Learning in the Slow Lane

Those of you who know me well know I type fast but use the hunt-and-peck method rather than proper typing technique. Wes has been saying for years that I should learn how to type properly, but my impatience has always made that an unappealing option.

A friend chimed in over the weekend and echoed Wes’s advice, so now I’m trying to type properly. I’m so slow, a goldfish could type faster. A concussed goldfish.

It took me ten minutes to type this. I may lose my mind.

Don’t Rush to Cover Them Up

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Photo credit Humans of New York.

I came across this on Reddit a couple weeks back and it’s been rattling around in my head ever since. It’s from Humans of New York, a blog that tells stories about random people in New York based on little snippets of conversations with them.

They’re all pretty neat, but this one was so convicting I feel compelled to share it. The photo is on the left, and here’s the caption that came with it:

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“Try your best to deal with life without medicating yourself.”
“You mean drugs?”
“I mean drugs, food, shopping, money, whatever. I ain’t judging anybody, either. I was hooked on heroin for years. But now I’ve learned that every feeling will pass if you give it time. And if you learn to deal with your feelings, they’ll pass by faster each time. So don’t rush to cover them up, or you’re never gonna learn.”

Am I crazy, or is this profound? I feel like I’ve spent much of my life trying to fix or avoid negative feelings, when many of those cures (smoking, cutting myself, eating, etc.) have been self abusive in nature. There’s something so incredible to me about recognizing that feelings don’t last. Negative feelings will eventually change, and there’s no sense beating myself up to avoid them.

Amazing.

 

Finish Line, Baby!

Here’s hoping this blog posts finds you in a post-Valentine’s Day chocolate euphoria haze. I’ve noticed that, like many things, Valentine’s Day is a lot more romantic fun when you don’t have little kids around. Don’t get me wrong, little kids are a hoot on Valentine’s Day, but it’s a lot tougher to spend hours slaving away on a romantic meal for your loved one when you’ve got wailing children hanging off your leg, complaining of starvation and the criminal lack of attention you’re paying to them.

Still, it’s possible to have fun. For our family, we have a tradition of baking Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes together (Guinness chocolate cake, whiskey ganache filling, Bailey’s buttercream frosting). My son and I spend all day baking the cupcakes (because it does take all day), and then Wes brings home takeout for dinner (because ain’t nobody got time to cook dinner when there are homemade cupcakes that need frosting), and then Wes and I enjoy wine and Godiva chocolates after the kids go to bed.

It’s no fancy candlelit dinner (I ate my takeout Gyro while standing over the mixer, adding powdered sugar one cup at a time while making sure my son didn’t add French fries to the frosting) but it IS fun. I think so long as you can all have fun together even though you’ve been married awhile and have kids and no longer remember what it was like having uninterrupted conversations during daylight hours, you’re going to be just fine.

And just like what happened in real life, the point of this post has gotten buried among the strata of Valentine’s Day minutiae.

royalty-free-marathon-clipart-illustration-1101903I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY BOOK!

It’s technically my fifth book, though the public at large will never get to read my first one. It’s the second book of my Bai Hsu, Chinese CIA super spy series, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s got an explosion, fight scenes, car chases, gun fights, intrigue, conspiracies, grand larceny, and someone getting tackled through a window.

It may just be my most action-packed book yet, though the first book in the series has a car chase between an ATV and an armored school bus, so that’s pretty cool too.

So now all I have to do is clean up my drafts, craft a pitch, and then go woo a big-time agent at the conference in NY this summer. Easy peasy, right?

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You guys, I think writing all those books may have been the easy part. Gulp.

The Trouble with Nonplussed

Ron Swanson does not approve of changing the dictionary to suit people who use words wrong.

Ron Swanson does not approve of changing the dictionary to suit people who misuse words.

Nonplussed is a troublesome word. It in no way sounds like what it means, and is, in fact, one of the most commonly misused words in the English language. It makes Inigo Montoya of all vocab fiends, who have no choice but to place sympathetic hands on their friends’ shoulders while saying, “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

It’s recently come to my attention that the good folks who govern English dictionaries are making allowances by appending an informal definition of the word. The proper definition of nonplussed is: (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.

Most people, however, think the word means unconcerned. Perhaps because it sounds like it should mean unconcerned. Now, there’s an informal definition of the word in the dictionary that takes this into account and states that the alternate definition of the word is: not disconcerted; unperturbed.

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, language evolves all the time. Words drop out of use, and every generation thinks the additions of the next generation are going to be the end of the English language as we know it.

Then again, by amending the definition of nonplussed, they’ve made it a useless word. It now means confused AND unconcerned? Those two are somewhat mutually exclusive. If you read the sentence: He was nonplussed, and left the room. You now have no idea what the sentence means and have to search for context from the surrounding sentences.

If someone describes someone as nonplussed, you must now ask for clarification. The dictionary editors have ruined the word, and I think that’s a darn shame because it was such a nice word. I’m sure it has all sorts of lovely Latin roots we’ll never know anything about, now.

So that’s the trouble with nonplussed. Too many people used the word the wrong way and now it’s ruined. And the only people who are upset about it are dinosaurs like me who still look words up in the dictionary because we love them.

Here’s to Saturday

At the time I am writing this, I’m sitting in a Starbucks, free from the clutches of kids who have been nonstop sick since New Years. No one has sneezed in my open mouth in thirty minutes, and I haven’t had to wipe anyone else’s nose since I got here.

It’s really nice.

When I left Wes, he was wrestling our daughter into a clean diaper for the second time in an hour, and also getting her a new outfit because she managed to smear unspeakable filth all over her first outfit of the day. My son was sniffling, coughing, and demanding cuddles on the couch, and the sink was full of dishes from the cupcakes I baked with our son this morning.

I offered to stay and help, and Wes flung out his arm to stop me, saying, “Get out of here.” His tone and posture seemed to convey, “Save yourself. There’s still a chance for you!” I felt a little like I was leaving him as a sacrifice for tiny, pestilent little zombies so I could make a clean escape.

And oh, how I did. I’m drinking a beverage I didn’t have to make. Listening to music that would not interest my children at all. Typing out words and no one is interrupting me to ask me a question, or asking me wipe something, or destroying something I’m responsible for keeping clean.

Saturday afternoons on my own are always wonderful, restful, and exactly what I need.

Today, though? After a month of nonstop whiny, clingy children?

FREAKING. BLISS.