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Losing an Author, and Read Harder Book 2: A Retelling of a Classic Story

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I hope that, by now, everyone knows that the beloved Sir Terry Pratchett died recently. I hope that people know that, because for a few days after I found out (which was pretty much as soon as the articles started going up, I think), I kept accidentally being the bearer of horribly depressing news when I went to talk to people about my feelings. And then I’d get a rather odd look from my fellow Discworld “fan” who has no idea why, when they compliment my Discworld shirt, I respond with immense sadness. (I put “fan” in quotation marks because, I mean, I feel like fans would know.)

I’ve never lost an author before. I mean, I’ve read books by dead people, of course. And I’m sure authors I’ve read books by have died in my lifetime since my reading of their books. I don’t really know. Or if I do, it’s something I find out much later, and say, oh, well, that’s unfortunate, she was good. And, to be completely honest, I’ve never quite understood the hysteria surrounding the death of a famous person. Please don’t leave angry comments, but: When Robin Williams died last year, and everyone I know began acting like he was their favorite actor to ever have existed when I know for a fact that a few weeks ago they had said something about how he’s not all that funny anymore, and suddenly they’re in full mourning–well, I grew up listening to the Evita soundtrack, and there’s a certain song that gets stuck in my head. Please know that I’m not saying that Robin Williams’ death wasn’t horrible or sad. He suffered from terrible illnesses and I really do hope that whatever happens after we die, he’s found peace. I do. But I didn’t feel it personally, and I had a hard time believing that all the hysterical mourners on my Facebook wall did, either. But after losing Sir Terry, I think I get it a bit more.

I think the first time I ever saw a Discworld book, I was in middle school and some girls I knew loved them. They were geeks, so I kind of wrote them off as books for geeks, completely ignoring that I could basically recite from memory every Harry Potter book. I came across them again in high school, again in the hands of geeks (different geeks, since it was a different school), but suddenly I had found that these geeks were my close friends, and oh, wow, I’m a geek, too! So they started lending me their books. I read a few and, honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with them. I didn’t dislike them, though, so they lent me more. I soon realized that I wasn’t all that into Rincewind (and, well, Sir Terry himself never recommended starting with A Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, so maybe that’s not my fault), but I really liked the others. I read EricThe Wee Free Men, Small Gods, and a couple of others, and I soon found that my worldview had changed completely. I wasn’t brought up with religion, but the way things worked in Small Gods made a whole lot of sense to me, and I still look at theology through that lens. Still, though, I wasn’t what you’d call a Discworld Fan. I had read a few of the books and mostly liked them. I borrowed a copy of Good Omens from a teacher who then got fired so I never had to give it back. It’s still on my shelf.

It wasn’t until college that someone gave me the right Discworld books, that I read about Sam Vimes and Granny Weatherwax and Moist von Lipwig, and I realized I’d been going about it all wrong. My copies of the City Watch books are almost as beat up as that copy of Good Omens, I’ve read them so many times. The pages are dog-eared so I can always find the funniest bits, though when I lend them to people they always kindly unfold the pages for me because they know that, as a book lover, I must hate it when pages get like that. (In a $30 hardcover? Yes. In a $7.99 paperback with frayed corners and 12 cracks in the spine that I’ll have to replace with the new taller edition anyway so the shelf lines up right? No.) I devoured the first two books in the Long Earth series, and finishing the rest, well, I’ve got a 2’4″ stack of books I have to make some headway on before I can buy anything else, but I can’t wait to get to it.

So even though I’ve never returned to the Rincewind books–until tomorrow, that is, when I will finish the book that I’m reading (A Slip of the Keyboard, Pratchett’s collected nonfiction, because how could I have picked up anything else?) and pick up The Color of Magic again, this time as an actual Discworld Fan–Pratchett’s work has been a huge influence on my life. Half my thoughts about life are in the form of sarcastic footnotes. The City Watch series is something I’ve been able to share with Mike, who better hurry up and read Night Watch and then Thud! because those two are my favorites, and I love being able to share books with someone and laughing hysterically at 1:30 in the morning at the suggestion of naming a future potential child we may have Dorfl.

Reading A Slip of the Keyboard is eye-opening in a way that feels similar to how I felt when Small Gods made so much sense to me eleven years ago. I want to write, and I’m realizing that I’m going about it all wrong. I’m reading all the wrong things, and, well, I’m not going to stop reading the things that I love, but there’s a lot of stuff out there aside from science fiction and fantasy, a lot of nonfiction, classics, mythology, science, whatever, that could inform me as a theoretical writer much more than just reading the types of books I want to write. You don’t bury an apple tree to grow an apple tree.

So thank you, Sir Terry, for all that you’ve given to me and the world. I cried a whole lot (awkwardly, at work, but fortunately with a boss who also loves him and understood), but I realize now that you also helped to create in me the mechanisms necessary to deal with this. You taught me that “a man’s not dead while his name’s still spoken,” and that DEATH is actually not too bad a guy, and maybe this is heaven and when we die we’re actually being born, and that after you die, you’ll end up wherever you believe you’ll end up. And I’m hoping that you’ve ended up on the Discworld, and that if you have, it’s somewhere that can offer you Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably-Priced Love, and a Hard Boiled Egg.

All the little angels rise up, rise up,
All the little angels rise up high!
How do they rise up, rise up, rise up?
How do they rise up, rise up high?
They rise heads up, heads up, heads up,
They rise heads up, heads up high!

(If you’re just here for my update on my Read Harder challenge, I’m not remotely sorry about all that. But the other part’s starting now.)

In the winter, I like to read fairy tales. Not necessarily classic fairy tales, but books that make me feel the way I imagine Lucy first felt when she stepped through the back of that wardrobe into a snowy Narnia with a lamp post sprouting out of the ground in front of her. I think I’ve inextricably linked that scene and snowstorms in my mind, which is why I always feel like something magical is going on when it starts to snow, while real adults just sit and complain about the shoveling. (At a certain point every winter, though, I’m over it. It’s pretty, but it can go to Hell.) It’s for this reason that I decided my second Read Harder Challenge book should be a retelling. There are so many retellings with so much magic in them, I knew I’d find the perfect one. So one kind of dismal and slow day at work, as I walked around neatening up shelves, I pulled a few off and read the backs, hoping to find the perfect fairy tale retelling to fulfill this slot on the challenge. And then something jumped out at me. Something I’d bought ages (okay, months) ago and had sitting on my TBR shelf at home just waiting for me. Something I’d been meaning to read since I did an independent study in epics back in college. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

Not a fairy tale. Not what I was looking for or expecting to want to read. But the perfect book nonetheless.

When I say I did an independent study in epics, what I mean is that in the course of three months, I read The Odyssey and two modern epics that are heavily based on it, one of which was Ulysses, and guys, if you ever want to hate yourselves, design an independent study that you need a good grade in to graduate that requires that you read Ulysses in a month. And understand it. I guarantee you’ll never want to look at the book again. That’s besides the point, though.

At some point, something happened, some discussion occurred, and my professor recommended The Penelopiad to me. I hadn’t read Atwood at that point, so while I vaguely remembered the title, I wasn’t about to rush to the store to get yet another book based on The Odyssey. I’d had quite enough, thank you. But I’m pretty sure the discussion that led to this recommendation was about the maids. I’m pretty sure I didn’t like their death. So now, all these years later, I’m happy to say that Margaret Atwood didn’t like it, either.

The Penelopiad is a slim volume where Penelope recounts her experiences while her husband was on his famed Odyssey from a safe distance of a few thousand years, which she’s spent mostly in the sort of afterlife she believed in. The book was surprisingly straightforward. Penelope’s been planning this story for thousands of years; she’s not about to waste her time making things convoluted for us. She has something to say, and she’s finally ready to say it, and what it is is her story. Her side of the events. What she was doing the whole time he was gone. How she ran the household, built it up, tricked people who needed tricking, raised a frankly thankless son, kept an eye on the suitors while keeping them at bay, and how she lost everything for it. How the suitors took most of what she had, and when Odysseus returned, he took the rest, her twelve favorite maids who acted under her orders and were loyal to her throughout. All for the crime of having been raped.

The maids get their say, too, though not in the way you might expect. They’re the Chorus. They appear between chapters and sing a song, or tell a story, or, in one instance, give a university lecture on their significance to the story of The Odyssey.

If you’ve ever read The Odyssey and you’ve ever got a little free time, this book is worth picking up. It’ll present some new ideas, and those ideas that aren’t new will be put under a different light. Atwood doesn’t make much up, really; she tells the story so obviously lurking in the background of the classic–so obviously that most of us never really even notice it.

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ALIVE. With ANSWERS.

Every once in a while, something happens that causes me to disappear completely. Nobody sees me except for Mike and the people who see me in class and usually the barista at the Starbucks near school. (Which I can’t explain, because I don’t even do caffeine. I should cut that shit out.)

School starting is one of those things that happens that causes this. For the past few weeks, I have been overwhelmingly busy with homework and this neat new internship I’m doing. On the days that I’m not doing one of those things, it’s because my brain broke down and can’t handle to do anything other than sit on the couch and stare at the NCIS marathon that is inevitably playing on USA, or obsessively read through the archives of Overcompensating, or find out that there’s this book series called The Hunger Games that I somehow missed out on and then accidentally read the entire series in two days and then refuse to acknowledge any inquiries as to whether I cried at the end. I’m kind of a book addict. Sorry. P.S. Anyone who comments with a spoiler will get hunted down by one of my trained assassins, just in case someone else hasn’t read them and wants to.

TL;DR: I’ve been super busy, and on the days that I’m not super busy, I’m fucking lazy. Also kind of burnt out. And really all that’s going through my head most of the time is that I love one of my professors and hate the other, and if I’m honest with myself, you don’t want to read about that.

I’m trying to start keeping a list of things worth blogging about as they come into my head so I’ll at least be able to think of something when it occurs to me that I should write a blog post. If you have any suggestions, I’m willing to take them, but no promises.

Anyway. You’re probably wondering about that “with ANSWERS” thing up there, aren’t you? No? You think I was referring to everything I just told you about why I suck at updating my blog when I also have other things to do? Well then you’re WRONG. (Thought that would be a very reasonable conclusion to draw. Now that I think of it.) I discovered these questions that some dude who was French and had a TV show used to ask every guest he had. They seemed fascinating. They are called PIVOT’S QUESTIONS and I thought I would answer them for you, so here goes.

(Are you excited? I’m excited.)

What is your favorite word?
Do people actually have favorite words? That’s news to me. Does it have to be in English? I wonder how Pivot would have reacted if someone’s favorite word had been in Klingon or something. (I won’t judge you if your favorite word is in Klingon. I just think he would have.) Okay. Mine’s schadenfreude. Which is German but is also technically in English dictionaries now so I guess it’s both. If you’re not familiar with it, it means “happiness at the misfortune of others,” and if you want to really understand it, you should go listen to this song from Avenue Q. You’ve felt it before.

What is your least favorite word?
Chunk.

What turns you on, excites, or inspires you creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Books. Good books can do anything the above question implies. Though most of the stuff I ready is too dystopian to actually, y’know. Turn me on.

What turns you off?
In the middle of the night, a train pulls up to a quietly sleeping city. The sounds emanating from the train gradually wake everyone. Just as they’re getting out of their cozy and safe houses to investigate, the train’s passengers burst out. Clowns. But not just any clowns. Fucking clowns. And I mean that literally. A fucking clown train. And I have some very special people to thank for this very specific mental image.

What sound or noise do you love?
Silence. Is that allowed? Probably not. Wait, no. I don’t want complete silence anyway. How about the sound of an air conditioner? Or a loud fan? Or a car engine? I don’t really like noise most of the time but those sounds are very comforting to sleep to. Now that we have the air conditioner off it is hard to sleep in the silence. (Ooh, add that to the reasons I’ve been absent. Lack of sleep. Fucking miserable.)

What sound or noise do you hate?
The voice of Mike’s Grand Theft Auto IV character saying “Howdy, partner” over and over and over.

What’s your favorite curse word?
If I say “fuck,” can it include “fucking”? Because nothing feels better than saying “fuck yes” when something is awesome except maybe saying “fucking” for emphasis. Fucking fuck yes. “Fucking” is more versatile, so I’ll go with that.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Whenever I’m watching NCIS I’m overcome by a desire to be a super badass federal agent. My spy name would be Raptor Fury. Either that or that’d be the name of some mission I was involved in. Or leading. That would be so fucking cool if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a total wimp and would not survive a day as a federal agent.

What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
I don’t want to be a teacher. Ever. Or a professor. Too few students would actually care for it to be worth it, and I’d constantly be a nervous wreck about that. I’d end up completely convinced that they hate school (or whatever class I’m teaching) because they hate me, even though it’s more likely that they just hate it in general anyway. Some people say it’s worth it for the one or two kids in your class who actually care and are excited to learn what you’re teaching, but I’d be way too broken up about the rest to be excited about them.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I wouldn’t want him to say anything. Going back to NCIS for a second. You know how when Gibbs is really happy about something, he just kinda tilts his head a teensy bit and gets a slightly bemused look on his face and nods a tiny bit? Almost imperceptibly? If you watch it, you know what I’m talking about. That is what I would want him to do. Failing that, I would accept a Caff-Pow.

I hope this has been eye-opening for you. It would be really cool if you answered your favorite question in the comments.

100 Reasons I Shouldn’t Fill Out Stupid Memes

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I originally filled this out back in April, when a friend posted it on Facebook and I thought it might be fun because I hadn’t done one of these since Livejournal and oh my god remember Livejournal?! So. Yeah. I filled it out, but instead of “100 things about me” as the original creators seemed to intend, it ended up being…well, the title up there. And I was looking over it and snickering and I thought, y’know, this thing probably has a home on my blog over there. So here we are. Keep in mind that I actually wrote this in April, so the not all the answers are exactly correct anymore, but I didn’t feel like redoing the whole thing. Are you ready? There’s a QUESTION for you at the end!

WHAT WAS YOUR:

1. Last beverage = Water. I’m exciting.

2. Last Phone call = I called my brother this morning in order to help him locate his phone. Does that count? We didn’t actually talk. I hung up when he found it. So if that doesn’t count, my dad called me this morning to say that we should go over there at 11:30 instead of 11 and I was still asleep so I was very confused about what the phone was and how someone was talking to me through it, so maybe that doesn’t even count. Fuck.

3. Last text message = Received or sent? Last one I sent said “Um. I’m sure they don’t.”

4. Last song you listened to = Actively listened to, or heard idly playing in the background? I think the last full song I actively listened to was “I Wish I Could Go Back To College” from Avenue Q which is funny because I really don’t want to go back to college ever and would actually rather be not in college right now.

5. Last time you cried = Probably sometime within the past few days. I’m not sure. I cry about pretty much everything so I’m sure it was recent.

 

HAVE YOU EVER:

6. Dated someone twice = Yes, but not since middle school. I wasn’t actually aware this was a phenomenon in the real world.

7. Been cheated on = Not that I know of. I mean, it isn’t generally the type of thing a person advertises, is it?

8. Kissed someone & regretted it = I can say with about 95% certainty that I have, but I’d be hard-pressed to actually come up with a specific incident where it happened because I generally have the good sense to not kiss people I’d regret kissing unless I’m completely fucking shitfaced. (Actually, if I don’t really remember it later, can I really say I regretted it? I mean, I don’t remember it happening. So maybe no, and if I have, it’s been years. YEARS.)

9. Lost someone special = Once when I was little my family went to Wendy’s for dinner and I brought Bunky, my teddy bear, and somehow left him there. I’m pretty sure I flipped the fuck out and threw all sorts of tantrums and my parents called up the Wendy’s and managed to get someone to hold on to him for me so we could retrieve him the next day, but that night? Horrible.

10. Been depressed = One long stretch of situational depression and I’m pretty sure I get S.O.-S.A.D. I want a lamp.

11. Been drunk and threw up = The last time this happened, Mike was driving me back from a friend’s house and I’d been fairly drunk but it hadn’t seemed that bad, and I totally wasn’t carsick, not at all, until he stopped for gas and then suddenly it was AWFUL and I had to puke in the gas station’s trash can with possibly all sorts of people staring at me but I don’t remember because I was drunk. Lesson: Parting shots are a bad idea.

 

FIRST THREE FAVORITE COLORS:

12. Wait, like, in chronological order? Like, what was my very first favorite color ever when I was really little?

13. Or do you want the top three that I like right now?

14. Also, colors all have their place. I’d say green is my favorite, but different greens for different occasions, and there are often times when there are better options.

 

THIS YEAR HAVE YOU:

15. Made a new friend = Many within the past 12 months, but it’s hard to place things around the January 1st timeframe. Can we go with academic years? Those make more sense to me.

16. Fallen out of love = No. That would be stupid. Also, what the fuck is with these equals signs? Did the makers of this meme know what a question mark is?

17. Laughed until you cried = Yes. See, sleep deprivation will do funny things to you, and at some point everything on the internet is so funny you’ll cry laughing. I don’t recommend trying to get to this point of no sleep, but if you do, look at some fucking lolcats.

18. Met someone who changed you = Again, within the past 12 months, yes. I’m going to go with “no” since January 1st, though.

19. Found out who your true friends were = No, that’s what last year was for. (Actually, yeah, that was still ongoing 12 months ago too.)

20. Found out someone was talking about you = Am I still supposed to care if someone is talking about me? Hold on. No, my license clearly says I’m over 21, which means I’m almost definitely means I’m over 15, so I don’t think this sorta stuff should be mattering to me.

21. Kissed anyone on your friends list = Uh, yeah. Having a boyfriend kind of does this.

22. How many people on your friends list do you know in real life = I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Is there some sort of rule that people I know through the internet don’t count as people I know in real life? Are they not real? Like, I’m pretty sure they do actually exist. I feel like I know a lot of them better than the people I see frequently. I’m gonna say all of them, because I don’t believe I’m friends with any fictional characters on Facebook.

23. How many kids do you want to have = I feel like this isn’t really something I can know until I’m there, but I generally lean toward two when I try to estimate. Someday my third child is going to see this and be very, very upset. YES, YOU WERE AN ACCIDENT, BUT I LOVE YOU ANYWAY. DEAL.

24. Do you have any pets = I have a stuffed tiger, Sammy, who is curious and very earnest, and a stuffed fox, Angus, who is a mischievous little fuck and likes to get Sammy into trouble. Please don’t send me to the psych hospital.

25. Do you want to change your name = Like, my first name? No, I think that’d be silly. I mean, if I named myself, it wouldn’t be Rachael, but I don’t have problems with Rachael as a name that was given to me. I plan to change my last name when I get married despite the fact that whatever news station I was watching recently said it will cost me half a million dollars in salary over my lifespan, because I read the study they were talking about and you know what? The way they did it was to ask college students whether they’d hire someone who had changed her last name when she got married and how much they’d pay her. Not really a valid research method there, guys.

26. What did you do for your last birthday = Sushi! We went out for sushi at a delicious place. Mike made me a wonderful cake that has become my go-to for any situations where I need to bring a delicious and impressive dessert. It was an excellent day.

27. What time did you wake up today = My dad called me absurdly early to tell me I could sleep a little later so I technically woke up then but went right back to sleep until my alarm went off at 10:30. (Also, “absurdly early” is anytime before 10. Anytime before noon is just “early”.)

28. What were you doing at midnight last night = Getting home, I think. Possibly interneting.

29. Name something you CANNOT wait for = Hm. If I’m not doing it right this instant, I technically can wait. And I could totally wait to be doing this, too. Huh. NOTHING. (Did you mean I should name something I’m very much looking forward to? Oh! Sorry. You should be less ambiguous in the wording of your questions.)

30. Last time you saw your mother = This morning.

31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life = Nothing. I’m happy now, and if I changed anything that had happened in the past, I wouldn’t be where/who I am now. I’d sort of like to fast forward a bit, but I’m sure there will be cool things that I’d miss out on if I did that.

32. What are you listening to right now = Animals outside my house making their obnoxious OMG NIGHTTIME noises. I think I hear frogs and birds and a dog.

33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom = Definitely. A number of them, in fact. HINT: The number is greater than 1.

34. What’s getting on your nerves right now = I kind of have a migraine problem and I can’t figure out what’s causing them. My doctor told me to keep track of what I’d eaten in 12 hours prior to any migraine and look for common foods or ingredients, and so far I’ve come up with “carbon” and that still doesn’t include the one I got when I hadn’t eaten anything for 12 hours. I’m thinking that maybe it isn’t food-related.

35. Most visited webpage(s) = My inbox and twitter are always open. (That’s what she said.)

36. Eye color = Well, there’s a black circle thing, so that part’s black. And then around it there’s a thing that’s sort of variegated, green and gold, but it changes slightly depending on what I’m wearing so it’s more “chameleon.” And then around that is white with some red lines, and sometimes there are more red lines than other times. I think inside is all red, or at least some shade of pink.

37. Relationship status = Soon to be cohabiting with my long-term boyfriend.

38. Favorite Book = The Great Book of Amber. I’m not really sure if it counts as one book because it’s technically 10 books published in one giant volume but I love every single one of them and Roger Zelazny is a fucking genius. Honorable mentions go to Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and China Mieville, and no I can’t just pick books by them and honestly I feel a bit cheap just giving them honorable mentions here. They’re better than that. I love ALL the books.

39. Zodiac sign = It just occurred to me that at some point the heading “THIS YEAR HAVE YOU:” stopped applying a long time ago and a new one wasn’t supplied and this is bothering me a lot but actually if I think about it, “This year have you zodiac sign?” kind of makes at least a little bit of sense given the whole changes to the system thing that happened (but wasn’t really put into effect), so I’m gonna say Leo. It used to be Virgo.

40. Do you have a crush on someone? = Not in the usual sense of the word, but there are people I would really love to crush. With rocks. And other people I would like to crush with hugs.

41. Primary school = Where you learn very basic things that you’ll need to know later on in life, except for long division which can suck it.

42. Middle School = Really a continuation of the above.

43. College = Probably going to be a lot more useful than I’m giving it credit for right now, but there are so many goddamn hipsters there.

44. Hair color = I’m not entirely sure. I think it’s sitting on the line between blonde and brown. I will have to go to a store and hold my hair up to a bunch of hair dye boxes and get back to you.

45. Long or short = It’s actually fairly long right now! About armpit-length. I desperately need a haircut to get rid of split ends, but I’m still growing it out. I want super long hair!

46. Height = 5’9”

47. Found a new pet peeve = Since when? Are we going back to the “this year have you” thing? Because if we took a long (unannounced) break from that and are going back (again unannounced), then yes definitely I have discovered a pet peeve. Also, the fact that whether or not there is a space (a) between the period and the first letter of each questiony-thing and (b) before and/or after the equals sign is not consistent is pissing me off because I have to fix every. single. question.

48. What do you like about yourself = I like that I find the world as interesting as I do.

49. Piercings = Generally expected on the ears of American females above a certain age and fairly common in many other locations. I find them interesting and, in some cases, grotesque. I have my ears and belly button pierced.

50. Tattoos = Probably often drunken decisions that people will regret within a month. Seriously. The other day I saw a guy with a “shocker” tattoo ON HIS NECK in the grocery store. Dude, you are never going to get a job. I would like to have a tattoo, but it’s hard to think of something that is meaningful now and will continue to be meaningful for the rest of my life so I won’t regret it.

51. Righty or Lefty = I am codominant. This means that I am left handed in some ways (writing, fencing, chopping things) and right handed in others (most sports, using the TV remote). I usually identify as a lefty, though, because this explanation sort of confuses people.

 

FIRSTS:

52. First Surgery = I had my wisdom teeth out. I got dry sockets. The holes went up to my sinuses, so I got all sorts of mouth- and food-bacteria in my sinuses and then got a raging sinus infection that drained into my mouth via my tooth-holes. I really don’t want to ever have surgery again.

53. First Piercing = I got my ears pierced at Limited Too when I was 11. I don’t remember which side they did first.

54. First best friend = I can remember back to kindergarten. Her name was Heather. She kicked ass. In fact, I think she still does.

55. First sport you joined = Probably tee-ball when I was very little, but I didn’t really “join” that so much as get signed up for it by my parents. So, um, field hockey in middle school?

56. First Vacation = I went to Ireland and England when I was 1. My mom was pregnant with my brother at the time and I enjoyed jumping up and down on her belly. There were frequent sheep-crossings in the road and I got excited every time I saw one and yelled PSHEEEEEEEEEP! BAAAAAAAAH! (Yes, that first P should be there. Yes, it’s difficult to pronounce. No, I don’t know why I thought there should be a P there.) At dinner one night my parents ordered me a mini pizza and it was the most exciting thing in the world to have a whole pizza all to myself. And it was grown-up food and everything! I have a picture somewhere.

 

RIGHT NOW:

57. Sleeping = probably what I should be doing, but I would like to echo the friend I stole this from in the first place in saying how could I be sleeping AND doing this?

58. On the phone = No. If someone called, I would probably stop filling this out until the conversation was over, so again: this would not be compatible with filling out this survey. Also, do you realize what time it is? Clearly not.

59. Eating = Again. I would stop surveying to eat. But no, I’m not eating.

60. Drinking = No. This is getting annoying.

61. I’m about to = answer this question. Wait, I just did that. Answer the next question.

62. Listening to = Survey, we already went over this.

63. Waiting for = Godot.

 

YOUR FUTURE:

64. Want kids = Yes, but please give me at least 5 years before you start nagging me about it if you’re planning to nag me about it.

65. Get married = Probably within 2-3 years.

66. Career = Famous novelist, famous webcomic artist or famous blogger would all work, but if none of them happen I’ll settle for not being famous.

 

WHICH IS BETTER W/ GUYS/ GIRLS:

67. Lips or eyes = They both kind of come together to form general “face” stuff, which is important. Better? I imagine it would be easier to live without seeing than without having a mouth, so I’m going to go with lips. Though we could probably have mouths without lips. Hmm. Also I don’t think this really has anything to do with gender. And really, wouldn’t the one I like more depend on the person I look at? I mean, I’m probably not going to look at someone with gorgeous eyes and be focusing on their average-looking lips. Or vice versa.

68. Hugs or kisses = No. They are different. I can’t say one is better, because sometimes I really need a hug and other times I really need a kiss. This is a dumb question. NEXT.

69. Taller or shorter = The exact same height as me. Seriously. If we are standing barefoot on level ground, I want our eyes to be at the same level. Subconsciously, at least. I never intended to only date people my height.

70. Younger or older = See, the reason these questions are so dumb is that the fact that I have a boyfriend with whom I am very happy, so obviously the answer to what I prefer will be whatever he is because I prefer him. He is older than I am.

71. Romantic or spontaneous = In general? Spontaneous. Being romantic all the time would get annoying. However, an occasional romantic night is nice.

72. Nice stomach or nice arms = Like, on their own? Huh. A disembodied stomach would be really fucking creepy, so I’m gonna go with that. (Seriously. Can you imagine that on a crime scene show? “Ya got anything, Dinozzo?” “Well, Gibbs, the Lieutenant’s stomach is lying on the ground over there—” (McGee vomits. Ducky begins telling a story about an ancient culture that used to remove the stomach tissue from their dead before burial because they believed it trapped the soul inside the body. Palmer bags it. Gibbs smacks Tony. Cut to: Abby, dancing in her lab.)

73. Sensitive or loud = I feel that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive at all in terms of personality traits, nor are they necessarily personality traits. This is officially a stupid question. Moving on.

74. Hook-up or relationship = This should definitely be clear to you by now.

75. Trouble maker or hesitant = I think my alignment falls somewhere around Neutral Good but I like the idea of being Chaotic Good because I’d be more like Batman. Chaotic Neutral would be cool if it wouldn’t mean that I’d basically have no sense of sympathy or empathy.

 

HAVE YOU EVER:

76. Kissed a stranger = I think so.

77. Drank hard liquor = I have done jello shots with my mom’s boyfriend.

78. Lost glasses/contacts = Once I bought an expensive pair of sunglasses and lost them within 30 minutes. TRUE STORY.

79. Danced in the rain = Of course! It would suck to not dance in the rain occasionally. But I also suck at dancing so it’s more like “wiggle around awkwardly in the rain”.

80. Broken someone’s heart = Yes. My exes all had a habit of not realizing that I’d been unhappy and trying to talk to them and fix things for months until I broke up with them and broke their hearts.

81. Had your own heart broken = No. I actually feel sort of guilty about this. Who the fuck feels guilty for not having had their heart broken? I must be seriously fucked up.

82. Won a bet = I actually don’t know if I’ve done this.

83. Turned someone down = No, actually. Maybe this explains the quality of my previous relationships.

84. Cried when someone died = Fucking…?! YES. What am I supposed to do, throw a kegger?

85. Fallen for a friend = Developed crushes on friends, but never actually fallen for one. Huh. Weird. I never even thought about this.

 

DO YOU BELIEVE IN:

86. Yourself = Hesitantly. I’m not always completely sure that I exist.

87. Miracles = Yes, but I don’t think they are necessarily good. I think something can be miraculous and bad.

88. Love at first sight = Not exactly. I believe there can be some sort of deep recognition immediately, but it still takes a while to identify what you’re recognizing as the potential for love.

89. Heaven = I believe in reincarnation, and I don’t believe that people get sorted according to how good they were. I believe that after you die, you go to some sort of afterlife and you take some time there while thinking over your life and figuring out what you learned and want to work on in your next one. You’re reborn when you’re ready.

90. Santa Claus = I know he’s real because he rides his lawnmower down my street every day in the summer.

91. Kiss on the first date = Okay, all the rest of these are along the lines of “do I believe these things exist”. I definitely believe kisses on the first date exist. They happen. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in them or not. Kinda like evolution.

92. Angels = “Spirits” are probably more accurate for me because angels are rather exclusively Christian. And possibly other religions that are not mine. I don’t know.

 

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY!

93. Done something terribly embarrassing = Probably by most people’s standards, but I think being embarrassed is a waste of time.

94. Had more than 1 girlfriend/boyfriend at one time = No. Though I did have a period where I thought I was polyamorous. It turned out I was actually just unhappy.

95. Did you sing today = No, jaw hurts too much.

96. Ever cheated on somebody = There must be some way that I learned that you can continue to feel like shit about having done something almost four years after it happened and still not have regrets.

97. If you could go back in time, how far would you go = I wouldn’t. I guarantee I would fuck shit up. Unless you’re a Time Lord, time travel is probably a bad idea.

98. Do you like apples = As long as they’re not red delicious.

99. Are you afraid of falling in love = This is a weird question for someone who is already in love. I’m not afraid of being in love. Falling in love? Not afraid, but I’d rather it didn’t have to happen to me again in this life.

100. Will you publish as 100 Truths? = No, I’ll publish it as “100 Reasons I Shouldn’t Fill Out Stupid Memes”.

END.

So there you have it. A view into my fragile, bitchy psyche. What’s the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked?

I’m either a nerd or a pervert. Probably both.

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Guys.

Guys, this is really bothering me.

Okay. I’ve explained that I’m an English major, right? More accurately, a Creative Writing major, but it falls in the general “English” field. So part of what I do, what I study, et cetera, is knowing how to choose words and arrange them and punctuate them in order to make a logical thing. Sentence. That. So I’m completely serious when I ask this, and if anyone knows the answer, please tell me.

What part of speech is vagazzle?

UPDATE: Okay, I’m pretty sure it’s a verb. I mean, if there’s a vagazzler, then it has to be something you can do. But how do you use it? “Yeah, I heard she vagazzles.” That doesn’t sound right. “Oh, she totally vagazzles herself.” Is that it? Does it have to be reflexive? I feel like “She vagazzles her vagina” is probably redundant. Maybe “vagazzler” refers to the person who does it? “She is such a vagazzler.” But what do they say if, like, someone calls when they’re halfway through? “Can I call you back? I’m gluing rhinestones to my junk.” “Can I call you back? I’m vagazzling [myself/my junk].” I don’t know. This is clearly a problem with Modern English.

Dammit, Finals Suck for English Majors Too.

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I bet anyone who is not an English major and sees the title of this post is scoffing just at the idea that we actually have work to do at the end of the semester. “Oh, bullshit, so you’ve got to write a two-page paper.” “Oh no, you have to revise something you already wrote, boo hoo!” Well, shut up. We don’t have it nearly as easy as you think and I’m going to tell you why.

English (Literature) Classes
I’m a Creative Writing major with a Literature minor, so I’ll be addressing both areas within the blanket “English” field. (I’m lucky that my school divides them so I can have both.) We’re starting with literature.

This (well, last) semester, I took a really excellent course in the history and evolution of the English language. We studied Old English, read a bunch of Middle English, learned about how the language became standardized and how some assholes who thought they were better than everyone else wrote down a bunch of arbitrary rules that we are still held to to this very day. Ever get yelled at for ending a sentence with a preposition? Well, that’s because these jerks said, “It’s literally impossible to do in Latin because the prepositions are built into the words, so it must be wrong to do it in English!” when they wrote their book. Oddly enough, the very next sentence in said book ended in a preposition. Go figure.

The format for this class’s final was similar to many other literature courses I’ve taken. We have a research paper due on the last day of class. The research papers vary in length depending on the level of the course, but sources are important. When my professor assigned the paper (disputed usage in Modern English–I wrote about “all right” vs. “alright”), I was pretty excited because I’m a nerd so I started doing some fairly basic research right away. This was about a month before the paper was due. A few days before the paper was due, I started doing hardcore research–finding all the books I could and collecting them together and taking notes, writing down just about every quote that looked remotely useful. I spent about three days doing hardcore research into this. Really. Three days of research to back up my claim that “alright” has evolved to have a meaning of its own and written communication would be clearer if Standard English allowed it. Okay? Then a day actually writing the paper. Then a three-day break before the actual exam for the class, in which we had to describe in detail the grammatical use of any particular word in a short passage we were given. I’m assuming most of you haven’t ever studied Latin or German, because they’re not all that common anymore. So please go identify all the Genitive nouns in the previous paragraph. After that, describe the tense and mood of all the verbs in the first paragraph. And quick: what part of speech is “the”? Okay, so that was part 1. In part 2, we had to read a passage of written English and identify which century it was from and be able to defend our positions. A few of those were obvious, but really, there are only minor differences between 17th century texts and 18th century texts. You have to know exactly what to look for. We were not told exactly what to look for, so we had to figure that out on our own. (The same goes for 18th and 19th century.)

Another common literature exam tactic is the “identify this quote” game. List of quotations from everything you’ve read this semester. Provide the piece it’s from, who said it, the context it’s in, and the importance of the quote. Do that 30 times. Oh, and your professor doesn’t give a fuck about your carpal tunnel syndrome–you have two hours.

Creative Writing Classes
This is the one that people really don’t think requires any effort. I mean, how can you do an exam in creative writing? You can’t, really. You have to prove that you learned something in the class by writing or revising a creative piece. No other way to do it.

Taking a poetry class? Find every poem you wrote this semester. Revise it according to your professor’s comments, which are impossible to read because he hand-writes them and has shitty handwriting. And you better make some pretty significant changes to those poems, and they better be related to what you’ve discussed in class. Be prepared to completely re-write half of them.

Scriptwriting? I did that this semester. Write a screenplay. And a stage piece. They’re due on the same day. Good luck.

Fiction? I love writing fiction. You’ve probably written at least one story over the course of the semester. Maybe you’ve written a few stories, or one long story. You’ll probably have to revise it. So let’s say you wrote one long (30 page) story in third person omniscient. And let’s also say that at some point you realized that third person omniscient is a horrible way to be telling this as a short story and you should do something about that. Suddenly you need it to be in first person. You realize you’ve never written anything in first person. In fact, you have no fucking clue how to do it. So you do some research by reading things in first person that you really love and you think set good examples. And then you realize that you weren’t paying much attention to exactly how the point of view was used in the story and go back and re-read it. Do that for a while before you’re ready to sit down the night before it’s due and actually re-write however much of your story you need to. Realize that the 15ish pages you wrote aren’t condensing. In fact, this group of six pages is now exactly 10. You didn’t even get to the point that you wanted to get to, but now it’s nearing 3am and you have to wake up early tomorrow to drive 10 hours to your brother’s graduation.

Things to keep in mind when it comes to creative writing: you need to know a lot of shit to be able to make up a story. I reached a point in mine where a character drops a piece of plexiglass onto the cement floor. If you want to do it right, you’ve gotta go find a piece of plexiglass and a cement floor to drop it on so you know exactly what sound it makes. And you need that kind of detail for every single thing you put into your writing, whatever genre it is. Does one of your characters have a flower in her hair? What kind of flower? How exactly do you want to describe the color? Are there speckles? Go learn the anatomy of it so you can refer to the “stamen” and not look like an idiot. Because have you ever read a book or a story or a poem or watched a movie or TV show and said, “wait a minute, I know something about this field and that is NOT how it works!”? I know I have. So be prepared to either know how everything works or look dumb. (And if you’re writing science fiction, you’ve really gotta know the science behind the stuff you’re making up. I’ll be doing a self-taught crash-course in zoology this summer just because I made up a monster one day.)

Still think your finals are harder?
I can’t really say whether they’re harder or not. I haven’t been any other major for a while. I’m sure your finals suck too. That isn’t my point here. My point is more that, for whatever reason, English majors get a ton of shit for not ever having to do actual work during their entire college career and that’s not true. We do work. Especially if we care, and I care a lot. Math and science majors aren’t the only ones who collapse on their bed at the end of the semester and realize, fuck, it’s been over a month since I got more than three hours of sleep at a time.

(Oh, by the way, this whole rant? That’s why I sorta disappeared for a bit. Sorry ’bout that. It should be better now. I’m gonna go to sleep, though. And then I’m gonna take a day-long nap.)