In Searching for a Tagline . . .

This is going to be a short post to make up for missing September 16.

I’ve never chosen a tagline for this blog because nothing really appealed to me. So I just put “A Blog in Search of a Tagline” up there.

That being said, I may be on the track of something usable. I read a study once that said that people who spend their money on experiences are happier than people who spend their money on things.

And, well, I definitely spend my money on experiences — travel and books. And now I’m blogging about travel and books. So I think that this weekend I’m going to dig through Google for that study and see if there’s any quotes I can make punchy enough for a tagline.

In other news, a new series based on the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is coming out on Amazon Prime in November, so I’m thinking that maybe that’ll be a theme for NaNoWrMo this year. Maybe not the only theme, but definitely a theme. Some posts will be basic plot summaries, some will be in-depth looks at the characters, some will be squeeing about spoilers.

I need to come up with some idea of how to mark spoiler posts. When I first started blogging, I was told that it was polite to use cuts so that people visiting my blog wouldn’t be overwhelmed by text and scared off. So I did. And what traffic I did have plummeted. I went back in and removed the cuts and it went back up. So I don’t use cuts anymore. Maybe someday I’ll get steady traffic and will be able to keep it with cuts, but for now, no. I don’t think it’s very professional to use ROT-13 in a blog, but that may be my best solution just so no one can see that (choosing random surprise ending from a movie here . . . .) Rand’s been dead all along.

So I guess that today we’re having a Germane Amazon Link: The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. I’ll probably not have Germane Amazon Links all month, though, just in posts where I talk about events of one single book. For posts about character arcs and so on, I may do Gratuitous Amazon Links.

Book Series that Went to H-E-double-toothpicks: Michael Vey

I’m starting this series because there are so many series — kids’s series and adult series — that started out so promising and then just . . . went to hell.

I’m starting with Michael Vey simply because it’s the one that is on the screen in my Goodreads tab. It’s nothing personal about the series, or about Richard Paul Evans.

I picked up the first book, The Prisoner of Cell 25, in an airport. Geeze. Which airport, though? San Antonio? Baltimore? It doesn’t really matter, of course.

I. Loved. It. The characters were smart, they banded together and solved their problems. I believe it won some kind of award from, like, the science teachers’ association for the use of science both in the way the kids’ powers work and the way the kids used the scientific method in the book and . . .

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Okay, a little background. The Michael Vey series is about a teenage boy named, er, Michael Vey. Michael is being raised by his widowed mother and he’s pretty much your classic underdog — small for his age, smarter than average, and he has Tourette syndrome (not the dramatic swearing type — just a realistic tic-ing type). Oh. And he can shoot electricity from his hands.

Cheerleader Taylor Ridley sees Michael zap some bullies and talks to Michael privately. We find out that she also has electrical powers — she can distract people so that they forget what they were doing/talking about/etc.

We also meet Michael’s best friend Ostin. Ostin was born in Austin, Texas, and his mother isn’t as smart as he is and she misspelled the town of his birth on his birth certificate (I was willing to overlook that little plot detail, but maybe I shouldn’t have). Of course, not many people are as smart as Ostin, because Ostin is a certified genius.

Eventually, Michael, Taylor, and Ostin figure out that Michael and Taylor were born within a few days of each other at the same hospital and that a lot of the babies born that date in that hospital died soon after birth. But, clearly, not all of them did, so they begin to look for the babies who didn’t die, forming a “found family” that they refer to as the “Electroclan.”

And I liked the Electroclan. The kids are great and “found family, yay!” And the Electroclan isn’t limited to electric children. Ostin is a member and two of the bullies that Michael zaps at the beginning of the series join the Electroclan.

But not all of the electric children join the Electroclan. You see, the thing that caused the deaths of the babies and the formation of the electric children was some kind of imaging machine that used . . . electric waves to form the images. It was stronger than they expected and, well, the rest is history.

The machine was invented by a man named Charles James Hatch, who has become CEO of Elgen, the company that made the machine. Hatch has been collecting electric children, whom he calls “Glows,” because, well, they glow.

Hatch is a megalomaniac and goes megalomania-ing through the books of the series. He invents a power source called the Starxource system that is made from electric rats (“rats” backwards is “star”). And I’m, like, okay.

Then we find out that Hatch feeds employees who have displeased him to the rats and I’m, like, all right . . . .

So now we have our sides — Michael and his Electroclan vs. Hatch and his Glows. And, you know, a bunch of teenagers versus an entire multinational corporation, that should probably take a few books. Maybe even seven.

But as the series progresses, it gets more ludicrous. Hatch is having trouble sleeping, so he orders someone to bring him an atypical antipsychotic — Seroquel — to help him sleep. I was kind of appalled by this, because this is a book that won a science teachers’ award. Seroquel does cause drowsiness, but shouldn’t he be taking an actual sleeping pill like Lunesta or Ambien?

In The Battle of the Ampere, the third book in the series, Michael finds himself living among an uncontacted tribe in Peru, the Amacarra, who have another electric child living among them (so much for uncontacted) and who speak freaking Mandarin. For example, the chief says “Wo syiwang jeiyang,” which in characters is — probably — “我希望这样” and in English is definitely “I hope so.”

I mean, really. I actually emailed Evans to say that I certainly hoped that the fact that the Amacarra were speaking Mandarin was going somewhere. And I even stuck out the whole series at least partially in hopes that it would go somewhere.

It didn’t.

Eventually, Michael kills thousands of people by zapping them all but Michael doesn’t seem to have any kind of remorse or PTSD or anything, which really bugged me. I mean, he killed thousands of people. Augh!

The last book in the series focuses on people I neither knew nor cared about doing things that I certainly didn’t really care about. By the end of the final book, I decided to just sell the whole damn thing to a used book store. I’m really sad to lose Prisoner of Cell 25, because I did love it, but even I can’t convince myself that the series was “Book 1 and then they lived happily ever after,” and I believe that there were only four seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Now for a Gratuitous Amazon Link to a series that didn’t go to hell. This is the Streetlights Like Fireworks series by David Pandolfe. Streetlights Like Fireworks is a four-book series about Jack and Lauren, runaway teens with psychic powers. Jack and Lauren head out to track down a musician who disappeared in the 1990s and just kind of never go home again.

On second thought, here’s the first book, since apparently there isn’t a box set of all four: Streetlights Like Fireworks. I really love this series and am so tempted to rerereread it, but I have three books that I’m in the middle of and so I need to forge ahead. Maybe sometime in the future.

Book Series: The Selection, by Kiera Cass

I’m not sure why I’m starting my travel-book-travel pattern with this series. It’s just been on my mind lately. I’m watching through all 411 (at this point!) videos from Overly Sarcastic Productions right now, and probably for all of the foreseeable future, and I recently watched Red’s Trope Talks video (a crossover with a channel called Hello Future Me, which I may check out someday if I ever finish OSP) on Dystopias, which I compared to this series as I went.

Then, I finally found the second and third books in the series, which is why I hadn’t included it in my rereading project. No point in trying to reread something that you can’t find.

There was something else, but I can’t remember what it was. It’ll come to me.

It may have been someone saying that JK Rowling didn’t decide she wanted to put Ron and Hermione together until Goblet of Fire, and I said that it was obvious to me since the moment when Ron hoped Hermione would be put in a different house from him, since “I hate you, therefore I’ll love you” is a big thing. This made me think about America and Maxon’s relationship and now I have thoughts about the whole series.

What follows will have spoilers. If you don’t want to know that Maxon is Darth Vader’s son or that America’s been dead since chapter one*, go read the books first and come back. I’ll be here.

When I reviewed The Selection (non-Gratuitous Amazon link!) for the first time, I said that the dystopia is based on a not-very-likely sequence of events. Basically, China calls in the United States’s debts and the US can’t pay them, so China ends up owning the United States. A man named Gregory Illéa (is that a real last name? All that comes up when I search for it is this series) leads a rebellion against China and wins the freedom of what used to be the US, along with Mexico and at least part of Central America.

This is a problem because China was at the time The Selection was written the largest part of the US’s *foreign* debt. Currently, the largest foreign holder of debt is Japan. Either way, though, they hold less than 20% of our total foreign debt, but most of our debt is in Social Security and pension plans, and the amount of foreign debt we hold looks to me to be about equal to how much we owe banks.

What I’m saying is that if China called in its debt, there are a lot of other governments, banks, etc., who would be there to lend us the money to pay China back. Uncomfortable, maybe, but hardly enough to sink us.

Anyway, they rename the country Illéa after Gregory and Gregory, as King, decides to stratify the country into eight castes, starting with the royal family as One and the homeless as Eight.

Our heroine, America, is a Five, which is the caste of artists and musicians. Art and musical superstars, however, are Twos and music producers are Threes and the engineers who operate the recording equipment are . . . Sixes, I think. Cass indulges in some “Makers” and “Takers” stuff here. After all, without the Madonnas and Eminems**, the recording engineers and backup singers and session musicians and such would be out of work.

Like she literally says that. Well, not Madonna and Eminem, but that the Twos are supporting everyone beneath them with their star power. And that’s not how it works. The Twos are supported by everyone beneath them at least as much. If there were no session musicians, backup singers, recording technicians, etc., the Twos would have no way to reach their audience and their careers would end.

Argh.

I also wasn’t sure for a very long time where everything in Illéa is. I actually wrote to Cass asking for a map. We finally do get the map in one of the sequels.

Now. On to the plot.

Our heroine, America Singer, is, as I said before, a Five. She has been having a clandestine romance with a Six, Aspen Leger and, as a woman between 16 and 20, she is invited to apply for The Selection, the process by which the heir to the throne of Illéa chooses a wife. One woman is chosen from each of the 35 provinces to compete.

Aspen wants her to apply and eventually they break up. America’s mother bribes America to enter and she is eventually chosen to represent her district. She travels to the capital of Illéa, Angeles, and there she makes both friends and enemies among the other women of the Selection.

There are all sorts of rules for the Selection, including that they are basically Maxon’s property during The Selection. They cannot refuse Prince Maxon anything he asks for, and they are not allowed any other relationships.

This becomes a major stumbling block when Aspen returns, having been chosen to become a palace guard. Aspen wants to rekindle their relationship and she still loves him, so they sneak around fooling around for a while, but thanks to plot armor, no one ever catches them.

Of course, we can’t follow 35 women for a long time, so the number whittles down pretty quickly. Maxon sends a bunch home the first night, others choose to go home. There is a subplot about two rebel groups, one from the north and one from the south. One rebel group attacks the palace, leading Maxon to prune down the final group to just the six he likes best, rather than the traditional ten.

All throughout this, America has been honest with Maxon that she loves someone else, which at first allows Maxon to relax more around her, since she doesn’t really want to marry him. And since he’s relaxed, she’s more relaxed and they really do start to fall in love.

Maxon is pretty devoted just to America (who is still being pursued by Aspen) and thinks that if she doesn’t marry Maxon, she’ll just marry Aspen and still end up being a Two, since the wife’s caste matches the husband’s caste and palace guards are Twos. That was really offputting for me. I’ll reread the books and elaborate later.

America also has trouble reading a room and makes some faux pas’es (fauxes pas? WTF?) and she actively makes an enemy of the King, Clarkson.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed the series. The characterizations were good, the dialogue was great, America also has a few minutes that made me want to pull my hairs out (like the abovementioned “Aspen will be an acceptable consolation prize” scene), but really those served to make America a more interesting character.

In a way, I stuck this series out not to see whom Maxon would choose (I mean, it’s America’s series — who else would he choose?), but to see whom I wanted him to choose. The first runner up, Kriss, would also have been a great match for Maxon. I did end up shipping Maxon with America, but Maxon/Kriss was very, very close.

*No she hasn’t. It’s just the plot twist that came to mind first.

**According to Wikipedia, they are the highest-earning musicians who are (a) still alive and (b) American citizens.

Book Series I’ve Loved: The Chronicles of Narnia

I try not to spoil too much here, but I do spoil The Last Battle pretty well, so I’ll try to mark the spoiler area somehow in the post.

The first two chapters of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* were in my fifth grade reading textbook. I was reading ahead in the book because “bring an outside book to keep you entertained during downtime” wasn’t really a thing when I found them.

They were way back in the back of the book, and I had little hope that we would ever get there.** So pretty much every time I had a chance to sneak a peek at that section of the book, I would do so.

I didn’t realize that some of what we read was excerpts from longer works, so when a story just kind of stopped, it was pretty normal to me. We did make it to those chapters, though, and my teacher told us that this was part of the book, which was part of the series. The next time my mom and I went to the library, I picked up the entire book, which led to me getting the next book, and the next, until I finished the series.

I checked them out over and over, until finally my mom bought the books for me in paperback. I still have them. I cannot get to them right now, though, because Alex’s bar stools are in the way.

If you’re one of the three people in the English-speaking world who has never heard of the Chronicles of Narnia (though there are probably more in non-English-speaking countries), here’s a basic rundown of the plot.

Should I do this in book order or in plot order? Can I somehow hybridize the two?

The flagship book in the series is the above-mentioned The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This is the story of the Pevensie kids, particularly the youngest child, Lucy, who are sent away into the countryside to the home of a family friend, Professor Kirke, during the London Blitz during World War II.

During a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy hides in a wardrobe. The wardrobe is roomier than she’d expect. It’s full of fur coats which, as she walks farther into the wardrobe, eventually become (may C.S. Lewis forgive me the inaccuracy and the pun) fir trees. She emerges into a clearing in a snowy winter forest with an old-fashioned lamp post in the center. There she meets a faun named Tumnus, and he takes her home for tea.

When she returns hours later, only a few minutes has passed for her siblings and they don’t believe her. Eventually they do, and they end up going on a quest to save Edmund, the younger of the two boys.

The book ends with the crucifixion and resurrection of the lion Aslan, which kind of shocked me when I first read it. I thought that Lewis was mocking the death and resurrection of Jesus. It didn’t stop me from loving the series, but still.

Now, let’s do this chronologically. My series of books is in the order in which the books were written, but nowadays they sell them in chronological order.

The series tracks the entire existence of the land of Narnia. I guess that entire plane of existence, really, since there are other countries than Narnia.

We begin with The Magician’s Nephew, in which a preteen named Digory Kirke*** is living with his uncle, who has made pairs of magical rings that will allow one to travel between worlds. Digory and his friend Polly end up traveling from world to world, where they watch Aslan create Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe comes next, and the following book, The Horse and His Boy, takes place during the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Then there are three more books, which chart the family of Caspian, a prince of Narnia, and their interactions with the Pevensies and their cousin Eustace.

The final book in the series, The Last Battle, caps the series with the destruction of Narnia. The Last Battle is pretty controversial for several reasons.

It has a rather interesting take on the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Aslan allows non-believers into heaven based on their acts rather than their beliefs. That’s the Sheep and the Goats right there, but I know more than one Christian who is horrified by the thought.

Spoilers ahead! Awoogah! Awoogah!

Then there’s Susan. I may end up breaking this off into its own post if I end up going on too long on this.

The Pevensie kids, Professor Kirke, Polly, Eustace, and Jill are waiting on a train platform and the train somehow collides with the platform. They go to heaven, where they are joined by the Pevensie kids’ parents. Susan, who has become a pretty typical young adult, with interests in fashion and dating, is not there.

Some people take the parents’ presence as proof that we’re in the human end-time as well or something and that Susan went to hell. Further, since Polly and Professor Kirke speak disdainfully of Susan’s interest in fashion (which is likely CS Lewis’s own opinion — I never said there was no misogyny in his work, just that Susan doesn’t go to hell for it), fashion and boys must be the reason that she went to hell.

But Susan isn’t dead. The Pevensie kids’ parents were on the train. They all died at roughly the same time.

If Susan isn’t allowed into heaven, it’s not because of boys and makeup. It’s because she no longer believes. Lucy had said something to Susan about Aslan or Narnia and Susan said that she remembered that fun game they played when they were kids. So, yeah, she’s lost her faith.

Of course, even that’s no guarantee that she won’t go to heaven because of the Sheep and Goats part. Even without faith in Aslan, if you feed the hungry, house the homeless, heal the sick, etc., you still can get into heaven. It works for Emeth in The Last Battle, after all.

Though I do feel very sorry for Susan. She lost her entire family — parents, siblings, even her cousin Eustace and the beloved family friend Professor Kirke, all in one shot. I cannot imagine how devastated she must have been. I hope she had good friends to support her through that time of difficulty.

I do have some criticisms of the books. There is definitely some Islamophobia in there with the Narnians’ enemies the Calormen, who come across as Muslims were portrayed in the Crusades. I think he rethought some of this, though, because in The Last Battle, we see Tash (the Calormene god), who is more Hindu diety-esque (not an improvement) than a stand-in for Allah.

There’s also the sexism inherent in the portrayal of Susan, which I noted above. As a person on the ace spectrum who isn’t very into makeup and things (I love to wear dresses because they make it so easy to be comfortable and still kind of fashionable), I found Lucy’s refusal to go that direction to be a comfort, but I totally can see how someone on the allo, fashion and makeup end would find the portrayal of Susan to be offputting.

*there is no Oxford Comma in this title, which is odd, because Lewis attended Oxford. I’m just kidding. Probably.

** I stopped in the middle of this sentence to see if I maybe had a solution to my ongoing desire to show how I edit as I write using Word’s “track changes” feature. It didn’t work the first time I tried, so I’m going to research it and come back to it later. For now, writing.

*** Notice the last name? Yep. He’s the professor from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

So. 2021.

As anyone who has been reading here knows (Hi!), I’m in San Antonio, Texas. You know, the San Antonio that just had a snowstorm and then the electricity was down for much of the city for most of last week? That San Antonio?

Yeah.

And, as these things happen, I went into a fairly mild depressive spiral around then. I think it was just how haphazard everything was. I didn’t know what I would be doing, job-wise, from one day to the next. Our store was only open for four hours on Monday, and I was paralyzed by fear. I mean, I grew up driving in snow, but I haven’t done it in probably 15 to 20 years. That and there are basically three routes from here to work — a major highway, which was closed, a major street that’s hilly, or a less-major street which isn’t well-traveled at the best of times and where I was afraid I’d have trouble finding the street under the snow.

I was, like, “I wonder how long it’d take me to walk to work from here, because I sure don’t feel comfortable driving today.”

By the time the store opened, my shift was nearly done, so they told me just not to come in. I made it in on Tuesday, taking the less-traveled road, which had been driven on enough that I could find the road, and we lost electricity after about five hours and so we went home about an hour after that.

Wednesday, the store still didn’t have electricity, so we opened late, and then Thursday, the store didn’t have electricity at all.

So, guess what work was like on Friday.

Gratuitous photo time. This is Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of my personal light house goals. We’ll probably see this photo again when I do a retrospective of Alex and my trip to North Carolina in 2013.

On top of this, the electricity was off and on at my house. Sunday night we were one of the houses that got the rotating blackouts, 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.

Then Monday morning, the electricity changed to five minutes on, 55 minutes off while the sun was out. Once the sun set, it was just off. When I washed myself before work on Tuesday, I could see steam rising from the sink in the light of my cell phone. Wednesday night, the electricity came back on and has been on since.

The freezing weather seems to be over. It’s 50 degrees outside right now and should peak at 66 tomorrow.

I’m actually upset that there were so many stressors this week, because normally I love the snow. When it snowed a few years ago, I was over the moon because aside from being a little white-knuckled on the way home, there were no stressors. I knew that my job would be there in the morning, and, while we had to run the faucets to keep the pipes from freezing, the electricity stayed on, so I knew that if I went out and got my feet all wet from the snow, I could dry them off in the warmth afterwards.

I wonder if I could plan a snow vacation this fall. Maybe the mountains in New Mexico?

Another thing I’ve learned from this is that I need some semblance of a routine for my mental health. A while ago, I tried to start heading to bed at 10:30. I don’t have to go to sleep then, but I at least have to be in bed and reading or whatever. I think I’ve even watched a YouTube video or two at this point. It’s 11 now, so I missed that goal for today. Better luck tomorrow.

I’m going to try to get back to blogging on a daily basis for now. I’m going to try to schedule them ahead of time, every other day, so that anyone who reads here won’t be hit with a firehose of blog posts. This will post immediately, though.

Now for our Gratuitous Amazon Link. I went digging to see where I left off on GAL’ing my Goodreads list. Today we have Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett, the 16th book in the Discworld series and the third featuring Death and his family. At first, I thought that this was where I burned out, but, guess what? I still have six more Discworld books to go.

My Reading History

Part Something of Some Number

Wow. It’s December 5, and I’ve completely gotten out of the habit of writing every day. Well, not out of the habit as such, but, well, I realized that I hadn’t finished posting my 24 Hours of Happy project (and I missed a couple of hours along the way, too) and now I can’t find the file it was in.

So I’ve spent the whole month so far with File Exploder* (or whatever they’re calling it nowadays) searching my entire computer in the background for the word “Pharrell.” So far it’s found some music and a backup of my blog. This is no help.

Last night I was having trouble sleeping, so I started organizing my reading projects in my head and I realized that I’ve had a lot of “phases” in my reading. The first phase I had was probably Nancy Drew starting at about 10 years old. Then I had an Agatha Christie phase. After that, was maybe gothic romance? I think that was late middle school or early high school.

Somewhere around then was my Erma Bombeck phase. I still love to reread those books.

Then it was genre fiction. Mostly it was epic fantasy with a side order of science fiction, but there was a lot of supernatural stuff, too. That phase lasted years.

I never left genre fiction entirely, but I did go back to gothic romance again. At some point, I attempted to read all of the books of Victoria Holt. I think I only scratched the surface, but I’ll have to do some digging to figure out what percentage I read. I think that might have been around the time of my Ann Rule phase.

At some point, before Amazon became a thing, I began to scare myself with how fast I was killing off the books, so I joined the History Book Club in an effort to slow myself down. I still have a bunch of books from back then that I haven’t read. I’ve got to make some decisions about them.

Then I had cancer and my reading became no longer as fast as it had been. There’s a condition known as “chemo brain” where people who have had cancer have more trouble concentrating than they did before. And that was definitely me. I left the history books behind then, because reading anything successfully was a challenge at that point and haven’t really gotten back into them. I did go back to focusing on epic fantasy, supernatural, etc. for a while.

At some point, I entered a kidlit phase. I really enjoy this in a way that kind of resembles my enjoyment of epic fantasy, but in a way, it’s actually maybe more enjoyable. I think this is because the books are shorter and they may deal in heavy topics like interpersonal relationships (not just romance, but friends, family, coworkers, etc.), trauma, etc. but they do it in a way that isn’t so traumatic. Or something like that. The other thing is that since the books are shorter, I can cover more genres. Science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, whatever. If it sounds interesting, I’ll give it a shot.

Crap. I had a historical fiction phase, too. When even was that?

When I say “phase,” I don’t mean that I read this to the exclusion of all else. Rather, it’s more like, I don’t know. I just read so many books that I don’t know if I could ever read just one genre to the exclusion of all else. I’m trying to come up with a good analogy. Or even a bad analogy. Maybe it’s like meals. You can have the same thing for breakfast every day for a long time, but you’ll still have a varied diet for lunch and dinner? I think that’s as good as it’s going to get for now.

It feels odd to have a Gratuitous Amazon Link here, since this was about books, but since I didn’t discuss any specific book, it’d be weird to shoehorn that in just so that I can have a Germane Amazon Link. Looks like Men at Arms, a City Watch book of the Discworld series is up next. Let this be a warning to anyone reading this — be careful how many books in the same series you read. You may have to end up posting links to them in your blog someday, and that will be *really* monotonous.

*I don’t know if that’s original to Thomas or if he got it from somewhere else. It certainly isn’t original to me.

Argh!

November 30, 2020 3 of 3

It’s 10:30 and I need to get to bed soonish. I’m also 15 words short of hitting 30,000 for NaNoWriMo.

As a result, I will be just blathering more than usual. I realized that I posted a lot about my Goodreads account, but not much about the books I read this month. I guess that’s because it was a lot of comic book rereads and such and not really something I really had much to say about.

I’m rereading The Glass Sentence (yay for germane Amazon links), which I recall really enjoying when I first read it five years ago, but not really the details. I guess I could write about that once I get away from “I need words and I’m panicking!” mode.

I have made a nice habit for myself of sitting down to write every day. I hope to continue that, maybe in a more considered way for December and January.

I’m already two weeks ahead on posting at one post per day. If I can keep this up, I should stay two weeks ahead, which will be nice if/when I catch COVID. I’d probably be out of commission for two weeks at that point.

I’m going to continue reading and come up with more content creators to feature in posts and we’ll see where we are when my first practice NaNoWriMo for 2021 hits in February. Maybe I really will make it to 8 posts a day then.

Or maybe not.

My Goodreads Account — OMG

November 30, 2020 1 of 8

Every once in a while, it hits me — I have a shelf full of Ranma 1/2 manga and a couple of Naruto ones. I’ve read all of them, but can’t remember when.

It’s the 30th and thus the end of NaNoWriMo. I’m definitely not going to make it to 50,000, but 30,000 is looking good. And so I don’t really *need* to keep going lockstep through all of my comics compilations, graphic novels, etc.

But I really probably should. I am, after all, going to try to take another stab at writing 8 posts per day going in February, 2021, so I may well need the additional books some day.

Or maybe not. I was going to do the words “Ranma 1/2” above as a not-gratuitous link to the first volume of the series only to find that you can only get $14 used copies of volume 1 right now. So, I guess it’s going to be Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have Small Gods, which is a standalone book. I get a kick out of how it is currently titled at Amazon: Small Gods: Discworld Novel, A, like the computer finally figured out how card catalogs worked and is going a little nuts with it.

About To Hither and Yon

November 28, 2020 2 of 8

At the beginning of November I said that I wanted to write one perfect introductory blog post that I could pay Facebook to promote and see if I could grow my audience.

This is that post. Or the first draft of it, at any rate.

My “name” is Olivia (not my real name, but I hate my real name, so why not take a pseudonym, right?). Olivia actually in some way relates to my real name, but . . . anyway.

The original plan for this blog was to blog about travel. Places I’d been, places I wanted to go, places I was when I wrote specific posts. I’d post my favorite pictures from each location and then monetize it with a goal of making my hobby of travel self-perpetuating. Travel -> post -> cash check -> do more travel.

It has never quite gotten to that point. At first, I didn’t want this blog to look like a *total* cash grab, so I held off on attempting to monetize it. Then, I began posting Amazon Associates links (if I can’t find a book germane to the topic, I refer to it as a “Gratuitous Amazon Link”). By the time I felt comfortable enough to think about putting ads on the pages, Google had canceled my ads account from lack of activity.

So now I just have the Amazon Links, which are not exactly making the dough roll in.

Since I haven’t been able to use this to do the travel I needed to make content for the blog, my focus has broadened. First, I added book blogging, which seemed to be a good fit with the attempted monetization through Amazon. Then I began talking about a project I’m starting where I will be working my way through my cookbooks. That is still book related, but also cooking-related, so there’s that.

And, occasionally, I post about my life and what’s going on in it. I spent November doing what’s called National Novel Writing Month, where you attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done better this year than in any year before, but I’m not likely to actually reach 50,000. In order to hit that point, I’ve started talking about medical topics and also Internet content creators that I enjoy (kind of like book blogging, but with YouTube). I don’t know if those will stick around after November.

So, since I’ve talked about the Gratuitous Amazon Link in the text above, here’s one so you can see how it works. I guess that since this is not in the regular continuity of the blog, I will go outside the continuity of my Gratuitous Amazon Links for ideas. What book have I given the highest rating to on my Goodreads page and that I absolutely love? Hm. Let’s go with No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, the first compilation of the adventures of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. I’ve loved comics since 1974 and this series is especially wonderful.

I’m Going to Be Keeping Busy for A While

November 28, 2020 1 of 8

So. Alex is moving out in a few days. I’m totally not ready for this. I mean, he’s 21 and that’s a perfectly appropriate age to leave the nest.

But I feel that there’s a whole bunch of unfinished stuff. We started an audiobook series for our road trips, and now we’ll probably never take a road trip again. I bought a bunch of food for dinners that we’ll never have.

I’m, quite frankly, mourning.

And as a result, I’m going to be doing a lot of introspection into my own life. What do I want? What do I need? How can I make a new, Alex-less, life for myself?

I mean, I’ll hear from him a couple of times a year. I still have his college fund. But will he go with me when I can face scattering Phobos’s ashes? What about our annual national park trip? I’d decided on four close by ones that I wanted to do with him (Big Bend, Carlsbad, Hot Springs, Jean Lafitte). Additionally, those four would take care of our next four audiobooks.

When I was mourning the end of my marriage, I used the anger part of it to get a bunch of work done around here, including painting my bedroom. Can I use the anger part to end my current inertia and either find an audience for this blog or find another alternative source of income that will actually pay me income?

Can I use it to get the things together that I need to do to make the career changes I need?

Can I use it to finally pick a foreign language and get the stuff I wanted to do to prepare for that degree (getting familiar with a *lot* of classic literature in my target language)?

Can I intentionally spend most of my time in “anger” and “acceptance” and ward off “denial” and “depression” entirely? What should I do about “bargaining”? Can I somehow bring that into play? Like when Thomas and I split up, I didn’t really do much bargaining. I made the offer to try counseling and when he turned me down, I washed my hands of him.

Depression hit really hard, though. I went to see a counselor on my own, and I was so scattered that I required a standing appointment. The counselor said that the only other time a patient had needed that, the patient was in end-stage dementia. So. Yeah.

Alex keeps telling me that if I text him, he’ll keep in touch. But I know myself. I have. Er. Had a really good friend whom I’ll call Catherine. We saw each other every two weeks or so for about four years. Then she started dating a guy that she really liked, married him, and they had a baby. She disappeared from my life after the wedding. Suddenly it was all about her in-laws. They had so much stuff going on that she didn’t have time to call me, or text me, or meet me for dinner or anything. I got tired of trying to find a way for us to see each other, and so I just let her go.

Basically, I feel forgettable. Once people aren’t looking directly at me, I feel like I might as well never have been part of their life. I’ve always assumed that friendship is not perfectly, but almost like that game where you have two strings and each string has a handle on both ends. Threaded on the string is a ball. and the game is that the players each spread out their arms by turns, which sends the ball to the other player. I don’t expect it to be perfectly my turn-their turn-my turn, but I do expect to have the ball come back my direction occasionally. And if the ball doesn’t, well, eventually, I figure that the other player has stopped playing and I’ll put my handles down and walk away.

And that’s what happened with Catherine. And it’s what I’m terrified will happen with Alex.