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Dear Birds Who Start Chirping Outside My Bedroom Window at 3:45 in the Morning:

I hate you.

With the rage of a thousand fiery suns,

Amanda

 

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3 observations re: ideas

  1. Asking writers where their ideas come from is like asking oysters how they make pearls (or cancer; take your pick).
  2. Ideas propagate like rabbits listening to Marvin Gaye on loop.
  3. As with children, it is difficult to tell if ideas are ugly unless they belong to someone else.
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I never really understood why people suggest getting a dog as a means to prepare for actual childcare. I’m not a parent of a tiny human, but I am a parent of a dog, and on the basis of this experience alone, I can tell there are major differences between caring for the two. Here are just three.

  1. If you are parenting a tiny human and trying to teach proper elimination habits, you should not place the tiny human in a crate while you are away in an effort to take advantage of the tiny human’s natural desire to avoid soiling its sleeping spot. If you do and someone finds out, there is a strong chance the CPS will take your tiny human from you.
  2. It does not matter if you pick up the evidence immediately; if you encourage your tiny human to eliminate outdoors, people will again probably call the CPS. Also, they will jeer at you, because sewer systems have been in use for thousands of years and the in-house end should not be a foreign concept.*
  3. It is not considered appropriate to walk your no-longer-tiny human on a leash when he or she has reached adult age. By that time, the no-longer-tiny human is supposed to be independent of you and able to walk around the park by him- or herself. Missing this goal is pretty much the epic fail of parenting.

See? It is not safe to assume you will be a good parent of tiny humans simply because you’ve managed to keep your dog alive.

*I suppose camping situations may be an exception to eliminating outdoors, but seeing as sewers been around thousands of years and in that time have considerably cut down on disease, I never understood the appeal of pooping in the woods. 

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On Sunday afternoon, I had a killer headache that rendered me unable to do little more than binge-stream Netflix. One of the movies I watched was a French rom com called Populaire. It’s set in 1959 and features ingenue Rose Pamphyle, who takes a job as a secretary with Louis Echard, owner of an insurance agency. Rose is terrible at the majority of her duties, but she excels as a typist, despite her two-finger hunt-and-peck style.

The description at IMDB says that Rose “unwittingly . . . awakens the dormant sports fan in Louis,” and he decides to train her to become a speed typing champion. I did not pick up on “the dormant sports fan” aspect. I spent the majority of the film thinking Louis decided to enter Rose in contests as a speed typist because he stood to get some sort of monetary gain (admittedly, there wasn’t really any evidence in the film for that interpretation) and because he found Rose attractive (there was evidence for this, including the prerequisite scene involving Louis and a friend where the friend insists that Louis is keeping Rose around because she’s attractive, and Louis denies it).

And I guess I ought to put in a spoilers notice, though honestly, how does one expect a rom com to end? Nevertheless, spoilers after the cut.

[click to continue…]

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I missed my Wednesday posting last week because, honestly, I had more important things to attend to.

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My grandmother, Camille Jay Snow, died the morning of March 17, 2014. She spent 101 years on this earth, and while I know she was ready to go, there are a lot of us who are going to miss her, with the deep sort of ache that isn’t pain, exactly (because, again! 101!), but is the emptiness of a Mamaw-shaped hole.

She was a remarkable woman, and even though we went over some of this during her memorial and graveside services last Saturday, I’m finding it difficult now  to encapsulate exactly what remarkable means. And so, a list.

She exemplified how Christians are truly supposed to live through her love and consideration for everyone around her.

She endured child abuse, but it never showed in how she reared her own children. Her four kids didn’t know about it until well into their adult years.

She forgave the perpetrator, and was the only one to comfort that person in their* final days.

She worked in her household from the age of 6, including washing diapers outside in the dead of winter.

She kept food on the table for herself, her father, stepmother, and three younger siblings at a time when her father couldn’t work.

She loved to play games, most especially 42. But even at 101, she played Cards Against Humanity–and nearly won.

She made jokes, most of them at her own expense.

She loved her husband, Sam, for every one of the 56 years they were together, and visited him in the nursing home every day during the last 18 months of his life.

She was a quilter, a sewer, a jelly-maker, and a baker of peach and berry cobblers.

She was a storyteller, and made up “tall tales” to entertain her younger brothers. I wish I’d known about that sooner, so that she and I could’ve talked about making things up.

She wasn’t perfect, of course, and there were times when she said something hurtful. But it was never out of spite or even intended. The scales of her words tip heavily toward kindness and love.

She accepted everyone she met and made them feel welcome and liked.

She had the first given name Clois (or Cloyce; the spellings vary) but hated it so much that she made her maiden name her middle name, and I, at least, never knew about “Clois” until five days ago.

She never went to college herself, and became a stay-at-home mom with the birth of her first child, but she returned to work when that same child started college, so that all her children could graduate debt-free.

She laughed when we did things like put this in her 100th birthday celebration slideshow.

The exciting life and amazing times of Camille

I’ve forgotten what the sniping was about, but  I know we needed the reminder.

She had the heart of a servant, and always tried to make things easier for other people.

She was truly the most humble person I’ve ever known. I can’t tell you how much better off we’d be if we had more people like my Mamaw.

Rest in peace, Mamaw. One of the best things about my faith is believing I’ll see you again.

*And oh, how that grammatically incorrect antecedent grates, but I think it’s best to use gender-neutral pronouns in this case.

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This week, on “Get Off My Lawn!”…

There is a small bit of passive-aggressive warfare occurring in the parking lot of my townhome complex.

Background information: Each unit in my complex has one single-car garage and one marked, open-air space. Visitor parking is limited, and according to our by-laws, residents aren’t supposed to use those spaces for more than maybe 2 hours at a stretch and never past 10 pm.

Several units, however, have three cars or use their garages for storage instead of parking their car (the latter which doesn’t make sense to me unless you’re one of the unlucky ones whose garage is a trek from your unit, in which case I can understand the appeal of the visitor spots; then again, I also have a low tolerance for scraping snow off my car). This means that more often than not, the cars in the visitors’ spots belong not to visitors, but to residents.

Another neighbor noticed this too, apparently, because this morning the windshield of a transgressor’s car bore–still bears, actually–a note that I can only guess is intended to shame the transgressor into compliance. It goes something like this:*

SERIOUSLY?

The visitors’ spots are meant for visitors, not residents! You’ve been parking your car here (blah blah) . . .

The rules CLEARLY STATE residents should not use the visitors’ spots past 10 pm!

(More exclamation-point riddled copy with occasional ALL CAPS thrown in)

Move your car!

Sincerely,

An anonymous neighbor!

Now. The thing about passive-aggressive displays is that they don’t work. As I mentioned, the letter is still on the car. The car itself hasn’t moved, even though this neighbor’s designated parking spot has been car-free since at least 8:00 this morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the neighbor is leaving the car there deliberately, in a passive-aggressive reply to the initial passive-aggressive letter. Passive-aggressiveness only serves to irritate people, even if they’re in the wrong. When it’s “anonymous” like this, it robs the receiver of the chance to respond and to act like a decent human being. The wording of such passive-aggressiveness also implies that the receiver is not a decent human being and can’t be trusted to mend their annoying, parking-lot-violating ways.

Life tip: If you want someone to change something/do something differently, implying he or she is rude or evil or incapable of being civil is not the way to go about it. 

What would be more effective:

Ding dong!

Transgressor-neighbor: (opens door) Yes?

Non-anonymous neighbor: Hi there! Look, I know we don’t talk much, so this is a little awkward. But I noticed you’ve had your car parked in a visitor’s spot overnight.

Transgressor-neighbor: So?

Non-anonymous neighbor: Parking here is pretty limited, and I had some friends over last night. They had to park way across the street in that other complex because all the visitors’ spots were full.†

Transgressor-neighbor: Oh. Sorry about that. I have problems finding a spot sometimes, because I have three cars to manage.

Non-anonymous neighbor: Yeah, it’s a little annoying how our garages can only fit one car. But we’re all limited on space. Also, you may not know that our HOA by-laws say residents aren’t supposed to use the visitors’ spots at all after 10 pm. I personally don’t care about that one too much, but do you think there might be a way for us to work this out, so the next time I have friends over, they’re more likely to find a place to park?

This is what we were told about in preschool and kindergarten. People often call it “using your words.”

Confession: My default is passive-aggressive, especially when it comes to people I don’t know too well. This same transgressor-neighbor for awhile was using my parking space without asking. It’s honestly not too big a deal; I don’t often use my spot. But I do use it, and it’s common courtesy to ask before parking in it overnight. I came thisclose to leaving a passive-aggressive note myself (though I would have worded it more along the lines of, “Hi! How long do you think you’re going to need my spot for? Because I need it for X”). But then the car left my spot, and I spent a few days parking there immediately after work and sometimes leaving my car overnight (as long as there’d be no snow) in an obvious “Get off my lawn!” statement. I haven’t had problems since.

But because I’ve had no problems, that’s a sign that transgressor-neighbor is a decent person. It would’ve been better for me to knock on the door and use my words. It’s something I’m trying to get better at.

So, like much of the advice dispensed on the Internet, do as I say, not as I do.

*Belatedly, I thought about taking a picture, but then was all, “But what if someone sees me take a picture?” That, plus laziness, means I never did.

† Or some other true reason depicting why the undesired behavior is a problem, stated in a non-accusatory manner.

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So I was playing around with a blog post idea generator and misread the suggested topic as: “The best chainsaw gas stations.” Which confused me for a moment, because how is a chainsaw gas station different from your regular gas station? Then I went back and reread, and was a bit disappointed, because you have to admit, chainsaw gas stations would be so much more awesome than chain gas stations. Are they gas station that sell chainsaws, or gas stations made out of chainsaws? Either way, it’s a win.

And I know that every other month or so, I bring up or at least allude to the zombie apocalypse, and I know zombies are supposed to be about dead by now (ha ha ha, and aside from the perennial popularity of The Walking Dead) so I really need to let the topic go, but come on. Just think how valuable chainsaw gas stations would be in the event of the zombie apocalypse. You’re fueling up your car so you can easily escape and/or mow down the undead, and at the same time you’re picking up your chainsaw to use during melee combat. Or several chainsaws! Two for every member of your band of plucky survivors! And if you’ve got gas cans, you can collect more fuel for your chainsaws and a reserve for your vehicle! How is this not a good idea?

I must admit, however, that while as far as I know, there are no gas stations made out of chainsaws, there may be gas stations that sell them. This is where the modern lifestyle of instant gratification fails me, because I always use pay-at-the-pump gas stations, and indeed usually frequent the gas station associated with my local grocery store. I know there’s not enough room in those little cubbies for the gas attendants to sell chainsaws in addition to candy and cigarettes, even if I didn’t just avoid human interaction by swiping my credit card at the pump.* So because I fail to go regularly enter gas station, I have no idea whether they might sell chainsaws. Yet a couple of times a year, I enter gas stations to use the facilities during road trips, and these forays indicate that chainsaws are sadly omitted. The best to be had might be some cheapo pocket knife, which would be a far less effective weapon against zombies than a chainsaw.

Someone needs to get on this, people! Chainsaw grocery stores across America! The fate of our country could depend upon it.

* The grocery store itself does not sell chainsaws.

Special footnote: At first writing, I was in the wrong window. I almost graced my site with an entire page devoted to chainsaw grocery stores. I’m still not sure I did the right thing by switching to a regular post.
Also: I think this is a better post than what the generator told me to write about. Eat it, random blog post generator!

 

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In general, I avoid online comment threads and message boards, except for a few well-moderated spaces, because: rage, alternating with despair over the human race. But there are times when the reptilian part of my brain feels the urge to respond to these jerkbag commenters and their non-logic. Of late, this has been happening most frequently when I come across someone bandying about claims of 1st amendment rights violations when the “violator” is private entity not associated with the government. Thus, I present Logic Llama.

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Even if I decide it’s not worth wasting my time on jerkbag commenters, who usually just get even more mouth-frothy when someone points out their lack of logic, I like that I now have a time-saving option featuring a llama. Because llamas rock.

Note: Llama picture is by Julie Edgley and licensed under Creative Commons. I added the text . (Oh, and in accordance with Creative Commons licensing, permission is granted to copy, share, alter, etc. etc. etc. with attribution at the low low cost of free.)

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2/17

If I’d been better prepared, I would have posted this on Monday.

If on Monday I hadn’t been busy doing fun stuff, including adding 2500 words to my WIP word count and ignoring taxes, I would have had time to write a more thought-provoking/entertaining/inspiring/whatever piece to post today. But instead, I give you

3 People Who Were Born on February 17

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. My mother
  3. Myself

Go forth and astound all and sundry with this trivia!

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Because I know my extensive fan base cares about these things.

Career 1: Archaeologist

Consideration inspired by: A general interest in ancient cultures and vague ideas of somehow discovering Atlantis.

Career option ultimately discarded due to: The realization that I would come to detest the likely poor ratio of long hours in often-arid conditions vs. awesome finds. As my sixth-grade-self succinctly informed a local news reporter, who was doing some sort of “cute middle school undertakings” human interest piece and selected my class’s archaeological dig reenactment, “It gets kind of boring because you have to keep digging in the dirt.”

Career 2: Marine biologist 

Consideration inspired by: seaQuest DSV  (which I first began watching due to the presence of Jonathan Brandis) and vague ideas of somehow discovering Atlantis while I trained a super-smart dolphin within the confines of a super-advanced submarine whose mission was pretty much like Star Trek, only underwater. Super.

Career option ultimately discarded due to: The realization that I didn’t much like any of the science courses required to become a marine biologist, and besides, there would be no time to find Atlantis when I was busy training a super-smart dolphin and fending off the romantic advances of Jonathan Brandis.

Career 3: Ventriloquist

Consideration inspired by: A love of Ronn Lucas’ special Who’s in Charge Here and also the Muppets. Even though they weren’t ventriloquists’ dummies.

Career option ultimately discarded due to: The realization that–

Um, I can’t recall, actually. But I guess it had something to do with not being able to discover Atlantis.

 

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