THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #167

LOVE:

Lulu Self Publishing:

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Look at me and the first copy of a book I wrote and never published. Looks beautiful though thanks to LULU.

I love writing. Clearly. You see how enormous this website has become over the years. I like to write about more than myself, though, if you can believe that. I love to write fiction, even though every page I scribble or type is a pain in my ass. Some days it’s a treat but most days it’s a real curse. If I had nothing else to do but craft new worlds and tell forgotten stories, then I suppose I’d love it more, but authors very rarely get that luxury. Normally they work full time and fit in an hour of writing when they’ve taken care of everything else. I’m doing better about making sure I do at least a little bit of writing each day, which has really propelled me along. I mean, if I write at least five pages a week, then I’ll have the majority of a book by year’s end. I’ve got a manuscript right now just dying to be edited and I’m hoping to give that a solid go in the new year. The best part about writing these days is that you don’t have to wait for a literary agent and a publisher to accept you, you can have your creations bound up just how you like for a pittance using services like lulu.com. It’s insane, reader, to see your creations come to life in the form of a professionally published book. Now, admittedly, it takes a couple days worth of screaming at Microsoft Word to get the pages formatted how you like, but the end result is so worth it. My first copy of  Terrible Miss Margo is an endless source of pride. Look at me beaming up there! So I didn’t know what to get my sister for the holidays. She’s got most of what she needs, and I’m not going to remodel her kitchen for Christmas, so I decided to print her a book that I wrote. It’s drivel, reader. I wrote a One Direction fan fiction just to see what it was like. It was, I suppose, a literary experiment. And reader, I must admit something to you, I had more fun writing those hundred pages than I had any right to do. It was endlessly amusing to me, and I giggled myself silly as the novella wrote itself. I’m shockingly proud of the story I’ve crafted about young love in a rough London suburb. So I spent Sunday cleaning it up, designing a ridiculous cover, and spending forty dollars in shipping to ensure that it would arrive by Christmas. It’s so gorgeous to see the labors of my brain finally finished and in a book. Now I can truly be done with it. I need to do the same with my novel, On A Desert Wind, which is my favorite and best work so far. When I have the bound copy in my greedy fingers, I’ll be done and ready to move onto the next stage in my literary career: world domination of cozy Egyptian mysteries.

ALDO:

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Yesterday was a very good day with a bit of a tragic undertone. I had my first checkup with my neurologist since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I’ve been in to see his assistant, but I haven’t really got to talk with him about my health and prognosis. It was easy to see that he was pleased at how I’m doing. After an MRI a couple of weeks ago, there are no new lesions on my brain, no lesions are growing, and there isn’t any inflammation inside my brain anywhere. I knew that I was doing okay, but I wasn’t aware that I was doing quite so well. So, immensely pleased, I took myself to the mall for lunch and a chance to finish my Christmas shopping. The results of my shopping were mixed, mainly because I spent most of the time shopping for me. It was a fabulous time and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about my budget. I will pay it all back in due time. In sweet, due time. I was in the mood to celebrate, so I bought the most gorgeous golden jacket – like, reader, it looks like liquid gold. I’m obsessed. Then I had to buy a new pair of jeans, as it turns out the only pair I own is riddled with holes in the crotch. Annoying that. But thanks to divine providence and the blessed discounts of my GAP card, I got them for sixty percent off. That was smart shopping. I was so into this ‘treat yo self’ experience that I was going into all the shops. And then I stopped inside of ALDO and my heart stopped dead. Reader, I never knew what I was missing out on. Nobody ever told me that ALDO (which is delightfully close in name to ALDI) sold men’s shoes, and they certainly forgot to mention that they sell what look like Saint Laurent knockoffs for about one-fifth the price. I screamed, reader, when I saw what looked like for all the world Harry Styles’ chelsea boots in camel.

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I squeaked repeatedly, but didn’t feel like spending $155 on shoes that night. Instead, I took myself to dinner at the Wine Experience, and during that marvelous excursion, I sipped a lovely white wine from Italy as news came in about a terrorist attack in Berlin. You’re going to read more about that later, but it profoundly impacted me, reader. I have this silly notion in my mind (that I know isn’t true) that terrorists are stalking me. Everywhere I go, a number of months later, they strike. It’s unnerving. And I felt bad because Berlin is full of some of the kindest Europeans that I have ever met.. And then I thought about my boots, which is the epitome of selfishness, but people don’t make rational decisions when they’re emotional. So I went and bought them in defiance of terrorism. If they’re going to kill me, and to be honest with the amount I travel, this is the likeliest cause of death for me, I’m going to die looking hella cute. Funeral plans, as always, are available here. Cremate me in my new boots. I look amazing.

Grimes Walmart’s Middle Eastern Nibbles:

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I never have much chance to get to this Grimes anymore, now that I go to Ames weekly and my grocery loyalty is firmly with ALDI. I now only shop elsewhere for what I can’t get in ALDIs blessed aisles, so my Walmart bills are tremendously less than they used to be. Well, the other day I went Christmas shopping, and I was quite tired of feeling like my skin was about to flake off from dryness, so I went to the Walmart in Grimes for champagne and a humidifier – in that order, too, reader. With my hands full, I wandered back to checkout when I stumbled upon shelves and shelves of imported food for the communities that have moved to Iowa from abroad. I was gobsmacked, reader, by some of the treasures I found. First, I found a bottle of falafel seasoning, which I would wear as a cologne if it were possible. Is there anything better than that combination of spices and herbs? Then I found a tin of stuffed grape leaves. I love these things, but I’ve never had them out of a tin. I need to try these still, but they cost like a dollar, so I’m not out too much money if they’re awful. I found a box of good Ceylon tea for a quarter. You read that right, dear reader. It is perfect to blend with my spearmint tea from Paris that I received for my birthday. And then, and then, and then, and then I squealed. Reader, sitting demurely on the shelf for eighty cents was something that I thought I was going to have to order specially. It was ful, reader! You know what this means to me, right? Ful are Egyptian fava beans that are used to make a peasant dish of stewed beans and tomatoes and spices. I’ve only found one place in Iowa that makes the dish, but now I can make my own for like a dollar! Readers, this has changed me profoundly. I’m going to whip up a batch very soon. I’m going to make Egyptian bread and listen to Arabic pop and crank up the heat and eat my ful medames and live my very best life. How blessed I am!

HATE:

Berlin Market Attack:

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Terrorism is awful for so many reasons, reader. I just finished an intensive political science course on the psychology and methodology of terrorist groups throughout history, and it’s always been around and it’s always been awful. These days, though, are getting worse. I don’t like to say things like that because I think they’re generalizations, but in the case of terrorism, small suicide bombers and killers are on the uptick, and they are some of the worst kinds of terrorist acts because they happen unsuspectingly in places that one would hardly ever imagine a terrorist attacking. I mean, I never suspected the Corniche in Nice. I lived on the sea for a month in 2015, and every day I walked along where that horrible truck slaughtered innocent revelers. The attack literally began next to my building. I have been traumatized by this since it happened. Terrorism is insidious that way. And so the Berlin attacks have affected me, too, because I think I have been cursed, reader. It’s a horrible thing to admit because I’m not trying to make terrorism about me, but it feels as if I’m being followed. The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris were feet from where my first apartment was. The Bataclan attacks were blocks from where I stayed just a month or so before the attack. I explained the Nice attack earlier. When I went to Berlin this summer, I enjoyed the strangeness of the city and its eery calm. I didn’t anticipate terrorism, and that’s probably what the terrorists anticipated themselves. Not that I would have any say in the matter, but in the selection of a seemingly ordinary spot that could not be anticipated. I was in the Wine Experience trying to talk myself into some boots when the first reports of this came in, and I sniffled sadly into my Italian wine and just felt so infuriated. Much as I feel my life’s purpose is supposed to be dedicated to Egyptology, there is this knowing in the back of my mind that I’m supposed to help out someway in the eradication of terrorism. It is a blight on humanity, and we are a better world than we give ourselves credit for. We must take action against extremist groups here and abroad. We must reeducate the populace that the goals of terrorism are not heavenly and that their ambitions can sometimes be rightfully achieved with discourse, not dirty bombs. It will get worse, reader, but I feel it will get better. Not soon, sadly, but it will.

Elves on Shelves:

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For the past few years, I have ignored the existence of this elf on a shelf phenomenon. It was not a part of my youth, so I have been unaware of the customs and the story behind this traumatizing new tradition. Parents willingly put terrifyingly lanky creatures around their house, pretend that they live and breathe, and tell their children that these elves are actively spying on them to inform a chubby stranger whether or not he should break and enter into their home and deliver treats. Is that not the most absurd and awful thing to do? I would have been too rational a child to believe in this, but I would believe that there was a camera inserted into the demonic eyes of the elves, relaying information with ease back to the Kremlin or al-Qaeda. I do not hold with any of this nonsense, dear reader, and I kindly ask you to burn any elves you have sitting on shelves or hiding in closets or staring at your offspring from a windowsill. It’s awful. It’s insidious. It is the kind of stuff that nightmares are made of, and if there isn’t already a horror film based on these nefarious creations released or in development, then I insist on it happening. Call me, Hollywood, I’ve got hundreds of fabulous ides. Literally hundreds. Probably more. Anyway, if you have an elf on a shelf, dispose of it. Thank you most kindly. Your children and I will thank you most heartily.

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