Category Archives: thoughts

How to make enemies and alienate people

We’ve discussed here before how to win social media, both on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the advice boils down to Wheaton’s Law, which is:

Surprisingly, this is very, very difficult for a lot of people. I’m not sure if this is because they truly like being dickish, or they don’t REALIZE they’re being dickish, or it’s too hard to think, so therefore they just say whatever crosses their minds the minute they sit down at a keyboard…but whatever the reason is, the dicks seem to outnumber the people with something real and helpful to say online, most specifically in the comment sections.

Most people I know are, for good reason, aware that if you read an article online, you don’t, under any circumstances, read the comment section. Why? Well. Because here be dragons, of course.

For every kind, helpful and relevant comment online, you have to wade through people being racist, sexist, or just downright weird, and it starts to turn your stomach and despair for the human race.

But what about if you CAN’T avoid the comments? What if it’s your job to be the one to POLICE the comments?

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLTICIAN EVER!

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLITICIAN EVER!

One of the aspects of my current job is social media. Five days a week, I’m in charge of the work Facebook page and Twitter account (along with my other multitudinous tasks, of course. I’m a busy bee. But I am a HAPPY busy bee, so there’s that, then.) I not only schedule the posts our readers see, I’m in charge of reading their comments for a few reasons – to see what they’re saying (it might come in handy in the future); to see if there are problems (sometimes they tell us about typos/errors in the article or on the site, which we can hopefully quickly fix); and to make sure things aren’t getting off-topic or squirrelly.

Things often get off-topic and squirrelly.

Twitter isn’t bad, only because people in this area don’t use Twitter as much as I wish they did. (It’s a great resource for a newspaper – we can get the news out almost immediately and have a constant stream of it going to our readers. It just hasn’t taken off around here like it has in more populated regions. I think it will, eventually; we’re just late adopters.) The people who follow us on Twitter are respectful and polite, for the most part, and I never feel like I’m wading into The Princess Bride‘s Fire Swamp when I check our Twitter page.

fireswamp

The Facebook page, however, is a very different beast.

Now, please don’t go into this thinking I don’t appreciate – and even enjoy – a vast majority of our commenters. We’d be nowhere without our readers, and I love that they’re out there and paying attention.

It’s the fringe contingent that worries me. And keep me busy hiding their comments. And sometimes shaking my head and thinking, “oh, I don’t…oh, oh no.”

SO. For those people, I’d like to give you a quick list of pointers. You are very quick to complain when your comments disappear, vocally and angrily; you are very quick to shout “CENSORSHIP!” and “THANKS, OBAMA!” when you think you’ve been silenced. Hopefully, this will help you navigate the waters of our social media more successfully.

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK ON PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES

  • Watch your language. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Facebook has a helpful function for those of us that moderate a public page. We can choose to have comments with swear words immediately hidden, so only we can see them. We very much utilize this function, as we have every intention of being a public page, and the last thing we want is some hapless child stumbling upon you cussing the hell out of a news story. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Good grief, yo.
  • Stay on topic. Of course, there’s leeway here. I’m not saying there’s one path to greatness, people. But if we put up a post about, say, a fundraiser picnic, and you start rambling on about how angry you are that there are so many mosquitoes this year and there’s no global warming because of that LIAR AL GORE!, that’s just confusing and you might be a conspiracy-crazy. I’m not saying I’m blocking it, but people are going to think you’re a looney.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

  • Remember: since it’s a public page, everyone on your timeline, as well as anyone in the world, can see what you’ve said, and hover over your icon and see your profile. It’s just the way Facebook is set up, my little chickadees. You give up your anonymity when you comment on a public page. If you’ve got your page locked down, when they go to look at you, they won’t see much…but you’re still not anonymous. Your name is there. EVERYONE NOW KNOWS YOUR NAME. And your comment shows up in your friends’ newsfeed. I have a friend of a friend who’s very involved with commenting on social media sites. Every time he comments on our paper, my friend says, “I see So-and-So commented on your work Facebook page again!” Everyone’s seeing what you say. Keep that in mind when you comment. If you’re not being a jerk, you have nothing to worry about. If you are, however…well, your mom’s probably seeing that (assuming your mom has Facebook. My mom doesn’t. I’m one of the lucky few.) Do you want your mom seeing that? Are you sure?
  • Personal insults? Really? What grade are you in? We have had to take down entire posts because people randomly started insulting the other commenters, the people in the article, random politicians (seriously, if I never see another non-ironic “THANKS, OBAMA!” it’ll be too soon), and, in one weird thread, God. (Yes, some guy started really insulting God, like, over and over. SO MAD AT GOD.) That counts as off-topic, and it counts as just downright mean, people. STOP IT. I get it. You are filled with all of the hatred. You are ready to explode like a hatred volcano. Sometimes *I* am the target of the hatred volcano. Sometimes my beloved coworkers who wrote the articles are (and it takes every bit of my precarious self-control to not respond with a very biting “WE ARE RUBBER YOU ARE GLUE!” rebuttal, because when it comes to my coworkers, I am such a Momma Bear.) But if you go too far, I’m hiding your comments, buckaroo. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like the idea that people are walking around with a stomachache because someone was mean to them for no reason on our social media. Make a new plan, Stan, and screw off home.

    Oh, is THIS who's to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

    Oh, is THIS who’s to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

  • Why you gotta be so dirty? SO MUCH NAUGHTINESS. I’m immediately hiding your comments saying female politicians got to where they are “on their knees” or that the local taco place sells “fish tacos that remind me of my ex-girlfriend.” Seriously? What are you hoping to accomplish with this comment? Like, cracking up your friends with a “HEE HEE DIRTY COMMENT ON A PUBLIC SITE?” or “UNGH I AM SO SEXY THIS IS LIKE AN OBSCENE PHONE CALL FOR *EVERYONE*!” I don’t even know. I have ALMOST the least tolerance for this. The LEAST tolerance is saved for…
  • On my watch? No racist, sexist, homophobic comments. Not going to happen. Don’t even try. And if they happen when the other people I work with are on social media, I’ll sometimes randomly check and hide your comments EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT WORKING. Yeah, you heard me right. I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THIS, I DO THAT SHIT FOR FREE, YO. You don’t get to have a public forum to spew your hatred. Sorry. I know, right, FREE SPEECH? Well, we run the page, and you lost your right to free speech when you commented on it. We have the right to moderate. And until the day my fingers fall off, I will not allow you to put hate speech on our site.
  • Acting too cool for school is actually the stupidest thing ever. We get a lot of “who cares?” or “slow news day” comments. Did you really take time out of your day to write that? Actual time you could have been spending on something else? YOU obviously care, because you took that time out of your day. And no, it’s not a “slow news day.” There’s no such thing. If we posted the article, we think someone can benefit from reading it; if it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe…oh, I don’t know, don’t feel like you have to comment? It’s not like you have to comment on everything. No! Really! You don’t have to! I know, freeing, right?
  • Maybe spell/grammar check? I’m a little more stringent about this than others. I hate ALL typos. It’s what I do for a living; you can’t really blame me. Most people don’t care if you make a few. But I’m talking about the people who write a comment like “For teh all people eat fodo there waffles, good yunger.” I don’t…what does this mean? Do you even know what it means? Is it a puzzle? If I solve it, what do I win? (Is it waffles? That’s a worthy prize. I’ll take it.)
  • Don’t try to sell me a car. We randomly get a Ugandan businessman who spams about 15 of our posts with a huge long “CARS FOR SALE!” comment. We block him; he comes back in another incarnation about a month later. We’re going to keep blocking you, buddy. No one wants your used Buicks. And how would they even GET here from Uganda? Logistical nightmare.

These all seem common sense, right? Yeah, you’d be surprised. If you’re looking at the comment section of a public site, know that most likely, even though your blood pressure is up? Most of the worst comments HAVE ALREADY BEEN TAKEN DOWN. I know. Humbling, right?

So the next time you’re going to comment on a public page, take a deep breath, think, “Is this a dick move? Should I do this? Am I building someone up, or knocking someone down? Do I have a valid point? Is there even any REASON for me to make this comment?” If you can answer all of your questions and still look yourself in the eye in the mirror…you are welcome! Comment away! If not…maybe start a blog where you can say what you want, with no fear of The Powers That Be shutting you down.

...or you'll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don't want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

…or you’ll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don’t want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

And, to those of you with actual, helpful, intelligent comments to make? THANK YOU. You make my day/month/year. Keep on keepin’ on, you guys. You make what we do worthwhile.


That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird

So, the biggest news of the week, publishing-wise, is that Nelle Harper Lee, the beloved author of To Kill a Mockingbird, will have a new book coming out in mid-July. Go Set a Watchman is supposedly the book Lee submitted before submitting Mockingbird, and follows Scout as an adult, going back to the small town that shaped her. Cassie wrote a beautiful piece about the upcoming release, and asked that I write about my thoughts about the release, and I told her I was scattery (as I am!) but I’d been thinking about it a lot this week. I didn’t think I had it in me to write a whole post about it, but started writing…and here we are.

I’ve talked about this before (probably ad nauseum) but Mockingbird is, most sincerely, one of my favorite and most formative books. I think it’s the same for so many people. We want to be (and hope we are, deep down) Atticus; we identify with tough little scrappy Scout; our collective hearts break for Boo. Some of the most beautiful lines in literature come from the book…

“Atticus said to Jem one day, ‘I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. ‘Your father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’”

“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” 

His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears.
“Hey, Boo,” I said.
“Mr. Arthur, honey,” said Atticus, gently correcting me. “Jean Louise, this is Mr. Arthur Radley. I believe he already knows you.”

“Atticus put his face in my hair and rubbed it. When he got up and walked across the porch into the shadows, his youthful step had returned. Before he went inside the house, he stopped in front of Boo Radley. ‘Thank you for my children, Arthur,’ he said.”

 And in looking for these online to get the wording exactly right, I teared up at the power of them. It’s been so long since I read the book for the first time – I don’t even remember the first time I met the Finches, honestly, whether it was in high school or early in college – and I’m still moved to tears by the simple beauty in Lee’s words.

I’ve read the book more times than I can count; I held off on watching the movie because I didn’t think it could possibly have the power of the book, but oh, was I wrong. Gregory Peck was Atticus Finch. His calm authority gave me chills. I saw a beautiful production of a theatrical version of it a couple of years ago which moved me to tears; the actor who played Atticus gave the most beautiful reading of “Thank you for my children, Arthur,” perfectly tear-choked and stiff-upper-lipped, and I audibly sobbed in the theater. (I wasn’t alone in that.)

All of this to say, when a friend posted that Go Set a Watchman was going to be published in July, my heart jumped. Of course it did. These characters have become my family over the years. A book showing me what happened to them? A book following Scout into adulthood, giving us a peek at Jem, seeing if they’ve kept in touch with Dill, letting us know if Atticus has kept his idealism with everyone around him trying to beat it out of him, letting us know if Mayella turned out alright? How can I not want that?

Then news started coming out that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t what Lee wanted.

Short version: Everyone knows that Mockingbird was Lee’s only book. She’s been a bit of a recluse ever since – not Salinger-level, or anything, but not going around the world singing “I WROTE MOCKINGBIRD, WHOO-HOO, LOOK AT ME!” (And side note, there have been rumors for years that her dear friend Truman Capote actually wrote Mockingbird – because of course a woman couldn’t have written something that luminescent, and she never followed up on it, so WHAT IS SHE HIDING? And then there are other rumors that Lee wrote Capote’s In Cold Blood, so how about we just assume they each wrote their own books and let people have their successes as neither of them have, that I know of, ever accused the other of nefariousness?)

Her sister was her lawyer for years, until she recently passed away. Lee has had a stroke and, by most reports, isn’t of sound mind. Her sister was very protective of her, and it’s come up that it’s very suspicious that this long-lost manuscript has suddenly surfaced upon her death. People are saying she’d sign anything anyone put in front of her these days, and without her sister to look out for her, she just might have signed off on a book she never wanted published. It’s a savvy move from the publisher – the book was announced just a few days ago, and is currently #5 on Amazon’s pre-order list of Contemporary Fiction and#10 in the Kindle Store for Contemporary Fiction. And Mockingbird? #1 with a bullet, baby. Topping the list currently on Amazon in the Kindle Store for Literary Fiction, #1 in Literature and Fiction in the United States, and #1 in Legal Fiction. Take THAT, John Grisham! I’m not saying, if this is true, it’s not a completely slimy move…but financially, it’s savvy.

She's kind of adorable, right? I want her to be my neighbor. I want to hang out with her and talk about birds and crocheting and words, words, words.

She’s kind of adorable, right? I want her to be my neighbor. I want to hang out with her and talk about birds and crocheting and words, words, words.

So what’s a reader to do?

There’s no way I couldn’t read this book. I have to. Everyone’s going to be reading it. It’s going to be like when the last Harry Potter book was released and I couldn’t go three feet without seeing someone with that gigantic book in their hands because they didn’t want to go even minutes without reading it. This is going to be a global discussion when it comes out. A global discussion about a book? How can I not be part of that? And the sheer fact that more people are reading Mockingbird – how can I not love that? But I’m torn. What if Lee – this woman who introduced me to Atticus and Jem and Scout and Dill and Boo – didn’t want this book flying around in the wild? What if it’s not up to her standards and that’s why it hasn’t been released until now? Don’t I owe more to this woman who’s been such a force in my life, whose given me so much? None of us will ever really know what she wants, will we? Do we let the book speak for itself?

Yes. Of course I’ll read it. And I have the highest hopes that seeing all of my old friends again, these people that I consider family, will be everything that I hope it will be. I will talk to my most beloved readers about it and we will discuss and argue and fight over our favorite lines and characters and it will be glorious.

And I will hope in my heart of hearts that my beloved Nelle Harper Lee, even if she didn’t want the book released, will understand that I’m reading the book out of love. I’m being given another chance to see people I love. How can I say no to that?

It’s just that it feels a little like killing a mockingbird.


A new year post on the actual day. Go me.

Happy new year, people of the interwebs! OK, so I missed New Year’s day for some of you. I know. I’m the worst at thinking in a timely fashion for other time zones. Please forgive me, other time zones. Here is a photo of Dumbcat looking pensive to make up for my transgression.

Hapey Noo Yere, peeple of bloge. I had a birfday this weeke adn am nowe fifeteene. In humaene yeers that is 76 yeers old. I shoulde reetire.

Hapey Noo Yere, peeple of bloge. I had a birfday this weeke adn am nowe fifeteene. In humaene yeers that is 76 yeers old. I shoulde reetire and get soceel securtee so Momee can stay homee and pet my furrs all the dayys.

A couple weeks ago at work, one of my most favorite coworkers (there are a lot of them…I kind of work with the best people in all the land) and I were talking about blogging. Here, I’ll give you our conversation. If he happens to read this (and I suppose he might, the internet’s a very small place sometimes), apologies in advance for stealing your words and putting them on the internets for all to read, one of my most favorite coworkers whose name I will not put on the blog because I’m about 99% sure it would embarrass the pants right off of you and I enjoy you so much I would never want to do that to you. Plus, also, workplace harassment, yo, I can’t be taking work-people’s pants off. I think there’s a seminar or something about that.

I seriously just snorted orange soda up my nose at this. This was NOT the image I went looking for, but look at the chick's face. It's like she's oblivious to the butt-groping. Or she's looking at a really funny kitten-GIF. Or maybe she just really likes the groping, I don't even know. Either way, it is my best thing of the day.

I seriously just snorted orange soda up my nose at this. This was NOT the image I went looking for, but look at the chick’s face. It’s like she’s oblivious to the butt-groping. Or she’s looking at a really funny kitten-GIF. Or maybe she just really likes the groping, I don’t even know. Either way, it is my best thing of the day.

Impressive Reporter Coworker: So I noticed the other day you’re a tweetaholic. You have over 20,000 tweets!
Me: Oh. Yeah. I used to tweet a lot. I don’t do that anymore.
IRC: Why?
Me: Oh, kind of a long story. I used to blog? And then tweet a lot, kind of in relation to that? I kind of fell out of practice.
IRC: You had a blog?
Me: Yeah. I kind of still do, I guess, but it just sits there.
IRC: What was it about?
Me: Um. Mostly me ranting about some things and making fun of other things? Also I talked about zoos a lot.

By the way, this happened a couple months ago in Syracuse. I like it because it looks like I Munchausen-by-Proxyed my penguin-baby and have gone cheerfully insane.

By the way, this happened a couple months ago in Syracuse. I like it because it looks like I Munchausen-by-proxyed my penguin-baby and have gone cheerfully insane.

IRC: And people would read it?
Me: Heh. Yeah. Lots of people would read it. I won some awards. And I met amazing people. And I went to Finland last year. Got to stay with people I met through blogging, actually. It was fantastic.
IRC: So…what happened?

And I didn’t have an answer for him. Not really.

What happened? Oh, I don’t know. Life, I guess. Andreas and I have spent copious amounts of time discussing that. Priorities change. Things change. People come in and out of your life. Moods rise and fall. Jobs come and go. I can most sincerely say that the person I was three and a half years ago when I started blogging isn’t the person I am now. I think back on that person and she seems like a complete stranger to me. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of her; it’s that I don’t know her at all, and I don’t know how I ever was her. I have a record that I was, I can look back on old posts and I know I wrote them, but as for remembering it, it’s kind of fuzzy. Too much water under the bridge.

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…and I realize there’s this itchy little part of me that wants to start writing again, and writing more. Otherwise I’m going to probably self-destruct.

I’m not juvenile enough to think resolutions ever stick. The first day of the year always seems so shiny and new, doesn’t it? Like you can accomplish anything. Like you have 365 days of newness (ooh, 366 this year, yeah?) to tackle and make your own. But I don’t know about you…but every resolution I’ve ever made has fizzled around February once you realize “oh, look, this shiny new year is very much like last year, what are the odds, yo.”

Instead, I’m going to be kind to myself, and promise myself I’ll do things that are good for me – and writing’s good for me. So writing here? Good for me. Writing poetry, essays, maybe even some short fiction? Good for me. And it’s good for my mind, because I need it to stop being so itchy. An itchy mind never did anyone any good.

(Side note: I have an amazing job, and every now and then I get to write. I got to write part of an article – FOR THE ACTUAL PAPER! – a couple months ago, and then got asked to write a LONG article for one of our related publications. A three-page article about traveling to Albany and all the things you can do there. It’s not online yet – will be eventually, and then you can read it, if you’re so inclined – but long story short, I get to write for work. I also get to do our social media, copyedit, proofread, and sometimes there’s totally a STOP THE PRESSES! moment with late-breaking news which makes me jump around in my chair because I feel like I’m in a 40s film with very impressive fedoras. My coworkers are fantastic, because they’ve totally accepted me even though I’m the biggest goofball. And I can say, with 100% certainty, I’ve never had a job where I can be more myself, and where I’ve felt more immediately at home with the people, than this one. Ever. When you can completely dork out about something three days in and no one even bats an eye? You have won employment.)

Sometimes I like to imagine that I'm in "His Girl Friday" only there's a lot less sexism (and also a lot fewer typewriters, ashtrays, and, sadly, fedoras.)

Sometimes I like to imagine that I’m in “His Girl Friday” only there’s a lot less sexism (and also a lot fewer typewriters, ashtrays, and, sadly, fedoras.)

I’m kind of rambling, here.

Anyway: I have a couple of people I’m going to encourage to blog, and they’re going to, in turn, encourage ME to blog, this year, so we’re responsible to one another as well as being cheerleady. And this will, hopefully, stop the brain-itching and get me back writing and being creative.

Happy New Year, internets. I hope your 2014s weren’t as fraught with weirdness as mine was (and most people I know had a TERRIBLE 2014, what’s going on, 2014, why were you so cursed?) and your 2015 looks like 366 (or 365, sorry, people of other time zones, I really meant to do this earlier in the day but I was too busy painting a unicorn head to go over my new fireplace…YES THAT IS REALLY A THING I DID TODAY, WHY ARE YOU ASKING) new and shiny days of awesome that you can tackle and wrestle into submission and make yours, all yours.

This is my unicorn head that is hanging over my fireplace. I don't have a name for him yet, but I'm leaning toward Reginald von Sparklenstein.

This is my new unicorn head that is hanging over my fireplace. I don’t have a name for him yet, but I’m leaning toward Baron Reginald von Sparklenstein.

Much love to your shiny little new-year faces. *smooch*


I have a fancy nametag and EVERYTHING.

You’re totally right, anthropomorphic computer equipment. Thanks for the reminder. Stop talking about me behind my back, though, you’ll give me a complex and scare the cat.

Things have been a bit upended thisaway. Completely upended, actually. To the point that I have to reschedule the time I sleep and eat and such. Plus a gigantic move to a new town, and a whole new apartment, and a new town to learn, and a new JOB to learn, and and and…

I’m a bit chicken-head-cut-off here.

Overall, all’s well. I miss Albany, and I really miss my people there, but am learning my new home. My job makes it worthwhile; it’s a fantastic job. I love my coworkers, who are intelligent and sarcastic and make me laugh until I snort pretty much daily. I love the work, because it’s never the same and I get to be all crack-the-whippy about grammar issues and I get to be the night-and-weekend social media person, things I love doing AND I GET PAID FOR THEM. How often do you get to do things that you like, and get paid for them? I love the building, which is old and historic and filled with the best of newspapery ghosts whispering “extra, extra.” I like that my apartment is literally four minutes from my job, which will be fantastic when the snow falls (and that could be any day now…it’s getting chilly here.) I like that I know the news because I have to proofread all the stories so I’m all knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world. (Some days, I wish I wasn’t as knowledgeable. There’s a lotta shit going down right now, yo.) I like when the phone rings I get to answer it with “Newsdesk, Amy speaking.” I like that I had a hand in 5/7 of the newspapers that come out in this city every week. (5/7 only because I get two days off each week, not because I’m a slacker.) I like that when people ask what I do, and I say “I work for the paper,” they get an impressed look on their faces for the first time in my LIFE. I like that I look forward to going to work every day. Every single damn day. They even gave me a nametag with my PHOTO on it so I am all OFFICIAL.

This is NOT from my paper, but from my beloved cousin S.'s paper. I asked her if perhaps a tutor was revived IN the Tudor; the answer was no, sadly.

This is NOT from my paper, but from my beloved cousin S.’s paper. I asked her if perhaps a tutor was revived IN the Tudor; the answer was no, sadly.

I’m getting used to a nights-and-weekends schedule; there are pros and cons to it. Nice to only have to set the alarm a couple times a week, but working until the wee hours still makes me a little loopy. I assume I’ll get used to it eventually and stop being so yawny all the time.

My new place is amazing. Roomy and beautiful and old. Dumbcat and I have moved right in. This morning, he realized if he sleeps right on a register grate, the hot air from the furnace is ALL HIS. I walked by and laughed so hard I hurt my stomach. He had a look on his face as if he’d discovered pirate gold. “ALL HEET! ALL MYNE! MOM, IS SO GUDE!” My birthday present from my parents this year was – are you ready? – MY OWN WASHER-DRYER. I don’t have to leave the house to wash my clothes! I FEEL LIKE A MILLIONAIRE!!!

Random apartment photos! Ignore the cat-hairy floor. LOOK AT ALL THE ROOM I HAVE!

Random apartment photos! Ignore the cat-hairy floor. LOOK AT ALL THE ROOM I HAVE!

Bookcase! Bedroom! All the space!

Bookcase! Bedroom! All the space!

Kitchen! Frog-thing hanging on the wall! SO MUCH SPACE OMG!

Kitchen! Frog-thing hanging on the wall! Random Amy-shoes on the floor! SO MUCH SPACE OMG!

I have also purchased many bookcases and filled them with many books. And there is room for MORE books (which is secretly why I purchased VERY tall bookcases.) Gigantic book sale going on at the library starting next week, yo. Guess who’ll be there? ME ME ME. (Dude, fifty-cent paperbacks and dollar hardcovers? Like I’d NOT be there. Please.)

Two of my 6 bookcases. The guy at the store where I bought bookcases was all "are these for books? YOU OWN THIS MANY BOOKS?" Heh. Yeah, kind of.

Two of my six bookcases. The guy at the store where I bought bookcases was all “are these for books? YOU OWN THIS MANY BOOKS?” Heh. Yeah, kind of more than that many.

SIDE NOTE: I haven’t had time to read a single book since I moved. Not one. I KNOW. It’s kind of a travesty, yeah? I’m hoping to chisel out a little more time for that sometime soon. I also haven’t written a single poem. NOT ONE. Another thing I need to get a move on. I have scraps of phrasing scribbled on a million post-its all over this place. I need to turn them into something.

Very little theater here (at least compared to what I’m used to in Albany) but a decent amount if I make a bit of a drive. Went to a concert in Potsdam last night – about an hour and a half away – which was totally worth the trip. (Postmodern Jukebox – if you live on the internet like I do, you’re sure to have heard of them. They’re the ones that take pop songs and make them all swing-y or blues-y or big-band-y. They’re fantastic live, and they’re on tour, so I highly recommend if they come by you, go see them!)

Terribly actiony shot. They were very move-y. Such a wonderful show.

Terribly actiony shot. They were very move-y. Such a wonderful show.

This was my favorite song they played:

(Also, we totally had a singalong to a “Baby’s Got Back” mashup that made me laugh and laugh. And YES, I sang along. Of course I did.)

All in all – all’s well. Some sadnesses, sure. When are there not? Those weigh heavy on my mind. It’s funny how the little sads weigh so much more than the big happys, isn’t it? Relatively-speaking, they should all weigh the same, like the pound of feathers and the pound of lead in that oft-repeated brain teaser.

So: yes. Alive: check. Well: check. In the middle of a billion things, most of them completely different than anything I’ve ever done or dealt with before: check. Mostly remaining upright throughout all of them and not collapsing into a pool of puddly tears: check (mostly, so I’m counting it as a win.)

I keep thinking of things I should blog, like things you learn working at a newspaper, and things you learn running a newspaper’s Facebook page, and I think Dumbcat wants to talk to you about how it is living in the new apartment, and I want to tell you about the new town, and the new library, and all the local fauna here (holy crap with the fauna that seem to live in my backyard exclusively!) but it’ll have to wait for another day. Hoping that’ll happen sooner than later.

Here is a teaser of local fauna. A GIGANTIC SKUNK WAS LIVING IN MY BACK YARD FOR A WHILE, YOU GUYS HOLY HELL.

Here is a teaser of local fauna. A GIGANTIC SKUNK WAS LIVING IN MY BACK YARD FOR A WHILE, YOU GUYS. HOLY HELL.

Happy Wednesday, people of the blog. Hope you’re all happy and healthy and wise. Wealthy would be nice, too, but let’s not push it. How about JUST wealthy enough to afford delicious HoHos. There you go, then.


Curved like a road through mountains

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.  –Tennessee Williams

This is a line.

(It was supposed to be a straight line, but listen, I cannot draw a straight line with what software is free on the interwebs, ok? So just ignore the fact that it squiggles a little. Pretend it’s totally straight. DO NOT JUDGE MY LINE-DRAWING ABILITIES!)

Most people’s lives follow this straight line, for the most part. They’re born, and they go to school, and then probably college, and they meet someone squishable and they marry that person, and buy a house with a porch swing, and maybe have some kiddos who are equally squishable, and get a job, and work that job for many many years and put money into their 401ks and buy cool things to play with that are shiny and pay their taxes and eventually they die.

This is very stable, isn’t it? It’s really nice. It’s nice to know you’ll wake up, and the same thing will happen, and you’ll have someone there to share things with, and maybe kids, and probably, oh, I don’t know, family picnics, or something. Vacations. Probably a dog.

This is ALSO a line.

However, it is squiggly and all over the damn place and sometimes backtracks upon itself and has strange valleys and peaks that kind of look like a man’s face and I think in one place it kind of might look like I tried to make a penis, and in another place a rabbit, to make you laugh, but I totally didn’t. (Again, please do not judge the line. There’s a reason I’m a writer and not an artist. It is not the nice line’s fault.)

This line is MY life.

There is nothing straight about this line. Like, it starts out kind of straight, but then it goes kind of haywire, and then KEEPS going haywire, because it does not know where it is going or what it is doing. It is a very confused line.

And sometimes, when you think it’s going straight (like, see where there are places where it SEEMS it’s going straight?) it decides “HA HA! I WILL GO JIGGEDY-JAGGEDY ON YOU!”

When, Lord?! When the hell do I get to see the goddamn sailboat?!

When, Lord?! When the hell do I get to see the goddamn sailboat?!

“Amy?”

I can hear you, you know, even though you’re using your most polite voice. It’s ok. You don’t have to be polite with me.

“Your line metaphor is very…nice…and SUPER-artistic…but…where are you going with this?”

Yeah, I probably should get to the point. I try to…but you saw that line up there, yeah? It has a mind of its own.

OK. So when your life is a crazy waggly line, there are good things and bad things. Like, you have a lot of experiences and stories and you meet some of the best people (whose lines are usually all over the place, too…us wacky-line people, we tend to flock together. Probably because our lines get all tangled like the last two skeins of yarn in the bottom of the bag and we can’t extricate ourselves…but that’s neither here nor there, really.)

It's easier to just stick together. We get all knotty if we try to split up.

It’s easier to just stick together. We get all knotty if we try to split up.

However, life with a wiggly line is also about making the most IMPRESSIVE mistakes (falling in love with the least-likely human beings who break your heart into a million pieces; losing your job repeatedly; crazy brain-chemistry; not being able to sleep for days; shall I go on?) and not ever knowing what’s coming up. You’ve heard about waiting for the other shoe to drop? Well, you’ve always got a big old workboot hanging over your head. At first, that boot comes as a surprise. You’re all, “what the hell? I JUST GOT BOPPED BY A BOOT! Where did that boot come from?” and you look up at the sky all suspiciously. Then the second boot falls, and you’re all, “another boot? WHAT IS HAPPENING.” But then another boot, and another boot, and you kind of get used to boots. You’re always on the lookout for boots. It’s not the easiest way to live, always having one eye out for gigantic metaphors falling from the sky. But if you know it’s probably coming, you don’t get so out-of-nowhere smacked.

Duck & cover. DUCK AND COVER, I SAID.

Duck & cover. DUCK AND COVER, I SAID.

This past Monday, I went into work. I do that, on Mondays. Most weekdays, actually. I worked. I went to lunch. After lunch, I came back to an email saying I had a meeting. I went to the conference room, and about ten other people trailed in, and we made some confused jokes about why, exactly, we were in this conference room, and there was this weird whistling noise and I was all, “huh, what’s that, I wonder, maybe the air conditioning?” and then the CFO and HR came in and told us all of our jobs had been eliminated and the BIGGEST BOOT EVER smashed me upside the head and I was all “SHIT that’s what that whistling noise was. It was coming from a really, really far distance, this time, is all. Breaking the sound barrier, far.”

Squiggly line! I had been so happy and comfortable with my amazing job with my awesome coworkers that paid ALL THE MONEY that I forgot about the squiggly line and (eep!) THE BOOT HANGING OVER MY HEAD AT ALL TIMES!

(Apparently I am to blame the economy. Any guesses who Dad thinks is to blame for this? Those of you who guessed “the government” win. What do you win? I don’t know. Nothing from me. I can’t afford to get you a prize. I don’t have a job right now, suckas!)

So here I am, yet again, friends and bloggonians, underemployed, waiting to hear from the unemployment people, waiting to hear from the food-stamp people, picking up a few hours as I can at the answering service (thank you again, answering service!), applying to a million billion jobs, networking with everyone I can think of in the hope I can maybe, just maybe, find a job that I actually really love, not just settle for because it puts money in my pocket but also sucks my soul out of my nose.

I'm not this serious yet. I can't guarantee you I won't get there, though.

I’m not this serious yet. I can’t guarantee you I won’t get there, though.

(Side note: I apparently am VERY equipped to sell insurance. I have, unsolicited, gotten four emails and a phone call from three different companies that want me to sell insurance. I assume they saw my resume on one of the job-searching sites. One was from the AFLAC duck, which was humorous, but I still don’t want to sell insurance, even if an anthromoporphic duck thinks it’s my calling. I also got an email from someone telling me I’d make an amazing realtor. I can’t think of anything I’d be worse at than selling homes or insurance. If I was living on commissions, I’d be eating out of dumpsters.)

Flattering, duck. But, no.

Flattering, duck. But, no.

Luckily, the upside of having a line o’squiggliness for a lifeline is that the ups always come. The downs are always right around the corner, but the ups are there, too. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer for them, but they’re there. The boot gets cranked back up to wherever it hangs in wait and things get rosy again, for a time.

And there’s a slight possibility that the boot WON’T fall again. That’s the thing about that boot. You can’t trust that it will or will not fall. You’re just always nervously waiting for it…but that doesn’t mean it’s a definite.

And shh…I’ll tell you a secret:

Even though it drives me insane at times, and even though there are times I mutter angrily “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, AMY!?!?”, I’ll take my squiggly line over a straight line any day. My squiggly life has brought me such joy. I just have to wait out the bad patches. And avoid those falling boots.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a normal life, anyway. I think you have to vaccuum and wear polo shirts or something, in a normal life. I’d be very unprepared for such things. I look terrible in polo shirts.

Time for the next leg of the adventure. Don’t fail me now, squiggly line. I have to believe you have some sort of plan.

(You do, right?)

*grin* (I knew it.)

*grin*
(I knew it.)


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