Monday, January 28, 2013

Wolf Moon

Last night was a full moon. I'm a big fan of full moons. I find them completely fascinating. The idea that years ago the phases of the moon were considered magical gives them an allure to me. (I feel the same way about the mysticism behind the Holy Eucharist...and ghost hunting.) Because there seems nothing more logical than organizing your life by season, I adopted pagan-like names for the moons and began treating them as significant markers in the year.

January's moon is the Wolf Moon, and is one of my particular favorites. Years ago during the January moon, the wolves would get so hungry in the wintertime, they would come into the towns and villages to steal chickens (and maybe babies). Thus the name.

I have told this story to my boys for years now, and because they are young, they demanded a resolution to the situation that would render wolves less scary. I told them that if they dressed up like wolves and howled at the moon, other packs of wolves wouldn't bother their neighborhood. So they do that. They howl.

When I see my kids walk down our dark path to the lake in the dead of winter at bedtime, even though "there might be other wolves out there," as my 5-year-old says, I understand better what early man was doing when they set out to worship anything - manage the unpredictable world.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Becky's First Law of Bureaucracy

Today was good day for me and the government.

I was told that I was valued. I was encouraged to follow projects that I enjoyed. I found people who were just as enthusiastic about them. And best of all....I had a sense of humor.

What else can you do when a developer of a major project tells you that not only did he not expect people to want to export results to a spreadsheet, but that he also expected end users to be able to write their own Python scripts in order to interpret the results of a query to his database?

Hahahaha!! Sometimes the government is like when my 6-year-old uses first grade logic to explain the existence of unicorns!

Why does this happen?

Presenting the first of Becky's Laws of Bureaucracy:

The Law of Mediocrity Acceptance
Allow room for mediocrity, but encourage people to rise above it.

Some people need a box. They love the box, and they can't operate outside of it. These people are generally at the middle of the bell curve. The government - like society in general - needs to find places for those people. We need to develop a check list, so that they can follow it. In this way they will always know how to do the bare minimum. In general things will get done. And those people will be happy because as Tom Stoppard wrote... "Life in a box is better than no life at all."  [nevermind that in the stage play, that line is said in a coffin]

The bureaucracy also needs to accept that some people can master multiple boxes, can move between boxes, and can create new boxes. These people are force multipliers. If allowed to thrive, not only will things get done, but things will improve.

The bureaucracy also needs to accept that some people should be sent straight to the Farm to pull weeds and spread manure. But this last part is a rare thing for government to accept.

For more on the psychological pandering to mediocrity and how the Jets personify it, check this out...That Sunk-Cost Feeling.'s not just the government.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Portrait of the Lady Novelist as a Young Girl

Growing up in Georgia, my friend Erin and I were the champions of the romance novel among our circle of friends. Compared to the Southern Baptist contingent that largely made up our hometown, our parents were religiously tolerant, liberal, and most important at that age non-curfew. Snellville...everybody is somebody in Snellville. Our high school library didn't have romance novels, we gladly brought our own, dog-eared at all the best parts.

I always thought that my mom raised me to be a good feminist, but I didn't realize how this small act of independent thinking regarding romance novels was an example of it. 

Here is a video on why the history of romance novels is important in relation to women's studies:

I love writing romance novels as well. In the course of moving last month, I found that one box you never want to open but can't help it. All my old notebooks! My tweeny handwriting! All of them filled with gothic, melodramatic romance. I can't help but hug my young feminist self for all of it!  :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Griffins vs Unicorns

As mentioned I started a Seton Hill University MFA program in January. While on campus I picked up some SHU griffins for my kids. When I gave them to the boys, Jack delivered some excellent first-grade logic:

Griffins vs. Unicorns, Round 1...
JACK: Griffins aren't real.
ME: Oh, yeah, I guess you're right. They're make-believe, like unicorns.
JACK: No, unicorns are real!! They have horns!
ME: Oh, yeah....I guess you're right...

The next day I still couldn't let it go.

Griffins vs Unicorns, Round 2...
ME: How do you know unicorns are real and not griffins?
JACK: Ponies and horns are real. Unicorns are just ponies with horns.
ME: But eagles and lions are both real, so why can't the combination of them be real?
JACK: If you combine an eagle and lion, it becomes a monster, and monsters aren't real.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Flask Fiction

Chuck Wendig posted another flash fiction challenge: The Wheel Part Two. Hey, that looks like fun!

I rolled the dice, and this is what I got:
Subgenre: Bad Girls in Prison
Conflict: Enemy at the Gates
Must Feature: Carnival Folk

That's when I realized we should be calling this Flask Fiction. A little bit of Catoctin Creek whiskey on the rocks, and boy, this became WAY easier to write....


Guard Roberto was late for the nightly lockup. Polly tapped her long nails against the bars of her cell. It wasn't like him to be behind schedule when it came to harassing the inmates on his rounds. She took the opportunity to file her manicure into place using a rough patch of iron on her cell door. Felon or not, she had to take pride in something, even if it was just her nails.

Her faucet dripped away the seconds. Other ladies shifted in their cells. Restless tension filled the air. Years ago on a similar night, Polly ran away to join the circus, eager to dispel boredom once and for all. 

Turns out not even the circus would take her. They require a certain level of skill in juggling required at the circus...unless you're willing to shovel animal dung. And Polly wasn't settling for that. Instead she settled for carnival misfits - the Fun House midget posse, the one-eyed Tilt-a-whirl operator, the corncob hag. They taught her the sham and the grift, and Polly was the pretty bait for them all.

Being first on the cellblock had its advantages. She stared down the guard door waiting until she heard that satisfying chunk from the locks. The door groaned as it opened.

“Pollllllllyyyyyy,” sang Roberto. “If that’s even your real name.” He jeered at her.

She obliged him with a knowing laugh. Polly was her stage name…her clown name...her carny name. 

Oh, Roberto, and your sweaty upper mustache! Polly was starting to take a liking to predictable Roberto. The way he rubbed his belly after his nightly bowl of chili. His odd sayings like, "Pardon, but I have goat in my teeth." His silver toothpick holder with a Dia de Los Muertos skull engraved on the side. What did it say about her that she was turned on by this sadistic asshole?

“What do you want, el guard-O?”

“El carcelero, dumbass,” he said.

“Carcelero…yeah, right, bet you’re really working for el cartel-O,” Polly countered and gave him a smooch of air.

Roberto grunted. “At least I didn’t get kicked out of the circus. El carnaval.” Scanning his page for her inmate number, he checked it off the list with disgruntled force.

“Let’s not fight.” Polly half-whispered it, and he looked up at her, one eyebrow raised. She pouted with her lips, and he came closer. She could see his desire in the way he hitched his pants. The whole place had cameras, but he still gave a furtive glance down the length of the cell block. She did her hair in pig-tails just for this part. He was gripping the bars of her cell. White knuckles the last limit of his restraint.

“You twisted little clown girl,” he whispered. Just as his fingers brushed her chin and reached out to tug one of her braids, the end of a sharpened comb went into his neck. His clipboard clattered to the ground.

“Don’t underestimate the homicidal clown girl,” she said.

        El Fin

© Jan2013 BRW

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I love obtaining reasonably-priced designer clothes. When one says reasonably-priced designer clothes, it actually isn't that cheap. My favorite place to find this stuff is The Outnet where you can find $2300 dresses for a mere $600.

What a deal! You would be stupid not to buy! Wish List! Wish List! Wish List!

Wish-listing is a slow means of torture for me since I actually can't afford $600 dresses.  I do after all work for the Federal Government (FG). Therefore, I look for the discount on the discount which can knock things down to $200 or $300. And because I work for the FG, I still manage to look stylish compared to the frumpilicious bureaucrats that normally inhabit our cubicle space. There's settling for clothes designed three seasons ago, and then there's really losing all respect for yourself by wearing sweatpants and a Hawaiian shirt.

(Yes, there is such a guy. I saw him on the elevator.)

BUT...even $200-300 is still pretty pricy....esp after Christmas...and after paying tuition...  This is why I was ecstatic about my new favorite outfit which I got at Target...every piece except the shoes. 

Total cost was about $60.  #winning #successkid

Styling oneself via Taget

Unfortunately, even Target clothes shopping will be STRICTLY OFF-LIMITS!!! I will not buy clothes until I actually finish editing the first 5 chapters of my thesis. I'm told this reward system will keep me from procrastinating.

In other news...after 8 long years of service, my favorite winter pair of Lucky jeans split around the inner thigh. Fortunately, the clothes-buying moratorium does not apply here because I have a gift card from my birthday last month. (Technicality found in the bylaws of the appendices etc etc.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Suicidal Nun Ghosts!

I started a Masters in Fine Arts program at Seton Hill University last week. It was a week-long residency, and I got to hang out in an old Catholic school / nunnery. From the get-go I'm liking this idea.

First of muse.

For art and writing I always thought of my Father's spirit as my muse and guide. He used to reminisce all the time about growing up in Catholic school and the crazy nuns (in his stories the nuns were always a bit off their rockers), so it feels like a meaningful, symbolic dream to be in little classrooms with old-fashioned chalkboards and uncomfortable chairs.

Second of all...suicidal nun ghosts! On the campus tour, our guide made claims. Can I see one please?

Unfortunately I didn't. I saw a lot of statues reminiscent of Doctor Who angels, which sent very lovely chills down my spine in certain parts of the campus.

I did figure out why the nuns would commit suicide, and that is the SHU food. One of my critique partners this semester literally had to get up and compose herself after putting an unidentifiable something in her mouth.

It looked like hardened tofu.

It might have been angel food, if angels were soul-devouring monsters like in Doctor Who.

Abuse of food is unpardonable in my opinion. It simply isn't hard to steam broccoli or grill a hamburger. Chefs who can't meet a certain bare minimum should not be in the kitchens. Period. They should go to the Farm. Because picking food is even easier...but not too easy. I declare that we should demote Chefs that give us bad food to Farmers (or Farmers' Apprentice), so they appreciate the time and effort put into feeding a society. Maybe then they will put some care into what they expect others to put in their mouths.

I survived. I was fasting.

UPDATE: I did actually weigh myself yesterday, and I actually lost 4 lbs while at Residency.  Now THAT is a "WPF" moment. LMAO