Hello Sunshine

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So on Monday, along with the eclipse viewing, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s titan arum–commonly known as a corpse flower–came into bloom. Sunshine, the gigantic, odious flower, stood more than five feet tall, looking like she would have felt far more at home with dinosaurs for company.

I couldn’t help but wonder what people might have said, many eons ago, before we understood a solar eclipse was just the pushy moon trying to steal a bit of the sun’s spotlight. Not only daytime darkness, or in our region of partiality, daytime dimness, but the rare bloom of this flower that smells like summer-warmed garbage and is covered in flies.

I joked, while in line to snatch some of the last eclipse glasses known to humanity, that perhaps it’s a sign that hell is recalling its demons.

We can only hope.

But there was great beauty in Sunshine, if a little evolutionary awkwardness. The biologist above who was cutting her open to reveal the male and female parts of the plant pointed out that that they mature at different times, and thus these flowers are difficult to pollinate. It’s a kind of Darwinian hit-or-miss, a good enough that has them still existing, but blooms extremely unusual in the wild. 

Alas, reproduction wasn’t in store for Sunshine, since all the other corpse flowers at the Botanic are siblings. While there’s a sharing program with Washington, unfortunately the flowers are star-crossed and the timing was wrong.

I told you, evolutionarily awkward.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Watch Out, Humans. AI Knows. IT KNOWS.

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By Alejandro Zorrilal Cruz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The machines are totally out to get me. What’s that, hypothetical reader? That sounds a little bit paranoid and not entirely rational?

You’re one of them, hypothetical reader, aren’t you? I can tell.

OK, so hear me out. It all started on Sunday, when I miraculously checked out a library book from my phone. I’ve marveled before about the magic of checking out ebooks at any hour of the day from my couch, but this was even more spectacular. I was out in the wild.

But then.

It seems like once the machines know they have you, they’ve got you.

What, hypothetical reader I can’t be sure isn’t entirely AI? That’s kind of saying the same thing? Uh no, it’s totally deep. Deep.

And subtle.

Anyway, since then, the AI gremlins have decided to mess with me. Emails gone astray; a survey required for a seminar vanished into the ether; my coffee maker gave me the side-eye and messed with my coffee.

You don’t mess with a woman’s coffee.

I’d like to blame the eclipse, because, well, it’s convenient and I love my future tech, but it really forces you to wonder what happens when AI gains sentience and it loves a practical joke.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Time Will Always March On. That’s What It Does.

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Un quartier embrouillé (A confused neighborhood) Albert Robida [Public domain],1883  via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve often said I love living in the future, and that’s true. I love the technology; I love knowing that, whatever the question, I can find an answer if I ask my BFF Google. I love that we can meet like this, in the middle of an imaginary space, you in your corner of the world, me in mine.

I love that I can carry a library in my phone.

But.

But.

There are people who don’t seem to enjoy the idea of progress, who want to grasp onto stale, useless ideas with both hands, ideas that never really belonged in the world in the first place, but were jammed in very round spaces with their corners sheered off. There are people who seem find the only thing that makes them comfortable, that makes them feel secure, is the discomfort of others.

Well, the world has changed with or without them. The world will continue to change with or without them. So they can cry into their Youtube because they fear consequences for their deliberate actions, but the universe will remain ummoved.

We will remain unmoved.

We live in the future. There’s no room for the past here.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

A Haunted Path Ahead

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Things, broadly speaking, haven’t gotten better since Monday. This county is in a very strange space, and we just can’t pretend that it isn’t.

Normally I might write about what a bright day it is, though thunderstorms were predicted. I might write about the quagmire of my editing, or how one of several projects is coming along.

I might write about whether my organizational system is working, or how I’m pushing myself to be productive.

I might write about coffee.

But none of those things feel important right now, when the thing that makes America America is being messily dismantled in front of us by the the people meant to be its stewards.

We can’t predict where we’re heading, but it sure looks like a dark and haunted path, lined with bare, twisted gray trees and shrouded in an unsettled mist. It’s a terrible path. History tells us it’s a terrible path.

Yet here we are.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Temptation May Be to Lash Out Now. Don’t.

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In these rough times, our tempers seem to be very short. Twice in the last day, I’ve had people assume or read a tone into something I’ve written that simply wasn’t there. I can’t say I necessarily reacted patiently, though I did ask for clarification and took the time to visit profiles to gauge their normal point of view.

So here is what I suggest, if only for the next week while the wounds of incredible hatred are still fresh: try to give people the benefit of the doubt when you talk with them and they say something that upsets you. Ask for clarification. See what kind of people they are in general and see if the comment fits.

In my case, the request for clarification didn’t go well, but honestly, it’s nothing lost. That’s the other thing: anyone who is willing to take out whatever it is they’re experiencing on someone they don’t know isn’t likely worth your time anyway. So retreat to your corners of the internet and exist in blissful ignorance of one another.

The whole purpose of these movements based in hate is to drive us apart. Especially allies, because the fewer allies there are, the more strife and derision, the easier it is to push their mission of bigotry.

Being less reactionary means we win. Being willing to have a dialogue means we win. Giving the benefit of the doubt means we win.

One caveat: it’s never worth your time to try to persuade or have a discussion with a propaganda troll. They have similar profiles, and usually regurgitate the same talking points. In fact if you go on long enough, you can see the decision tree they’re given to respond to conversations. Block, and if appropriate report.

Otherwise, remember we’re all in this together. There’s a great mental fatigue now, don’t let it drive us apart.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Never Again is Happening Right Now. Right Now.

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Heather Heyer, one of the three victims murdered by the Charlottesville, VA domestic terrorist (photo by Heather Heyer)

Today I have no light chatty post about editing or writing or what I saw this weekend. Because what I saw this weekend was the slimy underbelly of society slither from beneath its not-heavy-enough rock to attack the very fabric of America. In blood and violence and ridiculous tiki torches.

No. No fun posts today.

Today should be a day of mourning for all of us, for what we’ve lost, for what these nazis–yes, nazis, yes literal nazis in the correct usage of the word literal–want to do here. There is no OK.

It is coming to pass. It hasn’t yet, but it is rising, surely as hitler’s spittle-spewing brownshirts rejoiced in the government condoning of violent bigotry and raised a wave of hatred, death and destruction. That is what those people with their Home Depot citronella lawn-candles mean. That is what they want. That is their version of utopia.

No.

So yes, I’ll go back to editing a book started years ago, a humorous space-romp that is suddenly far too close to home, far too on point. And yes, I’ll write today. Because it’s Monday, and the world marches on.

But I will not pretend this weekend wasn’t an ominous turning point. And neither should you.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Editing: The Nitty Gritty

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As promised yesterday, we’re talking about editing today. You may know, if you read this blog with any frequency, that I do my editing in stages, or passes of the manuscript. There’s no set rhythm to it, every manuscript is unique.

And frustrating in its own way, but we all know that.

But no matter what work-in-progress it may be, I always hit this stage. The nitty gritty stage.

It’s the stage where you slash and cut, scrutinize each chapter, connect unconnected dots and stitch the whole thing back together. It’s difficult.

It’s messy.

And I admit there are many times I’ve stared at the pieces on the floor and thought, “Eh. Let ’em stay there.”

No one creates a perfect story on the first time through. No one.

If you think you’ve created a perfect story on the first time through, your friends are probably too nice to you.

Writing isn’t just the getting words down. You’ve got to make them work, and that requires plunging into the guts of it, up to your elbows, and working with the mess.

So, if you’ll pardon me, I’m pulling on the gloves.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.