Tag Archive | dorkitude

And Texas is slang for “crazy.”

So, in Norway, when something is completely nuts, it’s Texas. As in, “der var helt texas,” or, “that’s totally texas.” (Yes, lower case. Because it’s an adjective. Duh.)

I don't know what's in this picture, but apparently it's pretty awesomely out of control.

I don’t know what’s in this picture, but apparently it’s pretty awesomely out of control.

Now, mind you, a situation can be totally texas, but not a person. Which is an interesting (and oddly logical) distinction. Here’s the tumbler post that brought this to the attention of Texas Monthly:


Clearly someone in Norway has once been to a meeting of our state legislature.

I’ll just cite the Texas Monthly article that cites and example of a fisherman telling the local news about the rare sverdfisk he caught in Northern Norway. (Oh hey! THAT’S what that picture is about) “I heard a loud noise from the bay, but I did not know where it came from right away. Thirty seconds to a minute later it jumped out in the fjord. I got to see some of it before I took up the camera,” he says and continues: “It was totally texas!”

Maybe this isn’t as funny to people who aren’t from Texas. It’s just so random and yet so utterly perfect. The logic goes “Texas” (the state) = “the Wild West” = “totally bonkers.” Which about sums things up, from Austin hipsters to big trucks to Texas Longhorn football games, and yes, even blowhards. Everything is bigger (and nuttier) in Texas.

det var helt texas gothic

Leonardo’s To Do List and Michelangelo’s Groceries

I really like lists.

Leonardo da Vinci's To Do List circa 1490 (direct translation, amendments in brackets by Robert Krulwich). Illustration by Wendy Macnaughton for NPR. Original Article here.

Leonardo da Vinci’s To Do List circa 1490 (direct translation, amendments in brackets by Robert Krulwich). Illustration by Wendy Macnaughton for NPR. Original Article here.

Lists, timelines, graphs, charts…not because I’m the most methodical of people, but precisely because I’m not. There’s always a lot going on in noggin, and it’s not terribly orderly in there. The big ideas are kind of wibbly wobbly all over time and space, and the little idea are sort of this gnat like cloud around my head.

I’ve always kept a sort of catchall journal. My packing list for World Con will be right next to my character notes for Splendor Falls and a (terrible) sketch of the layout of Bluestone Hill.  A reminder to get dog food is on the back of the page that has the Goodnight family tree which is next to my notes about who I’m going to vote for in the next election. It’s a little willy nilly, but it’s the way I’ve done it for ten years, and the notebooks are lined up on my shelf.

Recently, as part of an ongoing quest not to forget so many things, I’ve been on a quest to find The Perfect System that works with my system. The smartphone is great, because there’s nothing like something that will ding at you. But there’s also nothing like paper for permanence. In college, I used to study by rewriting my class notes into a neat outline. By the time I was done, I knew the material. I am much more likely to remember something I write by hand than enter in my phone. (Which is not to say I’ll remember it, just that I’m more likely.)

There’s the idea of physical permanence, too. When I look through a previous year’s notebook, it’s interested to see where my head was at a particular moment, or what I was dealing with while I wrote X book, or what I thought was important to remember from Y conference. I’ve found ideas jotted down on paper napkins, and business cards from people I’ve met (sometimes I’ll even remember who they were). Sometimes I’m impressed with my brilliance. Sometimes I wonder why on earth I though I needed to pack three sweaters to go to Alabama in October.

I remember finding a stack of letters that a great-great-aunt wrote in the early 19th century. Genealogy is great, but reading Audrey describe her train trip to Palacios and ask if Rosemary (!!) has recovered yet from her cold, made her a real person.

Da Vinci's packing list.

Da Vinci’s packing list. “Get hold of a skull.” (Image from an article in The Daily Mail)

The illustration at the top is a direct translation of a recently discovered (well, recent in 2011) “to do list” jotted down by Leonardo da Vinci. I mean, that guy wrote everything down. But It makes me happy to know sometimes he wrote it down just for himself.

Da Vinci’s notebooks are a record of his genius and all, but this packing list sketches a more personal picture. No pun intended. (Okay, yeah, pun totally intended.) “Spectacles with Case. Human skull. Nutmeg.” I’m sorry, but how awesome is it that “nutmeg” seems like the oddest thing on this list.

Michelangelo's Shopping List (image credit: Casa Buonarroti)

Michelangelo’s Shopping List (image credit: Casa Buonarroti)

Then there’s Michelangelo’s grocery list, which he had to illustrate because his servant couldn’t read. Let’s just think about that for a sec. This is a grocery list illustrated by the painter of the Sistine Chapel. And we know he liked herring and anchovies. Yum.

Not that I’m comparing myself to Leonardo or Michelangelo (even in a Mutant Ninja Turtle sense). I’m not jotting things down for posterity… just to remember them after I’ve slept and cleared the data banks.

I mean, I have to do something so I can get on with the business of being a genius!

Edited to add: I came across this in my quest for the Perfect System. (Pinterest, incidentally, was so helpful that it was not helpful.) Twelve types of journals you can keep. 

Are you a lister? Is yours one of those planners covered in colored pen and washi tape? What kinds of things do you like to write down? (Typing counts, too!)

No Penguins Were Harmed Making This Post

Today is my two month new house anniversary. I still love my little townhouse. I thought that having neighbors in such close proximity would take getting used to, but really? I lived in the land of the big house and small yard, so this isn’t that much different.

In fact, it’s kind of quiet. But this morning when I let the dogs out, the neighbors were having an argument. (These are the neighbors who have a cat that likes to come over and taunt my dogs by prancing in front of the window.)  Of course, as soon as the dogs are done, Mom and I are pressed up against the porch door, shamelessly eavesdropping. I haven’t had any neighbor drama since the pot-dealing teenagers across the street from the old house got sent off to military school.  I’ve really missed it.

“I think someone is getting kicked out,” says Mom.

“She’s not going to kick him out,” I whisper back. “She’s pregnant.”

“She might,” says Mom sagely. “It’s the twenty-first century, not the nineteen fifties.”

“I hope he takes the cat,” I say.

It’s at this point that I realize that Mom and I have become characters in a Monty Python sketch.

Not really, of course. I have a flat screen TV. A penguin couldn’t sit on top.


Thank you. I’ll be here all week.

Actually, mom and I each have a TV, so exploding penguins aren’t as much of a problem as dueling explosion movies  from the 90’s. She likes Independence Day.  I like The Rock. (The movie with Ed Harris, not the actor Dwayne Johnson. Not that I have a problem with him, either.)

Also, is it weird that Independence Day is almost 20 years old? It’s older than a lot of you. Will Smith was the hot young guy who punched aliens in the face. But it’s weird now, because the crushes of my youth are now playing Somebody’s Dad. I mean, still hot, but I’m just putting that in perspective for you.

The nineties movies aren’t on purpose, by the way. It just happens that 1) they are a particular kind of awesome (case in point, The Fifth Element) before filmmakers had the need to be all brooding and dark and stuff, or even make sense, really and 2) they are on TV all the time.

Also, no penguins are harmed in those explosions.

rimshot gif photo: drum GIF Rimshot_zps53c00dd7.gif

Soylent Green is People

No one ever believes me when I say that I’m an introvert at heart.  If you’ve ever met me at a book event, you know what I mean. I have no trouble with public speaking, and I enjoy  talking with readers and writers and librarians. I have a reputation as bubbly and outgoing.

Hermit Crab

This is a sham. I am really a hermit crab with good coping skills.

It isn’t that I don’t like people, especially readers.  But you know how you don’t want to go to a friend’s birthday party or something, even though you actually really like your friend, but it’s going to be noisy and there’s going to be dancing or whatever, and your mom is all like, “Just go. You know you’ll have a good time once you get there,” and you whine and protest but she makes you go and then you actually do have a really good time?

That’s pretty much me all the time.

And it’s kind of a vicious cycle, because once I get into my cave, it’s safe and cozy and I have my dog and MY SPOT on the couch and lots of coffee and cookies. You would think that I would have a lot more writing to show for this, but there’s also satellite TV and Netflix for marathoning full seasons of Lost Girl and Breaking Bad. Then I realize that I’ve written five pages in the last five days and I live with my mother and I haven’t had a date or been out with my friends in months, which is my own fault because I love my spot and my dog and my Netflix and OH MY GOD THIS IS HOW CRAZY CAT LADIES GET STARTED.

Not that that is really what happens. I’m just saying it could.

This is why writers need Real Life friends. Because after a certain point it takes dynamite to get me out of my cave. When I don’t come to critique group for two weeks in a row, my friends threaten to send a Navy SEAL extraction team. It has nothing to do with the fact that my work needs critique. (Which, of course it doesn’t, because it falls from my fingers like perfect jewels of prose.)  It’s because otherwise I will turn into the crazy dog lady.

So, this morning I’m sitting at a table in Starbucks with four of my writer friends. We’re actually being really productive this morning, all of us with our earphones in, typing away at our laptops, which probably looks a little weird to people. (Or maybe not. I’m sure Starbucks has seen weirder stuff.)  Why meet in person to sit and look at your own computer screen and not talk to each other?

For one thing, it forces us to rejoin civilization. You know. Take a shower and wear pants without elastic waistbands.  For another, I look up and see my friends hammering on the keys, and peer pressure puts its boot to my butt.

But most of all it’s good to get out of the cave.  We’re social creatures, human beings. Sometimes being around people, whether you actually talk to them or not, is like taking your vitamins.

I hear that’s good for you.




Friday Faves – The Twisted, The Pretty, and the Yummy

Here’s what’s floating my boat this week. Why? Because “Friday Faves” sounds cool.

1. Gillian Flynn. This is not a YA author. (Not by any stretch of the imagination.) Banner for Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnShe writes books about grisly murders and really twisted up characters. Her book Gone Girl is a best seller, and deservedly so. Her books keep me riveted, not just with the plot twist, but because she’s got this astounding facility with voice.

Also, it is really hard to knock me to a place where I’m staring at the book going “Holy $%^&! I did NOT see that coming.”

[YA disclaimer: I’d rate her books almost an R, not for any graphic sex but for disturbing psychology… in both the killers and the protagonists.]

2. The Immaculate Baking Company.  Oh my GAWD these chocolate rolls are so good.  I literally reward myself for getting up early and going to mass by baking them when I get home. (Appropriate, given the name, I guess.)  Only today is Friday and I’m eating one just because. (They also promote Folk Artists and they have a blog with delicious start-with-our-products-and-make-them-even-more-awesome recipes.)



3. The cheerfulness of Vera Bradley’s Ribbons pattern… and their Pinterest board full of inspiration.


4. These floats, covered entirely in flowers (like the Tournament of Roses parade), from Holland’s Bloemencorso.

Look at that little guy on the bottom, helping out with the grooming. So. Cute.

Look at that little guy on the bottom, helping out with the grooming. So. Cute.

What a cutie.

Speaking of cute. This is. 


5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper. First off, I LOVED that movie. JGL did an incredible job playing young Bruce Willis. His mannerisms and line delivery were dead on.  But I feel like I just discovered this guy. I know he was in Inception (and really great in that, too). But when did he go from being “Wow, that kid from Third Rock From The Sun can really act!” to “Wow, he’s kinda hot as well. A little skinny, but… day-um.”


That’s it for this Friday. I guess I’ll have to pull my head out of my book long enough to find new things to be obsessed with next week. Please make suggestions in the comments. Seriously.

The Real Me

So, here’s a nugget of Real Life Info for you. Not only does my mother live with me (or me with her, depending on who you ask), but I rent my upstairs apartment to a nun.

Let’s just let that sink in for a minute.

I live with my mother and Maria Von Trapp.

Then there’s the dogs. I have one, Mom has two, Sister Maria Von Upstairs has one. All of them small and puffy, except Sister’s who is a twenty pound chihuahua rescue who was raised on nachos and lard, from all appearances.

Then there’s my crafty side, and I don’t mean sly. I bake, I knit, I sew. I’m polite, dutiful, tidy, I go to church, help old ladies across the street…

So, you’d be excused for thinking, from outward appearances, that I’m a future sweet spinster dog lady. Maybe not so future.crazy dog lady

Okay, it’s true I’m a nice, polite person who loves dogs and children. But I also love violent movies, racy novels, rock and roll and everything science fiction. I have a (small) tattoo. I am overly fond of the f-bomb when I’m with my friends, and the word ‘crap’ when I’m in public. (I try not to say it on school visits. I try.)

There is, however, no getting around the fact that I live with my mother (and a nun). So integrating The Good Girl with The Twenty-First Century girl is sometimes awkward.

Not long after mom moved in with me (or me with her), I was cleaning the kitchen and singing along to Ben Folds Five “Song for the Dumped.”  It’s a great song. But maybe not so much when you forget your mom has never heard you use a particular word in a particular phrase. (By now she’s heard me use that word a lot.)

Then there was the incident with The Tudors. There I was happily watching guilty pleasure TV, when Mom comes in the living room and asks if I’m watching porn.

Me: Oh My God NO!  And if I was, I wouldn’t be watching it in the living room! (Though she had a point. I’m thrilled see books into TV like True Blood and Game of Thrones but seriously. So. Much. Naked.)

It’s not so much that Mom (or anyone else) tells me what I can and can’t watch or listen to. It’s just that living with a parent is… inhibiting.

It’s also probably why I write YA. I have conversations like this all the time:

Mom: Is that what you’re wearing?

Me: No, it’s what I put on to annoy you before I put on what I’m wearing.


Me: *yawn*grumble*moan*

Mom: If you worked steadily instead of waiting until your assignment is due, you wouldn’t have to stay up so late to get it done.


Me: I’m going out tonight.

Mom: Text me when you get there. And before you start home. And at hourly intervals. And don’t ride in cars with strangers. Or boys. Or strange boys.

Hang on. There was a point to this story. Oh yeah…

So, this morning, I have the house to myself. No Sister Maria Von Trapp upstairs. Mom is off at a quilting bee or whatever. Just me and the dogs and the irresistible urge to dance around in my socks and underwear like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

Or maybe I’ll sing along to songs in the key of F-bomb.

Or maybe I’ll watch historical costume porn.

Or maybe I’ll ride in cars with strange boys.

Or maybe I’ll sit here in my bathrobe and write a blog post about the things that I could do while I have the house to myself.

Anthropological Me

Spring makes me crazy. 

I want to do crazy things like buy a bicycle and bike to the grocery and the coffee shop like I lived in some quaint English village on BBC, ignoring the fact that in a few weeks it will be 90 degrees by 8:30 in the morning and the closest coffee shop is the Starbucks on the Interstate. 

Not me.

I would fill the basket (because of course the bicycle would have a basket on the handlebars) with delicious fresh produce that I will bring home and actually eat. And maybe a baguette. Spring makes me want to be the girl from the Anthropologie catalogue. 

Hey, maybe I’ll go to the farmer’s market instead! 

Or maybe I’ll plant a vegetable garden, in addition to the flower beds I want to put in and lovingly tend, even though the summer heat and drought watering restrictions will doom them to a short, but beautiful, existence. 

Not my house.

Spring makes me break out my rose scented dusting powder so I smell as old fashioned as my name.

Apparently spring turns me into Miss Marple. All I need to do is solve crime. 

I have coffee on the porch. I clean my office and find utility bills from 2008 behind my desk. I make huge stacks of books to give to the library. I actually dust my ceiling fan. 

None of this will last, of course. By the end of May I’ll be hibernating during the daylight hours, away from the heat and car exhaust. I’ll contribute to it by driving to the grocery store for Tostitos and Reeses peanut butter cups. 

But at least the weather will no longer be such a temptation pulling me away from work. 

Do you get spring fever? What do you long to do when the weather gets nice, even if it’s totally impractical. 

(P.S. In looking for pictures, I discovered that not only does Anthropology carry bicycles like the one above, but cruiser bikes have become quite the thing. If I point out that I had one of those in college and was mocked for it, does that make me a hipster?)