September 21st, 2018

Wedding gift etiquette

This post is a bit off-brand, but I read a really egregious wedding-gift-etiquette post this morning–it very strongly implied you should attempt to “cover” the cost of whatever wedding catering you eat with the cost of the gift you give, with the kind of caveat “Of course you don’t have to but c’mon everyone knows you should.” Um, no. Also, I was chatting with a newly engaged woman on the weekend and threw out some random wedding etiquette facts from when I was researching weddings in 2012 when I got married, and I got some looks–I know a LOT. When I research, I really research, and since I don’t intend to get married again, all that info is just sitting in my head, going to waste. So here it all is–wedding gift etiquette! Everything I know!

1. You never have to give a wedding gift. It’s not a rule of etiquette by any respected authority I’ve ever seen. In fact, of all the occasions commonly celebrated in North America where there are often gifts given–birthdays, engagements, retirements, etc., etc., etc.,–the only ones I’m aware of where a gift is an obligation of attending are showers, wedding and baby. Shower is a short form of shower with gifts, and gifts are the point of those events–if you don’t want to/can’t give a gift, send regrets and that gets you out of the obligation. For everything else, gifts are optional. Pretty often, we WANT to give gifts because we want to celebrate the people involved and gift-giving is one way that a lot of people do that, but everything from the whether to the when to the how much is up to us.

2. While not a regulation, gifts are certainly a norm. Most people do give and expect gifts as most weddings. Etiquette experts have been talking for years about how weddings are celebrations of love with one’s nearest and dearest and not a transaction, but if the culture in your family say you owe your cousin at least a dust-buster to cover your chicken cordon-bleu, then that’s the culture in your family and your cousin won’t be less mad if you tell her no dust buster and also she’s wrong. Also many cultural groups consider money the only acceptable gift and some consider it a terrible gift; some hate registries and some hate people who don’t have registries. I don’t know what to tell you except know who you are dealing with.

3. Wedding gift-giving is not affected by attendance. Unlike the showers mentioned above, which are really in-person-only affairs, whether you attend a wedding or not should not affect whether you give a gift. In fact, some people will give a nicer gift if they don’t go because they have more space in their budget due to not having to pay for travel, hotel, party clothes. That’s certainly not an expectation though. Basically, if you don’t go, you just send the gift you would have given anyway. If you weren’t going to give a gift, I would strongly encourage a card–in all cases, but especially if you’re not going. A lot of people (myself included) feel their weddings are a really important day in their lives and if your only response is “not coming” and then silence, that is easy to think that you are trying to end the friendship.

4. Wedding registries are suggestions not requirements. Registries of any type are supposed to be helpful ways to feel confident you have bought the couple a gift they will like and use. Thoughtful couples will select items in a wide range of price points, and thoughtful guests who wish to spend on the high end will not simply buy up a bunch of the low-priced items because that is a dick move. Other ways to feel confident you given the couple a gift they will like and use include giving money, giving gift cards to a store or restaurant or other place you know they like, or knowing them so well you can figure out a non-registry, non-cash/card gift that you feel confident they will enjoy. There is no hierarchy among these choices.

5. There is no minimum amount to spend on wedding gifts. You just give what you can afford and want to give, period. This was actually a lot easier when I was broke, as there was a hard upper limit, the end. I once gave a pair of newlyweds a $15 board game and felt proud of myself because it was on sale and I wrapped it nicely, so it seemed slightly more expensive. For weddings during periods of financial turmoil where I’ve had to travel to be there, folks have gotten a pretty card with nothing inside but my heartfelt good wishes–by strict budgetary standards, I probably shouldn’t have even been there, so a gift was out of the question. Once I was making a decent living it got more confusing because what I could “afford” was relative. Basically I try to find a nice present on the registry that I feel good about giving. Also getting married myself was useful, as people gave us gifts and I learned what those people consider a nice gift!

6. Don’t bring gifts to the ceremony or reception. Even fairly etiquette-savvy people don’t seem to know this one and thus there will usually be a card box and gift table at most receptions (not at the ceremony–no one is ready for gifts at the ceremony and you’ll wind up having to hold the boxed dust-buster in your lap) but it’s really not ideal. If the reception is in a banquet hall where the public or even just guests at other events have access, someone will need to watch the gift table and card box to make sure nothing is stolen and as the night wears on and drinks flow, that’s harder to do. Everyone has heard a story about a wedding-gift robbery–those are both awkward and depressing. Also, at the end of the night the gifts need to be taken somewhere–challenging if they are big, extra-challenging if gifts are fragile and whoever is doing the loading is drunk. Stemware gets broken, gifts get separated from their cards and no one ever knows who gave the dust buster, and if the couple is leaving immediately on their honeymoon or even just is driving a smaller car, now it’s a storage concern for someone. Send the gifts to their home before or after the wedding.

7. Be ok with not receiving a thank you note. The etiquette rules are pretty clear on this–wedding thank you notes should be sent within a few months and they should be a personal note about the thing you actually gave, not a pre-printed “Thanks for giving a thing!” But etiquette isn’t a contest and so many people don’t send wedding thank you notes that it’s wise to check yourself ahead of time for how much resentment you might harbour if you don’t get one and if it’s “tonnes” just don’t give a gift. And relying on thank you notes to confirm that the gift even made it to the recipient is not a great plan–per #6, have it sent to their home with a tracking number or use the registry to track.

8. If it’s driving you crazy, stop. One of the worst things about etiquette is that it can sometimes feels like we serve it and have to do whatever etiquette says, instead of the truth, that etiquette was created to help us maintain good relationships. If etiquette drives people to not like each other, they’re doing it wrong. If you are hunting for a wedding gift and angrily thinking/talking about how much you don’t want to buy anything for these people who you barely know/you don’t like/don’t deserve it/have lots of stuff, maybe that’s a sign you shouldn’t go to the wedding at all and step back from the friendship. Or if it’s just a stress reaction, and actually you do like them, could you just skip the gift and enjoy the wedding with lots of love? Or could you chat with them and mention that you’re stressed/broke right now, but since you’ll be friends forever, there will be a chance down the road for you to get them a nice gift? If you can neither comfortably skip the gift nor comfortably talk to them about it, I’d be back to looking at the relationship itself.

9. My favourite thing I got for my wedding is people coming to my wedding, though they could have been doing anything else that Saturday. My second favourite is towels. Seriously, even if they don’t seem like “fancy bath linens” people, we all have to shower eventually and few of us are that into shopping for towels. Even if they have some nice ones already, time comes for us all and eventually they will get around to using yours. I registered for cheap ones because I felt guilty and also like it didn’t matter, but then Mark’s aunt got us Vera Wang towels somehow (!!!) and when I am buried I want my shroud to be Vera Wang towels. That is all.

September 16th, 2018

Writing with a day job

When people tell me their dream is to write a book (something about a writer inspires people to announce this). I generally take an interest and ask what part of the process they are in, but I should know better because if someone is using the word dream they mean “not reality,” and inevitably they say they have not made any attempt to write anything and have no plan to do so. Sometimes that’s not the case but I’m gonna generalize here. The worst example of this conversation was an acquaintance who had her whole book mapped out in her mind, but she never wrote it because she’d “always had to make a living.” This was awful because she said it standing in front of our two desks–we had the same job, and after that conversation we both went back to it. But she knew I’d written a book and was working on another–she knew the job wasn’t preventing me from writing, and yet some cognitive dissonance made her say that to me.

Look, I get it–I have had considerable privilege in my life and that has helped me to free up time and brain space and energy to put into writing. What’s more, everyone is different, and even someone with equivalent opportunity might have different processes that require more or different time or energy or brain space, and not be able to make it work with the slivers and bits of time I have, and that’s totally legit.

But here’s the thing–I think if you really want to write a book, if it’s your actual goal and not just something to say, you should try! I mean hard-core, working seriously, assembling all the bits and slivers of time, sacrificing things you like but not quite as much as writing, and then see where you are. And try for a while, until these things become habit because writing is hard–it won’t feel fun, just like starting a new job or exercising for the first time in a while doesn’t feel fun, and then it’s tempting to say it’s the wrong fit and you should stop, but maybe it’s just new? If you do it for whatever a habit-forming while is for you and it is all drudgery and no gentle euphoria when you look at yesterday’s nice paragraph, ok, yeah, maybe it’s the wrong fit, but then that’s one more thing you know about yourself and your writing process. Here’s some suggestions from me and the many many other writers I know who do the 9-5 thing and write. You’ll be able to strike some out right away–some are not suitable for those with caretaking responsibilities, short attention spans, long commutes, etc., etc. But I bet something at least could work for you–at least worth trying?

  1. What if you brought your notebook on the subway or bus and wrote on your commute? Or your laptop? Or if you jotted things on your phone in the Notes app on your phone and then transcribed…every evening? One evening a week? If you commute by car, what if you tried dictating your words and then transcribed every evening or one evening a week? What if you tried a text-to-speech app–those are easier than dictation if they work for you, though they don’t work for everyone.
  2. What if you ate at your desk and wrote through your lunch hour, either in a notebook or in Google Docs or Dropbox or something else that would allow you to save your work remotely from your work computer? What if you took a walk at lunch and dictated your writing into your phone, or took notes per above?
  3. What if you kept a Word doc minimized on your computer all day and jotted down any cool thoughts or lines that came to through the day, then stayed 15 minutes late to try to synthesize them a bit, then sent the doc to yourself?
  4. What if you stayed an hour late every day to work on an ongoing writing project at your work desk? What if you came in an hour early?
  5. What if you got up an hour early to write before work? Or two hours early? What if you went to bed an hour or two later?
  6. What if you just stopped watching TV? Or even everything except that one super good show?
  7. What if you just cooked one giant thing one day a week and the other days your writing time was the time while the leftovers were reheating? Or what if you found some convenience food you could live with nutrition/cost/packaging-wise and your writing time would be while those were heating?
  8. What if you didn’t go anywhere on vacation but just wrote, and with the money you saved not going anywhere, you could order more takeout and write even more?
  9. What if you applied to a writing residency and that was your vacation?
  10. What if you went to your parents’ house and asked them to cook your meals and be nice to you, and all the rest of the time you were writing in your childhood bedroom and that was your residency/vacation?
  11. What if you gave up a hobby/rec league/book club/volunteer organization and took a writing class instead? Or what if you got together with a writing friend once a week and wrote for two hours and that was your writing class?
  12. What if every night before bed, no matter how late and how tired you were, you opened the document where your story lived and just looked at it and saw if there was anything you could do for it before the day has to come to an end. This one is my current modus operandi, and while it isn’t perfect, doing it always makes me feel better than not doing it.
  13. What if you knocked your hours down to part-time for while and used the former job days as writing days? This is obviously a bigger sacrifice financially and a more permanent one in many cases, but if it works it can be perfect–you’re already in work-mode on those days, so just work on something else.

I do think it’s worth fighting for more ways of making creative work pay in our society–it is so hard to have a job to support your other job. But it can be done and saying only rich people get to write it is the death of having the good and interesting books that I, for one, want to read. So maybe it’s a personal desire to read the books that get written in-between-times that is making me post this. Please try to find the time–look at your day and find one non-life-sustaining thing that you like less than writing, and get me that book!!

September 9th, 2018

How to plan an RR-style vacation

…in case you were feeling like you needed to.

1. Timeframe: forever, or as long as you like: occasionally look at maps or photos of a place or hear stories about it, and think you’d like to go there. Assume this constitutes a plan.

2. Timeframe: a year or possibly two. Begin telling people about your “plan” to go to this place. Maybe even say something dangerous about going “probably summer 2018.” When you run into people who have been to this place and they tell you about their experience, make a mental note of what they say. Assume this constitutes research.

3. Timeframe: a few months before you’d like to travel: One insane afternoon, look at all combinations of flights for all weeks in the entire summer to every city in the country of your heart’s desire. Become overwhelmed and hysterical, to the point where you shut down the computer and don’t even mention to your travelling companion that you’ve done this.

4. Timeframe: a few months before you’d like to travel: purchase one (1) guidebook. Read in its entirety, without taking any notes, as if it were a novel. Enjoy thoroughly.

5. Repeat week #3 weekly for several weeks, until you feel like you’ve got a grasp on things. Ask your travel companion to take a look with you and attempt to show the best option, only to find all the options have changed.

6. Timeframe: a few months before when you’d like to travel: ask your travelling companion to deal with the flight research.

7. Timeframe: When you’d actually like to be on your trip: go on a completely unrelated trip that didn’t require any planning. Have fun, but when you return, receive several excited questions about how your dream trip finally went and feel like you have failed.

8. Timeframe: A couple months before newly rescheduled trip: have fight with travelling companion about who does all the work of planning trips. Both of you, it turns out.

9. Timeframe: Month before newly rescheduled trip: travelling companion makes itinerary for trip but there are problems with it, makes alternative itinerary. Then you make a problematic itinerary and alternative itinerary. Also, start researching train schedules, repeat #3. Wonder how anyone ever goes anywhere.

10. Timeframe: a few weeks before newly rescheduled trip: reschedule trip again, attempt to book plane tickets in a fit of excitement, just as entering credit card number, recall potential work conflict that can’t be checked for a few days, collapse in despair.

11. Timeframe: a couple months before newly re-rescheduled trip: actually book plane tickets! Collapse in exhaustion.

12. Timeframe: a couple months before newly re-rescheduled trip: get asked several times if you’ve already gone on the trip you’ve been talking about for so long. Resolve never to talk about anything ever again.

13: Timeframe: month before re-rescheduled trip: book hotels. Find it so draining you can only do a few at a time.

This is actually as far as I’ve gotten. Tune in later for steps 14 through 25–book attractions, book trains, pack suitcase, arrive at airport 5 hours early!

May 23rd, 2018

I am 40 now listen to me: advice

As probably most people know if they spend time with me: I am obsessed with advice columns. I read and adore a great number of them (current faves include Ask a Manager, Captain Awkward and forever champ Dear Prudence with Daniel Mallory Ortberg.) But show me an advice column and I’ll probably read it.

My dream is to have my own advice column, a dream I am pursuing mainly by wishing for it. I don’t even give advice to people I know that often, let alone strangers, because I am waiting to be asked–ideally, via postal letter. But I turned 40 today and I know some things, and I think I’ve earned the right to share them. Just this once. You don’t need to worry that if you go out to coffee with me I’m going to critique your outfit (unless you are married to me) or tell you how to talk to the loud guy on the train –this is a one-time deal, and then I’ll go back to waiting to be asked. It’s really like a resume: here’s some stuff I would advise about the world and human interactions, learned in my 40 years on earth. If you want more, hit me up! I’ve tried to make it clear whether I learned from interaction or observation or just reading advice columns, but basically, I just know, ok?

1. Don’t touch anyone unless they see clearly that you are going to touch them and have given some small sign that they are cool with being touched. I learned this from cats needing to sniff your hand before you can pet them, but it applies to humans too: don’t hug someone until they’ve opened their arms to be hugged, don’t clasp someone’s arm until they have acknowledged your hand there, don’t pull off loose threads or tags without asking permission. If you never see the acknowledgement nod, you never touch them. Everyone gets their bubble.

2. There is sometimes a second cigarette-lighter-type jack in the car glove compartment between the passenger and driver’s seat (in modern cars with bucket seats), down at the bottom. There also might be an audio jack inside the top of the glove compartment in front of the passenger seat. No one ever tells you this for some reason, you have to go feeling around to check.

3. It’s ok to work on contract for a while, if you are young and flexible and don’t need a lot of non-OHIP healthcare or dental work. People a generation older who had full-time jobs for their entire careers are horrified by contract work but more importantly they are unfamiliar with it. They just find it insulting on principle and it’s not ok to have unexamined principles in today’s economy. If there’s a reason you don’t want contract work–like you require expensive medication and really need drug coverage, or a particular company or industry is known to be terrible to contract workers, do what you need to do, but there is nothing inherently evil about contract work if all sides agree on what is going down.

4. You can double-dip if the only people sharing the dip are people who mouth kiss on a regular basis. Still, it’s polite to ask first.

5. If you ask someone for a favour and they say no nicely, say thanks anyway or something else cordial rather than snark or just stop speaking to them. Sure, you may not be getting the thing you want from this person right now, but keep the relationship friendly because it’s a) the right thing to do and b) it’s not like they’ve lost all their powers (probably); maybe they could do the useful thing or a different useful thing later if you aren’t a jerk about it.

6. Cold water gets out blood–hot makes it worse. It seems counter-intuitive but it’s really not–blood is meat, so think of the heat as cooking the blood in. Gross, but now you’ll remember.

7. It is cruel to declaw a cat–I imagine you want to keep your fingernails, too. However, if you feel you absolutely must have a declawed cat (and if you care to give me a call, I would debate all your reasons for this) there is a loophole. Some people are cruel and declaw cats and then don’t keep them anyway, and those cats wind up at the Humane Society or at cat rescues. If you were to adopt a declawed cat from such a situation, and promise to keep it forever indoors and away from aggressive situations (because it can neither defend itself nor climb trees to flee) you would not only be free of the charge of cruelty but doing that cat a favour. Everybody wins.

8. You don’t have to cook anything for a potluck–anything nice from the grocery store, deli, or bakery is just fine. You can’t bring the ingredients for a dish and ask the host to provide you with implements and kitchen space to make it, though. Seriously, just buy a family size bag of Doritos if you like–no one will be sad.

9. Insomniacs shouldn’t take naps. It’s really sad, but necessary.

10. Cats need to come to you. Do not pursue cats.

11. You need at least an hour to change planes at LAX–probably more if you don’t like to live dangerously. It’s a very very big messy horrible airport. Better advice is maybe just don’t fly through LAX.

12. You shouldn’t brake on the highway unless you are in heavy traffic. That was advice I got from a truck driver I had a crush on in my teens (I know!) and it’s really good. If you find yourself braking to regulate your speed or because you’re accidentally tailgating or you want to let someone in, all that is bad. I still do it occasionally when no one is behind me, but I feel that cute truck driver shaking his head at me.

13. There are no questions you need to ask anyone about their fertility ever unless they are your partner or your patient. Not when they will have children or why they haven’t yet or why they had the children they did have when they did or why so many or why not more or if they had “difficulties” or “accidents” or conceived “naturally” or whether they are happy to be pregnant or sad that they are not or ANYTHING ELSE. If you are a warm, interested friend, people will volunteer what they feel comfortable sharing and if you feel like you need more information than that, you must ask yourself, before you say anything aloud, why you need that information. Because unless you fit into one of the two categories mentioned above, I cannot think of a single reason.

14. Always ask permission before posting photos of other humans on the internet. Obviously this applies especially to minors, but I have been trying lately to apply the rule to everyone. It took me embarrassingly long to get with this one–I genuinely didn’t see why I’d have to ask. But I get it now–your face, your call.

15. Advice repeated from neurologist: Eating protein first thing in the morning is good way to stave off migraines. Advice repeated from naturopath: If you are struggling with your health–migraines or otherwise–protein at every meal and even in every snack is probably a good bet. Doesn’t have to be a huge portion, but at least a bit.

16. It doesn’t matter whether someone can document a food allergy or prove an intolerance–if they don’t want to eat it, their reasons are not open to discussions. However, if I’m hosting them for a meal and their needs are really complex or obscure, I am allowed to say that I don’t think I’m able to accommodate them adequately and ask that they either bring something they know they can eat or suggest a takeout place that works for them. Everyone should get to eat what they need, but that doesn’t mean I have to cook it.

17. “Perfectionism” is supposed to be that flaw that’s not really a flaw you mention in job interviews, but after a couple decades of working in actual jobs, I can tell you–it’s really a flaw. At best, perfectionists are smug, assuming that they are capable of Platonic ideals in everyday life. At worst, they are bitter and resentful that they must work with imperfect colleagues. Sure, we all have a little perfectionism in us–I have a lot less than I used to, owing to the chronic failure to write the perfect stories that live in my brain–but it’s nothing to humble-brag about.

18. Ditto romantic jealousy. Happens to the best of us? Sure, but something to work on, nothing adorable.

19. If the ends of your tomatoes in your garden are all gross and grey, there might not be enough calcium in your soil. You can fortify it with bonemeal in spring and fall, but for an immediate fix, there’s actually such a thing as calcium supplements you dig into the garden–you can buy them at a garden centre. Fixed ours right up!

20. Coordination of benefits–possibly my most boring advice, but useful! If one partner has medical/dental benefits, they can be used by the other partner if cohabitating and by their children. Most people know this and it’s lovely. If BOTH partners have medical/dental benefits, the assumption seems to be that they will just have both and use the second to cover copays and whatever is not covered by the first. Which can be great in certain situations but in others is nutso–just a bunch of insurance covering everything twice, essentially. Please, if you are in this situation, look at what you actually need and what your options are–some plans will allow you to cash out your benefits if you have other coverage, and others won’t but you can have a health care spending account so you can put ALL the money towards whatever health-related expenses you want (all the massages!) Some companies will insist you keep all your benefits, period, and like I said, some people actually can make use of two plans, but you need to think it over and read the fine print!

21. “Self care” isn’t ditching plans at the last minute and leaving people in the lurch/wasting their time (except for extreme/surprise situations). I’m so sad that I’ve seen the opposite advice repeated so often. Real, everyday self care is looking at invitations and requests and the other demands on your time and what you actually can and want to do and politely RSVPing no thank you to the rest well in advance.

22. The best thing to give to charity is money. Money does not require transportation, can be used for literally anything, can used flexibly at the charity’s discretion (they thought they were going to get a new sink, but then the stove broke) and many charities have much better buying power than the average citizen because of their charitable status and because they buy in bulk (your four cans of tuna might cost $4 versus the 400 cans they bought for $100 or some such). If money is not something you have to give or feel comfortable giving, there are myriad other things you can give away that will help, but research is required to find out which charities take what and how. Giving something to an organization that doesn’t accept it–used clothing to a group that only takes new, or expired food to a food drive that asks you not to–because you didn’t research the rules or think the rules are dumb is unethical, because it takes resources away from the actual charity and expends them on sorting and disposing of a useless donation. I have learned this from countless articles, and a number of volunteer stints.

23. The best way for women to not get urinary tract infections is just not to be physically disposed towards them aka lucky. The second-best way to avoid them is to pee after sex and ideally before too, though that is a lot of peeing. I learned the second half of that from an issue of Seventeen magazine back in 8th grade, when I didn’t know what a single word of it meant.

24. There is no reason not to repeat every compliment you hear or even think about everyone you know. All the nice words should be known!!

25. There are no books you have to read. There are no TV shows or movies you have to watch. There are no places you have to travel to. (Unless any of the above are your job, I suppose.) It was weird when I stopped feeling guilty about not watching Breaking Bad, reading Moby Dick, or going to Hawaii, but it was definitely better.

26. Inviting a single small child to an adult-oriented event means some adult is going to spend the event with that child or the child is going to watch tv. No little kid has ever “just coloured quietly” for longer than 10 minutes, no matter what their parents say, and it’s not fair to expect it. Invite at least one more kid, get a tablet out, or say goodbye to at least one adult.

27. If you get a tax refund because you put money in an RRSP, you haven’t actually gained the money–you’ve borrowed it from your future self. The refunded money is tax you didn’t have to pay on the cash in the RRSP, but you will wind up paying tax on sheltered money when you take it out, post retirement. It might be at a lower rate if your income is lower at retirement, as many people’s are, but then again it might not. SO if you use the refund to put yourself ahead for the future–savings, paying off debts, buying something you needed anyway–you are winning because you get the interest/use value years ahead. But if you use the refund to incur an expense you wouldn’t have had otherwise–a random vacation, new clothes–you are actually putting yourself in the hole against future taxes. If you can afford it, it might not matter, but most people don’t think of it that way so just fyi. Sorry, I know this is a depressing one.

28. If you melt chocolate in the microwave, you have to take it out and stir every 10-15 seconds or it will burn. Still easier than doing it on the stove, in my opinion.

29. The idea that women cannot manage their own grooming is incorrect. If a woman wants to pay a professional to make her eyebrows/toenails/leghairs/whatever look different, that’s a very legitimate path. But so is doing her own grooming at home, or deciding that whatever body part does not require grooming. I’m startled to be living in an age where not paying to have someone paint your toenails and wax your legs could actually be considered lazy or sloppy. The aesthetics industry exists for no benevolent reason–it’s there to make money. We all know that, right?

30. Sitting all the way at the back of the bus or streetcar cuts down on the need the need to watch for elderly/pregnant/disabled people who need your seat–the accessible seats are at the front and it’s unlikely someone with a mobility issue is going to come to the back of the bus anyway, especially up the stairs, though one should still not be completely oblivious. The subway is harder, for though the blue accessible seats are scattered throughout. One needs to pay more attention on the subway, or when in doubt, just stand if you can.

31. It hurts my heart when parents tell their kids–or adults tell themselves–that they can’t be writers because they need to earn a living. As if the only stories we need are those of the independently wealthy! With a few extremely brief exceptions, I have always worked full-time to support myself while I wrote my books and it’s tiring but fine. That won’t work for everyone, but there are many other paths! Really, many! Please, always look for ways to tell your stories!

32. Unsolicited advice is almost never cool unless someone is about to drive into a ditch or do something else immediately dangerous. Thanks for humouring me–I promise this is it unless I’m asked…until 50!!

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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