It is a novelist’s oddity
that the obituary of the historian
Eric Hobsbawm

published in The Guardian
newspaper of England
was written by Dorothy Wedderburn.

He died on October 1st.
She, Dorothy, died also
a little less than two weeks

before him on September 20th.
Her obituary in the same newspaper
was written by him.

Below is an essay I have to write for English. I have not yet turned it in, and I didn't feel like letting classmates read this, so feedback is not only appreciated, but also requested. So, are you ready to read critically? Excellent! Here it is:

You can't force someone to be creative. Of course, most teachers I've had have tried to anyway. I can't really blame them. They need us to prove that we can write, and they can't just sit around and have us write something and turn it in at our leisure. Still, writing assignments are very annoying. With most assignments I don't want to do, I can either force myself to do them or do them at the last minute and feel relieved to have finished them. I can't do that with writing. When I finish a writing assignment that I didn't want to do, particularly if it involves writing about my emotions, finishing it doesn't make me feel any better. After I finish an assignment like that, I force myself to turn it in and try not to read it again afterwards. If I do read it again, even years later, it still makes me cringe to know I wrote it. Many of my teachers have told me not to worry about that and just to write whatever comes to my mind. They can say that. They don't have to remember my writing occasionally and suddenly feel ashamed.

It's easier to do hard things when you know you won't regret them. This goes for everything from doing your homework to helping someone to getting on a rollercoaster But, sometimes I try to get myself to do something by saying I won't regret it, but then remember that I actually will, and I know this from experience. Writing falls into this category for me, even if I know nobody will see it. This even makes it hard to write down potential topics like I was told to before starting this assignment. In fact, by now I've written two paragraphs and I haven't even mentioned the event I wanted to write about. I have to ease myself into it.

My problems with writing apply to social situations too. Whenever I think of something humiliating I've said or done, I react as if I were reading my old writing. I try to avoid moments like those by playing off of others rather than taking an active role socially. I know this is irrational, and that I'm just as likely to make some faux pas whether I speak first or second. Still, even among close friends, I tend to speak only in response to others. I follow that rule pretty much religiously. I can't remember many times when I have taken any kind of risk socially.

There was one time I do remember, though. There was a time I said something that needed to be said, and I was quite happy with the result. It wasn't much, just one word: "don't". I wrote this word on a corner of my notebook page and tore it out. I slipped it into the bathroom one of my friends had angrily run to after a person walking by had casually kicked her backpack off to the side. That whole afternoon, she had been talking about how she was thinking about killing herself. She asked me if anyone would care if she died. I said that many people would. This didn't convince her. I really wanted to say that I would care, but for some reason I couldn't. I had to wait until she had been in the bathroom for several minutes and I finally figured it out. All because I couldn't just say I cared.

I very nearly allowed someone to die for one of the stupidest reasons conceivable. I wish I could say I learned a lesson from this, as the assignment requires, but that would be a lie. I still haven't learned my lesson. I still can't talk about my feelings, or tell someone I care about them, even though I know it would make me, and quite possibly, other people, happier. I'm trying, though. I'm still not going to let any of my classmates read this, but when I turn it in, I will do so proudly. I will not be tempted to replace it with something I'm less invested in. And I will read it. I will read it over and over again, even as I take it to turn in and think through exactly what the teacher is going to be reading and grading. I will be proud of it, not ashamed.

Buying a House Is a Pain in the Ass

(and other things you probably also knew)

For only the second time this year, an entire month has passed without me contributing a single write-up. In fact, I've hardly been active on the site at all. Based on my last daylog, one might suspect that I blew up at work and have been living in a van down by the river for the last month. Actually, I am in the process of purchasing a new home. And as most of you have probably already experienced for yourself, this is not typically a pleasant process.

Searching for a new home is great. Going from house to house, imagining all the new possibilities, considering how each might contribute (through its location to schools or people) to the betterment of your family, this is exciting. But once a place is selected the hassle begins. There is the preliminary purchase agreement and all of the price negotiation that comes with it, made more frustrating by its execution through intermediaries. Then comes the loan application. Compile this list of reference documents, provide those tax returns, obtain checks for home appraisals and earnest money. And don't forget the home inspection, a singularly stressful four hours of both hoping no serious faults are found in the home but at the same time determined to identify any faults prior to purchasing the house. And the list goes on, termite inspections, attorney paperwork, having utilities serviced, etc. All of this eats up the day and much of the night.

In our case, this process is part of our larger family plan. My wife obtaining a job in the city that I work in was the first step. This happened in July, and we immediately began searching for a deal in town. The old saying about how location is everything in real estate is absolutely true (currently working on my third home purchase) and we had a very specific square-mile area we were targeting. Step two, find a deal in our desired location, happened when our realtor discovered a foreclosure which turned out to be a great match for us. The house has been empty since spring, but requires minimal work to move into, and is situated just over a hill from where our daughter would go to elementary school. Because I have increasingly become attracted to Early Retirement Extreme, one of the most appealing aspects of the deal to me is that after putting our 20% down we will end up with a house payment of slightly over 60 percent less than our current monthly housing expense. This is an important part of ERE.

All of this has consumed my free time. There were a few moments last month that I should note. I had a chance to spend an evening with dannye. This involved four hours of (for me) very interesting conversation with someone who not only has been around e2 for a really really long time, but who comes from a background that is in a lot of ways similar to my own. We talked about the rural South. We talked about crazy e2 people. I probably asked too many personal questions, all of which he handled with humor and aplomb. He gave me a number of book recommendations to add to next year's reading list. The evening meant a lot to me, but probably the biggest take away was Danny telling me to not take myself too seriously. Which is good advice, but easy to forget. So I'm telling my future self, when I come back and read this at some point, don't take yourself too seriously.

I've been putting together a big reading list, something like a schedule of things to hit by the end of next year. House of Leaves is on there as a recommendation from Jet-Poop, and Danny convinced me to include Winter's Tale along with a few other recommendations which I put on the list (some Nabokov, based on my love of Lolita, and some opinions on James Joyce). I've also been trolling /r/books on reddit for things that I've not read yet but are highly recommended. With all of that said, anyone who would like to recommend books for this list can message me and I would greatly appreciate it.

Finally, as you may have noticed, I am sponsoring a sub-quest within the Children of the Night: The 2012 Halloween Horrorquest. To be considered for this prize (picture on my home node) you must enter the horror quest AND message me your interest for the sub quest. I'm going to assume that if you are in the main quest but have not messaged me, you are not interested in the prize. Anyway, that is all I have time for at the moment, I hope everyone is having a great autumn, watch something scary tonight (I think there's a presidential debate on tonight), and if you need a recommendation, I still encourage you to watch Trick 'r Treat if you have not done so already.

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