Friday, March 27, 2009


This is an unabashed solicitation for assistance.

I'm taking a class entitled, "History of the U.S. through Music." It is a complete and utter waste of my time. The instructor is certifiable, and I'm not learning jack from the class, but I need the credit to finish up my minor so I can graduate in a month and a half.

Here's my problem: I have to write a paper for this class. And I'm absolutely clueless what to write about. I'm drawing a blank. I've got nothing. Nada. Zip.

So I am now literally begging anyone who will read this for ideas. If you had to write a paper for a class called "History of the U.S. through Music," what would you write?

I'm even willing to turn this into a contest, the winner of which will receive a coveted North Dakota trinket of some sort or another. Now who wouldn't want tourist crap from a state you'll probably never visit? A giant pencil? A snow globe? A refrigerator magnet?

Please, throw me a bone. I'm dying here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I've only got three short comments today:

1. More snow today. Ugh. I'm beginning to doubt spring will ever come.

2. A monologue I submitted a long time ago to Int'l Center for Women Playwrights is going to be published in their annual book, "Singular Voices."

3. We bought a new bed and it was delivered today, and it is so awesome! We haven't had a new bed since I was pregnant with my daughter, 12 years ago. I can't wait to sleep on it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring in North Dakota = Blizzard

I love winter, but c'mon. I'm so ready for spring. We've had blizzard all night. First freezing rain, then wind and snow. So far over 6 inches and it's supposed to keep snowing for a couple more days.

The snow was pretty close to gone before yesterday. Sure, our basement was leaking, but at least we were making progress toward spring!

Friday, March 20, 2009

BSG - The End

I don't know how many of you are fans of the most recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica on the SciFi channel - I am. Tonight is the 2-hour series ender. It's beyond me how they're going to wrap everything up in 2 hours, unless they plan not to wrap it up at all so that they can go on to make movies like Stargate SG-1 has done.

The BSG journey has been a rocky one. They've taken ridiculously long hiatuses (hiati?), and the story has taken some strangely skewed detours that really haven't added to the overall plot at all.

But because we started watching it and liked it at the beginning, we have faithfully watched it, whenever they deigned to run new episodes, and now we will watch the end so that we can hopefully have the satisfaction of closure.

We used to be big SciFi Friday fans, and loved Stargate, Stargate Atlantis, and BSG. Now all 3 will be gone. *sniff*

Okay, so call me a geek. It's true.

I'll let you know if the series finale was any good!

Now it's off to make pizza, then the warm up entertainment is Sarah Connor Chronicles, then Battlestar!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pitch Party

I don't know if any of the rest of you also participated in the Pitch Party held over at Book Roast, yesterday, but it was pretty fun. I learned about it at Gumbo Writer.

So I wrote my very first pitch ever for my WIP, and actually made the fave list of one of the participating editors. Awesome!

But what I think was the best part was the fact that so many writers participated. It was wonderful to read all the different ideas writers are coming up with. It gives me hope for all those times when I stare at a blank page without any idea how to fill it up. I enjoyed reading the interaction with editors, seeing how other people pitch their stories, and sharing comments with other writers.

Plus I got a major part of my art history research paper done yesterday, which made me very, very happy. And I got accepted in an MFA program.

So, it was a real warm fuzzy kinda day.

This morning, I got a call from a realtor friend who said she has someone who wants to buy our house. I don't know if any of you remember, but we spent almost all of last year trying to sell our house in a dead small town market and finally resigned ourselves to staying here for at least another year. We took the house off the market and got ourselves in the "stay here" mindset. Now we've got a dilemma - sell or not? Of course the instant we don't want to sell someone wants to buy. Sheesh. But I suppose we could look at it as all things in their proper time, right?

Now all I need is a call asking me to interview for the writing job I applied to, and all things will be right with the universe!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In Like Flynn

Well, I had my interview this morning with the MFA selection committee and (drum roll, please)...they offered me admission into the program!!!!!!

I'm so freakin' excited!

Now all I have to do is figure out how in the world I'm going to pay for it.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Gaelic Blessing

I don't have anything specific to talk about today, but in the spirit of upcoming St. Paddy's day, here's an Irish blessing for you:

Like the warmth of the sun,
And the light of the day,
May the luck of the Irish
Shine bright on your way.

As a genealogy addict, I can honestly say I have some Irish blood (a little - but my blood is mostly English, Swedish, Scottish, and Hungarian. If I search back far enough there's a bunch of French and Russian too).

How about the rest of you...any other Irish blood among you?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

You Hear the Strangest Things....

As a medical transcriptionist I spend day in and day out listening to people talking. Endlessly droning. Frankly it's tedious work. I don't know why anyone would be worried about their medical secrets being made public because I listen to and type about so many patients in a day and mostly don't even pay attention to names. It's just a matter of getting the production done. I can't remember one patient from another...they all run together after a while.

But that's not the gross part of what I hear.

While typing this morning, I heard something that at first made me go "ewwwww," then made me chuckle. The doctor is blabbing away, pauses, and then I hear a big ole nasty juicy fart. I could just imagine him leaning up and straining to let 'er rip.

Last week I was typing a report and the doc sneezed, snorted, coughed because he choked on the wad, then swallowed it. I just about lost my lunch on that one.

There was another doc last week who seemed to have a problem with an excess of saliva so was constantly swallowing his slobbery leftovers.

I'm often subjected to docs eating when they dictate. I can hear the food rolling around in their mouths as they try to speak. It's all wet and sloppy sounding.

On the one hand, I suffer from an unfortunate (in this case anyway) excess of imagination so the mental pictures are usually quite vivid, and sometimes disturbing.

On the other hand, I've got to wonder on a philosophical level:

Do these medical providers not realize there are human beings on the other end of whatever device they're using to dictate? Hello - a little common courtesy would be nice!

Maybe they're under the illusion that because they're alone when they're dictating, no one will hear their bodily function noises. Maybe it just doesn't enter their conscious stream of thought. Maybe they don't care.

Does it say anything about the quality of their medical care that they lack the awareness to realize someone will eventually have to listen to those noises? Are they that unaware on a medical treatment level as well?

Or are they just so used to the functioning of the human body that they've become complacent to the sounds it makes? Does this say something about their bedside manner? That they have little consideration for the feelings of others?

I don't know the answers to any of those questions. All I know is that sitting here in my office alone with headphones on my ears makes those noises all the more intimate and yucky. And they usually take me by surprise.

I just wish there was some way to warn me what's coming so I can brace myself.

I'm just saying.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Denver vs Presley

This morning at "The Perfect Life" blog I took a trip down memory lane. She has a music download for John Denver's Annie's Song, which I listened too and had a nostalgic moment.

When I was a kid, my mother liked John Denver music. She also liked the Carpenters, and a wide variety of music she grew up with in the 40s and 50s. These were the kinds of music I grew up listening to. As I've said in previous blogs, I'm not much of a music person, but there are some songs and artists that bring back childhood memories and, for better or worse, John Denver is one of them. I guess that makes me a victim of circumstance.

Anyway, my best friend when I was a kid (as early as second grade) was desperately in love with Elvis Presley. It would be safe to say she was obsessed. As we grew up I became aware that it was her nature to obsess about just about everything, but when we were younger that wasn't as apparent, so her obsession with Elvis seemed like an isolated incident.

We argued incessantly over which was the better singer, and which music was better: John Denver or Elvis Presley. It was a long term, ongoing battle for us. I'm sure her arguments in favor of Elvis are probably the same universal ones we hear today; after all he is "The King." I honestly can't remember what my arguments were in favor of John Denver.

I now have a better appreciation for Elvis, though I can't say that I'm a huge fan of his music. (I also don't like the Beatles: blasphemy, I know). I like some of Elvis's songs, mostly the biggest hits, and I can appreciate his accomplishments, but I guess if I had to choose between the two, even now, I would favor John Denver, and not just because his music recalls some of the most sanguine moments of my childhood.

Some people may scoff at Denver for being cheesy whereas Elvis is revered as cool. Although their musical styles are significantly different, both were extremely successful by any measure. For me, Elvis's major contribution to American culture is, of course, his blend of "black" and "white" sounds which eventually led to rock and roll. But for the most part I see him and his career as fairly superficial. Fluff movies, popular but fairly superficial songs, self-indulgence.

Denver was certainly not the celebrity Elvis was, but he wrote over 150 songs, recorded over 300, and enjoyed popularity in the country/pop/folk markets. His song, Leaving on a Jet Plane is still popular and has even recently been rerecorded and was a contemporary hit. His songs have as much lasting power as Elvis', and they are often deeper and richer in content. Denver was also known for his humanitarian work and political activism.

I'm sure I could write a comprehensive and convincing academic argument with citation of numerous sources and blah blah blah. But when it comes down to it, that childhood argument stuck with me on some level and when I consider it now, as an adult, with 25+ years under my belt, I guess my conclusion would not be any different (though it would be more well-thought-out and articulate).

In the Denver versus Presley showdown, Denver would win hands down.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


As a medical transcription editor and transcriptionist I run across thousands of hyphens a day...many of them misplaced or inappropriate.

The biggest problem seems to be hyphenated or compound adjectives. The simplest description I could find for hyphenated or compound adjectives is:

"A compound adjective is formed when two or more adjectives work together to modify the same noun. These terms should be hyphenated to avoid confusion or ambiguity."

I found this handy little hyphen quiz. It's not hard, but interesting. See how you do (I got 12/12).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Step Two

Well, I made it to step two in the MFA application process: The Interview.

I recently applied to two low residency MFA creative writing programs. I'll be finishing my BA in May, and I want to start an MFA in the fall.

I'm so excited that not only did I not get a rejection, but I got a call requesting an interview with the selection committee! Yay!

The interview is on the 17th - so everybody cross your fingers and wish me luck!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Writing Progress

Well, I haven't managed to write every day, as was my plan, but I have managed to write most days...well okay, at least half of them. I am in love with the current story I'm working on though, so that helps. I'm writing this one freestyle, that is without an outline. I have a general idea in my head of the plot/storyline but generally I'm just making it all up as I go.

I think the other novel I have in the hopper got stale for me because I put so much energy into outline, plot summary, and character development, that it felt old and done by the time I sat down to the nuts and bolts of writing. This time I'm just winging it, so it feels fresh every time I sit down to write.

I have to keep telling myself that the first draft is just supposed to be the exercise of getting words on the page. It's not going to be awesome...that will come with subsequent drafts and rewrites. I just need to get the story on the page so I have something to work with! That is far and away the hardest part for me. For some reason I expect the final draft to flow fully formed from my fingers on the first try. So every time I sit down to add more to the story I have to keep telling myself not to obsess about going back and rereading and tinkering with what I've already written. JUST WRITE has become my new mantra.

However, I do like how I seem to be living in the story inside my head, even when I'm not writing. New ideas are forming, the characters are evolving and I'm getting to know them and seeing how they behave and interact. Does this happen for every writer? Do you go about your daily chores and routines all the while with this other world swirling around inside your head? I've always had other stuff going on inside my head, but now that I'm focusing on these characters and this story, it's really taking on a life of its own.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Green Bullets

I am not a hunter, nor do I own any guns. I am unapologetically in favor of gun control and if it were at all practical in our gun-crazed country, I would be in favor of gun elimination. But I know that will never, ever happen in a place where guns are as common as cars.

But I digress.

What I intended to write about today is an article I read about green bullets. It appears that lead bullets are causing more damage than just killing things. The article mostly discussed the damage done by lead bullets used for hunting animals.

Lead bullets used for hunting can disintegrate into dust-sized particles inside the meat of animals killed by lead bullets, and can accumulate to toxic levels in people who consume that meat. It can also cause health problems or even death in other animals who eat the remains of carcasses killed by lead bullets.

Lead bullets used in target shooting can get into water sources consumed by humans and animals, as well as doing other environmental damage. The cost and inconvenience of cleanup at military and civilian shooting ranges can be quite extensive.

This article goes on to cite several studies and discuss the alternatives to lead bullets; namely copper bullets. Of course hunting groups and the NRA (naturally) are complaining because they claim that copper bullets are more expensive and aren't made in all the necessary calibers. I'm betting, though, that if everyone who bought bullets demanded they be lead-free, the bullet manufacturers would be willing to make them in all calibers. And if the market were subsequently glutted with lead-free bullets they would most likely be cheaper. However, the NRA, in typical fashion, claims that attempts to ban lead-based bullets is nothing more than "a veiled attempt to take guns away from hunters."

I guess I don't understand the big whine-fest. Lead is a very toxic substance. It causes any number of major health problems in human beings (and other living things). The easiest solution to lead contamination in hunted animals and in the environment would be to change from lead bullets to lead-free bullets. Changing over to environmentally friendly bullets is not taking guns away. It's only trying to make legitimate gun use more healthy for those who eat hunted meat, as well as for the environment.

So that's my soap-box rant for today!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oxford Comma

My newest punctuation pet peeve is the Oxford comma, aka the "serial comma."

This comma is used immediately before a grammatical conjunction (usually and or or ) that precedes the last item in a list of three or more items. For instance: Food at the party included pizza, pancakes, pickles, and pop. The red comma is the Oxford comma.

Surprisingly, there is a vigorous debate about the appropriateness of this comma. I love it. I don't understand why there's a debate. I think it significantly reduces confusion. Say, for example, I wrote this dedication in my newly published bestseller:

To my dear parents, Bobbie Jo and Buddha

You would likely be led to believe that my parents were named Bobbie Jo and Buddha. However, if I wrote:

To my dear parents, Bobbie Jo, and Buddha.

You would realize I was dedicating my book to my dear parents, to someone named Bobbie Jo, and to Buddha. The opposing argument says that in the same circumstance, the Oxford comma causes confusion by serving a parenthetical function:

To my husband, the pool boy, and Cupid

Some people would argue that this sentence implies that my husband is actually the pool boy, and if you substitute the commas with parentheses, you'll see why:

To my husband (the pool boy) and Cupid

However, in reality, the Oxford comma shows that I am instead dedicating my second bestseller to my husband, to the pool boy, and to Cupid - 3 separate people.

I think it would be easy to clear up this ambiguity by simply using parentheses instead of commas when indeed our intention is parenthetical.

The Oxford comma, in balance, provides much more clarification than ambiguity. I can't tell you how many times, when at work editing medical document, I have to add commas in order to clarify a sentence, especially in lists of medication. There are circumstances that can significantly impact patient care just be leaving out a single comma.

Therefore, I'm a fan of the Oxford comma. I encourage all of you writers out there to consider your use or rejection of the Oxford comma as you write your bestsellers, blogs, or journals!

Monday, March 2, 2009


In the interest of expanding our vocabularies, I came across this word today on MSN:

Orthorexia. See if you can guess the definition:

A. An eating disorder characterized by excessive focus on eating healthy foods.
B. Consumption of huge amounts of food during a brief period of time and feels totally out of control and unable to stop their eating.
C. Deliberate sustained weight loss driven by fear of distorted body image.

(pause while Jeopardy music plays....)

The correct answer is A.

The term was coined by Dr. Steven Bratman, a Colorado doctor, to describe an eating disorder characterized by a quest for purity of diet by avoiding processed foods, and foods that contain animal fats and preservatives. The key is that orthorexics are literally obsessed by eating healthy as well as being concerned with such unfathomable concepts as antinutrients, macronutrient ratios. For more information on orthorexia, see this link.

By the way, definition B is the eating disorder "binge eating disorder," and definition C is the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.