Category Archives: Writing

Pollyanna tries to be Shiny

Lyda here. Again. At last.

So, having gone so often without posting, and for such long periods, I kept thinking that I needed to do something HUGE and EPIC for my next post. But that is so scary that it is paralyzing me into hiding under the blankets. With cats on top to hold the blanket down.

So I decided I’m just going to jump in and post something every day or two, and not think it has to be epic.

Okay, here goes….

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Pollyanna reads on Discworld, part 3

Lyda here.

I finally completed the seemingly-endless Reading on Discworld Challenge which was inspired by the books of Terry Pratchett. I wanted to read new books for the challenge, which is why it took me so long. Oh yeah, plus getting my masters. And life. I already reported here on the books I read for item #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 15, and here on the books I read for item #s 6, 8, 12 & 14.

These are the remaining parts of the challenge that I completed:

3. ‘Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?” Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?” There was silence. Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ‘em right.”’  Mort

Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about. What is string theory, really? Who was Deep Throat? And, now that we’re thinking about such things (y’all know you are)… How have attitudes and morals about sex varied and changed by country and era? (That book was my sister’s college graduation present to me – my first graduate course, she said.) Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Pyramids” (mathematics, philosophers, why camels look smug, and what really happens to mummies), “Monstrous Regiment” (why military intelligence isn’t always an oxymoron).

I read “The Walking Dead  – Compendium One” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and Cliff Rathburn.

What? I’ve always wondered about graphic novels – I had never really read any before – and specifically, I wondered about these graphic novels.

I love “The Walking Dead” TV series, and I knew from watching “The Talking Dead” that the graphic novels (on which the show is based) were different. Some of the characters and their character development are different, important plot points are completely different, and reading the graphic novels is a totally different experience from watching the show. They are both excellent, too.

7. ‘The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.’  Guards! Guards!

Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf  and read it. One way to do this is to look in the new books section, and pick something from a category you don’t usually read. Just don’t interfere with the nature of causality while you’re there. Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Good Omens”, “Nation”.

I read “The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size” by Julia Cameron. (I actually bought this book, so I can use it over and over like her other books.) Y’all, I never ever read diet books. But this one is different. For one thing, it is written by one of my favorite authors, who wrote “The Artist’s Way” and many other awesome books about which I

just (blog post link #1)

won’t (blog post link #2)

shut (blog post link #3)

up (blog post link #4).

This book is really about expanding one’s creativity and shrinking one’s use of food as a block to emotions and creativity. It does not contain a food plan or rules. Instead, it give tools to use to explore one’s relationship to food and get free of old patterns and unhealthy habits. Those familiar with Julia Cameron’s work will recognize some of the tools, like Morning Pages, and find new tools, like keeping a food journal.

I’ll let you know how it goes as I try out the program.

13. ‘It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.’  Equal Rites

Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics. I think y’all can find one of these on your own. Terry Pratchett book suggestion:  “Equal Rites”, “Sourcery”.

I read “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide” by Maurine Dowd. I wasn’t crazy about this book. Some of the science is out of date, and I didn’t agree with a lot of her conclusions. For example, she quotes a survey that found that 86% of women would quit their jobs if they didn’t need the money. This supposedly shows that women are less invested in their jobs than men are. But I immediately wanted to know: what percentage of men in equivalent jobs would quit if they didn’t need the money? I’m guessing it would be neck-and-neck.

But agreeing with her is not the point. She made me think, and that is the point. Plus, she is a good and occasionally funny writer. While discussing the ‘war between the sexes’ she says, “Will there ever be peace? I doubt it. But there should always be laughter.” And I’ll drink to that.

16. ‘To Rincewind’s annoyance the Luggage barreled after her, cushioning its fall by dropping heavily onto a slaver, and adding to the sudden panic of the invaders because, while it was bad enough to be attacked with deadly and ferocious accuracy by a rather pretty girl in a white dress with flowers on it, it was even worse for the male ego to be tripped up and beaten by a travel accessory; it was pretty bad for all the rest of the male, too.’  Sourcery

Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Sourcery”, or any of the books with the Luggage in them.

I read “Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind. There is a sword that is essential to the plot, and is practically alive. Plus, there is a talking magical doll in it. I realize as I’m typing this that “talking magical doll” sounds really creepy, but in this story it actually isn’t. No, really.

17. ‘ “It would seem you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said.
“Have you thought about going into teaching?” ‘  Mort

Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.  Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (you will find out more about rats than you ever thought there was to know).

I read “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I feel as if I found my homeland – it is a land of truly weird stuff and wonderful off-kilter people, and Jenny is our leader. Also, I learned quite a lot of very bizarre and not-useful stuff, including things about taxidermy. See this post for my full review.

18. ‘… human beings, little bags of thinking water held up briefly by fragile accumulations of calcium…’  Pyramids

.

‘It’s not for nothing that advanced mathematics tends to be invented in hot countries. It’s because of the morphic resonance of all the camels, who have that disdainful expression and famous curled lip as a natural result of an ability to do quadratic equations.’  Pyramids

.

‘It is a popular fact that nine-tenths of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong… It is used. And one of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary and turn the unusual into the usual.

‘Because if this was not the case, then human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing big stupid grins, similar to those worn by certain remote tribesmen who occasionally get raided by the authorities and have the contents of their plastic greenhouses very seriously inspected.’  Small Gods

Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Small Gods”, “Good Omens”, “Wee Free Men”… really, any of his books.

I read “River Flow: New & Selected Poems” by David Whyte. I love his writing. It feeds my soul. I discovered his work at school, where several of his books are required reading. Which shows you how awesome my school is.

19. ‘He [Vimes] wasn’t strictly aware of it, but he treated even geography as if he was investigating a crime (Did you see who carved out the valley? Would you recognize that glacier if you saw it again?)’  The Fifth Elephant

Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Fifth Elephant”, “Thud!”.

I read “Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson. It’s not a traditional mystery, but it definitely fits the bill. The plot twists like a corkscrew, the characters are unique, the ending is surprising, and the world is fascinating.

————————————————–

I post about this so I can keep it straight in my own head. Which is a rather chaotic place sometimes. Witness the digressions…

Pollyanna and the Laughter of Doom

Lyda here.

So, you know when you are reading a book in bed late at night and you worry that you are going to smother yourself with your pillow because you don’t want to wake up your roommates and have them call the men in white coats to drag you off because your constant hysterical laughter has convinced them that you have finally gone over the edge – which, let’s face it, you have been skirting for months – but you know it would be counter-productive, because wouldn’t it be better to end up in a nice padded room than dead from smothering yourself, plus you wouldn’t get to finish the book.

And then you are reading the book the next day at lunch time in your car and you laugh so hard that you are sure all your internal organs have been completely pulverized by the shaking, and also you have gotten a fabulous ab workout just by reading – take that, 24 Hour Fitness – but you know that if anyone from work sees you shaking so hard they will panic and call the paramedics and you won’t be able to talk to the cute paramedic because you will be so out of breath from laughing, so he will give you an oxygen mask, and then you won’t be able to flirt with him at all, because who looks appealing in an oxygen mask?

No?

Then you haven’t read “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.

Buy it. Read it. Share it.

This is a book so awesomely twisted and so funny that you’ll hurt yourself laughing, and also feel a bit guilty because you are laughing at terrible things that you know you shouldn’t laugh at. But you will laugh anyway.

Y’all are going to snort sweet tea up your noses. Or the drink of your choice. So make sure it’s not too hot, and eschew ice cubes. Trust me.

Pollyanna versus the Money Monster

Lyda here.

Oh, that old Money Monster keeps growling at my door. I’ve been working on taming it for more than three years. It still growls at me, but the actual bites have gotten less.

Things were bad. Really bad. “Life completely fallen apart and losing everything” bad. I felt the Monster crushing me in his slavering jaws, and I surrendered all hope.

Fortunately, I have amazing friends and family. They didn’t let me spend the rest of my days curled up under a park bench.  They helped me, pulled me, pushed me, to deal with the immediate stuff. They were there for me every time I started to give in to the despair.

Once the immediate crisis was resolved, I still had to deal with the fallout. I just felt overwhelmed. I had to take one day at a time, slowly rebuilding my life from the ashes.

This book, Money Drunk, Money Sober, by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan, helped so much. I have been working my way through it over and over again. Every time I get flustered or frustrated, I just return to the book. I cannot recommend it enough. It should be required for everyone.

Even figuring out where to start rebuilding my financial life was scary. This article helped me. My favorite part is The Prioritizer. This works for anything, not just financial goals but life goals. It can help you prioritize organizing, what movie to see first, or anything else.

There are tips of all kinds at CNN Money: Money 101.

Making manageable realistic goals helped a lot. Baby steps. I’ve been paying off debt for three years. It continues to be a priority. Now that I have the debt-repayment in hand, I can focus on some other steps.

Like improving my credit score.

This week I went on Credit Karma and checked my credit score. You can do it on their website for free. You can also see and print out your three credit reports.

I can see that I’ve got some old stuff on my reports that should have been cleared, so my next step is to work on getting these items removed.

One step at a time.

I’ve made a lot of progress, but it feels like there’s still a long hard slog to get where I want to be.

But I know I can get there if I just keep moving. Slowly is okay. Pausing for a while is okay. Even moving back a bit once in a while is okay. Crawling under a park bench and staying forever is not an option.

One of these days, I will look that Money Monster in the eye and realize that it isn’t really a monster. It’s just a beast, and a beast can be tamed. A beast can become an ally. The Money Beast and I can work together.

One of these days…

 

When Pollyannas Collide…

From the dusty archives of our Drafts folder:

This is what happens when the Pollyannas met up on Facebook late one night… The colors let you know which Pollyanna is which. Also, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Not us. Our families, silly.

Anna-Liza:     Hey there – are you really on right now? Or is it just a Facebook illusion?

Lyda:              Yes, I’m on.

I went and started a cooking project and now I have to stay up ’til I’m done.

How much longer are you going to be up?

Hoping less than half an hour. I have something simmering – have to check it once in a while. Then I can pour it in a jar and let it cool and go to bed.

Not too much longer, then.  Hey, I graduated.

I saw! Congratulations!

It’s kind of weird. It felt like this huge thing before it happened, and hardly anyone has even acknowledged it. I thought the people at work would all sign a card or something.

Wow. Nothing?  Although it’s not totally surprising, I guess.

Nope. 

Then again, there’s that whole karma around getting validation from outside.  Bleh. 

People keep asking me “What are you going to do now?” and the truth is I have no idea. I’d like to do something completely different, but I’m not sure what.

I’m hoping that, now that the kids are in school again, life will be less crazy and I can indulge myself with a call to you once in awhile again.

And, in re: “boring job,” you *must* read “Radical Homemakers.”

That would be awesome! I miss our long talks. I saw your note [on Facebook] about “Radical Homemakers.” Sounds interesting.

It’s a quick, but sort of intense, read. I think it will weirdly fit in with your studies.

My son the Sith Master thinks I should be a teacher and teach English so kids will learn to love books and reading and writing, instead of learning to hate it.  I don’t know though.

I have to do some posts on the blog…

God, I am not even sure when the last time I posted was. Blogging is another thing I want to get back into.

And I’ve started making these cute little stitch markers that my knitting group is “test driving” for me. If they work well, I’m thinking of selling them on Etsy.

Me too. I need to post about graduating, for one, and check off a big thing off my Bucket list. I did do this.

To jump around a little, one of the big reasons we like living in our own house is that we can garden a lot more extensively. We want to do an “urban homestead” kind of thing with a lot of edible landscaping.

Stitch markers – cool! I haven’t knitted in so long. It’s finally cool today, so I can think about dusting the needles off. I’m thinking I’ll just make a scarf with yarn I have, and then give it away to someone…

Maybe even backyard chickens eventually.  A scarf’s a good way to get back into knitting.

“Urban homestead” – I like it. Edible landscaping is a terrific idea.

You know those books about women’s knitting or quilting groups? I swear our knitting group could inspire one of those.

There you go, something else to do in your copious free time. And hey, while we’re at it, we really should write a book together too.

We’re growing pole beans on our front porch railing, and we’ve been getting really tasty green beans.

[about writing the book together] Yep.

Something with lots of sex in it. I’m not having any right now, so at least I can live vicariously by writing about it.

Hee!

I can’t write well about sex – it always comes out too serious.

Or just stupid.

“Mmmmmmmm .. Mmmm … Mmmmmmm … ” Didn’t we make fun of some book like that way back when?

I know – comes out serious, stupid, or insipid when I write about it. Maybe together we can keep it fun and funny.

 “RRRRRRrrrrrrr …. VVVVVVVVVv”

Sorry. Got carried away there.

You are cracking me up!  “And she arched her back and screamed like a lioness…”

Do lionesses scream, exactly?

I’ve always wondered…

The scream thing annoys me. How many women actually scream when they orgasm?

Probably not so many.

Well, mountain lions scream, or so they say. I haven’t heard if they scream during sex, though. On the nature shows, the lioness always just looks bored during sex.

Yeah, she does. Lions seem a lot like this one guy I dated…

[On “How many women really scream during sex?”]  Good question. Probably less than men pretend they do. But is that because the women are worried about someone hearing, or are they thinking, “I’d scream, but it would be stupid”?

Or it’s just not a natural response.

Moaning, gasping … “Mmmm”ing … seem more real.

OMG, I think we should do a whole chapter of the book comparing old lovers to animals from the nature channel.

Brilliant!

Names or aliases? I think names could cause problems…

Yeah, moaning, gasping is more real. I think Playboy started the screaming rumor, and some women just play along. Probably most women don’t even talk except to say “yes yes more more” but really, what else do you need to say?

Definitely aliases. We might want to visit Texas again someday.

[On what else women need to say during sex]  “Stop that”

“Get off me”

“I told you not to do that”

Hopefully followed by “do this instead,” or “let me be on top now.”

Yeah, but I wonder if men hear it after “stop that”. It would be a turn-off to hear her say “I hate when you do that”… or maybe not, what the hell do I know?

I think we have a blog post here.

I don’t think I’d say that during the act…

Well, “stop” if something hurt or was really unpleasant.

At least one! Hey, let’s just turn it into a knitting / quilting / urbanhomemaking / sex blog.

Isn’t it that already? Well, maybe the urban home thingy not as much.

I keep having this image of two very proper people explicitly discussing sexual acts over the tea and crumpets. Sounds like a Monty Python skit.

Which is actually not a bad idea…  I mean, if you really need to give detailed feedback or suggest something complex, maybe it’s better to discuss away from bed.

The Radical Homemaker thing is about disengaging as much as possible from what the author calls the “extractive economy” and engaging in the creating of a “life-serving economy.” Backing off from consuming…

Yeah, I guess the urban home not so much, especially since I stopped writing about cleaning too.

And yes, discussing away from bed is probably best.

Wait; let’s go back to talking about sex.

Nothing like a serious discussion to kill the mood.

We should just copy and paste this chat to the blog.

True. Et voila!

And when discussing one’s partner’s technique, they might feel safer if they have their clothes on. Of course, the dinner table might not be the place either… not if there are knives on the table. Better to serve pasta…

Or gazpacho.

Yeah, hot soup would be a bad idea….

This one time, the bed collapsed. I thought that was pretty frickin’ hilarious. How can you not laugh when the damn bed collapses? The man in question, however, did not think it was funny. An important clue that this was not the guy for me.

So another chapter in the book = funny, embarrassing, weird moments in sex.

Hey, are you done cooking yet? And by that, I mean on the stove…

How could we not? I remember the bed collapsing story – still can’t believe he didn’t think it was funny. That happened in a production of Fiddler on the Roof I did makeup for – Tevye’s dream sequence. He ran and jumped into the bed, and it collapsed.

Yes, the jars are cooling now.

Oh wow. I bet everyone working the show still tells that story.

Cool. We can work on the post tomorrow. Or I should say “I can work on it tomorrow.” Since I’m not the one with two active kids at home…

Probably. “Tevye” is now a voice actor in CA. Works for Disney, done some good stuff.

And I’m babysitting AND Very Superior Husband is doing a weekend retreat up at the cabin.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll run into one of our theatrical classmates out here but hasn’t happened.

Speaking of sex… you could go jump in bed with your gorgeous husband now. But… don’t jump too hard.

And no I can’t – he’s at the cabin.

You see how I did that with the bed-collapsing reference? I’m so good.

Which is probably why I’m up late cooking.

[finally getting a clue] Oh. Well. He’s at the cabin and you aren’t?

[about the “I’m so good” thing] Yes! You are!

And he’s doing a retreat.

So you are herding the kidlets alone this weekend? Wish we could do it together. Damn I miss living in the same city as you. Stupid pointy mountains!

Pollyanna reads on Discworld, part two

Lyda here. The Reading on Discworld Challenge continues. I’ve read more books for the challenge.

I already wrote about completing some of the challenge and reported on the books I read for item #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 15. I am trying to read new books for most of the challenge. I want to discover some new books to love – which is really why I do these challenges. (I already re-read the Terry Pratchett books mentioned in the challenge. Of course.)

Now I have completed these parts of the challenge too.

6. Read a mythological book, or a book of myths, or a book about mythology.

I read “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. Knights, kingdoms, strange creatures… definitely mythological! The Sith Master has been reading the whole series, and now he has me hooked too. I haven’t seen the HBO series, although I’ve heard good things about it. This is an exciting and fascinating story full of interesting, complex characters. The only problems are a) losing sleep because I’m reading these and I can’t put them down, and b) eventually getting to the end of the series. I’m already halfway through the second book…

8. Read a book about money. 

I read “The Prosperous Heart“. I love Julia Cameron’s books, so it went quickly. This is an excellent book, which gave me both small practical steps and big leaps of realization. I’ll be implementing this in my life, gently. Julia’s books are always gentle.

12. Read a book about a strange new land, or a travel book – fact or fiction.

I read “The Fine Color of Rust” by P.A. O’Reilly which is set in a little dusty town in Australia. A good funny “coming of middle-age” story that starts out lighthearted, touches deep, and ends up being hopeful.

14. Read a book that most people would be embarrassed to read in public, because of the title, the content, or the cover art. And then read it in public.

I read “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” by Mary Roach. The library copy I read had a white cover with the word BONK in very big letters on the front. Plus the book has illustrations that are… interesting. Mary Roach is a wicked funny writer, and she bravely asked scientists and others the questions we would have asked if we’d had the courage. I recommend it highly. There are definitely more Mary Roach books in my future. Reading the book was fun. Reading the book in public was hilarious.

I still have the following parts of the challenge to complete:

3. Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about.

7. Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf and read it.

13. Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics.

16. Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot.

17. Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.

18. Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is.

19. Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller.

So far, I’ve done 12 of the 19 parts of the challenge.

I post about this so I can keep it straight in my own head. Which is a rather chaotic place sometimes. I need to see it written down where I can find it again.

Which explains the digressions…

Pollyanna is encouraged

Lyda here.

Exciting – readership is up since I started posting regularly again. And apparently the new trend is to “like” a post instead of commenting.

But y’all know I had to check out some of their blogs. So here is a smattering, for y’all to check out as well.

In no particular order:

Hannah Jane is a writer, artist, and theater student. Her most recent post quotes this poem and speaks lyrically and with longing of Greece. Lovely blog!

When you have swam in the sea
a lake will no longer do;
everyone else was always a pond
but the ocean was always you
Tyler Knott Greggson]

Refined Quotes (or quotily) includes quotes, movie stills, and music clips. Like this one: They Are Night Zombies! 

.

Tell ’em Pollyanna sent you.