Rereading a Classic: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

Some books need to be thought about as much as read.

I recently read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for the second time. It’s about a boy who loses his mother in a terrorist attack, who is then taken in by a friend’s family in NYC and later his estranged father in Las Vegas. Stolen artwork is involved, and he eventually becomes a drug addict while discovering the shady underworld of antiques and art dealing.

It had probably been six years since I last read it, while I was an undergraduate in college. I flew through it the first time; always anxious to get to my next book in those days. Now I take my time when I read, although I still get through a lot of material. I give myself time to think about what I’m reading instead of flying past commas, periods and dialogue. I didn’t retain as much as I do now, which is one reason I wanted to read it again. When I started rereading the book, I recalled the first 75%, but everything after that was new.

The other reason I wanted to read it again is because it’s a great book (winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in fiction). Donna Tartt is an excellent writer. She’s in the running to write my obituary and epitaph. Her stories are intriguing, which can’t be said about all books with literary merit. Tartt is my second favorite author after Haruki Murakami.

If nothing else, hopefully this post will give you a new book to add to your collection.


Scammed If I Do, Scammed If I Don’t

Forget sounding too good to be true. If it sounds like bullshit, it probably is.

Express Writers is a copywriting agency that routinely hires freelancers. New to the freelancing game, I was scouring sites looking for opportunities when I came across one of their posts. I applied for a writing position and not long after received a message from Floyd Byer of Express Writers. Great. “Send a writing sample.” Okay. “Send rate per word.” Okay. “Send a headshot.” But you don’t even know if you’re going to hire me yet, but whatever.

“Send a picture of your driver’s license.” But the site your job was posted on verified my identity. If you’re legit you should have access to this.

“Send a selfie while holding your license.” WTF.

“Fill out this w-9 and send everything to this shady gmail address.”

Needless to say, Floyd Byer doesn’t work for Express Writers and probably doesn’t exist. These scams have become so prevalent that Express Writers has a blog post dedicated to recognizing them, although I doubt many people would fall for this. I’m naïve, but I’m not an idiot.

Shortly thereafter I woke up to a text and an email supposedly from Chase asking if I paid for a stay at Rodeway Inn. I replied “NO” and the response told me to give them a call. Wary of being targeted for another scam, I called the number on my card. While on hold, I pulled up our account and noticed a $500 charge for an online order.

The messages I’d received were automated from Chase and the purchase at Rodeway Inn had been declined. Thankfully, we didn’t have to dispute the other charge and our account was canceled.

Update: We received our new cards.

Poem for my Future Daughter

You’re smarter than guys. More intelligent than girls. Don’t stress about grades. Change the world.

You’re not too pretty to cry

Your mother cries

You’re the prettiest people I know

Tears make you human


Play football

Get rough

Roll in the mud

Get dirty


You were born here

They were born there

You’ll learn soon enough

Life isn’t fair


Embrace your body

Wear clothes you like

And clothes others don’t

Wear confidence


You’re smarter than guys

More intelligent than girls

Don’t stress about grades

Change the world


Success shouldn’t bring guilt

Never feel less

Hold your head high

You did your best


Anger is true

Sadness is too

Remember the light

That shines inside you


Size does matter

Not where you think

Grow your heart

Ignore your waist


When everything is gone

You’ll have your heart

Love is pure

Hatred keeps us apart


You’re a woman

Take pride

So many girls

Not enough guides

Which is Worse, Nonexistence or Simply Existing?

The death of a former colleague reminds me how inconsequential my life is.

It had been years since I thought about this former colleague. I was an intern and she wasn’t in the office every day, but we were friendly. I remember she had cancer and wrote a book about it. Last week, while browsing the blog of my former employer, I saw she passed away in January.

Her death affects me in no way, but that didn’t stop an unidentifiable twinge when I found out. Maybe it reminded me of how inconsequential my life is. Between Twitter and the news sites I follow, every day I see someone has died. I keep scrolling or read something else. Compare this to the devastation felt when a loved one dies. Then there’s the gray area my former colleague was in. I’d met her, I knew her, but her life had no substantial consequence on mine. Nor does her death.

That’s how it goes for most people we cross paths with. You see them on a regular basis and then you don’t, for whatever reason. And despite not thinking of them again, we believe in our hearts they’re still existing in some space.

There are people from my past I text several times a year. For example, the one person in the world I know who will find a certain meme hilarious. How would I feel if he died? Damn, that’s crazy. He hasn’t been married that long. Then I’d text Laura, You remember… Is that how he would remember me? Most likely, and that’s scary. I want to make an impact on everyone I meet, but if my life gets less than a minute of remembrance, how well did I do? (These thoughts are making me lightheaded).

We matter to someone. Hopefully. But to the person who stumbles upon news of my death while watching the news, I’m practically nonexistent. And to the people I once called friends (is that a stretch? Acquaintances?) for a short while, I simply existed. I’m not sure which is worse.


P.S. Another athlete came forward about dealing with mental illness. Kevin Love detailed what it was like having a panic attack during an NBA game.

Why You Should Join a Writing Group

How joining Scribophile made me a better writer and how joining a writing group can help you.

I joined Scribophile (an online writing group) two weeks ago. I checked several sites out but Scrib was the only one that looked fun to use. The others were formatted like 90s forums, all text and blandness with oddly formatted usernames.

You need to join one of these sites if you do any writing (Find me if you join Scrib). I’ve already interacted and chatted with some great people and writers. Editing the work of others makes me a better writer. When I see an error or notice a habit I’m like Oh, I do that too. And the feedback I’ve received makes me want to write more. Critiques breath new life into manuscripts I haven’t touched in months. I wish I’d joined sooner.

I see writers (some very successful) forming friendships on Twitter and wonder how they met. Usually groups like these. Bonding over a passion.