Personal

Things About Me

A while back there was a game going around Facebook, Things People Don’t Know About Me. Here’s mine.

Although I have a BA and a BS, I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and never took a college entrance exam.

Math was never my strong suit. In the math section of the GED I could only answer two of the questions. It was a fill-in-the-bubbles type of test. I looked at the pattern of answers in the other two sections and made a similar pattern in the math section. I passed by two points.

When I was four years old I noticed that the dog’s food had nuggets in four different colors. I wondered if each color was a different flavor. They all tasted the same to me….

Everywhere I lived as a kid I planted tulip bulbs descended from ones my grandmother gave me when we moved away from Candor.

The only surgery or hospitalization I’ve had was tonsils at age five.

When I was five I had a dance lesson. The instructor told my mother she was wasting her money and that was the end of that. At age thirty-five I went to Jazzercise and took six months to learn to do a jazz square step.

When I was thirteen, some of us girls spent our Girl Scout dues on cigarettes. That put us behind on our dues and we couldn’t explain without getting in trouble. So that was the end of scouting and the beginning of eighteen years of spending money on cigarettes.

The year I was 40 I had three full days of allergy testing. At the end, they told me the two things I’m NOT allergic to are dogs and aspartame.

I’ve been to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York, and to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

As an Airbnb.com host, I’ve had guests from Sweden, Belarus, France, Montreal, Switzerland, Thailand, Belgium, Colombia, Canada, and Louisiana.

The farthest west I’ve ever gone is Texas; the farthest east is England; farthest south is mile marker 0 in Key West; farthest north is Toronto.

The most I’ve ever paid for a car is $2,000. I paid more for my 49cc. scooter and it was every bit as crappy as any of my cars were.

What don’t people know about you?

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New Book

Book two of my Marshview Sheriff’s Department mystery series is out! Flight Risk is a real page-turner.

Available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. People seemed to like the first book in the series, Further Investigation, and that encouraged me to write another.

I Might Cry: Contest Finalist!

My book, My Writer’s Sampler: Exercises in Learning to Write Fiction, is a finalist in the Red City Review contest! Winners to be announced September 1.  http://redcityreview.com/book-awards/2017-finalists

Sampler and Further Investigation (a mystery) are each finalists in their own categories in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. (Winners to be announced in October.)

This feels overwhelming, since for most of my life I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I wrote stuff, like one does, school papers; memos, procedure manuals, and reports for work. My first book, Frugal Living for the 21st Century, has good reviews on Amazon. When I tried to branch out into fiction, I learned that a good imagination is not all it takes to write fiction that other people will want to read.

I was slowly learning, from concepts brought out in two critique groups. One day I realized that thanks to the magic of Google, I didn’t have to wait for writing skills to happen to come up in the group, I could look for them. As a part of that research I wrote thirty-two short stories, each meant to exercise a skill I had found. That research became My Writer’s Sampler. We all have stories to tell. Telling them in a way others will like can be learned.

One of those short stories expanded and became a mystery novella, Further Investigation. People who read it seemed sincere when they said they liked it, so I’m now working on two more, Cold Case and Flight Risk.

 

amazon.com/author/mariebrack

Aspiration

They say the grass is greener on the other side, meaning where you are now doesn’t seem as good as where you could be. People leave marriages thinking a different relationship will be better. Leave jobs thinking the next one will be so great! Move to a bigger house just knowing that then life will be perfect. Wait to be happy when…when we have kids… when the kids are grown…when I get married…when I get divorced…when I get a job… when I can finally retire…

Another way to look at it is:

The grass is greener where you water it.

Mr. and Mrs. San

Back in the 1970s there was a movement to create a relationship-neutral title for women. “Mr.” for men was already relationship-neutral. A man was Mister whether he was married or single. Women were Miss until they married and became titled Mrs. So we came up with Ms., a female form of Mr., which did not indicate whether the woman was married or not.

Fast forward to 2014. I was on a mock jury. The presenter, an intelligent, educated millennial, surprised me by assuming that a woman who had chosen the “Ms.” title on an application form was declaring herself to be single. Somehow Ms. has come to be viewed by some as a shorter way of writing Miss, an unmarried woman.

At first this disturbed me, since I was there for the fuss involved in getting a relationship-neutral title accepted. Then I thought about it. Our culture clearly still cares whether a woman is married or not, more than they care whether a man is. We want the label right up front, so the neutral label has at least partly reverted to a relationship indicator.

Compare this to the Japanese method. In Japan, everyone is addressed with the respectful title of “san.” Except for family and very close friends, all are referred to by their last name, and the title san. Brack-san, Smith-san. If there are two Smiths present, then John-Smith-san and Sue-Smith-san. Not only relationship-neutral, but gender and age neutral as well.

Too bad I don’t have the energy to start another social movement to get us all using san. It wouldn’t last anyway, we still want to categorize people and put the label on right up front.