#AtoZChallenge — Ladybugs 🐞

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Today, while reading this post on Ramblings of a Writer, I realized it’s been a long time since I saw a ladybug. But the last times I remember were very memorable.

From 2010 to 2012, I had a job with a very small kale chip company. Working out of the smaller half a commercial kitchen small. I did all the shopping and made all the recipes small. The stuff was mostly sold at farmers markets small. Every day I came with my iPod loaded with audiobooks and spent the day planning, blending, mixing, dishwashing, and avoiding being the person to dress the kale with sauces if at all possible, because some of them kinda made my arms break out.

The kale was organic, so you know what that means: no chemicals or pesticides to keep the bugs off. Most of the time that wasn’t a problem, but every now and then there would be ladybugs. We washed the kale before dressing it, and usually found them then, but not always.

Sometimes my assistant (who made more than me, but whatever) would be dressing the kale and suddenly notice a ladybug crawling up her arm to escape. I’d come get it and take the little guy outside to fly free.

But once, the boss came in with a container of kale chips that someone had returned because the customer had found a ladybug that had been dehydrated with the leaves, poor thing.

Maybe that’s where they’ve all disappeared to…

Monday Musings #11 — Censorship

I find a lot of songs on the radio irritating. Some because I just don’t like the genre or something, but a lot of the time it’s because of censorship. Have you noticed that quite often, the “clean” version of a song changes “fuck” to “love” for all the delicate, shell-like ears out there?

Which would be fine, but those things aren’t just fucking interchangeable. One might be in love with someone they’re fucking, but there are lot of songs out there that are really talking about the other, no emotional strings attached kind and potentially giving impressionable listeners (this is the “clean” version after all, so any one could be listening) the wrong idea about what healthy love is like.

Here are just a few examples. Continue reading “Monday Musings #11 — Censorship”

Monday Musings #8 – Online Consent

Last week, a fellow blogger‘s post got me thinking. The post itself was about a personal struggle with being entrusted to read other people’s writing, but what struck me is that her main example dealt with a request from a friend who had sent both the request and their writing in the same message.

We all have to give each other some benefit of the doubt when it comes to the internet. To me sending the request and the writing together is presuming you’ll get a yes, or a sly end-around to being turned down by making it that much more uncomfortable to do so… I will admit, that was my initial thought because I’m a bit of a cynic sometimes. But it could just be the awkwardness of a fledgling writer seeking out serious feedback for the first time.

So dole out the grains of salt, because not doing so might lead to online attacks and shows like this, but at the same time there are some things about consent that I think we should hold each other more accountable for.

consentFor writers seeking out beta readers, always ask if someone is willing to read what you’ve written before sending it. Even if it seems like that just takes more time, and it’s a hassle sending and keeping track of all these emails. Especially if they’ve never read anything for you before! And even if they have, it’s only polite to ask, “Do you have time for this right now?” Because we have to respect the fact that we each have our own lives to deal with, too.

Another (somewhat unrelated) thing that pings my radar a lot is baby pictures on Facebook. And anywhere, really, but that’s where I see it most often, especially with grandparents and new parents eager to show off their new arrivals. It’s cute and sweet and I’m happy for you — but that picture is on the internet forever. That infant or toddler or cute little kid is going to grow up and realize that they had an online presence long before they even knew what that was or had any control over it. Is that scary? That seems a little scary to me, and I say that as a card carrying millennial.

And it’s not just kids. I haven’t been tagged in a photo in a while so I don’t know if Facebook has changed the way this works, but it at least used to be that if someone tagged you it gave you the option of whether or not to make that tag visible to anyone else and include it in your account’s collection of photos. But even if you declined the tag, that picture of you was still there, online, for anyone inside the poster’s privacy filters to see. What if you were uncomfortable with that?

With photos as with beta requests, I personally feel that it’s only polite to ask first, then act with consent. With adults, let them know in advance if you’re going to post a specific collection of photos and give them an opportunity to say whether or not they’re comfortable with that. (Like, if it’s something they might not want their boss to see, they might at least want to ask about your privacy filters.) With kids, I don’t know. I’m not sure what age they’d start being able to really understand and give consent.

This has been a rant. But consent is important to think about, especially as the concept of an online life becomes more “normal” to incoming generations. How transparent do we really want to be online? To what extent do we inadvertently make that choice for other people? What’s the social protocol here? That’s especially hard to nail down given the global nature of the internet, but so necessary for every individual on it.

Monday Musings #7 – Thoughts About Zombies

Some of my followers are already aware that I am a Walking Dead fan. Since my binge-watch introduction to the show two summers ago, it’s become my favorite portrayal of the zombie apocalypse (although World War Z is a close second and Newsflesh is a not so distant third). Once, my partner and I made these awesome brain cupcakes for a mid-season premiere party (of four people, lol, but hey- more cupcakes for us). At some point I will get around to borrowing the comics from a friend, but for now I think I’d rather just enjoy the show. 2014-10-12 20.14.34

From time to time I pick up a new zombie story. My most recent find is an audiobook copy of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, which I have not finished yet to be honest. But it’s fascinating to me because I found the attitudes in the book so irritating at first, and now it’s starting to grow on me.

The following review doesn’t exactly contain spoilers, per say, but it does go over the context of this book’s zombies and apocalypse.  Continue reading “Monday Musings #7 – Thoughts About Zombies”

Monday Musing #6 – Unexpected Inspiration

Everyone studies something they never expected to, at least once. In school or in life. Since I got my undergrad I’ve learned a lot about marketing (not what I majored in) and, randomly, the food industry (same).

In college, it was art history.

As I mentioned to Danielle over at The Caffeinated Writer recently, I went to a school so liberal arts that it didn’t believe in math requirements. It didn’t believe in language requirements, large class sizes, tests, or letter grades either. I chose this school largely because of the focus on writing, but also because I didn’t want to have to take any more classes in my least favorite subjects: math, foreign language, and history. I got through tolerably well to AP Calc in high school which was plenty of math for me, thanks, and I scraped through enough years of Spanish class to learn grammar rules and that I’m not good at learning languages. As for history, I’m just awful at keeping track of dates and always found the subject to be generally pretty dry.

But what I didn’t account for was class sizes (10-20 for a seminar, 20-60 for a lecture), and how competitive it made some courses. If it was a popular subject or professor, forget about it. Well… still try, but have lots of backups.

In my sophomore year, I started working on my lecture credit requirements by signing up for a class titled Art & The Sacred. Although it was technically listed as a history class I was able to overlook that fact in favor of the focus on art and it’s historical connections to religions. It turned out to be taught by a delightful little old man whom one of my friends was absolutely convinced was a Time Lord. (Don’t as me why. Dr. Who is something I keep meaning to get into but for some reason never have.) I sat through the entire semester enthralled, especially by illuminated manuscripts.

Continue reading “Monday Musing #6 – Unexpected Inspiration”

Monday Musings #5 – Positive Bragging

Raise your hand if you hate writing cover letters.

(Anyone not raising your hand, please tell me your secret. I crave enlightenment here.)

A few years ago I worked with a career counselor who, to my great benefit, introduced me to marketing by suggesting an internship I could apply for. While I can’t say my career has skyrocketed since then, I can say that I’ve taken significant steps in becoming a more confident and effective part of the workforce.

Now that I’m job hunting again I have a lot more experience and qualifications to work with on my resume… but that’s always been a hard thing for me. I don’t know, I think there’s something about my brain that gravitates towards writing fiction so much that writing non-fiction is a bore and a chore and a pain. At the very least, I have not always been very good at being my own advocate.

So I thought I’d share this for anyone who feels they’re in the same boat. I recently shot an email to that same career counselor and he recommended I fill out this questionnaire adapted from BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus. I had the most trouble with the second question, because I could only think of nine really interesting things I’ve done or have happened to me, but it’s a really great worksheet and resource. Here’s an example of one of my answers… Continue reading “Monday Musings #5 – Positive Bragging”

Monday Musings #4 – Math?

Last night I caught a glimpse of one of the frames that the Comcast X1 platform goes into whenever it’s in screensaver mode. Most of them are just picturesque seasonal photos, but this one was explaining that if you forget the channel number you can just type the channel name on the remote and get to it that way. I know this feature well — when it comes to remembering numbers, I’m terrible! Even when I was little I often got 6’s and 8’s switched around, and in middle school social studies classes I became aware of a limited capacity to remember the specific years of events.

It’s funny, because when I was a kid I really liked math. In fourth grade I sometimes stayed after school or during recess to learn really basic algebra. Over the summer between fifth and sixth grade, my parents got me a computer program so I could take sixth grade math and when the school year started I could take the seventh grade class. In high school I didn’t enjoy Geometry at all but I hung in there through another year (Algebra 2/Trig) and didn’t burn out until Pre-Calc and AP Calc AB.

So today I was idly thinking of myself as numerically impaired, and then I caught myself and thought about something for the first time… What if I just never liked math as much as I thought I did? What if I just wanted to, because I wanted to be like and/or please my parents?

I was raised by two computer engineers in the Silicon Valley. Every now and then in high school, my mother would hear about an extra credit math test I could have taken before school and seem genuinely baffled by my disinterest in waking up early to do that. They’ve worked for companies you’d recognize the name of, and there was always a Polish calculator in the side table in our living room. For those of you who have never seen a Polish calculator, it looks like some sort of Star Trek tricorder. (For those of you who have never seen a Star Trek tricorder, you were not raised by this kind of nerds.)

Continue reading “Monday Musings #4 – Math?”

Monday Musings #3 – Disassembling the Closet

Heteronormativity is a topic I’ve been grappling with lately for my novel, because stopping to think about how pervasive it is breaks my brain a little bit. Picking the strings of heteronormativity from the world I’m building and my narrative voice is a challenge… Some things are just really hard to pin down and define when you’re entirely used to them.

So, after running across this LGBT Buzzfeed article by chance on my Facebook feed, I took some notes and attempted to organize my thoughts. These are my own views but I’m always open to more perspectives and input, so comments are very welcome. Continue reading “Monday Musings #3 – Disassembling the Closet”

Monday Musing #2 – Visualizing

“I’m just thinking about, for my novel, all this would be underwater.” ~ Me, riding through San Francisco

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My novel, Growing Magic, is set far enough into the future where magic has replaced technology that people have more or less forgotten what the world was like. Now, geography is not my strong suit  but I’ve sketched out some maps. One of the features of this “new” world is that the sea level is much higher. I don’t know if this is what the Earth will look like in a thousand years according to science’s best guess, but I was looking at a topographical map while drawing it and the rest I’m chalking up to “because magic.” This includes the two new continents I threw in on a whim. Continue reading “Monday Musing #2 – Visualizing”

Monday Musings #1 – Pet Stories

This post was inspired by the Monday Musings segment on The Caffeinated Writer. I’m going to write about whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time, sometimes reading or writing related and sometimes not. Who knows!

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~Monday Musings 001a

My partner and I have a goofball five-year-old chocolate lab. We also adopted a kitten this year (shout-out to Palo Alto Animal Services), and the two of them together are just fantastic. Since we have a big dog, we looked for and found an adventurous kitty who wouldn’t be intimidated by him. And to be honest, an additional concern was finding a kitty who wasn’t too aggressive and wouldn’t intimidate him. Their interactions have gotten progressively more adorable now that he doesn’t startle every time she jumps up next to him on the couch, and even though they haven’t yet agreed on how to play with each other, they seem to have a lot of silent conversations.

Continue reading “Monday Musings #1 – Pet Stories”