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Stuff worth reading: Valentine’s edition

“Newsletter: Month One Hundred and Eight” by Heather Armstrong (Dooce)

“Even if this hand right here grows to be as big as a house, it will still be a perfect hand.”

You giggled and shook your head. “I won’t be able to pick up a spoon and eat cereal if my hand is THAT big.”

“Well then, I’ll get you a bigger spoon,” I said.

“MY BRAIN IS A JERK: a post about writing with (and in spite of) perfectionism” by Laini Taylor

It’s so weird that the same marvelous instrument that brings us imagination and wordplay, narrative instinct, memory, detail, and other amazing things, is the same son of a bitch that whams us with indecision and doubt and self-loathing and creative paralysis every chance it gets. Brains can be jerks. Mine is.

“Big Dreams vs. Realistic Expectations” by Rachelle Gardner

Don’t let the difficulty of the path convince you that you shouldn’t have BIG dreams and BIG expectations. But also, don’t let the difficulty turn you into a bitter person.

“The Way I Am Around You” by Chelsea Fagan

With you, I am generous. I want to be this way because I understand it’s the right thing and I have learned to extract more joy from the act of giving than of receiving. Few things make me happier than seeing your face light up with something I have done for you — a surprise, a gift, a kind word when it is needed most.

A random thought about love (hearts and keys)

Maybe when we’re born, there is a hole in our heart, and it’s already a certain shape. Meanwhile, our personalities are like uncut keys, but every experience begins to whittle us away. (Leave us damaged?) And so, in our youth, we are able to fit into many hearts, or be fit into by many keys. But as we get older, the grooves and ridges become more unique, and eventually we can only unlock one heart, and be unlocked by one key. The “soulmate,” so to speak.

(Note: Statistically there’s probably more than one person with whom we fit, but still, a small number.)

I dunno, there’s something both comforting and yet also sad about the idea of a “perfect fit.”

Of course, it might all be a bunch of mumbo jumbo, lol.

(Also, can you become someone’s soulmate? Doesn’t love, the good kind, grow? So does it have to be “perfect” right away, or can it evolve into that?)

For me, stories often grow out of these random thought-question seeds. So I ponder these sorts of things all the time — and not just about love, but about everything. Love, greed, forgiveness, justice, death, etc. That’s normal, right?

(Andy says: “No.” Well, normal for a writer, then?)

Love is

DIY studio 021

Love is playing Prometheus, strapping yourself to the side of the mountain and sewing up your own side so the birds might pick at you afresh.

– fellow writer and former ABNA contestant Eric at My Heart’s Porch

I’m in love…

As you may or may not know, Andy’s been quite busy at work lately, doing two jobs instead of one, because he accepted a new role but hasn’t been replaced at the old one yet. This will end in December, but for the past couple of months he’s been very busy and more stressed and tired than usual. He’s also been traveling more, since he has double the meetings with national and global suppliers. At times I have felt like what Twenty Four at Heart calls a Corporate Widow.

Because of this, I honestly was not expecting much for my birthday. Andy warned me long ago, and I was fine with that. He’s been wonderful to me, on birthdays and regular days, so I wanted to be as easygoing as possible for the two months that he needed it most. And of course I’ve been a perfect angel so far! No crying or yelling or anything. Ever. Not once.

Anyway, for my birthday, I took the day off to enjoy myself, get some errands done, catch up on TV and housework. I actually felt pretty great just being relaxed. As I was driving home from some Christmas shopping, I thought, MAN, what a beautiful day. I was really happy.

That night when Andy got home from work, he handed me a small bag and said, “Here. It’s not much, but I hope you like it.”

Inside was a round green apple.

“I got you a Mac!” he exclaimed.

Har har.

“No, just kidding. I’ve been too busy to get you a gift, but I did make reservations at the Waterfront.” The Waterfront is a very nice Cincinnati restaurant, established by Jeff Ruby, a very well-known local restaurateur.

So we went and had a lovely evening — he had steak, I had scallops, we shared creme brulee — and then headed home to watch Kung Fu Panda, courtesy of Netflix. I was supremely happy with the evening — and stuffed! — when the valet brought our car around. I climbed in, and Andy went to the trunk.

I thought, “Oh geez, did the valet bump something? What’s wrong?”

Andy reappeared in the driver’s seat. “You’re familiar with the literary technique of foreshadowing, right?”

Me: … Of course.

Andy: Good. This is your real present.

Ladies and gentlemen, he did indeed get me a Mac. A brand new MacBook, just like I’d been obsessing over. I cried when I realized. And not because it was an expensive gift, or THE gift I’d been craving. But because of the gesture, the fact that he’d saved up for this extravagance for me, and worked out a great surprise to give it to me.

I’m in love. Not just with the MacBook. But with a very wonderful man who stops at nothing to make me happy. How did I get so lucky?


Tonight, two girls boarded two planes headed for two boys in two states. One couple is engaged to be married. The other is split up. And yet perhaps the “broken” couple is just as close as the other.

I thought of these two girls as I drove home tonight. Their excitement, their true emotions, and the way their relationships have unfolded these past few years. How is it that they have moved along such separate but parallel paths?

It’s as if they are both walking along the same river, but on opposite sides.

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