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I May Be Crazy

You already knew this, but here’s more evidence to support it…

After over a year of not writing creatively in any capacity – meaning no blogs, sonnets, journal entries, prose or anything – I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s right.  After months and months of nothing, I have committed to attempting to write a full novel in the month of November. The goal is to write a 50k word novel in a super short period of time.  The challenge is for participants have to write so feverishly that they don’t have time to stop and edit – which means ultimately there will be a first (albeit shitty) draft by December 1.

Right now, I look a little bit like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the middle of November, I’ll probably look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when it’s all over, this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I embarking on this craziness, you ask?  Several reasons, really.  First, I need to reinvent and recreate my novel.  I think the characters and basic concept are still fairly solid, but the story I wanted to tell 7 years ago (when I started work on it) is entirely different than the story I need to tell now.  Second, I miss writing.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been any good at it, but when I do it frequently, I feel better.  Third, I want to really know what its like to finish something this massive.  But the main reason I’m doing this is because I’m turning 30 this month.  NaNoWriMo is my birthday present to myself. How cool will it be if I can say, “The month I turned 30, I wrote a novel!”?

Short-term goal: At the end of November, when the first scary draft is all written, I’m going to take three weeks in December to edit it as much as I possibly can, and then finally send a finished draft to Roy, to whom I’ve been promising this for years.

Long-term goal: After I’m back in the groove of regular writing, I dont want to let it go again. Hopefully this means more frequent blog posts in the future, more random projects, and maybe – just maybe – a real novel.

So after tonight, I go into lockdown.

For the next month, I may be hard to find.  Please don’t take offense if I don’t respond to texts, answer calls, or reach out to you while I embark on this insane endeavor.  If you really want to meet up with me, you can find me at Century Ballroom on Wednesday nights – but beyond that I’ll be otherwise occupied.

Wish me luck…I’ll see you on the other side.

Holier Than My Friend Count, Part 2

As promised, I posted at least one atheist quote per day throughout the month of April, and am now (finally) reporting back with the results of my little experiment.

Comments

Comments for all quotes totaled 121 – about half of which were on a single and somewhat inflammatory thread.  The remaining comments were dispersed throughout the month averaging about two comments per post.

Likes

The grand total of “likes” came to 126.  This includes likes of the actual quote only – not likes of any comments pertaining to the quotes.

Friend Count

Before: 682

After: 674

In order to keep the results as clean as possible, I did not accept or make any friend requests during the entire month of April. All six people who defriended me did it before the experiment was even half over. Honestly, I have no idea which friends defriended me during my experiment or even if it had anything to do with the atheist quotes.  I do find it interesting to note, however, that none of my pro-religion friends who engaged in conversation with me actually defriended me during the process. They spoke their minds about my quotes (some more vehemently than others) and are all still members of my social graph.

My Least Favorite Part

It’s super easy to find quotes online by and about atheists. Unfortunately, verifying that the quotes are actually valid and well-cited was a bit of a challenge. I could easily spend up to 20 or 30 minutes trying to verify a really good quote just to find out that the person to whom the quote was attributed was only hearsay.

My Favorite Part

Learning more about famous atheists was incredibly rewarding. I’m completely obsessed with Douglas Adams, yet I had no idea he was an atheist.  I also discovered that  Robert Heinlein is an atheist, though I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.  Ricky Gervais is an intelligent and well-spoken atheist.  I was aware that Mark Twain was an atheist, but this experiment inspired me to finally get around to reading Letters from Earth.

Closing Thoughts

It’s funny. I’ve spent years being mostly silent about my views on religion because I hate causing conflict or ruffling feathers. Historically, I’d do anything to keep someone from feeling uncomfortable or unaccepted because of religious beliefs – but this has only resulted in causing myself to feel uncomfortable and unaccepted. Those days are over.

Social etiquette dictates that religion and politics should only be discussed at very specific times – such as at church, on Fox “News”, and random, deep, intellectual, existential conversations with strangers in cafes. And on Facebook.  A big thanks to everyone who participated in, encouraged, or barely tolerated my experiment.

Holier Than My Friend Count, Atheist Quotes

An atheist believes deeds must be done instead of prayers said. [He] strives for involvement in life and not escape into death…He believes we cannot rely on god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter. He believes we are our brother’s keepers and keepers of our own lives; we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now. ~Murray v. Curlett, 1963

George Bernard Shaw

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

Albert Einstein

“Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

“The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” Letter to Eric Gutkind, 1954

Jiddu Krishnamurti

“So we are afraid of the known and afraid of the unknown. That is our daily life and in that there is no hope, and therefore every form of philosophy, every form of theological concept, is merely an escape from the actual reality of what is.” Freedom from the Known

Karl Marx

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, 1844

Mark Twain

“A man is accepted into church for what he believes—and turned out for what he knows.” Letters from Earth

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” Autobiography of Mark Twain

Benjamin Franklin

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.”

Arthur C. Clarke

“One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.” ~ Arthur C. Clark, God, Science, and Delusion: A Chat With Arthur C. Clarke, 1999

Christopher Hitchens

“The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.” God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007

Eric Hoffer

“The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness or holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold onto.”

Sigmund Freud

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.” New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis,1933

Thomas Jefferson

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” Letter Peter Carr, Aug 10, 1787

Ricky Gervais

“Science seeks the truth and it does not discriminate. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence – evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition.”

“No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.” You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.”

Ayn Rand

“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves – or whether it should be ours here and now and on this Earth.” From Atlas Shrugged (1957)

Frank Herbert

“Every judgment teeters on the brink of error. To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.” Dune

Douglas Adams, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED”

“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

Douglas Adams, Interview

If you describe yourself as atheist, some will say, “Don’t you mean ‘agnostic’?” I have to reply that I really do mean atheist, I really do not believe there is a god; in fact, I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference)…It’s easier to say I am a radical atheist, just to signal I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and it’s an opinion I hold seriously.

Robert Heinlein

“Men rarely (if ever) managed to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” Time Enough For Love

“Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there.” Job: A Comedy Of Justice

Leonardo Da Vinci

“Anyone who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but his memory.” Notebooks, c. 1500

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Dogmas of every kind put assertion in the place of reason and give rise to more contention, bitterness, and want of charity than any other influence in human affairs.”

Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

“It is not God that is worshipped but the group or authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity.”

Susan Brownell Anthony

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” 1896, addressing the National American Woman Suffrage Association meeting

James Watson

I don’t think we’re here for anything, we’re just products of evolution. You can say, “Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose,” but I’m anticipating a good lunch.

Ferdinand Magellan

“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.”

Robert Green Ingersoll

“Every pulpit is a pillory, in which stands a hired culprit, defending the justice of his own imprisonment.” Individuality (1873)

William Howard Taft

“There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and that will attempt to defeat a man because of his religious beliefs. Such a society is like a cockroach – it thrives in the dark. So do those who combine for such an end.”  Address, December 20, 1914

Holier Than My Friend Count

I recently read this article on Mashable about women and their Facebook friends.  While I can only really relate to two or three of the categories of Facebook friends defined, I do believe an important one was left out: Holier-Than-Thou.  The Drama Queen and One-Upper are indeed annoying, but the type of Facebook friends I find most irritating are the ones who constantly post religious garble into my feed.*  Unfortunately, I actually genuinely like most of these people, and often they have interesting things to say – so I don’t want to de-friend them or filter out their updates.  I just patiently glance over their posts and carry on with my day.

Generally, I think I’m a fairly patient atheist.  I will gladly (and politely) listen to anything anyone remotely rational has to say about religion – and all I ask in return is that its not sold to me.  Not so shockingly, I’m not awarded the same respect or patience if I attempt talk to a religious person about my very comfortable lack of religion.  Somehow atheism makes religious people uncomfortable – yet they don’t seem to care that their verbose online religious exultations make others (religious or not) uncomfortable.

In the spirit of discomfort (and spring cleaning), I have decided that throughout the month of April, I will post at least one quote by an atheist – or about atheism – each day.  It is an experiment.  How will these quotes be received? Will people comment on them to spark interesting conversation or debate?  Will they “like” them? But mostly, I want to see how/if my friend count is affected by my joyful lack of faith.  Currently, my friend count is 682.  I’ll post again at the end of April with my new friend count and any interesting threads or stories that may come of this.  Let the blasphemy begin.

*For the record, my rant is not gender-specific.

Eulogy for My Yahoo! Email Account

I work in the tech industry, therefore, I must always have the coolest new gadget, the hottest smartphone, and use the trendiest web apps.  Yes?  Hmm…no.  There are many cases where I find myself clinging to older technology just because I’m reluctant to abandon something that works well enough for something slightly faster and shinier. However, in the case of my Yahoo! Mail account, my reasons for hanging on are purely sentimental.

I’ve had my yesiamgoddess@yahoo.com account for thirteen years. Inspiration for the handle came from girlish giggly moments shared with my best friend, Jordan, when we were fifteen.  The email address and screen name have since been happy reminders of my best friend, light-hearted innocence, and side-splitting laughter.  In the years since the account’s creation, I’ve dutifully established a less ridiculous Gmail account for professional or serious correspondence, but loyally forwarded all my mail to my Yahoo! account.  Brilliant. Or at least it was brilliant for several years.

Sadly, in recent months, the dependability of Yahoo! Mail has crumbled – one can only assume this a result of the recent massive layoffs.  My mail was slow and laggy. Oftentimes messages would fail to load; I’d have to refresh the entire app and navigate back to the message. Sometimes Yahoo! Mail would freeze entirely, forcing me to close the tab or sometimes *gasp* restart the browser. Essentially, Yahoo! Mail went back to the same performance quality it boasted in 1997.  Though I consider myself to be retro in many ways, this is not the kind of nostalgia I enjoy.

It was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to retire this trusty old account that had been with me through so much. I figured I’d just forward any messages sent to my Yahoo! account to Gmail and let it drift quietly into the sunset. WRONG!  Instead of explaining why this process wasn’t nearly as simple as it should have been, I’ll just paste my “vacation response email” below.

Greetings Sender,

I am no longer using Yahoo! Mail. I’d like to forward all my email from this account to my new email address, however, Yahoo! insists that I upgrade to Mail Plus in order to do this, which costs $20.

If you’re a friend or family member, please email me at <my new email address>.

If you’re a business or spammer, please disregard this message and my new email address, as I’m sure you’re already sending a bunch of crap to it.

Cheers!
Meg

Chronicles of A Crazy Cat Lady – Dingleberries vs. Heterosexual Domestic Partnership

Hooray! It’s time for me to doff the afternoon bathrobe and slippers! Time to untangle my hair and cease and desist muttering to my cats in a language all my own! Yes, it is true. While I still proudly count myself among the legions of crazy cat ladies, I am no longer living alone convinced that my furry beasties will be my only form of companionship for the rest of eternity.  Against all odds (and I mean ALL odds), I am in Seattle living with the most extraordinary man I’ve ever known.  My life right now is some serious “Dream Come True” material. But silly me, I thought this new-found domestic bliss meant that my woes of feline instigated awkward moments were a thing of the past.  Not so…

I moved in on a Saturday. Me, my two cats, and my stuff. We immediately started the ritual dance that every new domestic partnership requires: compromise.  Whose furniture do we keep? How do we divide up the closet? My pots and pans or his? Where do we hang the artwork? Where should we put the litter box? Thankfully, he’s more OCD than I am, so we ploughed through this process in a single, very long, goodwill-donation-filled week.

At the end of this grueling week we curled up on the sofa to watch a movie and finally relax in his condo, newly redecorated with lots of my stuff.  The lights were dim, we were in our pajamas, and I was happily snuggled up next to him ready to start enjoying my fantastic new life with him.  It was in this moment that Min decided to join us on the sofa.  She lept into our laps and starting walking back and forth, coaxing for attention.

“What’s that smell?” he asked. I sniffed the air inquisitively, then felt all the blood drain from my face. Dingleberries.  I scooped up the cat and held her at arms length.  Min yowled.

“What is it?” He was confused as to why I was holding the cat out as if she were a dirty dishrag – or a dead rat. I couldn’t answer him. The horror of it made me mute. How could Min do this to me?  Granted, she is a long haired cat and long haired cats do have dingleberry incidents – but Min only gets dingleberries maybe once or twice per year. Why NOW?! Of course my mind started to race with ridiculous thoughts, such as, Oh, God, he’s going to kick us out! and Cats ruin everything! and I’m never going to get laid again because my cat has poo on her ass hairs!

With Min, still held unceremoniously at arms length, yowling her disapproval, I dashed for the kitchen and the forgiving non-porous surfaces.  He followed me into the kitchen, concerned and amused.

Him: What is it?

Me: Dingleberry.

Him: What?

Me: Dingleberry.

Him: What’s a dingleberry?

Me: What?!

Him: I don’t know what a dingleberry is.

I started to hyperventilate as it dawned on me that I would have to explain to him what a dingleberry is. I opened my mouth, but the words wouldn’t come out. I did the only thing I could think of: I turned Min around and aimed her butt at him so he could see for himself.

Him: Agh!

Then laughter.

Him: So what do we do?

The next few minutes were made up of him holding Min while I clipped the offending turd from her butt hair.  Throughout the horrifying process, he laughed at the situation and didn’t seem upset at all.  After sterilizing everything Min came into contact with, we settled back down on the couch to resume watching the movie. Though I was embarrassed beyond description, I was also amazed.  He handled the situation calmly and with humor. He wasn’t disgusted or angry.  He didn’t kick us out and my sex life has not suffered due to the woes of long haired cat ownership.

Since this fiasco, Min has devoured his bamboo plant and regurgitated it in little piles throughout the condo. She has also vengefully peed on the rug (twice), which resulted in an entire day wasted on steam cleaner rentals and the quest for a pet stain remover that doesn’t damage silk.  Through all these annoyances and embarrassments, he takes it in stride without getting frustrated.  It appears that this crazy cat lady has found someone who accepts the whole package – cats (and batteries) included.

In the battle of Dingleberries vs. Heterosexual Domestic Partnership, I win.