If You’re on a Critiquing Site, Expect Critiques

I know I kinda touched on this particular critiquing issue the other day in a Facebook post, but I’d like to take the opportunity to expand on it a bit.

For those of you not in the know, I belong to a writing critiquing site called Scribophile.  (For all you writers out there, I can’t recommend this site highly enough.)

In the 6 months or so I’ve been involved on Scribophile, I honestly have never had too many problems with the other writers on the site.  For the most part, they have been lovely, supportive people, some of who have challenged the way I look at my stories.  It honestly has been a real asset in improving my writing.
Read If You’re on a Critiquing Site, Expect Critiques

“Ben”: A Published Poem by Yours Truly

So, there’s been a lot going on in my life lately, and I’ve not been able to blog as much as I’d like.  Sorry about that.

One cool thing I ended up doing last week was I took that blogger’s advice that dissociative people should undertake something they love and work with it.  Okay, I haven’t been writing as much as I would like to write lately, but searching on Google, I found an online writers’ group called Scribophile, which features writers who want critiques from other writers about their works.

I’ll talk about that more in another post, but it’s refreshed my drive to write again.

Read Ben: A Published Poem by Yours Truly

What Type of Tattoo Would I Get? My Mom Got One…

I speak with my Mom every week to every two weeks.  Living on opposite sides of the world is hard, but it’s a little bit easier with the invention of Skype and FaceTime, WhatsApp and Apple Messenger, Instagram and Facebook.  Communication is so much easier now than it was when I first moved to New Zealand 20 years ago.

Anyway.  My Mom has been talking about getting a tattoo.  We’ve had this discussion a few times over the last few years: what type of tattoo would she get; where she would get it on her body; how big it would be; and so on.  It was something on her bucket list of things she wanted to do.  And, of course, I love her, so anything she wants to do, I support 100%.

Read What Type of Tattoo Would I Get? My Mom Got One…

Miscommunication Between Cultures, Part 3

Hopefully Vladimir doesn’t kill me for posting this story.  Sorry, Vladimir!

Noel and I met Vladimir on a penpal service.  He was a Russian guy moving to New Zealand to be with a Kiwi guy he’d met on the same penpal service; they felt they had a lot in common and they’d get along fine.

When we’d met Vladimir and his Kiwi boyfriend after the boyfriend had picked Vladimir up at Christchurch International Airport, Noel and I had a strong feeling that it wasn’t going to last.  Here was the Kiwi boyfriend: checkered flannel shirt, work jeans, down-on-the-farm boots; and Vladimir: leather pants, flamenco dancing shoes, black dress shirt buttoned to the bottom of the pectorals, red bandana tied around his head.  The Russian guy from urban Moscow, the Kiwi guy from rural Otago in New Zealand.

In short: different as chalk and cheese.

I said to Vladimir, in private, that if things didn’t work out, he always had a place to stay with us.  Having moved to another country, I knew what it was like, and I wanted him to know he had options if things didn’t work out.

A few weeks later, he called on the phone, crying, to say it wasn’t working out.

So, Vladimir moved to Christchurch and lived in our spare room.  (This is all a story in itself that I’ll cover another time.)


One day, Noel, Vladimir, and I went to the liquor store to get some booze.  When we walked in, we could tell someone had dropped a bottle or three of something sweet smelling because it hung in the air.

Noel went off on a mission to find whatever he was looking for, and Vladimir whipped out a small book, looked something up, then proudly announced: “It smells like crotch in here!”

I looked at him funny and probably said, “What?!?”  Then: “I think you have the wrong word.”

“No, no.  Crotch.  It smells like crotch in here!”

“I think you should look that word up again in your book.”

Vladimir got more adamant as the five other people in the store were staring at him.  He pointed at the book.  “Crotch.  It smells like crotch in here!”

I snatched the book out of his hands, trying to flip open the book, but half of it was in Russian so I had no idea what I was looking for.  “Find the word again and show me.”

He started to flip through the book, turning a page over, turning another page, and then, running his finger down the lines on the page he’d been on before, he found the word.  He smiled, but the smile faded into a frown.

“What word did you mean?”

“Oh.  Cranberry.  I meant it smells like cranberry in here…”

“That makes more sense.”  I felt all the eyes in the shop veer back away from us.  We resumed shopping.

“What’s a crotch?”  The question came out of the blue.

“Uh, I think we’ll talk about that on the way home…”

Miscommunication Between Cultures, Part 2

Hopefully Yves doesn’t kill me for posting this story.  Sorry, Yves!

When I was studying at Northern Illinois University, we used to make supply runs to the local Jewel grocery store.  Of course, this necessitated us having a car, so when someone with a car presented themselves, to Jewel we could a-go.

One day, my friend Yves (originally from Switzerland) and I were wandering through Jewel, dodging the local old ladies who seemed to always be there, haphazardly pushing their shopping carts around with three items in them.  It was kinda like running into the middle of a bumper car ring, hoping you wouldn’t get hit… more than 20 times.

Suddenly, Yves remembered something and started to walk faster.  I tried to keep up.  “What’s the matter?” I called out after him.

“I remember something I need…”  Dodging old ladies, he dashed down one aisle, only to emerge as I got there.


He frantically went to the next aisle and looked down it.  “Stuff… You know.  Stuff.  To douche with.”

I kinda cocked my head and said, “Um, I don’t think that’s the word you’re looking for.”

“Yes, it’s right.  Stuff to douche with!” He was getting more agitated as he looked for the aisle.

“I think, just maybe, you’re talking about soap…?”

Bars of Soap

“Yeah.  Soap to douche with!”  That time was a bit too loud, because a little old lady and her cart collided with an end-cap.

“Ah, here it is!” His voice sound relieved, although he had a look of concern as he looked over at the group of little old ladies and a shop assistant trying to clean up the spilled contents of the end cap.

Yves was going through the soap to see which brand he wanted, cheerfully inserting the word “douche” into every sentence he could when another old lady passed him and gave him a scolding look.

Our following conversation went a bit like this:

“Uh, I think we need to stop using that word.”

“Which word?”

“Douche,” I hissed under my breath.

“Why?  It means, you know, to clean your body.”  Using a voice everyone within 3 feet can hear…

“Not in American English it doesn’t!”

Yves looked puzzled, like Data trying to comprehend something not programmed into his experience on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He found the brand he was looking for and placed it in the cart or basket (I can’t remember which).  “Oh.  So what does douche mean in English?”  Still in the normal voice.

Quiet conspiracy voice: “It’s a female thing.”

Normal voice: “What kind of female thing?”

“I’ll tell you in the car on the way home.  I’m not discussing this in Jewel!”