Of the Icebox

Words about stuff and sometimes things

Retiring Blog & Farewell — October 11, 2019

Retiring Blog & Farewell

After much thought, I’ve decided to retire this blog. I’m working towards building a number of creative writing projects that are taking up the bulk of my time. It’s important to me to spend my time trying to progress those.

It’s been great getting to know all of you. I’ll still be an avid reader and fan to so many of those I’ve come to admire in the WP blogosphere.

Quick update & WP Technical Issue — September 28, 2019

Quick update & WP Technical Issue

I’ll publish a proper, new post within the next week but, for now, a few words as to where I’ve been.

1) I’ve been on vacation — visiting the in-laws in California. See, that was easy.

2) I’ve also been taking on freelance, editing work. I’ve learned a lot about writing by editing other peoples work. It’s been an interesting way to make a few dollars.

3) I’ve been having one of those bi-monthly crises of faith wherein, I dissect all of my life choices in an attempt to figure out where I’ve gone wrong and why I don’t have all the answers yet. If you’ve been spared from this terrible disease of self-doubt and insecurity, please consider donating your sperm / eggs. The world could use more people like you.

As an aside, has anyone else been having problems with their WP follows? It seems like I have to keep re-following people that I know I’ve followed before.

If you’re reading this and wondering why I so rudely unfollowed you, please rest assured, I did not! I’m hoping WP resolves the glitch soon. In the meantime, please excuse me if I continue to pop-up in your feed as a new follower.

If anyone knows of a fix, please do share!

The Legend of (Mac)Ribbons and (H)i(P)Hoppins: A PC/Mac Debate — September 4, 2019

The Legend of (Mac)Ribbons and (H)i(P)Hoppins: A PC/Mac Debate

About 6 years ago, in the early days of our relationship, my husband tried to convince me that Macs were superior to PCs. At that stage in life, I’d been using an old HP laptop, lets call her HiPHoppins, that worked about as well as a refurbished vending machine.

I was in desperate need of an upgrade but had no money. So, despite being a lifelong PC’er, when my husband offered to hook me up with PC’s much hotter cousin, I didn’t need much convincing. I laid HiPHoppins to rest and even gave my hot, new cousin a name, MacRibbons.

At that point in my life, Macs fell into the ‘too expensive for my broke ass’ category. I didn’t really need a Mac. It’s only advantages, as far as I was concerned, were its cool-kid looks, its price tag (free when you sleep with the guy who has a spare), and Scrivener. Prior to inheriting MacRibbons, I’d dreamt about the organizational marvels Scrivener could do for my writing. While there was a Windows version, I was told that the Windows version of Scrivener ‘sucked eggs’. (I will not reveal my source.)

Prior to inheriting MacRibbons, I didn’t think of myself as a computer pro, per say, but I knew my way around a PC. Every IT person I’d ever worked with had complimented my PC skills and not even in a sexual harassment kind of way. So I had that PC confidence going for me and I was sure it’d translate into Mac Prowess.

I wanted to love MacRibbons. I wanted to understand him the way I understood HiPHoppins but every time anything went wrong, I didn’t know how to perform the most basic CPR.

Where’s my ctrl+alt+delete? Where’s my task manager? Why can’t I change the default download location? Where’s my developer toolbar in Microsoft Office? Bloody effing hell!

Me, once monthly for the last 6 years.

I should note, my husband learned on a Mac. He’d been indoctrinated in the religion of Mac. He believed they were superior in all ways to Windows. He also knew a command to fix everything I ever broke, corrupted or otherwise ‘magically disappeared’ over the years. This is how he became my exclusive doctor to MacRibbons and this is how gender inequity crept into our otherwise pro-feminist household.

I know, Bey. I’m trying!

Even though I knew that he’d be asking me all sorts of silly PC questions if the tables were turned, it was a real blow to my ego to have to turn to Dr. Mac for IT assistance over and over again. In our Mac dominated house, I became the equivalent of my tech-illiterate grandmother. She used to call my Uncle every time the TiVo prompted her to update because she was worried the request to reboot would erase all her daytime soaps.

I mean, there was that one time when I thought something was very wrong with MacRibbons and Dr. Mac discovered I hadn’t installed any updates for a year and a half. But how was I supposed to know that Apple automatically gave away new versions of its OS? I thought it was just some random guitar app doing weird, independent, glitchy shit again. And I couldn’t uninstall it because I couldn’t remember my password. Oy vey. Now I really sound like my grandmother. (May she rest in TiVo peace.)

All of this is to say, I grew more bitter and angry at MacRibbons as the years progressed. MacRibbons took away my ability to delude myself into thinking that I was a computer-savvy tech goddess. My only consolation was Scrivener.

As far as consolation prizes go, Scrivener was awesome. I use/d it all the time. I’ve written and abandoned entire books on it. If my house was burning down and I could only grab the dog or MacRibbons, there would ensue a 10-second internal dialogue wherein I’d argue that my Scrivener babies don’t have legs and so need me more than the dog. I offer this confession so that you’ll know that even if I’m morally troubled, I’m still honest. And I can honestly say that I didn’t murder MacRibbons.

The Murder Of MacRibbons

So this is where I have to tell you MacRibbons died a dramatic and painful death over the weekend. While I confess that I struck the first blow, I’m not MacRibbons murderer. You remember, I loved Scrivener more than I hated MacRibbons.

No. It was not me. I swear it. The true MacMurderer was this villain: Panda Joe Funny-shorts (real name).

Maybe he heard my internal dialogue about house fires and got concerned. Maybe he was jealous because I spent more time looking at the screen than at his beautiful face. Or maybe, he hated MacRibbons as much as I did. We’ll never know, really, but we’ll keep hypothesizing for years to come.

Back to the murder. It started like this. I had to take a tinkle (it happens), so I placed MacRibbons on the ottoman as I always do but, in my urgency, I did not carefully check the placement of MacRibbons rump to ensure he couldn’t fall off the edge. I kind of tossed him, to be honest. He’d been with me for years. I’d become complacent, reckless even, but not a murderer.

As I exited the room, I heard a slide and crash of the screen against the tile floor. Panda Joe Funny-shorts, sitting 2 feet away, witnessed the entire spectacle. But even though Panda Joe was an eye-witness to this dramatic event that might have inspired his own hateful deed, I was the only one responsible for that initial blow.

I screamed, “No!” and other profanities so loud that Dr. Mac immediately ran to the scene of the crime where we both witnessed MacRibbons, slowly drowning in its own plasma.

At this moment, I had one thought on my mind and it wasn’t that my bladder was now at 120% capacity. It was that I needed to save my Scrivener babies from their untimely and eternal deaths.

Dr. Mac was stunned to discover I hadn’t been cross-saving my files on the Cloud as though I could remember my iCloud password. He also made an equally unhelpful comment about how I should’ve be more careful.

I didn’t have time for his nonsense. My babies were drowning. I scrambled around the house, hunting down a USB with enough space to save my files. I found one, thank the Mac gods, and returned to MacRibbons side, blindly diving beneath the spillage of MacRibbons perforated artery to locate Finder and raise my folders above the line of LCD devastation which grew a bar every 10 seconds.

I might have started verbalizing my prayers to the Mac gods at this point, begging that the files were properly transferring. I believe I did verbalize this because Dr. Mac started lecturing me about how there were no Mac gods. This, despite the fanatical Mac religion he’s a member of. But if that’s true, how do you explain this guys asexual reproduction?

Anyway, while I file transferred and tweeted Ashton Kutcher asking him if his transformation into Steve Jobs was his final contribution to Punk’d, Dr. Mac started searching for Mac repair stores in our area and getting quotes to replace MacRibbons screen. He’s practical, I’ll give him that.

It turns out that because Macs are the BMW’s of computers, the parts are way more expensive to replace than they would be if they were PCs. It was going to cost about USD$400 to replace the screen including service fees.

But while that knowledge hurt my wallet, it didn’t really matter to me because I had swum through the plasma of Mac screen death and I feared no evil capitalistic defeat. I had saved all my files. I placed MacRibbons on the coffee table in victory and turned him off to prevent the progress of visual devastation. This is when, quite unexpectedly, Panda Joe Funny-shorts murdered MacRibbons.

Having sensed my anxiety levels receding, Dr. Mac decided it was safe to return to the living room to offer consolation rather than his earlier attempts at advice. Smart men learn fast.

But it turned out his reappearance was too exciting for someone in our house. As soon as Dr. Mac sat down, Panda Joe Funny-shorts got excited. So excited to see his adopted father, in fact, that he quickly hopped off the sofa, wagging his tale with full vigor, and slung a glass of water across the coffee table. The water flew out like projectile vomit exploding all over MacRibbons.

So, you see, while I’d given MacRibbons the first knock, it was Panda Joe that delivered the death blow. Maybe he couldn’t stand to watch the poor fella’ suffer.

At that moment of shock, all I could think of was that my own bladder was now at 150% capacity. Panda Joe’s tornado tail was the final blow. There was no saving MacRibbons. There was no reason to even try. The dollar signs for repair were rolling ever higher. Rather than try to rescue MacRibbons, who was so obviously dead, I stood up and said “Wow, Panda Joe really hates Macs.”

I then ran to the bathroom to piss, leaving Dr. Mac to clean up the mess.

The Resurrection of HiPHoppins

When I returned, I saw Dr. Mac had snapped into action, flipping MacRibbons upside down as though in some sort of Mac Heimlich. He attempted to sop up the carnage dripping out of MacRibbons using a super absorbent cloth. But Panda Joe and I were certain, the motherboard had been compromised (or whatever you Apple-ites call hard drives) because when Panda Joe takes life into his hands, he doesn’t go half-tailed.

As far as I’m concerned, MacRibbons had a death wish and Panda Joe and I were determined to help him see it through. Dr. Mac was the only one committed to resurrection.

I googled new laptops on my Samsung phone as Dr. Mac sought out a dry and arid spot in the house, free from wives and dogs, to let MacRibbons fight the good fight in peace. But while MacRibbons fought for his life, I discovered that new, non-Mac laptops are dirt cheap compared to the old days.

So, I said, fuck this 6-year, failed domestic experiment. And my husband said, “What?! Don’t be rash, honey.” And I said, “I’m not talking about our marriage. I’m talking about the MacRibbons situation.” And because the defeat of MacRibbons was significantly less terrible than the defeat of our marriage, Dr. Mac encouraged me to spread my PC wings and take a trip to Best Buy, thus putting to rest Dr. Mac’s 6-year reign of IT-knowledge superiority and my fears of being a bad feminist.

It turns out, if someone was going to pick the best date to murder a computer, it’d be over Labor Day Weekend when stores offer significant sales. I’m not saying I whispered this fact into Panda Joe’s ears every night for the last 3 months. I would never encourage murder, no matter how much I support feminism. I’m just saying I got a very sweet deal and I have divided my household by introducing a new lady: Rosa HiPHopster.

The Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles — August 28, 2019

The Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles

As you should all know, I’m not a social media trend-setter. While I’ve worked in marketing for years and managed many corporate social media accounts and strategies, I’ve never really been interested or invested in any social media platform for my own personal purposes. I recently opened a Twitter account against my better judgment and even that feels like too much work (or too close to work, as the case might be).

What you might not know is that while I’m not a social media trend-setter, I am a social media trend-spotter. I see patterns and analyze social media data like no body’s business. I’ve done it professionally for years. And through my years of painstaking labor, I’ve birthed something for your enjoyment. (You’re welcome & I’m sorry for the birthing metaphor. At least I didn’t make you eat the placenta.)

Kardashian jokes aside, I’d like to present to you The Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles (hereafter, colloquially known as, TUTOS MPLC).

I was inspired to post this after watching a documentary on Hulu called Jawline. (Hulu=consolation prize for living in the US during the Trump era.) It’s about young people trying to become social media stars and it made me feel simultaneously old and worried for today’s youth despite being only 29 myself.

The thing that didn’t surprise me at all about Jawline was that the kids documented were popular on social media sites that I’d never heard of, and that these sites were being used as a measure of their success. Anyone heard of YouNow? Cause the young people in your life probably have. And you’ll probably have an account in 5 years. Why? It’s all in the unified theory. So without further ado, I present to you…

TUTOS MPLC

If you’re a kid/teen then TUTOS MPLC will be intuitive to you. You just don’t yet have the verbal reasoning skills to express it. Allow me to help.

But first, for those of you that are not verbal learners (how the heck did you end up on my blog?), a visual aide to help you along.

TUTOS MPLC visual aide.

TUTOS MPLC written theory.

TUTOS MPLC dictates that a social media platform is born when, first, the kids ‘discover’ it. Then companies/brands sign up for accounts trying to market to kids and prove their continued relevance. The only reason companies discover these sites before parents is because social media marketing teams are run almost exclusively by millennials and millennial marketers can sniff out a teen trend like they’re Edward Cullen in a biology lab. Please pause for Twilight tribute.

And, for a split second, kids and millennials and marketing vampires are all hanging out in a hip and edgy ‘cool kids’ club that no ones parents are monitoring. This was Instagram 8 years ago.

But then some parent started asking where you, the kid, have been spending all your time because you haven’t been posting on Facebook lately even though your phone is permanently glued to your palm. You send out an emergency alert to all your friends, warning them that the ‘rents are sniffing around and reminding everyone to shut their big, beautiful, invisaligned mouths but there’s always that one kid that snitches, usually a mama’s-boy named Chuck, and suddenly all the parents flock to the site to see what you and 200,000 of your vampiric friends have been up to.

Then one of the parents writes some investigative piece of ‘journalism’ about where the youth of today have been spending all of their time and it ends up in The Atlantic and a spin-off of that article is adapted for a story on 60 Minutes and a spin-off of that story becomes an integral plot element in a true crime documentary.

The next thing you know, Grandma and Grandpa are calling up your parents, asking if they’ve heard about this dangerous, new social media site or app or whatever that kids are into. Your grandparents are genuinely concerned because they heard that kids are being sexploited and pressured into all kinds of peer activities.

Your parents make some sarcastic joke about how paranoid your grandparents are because everyone has an account on this platform, even them, and for a split second, your parents feel cooler than their parents again. But then your Grandpa pulls a fast one on your mom and calls you up to ask you to help him and Grandma set up an account. And there you are, Chuck, fucking us all again.

At the exact same time that your Grandparents are opening an account, campaign managers from politicians offices across the country are watching reruns of 60 minutes and realizing there are millions of voters now frequenting this one website and there are almost no politicians currently using it because they’re all still on Twitter. It’s their opportunity to bring their message to the ‘youth’. But let’s be honest. All of the ‘youth’ vanished from that platform in search of the next parent-free zone shortly after Chuck snitched the first time. And so the cycle continues.

TUTOS MLPC Numerical Aide

If you’re more of a numbers person, you haven’t been left out. Please feast your eyes on the Quantified Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles:

And so I leave you with my unified theory that I expect will one day lead to a prestigious award and much notoriety.

Are you a hipster? Find out with this 10 question quiz. — August 21, 2019

Are you a hipster? Find out with this 10 question quiz.

I suppose you might suspect that this is an elaborate plot, utilizing my marketing knowledge that people are a sucker for a silly quizzes and labels, to get you to interact with my blog. And let’s face it, I might be doing that to collect your precious, personal data for my own nefarious purposes. But no matter how much data I collect from you during this quiz, you can rest assured that it’s not as much as Facebook is collecting.

Data Disclosure: To confirm, I’m collecting no (0) data from this quiz other than raw numbers from your answers. I have no interest in your data and have no buyers for it (sad but true). I can’t track the answers back to the responder and don’t want to. It was created purely for the sake of giving you 5 minutes of mindless, harmless internet fun. It was created using Google Forms. The form will ask to take you to a 3rd party website after completions to view your results. This 3rd party website is Google Forms.

The moment of truth. Your results indicate…

21-30 Points: You’re a Hipster

You’re a hipster through and through. What trend will you be supporting next year? Will you be chewing on whole honeycomb straight from the hive? Will you start a movement in support of mismatched socks? Will you decide that big box stores are more socially responsible than Amazon and become an unexpected advocate of Wal-Mart? Are you going to make crossword puzzles cool again? Pray tell, I’m looking to invest.

11-20 Points: You’re a Hippie

You’re a good old-fashioned hippie. Too bad they cancelled Woodstock this year. I know you resoled your Birkenstock’s in preparation. At least there’s always burning man to look forward to. You live in a state where Mary-Jane is legal for recreational use.

1-10 Points: You’re a Yuppie

You live by the rules of society but you live well. You enjoy life and luxury and fine food and if your grandparents were just starting out, they’d be living just like you. You dream of taking risks but rarely take them. You dream of making the world a better place but you’re not going to sacrifice your children or your straws or your pumpkin spiced lattes to get there.

0 Points: Grand(ma/pa)? Is that you?

Let’s face it. You’re probably over 60. You’ve never been cool. You’ve never wanted to be. You’re comfortable just as you are. You’re mild-moderately paranoid about becoming the victim of identity theft or a serial killer, you’re socially and politically conservative, and you don’t like to explore things that are outside of your comfort zone. You play one hell of an accordion and have a number of other talents under-valued by society.

On really wanting to be a psychic. And failing. — August 14, 2019

On really wanting to be a psychic. And failing.

When I was a younger youngster than I am now and psychics were a regular feature of daytime TV and commercials , I wanted to be a psychic. As a typical millennial, a belief that I could do whatever I put my mind to was fed to me daily at breakfast. So I ate my Froot Loops and put my mind to it. And so would begin my decade long journey towards repeated failure and disillusionment.

I didn’t go into this quest blind and dumb. No, friends. I knew I’d have to do more research than watch Sylvia Browne on Montel twice a week. I went to Barnes & Noble and Borders and browsed several books on the topic for several hours each. When one book suggested I try squinting and crossing my eyes until I saw auras forming around other people, I stood right in the middle of Barnes & Noble and did my darnedest to summon some auras. And, honest to G-d, it worked for a couple hours.

This convinced me that I might have the gift after all and would keep me on my wayward path for way too long. Eventually, one of the bookshop employees told me I needed to buy the book or get a library card because I was wearing out the spines and they promise people new books, not lovingly used books. I settled on a deck of tarot cards from Amazon and a library card which explains why America is where it’s at today–Borderless and B&N-less (that’s buns & nuts).

Anyway, after my aura experience, I was so convinced that I had the gift that I even talked to my PCP about it when he asked me what my goals were in life. I told him about my quest to psychic-dom and the auras I had summoned at B&N and he told me that seeing auras were a symptom of my migraines. My faith was shaken, friends, but not stirred.

So I told my PCP that I read a numerology book that had my moderately unusual name listed in it (what are the odds?) and it said that I was going to grow up to spend all my money on books and wine and that I wouldn’t settle in love until I met my soulmate and we were going to be passionate and loyal lovers.

He had nothing to say about this except that it sounded like a good life and he wished me luck but to remember that alcoholism runs in my family so I should take it easy on the wine. Small town PCP’s are the best. But I digress.  

When I failed to accurately predict anything in the lives of anyone I knew for the 1000th time, I was forced (via intervention by all my loved ones) to concede that I might not have the gift of foresight. I didn’t even have the 50% accuracy rate that would be expected by random chance. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t look backwards and summon up some dead people. I just had to change course.

So I spent the next several months trying really hard to see dead people. I even went to a metaphysical shop in Old Colorado City and the retail clerk suggested I wasn’t seeing them because my 3rd eye was blocked. I didn’t even know I had a 3rd eye which explains a lot. Anyway, after she opened it for me (like, bam!) and I told her I still wasn’t seeing them, she insinuated that I didn’t believe enough. But not to worry, she had a product that could clear away my doubt and transform me into a channel for the spirits. That’s when she presented to me a small vile of fairy dust hidden behind the counter that she had somehow come into possession of. She assured me it was by cruelty-free methods. No fairies lost their wings in the making of this dust.

She suggested I let myself be sprinkled in fairy dust to clear out the bad energy my doubt had created around me. ‘You don’t want to see bad spirits, honey,’ she said, ‘trust me.’ And I did trust her. Even though the fairy dust looked like purple glitter, I didn’t outwardly doubt her.

In my defense, let me just say that she was 19 and cool and I was 15-ish and wanted to be cool like her. Peer pressure is real. How do I know this? Because I let her sprinkle me with fairy dust and I walked around with purple glitter on my scalp for 4 days. Absolutely nothing in my life changed but if I were to go back, I’d let her do it again. That’s how I know peer pressure is real, unlike psychics or mediums or ghosts which I have yet to find proof of.

The moral of this story is that even though I tried my hardest for an amount of time that can only be categorized as abnormal, I never developed psychic or medium abilities.

That is, until this week.

This week I had a dream that I can only describe as prophetic. So, picture this. I’m in my dream, holding my phone, looking at the weather app and it says that here in Florida it’s going to be 113*F on one day and 115*F the next day. Naturally, when I woke up, the first thing I did was open my weather app to see if I was subconsciously replaying weather forecasts I’d previously looked up. But none of the highs even got close.

I have interpreted this to mean that I was dreaming of a future time in which temperatures in Florida will rise so high that they’ll reach 113* & 115* respectively in these parts that currently rarely exceed 93*. Given what I know about climate change, I think this is not too far off and I might have finally been visited by the spirits and bequeathed the gift of foresight that I’ve been asking Santa to grant me for over a decade now.

So, I consulted my deeply skeptical and staunchly logical and ever patient husband who just so happens to be a scientist (opposites attract, go figure) and guess what he said? He said if climate change models are right, this part of Florida is going to be under water in 30 years which means that even if it reaches 113* or 115* by then, no one’s going to be reporting about it on a weather app because there’s not going to be a city here. Then he told me I should probably stop eating ice cream before bed.

And so the dream dies again and, with it, my spirit animal is crushed.

Should fiction writers ‘write what they know’? — August 7, 2019

Should fiction writers ‘write what they know’?

There’s a common saying that writers like to tell one another, ‘write what you know.’ While this once meant something like, ‘don’t write a mystery novel if you’re the world’s leading expert on the history of chocolate unless your mystery novel includes a plotline about chocolate,’ it seems like it’s been taken a complicated (and literal) turn as of late with writers asking themselves, and each other, if it’s acceptable to write about experiences that they have never had.

If you’re not sure the context around this and you’re interested in reading more, these are some of the articles that have shaped my thinking on this topic:

On one level, we all acknowledge that fiction writers write fiction, right (tongue twister)? No one is saying that all fiction needs to become memoir. I also don’t think anyone believes you have to be a man to write believable male characters in your novel or, vice versa, you must be a woman to write female characters (except the die hards following @men_write_women). And I’m almost certain that even fewer people think you have to be, say, an immortal human to write about vampires.

Even though representations of women in male-authored novels have been, at times, appalling and showed a lack of understanding and possibly contributed to some degree of misogyny, I still don’t think we should ban men from giving it a try. For one, it’s the closest a man has ever gotten to wanting to know what it’s like to be a woman. And, more importantly, in the parallel universe where we take fiction to this n’th degree of separation, fiction doesn’t just become repressive and weird–fiction dies.

So we agree that men and women can write stories about each other, right? And that mere mortals can write books about immortals, right? I hope so. Otherwise, we need to start crowdsourcing letters to Nicolas Cage to encourage him to save Science Fiction. I predict he’ll do the job in 500 years when he has the self-satisfaction of knowing that none of us are alive to acknowledge he’s fulfilled our collective request.

But what about race? Can white authors write about non-white characters?

And what about sexual orientation? Can straight authors write LBGTQ+ characters? Can gender-binary authors write about non-binary characters?

And if they are allowed, must those characters be relegated to secondary roles? That is, could a straight, white author write about a black, gay protagonist? To me, this is when the conversation becomes much more complicated.

Consider the repercussions of a world in which we start stripping our fiction novels of everyone whose experience we haven’t lived or can’t perfectly depict. I don’t think we benefit from having sterilized, segregated literature: novels with all white characters, novels with all male characters, and novels with all straight characters. I’d like to see literature become more integrated, not less.

I, for one, don’t want to be afraid to write something that’s outside of my comfort zone. I don’t want to be driven into silence by fear of a bad response or missing the mark. I want to take risks and take solace in knowing that no reader in the history of reading ever died from being offended.

Maybe you’re thinking that, as a writer, sometimes we’re going to get it right and sometimes we’re going to get it wrong and we just have to accept that and apologize when we get it wrong. But writing, in my estimation, shouldn’t be about getting it right or getting it wrong. We’re not creating manifestos. (I certainly hope we aren’t, at least.) And writers shouldn’t have to apologize for depicting a character differently than the reader wanted it to be depicted.

Now, more than ever, given how connected writers are to their readers, writing presents an opportunity to exchange ideas. I’d like to propose that it’s possible, now, for writing to be an exercise in mutual learning instead of 1-sided preaching or teaching. I’d like to propose that YA readers don’t need a moral in their stories. That they can draw conclusions divergent from the protagonists without demanding that books be removed from shelves. To choose to write in this day and age is to choose to engage in a lifelong conversation with the reader and to hope that, at the end, we’ll all have achieved that magical place of symbiotic union I like to call a conversation.

Living in a world where sensitivity readers and trigger-warning happy college students demand changes to content is not conducive to a conversation. It’s a moral reprimand that shuts down all conversation. I sincerely believe the sensitivity readers of today want to build a better world (unless they’re actually secret Russian bots) but my Fahrenheit 451 senses are tingling at their methods.

If readers want to reshape the story, I encourage them to do what writers of all generations have done before them that wanted to reshape the conversation–pick up the pen, don’t burn the book.

Numbered lists for numbed out people — or — 9 Reasons Your Dentist Hates You More Than They Hate Themselves — July 25, 2019

Numbered lists for numbed out people — or — 9 Reasons Your Dentist Hates You More Than They Hate Themselves

Do you remember a time before the internet was over-saturated with numbered list articles (also known as list posts and listicles)?

Ever since HuffPo started feeding me daily doses of listicles such as, ’10 Legit Reasons to Stop Eating Nuts’ and ‘7 Ways to Get Healthy this Summer’ I’ve been unable to escape. We are collectively being driven by our curious clicks and Google’s a-curious algorithm towards a world in which no content exists without a numbered list attached.

I’m not the first to notice. If you pay to look behind the paywall of the New York Times, you might have even read an article justifying the existence of the listicle. Or if you’re like me and don’t believe that high-quality journalism deserves to be rewarded, you search for free opinions on the matter and have found this blog.

Maybe it’s easier to consume information in lists. Can we make this stop? Do we want to? I, for one, do but first I’ve gotta get busy on delivering the promise of this blog or my google ratings will drop from ‘invisible’ to ‘actively discouraged’.

I actually have a number of listicles that I’ve been wanting to write just to do my part and contribute to the blizzard-apocolypse of listicle doom (hereafter known as the blitzticle) that we’re all actively contributing to but I’ll just start with everyone’s favorite topic: dentists!

9 reasons your dentist hates you more than they hate themselves

  1. Floss.
    No matter how many times they’ve told you, no matter how many products they’ve invented to help with the situation, you still refuse to floss. They’ve tried everything: the floss pick, the water pick, the gosh-dang 360 Sonic Brush. You just refuse to do it.
  2. The fluoride wars of 2003.
    Remember that time you Googled ‘is fluoride safe?’ and then started stock-piling Tom’s fluoride-free toothpaste because you were afraid that every dentist in America was a part of a big conspiracy to poison Americans 1 teaspoon of fluoride at a time? Yeah. Dentists hate you for that.
  3. You’ve been a bad friend.
    Because even when you found out that all dentists wanted to kill themselves, you didn’t call your dentist to make sure they were okay. You just thought, ‘That makes sense. I’ve totally met a dentist like that before.’
  4. You never took his advice to heart.
    When you were 13 and your dentist told you on the same day that he removed your braces that you’d have to wear your retainer every night for the rest of your life, you laughed in his face.
  5. You assumed all dentists were men.
    Just because a woman walks in the room, that doesn’t mean she’s your hygienist. How about you tell your biases to Dr. Sheri Doniger who was told that by being in dental school, she was taking the place of a man. Dental schools haven’t been actively discriminating against women applicants since at least April 2018.
  6. You’re totally aggro in their chair.
    Really, a total aggressive jerk. And a wimp. Doctors have relocated shoulders without administering a drop of pain medicine, soldiers have amputated limbs with little more than a leather belt and a bottle of bourbon and yet you feel a pinch against your gums and you’re whining like a toddler? There’s a reason your dentist lets you drool all over yourself.
  7. You forgot to brush.
    That’s right. I’m calling you out for that time you figured, ‘What’s the use? They’re going to clean them for me anyway. Isn’t that what I’m paying them for?’ Just gross, dude. Would you decide not to wipe your butt before going to the gastroenterologist because you’re pretty sure they’ll want a sample?
  8. The collective ugh.
    They can hear the collective groans of everyone around you when you show up to work, or the breakfast table, or your friends bat mitzvah and say, ‘I have to go to the dentist today.’ Dentists are humans too. And I’m pretty sure they have emotion-like feelings.
  9. Treat yo-self culture.
    They get it. You’ve been a good, grown-a$s boy by going to the dentist today. That doesn’t mean you get to treat yourself with an ice-cream from DQ on the way back to work. At least let the fluoride set.

Unlike respectable journalists and writers, I’ll never use this blog to charge you for my witty insights and humorous truths. Even though you totally paid that homeless dude outside the local Aldi $0.50 for his poems. But if you ever want to feel like as good of a person while you’re surfing the internet as you do while you’re walking around your neighborhood, I support your journey to moral superiority and will gladly send you real life proof of your moral superiority for you to show all of your friends.

Alternatively, if you want to keep exploiting wordsmiths without dropping a cent, you can follow me on Twitter @oftheicebox where I dispense witticisms and more for free on a regular basis.

Boats are the new bunkers — July 16, 2019

Boats are the new bunkers

A number of things have changed since I last lived in the US 3 years ago. Most shockingly, perhaps, Amazon bought Whole Foods which is the sell out that we all knew those hipster/yuppies would serve us but it still stings.

It better be Mary-Jane because until the day comes when I can order a special brownie on Amazon and have it delivered that afternoon, I will not be satisfied with this merger and the growing monopoly of Amazon (a company which I personally rely on and morally abhor).

Arthur Greenwood, Redwood, California

Secondly, somebody confused Twitter and the Electoral College leading to everyone’s least favorite grandpa somehow living in the White House because he got confused and thought it was the gated, 65+ retirement community for white people.

Remember that Thanksgiving when he told us he was the King of International Trade? And none of us challenged him even though we all knew that El Chapo was the King of International Trade because we didn’t want him to throw a fit and destroy the pumpkin pie for the 4th year in a row? I regret that decision now.

Moral of this story is that you should have never taught your grandparents how to use social media. You should have stopped at TiVo.

But back to boats. Given Whole Foods now delivers and the ice caps are still melting and this country will soon be one large gated community for white folks, it’s time to seriously consider buying a boat.

I got a good deal on this one. I bought it from some guy named Pi Patel. He swears he survived on the boat for 27 days in the Pacific Ocean with a tiger. Anyway, thank g-d for Pi, he landed in Canadian waters. (**Spoiler alert**)

Maybe you’ve been wavering on the whole boat thing. Maybe you thought bunkers were cool again because of the popularity of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and because the President of the United States has adopted what’s being called a ‘bunker mentality’. But don’t be fooled. If Kimmy Schmidt were to endorse a product, it would not be bunkers. It would be rainbow-pack scrunchies.

And nothing our 173-year-old grandpa has done has ever been cool. Not the time he grabbed women by their pu$$ies who might or might not have looked exactly like his daughter; not the time he filed bankruptcy in 1991, 1992, 2004 or 2009; not the time he called his wife smart for stealing Michelle Obama’s speech, twice; and certainly not the time he started wearing trucker hats with business suits.

– What does it even mean, Grandpa?
– I’ve got international stock invested in red trucker hats. It’s gonna be huge. They’re gonna run out of the color red. The color red is not going to exist anymore on this planet.

Not the President

So if you’re afraid, if you’re unsure what direction this country is going, if you don’t really want to be here anymore, then please, I beg of you, don’t bury yourself deep in the ground with your grandpa’s cans of creamed corn. Join me and Amazon’s Whole Foods on the boat commune. We’ll be touring down the Mississippi for at least 2,348 miles during which time we’re going to need to figure out a plan to deal with that wall. I’m sure Amazon will drone in a solution.

We’re also gonna need to ask the city of Xochimilco, Mexico if we can borrow their boats.

Here’s hoping for all the places we’ll never reach. — July 14, 2019

Here’s hoping for all the places we’ll never reach.

I had a dream. Not the MLK Jr. kind of dream. One of those ephemeral, all-in-the-head video reels that plays out while we sleep. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember the dream. All I could remember was this specific longing to move to Wyoming.

If I was a fatalist or the type of person that believed in destiny, I’d have thought this was a sign. But I’m not that person. I haven’t been for years now.

I’ve never lived in Wyoming. Never in my life wanted to live in Wyoming but there it was, buried deep as if I had belonged once, in a previous life, to those golden, rolling hills set against those impossible mountains. I wanted to be swallowed by the endless skies and belong to the empty streets of some town that knows it’ll never amount to much.

And I saw, or longed for, or envisioned, or made up a place where you and me and that baby we’ve been promising to each other for a few years now all existed together and we were happy.

“Let’s do it,” you said when I told you about my misplaced longing.

You’re supposed to be the rational one. I’m supposed to be the dreamer. And now I find myself dismantling my own longing just to fill the role I expected you to play.

“But you’d single-handedly double the Asian population of Wyoming.”

“Sounds kind of charming and noble.”

“We wouldn’t have anything to do up there.”

“You could write.”

“In the winter, the wind rolls through the foothills with such force it tears shingles off the roofs of perfectly good houses.”

“We’ll get a house with a tin roof.”

“You really want to do this?”

And you smirk and I melt and we both know we’ll never move to Wyoming but now we share a misplaced dream. And just like our misplaced child, it binds something between us.

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