My race is not your greeting

Last weekend I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, as you do. As I walked up to the store entrance, a ragged-looking guy sitting in front of the store asked if I was Native American. Were I in the mood to talk to other people and not in a rush to get in and out of the store, I would have told him outright why this wasn’t a proper way to start a conversation. But instead I just said “Nope”, walked away from him, and entered the store.

This is not the first time someone has asked me if I’m Native American, nor is it the last. When I was waiting to be seated at a restaurant for lunch on Wednesday, a guy also waiting for a table turned to me and asked if I was Native American. Hungry and still not in the mood to talk to others, I said no. If he didn’t have a small child with him, I might have launched into my own conversation on why this wasn’t an appropriate way to start a conversation. But instead I just said no, and the host appeared then to seat all of us at different tables.

This has happened enough times in the past to get my attention and make me cranky for awhile afterward. Even though I’m a little socially awkward, I am not (or at least try not to be) rude. It sounds like some people need some extra help in starting a conversation off on the right foot.

So here we go, Internet: Sushi’s acceptable ways of starting a conversation.

  • Hello! (Hi, Hey, and other variants are acceptable. Bonus points for using a foreign language. Extra bonus points for using a language I don’t recognize.)
  • Make an observation about your surroundings. This could be about someone’s shirt or an interest of theirs. I pointed out someone’s NaNo shirt this morning when I spotted an unfamiliar Wrimo. Someone else started a conversation with me this afternoon when asking about the fountain ink I was using.
  • Ask a question. “Do you know when…” or “Do you know where…” related to something in your vicinity are good ones.

This is by no means a complete list, and I’ve covered nowhere near every single situation out there. The social skills website Succeed Socially has a better guide for even the ultra-awkward person. (By the way, if you’re super-awkward and want to become less so, this is a good resource for learning how to do it.) Do you see “What’s your race?” or “Are you [insert race here]” on either list? Of course you don’t. While the opener itself isn’t essential to get just right when starting a conversation with a stranger, it can set the tone for the next few minutes. Quite frankly, asking someone’s race as a conversation starter is akin to asking how much someone weighs or when they’re due (in the case of possibly pregnant people). Just don’t do it.

I don’t mind if people ask once we’ve started a conversation–heck, it’s bound to come up eventually. But asking this question as a greeting is flat-out rude. I am not here just to satisfy your racial curiosity. Figuring out someone’s race is not a scavenger hunt. Please stop treating it as such, world.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016: Mid-Month Update

Camp NaNoWriMo is halfway over.

While I’m making solid progress on writing a bunch of these blog posts that have sat in the pipeline for ages, I’m still terribly behind my 30,000 word goal for the month. Despite my progress and long list of blog posts, I’m not sure I have enough material to last another 20,000 words.

Writing these blog posts has also taken up a lot of time. I know the NaNoWriMo philosophy is to write now, edit later. I’ve been doing that for a lot of these posts in progress, often writing random sentences as some semblance of an outline and then later figuring out how to string them all together into something coherent. That’s how a lot of these posts are getting written: I write out whatever I can get out of my head, occasionally stopping mid-sentence, to get an idea of what I want to say in a given post.

As a result, I’m frequently writing three or four posts at a time, piecing the elements of each of these posts together and trying to figure out what exactly I want to say in a certain post. A day or two later, I come back to these posts, fill in the blanks, and then polish up the post and declare it finished. That’s what I did yesterday; I started one post (which I finished today) and filled in the blanks to finish four different posts that I had been tapping away at for several days.

The problem is that I’m just past 10,000 words and am starting to run out of material to write in a timely fashion. My brain isn’t churning out the ideas like it has in past years. Sure, I could count some of my other writing toward the 30,000 word goal, but to be honest, this already feels like substantial progress. I’ve finished enough blog posts to post content for at least several months, perhaps through the end of the year if I come up with a few more ideas.

There’s also the time factor. A 30,000 word goal means writing roughly a thousand words a day every day for a month. Even on good days, it still takes me at least an hour to reach that thousand words, sometimes two hours if I’m writing multiple posts or struggling to get my thoughts organized. This makes me feel unproductive, which brings my mood down, which affects other areas of my life. (Yes, I know I spend that much time–and more!–writing fiction in November, but that feels different because I find myself getting more done in those hours.)

I’ve officially lowered my goal from 30,000 words to 20,000 words. At first this sounded like cheating to me, but the point of Camp NaNoWriMo is to set an achievable goal and reach that. And for me, that goal isn’t 30,000 words of blogging–at least, not if I’m putting my mood on the line. So 20k it is.

What about you? How is your Camp NaNoWriMo going?

Pokemon Go

I grew up with Pokemon. I never had a GameBoy growing up, but fortunately my neighbor was kind enough to share his GameBoy. My brother and I would take turns playing game after game of Pokemon Red and Yellow for hours at a time, but since we had only one GameBoy between us, we couldn’t trade and truly catch ’em all.

Since then I’ve kept up with each new generation, albeit several years late. I spent high school playing Pokemon Crystal, while later playing Emerald and Fire Red and Platinum and Soul Silver and Black. (I still haven’t grabbed Black 2, nor acquired a 3DS yet for Generation 6.) Each generation grabbed a big part of my interest, my interest growing with each generation of new Pokemon.

So when Pokemon GO was announced, a mobile game where you can catch virtual Pokemon while out and about in the real world, I was pumped. Even though Ingress never appealed to me, I have occasionally played mobile location games like geocaching. A game where you could really catch Pokemon? Sign me up.

And sign up I did, as soon as the game was available in the United States. Unfortunately that was on Wednesday evening, and naturally the game was released after I had walked to and from my monthly book club meeting and run five miles. But that didn’t stop me from wandering outside around sunset in search of Pokemon and Pokestops (local landmarks to get free in-game supplies).

The Pokemon Go servers have experienced some ups and downs over the last few days; almost everyone I know who grew up with Pokemon has embraced Pokemon Go. We’ve been going out, stopping by Pokestops to get new supplies for free and wandering around in search of new Pokemon. While one of my friends is catching Eevees and Dratinis out the wazoo from her own living room, I seem to be stuck with Pidgey and Rattata and the occasional Zubat if I don’t want to leave the house.

Fortunately, Pokemon Go contains yet another perk to living in a large city. There are Pokestops almost everywhere here, including three that I can access from the parking area behind my house and three or four more just by walking around the block.

The only small problem with this is that, just like in the handheld games, there’s a limit to how many items you can carry in your bag. While the handheld games limit the number of distinct items (so if you have 100 Pokeballs, only one of them counts toward the limit), Pokemon Go counts each individual item as an item, so those 100 Pokeballs count as 100 items toward the 350 item limit. Since there are so many Pokestops within a short walk from my house and these Pokestops can be activated again for more items, I’ve reached that item limit several times in two days. Most of those items are Pokeballs, so my main current solution is to catch more Pokemon to get rid of Pokeballs while getting more items and experience.

This also means that at level 7, I’m building a small Rattata and Pidgey army. It really is like starting a regular Pokemon game. Time to take a break and transfer the weaklings for more candies. My Rattata will be in the top percentage of Rattata!

For any non-Pokemon Go players who want to go on a walk with me: I’m so sorry.

Who else is playing? Anyone managed to find any cool Pokemon yet?

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been blogging for fifteen years. That’s over half my life, and I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around that.

What I forgot to mention (and half the reason I wrote that post in the first place, oops) is that I have about a page of blog post ideas and almost as many separate post ideas in progress, many of them stagnating to the point where I forgot what was actually supposed to go in a given post. Oops.

Fortunately, Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us. Since I seem to have better luck with projects that aren’t fiction, I’m giving myself a deadline for writing some of those posts. That’s right. Writing more material for this site is my Camp NaNoWriMo project, so this site will be active once again.

That doesn’t mean you’ll see all these posts at the same time. Far from it. I plan on scheduling these posts, so you’ll continue to see about a post a week on average until I run out of ideas. This is particularly important for November NaNo and the weeks leading up to it, since the one month of the year when people are paying attention to me is the one month of the year I don’t have time to take advantage of that attention. Funny how that works.

I’ll be back at the official @NaNoWordSprints Twitter throughout the month, along with some other fabulous Wrimos and volunteers, to lead writing sprints and get you across your goal finish line. Join us there and watch your word count rise!

And a very happy Camp NaNoWriMo to everyone! Write, write, write!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? What are you working on?

Fifteen years

Fifteen years ago today, I was fourteen years old and about to start high school. Bored one summer night, I took the advice of someone on a journaling forum that I was a member of at the time: keep an online diary and let other people read an online version of my paper journals.

So I signed up for Diaryland (which, by some miracle, is still around) and started writing. This was a lifechanger. I discovered NaNoWriMo, one of my single biggest lifechangers. In a society where I felt isolated and never anyone’s best friend, blogging gave me an outlet that I could share with others if desired.

Over the years I moved to Livejournal and eventually here. Every single one of my entries–over 3000 in all–are archived here through some tedious labor and import scripting, which makes them easier to search and run statistics on. I’ve transitioned from writing about everyone and everything in my life to writing about whatever’s on my mind, in part because my life isn’t all that exciting. But no matter what has changed, having an online home has never changed.

This is a short post, but thanks, friends, acquaintances, and even a hater or two. Here’s to fifteen more years.

What I’m Reading, May-June 2016

I didn’t read as much as originally planned in late April and May (and the beginning of June, oops) due to that tricky thing called having a social life, but I still made it through a respectable number of books (on top of a pile of BSC books and several manga volumes). Here is that list.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert: I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love, nor do I really want to, but this book grabbed me because of its subject matter: the author digging through her own creative process. I listened to this book and loved it. If you consider yourself creative in any way, you need to read this book. You owe it to yourself, if only to know that you’re not alone in all the feelings that come with being a creative person. (5 out of 5 magical moments)

How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng: I met the author of this book at the Decatur Book Festival last year, got super excited about her book, and was disappointed to discover that it was sold out after her talk. This book deals with category theory, part of my beloved algebra. This book takes the reader through adventures in abstraction, something that can be very difficult to understand for mathematicians of all levels, before introducing readers to category theory. While this book has its issues, it is still well-thought out and enjoyable, especially with the culinary illustrations of mathematical concepts. (4 out of 5 categories)

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam: One of my big interests lately is the attemnpt to cram everything I want to do into a short period of time. This book takes on the idea that I’ve been working with for a long time: I have more time than I think, so what happens to all that time, and how can we get more out of the time that we do have? While there are some issues with this book, such as assuming everyone can afford to outsource things like laundry, the book still makes many excellent points on how to get more out of your time and makes me feel better about listening to this audiobook while running. (4 out of 5 extra minutes)

The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success by Emma Seppälä: This book is targeted at executives and other professionals and makes the argument that happiness is the best way to fast track our success. The author takes a different approach than that in 168 Hours, and listening to these books one after the other made for some interesting contrasts. Despite being targeted at a different audience, the author still makes a strong argument for putting your own happiness first, even (maybe especially) in your career. (4 out of 5 ways to be happy)

Hit by Delilah S. Dawson: I borrowed this book from a friend after seeing the author pop up in my Twitter feed all the time. Imagine a world where a bank has bought out America and you can legally be killed for your debts. The main character is a teenage girl who is off to kill ten people to pay off her mother’s debt. Along the way she discovers that the people she has to kill are more connected to her and her life than she could have guessed, which made for a compelling read. My main complaint is in the chapter length: it varied so widely that I had a hard time judging where a good stopping point would be. (A real concern considering I read a good chunk of this book on the train.) Oh, and there’s apparently a sequel out now that I need to get my hands on. (4 out of 5 debtors)

Winter by Marissa Meyer: I’m finally finished with this series! (Well, minus the Stars Above collection, which is currently in my to-read pile with deadlines.) Winter is my least favorite of the title characters in the series, which made this book a little less enjoyable than the others in the series. She was just… kind of boring, to be honest. But I did enjoy the character interactions and the overall plot, especially with the need to cram a lot into such a short period of time and doing it well. (4 out of 5 lunar revolutions)

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith: I listened to this book and wanted so badly to like it. One source of annoyance was the author’s putting an emphasis on everything while narrating the book, which got really old after awhile. While this book brings up some good points about asking questions like “Did I do my best to…”, it didn’t add very much new to that approach, choosing instead to rehash things that most readers of self-help books already know. (The author acknowledges this point, to be fair.) (3 out of 5 triggers)

The Watermelon King by Daniel Wallace: I read this book for my local library’s monthly book club. It deals with a man traveling to a tiny Alabama town in search of stories about his mother, who died giving birth to him. Along the way, the main character discovers stories about the town and his mother that he never could have anticipated. I know this book illustrates small-town life, but some of it got a little weird even for me and my small-town upbringing. The writing itself was also slow to start and clunky in spots. I hear the author also wrote Big Fish, which several friends rank among their all-time favorite movies. For once I’ll stick to the movie. (3 out of 5 watermelons)

What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the South’s Tornado Alley by Kim Cross: I listened to this book, which goes into detail about the Alabama tornadoes in 2011. Fortunately for me, the book deals primarily with the Alabama tornadoes and not the Georgia ones such as the one that struck the town I grew up in (and was living in at the time). Lots of firsthand accounts of the time before, during, and after the tornado make this book stand out while capturing the humanity of everyone in the book. What stands in a storm? Plenty. (4 out of 5 tornadoes)

Fuck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael I. Bennett and Sarah Bennett: Won’t lie, I checked out this book because of the title alone. Unfortunately titles alone don’t make the book good. Despite chapter titles like “Fuck treatment” and “Fuck self-esteem”, most of the book doled out advice that I already knew and didn’t have clear markers between sections. While there is some comedy in this book, sometimes it was overdone just to drive a point home. (3 out of 5 f-bombs)

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: I read and enjoyed her first book, so the fact that I enjoyed this one wasn’t too surprising. This book is even better as an audiobook since the author herself reads it and has a way of making her hilarious random thoughts even funnier. Books like these make me wonder where all my random thoughts went. Am I just getting dumber as I get older? Why aren’t my random thoughts as brilliant as some of these thoughts of hers? Sure, the humor was a little over the top sometimes, but in a way that a lot of us can relate to in some sense. (4 out of 5 koalas with chlamydia)

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: I wanted to like this. I really did. But despite the prose itself being good, the characters and plot suffer from some serious rich people problems that I couldn’t bring myself to care about. The parts of this book I did care about were less about the problems brought on by wealth. (For instance, I’d read a whole book about Melody’s teenage daughters.) While I generally like books about messed-up families, this one fell flat with its shallowness and rich people problems. (3 out of 5 nests)

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: I heard a lot of good things about this book, so I read it to see what the big deal was. The beginning was interesting enough, but then, as in many young adult novels, unnecessary romance happened. Ugh. If the story had continued as it did in the beginning, I probably would have enjoyed it more, but truth be told, this book is hard to follow. Most of the characters were dull and I couldn’t bring myself to care about their adventures, despite freaking aliens happening. Except for Ringer. Someone please tell me we see more of her in the rest of the series, which I may or may not read. (3 out of 5 aliens)

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: The author of this book pops in my Twitter feed occasionally due to retweets, which made me want to check out this book. This book stars a self-proclaimed fat girl coming to terms with being fat to the people in her life. While I enjoyed the premise of this book and the narrator’s strong voice (and hoo boy does the small town life ring true), I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing or the sudden romance or the sudden ending. Oh, and there’s a love triangle. Because of course there is. (3 out of 5 talents)

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: The Lunar Chronicles series may be completed, but this short story collection provides some new perspectives into the books and characters. While four of these stories had been published previously, I hadn’t read any of them before. These stories also helped jog my memory over some of the events in the series, as I read the books over a very long period. And yes, there’s a story that could serve as an epilogue to Winter, and it’s pretty aww-worthy. My favorite of these stories was the one about Thorne and his childhood, which tells the story of an incident referred to in one of the books. (4 out of 5 cyborgs)

What’s next? I’ve started The Girl From Everywhere and will read Americanuh for my library’s book club next. But between reading, work, and writing all the things, it’s a wonder I have time for the social life that keeps pulling me away from these things.

State of the Sushi, June 2016

So I bet you’re wondering: what on earth have I been up to lately? If you guessed “an awful lot of things that aren’t writing”, you would be correct. Add in the fact that I’ve had only one weekend free of social plans since mid-April, and I am so ready for some kind of break.

Since 2016 is almost halfway over and I was going to write a life update post anyway, let’s take a look at my original goals for this year and see how I’ve been faring on those goals.

(Fun fact: I originally wrote this post last Friday morning, when I had no plans that weekend. That changed by noon, when an impromptu trip to Washington D.C.–yes, over nine hours from Atlanta–started to brew. Well, that escalated quickly.)

Read 250 books. While I’m technically on track for this goal after taking twelve months into consideration, once we take out October and November, I’m already behind on my book goal despite already reading 117 books so far this year. Yes, I realize this is like whining about being behind on NaNo with a 300k word goal, but at least I’m aware of my whining. This is particularly concerning at the moment not just because of the number (although I still have plenty of BSC books to read and catch up on) but because of my foot-high pile of books to read with deadlines. I currently have six books checked out, as well as one more at the library awaiting pickup today. That stack is about a foot high and all due back in the next month, and since most of these requests are wildly popular, someone else is on the hold list behind me and I can’t just renew the book. This is where some hypothetical weekend free of plans comes in. Read all the things!

Write 500k words. Um, about that… The truth is I haven’t done as much writing as I had anticipated so far this year. My original plan was to write 250,000 words in November, with the other 250k coming from 25k per month for ten months. This gives me some wiggle room, especially with my self-imposed break from writing in February. But considering I’ve reached 25k only twice all year long, and those months were a struggle, I’m still pretty behind on this goal. Fortunately I have plenty to write about in June, both in my paper journal and in here. See, having a social life does help sometimes! (As long as you can write about it later.) While I worked on Wikiwrimo for Camp NaNoWriMo and added 50,000 more characters to the wiki, I’m not sure what to work on for July camp.

Continue running/staying in shape. Okay, so I haven’t been working out all the time, and there are definitely some weeks where I’ve fallen off the running wagon, especially with summer making its way to the south. (I was working up a sweat walking to the coffee shop where I’m writing this. It’s 9am on June 3. That’s not cool, weather. Literally.) I’ve done a 5-miler, an obstacle course 5K, and two regular 5K races so far this year and it’s only June. I even finished third in my age bracket for a couple of those runs and did a 5k under 30 minutes (29m48.8s)! I also registered for my very first half marathon in December, something that really should have happened sooner considering one of my work clients is a running website. The real challenge will be training for that half marathon in November on top of writing 250k, especially with three of my November weekends already booked five months before NaNo. Gulp.

Stay employed. Decrease my debt. Check! It’s a good thing I did include these. You can never be too sure, especially being between clients early on in the year. But for the moment I’m pretty confident in maintaining these goals.

Go back to the Night of Writing Dangerously. Barring any major money issues, I’m still planning to attend NaNoWriMo’s Night of Writing Dangerously this year. It’ll be my 15th NaNo! What better way to celebrate than with a bunch of fancily dressed writers and laptops in San Francisco?

Travel somewhere new. Check! I technically traveled somewhere new with Trail Magic, which counts. But then I went to Washington D.C. on a whim last week, which definitely counts.

Take a class of some kind? Be awesome? I haven’t taken a class despite my desire to do so. As for being awesome, well…

So what else have I been up to? This is one of those questions where you know everything you want to say in response and then answer with “not much” when finally asked. I won Camp NaNoWriMo with a last-minute rush to the finish line. I’m also planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo in July but have no idea what to work on yet. I showed one of my past college professor how Facebook worked. I went on an impromptu trip to Washington D.C. with a friend last weekend. I also attended Momocon for the first time thanks to a friend with an extra pass. Despite not being a super anime or comic nerd, I still enjoyed myself. (And @tiakall won a game! True story: we went to check out the gaming area and next thing we knew, we heard her name announced… by a Wrimo we both knew.) A lot has been happening and I’m barely keeping up with it all. That’s how life goes sometimes, right?

Up sometime in the near future: What I’ve been reading over the past month or so.

What I’m Reading, April 2016

Getting this review post up early so I don’t have to think about it later, as things are getting way busy in Sushiland right now. Here goes!

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin & H. Luke Shaefer: Damn. I’ve struggled to pay my bills and buy food before, but I’ve never been destitute. This book tells the story of the truly destitute, those who live on just two dollars a day, an amount many of us could easily spend on random crap. And it tells the tale well, striking a balance between the history of welfare and other assistance programs and the sometimes horrifying stories of the people living in such poverty. There were tales of 20 people in one house, collecting tin cans and donating plasma for extra cash, and one little thing that sent everything spiraling downward. All of these tales were well-told and made me feel simultaneous sympathy for the families and anger at the broken system. (5 out of 5 empty fridges)

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates: I am so glad this book is over. The premise sounds neat: a game among college kids with the final round played 14 years later. But besides that, the entire story was disappointing. The characters kept making a big deal out of the Game, especially when someone quit. The story also switches between past and present tenses a lot, which led to a lot of confusion. And there was no real resolution to any of hte storylines, which frustrated me. If the book is boring, all I can ask for is a resolution, and I didn’t get even get that. (2 out of 5 consequences)

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe: I love this book. It takes hard ideas like space and life and explains them using only the ten hundred most used words, making them easy to understand. The idea works really well and got a lot of laughs from me through the book. And yes, I wrote this using only the ten hundred most used words, just like in the book. (5 out of 5 simple things)

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone: I read this book starring a main character with OCD since I’m currently trying to untangle one of my own novels starring a main character with anxiety. This book didn’t disappoint. It was well-researched and didn’t just clutch to the classical OCD tropes. One thing this book did well was create a voice for the main character, not just in her head but in her interactions with others as well (such as her so-called popular friends). I wish the last hundred pages or so would have explored more of the big plot twist, but besides that, no major complaints from me. (4 out of 5 poems)

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp: Opportunity, Alabama. 10:05am. Gunshots. The majority of this book takes place over the course of an hour, told from four points of view, with all the narrators connected to the shooter in some way. I appreciated the diverse cast, even for rural Alabama, as well as the distinct voices of each narrator, something a lot of authors have trouble getting right (and therefore I usually dread when seeing multiple narrators in novels). (4 out of 5 points of view)

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough: I listened to this book, expecting to get a lot out of it. But honestly, this book was kind of dull. While I enjoyed learning about the people who helped the Wright brothers achieve flight (like their sister Catherine), this book wasn’t as deep as I had hoped. The prose itself was good; I just wish the book fleshed out more of the story behind the brothers. (3 out of 5 flying machines)

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck: I have very mixed feelings about this book and would rate this book very differently depending on what parts of the book the asker is most interested in. The concept itself was fascinating; to tell the truth, I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of traveling the entire Oregon Trail. The book bounces between the history of the Oregon Trail and the author’s trip on the trail with his brother, all while weaving in stories about the author’s life and being haunted by his father on the Oregon Trail. While the story of actually traveling the trail was interesting, the historical bits and the parts about the author’s family ghosts were not of interest to me. I do like history, but maybe I wasn’t as interested in the personal aspects simply because I had no real connection to the author. Overall: Just tell me about traveling the trail! (3 out of 5 covered wagons)

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss: Let me guess, the title got your attention too. I’m all about remote work and self-employment and generally not letting a job dictate your life, so reading this book seemed like a requirement for me. Ferriss does a good job of breaking down why to adopt such a lifestyle to start with, as well as taking steps to make it happen. There are concise steps, as well as questions and actions to take at the end of each chapter. One thing this book could have done better was to take into account some of the barriers to entry that Ferriss probably didn’t see. A lot of the businesses described in the book required a lot of money and time in the beginning, and for people desperate for both, spending money to make money often doesn’t work. Despite this, the book makes some excellent points and I’ll be referring to his site for other resources. (4 out of 5 mini-retirements)

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: I picked up this book since I’m currently working on a novel about a teen with an anxiety disorder, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to make of this book in the beginning. At first the book felt tedious and continuing the book was a chore. The mother was over the top, believing everything the Daily Mail says and trying to get her son to stop playing video games, and I nearly stopped reading because of her. But I kept going, and I’m glad I did. Even though I don’t have anxiety to the extent that Audrey does, the anxiety portrayal didn’t seem too far off, even if it was tedious to read at first. While the romance was cute, I was definitely sighing to myself at the idea that the romance was a cure-all. Still, this was a fun read, despite covering some heavy topics. (4 out of 5 rhubarbs)

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr: When this book was good, it was really really good, but when it was bad it was horrid. Maybe I should have read a physical copy instead of listened to the audiobook. Maybe it didn’t help that memoirs aren’t my favorite genre to start with, or that I haven’t read any of the author’s other work. Whatever the case, I found this book to be just eh. While it made some great points on how we interpret the things we experience, a lot of the book was kind of boring, despite being about writing. (3 out of 5 made-up incidents)

Room by Emma Donoghue: I read this via recommendation and for my library’s book club, and finished the majority of the book in an afternoon. While the book deals with some dark stuff (the mother and kid are trapped inside one room, for crying out loud), having the kid narrate the story lent some light and hope to the story that wouldn’t have been there if the mother narrated it. Sure, there were a few unrealistic parts, and the book could have benefited from another round of editing, but overall the story got my attention and was enjoyable despite the darkness. (4 out of 5 Sunday treats)

Up next: I’m listening to Big Magic and reading How to Bake Pi and am enjoying both of them so far. After that, who knows? I’m technically ahead of my Goodreads challenge to read 250 books this year, but that lead turns into being almost a month behind after taking NaNo into account. Here’s hoping for another BSC binge on my quest to finish the series.

Feeling like I’m not good enough at anything

If you’ve known me for awhile, then you probably know that I have more interests than time[citation needed]. I read like there’s no tomorrow, I write like I’m running out of time, I dabble in math and languages and code and techy things, I obsess over everything involving NaNoWriMo, and on and on the list goes.

It doesn’t feel that way at times. Most of the time, to be honest. The days of assuming I’m the smartest in the room are long gone, left behind in the small town I grew up in. This isn’t a bad thing; leaving that small town was one of the best things I ever did for exploring a world where I was no longer a special snowflake. But while I got to know people with talents I definitely don’t possess, I also experienced the feeling that they knew a lot more about these things than I did.

There’s a name for this: impostor syndrome. It’s more common among high achieving women and members of minority groups, and the idea of not being good enough at a thing can prevent someone from pursuing an opportunity that they otherwise have the experience for. I’ve experienced impostor syndrome in various situations: applying to jobs, calling myself interested in a field, saying I work in the tech startup world when I’m not a developer… the list goes on.

But there’s not a name (that I know of, anyway) for what I experience: being interested in so many things but not knowing a lot about those things. Sure, this could be considered a form of impostor syndrome. I can’t help but find things interesting. It’s part of who I am. This results in a lot of dabbling and learning a little about a lot of things, then hoping that knowledge sticks when I start dabbling in different things. But when it comes to sharing knowledge about those things, I find that just knowing a little bit about a thing isn’t enough; everyone else seems to know more than the few nuggets of knowledge that I possess.

Shouldn’t I use this opportunity to learn from these people who know so much more about the topic? Yes, and I often do, even if I forget some of the new information afterward. But then I meet people who know a lot about a ridiculously wide variety of things, which makes me question my ability to claim that I enjoy a diverse array of interests, the people who are so good at retaining and pursuing a lot of things. I aspire to be like them in their pursuit of interesting things.

Sounds like a personal problem, right? Believe me, I know. The logical solution is to stop comparing myself to everyone else, for Baty’s sake. But I’m working on it, both pursuing more things and embracing the things I am interested in and know a lot about.

Writing Hiatus, Revisited

Regular readers and Twitter followers may recall my writing hiatus in February. Since I’ve been writing again for almost a month, let’s revisit that hiatus month.

Thankfully for my sanity and for my memory’s sake, I continued to allow paper journal writing, along with book reviews so I wouldn’t have to squeeze out what little I still remembered from those books a month later.

The writing hiatus worked; I wrote just under 5k overall in February. While this puts me behind in reaching my overall goal for 2016, I need “only” 25,000 words per month for ten months, which takes into account October’s likely lack of writing and November’s megawriting. At first, I found myself standing to the side as everyone else was talking about writing. Dreams of editing some novels, coming up with new ideas for this site (don’t worry, I wrote most of those down), and venturing into new types of writing filled my mind as I kept reminding myself of the writing hiatus. It didn’t help that most of my Twitter community consists of writers. I swear, following a bunch of writers on Twitter when you’re on hiatus is like still going to the bar after you’ve quit drinking just because your friends are there.

As for the guilt, I felt a little guilty at first for not writing, as you might expect. But as the month went on, I occupied myself in different ways. Playing some games. Reading a book a day at some points. Wishing spring would arrive faster. Wondering if I was a real writer since I didn’t miss writing at some points.

The problem is, I’ve barely pursued any of those ideas since then. That’s in part due to this month being about five times busier than a typical March, along with many more life changes than usual. (Most of them good, so don’t worry too much about me.) I’m a little behind on reaching my 25,000 word goal for March, but not so far behind that I’m concerned about reaching that goal.

So now what? My Camp NaNoWriMo project is primarily Wikiwrimo updates; like last year I’ll be counting characters instead of words for my project. Since this worked out well last year and I still have a lot to do on Wikiwrimo, Camp will kickstart my efforts. This seems like a good idea for a yearly Camp project, with the second project consisting of whatever else I feel like writing. Let’s get back to writing all the things.