The Serious Value of Silliness

Lessons from my inner five-year-old You may have noticed that the world is kind of a mess lately. Lately, as in the past five years, or the past 30, or the past 500. Climate change, pandemic, the disastrous end of a chronic war, the Texas legisature — those are a few of the lowlights from just the past year. I’d keep listing reasons to worry about the state of things, but I’m distracted. My inner five-year-old, her chubby cheeks flushed with excitement, is tugging on my sleeve. “Never mind all that!” she lisps through her missing front teeth. “We have tap shoes!”  She…

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Dear Stacey Abrams, I Can Explain

I am about to register as a Republican. It’s not what you think Ms. Abrams, you are one of my heroes. If the world were a degree more rational or just, you would be governor of Georgia right now. The 2018 gubernatorial election in your state was famously stinky. Your opponent Brian Kemp was the Secretary of State overseeing the election, who during his tenure canceled a record number of voter registrations, 1.4 million in all — including a half-million purged in one night in July 2017, eight months after declaring his candidacy for governor. He also closed 214 polling places, the majority…

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Life is a Road Trip

Thinking of it that way is my key to sanity This week, I confess I have fallen into error It’s a mistake I have made, alas, many times over. It has to do with taking myself seriously. That leads to brooding about my life purpose, which prompts a lot of bother: setting goals against which to measure myself; pondering the state of the world (awful) and what I can do about it (little); feeling vaguely anxious at the end of each day, worried that I haven’t done enough with it.  I haven’t slept well. That’s partly due to the smoke detectors…

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Allow Me to Explain

Regarding wombats, unicycles, karma, and kitchen sinks There’s a reason you’re looking at a wombat I can explain. As you may know, I also write on Medium.com (you can find me there using the search bar under my profile, @janmflynn1537). Currently, Medium is conducting a four-week contest, the Medium Writers Challenge, in which writers are urged to undertake writing on at least one of the four chosen themes: Work; Space; Reentry; and Death, using specific tags for each of the submitted articles. There’s a panel of celebrity judges, and big money enticements — $50,000 for the grand prize winner! I…

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The Job You Really Want

It’s less about you than you might think My husband, an actor, landed the role he’d pined for It was a leading-man part he’d wanted to play for years, one he knew he was right for but that would challenge him. The theater was prestigious and well-attended, with a lush budget for sets and costumes. The job meant moving across the country for months, but that’s the actor’s life, and he was thrilled. He trained. He studied the script until he’d honed his understanding of it to a fine point. He had his lines down cold before the first rehearsal.…

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Can We Come Out Now?

Ready or not, it’s a different world My friends and I take a table outside and scan the posted QR code  Three-dimensional menus are largely a casualty of the pandemic. It’s a small but pervasive shift, one of the reminders that life as we knew it has undergone alterations while we were tucked away at home. All of us find a casual way to mention that we are fully vaccinated. “Yes, but the Delta variant,” says one of us and for a few minutes, the talk turns to the recent announcements from the CDC and Dr. Fauci. There is chatter about…

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How I (Mostly) Cured My Claustrophobia

It helped to realize space does not equal room The flight was full and I had the center seat My heart had begun jackhammering the moment the doors closed. The soothing pull of gravity during takeoff, its effect like a temporary weighted blanket, gave way to free-floating semi-weightlessness now that we were at cruising altitude. My amygdala flashed its emergency lights, blinding my brain in its panicky glare. In response, my inner voice muttered a litany familiar from so many previous flights: You’re in a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air. You’re stuck. You’re trapped. There’s no space, people are…

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Can We Potty Talk?

Your butt could be better off If you’re American, your derriere is in danger of neglect  My fellow American, I feel quite safe in this assumption. Why? Because as much time and energy as you devote to keeping your house, your car, your laundry, your kids, your pets, and your corporeal self clean, odds are your bathroom lacks a bidet. For all of Americans’ obsession with personal cleanliness, the bidet has never really caught on here, even though it’s literally a fixture in much of Europe, Asia, and around the world. Weirdly, the same Puritan ethic that drummed “cleanliness is…

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Getting to The End

It’s time to show that rough draft who’s boss I can’t be the only writer this happens to The project you’re working on might be your first, or your forty-first novel. You may have a detailed outline, even a scene-by-scene breakdown. Or maybe you’re just letting the idea that seized hold of you some months ago (okay, or years ago) unfold as you go. In either case, you’ve banged out the opening, hiked up the mountain of conflict, thrown obstacles in the path of your main character with wicked abandon. As you write you make unforeseen discoveries. New characters appear! Themes…

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