Warning: Zombie Aelish!

I'm reanimating this blog & collecting (read: republishing) posts from elsewhere all in one place. Redundancy is redundant. Also, temporary. :)

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Distant Cousins

February 19, 2015 - Author: aelish

Does anyone else think Duolingo looks like an overly enthusiastic version of the Adium bird? I mean, I love it. It’s adorable. I’m just saying.


No Comments - Categories: Language, OkDuolingo

Linguists, Facing the World’s Tough Questions

- Author: aelish

You guys…. this is what I’m getting my degree in.

"Babies are illogical. Nobody who is despised can manage a crocodile. Illogical persons are despised. Therefore, babies cannot manage crocodiles." From Introduction to Natural Language Semantics  by Henriëtte de Swart

“Babies are illogical. Nobody who is despised can manage a crocodile. Illogical persons are despised. Therefore, babies cannot manage crocodiles.”From Introduction to Natural Language Semantics by Henriëtte de Swart

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In case you were wondering…

February 18, 2015 - Author: aelish

Duolingo_logo HEY I found a place to put all my Duolingo/language ramblings!

In an effort to consolidate the old digital footprint and avoid Semantics homework, I’m making this place into my linguistic travelogue – a place for all my Svenska & Suomi wanderings and wonderings.

Sorry if anyone was actually enjoying the flood of rants on Facebook (well, where else were they going to go?! Oh right. Here.) But for the sake of the collective social net and for those too polite to unsubscribe, I’ll henceforth deposit said rants here, rather than spewing them into everyone’s news feed. Cool?


2 Comments - Categories: Language


- Author: aelish

Whenever I feel down, I just think of what I’ve truly accomplished in life…

Thanks, Duo.

Thanks, Duo.

I think Duolingo toned down the excitement a bit – at least they didnt present me with a trophy when I learned to say this and that yesterday. But that’s cool, I still feel unreasonably excited over small feats.

Toned Down Duolingo

And now I can die happy.

No Comments - Categories: Language, OkDuolingo

Real World

June 30, 2014 - Author: aelish

Returning to dormant blogs is… weird. To say the least.

It’s like returning to an old house. It’s comforting, maybe a little nostalgic, but you just can’t escape the sense of you don’t belong! Maybe it’s the archaeologist in me, but I often just want to preserve my past museum-style, rather than give it a modernized makeover and drag it, kicking and screaming, into the present. (I still have live journals preserved forever under a thick layer of digital dust!)

But expensive domain is expensive. And why give up a perfectly good piece of internet real estate?


An example of the Real World.

I will soon be headed back to the Real World: that messy, physical space where people show their faces and identify themselves with *gasp!* real names instead of handles. (…WUT?) Yes, it’s true. I’ve witnessed it for myself. It’s been a long time since I was there, but I’m pretty sure it goes against their social conventions to show up in bandana-face or a Guy Fawkes mask. And you can’t introduce yourself with an @ symbol.

*le sigh*

So, having already staked my claim to my real nym digital territory, I’m coming back to build a home for my Real World self here at

So who exactly is this Real World self?

Damned if I know.

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I Don’t Know Where I’m Going or What Pants I’m Supposed to be Wearing When I Get There

- Author: aelish

Within two months, my aimless meander through Freelance Bloggery (Real World translation: unemployment!) will be coming to a close – at least, as my primary mode of existence. Digitally speaking, I’m not actually going anywhere. But my meatspace counterpart is packing her life back into a giant duffle bag, putting on her Big Girl Pants™, and heading back to school.

I don’t even know what Big Girl Pants are supposed to look like.

At…. *mumblemumblecough* um, an age that rounds up to thirty, I feel like I’m supposed to be watching my school days disappear into the distance in the rearview mirror. I’m supposed to be looking ahead to…… I don’t know, careers? 401K’s? Mortgages and matrimony, blazers and button down shirts.

But I don’t have a clue about any of that.

I’m pretty sure my *mumblemumblecough* round-up-to-thirty-year-old self is supposed to look something like this:

Big Girl Pants

That is SO not what I see in the mirror.

In fact, I don’t see any of the things that are supposed to go into adulthood and careers. There are all these rules that go into building Professional You, rules about matching your shoes and bag, and not matching your blacks. There are things called trousers and slacks, and are those even the same thing? Do people with Careers™ ever just wear pants? There are rules about tattoos and cleavage and where am I supposed to put my boobs anyway when your stupid button down shirts aren’t made for more than the first four letters of the alphabet? And how did I miss that gym class about walking in pencil skirts? Did you take that in undergrad, or was it a special career training thing?

I don’t even know.

I got distracted while trying to research Big Girl Pants – and realizing that this is really not what grad school is all about…. (damnit!). I got distracted by things that seemed WAY more like me:

Can I wear this to work?


The Point: I know this isn’t it.

I know I should be more concerned about research objectives and peer reviewed publications and CVs.

I’m nervous.

Am I going FORWARD, because I’m going to grad school (and hence Careerland)? Or am I going BACKWARDS, because I’m pushing thirty and still in school?

I have to know.

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Why I’m Not Getting an MFA

March 17, 2014 - Author: aelish

I’m not getting an MFA.

That’s it. The decision is done, the paperwork sent in

The way I’ve explained it to rational, level-headed people is a simple numbers game. Even though I was offered an 8,000 scholarship, the price was still more than I would pay and the return on investment was slimmer. Instead

But that’s only partly it.

Don’t get me wrong, money is an issue. But not in the way most people thing. I made the decision that was best for my writing. Or so I firmly believe. Firstly, I will take on significantly fewer loans in the program I did decide on (about $20,000 fewer!) And over the past few years of thinking about school while not having my vision colored by the bubble of school, I’ve come to the conclusion that:


Having less debt means I have more choice in what I do after school. It means I have more choice in where I go, how I spend my time, and consequently how much of my life belongs to me and what I love (i.e. writing). I may end up in China again, I may end up teaching elesewhere, I may end up doing research. But the less debt I have, the less I have to jump at the first thing that comes my way because I have collectors banging down my door.

The other thing is this: I don’t want writing to be the only thing I do.

Some of my most productive times were when I was working 12 hour days at a language camp, 6 days a week. Or commuting 2 hours in Beijing traffic. When I have only writing to do, I don’t actually do much writing.

I have a voice in my head that says: No, you must be a Dedicated Writer! You must Dedicate Yourself to Writing. And That means doing Writerly things like going to Writing Programs and advanced degrees in Writing.

But this is me being dedicated to my writing – and to myself. This is me being dedicated to freeing myself up to make choices that are best for my writing, choices like this one.

But, damn, that voice is loud. And MFA’s sound so pristegious….



btw: This is an old post I’m republishing now due to idiocy and a slightly out of date backup file. ¯\(ツ)/¯

No Comments - Categories: Writing

The Writing Process

November 14, 2013 - Author: aelish

This is Paul Kohler’s version of the writing process.


**snip snip snip**

This is what I think it should look like:


Ok, so I don’t know how to make a Venn Diagram. My math education comes from Facebook! Leave me alone….. 

What does YOUR writing process look like?

No Comments - Categories: I Need A Hug..., Writing

Fear: NaNoWriMo Lessons Week 2

November 13, 2013 - Author: aelish

This is not what I wanted my NaNoWriMo graph to look like this week:


No, it’s not a horrible mess of shame. Yes, I’m ahead of the game. Yay!  But… just barely. I don’t have much breathing room. And, that’s not good. See, unlike people who work best under stress, when I don’t have breathing room, I just DON’T BREATHE. (Good thing this is a metaphor, huh.) I freeze up. My fight or flight reflex crashes and defaults to FREEZE. In other words, if I get far enough behind where I want to be, I’ll just give up.

And for the record? This was more like where I wanted to be:

NaNoStats 2

Well, technically, if I’m honest, I’d rather be here:

NaNoStats 3

But it turns out they’re not giving out the #1 Best Seller medals at the end of this NaNoWriMo. *shrug* Guess I’ll have to wait till next year.

Anywhoo….. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel like I’m failing. I know I’m doing okay. I’m doing fantastic. This is pretty much the closest EVER that I’ve come to being on-schedule. And that’s cool. So no, it’s not failing. But I’m a bit annoyed that I’m failing to exhaust my potential. And it’s the potential I’m way more concerned about.

I know I can do more. I can do better.

And the thing that really, really annoys me? I know EXACTLY what’s killing the potential.


Sorry, I couldn’t be more original. And yes, this is the same same paralyzing force that, from what I can tell, plagues ALL writers. See: Teri Brown’s The Doubts, or Carrie Rubin’s Mr. Nasty Pants. Sorry, I’m not great at thinking up names.

To me, it’s just FEAR.

What are you DOING? Fear says, horror dripping off its every syllable. That’s the stupidest thing ever, it says.  No one is going to read this. Or WORSE, (there is ALWAYS a “Worse” with Fear) they WILL read it and they will laugh. It’s that horrible, cheesy, and frankly, just incomprehensible! Incomprehensible, meaning no one is ever going to comprehend why you did this sad, tragic excuse for doing stuff, says Fear, always the first to rub your nose in it. Nope. People aren’t going to like that one bit, finishes Fear, always with a smug, satisfied gloat.

Yeah, I get it. You can shut up now. >`:

Fear usually lives quietly in the background. But sometimes, it pushes its way to the front (SUPER rude!) Sometimes, after the glimmer of inspiration wears off and before the pride and relief of finishing sets in, sometime right smack in the middle of Getting Things Done, Fear makes itself known, big and ugly, right there in your face, front and center.

Hello, Week 2!

Yup, Fear got very loud this week.

But, I think I’ve found its kryptonite. There’s one thing I can do that shuts Fear up: doing EXACTLY what I fear, before Fear can tell me not to.

I’m talking about writing those things that I can’t write. That I’m afraid to write. Sometimes, that’s the romance that totally sounds great in my head but can’t possibly translate to paper (hehe). Sometimes, that’s the character that is such an unlikeable jerk that I can’t possibly pull it off, and why even try? Sometimes it’s…… whatever.

It’s the things I can’t write.

Sometimes, I need to just go ahead and write them.

And I need to hurry. Fear is coming and I’ve got to keep ahead. Ciao!

2 Comments - Categories: NaNoWriMo

On Bathrobes and Writing In Shoes: NaNoWriMo Lessons, Week 1

November 8, 2013 - Author: aelish

As a kid, I didn’t stay up late on Christmas Eve. I slept, because the sooner I fell asleep, the sooner it would be tomorrow (Thanks for the lessons on time-space continuums, Mom.)

Confession: this wasn’t just when I was a kid.

It was last week. It was last year. It was… It was the night before my flight to Finland, and the eve of my move to China. It was the night before my last Christmas at home and it was the the day before starting an exciting new job.

It was October 31st, the day before NaNoWriMo.

Turns out, though, the fast forward effect wears off after a while.

I can no longer go to bed at 9PM, expecting to jump forward to 5AM and hit the ground running. Nope. While my Brain once deferred to Sleep in all matters, it now takes matters into its onw hands: Now see here, Brain demands, you’re going to stay awake till a NORMAL hour. 1 or 2, earliest. (It’s always pretty specific.) THEN you can sleep. By the time I’ve fought off Brain (usually in the wee hours – Brain knows what it’s talking about), I’m out till noon.

I used to read all those books and articles like The 10 Things Rich/Successful/Happy/Better-Than-You People Do! And they always made sense to me because they always had to do with Getting Things Done before the rest of the world even hits the snooze button. My kid self didn’t have a problem with that, and I tried for a long time to evolve kid self’s habits into adult habits.

Did not happen.

But it’s okay.  I think I’m going to forget about time now.

I think, when I don’t have to wake up at X-obscene-morning-hour, I’ll get up when I want. The day will start when I want. Work and fun and NaNoWriMo will start when I want. Because I think I’ve finally settled on what really gets me out of bed in the morning.

It’s not the hour on the clock.

It’s shoes.


These shoes mean Serious Business.
Try being LAZY with these on.

Ok, to be fair, it’s the routine — whether at 6AM or 1AM – that gets me to hit the ground running.

I get up.

I get up and I pick out an outfit that doesn’t resemble pajamas, gym wear, or laundry day. I put on makeup. Not a shitload. Just enough to make my just-opened eyes appear vaguely awake and give my too-pale skin a color that resembles human flesh.

I put on shoes.

And I feel ready. With shoes, I can conquer the day.

So it’s not just shoes. They’re just the final puzzle piece that holds everything together. Shoes say I’m going out to see the world today. Shoes say I don’t want to scare the world like a crazy person in slippers and broken toenails. Shoes say I’m Getting Things Done today! I don’t even have to open the front door. I can sit at my desk and feel like a productive, well-put-together human being.

And that’s when magical things happen:

become a productive, well-put-together human being

I may never be destined to be a successful writer, because I’m pretty sure that entails writing in bathrobes or in the bath or hunched over a pile of papers scratching a perpetual 5 o’clock shadow.

But it’s okay.

I’ve got my shoes on.

2 Comments - Categories: Fashion, NaNoWriMo

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