Bookweek 2018 Day 4: Ahead of Their Time

emma-cover

There are two phrases that modern commentators often use when describing old books.

The first is “a product of their era.”

The second is “ahead of their time.”

In fact, after a while it starts to feel like anything we agree with in an old book points to it being “ahead of its time,” and anything we disagree with is labeled “a product of their era.”

Oh, Emma Woodhouse has disturbing ideas about class distinction? Well, she was a product of her era.

Wait, Emma Woodhouse decided she wanted to be an independent woman instead of getting married? She was ahead of her time.

Seriously, nearly every famous heroine from old books gets labeled as “ahead of her time,” or “unusual for her era.” Anne of Green Gables. Jo March. Jane Eyre. Even Meg Murry, from A Wrinkle in Time, which came out in the ’60s. It was actually my mom who pointed out this phenomenon first, and then I started hearing it everywhere.

I mean, yes we’ve got our Elsie Dinsmores. But for the most part, old books have interesting female characters who are a little feisty and do interesting stuff. Logically, this should mean that in the past, women like this were relatively common, just as sprinklings of racism in books logically indicate that sprinklings of racism were relatively common in the past.

Although I used the first phrase “a product of their era” in my post about problematic old books, I think it’s only useful to see old books as a product of their era as long as we see the whole book as a product of its era, not just the parts that are problematic. And as long as we also see new books as a product of their era.

Books provide a fascinating window into the thinking of the time they were written.

Bookweek 2018 Day 3: Stuff I HATED as a Kid

When I was a kid, there were certain tropes that appeared over and over again in my literature. Here is a list of some of the ones I detested.

1. When the book made statements about the way that “grown-ups” are silly.

Example: “Grown-up people find it very difficult to believe really wonderful things, unless they have what they call proof.” (From Five Children and It by E. Nesbit)

I guess this is intended to make children feel like the author is on their side or something, but I found it terribly annoying and condescending. Like, duh. Obviously you, the writer, are a grown-up, so why are you putting grown-ups down?

2. When, in the midst of some particularly interesting happening or another, a character would blurt out, “this is just like a book!”

Again, duh. I always felt like the author was insulting my intelligence. Of course it’s just like a book, because it is a book.

Both of the two annoying phrases mentioned above appeared with astonishing frequency in older books, but I don’t see them much nowadays. Maybe it was just a weird fad for a while, and then all the kids who had to grow up reading those phrases became writers and editors and quickly abolished the practice?

3. When a character tried to give themselves a make-over, or change themselves in some way, but by the end of the book they decided to just “be themselves” and go back to being the way they were.

I found this SO frustrating. Why weren’t these characters ever allowed to become beautiful and interesting and cool at the end?

And not gonna lie, of all the messages that the media hammered into me, I found “be yourself” to be the stupidest one. It was everywhere, and it made no sense. Like, how could you NOT be yourself? And how on earth could getting a make-over and wearing cuter clothes mean you’re suddenly not yourself? And if you have a chance to change yourself to make yourself awesomer, how could that possibly be a bad thing?

I get the concept now, and I do think a lot of young people struggle with just being their authentic selves, even if I didn’t, but I still think the concept is WAY overdone.

(Wow, maybe I shouldn’t have put the “as a kid” qualifier in the title. Even now as I write this, I want to put every other word in ALL CAPS to EXPLAIN the INTENSITY of my emotion about it, haha.)

4. People getting a chance for a grand spectacular life change and then not taking it.

Maybe this only happened in Caddie Woodlawn. Caddie and her family got a chance to be like, fancy rich people in England or something, right at the end of the book. And they decided to keep on being pioneers instead.

WHAT?!?

As far as I know, I am the only one that was upset by that ending. I just really thought it would be cool to be a fancy person in England, I guess.

5. Wishes that go wrong

In most books that involve wishes, the wishes don’t turn out very well. Like King Midas, wishing for everything he touched to turn to gold, and then accidentally turning his daughter to gold.

A version of this shows up in most children’s books where wishes come true. It frustrated me to no end. Couldn’t the wish just be amazing and fun for once?

In fact, these last three things I’ve mentioned have had a similar theme. It was almost as if the books I read were telling me, “be content with the normal and ordinary. The spectacular isn’t that great.”

But if I wanted normal and ordinary, I wouldn’t be reading a book, now would I?

And, finally, I got super creeped out and annoyed every time I encountered…

6. Younger girls who marry way older guys

This is something that came up when I wrote about the shady stuff in old books. A few people mentioned the way that Dean Priest had pursued Emily in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series.

Oooooooh, suddenly I remembered how angry that pairing had made me, even though it all (thankfully) came to nothing, and Emily ended up where she belonged, with Teddy. I still remember being sick, on the couch, reading a paperback version of Emily’s Quest, and just, oh, the horrible misery of that book as it took her forever to get un-engaged to Dean, and even longer to finally, FINALLY end up with Teddy.

I hated the older-guy younger-girl thing every time I encountered it. Robin McKinley was particularly bad at this. And back to L.M. Montgomery, I remember starting to read A Tangled Web, because Mom loved it and really wanted me to read it, and starting to feel uneasy about Gay’s relationships.

“She’s not gonna end up with Roger, is she?” I asked Mom.

“Um, well, he’s really nice!” said Mom.

I hastily closed the book and refused to finish it.

I’m not exactly sure why this bothered me so badly. I think the older-guy younger-girl thing felt super manipulative to me. And also, I couldn’t imagine being attracted to someone who was that much older than me.

So, there’s my list. What did you hate reading about when you were a kid?

Bookweek 2018, Day 2: Men in Books

uneasy-money-26

Recently I heard someone say that men, in books that are written for women, are’t men. They’re women.

I don’t remember who said it, or where this idea came from. If this rings a bell please let me know. As far as I can recall, the reasoning behind this sentiment was that these fictional men sense a woman’s pain without out being told, and empathize in a way that’s actually much more like how a woman would respond than how a man would respond.

I found it an interesting concept. It did make me worry a bit about my own male characters, though. How can I write authentic male characters when I don’t understand how men think?

I began looking, in literature, for male characters that felt distinctly male. And then I started reading more P.G. Wodehouse, and found this this opening description of the main character in Uneasy Money.

He paid no attention to the stream of humanity that flowed past him. His mouth was set and his eyes wore a serious, almost a wistful expression. He was frowning slightly. One would have said that here was a man with a secret sorrow.

William FitzWilliam Delamere Chalmers, Lord Dawlish, had no secret sorrow. All that he was thinking of at that moment was the best method of laying a golf ball dead in front of the Palace Theatre.

It was his habit to pass the time in mental golf when Claire Fenwick was late in keeping her appointments with him. On one occasion she had kept him waiting so long that he had been able to do nine holes, starting at the Savoy Grill and finishing up near Hammersmith.

I laughed and laughed. This opening took the stereotypical male hero trope and turned it on its head, and suddenly the main character seemed like that guy you knew in high school.

Because he liked sports.

Most guys that I know love sports. Most male leads in books, particularly those written by women for women, don’t care two figs about sports.

As a writer, I love tips and tricks for how to make characters feel like real people. My writing teachers told us to make our characters want something. My friends told me to give my characters flaws. I’ve decided that from now on, my male characters are going to love sports.

What do you think of my theory?

Have you read any books by women for women in which the main male character loves sports? (Boxing and/or Bull riding as a way to release pent up anger stemming from his father’s abandonment don’t count.)

Do you have any other simple tricks for making male characters seem more male?

Bookweek 2018, Day 1: Shady Stuff in Old Books

Last year I did a casual series I called “bookweek,” where I spent a week posting my thoughts about books.

It was fun.

I decided to do it again.

Recently I read an old book I picked up at a garage sale, called The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, by John Fox Jr. I’d never heard of it, but apparently it was a bestseller when it was published in 1908.

If I’m gonna be honest, the book had some weird stuff in it. Like…

A. The main characters in the book are a man who has graduated from college and is working as an engineer, and a child so young she still plays with dolls. They fall in love with each other. It’s a little cagey on how old they are. At the end of the book, when they get married, the girl is 18. But he first kisses her several years before this. And their bizarre “friendship” prior to this is full of him buying her presents, arranging for her to be educated, etc, so that she is enamored by him, “good enough” for him, and indebted to him.

Is that not about fifteen levels of creepy????

B. Every once in a while these odd, slightly racist and/or classist tidbits sneak in. Like when the characters are setting up a police force in their newly-established town, and this is just tossed in there:

There had been gentlemen-regulators a plenty, vigilance committees of gentlemen, and the Ku-Klux clan had been originally composed of gentlemen, as they all knew, but they meant to hew to the strict line of town-ordinance and common law and do the rough everyday work of the common policeman (Fox 95).

Um, okay? You’re just going to casually mention the KKK as being “gentlemen-regulators” and move on?

Then, a couple pages later, we have this gem. (The “she” referenced is June Tolliver, the child love interest).

She was so intelligent that he began to wonder if, in her case, at least, another of Hon. Sam’s theories might not be true—that the mountaineers were of the same class as the other westward-sweeping emigrants of more than a century before, that they had simply lain dormant in the hills and—a century counting for nothing in the matter of inheritance—that their possibilities were little changed, and that the children of that day would, if given the chance, wipe out the handicap of a century in one generation and take their place abreast with children of the outside world. The Tollivers were of good blood; they had come from Eastern Virginia, and the original Tolliver had been a slave-owner (Fox 100-101).

This got me thinking. I think there is a prevalent myth that books are getting more and more immoral as time goes by. If your kid is reading above their grade level, you hand them old books so they don’t have to read about sex.

But issues like racism and child grooming are actually pretty prevalent in old books. Often they’re not really THAT overt, just kind-of lurking, vaguely troubling. Like The Magic Garden by Gene Stratton-Porter has that creepy female-child-is-romantically-befriended-by-much-older-boy element. According to Mom, several of L.M. Montgomery’s short stories have this plotline as well.

And then there’s the racism/classism, which I’m lumping together because they both come from the root idea that some people are naturally better than other people. Classism especially seems to be everywhere in old British literature. Take Emma by Jane Austin, for instance. Emma decides that Harriet Smith is “too good” to marry a farmer. Knightly reprimands her for this, but it’s definitely not an “everyone is equal” speech. More like a “Harriet isn’t as high class as you think she is” speech.

But by far the most troubling thing to me is the racism that shows up in old books, particularly in children’s books that depict American Indians. The ones that immediately come to mind are Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, but I’m sure there are more.

These books present American Indians as silly caricatures, existing only to provide entertainment for the children in the story. Very much the way children’s books present pirates–as though American Indians were a profession of the past, not a vibrant culture of today. I think this one especially troubles me because I remember how these types of media shaped my friends’ and my view of American Indians. I remember, for instance, explaining to my friend that “did you know that Indians today live in houses, not teepees? My mom said!”

He didn’t believe me.

Now, Peter Pan is my favorite book, and I love Emma, and I obviously give writers from the past a lot of grace because they were a “product of their era.” And I try to give writers from today a lot of grace, as well, when they write things I view as problematic. Everyone is a product of their era, really.

However, I think we also need to accept the fact that we can’t just blindly hand children books from some other era and expect that they won’t find shady stuff in them.

Thoughts? What shady stuff have you noticed in old books?

Sarah Beth’s Wedding/Austin Texas

My dear, dear friend Sarah Beth…who I’ve adventured with at Island Lake, and in Portland, and in Bandon…who almost died three years ago…who converted me into a lover of personality assessments…THAT remarkably magical Sarah Beth Wilcoxson is now Sarah Beth Boyer.

She was married, in Texas, last Friday. August 10.

August 10 also happens to be my parents’ anniversary, so they flew out early and vacationed in Texas for a few days. Amy and I took a red eye from Portland to Austin, arrived early Friday morning, and then got a few hours of extra sleep in our parents’ hotel room before driving north for the wedding.

I was a bridal table server, which is a specific niche in the wedding honor hierarchy that I’ve never occupied before. I got to the church early, arriving in the middle of a typical pre-wedding flurry. Bridesmaids lounged in the nursery, re-curling their hair and drinking Red Bull. Sarah Beth and Andy’s families stood outside in the sweltering Texas heat and attempted to get every child looking pleasant for the photos.

I loved the fairy look of the bridesmaids, with their tulle skirts and lavender crowns.

20180810_163052

Rachel, Rachel Lynn, and Lois Sophia

The ceremony went off nicely, with Sarah Beth looking radiant and beautiful, and Andy looking handsome and proud. They did a unity painting, the way some people do unity sand or a unity candle. I’d never seen that done before.

Then they were married, and he carried her down the aisle, and the rest of us were ushered out. I was on the end of the bridal table server bench, and we got ushered out first (before family even), so I was the first person ushered out of the church after the bridal party. I know I’m focusing on the least important part of the wedding here, but after so many years of waiting and waiting and WAITING to be ushered out of weddings, being the very first one for once felt nice.

To me, the strangest part of the wedding was the way that very few people seemed aware of just how amazing Sarah Beth is. In Oregon, she’s spoken of as almost a legendary figure. But out in Texas people didn’t seem to know her that well.

Although most of Sarah Beth’s roots are in Oregon, her family moved to Oklahoma several years ago. She stayed on in Oregon for a while, then moved to Oklahoma for a bit, before moving down to Texas to live nearer her boyfriend Andy. When she got married she considered coming back to Oregon for the wedding, but eventually decided to just get married in Texas.

At the open mic, her family members and friends from Oregon stood up and spoke of the huge impact she’s made in our lives. Tears were shed. Maybe now these Texas people who don’t know her very well…maybe now they’ll understand the gift they’re getting, I thought.

Sarah Beth and Andy left the venue in a shower of sparklers, tin cans clinking behind their car. I wish them every blessing and happiness.

Part 2: Austin Texas

Mom and Dad were leaving from Austin in the early afternoon, but Amy and I didn’t need to leave until 8 pm. So we got dropped off at the capitol building. We planned to spend our afternoon exploring Austin.

First, we toured the capital. It was extra special because it was India’s Independence day, so there were a lot of Indian Americans at the Capital, doing traditional dances and such.

20180811_121918

The capital dome, as viewed from the underground expansion.

After our tour, we went outside hoping there would be some traditional Indian food set up as part of the Independence day festivities. But we were out of luck. As the oppressive August heat beat down on us, we searched Google for food near us. Please don’t make us walk very far, dear Google. It is very warm today.

It looked like there was some Korean food close by. But as we neared the place, we saw that first of all, it was a food cart instead of a restaurant, and second of all, it appeared to be closed.

“Can you spare a dollar?” there was a woman sitting in front of the food cart. She looked like she was strung out on drugs.

“Is this food cart open?” Amy asked.

“I’m blind,” said the woman.

“But do you know if this food cart is open?” Amy asked.

“Oh. No, it’s closed on the weekends.”

“Thank you,” we said.

“So, are you gonna give me a dollar? Surely you can spare a dollar.”

Well, I don’t like to judge who is worthy of a dollar and who isn’t, but this lady looked like the last thing she needed was a dollar to spend on drugs. So I tried to politely decline, and she started cussing at us, and we moved on.

We ate at Subway. I will never make it as a foodie.

However, as we sat there munching sandwiches and sipping iced tea, Amy got excited. “Those ladies are speaking Thai!” she said.

“Really?” I asked. “What are they saying?”

I was hoping for something juicy. Maybe they’d be gossiping about us, with no idea that my very American-looking sister could understand them the whole time.

“She just asked what time it is,” said Amy.

Blast.

“Well, you should go talk to them,” I said.

So she did, excited for a chance to jabber in Thai again.

20180811_131158

Three excited ladies, and one calm one.

After we finished eating, we had to, again, walk pass the “blind” lady who’d asked us for a dollar. She cussed at us some more, and then yelled, “YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY AMISH!!!”

And you’re not actually blind. Guess we’re even now.

After that we visited a cool old bakery-turned-museum we’d happened to pass, but eventually we ran into a conundrum: Everything we wanted to do either cost more than we wanted to spend, or else involved being outside in the oppressive Texas heat.

That’s when we decided to go swimming.

Now. My dear, dear sister Amy, knowing that I like to swim, had researched places to swim in Austin. She herself had no intention of swimming, but was happy to sit and read while I played in the water to my heart’s content.

I thought that was really, really sweet of her.

We rode the bus to Barton Springs Pool, and then got off and walked on a path along the river. The closer we got to the pool, the more people we saw in the river, swimming or kayaking or paddleboarding. At the end of the path, a large fence separated the river from the pool. It looked like someone had poured concrete around a section of the river to make it pool-like. However, peeking through the fence, the pool looked just as crowded as the river, so I figured, why pay the extra $3? I’ll just swim in the river.

(I feel like “why pay the extra $3?” is my real life philosophy, and it’s a little embarrassing.)

20180811_162755

The river. On the left, where you can see the concrete wall and fence, is where the pool was. 

 

 

The river was a mixture of frat boys, young families, and hippies. Amy parked herself next to a young blond guy who was sitting on the bank strumming a guitar. She pulled out a book, and began to read.

If you are wondering how I managed to change into swimming clothes, I just wore the t-shirt I’d been wearing all day, and swapped my skirt for a pair of swimming trunks. I could do this perfectly modestly, but it still felt kinda weird to change in front of people, so I went into the woods for a little privacy.

And then, emerging from the woods wearing my t-shirt and trunks, I jumped in.

Splashing around in the water on such a hot day felt amazing. I didn’t even mind all the people there, because it felt like I was getting a taste of the real Austin. The real Austin spends Saturdays in August at the river, playing with their dogs, splashing their brothers, and lounging on watermelon-colored floaties with their buddies.

After my swim, the day no longer felt too hot. It felt perfect. Perfectly perfect.

Amy found some public restrooms on Google, so we walked through the pretty park until we found them. The wind whipped through the trees in beautifully refreshing gusts.

“A storm is coming,” said Amy.

The “restrooms” were actually port-a-pots, but they still provided ample privacy, and I changed into dry clothes. Outside was a dispenser of small plastic bags, designed to carry dog poop. I took a couple, rolled my wet clothes up in them, and stuck them in my backpack.

Just as we stepped onto the bus that would take us back to the airport, a few drops of rain started falling. The drops turned to torrents. Thunder rattled the sky.

20180811_172644

View from the rain-soaked bus.

Looks like we’d picked the perfect time to curtail our adventures and get on the bus.

The TSA guy had to search my backpack because he was suspicious of the dog poop bags full of wet clothes, but other than that our trip home had no real hitches or glitches.

Sarah Beth, thanks for being in our lives. It was an honor to attend your wedding. I wish you God’s richest blessings in your marriage.

39386309_446723252493049_9019070552937070592_n

Photo credit: Amy Smucker

Seattle, Part 2: Kindred Spirits

20180727_151302

After exploring the city of Seattle alone for a while (read about that here), it was time to head to my friend Micaela’s house for dinner. Which meant taking the bus.

As a country girl, public transportation always makes me a little nervous. This is where google maps saved me. I figured out that if I plug a destination into google maps and click the “transit” icon, it will tell me exactly where to walk and exactly what bus to take. And the price. $2.75.

So I tried it, and it worked quite well. Once my phone didn’t update fast enough, but I could see from the street sign that I was at the right stop, so I hopped off. Whew! I made it to Micaela’s apartment just fine.

She opened the door. Smiled. Her curly hair spilled down over her shoulders. “Hi,” I said, nervously, because I was suddenly nervous. Why was I intruding into this stranger’s home? I’d meant to keep in touch after we’d met, two and a half years ago, but I hadn’t. Not really.

She led me upstairs to her cute little (blessedly air-conditioned) apartment. Her husband, Hai, was chopping veggies. Rice noodles bubbled on the stove. Were they cooking me Vietnamese food? Okay, maybe this was a good plan, after all.

We began making small talk. Hai went outside to grill.

“Okay Micaela,” I said. “The last time we were together you pointed out this guy named Hai, and you told me he was your ex-boyfriend…that you’d dated for a week but then you broke up with him and you didn’t know why you ever gave him a chance…that he was just too ‘cool’ and flirty and stuff…but now you’re married to him and pregnant with his baby. I’m so curious to know what happened.”

I was sure it was going to be a good story, and it was. Micaela told me about how she’d had an “ideal” man in her mind, a “serious” man that Hai didn’t live up to. But the journey of discovering who Hai really was, (and who she really was) and what God actually had in mind for her, was this beautiful journey. I just LOVE Anne-and-Gilbert stories like this.

The meal prepared, we sat down to eat. Hai prayed. “Thank you that Emily can be here in Seattle to…well, um, actually I’m not quite sure why she’s here…”

Right. Maybe I should explain that.

I gave them the whole “Elon Musk used to randomly call interesting people and invite them to lunch” and “I went to see Howl’s Moving Castle last December” and “I want to know how to be a playwright” backstory. And then I talked about they guy on the street who said that Mennonites are “basically Amish, except, you’re cool?” And Hai wanted to know what exactly a Mennonite was (Micaela was more familiar with Mennonites because she’d done Rod and Staff homeschooling curriculum) so I launched into that backstory.

“So what do you do, Hai?” I asked, then. As he told me about his crazy adventures as a security guard, I was finally able to eat my food. It was fantastic. So top-notch. I stuffed myself.

We’d agreed, near the beginning of the meal, to go to a lake after dinner and float on inner tubes for awhile. I was too tired after my long day to do anything fancy. But now that we’d uncorked the flow of conversation we couldn’t seem to stop it. Suddenly we were talking about how to learn another language, and how to talk to homeless people, and what enneagram we all are. (“You’re a 5, right?” Micaela said to me, and I was super impressed.) Then we looked at the clock and were like, “meh, we’re no longer young. Let’s just go to bed.”

So we did.

And I slept like a baby.

I slept in the next morning, and then ate banana muffins, drank lavender-infused tea, and had more great conversation. The strangers of yesterday felt like old friends, again. There were so many interesting things left to say, but suddenly it was 10:00 and I wanted to make sure I got to my 11:00 meeting on time.

And so, backpack freshly packed and pinned, I set out on the town again.

I correctly navigated all my stops and transfers until, at the edge of downtown, I got off at the wrong stop. Oh great. And I was already going to be a bit late. I tried to get google maps to re-route me. Surely that wouldn’t be so difficult? But something was glitching, and google maps was telling me that it would be over an hour until I reached my destination. Huh? That literally makes no sense, Google. I’m already downtown.

Looking up, I decided to go the old fashioned route. I was on 8’th street. All I had to do was walk down to 1’st street, and then up to Clay.

So I booked it.

I mean, as much as I could while still having to wait on “walk” signals and such.

I was ten minutes late. Could be worse. I walked into the coffee shop and there was Justin Huertas in the flesh, sitting at a little copper-topped table.

“Hi, Justin?” I said.

He looked up. Grinned widely. “Hi!” Gave me a hug.

Justin, it turns out, is one of those people who can instantly make you feel like an old friend. I apologized for my lateness, explained the bus mistake, and went to order some tea. Then I sat back down, and asked him to tell me all about how he came to be a playwright.

His path to writing plays was very interesting and non-linear, with lots of random setbacks and challenges. He didn’t set out to be a playwright, and actually ended up changing his career path several times. But what emerged from his story were several fascinating insights into the career of play writing.

First, according to Justin you can submit a play proposal to a theater company in much the same way you can submit a book proposal to a publisher. I was not aware of this.

“But it sounds like you have a better chance of getting a commission to write a play if you’re already in the system somewhat,” I said.

“Unfortunately, that’s true,” said Justin. “A lot of it is who you know.”

Secondly, play writing is a more collaborative process than book writing is. Justin talked about something called “workshopping,” where the playwright brings in a scene, the actors read it, and then everyone discusses what works and what doesn’t. He suggested that I could mimic this process by getting together with friends and having them read drafts of my plays out loud. Scary! But helpful, I’m sure.

The last insight was one which extends beyond the realm of play writing and into any sort of artistic endeavor. It was this:

People achieve artistic success because other people believe in them.

This was one of the strongest threads binding Justin’s story together. Someone higher-up in the theater business believed that he had a story to tell, and invested in him. That’s how he became a playwright.

I was really struck by this. It reminded me of the people who have believed in me over the years. Like when I took Creative Drama for Teachers at community college, and the teacher, Tinamarie, who was an honest-to-goodness actor and director of real plays, believed that I had what it took to act. Little Mennonite me!

Or last year, when I wrote a play of the life story of the Apostle Paul for our Vacation Bible School. Shannon Krabill told me that she wanted to affirm me in my play writing because she saw that God had given me a gift. That meant so much to me.

I think that any artistic Mennonite feels, first, that their gifting may not be a practical pursuit, and second, that they could never “make it” artistically in the non-Mennonite world. We’re farmers and homemakers. What do we know of art?

But beauty was created by God. Art, and music, and storytelling are these beautiful and powerful things, and when we see these talents in others, we need to affirm them. These things matter.

I talked with Justin about these things for a good bit of time. I told him about some of my ideas for plays, and he seemed to like them. “I want to be a resource for you,” he said.

I appreciated that a lot.

Eventually though, after a fantastic conversation, our tea cups were empty and we parted ways.

I began meandering my way back to the train station. In doing so I ran right into Pike Place Market again. A different end of it, with crowded vendors spilling into the streets. I was so confused by that market. I’m used to markets that are in empty lots, with booths/tents set up in straight rows. This was such a conglomeration of indoor, outdoor, permanent, and temporary shops, that seemed squeezed into the middle of town. I’d like to explore it further sometime when I’m actually at leisure to buy things.

I wanted some food for my lunch and supper, but had no time to sit in a cute restaurant to eat it. Also, I didn’t want to spend a lot of $$$. But there was a random 7-11 tucked into a street corner, so I bought two slices of pizza for $2.20.

Yes, I was proud of myself for spending a weekend in Seattle and only spending $2.20 on food (if you don’t count my cups of tea). I’m sure all you foodies out there are shaking your heads (I’m looking at you, Rachel). But I did get a home-cooked Vietnamese meal, so don’t be too hard on me, ‘k?

Back at the train station I was given a seat assignment, for some reason, but my outlet didn’t work. So I asked the conductor if I could move, and he was like, “sure, take any seat in this car.” Train people are so chill.

Across from me were two ladies in their 50s who got sillier and sillier as their beer bottles emptied. The one began to talk about dating a 26-year-old guy, and how her daughter, who’s also 26, was super weirded out. Ha. Yeah, I’d imagine so.

Ah, the adventures of riding the train. Nothing this interesting ever happens when you drive.

I got off at the Albany station and drove home, feeling full. The asking had paid off, 100%. Not only had I had some fun adventures alone, but I’d had some extremely fulfilling conversations. Micaela, Hai, Justin…they all were such kindred spirits, after all.

“Look me up if you ever come back!” they’d all said.

And I think I will.

 

 

 

Technical Difficulties

person using typewriter

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’m still planning to post part 2 of my trip to Seattle (You can read part 1 here), but I ran into a weird issue that I’m trying to resolve before I proceed with my regular blogging schedule.

Here’s the deal:

I have my blog set up to automatically post to my personal Facebook profile. I almost always delete it immediately, and then manually post it to my personal profile and my blog page, because I like how it looks better. But sometimes, if I’m lazy or have a bad connection, I just let it automatically post.

I got an email yesterday from WordPress, telling me that after August 1 they weren’t allowed to automatically post on a personal Facebook profile anymore, because Facebook is trying to crack down on spam. But I could still automatically post to a blog page. I figured I’d have to switch it over, but didn’t think too much of it.

Then, this afternoon, the link to my latest blog post was removed from both my personal profile and my blog page. They told me it was spam, but I looked over their community standards on the subject, and could not figure out what I’d done wrong.

I contested the charge, and they said they’d manually review. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

I posted about it on Facebook, and someone suggested that Facebook may have flagged it as spam because it automatically posted. Based on the email I got from WordPress  yesterday, that seemed plausible. Now, both posts were actually manually posted by me, but it did automatically post before I deleted it, so maybe the Facebook algorithm said “this is spam” to itself, and then deleted every post that looked like it.

That’s the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

So, this is a test post. I’ve set it up to automatically post to my blog page, and I’ll see if I have any problems. If that takes care of the problem, I’ll post Seattle Part 2 tomorrow evening (August 1).

But if you, my readers, want to take precautions, you can always subscribe via email by clicking the box to the upper right. And if you want to follow my blog page on Facebook, you can do so here.

Hopefully everything will get resolved soon.