Monday, May 8, 2017

Birding can make you question your very existence...

The moon from St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. May 2017

The red-cockaded woodpecker continues to elude us. People keep posting sightings of this bird at the St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. Most of them claim to have seen the little bugger about 100 yards along the Yellow Trail. These sightings are marked "confirmed." Whatever that means.

We have our doubts.

We've set out at various times of day. Your best bet for finding one is late afternoon...so they say. So this past weekend we trudged out, yet again, on the Yellow Trail. Heat beating down on our faces, our sunscreen having lost its protective effects much earlier in the day. The sand is thick in some parts and horse hooves have bored holes to trip us up. Beware the cacti. The wind whispers its mocking hymns above us.

The Florida scrubby flatwoods

About one hundred yards in, we hear it! That twittering, broken cat toy sound of the red-cockaded woodpecker! Alas. It's some tiny perching birds of no consequence.


Oh, they're in there. You can't see them. But they're up there in the trees teasing you.

Along we walk. Bone tired, we keep on. There is hope. Always hope. The bird is out here. We will find it. Eventually, we come to this sign:





But we've been led by that lie before. Kept going that way for miles and miles and miles. Not a bird in sight. This time, we head east instead. When we come to this sign, we know we've been idiots:




The signs are, as we begrudgingly admit, meaningless. Meaningless! We are no more likely to find woodpeckers down that unimaginably long trek north as we are to find deer here. Still, we keep on our journey. We spot those white ringed trees that laugh at us. Look here, they say. This is where we've pre-drilled holes for those non-existent peckerwoods you're after. Come on, keep going. Keep looking. They're here! Really! Would we lie to you?

The white stripe of lies!

When we realize we've come nearly to the levee where we began, we give up, turn around, and head back. Along the main trail we spot a doe and her fawn, brazenly hanging out along the main trail instead of Deer Link where they belong, the rule flouters!




We spot a red-bellied woodpecker. He too mocks us.



We begin to think the sightings are either unintentionally wrong or outright lies. Maybe those people heard the broken cat toy twitters and just assumed it was red-cockaded woodpeckers. Or maybe they're all just liars! Liars!

There are no red-cockaded woodpeckers here. Red-bellied, yes. Even pileated.


Pileated woodpeckers

Yes. There are mockingbirds, meadowlarks,


Eastern Meadowlark


wild turkeys. Raccoons and armadillos.


Armadillo

Barn swallows. Swallow-tailed kites. Great horned owls. Osprey. Even bald eagles for Christ's sake!


Yes. That's a bald eagle. Pretty as you please.

But there are no god damned red-cockaded woodpeckers on the Yellow Trail at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park!


UPDATE!
We did it! We finally saw the red-cockaded woodpeckers! About 4:20 p.m., on Friday, May 12, some twenty yards onto the Yellow Trail, we heard the high pitched tweets and then the twittering that reminds us of the broken cat toy. Hubs walked into the brush a few feet and I looked and looked and then he pointed. I stepped off the trail and looked some more. And there it was!



The red-cockaded woodpecker does exist! (And he had at least one friend.)



Friday, May 5, 2017

How to give up on your dreams and be happy...

Photo by Camilla Faurholdt-Lofvall via Flickr

Yeah, so I watched La La Land last weekend. It was okay. Seriously. Just okay.

Here's the deal (And don't worry about spoilers because this story is as old as Hollywood):

Girl has dream of becoming a star! Boy wants to open his own jazz club! They meet. They don't like each other. But then they do! They fall in love. He gives up his dream for her! She is mad about that. They have a big fight! Then she gives up her dream because she's sick of the rejection. Then her ship comes in and boy convinces her to get on it! Later, she's a star! And waddayou know? He's got his own jazz club! And, oh, how sad...they didn't end up together. Boo hoo.

And everybody screams OSCAR! Wootwootwoot, etc. (It didn't win.)

So, I'm watching it, right? And when girl goes after her ship that's come in, she sings this audition song about going for your dreams and stuff. It's about the creative people and how they keep being creative because they're insane but they can't help it.

This hippo is dead. Much like my dream.
Photo by virtusincerus via Flickr

And I'm thinking... That's all well and good. But we know that this is a movie. And because this is a movie, she's going to become a STAR!!! Just like she's always dreamed!!! And we're all supposed to be energized to go out there and get our own ship and sail it into success.

But the truth is, more people fail than succeed. And the really hard truth is that, despite what the winners will tell you (and the people selling you books and programs on winning), it takes more than perseverance to succeed.

Yes. It's true enough that if you quit, you definitely won't succeed--not at that particular dream anyway. But it is also true that if you don't quit, you are still likely to not succeed. Very likely to fail, in fact. What the winners don't want to believe is that it takes a lot more than talent and persistence and even hard work to win. It takes a lot of luck. Especially if we're talking about the creative fields. Seriously. Luck. Luck.

Photo by A.Davey via Flickr

The winners don't want you to know that, because they don't want to admit (to themselves) that they were just very lucky. In fact, there are a lot of winners that aren't as talented as you are and who didn't work as hard as you are working. They're just really lucky. Or they know the right people, or the right amount of people. But you can't point that out without the winners telling you that you're just jealous of they're success.

Whatever.

I've been chasing this dream. At first I didn't even realize what the dream was. I thought I just wanted to write books. But it turns out, I wanted to be a STAR!!! I wanted to be a best seller and have readers and money and clout. I wanted to be recognized for my talent. My wondrous, stupendous, insanely fabulous talent!

I didn't know that was what I really wanted until I actually thought I might get it. Instead, I got a shitload of disappointment. I kept trying, naturally, because stardom doesn't happen overnight, right? You have to work hard at it. All the big name writers will tell you that if you keep at it, and if you keep improving, one day, you too can be a STAR! like them.

Bullshit. And yet, she persisted.

Over time, I found that the harder I tried to work, the less I got done. And it got to the point that I hated even thinking about it. My dream had turned into a giant ugly hippo chained to my neck.


Hippos are actually kind of cute.
Photo by LongitudeLatitude via Flickr

"Write it better!" Hippo keeps saying. "No! Not like that! You want a best seller, don't you? Well this isn't going to cut it! Don't write that! Write this! This is what the people want! Wrong! Not that way!"

I hate that hippo.

So, I have decided to give up on this stupid dream and get back to having fun. I just want to write books and I don't care if they're any good or not. And I don't care if anybody reads them or not. I just want to write them and publish them and have fun.

The thing is, giving up on something like that isn't easy. There's always this needling voice in the back of your head telling you that you deserve something that you might not get. It tells you that if you would just do this or that, or avoid doing this or that, all your dreams will come true. But it's a lie! A big fat hippo lie!


Photo by Camilla Faurholdt-Lofvall via Flickr

The dream isn't supposed to be about being a STAR!!! It's supposed to be about doing what you love. In that entire film, that girl didn't have a single acting job until her ship came in and she became a STAR!!! What a load of hippo shit. Am I right? (Yes, except for that one job she did herself. We'll call that her self-published work.)

In reality, she'd be working as an actress (or continue the self-publishing for a mostly empty theater) and having a great time. Sure, she'd still have the waitress job. But she'd also get to do the thing that crazy creative people do. That thing that makes her happy, or used to until she thought she might actually want to be a STAR!!!

So there you have it. Give up on that dream. Because that's all it is: a dream. Maybe you'll get lucky. But probably not. In the meantime, just have fun. That's why you started doing it in the first place.



Now, about that hippo...





Monday, April 10, 2017

11 Ways Sewing is Like Writing and They Both Suck...

Rice Cake likes to take it easy. All day.

Let's just get this one thing out there: Writing is really hard and sometimes it sucks.

Some time ago, after I lost my will to write, I decided that I should maybe have some other creative outlet to engage in so that, when I wanted to spit on my laptop and instead went to the couch and sat in front of the television to calm down, I could do something to keep my supposedly creative juices...you know, flowing or whatever.

I chose to sew!

That's right. I did this to myself. I could have chosen something zen. I don't know...bonsai tree growing. Raking lines in a sand garden? Dance. I could have done interpretive dance. But I decided to sew. Keeping with my desire to never leave the house, I thought sewing my own clothes was a brilliant idea.

As it turns out, sewing is a lot like writing and I'm not sure that it's helping in the creative juice flow department. At all.

All the ways in which sewing is like writing:

1. You can't really just jump into it. You have to know a little bit about what you're doing. If you just jump into it, you'll come to a part that's all screwed up because you didn't know you were supposed to clip seams on a curve, or not start with a dead body if you're writing a romance. Things that make a lot of sense once you've got to that point and made a big mess, but that you didn't think were important when you started.

2. Not every scrap of fabric, or writing, is really worth saving. It's okay to dump stuff in the trash.

3. Sometimes, you have to go slow. You can't always run a seam through the machine like a wild woman, or type without thinking for an hour. Because when you do that, you might end up with something really, really wonky and then you'll be pissed off that you have to rip it all out and start again. Sewing, and writing, should be enjoyable. It's not a race.

4. There's a sequence to follow that will make things go together really well, if you'd just follow it. Stay stitch the neckline, shoulder seam, neckband, shoulder seam, sleeve, etc. Or, a bit of outline, a bit of writing, determine your theme, decide what your main character wants and why he can't get it, back to the outline, a bit of writing, check goals, etc. The best thing is, once you get the hang of your sequence, the next time you make something new, it'll be easier.

5. No matter how much practice you get, you will probably spend twice as much time fixing something you've made a mess of than you spent making the mess of it. And you'll wish you could just do it right the first time. But sometimes, that's just not possible. Get used to it.

6. You feel compelled to make something, even though each project is a frustrating mess. You're a masochistic sewer/writer who has deluded herself into believing that one day, it'll all be worth it. You'll be a star!

7. You really need to take some time to think about what you're about to do. Stop! What sort of fabric are you working with here? Why are you rushing into doing the hem/scene that way? Are you sure you don't want to do it differently? In a way that might turn out better? You need to think...but your chances of doing so are pretty slim. And when you do screw up royally, which you will, stop and think some more. Thinking is good! Thinking is a part of sewing and writing.

8. The results of your efforts at first will be awful--you're going to produce stuff that you won't even want to donate to Goodwill. As you get practice, your projects turn out better. But that doesn't mean that what you end up with is exactly what you'd hoped for at the start--that hardly ever happens. So, no matter what it is you're creating, it could be okay, it could be fabulous, and it could be a disaster.

9. Sewing, and writing, are extremely frustrating...or they're easy and fun. You just can't tell which it's going to be from day to day.

10. You really need to give up on your dreams of fashion week or best seller lists. You'll be happier that way. Trust me.

Okay, so, speaking of sewing. Remember last week I said that blue fabric would be a piece of cake to work with.





Famous last words. What a mess.

First, the neckline. The first band I made was with the grain and so had no stretch. I cut a new one. Great. I put it in only to find that as I stretched it, the seam curled terribly and the band got smaller and smaller. Naturally it was at its worst in the front where it would be obvious. Fine. I had to take it out and try again.

Not so fast. I could barely see my stitches in that fabric. I gave up on that, cut the neckband off and tried again. This time, I pinned the edges to prevent curling, and made the band slightly bigger and the seam line smaller. Much better! Except in one spot. On the front. I managed to get just a couple of inches of stitching out--a frustrating, nerve wracking hour of work. And I sewed it again.

SAME DAMN THING!!!!

Never mind, I decided. I will just put something over that area. Fabric flowers or something. It'll be cute!

My next mistake was in attempting to top stitch the neck band seam allowance down. I used a longer stitch, so it could be seen on the front neckline. You're supposed to see this top stitching. I thought I was doing a really good job. I used my seam guide foot with the little blade that runs right down a seam so your stitches to the left of it are nice and even.

But in the end, it was a horrific job. Seriously. Ugly as crap and very easy to see. I just had to go and make the stitch length longer, didn't I?

But because of that, I could see the stitches on the right side so I technically could spend a few hours carefully taking them out. But if I tried to get them out, it would almost certainly ruin the fabric. So...I cut the neck band off again! And wondered what else I could do with this fabric now that it's been cut into the shape of a front and a back of a shirt. Purse? Meh. Toss it into the trash? Maybe.

Determined that I could figure out something, I thought and I thought and I thought. This is very much like what I do when writing. Lots of thinking. I needed a neckline that would add coverage where I'd chopped it all off. This is what I came up with:




It's like a twisted cowl, right? It hangs nicely and I tacked it down in a few spots. I guess considering I figured it all out myself without any pattern, it's pretty good.

Second, the hems at the sleeves and bottom edge. I'll be damned if I wasn't watching an online sewing class and the instructor said that the coverstitch should "cover" the bottom edge of the hem. Ohhhhhhhhh! I've been doing it wrong. I've been folding over the hem, coverstitching, and leaving that raw edge of fabric there, like this:




Knits don't fray and unravel like woven fabrics do, so this works. But, well, I want to do it the right way. Who doesn't? So I did. I mean...I tried.

After doing those hems, I considered never sewing again. Ever.

I didn't fuse the hems in place, for one thing, so naturally, the knit fabric slid around and part of the edge was poking out--left unstitched...unbound. I tried to resew those stupid parts only to make a royal mess of my hem. But it's not really very noticeable if you're not looking for it.




 I'm still considering cutting the bottom hem off and doing it again. My way.

The truth is that even if I'd stabilized the hem, the chances of my being able to catch the edge of it in the coverstitch is slim because you coverstitch from the top of the garment. You can't see the edge of the hem while you're doing it. So forget that. I'm doing it my way from now on.

Damn straight.

11. It's okay to do it your own way. Screw what everybody else says you're supposed to do.

So, yeah. I'm having just as much trouble sewing as I am writing. How could I have thought this was a good idea? A way to help my writing?

I find myself suddenly questioning every decision I've made in my life. Rethinking everything! (Except the husband and kids. And the cats. And the chocolate. But everything else!)

How are your life choices panning out?





Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I made it all by myself! Sewing favorite tees...

I think I may have finally created a t-shirt pattern that works for me! I used my favorite tee, copied it twice, because I wasn't happy with the first time. Made one. Messed it up royally. Tweaked the pattern. And then made this:



I think I've finally got the pattern down. Now I need to make more! I need tees. 

Also, I used my coverstitch machine (in background) to do the hems and it worked like a charm. Well, okay, the first time I did it, I forgot how to remove the fabric and tie off the end so it wouldn't unravel. So, I had to remove the entire hem and do it again. (And while it did unravel a bit while I was trying to figure out how to make it not, it didn't unravel easily at all when I had to remove it. Figures.)

Here's some up close shots of the hems.

That's what it looks like on the wrong side--and it stretches. Perfect for knits. And then what it looks like on the right side.



Same for the sleeves. And a pic of the neckline. Can you tell I'm proud of my work?


It just really feels good to make something that I can actually wear and feel like I did a good job.

Here are some fabrics I'm going to try next:





The blue is a sturdy knit that I won't have any trouble with. But the pink stripe is very thin. I'll try using the coverstitch machine on a sample, but I'm not sure about it. My first try, the one that turned out awful, had to be stabilized so that the machine wouldn't chew it up. It was fine and slinky too. 

In the end, it got eaten and I ripped it trying to get it out of the machine. I'm sure it was my fault. Anyway, I tried to fix it, but it ended up too short. So I tried to fix it again by adding a ruffle. I just didn't like it. Live and learn.

I don't tend to go for horizontal stripes across my chest. But I got all this cheap fabric when Hancock went out of business last year. So, dang it all, I'm going for it.



Oh, well, that's all. Happy sewing!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The elusive red-cockaded woodpecker...




I spent all day Friday at Quilts & Lace in Melbourne with It's Sew Easy's Angela Wolf.

I really thought my shirt was prettier than that. It probably is, in person.
Oh, in case you can't tell. That's me on the left. Angela Wolf on the right.
Another lady in the class in the background, caught in an angry stare that is not her usual look, I'm sure.
She is just like you'd expect her to be from watching her on television or on her live Facebook posts. Super friendly and fun. And she's much more than just the instructor on It's Sew Easy. She's a fashion designer and she sells some of her best patterns! I bought three of them. (Of course I did.)

The class was sewing a skirt. As I don't wear skirts, I sat in on all the lessons, which were excellent and helpful, but saved the fabric for other projects. (I wasn't the only one, so don't say I was being petty or anything.) I did get to use the Brother Dream Machine 2 to embroider designs on the fabric. It was very cool.

I think they call it the Dream Machine because you can only afford it in your dreams.

Anyway, as an introvert, I had to recover from that day of being with (egad) people by eating a lot of chocolate on Saturday. So I baked a Krusteaz double chocolate muffin mix in a loaf pan and had at it.

Today, I'm still in recovery. Headache, puffy eyes, feeling like throwing myself in front of traffic but not enough to leave the house on my own to do it. But, hubs did take us out this morning to St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in search of the supposedly rare (it pops up in my "rare bird" email alerts) red-cockaded woodpecker.

Here's the little sucker we're after:

Stolen from the Audubon Field Guide website

He's not red, is he? No. That's part of his disguise. We see that people are spotting them at the park, so today we decided we were going to find one for ourselves.

Apparently, they're seen mostly on the Yellow Trail, so we hiked it. We could hear a woodpecker off in the distance as soon as we started out, so spirits were high, to say the least. Unfortunately, we saw very little of anything out there.

It's scrub. Typical Florida. So, picture a lot of palm shrubs and some grasses, dotted with tall, spindly pines. Rarely an oak. You could see someone a hundred yards away if he was there, but we were alone.

We saw some flowers.




No idea what they are. Weeds, no doubt. But I like weeds.





You know you're not finding any birds when you find yourself taking pics of flowers. Oh, and trees.



Anyway, eventually we came to this sign:



Well, they're making it awfully easy, we thought. We're sure to see a red-cockaded woodpecker. And, as hubs learned on the Tubes, they paint certain trees with a ring of white. In those trees, they've pre-cut holes for the little peckerwoods.

Like this:



Alas and Alack. We saw no red-cockaded woodpeckers.

But we did see our very first owl! A great horned owl, pretty far away. But we have great zoom.
Here is his back: 



(That picture won't center and I'm too tired to make it.)

And here he is looking at us.



I think they always look angry. But we did try to get just a tad closer and he flew off.

On the way out of the park, in the car, we saw a raccoon!



I love raccoons! They're a lot like cats.

Anyway, here are a few more pics we took.

Mockingbird and kestrel.




A pine warbler.



Here's a funny looking pine tree:



Seriously, what's with the needles?

We got some great pictures on Saturday at the Viera Wetlands. But I'll only post one here because I don't think anyone wants to look at too many pictures. I forgot to make a mid-week post of pics from last weekend there. Oh, well.

Anyway, hubs came across this tiny snake in the road and I got some pics. We were standing right in front of a car (its occupants were photographing a bird) so we carefully encouraged him out of the road when we were finished. (I can't tell you how upsetting it is to see squashed caterpillars. I don't even want to think about a squashed snake.)

Here he is, the cutey.




All right, that's enough blogging for today. The red-cockaded woodpecker remains a goal. I have to say, I much prefer walking the Viera Wetlands, filled with birds and wildlife, than the St. Sebastian Park. It was dead by comparison. I'm spoiled, I suppose.





Monday, March 27, 2017

The Narciso Family Cookbook...Great food, hardly any bugs*

Rice Cake was perplexed when he realized I wanted to take a picture of him with a potato.

My sincerest apologies for not blogging last week. I forgot. Seriously. I just forgot. I spent that weekend over in Lakeland at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo, which was a lot of fun. I might do it again next year, but Lakeland is awfully far away.

Yesterday, I was at a new writers conference here on the Space Coast. They had a good turnout and I hope they'll do it again. We need a conference here, I think.

I'm still struggling to write my latest fantasy novel. I think I'm paralyzed by a suffocating, panic-inducing fear of failure. I just want it to be so good! And I'm scared it won't be as good as I imagine it in my head. There's a lot of laziness involved, too, but we don't need to go there.

Today, I'm going to give you an excerpt from The Narciso Family Cookbook. And mid-week, I'm going to post some more pics I took at Viera Wetlands last weekend.

I wrote The Narciso Family Cookbook for my sons. It's got some stories for them and recipes that they grew up with. Here's a little story about potato salad and Nazis.


Potato Salad
 Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 
Eggs, same number as potatoes, hard boiled, peeled, and quartered 
Mayo 
Mustard 
Onion 
Celery 
Salt 
Pepper 
Paprika
 
Potato salad comes with a story. A sad story. It involves Nazis. Now I know that it’s not right to put the label “Nazi” on things because it dilutes the evil that was Nazism. But what do you call it when a person wants his food pure and bland...like white? He’s a food Nazi.

When I was young and free, I ate garbage. Garbage pizza—Pizza Hut’s Thin and Crispy Super Supreme. My spaghetti sauce had ground beef in it (all my Italian food had meat in it), and green pepper and onion and mushrooms and who knows what else? I’ve forgotten now. 

And garbage potato salad. It had all kinds of stuff in it. I know it had olives in it but I can’t remember if they were black or green. I know that I added in pimientos that came in little glass jars (really cute jars) so I think the olives must have been black. (See? Diverse potato salad.) But I can’t remember how it must have tasted, those black olives with pimientos. Maybe it was green olives and I just wanted extra pimiento. And I think I put in bacon, cooked and crumbled. And the eggs were chopped up. It was loaded potato salad! 

But then I married your father and all that was in the past. My Thin and Crispy Super Supreme became doughy Little Caesar’s pepperoni. And my spaghetti sauce, my lasagna, my ziti, all lost their meat. We’ve become purists. 

Alas, my potato salad. Now the recipe is to be strictly adhered to. One egg for every potato, which is ridiculous so sometimes I cheat. Seriously. What if I use 12 potatoes? I’m supposed to put in a dozen eggs? Pffflllttttt. And the eggs have to be quartered because there’s some kind of “have to see the eggs” fetish going on. 

Anyway, as to the recipe, I tend to go for more of a mustard base than mayo and the paprika (after having been thoroughly checked for bugs) is only sprinkled on top after it’s been shoveled into the serving dish. (Okay, it’s possible that I sprinkle a bit into the mix, too. I cook by mood, รก la George Costanza’s packing ritual.) 

Refrigerate and serve nice and chilled. Heil Potato! 


*I do tend to obsess about paprika and bugs in the cookbook. But honestly, you get pantry bugs once and the rest of your life is spent a little freaked out about it.









Monday, March 13, 2017

They key to confidence...BE the idiot

This is so embarrassing.

I'm a nitwit. I freely admit it. I have done some of the most embarrassing things imaginable.

When I was in early high school, I went to the beach with my family and a friend and as I was splashing around in the surf, one of my boobs popped out of my swimsuit. And my friend pointed at me and said, "Your boob!" And then she laughed. Everybody saw my boob. Looking back on it, I now wish I hadn't covered up and stomped up the beach to where my family sat, plopped myself down and refused to budge for the rest of the day. I wish I'd flashed the other boob, too, then laughed, and had a good time. But I didn't understand yet.

One time, when I was working at Waldenbooks (I was, ahem, the manager), I was talking with my assistant manager...the store was quiet...and...I farted. Loud. I didn't know what to do. So I did nothing. My eyes glazed over and I just kept talking. Like, maybe she didn't notice. I should have laughed. Then she could have laughed and we could have had a good time. But I was too ashamed.

Once, I was on a date with this guy at a restaurant and we were drinking beer and I burped and beer spilled out of my mouth onto my shirt. I was so embarrassed I ran to the bathroom and tried to clean up and then didn't mention it, as if he hadn't seen it. As if he couldn't see the wet spot on the front of my shirt. I never went out with that guy again. How could I? Nobody else could ever be so crude, except on purpose and I certainly hadn't done it on purpose!

Another time, I was on another date and he was driving. I was sitting next to him and there was a dead something in the road. It looked like he was going to run over it, so I grabbed the steering wheel and made him swerve to...hit it! I made him run over it! And he looked at me like I was a serial killer and said, "I can't believe you did that!" I wish I'd had the nerve to explain to him that I was trying to do the opposite of what I did. But I didn't. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I didn't know that he was an idiot, too.

Sometimes when I try to talk to people, I stutter. And other times, I'm so nervous I talk really loud and really fast. This one time, I was taking this herbal drug hoping to lose some weight and one of my weight-losing acquaintances found out. She wanted to know more about it and I was so freaked out that I couldn't stop myself from raving like a lunatic. She asked me, "Will it make me antsy?" "Oh, no!" I said, jumping around and shaking. She must have thought it was an amphetamine.

I don't answer the phone and I don't like public speaking because I know that things are going to fly out of my mouth. Random things. Things that I probably shouldn't say.

For instance, I was at a writers and readers festival of sorts once and agreed to be on a "panel" of fantasy writers. I was lucky, because there was another, more popular, panel at the same time, so we had only one person, a woman, at ours. The panel was just me and this guy. And this guy mentioned a friend of his...a well-known to this particular community friend. And his books. Books that I'd read. And I proceeded to tell him and the one woman who'd come to hear us talk what I didn't like about this man's books. I could almost hear myself in my head telling me to shut up. "You're being rude," I said. "In public. You're dissing this guy's friend. A fellow author! In front of him! Stop!" But I didn't stop.

I'm an idiot. Can we just admit it?

And that is why I don't like leaving the house. It's just too stressful to navigate the world knowing that at any moment, idiocy is going to pop out.

Apparently, however, according to this brief video, the key to confidence lies in accepting that we are nitwits and realizing that we are all idiots. Every single one of us.



But this video doesn't go far enough. Don't just accept it. Because the problem doesn't lie in our lack of awareness that we aren't alone. It lies in our unwillingness to BE idiots. We might understand that idiot happens. But we would still choose not to let it happen. (Except for the comedians who really get it.)

So, embrace the idiot. Be the idiot. Rejoice in it.

I am an idiot! And if you want me to speak to you in public, expect great idiotness! Aw, come on. It'll be fun it'll be fun it'll be fun.

Seriously, though, this is an amazing revelation to me. I've always known I was an idiot. I tell myself I'm an idiot nearly every day. And people say not to do that. They say, be nice to yourself. But maybe that's the problem. I keep trying not to be what I am.

I mean it. I'm ready to embrace the idiot inside me and I think you should too. Because you are, you know.

An idiot.

(I mean that in the nicest way possible.)