Random Thursday: Frozen Language, Nostalgic Earworms, and a Guilt-Ridden Time Suck

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

Is it just me, or has this week had nine days in it since Monday?  


Happy Flappies

I saw a lawn dolphin pawsing for tree eggs today.  It was scroovy.


La det gå

Unless you’ve been under a sizeable rock with no children or YouTube, you’ve heard that one song from Frozen.

More. Than.  Once.

Here it is again. But different.

This kids and I have decided we’d like to hear the whole thing in a Japanese version, a Serbian version, a Russian version, a Norwegian version, a Danish version, and in Flemish.

No rush, Disney.

And if you’d like to hear how I might sing it, after a decade or two of training and a larynx transplant,
There’s an alto parody, too.
(watch out for the kind of language I’d definitely use, too, if I ever tried it)


My GrandBoo

After some careful thought, and the surprising discovery that all her friends actually did have one, we bought Jane a iPod for her birthday, ostensibly so she could text and Face Time them through our WiFi.

She owned it for two glorious, giddy days before we grounded her and took it away for a week.

Unfortunately, she’d already adopted a gumdrop downloaded a virtual pet app called My Boo.

My boo

I’d passworded her in so she could get it from the iStore, but I didn’t think anything of it until the third day, when I plugged the iPod in and this whimper came out of the speaker.  When I slid open the screen,  messages started popping up.

I want to play!

I’m hungry!

I’m dirty and need a bath!

I’m so lonely!  Where are you?

Don’t you love me anymore?

>cough . . . . wheeze<

I opened the app.  I shouldn’t have opened the app. 

It was so . . . I’ve never in my life seen . . . I couldn’t just . . . PETe-A would have flamed our accounts and broken in to free our router.

So I washed the pathetic little blob and fed it and played about a million mini games to fill up its little hollow heart . . . for four days.

What was I gonna do?  Let it suffer?

When Jane was allowed to have the iPod back, I unlocked it for her.


“C’mon, Mom!  Gimme!” she said.  “My poor Boo must be starving to death . . .  Wait—how did I get to level twenty-two?  And why do I have seven thousand coins?”

“I have no idea,” I said.  “Go play in your room until bedtime.  But don’t just feed her cupcakes if she gets hungry—you have the money for sushi now, feed her sushi.  And have her back in her charger by nine, you hear me?”

“Right . . .” she said, walking away before I could tell her to leave the bubblegum game on pause—I’d just figured out how to foil those stupid bees . . .


Old Favorite, New Style

Here’s a nostalgic, acapella earworm for those of you who grew up on Sesame Street.

I guarantee you’ll be counting in tune for the rest of the week.

You’re welcome!

Go ahead and click on the C is for Cookie/Rubber Ducky Mashup at the end–
you know you want to!


Poetry Wednesday: Her Ladyship, Mary Chudleigh

‘Tis hard we shou’d be by the Men despis’d,
Yet kept from knowing what wou’d make us priz’d:
Debarr’d from Knowledge, banish’d from the Schools,Boxing Glove
And with the utmost Industry bred Fools.
Laugh’d out of Reason, jested out of Sense,
And nothing left but Native Innocence:
Then told we are incapable of Wit,
And only for the meanest Drudgeries fit:
Made Slaves to serve their Luxury and Pride,
And with innumerable Hardships try’d,
‘Till Pitying Heav’n release us from our Pain . . .

—From “The Ladies’ Defense” by Lady Mary Chudleigh

Lady Mary Chudleigh was a devout Angelican, which was the safest way to go in the late 17th century, and also a staunch defender of the rights of women, which was less so, though it probably helped to be part of the aristocracy, and also contemporaries with Mary Astell and Judith Drake.*

We don’t know much more about Her Ladyship—I couldn’t even find a confirmed portrait— except from her poems and essays, from which several scholars have gathered that her husband was a heavy-handed tyrant.

To the Ladies
(Lady Mary Chudleigh)

Wife and servant are the same,
But only differ in the name :
For when that fatal knot is ty’d,
Which nothing, nothing can divide :
When she the word obey has said,
And man by law supreme has made,
Then all that’s kind is laid aside,
And nothing left but state and pride :
Fierce as an eastern prince he grows,
And all his innate rigour shows :
Then but to look, to laugh, or speak,
Will the nuptial contract break.
Like mutes, she signs alone must make,
And never any freedom take :
But still be govern’d by a nod,
And fear her husband as a God :
Him still must serve, him still obey,
And nothing act, and nothing say,
But what her haughty lord thinks fit,
Who with the power, has all the wit.
Then shun, oh ! shun that wretched state,
And all the fawning flatt’rers hate :
Value yourselves, and men despise :
You must be proud, if you’ll be wise.

But attitude doesn’t equal autobiography—Sir George Chudleigh did allow his wife to publish her poems and essays under her own name,** which hardly seems the act of an insecure despot, and her unfinished works and other papers were saved after her death. The Chudleighs also had perhaps a few more children than one might expect from a bad marriage of their elevated class . . . but that’s really just impertinent guesswork.

What I do know is that her poems are witty and wise and occasionally snarky—and we have the same taste in men:

The Wish
(Lady Mary Chudleigh)

Would but indulgent Fortune send
To me a kind, and faithful Friend,
One who to Virtue’s Laws is true,
And does her nicest Rules pursue;
One Pious, Lib’ral, Just and Brave,
And to his Passions not a Slave;
Who full of Honour, void of Pride,Don Juan
Will freely praise, and freely chide;
But not indulge the smallest Fault,
Nor entertain one slighting Thought:
Who still the same will ever prove,
Will still instruct and still will love:
In whom I safely may confide,
And with him all my Cares divide:
Who has a large capacious Mind,
Join’d with a Knowledge unconfin’d:
A Reason bright, a Judgement true,
A Wit both quick, and solid too:
Who can of all things talk with Ease,
And whose Converse will ever please:
Who charm’d with Wit, and inward Graces,
Despises Fools with tempting Faces;
And still a beauteous Mind does prize
Above the most enchanting Eyes:
I would not envy Queens their State,
Nor once desire a happier Fate.

I know what I just said about autobiography, but I like to imagine that Sir George filled her “Wish” and that his admiration for her was more than skin, or pocket, deep.

A Song
(Lady Mary Chudleigh)

Why, Damon, why, why, why so pressing?
The heart you beg’s not worth possessing:
Each look, each word, each smile’s affected,Celia
And inward charms are quite neglected:
Then scorn her, scorn her, foolish Swain,
And sigh no more, no more in vain.

Beauty’s worthless, fading, flying;
Who would for trifles think of dying?
Who for a face, a shape, wou’d languish,
And tell the brooks, and groves his anguish,
Till she, till she thinks fit to prize him,
And all, and all beside despise him?

Fix, fix your thoughts on what’s inviting,
On what will never bear the slighting:
Wit and Virtue claim your duty,
They’re much more worth than gold and beauty:
To them, to them, your heart resign,
And you’ll no more, no more repine.

Not bad advice, even after 300 years.

Her essays are worth a look, too—not only for the history but for her fantastic turns of phrase and impeccable logic.  No matter one’s views on feminism, there’s no question that the woman could lay down an argument.

One or two of these are available onlineand there are published collections*** as well that include some scathing examinations of the routine limitations placed upon the women of her time and also more of her poetry, which isn’t all on the scathing side—there are some real tearjerkers about the death of her daughter as well—but enough to ensure a good time.

I invite you to take a look.  Say hello to her Ladyship for me.


*Who have each been lauded as the First Feminist Ever, possibly because their essays kept being attributed to each other. Mary Astell usually wins, or so my Women’s Literature prof said.

**Judith Drake’s husband didn’t, which explains the confusion mentioned in the first footnote.

***On a completely unrelated note, my birthday is coming up in a couple of months . . .

Psst: booksecret!

Are you a library employee who likes recommending books?

Are you someone who likes book recommendations, from people who know from books?

Are you someone who likes to look at images of librarians holding books?

Are yo—wait, really? Um. Okay. . .

I’m going to let you—yes, even you—in on a little secret that I don’t want you to keep:


Several of my favorite  library people have just issued a challenge to everyone in the world who works in any kind of library to sing the praises of their favorite books—in seven words or less.  And they’re putting the results up where everyone can see ’em.

A literary Time Suck—how could I resist?

booksecret.org works as a free reader’s advisory and a great (free) way for libraries to show how awesome their people are.

The photos and recommendations of library staff (and one library dog) from all over are already going up and I’m told readers are starting to (ahem) check them out.

I might be in there somewhere, myself. . .

This is a fun, easy way to get the word(s) out about our favorite books and to learn a little about a lot of other people’s favorite reads.

And to see images of librarians holding books.  If you’re into that.

Go take a look. If you think it’s as cool as I do, please help me spread this secret around.

If you work in a library, please send in your seven words and image  and nag your co-workers into doing the same. If you don’t, please encourage your local library—public, academic, corporate, presidential, whatever—to join in.

Good books shouldn’t be kept a secret!

Skating Past


I remember being eleven.  Dreams start revving up, self-esteem heads down, and emotions are as stable as a game of Jenga played on a roller coaster.

So when Jane was absolutely, teary-eyed afraid that none of her friends would bother  to be able to come to her birthday party at the skating rink, I told her that if fewer than five kids showed up, I’d skate with her and we would have a blast.

You? On skates?”

Yes, me.  On skates.  What?

To hear my mother tell it, she had me on skates before I could walk, and I grew up zipping around our basement,  spending a lot of weekends at the roller rink with my friends, and rolling around the lake paths at the nearby park.  I was never a fancy skater—forwards without falling was always enough for me—but I had a fair turn of speed, even over rough ground; once you’ve survived the broken, patterned linoleum in our basement, uneven pavement was a breeze.

It was  one of the few things, in my loop-the-loop Jenga days, that I knew I could do in public without (much) fear of humiliation.

“And besides,” I added, mostly to myself, “Bumbles bounce.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Mo-om!”  But having a Plan B seemed to settle her a bit—she stopped making scathing comments about her relative popularity and started reminding me about my promise instead.

I spent the next two weeks with my fingers crossed.  Because bravado aside, it had been sixteen years since I’d laced up a set of wheels and I was fully aware that this Bumble bruises fairly easily these days.

Luckily, seven girls RSVP’d, and though Jane informed me that I was still on the hook, once the party started, she was too busy having fun pay any attention to me.

I was safe.

Except . . . the  lights were flashing as the skaters sped by our table.  The music was playing in time to the sounds of wheels on the gleaming floor. My feet were moving a little in a barely-remembered rhythm.

And I really wanted to try, just to see if I could, just to know that I had.  For old times’ sake.

Plus, as my husband kept reminding me every five minutes, we did have extra free rental tickets and he’d be happy to watch my purse.  And the kids had disappeared into the arcade, so there were no witnesses who knew me.

So . . . I went  and traded in a ticket for a set of basic skates.  And laced up.  And stood up.  And headed for the rink.  Sort of.

Skating, as is turns out, is not like remembering how to ride a bicycle.

Skating is like remembering how to ride four, small, homicidal bicycles on an extremely hard, slick surface.  Using muscles that I’d long forgotten I’d ever owned.

I stuck to the rail, stiff-legged, unsure, trying to loosen up my knees and remember the motions that had felt a lot more natural while I’d been sitting down.  I’d forgotten somewhere along the way that roller skates can’t snowplow, and it took more effort that I’d expected to keep my feet pointed in the same direction.

I wish I could say it got better, but it didn’t, much.  It hurt, and I felt like all my old times were now.

It was a relief when a partner-only skate was called, just as I reached the end of the rail—I’d been dreading crossing the gap to the next one—so I stepped off onto the carpet and followed the wall on the outside of the rink all the way back to the table.

“How did you do?” my husband asked, as I fell dropped onto the bench in an undignified sprawl.

“Not good,” I said.  “But I wanted to try and I did, so there’s that.”

“Are you going out there again?”

Was I?

The arrival of pizza and kids and chaos made the question moot for a while, but by the time the call came for all the birthday kids to spin the Party Prize Wheel in the center of the rink,   I’d decided to turn in my skates and try my luck at the arcade with Sunny—my wicked Ski-Ball skillz have never let me or my prize-hungry children down.

But first, I waited to see Janie—who has only just learned to let go of the rail herself, sometimes for seconds at a time—move up for her turn to spin the wheel.

Halfway there, she lost her balance, skidded in place for a second, and landed flat on her back.  In front of everyone in the rink.

I wrenched off my skates in preparation to help rescue a terminally-embarrassed pre-teen and her father was already moving—

But then my beautiful girl got up, brushed herself off, and spun that wheel to great applause.

And won a pair of bright pink skates.

Jane came back to the table as I finished putting on my street shoes.  Her face shone.  “I won!  I really won!”

“You really did!” I’d tell her later that I didn’t mean the skates.

“Oh, no!” she said, as Sunny tried to yank me toward the arcade. “Did you already skate?  Did I miss it?”

“Today, you did,” I said.  “But we have a bunch of free passes, and I want to try inline skates next time.  Will you help me?”

Her arms strangled me and she rolled over my foot, but the hug was totally worth it.  “Thanks, Mom,” she said.

“Thank you, honey.”

Weekend Writing Warriors: Anti-Cupids (Expensive Gray)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Remember Jack’s model friend, not-Renee, she of the beautiful smile and the possible agenda?

Viv is about to meet her.  While walking out of a deli.  With a big ol’ bag of food.


Gray dress

As Viv left, she spotted David’s brother talking with a tall, slender brunette woman, near the sidewalk sign advertising the specials of the day on one side and pithy comments from the staff on the other.  The woman, who had her hand on his arm, was wearing an extremely fitted sleeveless dress in a shade Viv and Kirsten had always called Expensive Gray.

Viv reminded herself that there was nothing wrong with wearing roomy Midrange Black.  Or having a freeform hairstyle made of stubborn springs.  Or being short.

“But I had my heart set on the Jade Prism,” the woman said, giving him a sweet smile that had a lot of lower lip in it.

“But Szabó’s has the best pastrami in Franklinsburg,” Jack said.

“He’s right,” Viv said.


I’m sure she would have walked on by, but the honor of her favorite deli is in question . . .

Franklinsburg, if anyone wondered, is my go-to, made-up, mid-range filler-city I use as a default setting when I don’t have a specific city in mind.  Technically, it’s in eastern Pennsylvania, because that’s where I originally placed it for a drawer novel that will never see the light of day—it’s also the setting for parts of Pigeons, which I’m querying now.  But at this point, I’m thinking Midwest.

Anyone else do this?