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rivertempest recently posted her contribution to an interesting meme, so I commented on it in order to be able to play along.

The rules are thus: Comment to this post and I will pick seven things I would like you to talk about. They might make sense or be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.

She gave me seven very interesting word-prompts to play with: Books, Writing, Editing, Philosophy, Libraries, Wine, and Travel. So let's dive right in, shall we?

1. Books: Books are such a core part of my life and always have been that talking about them is sort of like talking about breathing. I started reading at a pretty young age, before preschool, and just never stopped -- since my mom has been both an English teacher and a librarian, I suppose there wasn't ever any question that this was my fate! Books go with me everywhere and have colonized almost every room in the house (I think the bathroom is the last holdout). I feel nervous if I don't have something to read within reach. Books have been companions, teachers, entertainers, mentors, guides and tools, both defense and weapon. Some people have comfort food; I have comfort books. Some people pack a book or two for a trip; I have to bring at least six, because what if I brought only two and it turned out I wasn't in the mood for reading either of them?? Calamity!!! When I visit someone's house, the first thing I do is troll their bookshelves. When I used to go visit my dad for two weeks in the summers, I brought two suitcases; one was full of clothes, the other was packed with books. My list of books read (which is incomplete) shows what a glutton I am for the written word. My to-read list demonstrates why I will never die, because I refuse to do so until I've read everything on that list. And yeah, I own a Kindle, but give me a proper book every time, complete with pages to turn and that great book-y smell :)

2. Writing: I love putting words together almost as much as -- and occasionally more than -- I love reading them. There's something magical about translating a story in your head into a form that other people can read and share. My plan as a kid was to be a writer. My goal as a much much older kid is still to be a writer, though I need to be more industrious about working at it. I belong to a very good online writing workshop, but need to carve out more time in my day for BIC HOK TAM. Not counting technical/non-fiction, I've had exactly one very short piece published and one unofficially accepted by Big Name Magazine (which operates on a Big Name Schedule, meaning it may be Big Name Years before it ever sees the light of day...). My goal for 2013 is to apply to the Clarion West writers workshop; it's pretty much the gold standard of FSF/speculative fiction workshops and counts among its alumni literally dozens of award-winning authors. All you do for six weeks is write, write, write, which is my idea of bliss. "That is one reason I write: as a kind of spiritual practice, to force truth to emerge from my habitual state of lazy dishonesty." (George Saunders)

3. Editing: In addition to my day job, I have a side business doing editing, proofreading and indexing. The most satisfying thing about editing, and why I love to beta, is helping someone say what they have to say, assisting in the birth of a piece of writing. That might mean finding exactly the right word the author was searching for, or spotting a plot hole so they can plug it, or simply tightening a phrase so that a sentence is honed to a point. (Or, occasionally, identifying anatomically impossible sexual positions LOL!) Much of my freelance editing is non-fiction -- dissertations, theses, papers to be submitted to journals -- which has its own limitations of form and function, but many of my authors are not native English speakers; if I can untangle a syntactical or grammatical knot so that their argument runs free and clear, I feel as though I have brought a tiny bit more order in the world.

4. Philosophy: The closest match for me is Stoicism. I believe that reason is the most important tool we have for understanding ourselves and the world, and that our highest purpose is to use that reason to improve ourselves as ethical and moral beings. As Marcus Aurelius says, "Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones." We need more philosophy in our daily lives, because it makes you think about why you do the things you do; too many people, personally and socially and professionally, act on the whim of the moment, without ever knowing (or caring) why. The book that best explained to me why that matters -- why a moral code isn't an abstract theory but a matter of great practical importance -- is Atlas Shrugged. "Isn't it odd? When a politician or a movie star retires, we read front page stories about it. But when a philosopher retires, people do not even notice it." "They do, eventually..."

5. Libraries: Given my response to Item 1, you'd have to be pretty slow on the uptake not to realize that in my world, libraries = win. Mom took me to libraries from a very early age; in fact the first time she took me to a bookstore, apparently I was still operating under the library mentality and picked out two dozen books :) I got my MS/LIS in 2004 and I currently work at an academic library in the rare books and manuscripts department (kind of like the restricted section at Hogwarts) which is BLISS. As you can imagine, I love stories about libraries and archives and mysterious manuscripts and letters and diaries and so on and so forth. Libraries rock -- we need more of them, and more money for them, and everyone should visit/support them, frequently and generously.

6. Wine: Wine is A Good Thing. I like the way it looks in the glass. I like the way it smells. I like the way it tastes. I like the way it inspires my fics -- as Hemingway famously said, "Write drunk; edit sober." (I don't like the calories, however, so I recently gave it up for a month to see if that would allow me to lose weight while still consuming all my other favorite stuff -- i.e., garlic, chocolate, cheese, etc. Sadly, it did not.) I am a down-to-earth oenophile, so I enjoy laughing at pompous and pretentious descriptions ("Historic almost overcooked Chardonnay. Throws out raspberry, focused lemon and atomic traces of smoked bacon. Drink now through Friday." HAHAHAAA!) Favorite white: Mud Pie Chardonnay. Favorite red: Rosemont Shiraz. Favorite bubbly: Veuve Clicquot (New Year's tradition at our house!). Favorite fictional wine: Benden red, beloved of the Masterharper of Pern.

7. Travel: I don't do so much now, but I traveled quite a bit in and just after college. I've been to most of Western Europe, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, France, England and Scotland. On one memorable trip we mistakenly bought tickets for the slow boat down the Rhine rather than the fast one which, while highly picturesque, meant three days on a boat and two nights sleeping in the shrubbery ashore, since you couldn't stay on the boat overnight. (We did meet some very nice young Brits who were on vacation from medical school, and assisted them valiantly in building up a very large tower of empty bottles at a wine bar in Cologne the first night. This probably explains why we were able to sleep so soundly in the shrubbery.) Switzerland was memorable for vividly illustrating how out-of-shape I was, when we hiked from Interlaken up to Gimmelwald (GORGEOUS place, complete with the cleanest cows I've ever seen wearing big clonking cowbells). Immediately upon leaving Interlaken there was a sign that said "Gimmelwald 40 minutes." An hour later, after panting our way up perpendicular hillsides, we passed another sign: "Gimmelwald 20 minutes." Gimmelwald was also notable for the curious hot-water arrangement at the hostel: the shower was down the end of the garden, but the meter for hot water was in the kitchen. So you dropped your francs into the meter and then had to sprint down the path in order to get there before the timer ran out :D

Thank you, rivertempest, for seven highly useful words!


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Jun. 24th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, what fun! I am in complete agreement that libraries are win. I practically grew up in one, as my father held a directorship at a university library when I was small. I used to walk there after school let out and go get lost in the stacks. Good times. I can only imagine how much fun it is to work in one.

Your travel stories also made me smile. Actually, budget travel generally makes for the best stories, I find. Sleeping in the shrubbery along the Rhine is a singular experience. How many people can say they've done that?

May I have seven things? *bounces* (It may take a while for me to put together my post, but it seems like a great deal of fun!)
Jun. 24th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC)
The smell of a library -- or of lots of books in one place, really -- is one of my all-time favorites. It's like inhaling microscopic bits of Mind. For you, now, let me see...how about: School, Promises, Trains, Labyrinths, Siblings, Vegetables, and Writing (how could I not include that one??). Interpret them how you will, and take what time you need (I think it took me about five days to get mine done!).
Jun. 24th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
It's like inhaling microscopic bits of Mind.

I want that on an icon now. You are ♥!

Oh, those are some interesting things to discuss! Let's see how much I have to say about them. :D
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Benden red! A fine fictional wine indeed, although now that I've read Game of Thrones I want to try the wines from the Arbor. The Dornish ones sound too acidic.

Your travel stories are lovely :)
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
I was wondering who would recognize the Benden :) We have some lovely crystal wine glasses, and every time we have red in them I think of Robinton. Here are your seven: Alchemy, Star Trek, Flowers, Museums, Egypt, Snacks, Guilty pleasures. Enjoy!!
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Jun. 26th, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)
Re: Forcefully bites you with french oak, overcooked mango and hopeful green tea. Heh.
Wine + cheese + books = all things that get better as they age, and when found companionably hanging out with one another in the same room, eminently swoon-worthy. Am hugely amused by your champagne alphabet :D

OK, here are seven for you: pie, Buffy, bicycles, Mr. Scott, blue, foreign languages, childhood memory. Have fun!!
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