Monday, October 31, 2022

7 Things About NaNo

May I tell you a secret? I started my NaNo early. I have a bigger goal, and I decided that I was going to give myself some cushion. I can write ridiculous amounts of words in 30 days, but I can also, not. I realize ridiculous is in the eye of the beholder here.
So with that in mind, here we go.
1. I'm a big believer in learning about your process. Writing fast might be it. Writing slow might be it. You learn by trying. 
2. I'm also a fan of learning what really makes it hard for you. Too much noise, stress, music yes, music no, and so on. You won't always have ideal circumstances. But knowing which days you are better off saying, nope, it really won't be today, I'm going to make notes for tomorrow and move on. 
3. Whatever your plans are for these words, knowing your pace is great information that will serve you well. That pace may not average to 1667 words a day. You may discover tracking makes you batty. If so, you just have to do it once. Every story is a little different so your pace won't always translate but having something based in reality helps. 
4. Our capitalist society really makes go go go production very valued. Writing the most words means just that, that you wrote the most words. I find viewing this a production experiment helpful. For me I have also discovered there are some paces that are too fast. And that at a certain point for me, a slower pace just means the draft takes longer. 
5. Also, my other little trick, on days I have a really good day, I don't put all the words on the NaNo site. I hold a few back. And then when I have a slow day, I sprinkle a few extra in. I know! Lying to the calculator! Except it's not really lying. I have written all those words. 
6. One thing I hope we have learned in these pandemic times, is to be gentle. Be careful of the parts of your body you use or tighten more when in a writing sprint. 
7. Also on the be kind to your body front remember to take time to do something that is not the day job, and not NaNo. Being with real life people counts as research. Or just going outside and observing the trees. I promise. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this interview about hotel managing being like art really interesting.  
2. I was sad to hear of the passing of DC's legendary hat lady.  What a wonderful legacy. 
3. I actually started following Sami Schalk because of her cat, but hey, she is also a disability scholar, and her book about Black Disability politics, which she talks about in this piece, looks fascinating. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Cat Food

I know I always worry, when I read cat stories, that it is a precursor to the cat being deceased, so let me start by saying, my cat is alive. (Knock wood!)
Anyway, a little background.  When I adopted my cat from the shelter, I asked for the food they had been feeding her, and then got some of that, figuring we could explore other options later.  
She was a kitten, so we were doing dry food, and wet food at night.  At some point Kayla stopped eating the wet food.  Like there was excitement and interest when I served it, but it would be uneaten, so I stopped serving it.  
When time came to change to adult food, I bought adult food in the same brand.
This remained uneaten for two days.  At that point, I went to the store, and examined the adult food - this particular brand helpfully puts the shapes on the bag - found an adult brand that was the same shape as kitten, also bought a bag of kitten, and served it.  The adult food was deemed acceptable.  
I did decide at this point that my cat had been poisoned in a former life.  
Over the years, every once in a while, Kayla would get excited when I did something like pop open a can of chickpeas, and I would go buy one can of wet food to see if things had changed.  She would sniff it and then not eat it.  
Well, this year at the vet checkup, they recommended wet food.  Older cats are more likely to need hydration, so I understood why it was being recommended, but explained that she had been resistant to eating it.  They offered me a thing to sprinkle on the food.  
So, I procured a few kinds of wet food.  I served one - when it got sniffed but not eaten, I sprinkled on the stuff, and it did get eaten.  
Well, the good news is that Kayla will now eat wet food without the extra topping.  She has decided on the one type (available in four flavors) that she will consume.  Of particular note, if the word healthy, weight, or hairball appear anywhere on there she is not interested.  
Also, Kayla and I have negotiated what time wet food occurs.  Some days she has expressed concerns that I might not recall. 
But apparently old(er) cats can learn to accept new things.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. This article on Black Southern food takes a look at how folks whose connection to what is often called soul food had been limited to holiday meals, and creates a gap between the larger food tradition, and perpetuates the myth that it is unhealthy. 
2. I appreciated this interview with four unhoused folks in DC, especially as one of them I used to see regularly in my neighborhood and I was pleased to see things had improved a bit for her.  (Content note: Mentions of assault, sexual assualt, and police harassment.)
3. This advice question and answer about navigating the mixed race experience, is wonderful.  

Monday, October 17, 2022

Let's Talk Closed Captioning

So, closed captioning has been in the news a bit. Let's talk about it as it pertains to theater. 
Live theater is awesome. I recognize in these days of just about every patron arriving at the theater with a recording device - because all our phones are recording devices now - it's kind of wild. Add in a pandemic, and now actors are risking their lungs to share shows with us. So yes, it is a reasonable concern that actors have, that some audience member is recording the show, and has plans to sell that recording and cut into their profit margin. Even before the pandemic theater had a money problem. Live theater is expensive to make, and many people have way cheaper ways to spend their time. Yes, live theater is also unrepeatable magic. But gosh I've left shows mad, annoyed, confused, and I do think that tension is part of the experience but not everyone does or can at that price point. 
It's why I love regional theater.
And I also wish we made better plans to incorporate cast albums, love captured, and streaming, so that a good option was available to folks who can't travel, or can't risk that someone in the audience tonight removed their mask to cough. 
So I get why actors get annoyed when they see patrons on their phones. It's annoying to be doing almost anything for someone who is ignoring you. Someone who is planning to cut your profits also sucks.
But I have been in theaters where the program directed me to an app for closed captioning. My current phone also has a native live captioning app. These days Tiktoks, and YouTube videos have cations more often than not. I watch almost all TV with captions because I really hate the TV being loud so I can hear it over the phone. 
So many of us are used to seeing these options, why not live theater too. 
And so in a recent incident an actor in a musical reprimanded an audience member for recording the show, but the audience member was using captioning. The audience member was using a device provided by the venue, but I'm sure staring past the theater lights these things all look the same. 
Look, I have been stuck next to talkers, audience members who think the show requires live play by play, people who ask for line repeats from their neighbor, and an actually ringing phone. It is annoying. It is not the magical live experience I wish for when I go to the theater. So I get why it's fun to watch actors reprimand an audience member for things we may have thought in our head.
But someone once said, anytime someone does something annoying, stop and wonder if it could be disability. I can only hope that captioning devices might mean less, "What did he just say?" I always wonder if that phone call might actually be urgent. And the person with their phone out might be using a captioning device, or just taking notes for their review.
Similar to those constant pictures of teenagers on their phones in museums, when those very museums are peppered with QR codes, encouraging you to look up additional information, sometimes the device in their hand is actually proof they are paying attention. And so maybe, reprimanding them is not the move, even if it feels satisfying in the moment. 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. Tarana Burke reflects on the progress and her own expectations for the #MeToo movement since the Kavanaugh hearings.
2. This article is a little niche, but it speaks to the issues authors, and anyone researching book sales have just trying to get a straight (or even cheap) answer to how many books have sold.  
3. Well, there was some scandal in Fat Bear week, but transparency in voting data has triumphed.  And of course, the bears are really all winners in getting ready for winter. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022


I'm always amused as the calendar shifts, and then we will invariably see complaints that the weather has not observed proper protocol. (This year in the DC area, it changed to cool very quickly and without the normal step down.) 
Of course seasons exist, and even taking out the northern vs. southern hemisphere of it all, lots of folks live places that get cool sooner or later than the specific dates on the calendar. There's a reason year round schooling in the US is more popular in warmer climates where there would never be nine months of the year you could expect people to be indoors without AC, while many cooler areas try to fit schooling in in the months that are less warm. 
But if the weather near you feels like fall or not, we as humans like to see orderly progressions.  The possibly by Mark Twain quote about weather has been attributed to almost every state in the nation. Because over a hundred years ago they felt the weather was unpredictable and yet modern humans dedicate whole TV channels to tracking and organizing the weather, only to be disappointed when it doesn't adhere to our expectations. 
But maybe the weather is on to something. The weather is going to produce heat and cold, wind, and rain, based on all the various conditions and such that often humans have created or contributed to. 
It's not tied to last year's production standards, it's working with the conditions it has now. And while I would hope that as humans we could work on being less destructive than some weather events, there's something to be said for working within the environment you have now. And not trying to live up to conditions that no longer exist.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. If you are thinking about doing NaNo this year, lovely human Irette Y. Patterson has some tips and resources, pls on of my fave short stories of hers.  (I originally met Patterson at a NaNo write in.)  
2. I found that a sheer numerical rating often doesn't tell me much, so found Tom Sietsma's choice to ditch them going forward really interesting.  
3.  And we all know I love a they found they were dating the same man so ditched him and hung out together story so much that I wrote one.  Sure I had a specific inspiration, but here is yet another real life one.  

Monday, October 03, 2022


My mother at one point told us we could each pick a vegetable that we never had to eat. I initially picked peas (sorry, peas, I love you now) and then revised it to lima beans. My other didn't stop making these vegetables, or even serving them, but the idea was anything that was not our most hated veggie, we had to make a good faith attempt to eat. 
I remember being at my grandparents house and some something or other had me feeling cranky and treated unjustly in the way six year olds often feel. My grandmother told me she was going to make a delicious vegetable that my mother didn't like.
I knew enough to know that learning important data like my mother had a most hated vegetable was very important.
Looking back now, I can see that my grandmother was having fun, that teasing your children by offering their grandchildren tidbits must have been a joy. And that it was a win-win for me. I would either like the vegetable (it was cauliflower, and I did like it) and make my grandmother pleased, or dislike it, and have this dislike to share with my mother. 
I roasted up some cauliflower this weekend and thought about how I think of this story almost every time I make cauliflower.
Food and memories get tangled together so often in such fascinating ways.