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The Truth is, I Never Left You…

6 Jan

Well, okay, I did leave you.

I left you for about two months. Two months without a word. Two months without my words. I’m not sure how you survived without me and will admit that I got a warm and fuzzy and guilty feeling when a couple of folks inquired about my disappearance. (Hi Allenavw! I’m alive!)

I’ve been an irresponsible blog parent. I’ve been a grade-A procrastinator. I’ve been working on a secret project that will remain unmentionable until it isn’t. 

If you’re at all grateful for my prodigal return (fatted calf burgers anyone?), then you must be grateful for my friend Lisa and the New Year. Lisa is out of town, so I am dog sitting for her. With an empty house–apart from Ginger the sweetheart golden retriever, that is–it seemed like the perfect opportunity for some blog writing/brainstorming. Thus the where and the when blogging puzzles were solved. As for the why….

One of my New Years resolutions is to get back on the blogging horse. No more M.I.A. Oh My Words! This is actually my only resolution that made the cut. Those that have already hit some bumps in the road include:

1. I will not buy another book until I’ve read all those that are lining my shelves, piled on my floor, propping up lamps, hiding under coffee tables etc. etc. etc. 

In theory, this resolution is top notch. It’s practical, fun, and good for the soul. I’ll feel so accomplished if I can finally read the books I’ve been meaning to read. The hiccup? There is another library used book sale coming up and, if you’ll recall, the last one had me swooning from sheer joy. I can’t not go to this sale. Can’t do it. And I can’t go and not buy anything. That would be Hell, pure and simple.

So, within 24 hours of making my book buying resolution, I was forced to amend it. I will try to go easy on the book-buying, I really will–but a book nerd and bargain hunter only has so much strength. For my new goal, I will tackle my To Be Read list and occasionally post about my reading. I’m not into book reviews (more specifically, the idea of writing them gives me the heebie jeebies), so this will likely mean just quotes or random thoughts. But look at me, combining one resolution with another! I. Am. Good.

2. I will spend more time on my creative writing.

The vagueness of this resolution is a problem. “More time” is relative, since I haven’t seriously devoted myself to my writing for quite a long time. I could spend a minute writing today, and it would be more than I spent yesterday (or the day before, or the day before that). Also, this blog doesn’t count. I know, I know–but it’s still writing! It’s still engaging the right (write?) part of the brain! Let’s not forget the blogging resolution already! All good points. What would I do without you?

What I need is a writing schedule. Or a daily word count goal. Or some stick-with-it-ness. What I need is a writing resolution without a lot of wiggle room. (See “more time,” discussion, above.) What I need is a cookie.

Other resolutions I’ve bandied about: working out/exercising more diligently (cliche and vague!), being braver (just vague), and following all horoscopes and fortune cookie fortunes to adventure (call it what you will).

For now, you can rest assured that I’m back, baby! As always, thanks for reading. You can expect more words soon!

“More” being relative, of course…..


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Hubba Hubba! Hunks from Yesteryear

20 Sep

(This short post could alternatively be titled I Should Be Studying, But Instead…)

Who needs People Magazine’s Sexiest Man pick, when you can ogle some hunky hotties from history? My new favorite discoveries are two tubmlr sites–My Daguerrotype Boyfriend and Bangable Dudes in History–that feature daguerrotypes and old photos of some bygone babes. If you’re like me, and swoon for fedoras and gentlemen and oldtime standards of beauty,  you’ll get a kick out of browsing these images. BDiH is particularly funny, with breakdowns of each photo’s appeal. Check it out!

Friends Dragging Friends and Absent Words

14 Jun

Even in 2-D, running sucks

Bad Abigail! More than a week without posting? Bad! And what were you doing that whole time? Well? What was that? That’s what I thought–nothing! 

In high school P.E, the teacher used to make us run around the gym for a certain amount of time. (In my mind, it was long, painful hours–who knows how long it was in reality?) Those who stopped, failed. If I recall correctly, the teacher’s rule was that you had to have one foot in the air at all times. Sometimes, to amuse myself while running in circles, I would play with my feet placement. Up, down, up, down, airborne, on the ground. I probably resembled a drunk gazelle, only less graceful. 

Our teacher’s pièce de résistance, however, was that she would idly pick off runners and make them pull over to the side (these teacher-approved stops didn’t count as stopping) while she put two fingers to their neck and counted their pulse rate. If it was high enough, she sent them on their way, back to the running masses. If it was too low–fail. 

I was always picked out for a pulse count. Maybe it looked like I wasn’t running to my full potential (which I probably wasn’t) or the teacher had a particular place in her heart-region that was reserved for me, but there was never a time that I wasn’t obliged to halt my unremarkable-but-still-mobile progress. The uncomfortable wait, with the teacher’s fingers on my neck, usually felt longer than it really was. I never failed the pulse rate test, but it was agonizing all the same. It wasn’t the embarrassment of  being singled out, or the possibility of failing P.E (that was, after all, always a possibility for me). It was that after my heart succeeded in beating the proper number of times, my P.E teacher would tell me to get going again. “Okay, you’re good. Now, get running again and keep running until I say otherwise.”

Now, I may have passed high school physics by the skin of my teeth (and the grace of a teacher who recognized that matter didn’t really matter to me), but I know that a body at rest abso-freaking-lutely wants to stay at rest. To start running again, after being stopped for more than a heartbeat of time? Agh. Commence groaning.

Luckily, my friend Nikki was in my class. She was rarely stopped during these runs, but when she was, her heart rate impressed our teacher–something about the speed with which it dropped. While I stood with the teacher’s fingers on my neck, Nikki enthusiastically kept the faith, running in circles without slowing down. When my count was finished, and the idea of getting one foot in the air again was more than a little daunting, Nikki would actually take a hold of my arm and pull me into motion. You know that Albert Camus friendship quote that goes: “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Nikki makes me think of that, only our quote would go something like “Don’t run away from me; I definitely won’t follow. Don’t run without me; I won’t be inspired. Just take my arm and pull without mercy while I struggle behind you…and be my friend.”

I posted more than a week ago and intended to do so again a few days later. A few days later, I claimed to be uninspired and vowed to write the next day. I met a friend for coffee on Monday and Oh My Words! came up in our conversation. I really should post something when I get home, I thought. I had time to watch itty bitty rappers on slightly trashy tv, I had time to see amazing garments made out of paper, and I had time to ponder phobias, dogs, and true callings. But I did not blog. Once you’ve stopped and taken an unintentional blogging break, it’s hard to start again. My words have been absent from the internet universe for all this time because it’s hard to take a hold of your own arm and drag yourself until something good results. 

Except that I sat down to write a quick word about writing, procrastination, and my leave of absence, and now have 700+ words that form a story that form a blog post that breaks my blogging silence. So I guess I can yank myself into action.

I almost wish there was someone around to time my heart rate.

aorta be a law against running

How It Feels to Catch a Rubber Chicken in Your Mouth

31 May

This is how I felt after discovering that my post Fun With Allergies! had been Freshly Pressed last Friday. I was going to try and describe it with words, but after trying for half an hour and not getting beyond it feels freakin’ great! I decided that a picture says a thousand words. See how this dog caught that rubber chicken? The triumph! The unparalleled joy! That chicken is a prize and it will be treasured!

Okay, in all seriousness, being Freshly Pressed last week was a really great writing-affirming experience. It was the second time my words have been featured on the WordPress homepage and I was no less thrilled or grateful. Like the last time, this Freshly Pressed post was a light, just-for-fun kind of thing. But to have someone (lots of someones!) identify with it and find the funny? That means a lot. 

As you may know, this came on the heels of a job letdown. I’ve been feeling a little lost. But if I can’t control the rest of the universe, at least I have power and the chance for ultimate expression in my own little blogging world. Here, apparently, I can be funny and my words can be touching. Here, my words have a life outside of my own head. (It’s good for them to socialize.)

Anyway, thanks for reading, subscribing, and commenting. (Speaking of comments–in the beginning, I wanted to respond to all of them. As more and more piled up, it became harder. Just so you know, I do read and appreciate every one….) I hope you’ll continue to read and comment and enjoy. 

Now, I’m off to toss toys at my dogs and see if any of them catches one and feels Freshly Pressed. 

Oh My Words — I’m Versatile!

4 May

versatile (ˈvɜːsəˌtaɪl)

–adj

1. capable of or adapted for many different uses, skills, etc.

2. variable or changeable

3. ME!

You are reading the words of a versatile blogger! I have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by both Scriptor Obscura and The Novice’s Journey. (Special note to The Novice: I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to write about and pass along the award–but please know that I am very grateful that you read and enjoy my blog.) I am very happy for readers like these and very happy to be labeled “versatile.” When I started this blog, when the only people reading it were two of my best friends and the occasional lost googler, I worried that my blog topics were too bouncy. A story about grandma here, a quick word about a quirky news story there–it wasn’t like I had a theme. But as it turns out, my words weren’t wandering–they were versatile.

Anyway, like anything worth having, there are a few responsibilities and stipulations with this award. They are:

1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award.
2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs.
4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.

And so, here we go.

15 Versatile Blogs I Enjoy Reading (in no particular order)
Some of these weren’t “recently discovered,” but as a versatile blogger I reserve the right to veer from the rules by just a little bit. I know, I’m a rebel.

1. Gone for a Walk
2. Away with Words

3. Gin & Lemonade

4. Girl on the Contrary

5. Let’s Talk Cookies

6. Drunk Literature

7. A Full Measure of Happiness

8. English Major Junk Food
Can I use EMJF? Ash, are you technically a blog? Oh well, I’m pleading ignorance and listing you anyway.
9. How Did I Reach Sixty?
What happened to you Nan? Haven’t read your words in awhile…
10. Sea Sweetie’s Pages
11. Belle of the Carnival

12. A Striped Armchair
13. The Edmonton Tourist
14. After I Quit My Day Job
15. Your Servant in the Kitchen

And, because you must be dying to know….

7 Random Things About Me

1. I have size 11 feet. (I didn’t know what to put for my first Random Thing, so I decided to jump in, feet first.) For me, shoe shopping can be as emotionally taxing as bathing suit shopping. I am this close to shopping in the men’s section–and actually, that may not be a bad idea because  I’m pretty sure that men’s shoes are 1,489,263 times more comfy than women’s shoes.  

2. I studied abroad in Milan, Italy during my junior year of college. I had an amazing experience and was lucky enough to travel all over Europe. I saw Obama give a speech in Prague, soaked up art at the Louvre, felt a tug on my soul in Greece, and gelato-d my way around Italy. I am so grateful for the amazing experience, but I still have regrets–things I wish I had done or things I did but wish I had done better. When I’m in a proper state of mind, I remind myself that I can always go back. I have a Europe To-Do list and it gets longer every day!

3. I have weird, physical reactions to awkwardness or embarassment. It doesn’t matter if the undesired awkward/embarassing moment is mine or someone else’s, all I need to do is think about it, see it, or remember it, and I feel squirmy. Sometimes I have to close my eyes or clench my fists, and I often feel an awkwardness-inspired shiver scurrying down my back. I’m pretty sure I experience vicarious embarassment (it’s a real thing!) and I figure this makes me a better, if squirmier person.

4. When I say “wash,” there’s an “r” right in the middle. Basically, when I say “wash,” it rhymes with borsch. I get this from my grandma and mom, and since they’re both from Pennsylvannia, I figured it was a Pennyslvannia thing. So far, though, I’ve never met another Pennsylvannian who says “warsh.” Go figure.

5. During college, I had to choose between taking a second-level creative writing class and being a tutor for an elementary school student. I had tutored at my college’s community literacy center two times before, and absolutely loved it….but I love creative writing, too, and it was my last chance to take it. I chose tutoring, and I don’t regret my decision–I had the cutest, sweetest student. But I do occasionally wonder what I would have accomplished writing-wise if I had taken that writing class.

6. It really annoys me when people are prejudiced against small dogs. If someone says small dogs aren’t “real dogs,” within my earshot, they better be ready for a lecture or a damning judgement of their character. I’m not saying Bubba the Biker has to love terriers, but he should be aware that they have just as many loveable characteristics as any “full-sized” dog. It’s the size of the heart, not the size of the dog, dontcha know.

7. Without fail, I tear up when watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Specifically, I tear up when they move the bus and the family sees their house for the first time. This is puzzling to me because I do not cry easily–although, technically, tearing up isn’t crying. Anyway, seeing the people so happy and excited and crying tears of joy is some sort of trigger for me.

Another definition for versatile? Being able to kick butt and rock a purple mini dress

Freshly Pressed, Paralyzing Surprise, and Powdered Sugar

5 Mar

 

Here’s how my day went yesterday. I woke up, took a family friend to the airport, and ruthlessly ignored an angry-as-a-bear coffee craving. I took grandma and her candy-apple red walker to Target to buy off-black stockings. It was very important that they were off-black and not midnight, jet, or ebony–I don’t know why, but I generally make it a rule not to question the whims of a 92 year old woman with a candy-apple red walker. By Order of Grandma, I had to get down on my hands and knees and weed through the depths of stockings–not the most graceful moment of my life.(Picture a racoon, who appreciates a bargain, foraging in Target’s hosiery department.)  This was followed by lunch at La Boulange where they messed up our orders and I had to work up the nerve to tell them so. (I hate doing that!) Grandma bought me an almond croissant (aren’t grandmas great?) and I tucked it away to eat later. 

You still with me? I’m going somewhere with this, I swear.

I brought grandma home and did a few chores for her–changed a light bulb, got a teapot off the top shelf, dusted the windowsill. When I got home, I decided it was croissant time. This was an epic, magical, croissant–I’m talking the kind of pastry that almost inspires a religious experience. I idly logged into my email while I was eating and when gmail informed me that I had more than 150 messages I was so shocked that I actually put down the divine danish. There were WordPress emails as far as the eye could see! At first I thought it was a mistake. I’ve been having a problem with traffic scams (fake-out hits that indicate bogus readership) so I thought this was more of the same. I retrieved my croissant and clicked on one of the comments. Amidst some lovely praise was “Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!”  

I inhaled my croissant’s powdered sugar and choked.

This was no delicate little cough at a cotillion. I wheezed so hard that the dogs scattered (so much for loyalty–not a Lassie among them). I choked so violently that the table and my computer with its game-changing email rattled. I tried to breathe in sugar-free air, but somehow ended up hacking more. (Is it possible to die from powdered sugar inhalation? Someone should study this.) Disbelieving, I quickly clicked over to the WordPress homepage (oh me of little faith!) and there it was, my 5 Stages of Cleaning.

I was speechless. I sat there, covered in powdered sugar, speechless.

Eventually I called my grandma. First, it took several minutes to explain what a blog is (and that it’s not pronounced ba-log). Then, when I told her the name of the featured post, she wouldn’t stop laughing. “CLEANING? Bahahahahah! You wrote about cleaning? That must have been a short article! Bahahaha! Just imagine–you, cleaning!” Okay, not exactly the trumpets-blaring, my-granddaughter-is-so-witty reaction I was going for.

It doesn’t matter though, because even Grandma’s bout of hysterics (honestly, I was worried about her heart she was laughing so hard) didn’t pop my bubble. I’m still on a Freshly Pressed high (not unlike a powdered sugar high) because the readership has been undeniable and the comments have been incredible. I know this is a roller coaster ride (that’s how it was described by one of my favorite bloggers, Girl on the Contrary) but at the moment I’m definitely going up up up. I just want to let all of you know that I really appreciate all the subscriptions, likes, and comments. Besides finding the funny in life, my day-to-day goal is to write things that inspire oh-me-too! moments. In the end, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised that the 5 Stages of Cleaning hit a chord with so many people–shared misery will do that. For all you cleaning sympathizers, I invite you to check out this book. What a philosophy!

Okay, if this were the Oscars the get-off-the-stage music would be playing really loudly right now. Ijustwanttothankmymotherandmygrandmaforbelievinginmeandlaughingatmeand
mydogsandmy11thgradeteacherandmybestfriendsandformerroommatesandandand
justTHANKYOU!


P.S I am slowly reading all the comments and trying to respond to a lot of them. In the meantime, because I value you so much as a reader, you (yes, YOU) should treat yourself to an almond croissant. Just don’t inhale.

Have You Seen Her?

26 Jan

I haven’t written in a while.  Instead of telling you why not, I thought I wouldn’t tell you why.  Clear as mud, right? Chew on this: why would I tell you about what was, when I could tell you what almost was or might have been? We’re talking about a lack of action–not blogging–so it only makes sense that I would not respond with what I’ve been doing. Get it? Not really?  Just follow along and do not not get lost because I was for nearly 4 months and that’s the point.

The following is (NOT) a list of reasons why I have not blogged.

  1. I was hired as a legitimate writer with an actual paycheck and have been professionally busy putting thoughts into words. It’s true what they say about the importance of networking and connections because my dream job was achieved through my fifth grade teacher’s sister’s neighbor’s hairdresser’s ex-boyfriend’s college roommate. Talk about six degrees of separation.
  2. I left several weeks’ worth of crossword puzzles go unsolved and when I finally sat down to ponder the grids I was sucked in until I lost all sense of time. I mentally fell head first into a crossword black hole. (Or would that be a black and white hole?) I ate rarely, slept sparingly; my only focus was the acrosses and downs of my puzzles. Blogging? Unless that was the missing word of 32 across, I didn’t spare it a thought.
  3. I decided to clean out my closet. I have a friend whose closet is so organized and beautiful, that to look inside is practically a religious experience. There are no clothes hanging haphazardly from hangers. Her various pairs of boots are lined up like little leather soldiers. If I remember correctly, there’s even a color scheme going on. Anyway, I was so inspired by this altar of order that I rushed home to tackle my own closet. Unfortunately, my cleaning tactic is usually to move messes from one place to another. Once I cleaned and organized my closet I realized that the excess stuff had ended up in the rest of my room. Remember the classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Well, what followed was a testament to the mouse…or maybe the cookie. I rearranged my things so many times that now I have no idea where anything is.  I’m pretty sure the moral of my story is that I should never try to clean and organize. That sounds like a moral, doesn’t it?
  4. I’ve been suffering from craft fever or, as it is medically known, Obsessive Crafting Disorder (OCD). (Check out the identically named blog, it’s pretty inspiring.) This is a common affliction; the unemployed, retired, housebound, and fabulously creative populations are at the most risk. It starts out innocently enough with a small project, a simple idea. The crafter’s commitment soon escalates, each craft project growing bigger and more intricate. Soon, the people at Michael’s know his or her name and the eating and living spaces in his or house are covered in beads, mod-podge, and fabric. I’m happy to say, however, that after an intervention by friends and family (“Put the glue gun down”) my crafting involvement is much more healthy.
  5. My goal of teaching my dog to sit was finally achieved. High on dog-training glee, I decided to proceed until she could beg, roll over, speak, jump, fetch my slippers, figure out restaurant tips, prevent me from hitting the snooze in the morning, and change the radio station whenever Lady Gaga’s voice hit the airwaves. After a string of morning talk show appearances (Regis really does talk like that!) and magazine covers (is it ironic for a dog to be on the cover of People?) my pup then sued in order to be legally emancipated from me. There was a happy ending though: the suit was dropped after we reached a settlement that included, among other things, 10 tummy rubs a day.

 

The truth is not stranger than these fictions. The truth of why I haven’t blogged involves life, death, and laziness—but that’s no fun, is it?

Blogger? I Hardly Know Her.

1 Sep

I’m a bad blogger. I know it because I was given the 4 holy commandments of blogging and according to those I am definately a fallen blogger. During my time at NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, one speaker told us the key ingredients for a successful blog. They’re the sort of tips that seem obvious but are still important so I don’t think I’m breaking any rules by sharing.

1. Frequency

That first one is a bugger, let me tell you. Frequency? That implies consistency and some sort of schedule. You’d think that would be fairly easy, since I am currently unemployed, yet if you check the dates of my posts you’ll see there’s no rhyme or reason. What have I been doing? I got home on the first of August and here it’s September already. I guess my month could be broken down into two categories: job hunting and avoiding job hunting. The former involves a hyperactive state of mind and a frenzy of job websites and cover letters. The latter…well, it’s also sort of frantic. It’s easier for me to justify avoidance by shifting my passion and attention to another outlet. This means that a few days ago it seemed absolutely imperative that I do three art projects at once and conduct a deep-cleansing of my bedroom. Denial is not a river in Egypt, ladies and gentlemen, but it is a clean room and dried glue on your hands.

2. Content

The SPI speaker stressed that successful blogs have a theme. Food blogs, travel blogs, blogs about tv or books. In theory, that sounds great. But there is no single subject I feel passionate enough about that I would dedicate a blog to it. I like reading, sure. But I know that being chained to a book blog would make me feel like I was stuck on a perpetual loop of book reports. (Not to mention, that a book blog would force me to come out of the reading closet and admit that you’re more likely to catch me with a beach read and dopey mystery than a beautiful work of literature.) I’ll gladly admit that I enjoy watching tv. The darned thing is on right now, which is probably why it is taking me forever to write this post. But even if , for example, I find The Big Bang Theory hilarious and witty (it is! it is!), the world does not need a blog devoted to Leonard and Sheldon. I couldn’t write a food blog even if I wanted, considering my limited repetoire of cooking knowledge. What all of this means is that I don’ t have a theme. My infrequent content is, like my thought processes, scattered. Which brings me, neatly, to point number three…

3. Content Organization

How do you organize a theme-less blog? I’m pretty proud of my WordPress navigation but this does not mean I know what I’m doing. Blogging, for me, feels like walking on a rickety bridge. You know, one of those wood and rope contraptions hanging over a gorge in a cartoon or Indiana Jones movie. You take a step, and if that holds your weight, you take another step, and so on. (Of course, that’s not exactly how it went for Professor Jones but hey I’m no Harrison Ford.)

4. Call to Action

This sounds either like a super hero’s duty or a priest’s holy call–regardless, somebody gets saved. But in the blogging world, I learned, Call to Action is all about user involvement. Amazon gets you to “add to shopping cart.” Itunes encourages you to “download now.” This point is especially important for professional-type bloggers. That is, bloggers who aim to live off their blogs, or at least further their professional careers by blogging. At this point, I am a blog dabbler. I have no readers to speak of. My frequency, content, and organization have all fallen by the blogging wayside.

BUT

I have a Call to Action button.

Oh my words! It’s no big thing. Just a little ole’ button that gives you (my non-existent reader) the option to sign up for email updates. I found it one day when I was testing the rickety bridge. So I may be inconsistent (I’m working on that though) and I may not have a theme, and I may not be organized……but now you can follow my meager bloggin activity every step of the way.

And you know what? 1 out of 4 ain’t bad.

Here Goes Something

1 Aug

No more excuses. I’ve been talking about starting a blog for months now but was comfortable citing various major life events and everyday happenings to justify the gigantic delay. Going all the way back to the spring, I was working on Comps, my college’s senior thesis requirements, and told myself  that I couldn’t possibly write a blog when I was busy communing with Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. When that was done, I of course deserved a break. Write a blog? When I just finished writing that big paper? Hmmmm. So tempting.

Later, there was G-day: Graduation. Blogging brought up the rear on my list of priorities. After, The NYU Summer Publishing Institute came and went–along with an arguably perfect opportunity to blog about a great experience. Throw in a family crisis and a dentist appointment, and you should have the gist of what I’ve come to think of as the Blog Evasion Evolution. Along the way, I’ve been reading other people’s blogs. (And it’s true that everyone has a blog. They’re not just for humans anymore, either.) The unfortunate result was that instead of being inspired, I was intimdated. Oh, not by the too-much-information blogs, or pitiful celebrity blogs, or dog blogs. It was the blogs by people like me–recent grads, aspiring writers, unimpressively unemployed–that did it.

But tonight I was talking to my friend Ali (who has heard the “I’m gonna start a blog” speech several times and thus deserves, at the very least, a shout-out) and for the first time there were no more cop-outs. Which is not to say that my life, at this moment, is stress-free and swimming with free time. But I can’t keep waiting for blog time. Normally, I religiously follow the wise words of Ellen Degeneres: “Procrastination is not the problem. It is the solution.” Amen, Ellen. But I’ve decided that it’s time to take the plunge, rip the bandaid off. A little cliche, yes, but metaphors that express pain and discomfort seem oddly appropriate.

So here I am, giving the damn blinking cursor the finger and trying not to automatically go to the backspace button after finishing a sentence. I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing or where this is headed but aren’t those the best statements to make right before an adventure?