Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Do you know how the universe began?

First there was Nothing. Then there was Everything. Not just some of Something, or even a lot of Something. Everything that ever could or would be—all potentialities, all certainties—existed in that incomprehensibly brief, violent moment, that white-hot singularity. Everything.

As Everything exploded and expanded, it also cooled and coalesced. In the hot wombs of the first stars, Everything transformed into the innumerable Somethings of the universe, then split open their mothers and scattered farther. The scattered Somethings came together again in new ways, only to make more Somethings and split apart and come together again and again.

The increasing emptiness of the universe was flecked with riots of color and, in at least one corner, life.

That life started small—microscopic, in fact. Much like the stars that had birthed everything they could be, they came together and fell apart and came together and fell apart over and again in an unwitting mummery of the beginning of the universe.

With each iteration of coming together and falling apart, there was Something New. It took some time, but those Somethings New grew increasingly more complex. Self-awareness burst forth both gradually and all at once in at least one lineage of the complex somethings.

In that self-awareness, the cosmos could observe itself, could come to know itself. It could infer its own Birth and witness the numerous births it gave forth. In seeing its many deaths, it could also infer its eventual Death.

The really interesting bits, though, were between the punctuations of birth and death. That’s when everything happens, and in those Happenings, there arose common themes: affection, repulsion, loyalty, betrayal, happiness, anger, fairness, injustice, serenity, desperation, elation, tragedy. And so. much. more.

The cosmos continues to observe itself through a vast multitude of fractured, imperfect eyes. It does not yet fully understand itself, but it understands beginnings, middles, and ends with some measure of hard-won, awful clarity.

#

My uncle died last week.

Like the cosmos, he had a beginning, a middle, and an end. The end still hurts and is still a bit unbelievable, but the fifty-nine years in the middle are really where he existed. He was a complicated individual, and it would take me another fifty-nine years to describe him accurately to you. Anything less and I’d be romanticizing him as much as I romanticized the history of the cosmos.

My uncle was a big part of my life, a fixture. And now that fixture is gone, and I keep thinking it’s some kind of ill-advised joke. He was always a big man, even after the cancer and the chemo had waged their war on his body. Now that he’s reduced to ash, there’s nothing left even physically of that bigness. When I try to comprehend it, I get a 404 error. File not found.

I knew him my whole life, as you might expect, and he was by turns thrilling, annoying, surprising, disappointing, loving, distancing. He was incomprehensible sometimes, but he loved his family fiercely and would do anything for us. He was a wonderfully complicated human being who is now fixed forever in the past tense.

He was made of star stuff, and I think he lived up to that heritage. But even that thought—equal parts Carl Saganesque mysticism and literal truth—is a weak balm against the rawness of the present.

I just hope the cosmos knows itself a bit better having observed itself, ever so briefly, through his eyes.

Advertisements

Running while a hypochondriac

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

A week ago, I went to Disney World and entered the larger community of runners by running my first 5K. I ran it in 39:00, which is slow as molasses but I did run it from beginning to end. As soon as I saw the finish line, I thought, “Already? Let’s do that again!” I take this reaction to mean I’m ready to face down training for a half-marathon.

For the past week, however, I have had the inconvenience of a very painful knee. Seriously, it’s been hard not to limp at times between my car and the building where I work. This morning is the first time I woke up without the pain, which tells me two things: 1) It’s time to start running again, and 2) Before I do, I need to get a knee brace.

My rational side doesn’t mind doing what I need to do to keep my body in one piece. The only problem is that to find the right kind of brace, I have to do research, which is like catnip for the hypochondriac in me. Here’s how it tends to go:

ME: “For general soreness.” Yep this is probably all I need.

HYPOCHONDRIAC ME: Are you sure? Have you even looked up your symptoms. I mean look at this one. It’s for patella tracking. Do you even know what patella tracking is?!

M: No, but—

HM: If you don’t know what it is, how do you know you don’t have it?

M: Well, then let’s look it up and see if it fits.

HM: I approve of this plan. So, what does Google say?

M: Google brought me to WebMD, which says patellar tracking disorder is caused by “the shape of the patella; too tight or too loose muscles and tendons in the leg, foot, or hip areas; damage to cartilage; and overuse.”

HM: OVERUSE! You were at Disney World! You walked all over that bitch for like three whole days!

M: Well, I suppose, but none of the other—

HM: OVERUSE! And probably cartilage damage too, for all you know.

M: I guess if I wanted to be sure I can always go to a doctor.

HM: And get some quack? Nonsense. You need a specialist.

M: Well, if it’s for my health—

SCROOGE McDUCK ME: Excuse me? A specialist? Will there be follow-up visits? Unnecessary prescriptions? Pointless tests? Will you have to miss work? Exactly how much is this going to cost?

HM: This is an A/B conversation, Scrooge. C your way out of it.

SME: No, no, no. I approved a budget that included one item: a knee brace. I’m shutting this down now before it goes too far.

What can I say? Some people have angels and demons sitting on their shoulders; I have a hypochondriac and an accountant. At least she didn’t try to convince me I have knee cancer or something.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder what Google has to say about knee cancer . . .

When I sit down to work, I invariable have music playing in the background. The noise drowns out other more distracting noises and provides a beat that I find keeps me focused. Pandora is a good tool for this because I can’t stand the commentary on normal radio shows, but sometimes I have a particular song or set of songs that I queue up to set a desired mood either for me or for the bit I’m writing.

One song that has made a frequent appearance on my queues lately is “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. I’m not a particular fan of Minaj, other than a handful of songs and her pleasantly weird persona. However, there’s a line in the chorus of this song that is a surprising reminder that I’ve added to my wall of writing advice: “Starships are meant to fly.”

Taken out of context, I like to think this line is a good reminder that something happening is part of what makes good stories good. For me, “Starships are meant to fly” equals “Make shit happen.” And considering that my chosen genre is science fiction, this line is relevant on more than just a metaphorical level.

The song itself isn’t particularly notable for me (other than that one line), and the official video is, um, enigmatic. But, there is a video by bironic on LiveJournal that is just about perfect in its ability to ignite both giddiness for my favorite works of science fiction on film/television and excitement for all the imagined futures that see us flung across the universe. I’ll just leave it right here for you to enjoy at your leisure.

New House Rules

Posted: August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Good day, kittens!

Well, that last post got quite a few views. Only one comment, and although it wasn’t a particularly bad comment, it did put me in mind of something I’ve been meaning to do for some time now. I’ve created a new page with what I think is a pretty good (starter) commenting policy for this site.

Don’t worry! I wasn’t thinking of any of you when I wrote the policy. I was more thinking of worst-case scenarios informed by some of the more horrific stories about abuse in comments sections that I’m aware of. I don’t expect I’ll need to enforce it very often (and hopefully future me is not shaking her head at my naivety), but I think it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Yes? Yes.

Now that that’s out of the way, how are you?

Science Is Not Your Bitch

Posted: August 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

Like so many other people, I follow I Fucking Love Science on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not a scientist, but I consider myself moderately scientifically literate and a science enthusiast. I know a little bit about a lot of things scientific, but not enough about any one thing to consider myself even remotely an expert. Still, what I do know allows me to keep up with IFLS’s posts, which is great because they always make my day better. Reading her posts are for me, I think, what a daily devotional might be to a Christian: they’re a source of comfort, optimism, and awe. I mean just three weeks ago IFLS let me know that scientists in Germany STOPPED. LIGHT. Using crystals and quantum superposition, folks. How is that not the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard (until, of course, IFLS posts the next most amazing thing ever)? How can you not be humbled by an achievement like that?

If you follow IFLS, you may have seen her post today about the scientists in Hawaii and Turkey who took protein from jellyfish and inserted them into the DNA of cloned rabbits. One in four of the cloned rabbits born to this litter now glows in the dark. If we knew nothing else about why the scientists did this experiment, this feat in itself is freaking amazing. They took protein from one specie. They put it into another species. That second species now expresses exactly the trait it was meant to, and everyone is happy and healthy! Implications, people! All of them!

Even USA Today picked up the story. Here are some of the comments I came across with regards to the USA Today coverage:

  • “Good to know scientists are doing such useful things with their time.”
  • “Who needs a cure for cancer? Sheesh.”
  • “BTW science cancer is still not cured yet.”

And I am baffled. I have happened upon the exact sort of people who are completely unimpressed by the “awesome machinery of nature,” as dearly departed Carl Sagan put it.

I am also baffled by the question about why these scientist—who are studying ways to make hemophilia treatments more effective and efficient for patients, and glow-in-the-dark bunnies are just a cool-card carrying confirmation—have not yet cured cancer. Do diseases need to be cured in a certain order? Are hemophiliacs out of luck until cancer is cured?

I wonder also if these commentators on the goings on of the scientific world are aware that there are, oh, one or two other fields of scientific inquiry besides cancer. There are literally as many areas of expertise as there are experts because a scientist’s work is often her life’s work, regardless of who is giving her a paycheck. Did these people ask NASA about how their cancer research was coming when Curiosity landed on Mars? Was the fact that we hurled a robot from the Earth’s surface at a moving target that is 78.3 million kilometers away at its closest and that it landed in tact lost entirely on these people? Do these same people ask Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson to stop their silly science advocacy and get back in the cancer lab?

Yes, cancer is an important area of research, especially for a world in which medical advancements have given us lifespans long enough to actually get cancer at a higher rate. But it’s not the only conversation going on. Nor should it be. As humans, we have access to as many talents and perspective as there are minds willing to apply them toward as many ends as we can imagine; some of those minds will have no interest in curing cancer—or any other thing these people and those like them think everyone should be working on instead of whatever it is they are doing—because that’s neither their training nor their skill set. It behooves us as a people, as a species. to allow the people who are brilliant at what they do to continue being brilliant in exactly that thing that they do.

It disheartens me when I see people who are confronted with their own ignorance and choose to reinforce it with disaffection instead of treating it with curiosity (an attitude I am not claiming absolute immunity from, btw). It disheartens me when I realize that many of the people and organizations who have this particular affinity for ignorance also hold the checkbooks that fund research like the kind that was done in Hawaii and Turkey.

Then I go back to IFLS, and she has a cookie made of science and a cold, tall glass filled with awesome waiting for me to make me feel better. I find comfort knowing that despite all the odds, all the obstacles, all the naysayers, we are still doing science. We are still pushing back the boundaries of the known world. We are still solving puzzles and finding whole new veins of discovery. We are still trying to be better.

If that doesn’t work, I head to Symphony of Science until I am sufficiently inspired again. Here, you can have a cookie too.

As always, the infected had managed to breach the ground level of the latest safehouse Zahara had managed to find. Luckily, it wasn’t a horde. So far, she’d only seen the one in front of her—the one that had not yet seen or heard her but could obviously smell her. But even a breach of one could not be taken lightly.

Zahara remained still and out of the poor soul’s sight. It was agitated, sure, but it hadn’t aggro’d on her just yet. If she was very lucky, she’d be able to retreat to an upper floor or at least a panic room. These old Medieval castles had those, right? She wished she’d had more time to map out the entire interior. She thought she’d have more time.

She took a single step backward, then stopped. She was nearly out of sight now, but she didn’t want to get cocky and accidentally draw attention to herself. The image of her backing into one of those things flitted through her mind, and she turned her head slowly to take in more of her surroundings. The one in the kitchen around the corner was still the only one. It was starting to turn in her direction.

Another step back, and she was out of sight. The staircase was only a few more steps back—a distance she closed more quickly now that she was out of sight.

Then it roared.

She ran.

Maybe it’s just in frustration, she thought. Or maybe it has a lock on me now. Or maybe it’s calling to others.

She cursed quietly under her breath and took the steps three at a time. She didn’t slow when she reached the top of the stairs. Instead she took off down the hallway, darkening in the gloaming. After a moment, the creature roared again, closer. Zahara prayed it was the same one. The second-floor panic room was still a good fifty yards away.

Along the wall, she saw a flowered vase as tall as she was. She veered from her course and pushed it behind her as she passed. She sacrificed some speed and part of her lead doing that, but her hope had been to shatter the old porcelain and slow the creature. A quick glance behind her proved that no, the creature hadn’t slowed. Also, it was not the same creature she’d seen in the kitchen.

“Fuck.”

The panic room was close now, and she slowed to be able to shut the heavy door behind her. Her hand was on the door handle, anchoring her as she pivoted around it. A hand closed around hers before she could bring it inside the room. Stupid! She chastised herself. Don’t ever get distracted with fancy tactics!

She tore her hand away from the handle and pulled the creature into the room with her and let it push her against the door to close it. For good measure, she struggled in the direction of the latch until she heard it click. It’d be easier to deal with one in a locked room than a horde falling on an open door.

The thing pressed in on her, its eyes graying, its teeth black and broken, its mouth open and salivating and growling hungrily at her. A fetid air hung around the gaping, rotting hole in the devil’s neck, and it caught in Zahara’s throat, choking her. It opened and closed its mouth in a chewing motion, clearly anticipating the meal it had in mind.

It wasn’t easy—it never was—but Zahara was able to leverage herself against the door and get the creature off its balance. While it was still disoriented, she directed it against the window and pushed it out. She didn’t have time to look after it as it fell to the ground—it would only be momentarily incapacitated, anyway—before a bang at the door drew her attention.

The monster from the kitchen. And only that one, if she was lucky.

The door itself was six inches thick and sold oak, but the latch was just a tongue of wrought iron in the stone. It would bend and give eventually. Calmly, Zahara slid three wooden beams across the door: one at the top, one in the middle, and one near the bottom. She would be secure enough for the time being.

The panic room was well stocked, but dark. She shuttered the windows, pulled the drapes, and stumbled in the darkness until she found a candle. Maybe she didn’t need to be so careful—she was after all in the middle of nowhere in the marshes. Then again, no need to be a beacon. It was bad enough she had two confirmed villains breaching her safety. Who knew how many more were out there.

A breeze whistled through the shutters and rippled through the drapes. Zahara shivered. It had been many months since the dead stopped staying dead and instead started devouring the living. Still, she figured winter could not be far off. Too late to look for a new safehouse. Maybe she could ride out the worst of the season in this room. Raiding the castle when she needed to. Maybe these two monsters were the only ones around for miles.

Two voices now growled at her door. Either the one she’d pushed out the window had found its way back inside, or there was a third she hadn’t seen out there. How the hell did they get inside the stone walls of the castle?

Zahara suddenly felt tired. How long had it been? She could hardly think of a time when she’d gone to school, prayed at the mosque, gone on dates, worked a stable job, had a bank account. That world seemed so alien now. She sat heavily on the ground and leaned against the cold stone of the wall. She ran her fingers through her hair and thought absently that it was time to cut it again if she didn’t want one of those things to grab her by it.

She’d stacked the room with paintings and some unvarnished furniture. Good for burning. One of the paintings that faced her showed a young family in Victorian clothing as they picnicked on a green lawn with tea and biscuits aplenty. The young mother smiled and rested her perfectly coiffed head on her husband’s should while two laughing young ones, whose sexes seemed indeterminate to Zahara, played some kind of game with a ball. Even the dog, frozen in midjump, seemed to smile in happiness.

That painting was the first to burn that night.

A couple of weeks ago, the novelist John Scalzi wrote about his self-made-ness—or, more accurately, about how much he owes to others, both known and unknown, for his success in life. Earlier that week, I’d had my parents over for dinner, during which time my father took the opportunity to harangue President Obama for being so stupid as to remark that entrepreneurs didn’t build their own businesses and success. I took that same opportunity to start doing the dishes.

Now, I didn’t exit the conversation because of a political difference. It’s true that my father and I are about as opposite in our political views as you can get, but I’ve never had any qualms about squaring off with him when it comes to something about which I have an educated opinion. No. I started to clean up because if I didn’t, I would’ve laughed rudely in his face and said some very disrespectful things that I think would’ve made me a worse person for having said them.

Specifically, I wanted to ask him if his indignation over Obama’s statement meant he’d never take credit for my accomplishments again. Because, you know. Hypocrisy and all.

I think just about anyone who’s graduated from college has had to bite their tongue as some speaker or parent very publicly smugly belittles their achievements by insisting it was due to someone else instead—usually to the speaker or parental figures. As far as I’ve seen, the same people who’ve been outraged by Obama’s out-of-context statement* are the same people who nod their heads uncritically at the sentiment that the children of the world owe all of their accomplishments to their parents and whoever else could be considered a network of support. A sentiment that isn’t essentially unfounded.

No one succeeds in a vacuum. I can’t imagine a single substantial accomplishment that wouldn’t need a pit crew of some kind behind it. Hell, a proper college education would be next to impossible without a lot of help from a variety of people, both seen and unseen. In Scalzi’s piece, which is something of an extensive thank-you letter, he demonstrates this concept pretty thoroughly: the taxpayers made sure he could eat when he was a child, someone said something to recommend him to important people, someone else took a completely undeserved chance on him, etc. All of this resonated with me because I have had similar experiences that allow me to relate.

I don’t take issue with the fact that we all owe something to other people. I do take issue with those people insisting publicly that they have a controlling interest in my accomplishments. Perhaps it’s because I’m still fairly young, but my emotional reaction to these occasions falls right around the feeling of, “Well, fuck you, then.”

I want to be sympathetic to the kind of person who would make these claims: they’re insecure, they’re just proud and want to be associated with my success, etc. But when they take credit for my accomplishments, they are glibly choosing not to understand or acknowledge that I also worked my ass off.

My college education? An 11-year marathon. It started when I was 12, when I decided I wanted to go to college. It persisted through my middle and high school years, when I studied and worked myself into a few breakdowns in an effort to earn the grades that would merit a full scholarship—the only way I’d ever be able to afford going to a university. It continued through my college years, when I frantically climbed to the top of the GPA scale so that I wouldn’t lose my scholarship and have to pay the whole thing back. And it culminated in a degree that opened future economic doors for me. I made that decision. I did that work. I lost that sleep—possibly even years of my life. I looked for the opportunities I took. I engaged in and took responsibility for my education. I worked the entire time to pay for everything my scholarship didn’t cover. I think it’s fair to say I did the heavy lifting on that one.

Imagine my surprise when for every “Congratulations!” there was a “Don’t forget who you really owe!” Was it really so difficult just to leave it at the former and trust I’d also do the latter because, hey, I’m an adult and can recognize where credit is due all on my own?

That’s what it comes down to, really: being treated like you’re 5 and still need to be told when to say “thank you,” regardless of your age or accomplishments. If you have to ask for someone’s gratitude, can it ever really be trusted? The gratitude and humility that I genuinely felt toward my various benefactors was unfairly cheapened. All I required was the opportunity to express my feelings on my own. Taking it from me poisoned that well. And now my gratitude is tainted with resentment**.

I owe a lot to my father, indeed to everyone else who has claimed responsibility for my successes as well. He always kept us clothed, fed, and housed, which are essential to, well, living at all. I just would prefer to say so in my own time and in my own way***.

*Shameless self-promotion: A good copy editor, folks. You needz one. Romney was able to spin Obama’s message because of the tiny matter of a carelessly used pronoun—which is ironic, considering Romney’s own copy gaffes this year.

**Any resentment I feel, btw, is my own problem and my own responsibility to address, no one else’s.

***None of this is meant to be a commentary on Obama’s statement. I think the whole kerfuffle is ridiculous. It also exposes Romney to be academically and intellectually dishonest and manipulative—or deficient, but I think that’s a lot less likely. But, you know, politicians and all. Par for the course, really.

The husband and I decided it was time to build a new computer so that we can both finally use the Internet at the same time. Because, really, what do you do when you’re not on the Internet? I won’t go into too much detail, but OMG WE HAVE A COMMAND CENTER NOW. The first thing we decided to do with it? Play Left 4 Dead 2 together, of course!

Typically, I don’t like to play games online because I feel weird about interacting with people I’ve never actually met in real life. But I’ve really wanted to play with the husband because I know him and that would be fun. Having a command center lets us do that now! So, we started our own server and started making our way to the mall. I learned pretty quickly that we weren’t the only ones playing on our server, but I didn’t mind so much mostly because I didn’t pay much attention to them.

Now, here’s the thing. One: I’m not used to playing with other people, so that was a weird paradigm for me. Two: I like playing games because they’re fun, but I’m nowhere near being top of the class. I also don’t aspire to be the best because it’s just not that important to me. What does all this mean? I would sometimes maybe shoot my teammates a little. But it was completely unintentional! I know, I know. I’m that person, but give me some time and practice and I won’t be. Okay?

Or, if you don’t want to get shot, how about this? Don’t run into the middle of the horde. Or, maybe even play on a server with a more difficult setting and better players? Playing on an Easy/Normal server and then getting upset with and griefing your teammates who aren’t perfect shots is like swimming in the kiddie pool and then yelling at the two-year-old who pees in the water.

So, one of my teammates started shooting me on purpose, and I thought his irrationality was annoying but also funny. The husband, however, was not amused. Do you know what he did for me? He killed my griefer!

That is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me!

I’ll let you in on a secret: Copy editing is an exercise in deliberate misreading. I know. This makes copy editors sound like villains, but it’s actually really necessary. Believe me. You want us deliberately misreading your work because I can guarantee you that someone in your audience will eventually read it that way too, and not on purpose. As a result, copy editors have gotten a bad rep as arrogant pricks. Of course, in all fairness, this reputation is not always entirely undeserved. So, here are a few rules that will help any of you aspiring editors to be successful in your job requirements while also getting on with your colleagues.

1. Don’t be an asshole.

For values of “an asshole” read “judgmental, rude, condescending, inappropriate,” etc. Believe it or not, the writer you’re assisting doesn’t appreciate having their work called “inane” or “nonsensical”—and yeah, I’ve personally read copy-editor notes that have used these words. You’re colleagues, not friends. Amazingly, they’ll likely interpret your deadpan humor—if that’s genuinely what it is—as hostility. Thoughts like, “Dangling modifiers are LOLZ!” should stay in your head and should not make it into your notes.

2. Don’t be a doormat.

This rule is not mutually exclusive of the first. Standing by your copy recommendations, especially in the face of someone who is being contrary to protect a delicate ego, is necessary for gaining respect as someone who is knowledgeable of and talented in your field. Of course, these ego-protecting people can sometimes be intimidating, and even abusive, so it’s an attractive option simply to appease them. Eventually, though, your boss or your boss’s boss will come knocking on your door wondering why you didn’t fix such a blatant error. “Because Sally wasn’t going to like me if I did,” is not an acceptable excuse. You have a job to do. Do it if you want to keep it.

So, how do you achieve both of these first two rules at the same time?

3. Support EVERY change with a source.

Seriously. Even putting in or taking out a comma. So many rules in grammar are thoroughly esoteric—which may be one reason so many people are so eager to demonstrate that they know them—but it’s never safe to assume that even lay-grammarians don’t know them. They’ll try to trip you up based on their cursory knowledge of the subject. But here’s the rub—they can often be right! Supporting your changes with a source will help you avoid looking lazy or inept and will help you to build an image of professionalism and thoroughness.

Of course, when you are right and your colleague is wrong, refer to the first rule: Don’t be an asshole.

4. Allow the rules to be broken when it’s appropriate.

I once worked with a copy editor who insisted on having perfect grammar and spelling in every situation, including texting. To him, it was morally compromising to relax the rules, even for informal texts that would never be published. Rules, after all, are there for a reason and should be followed.

Bollocks.

Grammar is a tool for communicating clearly and, more importantly, appropriately. Sometimes, absolutely proper grammar can obfuscate what it is you’re trying to communicate. Avoiding every instance of a sentence-ending preposition is a perfect example of this kind of situation: sometimes it’s just clearer to end the sentence with the damn preposition. (Of course, the rule about never ending a sentence in a preposition is itself bunk, but it’s commonly believed to be a rule, which is why I’ve included it as an example here.)

Think about it like this: How much would you enjoy reading a novel in which every single person spoke with absolutely perfect grammar all the time, regardless of the character’s background? Exactly. It’d be weird, unbelievable, and boring.

5. Don’t correct people’s spoken grammar.

This rule is related to “Don’t be an asshole,” but it really deserves its own place as a rule.

Recognize that your colleagues are smart people who are made uneasy, intimidated, or even infuriated by the thought that you’re paid to correct them in writing. It’s not personal—communication is hard, and everyone makes mistakes—but plenty of people take it that way. Will correcting their words while they’re speaking help them to change their minds about you? Probably not. Turn off the copy-editor mode when you’re listening to other people; instead, actually listen to them.

So, those are the rules. Notice that I mentioned nothing about grammar rules, education, style guides, etc. If you’re considering being an editor (and being a copy editor is likely where you’ll start), you’re probably already well on your way to checking off that list, so I don’t need to go on about it.

Copy editing is usually most attractive to a certain type of person—that is, one who is shy and smart. Having both these qualities often precipitates having other similar qualities: self-consciousness, nonsocial-ness, reliance on rules, etc. On its face, copy editing appears to be a perfect occupation for one who has these traits and a language/grammar nerd proclivity—it’s just you, a red pen and/or Track Changes, and words that just want for you to perfect them. The reality, however, is that being a good and successful copy editor requires a high degree of social acuity. It’s a people-centric position in disguise, so treat every writer like a person, deserving of dignity and respect.

Hello, my lovelies!

For the past five months, I’ve wanted to blog so many times and on so many different subjects. Why I have not been blogging has not been a topic I wanted to pursue, but I think it would be weird to just start talking again like there had been no interruption. So here’s a breakdown of the past few months for me:

1. The company I worked for went through massive layoffs. I avoided the chopping block, but about three-quarters of my department did not. And these layoffs were not, in my opinion, either necessary or fully ethical, so . . .

2. I got a new job. This is where my time went for the first three months. A little background: I graduated college in December 2008, right around the time the economy decided to jump off a cliff. It took me a full year to find full-time employment commensurate with my education. (I know. I was one of the lucky ones.) As you can imagine, I was more than a little anxious about job hunting again, but at least I had an income this time. I hit the digital bricks every night and had two “doctor’s appointments,” one of which resulted in the sweet gig I have now that also has me writing as part of my job. But I also felt just a little guilty leaving my former colleagues in the lurch.

3. So I’ve been contracting on the side to help them get their projects done and possibly keep their jobs too. That means my work weeks are often somewhere between 60 and 70 hours long. Between looking for a job, getting a job, and then getting a contracting job, I haven’t even picked up a book to read let alone had the time (or brain power) to write a damn word since January.

4. Aaaand, I bought a house. That’s right, bitches. I’m a homeowner now! The husband man read about China buying up US debt back in February/March and said we’d miss out on the great interest rates if we didn’t hurry up and get a house now. The day we locked in our wicked low interest rate for a house, the market went crazy. No lie. And the house we got is pretty awesome, in my opinion. Moving and doing the little projects we knew we’d have to do have been a pain in the ass, but in a good way.

And in another three weeks, my contract with my former employer will be up and I’ll be a free pipsqueak. Life will always be busy, I think, but I’d like to make sure I’m busy doing the things I really like to do, like writing to you, my darlings.

(And playing ME3. Don’t tell me anything about it! I’ll be disappointed, relieved and/or both on my own, thank you very much!)

Until then, I’m going to pick up writing to you fine folks again, though perhaps at a slower pace than I did back in the fall. I’m so excited! Are you excited? I’m excited!