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Friday, December 21, 2012

Warm Bodies: Movie review

I know, how did I get so lucky to see a movie that isn't out for more than a month? Just lucky, I guess.
This is the book cover, not the movie one sheet. I figure I am slightly less likely to get sued by using an image from Amazon -- thereby encouraging you to buy WARM BODIES, and improving the economic prospectus of said book -- than I am if I rip an image from the movie from online. LAW STUFF! (Do not follow my example on your own blog. Nothing I have said here constitutes legal advice.) Google for the movie poster.

Full disclosure: I have not read WARM BODIES,  but now I definitely want to. Everyone knows I love zombies, yes? And I know that zombies are approaching "vampire-levels" of pop culture saturation, but I don't care. As long as people can put a new twist on the zombie idea, I will keep lining up for more.

The film presented an interesting concept: R, a zombie in a post-apocalyptic world, is going through an existential crisis. He can't remember anything about his former life, not even his full name. He spends his days shuffling aimlessly through the airport and grunting at his only friend, M, wishing he were better able to communicate the thoughts that are running through his head. He explains that the reason zombies love brains so much is because when you eat a brain, you experience all your victim's memories and emotions, and for a moment you feel human again.

But when Z eats the brains of Percy, he falls in love with Percy's girlfriend, Julie.* He saves Julie from his fellow zombies, including M, and the two of them hide out in an abandoned 747 until R can take Julie back to her human compound.

The more time R spends with Julie, the more human (and less zombie) he becomes. The only trouble is, he got that way by killing her boyfriend.

Now, despite a great concept, this isn't a perfect movie. I mean, R's inner-dialogue is funny, but you are staring at R's expressionless face for most of the movie. There is an inherent limitation on an actor's abilities when the direction is literally, "Look sad, but zombie-sad. So not that sad. Maybe a little tired. Yeah, just look tired." Nicholas Hoult did the best he could, but really how much can you do when you're a zombie?

Perhaps that's why I felt like every actor's performance was (pardon the pun) a little lifeless.

Julie didn't seem quite sad enough to be a bereft girlfriend, or tough enough to be a zombie apocalypse survivor. She seemed a little dim, and very prone to making Dumb Blonde Movie Mistakes. On one hand, I like what that revealed about how lifeless existence had gotten even for the survivors, but doesn't make for super compelling cinema. Oh my, she's moping again. How fascinating.

John Malkovich (as Julie's dad and the human generalissimo) didn't seem Malkovichy enough. I mean, c'mon man, you're John Malkovich. Chew some scenery or move aside and let Pacino slum it up!

The best characters by far were Julie's friend Nora and R's friend M, mostly because they were appropriately absurd in (what I thought was supposed to be) an absurdist comedy.

So should you go see Warm Bodies? Yes if you love zombies and off-beat comedies. No if you're squeamish (the movie isn't terribly bloody, but there is one brain-eating scene you'd need a tough stomach to get through) or think $7 is too high a price to pay for a pretty weird comedy. If you're on the fence, I would give this one two-thumbs up for a RedBoxin.



* (Confession time: It took me almost until the end of the movie to realize R + Julie ... OH, I GOT IT, MOVIE GUYS!

To be fair, I think that's a lot easier to catch in a book. It's not like R refers to himself as R during his narration.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

Does anyone else sometimes hear "Silver Bells" and feel a little depressed about their life choices?

I mean, I have never, not once, rushed home with my "treasures." I have, however, rushed home with stuff I feel relatively confident my friends and family will like, but could have easily could have purchased themselves. I've also rushed home with junk that will clearly be exchanged after Christmas, but I was too embarrassed to just buy a gift card.

Have you ever successfully purchased a "treasure" for someone else? I would genuinely like to hear about it, if so.

Good luck out there, it's a jungle down at the mall!

It's coming along ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Twenty-six acts of kindness

Go here if you want to know what I'm talking about.

Here's my list. I will add to it as I finish my acts of kindness. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear them. (I may run out of ideas, so please make suggestions.)

And if you decide to do your own 26* acts of kindness, leave a comment and let me know! Or follow it on Twitter -- the hashtag is #26Acts or #20Acts.

1. Bought clothes for a little boy and little girl for Sub for Santa (12/17)
2. Donated a bag of groceries to Utah Food Bank (12/18)
3. Donated clothes to Deseret Industries (12/18)
4. Bought a flock of geese for a family in poverty (12/18) (See Heifer.org for more information)
5. Donated to the Human Rights Commission (12/19)
6. Delivered treats to neighbors (12/24)
7. Gave spare change to Salvation Army bell ringer (12/24)
8. Covered for a coworker (12/24)
9. Prepared Christmas dinner for a friend in need ("prepared" to be loosely interpreted) (12/25)
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.


(* I've added 27, for Nancy Lanza. But since it's being called "Twenty-six Acts" online, I figured it was easier to just add one than try to rename it.)




"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." 
- Fred Rogers

Insert Title Here

Does anyone have a problem with titles?

I am a terrible titler. Which is actually sort of weird, since once upon a time I worked at a college newspaper, and one of my main jobs was to give columns their headlines. Humblebrag time: I am a bad titler, but an excellent headliner. I once managed to headline a column, "On the third day, God created the Remington bolt-action rifle" -- that took some tricky font action, I tell you what. NAME THAT MOVIE!)

When it comes to my second life as a writing bear, I often think of my skill set like the pain scale.

1- Dialogue
I am really good at writing dialogue. If you know me in real life, you probably already know that I am a sparkling conversationalist. (Not really.) Writing dialogue is completely pain-free, and generally quite enjoyable. Given the option, I will leave a bunch of XXX's where plot should go so I can move on to writing more banter.

2- Critiquing other people's work
I am also really good at critiquing for other people. I am a much faster reader than I am a writer, to a semi-freakish degree. I also have LAWYER POWERS, which means I analyze minor details for a living, and YES, I will catch that inconsistency you built into your plot! I will also provide you with a Power Point about your options to fix said inconsistency, because I am pushy and overly organized. But it makes my eyes tired, so it's a 2.

3- Grammar
Grammar is less enjoyable than dialogue and critiquing, and causes me about as much pain as a hangnail.  I don't actually know what a present participle is, because I always zoned out during that section in English class. But I am generally pretty good at following the rules of grammar, picking up on violations of the rules of grammar, and ignoring the rules of grammar (but only when I have an excellent reason to do so, like ending dialogue with prepositions because NO ONE REVERSES THE PREPOSITION IN REAL LIFE SPEECH.)

4- Beginnings
Beginnings are a vaguely throbbing headache. Unlike IDEAS!, which are a Negative-One on the pain scale (in that they are purely delightful), beginnings cause me a little anxiety, due to the fact that I have a hard time remembering, "Hey, this doesn't actually HAVE to be the beginning. It could always become something else later. It doesn't have to be that great at the moment." They are also difficult because starting one beginning means NOT starting another (at least not yet) -- which if you already have one time-consuming job means Idea 2 may never come to fruition. And that's a serious downer.

5- Endings
I actually couldn't quite decide whether endings or beginnings caused me more pain. I generally think of the ending first, but I tend to fiddle with it more. Endings are sort of like indigestion. Mostly they are no big deal, just some minor tummy rumbles. It's generally the "Am I going to throw up?" uncertainty that is the big problem.

6- Pacing
Pacing is like the last half mile of a jog for me. I know I can do it. My brain says I can, my muscles say I can, but my lungs say, "Oww, oww, no no no, let's stop and smell the roses, and oh, isn't Spencer tired? Shouldn't we stop and give Spencer a break? Look, there are ducks! Let's stop running, PLEASE, and let Spencer look at the ducks!" 
It sucks, but it's definitely not the worst.

7- Middles
This is a sprained ankle (terribly unpleasant, but not debilitating) -- or, if we keep the "working out" metaphor going, medicine ball squats as a Crossfit instructor yells, "YOU CAN DO FIVE MORE!" and it takes everything you have to finish those squats and not hurl the medicine ball at that muscle-bound freak with all the might your pathetic upper body strength can muster.

Ahem. Yes. That's what middles are like.

8- Back story/World building
This is heatstroke. You're sweaty and dizzy, and sort confused about what you're doing and why. You just know you've got to get back to air conditioning and water, and soon.

9- Queries
Have you ever barfed from pain? I have. That's what a query is like for me.
10- Titles
I AM LITERALLY IN A MEDICALLY-INDUCED COMA RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, I really went overboard with that pain scale thing, didn't I? But my point remains, titles are literally the worst part of everything. 

And the VERY worst part? It's generally acknowledged that if you do get published, your chosen title won't really matter anyway, because people who are good at titles will pick a new one!

Does anyone else have this problem? What's your 10 on the pain scale?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why the law is (usually) better than X

(This blog post brought to you by simmering annoyance.)

I read a study once where researchers asked students applying to medical school and students applying to law school what appealed to them most about their respective choices. (Aside from "wanting to help people" -- mostly true -- and "buckets of money" -- DING DING DING!)

The future doctors replied, "It's the mystery."

The lawyers-to-be said, "It's the certainty."

In essence, the pre-meds thought that their future would be filled with researching symptoms and cures, testing hypothesis and eliminating failed propositions. Discovery! Curiosity! Cue the Dr. House music!

And on the flip side, the baby lawyers thought that they would be flipping through one of their many fine, leather-bound books and crying, "Aha! The legislature outlawed that in 1918! Case dismissed!"

Sadly, as it turns out, the opposite is true. (May explain why there are so many unhappy doctors and lawyers out there. Math skills aside, maybe they all should have swapped jobs?)

Doctors spend most of their time conclusively determining what is wrong with the person. The true medical mysteries are rare.

Lawyers, on the other hand, spend most of their time wading through the gray -- the area where truth is elusive, interpretations are many, and certainty is nowhere to be found. The slam dunk case? Just as rare as a medical mystery. When you have a slam dunk, you don't really even need a lawyer. You need a sheriff (if you're in the right) or a priest (if you're not.)

One of the great things about working in the law is grappling with complex ideas that may not have an answer. And when you're surrounded by bright, capable colleagues (as many of us are lucky to be), it's enough to make a lot of us nerd-types frankly giddy. LOOK AT ALL THE POSSIBLE OUTCOMES!

I think it is this particular legal background that makes it so frustrating for me to hear the words, "If you really understood."

If I really understood? Lawyers don't say that to each other. (Well, the good ones don't. The bad ones toss it around like there's no tomorrow. "Have a good day!" "You don't understand this!" "Oh, you're filing sanctions against me over this frivolous motion?" "You're honor, I'm really quite sorry." -- the natural progression of the terrible lawyer. Repeat until disbarment.)

Lawyers come to the table with a common denominator -- we all understand this. Understanding is rarely the problem. The problem is that I want it to mean A, Eduardo wants it to mean B, the other side will push for K, and who knows what the judge will think. If we do M, will that endanger the conclusion on P? What do we risk it we don't ask for M? Can we never ask for M again? And is it possible that U is the answer, and do we just hope that no one brings that up?

Oh, what was the answer? There is no answer! There are only probabilities about the future, based on what has happened in the past, and hoping that an appellate court does (or doesn't) concur.

It's like science fiction, it really is.

So what someone really means when they say the words, "You don't understand ... if you only understood ... people who really get this ..." is "Here is my A. I know you wanted B, but rather than debate you on the merits of B, I will simply undermine your position by implying you don't belong at the table."

And unless the subject actually is math, where (as long as you're not in crazy advanced math, which we won't even talk about) there is an answer and you can be conclusively wrong, that really isn't a way to approach a debate. Not in politics, not in theology, not even in house cleaning.

Now, a lot of people prefer to avoid this conundrum by resorting to the "I feels." (Thanks, Oprah.) Fine, you don't agree with my position, and you want to undermine it by claiming I don't have the intellectual capacity or background to deserve to have it. So what are we left with?

"Based on my personal experiences with A, I feel B is best."

Don't get me wrong, sometimes that is the way to go. If you have no ground left to stand on, jump aboard the USSR Emotion and take your battle to sea.

But man, if I don't feel that people resort to this option before they should. The answer to, "Well, you don't understand" is not, "Well, I feel." It is, "Of course I understand, Janie. You know I understand. I just draw a different conclusion than you do."

And unless Janie is Mother Russia, you keep that fight on the land.




Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book recommendation: The Masque of the Red Death

Sweet cover, amiright?

Masque of the Red Death is a creepy dystopian-steampunk mashup. (For anyone who, like me, sometimes wonders what the hell "steampunk" even is, I think it's anything with corsets and a lot of contraptions.)

It's set 5-10 years after a plague has decimated the population, and the only people who are able to go out regularly are people wealthy enough to afford a special face mask that protects the wearer from the plague. Once you breathe into a mask, it will only work for you, which means the poor can't even steal them.

Gosh, do you think that the poor might lead some kind of revolution under these circumstances? (Answer: Yes.)

Araby Worth's father invented the life-saving masks, but his invention was quickly co-opted by the government as a means of controlling the population. Araby is semi-content to waste her life partying with other nihilists, until she is confronted with the underground rebellion that needs Araby's father's invention.

My biggest concerns with this book is that the main character, Araby, was sort of vague in my mind. She's a bit of a sadsack, but honestly, who wouldn't be? (I'm hoping she gets a little tougher in the sequel.)

But the ideas are creepy enough (in a good way) that I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a Christmas present for a teenage reader. Go forth and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I meant what I said, and I said what I meant

My friend Sandy, who is awesome, wrote a blog post for Feminist Mormon Housewives today. You can read it here. (Her regular blog here.)

Now, if you've read that, you may want to just skip what I have to say. Because it won't make you feel any better or worse about your position, if any, whatever it is.

Prepare for a long-winded, indecisive rant, friendos.

When some friends of mine online suggested that Mormon Feminists start doing some stuff to remind people that, much like those Whos of Whoville, we are here, I was all about it. As much as certain things about the LDS Church bug me sometimes, I suspect that if more people knew about them, more people would say, "Hey, that bugs me too! Let's fix that." PROGRESS FOR EVERYONE!

Then one of them suggested, "Hey, why don't we all wear pants to church one Sunday?" and my enthusiasm plummeted.

I know, I know. Why wouldn't I be supportive?

Do I think women should be "allowed" to wear pants to church? Of course. I'm not the fashion police -- and what's more, the LDS Church has said since the 1970s that there's no official church dress code for the ladies. Go forth and wear pants, friends!

Do I think that, given the standard of "Sunday best," I own dress pants that are nicer than some of the dresses and skirts I own? Absolutely. My job can sometimes require a fairly formal dress code, and I wear suits and dresses pretty interchangeably. I don't think that one outfit is particularly better than another just because the structures are different. I also think anyone who insists that an informal dress (or jersey maxi skirt, boots, and a Northface pullover, you know who you are ...) is more appropriate for church than a pair of nice wool slacks on the basis of "Well, it's a dress!" is just kidding themselves.

Part of it is just that I don't want to wear pants to church. Period. It's not social conditioning or peer pressure (at age 28, I'm sort of past that sort of thing). I just ... don't want to. The tomboy Ru of my childhood would probably be like, "YES! Pants to church!"

But adult Ru is like, "Well, I would be warmer ... but I just like a good reason to wear a dress. Sue me." I don't feel more or less reverent, more or less respectful, in a dress. I just like dresses. And by the end of a regular work week, a lot of times I am just kind of sick of slacks. And that seems like a good enough reason to wear a dress.

But that isn't the reason I feel squeamish. The real reason was simple: a big part of me just knew, "This is going to get misconstrued. By a lot of people."

Because I don't care about pants. And I can't stand that people still confuse concepts of "sameness" and "equality." Every enemy of feminism ever has attempted to equate the demand for equal rights to  the imaginary demand for breastfeeding men and women who can pee standing up. (STRAWMAN ARGUMENT ALERT.)

I don't want to be a man. I like being a woman. I just wanted to get treated as well as a man because there is no justifiable reason why I shouldn't be.

I want women to have equal say about church finances. I want the Young Women's program to be as well-funded as the Young Men's. I want non-priesthood church positions to be filled equally by men and women. I want to see a woman pray in General Conference. And heck, why not have a woman speaker at Priesthood session of conference? Men speak in the Relief Society general, and some of the men in the audience could probably use the reminder that sometimes women have authority, too. 

Newsflash: I don't even want the priesthood. I mean, it's cool if you do, but the things I want (women who have children at home to be eligible to be seminary teachers -- maybe we'd have a few less creepster seminary teachers out there, amiright?!) have more to do with the institutional structure of the church than anything.

I want so many things to be better about the LDS Church. Things that I think most people would agree with, if they weren't so convinced that feminists want to kidnap pregnant women off the street and force them to have abortions.

And people are going to see the word "pants" and think all I want are different genitals. Because let's be honest -- our society is not big on the "critical thought" thing.

So even though I supported the basic idea presented, I thought I wasn't going to participate. I didn't want to take away from the event, so I was just going to keep silent, but I didn't want to offer my support, either.

But then.

The "decline" responses to the facebook invitation started pouring in. The anti-pants crowd is, in a word, insane. I knew there would be some misunderstanding of the motives of the group, but seriously. Heaven forbid you ask an LDS woman to wear nice slacks and pearls instead of a frumpster denim jumper this Sunday, because she will throw down. Sweet spirits? Ha.

And then on the "accept" side, I saw so many things that I thought couldn't possibly be happening. One gentleman shared that an usher in a ward in Arizona actually TURNED HIS GRANDMOTHER AWAY because she wore a pantsuit after hip surgery on Easter Sunday.

(Let's all just pause for a moment to consider that. Grandmother ... hip surgery ... Easter. NO CHURCH FOR YOU, PANTSY.)

So what am I going to wear to church on Sunday? Beats me, honestly. On one hand, I want to support a group and a cause I care a lot about. On the other, I think this is not the best way to raise awareness of our concerns. Back to the other hand, I can't quite believe the level of cray that surrounding this whole thing, and the obstinate lawyer in me wants to jump to the side of the down-trodden.

AND I DON'T EVEN WANT TO WEAR PANTS TO CHURCH.

But I love Horton Hears A Who!

In short, I am muddled, friends. So any thoughts you might able to offer, I would really appreciate.

Keeping in mind, of course, that in the end I might choose to declare this Sunday a mental health day and just stay home.

Yay feminism!

And yay (maybe) pants!



Friday, December 7, 2012

Skiing, Ru Style

Recently I took a day off work to go skiing. And my, what an adventure it was.

First of all, if you want to know how to have a cute skiing adventure, where you end up at the lodge in boot socks and perfectly flat-iron-curled hair under your knit cap ... this is not the post for you. I mean, I wish I could help you out there, but this is how I roll.

Tip 1: Do as much as you can for free. Lift tickets are outrageously expensive, so skimp where you can.

You know how some girls have fitted ski pants, so even through all that layering you can tell who has a cute butt up on the mountain? I am not one of those girls. I wear a men's medium ski pant, mostly because it was free. (Direct Diego quote: Why are your pants so big? Did you not know you're a little person?) (It's true. I come from a family of medium- to small-sized people.)

And you know how some people head back to the lodge for tasty warm burgers and hot chocolate? Not me. Carrot sticks and cold sandwiches back in the car.

When I was little and my parents took us skiing, I always wished my parents would let us eat lodge food, but instead we always met up at the Bronco and drink hot chocolate from a thermos and eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Ten-year-old Ru really resented them for that.

As an adult, I realize that my parents were, in fact, CRUSHING IT. You only have to pay $10 for one terrible basket of dry chicken fingers before you realize your parents really knew what they were doing. (WELL DONE, PARENTS!)

Some of us know we can't earn any style points up on the mountain, so we don't even try. I seriously recommend this option, if you're trying to engage in one of our most expensive hobbies in the cheapest way possible.


Tip 2: Try not to go from a near sedentary lifestyle to skiing a full day.

Look, I know. I lie to my doctor just like you do and pretend that I exercise regularly, when in fact I hit the gym once a week (if I'm lucky) and count walking my dog (around the block...) as cardio. If it's sort of true, then it's not a lie.

But the mountain is not your doctor. You cannot stretch the truth with the mountain. The mountain will say, "Oh, you eat right, do you? How are your quads feeling? Not so good? That's what I thought."

Excuse me while I go soak in a tub. And by "tub," I mean "take a quick shower before I run out of hot water."
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Nano wrap up

In case you didn't figure it out by the lack of movement on my Nano widget, I gave up on National Novel Writing Month a few weeks ago. Not on my project, which I think is a good idea, and which I will hopefully resume writing in December.

But as it turned out, November was a better revising-and-outlining month than anything.

It was also a good month for cooking, and watching television both creepy (Walking Dead and American Horror Story) and not (Downton Abbey), and Christmas shopping a month early.

And you know what? I am not remotely sorry that I was not committed enough to my craft to choose writing over college football, or skiing, or parties with my friends. Because sometimes you need a palate cleanser--mental sorbet, if you will.

I will keep you posted in December, when the real work (re)begins.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Dropbox. You want this.

Would you like a program that allows you to access all your important files, no matter what computer (home, work) you're using?

Cut and paste this link into your browser: http://db.tt/CcXJqnHd to download Dropbox, a super awesome program that allows you to store files in the cloud and access them just about anywhere, including on your phone or tablet. And it's for freeeeeee! (Am I the only one who pictures Rebel Wilson from Bridesmaids whenever you hear the words, "It's for free"?)

For those of you wearing writey-pants or lawyer-pants, let me tell you, it's extra nice to be able to pick up with your work, wherever you left off, even if you're not on the computer you normally use. Never haul a box of files home again! (Well, almost never again.)

And for the sake of full disclosure, if you use the link I posted, I get more storage space in my account. Woot!

So get downloading Dropbox. You won't regret it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Irrevocable Power of Attorney

Diego and I have an idea for a television show. It's got a little My Fair Wedding with David Tutera flavor, mixed with everything you want to scream at your TV whenever you find yourself watching MTV.

Here's the premise: People on reality TV shows agree to let me and Diego run their lives for 90 days. They can't disagree with any of our decisions made on their behalf.

For example, Janelle from Teen Mom 2. Sorry Jenelle, you signed up for Irrevocable Power of Attorney, so now you're dumping Kieffer, back in college, in counseling with your mom, and taking daily drug tests.

Don't like it? Shouldn't have signed on to the show if you didn't want someone to fix all your problems and make your life a million times better.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Friendsgiving

I don't often have cooking successes, but when I do, I like to share them.

Last night my friend Rodrigo held Friendsgiving at his house. For those that don't know, Friendsgiving is just a pre-game Thanksgiving for you and your friends, before everyone runs off to do the big shebang with their families.

Diego, Hannah, and I were assigned a sweet potato dish, among other things. I highly recommend it.

***

Curried Sweet Potatoes (adapted slightly* from THIS recipe)

3 large sweet potatoes or yams (I am not sure which we used, to be honest, since I have never been able to tell them apart.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized shallot, diced
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup, half-and-half

Boil the sweet potatoes in water until you can stick a fork in them easily. Remove water, allow sweet potatoes to cool. Peel sweet potatoes. (Much easier to do after boiling.) Slice, place in bowl.

Brown the shallots in a pan with the butter until soft and translucent. Add the brown sugar, salt, spices, lemon juice, half-and-half. (If it smells kind of awesome at this point, well done.)

Pour shallot spice mixture over sweet potatoes, mash.


* A lot of my recipes are "adapted slightly," since I tend to forget ingredients and/or disagree with instructions. This has resulted in more than a few cooking mishaps, but at least when I give you recipes on the blog, I know they worked.

***

Do you have any traditional-but-slightly-weird recipes you'd like to share? Do tell, do tell!




Friday, November 16, 2012

You know how new parents love talking about poop on the internet?

Here's my revenge.

Spencer is on a regimen of drugs for his condition. One of those drugs makes him pee like a racehorse, and as such, is typically only given to him when I know I (or a designated roommate) will be home for a 5-6 hour stretch so he can be let out regularly.

Because frankly, you just don't want to know what happens to that dog when he's on that medicine. It's like he takes the pill and suddenly, all previous house training disappears.

If he doesn't get taken out hourly, there's no patient waiting by the door to be let out. No warning whining. No holding it.

There's just your house. And a 15-pound pee bag disguised as a dog, waiting to go off, preferably in the areas and on the belongings you love most. A urinary terrorist.

So you know no good can be coming when you get a text around 12:30pm on a workday that says,

Hey, did you give Spence his pee pill this morning?

As it turns out, in my haste to get out the door this morning, I did give Spence all three pills instead of his typical morning two.

And Spence rewarded me for that oversight by peeing all over Diego's bed, clean laundry, and our hallway.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Things that cheer me up today

1. This amazing video a friend sent me last night:


2. Starbucks is doing 2-for-1 holiday drinks this week between 2:00pm and 5:00pm. Go forth and get yourself a 500 calorie cup of amazingness, because you deserve it! Promotion ends this weekend.

3. I finished the revisions on my newest project. (Yay!) I am now drafting the terrible, terrible query letter. If anyone would like to give me some feedback on that, I'd love to shoot it to someone else for a second opinion.

Remember, I told you about the Starbucks and showed you the puppies.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's not the size of the election that matters

So remember that one time when I said a valid choice in a presidential race is to not vote?

I stand by that.

However, it only applies to PRESIDENTIAL races. If you find both choices equally unpalatable and can't find a single thing to distinguish them, don't say you're an undecided voter. Just decline to vote for president.

But no one will know that you declined to vote for president if you don't bother voting for anything.*

Here is why you should still vote, even if you don't want to vote for president:

 1. It does make a statement if 5,000 ballots are cast, but then the numbers voting for president only add up to 4,999. It does not make a statement if you decide to spend the day at home eating Coco Puffs.

Call it silent dissent in a broken system all you want, it's actually just laziness.

2. There are these other races for things called "not being president." Like members of Congress and your local legislature. Judges. School board. Governor. Attorney general. Treasurers and auditors, mayor and city councilors. And they are all PEOPLE, just like you and me.

Here in Salt Lake, there is a proposition about open trails and and two potential amendments to the Utah Constitution dealing with property tax and members of the military, and severance tax investment.

If you think that by not caring about ANY of that, you're making a statement about our "divisive" system, let me tell you -- you are just as divisive as anyone else, because you REFUSE TO find out that there are a lot of local or nonpartisan issues out there that could really use some support or criticism. Because even just showing up to say, "Yes, I support Leslie Knope for city council and I support Ron Swanson for auditor,"** and leaving everything else BLANK is more meaningful than doing nothing.

So if you really aren't going to vote today, enjoy those Coco Puffs.

I hope they taste like apathy and sadness.




* Not true, clearly, because you will most likely brag about your enlightened choice on the twitterbooks.

** Umm, clearly this is a nonpartisan blog, because not only are those fictional characters, but they are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The poop warden

You know how sometimes, you are just having the very worst day?

That's what I was having on Friday. Just an all-around terrible, no-good day.

And to cap off this day, after work I was on the phone with my plumber (remember that basement tale of woe?) while I was walking Spencer. My mind was a little less on Spencer and a little more on my financial situation as my plumber told me __________________________ (censored to ensure limited whining on the internet).

I hung up the phone and started to trudge back up the street when a man ran out of his house, across the street, with a plastic bag in hand and yelled at me, "Hey, do you need a bag to clean up your dog's shit?"*

At this point, I was just confused. "No thanks," I said. "I have a bag." I held it up as proof.

"So aren't you going to clean up your dog's shit?"

I started getting angry. "He hasn't gone yet," I replied waspishly.

"I just watched him, it's right over there," he said, pointing to a little spot on the grass strip next to the sidewalk.

"Oh," I said, feeling a bit stupid. So I cleaned up Spencer's poop while the Poop Warden glowered at me.

Now here's the thing. I'm not going to make any excuses -- I should have been paying more attention to my dog, given he was bound to go at some point on our walk.

But folks, let's all take a lesson from the Parable of The Poop Warden. When you notice someone doing something dumb, perhaps a gentle prompting is all they need. "Excuse me, miss, but I notice your dog left you a little gift over there while you were on the phone, and I think you missed it" goes a long way in not having a flaming bag of refuse left on your porch one unsuspecting evening.**




* I told this story to Diego later, all in a huff, and ended with, "And doesn't he know I'm a damn lady? He doesn't get to use that sort of opprobrious language with me like I'm some kind of construction worker."

Diego was amused, and said the bigger issue is that good-mannered people aren't vulgar toward strangers, which I suppose is also a valid opinion.


** That probably won't happen.

But I hope the Poop Warden sleeps with one eye open all the same.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ode to my weekend

There were lots of things I planned to do with this weekend.

I was going to finish revising a couple of projects. I was going to decorate for Halloween. I was going to do some yard work. I was going to finish my Halloween costume and go to a party. I was going to the Blackout game when Utah played Cal.

Instead ...

The basement flooded Saturday morning,* prompting many shrill phone calls to a plumber. I showered at Diego's grandma's, hopeful that the problem would be resolved swiftly and additional weekend plans need not be derailed.

Long story short = not swift and definitely derailed.

I must say, the best part of adult life is saving up for a kitchen remodel only to need your money for potential dog brain surgery ... and then redoing your plumbing.

(Farewell, kitchen dreams. May we meet sometime around 2015.)

And planning a patio for your backyard, and spending weeks meticulously completing it, only to find out you need to jackhammer through the cement so the plumber can reach the buried valve he needs.

(Farewell, sweet patio. You were actually a giant pain in my butt, and it gives me a sick sense of pleasure to destroy you.)

And then, the worst part of all. Diego and I went out to fetch breakfast for our intrepid flooded-basement-cleaner-uppers (namely, Hannah and her boyfriend). McDonalds is advertising something called "holiday pie" for 79 cents, and it looks delicious. But despite having it on the menu, NEITHER McDonalds we went to had any yet. No, apple is not ok.**



* I am positive this is a direct result of me making fun of Taylor Swift and undecided voters. I hereby repent of all my snarky opinions, with due and proper consideration, in perpetuity.

(Not really, obvs.)

** Yes, we went to two. It was a rough day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

And now I rip on undecided voters

I know, right? First Taylor Swift and now our beloved undecided voters? I'm really on a roll this week.

Have you seen the recent SNL video lampooning undecided voters? I think it sums up our current situation well. I won't embed it here, since I don't want to get sued, but let me give you a few examples of the undecided's "tough" questions:

"When is the election?"

"What are the names of the two people running? And be specific."

"How long is a president's term of office?"

"What happens if the president dies? Has anyone thought about that?"

Undecided voters, what is your deal? I saw it suggested on the facebooks yesterday that those who are undecided aren't stupid, they're merely waiting to be presented with a "viable" candidate.

Pardon my French, but ... whuthf? (That's the sound I think WTF would make it you sounded it out instead of saying all the letters.)

There are two viable candidates to vote for. Two! And a few never-gonna-wins for good measure! And I hate to break it to you, undecideds, but even those of us who HAVE made up our minds are rarely 100% confident in their choice. This go around, I am roughly 62% confident, to be honest, but guess what? That will have to be good enough.

Because your choices are not to wait indefinitely for the candidate that gives you both the warm fuzzies and the naughty tingles. You are not shopping for a wedding dress or trying to decide what to watch on cable, there will not be infinite choices. There will be two choices, and after November 6th, there will be none.

Your choice is the same as the rest of us: pick the candidate that seems like he's the better fit for what you want. Not the ideal fit or the perfect fit or even the best fit -- just the better of two options. And as we all learned from Sesame Street and law school, "better" is a subjective term and it does not especially have to equate to "good." It just has to be more-good or less-bad than any other option.

Is that not enough choice for you? Well, here's your third choice (and despite what MTV might tell you, it is perfectly viable):

Don't vote.

Yup. If you want to hold out for the perfect candidate, just feel free to not vote. Remove the shackles of the "undecided voter" label, and proudly announce that you are a non-voter. There is nothing wrong with refusing to participate in an institution if you genuinely believe the institution itself is irredeemably flawed.

Don't let people trick you into thinking that you have now shirked your civic duty. If your conscience says you can support neither Kang nor Kodos, then do not lend them your support at all. Be a silent, conscientious objector.

Just don't, for the love, continue to call yourself an undecided voter. You've had more than a year to make this decision. If you can't make it, or at the very least stand on principle and refuse to make it, that doesn't make you wiser or more independent or more discerning than the rest of us.

It just makes you more impractical.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quick!

Leave a comment and name five things that are awesome!

I'll go first:

1. Nashville: I already knew Connie Britton was the bomb. Who knew Hayden Panetierre was, too?

2. Real hot chocolate: Want the recipe? Of course you do.

6 cups milk
1.5 cups cream
1 can (14 oz) non-fat sweetened condensed milk
1 package of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat in crock pot on low until all chocolate chips are melted, about two hours. OF COURSE it's not good for you. Did you have to ask?

3. Rawhides!: They keep a puppy entertained for hours.

What up

4. Grooveshark: I don't know how it isn't illegal, but thank goodness it exists. I've been making many poor financial decisions lately involving iTunes and Ann Taylor Loft.

5. Internet. Because, well, everything.

Hope your Thursday is going swimmingly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Politics. Oh, politics.

PS: If you want some dime store political advice from your friendly neighborhood Lawyer Girl, here it is: Congress, not the President, has the greatest impact on economic policy and social issues, if those are your bag. And when was the last time our current batch of incumbents voted to reduce spending, reform the tax code, or do anything other than engage in meaningless (and extremely offensive) grudge matches over the definition of "legitimate rape"?

That's right. Congress has not passed a substantive law in nearly a year. They've approved things and reauthorized things, but that's it. The last time Congress proposed a budget (and it was technically a FAKE BUDGET) it was April TWO THOUSAND AND NINE.

To put that in perspective, since that time I've graduated from law school, taken two bar exams, gotten a passport, moved three times, had three different jobs, bought a house, bought a dog, built a patio, visited three national parks, and posted on this here blog 770 times. Three of my friends got married, nine of them had babies, six more moved away, and I couldn't even begin to figure out how many others graduated from college or grad school.

What have you done with the last three years and six months? I bet it's a lot.

Consider that when you're voting.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The debate

No, not all those debates.

The internal debate you have when you're trying to choose between shelving a project and (gasp...) self-publishing it.

I've had this internal debate before and have yet to come up with a reasonable solution. At the moment, it looks like I'll continue postponing the decision (which, in essence, means shelving) for a few months at least as my Grown Up Work starts getting more and more hectic.

The fact is, the more time I spend polishing Projecto Originale, entering contests, querying agents and small publishers, the less time I spend writing new things. And if, in the end, it all comes down to vague enthusiasm paired with "not right for me/us," then that's a lot of time to waste on something that simply isn't going anywhere in the traditional route.

Choice, choices.

PS: This October hasn't really been my best month for blogging, has it? I apologize. My brain is mostly thinking about work and politics, neither of which I really want to write about here.

What I'm up to:

1. Finishing the revisions on my new project, cleverly acroynymed JRgtC.

2. Plotting my NaNoWriMo project. (Hey! Are you all doing NaNoWriMo? Leave a comment with your username, por favor, if you would like me to find you so we can be internet friends and a whole other level.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My lunch hour: as described by instant messaging

Me: Can you bring me lunch? I saw on Twitter that you are somewhere delicious.

Echo: Sorry, I just left.

Me: Curse you!

Echo: Why didn't you bring lunch from home?

Me: I woke up late. I always wake up late. And the worst part is, even when I am running late, I still usually leave for work before Diego and Hannah, and then they make themselves delicious lunches. And then I come home, hungry as a baby velociraptor, and discover they ATE ALL THE GOOD LEFTOVERS AND YOGURT FLAVORS. And the cycle of eating out continues.

*     *    *

Me: I wish we worked closer together and could meet for lunch like Leslie and Ann.*

Hannah: Ugh, me too. I ate desk soup today, which is what I call the emergency can of soup in my drawer.

Me: I wish I had desk soup ... why am I the worst? I never remember to bring lunch.

Hannah: Last week I had Jimmy Johns three times.

Me: I wish I had a Jimmy Johns ...

Hannah: Not gonna lie, it is pretty nice. They bring it right to my desk!

Me: I know this will sound super specific, but I don't understand why there isn't a cute and affordable Cuban restaurant with good takeout in [the area where I work] that would be a 2 minute drive or 10 minute walk. That seems like something that would be both profitable and super convenient for me personally. And yet it's nothing but personal residences as far as the eye can see.




(In case you couldn't tell, I AM STARVING.)



* From Parks and Recreation. We have an ongoing debate about who is Leslie and who is Ann, though it's probably a 70-30 split on both scores. (Me 70% Leslie, Hannah 70% Ann, that beautiful tropical fish.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Make it work

I'm sure you've all noticed by now that I believe there are many life lessons to be had from television. The one I wanted to talk about today was Project Runway as it applies to writing.

In case you're unfamiliar with the concept of Project Runway, designers hoping to break into the fashion industry compete in weekly challenges to make a specific kind of outfit with a limited number of supplies. Some weeks they are assigned to make dresses out of candy, menswear inspired by architecture, or fashion-forward onsies.

And when a designer fails--and one always does--it is usually because he or she went too big, or didn't go big enough.

I think this principle generally applies to writing as well.

Sometimes I write something, and I just feel ... blah. Everything is find, the writing is fine, the characters are fine, the plot is serviceable. Like a fine, boring, beige dress.

And then other times, I write something with origami pleating, color blocking, lace appliques, sparkly beading, and whatever other weird thing that comes to mind ... and then step back to realize I have just created a giant mess.

But you know? Sometimes I prefer the mess. It does make getting things done difficult, though.

What do you prefer - starting with something basic and embellishing, or going high concept and editing down? Are you just awesome straight out of the gate, like the Mondo Guerra of creative writing? (Lucky ...)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life. It's a (dog-related expletive joke).

For about two months, Spence has been yelping in pain, for no reason. I have taken him to two different vets trying to figure out the problem. The second vet was recommended to me by a coworker as, I quote, "The Dr. House of veterinarians."

A few weeks ago, Dr. House tentatively diagnosed Spence with a disorder that will either require medicine for the rest of his life, or brain surgery. Today, he confirmed the diagnosis.

Of course, I heard "brain surgery" and promptly had a meltdown, which became even worse when I found out that Dr. House didn't know any colleagues who performed the procedure, and I'd probably have to go to Real Colorado to get it. He also stared at me blankly as I sniffled and tried to incoherently explain that I'd gone to a breeder for the express purpose of avoiding various congenital problems -- like, "Why is salt water coming from your ocular orifices? This does not compute." But he was very nice to Spence, so yay for Vet Dr. House!

When I told my dad about Spence's diagnosis, he was surprisingly supportive. I say "surprisingly" because my dad is old school -- as in, raised in the era where kids had to shoot their own dogs, Old Yeller Style. I thought he would be cold and pragmatic about the situation.

Instead, he said, "It's only money and he's a good dog. If you want to spend that money on him, spend it." He then offered to give me cash for Christmas instead of presents.

Of course, he also turned the moment into a "this is why we should vote for Mitt Romney" opportunity. (The logic went like this: I'd taken Spence to a different vet, twice, at $50 a visit, trying to figure out what was wrong with him. The new vet had a tentative diagnosis within ten minutes of seeing Spencer. Moral of the story? "The first vet was probably a nice guy, but he was in over his head. The second guy was kind of cold, but he got business done. And that's why you should go with specialized expertise, every time. Hashtag Mitt Romney.")*

But that's neither here nor there.

When I told Diego about what was going to happen (and that the money I have been saving for a kitchen remodel so we could stop hand-washing dishes might be spent on dog surgery instead), he was upbeat. We spent the evening googling Spencer's diagnosis and coming across websites of other Cavalier owners, begging for money to fund their dogs surgery -- which I (uncharitably) found annoying, since anyone who came across their website probably found it because THEIR OWN dog has a similar problem.

"Some of us are self-funding our expensive dog surgeries," I muttered (it was just a Republican sort of day, I guess.)

Diego looked at me. "I know you're probably going to want to pay for it yourself, but if he needs it, I'm throwing a fundraiser. And my mom and grandma will donate. And don't turn it down, because if we do have to take him to Colorado, you won't want to have to pay for hotel rooms on top of everything else."

Do you know what I loved best about that declaration? The assumption that of course I wouldn't have to take Spencer to Colorado alone.

Since that first tentative diagnosis, there has been good news. Spence is already on the medicine for the disorder, which isn't terribly expensive, and after almost two weeks, it does seem to make him more his old, sassy self ... who now has to pee every forty-five minutes.

And if surgery does become a necessity, Colorado is off the table, because there's a vet neurosurgeon (that's a thing!) who comes into town every three weeks. And in case I want to get holistic up in this grill, there's also a vet chiropractor (also a thing!) in Park City.

Neurosurgeons and chiropractors ... for dogs.

Say it with me now ...


In short, if you have a little furry friend with a health problem, be glad that our society has advanced to a point where acupuncture for animals is a reality. Be grateful to your friends; they will be sympathetic, and not mind you wanting to spend weekends watching The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods with your pet.

And your dog will likewise get over it, because dogs are very special creatures with short memories and big hearts.

Believe me, I know. Spence already is back to thinking he's king of the house -- play growling at Charlie the Pitbull included.



* Obviously, I added the "Hashtag Mitt Romney" thing. My dad was born during the FDR presidency, people, he uses a Nokia.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gift card winner!

Congrats, "j." (That username isn't really helpful when I try to find you, you know.)

Contact me and we will assess your prize. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reminder

Just a reminder that you've got a little more time to enter the giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card - I'll let the random number generator pick one entry at 5:00 pm MST, so hustle, boys and girls!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

300 follower giveaway

Hey all, sorry for the long internet absence - I have a sick puppy and have been quite distracted.

But I noticed I have 300 followers now and I wanted to thank all of you awesome people with a mini giveaway.

If you're a follower of this blog, leave a comment on this post for one entry and spread the word for a second entry. On Monday, October 8th, I'll draw one person for a $10 Amazon giftcard.

Hope your week is wrapping up nicely!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing Retreat: Update

So last week I set off for lovely Undisclosed Location, courtesy of some lovely relatives. (If you really must know, there were pine trees, fog, and elephant seals. Get crackin', Ghost Writer.)

My goal for four days at Undisclosed Location was simple: finish JRgtC.

And thanks partly to Echo's CD mix, shockingly delicious sugar-free/caffeine free vanilla chai, Diet Coke, and no cell reception, finish it I did.

Now, "finishing" is a subjective term, I think we all know. To me, "finished" means there is a beginning, a middle, and an end, and those three things are mostly tied together. But is it ready to be read?

Oh, dear me, no.

I know this will come as a serious disappointment (just pretend it's a disappointment, ok?), but let me show you a little something:

This list? This is the list of things that have to be done before the draft is REALLY finished--and no, it doesn't include "critiqued" by other writers. That will come after item No. 43 (yes, FORTY-THREE) is checked off.

I started this project last year during NaNoWriMo. I realized somewhere in the third week that it wasn't working and gave up. Mid-December, I figured out the solution and kept going. Around March, something seemed to be going wrong again.

In May, I re-wrote the beginning so I could share it at LDS Storymakers, where Krista Lynne Jensen (yay her!) had some nice things to say about it.

And sometime during the summer, I had an epiphany:

The reason it takes me so long to write (well, one reason, anyway) is that when my story hit a snag, I stop and ponder my way out of that snag. (It's a lawyer habit. I spend a lot of my day staring out my window until BAM! brilliant idea comes my way. Except with the law, that BAM moment usually happens after an hour or so, and writing, it is sometimes ... umm, longer.)

So why not put a few X's where I need to return, and then move along? 

Ahh. Now that To Do list above makes sense, doesn't it? When I say "finished," I mean my characters have all been introduced, their problems revealed to the reader, and those problems have been resolved. But every once in awhile, there might be a [HERE'S WHERE X NEEDS TO HAPPEN] before there's a hop, skip, and a jump to the next scene.

Long story short: I'm going to check everything off the list this week, and that will be cause for a second mini-celebration.

But for now, I'd just like to stare out my window for a minute and enjoy the fact that I can safely say, my characters have reached happily ever after ... ish.

Stats:
Months drafted: 10
Word count: 51K

Monday, September 24, 2012

I told you there would be something awesome here today ...



Hi All!
You’re probably thinking… that girl on the right isn’t Ru. Where’d Ru go?

Well, that’s a very good question. I assure you, she’s fine. She’s just been nice enough to let me steal her blog for the day and say a few words.

Why me? Another good question (man, you’re a good question asker!) Ru saw my epiphany on my blog here, that I love doing guest posts and invited me to do one on hers. So here I am!

Today we’re talking about balancing it all. (Writing with work, family, friends, hobbies… life.)

As I allude to with the picture of myself on the right, I think this is something we’re always trying to achieve, and it is in the trying we succeed. I’m pretty sure we never reach perfect balance.

Or perhaps some of you have. And if that’s the case PLEASE share your secrets.

Writing is not my full-time job. I have another job that actually pays so until the writing job surpasses the current day job in income (I’m an Engineer… it might be a while) I will stick to having two jobs.

Even with the nine to five, I’ve managed to complete five manuscripts over the past year and have had success in landing two of them a home (one with an agent, one with a small publisher). Since I only know what works for me in terms of balance, I will talk about that. I would LOVE for you all to drop your hints/tips in the comments at the bottom.

I think the most important part for balancing writing with life is to think of it as a job. And it’s this really awesome job. A job that yes, can sometimes be frustrating, but it’s ingrained in us. Someone isn’t forcing us to do it. We are compelled to do it.

But even though we’re compelled, we still have to set rules, timelines, goals, as we would any task or job in our life. How much better do we feel when we mark things off our ‘to-do’ list? The more I cross off my little sticky notes, the better I feel about myself and the more I get accomplished.

So I set goals, deadlines. I use my lunch hours at the day job as writing time. Like clockwork. Every day. That’s five hours a week (unless I have lunch meetings which does happen) that I dedicate to writing, at a minimum.

I tell people I am a writer. Make sure they understand this is something I have to do for myself and it occasionally will get precedence over other things. Especially when deadlines I’ve created for myself are looming. Would you tell your boss you wanted to fit in a workout and didn’t have time to finish the assignment?

No. You wouldn’t.

You are a serious writer. You want to have this be a part of your life. So make it a priority. Like your family, friends and job.

Yes, that means internet browsing, movie watching and your favorite TV shows are even further down on the priority list. (No worries, they won’t disappear. After all, those things are inspiration for your writing ;))

Balance for our writing can only be achieved by taking some things we previously dedicated more time to (cleaning, cooking, TV, movies, walks in the park, etc) and moving them to the other side of the scale. Giving writing priority right up there with family, friends and our job.

Yes, the things we move to the other side of the scale will suffer, but that’s what balance means. We can’t be perfect at everything. We can’t be successful at everything.

But if we give writing a top priority spot, up there with the most important things in our life, we will find time to do what we love. And we’ll be happier, even if the rest of life is a little more chaotic.

What sort of things do you do to help fit writing in your life? To help balance it all?


Kelley Lynn is a YA Author represented by Brittany Booker of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her YA Fantasy, FRACTION OF STONE, will be released on March 21st, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Adios, amigos!

Hopefully by the time you read this, I will be far away from the office, working on some projects that have sorely needed attention. In the meantime, everyone get stoked for Monday's post ... trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eye detox

Did you need a good "I'm laughing and smiling and no these aren't tears in my eyes I just looked into the sun too long" moment today?

Click here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How to visit a baby

Do you, like me, sometimes find yourself awkwardly wondering what you're supposed to do with a baby? Particularly the baby of dear friends?

Have no fear.

Do you currently have, or ever had, a beloved pet?

Treat the baby like that pet.

"Ooooh, who's a cute baby?!" "Look at how smart you are!" "Good job, baby!"

And do not--I repeat, do not --bring anyone along who can figure out what you're doing.

Like I did this weekend, as I congratulated my friend Sadie's baby on snuggling down ("Awww, look at who found a good spot?") only to have Diego blurt out, "Are you treating the baby like Spence?"


Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's better than watching the Utes win once?

Watching them win three times, friends.

Although, I do have to say, by the time the fans rushed the field the second time, I was ready to tear my hair out. STAY IN THE STANDS TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS, people. Also, how about just "don't rush the field unless it's the last game of the season and/or a bowl game and/or a championship"?

Yes, it was Homecoming, and yes, it was our biggest rival, but for pity's sake.

While we're at it, let's throw some additional Rules for Fandom out there.

1. Just because you are a large human does not mean you get more than your previously assigned allotment of bleacher.

This is not a criticism of fat people. This is a criticism of large men, in particular, who think that because they are over six feet tall and built like a brick wall, they get more space than everyone else, including sitting down on someone's THIGH without apologizing when I resumed my normal "seat 13" position after halftime.

I had about seven inches to myself at the game. I spent a lot of time standing sideways.

2.  Speaking of that guy, leave the game commentary to the uneducated professionals in the box.

In addition to unapologetically crowding into my personal space, The Mountain Who Yells At Offensive Coordinators also had some serious issues with any play that resulted in less than 5 yards. "Just two yards!" he'd yell sarcastically. "Just one yard!" All the way down the field.

Behind me, Ryan concluded that he must have been working on his numbers.

Three yards! Ah-ah-ah!

I would have much rather sat with this guy.
          
3. Work on your burns.

"Mormons! Funny!" - the conclusion of every dummy who didn't actually manage to graduate from the U.

While I was dealing with the Count on my left, Hannah was dealing with the white trash contingent on her right, who felt that certain words beginning with F (you know which two I'm talking about) were the height of comedy.

Look, there are a great many jokes to be made at BYU's expense. But the Mormon thing? Kind of played out. It would sort of be like trying to joke about the Pope, and coming up with, "You're Catholic!"

But explaining this to our dear friend, I fear, would have been futile. His favorite form of flirting with his girlfriend was poking her in the back while she yelled at him to quit it ... for four hours. He also enjoyed calling the refs "zebras," because you know, a two syllable word is a lot faster to yell than a one syllable one, and presumably because the Ref People have a terrible fear of animals of the Serengeti.

I'm starting to think that you should have to show your diploma or class schedule before being able to buy a ticket to a college football game.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Winners

I was so delighted that so many people entered for a 50-page critique that I thought, "I can't just let random.org choose only one of these people" -- so I decided to pick three extras.*

Congratulations to TAMARA, who will get a 50-page critique!

And the runners up, HEATHER M BRYANT, JESS SCHIRA, and JENNA (of Jenna and Ashley) will each get a 20-page critique.

Congrats, ladies! Feel free to email me your pages at theadventuresoflawyergirl (at) gmail if you see this post before I get a chance to email you.

Thanks so much to everyone who spread the word. This contest was so fun and I'm stoked to read pages from some new friends, so to everyone who didn't win, never fear, I'll definitely be doing this again next month.

Have an awesome weekend, and go Utes!





* (even though so few of you bothered to come up with good BYU jokes - shame, shame)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Freedom of the (Student) Press

There are always a few sides to a controversy.

Fair warning, though: this controversy is about boobs. More importantly, it's about free speech.

A few weeks ago, a professor at American University brought her baby to class. She's a single mom and her daughter had a fever, which meant daycare was a no-go. During her lecture, the baby got fussy, the professor breastfed the baby, and then class ended.

At least one student found the incident unprofessional, and word of what had happened in the class eventually reached The Eagle, the student newspaper for American University. One of the The Eagle's reporters reached out to the professor so the other side of the story could be heard.

Most of the news coverage of this event has focused pretty exclusively on whether or not it is appropriate to breastfeed in class. (Pull out your pitchforks, lacto-army, because I am of the opinion it's not all that appropriate. If you breastfeed in a restaurant or the library or on a bus, and people who may be uncomfortable -- which is their right -- have the option of looking away. No harm, no foul. Breastfeeding in front of a class of 40 students who are supposed to be following your every word, who won't be able to casually bow out without making a spectacle of themselves? Not the same scenario.)

But regardless of how you feel about public breastfeeding -- and in particular, public breastfeeding in front of a captive audience -- that is not really the issue.

The professor in question has written a long, rambling, defensive blog post about how the real controversy is the fact that a breastfeeding is just as normal as menstruating (true) and therefore the fact that a professor did it in front of her class, thereby discomfiting at least one student enough to drop the class, is presumptively not news (not true).

The professor in question described the student reporter who contacted her by (professional) email as a "budding reporter." Because if someone is just learning and practicing journalism, they are to be taken less seriously than a seasoned reporter.

The professor becomes incensed when when the reporter doesn't simply acquiesce to her request to drop the story.

To borrow a page from the internet:


The professor is annoyed that the student reporter has the audacity to show up at her class and then ask if she'd have time to answer some questions (ignoring, apparently, the fact that she could have simply said, "No, I don't have time" or "No comment").

She describes the student reporter as "chirping" instead of "speaking," because apparently you only have to treat women as serious humans when they're breastfeeding and giving lectures on feminism, and not when they're in college and trying to build their resume.

She explains that during the interview, she had to slap her forehead with frustration and roll her eyes at the "naive" and "sophomoric" student reporter, who works for a newspaper the professor deems "third-rate," by which I can only assume she means, "less deserving of freedom of the press." She explains that the newspaper has a "solidly anti-woman slant" and points to a 2010 column by an opinion writer (who may or may not be graduated by now) as her evidence.

* Pardon my interruption of my own recitation of the controversy, but as a former opinion columnist, I must say that if my entire student paper, and every student who wrote for it, was judged by the contents of the opinion page, we'd all have quite the schizophrenic reputation.*

The professor decries the "hostile" environment this student reporter is causing, ignoring the fact that her own actions also could be described as "hostile" by the student who was uncomfortable enough to drop the class -- which is why this is news, and why the reporter is looking into the situation. What's more, calling something "hostile" does not automatically make it so, and that goes double when the scenario involves the power imbalance between a professor and a student.

And finally, the professor apparently finds it incredibly unprofessional that a reporter might not immediately and personally respond to an email demanding that a story not run, and instead refer the matter up the chain to her editor.

Do you know what I find troubling and unprofessional? That this professor, who apparently feels like she is being made out to be "tabloid fodder" (despite posting the entire story herself online, with the names of herself, the reporter, and her daughter) over what is (in her mind) a "non-issue," feels no compunction about attempting to bully a student reporter into not reporting a story. The professor openly admits going to her department chair and other professors, asking them to lean on the student newspaper staff to kill the piece -- without a hint of irony that perhaps this, like breastfeeding your crying child while lecturing students on their first day of class, is not the most appropriate behavior for a professor.

Is it possible this story wasn't completely newsworthy? Entirely.

That is not the point, however much this professor wishes it were.

The point is that deciding that something is not newsworthy, without reading the story, and then exercising your influence as a professor  to censor student journalism, is the very definition of inappropriate in the academic setting.

Which is why I wish this story had involved anything but breasts, because if it had been about any other topic, I think we'd be able to see the forest for the voluptuous, lactating trees.