I’m currently buried under a mountain of work and writing and life stuff and I sort of feel like I’ve been on the verge of bursting out into tears for the last week. So if I’m not around as much over the next few weeks, you’ll know why. Time to put on my Enya Pandora station or something.
There is no designated time for anything in your life. You don’t have to have your first kiss at any certain time, you don’t have to get married in your 20′s and you don’t have to do anything just because other people think it’s best. In fact, you will be much better off if you just do what your heart says. The day you stop caring what other people think is the day their opinions don’t mean anything, because you’re not there to give them weight.
This is so, so true. I know people who feel validated by the fact that they were married and had kids before they turned 30, and, honestly, I don’t get why it even matters, or why they think it matters to other people as much as it does to them. Everyone at their own pace.
22 more days! I finally booked our train tickets from London to Edinburgh last night and I’m going through and making up a whole itinerary. Very exciting!
I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.
Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
For some reason, this instantly reminded me of Louis CK’s “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.” Every time I watch it, I’m struck by how true it is. I’m trying to invest more—appreciate, really—the wonder that we have in our lives. To not take things for granted. I was coming home from meeting the PubCrawl gals for drinks last night and my iPod randomly shuffled to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 and I was kind of struck by how amazing it is that at any time I can listen to, and experience, a piece of music that people in the 18th century would have had to pay a premium price to see an orchestra play just that one night.
I just noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too.
The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men. The category lists 3,837 authors, and the first few hundred of them are mainly men. The explanation at the top of the page is that the list of “American Novelists” is too long, and therefore the novelists have to be put in subcategories whenever possible.
Too bad there isn’t a subcategory for “American Men Novelists.”
IMPORTANT UPDATE the author, Amanda Filipacchi, from Sunday:
“In an Op-Ed article I wrote, published on The New York Times’s Web site on Wednesday, I suggested it was too bad that there wasn’t a subcategory for “American Men Novelists.” And what do you know; shortly after, a new subcategory called exactly that appeared.
But there was more. Much more. As soon as the Op-Ed article appeared, unhappy Wikipedia editors pounced on my Wikipedia page and started making alterations to it, erasing as much as they possibly could without (I assume) technically breaking the rules. They removed the links to outside sources, like interviews of me and reviews of my novels. Not surprisingly, they also removed the link to the Op-Ed article. At the same time, they put up a banner at the top of my page saying the page needed “additional citations for verifications.” Too bad they’d just taken out the useful sources.
In 24 hours, there were 22 changes to my page. Before that, there had been 22 changes in four years. Thursday night, a kind soul went in there and put back the deleted sources. The Wiki editors instantly took them out again.”
Yup, this change popped up on my Google Alerts when they finally hit the Br- names. You can guess how I felt about it.
Hi! Sorry for the radio silence! I’ve been at the International Reading Association conference in San Antonio for my day job and tomorrow I leave to go to TLA’s annual convention in Fort Worth. I promise I’ll respond to all of your messages when I’m home next Saturday. My internet connection here has honestly been so godawful it’ll probably take fifteen minutes for Tumblr to post this. But I have so many fun stories to tell you (including the one that involves me having to drive all by myself for five hours in the dead of night from Dallas to San Antonio on Thursday night because the flights were so messed up)! And-and-and! I think NEVER FADE’s cover might be released this week… will definitely figure out a way to post it here! Any guesses about what image might be featured on it?
In honor of Dad, I was going to post some pictures of his Star Wars collection (I inherited his iPad and, omg, you would not believe how organized he was in terms of his lists and photo documentation), but I suddenly remember that this video existed! Some of my brother’s college friends decided to film themselves driving from Orange, CA to Orange, FL and stopped at my family’s house for the night. One of my dad’s absolute FAVORITE things in the world was to give people tours of his collection and he could always take people poking a little fun at his expense. Jump ahead to 3:00 or so in the video.
P.S. His eBay handle was SW_Dan55 (or somesuch), totally missing the fact most people would think he meant “Single White Dan,” but that’s the source of our “Star Wars Dan” nickname.
P.P.S. One of the hardest things about his passing has been deciding what to do with his beloved collection. There are pieces I know we’ll keep because he loved them or we loved them, but we’re still working out what will happen to the rest of it.
My sister is two years older than me, but our birthdays are only three or four days apart depending on the year (I’m 2/27, she’s 3/2), so growing up we shared a good number of birthday parties like this one at Peter Piper Pizza. I asked my mom to send me a couple of older photos I could post on my sister’s Facebook wall to mark her birthday this year, and when she sent me this one she said, “Look at Daddy taking a picture of the cake! It’s such a Daddy move, it made me laugh.”
It made me laugh, too, because this is something he did his whole life: ruthlessly document even the small things, like Little Mermaid birthday cakes, explanatory plaques at museums to remember some small fact later, the three of us coming down the stairs every Christmas morning. I think it was the amateur historian in him, or at least the life-long collector. He collected memories—little inconsequential things like pictures of birthday cakes—and organized them and kept them forever. There are so many “Dad” things about this picture—those terrible jeans, that polo shirt (I’m pretty sure he owned some variation of it his entire life), that haircut…
My sweet dad passed away a year ago today. There’s a part of me that can’t even believe it’s been that long, but an even bigger part of me that feels like it all happened five minutes ago, and I’m still in that hospital room with him. My family and I worked really hard to ease ourselves through the big “firsts”—his first birthday (the end of this month), the first Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. I’m so proud of my incredible mom, and how she’s soldiered on, picking up the pieces and charging forward with determination.
What gets you, though, are the small moments that sneak up on you—when you want to call them to hear about their day, when you see a movie and want their opinion, when you have a question about fixing something or finances, when you hear a song they loved. I still cry—a lot, and on some days a lot-a lot. I miss him so much every single day, and while there are things I do to feel close to him, sometimes I just can’t get over the fact he’s not physically present anymore. I don’t get to hear his dorky laugh, or watch him try (and fail) to snap along with the beat to some song, or hear him say, “Hello, Alex Girl! I was just driving home and thought I’d give you a call…”
I think it’s generally true what they say—that the first year is the hardest, but I have to wonder if the second year will in a way be worse. I think last year… well, he was suffering so much going through chemo, living this terrible sort of half-life and still doggedly fighting through it. When one person in your family is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is. It’s hard to imagine, let alone describe, the kind of constant, terrorizing stress you live with every day, so much so that it manifests physical symptoms. And the release from that is a relief, as is knowing that your loved one isn’t suffering any longer. And Dad was really, really suffering at the end. That’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with.
I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with knowing he’ll never see us get married, my brother graduate, meet any of his grandchildren. One of the reasons this picture means so much is because it captures some small part of him—something I can use to tell you about him, to flesh him out, to share the rich texture of his life.
I miss him, and I love him very much.
This past month or so, I’ve really forced myself to take a step back and examine the way I’ve been living and my attitude toward life in general over the past couple of years. I suppose it’s sort of a natural offshoot of coming up on the first anniversary of Dad’s death (wow, that’s still so hard to write), but also the sense that, at twenty-six, my life is too unbalanced with negativity and I’ve let myself become stalled because it’s too hard to keep so many balls in the air at once. I’m trimming out the things that are draining my energy and keeping me focused on what I don’t have instead of what I do. (Sorry for the vague-y vague!) Likewise, I’ve been experiencing a lot of soul-crushing doubt about various life and career choices and I’ve been angry at myself for not finding the perfect path to happiness yet.
But lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s just that I’m not taking enough chances. I’m not getting out into the world, and I’m letting myself stress about waiting for the perfect path/partner/story to find me, when, really, I just need to set new goals and reevaluate the people and things in my life that make me unhappy. As weird as it sounds, some of this was inspired by this scene in The Five Year Engagement—specifically when Alison Brie’s character says, “there is no right cookie—you just pick one and take a bite!” They’re talking about a relationship here, but I think it can apply to all areas of life. You have to make a choice and commit yourself to it. If it’s the wrong road—well, you’re never going to know until you try. Then, you make a new choice and commit yourself to that. No more waiting around, wallowing.
This little life/outlook adjustment has really been working for me over the past two weeks—I finished a TDM-related project in record time, have been gunning through my work projects in addition to suggesting new ones and figuring out a way to propose what I actually want to be doing, and I generally feel more in control of my time and the way I spend it.