The Seat Filler

I’m amazed by the number of jobs that weren’t jobs when I was growing up and trying to decide who and what I would be.

Chef. World Traveler. Travel writer. Woman lawyer or doctor (I could have been a paralegal or nurse). Television reality star. Exercise guru. Life coach.

During award season (Oscars, et. al), I came across a story of a seat filler for award shows. A seat filler essentially “fills” the seat when a celeb doesn’t show for an event, or when the celeb needs a break, or when there are too many empty seats.

Seat fillers are anonymous. They are quiet. They are never interviewed or even thought much about. Seat fillers are paid a modest sum for their work, but they do not get credit for said work. Seat fillers can dress up (and should), put on makeup, eat whatever food is available. Sometimes seat fillers get a free meal and a glass of champagne.

Wait, am I a seat filler in life. Food for thought.

Is Punctuation Passe?

I get that the X/Y/Z gens want to make their own rules, after all, every gen does, don’t they?

What happens when the rules and expectations of one gen collide with other gens? It always happens, but I haven’t noticed it in the past as I do now.

For instance, take punctuation. Please. I studied, still study and question my use of proper punctuation in writing. When to use a comma. When to leave it out. Parts of speech taken into account. When to use a semi-colon versus a colon. When to avoid semi and colons altogether. It’s so confusing.

I’ve read lately that the younger gens are given anxiety by people’s use of punctuation, especially in texts and emails. Calling it a “hard stop,” they suggest not using periods, just continue with what you’re saying. (Wait, doesn’t that make it a ‘run-on’ sentence doesn’t it make it unclear when to stop reading one sentence and move onto the next or does it make the word ‘sentence’ irrelevant?)

I will defend my right to use commas, “hard stops,” semi-colons (If I can figure out when to use them) and exclamation points (instead of an emoji).

Some of this smacks of narcissism to me; for instance, “I don’t want to learn the rules, therefore, we need to change the rules.” I get it that my gen also changed some rules, and not all for the better.

I’m reminded of an entry in my local Next Door app; a young woman is given anxiety by the park bench near our house; it makes her sad because a person who used to sit there had died. What? Should we make these benches socially unacceptable?

Don’t make me go back to “school” and re-learn what I know about punctuation. Please!

What About AI and Writing?

Lots of discussion in the writer-world about the use of AI?

Is it okay to use an AI-generated book cover when you self-publish?

Is it okay to let part of your book be written by an AI generator?

Is it okay to let AI edit your manuscript?

I was particularly interested in the editing by AI, since it is so expensive to pay for an editor if you do not have a traditional publisher. and even some traditional publishers will charge you for editing. Nothing worse than reading a book that had little or no editing done.

I am reining in my opinions on AI for all these uses. My husband, who is a writer as well as software developer, pointed out that when you put your manuscript into an AI generator, it is in there and is fair use. Do I want my novel reused in the future. It reminds me of a time when authors were afraid to send their manuscript out for fear their idea or novel would be stolen.

Do I think anyone wants to steal my unpublished novel or idea? Not really, but who knows what it could be used for. Could I be accused of stealing someone else’s idea or book? Could parts of my writing show up in another book?

I think it best to sit back and wait and see. I’m sure at some point AI will be regulated in some manner. Hope so.

Magic Weight Loss Pill

Or I should say, shot.

I did manage to lose 7 pounds this year, due to 2 things; 1) I got Invisalign trays to straighten my teeth, and cannot eat crackers and chips or nuts, and 2) My husband needs to lose some weight, so I modified our diet slightly (few carbs/treats only 1 day a week, etc.)

Then, Ozempic happened. I feel cheated. All along, I could take a shot or a pill and magically, the weight would disappear.

I doubt it’s that easy. For 1 thing–it’s a shot every day. For another, there are side-effects, such as loss of appetite (I guess that’s why you lose weight).

I love my appetite.

I do not begrudge those who are using Ozempic or other meds to lose weight; I do hope it’s the “magic pill,” and doesn’t cause any dangerous side-effects.

I won’t be using it and I don’t think husband will either.

I’m going to remain open-minded.

Restarting After Holidays

Seems like the period beginning Nov 1 and through New Years Eve, is the beginning of two months of relative non-productivity. My husband notices it also.

I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong, falling into a pattern of almost daily online shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone, planning dinners, watching holiday movies, cooking, putting on the “holiday pounds” so that I can take them off the following year (the year which comes at a rapid clip).

Then, on Jan 1, it seems like a struggle to get back to goals (writing, reading, planning to be more social during the year–which almost always falls short). This year, my resolutions are simple: keep doing what I’m doing, plan on lying fallow for at least two months, stay healthy, and pay more attention to family.

Happy New Year!

Old News

I’ve been a “news addict” since I was a teenager and I was the one of the seven children and two adults who would run out and grab the newspaper off the porch. I had been called a “dumb blonde” in my young life (because not only was I blonde, but very quiet, which evidently translates to dumb .)

Side note: the definition of dumb is being unable to speak, which I believe at times I was prone to bouts of “selective mutism,” otherwise meaning I was afraid to speak up. I was, like so many people, horribly shy and most likely had what is now called Social Anxiety. There’s a syndrome for everything, isn’t there?

But, I digress. Being a reader, the newspaper provided reading material as well as an opportunity to increase my knowledge about–well almost everything.

Including politics. I voted as soon as I was eighteen, although I wish I could take a few of those votes back.

Recently I realized that watching news and reading it online causes me great distress, as it most likely does many people.

Some “news” seems like mass “gaslighting,” telling listeners and readers the exact opposite of what is going on (really, what is going on?). Sides are taken. Fingers are pointed. People are hurt, physically and mentally and economically.

It’s frustrating and tiring.

I’ve slowly curbed my watching and reading of news. I’m curbing my reading of comments. You know what they say–everybody has an opinion.

Election day is once again on the horizon. I have my opinions and my vote is in.

That’s all I can do other than concentrate on my own goals, stick to my own beliefs.

I’m no longer afraid that I am “dumb.” I am sometimes silent, but I consider myself intelligent and kind and well-read.

This article is about as negative as I ever get; normal.

I believe that on my tombstone (which I don’t want or intend to have), it should read : “She was so quiet, but she was not dumb.”

Creeping Toward Vegetarianism

The thing about animal videos (Insta, FB, other news sites) is that animals become more human to us.

If I remember right, it’s called “Anthropomorphism.” Anthropomorphism is a literary device that assigns human characteristics to nonhuman entities like animals or inanimate objects. From Dr. Doolittle to more realistic books about animals like the series All Creatures Great and Small, we get insight into animal lives, emotions and relationships to us.

I remember as a child growing up on a farm, watching baby calves and lambs playing, asking my Dad, “why do they play if they are going to be hamburger.” I knew then, as many farm kids did, that the animals were going to be food and that we weren’t to name them.

Now, watching the animal videos of cute goats romping and playing, and a recent video of a doe walking up to a hunter’s gun, the hunter dropping his gun and petting said doe, I get tears in my eyes. I regret sending my pet lamb to slaughter. Sometimes I regret the hamburger I ate for dinner.

The book I’m reading right now for book club is Remarkably Bright Creatures, in which one of the characters is an octopus. Yes, an octopus, not only speaks (to us with his thoughts), but solves a mystery in the most clever way.

Not quite a vegetarian (love some bacon), but creeping there. That said, I believe animals feel, grieve, love and have compassion.

Fear of Women in Groups

I realize that I’ve had almost a life-long fear of going groups, especially “women’s groups.”

Having bypassed “traditional therapy,” I’ve finally after years (no, decades) of self-analysis, I’ve come to realize that early rejection, by mostly women, having to do with the fact that I committed the mortal sin at the age of 17, of becoming a mother “out-of-wedlock” as they used to say “back in the day.”

The judgement and scrutiny was intense, much more intense than my fragile ego, shattered self-esteem and shy demeanor could handle at such a tender age.

My daughter and I bravely, and sometimes not-so-bravely, navigated her upbringing (at times, she taught me more than I taught her), but in it’s wake, I was left with some phobias and insecurities.

I found during that time that it was usually women who were the most judgemental; members of my own family (sadly), teachers, employers, friends and yes, groups of women.

So, I avoided friendships (still do to an extent), walked away from groups before they could throw me out, and suffered classic phobia symptoms, such as shaking, panic attacks–all the usual.

I like Woody Allen’s quote (I do not, however, like Woody Allen’s behavior): I won’

I wish I had known earlier to be braver, more out-spoken, more unapologetic and yes, a better friend.

My daughter is all of these things, and I would not trade one second of my life with her (or my 2nd daughter).

So, if there is not a name for “fear of women in groups,” it might be “Gynophobia is an intense and irrational fear of women. The disorder differs from misogyny, which is hatred and prejudice toward women that people learn through social environments.” This is an actual fear, with this specific name.

I tend to believe the phobia is probably more common in men, but there you have it.

I’ve got that. I’m trying to overcome it.

Book Club

In an attempt to become “more social,” which, at my stage might be futile, I joined a book club. Eight women get together at one another’s houses, supplying food–and drink.

The first thing I noticed is the divergent taste in books. The first book felt like getting an assignment in school, it was long, dense, and in a dialect (English to be sure, but hard to read since the book was written in 1920). I put it off until the last minute, then read it in one week, trudging through it, and even consulting Amazon reviews to figure out what it was about.

Second book was an historical mystery–more up my alley.

I hosted one and worried about my book choice because I hadn’t read it ahead of time before my recommendation. It was okay–a lighthearted female spoof.

I think my foray into book clubs might be a “starter drug” into the groups I’m most afraid of joining; writing critique groups.

I’ll keep going and reading.

Latest book West With Giraffes

Lahaina, HI

Something personal about me (and my family); we own condos on Maui, Hawaii. We’ve owned there for years–Kaanapali beach (one of the most beautiful beaches in the world)–and have visited a couple times a year for decades.

Lahaina (old town) burned to the ground on 8/13/2023.

So sad, not only for us, but devastating for the native Hawaiians. We are, after all these decades, seeing the sadness, poverty and hopelessness for the native Hawaiians, and those transplants from all over who came to the beautiful place to settle–and lost everything. Hundreds died. We don’t know about animals yet–that’s to come.

There is anger. There is grief. There is helplessness.

We (they) will rebuild with much-needed help.

Answers needed. How did it start? Was it the hurricane-force winds? Was it the fault of the electric company? Was it space-lasers from a governement scheme (kids you not–conspiracy theories abound).

We are with them. We will not sell.

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