Don’t Ask These Questions!

I don’t know why we ask these things.  We can’t seem to help ourselves.

Let me set the scene.  You’re seventeen.  It’s May.  You’re graduating in less than a month.  What do people ask you?

Right!  What are your plans after school.  Aunt Agnes asks.  Grandpa asks.  That person who knows your Mom, but you don’t know them, and they meet you and your mom in the grocery store–they ask too.  You cringe and you stammer a well-rehearsed answer. Face it, it’s as much a part of grad as the mortar board.

If you say, “I’m going to University,” the asker will nod and smile like you’ve answered correctly.  You may wonder why they are so keen on putting yourself in tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  Or you’ll be like me and say, “I’m looking for a job,” and you’ll imagine that they’re thinking “Can’t get into college, eh?  Poor soul. Destined to slave in a menial job for the rest of her life.”

They aren’t thinking that.  To them it’s just a question.  But to us, it is something that pokes at our deepest insecurities, or some of the biggest decisions we’ll ever have to make.  Why do they ask it so casually?

What about this one?

Are you seeing anyone?

This is the one your aunts and uncles and older family friends will ask, perhaps with greater and greater frequency as you get older. They’re just curious, of course, but if you haven’t the faintest hope of a date, you may hear “So, no one’s taken you yet?  Don’t worry.  I’ll put out an ad.”

Take a guess

And if you are seeing someone:

So… When are you getting married?

“But, we’ve like, been on two dates.”

“So?  Chop chop.”

And then, once you are married:

So… When are you having kids?

A professor of mine had a good answer for this one.  He’d say, “Thursday–after supper.”  It was quite effective.  I mean, they didn’t really want to know.

I hate kids

Actually, maybe this would be a good approach to all the questions.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“Oh yeah, I have five or six guys on rotation.”

“What are your plans for after school?”

“I was thinking about joining a monastery.”

What gives us the right to ask these things?  Do we ever think about how insecure the ‘questionee’ might be about the answer?  What if they’d like to go to college but they failed one class and now they can’t?  What if they’re convinced they’ll never get a boyfriend because they’re ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’?  What if they can’t have kids because of infertility?

Oh, twist the knife in the wound, will you?

I guess I’m touchy about this right now because people keep asking “so, how are your book sales?”

Do you want me to tell you how much I weigh and my yearly income as well?  They think it’s a simple question.  It’s not. It’s just my biggest dream, my greatest battle and the culmination of years of work. It is going exactly as it should at the very beginning: slowly and with great effort.  Momentum isn’t working in my favour–yet.


This is a great, big, hairy word in the world of dreams and success.  Yet.

George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones series, said that writing requires “being ready to accept rejection. You can work on a book for two years and get it published, and it’s like you may as well have thrown it down a well. It’s not all champagne and doing interviews with The New York Times.”

From what I’ve read, success in anything can be like that.  But the word is ‘yet’.  I’m not there ‘yet.’

Martin said, “I’ve been very lucky. There were times when I was afraid I would never sell another book, but I never doubted I’d write another book.”  Yes, even George R. R. Martin, who’s been more successful than most authors would dare to hope, feared he’d never sell another book.

So right now I get to suck down my ire, smile, and give my well-rehearsed answer.  I hope we can consider this when we’re tempted to blurt out these stupid questions.  There is so much backstory behind the answer, and so much ‘yet’.  Do you really want to know?

And yes. I did go nutty with my meme-maker for this one. Call it stress relief. 🙂







5 Ways to Name a Baby (Or Not)

I can’t imagine how hard it must be to name a baby. I mean, that’s the name they’ll be called their whole life. Never mind that there’s nine months to think about it, I’d probably be one of those parents who waits four or five days before officially naming the kid.

And once you do name your child, there’s no guarantee everyone likes it. I remember a former boss who called her grandson ‘it’ for the first few days because she hated the name he had been given.

So how do you choose a name? I’ve never named a baby, but by my observation, these are the options.

1. Choose a solid, traditional name. Now, this depends on your nationality, I know. But for argument’s sake, let’s say you name your little boy Peter, James or John and your girl Martha, or Mary or (heaven forbid) Bertha. They aren’t stylish, but they’ll never be out of style either.

2. Choose a stylish name.
Back in the day when I was born and given the unconventional moniker of ‘Geralyn’, my peers were being named Jessica and Amanda, which is why I’ve known at least five of each. There will be a lot of sixty-year-old Amanda’s in forty years, a lot of sixtyish Tylers in fifty years, and a pile of grandmas named Emma in sixty years.

3. Name your child after a family member.
This is great and all, but how do you choose which relative? What if you don’t have enough kids to name them after all the important relatives. I dunno. Risky. And what if they have an awful name? I mean, I’m sorry, but I’m not naming my little boy Helmut. I’m just not (my apologies if your name is Helmut).

4. Make something up.
I swear this is what some parents do. One day, when I was working retail, a mom yelled at her little boy “Satan!”
I drew back in horror as she dragged the little boy to the till. Then I realized that his name was Saden. I bet that looked good on paper. Yikes.

5. Respell a conventional name to make it cool.
This is actually quite simple. Say you like the name Taylor, but you’re like “oh, that’s boring.” First, you drop the ‘y’, then you add at least one extra ‘e’. Taelor. Then add a silent ‘h’. Taehlor. Bingo. Isn’t that exotic?

Other options include, naming your child a foreign name and then mispronouncing it, naming them after an inanimate object, after a popular celebrity or book character (i.e. the little girls I’ve seen named Esme and Arwen), and plenty other others I’ve missed.

Why did I go through all that? Nope, I’m not pregnant. I’ve finally named my novel. It’s due to be published mid-year, and I’ve gone through three or four different titles. But now (hear ye, hear ye) It shall be called We The Living, since it is an apocalyptic story about carrying on after all is lost.

Don’t like it? Oh dear. Well, it is my baby.