’t actually let the tank fill up. I just put the nozzle back and hit the no button when the pump asked me if I wanted the receipt. I left the car where it was, blocking the pump.  I was angry and embarrassed for the man and not really sure what I was doing. A panicky feeling started fluttering in my stomach.

I gestured for him to walk with me to the store.  I held open the door for him and announced to the two men behind the counter, “He’s with me.”

At this point I started to shake.

I turned to him and asked him where the soup was, he pointed and I told him to pick out what he wanted.  I felt horrible, shaky and nervous, worried that I was doing something wrong, that I was being condescending, that I was being used, that the men behind the counter who stood there smiling at me through the entire thing were laughing at me.

I told the men behind the counter I was paying for the soup and handed over my credit card.

“Five dollar minimum,” one of them said, still grinning.

I turned to the homeless man and said, “do you want anything else?”

He said no.

“Are you sure, a bagel, or a banana at least?” I said, gesturing to the items nearby.

He shook his head.

I grabbed a pack of gum and a candy bar or something, I have no idea, just to get up to the five dollar minimum, and paid.

The shaking was getting ridiculous at that point and the blush on my face was so fierce I felt like I was glowing.  I had to leave.  I said to the counter men, “You will help him with the hot water for the soup?” Still grinning like maniacs, they assured me they would help and I scurried out of there.

I felt like I was having a heart attack.

Why?  I have no idea. When I am confused or embarrassed or scared or out of control – really, feeling any sort of unprepared for emotion – I panic.  Heart racing, stomach clenching, sweat inducing panic.

I wish I had asked his name. I wish I’d been brave enough or strong enough to ask how he got to where he was in life.  If for no other reason than to form a more complete picture of him in my mind.  I wish I’d been more calm and less panicked.  But then, I could say that about my whole life.  (“Easily Startled, Probably Panicking” isn’t a meaningless tagline)

But I learned something about myself.  Someday, not today, but someday when I am stronger, braver, less inwardly focused, someday I am going to do more stuff like that.  I am going to find more homeless people and I am going to buy them cups of soup. Because, despite my ubiquitous panic, it felt good.

Next time, I will be prepared. I won’t panic. I will ask them questions about themselves. I will turn them from nameless strangers into real people.

I like sharing, it is easy for me.  But it is easier to share with people I know.

Tomorrow Morning

It starts the same way.  I read something amazing, late at night after a glass, or three, of wine, and it changes me.  Ideas and energy and motivation seize my brain. Sometimes the hair on my arms will stand on end, reacting to the electricity surging through my veins. The right words in the right order and the message I’ve been waiting for my whole life is there on the page before me!  I run to the nearest paper and ink and scribble down the transformative thought. Then, I make a list.  A detailed, specific list of all the things I am going to do in the morning that will make my life better, stronger, richer, more exciting, passionate, better organized … etc.

I go to bed, my brain slightly sloshing in alcohol, fully expecting to be BETTER in the morning.

Tomorrow Morning everything will be different!

*

Tomorrow morning is now.  I left the list by the bedside table, upstairs, so far away from this chair in the kitchen which is so close to that beautiful lifesaver they call a coffee maker. One hand clutches the coffee mug and the other holds my phone where I tease my brain into wakefulness via the game wordfeud.  (Aside – I play against my sisters and my best friend from college and sometimes they pity me and let me win.  Should I tell them I only play in the morning before I turn on the computer because I know myself too well?  You see, if the computer is within reach while I am playing, I will cheat. No, I shouldn’t say that on my blog, which I know they read.  Ok – I’ll delete that line in the morning. )

*

To Do's
To Do’s (Photo credit: Courtney Dirks)

Repeat.  Different day, different words.

This is it!  The information I’ve been waiting for my whole life, right there in electronic Kindle ink.  This time I make the list in a clever little ‘listy remindy’ app on my phone that will beep at me every twenty minutes, forcing me to acknowledge the list all day long.  It all begins tomorrow morning!

Tomorrow Morning, now, again.  The app beeps at me, interrupting my super successful shuffle/stare/shuffle/stare wordfeud strategy.  I growl and ‘tap to dismiss’ the message about how doing 20 jumping jacks RIGHT NOW, will get my heart pumping, bring more oxygen to my brain and make me better/faster/stronger for hours.

The next time it beeps, I delete the app.

*

Repeat.  More words, more thoughts, more electricity, you know the routine –  I tape the list to the coffee maker.

Tomorrow Morning. I rinse the list in water then use it as a coffee filter since I’ve run out.  Note to self – add coffee filters to the next list.  (Aside – This will be really funny to people who remember the beginning of the movie, Romancing the Stone.)

*

Repeating actions and expecting different outcomes – I believe that is the definition of insanity.

Strangely Marvelous, Marvelously Strange

Fairies bound, hilltop to hilltop, ignoring laws of gravity, time and space.

The frightened observer, unable to accept the scene, attempts to recall her last meal.

“The dumplings were bad!” she exclaims, sinking into carpet-like grass, into grass-like carpet.

Fairies fracture yet fail to fade in the light of this untruth.

A dream? A nightmare? An inspiration?

Fairies don’t care what you call them.

They are the lucky ones, the strangely marvelous, the marvelously strange,

Living forever in a moment, and in the moment, forever.

*

for Rara.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing

Why I Don’t Trust My Own Opinion

or, Why I’m bad at writing book reviews.

Books belong to their readers. – John Green

The writer side of my brain loves this quote.  It means that you, as the reader of my words, can interpret those words in any way you like. And that is absolutely fine with me.  In fact, I find it incredibly flattering that my lowly words would inspire a unique thought someone else’s brain.  Wonderful!

But as a reader, I’m not so sure I like the idea of taking ownership of thoughts inspired by a book.  Ownership implies responsibility, something I strive to avoid, constantly.

*

I recently joined in a discussion about art appreciation and said: I find it easier to understand what I’m looking at if I know what the artist was thinking or feeling when they created the art. I have a really hard time forming an opinion about a painting or a sculpture when I don’t understand anything about its creation.  Is it good or bad? I have no idea.  Did the artist work really hard at it, or did they knock it out in an hour or so? Did the artist feel like it was the best thing they’d done, did they fill it with a decade’s worth of pain and angst?  If I don’t know anything about the creation of the art, how can I judge its worth?

The same is true, to an extent, with books. Books are easier to like or dislike because the elements inside are easy for me to pick apart. However, I still have a terrible time putting those feelings into words.

Who am I to voice an opinion? What do I know?  How can I know enough about the story to write anything meaningful about it.  I wasn’t there during its creation.

*

Many years ago, I took an online creative writing class. One of the assignments was to write a review of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  I hated the story, and I hated the assignment.  Maybe because the experience was mostly anonymous, I never saw the teacher face to face, and maybe because I was angry, I threw out my uncertainty and I ripped it to shreds.

The teacher loved it.  She said it was the best review she’d ever read. Obviously, I didn’t just write the words “I hated it.”  I wrote carefully and thoughtfully, knowing I was going against popular opinion. I put a ton of effort into digging deeply and writing specifically about what I disliked.  I must have read that story backwards and forwards a dozen times to do what I did. What inspired me to that level of effort?  What enabled my honest feelings? Was it simply the anonymity of the situation?

I’ve never really been able to do it again.  (go ahead look at some of the reviews I’ve written on this blog – they’re pretty awful.)

I stumbled upon the following Tumblr post:

wittneyhancockisatlarge
Ok so I’ve been thinking about a thing John Green has said a few times.

“Books belong to their readers.”

While I understand the sentiment, I can’t help but vehemently disagree for a couple reasons.

1. Does anyone remember how Horton Hears a Who was used as pro-life propaganda? And Dr. Suess’s widow had to come out and basically say fuck you because pro-lifers were actually completely wrong? Books belong to their writers.
2. Y’know how words mean things? And when you put words into sentences, those sentences mean things? And how if someone decides that sentence means something that it actually doesn’t, that person should be corrected? Sentences belong to their speakers. Books belong to their writers.
3. Y’know how the guy who invented the .gif came out and said “it’s pronounced jif”? But we’re all like “no fuck you it’s totally gif”? Words belong to their makers. Books belong to their writers.

That is all.

This is an interesting (if poorly written – but that’s Tumblr for you) thought. The first and third points are specious, but number two is worth thinking about: “Sentences belong to their speakers.”  I think therein lies my problem.

A book is a whole.  And I can easily say, as a whole, I liked or didn’t like a book.  But it is down at the sentence level that I run into trouble. Do I really have the right to express my opinions of the thoughts or feelings contained in a sentence?  What if, as wittneyhancockisatlarge says, I decide “that a sentence means something that it actually doesn’t,” should I be corrected?  What if an author or a ‘qualified’ expert says to me, “I (they) meant it this way,” and that changes my entire experience of the book?  What makes a qualified expert and why do I feel so unqualified?

But is it a better, more valid, understanding?  I think John Green would say no.  In order to get any meaning out of a book, you must put meaning into it.  The reading of a book is a deeply personal experience.  You bring with you only your perspective, only your experiences.  My reading of this book at this moment is an intensely unique event. When I read a sentence and it sparks a thought, that thought cannot be wrong.  It is my thought.  My feeling.  It is real and therefore true.

*

If I write any reviews for the books on my September reading list, I will try to remember that my feelings and opinions are valid, I am the qualified expert on them after all. But, if I decide to share those thoughts with the world, I must put in the effort to prove their worth.

Words, words, words

Words, words, words…once, I had the gift…I could make love out of words as a potter makes cups out of clay, love that overthrows empires, love that binds two hearts together come hellfire and brimstone…I could cause a riot in a nunnery…but now…I have lost my gift. It’s as if my quill is broken. As if the organ of the imagination has dried up. As if the proud tower of my genius has collapsed. Nothing comes.

Will Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Love

These words are much better when you can see the facial expressions of the anachronistic Freudian psychoanalyst listening to the speech. A raised eyebrow can add so much depth to a scene.

I don’t suffer from writers block, at least, I haven’t yet in the twenty odd years I’ve taken pen to paper or hands to keyboard with the hopes of creating something novel and brilliant. But I do get bored with myself, with my words and imagination. There are times when the ennui settles in – life is a dreadful bore and I, in particular, am frightfully dull.

Dull. It is a good word. An apt description. Not shiny. Not bright. Lacking luster. I am dull.

I want to be cute and clever and comedic, while pointing out a universal truth that surrounds us, penetrates us, binds the galaxy together…. Oh wait, that’s The Force. Darn.

I want to write something so entertaining, so true, so emotionally resonate, that you, dear reader, won’t be happy until you’ve shared it with two friends and then they’ll share it with two friends and so on and so on until it goes viral. And then I can relax. My work here will be done. Because the best way to avoid the sophomore slump is to change your name and move to Estonia.

I loved Estonia. I’ve never been to a country that seemed so naturally happy to see tourists. I was only there for six hours though, it could have been an act. Money-grubbing Europeans. Bad mouthing America but never tuning down those ugly green bills covered in ugly dead men. (you can’t say dead presidents – Franklin wasn’t a president, regardless of what he may have thought while he was contracting every venereal disease known to humanity during his time in France.)

Oh dear – I’ve just insulted an entire continent, haven’t I? Not good. Of course I never could understand why Europe was a continent – isn’t it attached to Asia? Isn’t a continent supposed to be it’s own thing – surrounded by water?

Here, look at this dog. Apparently his name is Franklin.

Franklin
Franklin (Photo credit: laika_one)

Speaking of unanswerable questions, (and in the hopes of changing the subject) Why aren’t there any women on our currency? Oh right – there was the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar. That worked out well, didn’t it? “It was one of the most unpopular coins in American history,” says Wikipedia. I guess no men wanted that cold, heavy thing so close to their jewels, I mean other coins.

So they got rid of the coin depicting a woman who said we should be treated equally, and replaced it with a coin depicting a woman who made all the men around her look like weaklings. But the Sacagawea coin hasn’t proven to be any more successful. Maybe if they put the women on the smaller denomination coinage, the men would be more comfortable with them in their pockets. Aw, poor, scared men. Don’t worry, you’ve got a few more good years in control. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Just a bit more and I’ve hit my word count for the day. Or night, rather. I tried to write this morning, but I got distracted by the damn internet. It is always there, waiting, lurking in the corner of my eye… look Jill, a video about sleep patterns… look Jill, your favorite youtuber has a new vlog update… look Jill, you can learn all about why people kiss.

Hemingway (supposedly*) said, write drunk, edit sober. Well, I’ve done part one. If you see this post in the morning, then hopefully I’ve completed part two.

If not, I apologize profusely.


*never trust anything you read.

September Reading List

I’m trying something new this month. Instead of just willy-nilly picking books based on Amazon’s and Goodread’s ‘Recommended for you’ lists, then reading the free preview, getting bored and moving on…  until I accidentally land on something I like, I decided to actually put some effort in to picking a month’s worth of books to read.

This morning I spent about three hours (much longer than I’d planned) putting together that list.  I wanted to pick books from a range of genres while also staying as current as possible.  This was not an easy task!  There are so many places, too many really, that recommend books.  I looked on library sites and book blogger sites and independent book sellers sites, and stayed away from the big lists, like the NYT’s Best Sellers, and Amazon.  I also had a hard time picking the number of books to read.  I read a lot and I read fast, but some months are busier than others, and it is hard to know how much time I’ll have.  For now, I’m going to go with a safe seven.

And so, here is the list:

  • Boredom: A Lively History – Peter Toohey (pop science)
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life – Donald Miller (memoir)
  • The Broken Shore – Peter Temple (mystery)
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson (history)
  • The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story – Lily Koppel (biography)
  • Redshirts – John Scalzi (sci/fi)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman (fantasy)

(Click here for list on Goodreads)

I don’t promise to write a review of any of these books, I really don’t like writing reviews.  (What did you think of the book, Jill?  Oh, it was good.  That’s all?  Yup.)  But I’ll try to do the star rating thing over on goodreads at the very least.

Here’s a few of the sites I visited during my search:

I’m starting with Boredom, àpropos considering it was boredom that prompted me to make this list in the first place. 🙂

Happy Reading.