Competence Happy

I just read a recipe on the Bon Appetit website and realized I had all the ingredients to make it, not just the onions and beef which I would always have had but the three inches of ginger root, the sesame oil, and the fresh lemon, not to mention the bok choy he suggested as a side dish. It made me think, “Huh. Maybe I’m a cook.” Mostly it made me feel competent. Which made me happy.

And that’s when I realized how rarely I feel competent. Continue reading

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About Jo

Well, this is turning into a hell of a spring.

I’m okay with isolation, especially since nature is waking up and smelling the forsythia, but the news is kneecapping me, all the “this is going to get much, much worse” stuff from American media that is undoubtedly true and necessary to get people like me to put on a face mask. My house is dragging me down; it’s time to throw out everything, I’m thinking, well okay, not everything, you know, just a lot of it. I’m out of bok choy and celery. And then Monday, my mother died.

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Bad Reviews

Amber Share
Sometimes I think about some of the bad reviews I’ve gotten on Amazon, and wonder why people picked up the book in the first place. My fave may always be “Well, it’s not Shakespeare” (when did I say, “Buy this book, it’s Elizabethan drama”?) but there will be a new you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me comment along at any moment. That’s why I love Amber Share’s bad-reviews-of-national-parks posters, all taken from actual reviews of parks and which all sound like something Trump would have said.
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So, What Do You Think About Series Books?

I’ve been thinking about series. I recently read six books in a series, but I read the last five because it was a series, not because the first book was fantastic. They were fine books, but they’re not anything I’ll read again, and the first one wasn’t great enough to make me seek out the author–perfectly good but not great. So it had to be that I just wanted to see that community again.

Is that why most people read series?
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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).

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Competence as Valium

So I’ve been having a spot of depression here. I very rarely get depressed because, let’s face it, I’m not deep, and I’m easily distracted, but for the past couple of days, I have not been my cheery, obnoxious self. Even my therapist got exasperated with me. “You intellectualize everything,” she said. What did she expect me to do, talk about my emotions? Jeez. Then Krissie wrote me and said she was depressed, and I pointed out that our deal was that only one of us could down at a time, and then I wrote her what I thought was a cheering post except in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have quoted Tennyson and Coleridge. Not exactly cheery guys, those two. But it did make me think about emotions (blech) and what makes me not depressed (yarn! food! great t-shirts! dogs!) and then I read the Washington Post this morning and realized there was another thing that cheered me up.

Competence. Continue reading

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Random Friday

I remember being in a car back in college with a driver at the wheel who was stoned. It was terrifying. That’s what being an American feels like right now for me. Apologies to the governments of Ukraine, Australia, and Finland. Syria, apologies aren’t enough. We’re better than this. Also, shout out to England which has it’s own terrifying leadership. At least Johnson isn’t trying to corrupt the whole damn world while selling out to dictators. Rather than bury my head in the sand (or in my book which must be finished) I’ve been cleaning and cooking and reading and writing and whistling in the dark (mostly Elton John’s “Nikita,” that sucker is a real ear wig). Also got my stitches out, took down the curtains in the two bedrooms to have them dry-cleaned, and bought Veronica some more t-shirts. Anything but look at the damn news.
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Wear the Lilac Towel Day

LILACYes, I know it’s also Memorial Day, and that’s important so put a poppy on your towel, but this year wearing the lilac is even more important because it’s our first year without Sir Terry.

We wear the lilac on May 25 in honor of Sir Terry Pratchett, a victim of Alzheimers who refused to become a victim. The lilac comes from Pratchett’s Night Watch novel, but it has become a symbol for fighting the disease.

We wear a towel on May 25 because Douglass Adams told us to in the Hitchhiker’s Guide. It’s the most massively useful thing an interstellar space traveller can have, plus it creates a great impression, hence the expression “That guy really knows where his towel is.”

We wear the poppy on memorial day because of Flanders Fields and because people who don’t remember the devastation of war are compelled to repeat it. We need a LOT MORE POPPIES in the world.

Have a wonderful lilac towel and poppy day.

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