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PERHAPS WE LEARNED SOMETHING.....
…Perhaps we were only mildly entertained. Regardless, please enjoy! If you are looking for Kaylia's official Website please visit KayliaMetcalfeWriter



Sometimes....

I recently changed jobs. My new role is within an organization that is vastly different than my former employer. Instead of working in the world of finance and HR, I now work in the world of Non Profit and Volunteering.

From LSI (internal device and data storage) I now work for Big Brothers Big Sisters (after school programs and one on one mentoring).

It is quite a switch.

I really love my new job. BBBS does mentoring programs for kids. We match a Big with a Little to provide a positive role model. It is a lot of fun and I am learning a lot. One of the things I like most about this job is knowing that I am having a positive impact on the children and youth of my newly adopted county.

I have gotten to play with little kids, help out at a Halloween party, interact with medium aged children, and really see the difference that our organization can make.

There was a moment recently….

On the intake forms they ask the children a series of questions. Fill in the blank sorts of things like “When I am sad I….” and “My favorite thing to do on the weekends is….”

The last question on the list is “Sometimes people are…”

The number one response, the response that overshadows all others, is heart wrenching.

“Sometimes people are… mean.”

I am so glad that I am part of the solution for these kids. Because sometimes, sometimes it is paramount to strive to make a difference.

Sometimes people are worth it.



(This post wasn’t a pitch for donations… but if you are interested in learning more about what BBBS does, let me know.)

Happy Nerd Appreciation Day (not really)

I love nerds.
And geeks.
And all odd balls.

So, in honor of all that and the fact that it is Thursday....

... and that the internet turns 40 today.




NASA + Felicia Day = Nifty Nerdy Fun.





Bible Study + Buffy and Humor = More Nifty Nerdy Fun




Branding your kid a nerd before he/she can even walk….





.. well… that’s just cruel.



Happy Thursday!

An Adventure in Getting Dressed

Ok.. so,

Jeans: Jeans are easy. They zip in the front. It matters not if you are a guy or a girl or where the tag is. Sometimes the tag is in the back, sometimes next to the zipper… but who cares? They zip in the front.



Skirts: Skirts are a bit harder. They can zip on the side or the back. The tag can be on the side next to the zipper or in the back… or not there at all. Usually it is obvious based on the lines and the structure of the skirt if it is a side zip or a back zip. Usually.




Women’s Dress Pants: Ok, here’s where it gets tricky. The tag is next to the zipper.. the zipper… is in the front.. right? Wait… sometimes it looks like the zipper goes in the back (like a skirt) because there is a subtle difference in the amount of fabric in the front/back. Sometimes thought the difference in the fabric isn’t there… and then I have to wonder.. back like a skirt, or front like men’s pants and jeans?




And of course unlike in the photo, with the particular pair of pants I was dealing with this morning, there aren’t any pockets to give guidance.

It is moments like these… where I have put on the pants, taken them off, put them on again…. (this was after the 10 minutes trying to manage thigh high nylons and deciding that the weird little roll that happens would be too distracting at work and under pants) … it is in these moments that I doubt that I am all grown up.

Because… because despite the fact that I have an adult job doing adult things, that I pay rent and clean the cat pot and balance my checkbook and have written a book and have exciting travel pans…

…sometimes I still feel very young.

It Isn't Paranoia If It's Real

The shredder stopped working today. It took one sheet and then another and then another and then nothing. It has been unplugged, replugged, shaken, cleaned, shaken, cleaned, moved, and everything else I can think to do… and yet. No shredding.

Next, the copy machine got all persnickety and didn’t want to copy anything until a mysterious “feed error” was taken care of. I gave it a time out, turned it on and off a few times, opened up every conceivable door and cranny, Eventually it changed its mind and allowed me to make a few copies.

Fresh off that victory I returned to the shredder. But no dice.

Then the fax machine decided that despite all evidence to the contrary, the over was open. “Close Cover” it kept telling me. I replied with “The damn cover is already closed you stupid heap of plastic,” but in vain. So I opened the cover, closed the cover, opened the feed tray, closed the feed tray… over and over again. The infernal machine kept insisting that I needed to “Close Cover” and I kept insisting that it was already closed…. Until at last it managed to clue in, and allow me to start typing in a phone number. Half way through the faxing process, it… and I swear it snickered as it did it, suddenly stopped and declared that the cover was yet again, open.

I wanted to cry.

Or break something plastic and beepy.

Instead I took a breath, and tried again.

Eventually the faxes were sent and received.

The shredder, on the other hand, is committed to making me look silly and has shown no interest in cooperating in the slightest.



Oh the joy of office work.

I'm ready for lunch.

25 is the new 50

According to this lady, women in Scotland should follow the trends of the oh so fashionable and enviable women in London and start getting Botox in their mid 20s.

First thing, is this an actual trend? Are women in their mid 20s getting injections as a way to make their faces firmer and younger looking? How crappy would your face have to look at 25 for you to consider Botox? How low would your self esteem have to be?

Second thing: Ew!

It’s bad enough that the media likes to celebrate youth with the sort of hyper drool fest that I celebrate fresh baked cookies or Jon Stewart. (It’s loud, it’s messy, it’s not for everyone.)

Ahem

My point is that our fascination with youth is not just gross (cookie crumbs flying everywhere) but also dangerous.

When a Ralph Lauren model gets fired for being too fat (oh my god, size 4… what a cow!) and people start thinking that women in their mid 20s need Botox, we have some serious issues on our hands and faces and asses.

Issues that can really only be solved with education, experience, and positive role models.

This horse isn’t dead… I will keep hitting it.

Join me... let's celebrate laugh lines, wisdom wrinkles, and the fact that we have waists bigger than our heads.

Hippies and Band Uniforms

I should have slept in Scotts Valley last night.

This morning around 6 am they were out cleaning the streets. Namely, my street. There were tow trucks, there were street sweeper trucks, there were trash trucks…. Basically for about 45 minutes there was a parade of loud beeping trucks with flashing lights right outside my bedroom window.

Then at 7, the bands began to arrive. I am not sure how many there are total, but it is now 1145 and they are still coming… rows upon rows of high school marching bands. This part of SC is apparently the staging area for some big competition.

Yes, high school marching bands.

With the whistles and the drums and the yelling and the annoying sidelined parents and the costumes and the general high school-ness of it all. And the whistles. And the drums.

Outside my windows.

The cat is in a mild permanent state of frantic freak out and I keep finding excuses to leave the apartment. I took clothes over to Good Will to donate. I took a box of books to sell to Logos. (What they don’t want, I’ll donate to the library.) I went to the post office and mailed a copy of my book to John S. (winner of the drawing). Really though, I need to be home cleaning, writing, reading, watching Supernatural, and such and it is hard to do that with the incredibly loud bands out there.

Anyway, on my walk back from the post office I ended up walking behind a woman with her two little girls (around age 5). The little girls were pretty cute; one was carrying a big water bottle, the other a rolled up newspaper. As they neared the corner, the newspaper girl veered away from her mother and stopped in the shade of a shop’s awning. She put the newspaper down on the sidewalk and then hurried to catch up with her mom and sister.

“I don’t want it.” She informed her mother.
“Oh, ok, glad we bothered to carry it around all morning.” Her mother replied.

“Hey!” This from me, the unnoticed interloper, “Excuse me!”

The mother turns around. I continue; “Are you just going to let her leave that there on the ground?”

The mother shrugs and turns away.

“Hey!! That’s littering!” Me again, my voice getting louder because I have stoped next to the offending newspaper and they have continued on. “There’s a trash can right over there! Excuse me!”

The mother turns back, the little girls are slowing downa dn looking behind at me, eyes wide. “Stop yelling at my kids! If you care that much, pick it up yourself!”

She grabs the hands of both girls and the one with the water bottle starts to cry as she is pulled roughly down the street.

“Mommy, owww… why is that lady mad/”

“Ignore her.” says the mother, “She’s just a dirty hippy. Come on!”

Dirty hippy my ass, I should have thrown it at her head. Ii didn’t.
I did and pick it up and throw it away. Not because I am a hippy, dirty or otherwise, but because I am a local and I am a decent sort of person.

Then I finished the walk back to my apartment to try to enjoy the starts and stops of random marching songs and comfort my cat.

Ahhh life in a small, beach, college, tourist town….

Starts And Stops



It starts like this.....

It was the autumnal equinox and even though she was a level headed girl, who considered herself beyond the allure of casual superstitions, she found herself blaming the calendar, or perhaps the day to night ratio, for what happened. Of course, blame came later. On the day in question, she was only vaguely aware that it was the beginning of fall. The sun, after all was out and the day was exceptionally nice and warm.
(A Baker’s Dozen)


I am really good at beginnings. I am actually really good at middles and pretty darn good at endings.

You know what I am not so good about? Finishing.

How is that different from the ending? Well, usually when I start a short story or an idea for a novel there is a vast amount of Unknown. And this Unknown is exciting.

We went back to her place because it was closer and because I was legitimately interested in seeing her art. Sleeping with her, sure, but art was what had brought me out to the gallery opening on such a rainy night in the first place and art had been the focus of our conversation for at least an hour before it dawned on me that she might be interested in more than just my ranting about the importance of oil paints as an aesthetic choice. Her overzealous and almost painful exuberance in the cab ride had not only embarrassed the driver but had also made her intentions obvious.
(Surface Dweller)


Sometimes I start with a word, a phrase, a vague ideas…. And I just write. I write and the words come out and the story takes shape. I don’t know how it is going to end. That not knowing keeps me interested in writing. I am on a journey and the only way to find out what happens next is to keep typing.

We came back to the house because I didn’t know where else to go. In the entry hall, I put my purse down on the table and then looked at it as if it were a strange foreign object. I took my shoes off and left them half hidden under the hall table. I went to the living room on autopilot and sat down on the sofa. I waited to feel something else.
Martin was a study of slow movements, taking off his sports coat, checking the thermostat, moving the mail from one pile to another, checking the messages. I sat still, not wanting to move. I had thought that getting through the funeral would be the hardest part, but this sitting here afterwards with nothing to do, nothing to plan or organize, nothing to take care of, this was worse.

(Dead Line)


Sometimes I start with a character. A person sometimes only partly formed, sometimes so severely detailed that they are more real than the people sitting next to me. This character has a story, an event, a moment of clarity but I don’t know what it is. All I know is that I have to write about him/her or they will haunt me. Ben is such a character. He has been haunting me for almost a year.

The ball had dropped hours ago. The streets that had been overflowing with merry makers had dissolved into dark alleys where trash danced in the flickering traffic lights. It was hard for Ben to imagine that there had been hundreds people here just a few hours ago, and that all of them had been happy. Or at least they had pretended to be happy. Ben supposed you shouldn’t go to a New Year’s party and act depressed, even if you were. Depressed people were supposed to stay in cheap hotel rooms and drink cheap whisky and sulk. If you bothered to get dressed up and hit the streets, then you better at least act happy for the sake of the actual happy people out there who don’t want to get dragged down by your low mood.
(Becoming)


Really though, whether it is the person, the event, or just an errant line….


I am nothing but a drop of water in transition.
(Night Scape)


…I have to write the rest of the story in order to find out the rest, the pulse, the reason, the message, the moral, the ending.

And as a process it works. Sometimes it works really really well. There have been times when I have written a solid story straight through. All 2000 words or whatever it is… just barreling though not sure what is going to happen, like my future readers, I am along for the ride.

Sometimes though, I get interrupted. I do other things besides write and thus if an idea comes while on a bus or working on a spreadsheet or standing over a pot of boiling pasta, I either can’t start it or at the very least I can’t finish it. At least not right that second.

This is where the problem comes in. The problem of Finishing. It isn’t a matter of not being able to come up with an ending. If I write it in one fell swoop the ending is part of the initial birthing process.

But if I take a break, if I step away, if I SAVE and return to it later…. Then I have time to think.

I think about what might happen. I think about what should happen. I think about what would make sense. And then I write an ending.


When I get home hours later Marty is sitting in the living room, a book on his lap. He looks at me while I take my time locking the door and putting my bag carefully on the end table. I know he knows I came home and then left, I know he wants to know why and where and what it all means. For the first time in months I look at him and see the tiny worry lines around his eyes, the flicker of fear as he looks back.
I cross the room and sit down beside him. For a long moment I hold his gaze with my own and then I kiss him. There are things to do, calls to make, the final edits for the story will have to be hammered out and argued over. The magazine people will have to be coddled and I will probably end up loosing my commission on the story because it is so far past deadline. And Marty.. there will have to be talking with Marty as well. Actual talking, actual communication.
I tell myself I will deal with all that tomorrow. Right now, I kiss him and feel the walls come down.

(Dead Line)


The problem is that once I know how it is going to end because I have spent an hour, a day, a lunch break, a bus ride, a trip to the store, thinking about it… I really lack the drive to put it down on paper.

It’s the same thing that if you know how the movie ends, you are less likly to watch it. You might still watch it, you might still enjoy it. You might even find something surprising about it. But the fact remains that you might just skip it to see something else, something with a Unknown ending.

Which leaves me with dozens if not hundreds of MS Word documents that I just can’t bring myself to finish. Because I already know how they end.

And because I just got a new idea… a new moment of inspiration… and I simply must write it down…..

She awoke and for a long moment she was confused. The room was dark, deeply dark, middle of the night in the middle of winter dark and there was no reason for her to be awake. She had never suffered from sleeplessness and even with the current stresses and upcoming life style changes she had been sleeping just fine thank you very much. Her mother worried that she wasn’t ready, but Anna argued that her ability to sleep like a baby every night obviously pointed to her overall acceptance of the inevitable. Of course when she said things like that her mother rolled her eyes and muttered to herself in Yiddish and usually went to pour herself a drink.
And yet she was suddenly awake and staring at the ceiling. Why, she wondered, why am I awake? What woke me up? Was she finally going to start worrying and second guessing her decision now that it was almost too late to do anything about it? Was she about to go through some sort of crisis of faith? Would her sister arrive home tomorrow to find her shaken and tense, gulping coffee, stammering incoherently, her face pale, her breath reeking of cigarettes?

(One Night)

Here we go again.


I keep myself I’ll go back and finish them if I can forget my plans, if I can tap into once again the freedom of the Unknown.


Sometimes that forced forgetting actually works.




(A few of the excerpts in this blog entry actually made it, in short story form, into my book Links: A Short Story Collection which is available on Amazon.com)


News!

So… a bit of news.

I have changed jobs.

Yay!

Really… this is a great thing. I made an industry switch, a location change, and yes, took a bit of a pay cut… but did you catch the industry switch and the location change/ These things are huge! No more boring financial reports for me! No more 4 and a half hours a day commuting!

Yes, you read that right… I was spending 4 and a half hours commuting.

But no more!

I am very excited about the company, my role, and sleeping in past 545 in the morning!

I’ll keep you all posted…..

Benny and Shrimp

A book review for

Benny and Shrimp written by Katrina Mazetti







Once upon a time….

… and they all lived happily ever after.




Fairy tales are nice… sometimes. Sometimes though as readers we crave something a bit more honest, a bit more rough around the edges, a bit more Romance = washing he dishes and giving your significant other a nice foot massage.

Sometimes we don’t need a cliché storybook ending, we want something vital and real. We want something compelling and true.

It is in times like this that I would recommend a book like Benny and Shrimp.

The story is a classic Boy meets Girl… but that is where the cliché ends. This boy (Benny) and girl (the affectionately nicknamed Shrimp) meet at a graveside. And no, it isn’t morbid… it is sweet and somehow fitting. After a few causal glances at each other, they begin what amounts to two fish out of water stories and some endearing romantic comedy adventures.

But the book, and really the story, keep from being just.another run of the mill romance with the addition of a few key things. First, the narrative device of parallel structure is handled masterfully with the narration switching back and forth between our two main characters. It is worth noting that this tool is used to perfection… the reader never feels that they are getting more of one person’s side of the story and each of the very distinct voices is allowed to be showcased.

Another little tid bit is the fact that the book was originally written in Sweden. Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t as much of an issue as it was an occasional “oh yea, right… Sweden.” I loved the fact that the story itself was so well told that it could have taken place in the Midwest of America, England, or half a dozen other places and it still would have resonated.

Lastly, and I will be vague in an effort to not spoil anything for you, the problems of the love birds are both hauntingly realistic and classically endearing…. There doesn’t seem to be an easy clear cut answer…Because we feel for both of them, it is hard to find a solution. We just aren’t sure what is going to happen next. Much like life, that is what keeps us interested to the very end.

Again, I highly recommend this spirited, funny, poignant, realistic, and magical modern fairy tale.

(Oh… and I guess I should mention that it is tiny and simply a snap to read.)




I Wrote A Book!!!!

It is time.....

My book, Links, is now available for purchase on Amazon.com!!!!

The price is 11.95 (plus tax and shipping) and you can have it in your hot little hands as soon as next week!




How freakin’ sweet is that?

Copies are available for purchase on my website as well. (Initial supplies are limited and there is a bit of a delay for shipping… until we have the bugs worked out, I encourage you to use Amazon or send me an email at kayliametcalfe@gmail.com letting me know you want to be alerted once the process has been streamlined.)



Thank you all for your support and assistance in this project!


And just to whet your appetite, here is what the back of the book says:

A mother struggling to forge a connection with the daughter she lost years ago, the emptiness and frustration of a lonely marriage, a sweet sexual coming of age, a sisters' shared innocent rebellion, a surprising moment of horrific introspection, a moment of closure that shadows any hope for new beginnings...these stories and more showcase the links that everyday people struggle to create.

These are glimpses of successes, of failures, of hope. They travel deep into the hearts and minds of the regular people who embody our contemporary culture and remind us all of what it means to be human, to be linked.

Although the characters do not know each other, their common desire to find a connection reverberates throughout the collection, connecting each story with themes of loss, change, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Join these extraordinary voices as they weave together a chain of unforgettable Links.



Again, thank you everyone… this personal dream couldn’t have happened without the love and support of my family, my friends, my readers, and yes, even those wacky people on the morning train.

--Kaylia

I Wrote A Book

It is time.....

My book, Links, is now available for purchase on Amazon.com!!!!

The price is 11.95 (plus tax and shipping) and you can have it in your hot little hands as soon as next week!




How freakin’ sweet is that?

Copies are available for purchase on my website as well. (Initial supplies are limited and there is a bit of a delay for shipping… until we have the bugs worked out, I encourage you to use Amazon or send me an email at kayliametcalfe@gmail.com letting me know you want to be alerted once the process has been streamlined.)



Thank you all for your support and assistance in this project!


And just to whet your appetite, here is what the back of the book says:

A mother struggling to forge a connection with the daughter she lost years ago, the emptiness and frustration of a lonely marriage, a sweet sexual coming of age, a sisters' shared innocent rebellion, a surprising moment of horrific introspection, a moment of closure that shadows any hope for new beginnings...these stories and more showcase the links that everyday people struggle to create.

These are glimpses of successes, of failures, of hope. They travel deep into the hearts and minds of the regular people who embody our contemporary culture and remind us all of what it means to be human, to be linked.

Although the characters do not know each other, their common desire to find a connection reverberates throughout the collection, connecting each story with themes of loss, change, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Join these extraordinary voices as they weave together a chain of unforgettable Links.



Again, thank you everyone… this personal dream couldn’t have happened without the love and support of my family, my friends, my readers, and yes, even those wacky people on the morning train.

--Kaylia

Between Me and the River




Book Review for Between Me and The River by Carrie Host.


This book was a haunting portrayal of a woman battling a rare and fatal form of cancer.

Sounds uplifting right? Well, no. It is about a woman with cancer, but it wasn’t depressing oddly. It wasn’t a litany of regrets or a weep-fest. It wasn’t full of anger. It wasn’t full of God.

It was full of honesty and poetry.

Carrie Host is truly a gifted writer. Her tone is simplistic and profound. Her words are beautiful and poignant. There are times that she gets a bit verbose, but she does have cancer after all.

What really touched me about Carrie’s story was the sheer poetry of her language. Her metaphors are well constructed. Her imagery is woven with the perfect blend of truth and sadness.

It is beautifully done.

What could have been simply a long run on of “woe is me” became a touching love letter from Carrie to her children, one of whom was an infant when she was diagnosed.

But it wasn’t just her remarkable ability to transcend her expierence into beautiful words and phrases. Carrie Host also told of her pain and suffering with an honesty and an attention to detail that makes the reader feel a part of her personal struggle.

Again, it was beautiful.

The book made me value my health, want to reach out to my mother, and learn more about carcinoid cancer.

Carrie Host is still alive, still writing, and her story is one that will touch and stay with you forever.

I highly recommend it.


Skeptics, eh?

Greetings!

Welcome to October: month of birthdays, gatherings, costumes, candy, changes, goals, a much anticipated book debut, and much much more!

First things first. As some of you know, I am occasionally active in what is sometimes called The Skeptical Movement. I don’t call it that, but others have been known to do so. I call it “Things that Encourage Critical Thinking” and that tends to lead to skeptical thoughts and actions and whatnot.

I read the blogs, I point our woo and logical fallacies when they rear their ugly heads… sometimes I write about Senseless Email Forwards like this one about numbers or this one about socialism. Every now and then I even write about Science-y stuff (science and soda for example).

I also help plan events for the Skeptics Without A Cause, a Santa Cruz Meet Up group that gets together to talk critical thinking among other things.



Oh, and I have a personally signed James Randi doll which is all sorts of cool.



He even spelled my name right!



Along the way I have met some very nifty people who also blog about math, science, critical thinking, anti-woo, etc. (Heck, I’m dating one of them, the always sensationally smart and rationally minded Maifan-San aka Anthroslug.)

Imagine my joy when I was contacted by Steve (Some Canadian Skeptic) who told me that a bunch of the Canadian skeptic sorts were going to be working together to bring us a Canadian Skeptic blog!

No worries my non Canadian friends. I too am not Canadian. However, this new blog will not just be for our northern friends…. But for anyone who is interested in what skepticism is all about, err all “aboot.”

And the new blog will be featuring some of my favorite bloggers…. Like Steve but also the stupendous Kimberly Hebert. Which is just all sorts of awesome. This woman is one of my heroes.

Anyway, enough of my gushing… here is a bit of official copy:

Skeptic North, Canada's first ever Canada-wide skeptic organization, announced today that it will be officially going online, October 1, 2009.

Skeptic North has culled together a wide variety of Canadian skeptic bloggers from coast to coast, including (but not limited to) Scott Gavura (of Science-Based Pharmacy), Desiree Schell (of Skeptically Speaking), Steve Thoms (of Oot and Aboot with Some Canadian Skeptic), Jonathan Abrams (of Ottawa Skeptics), and Kimbo Jones (of Skeptigirl).

"As far as we can figure out, this is the first time that anyone has collected a group of Skeptics from across Canada and gathered them into one spot," said Editor-in-chief Steve Thoms. "Up until now, organized skepticism in Canada has been a strictly regional affair, and I'm really excited to see what kind of work Canadian skeptics can do when we have a national scope and reach."

Skeptic North has contributors from almost every major city in Canada, and expects to grow very rapidly. It aims to affect the mainstream media, government policy and the culture-at-large. The blog will have a special guest-blogger feature on occasion, and Canadians looking to get their voice heard should contact the editor.



So, go forth and check out Skeptic North!!!