Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! I hope you get to eat good food, see friends and family, and get plenty of time to sleep.
It's been quite a lead-up to the holiday work-wise. Absolutely no one submitted an editing job to me during the week of the election, and then a week later everyone seemed to remember that they still had a job to do, so I got about a dozen editing requests from people who just had to get their manuscript finished before Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, that rush put quite a jam on my NaNoWriMo plans, so to keep from keeling over from undue self-imposed stress, I decided to revise my goals to just writing a little bit every day. It kind of sucks, because I really think I could have hit those 50,000 words if I hadn't been slammed with so much editing in such a short period of time, but so it goes. Now I'll know for the future that people tend to get a little crazy about getting stuff finished before Thanksgiving, even if it's a fairly arbitrary deadline if you think about it.
But I will say that participating in NaNoWriMo this year has helped me get back into the habit of daily writing, and that's all I really wanted. So yay me! And frankly, the writing itself is so rushed, it doesn't come out that well, so I question the final product of NaNoWriMo and whether it's really worth it. Maybe it's more about the process, and so you shouldn't feel bad if you don't finish. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.
What do you think? Is NaNoWriMo a little silly?
If you're reading this blog, you probably read other blogs. And if you read other blogs, you've read the ubiquitous (sponsored!) Blue Apron reviews.
It always happens in waves. One week, just about every blogger I follow does a Blue Apron review. I'm not a marketer, maybe they have evidence that these campaigns work, but I've always found it highly disingenuous to read one identical Blue Apron review after another, all of them claiming that these are in fact their real opinions. Yeah right. Blue Apron obviously gives these bloggers the same talking points that they have to fulfill within their posts. A lot of companies do this.
So all these blog review campaigns have done is to make me distrust Blue Apron completely (as well as ruin all the blogs I once enjoyed). I mean, why would I trust anyone's paid opinion?
But on the other hand, it's an interesting idea. I get stuck in a cooking rut all the time. If Blue Apron was in fact delicious, affordable, and easy, that's something I'd consider trying.
So when we got a coupon in the mail for $30 off one Blue Apron order, I figured, hell, why not give it a go. Also, I did it for you, dear reader, because try as I might, I had a hard time finding an impartial non-sponsored Blue Apron review. Yeah, I got it for cheaper, but they offer that deal to anyone.
So here it is, my non-sponsored Blue Apron review. All thoughts are truly my own. Hopefully this helps you.
And there you have it. One unbiased review of Blue Apron. It's an interesting idea, it does get you out of a rut, the food is definitely tasty, but it's not convenient, and if it's not convenient, then what I am paying for?
Full disclosure: I'm a bit of a closet nerd.
Around middle school, I figured out real quick that it wasn't "cool" to like science fiction or comic books. And god help you if you publicly declared your love of anime.
Of course, I loved all of those things, but I kept a lid on it. I went to a small school with only about 30 kids in my entire grade, so I never felt comfortable alienating myself over my entertainment choices. I was able to alienate myself just fine by doing dumb shit like wearing turtle necks beneath my basketball uniform, stressing out over getting straight A's, and passionately arguing against the Bush administration within a primarily Republican student population. But I wasn't going to add my devotion to Toonami and the graphic novel section of the Barnes & Noble to the list of reasons why no one ever asked me out on a date.
So I was a lonely nerd. I had a few friends who were more open about their geek-interests, but I could barely bring myself to admit even to them that I liked Dragon Ball Z too. I don't know why, I guess I'm fairly conformist in public, though in private I'm all about my own thing. It probably has something to do with being an introvert.
Anyway, all of this is only to say that while I have a pretty extensive comic book collection (not as much as I would like - you know, money), particularly manga, and I'm a HUGE Miyazaki nerd, and I love Star Wars, and video games. and action figures - I've never been to a comic book or science fiction convention.
I've always wanted to! But I always find out about them too late, typically the week after (I'm terrible at finding fun things to do, it's one of the biggest things I wish I could change about myself).
Thankfully, my husband is just the opposite, and when he heard about the North Carolina Comicon, he made sure I knew about it straight away. I bought tickets like 10 minutes after he told me.
So this past weekend we went to NC Comicon and had such a blast. It was like, FINALLY, I get to hang out in public with my people! We didn't cosplay, but I had a really good time checking out everyone else's costumes. They were awesome. Especially the kids who got into it with their entire family. That's my idea of heaven. I didn't take any pictures because I was too in the moment.
NC Comicon takes place in downtown Durham at the Marriott convention center and Carolina Theatre, which is a great location. We got lunch at the ramen noodle shop, Dashi, a block or two away (always delicious), and then spent the rest of the day listening to panels, buying comic books and nerd gear, and catching a movie at the ComiQuest Film Festival. Check out our haul:
I'm really excited to read that history of manga book. I just finished Bitch Planet, and it was really, really good. I'm definitely going to get the next volume. I'd never heard about it before, but while I was looking around at one booth, a woman walked by me and pointed at Bitch Planet on the table. I took her recommendation and bought it. Such a good choice. It's set in a future where the patriarchy has ever legal right to send "non-compliant" women an off-world penal colony, i.e., Bitch Planet. Seriously, if you consider yourself a non-compliant woman, you should check this comic out.
Meanwhile, my husband went a little crazy with the Conan mags.
My favorite panels? Definitely the fanfiction and vintage 80's toy talks. I have to admit, if I had one criticism of NC Comicon, it's that they could have used moderators for a lot of their panels, which weren't super professional. But the fanfiction and vintage toy talks were really great. I used to be a big reader and writer of fanfiction, and kind of outgrew it, but it was interesting to hear how it's developed over the past few years and what kind of issues the writers deal with these days. I might devote a post to that topic next week. The vintage toy talk hosted by Zack Smith of Indy Week was just plain fun. Took me right back to the days of playing at my babysitter's house with her sons and their He-Man action figures.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that this what I have been missing in my geekdom - community. I'm at an age (30!) where I just don't care what other people think of me anymore, or I care a lot less. The benefits of getting old, I guess.
I'd like to go to more conventions, probably more science fiction focused (just because I'm more into that genre than I'm into super heroes). And I'd like to keep going with my husband, because it was really fun to nerd out with him. We have different interests (he loves horror and weird tales, I'm into anime/manga and all kinds of science fiction), but there's enough of a crossover for us both to enjoy.
Have you ever been to a convention? Wasn't it amazing to get nerdy without feeling judged?
Since I started running my editing business full time, I've been sitting a lot more than I used to. I spent the majority of the day on my feet at my old job, so I never really had any back issues before. But now that I sit in front of a computer all day, I've been dealing with some pretty nasty upper- and lower-back pain. Even though writing is just about my favorite activity to do in the world, lately it's been just a little less fun because it can feel quite physically painful. I never really thought of writing as a sedentary job, but it totally is.
My father has pretty significant back issues, so this is a problem of mine that I wanted to nip in the bud. Taking editing/writing breaks (see step 6 of my work from home tips) and moving around certainly helps, but honestly you can only take so many breaks in the day before you start killing your productivity, and plus, it doesn't really fix the underlying problem, which is a lack of flexibility.
At the beginning of the summer, my upper-back pain was the biggest issue. It felt like someone was driving a knife between my shoulder-blades. I adjusted the ergonomics of my desk, and that helped a little, but not completely. Eventually, I did some research and found that tightness in your chest muscles is what actually pulls your shoulders forward (especially for desk-workers), which causes the area between your shoulder blades to feel tight and painful. Thankfully, it's very easy to solve. I used this gentleman's website as a guide for correcting bad posture and found it very helpful, particularly stretch number 7. I do that one daily, and it has made the pain between my shoulder blades completely go away. I've also noticed that my shoulders look much less rounded. Win-win :)
But as soon as I fixed that issue, the pain just migrated into my lower back. After editing all day, I'd stand up and feel like an old lady hobbling around. Everything felt so stiff.
For whatever reason, my thoughts instantly turned to yoga as a solution. I've done some yoga in the past, usually whenever I happen to belong to a gym (right now, I don't), and I've always enjoyed it, though I've never practiced very regularly. Now that we have internet again, I decided to check out some Yoga videos on YouTube - and have LOVED IT. It's made a huge difference in my back issues.
My favorite is the Yoga by Adrienne channel. She has a really nice blend of vinyasa (flow/strength) and hatha (stretching/flexibility) routines. I really like her teaching style, which is more relaxed ("no yoga-robots"), not too woo-woo, but also just woo-woo enough to help me feel focused on the breath (and not mentally ticking through my never-ending to-do list).
After trying meditation off and on over the past year, and feeling like it wasn't really helping me as much as I wanted it to (for whatever reason, it seems to kill my creativity), I've found that yoga works a lot better at improving my mood. In addition to feeling calmer, I also feel a lot stronger. Even doing mundane stuff, like cleaning the shower, is easier because I'm just better at moving around on my hands and knees. I've always been a very inflexible person, but even I can tell that my flexibility has significantly improved.
Anyway, for you writers and desk-jockeys out there, seriously, consider adding a yoga video to your daily routine. Or, do some sun salutations while you watch TV with the family. I do that quite a bit now and it feels so good to get that body moving around.
Yoga + Writing = :)
I've just spent the last 24 hours writing about the election (emails with family, twitter, blog posts, here), and you know what? It made me feel a lot better. I think I understand how this happened, and in retrospect it's a lot less shocking. The polls made us complacent and hid a lot of issues in the Clinton campaign.
Now that the result feels less arbitrary, it's also something that's easier to accept. I don't want Trump to fail. I want him to succeed, because like Obama said, then we all succeed.
Writing has always helped me figure things out. If you're still struggling, seriously, give it a go. Write some emails. Send them, or don't.
And for all the people who are getting frustrated with the degree of negativity on Facebook right now, remember that people are still processing this result. The polls were so misleading, it shocked everyone. There's also an element of fear because Trump didn't seem emotionally stable during the campaign, and he insulted and threatened several groups of people. He also came off as incredibly narcissistic, which isn't a quality I admire in anyone. If he can pull it together for the presidency, and work to do good for the country, and try for the love of god to stop insulting women, minorities, and veterans, then I can support him.
My mother works on Capitol Hill and has ~30 years dealing with the enactment and enforcement of laws at the congressional-level. Here's what she wrote me, which put things into perspective:
"One comforting thought is that the professional federal bureaucracy will moderate the impact of the leadership. Another is the rule of law. A third is trade associations and NGOs. They know how to slow bad laws and regulations. We felt exactly like this in 1980 with Reagan. Somehow we survived. We will again."
I'll just add that she was the first person who suggested to me that the election was going to be a lot tighter than it seemed. I don't know where she gets her DC-insider knowledge, but she has her sources, so I'm going trust her don't panic response.
All of this is negated of course if there's any proof Trump assaulted women (or any other criminal act). Then throw the mf in jail. I think he probably did, but I suppose everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That's the standard I've held Clinton to, and that's the standard I'll continue to hold for Trump.
So I'm moving on. There's plenty I can do to support the causes I believe in. I'm going to take a positive attitude at this point, though I reserve the right to change my mind in the future based on whatever new information is available. Let's see what he does before we condemn his presidency.
As hard as it is to believe, he ran a better campaign and won. We can't condemn his earlier statements about not promising to accept the results of the election if we don't ourselves accept the results. Sometimes you lose. You accept it, because to do otherwise is the antithesis of democracy.
Finally, although I admire people who feel strongly against Trump and are participating in peaceful protests, I think he may be the kind of person who is more easily managed with flattery, or at least calm respect. After vilifying Obama more or less continuously during the campaign, Trump met the president at the White House today and called him "a very good man." Seriously, check out this Washington Post article. Here's a quote:
"Trump told reporters Thursday that he expects to work closely with Obama now and in future to seek his advice in guiding the country. He noted that a session that was supposed to last 10 to 15 minutes went on for an hour and a half.
Is he lying? I don't know, the length of the meeting suggests more sincerity than I would have expected. Maybe it's because he felt respected?
So instead of protesting Trump, maybe we should be following the Ivanka approach. Be polite, respect his interests, look the other way when he says something dumb, all the while getting him to do more or less exactly what you want. You think she became the vice president of development and acquisitions at his company by accident? Read this New Yorker article, especially the part about how she handled her parents' divorce, and tell me what you think. Because I think she knows exactly how to get the best out of him, and maybe we should be following her example. My guess is other people in D.C. are picking up on this dynamic too, which would be great. I am so ready for a less acrimonious political landscape. I just hope it doesn't result in the loss of anything I value (equal rights, women's health, science and learning, etc.).
What do you think? Are you getting closer to acceptance?
I have so many thoughts. It would probably take me two hours to write a decent, coherent post, so forgive me if I resort to bullet points.
Now on to Trump:
So what do we do next?
The Democrats made some serious errors, but I hope we can learn from them in the future. They need to build a stronger coalition between urban and rural voters, which I think is possible because there's actually a number of issues they can agree on, particularly cost-of-living.
It would also be worthwhile to throw rural voters a bone on the second amendment. When you live out in the country, you own a gun for all kinds of reasons: hunting, sport, vermin control (ever heard of rabies?), self-protection (because the nearest cop is a half-hour away from your home). I own a shotgun myself for a few of these reasons, mostly for sport (I enjoy skeet). That doesn't make me a bad person. So Dems, stop vilifying gun ownership. It's not getting you elected, and if you're not elected, you can't institute reasonable, moderate gun reforms (like universal background checks, which have bipartisanship support). Republicans get a bad rap for being uncompromising, but honestly Democrats can be just as bad on some issues.
So there you have it, my emotional regurgitation of last night's election results. Now will you hold my hand for the next four years and tell me everything will be ok?
A quick list (since I should be writing right now), but here are a few things that can help you achieve your NaNoWriMo goals:
Hope any of this is helpful. If I had to choose one piece of advice, it would be the sugar thing. Seriously, there's a reason you crave candy when you write. It's your brain saying "FEED ME!" I don't think it's a coincidence that on this list of 10 authors' favorite foods, 7 of them are sweet.
So it took me a week or so, but I finally found a TV show on the internet that I really enjoyed:
It's on Amazon Prime, and while it isn't perfect (there's a plot hole or two), it's still pretty damn good. It's set on a remote Norwegian island in the arctic in a small community of people who are rocked after a gory murder takes place, which I suppose makes this series Nordic Noir. But what starts off as a standard police procedural gets way weird and eventually crosses genres into horror, with a touch of science fiction.
Obviously, the setting is cool in it of itself (much of it was filmed in Iceland), and the mystery/horror element is also great, but the show really shines with its characters. I got particularly interested in the sheriff, who has so many different relationships with people on the island that we get a nice multi-faceted perspective of him (could that be used as a writing technique, maybe?). I really enjoyed how Richard Dormer played him. The investigator, DCI Morton, was also fun as a sort of Sherlock Holmes archetype, played by Stanley Tucci, who's always excellent.
Anyway, I thought I would recommend Fortitude because it's one of the better TV shows I've seen in a while. I finished it yesterday, and I can't stop thinking about it, which is usually a sign of good story. I hear there's a season 2 coming out next year, and I hope it's as good (though my expectations for season 2 of anything these days is fairly low).
Let me know if you have any Amazon Prime recommendations. I would love to hear them. I also enjoyed the show Fleabag, especially since it focuses on a female friendship, which you almost NEVER see on TV. But other than that, I haven't found a lot.
Of course, with NaNoWriMo upon us, any TV recommendations are going have to wait until December anyway. But when December rolls around and you have some more time (if you're participating in NaNoWriMo), you should definitely check out Fortitude. It's binge-able, but not compulsive. Just a really nicely balanced show.