Adjusted Goals

Hello, hello! Welcome to July! How is everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already July? This year has flown by despite (or maybe because of) everything going on. Anyway, I stayed up late with Dad while he had some stuff on the smoker last night (a couple of briskets, pulled pork, and a “prime” rib… it’s okay to be jealous), so we got a late start today, which means I’m too lazy to come up with something decent to blog about. So, since it’s actually the first of the month and I haven’t done a goals post in a while, I’m just going to give you a quick update on new goals and how my old ones are going.

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Here are my goals from January and how I’ve been doing with that/what’s changed.

1. From January: Finish revising DS1.
Status: Complete. I finished in April instead of March because I got lazy, but I finished nonetheless and I love this book.
Updated Goal: Write a first draft of DS2. I waffled about starting this book until I see how DS1 does, but ultimately decided that it’s better to have a draft started and have no one want it than to procrastinate and have nothing if someone gets interested and wants to know where I’m at with book two. I’m aiming to have the first draft done by September 15th at the latest.

2. From January: Read 30 books.
Status: I have read 20 books so far this year. Six were from my “to re-read” pile, nine have been books I’ve reviewed (no idea how that happened), and the other five were new to me, but not necessarily new.
Updated Goal: My official goal is still 30 books. I still have six months of books to review. I also want to re-read at least two more books. And I’ll squeeze in at least two new to me books. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to more in the latter two categories, but I won’t push it.

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Amazon, but yeah.

3. From January: Keep submitting.
Status: I haven’t missed a week yet.
Updated Goal: The goal is relatively the same, submit two short pieces to magazines or anthologies every week. I normally do this on Mondays, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter which day as long as it gets done every week.

4. January Goal: Query 100 agents.
Status: In progress. I’ve queried 16 agents thus far and received a couple of form rejections as well as a couple of really encouraging personal rejections.
Updated Goal: I’m still going to query 100 agents unless I find one. I send out five queries a week and I will participate in appropriate Twitter pitch sessions. If I can’t find an agent, there are also a few publishers I will try querying before I give up and move to a new project or debate self-publishing.

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Accurate.

5. January Goal: Crochet.
Status: In limbo. I haven’t crocheted in a couple of months.
Updated Goal: I want to finish the shawl I’m working on and a hat by the end of the year. I’m just weird and can’t find the motivation for it. But I will get back to it soon.

Those are my revised goals for now. What are some of your goals? How have they changed since earlier in the year? As always, feel free to leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

You Might Be A Writer If…

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone’s June going? It’s moving along pretty quickly for me. I’ve already written next week’s post. It’s part of a blog tour for the paperback release of Jaquira Diaz’s memoir Ordinary Girls. So, look forward to that! The following week is my normal book review. In other words, the rest of my month is pretty well planned out blog-wise. That just leaves this week’s post. I have nothing new to ramble about on the writing front, so I think I’ll just do a random list post about things that might mean you’re a writer.

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My friend tagged me in this a couple of days ago and it’s not wrong.

1. You might be a writer if you think about and/or talk about writing a lot, but procrastinate when it comes to actually doing the writing.

2. You might be a writer if your to-be-read pile randomly switches genres because you’re thinking about writing something new and want to see how the tropes work and what types of topics are currently popular.

3. You might be a writer if you buy a bunch of fancy pens, but only use cheap BiCs because they write so well and no one cares if you lose them.

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My newest journal. I named her Melusina. Made by Sullivan Book Arts.

4. You might be a writer if you have a bunch of empty journals sitting around the house and almost exclusively use the computer for writing, but buy new journals anyway because they’re pretty.

5. You might be a writer if you get caught staring at people while you’re trying to figure out which character of yours they resemble.

6. You might be a writer if you’re watching TV/reading a book/listening to music/etc. and have to start over because you got distracted by a certain word or phrase that you want to work into your own story.

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7. You might be a writer if you buy books just because the covers are pretty and rationalize it by telling people to look at these great examples of current cover trends in certain genres.

8. You might be a writer if you drunk purchase fifteen books in genres you don’t even like, but decide to keep them because you can never have enough books.

9. You might be a writer if that random piece of conversation you heard somewhere in public becomes fodder for your latest story.

10. You might be a writer if you turn down real-life plans because you have a date with the voices in your head.

I think that’s enough. It’s time for you to jump in with your own examples. Not a writer? What are some indications that you might be a… whatever your job or hobby is? Artist? Crocheter? Mathematician? Whatever. It’s fun. As always, feel free to share your lists, comments, thoughts, or anything here or on my social media pages!

The Things I Do For Procrastination

Hello, hello! Welcome to June. Can you believe it’s already this far into the year? I’m still stuck back in March somewhere. I’ll be honest: motivation for productive things is hard right now. I know I should be writing something, but I’m also nervous because the only thing I’m drawn to is DS2. I’m currently searching for an agent for DS1 and I don’t want what happened with G&G and its sequel to happen this time. I don’t want to get deep into DS2 only to end up with a bunch of rejections for DS1, get disgusted with everything, and trunk them both. That’s too depressing. But I’m also not excited about any of my other ideas at the moment, so I’ll probably cave and start DS2 tomorrow. I’m just procrastinating and I know it. Just like I procrastinated before writing this post. And since I have nothing else to talk about, I thought I would explain what a day of procrastination looks like for me.

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When I get up, it’s a long drawn out process during which I usually have time to play my three mindless games on Facebook for a bit. During that time Dad makes breakfast. We watch an hour of TV while we eat, then we go out back and feed the fish (we have a pond). Afterwards, Dad usually goes out to work in his shop. That’s when the procrastination truly begins.

Today (as in the day I’m writing this, not the day you’re reading it), I came inside and did the crossword puzzle. I checked my email. Got something from Panera Bread about contactless delivery, which they’ve emailed me about before but never delivered to our address, so I checked again figuring it would be the same as usual. To my surprise, they now deliver to us! So, I spent twenty minutes perusing their grocery menu and normal menu even though I know what they have. I was that bored and desperate to avoid working. Sue me. Then, I decided to read a chapter of the book I’m currently reading to review on the 24th.

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It’s something so far.

I followed that up with slowly wandering around the living room and kitchen, then staring out the back door for a few minutes. I usually tell myself it’s because I need to give my eyes a break from the computer screen, but really it’s because I don’t know what to write and hope a change of scenery will help. It never does. And before I returned to my room, I went into the dining room to stare at the crochet stuff I haven’t touched in almost a month. It was a mess. The shawl was all scrunched up and the hook was dangling from the last stitch I made. Instead of waiting for Dad to come inside and help me straighten everything out (which would have taken all of five seconds), I spent fifteen minutes getting the hook into position and shoving everything around as best I could with my back scratcher so that it’s ready for me when I want to work on it again, but won’t fall off the table in the mean time.

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When I noticed it was almost six, I decided to get serious and write this post. This isn’t an unusual day for me. Granted, when I’m in the middle of writing a book or short story, I force myself to get serious closer to 4:30, maybe 5:00. But that’s only because I write more words and sprinkle in random breaks to stare out the back door or check my email or scroll through social media for five minutes.

What about you? What’s a normal day of procrastination like for you? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Slacking Off…

Hello, hello! I have nothing to ramble about this week and I just can’t find the motivation to force something. Since my last post, I’ve prepared everything I need to start my agent hunt (query letter, a full synopsis, a partial synopsis, and one last round of quick edits). All I need to do to get ready for PitDark is write a couple of Twitter pitches and schedule the posts for Thursday (which I will be doing today). Otherwise, life is the same. Nothing exciting is going on, so I’m going to slack off on today’s post. A friend tagged me on Facebook to post the covers of ten books I love (one book a day with no explanation) to ward off the Covid-19 quarantine boredom with something positive. Or something like that. Anyway, I’ve already forgotten to post for two days, so I figured I’d just post them all here.

So, here are the covers of ten books I love in no particular order.

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There you go. Ten books that I love for whatever reasons. I tried to include some I haven’t mentioned before, but a bunch of the ones you know about snuck in anyway. As usual, feel free to comment or post your own lists here or on my social media pages!

Quarantine TBR

Hello, hello! Welcome to May. How is everyone doing? They’re currently trying to reopen Texas in phases even though we’re beating records for most new cases of Covid-19 just about every day. Because that seems like the smart thing to do? I guess? Whatever. Everyone else can do what they want. I’ll be keeping myself at home until things actually settle down and/or there’s a vaccine or treatment protocols that work. So, that means I need to find ways to entertain myself for a while longer. That means books. Lots of books. And since I have nothing else to ramble about today, I thought I would share my to-be-read list thus far (I add books every day).

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It’s not wrong.

Instead of just listing some books, it’ll be easier if I group them together by genre or whether I’ve already read them. So, here are some of the books on my TBR list.

1. Books I’ve read, but want to read again. This year, I’ve been making my way through the Chronicles of Narnia. I have three left (The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle). I also plan on rereading The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, Ransom by Lois Duncan, and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman at some point before the end of the year. Depending on how my other reads go, I might also try to start Harry Potter again, but I might save that for next year’s reading list.

2. Mysteries (cozies or otherwise). I don’t know how this list ended up being so long, but it is and it’s still growing. I want to read The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill, Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert, A Crafter Hooks a Killer by Holly Quinn, and Death in a Budapest Butterfly by Julia Buckley. Also, Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien is due out in August, which I’m looking forward to. And if you look at my GoodReads page, you’ll see a bunch more like these that I probably won’t get to this year.

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3. Fantasy. I’m currently reading Dragon Brothers by L.B. Lillibridge for this month’s book review. I was originally going to read The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, but its publication date got pushed back until February, so while I’m still going to read it this month, the review will wait until closer to February. I also have Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi, The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones, and Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw on my list for this year. The next two books in Danielle Rose’s Darkhaven saga are also due out before the end of the year, so those go on the list too.

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I doubt I’ll be able to make it through all of these books by the end of the year, but since there probably won’t be much progress with Covid-19 in the foreseeable future, maybe I’ll be able to finish them and more before I stop hermitting. Quarantining. I meant quarantining. What are some of the books on your TBR list? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or lists or suggestions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Cravings

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I know a lot of restaurants are doing take-out and/or delivery, but we’re so far away from a lot of our favorite places that those options aren’t really feasible. So, while I’m perfectly content to stay at home, I do admit that I occasionally miss going out for food. I was supposed to go to the dentist for a cleaning yesterday, which would normally have meant stopping for food (probably Mexican) afterwards. Due to Covid-19, the dentist canceled my appointment. I didn’t really care, but it meant no flan for me. Sadness. Anyway, it got me thinking about some things I’m looking forward to if the businesses survive this whole pandemic thing and I can eventually leave the house.

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It’s the whole reason I leave the house 95% of the time.

1. Cajun and bread pudding. Specifically from The Free Man in Deep Ellum. It’s been a long time since we’ve been down there because of all the crap that was going on. Hopefully things will stay calm for a while after the pandemic (I doubt it). At least long enough for us to hit up a couple of places before everything goes to shit again.

2. Seafood. Half Shells. Because it’s been too long since we’ve been there. It’s just so far away and we don’t have many excuses to go out that way. Granted, we only go there once every four or five months, but we haven’t been since mid-December, so it’s around that time when oysters, fish, and a nice cocktail sound good.

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Stolen from Google and has nothing to do with Xquinkles, but it’s pretty.

3. Fresas con crema y un malteada (strawberries and cream and a milkshake). The fruteria down the street is called Xquinkles. Dad’s been buying me cookies for my sweet tooth, so I can hold off a while on this, but pick up is an option here. Maybe the next time we want a burger from the place next door to this one we can order from here too. They close early though (8pm), so probably not.

4. Irish food. Trinity Hall Irish Pub. It’s getting a little warm for hearty potato-filled goodness, but I could still go for a black and tan with a Dublin bay casserole and something yummy for dessert. Luckily, Dad made a shepherd’s pie recently, so that will tide me over ’til summer makes an exit. Maybe by then we’ll be able to venture out into the world again. I doubt it, but there’s no harm in positive thinking.

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Pad Thai from Bangkok at Greenville’s Facebook page.

5. Thai food. Maybe Tukta Thai or Bangkok at Greenville. Some tom kha gai and black rice pudding. Yummy. Maybe when everything is over we’ll take a ride to one of these places.

Anyway, that’s some of the food I miss during this whole quarantine thing. What about you? What are some of the places you’re looking forward to eating at if life returns to normal? Any dishes in particular that you could go for right now? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or lists or comments here or on my social media pages!

Retail Therapy… Kind Of…

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing? Are you bored yet? I’m keeping busy with edits and reading and crocheting for the most part, but yes I occasionally get bored. If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time doing online window shopping when you’re bored. You find all kinds of things you want but either can’t afford or would never actually buy for yourself for whatever reason (my reason is that I’m cheap and don’t go anywhere where I need the stuff I want). Then, when you’re actually looking to buy stuff, you can never find anything you want. Or is that just me? Just me. Okay then. Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve been looking at lately.

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This is why I only window shop.

So, here are five things that made me stop and consider buying them in no particular order.

1. Sailor Saturn Silence Glaive Hair Sticks. A friend sent me the link to these because she knows I adore all things Sailor Saturn. And my first instinct was “WANT!” But then I talked myself out of it for a couple of reasons: a) hair sticks and I don’t get along because my seat gets in the way of any cute hairstyles, and b) there’s no way in hell I’m paying $15 for two cheap mass produced metal sticks.

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2. Cherry Blossom Unicorno. Another item sent by the same friend because she thinks they’re adorable and knew I would too. And they are! But it’s one of those surprise bag things where you order it and they send you whichever one they grab first. I guess it’s cool for kids, but I’d rather just order the ones I want (Sakurako and Yoshino). So that’s a turn off. Plus, I have too many toys and figurines and junk as it is.

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3. Rainbow Star Converse. Honestly, when I came across these, they were already sold out and I haven’t checked to see if I can find them elsewhere. Which is good because I would’ve bought them without a second thought. I don’t need new shoes and my black Cons are only a year old, but these are adorable and if I find them for a reasonable price, I’m getting them.

Update: It’s been 2 hours since I wrote this post (it hasn’t even gone live), but I found the shoes at Famous Footwear and bought them.

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4. Trinity top in sea glass. I look at clothes a lot but rarely buy them. This is one of those things I would probably get if we still went to Scarborough Faire every year, so I’d have something cute to wear. But cute things are rarely flattering on me since I have to buy stuff larger than my actual size just to get it on. And altering clothes is expensive. Wearing cute stuff is annoyingly difficult, so I usually avoid it nowadays. I can still look, though.

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5. Heart of Cthulhu and Kraken necklaces. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I put them both here since they’re both necklaces from the same company. It’s extremely rare for me to buy myself jewelry because I don’t wear it that much and I already have a bunch of necklaces. If I could remember my ring size, I’d be more likely to buy those since I wear one all of the time. But I’m cheap and jewelry is expensive, so I’d rather buy three or four or more books for the price of one necklace.

There are some of my window shopping ideas. Show me some of the stuff you’ve looked at lately. I know a lot of my friends do this. You know who you are. What are some things you’ve been eying but refuse to buy? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Teenage Anthems

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone doing? What kinds of things have you found to help you pass the time during the quarantine? I’ve been listening to a lot of older music. Stuff from my teen years. I hate to call it old, but late ’90s to 2004ish is 16+ years ago. I’m getting old. I know. It’s before I got into Japanese and Korean music. It’s before I even got into Lifehouse and James Blunt and other groups that lean more towards the soft and sappy. These are my depressed and angry teenage anthems. The songs that made me feel less alone. And they still make me feel better. I think they always will. Anyway, I don’t have much to talk about on the writing front, so I thought I’d share some music with you.

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1. “I Feel Fine” by the Riddlin’ Kids. It was released in 2001. I never really got into any of their other music, but I really liked this particular song. Maybe it’s because I felt alone a lot.

2. “Sympathetic” by Seether. I first heard it when I bought Disclaimer (2002). It quickly became one of my favorites. A lot of Seether songs still rank among my favorites. “Fine Again” and “Broken” from the same album. “The Gift” and “Truth” from Karma And Effect. “Like Suicide” and “Walk Away from the Sun” from Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces. I could go on, but I think that’s enough of them.

3. “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty from More Than You Think You Are (2002). They’re one of the more poppy bands I liked back then and a lot of their songs just made me happy. “Disease” from the same album. “Mad Season” and “Bent” from Mad Season. “Long Day” and “Push” from Yourself Or Someone Like You. But “Unwell” will always be number one.

4. “A Quiet Mind” by Blue October from History For Sale (2003). I don’t even know where to begin with them. Their music got me through a lot. Aside from “A Quiet Mind” there’s also “Inner Glow” from the same album. “She’s My Ride Home” and “Into the Ocean” from Foiled. “Picking up Pieces” and “Jump Rope” from Approaching Normal. The list goes on, but I’ll stop here.

5. “Pieces” by Sum 41 from Chuck (2004). I enjoy a lot of their music, but this song is by far my favorite. They didn’t exactly play my favorite genre, so I never got attached to them the same way I did other bands. Mostly I got attached to specific songs from similar bands. “Adam’s Song” by Blink182 for example. But I won’t dive too far into those songs.

 

So, yeah. I’m spending a lot of time doing the same stuff I did as a teenager: listening to music and reading. It might not be productive, but it makes me feel better and that’s all that really matters. What makes you feel better these days? What are some of your teenage anthems or songs that got you through those years? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Unpopular Opinions Post

Hello, hello! It’s April 1st. I would ask what your plans are for the month, but they’re probably the same as mine: avoid people and stay at home. A better question is how are you doing? Are you staying productive or are you going stir crazy? I’ve wavered between productivity and doing nothing. Between bouts of binging Britbox with Dad, I managed to finish my major revisions on DS1 and read more books than usual (11 so far this year). I’ve also been stalking social media more than I was. Apparently, people are super bored because my Facebook newsfeed is becoming more about food and games again instead of politics. One of the little games floating among my friends is the Unpopular Opinion post where you list five popular things that you don’t like. They’ve added a twist where you also include five unpopular things that you do like. So, I thought I’d steal it for my blog this week!

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Five popular things I don’t like:

1. Dr. Pepper. As someone from Texas, I’m not entirely sure I’m supposed to admit this, but I’d rather drink sweet tea than DP and I don’t care for that either. Just give me a Pepsi or a Mexican Coke, please.

2. The Office. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it and I just don’t get it. Nothing I’ve seen from it has been funny or entertaining. Same with Friends and Seinfeld and Brooklyn 99. Maybe my funny radar is broken. I don’t know.

3. Olive Garden. The bread sticks are okay, but everything else is… not good. I guess maybe if it didn’t claim to be Italian it might be okay, but no. It’s not good. I can’t think of any redeeming features even if I don’t think of it as Italian.

4. Gift cards. Okay, it’s not technically that I don’t like them as much as it is that I forget they exist. If I’m shopping online, I don’t think about them unless they’re right in front of me. And when they’re for specific stores, I remember them when I’m at the store, but they’re always at home. It’s frustrating. But I have managed to spend the majority of the ones I had forgotten about and found last year.

5. Starbucks. I drink it because it’s pretty much the only coffee place around here, but it’s always disappointing. I think I’m out of gift cards for it, so I’ll stick with having Dad make me coffee when the mood strikes.

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Five unpopular things I do like:

1. Nickelback. I don’t really know why they’re so unpopular in some groups, but I like them. You know you secretly do too. Especially their older stuff. Don’t lie. You can sing along.

2. Anchovies. Also, sardines and pickled herring and lox. I also like obscene amounts of garlic. I’m weird. Judge me all you want.

3. Puns. I like stupid jokes. You should really know that by now.

4. Being alone. I like my own company. I like not having to worry if I’m annoying someone with my choice of entertainment. I like not having to talk if I don’t want to. It’s nice being by myself.

5. Not being on the phone 24/7. I don’t call people. I do text but it’s rare for a conversation to last more than a half hour at a time. And I hate using it for internet stuff. I use it to read when I’m away from the computer and I might scroll through Facebook occasionally. But if I’m out and about, I’d rather people watch and socialize a little bit.

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Feel free to play along here in the comments or on my social media pages!

The Dos and Don’ts of Avoiding the Plague

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I’m doing pretty well. I’ve basically trained for this my whole life. After all, I was homebound (different from homeschooling in that the school district sent a teacher to my house twice a week for lessons and to act as a go-between for me and the teachers at the schools I should’ve been attending/was enrolled in) from 4th through 12th grades because my mom was paranoid I’d get sick and die. With my lungs, I guess it was a legitimate fear. But basically, I’ve spent most of my life avoiding respiratory illnesses. Fingers crossed I can avoid this one too, but like pretty much everything else in this world, if I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it. There are some precautions you can take, not only to avoid it yourself, but to avoid spreading it to people who are more at-risk of hospitalization and death than you.

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Don’t: Touch people. No handshakes, no hugs, no kisses. If you know someone is at a higher risk level, even bumping of fists or elbows or anything else should only be done with permission. If you’re close enough to touch me, you’re close enough to get my germs and to give me yours.

Do: Bring back bowing and curtsying (whichever you prefer). Wave from afar. Jump up and down and squee. Dramatic blowing of kisses from an appropriate distance. All of these are wonderful greetings and farewells. Be creative. And if you need to talk to your soft-spoken friends, now is a good time to sit across the room from them and text back and forth instead of getting in close to them.

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Do: Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands more often. Decontaminate things like doorknobs and remote controls and keyboards and phones. Especially if other people live with you. And don’t give me that look about cleaning your phone. Do you even realize how many weird surfaces your phone touches and you never bother cleaning it? You put it on your desk at work, on restaurant tables, you drop it on the ground, etc. And it’s usually face down, then it rings and you put it on your face. That’s almost worse than not washing your hands.

Don’t: Assume people are practicing good hygiene. People are disgusting. I’m sorry, but it’s true. And it’s why you need to take extra care, especially if you’re a face toucher. It’s impossible not to touch your own face. I know. So just remember people are gross and you need to be cautious.

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Crochet and booze. That’s a worthy hobby.

This one’s more for your own mental health, but:

Don’t: Let self-isolation drive you nuts. Step away from the news with all its doom and gloom. Avoid the rabbit hole of researching statistics. No one really knows what’s going on. They won’t know until everything has calmed down. Don’t fall into that pit of panic and despair.

Do: Find a new hobby. If you’re comfortable getting deliveries and have some cash to spare, order some stuff to start knitting or build a model boat or buy some origami paper or whatever. If not, there are tutorials for everything on the Interwebz. Teach yourself yoga or how to do the rumba or something. Read a book. Write a book. Do something fun with your unexpected time alone. Got a spouse or roomie or whatever? Rope them into doing something with you. Want to act out that one-man play you wrote in high school? Now you have a captive audience. Do the thing!

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Pretty much.

Basically, this is a stressful time for everyone. The economy is going to hell. Forced shut-downs aren’t helping curb the panic and will probably ruin a lot of small businesses. People are hoarding toilet paper for some godforsaken reason. Others are acting like this is all some big conspiracy. It’s all pretty ridiculous no matter how you look at it. Is the general reaction to this thing overkill? Probably. But it’s what’s happening and we all have to deal with it in our own way. Mine is hermitting, skepticism, and sarcasm. What’s yours? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!