What I read is what I feel. Sometimes that’s good, other times not. Just reading about poisonous mushrooms today made me feel as if I were about to become sick and die from liver failure. Similarly, reading the news made me anxious. The world sounds like such a dangerous place, full of racists and rapists. I think tonight’s book will have to be light and fluffy, all sweetness and froth, to counteract the scary things I read earlier.

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Writing More

There were over 150 comments in my spam filter today. I did not read them before deleting them. I have finally convinced myself that it’s pointless, so I don’t waste my time that way anymore. Hooray for me.

But part of the reason there were so many was that I haven’t been here to delete them. I should blog more often, and I will. Promise.

I wrote my morning pages today. That’s good. I’d skipped it for weeks, and my mental state had started to slip a bit. I don’t think the two things are unconnected. I must keep writing.

My novel is about to take another hit to the word count, because I found more old parts that need to be removed. It’s going to bug me when the count goes down, especially since I’m getting close to 50,000 again. That’s just the way it has to be, though. There’s no point in holding on to words that don’t fit anymore.

Letting go of baggage that’s holding us down is always a good idea. I’m working on that in all areas of my life, not just the novel. That’s yet another reason to keep writing. It encourages me to state my goals and helps me stay on target to meet them.

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I got out of bed this morning, and I fed the children their breakfast, and I packed up their lunches. That was 100 times more than I felt like doing, so I’m going to declare this morning a great victory. I am the champion, my friends, and I’ll keep on fighting ’til I climb back into bed…

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Bitten Again

I was bitten by two ticks yesterday. They were so small that I only knew they were there because they had caused two itchy red spots on the back of my knee. I only guessed that they weren’t blemishes because there were two (one I could believe, but two in that area seemed highly unlikely). I had to take pictures using the macro feature of my camera to verify that they were ticks. Even after they were removed, they looked like nothing more than bits of dirt. I’m pretty sure they were larval ticks, not only because of the size, but because they appeared to have only six legs, not eight. That means they probably didn’t infect me with anything.

But I still haven’t learned my lesson about ticks, have I? Walking around outside at this time of year is dangerous. If I’m going to do it, I should wear the proper clothes and take a shower afterward. And we ought to tick-check ourselves and the kids every day if we’ve been outside. How many tick bites must we get before I finally get this through my head?

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Reading, Writing, and Real World Stuff

I finished Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” and I am now reading “The Trouble With Goats and Sheep” by Joanna Cannon.

Last night I spent some time working on my novel. Today, too. Now the word count is over 45,000. A couple of thousand new words over the course of two months is nothing to brag about. But, considering that I had recently lost all interest in writing and had decided that my story was the dumbest, lamest thing anyone had ever thought of, getting myself to work on it has to be looked upon as nothing less than a miracle.

Today I created a character for the purpose of killing her to make another character even more unhappy than she already was. Sometimes I think I must not be a very nice person. But, you know, if there was anything to be learned from that hot mess that was the Star Wars prequel trilogy, it’s that you have to show a character’s descent into madness before you can set them to doing mad things.

Now I must stop messing around on my computer and go do some real world stuff, like laundry and dinner.

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Three Firsts

Here are the first paragraphs of the three books that I’m thinking about reading.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman:

It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big.

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore:

(Selected from the Great Big Book of Death: First Edition) 1. Congratulations, you have been chosen to act as Death, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. It is your duty to retrieve soul vessels from the dead and dying and see them on to their next body. If you fail, Darkness will cover the world and Chaos will reign.

Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen:

Last December a woman entered my apartment who looked exactly like my wife. This woman casually closed the door behind her. In an oversized pale blue purse–Rema’s purse–she was carrying a russet puppy. I did not know the puppy. And the real Rema, she doesn’t greet dogs on the sidewalk, she doesn’t like dogs at all. The hayfeverishly fresh scent of Rema’s shampoo was filling the air and through that brashness I squinted at this woman, and at that small dog, acknowledging to myself only that something was extraordinarily wrong.

Which one sounds the most interesting and ought to be the first one that I read?

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Cold Showers

Many of us are procrastinators because we have a negative, knee-jerk reaction to discomfort. We know that something will “hurt” (force us to face our fears, cause minor/temporary physical or mental strain, take a lot of our time, etc.), so we shy away from it. We put off certain tasks, whatever they may be, until they can no longer be avoided or they cease to be relevant.

The cure is to train our brains not to instinctively flinch away from these minor discomforts. Some people say that we should start taking cold showers to beef up our willpower. This is said to work because we know that the cold water will be shocking, even painful at first, but we also know it won’t kill us. Regularly facing and overcoming our reluctance this way will supposedly toughen us up.

And what I say to that is “Hell no!” It’s a great idea in principle, but my reluctance to do a thing almost never stems from fear of physical discomfort, so why would I deliberately torture myself that way? If it ever becomes necessary due to other circumstances, sure. Until then, no thanks.

But I do see reason to force myself to do the things that I ought to do, no matter how much I don’t want to. That’s why I’m writing this post. This is my “cold shower.” I feel naked and uncomfortable, and I don’t want to do this right now. I also don’t want to work on a story, clean my house, or prep for tomorrow, but I’m going to do all of those things today. I am learning in my own time and my own way to do better, without physical pain. Imagine that.

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This week nearly wrecked me. It was the first week of summer camp. Summer camp is worse than school. I have to get up just as early to feed the kids breakfast, then I also have to pack lunches for them and coat them in sunscreen before they leave. Then I have to unpack and wash all the lunch containers when they get home. I have to plan their lunches in advance and shop for them, and do extra things, like find T-shirts for tie-dye day. The kids make more laundry, because they have to shower and change when they get home. It’s hard to keep up with it all. I know I’ll get into the swing of things in a couple of weeks. For now, though, I am so glad that it’s finally Friday and that this first week is behind us.

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Marshall lost a tooth earlier this month. It was probably his last baby tooth. The Tooth Fairy is sad.

It’s utterly ridiculous that “sanguine” means “optimistic” and also “bloody/bloodthirsty.” If, for example, your coworker said he was feeling sanguine about an upcoming meeting, would that mean he was feeling good about it or planning a massacre? You’d like to be certain about something like that, right?

I’m irritated to find that my given name has become a slang term for a disagreeable woman. I mean, I am a disagreeable woman, but not in the way the word suggests.

Joe Hill recently tweeted, “I learned from crosswords that the maddening blanks in one’s life can be filled in. It requires patience, humor, a willingness to consider skewed possibilities . . . and the humility to ask for help if you need it. Often that’s all you need to puzzle things out: on & off the page.” I liked the sentiment, so I didn’t point out that it’s somebody’s job to make sure that the puzzles are solvable.

I was relieved to read online recently that it’s perfectly normal to read a book and then completely forget it. In fact, the article said that unless you deliberately read a text multiple times, odds are that it will disappear almost entirely from your head. I would tell you more about it, except I’ve already forgotten the rest, of course.

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Pandora Redux

I finished a book last night. It was my 20th book of 2019. I am still behind on my reading goal for the year, but I think I’ve gained some ground. If I keep up my current pace of reading, I might be able to catch up by the end of the year.

The Pandora Box by Christopher Golden; Grade: B-

An archaeological team on an underground dig discovers a hidden room containing an ancient jar. Inscriptions in and around the room suggest that the jar is the origin of the Pandora myth. Believing that the jar could contain a disease (or worse, some sort of paranormal malice), a special team is dispatched to deal with the threat (i.e., make sure the jar ends up in their hands and not the “wrong” hands). As the wrong hands (jihadis armed to the teeth) try to take the prize from the outside, something horrific is happening on the inside, and there is no way out.

I wanted to like this book, and I did initially. It had a bold start. The author created a tense, dark atmosphere and some interesting, likeable characters, and that was enough for the story to coast on for a time. But it wasn’t quite enough to see it to the end. The story got bogged down in violence and grossness, and with nowhere for its characters to go, deus ex machina was called upon to bring it to a close.

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