Gear Grind

Lately, I’ve laid off Sims 4 in favor of playing Diablo 3 with Fluffy. These weekend level and gear grinds remind me of how we used to do this 9 years ago with Diablo 2, back before Spawn. We’ve had some really good runs lately, and it’s good to be able to bring up new characters when you get bored with your high-level folks. But…grinding for perfect gear is a chore not long left untended. So, I switch back to my monk, start working on finding the one fist weapon I need to max my DPS on the weapons end, and a little gem falls into my lap…or inventory, as it were. I got the season 4 special loot: Henri’s Perquisition, an adorable kitten mojo for my witch doctor!

Henri's Per

Look! When it drops, it’s curled up asleep!

I can’t use it because I don’t have a decent one-hander to go with it, but I am having the best time moving it around my inventory. Every time I do, it mews. Sooooo cute!! Big thanks to the devs for that!

Current-day Job

I have a cousin who has an awful life. She has no job. She lives in horrible conditions. Her landlord refuses to replace her broken water heater or fix the holes in her floors. Her van breaks down all the time. Her lawn mower breaks down all the time. Everything breaks down all the time, and she fixes it all herself as best as she can because she likes to learn how things work. That’s good because she has no money for anything. She has two daughters, both over the age of 20. One is in the Army, stationed somewhere like Texas, and has two babies. The other (and the reason she can’t keep a job) has a strange genetic disorder that kills the male babies and leaves the female babies in a state similar to severe cerebral palsy. My cousin refuses to put her in a home, so she does her best to take care of her daughter herself. Add to this, until this summer, my cousin’s husband couldn’t walk. He had dementia and brittle bones, heart failure and emphysema from asbestos. He broke his legs every time he tried to get up and walk. Hospitals would give him minimal care and then send him home in a cab that my cousin couldn’t afford. A cab and he couldn’t walk! This summer, he passed away. So far this week, the bathtub has broken, a random rooster showed up at her house, terrorized her dogs, and wouldn’t leave, and a wasp nest fell on her head and she was stung over 30 times. It’s just like the original story of Job (the one before someone went back and added that it was all a test and that his losses were restored). Nothing but pain and loss.

So…today, I was feeling really upset about a life goal I have that looks unattainable, but then I read about Danette’s life. My life is nowhere near that, so I just need to put on my big girl pants and grow up. I need to be more thankful for the dreams I have realized because many people never get to see any of their dreams come true.

Interviewer Techniques

Marco told me that he tells the same joke to every person his department interviews for professorships:

A man is about to die, and the angel of death says to him, ‘You can see Heaven and Hell first and then decide where you want to spend eternity.’ So the man goes to Heaven. Clouds, harps, people sitting around chatting. It’s pretty boring. Then, he visits Hell. There is a hot tub and music and a bar. People are laughing and having a great time. He says, ‘Okay, I choose Hell.’

When the man dies, he goes to Hell. As soon as he enters, a demon slaps irons on his wrists. Another prods him with red hot pokers. He is crying and through his tears he says, ‘I don’t understand. What happened? When I visited, it was nothing like this.’

The demon looks at him, smiles, and says, ‘You were recruited.’

White Noise

I stood at the pump, smelling the rain come from the west. Big fat rain, the kind that you can walk in and not get wet. It’s been an odd summer, too wet then too dry.  Ancient oaks are falling, and I’m filling my gas tank on my way to buy groceries.

I stood at the pump, hearing snippets of someone’s phone conversation as it drifted from the store’s front to me. I wondered if there were times that my mother went to church just because she needed a break from my brother and me, because she needed adult interaction.

I stood at the pump, calculating just how long it had been since I’d made a joyful noise unto anyone. The baby used to cry every time I sang Mozart’s piano sonata in A minor k331. It’s what I sang to him at night when he was in the hospital with his liver malfunction. After the first few bars, his eyes would fill and his lip quivered. Sometimes, I would sing it just to make myself laugh, and that is terrible and cruel.

Some things, usually horrible things, just stay with you.

I stood at the pump, snapping out of my thoughts when it clicked, signalling the tank was full. I declined a car wash, declined a receipt. I got back in the car and cursed at the CD player until it accepted the first mix CD Fluffy ever gave me. Then, I drove on to the grocery store.

Editorial Aid: My List of Overused and Abused Words

Why I need my list: One thing I have been told repeatedly is to edit the hell out of everything before trying to get it published. This stands to reason, as a manuscript full of typos and incorrect word usage is a turn-off for agents, editors, and publishers. Great, but no one has ever told me how to edit the hell out of something. I figured that grammar and spell checks factored in, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure, and those checks don’t catch everything. Thus, I developed a system for myself, and this list of words is a big part of that.

How I started my list: After I sent my mother the first novel I ever wrote, she called me and said, “I am sick and tired of Mr. Chuckles.” I had used that word over 50 times in 300 pages. No one chuckles that much. Because of that, I did some searching <ctrl+f> and came up with a list of words that I abuse. I always search these when editing. For the overused words, I don’t remove all of them, just enough to spread it out so you don’t notice it. (The book I am currently reading has “diffidently” 20 times in 400 pages. That is too much for an adverb!) The others are words that are abused – used incorrectly or typed in error.

My List:

  • cliches and colloquialisms (grammar check catches most of these, for American English)
  • then/than
  • farther/further
  • hear/here
  • your/you’re (a mortifying mistake for an author, but it happens)
  • there/their/they’re (another mortifying mistake)
  • form/from
  • fro/for
  • words that end with -wards should be -ward (toward not towards)
  • piece of [my, his, her] mind/peace of mind
  • you outside of a quotation
  • had/passive voice (you can’t get rid of them all; you can’t and shouldn’t, but you should try to keep your writing active!)
  • is/was (you can’t get rid of them all, and you shouldn’t)
  • fuck/shit/piss/hell/damn (no one should curse all the time)
  • my own (replace with “mine” or just “my” whenever possible)
  • grumble
  • growl
  • chuckle
  • snicker/snigger usage (I don’t think anyone really uses snigger anymore)
  • flop (my characters flop onto furniture a lot)
  • hum (related to sex scenes)
  • hiss (dialogue must have have words with S’s for characters to hiss)
  • wiggle
  • smirk
  • like (when I should use “as if,” “as,” or “as though”)
  • could, would, and should
  • words in place of “said” (don’t over-do it)
  • seem
  • appear

Those last two are often used incorrectly, so it’s best to avoid them if you can. If you have more suggestions, please share!