Wrong Answers

I just finished reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s sci-fi novel The Left Hand of Darkness

I’m struck by ways that she presents gender, sexuality, and race(this book would be a fantastic example of Judith Butler’s performativity theory). Here’s one quote that still has me thinking:

“You don’t see yet, Genry, why we perfected and practiced Foretelling?”


“To exhibit the perfect uselessness of knowing the answer to the wrong question.”


What do you think? Do you agree? What books are catching your fancy this week?


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Fiction Friday

As a writer of fiction, short stories, and maybe, an occasional novel, I will be sharing some of my works in progress on Fridays.

Welcome to the 1st installment of Fiction Friday.

“Ma’am, I’m going to need to see what’s in that vase,” said airport security. He passed her precious urn to a fellow worker. Her long manicured nails didn’t quite get a good hold, and the faux Ming Dynasty urn slipped from the grasp of the TSA worker. Crash, thud, shatter. Hilda saw everything blur except the urn, and she shoved her way through the metal detector slipping on polished floor to get to her only carry on luggage. “Oh, shit,” she muttered softly. “Oh, shit, oh, shit.” The TSA worker chomped on her bubble gum loudly and stared at Hilda bending over the ashes, the shards of her dear Robert’s urn.

Somehow, time slowed down as her fellow travelers maneuvered around her. Hilda remembered the day she and Robert picked out their matching urns. The flea market aisles were hardly large enough for Robert’s electric wheelchair around, but it made him so happy to be with other people. He never noticed their cruel stares, whispered comments like Hilda did. She heard every word. But Robert insisted that they pick out how his ashes would be displayed, and Hilda never could refuse Robert anything. The white urns with bright blue peacocks mimicked some ancient Chinese pottery, but they would look nice on the mantle. Until that damn TSA worked dropped Robert’s urn and let his ashes mingled with the sweaty feet, dirty shoes, and dust at O’Hare.

Perhaps, bringing Robert along was silly. She didn’t need anyone flying with her before. When she could find work, she jetted from LAX to JFK to RDU. She sweated her ass off in Bombay, nearly froze in Moscow. She never needed Robert by her side because he was waiting at home. Before the accident. When she wasn’t wiping his ass or giving him medicine, she tried to find work on smaller commuter airlines. She never did. They didn’t appreciate her running off to tend to Robert because hospice failed to show up, or he woke up with night terrors again. Always reliving the crash, the river, the near drowning.

But he was gone. With no one waiting for her at home, she took her sole companion with her. He often bemoaned that Hilda got to see the world, and he was stuck in that goddamn wheelchair. She swore this trip to Brazil would make up for his lack of exotic travel. Of course, she wished she could just have her teeth bonded in the States, but her dental insurance wouldn’t cover such a procedure. Too risky.

Sitting on the ground, she looked up to see two young flight attendants saunter past security and into the staff only room. Their uniforms wrinkled from sitting down, and Hilda rolled her eyes at their lack of professionalism. There was only one way to keep those uniforms perfectly pressed till boarding, and she knew it. But her airline didn’t care for her outdated ways.

“Ma’am, you going to clean this up?” asked the impatient security worker. “ Or do I need to call security?”

Question: what should Hilda do next? Offer your suggestions in the comments. 

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Happy 6 Days til Christmas and a Giveaway!

Happy 6 days till Christmas!

Today and this week, my newest collaborative project The Dark Jane Austen Book Club will be featuring a series of guests posts and a few awesome giveaways!

For those of you who don’t know, the Dark Jane Austen Book Club delights in the adaptions of Ms. Austen’s works with such things as zombies, vampires, and sea monsters. We will be giving away a copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters to one lucky reader.

So, why not head over to The Dark Jane Austen Book Club, and enter to win this book giveaway?

For the Love of Mr. Darcy

If I could live in the world of Pride and Prejudice, I would. No questions asked, but of course, I am assuming that I would be in the roll of Elizabeth Bennet. Why? Two words…Mr. Darcy. Large house I don’t have to clean, elegant manners, and at the end of the book, incredibly eloquent.

But this does make me wonder:

Does Mr. Darcy offer an impossible standard for guys to live up to?

What do you think? I’m working on a new series of posts and your answer will greatly help guide the discussion.

Women Writing Well



Today’s post is my first vlog attempt. Please be kind!

I mentioned several books that you may want to add to your collection. So, here are the necessary links to Amazon so you can purchase copies for yourself.

Sandra Bost’s book Massanutten Mansion

Rachel Held Evans’s book Evolving in Monkeytown

Anne Jackson’s book Permission to Speak Freely

Building a Better Story

Every December, some Facebook application comes out with the “my year in status updates.” The year of 2010 narrated by me…I wrote each status, posted it daily or even hourly…the story of my year compressed into one image.

After reading Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” I find myself drawn to the concept of story—what makes a good story, who is telling a good story, how does a story become better. Like any piece of writing, story must be pruned, edited, chosen purposefully what elements remain within the construct of story. And story is individual, unique to each of us…we can’t simply pattern out story after anyone else’s and hope for the best. But story is still an abstract idea. Sure, it sounds wonderfully uplifting to choose a better story, making each scene of our life better than the last scene, culminating with a grand entrance into that “unknown country.” Putting flesh and bone to the abstract concept of story is much harder.

Growing up in church, I learned that if one opportunity or thing I wanted didn’t work out that God had something so much better for me, something more exciting than I could dream up. For years, this was my comfort—when I didn’t get the job I wanted, when I didn’t get what I had prayed for etc. Something better was always around the next corner. But what if it is not? What if there is simply just routine around the next bend in the road? No new job opportunities, no new exciting whatever…would we still be content if God chose a story for us that rested solely in the mundane?

As Americans, more than likely not. We want more exciting lives, constantly grasping for what is better and seemingly out of reach. We convince ourselves that God ‘s plans always include breaking away from the routine of life—eating, sleeping, basically daily living. What if building a better story isn’t all about choosing more exciting actions or scenes or opportunities. What if building a better story rests in the moments when we are thankful for the mundaneness of our lives, for the moments of waiting, for the moment when we keep our hands open rather than grasping for new things.

Question: How do we build a better story?

What Are You Reading Wednesday?

Books of the Pastphoto © 2007 Lin Kristensen | more info (via: Wylio)

Sitting in my comfy blue recliner, sipping the lovely creamer rich coffee, reflecting upon the upcoming day–I have become more enamored with the quiet stillness of mornings. Chilly mornings always make me thankful for a warm bed and even more thankful for a large mug of coffee. For me, cold fall and winter mornings should be best spent snuggled up in a thick blanket, sipping coffee, and reading.

Today, I am reading Mary DeMuth’s book Thin Places. So far, her words are healing, beautiful, and filled with blessings.

Question: What are you reading today?

7 Quick Takes : Grad School edition

Here is my 7 Quick Takes: Grad School Edition. Go read some more 7 Quick Takes posts at The Conversion Diary!
1.Grad school severely cut into my quality television consumption. Seriously…I would go to work, come home, begin homework, go to bed. Maybe, on Friday, I would catch up on some of the shows I had missed during the week, but most of the time someone had already posted the show’s climatic ending or the running joke throughout the comedy. Thanks, oh Facebook friends! So rather than give up my social media, I gave up the TV. Besides, it is far less time consuming to read a status update than watch an hour long show.

2.Besides cutting into my TV time, grad school severely limited my reading for fun time. Now, if you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know I have my graduate degree in English. So, you may be scratching your head in confusion—grad school= LOTS of reading, you love reading, how is this not fun for you? Now, I would be a liar if I didn’t say how much I enjoyed reading Shakespeare, Chaucer, Christine de Pizan, T.S. Eliot, and H.D. Then there are the “if I have to read another word of this, I will go stark, raving MAD” list—Cognitive Reading theory, Rushdie, anything by Ezra Pound…I will end the list because I simply want to keep my sanity. This is just the main text lists…we haven’t yet begun to discuss all the badly written critical pieces about the main texts or how long those critical articles are or how many or how many trees I slaughtered to print said articles…Suffice to say, most of the readings were not fun.

3.Outside the four walls of the university, no one speaks academic-ese. Don’t be so heart-broken when no one else seems interested in your awesome seminar paper or latest research project. This is usually because your seminar paper title is intimidating. Why? Look at the lengthy title. I can guarantee your title has something superbly pithy then a colon because ALL good seminar papers have a colon in the title then academic nonsense…see quite intimidating for the non-academic or anyone for that matter.

4.While we are talking about academic lingo, I have found that my kids always knew when it was paper writing season. Again, I began talking to them in academic nonsense. Here is an example of said conversation:
Kid: That’s NOT fair!
Me: Your perception of fairness is based upon a socially constructed model in which your power has been nullified due to the perceived hegemonic state. While you may believe that we have placed you in the position of the other, thus, removing your agency and subject status, the speech act of “that’s not fair” does represent your ability to speak back to the your perceived hegemonic state.
Kid: (utter silence and walks away confused)
This may explain why my kids avoided talking to me whilst I was writing papers

5.Grad school increases your need for coffee, junk food, and wine…oh, wait, and long relaxing bubble baths because your nerves are shot. Of course, the increased dependence upon take-out.

6.Grad school will teach you that sanity is overrated.

7.You will be dependent upon YouTube for new music… here is the new favorite song along with some awesome references to literature. Enjoy!

What are YOU Reading Wednesday?

I must confess that I had almost forgotten about “what are you reading Wednesday.” Between editing emails, writing a guest blog post, and attempting to have both kids focus on their schoolwork, I didn’t organize, plan, or execute a blog post. Sorry, forgive me…I’m human….

So, what have I been reading?Today, I have been pouring over Emily Dickinson’s poetry, in particular, Poem 593:

I think I was enchanted
When first a sombre Girl —
I read that Foreign Lady —
The Dark — felt beautiful —

And whether it was noon at night —
Or only Heaven — at Noon —
For very Lunacy of Light
I had not power to tell —

The Bees — became as Butterflies —

The Butterflies — as Swans —
Approached — and spurned the narrow Grass —
And just the meanest Tunes

That Nature murmured to herself
To keep herself in Cheer —
I took for Giants — practising
Titanic Opera —

The Days — to Mighty Metres stept —
The Homeliest — adorned
As if unto a Jubilee
‘Twere suddenly confirmed —

I could not have defined the change —
Conversion of the Mind
Like Sanctifying in the Soul —
Is witnessed — not explained —

‘Twas a Divine Insanity —
The Danger to be Sane
Should I again experience —
‘Tis Antidote to turn —

To Tomes of solid Witchcraft —
Magicians be asleep —
But Magic — hath an Element
Like Deity — to keep —

What are you reading? Poetry, Children’s books, Novels, Blogs… Why did you choose those texts?

Much Love,

Sarah Jessica