October 2009

I have always been a fan of wordle.net and recently discovered its ability to take a blog and create this amazing word cloud out of all of the words used on the site. And it emphasizes words that are used most frequently by increasing the font size of those words. This is one of the neatest things ever, so of course I had to create one for my blog:

Words from the Blog - via wordle.net

Words from the Blog - via wordle.net

I find it interesting that one of my favorite words to use is “time.” I know I wrote an entire post all about my perception of time, but that was just one post! Is “it’s about time for something good to happen to me,” a phrase I often use here? What about, “time for a change”? Or perhaps, “I enjoy being on time.” I’m sure I’ve said once or twice, “it’s going to take me some time to…”

Closely following time in prominence is “minutes” which is apparently a running theme. Also note that there are several food/eating phrases featured in the wordle. And really? Do I really use “really” that much? Bad LizHarrell! Such a pathetic adverb. (I’m not going to lie, it’s late at night and I had to check to make sure really wasn’t an adjective… So sorry, 8th grade English teacher! So sorry, those who joined me in graduating with a BA in English…)

Part of me is really tempted to write a blog post using all (and only) these words. Wordle automatically removes words like “I” and “the” and “a” so this would be quite an interesting challenge! In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible to write an entire post without using those words. Now I’m interested! Look for this in the future. I won’t say the near future, because this could take quite a lot of time to work out.

I’m sure I could go into further analysis of my word choices on the blog, but really I’d probably just say “time” one more time, then I’d have to go eat some food to calm down. Right?


Please note: in this post I used the following words:

  • time: 10x (not including this usage)
  • really: 6x
  • just: 2x
  • like: 1x
  • food: 2x
  • think: none! (probably because my brain wasn’t doing much of that when I wrote this post!)
  • going: 2x
  • point: surprisingly none (surprising because I feel that a running theme on the blog is: “What’s the point?”)

Y’all, I’m in cover letter hell. I am vastly over-capable of performing most any job listed on Monster.com (aside, of course, from anything technical or programming related – though if I had to, I could learn how to do it, I’m sure), but what’s holding me up from getting any offers is that I have not actually submitted any applications as yet.

Here’s why: I hate (HATE) cover letters. I may be uniquely qualified for a position, but when I try to describe these qualifications in succinct paragraph form, I feel like the only thing I’m emphasizing is that I’ve held about a million jobs and hated them all (with one notable exception – life guarding and swim team coaching). And I think the reader of my cover letter will clearly see that I have no idea what I want to do and am likely to quit working for them in approximately 18 months. It isn’t necessarily true – this could be the exact job for me… but it probably isn’t.

Here’s what I need to happen: unexpected pregnancy accompanied by the publication of my novel and concurrent lottery winning. It doesn’t help that I’m currently taking precautions against pregnancy, my novel isn’t out with any agents at the moment, and I’ve not purchased any lottery tickets.

Which highlights my point, actually. I need all these things to happen, but I’m actively working against or simply not taking the necessary steps to ensure that there’s even a chance of these wonderful things occurring. I need a new job, but I’ve not applied for a new job. I need to lose weight but I’m not doing much about it. I need to work harder but I just took a five day vacation… I am actively sabotaging myself.

Do I like being stressed and depressed? Well, no. Of course not. So why the heck am I doing this to myself?

Here’s what I think: I’m currently so overwhelmed that I believe it will take an act of God to remedy all of my problems and I am clearly not God. So why should I have to act at all? One step at a time doesn’t really factor into my thinking. Fixing one thing just for something else to fall apart seems pointless – I am comfortable with the current crappy aspects of my life. I’d rather not venture into that realm of unknown crappiness. So, I’ll just wallow here for a while until God decides to act. And, for the record, I’m not being flippant or sacrilegious. I honestly believe God has a plan for my life and he’s gonna make it happen. And I’m just lazy enough to really enjoy the idea of God being able to work in spite of me. It’s gonna be in spite of me either way, no matter how hard I’m working, so I might as well just let it happen.

Here’s my final thought (is this getting annoying yet?): I’m not exactly to the “feral child” state yet where I’ll pitch my tent in Mom and Dad’s back yard and eat squirrels and bathe in creeks, but every day, I find the idea more and more appealing, for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t need a job, as long as I can bum off of my parents’ internet.
  2. It’s been done for millenia, long before the advent of health insurance.
  3. I don’t have to exercise because I plan to eat squirrels caught by my front claw-less cats. I’m clearly going to get skinny without much effort.
  4. I will become immune to mosquito bites. I’m sure it works that way.

I am a (mostly) unashamed fan of Twilight. But maybe not for the same reasons that most lady-folk love it. Edward is certainly appealing. Jacob has a special place in my heart. The stories are interestingly plotted with pretty good pacing (except for the last book which is great in a lot of ways, but is way off pacing wise, IMHO). Bella makes me insane because she doesn’t deserve Edward or Jacob.

But what has drawn me into this series is one simple question: why do I like this so much? Meyer does something with a great amount of skill, otherwise these books would never have taken off as they have. Nor would I have given in to the media hype surrounding it and read the whole thing. Twice. But you can’t compare these books to the Harry Potter series. They aren’t in the same league – not even close. Rowling has nailed character, plot, pacing, dialogue, imagery, description… every detail works. And while I can’t say that Meyer has nailed every aspect of her writing, it does seem to work, in some strange way.

So what is it that makes me want to emulate my career after hers (let’s be honest, Rowling’s career is like Nirvana, which I don’t believe in, so how can I strive for it?)? Putting aside the jillions of dollars Meyer is raking in, I’d still want to be like her. She’s got fully imagined characters that, despite being creepy on multiple levels, are still incredibly desirable. We readers are able to completely suspend the “ick-factor” that would, under normal circumstances, send bells ringing in our minds – A ninety year old unintentionally seducing a seventeen year old? Totally creeptastic. A controlling and manipulative boyfriend somehow inspires legions of fans to suggest they’d like a boyfriend just like Edward Cullen. Seriously? In real life that would be totally lame and potentially abusive. But in Twilight world, it’s sexy. And Bella Swan is in many ways one of the most unlikable characters I’ve read who is entirely intended to be quite likeable. And the crazy thing is, despite her inability to make a decision, her constant heart-breaking, her ridiculous clumsiness and her strange and semi-suicidal tendencies, I still root for the girl. I still want her to find happiness. She doesn’t deserve it, but gosh darn it, she should have it anyway.

I think Stephenie Meyer has taken a set of characters and circumstances and created a cultural phenomenon where another author wouldn’t have been able to pull it together without coming across as totally screwed up . Honestly, I think it’s her style. Meyer’s language is calculated to seem both innocent and sensual, playful and intense. As a writer, I can tell you that being able to walk this fine line is a gift. I basically wrote an entire novel as an homage to Stephenie Meyer’s style. I don’t know if it’s a skill that can be learned, but by jove, I’m going to keep practicing until I get it right!

So, Thank You, Stephenie Meyer – for writing, for publishing, for showing me that perfect writing is one thing, but sometimes that’s not the most important requirement for a successful career. Cheers!

I do a fair amount of driving for my job so I’ve gotten to be something of an expert at finding the best deals on gasoline.

What’s a little trickier to avoid is the gas pump that pumps gas so incredibly slowly that you spend approximately 15 minutes pumping 15 gallons of gas. And I’ve found at least half a dozen of these sorts of gas pumps in the past month. What’s with these slow pumps? Are they old? Do the owners know they go slowly and therefore take five cents off of the cost of each gallon? That correlation between cheap and slow would explain the high percentage of slow pumps I’ve been encountering lately.

For illustrative purposes, this is what it feels like to be standing at one of these slow pumps:

Credit card swiped, approved and returned to your pocket, you lift the nozzle and insert into your vehicle. You pull up on the handle and wait. Hmmm. Is anything actually coming out of the nozzle? You check the display screen to see that you’ve pumped .034 gallons in the five seconds it’s taken you to perform these actions. You squeeze a little harder on the handle, hoping to get a little more flow. 0.092 gallons. It strikes you as odd that you can actually see clearly each of the numbers one through nine appear in the thousandths column of the display. It’s only been twenty seconds but your hand is beginning to feel a bit tired so you search for the metal bar on the handle that would give your hand a break. Gone. Broken. Never been there. Seriously, this is becoming more than annoying. If you’d just know before you started pumping… And then your opportunity comes to give someone else the advice you would have been grateful for when someone pulls up on the other side of your pump. But you don’t say anything. Never talk to strangers, right? They do their credit card thing and start pumping and though you never would have thought it possible, things are moving even more slowly than before. Honestly, you hope that your compatriot on the other side of your pump isn’t as stubborn as you are and gives things up rather quickly. You’re now up to 3.073 gallons. You notice that there are painters spraying a new color on the top of the convenience store attached to this gas station. You question the color choice – you rather liked the green they’re painting over with an unfortunate brown color. You watch as they work their way from one side of the roof all the way to the other. Check the display: 8.917 gallons. Makin’ progress. It turns out your compatriot is just as stubborn as you, or else just as desperate for cheap gas as you are. He sighs audibly. You sigh in return. Good thing you’re just on your way home and not on your way to an appointment, because this is the sort of thing that would normally get you super frustrated. You switch hands on the handle because you’ve got another seven gallons to go before your tank is full. After removing your right hand from the handle, you realize it is temporarily stuck in the gripped position. What a nice feeling. Under normal circumstances, you’d probably start swearing under your breath at this point.  But the extended exposure to the gasoline fumes has left you in a very zen-like state. You’ll get done. Eventually.