5 Stars

Three (3!!!) of my friends have written books. It’s a blessing and a curse to have such talented friends; they brighten your life with creativity, and they shine a light on all the ways you feel you could be doing better. Ah, well. As the old saying goes: Those who cannot do, read. 

So reading is what I’m doing. One 365-entry blog turned memoir. One delightful and decidedly un-chick-lit romantic comedy novel. And one collection of personal essays.

I just finished reading the third one, and since I can’t make it to the book launch party in Tulsa tomorrow night, I’m making known my (sincere and well-deserved) praise here on the ol’ blog.

Harebrained: It seemed like a good idea at the time (available at an amazon near you!) is an essay collection described in the blurb as “the collected ramblings of a tired mother, happy wife, grateful friend and busy professor.”

HarebrainedCover_Front_hirez

My tweetable review: It’s a damn delight!

My longer thoughts: Reading Meg in good-old-fashioned, page-turning, come-back-later-there’s-more fashion adds a layer of enjoyment for those, like myself, who were already fans of her blog. Her essays showcase the best of what personal blog writing can be: candid. vulnerable. relatable. fun. A well-balanced blend of slice-of-life sketches, thoughtfully revisited memories, and bigger-picture observations.

New readers will find this book is like catching up for drinks with an old friend. And all readers will most likely find an experience not unlike binge watching a favorite series: Reaching a stopping point, with a laugh or a sigh, and feeling the urge to read one more…just one more…

(If that reads an awful lot like an amazon review, that’s because I’m headed over there to post one right this hot second. Because when your friend writes a book, you spread the good word!)

Now for a little revisited memory of my own:

Spending 200-something pages and a handful of hours hearing Meg’s voice in my head took me back 10 years, to my junior year of college, and the days when we worked together in Drury’s Writing Center. As minimum-wage-earning student employees, our duties included removing rogue commas, helping international students come to terms with indefinite articles, and extracting viable thesis statements from the 5-page essays of our peers.

For a writing nerd in need of spending cash, these were glory days.

In the hours when the office was empty (there were many), we would, responsible go-getters that we were, “get some work done.” But attempts at silent reading with another human in the room most often devolved into swapping stories and comparing pop culture notes. (A mutual love of Tina Fey is nothing to sneeze at.) Meg was just a year ahead of me in school, but I looked up to her. She was interesting and smart, and the time I spent with her in that upstairs corner of Olin Library were times when I felt interesting and smart, too. (You know those people? The bring-out-the-best-in-you people? They’re the best people.)

A lot of my memories of 21-year-old me are long gone, or buried deep in journals somewhere, but I remember Meg as one of the bright spots in an otherwise angsty, torn-between-two-lovers, “what am I doing with my life?!” time in my history.

Which is maybe an even better review for her book than the one above: She’s the kind of person you’ll enjoy spending time with.

And since you maybe cannot do, you should read.

Lunatics Keep Giving Us A Bad Name, Say Casual Racists

Another senseless atrocity transpired on American soil this week, and the national conversation has turned once again to the complicated issues of racism, gun policy, and troubled young men. In all the hot takes and punditry surrounding such events, one group is frequently overlooked: Casual Racists. It’s time we as a nation let their voices be heard.

“I don’t consider myself a racist,” notes a C.R. we interviewed. “Sure I might clasp my purse a little tighter as I’m passing a minority on the sidewalk. But that’s just how I was raised. I can’t take responsibility for that. Or won’t? Either way. Not my fault.”

As many social norms and attitudes feel ingrained to these individuals, Casual Racists view the subtlety of such beliefs and actions as harmless, isolated incidents.

“I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody,” said another C.R. “I just want the right to quietly hate people who are different than I am, from the privacy of my own home—a practice my family has upheld for generations.” For many, these racist beliefs are simply a matter of tradition, and not seen as a condemnation of the inherent qualities of another human being.

Recent events have also drawn attention to the state-sanctioned display of the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Says one C.R. supporter, “Confederate flag? Come on. That’s not racist. The stars and bars represent my southern heritage. It’s unfortunate that there are literally no other symbols of the South to be found and celebrated in popular culture, art, literature, music, food, architecture, history, or folklore. This is the card I’ve been dealt. Guess I’m stuck with this one-and-only way to showcase pride and tradition.”

He went on to point out how it’s unfair to discriminate against some Confederate flags, just because other flags are offensive to an entire segment of the population.

Some Casual Racists have attempted to reach out and offer support in the aftermath of this week’s events. One noted, “I think I must know how they’re feeling. This was an attack on religion, and it’s another example of how we as Christians need to take our country back! …Granted, I’ve never been to a black church, or for that matter occupied any space in which I wasn’t the racial majority. But I imagine I can understand what their exact experience is. I go to my church all the time!”

At press time, it remains unclear whether Casual Racists will continue to feel marginalized by media attention shown toward extremists, with whom they do not wish to affiliate. One C.R. had this to say: “It’s just a shame that people judge us by the jokes we tell, or our secret fears and misconceptions, our vulnerabilities when faced with Otherness in all its many forms. That’s just a part of who I am. If you got to know me, I think you’d come to discover that I’m a person just like you, and that I deserve the same basic level of respect “

Enough is Enough with “Enough”

A common “motivational” sentiment for creative people, that shows up in writing books and how-to lists and pinterest boards, is something along the lines of: “If you care enough about doing something, you’ll make time for it.” The converse would imply that if you don’t make time for something, you just don’t care enough.

(Ain’t that some shit?!)

Just what a big-dreams-having, maybe-struggling, still-trying, but-not-quite-enough-though creative person needs: More guilt!

I’ve been feeling it a lot lately: the itchy, persistent anxiety of wanting to write (off-the-clock), but not writing.

Being too busy (or at least feeling like I am), or too tired or too distracted. Putting a lot of my energy into things that fall into the Urgent/Unimportant section of my priorities matrix. So much immediacy; so little substance. It’s no wonder it’s often hard to invest in the Non-urgent/Important.

Here’s some permission I’m giving to myself, today. You can have some too, if you need it: Make time. Even a little time.

Not making time doesn’t mean you don’t care. (That was a triple negative, for those playing along at home.) But you probably do feel shitty about it. Taking even a little time to work toward something you want to do, but never do do, (doo doo), will make you feel less shitty. And feeling less shitty is always better than feeling shitty. (So eloquently put. I better write that in ink somewhere before somebody else thinks of it.)

Here’s to trying to write a little, a little more each day.

Also: Enough is one of those words that, if you look at it enough (ha), quickly loses its meaning. What’s that “gh” doing over there? Making an “f” sound? Sure. SINCE WHEN. You’ve got some nerve, for a phoneme. Some nerve.