New goal, new blog: Write A Thing!

Here is the crossposted first entry of my writing blog, in which I hope to do as it says on the tin and Write A Thing. Link here:


For most of my life I have written prolifically. Journals, short stories, long stories, fanfiction, poetry, humorous asides, catalogs of tangentially related ideas or objects, chunks of dialogue between real or imaginary people, my own name or the alphabet over and over.

Sometime last year, I stopped.

For the past ten months, I haven’t written much beyond grocery lists. I have also been increasingly bored and panicked about the future. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that these things were, oh, probably related– and then I thought “Well, uh… just… WRITE A THING.”

Like putting weight on a long-immobilized limb, I feel uncoordinated and self-conscious. I don’t really remember how all of these muscles move together, how to keep them straight, how to judge the distance to where I want to be and, by my own locomotion, arrive there. This is my blog for working through the pins and needles.

These things usually have rules, and here are mine:

1) Write a thing.

2) … that’s it.

This thing could be from a writing prompt, or it could be a chunk of a longer work, or a reboot of something I started and abandoned. It could be doggerel, or snide haiku, or lists of things, or hell, the word “stapler” over and over and over. Just as long as it is A Thing, and I have Written It.

I would try for daily, but I’ve made that promise before in various endeavors and I know how it goes. Anything– no matter how enjoyable– that I have to do every damn day eventually falls by the wayside. Usually I’ll miss a day, and then WELP I GUESS THE PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO THE MOUNTAIN NOW. And then I stop. So my official goal is “often.”

Or, you know, at least once. Even if I only write one thing, that’s one thing more than I’ve written this year. And hey, I guess this blog post counts! I have, in fact, Written A Thing.

Next stop: TWO things.

“Aaaaaaaaaand what do YOU eat for break-faaaaaaaaaaast?”


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Yes, I’ll take “Jokes Only My Family Will Get” for 100, Alex.

Sometimes I like to beat my head against the hard questions, but today– today the pressing thought that popped into my head upon waking up was this: What traditions include fish for breakfast? I know the British Isles have kippers and the like and fish is a part of traditional Japanese breakfast. Here we have bagels and lox and I assume that in Scandinavia there’s some fish-related thing because there usually is. It seems odd, though, that Wisconsin has never cottoned on to the breakfast fish fry. Salmon hash? Fish’n’eggs? I myself had leftover lemon-rosemary tilapia over brown rice for breakfast, and it was delicious. Strike a blow against the tyranny of designated “breakfast food!” I’ll have my fish for breakfast and my pancakes for dinner, thank you, and I’ll probably actually have both of them either midmorning, late afternoon, or in the middle of the night.

In Which I Contribute to the Tide of Cat Videos


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Today’s project was an extremely satisfying one: deep-clean the kitchen. Generally, cleaning a kitchen while I still live there is like shoveling the driveway while it’s still snowing, but it was beginning to grate on even my oblivious nerves, and I wanted at least one day where all the dishes were clean at the same time. And lo, with some assistance from the incomparable Sascha (my guitarist and close friend) it was done. Now the whole thing shines and you could probably eat off of most of the surfaces in it without being too squicked out. I am fighting the urge to cover the whole thing in plastic sheeting and just never eat again.

Dishes are made bearable for me by putting my laptop on a chair where I can see it from the sink and putting on the best videos the Internet has to offer. Today it was a good chunk of the Vlogbrothers videos from 2008 and a healthy amount of Tardar Sauce the grumpy cat. I live with a pair of grumpy cats myself (along with my adorable Ferdinand who never had a thought in his life that wasn’t about tuna and rainbows) and I thought “Well, hell, if just having an angry cat is enough to make you sought-after and internet famous, why am I still here with my dishes?” The answer is that Sophie is much less photogenic in her grumpiness. I did manage to catch her in a rare moment of cuddliness– and that’s even creepier. Observe: Sophie’s Video Debut.




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I’ve spent a large part of the few days that I’ve been gone being shockingly responsible. I could get used to this whole thing: assigned readings are completed and annotated days ahead of time, bedtime is never later than 1 AM, kitties are cuddled and meals are generally made. Most of what’s accounted for my blogging absence, though, is that the First Mate and I are redoing the 2nd bedroom of our apartment, which serves us as office and craft room. As far as redecorations go, this hardly counts– we’re not painting or purchasing what I think of as “real people furniture,” that being the kind made of wood of distinguishable provenance that comes from a place with a name and intentionally matches all your other things. Still, I can see how it’s one of those married-couple things that has earned its reputation.

Most of the hard work has been in restructuring what I call “my organizational system” and the First Mate calls “the morass.” My therapist once explained to me that some people are filing people and others are stacking people, a difference which apparently speaks volumes about your cognitive style. Andy is a filer; I am a stacker. What’s more, he’s singleminded and I’m a multitasker, and any enterprise we undertake which occurs at the intersection of these characteristics (like, for example, attempting to agree on and then purchase the proper storage containers for our various hobby supplies) always winds up somewhat fraught. I, for instance, will take unscheduled detours through socks, laundry hampers, and lightbulbs, having just remembered that I said a week ago that we needed each of them, while he will seethe quietly and–much later– inform me that my system is untenable and I’m being infuriating and then we have our quarterly spat. One of the good things about having been together so long is that we’ve recognized that these are different flavors of the same frustrating-but-not-serious argument. We have now worked out how to condense them into one evening, at the end of which it is generally agreed that even though our different modes of operation cause tension if we’re not patient about it, we both love each other and at least he is less irritable and I am less infuriating than the last time and then we have cocoa and go to bed.

I really have put a lot of effort over the last few years to cultivate my ability to be methodical and well-considered in my actions, and it is paying off. This morning I decided to get our new bookshelf put together and its contents organized before the First Mate got home from work. In the past, this would have been a very Lucy Ricardo operation, with me losing various of the small hardware and attempting to make totally unsuitable substitutions and culminating in him coming home to find me glued to the bookshelf, which is itself nailed to the wall upside down. Instead, I actually counted all the screws and tacks and what-have-you and sorted them into separate little cups before I even looked at the thing, which I had previously been convinced no one actually does. The bookshelf having gone off without a hitch, I owed the universe some act of clumsiness, but even this, when it came, I could salvage. Tonight, the First Mate came home to a beautifully organized bookshelf and a well-swept kitchen floor– with no sign that hours before every inch of it had been covered with the pound of popcorn kernels that I dropped. This, perhaps, is adulthood; not finally being imbued with grace and know-how, but with an understanding of the importance of preparation and the improved ability to cover your mistakes.

All-Purpose Sportsball Conversation


I’ve decided not to count the days anymore, because I can’t seem to keep them straight. Speaking of days I can’t keep straight, the Superbowl was today, apparently. I am, as you might suspect, not exactly up on my sports, so I’ve written a little formulary to navigate this weekend’s inevitable exchanges that I can reuse next season when the next sportsball matchgame comes around.

“Yeah, I’m a (INSERT HOMETOWN TEAM) fan, so I’ve been (eagerly awaiting/fighting back bitter recriminations about) this game for a while. It’s a (good thing/crying shame) that we (made such a good showing/were so egregiously shut out) this season. I mean, did you see that one game, where that (godawful/last competent) ref made that (abysmal/fantastic) call? I just about (flipped my shit/flipped my shit), for reals! Anyway, I have a (good feeling/sinking feeling) about this, but (it better be us this year/at least if it can’t be us this year, let it be INSERT TEAM FROM NEIGHBORING STATE WITH WHOM RELATIONS ARE GENERALLY FRIENDLY), y’know? It’s been a (crazy/utterly crazy) season, but if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that (the Cubs will still find a way to lose/the Cubs will still find a way to lose.)

Day: Some (I have at this point lost count)


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I am swinging wildly through cultures and subcultures this weekend. First, I managed a good showing at the party last night (paganism/antiquity-themed, because we are NERRRRRDS):


This morning I did Tai Chi, then in the afternoon read about variationist sociolinguistics for a lot of whiles. On the docket this evening: a few hours’ swaying back and forth and waving my arms at the goth club. Andy has noted of me that I make my leisure time even more scheduled than my work time, and I’m sure that come Monday I’ll be pretty exhausted (at least Monday’s my sleep-in day.) I much prefer this to the alternative, though, because if I don’t make an effort to leave the house, there’s apparently no limit to the number of days I can spend in pajamas watching cat videos.

Day 31 for reals: Sometimes I Forget What Day It Is


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Here is what sensible creatures were doing today: Image

And here is where we all went:

No wonder they have us wrapped around their adorable dagger-paws.

Bonus photo! Ferdinand got jealous as I was taking the picture out the window:


Also! Tomorrow I’m invited to a party where the dress code involves togas. (Not, I hasten to add,  a “toga party.”) Being as how I come from a family who knows from historical accuracy, I am currently attempting to decide between the Doric and Ionic chiton and whether I should also wear a himation.

Day 31- Good Learning + Tales of Hoth, Man


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Yesterday morning it was 60 degrees and raining. Tomorrow morning the windchill is going to be -20 degrees. It’s a miracle anyone settled this state. I remember reading the Little House books as a child and frankly disbelieving Laura Ingalls Wilder’s descriptions of cheery sleighrides through town while the mercury was standing at 40 below. Even the people I know who’ve lived here forever are nowhere near cheery at this development, although they should probably be more used to it. As for me, I don’t even own winter boots, for which I have absolutely no excuse. Digging my car out of the 2-foot drifts three weeks ago made me realize that there are some tasks to which even my beloved Chuck Taylors with the flames are not equal. Tomorrow I go boot shopping.


Today one of my professors asked us, at the beginning of the class, to reflect on the best learning experiences we’ve ever had, whether they be institutional or non-academic. Afterwards, we shared the features they had in common, and from them she’s compiling a list of goals for the classroom environment we create. Oddly enough (especially being that I’m training to be a linguist and an educator) I’ve never been in a class that opened that way. It was interesting to note that the experiences which came to mind didn’t fit with my picture of myself as a learner. I’m generally most comfortable working independently and taking notes in lecture and I vastly prefer writing to speaking. The classes which stick in my mind, though, have been the small, discussion-based ones. In these classes, what hooked me were both the high expectations for engagement with the material and the fact that the professors went out of their way to encourage us to play with ideas. My Freshman Studies professor (the LU term for their required freshman comp class, and not the psychological study of the freshman experience, although I’m sure that might be interesting too) put it this way, and while I’m paraphrasing, the bluntness is authentic: “I expect each of you to talk in every single class period. Most of the things you say will be 75% bullshit, but if four people each say something that is 75% bullshit, all together we have one good idea.” It was a relief to be able to acknowledge not understanding things, and as another professor of mine was fond of pointing out by example, the places that are difficult to understand are often where the growth comes from. “If this doesn’t make sense to you, that’s because it shouldn’t—this is how we improve theories.” As frustrated as I get with the academic institution and the grad student life, and despite needing a break to sort my life out after I finish this degree, finding those places where I can turn my curiosity loose on an open field with other like-minded people will keep me coming back until I run out of funding or they run out of degrees and start asking me to teach the classes.  

Day 28: Awesome, Chess, and MOAR DACTYLS



We’re back on top, with the
Schedule managed-
With free time, no less!

Andy’s recovered- he
Worked up the effort
To trounce me at chess.

Although, to be perfectly honest, I’m a pretty incompetent chess player; the effort required is in being patient enough to play a game with me, as I take forever on every move and am constantly asking him afterwards to explain what just happened. Our game ran longer than anticipated last night, which is why I didn’t blog. I had intended to do some of what Steve calls “pointing your canoe” and explore for a bit how I’m directing myself in the next few years, but I really enjoyed taking last night to give my full attention to the First Mate and the game of chess.

I worry that my blog entries sound harried and melancholy, because usually I write at the end of the day when I’ve already been stewing about what I didn’t get done. Let this one be a reminder to me, then– things are pretty darn awesome in Susanland. I have a lot of work, but it’s interesting work and when I take initiative in planning and follow-through, my days run smoothly.  (Also, setting your alarm tone to the finale of the 1812 Overture means waking up feeling like you’ve just defeated Napoleon and it’s not even breakfast time :D).