The Lure of the Quiz

When I was younger, I was sort of obsessed with the quizzes that appeared in magazines: First Seventeen, then Cosmo.  So naturally, I have an affinity for Buzzfeed quizzes.  Last month, one such quiz told me that my Pride and Prejudice character was Elizabeth Bennett.  Well, as I am totally Elizabeth Bennett, I decided to do a really well researched study as to what else I am.  Here’s the results of random quizzes I took and how accurate I think they are.

15 Random Questions will reveal what one word describes your life: Ambitious

This is totally me.

True spring break personality: low-key hang

While I tend to be a low key vacationer, I’m a doer.  I’m not going to spend the whole day on the beach

make an ice cream sundae and we’ll guess your favorite clothing store: Urban Outfitters

Ok- while I do not shop for myself at UA, it is my daughters favorite store, so it is probably the store I do shop the most, and spend the most money at.

design an apartment in 8 steps and we’ll tell you which city you belong in: New York City

Seriously.  You can not get any more accurate than this.

which dipping sauce matches your personality: sweet and sour

I totally get that I am sweet and sour- I can be incredibly nice, and I can be grouchy.  Dead on accurate.

me and my best friend should go to: hawaii

Hawaii is clearly one of my favorite places.  Why wouldn’t I want to go?

are you more Meredith Maggie or Amelia? Meredith

This is tough, because I don’t think I’m actually like any of them, but Meredith would probably be the closest.

which national park vacation is next visit: Acadia

I went to Acadia last summer and LOVED it.

build your dream house and well tell whether you more creative or logical: logical

I am logic driven.  I always put things through the logic test.  Accurate!!

ingredient that matches their soul: red pepper flakes

I can be fiery and sharp to taste.  I call accurate.

which brunch food are you: crepes

Hmmm.  Not sure about this.  I like to think of myself as exotic yet accessible, so I guess this is OK.

Abba song takes it all: The Winner Takes it All

Can not disagree with this at all.

Friends character I’m most like: Phoebe 

Nope.  I’m least like her.  Quiz fail.

design your dream home in 7 steps and tell age: 16

Obviously this is right on target for a blog titled waking on the wrong side of 50…

create ice cream and reveal if extroverted or introverted: extroverted

Wrong.  So very, very wrong.  I’m definitely more of an introvert

Disney Villain alter ego: Jafar

Ok- I can totally see this.

Pick seven desserts based on color and reveal your greatest quality: sweet

No way.

So what did I learn?  Well, oddly, some of these quizzes were accurate.  And some were wildly off base.  What does it mean?  Absolutely nothing.  The real question is why am I so obsessed with quizzes.  I’m always searching for answers.  I’m constantly overthinking everything.  I’m constantly looking for patterns.  Is this why I’m drawn to them?

Or are they just fun?

But notice I’m trying to find the logic.  I’m trying to find out the why.  Maybe I take the quizzes because I think they’ll give me the answers I most desperately crave.  Maybe I just want an easy answer.

Who knows.  And now I’m off to take a quiz.

 

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The Awards

I love movies and I try to see at least one movie a week.  Seeing movies is probably my favorite pastime, and is not something I do out of boredom: I look forward to my movie time.  So with that in mind, I present my Oscar choices.  If I am picking a category it means that I have seen all the nominees.  Let me also clarify: these are my favorites, not necessarily what I think is going to win- there are so many other factors involved in that.

Best Picture- Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri

Best Actress: Margot Robbie

Best Actor: Gary Oldman

‘Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell

Best Director: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney

Best Original Song: This is Me (The Greatest Showman)

Best Original Score: Dunkirk

Best Animated Feature: Coco

Best original Screenplay: The Big Sick

Best Cinematography: Dunkirk

Best Live Action Short: The Silent Child

Best Film Editing: Dunkirk

Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread

Best Sound Mixing: Star Wars

Best Production Design: Dunkirk

Best Make Up: Darkest Hour

Best sound Editing: Star Wars

Best Documentary Short: Heroin(e)

If you couldn’t tell, I did not like The Shape of Water.  I thought it was a movie trying to accomplish a whole of things and actually accomplishes nothing.  If (when) it wins a bunch of awards, I feel it will go the way of Birdman (which I did not like either) and no one will ever talk about it again.

Would love to hear about what other people love!

 

 

 

February Writing Update

Ok- Where do I start?

Writing Class.  Like my teacher.  I think he is really good at giving us helpful nuggets and examples of how to incorporate into our writing.  I think he is making me a better writer.  His critiques are well thought out and reasonable.  I think this was a great choice.  He has explored how to use techniques to get the story moving, and to use details that enhance the characters. setting and plot instead of distracting from them.  He has also helped me look for errant adverbs and adjectives which can make the writing clunky.  I’m writing tighter sentences now that are more impactful.

I presented my work this week.  I’m forming many ideas in my head as to what is critique versus what is opinion.  When I presented the prologue and revised first chapter of my book, I was told my characters sounded too old.  Another classmate told me my characters sounded too young. The critic who complained too old is in her twenties.  The critic complaining too young is in his eighties.  My characters are in their fifties, like me. You tell me?  Valid criticism or opinion?

I also got a criticism that I introduce the conflict too late in the book.  For the record, the conflict gets introduced about 15 pages in, in the beginning of the second chapter.  Pacing wise, I think this is the right time to introduce the “story”.  How much do you want thrown into the first chapter?  Should a little of the scene be set before the plot line starts to focus in?

But that being said, I still struggle with chapters/sections that rely too heavily on scene setting and what is known in my head as &^%$# description.  This frustration is especially apparent in the first section where I am describing the setting.  Though I have revised chapters one and three, they are still the bane of my existence. It took my three days to rewrite chapter three and I still hate it.  I feel that the final version of my novel will contain the plot, but i can’t imagine the exact wording to make it in. The words, sentiments and ideas don’t flow organically.  I am trying to describe the neighborhood in which these women live, yet it comes across as a generic laundry list. It’s boring and inane.  I am happiest when I am writing dialogue heavy chapters, because that’s how I like to get my story across.  I find conversations between people very telling, and it’s where I do my best work.  The extremely necessary conversation in this part is being overshadowed by trees and cars and neighbors.  I have to figure out how to describe the scene without describing it. Ughhhhhh.

I know my goal this month was to find an agent.  Guess what I didn’t do?  I have been researching writing query letters, so I’m getting some ideas.  I found one agent who I think would be a good fit, so I will work on that this coming month.  I’m actually struggling with finding an agent that would be a good fit for what I write.  I’m working on it.

So there you go.  I’m almost halfway through with second draft.  I’m liking the majority of my work.  I’m still meeting with my writing group which is awesome.  I made some great women writer friends.  My class ends at the end of the month, and I think I’m taking Novel Writing Three next semester, a class which focuses on revising your draft.  There is so much to learn about writing.

On a side not_ I am very behind on my blog related activities.  My sister and niece were in from Seattle, so the majority of Friday, Saturday and Sunday were consumed by them. (ahhh…family……there will be posts about this in the future)  Will be catching up this week!!

 

Yes or No

People are often told they need to say “No” more.  Wanting to please becomes a way of life, so when asked to do something, they immediately reply “Yes”, before they’re even thought if they actually want to do it, or have time to do it.  So a movement of sorts was formed, one that gave people. especially women, the power that saying “No” was acceptable, indeed, preferable in many situations.

I do believe that everyone has the ability to say “No” to any situation, regardless of the reason.  No one should ever feel obligated to do something.

But…

Shonda Rhimes wrote a book, “Year of Yes”, which basically detailed how saying “Yes” changed her life.  So have we gotten hasty with our use of the word “No”?

If something goes against your personal code of ethics, you need to say no.  There is no situation that should ever make you do something you believe is wrong.  If something is illegal, I’m also saying you should say no.  (People might disagree with me on this, but my feeling is that laws are carefully made.  What gives someone the power to arbitrarily disregard one that they don’t believe in?  Isn’t that anarchy?  And don’t bring up going 60 in a 55 mile zone- that’s not a good enough argument.)

If you have a full plate of work and personal commitments, should you decide to chair a banquet for school?  Well, you know how busy you are, whether or not you have the time.  But what if this is something that will actually enhance your life, bring you joy?  Shouldn’t you at least consider it?  What if your boss asks you to do a project not completely related to your roll?  What if the task brings about a great opportunity?  Shouldn’t you consider it?

As my daughter begins to really delve into what type of student colleges want, the one consistent message she’s seen is that all schools want the type of student who seizes the opportunities  that are put in front of them.  They want the kid that goes for it.  They want the kid that says “Yes”.

Why?

Because people that say yes are the ones that are actively participating in life.  They are the people that are learning by doing.  They are the people unafraid to make mistakes, the ones unafraid to fail. They are the people developing things, and leading movements and making their mark.

Yes is a powerful word.  Yes helps you reach your goals.  Yes helps your dreams become a reality.  Yes takes you where you head wants to be.  Yes takes you to where your heart wants to be.  Yes takes you to where you want to be.

Yes can also be a lot of fun.  We had a particularly warm day this week.  After a morning spent doing errands and work, I looked at my daughter and said “Do you want to get ice cream?”  Now, I’m supposed to be watching my weight, and she’s supposed to be studying everything under the sun, but sometimes when life hands you 72 degrees in the middle of February in New York, you kind of need to seize the moment. And maybe choose an ice cream shop a mile and a half away and walk both directions.  But get that strawberry rhubarb crisp in a cup and enjoy it.  Take twenty minutes out and talk to you kid about just anything.

Yes can be a wonderful word.

So before you give any answer, really consider what the question is.  Think about how yes will make you feel.  It’s actually a little bit positive versus negative now isn’t it?

Accentuate the Positive

A few weeks ago I wrote about how it’s very easy for me to complain about bad customer service, but I never take the time to talk about good service.  That day I sent a note to Staples commending two of their employees.  It felt good, and hopefully those two employees got a nice little note in their employee files. The incident made me think of a larger issue: why are we so quick to accentuate the negative instead of the positive?

I try to do a gratitude exercise every day, but I admit, when I sit down at night and brain dump, the negative things about my day usually pop into my head first.  I think about the irritating employee at the bakery, the guy who bumped into me spilling coffee on my favorite black converse, the fact that someone had already grabbed the “good” elliptical at the gym.  When I think back on my day bad overshadows good by a wide margin.  It often takes me awhile to think of a good moment, and I lead a relatively charmed life.  My days are normally filled with way more ups than downs.  Why don’t I remember the good as well as I remember the bad?

Am I hardwired to think that if something isn’t “perfect” then it is bad?  Do societal pressures make me feel that every moment of my life should be fairytale like, so that when something disrupts the fairytale I remember it?

Have I overthought this topic?

Well, yes and no.

I think in order to live a fulfilling life, one must find the good that is out there, find the positive that exists.  I don’t think a fulfilled life is one that is filled with riches or fame or any of those other grandiose things.  I think true fulfillment lies on the back of the small moments, and accepting that these small moments of joy carry a great deal of impact.  Finding joy in your morning cup of coffee, or a pleasant exchange with a stranger can bring you happiness every day.  We need to recognize this and nourish it.

Psychologically I don’t know why we harp on negative and eschew positive, but I know we do.  But, I think it’s possible to change out mindset.  It just requires work.  I think the effort will be rewarded.

I know some people are scared of happy.  I know some people don’t trust those that exude positivity and happiness.  Isn’t that sad?  When did happy become a thing to be mocked?  When did contentment become a joke?

I’m giving you homework tonight.  At the end of the evening, go back and reflect on your day.  Write the highs and the lows.  But the number of highs must equal the number of lows, or exceed them.  Some people might find it easy to do this: others will not.  But I think it’s worth a try.  Don’t you?

Do You Believe?

I’ve been pondering this idea for awhile, and my blog friends Jay and Brizzlelass both touched on it recently:  Believability of characters.

Do characters in fiction need to be believable?

I struggle with this concept for a variety of reasons.  First off, what is believable?  In the purposes of fiction writing, how do we define believable?  Is it when a character acts like the majority of people would in any given situation?  And if that is the answer, then what about the people who are in the minority of a situation?  Is their story not worth being told because they are not the “norm”?  But more to the point, isn’t the story of the person in the minority the one worth telling?  Isn’t the story of the character who is outside the box the one that is more interesting?  To write something where everyone behaves “normally” is not really a story.

Now that I’m in my second writing class, I have noticed that many people fictionalize real events from personal experience.  I think this is cathartic and interesting.  What’s wrong with retelling personal experience?  Nothing, except the fact that a bunch of readers will say “This would never happen in real life”.  And the person who wrote the story is saying “Yes it could happen cause it did.  Character X actually said that.  Character Y actually did that.” Is truth not believable?  Are we uncomfortable reading about how people actually treat one another? Does the reality of humans really make us want to become an ostrich?

Here’s my take.  I am fine with something not being believable if it makes sense with how the character has been described.  I will base my decision based on how the particular character has been portrayed.  A main character often shows a change throughout the course of a work- I think of it more as, did the way this character changed from beginning to end make sense.  Based on what the author has provided us, does it seem plausible.  See, that’s where I think the difference it:  has an author written the bones of a character where what the character says and does make sense.  To me it’s not a particular conversation or event: it’s the character from page one to page 250.  Does the arc of a character and the characters development make sense.  Do interactions between characters make sense based on what is given to us, not based on any preconceived notions we bring into the book.

I know you’re now having a hard time believing what I wrote because it makes no sense…

To completely screw up your minds, let’s think about the popularity of dystopian books.  Are people drawn to writing this genre simply because they think they can write totally bizarre things and no one will question it, because, after all, it’s DYSTOPIAN.  It this just a way to get around people saying “That character would never say that”?  Is it a way to get around people saying “That’s not believable?”

And what about the people who say something is predictable. If you make your characters “believable” to the norm, wouldn’t the situations play out “predictably”? Would there all of a sudden be a twist? Believable leads to predictable.

So my literate friends:  what do you think?

To believe or not to believe.  That is the question.

And does it matter?

Do You Want to Know?

I recently read “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin.  This is not a review of the book, but rather a look at it’s main hypothesis.  I don’t consider anything I am about to write in the spoiler category, be forewarned.

The basic premise of this book revolves around knowing the exact date that you will die.  So my question is:  if you knew when you were going to die, would you live your life differently?

I have given this a lot of thought since reading the book.  How would I live my life?

I have a tremendous fear of heights, but mainly it revolves around falling.  If I am in an observatory, I am fine looking down as long as the environment is enclosed.  If it’s open, well, I’m twenty feet away from the edge.  Some of you remember my summer lighthouse adventure, when I was felled by the 15 steps I had to climb down, and I actually considered moving into the top of the lighthouse.  But really, I’m afraid of falling because I’m afraid of dying.  If I knew that I was not going to die the day of the lighthouse visit, would I descend the stairs more calmly because I knew this was not to be my day?

Then you have the other side.  One of the reasons I exercise is to keep healthy.  I think exercise is good for the heart, the muscles and the brain.  I think it helps you live longer.  But what if i found out my demise would be early?  Would I spend my time doing something I enjoy more, like laying on the couch reading?  Would I spend my time being less healthy because trying to be healthy doesn’t really matter because it’s not going to actually effect my life?

Though I usually overthink everything, including trips to the dry cleaner, I am amazed that I have never thought about this idea.  I guess the rational part of my brain knows that this kind of knowledge is not logical.  This is not something even computers can predict with any great accuracy, and I don’t believe a Buzzfeed quiz would be helpful either.  So rationally, I’m out.

But….

I like to think I am open minded.  I like to think that everything is possible until proven otherwise.  But is it possible to predict the day of demise?  And does it matter?

What do you all think?  Is it possible to know?  Do you want to know?  Would you live your life differently?

 

The One Where I’m Not Very Nice

My Husband and I were invited to a surprise birthday party a few weeks ago.  I wrote about being annoyed because of the way the party was organized, but that’s a whole different issue.  Today I’m going to talk about the actual party.

The party was at a bar/arcade thing here in the city.  I knew I was going to be late because I had to attend a college meeting at the High School.

So anyway.

I walk in the door of the place about eight, whereas everyone else had been there since about six. (the not so hidden meaning is that I was completely sober, while others, to varying degrees, not so much)  After having to find my ID in my wallet and show it to the bouncer young enough to be my grandson, I entered the place and looked for the crowd.  Now, the birthday girl is the girlfriend of one of my Husband’s friends, which translates to, I knew a bunch of the men there.  When I found the group, I kissed the cheeks of the guys I knew, including my Husband.  I hugged the birthday girl and put my coat on the designated coat bench.  I then rejoined my Husband who was playing a four person Pac Man table.  Side note:  if you grew up in the eighties and have not played Pac Man literally against your friends, you must do it- it’s hysterical.  You not only chase the ghosts, you chase your friends.

But anyway.

When I got to the table, Husband moved away so I could play his spot at the table. and he stood behind me, telling me the rules of this version.  The woman across the table slurred out “Hey.  Why’s he helping her?  Why is he talking to her?  Where did se come from?”  Apparently, she had claimed my Husband.  She was wondering why I was coming between them.  And she was mad about it.  She was competing with me for my Husband.  It was amusing, cause she resembled a monkey squawking, and annoying, because she resembled a monkey squawking.  I mean she was loud and screechy.  We played another round of table Pac Man, and then my Husband, guy friend P and I went around the arcade in search of other versions of 80’s nostalgia.  Galaga and Centipede, FYI.  I am not particularly dexterous at video games.  I like the ones where each hand only controls one thing- anything more than that is too much.

After a round of games, we came back to where the group was hanging.  As I went to get a slider from the food platter, the howler monkey tried to attach herself to my Husband.  On a side note- have you ever watched a slightly inebriated older person try to hit on a guy who has no interest?  I think it should be videoed and showed to woman above the age of 45.  I know- I’m throwing women under the bus.  But consider this a PSA:

Picture this:  Woman of about 55,  attractive and obvious she takes care of herself.  But, here’s where we begin to see the chink in the armor.  While her clothes fit her body, they really don’t fit an older woman.  OK- begin the round of complaints- everyone should be able to wear whatever they want- God knows you all would think I dress too young too- but here’s the thing:  some clothes should be left to teenagers.  Wearing the same styles as a woman in her twenties does not make you look twenty.  Depending on the look, these clothes may actually make you look older.  Certain materials are not as forgiving to a woman with a more mature body, no matter what the body looks like.  You can’t turn back the clock.

I came and joined the group, watching this woman try to make inane chatter to my Husband.  Even though I was opposite him in the circle, she maneuvered her body so that she was facing him with her butt to me. (hence my comment about some fabrics being more forgiving than others)  She was separating him from me.  (Also, for the record, Husband is not a George Clooney look alike.  He is an average 49 year old guy with a Dad bod, but still has a full head of hair.

The problem was, this woman had an air of desperation.  If you want to meet a guy for a relationship, this is not the right route.  If you want to meet a guy for sex, this is probably fine, but don’t expect the guy to be their in the morning.  Or the phone number he gave you to be real.

No one likes desperate.

Desperate is an unattractive quality.

Another conversational circle involved me and my Husband standing next to one another.  She actually came and  stood between us.

Now why didn’t I say to her that I was his wife?  Well, first off, this was pretty amusing.  (remember, I’m still sober).  And secondly, she ignored me every time I tried to talk to her.  As in, turned her head.

After about an hour, someone clued her in to who I was in relation to my Husband.

Then she tried to be nice.  Then she started sucking up.

“Oh.  He’s so good at Pac man.  Does he play at home?”  This is a direct quote- you can’t make this up.

“He just wins at everything, doesn’t he?” she said.  Another memorable line for the ages.

Of course, this was my turn to have fun.  I gave her a look that pretty much summed up how I feel about woman who try to push other woman out of the way in order to get the attention of a man.

So is there a moral?   No, not really.  I thought it was an interesting story.  i thought it was a more interesting fable about women who are trying to hard to be in a relationship.  I get it.  Single can suck.  I know I have what some would refer to as an advantage: I’m in a relationship.

But really:

Nothing is worth making yourself into a conniving idiot.  If you need to stand in  front of another woman to get a guys attention, or loudly ask why he’s talking to someone else, you need to rethink your game plan.  Do you think these are qualities anyone wants in a partner?  There’s nothing wrong with being assertive and going after what you want- but it’s how you do it that matters.

Just like with anything: it’s the path that matters.  The way you choose to live your life and attain your goals matters.  Respect yourself and respect others.  Without respect we have nothing.

 

 

Phoenix vs Icarus

I normally write blog post ideas in my planner.  Presently, I know what I’m writing about for the next two weeks.  And when I write an idea down, I almost always go with it.  Almost.  What I’m writing today has been postponed twice.  Originally I was supposed to write about this the day I wrote about John Mahoney.  I rescheduled it to last wednesday- which I then realized was Valentine’s Day.  Well, I needed a special post for Valentine’s – didn’t I?  But- here it is – the post that has been pushed off twice.

A few months ago I wrote about how I had lost eight pounds in the first two months of my diet.  yay.

Today I write that I haven’t lost any weight since then.

Crap.

Yeah.  This sucks.

My first thought is : karma.  I got cocky about having lost weight in the beginning.  I felt invincible. The holidays came and my goal was to maintain my weight.  Which I did.  I ate just enough at parties and gatherings to stay where I was weightwise.  I was stoked that I did great at that – I had conquered the secret of eating well during the holidays.  I was a Goddess.

See- this was my downfall.  I was Icarus flying too close to the sun.  And now my wings were melting.

See, I haven’t been able to get back into the groove of losing weight.  I haven’t been eating as thoughtfully as I need to be in order to lose more weight.  Which is fine if you are content with your weight.  The problem is:  I am not content with my present weight.  Which means I alternate between cranky and sad as far as my weight is concerned.  I had a day where i sort of binge ate.  See, I’m an emotional eater:  something goes bad,  I take comfort in food.  Bad habit.  If something is good, I use food as a reward.  Bad habit.

I don’t know what I’m more mad about- not losing the weight or not being able to control my emotions.  Which makes me more mad about myself.  Downward spiral. I had a sort of binge eating episode- I had an entirely carb filled day- carbs and I don’t agree- they just blow up my body so I was essentially being self destructive.

And then I had to wonder:  did I keep pushing the writing of this post off for some psychological reason?  Was I trying to not actually deal with my emotions?  Was i trying to make believe that I wasn’t upset or pissed off?  Did I think that seeing the words on the screen would make everything too real?

hmmmm

Too much thought for a Friday?  Well, it doesn’t matter cause here it is, on the page.

So today I am going to try to deal with whatever crap is running through my head.  I’m going to act in a positive way and try to lose weight again in a healthy manner.  I’m no expert, but I’m going to say that diets fail because of the brain.  If you want to lose weight you have to monitor your attitude, your feelings, your behaviors.

And so I begin again

Call me Phoenix.

Just Another Blog Post

My dog is little, a yorkie (we think) who weighs less than 10 pounds.  When  a pet is that little they can’t get their vaccinations all at the same time- the process has to be done over two weeks.

Now my dog is not the smartest thing, she routinely runs around like a stupid cartoon pet.  She will try to chase the cat, who is smarter and faster and younger, and the dog will routinely slide into things, or run past the cat and will look quizzically around for her.  If a dog can have a dopey expression, mine would certainly qualify.

Now, though we consider her not too smart, she does have a certain instinct.  She knows when she is going to the vet.  So two weeks ago, when I was trying to take her to get round one of shots, she tried to park herself in the lobby of the building.  She used all of her nine pounds to plant herself by the lobby bench- I had to pick her up.  She also pulled the statue move when we got to the clinic.  She refused to go down the stairs.  Again, I needed to carry her down (and so glad that she’s a little thing)

Last weekend she had to get the second set of shots.  The morning started out a little differently.  First off, the Husband was coming with me.  When we left the apartment we stopped off at the donation center, we dropped off shirts at the dry cleaner.  Sally thought she was out for a jaunty walk.

About halfway to the clinic, Sally realized this was not an ordinary walk.  I guess she realized the route, and did the statue thing.  So maybe she’s not an intellectual, but she does have instincts.

Then there is the Husband.

When we got to the clinic, I reminded the admin that I hadn’t gotten the fecal container the previous week because they were out, and told her I needed it.

Husband said “I have plastic bags.  Why do we need a container from the vet?” (because I often refer to poop bags as fecal containers in casual conversation)

The admin and I just looked at Husband (2 masters degrees FYI) until he realized what indeed the fecal container was for.

So there you go…

Peace and love to you all…..