Your mind is your own

no matter what the algorithms say

Hello crumbs off the glorious banquet of life:

I worked on grants all week. Big honking government grants. I now know why portions of spreadsheets are called cells.

I may devote a whole newsletter to the ridiculousness that is inherent in grant writing. But not today. Today I will show you two things I saw on the streets near my apartment that delighted my weird sense of humor. (I am easily amused by irony.)

Sign of the times: okay, so speaking as a person who came of age demonstrating weekly on the street in front of the White House, this group of mostly-young protesters made me giggle. I am not judging their platform - I just want to point out that I originally thought this was a bit of sardonic street theater to amuse people into shopping in the edgy, trendy store they were actually attempting to boycott. Why was I confused? Because directly across from this line of angry people, there were three fantastically beautiful young women laughing and posing for leggy selfies right next to the entrance of the store, each of the three carrying a sign that said “This is the face of leather.” It was really, really hard to look anywhere else. Optics, people!

It ain’t easy, being… Here is a bit of architectural ridiculousness that I spent way too much time considering. Please note the green corner. The other side of this building is NOT symmetrical, the green does not extend around the corner. It is just this one face of one corner of a pretty building. Why not symmetrical? Why only this side of the building? Why verdigris? As far as I could make out, none of the top of the building is copper, it’s just stone beneath the green. It’s just….painted like that.

Philosophy alert (skip this section if you hate this kind of thing):

Good v Evil (pre-coffee): It is definitely hard to look at the world in a purely biological way and still see any reason to be kind or fair or good — unless you see humanity as a whole as good. Then, it makes absolute biological sense to be kind and to teach your offspring to be kind.

However, if the whole of humanity is inherently neutral or bad then it makes sense to be evil. In that case, you are a creature made for your own survival and anything you do to get ahead for yourself and your family is natural, possibly even encouraged for survival. (Kick everyone when they are down so that your own offspring will survive & if you’re the last family alive, maybe you win? BUT — is that winning?)

If you generally love humanity as a whole (as I do) and believe that neutral or evil *individuals* may exist amid the mass of people that basically are trying their best, however lame their attempts, then it is in your biology and for the betterment of your species to be kind and good and fair to everyone, even strangers. Especially strangers.

That was a roundabout way of saying thanks for reading this newsletter. I love you for it.

A special shout out to those friends who dropped me a line last week - and also those strangers who shared this newsletter on their social media. Thanks, you guys.

Aw heck, thanks to the whole lot of you! It’s nice of you to read this far.

Author news:

You wouldn’t think there could still be news. But you would be in error. There is news!

First of all, my high-schooler is back in school 3 days per week. Guess what? I’m writing creatively again! This must be because no one is counting the cups of coffee I’m ingesting. Ha.

But seriously. I do have news. This week:

  • I was interviewed by the glamorous Marina Aris of Brooklyn Writers Press, which, you guessed it, is my publisher! It’s on a podcast creatively called “Hybrid Publishing Podcast.” We talked forever and I understand that this will be edited down into two entertaining & very short segments. Give ‘em what they want!

  • I was also interviewed by the knockout author Domenica Ruta for a forthcoming print interview in Mutha Magazine (thanks Meg!) — release date TBA. All interviewers should read this article: Domenica asked me all kinds of insightful questions that I have never been asked before. Questions that I was thrilled to answer.

  • Despite the nonfiction book that’s out in the world, I’m still primarily a fiction writer. If you haven’t read my short story, The Mayor of Flashback, give it a read right now — the wonderful Santa Barbara Literary Journal nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. Just pretend you’re at the Oscars on paper.

Last week’s news in case you missed it:

Here’s the link to buy my book in case you haven’t bought it yet. This link takes you to where Pen Parentis actually gets a nice donation from the purchase of the book (also the book will be sourced from a brick-and-mortar bookstore near you through the magic of the internet.) In case you haven’t paged through it yet, sections of this book are verbatim personal experiences of phenomenal authors (including Domenica Ruta! And also Min Jin Lee, Jamie Brenner, Lucille Lang Day, Mira Jacob, Helen Phillips, Adam Penna, JP Howard… and may others, not to mention a jaw dropping data-filled chapter reporting on a deep survey of writer-parents that Mary Harpin curated and wrote.) I’m not posting reviews yet. But you know, I just might.

Hey. Let’s get together soon as everyone’s vaccinated. It’ll be so good.