NaNovel 2020 – 1 Week In, 9,516 Words Behind

Pros: I have written every day except last Friday (when I got a killer migraine that necessitated going to bed whimpering and wondering if my head would ever stop hurting).

Cons: Hitting 50k has gotten… more difficult, and may not happen.

For those participating in NaNoWriMo, how are you faring? For those not participating, how’s life treating you?

Americans – Have You Voted Yet?

If not, and if the reason why is anything other than:

  • because you are underage and as such, unable to legally vote
  • living too far from your voting locale to drive there within the remaining time left to vote (which means you should have requested, filled out, and returned an absentee ballot, so now I shall place an imaginary dunce cap on your head #feeltheshame)

Then go vote. Now. Get off your computer. Walk/bike/drive/skateboard to wherever you should be voting, and make yourself heard.

Unless you’re a sexist/racist/evil piece of shit who’s voting for Trump. You can stay home, and… I don’t know:

  • if you’re not wealthy, try not to get sick since you don’t think everyone deserves equal access to healthcare,
  • if you are wealthy – think about the best way to independently pay to fix our infrastructure since you don’t believe anyone should pay taxes, and therefore the government shouldn’t be doing it with taxpayer dollars

Have fun with that.

Here’s hoping there are more decent, civic-minded people voting this year than otherwise left in America.

Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

Joining the Madness

I vacillated pretty much all of October between whether or not to join NaNoWriMo this year. I don’t really

have enough time,

and sometimes,

I don’t really like my idea,

and

I have work deadlines this month,

and

I feel sick too often because I have allergies and my colds when I get them are never ending and cabin fever is definitely kicking in.

But then, I remember

how amazing it feels

to finish a piece of writing.

& how

it is a goal of mine

to become a writer,

which I don’t currently consider myself,

because I’m not writing every day.

& I remember

that there will always

be more work

&

another deadline,

so if something is important to me

I need to figure out how to work it into my life

anyway.

So I have taken the plunge. Signed up to strive to write 50k words this November 2020. I have met my daily goal for November 1, and am feeling hopeful, and am hoping that I’ll meet the 50k goal, but if I don’t, thinking that at least this could be a kickstart towards writing every day.

Anyone else hopping on the NaNoWriMo train? Leave me a comment below – let me know how the beginning is going for you!

The Quest

Recently, I went on an epic quest for a rather mundane kitchen implement.

I just needed a rolling pin.

We should have had two, but after vigorous searching, it soon became clear that we either didn’t bring it in the last move, or placed it somewhere very stupid where it likely won’t be found until we move again. But I had already mixed ingredients, and had everything nearly ready, and so I set off for T.J. Maxx in the Westgate shopping plaza, thinking there was likely one there.

After intensely scrutinizing the kitchen shelves, walking slowly through the aisles two times in total, it became clear that T.J. Maxx did not have one.

Slightly disappointed, I decided to do the sensible thing and go up Jackson Road to the Meijer right past Zeeb. For those not from Ann Arbor, this trip takes approximately 10 – 15 minutes, depending on traffic. I took the trip cheerfully enough – a little annoyed I had to trek up Jackson Road, but calmed by the certainty that Meijer would have what I needed. After all, Meijer generally has everything you might want or need for baking purposes.

Except after walking through the grocery entrance and veering off to the right, I came across yellow caution tape and empty shelves where the baking implements used to be. There was a shoddy assortment on the back shelf which I walked through twice – no rolling pin.

I found an employee, who explained that the store was re-arranging that entire session, and if it wasn’t out, they didn’t have it.

I searched the center aisle displays – no rolling pin.

My belief in Meijer’s competence waned as I power-walked out of the store, checking the time on my phone. 6:46. If I hurried, I could check Home Goods, literally right across the street from the T.J. Maxx where my search had started. I waited for another driver to take forever backing out of their parking space. 6:48. I was pretty sure Home Goods was open until 7 – If I hurried, and if I was lucky, I could check Home Goods. If I was even luckier, Home Goods would have one.

I carefully drove 2 – 5 miles over the speed limit down Jackson Road, pulling into a parking space in front of Home Goods at 6:57.

As you can see, I pretty much literally re-traced my steps.

I power walked into the store, where I was greeted cheerfully by a door greeter, and espied the “Kitchen” sign hanging over his head.

I spied it on the second to last Kitchenware aisle. The tiniest rolling pin I had ever seen. Probably just a vanity thing intended to be gifted along with an adorable cookie cutter, a precious sugar cookie recipe. But it is made of wood, and looked like it would work.

Also, as it turned out, Home Goods is open until 9 now, so I wasn’t even one of those jerks keeping the store employees there after hours. Quest: Successful. Home Goods: forever has a good place in my heart. Baking: completed.

Look at how tiny this is! For the record, I’m 5’4″ and do not have large hands.

Awhile back, I mentioned that I had read Sue Miller’s Monogamy, and that a post would be forthcoming. From the first glimpse of this book, I was intrigued. I mean, they say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but look at that cover:

This book left me transfixed – I liked pretty much everything about it. To save you from my babbling fan-girling, I thought you might prefer a succinct list.

  1. The writing – Miller’s actual word choice and sentence structure is eloquent – generally simple word choice arranged in a pleasing order that conveys the information succinctly and connotes the feelings and impressions readily. There is a difference between writing simply and using each word carefully. Miller doles out words precisely, resulting in a book filled with beautiful writing.
  2. The characters – No Mary Sue’s in this book! Miller’s characters are real. In reading this book, you are delving into the intimate thoughts and feelings of people who do amazing things, and love fully, who reminisce, and feel betrayed, and make mistakes, and live (or don’t) complicated lives. To be completely honest, this book doesn’t have a ton of plot, but if you’re a character reader, reading this book is the culinary equivalent of biting into a warm slice of apple pie.
  3. The marriage – Probably not shocking, given the novel’s title, Monogamy analyzes a marriage. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, and the questioning. What does it mean to tether yourself to another person in a civil and/or religious ceremony? Is it possible to remain in love with the same person for the rest of your life? Can you ever really know the people you are with, even the ones you are very close to? As someone who is married, this novel resonated with some of my own thoughts. I don’t think you need to be married to appreciate this thoughtful and in-depth analysis of one, but since I am married, to be fair, I may be wrong.
  4. The creativity – As a vein running throughout this book is the idea of creativity. Annie, one of the main characters, is a photographer who has had some success. Graham, her husband, founded a bookstore. Both of them interact with other artists – writers, musicians, painters, etc. The book itself is a work of art. Reading this novel was inspiring to me, personally, and reminded me that art can be difficult, but if you feel fulfilled by creating something, then it is worthwhile.
  5. The setting – Miller writes about the town of Cambridge, Massachusetts, wherein much of the novel takes place, with love but not so much detail you want to throw the book across the room. I’m not the biggest fan of exposition, but reading this novel makes me want to visit Cambridge. Being stuck at home due to COVID-19 could be a factor in this desire, as well, but at least part of the credit goes to Monogamy.

Of course, my perspective on this book is biased, and not everyone can have the correct (i.e., my) opinion. Monogamy, the ARC I am woefully behind on posting about, has now been available for sale since September. Have you had a chance to nab a copy and read it? Do you agree/disagree with my assessment, or possibly have your own points to add? Please let me know in the comments below; would love to hear your thoughts!

Nice Try, Netflix: Enola Holmes

I knew, going into watching Enola Holmes that it probably wasn’t going to be very good. But I shrugged, and though, “Huh. Maybe it will be fine. I can at least give the pilot a chance.” I have no idea how I got the idea it was a TV show, but I was expecting a series with the mystery of the disappearing mother being a long thread tantalizingly teased throughout, and a smaller mystery solved each week. So I was wrong – I mean, I guess it was “fine,” if you believe in disrupting characters to the point that those characters are no longer themselves, and like to watch 16-year-olds barely survive in a dangerous city because you know how annoying teenagers are – of course, everyone is out to kill them. Oh, also – it’s not a TV Show (again, I have no idea how that idea weaved itself into my mind…).

Enola Holmes, which I keep wanting to turn into Enola Hughes because apparently my brain isn’t working today, has a great cast and a large budget, but sucks more than the psychic vampire siphoning off my energy and ability to think clearly today. In fact, Enola Hughes would be a more fitting name for both this movie and it’s main character, because there is no point in making a movie about the Holmes’ family if you’re going to change the characters of both Sherlock and Mycroft beyond recognition.

I think it means well. It’s like, “People love Sherlock, but do we really need another story about this rich white dude who’s just really good at solving mysteries? After all, rich white girls can be good at solving mysteries, too, as Veronica Mars showed us. AND that will mean we can give this film a feminist slant, which educated people in the crumbling facades of democracy that constitute former powerhouses America and England seem into.” For those of you who have noted that:

  1. Sherlock was not, initially rich, which was part of the reason he needed a roommate (hello, Dr. Watson!) until he became rich and famous by solving mysteries;
  2. Veronica Mars was also not rich, in fact a large part of that television series was about the struggle for power and respect in a city with stark divides between the have and have-nots, and V and her pops definitely fell into the “have-nots” category. (In fact, how she was able to afford her bitchin’ camera, completely new wardrobe, regularly maintained coif, and technology gadgets is a mystery of its’ own that will never be solved…);
  3. My faux quote ends in a preposition –

Well done. You are worthy of reading my blog. I did those things on purpose to see if you were paying attention, and you will probably not much like Enola Holmes.

For those of you who did not, you’re not being very observant and/or did not imbibe the same media as me, so sit in the corner with your conical hat, and think about the fact that you might, in fact, like Enola Holmes. The movie is made to appeal to sheep, of which you may be one. You should feel bad about that, and you should engage in some serious self-reflection to try to avoid saying “baa” all the time in the future.

Enola Holmes is basically a re-make of 16 Candles with Bellatrix Lestrange as the purposeful mother, a very watered-down Jake who everyone is trying to kill, and the successful murder of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. As anyone who has read the stories is aware:

Mycroft is not a pompous, blustering idiot. Mycroft is more intelligent than Sherlock. He is also much, much lazier.

And Sherlock Holmes is not a handsome devil lackadaisically solving mysteries, maybe, if he feels like it. Sherlock Holmes is weird. He’s very passionate and high energy when he’s working on a mystery, which he works at with a focus that is possibly psychotic. And when he doesn’t have anything to keep him manic (i.e., another mystery to solve), he is melting into his couch because he’s coming down from his cocaine high, which as anyone who has ever listened to The Weekend knows, means that he is fucking depressed as shit.

Millie Bobby Brown is very pretty, and gives a decent performance as an intelligent woman capable of solving crimes and finding her own way in the world with the myriad of English pounds left to her by her mother. She’s less believable as someone who is naive and uses the word “nincompoop” more than once. And her scattered glances at the audience to break the Fourth Wall feel like a failed attempt to replicate the smart, well-loved performance given by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, wherein PWB’s asides to the audience seemingly effortlessly convey meaning to the audience in what is ultimately a sign of her mental breakdown.

If Enola Holmes wasn’t trying to insult the viewer’s intelligence by pulling people in with reference to a well-loved and established fictional character by changing all resemblance to that character, I probably wouldn’t take too much issue with it. In fact, I might even like it. As it is, however, the movie did fail me – first, by not being a television show (which, again, sounds much more likable, because – weekly mysteries done well are always fun to watch), second, by altering those well-established characters in a way that was neither interesting nor thought-provoking and really blatantly point out that the movie should just not in any way even try to affiliate with the beloved characters of Sir Doyle, and would have fared better as the screenwriter’s own flawed creations.

Nice try, Netflix, but fucking do better next time.

This Girl is Not on Fire…

Because She’s Too Pretty to Burn.

Oh yeah, I went there…

So, like, there’s this chick named Mick (short for Micaela). She’s, like, really pretty. People yearn to take her picture, and have trouble thinking of her as an actual person, because she’s too pretty and therefore pretty much made for objectification. She doesn’t like having her picture taken. She just wants to be taken seriously for her swimming and get the hell away from her mom.

Mick meets a girl. Veronica is all curves and femininity, an aspiring photographer. Veronica tricks Mick into taking an amazing photo, pressures her into allowing the picture to be shared on social media, and introduces Mick to subversive artists while herself potentially on the verge of becoming a commercial one.

Veronica know this guy named Nico. Nico is so close to Veronica he calls her “wife.” Nico is also an artist.

Three young people, none of them necessarily the picture of mental health, becoming entangled results in… Arson. Murder. Alfred-Hitchcock-movie-craziness.

I really enjoyed this one. The characters, when left to themselves and their own thoughts, are often a bit annoying. But teenagers are annoying, so this is reasonable. The plot moves along fairly quickly, and the novel is told from the three main characters’ points of view, with this rotation of voice preventing you from getting too annoyed and hurling your e-reader across the room. There is also just some batshit crazy in the plot of this novel. If you’re a plot reader, I highly recommend. Also recommend if you’re looking for a frothy, amusing read – like a pumpkin spice latte, there’s not a ton of meat to this story, but it’s definitely a fun, wild ride.

Your ’90s Slang of Choice is Telling

When I first moved to the Bay Area, I was continually assaulted with this word I had not heard since I was… much younger (stop trying to guess my age, asshole): hella. I rolled my eyes, thought, What is this, the ’90s? to myself, and inwardly judged everyone I heard using it.

Hella, in case you haven’t spent much time in the Bay (or other areas of the country that still use it), is somehow able to be used as all parts of speech. It’s a tricky word, sneaking into your psyche until, after hearing and judging its’ spewing forth from the mouths of others continually, there comes the day when, unbidden, it leaves your mouth, and you realize you have been assimilated. I used it just the other day. Yes, I am a hypocrite.

But I also judge people much less for using this word, since I have realized that every area seems to have it’s ’90s slang word that has never left.

In the Metro Detroit area, where I’m from, it’s “bitch.”

Like the unassuming everyman, just blindly going through her day, I was blithely unaware that this was the case, until I had an argument with my husband. This time, it was over his taking the rest of the coffee I had made and not brewing a fresh pot. I had only had 1 cup so far for the day, and for those who incorrectly think I’m a normal person, let me assure you – I am a raging psychotic until I’ve had a few cups of coffee in me. I like to sit in complete silence until the caffeine level in my bloodstream gets high enough, like Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, but without all the push-ups. So while my flabby arms are in no way, shape, or form at all intimidating, the fury escaping my person as I fumed and grinded fresh coffee beans, got more water, retrieved a filter from beneath the coffee island was ridiculous. So, once I had consumed a couple additional cups of coffee and was once more safe to approach, my husband apologized, saying he realized Terry Tate would have tackled him.

If you’re saying: “… who? … what?,” I was in the same boat.

So we went to the internet, where half of our arguments are resolved (ahem: only one space is required after a period; two spaces is leftover from the days when everyone used typewriters…) or our pop culture knowledge is strengthened and shared. As YouTube will show you, Terry Tate was a football player (actual name: Lester Speight, T-squared is a fictional character) in the ’90s/early 2000’s who did commercials for Reebok where he used football maneuvers to handle common office problems (… like taking the rest of the coffee and not brewing a fresh pot). In addition to having abs for days (… yum!), this character is a funny reminder to, like, not be a dick, and guess what one of his slang terms is…

So, yes, watching old commercials with Terry Tate caused me to have a moment of self-realization and reflection, and I realized that – surprise, surprise, I am an asshole. I mean, I kind of already knew that, but in this case, I am an asshole for judging people constantly (constantly!) using “hella” in conversation in the Bay Area, when I still consistently use “bitch” in my own non-professional conversation with people I trust.

I remember having a conversation with someone from Boston, and asking what their word was – “wicked.” Not, like, “… witch of the west,” more like “wicked awesome.”

As a result of everything just detailed above, I have a theory that, whether you know it or not, your regular vocabulary includes a ’90s slang word that tells people where you’re from. If you use “hella,” you’re probably from the Bay. “Bitch” is Detroit. “Wicked” is Boston. Help me expand my geographical knowledge of America via ’90s slang vocabulary – those of you from other areas of the US, what is your ’90s slang word?

Should YOU enter writing contests?

Subtitle: My response to a potentially fictional post I thought I read on Longreads that I can no longer find

So, I could be sheepish and apologetic that I haven’t posted in awhile, but I think you’ve been okay without my random blogging, and I’ve been busy at work, so…. I won’t.

#sheep

While I was in the midst of struggling to meet a deadline for work, I read this article about why you shouldn’t enter writing contests that I thought was on Longreads, but I’m having trouble finding it, so it’s possible I’m either mis-remembering the source or I made it up, so… No hyperlinked source for this one, but enough other people have posted on this topic that I feel okay with responding to this potentially fictional article.

This is probably exactly what Hamlet would be like if I had written it.

I think there are some decent reasons not to enter contests – the judging of writing is fairly subjective, and even if your writing is flawless, it may just not hit someone’s buttons, and if you’re going to be depressed if you don’t win, then… you probably shouldn’t enter contests.

On the other hand, contests have this thing called a deadline that can be very useful if you need a fire under your ass to finish anything.

As long as you’re not actually expecting to gain, like, notoriety from the contest or anything, and enter purely as a means of driving yourself to finish something, I think it’s reasonable to enter a writing contest. I recently entered a Wattpad contest, and there is a rush from completing something, and I actually created something that I really like, so I feel like it was a win. But whether I win, or don’t win, doesn’t really matter. Winning is nice. Not winning isn’t a big deal. And no matter what anyone else thinks, I like what I wrote.

Thanks, Hamlet.

What are your thoughts? Do you enter writing contests? Why or why not? And what are your thoughts on Hamlet (Shakespeare’s or mine are both up for grabs)?

Streaming The Order

Netflix’s show The Order is the television equivalent of a sugar-laden, iced coffee drink – intriguing hints of original thinking and pacing, full of components that rely on your either not having a brain or deciding to turn it off while watching, and ultimately, a watered-down version of what you were hoping you were watching.

Two seasons. Twenty episodes. Witches. Golems. Werewolves. Magic. Drama. Cringe-inducing romance. Failed attempts at wit. Cults. Apocalypse. The Order packs a lot into the timeframe that it has, yet somehow generally manages to focus on the wrong things, turning a show full of amazing occurrences and people into a play-by-play of the romance between Jack & Alyssa, two of the most boring people you will ever meet, who take themselves way too seriously, and probably don’t eat enough food. [Warning: this post will be riddled with spoilers, so if you’re interested in watching the show and haven’t seen all of it, stop reading here.]

My biggest fault with this series is its’ insistence that we know all about how the relationship between Alyssa and Jack is evolving (or, in a few non-bile inducing scenes, not). These two characters are the worst ones in the show, which makes them the ones I want the least screen time with (except for a few episodes where Jack has amnesia, sort of, and is taken advantage of by someone infinitely prettier, smarter, and more fun), so to have their gross face-smacking and lustful stares thrust upon my poor, innocent eyeballs when I’m just trying to watch a TV show full of deadly, sexy beings, is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Sometimes, Jack is not the most awful (definition: not boring to me, personally) character on the screen. Alyssa, on the other hand, is always either annoying or infuriating. Okay, first of all, why does every person she meet seem to be sexually attracted to her? Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone is yearning to go to bed with a thin blonde girl. To top that all off, she is self-righteous in that selfish way a lot of white people have. Like it’s not enough to be privileged by virtue of having been born into one of the European immigrant families the US favors, and it’s not enough to be the Aphrodite of campus. She also has to be the most, the best at whatever she’s chosen to be “her thing.” In this case, magic. She literally almost brings about the end of the world because her new lover is killed. The fact that her lover attacked and tried to kill someone else not only doesn’t matter, but Alyssa revises history to talk about how selfless she was, just innocently trying to provide equal access to everyone to something that is dangerous when not handled correctly. You know, like a guns-rights advocate handing out Uzis at an elementary school. Nothing wrong with that, dudes, because Alyssa is in love with this particular guns-rights advocate, so obvs, nothing bad will happen. Alyssa needs to learn that what she wants is not synonymous with what needs to happen.

It also just feels sometimes like the writers are running out of ideas. I think it’s really interesting how many different ideas they’ve smushed together, but then near the end of season 1, you’re thinking to yourself, Is there anyone out there who’s not a werewolf?! Am… Am I a werewolf? Like, yeah, it makes storylines more complicated, but it also makes it seem so much less likely that all of this supernatural stuff is secretly going on, and we mere mortals have never encountered it. Presumably, part of why we mere mortals don’t know about it is because it’s very rare. But then, it feels like 85% of campus is a freakin’ werewolf, and it’s like, c’mon. My credulity is being stretched too thin.

That’s… not the kind of rack I meant. Oh, Alyssa did this for you? What a surprise. No, I will not feel better if she sleeps with me; quite the opposite. Ew.

In summation: I may stop watching now, the main love storyline is so (sososososo*infinity) annoying, the writers need to stop making everyone a werewolf, and Alyssa’s character should just go away. Forever.