Last Minute Cabbage

I’ve just realized I don’t have any sausage in the house. This isn’t that surprising, I’m not a sausage-loving person, but it’s NEW YEAR’S EVE. If I don’t have sausage and sauerkraut tomorrow, I’ll have a horrible year. I had sausage and sauerkraut last year; imagine how much worse this year would have been if I hadn’t.

You don’t eat sausage and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day? You must not be German. I’ve had sausage and sauerkraut on New Years for decades. No idea why, except that the sky will fall if I don’t. So I looked it up. It’s pork, not sausage (I could have been having bacon or pork chops all these years?) because pigs root forward, and the sauerkraut is actually cabbage (bok choy!) which stands for money. Or something.

So now I’m trying to figure out if I want to go out and get pork and sauerkraut or just stay home and count my blessings. It’s a stupid superstition, but . . . what I don’t do it? AAAAAAAAAArgh.

You got any do-this-or-the-new-year-will-be-a-disaster traditions? Tell me I’m not the only one. And if any of you have an eat-chocolate-or-the-sky-will-fall tradition, I’m adopting your heritage.


This cartoon by Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post pretty much sums up where I am right now. It’s nice inside my house, or my fort as my therapist calls it. I have computers, my iPad, a phone (that I keep losing), three dogs, comfy chairs, TVs with Netflix and Amazon Prime, a kitchen with every tool I could possibly need plus plenty of Diet Coke and bok choy, three dogs (did I mention them?), and enough yarn to crochet a cosy for the country.

Which would probably be a good idea at this point.

So one of my intentions (not resolutions) is to get out more in 2020. That gives me two more days plus the holiday to snuggle down and pretend the outside world is JUST FINE, THANKS. But after that, I’m going to proceed with caution back to the real world, back to writing Nita and getting a contractor to look at my collapsing foundation and getting the dogs shots and finishing a hellacious amount of laundry (the laundromat is a good place to do hellacious amounts of laundry, so many machines), yes in 2020, I am going to gad about like . . . something that gads. (I was going to use the Ancient Mariner, but that grabbing one of three bit would probably get me committed.). Yessiree, 2020 will be different.

Until it gets here, I’ll be in my fort.

Happiness is This Damn Year Ending

So it’s New Year’s Eve eve, and I’m sure somewhere in the world there’s a country that didn’t have an tyrant in charge of it, cataclysmic weather conditions, an uprising of intolerance and bigotry, or rioting, repression, and regret, but it’s not my country. I’m sticking with the idea that this is an extinction burst, or as one dog training expert put it, “An extinction burst is when the unwanted behavior gets worse before it gets better . . . . The dog is saying this sentence to himself. “Hey, this always worked before. I must not be jumping high enough or biting hard enough.” This is the year the dogs of bigotry and intolerance jumped higher and bit harder, but so far, the courts and the sane members of the government have whacked them on the nose with a rolled-up Constitution.

I do believe that the arc of the universe bends toward justice. And that makes me happy.

What made you happy in 2019?

Cherry Saturday, December 28, 2019

It’s Write A Business Plan Month, and since I’m in the business of living, I think I’m gonna go for a Business of Living Plan. This should not be mistaken for a list of New Year Resolutions because I’m against those. This is more of a “Things I Intend To Do To Make Living More Excellent in 2020.” They are not ways to improve myself. Screw that. They are Fabulous Living Plans. Entirely different thing. For example, I can have as many French fries as I want on this Fabulous Living Plan because it does not involve restricting my food intake in any way. I may have to do that as another part of my life, but it does not go on this list.

I’m still working on my list, but it’s definitely going to include: Continue reading

This is a Good Book Thursday, December 26, 2019

I reread Agatha Christie this week. It seemed like a good time to find corpses under the tree. Plus my kid sent me gorgeous Christmas cookies and I had hot chocolate, so I re-read Hogfather, too. Tis the season to believe, Argh people. I believe next year is going to be GLORIOUS, so I’m just going to sit by the fire and read and eat Christmas cookies until it gets here.

What are you reading to get through the rest of 2019?

Working Wednesday, December 25, 2019

For those who celebrate it, it’s two days since Hanukkah started, and it will end on the 30th, so happy Hanukkah. For those who celebrate it, yesterday was Festivus, sorry we missed your grievances, but feel free to state them in the comments below. For those of you who celebrate it, it’s Christmas Day, so happy Christmas. For those who celebrate it, Kwanzaa begins tomorrow and will go on until the 30th, so happy Kwanzaa. Hogfather’s Day is in there somewhere. All in all, people are probably working on their holiday things like cooking and not killing their relatives, so that counts as Working Wednesday. Also, only eight more days (counting today) in 2019, which means 2020 is coming up which is like a science fiction date, not real, so dream big, people, and tell us what your working plans are for a brand new year. Or not. Maybe just rest.

Happy Working Wednesday.

Happiness is a Habit

I get the Bold School e-mail from the Washington Post; it’s basically a weekly report on some aspect of aging and it’s always interesting. This week’s was on the grumpy old person stereotype, countered with research that shows that happiness throughout life is a U shape, declining through the thirties and forties and then rising again in the fifties and continuing to rise after that. The e-mail concluded with the idea that even if you’re a pessimist, happiness is something that you can consciously practice in small ways until it becomes a habit. Such as (from the e-mail):

Continue reading

Cherry Saturday, December 21, 2019

Today is Short Story Day.

Here’s the thing about short stories: They’re harder to write than novels. You have to do everything in a short story that you’d do in a novel, you just have 5% of the real estate to do it in. It’s like dancing on the head of a pin: you can do it, but you have to be very careful and constantly aware of the edges. I don’t think I’ve written more than fifteen or twenty short stories (some of them went immediately into the trash, so I can’t do a head count now) because it’s an impossible length for me. On the other hand, my creative writing mentor, Lee K Abbott, was born to write short stories so that even novella length was tough for him. It’s like the writing fairies give you a gift at birth–“This is going to be your natural length, kid”–and that’s where you’ll be in your writing life, sprinter or marathoner, already decided. Which may be why I think writing short stories is so hard, I just wasn’t born to do that. No, it’s because they’re short. You screw up in a novel, there are a lot more words to succeed with; you screw up with a short story, you’re done.

On the other hand, reading short stories is not only easier than reading a novel, it can be more pleasurable and infinitely more impactful (is that a word?) because they hit you like a bullet, hard and fast. My favorite short stories may not be the best stories ever written (although they’re damn good) but they’re the ones that stayed with me. Including but not limited to and in no particular order:
Continue reading

Today in Overthinking: Identity and the Jar in Tennessee

One of my favorite poems is Wallace Stevens’ “Anecdote of the Jar.” I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately for several reasons, and it’s just occurred to me that it might be a great metaphor for teaching the impact of identity in characterization. It’s such a slippery concept, and I’ve never thought I was particularly good at getting it across, but then I recently went back to the poem for the reasons and thought, “Oh, it’s right there.” So let’s try this again (waving to McDaniel students).

Continue reading