By now I'm sure you're familiar with Amazon's Echo device. Amazon Echo comes in both white and black, and is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more. One works well, or string them around your house for Alexa in every room. Multiple Echo devices work together seamlessly. It may be one of those devices that actually does what it promises to do. Echo is discounted fairly regularly, but usually not by this much. If you've been thinking about picking one up, now may be a good time. Its list price has been reduced from $179 to $99.99 for a limited time. See the deal on Amazon.
We were faced with a problem, we had to move into a one bedroom flat but there’s three of us – me, she who must be obeyed and our seven year old son.
The sole bedroom wasn’t that big but it did have an alcove with a fitted wardrobe and linen cupboard.
After several permutations on my ‘SketchUp‘ software I finally came up with the idea of ripping out the wardrobe and cupboard to make the alcove bigger. Then, to use PAX wardrobes as a room partition and fit a STUVA Loft Bed set into the space freed up by removing the original fitted cupboards.
It was a very tight squeeze for the loft bed. There was exactly 270cm width AFTER I had taken off the plasterboard on the right hand wall and the STUVA loft bed is . . . . 270cm wide!
As it turned out, that still wasn’t enough and, due to the wall not being built exactly square (are they ever?). I still had to cut out a 5cm rebate in the right hand timber stud in order to accommodate the ladder. It also meant that we couldn’t build the loft bed exactly as stated and had to miss out some fixings which were inaccessible.
However, the integrity and tightness of the structure was maintained by judicious use of a few steel brackets and mending plates (only one of which remains visible). After much blood, sweat and tears, and with appropriate ‘easing’ into place, the finished bed is absolutely rock solid. I pity any future flat owner who wants to remove it!
The space remaining for ma and pa is a bit tight but there is still enough room to walk around three sides of the bed. The two existing IKEA chests of drawers we had have simply been put inside the wardrobes to save floor space but, even with doing that, we still have plenty of storage and hanging space left.
As for the wee lad, well, he’s got plenty of storage space too but how will he feel about climbing up into a loft bed when he’s a six foot something teenager? Ah well, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Has anybody got a set of sky hooks for sale?!
~ by Richard, Jen and Robbie
More ideas for room partitions
The EXPEDIT/ KALLAX is one of the best choices for a room divider but the open shelves can be a mess if you’re not into tidying. Kris got around this problem with custom doors for the EXPEDIT. See more here.
Not keen to make doors? Take the easy way out and use the STUVA instead. You’ll just need to cut a panel to cover the back. See how it’s done.
Another take on the STUVA as a room divider, with two STUVA cabinets flanking a dining nook. Details here.
The STOLMEN is lovely as a mid-century styled space divider and shelving unit. Here it functions as a desk too.
This HaBO comes from Lindsay and she’s searching for a bonkers, time-travel historical romance:
I’ve been looking for this one for a while now. I read it about five years ago on my B&N Nook, and have been back through every book in my account and cannot find it, so I’m hoping someone out there knows what it is.
Our heroine, whose name I don’t remember, falls in love with the laird of the castle (maybe early to mid-nineteenth century?). I’m pretty sure his name was Ian/Iain. I don’t remember how, but she somehow gets sucked back in time at the magic castle and winds up in prehistoric Scotland, where she shacks up with a caveman in a village that sounds a lot like Skara Brae. She’s really into Mr. Caveman, but also desperately misses Laird Ian-What’s-His-Name, and when Mr. Caveman has to go to war, he sends her back to the nineteenth century. Obviously, our heroine has some ‘splainin’ to do, and she and the Laird reach a Laird-Caveman/Time-travel-time-share agreement, which both dudes–who never meet– seem weirdly cool with.
Like I said, this one is like a crazysauce-covered sundae, and I would love to find it again.
I’m kind of a sucker for love triangles turning into super cool triads.
Tiger Woods is threatening to take a celebrity gossip website to court for leaking a nude photo of him online in a recent hack of several stars, including Woods’ ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn.
After the image surfaced, Woods’ attorney sent the site a letter threatening legal action if the photos aren’t removed, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Woods and Olympic skier Vonn are among the latest stars to be victimized by a hacker and a website that post their private nude photos online. Other stars who have been recently exploited include Katharine McPhee, Kristen Stewart and Miley Cyrus.
To get the photos of Woods and Vonn, the hacker reportedly broke into Vonn’s phone and gained access to her photos as well as a nude selfie Woods had sent the Olympic skiier when they were dating. The two split in 2015, and Vonn has since been dating former Los Angeles Rams assistant coach Kenan Smith.
The site routinely posts intimate images of famous women without permission and then removes them after receiving threatening letters from attorneys. Woods’ attorney reportedly sent the site a similar letter back in December on behalf of “Pretty Little Liars” star Lucy Hale after it posted hacked photos of her, the Reporter said.
A representative for Vonn told Page Six that the publication of the photos is “an outrageous and despicable invasion of privacy. … She believes the individuals responsible for hacking her private photos as well as the websites that encourage this detestable conduct should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law.”
Game of Thrones:
Kingslayer by eline (Jaime Lannister)
Oathbreaker by thegarostudios (Jaime Lannister)
The White Wolf by zurik23m (Jon Snow)
King in the North by thegarostudios (Jon Snow)
Home by zurik23m (Sansa Stark)
Mother of Dragons by thegarostudios (Daenerys Targaryen)
Releasing the Kraken by zurik23m (naval warfare)
Blood of My Blood by zurik23m (Daenerys Targaryen, Dothraki conquest & dragon resurgence)
Here I Stand by Zurik23M (Jorah Mormont)
Return the Favour by Zurik23M (Jorah & Sam)
Light by Zurik23M (Jorah & Daenerys)
Fight For Her by Zurik23M (Jorah Mormont)
Mistakes by Zurik23M (Jorah & Tyrion)
More RECS: Game of Thrones Part 1, Part 2 | X-Men (Alternate Timeline): Adventure, Fantasy & Fairy Tale Vol.1, Adventure, Fantasy & Fairy Tale Vol.2, Adventure, Fantasy & Fairy Tale Vol.3, Angels & Werewolves special, Clock-, Steam- and Teslapunk, Dystopia, Fauns & Satyrs & Centaurs, Space Romance | Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel | Vikings | Stranger Things | Black Sails Part 1, Part 2 | BBC Robin Hood Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 | BBC In the Flesh Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 | Once Upon a Time Part 1, Part 2
Velcro cable ties can transform the rat king of cables behind your desk or home theater into something more manageable, and you can get 100 of them today on Amazon for just $6. These are frequently listed as an add-on item, but at least for now, they’re eligible for standalone Prime shipping.
In the wake of Kai Cole’s piece about Joss Whedon, and some of the reaction to it, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a man in the public sphere who considers himself to be a feminist. Part of this thought process was also spurred on by seeing some of the reaction to the news on Twitter by women:
I’ve talked before about my own personal feminism here on Whatever. In 2012 I noted why I was hesitant to call myself a feminist, and then a couple years later I explained why I was going to go ahead and call myself one. Here in 2017, I think it’s worth coming back around to it and thinking about it some more.
And at the moment, this is what I think about it: I consider myself a feminist because fundamentally, I believe that women should have and need to have the same rights, privileges and opportunities that men do — that I do — and I think it’s worth saying that out loud and working toward that goal. This feminism is part and parcel of believing that everyone should have the same rights, privileges and opportunities that I, a straight, white, well-off, gender-conforming man has, not just on paper but in the practical, mundane, day-to-day workings-of-the-world sense. We’re not there yet, and as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, there are a lot of people who never want to see that happen. I would be ashamed, especially now, not to stand up and be counted out loud as someone who believes in feminism, among all the other things I believe in.
But I am also deeply uncomfortable with feminism being part of my “brand,” for several reasons. The first is that I’m aware of my failings and imperfections, and I’m also aware that there are a number of failings and imperfections I’m not aware of. With regard to my feminism, I can work on the things I know about and listen when people point out the things I’m not aware of, but the general gist of it is that I’m aware my feminism is imperfect. I am loath to charge in saying behold, the male feminist! when I know there are lots of places where I fall down. I’m a feminist, in progress, and suspect I will be until I’m dead.
The second, following on the first, is that I’m also aware feminism doesn’t need me as a flagbearer. I’m not and shouldn’t be the vanguard of feminism (I mean, if I am, whoooo there’s trouble). What I can be is support, and occasionally a tank (i.e., someone being an obvious target and taking hits while other people get to work). One of the great gifts of getting older is the realization that you don’t have to lead every parade. Sometimes it’s enough to march along and have the backs of the people out in front.
The third, which is related to the second as the second is related to the first, is the awareness that I have the privilege of not being performatively feminist. Which is to say that I can — and sometimes do — decide to take a break from actively having to deal with issues and concerns of feminism, because I am busy, or distracted, or tired, or just decide I want to take a breather. My passive feminism is still there, my default belief in the equality of rights and opportunities, but I don’t have to do anything about it, and the personal consequences for my not engaging are very low.
Having the option to quit the field without penalty, and to engage only when you have interest, means some interesting things, not all of them good. It means, as an example, that you can choose to do only high-profile, high-impact flashy attention-getting things, and not the day-to-day grunt work that other people have to do. It’s not at all surprising that the reaction of the latter folks is irritation and frustration that you’re getting credit for something they see essentially as stunting for cookies.
I’m not going to deny that I’m aware that I have the ability, within my own little pond, to draw attention to issues and to make things visible by being loud and immovable in only the way someone with my advantages has, and in that way effect change. I try to be useful with that, and to make clear the fact that others have done work I’m essentially pointing to. And I try to do more than just the flashy, attention-getting, cookie-bearing stuff. But at the end of the day I’m aware that I have the option to engage, with feminism as with many issues, when other people are required to engage if they want their existence to be acknowledged as anything other than background noise. That makes a difference. I don’t think I can have feminism as part of my “brand” when I only have to engage with it at my whim.
(There’s also a fourth issue here, which is the disconnect between public and private lives. To be very clear, I’m not keeping any affairs — or, really, anything — secret from Krissy; we believe in communication and lots of it. But I’ve also been clear that while my public persona, including on this blog, is me, it’s a version of me tuned differently from the me who lives at home with my wife and daughter, away from the rest of the world. I don’t know that there’s anything in my private life to give someone pause re: feminism, but who knows? There might be. In which case, best to not lead with it as a brand identity.)
I consider myself a feminist. I am also 100% all right with being interrogated on that assertion, and to have people, and especially women, be skeptical until and unless I prove otherwise. I’m also aware that “feminist” is not a level-up — you don’t grind until you get the achievement badge and then don’t have to think about it ever again. I’ve said before that if your social consciousness is stuck in 1975, the 21st century is going to be a hard ride, and that continues to be a true thing. You have to keep engaging.
I’m also aware that I’m going to fail — that I’ll miss a step, or say or do something stupid, or otherwise show my ass, on feminism (among, to be sure, many other issues). And I can pretty much guarantee I’m not always going to take being called on that with initial good grace, because history suggests I’ll occasionally screw that up too. I can say that I do try to base my ego not on having to be right, but on doing the right thing. This is why I once did a primer on apologizing: because I need it in my own life.
So, yes. Here in 2017: I am a feminist, imperfectly to be sure but even so. I’m happy for it not to be part of my “brand.” I just want it to be part of me; of how I treat women, and others, and how I view the world for what it is and should be.
CatCon is an annual celebration of cats and the cat aesthetic, all of which has developed out of pure passion and love for feline pets. People gather each year in southern California for the big event. This year's third annual feline frenzy brought 15,000 cat lovers together for a weekend of fun and frolic at the Pasadena Convention Center on August 12th-13th. Attendees participated in experiential marketing, explored new products and fashion for both themselves and their four-legged furriends, and met with some of the most famous internet cats in the world.
So, in case you've missed it, here are some highlights of the kitty fest. via: The Purrington Post
Sync and charge iOS & Android devices with this generous 6-foot lightning/micro USB combo cable, available right now as a 3-pack, discounted to $9.99. Features a durable stainless steel connector, and a tangle-free nylon braided cord. The company offers a 12-month warranty against any issues with quality, as well. See this 3-pack deal on Amazon.
Spoiler alert! This post contains spoilers for “Beyond the Wall,” episode 6 of “Game of Thrones” season 7.
Famous people are also caught up in the “Game of Thrones” cultural phenomenon, and that includes some famous people in the sports world. But none may be as enthusiastic about the show as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The former Cal Golden Bears star is known for espousing some intricate fan theories in interviews, telling one reporter earlier this month, “I am totally dialed in and locked in with everything that’s going on right now.”
But it sounds like even a mega-fan like Rodgers couldn’t predict what was coming Sunday night: a plot twist at the end of the penultimate episode of Season 7 that left fans all over the world tweeting their devastation about the death of a certain character.
Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want any surprises ruined!
The basic gist of Sunday night’s episode is that Jon Snow and his Dream Team of fan favorite warriors went north of the wall on a not-very-well-thought-out plan to capture a wight. Of course, it backfired with the group surrounded on an ice island by a massive army of wights. Just as they were about to be torn apart by the raging pack, Dany swooped into the rescue riding a dragon. But, for some reason, her two other dragons came along.
Unfortunately, the Night King threw an ice spear into the air, demonstrating the pinpoint precision that Rodgers himself has been known to display at crucial points in nationally televised games. The Night King nailed his target: Dany’s dragon Viserion.
“Game of Thrones” fans poured out their grief via social media, with one going so far as to call it “the hardest death of the series, even over Ned’s.” Others made the inevitable football-related jokes, as in the Night King should be recruited to play quarterback for the New York Jets.
But Rodgers topped all the football-related tweets with his own, reflecting his own renown for connecting a Hail Mary or two, as Uproxx reported.
“Wish that Hail Mary hadn’t been completed tonight. #thrones”
Wish that Hail Mary hadn’t been completed tonight. #thrones
— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) August 21, 2017
But the site noted that some other high-level athletes got into the conversation, expression their admiration for the Night King’s arm strength and accuracy. The U.S. Olympic team is interested in recruiting him to throw javelin.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) August 21, 2017
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Rocket and baby Groot
Content Notes/Warnings: none
Medium: digital painting
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: Zyden on DA
Why this piece is awesome: The notes under the art are great - Zyden imagines this as how Rocket would train up baby Groot - starting with a water pistol. I love the energy in the picture and their fierce expressions, even in play.
Link: GotG2 - Baby Groot and Rocket
This is maybe oddly specific and I imagine fairly low-stakes, but I genuinely have no idea how to handle it. My boyfriend and I are both busy people, and planning time together can take some doing. We live together, so while we do see one another a bunch in passing, it’s rare to have a genuine night in or a date. He is also a lot more spontaneous than I am; I’m a planner, mostly because I work a lot more hours than he does and also in part because having a rough sketch of what my next week looks like helps me manage my diagnosed anxiety.
Here’s the issue – oftentimes, I’ll really be looking forward to spending some time with him (may be structured or unstructured) but he will, at the last minute, essentially ask to cancel. Oftentimes it’s stuff that I’m invited to, too, but here are some examples:
1. At the last minute, his sister called and could we go have dinner with his family that night? Bonus points if I’ve already started cooking dinner for us (“can you just freeze it or use it tomorrow?”)
2. He got a text from the softball team he subs for, and they urgently need one more tonight or they need to forfeit.
3. His friend is in town for the weekend unexpectedly and he wants to hang out – since we’re just chilling at home/the corner bar is it cool if he and his girlfriend tag along?
4. His coworker ended up with an extra ticket to [sport/concert] and he just has one but it’s tonight only.
Like I said, in all but the last example he does invite me to tag along, but it really throws me. I’m not exactly introverted, and I do like to socialize in groups, but it really changes the character of our plans and can be a major re-adjustment of the dynamic – group vs. solo, going out vs. staying in, getting a chance to talk to him vs. spending most of the night watching him play a sport. Sometimes I feel like the third wheel to my own date night. I also feel like it’s a lot of extra effort to re-arrange things at the last minute and I usually shoulder that.
To be clear, it’s not a double standard. He is really laid-back and rolls with the punches, and any time I do have to change plans for my own reasons he takes it totally in stride. Also, it’s super apparent through our years of relationship that this is the way he was raised. His family seldom plan anything more than a day in advance, usually less.
Here’s the issue:
1. His position is that, since we live together, we can *always* reschedule or easily spend time together whereas the things that come up are usually time-sensitive or urgent (friend is in town just one night! team is in danger of forfeiting!). My position is that this happens often enough that I feel like I’m constantly being moved down the priority list and taken for granted. Also, I don’t have time to make a back-up plan for myself so if I beg off because the new plan doesn’t sound especially fun I’m effectively ditched.
2. His additional position is that, well, he is just asking and I have ultimate veto power. If I say no, he won’t do it. My position is that, by putting out there that he has this unique and time-sensitive opportunity and asking to do that instead, he’s putting me in the position of having to tell him “no, don’t do this thing you’d rather do – hang out with me, which you can do anytime.” It’s uncomfortable, and I’d rather not have the weight of his experience on my shoulders.
The (very!) few times I have said I’d rather we stuck to our original plan, to his credit he hasn’t complained or sulked or made me the bad guy to his friends. He’s taken it pretty much in stride.
But I still don’t like it, and I’m having a hard time finding words for why this feels unfair and crummy. He’s right that he’s just asking, and he’s also right that we see a lot of each other albeit incidentally. But what I’d like to see if occasionally for him to just say, “hey, sorry – we have plans already” to his friends without putting it on me. I’d like him to feel like our time together is an important enough commitment that it’s not on the same tier as “free time” in his calendar.
But it’s not getting through, and I often end up sounding like I want him to read my mind (“how was I supposed to know you wouldn’t want to without asking you?”). How do I articulate this in a way that still leaves room for who he is as a person (to be clear, sometimes I love his spontaneity!)? How do I manage this without being too high maintenance? To be fair, I can see how sometimes I say yes when I mean no and then end up resentfully picking a fight, which isn’t especially cool of me.
Thank you for reading my letter. She/her pronouns, please.
It’s easy in a long-term relationship where you live together to fall into the pattern of “Why should we gotta make the plans when I can see you any old time?”
It’s also easy to fall into the idea that Group Social Time counts as Together Time if he is there and you are there, and I know I’ve personally had to make it clear that “Hey being invited to be a spectator at your band practice is not the same thing as a date, hard pass btw, call me when you’re actually free.” Go in peace, hot-yet-oblivious-bass-playing-almost-
My first suggestion is I think you should start taking your dude at his word and saying “I’d prefer we just continue with our solo evening, is that cool?” when you don’t want to change plans. At least sometimes! Like, family dinners are great, and family dinners can also come with 24 hours notice or else he might have to miss one because he has other plans (plans with you). If his claim is that he’d be cool if you said no is true, then see if he’s actually cool when you say no. You say he usually is, and if he continues to be, that’s good information. If he starts “resentfully picking a fight” when you say no that’s also good information.
My second suggestion is to ask him to clarify his question when he asks. “Are you asking me if I’d like hang out with your friend who is in town or telling me that you really want to hang out with your friend who is in town?” Get him to own the fact that it’s not just a simple question. Depending on how he responds, you can respond with what works best for you, like, “Can you and I have dinner together, just the two of us, and then you can peel off afterward and meet them?” or “Hey, I’m out, but go and have fun!” or “Sure, the more the merrier!”
I think the thing that’s bugging you is that he’s checking in with you to ask you what you think when it’s clear that he wants to go do the other thing. He says it’s a real “ask” situation but you don’t feel like it is, and right now, “Love, is it cool if my friends join us for drinks tonight?” = “My friends will be joining us for drinks tonight.” It would be more honest if he said “Babe, I can’t make dinner tonight, I gotta go play softball or we’ll forfeit” rather than going through the rigamarole of asking you thereby putting you in the role of Chief Timecop and Funkiller.
You say sometimes you feel like a third wheel to your own date night and you sometimes get resentful and pick fights. My third suggestion is, when date-plans turn into group plans, don’t go. You know you don’t like it except on rare occasions, so, turn “Sure, it would be cool if we all went together…I guess” into “Not for me, but you go and have fun!” and then stay home and do something else.
Fourth suggestion: If you do say yes to changing plans, can you add a request to reschedule right then? You say that you’re doing a lot of work of re-accommodating things, so, can you explicitly place that work on him? “Okay, cool, have fun. When you get home tonight, can we put something else on the calendar for just you and me?” His logic is that you can always reschedule something with each other, and yours is for that to happen on the actual space-time continuum it needs to be scheduled.
Fifth suggestion: Your letter is crying out for a regular, sacred Date Night, something where you both agree that On Tuesdays We Hang Out Together Come What May, and you both agree to say “that sounds great but I have plans” about any other plans that come up during that time window unless it’s a true emergency (involving a hospital) or a fun emergency (“I know we said dinner at home but I have Hamilton tickets, meet me at 7“).
The script for asking for a reset is “I am happier when I know that I will get at least one evening/week where it’s just you and me at home together and when I can put it on my calendar in advance as a done deal to look forward to. And it does bug me when we carve this out and then you want to bail. I feel like the bad guy who is holding you back from a fun thing if I say no, but I get annoyed if I say yes and now my evening that I looked forward to and carved out of my schedule to spend with you is shot. I want to make room to be flexible and spontaneous, but it would mean a lot to me if you would treat x, y, z as pre-existing plans that we have together that can’t be ditched so easily.”
And then ask him what he thinks would fix it. “Do you have any ideas for how this can work better?” “In a perfect world, how could we fix this so there is some room to be spontaneous but we also make sure that we put each other first?”
Sixth, I know I say this a lot, but make sure you are getting some time for yourself and that you have time & room to nurture your other social relationships. If you institute Date Night Taco Tuesdays over time you can also institute Go Have Fun & Give Me The House To Myself Fridays or Saturday Morning Best Friend Pancakes. It sounds like you’re busy and as a result a lot of your social units are couple social units. Make sure there’s something in there just for you.
Seventh, do what you can to delete the idea that having needs and desires inside a relationship makes you “high-maintenance.” What can survive without maintenance? “Boyfriend, I feel like I work hard to set time aside in my schedule for you, and when you keep rescheduling me or telling me that we can always hang out later, it hurts my feelings, can we figure this out together” is not the utterance of some witch-harpy-fury-gorgon-insert the scary mythological being of your choice*- hybrid, ok? These are normal human feelings and they are important because they are yours and they are real. ❤
*Friend-of-Blog Jess Zimmerman is writing an awesome series about female monsters at Catapult these days. Collect them all!
It is now time for the summer Captain Awkward Dot Com pledge drive, where I shake the tip jar in the general direction of all of you kind readers. If you like what I do here and are able to support the work, please visit my Patreon page or make a donation via PayPal or Cash.me. Thanks to your support, we’ve made the blog ad-free. My next goal is to take a sabbatical from teaching in 2018 and work on a CaptainAwkward book and other writing projects. Every little bit counts, and I’m grateful for it.
I can tell you the exact moment I discovered Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I was about fifteen and fortunate enough to be on a trip to England with my father and stepmother. Though I considered myself to be lucky, I was also in dire straits—my Walkman was dead, I’d read all my books, and I was stuck in a car with two adults who were constantly fighting and all of my coping mechanisms had been used up. I was desperate for a book. I think any lifelong reader will understand the panic of being stuck somewhere stressful without a good book. (Or really any book, for that matter.)
We had stopped to see some famous rock circle—I can’t remember which one, only that it wasn’t Stonehenge. However, I do remember that they had a little gift shop, and in that little gift shop amongst the knickknacks and postcards was a single spinner rack of paperback fantasy titles written by a man named Terry Pratchett. I’d never heard of Terry Pratchett, and I didn’t care. I grabbed the first two and proceeded to beg my stepmother for them. Another lucky stroke in my life—both my mother and my stepmother were readers and they almost always supported my book habit. I’m forever grateful for this.
There are a few other authors that I remember discovering so clearly, though in very different ways. My stepmom handed me David Eddings thinking that I’d like his books based on the covers. My brother, Darin, introduced me to Ursula Le Guin. My Grandma Lee lead to me discovering Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books when I was stuck on yet another stressful family outing and out of books. We’d stopped in to a grocery store and she handed me The Lunatic Café saying, “This looks weird. You’re weird. I think you’ll like it.” My mom read and reread the Chronicles of Narnia to my brothers and me over the years.
I loved all of them and they certainly all impacted me as a reader and a writer, but none of them in quite the way that Terry Pratchett did, because the Discworld books were the first to really prove to me that fantasy books could be funny and smart. They were silly and deep at the same time. Since I was constantly being told to stop being silly and that my sarcasm would get me nowhere, Pratchett’s books were a validation.
Rincewind was a terrible wizard and a total coward and I understood him in a way that I didn’t understand the usual heroes that threw themselves into battle and trekked across whole countries to right wrongs. I approved of those things, but I’d never done them. I didn’t really know what being a hero felt like, but I’d been a Rincewind. Sadly, not a wizard, but I’d been afraid. I’d been overwhelmed. I wasn’t a hero and I was awkward and weird. Rincewind was a character I could get behind.
The deeper I delved, the more the books resonated for me. There was hopefulness and a kindness to the humor along with the bite of satire. To this day I read Pratchett’s books and laugh and then suddenly stop and reel at the bigger ideas that he’s thrown in with all that humor.
Up until that point, I’d been trying to write stories and most of them fell into the epic fantasy or horror genres, and they weren’t really working. I couldn’t seem to articulate the kind of story I wanted, because I was trying to be serious. I don’t know why… Serious has never worked particularly well for me in life, but there you go. Once I’d read Terry Pratchett, well, a light didn’t go off per se, but the fuse was lit. I could combine my love of humor writing and my love of horror and fantasy, and it would be okay.
As a published author, I had my very first book event in Portland at Powell’s and while I was there I happily discovered an illustrated copy of Wee Free Men, the first Tiffany Aching book. (Which, much to my horror, has since disappeared from my library.) I have a soft spot for many of Discworld’s inhabitants, but much like Rincewind, I got Tiffany in a way that made a lot of things click into place. Tiffany is a witch, not because she’s special or magic or gifted, but because she’s so very practical. The village doesn’t have a witch. Tiffany not only understands the necessity of the witch role, she wants to right the wrong made against the former village witch. There is a need to be filled, so she puts on her boots, grabs her frying pan and gets to it. This was such a wonderful departure from the Chosen One scenario or the handwringing heroines I’d been reading. Not that I don’t enjoy those, too, but there was something so appealing to me about Tiffany’s pragmatism. She reminds me of Suzette Haden Elgin’s character, Responsible of Brightwater. Responsible was practical and got things done, paying little heed to the people who told her she couldn’t. I wish I could ask Terry if he’d read those books, and if Tiffany was a hat-tip to Responsible.
In one of those rare moments of fate, I got to see Terry Pratchett speak. After my first book had come out, I’d picked up a job at a local bakery and coffee shop. We were struggling financially and I needed a steady paycheck now. The bakery was attached to a bookstore, which appealed to me for obvious reasons. One day on my break, one of the booksellers mentioned that Terry Pratchett had an event at Town Hall the next day, which had somehow passed by my radar. I wanted desperately to go, but it was a ticketed event, which means I had to purchase the new book in order to attend. I have never had any problem throwing my cash down for a new hardcover book, mind you; in fact, I prefer getting books in hardcover if I love the author, because I know they will last longer. (Also because I know the author gets paid a little more for those book sales, which is nice.) That being said, I had about enough cash for the book and nothing else. We were living paycheck to paycheck and broke, something that gets a little less charming when you have a kid. But it was a chance to see Terry Pratchett speak. Live. In the same room as me. At this point, he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I didn’t know if he would ever tour again. He had himself to look after, and as much as I was greedy for more books, I didn’t want them at the expense of his health.
So I spent my last thirty bucks on a copy of Snuff and a chance to see Terry Pratchett speak, and I don’t regret a single penny. I knew going in that Terry wouldn’t be signing anything or meeting anyone—again, the organizers were trying to protect his health; touring is an exhausting business at the best of times. To get there in time I had to go straight from work, smelling like coffee and looking a bit of a mess. I didn’t care. I got to sit in a room with people dressed as wizards and listen to one of my favorite authors speak. It was wonderful.
Then, a surprise—they announced that a lucky few would get to meet Terry Pratchett after the event. If we opened our books and had a red ticket, we were in. I opened my copy of Snuff and there it was, a glorious red ticket. I was going to get to meet Terry Pratchett.
I don’t usually get starstruck. I’m pretty good at remembering that they’re really just people at the end of the day. I had no problem meeting Julie Andrews when she came to my bookstore. She was utterly charming and we discussed my time in New Orleans after she saw the fleur-de-lis on my hoodie. Occasionally, though, it happens—I get completely and utterly starstruck (only with authors. And it turns out that Pratchett in particular managed to turn my brain into pudding.)
After the event, the red ticket folks were herded downstairs and into a line. I think it was one of the most freaked out lines I’ve ever really seen; people ahead of me could barely speak because of nerves. Usually I wouldn’t have cared about my own nervousness, but rather unfortunately, because I also write books, the booksellers handling the event knew who I was. They would likely see me again at events and things and I didn’t want to be the author who lost their freaking mind over Terry Pratchett. I was trying rather desperately to play it cool, and failing.
The line edged closer and I attempted to form some sort of coherent thought. What I did remember was that if I’d ever met Terry Pratchett, I’d told my friends that I’d ask him for a hug…which is funny on several levels because I’m not really a hugger. I don’t like touching strangers, generally. But I insisted that I would hug Terry Pratchett so they should likely get the bail money ready, in case I was ever arrested for what could be possibly categorized as assault depending on the enthusiasm and aggressiveness of said hug.
When it was finally my turn, I managed through many garbled words to get my story across. I was ready to be turned down. I understood that hugging strangers was weird, and that’s what I was to him; I didn’t think that he owed me anything at all. He’d already given me so much.
But Terry just tilted his head and looked at me. “You want me to hug you?”
“Yes,” I said. “If it’s okay with you. No pressure.”
“Okay,” he said, and stood up. The bookstore staff kindly asked me if I wanted a picture and I quickly handed them my phone. Terry put his arms around me and then leaned back and said, “I hope I’m not doing anything inappropriate.”
I hastily told him no, he absolutely wasn’t doing anything inappropriate at all. To which he replied, with a completely straight face, “Do you want me to?”
I cracked up, and I was able to relax a little. Making a joke was likely a reflex for him, but for me it was one more gift, because suddenly I was comfortable. The bookseller snapped the picture and I thanked Terry and left. It was an utterly perfect moment. Since I was now shaking too hard to drive home, I walked two blocks to a bar that my friend bartended at and proceeded to drink a glass of whiskey and calm down. I’m fairly certain that I babbled to her the whole time. I had hugged Terry Pratchett, and it was amazing. I’m so very glad that I went.
I haven’t read The Shepherd’s Crown yet. Despite my love for Tiffany Aching, it feels too much like saying goodbye, and I’m not ready. So I’m saving it. Someday, I’ll be ready and I’m okay with waiting.
On occasion, at my own book events, I meet a reader that’s a nervous wreck. They’re shaking. They can’t talk. They clutch my book and tell me that they can’t believe I’m there. And it’s so, so weird to be on that end of things. I’m proud of my books, yes, but I don’t see myself through the same lens. I don’t really understand why they’re so freaked out to meet me—I’m not that big of a deal. Even four books in, it all still feels too new to me. So I tell them that I understand, because every author has at least one story where we’ve met another author and lost our composure. I tell them about the time that I made Terry Pratchett hug me, and I know that in that moment, my reader and I completely understand each other. And I hug them, if they want, and it isn’t hard for me, because my brain doesn’t categorize my readers as strangers.
But even if it were difficult, I would do it, because of that photo. The picture may be poor quality because my phone was crap, and I look rough from pulling coffee shots all day, but I don’t care. I am being appropriately hugged by Terry Pratchett—savior of car trips, champion of humor, kindness, and practical witchery. Terry Pratchett, whose books not only changed everything, but continue to remind me why funny books are important. That’s all that really matters, in the end.
Lish McBride currently resides in Seattle, spending most of her time at her day job at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. The rest of her time is divided between writing, reading, and Twitter, where she either discusses her desire for a nap or her love for kittens. (Occasionally ponies.) Her debut novel, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and was a finalist for the YALSA William C. Morris Award. Her other works include Necromancing the Stone, Firebug, and Pyromantic.