Okay, Corn Fairy

One of the plethora of clickbait business e-mail newsletters that I receive is Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm that sometimes has good articles… and sometimes does not. “5 People to Meet When You’re Back in the Office” is one of the latter.

This article is fucking hilarious. Supposedly intended to be a helpful guide as we return to the office post-COVID, it actually just congregates all of the people you work with into groups so that, if you take this article literally, you are just re-connecting everyone in the office. Not the worst approach, but also not the targeted help that the title pretends is being offered.

Who, specifically, does Korn Ferry say you should meet?

  1. your manager,
  2. your direct reports,
  3. colleagues and peers,
  4. key stakeholders and internal partners, and
  5. new staff members

So… like I said, pretty much everyone.

Definitely more than 5 people, unless you are creating a start-up with four of your friends and y’all are literally the only ones who currently work for the company.

… I should probably unsubscribe.

Want advice on how to behave in the office? Don’t go to the corn fairy – this bitch ain’t helpful…

Book Review: Lost Coast Literary

Today, I will be reviewing Ellie Alexander’s Lost Coast Literary, a book that I received an e-galley for from Netgalley. I thought this book was a cozy mystery with a fantasy twist, featuring a literary-loving protagonist named Emily. In actuality, it’s a beach read that’s full of family melodrama. Reading the book synopsis again, this actuality is not even surprising — this is what I get for skimming descriptions:

Book editor Emily Bryant finds herself unexpectedly in the charming town of Cascata on California’s Lost Coast, holding the keys to her grandmother’s rambling Victorian mansion. While sorting through her grandmother’s things, Emily learns that she must edit old manuscripts to inherit the estate. It’s a strange request from a family member who was basically a stranger.

Emily quickly realizes that there’s something different about these manuscripts. Any changes she makes come true. At first, she embraces the gift. She has a chance to help characters find true love or chart a new course for their future. But then things go terribly wrong. Her edits have the opposite effect. The sweet and funky seaside community of Cascata is reeling from the chaos Emily has created. Everything she thought she believed about her family and her past is in jeopardy, and no amount of editing can fix the damage she’s done.

Then she finds one last manuscript. If Emily can get this edit right, maybe she’ll have a chance to create a new narrative for herself and everyone around her.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t a huge fan.

I mean, the writing was… fine. The plot was kind of fun and… fine.

The characters were annoying, not least of all Emily herself.

I should have known this wasn’t my book from the opening scene, in which Emily tries to figure out which phone case she wants to put on her cell – Emma or Jane Eyre. What kind of literary aficionado prefers Bronte to Austen? I mean… seriously, would you rather spend time with someone fun and witty and engaging, or someone who acts like a moody teenager as an adult that wants to be screwed by the inspiration for one of the first written vampire stories?

… Michael Thomas Ford gets it.

Emily is insufferable. For example [disclaimer: quoting from an ARC, with chance that final printing could be updated/different], here, where she’s talking about her aunt, an amazing jazz singer:

I appreciated that she wasn’t jaded or trying to pose as something other than her artistic self.

Emily Bryant, annoying protagonist

This is because her aunt admits she gets butterflies in her stomach before she goes onstage. But… like, it’s a problem if your aunt is awesome and totally owns it? She has to be humble and feel slightly sick to her stomach, or she’s not being honest? Like, it’s okay to not be a nervous mess and to be okay with being awesome. Get over yourself, Emily.

Or let’s talk about the crux of this novel, which is that Emily has no memory of the family she hasn’t seen who live in Cascata, even though she lived with them for at least 8 years. This amount of time is supported by her absolute surprise to find “a recipe for red velvet cake where Gertrude [her grandmother – don’t call her by her freakin’ name, show some damn respect Emily!] had noted: ‘Emily’s 8th birthday. A birthday in red for our little red.'” THEN, only after she has read the notes left by her grandmother, does she remember a birthday party where she’s dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Like – you were eight, not two. I find it very odd that she has no memory of these people until she reads a note in a cookbook. Also, can we even assume that she’s a reliable narrator? If I thrust a book from the 17th century where I wrote in it that Emily Bryant likes to suck cock, is she suddenly going to remember that she had a past life or is a time traveler who had to whore herself out to make a living in the 1600s? Like, did she even have this birthday party? Maybe her grandma was just hella smart, and left weird gaslighting notes all over her cookbooks to make it seem not-weird that she left this girl who can’t even remember her an entire house instead of the relatives she saw pretty much daily.

… because some granddaughters (*cough cough* Emily *cough cough cough*) deserve it

Another problem with Emily is she only seems to assume people can be “connected” if they both like books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big reader. But I’m okay with the fact that not everyone reads as much as me. And I don’t think your romantic and personal relationships should be solely based on people who exclusively do the same hobbies that you do. How are you going to grow as a person if you only do the same things? But here is a literal passage from this book:

‘I don’t know.’ I thought back to his first interaction with Sienna. They had much more in common, namely a deep love and appreciation for literature. Did he and Martine share the same passions? ‘They seemed so different. So mismatched,’ I said to Shay. ‘Apparently he wants to write children’s books, and she hasn’t read a book in five years. Can you even imagine?

Emily Bryant, annoying protagonist

So, basically, if someone reads, you approve of them and they deserve love and all good things. But if someone doesn’t read, or doesn’t read enough, they should just feck off and go to the Bay Area? Let’s not forget, these ridiculous opinions are coming from someone who has no memories of the first 8 years of her life and whose literary interpretations fail to appropriately elevate Jane Austen’s work above that of Currer Bell. I’m sorry, Emily, but no dice. Actually, I’m not sorry. Stop being ridiculous. It is appropriate to have friends, lovers, etc., with a variety of interests and backgrounds.

#stophobbyshaming

Keeping in mind that I am a character-reader, and I severely disliked our protagonist, this book was… fine. The cover is cute. The plotline is kind of interesting, although it features a heroine you are definitely supposed to be rooting for who I definitely was not rooting for. The California setting seemed accurate. It has some of that small-town and everyone in it likes books except for Martine because there needs to be some reason her husband is not into a woman who’s fierce and smart and beautiful and well-dressed and driven, which is, apparently, that she finds it difficult to read while she’s out there living her life, vibe.

Overall, I do not recommend. But if you are not a character reader and/or like to read books that are “fine,” then this one may be worth checking out.

Ann Arbor Rant: Let’s Talk About Math

I’m not sure who decided that Ann Arbor Public elementary schools should teach children Everyday Math, but I hate it.

Recently, I discovered the frozen-over hell that is partial sums. For those who didn’t learn math this way, partial sums ultimately boils down to performing single digit addition from left to right. Which means anytime a number not in the highest number value place exceeds 10, things have to be corrected. For example, if you take the problem 549 + 327, under partial math, your thinking strategy works something like this:

In other words, partial sums boils down to performing the problem backwards, since at the end of the day, you’re doing addition at the single digit level, which also means you have to continually correct your math if you run into a “carry-the-one” situation. It gives the child more opportunities to mess up, since they have to keep going back and correcting the numbers they had already calculated, which were calculated correctly, but actually need to be increased because of high numbers in lesser place values. How is this easier/better than the traditional carry-the-one method?

(… it’s not)

My understanding is that this practice is intended to teach children place values. But that seems like place value could easily be taught via expanded notation, while still solving from right to left so you don’t have to repeatedly “correct” your math:

… see why I hate this shit?

This baby gets it.

The Cat Piss Diet

So… my husband is doing the keto diet. I am so proud of him for working to get healthy. Yet it seems that keto is designed not just to lose weight, which is my husband’s primary goal with this diet, but also for a more active lifestyle.

… Can I do neither? #stayinbed

He began talking yesterday about smelling like ammonia. I didn’t smell anything, to be honest, because I have a terrible sense of smell, but like a good wife, I lurked over his shoulder while he Google’d it. Apparently, some people have trouble digesting the extra protein that occurs from switching to a keto diet. So for someone who is in finals week like my husband, who is pretty much glued to his desk, the protein may build up in the body and excrete from the skin. An ammonia smell is often an indicator that too much protein is being ingested, which can have nasty side effects, like kidney stones, liver damage, and bone damage.

In other words, be wary of the keto diet, because it could, like, kill some of your internal organs and make you smell like piss and no one will want to give you a hug. And if you’re going to do keto, make sure you’re exercising.

Sorry, Y’All

I usually try to post at least once per week, but am currently working through some life changes, and so have been a bit MIA/remiss. I shall strive to do my best to behave again – if you don’t see a post from me next Tuesday, you have my permission to shake your head at me in gentle admonition, and perhaps be slightly cross or reproving.

In other news, I decided to create a Twitter, primarily to amuse myself because other people are fucking great at using their 140 or less characters to make me laugh. But I legit squealed a bit in delight when Mona Awad (yes, that Mona Awad, writing goddess, and if you haven’t read Bunny yet, you need to, like, why are you even reading this – go to the bookstore now) responded to one of my tweets:

Had to share – I look up to this woman so much (and recently got the opportunity to read an ARC of her upcoming release All’s Well, which I will be posting about soon (spoiler alert: also amazing)). Unfortunately, the rest of this week has not been going so well. BUT tomorrow’s Friday, so this week is almost over. & next week is bound to be better.

How are y’all doing? Please share in the comments below! I would love to hear about your highs/lows and in-betweens (or feel free to leave your Twitter handle, so I can laugh at your funny 140 character or less postings).

Pet Peeves: Fucking Marathons

I hate it when people say, “It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.”

Please shut the fuck up #petpeeves

I understand what they’re trying to get at, and I think it generally comes from a good place. Don’t kill yourself trying to get ahead when there is always more work to do.

Having said that, my brain always defaults to, But the first guy to run a Marathon… from Marathon to Athens to announce defeat of the Persians… died pretty much as soon as the words left his lips (supposedly – who really knows; Greek historians were drama queens). This mortality is completely counter to what the saying means, since the point is not to kill yourself, by referring to something that the first person to successfully finish the task dropped dead from performing the feat, I feel like it’s not a good metaphor.

Let us Dream

As someone currently living in America, I am increasingly disillusioned and disheartened by the depths of idiocy and pure hatred that streams through the bloodstreams of too many of my neighbors. It makes today even more poignant – in spite of the prejudice, the sometimes willful misunderstandings and callous disregard of other people, it is possible to hold your head high and refuse to be just another such person. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man – an excellent role model, an intelligent, empathetic, caring individual. He wanted to bridge understanding between people in America regardless of skin color – and unfortunately, not only did he die without seeing that bridge develop, but that bridge has never been completed. It’s a partially built construction, hanging over the water, and not safe for anyone to drive or walk across.

There is reason to hope. Things could get better. Let’s hold on to the dream that things will get better in America, and try to be decent people who do not hurt other people and do not stand by while others hurt other people, either. And if you haven’t yet, today, I strongly recommend that you listen to the words of Dr. King.

The Year(s) the Movie Companies Decided to Keep it Real with Kids

Because I have children, one of whom is a toddler who likes all things that roar, I watch Monsters University on at least a weekly basis. For those who are not subject to the whims and tantrums of a two-year-old, Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters Inc. It was released in 2013, and despite being a prequel, is actually a pretty decent movie.

It includes 3 of the main characters from the original Inc movie:

  • Sully
  • Mike Wasowski
  • Randall Boggs

These characters are voiced by the same actors, the very talented John Goodman, Billy Crystal, and Steve Buscemi. In addition, the movie nabbed other very talented actors, including Helen Mirren and Charlie Day.

The three characters we already know well from Monsters Inc are now younger – for the majority of the movie, they are freshmen in college, attending, as you have probably already guessed – Monsters University.

The music is catchy, the jokes are funny, and the storyline is a coming-of-age story that includes learning to believe in yourself and others, but also recognizing your strengths and coming to terms with not being able to achieve your dreams. The movie begins with a tiny, elementary-school age Mike Wasowski, who maintains his trademark positivity despite being ignored and overlooked by all of his peers, discovering that he wants to be a scarer. It is a dream he holds firm in his heart, and it is his plan to do whatever it takes to become one when he steps onto the campus of Monsters University, brimming with the naivete and optimism that often comes when you still have your entire adult life ahead of you. Nearly everyone he meets either overlooks him, or tells him he does not have what it takes to be a scarer – when he is not simply being dismissed or ignored, he is generally flat-out being told he is not scary. But he just puts his head down, and works harder. He doesn’t go to the college parties, preferring to study to make sure he can pass his final and remain in the scaring program. The one thing that does get under his skin is Sully – the innately talented monster who can likely graduate as a scaring major without even trying. Sully is automatically noticed and admired by other monsters, and is a legacy to boot, with a famous scarer father. Mike has to work so hard to even be noticed, and even then, although he knows the scaring information from textbooks back-to-front, and can pass a written test with flying colors, he’s still… not scary. So someone who is frightening without even trying really gets to him.

Hopefully, you’re less bored than Mickey…

The thing is — everyone else, unfortunately, is right. Mike works the hardest, studies the right stuff, and has a can-do attitude throughout his brief time at university, but… it doesn’t matter. In spite of everything, he is not capable of being a scarer, because he is not capable of being scary. He improves his scaring stances, aces his tests, and even uses his knowledge to coach others into being more capable scarers, but he is still, and will always be, unable to achieve his dream. So a large part of Mike’s journey is actually coming to terms with who he is, and figuring out his new goal.

This lesson is actually fine. Most girls want to be a ballerina, for example, but most girls cannot actually become a professional ballerina. Most girls get breasts, or do not want to study dance with the focus required to become a professional, or get eating disorders that make their bones brittle and unable to actually perform, etc.

Dreams die #keepingitreal

The thing is… Monsters University is not the only children’s film made around this time that deals with needing to understand yourself and come to terms with not being able to achieve your heart’s deepest desire. In fact, it’s not even the first film that came out around that time with this thesis. Disney came out with another movie in 2012 about a rough guy just doing his job, and hated for it, and hating being hated for it, who befriended a cheeky rascal in a land made out of dessert. Who found out that his job was necessary, and he should keep doing it, but having friends made it bearable. That’s right, folks, a mere year-ish before, Disney released Wreck-It Ralph. Or what about another movie released in 2012 – Disney’s Brave? It is about more than accepting your position, but although Merida decides to make her role as royalty her own, she does have to come to terms with the fact that she is royalty, and that birthed her into certain responsibilities. In fact, failing to come to terms with this in the beginning of the movie nearly causes her to lose her mother forever because the witch she sought help from seems to only know a single spell (and how to carve, I guess). Then, there’s the 2013 Disney release Frozen, in which one of the main characters, Elsa, has to learn how to be honest with herself and others, and not merely isolate herself like an odd, sexy hermit, because she has responsibilities as a sister and a queen that she cannot, and does not want to, shirk. 2012 and 2013 feel like the years someone at Disney decided to explain to children that you can’t always do anything you want, but you can figure out a way to be okay with your employment, whether it’s glamorous like Elsa and Merida, or blue-collar like Ralph and Mike. I’m not necessarily against it, it just feels a little weird that instead of saying, “Keep making good decisions” or “You can be anything you want, if you only believe/work hard enough,” Disney was like, “Life’s not perfect, but you can settle and be cool with that.”

What do you guys think – am I reading too much into what I interpret as a slew of similarly themed movies? Is Monsters University actually terrible? Or am I a smart, savvy chick who has a point? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!