Writers around the world are encouraged to capture the spirit of famed Dayton writer Erma Bombeck by submitting an online entry in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, sponsored by Washington-Centerville Public Library in conjunction with the University of Dayton. The contest runs through 8 a.m. (EST), Monday, Feb. 15.
The competition, held every two years, pays tribute to hometown writer Erma Bombeck, one of the greatest humorists of the 20th century and arguably the University of Dayton’s most famous graduate.
Entries should be 450 words or fewer. Essays submitted may not have been previously published (either print or online).
One Dayton, Ohio-area winner and one global winner will be awarded a $500 prize in each of two categories — humor and human interest — for a total of four prizes. These winners also will receive a free registration ($425 value) to the sold-out March 31-April 2 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton.
One entry per person will be accepted. All winning essays will be published on the library’s website, as well as in the Dayton Daily News and in the workshop’s printed program. Those receiving honorable mentions will receive certificates.
The entries will be blind judged by a panel of authors, syndicated columnists and experienced writers. Winners will be announced in mid-March with a celebration event set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, at the Centerville Library featuring Gina Barreca, author, humorist, syndicated columnist and professor of English literature and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. The awards ceremony is free and open to the public.
“Although it may have seemed effortless, Erma worked very hard as a writer,” said Debe Dockins, Erma Bombeck Writing Competition coordinator. “She practiced every day, and she just got better and better. She stuck to her tried and true formula: ‘Hook ‘em with the lead, hold ‘em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won’t forget!’ And that’s exactly the essence we ask entrants to the Erma Bombeck Writing competition to capture in their essays.”
In 2014, 853 writers from 48 states and 13 countries entered the contest, spilling out roughly 382,500 words. Nancy Cartwright — the voice of Bart Simpson — and a slate of accomplished writers from around the country and Canada judged the entries.
Previous contest winners are encouraged to apply. The contest is not open to children under 13, Washington-Centerville Public Library employees and board members, contest judges and their families, and Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop faculty and speakers for the current year.
There is really no good explanation as to how I ended up barreling down Interstate 285, smashed against a tow truck driver and deeply regretting my decision to leave home last Friday afternoon.
I blame my husband. I had mentioned to him that “Big Bertha,” our only occasionally trusty Suburban with 170 thousand miles, seemed to me to be barely hanging on.
“Perhaps you are a little paranoid,” he said dismissively.
“Perhaps I have good reason to be paranoid,” I snapped. “You do remember that our children are still scarred from the Bertha incident last fall that left us stranded on the side of the highway while I was driving them to school?”
He laughed, “You know it wasn’t the car breaking down that scarred them. It was your curlers, slippers and robe combined with an unfortunately strong wind from passing cars that they are still working through with a counselor.”
He had a point. After that, at the insistence of my children, a new policy that I must be wearing pants and a bra before leaving the house to drive them to school was implemented.
Still, I could point to the many other times that Bertha had let us down. Each time when we picked her up from the mechanic my husband would pat her hood and say “Now that we have fixed all the major things that could go wrong, Bertha is good as new.” That was as ridiculous as saying my 82-year-old great aunt who has had breast implants, liposuction, knee surgery, hip replacement and an angioplasty was now ready for the Boston Marathon or the cover of Vogue.
With my appeals falling on deaf, or at least very wax-filled, ears and having no other means of transportation, Bertha, Ashley and I headed down GA 400 to her cross country track meet on the other side of Atlanta. Things took a turn for the worst about 25 miles later. A young man in a shiny corvette convertible pulled up next to me on the freeway and motioned for me to roll down my window. I could tell he was visibly annoyed by having to hold his car steady next to mine as I manually rolled the handle, stretched out the cramp in my arm, caught my breath and rolled some more.
Finally he yelled out, “Hey, lady, there is black smoke coming out of the back of your car!” I nodded thanks, but in my head I was thinking, “Look smart guy. I just manually rolled down my window, the ceiling of my car resembles a circus tent and my bumper is held together with bumper stickers. These things alone should signify to you that you were not born when this car was made. Do you think it should have the same emissions as a Prius?”
About that time Ashley choked out “something smells like a paper mill in our car!”
“Great!! That’s new.”
I pulled off at the next exit and managed to coast into a tiny Georgia service station. Explaining my dilemma to the mechanic, I asked if he would mind taking a look.
“No problem,” he said. It wasn’t long before he returned with his brilliant analysis. “Yep! She’s got black smoke coming out her back side.”
“Is it drivable?” I asked.
“Well, here’s the thing,” he said. “White smoke? You can drive her. Gray smoke. You can drive her. But black smoke means it’s burning really hot and she may catch on fire while you are driving her.”
I must admit that for just a moment I pondered the words catch on fire. I pictured Bertha on the side of the road burning like the Hindenburg and calculated that if I lived, that should guarantee me a new car. However, realizing I had Ashley with me, I came to my senses.
“I can call you a tow truck and get a rental car to pick you up,” he offered. After 20 minutes a rental car driver named Bubba arrived in a car that wreaked of cigarette smoke and body odor. Gasping for breath, Ashley and I both rolled down our windows and hung our heads out like golden retrievers going for a ride.
Arriving, still dizzy from lack of oxogen, I fumbled in my purse searching for a tip. All I had was a 20. Well, I’m certainly not tipping $20 for a five-mile ride in a car that smelled like an armpit, I reasoned. Instead I quickly hopped out and headed inside, trying not to make eye contact with the driver, but I could feel his disapproving stare in my back.
Inside a perky agent greeted me with, “I will be with you in just a moment.” Fifty-one minutes later I was called up to the counter. “Obviously the word ‘moment’ has a very broad definition here,” I commented.
“Credit card and driver’s license?” she motioned. I wearily produced both.
“I could put you in that brand-new SUV.” She pointed out the window. “Perfect. I’ll take it,” I sighed.
“But I can only rent to licensed drivers, and your license expired seven days ago.”
I grabbed my license in disbelief. Yep, the thing had been good for 10 years but today it said expired. “I still know how to drive!” I said sarcastically. “That may be true, but according to this, you’re no longer able to,” she quipped just as sarcastically.
“Thats just great!” I snapped. I tried calling my husband, but being unable to reach him, I turned back to the agent.
“We are closing momentarily, but our driver could give you a ride back to your car,” she suggested. “Is that momentarily like in a minute or momentarily in rental car world 51 minutes from now?” I asked. Her face, no longer perky, said she was not amused.
I peered through the glass door into the parking lot and saw Bubba still glaring at me from behind the wheel. “Yeah, ok,” I said, defeated. Taking a deep breath, I tried to act nonchalant walking out and sliding into the back of his car again. This time I handed him the 20 and asked sweetly, “Could you take us back to our car please?”
He snatched the money out of my hand and laughed. At this point I was growing exhausted and irritated. “Couldn’t get a car?” he snickered. I looked at Ashley and raised my eyebrows as if to say buckle up, I’m about to lose it. I answered Bubba with the straightest face I could muster. “No, apparently that stretch I served back in San Quinton for an act of rage disqualified me. Who knew?”
When the color returned to Bubba’s face, he quickly handed me my 20 saying, “It’s on me,” and even more quickly returned us to our car, which was in the process of being towed.
“Do you need a ride?” the tow truck driver asked me. I thought of waiting for my husband or a friend to pick us up, but it was five o’clock, traffic was awful, and everything here in ‘Mayberry’ was closing, so I said, “Why not? Sure. What else could happen?”
So two Valium and two moments….I mean two hours later, Ashley and I arrived home. Obviously we never made it to the meet. All and all, it was an extremely memorable experience that we have spent the last week trying to forget. It gave us a new appreciation for the nuances of hitchhiking and a strong desire in the future to just take the bus.
— Kim Avery
Kim Avery is an author, photographer, wife and mother of four children ranging in age from 21 to 11. Her take on life is often hilarious. She describes the ordinary in a way we can all relate while adding a twist that you cannot help but laugh.
When a boy considers his dad, and compares him to the fathers of other boys, an element of emulation unavoidably creeps into his thinking. A song by The Smothers Brothers, who had the same father, expresses this sentiment nicely.
“My old man’s a sailor — what do you think about that!” the Brothers Smother sang, and then ran through a list of occupations ending in “refrigerator repairman” that would represent a good day’s work at the Department of Labor.
When the time came for me to engage in this sort of filial one-upsmanship, I was at a distinct disadvantage. “My dad’s a mailman!” one boy would say. “My dad owns a gas station!” another would crow. “My dad’s a telephone lineman!” a third would exclaim.
When my turn came, I would exhale, look at my shoes and then mumble “My dad’s in women’s clothes.” Not the sort of thing that gets you picked first when the guys choose up sides for football.
When I first became conscious of what my dad did for a living, I understood that he was somehow involved in the manufacture of women’s shoes. When I was in third grade he changed course and opened up a women’s clothing store, which he grandiosely described in advertisements as “Mid-Missouri’s Finest Women’s Specialty Shop.” As if there were a lot of competition.
The son of a farmer can ride on the back of a tractor and learn to milk cows at his father’s side. The son of a carpenter can play with a hammer until he’s ready to pound a nail into a 2 x 4 all by himself. What does the son of a ladies’ clothing retailer get to do when he goes to the store with his dad?
Well, you put together the gift boxes into which all the nice sweaters and blouses are placed when they’re sold. You help assemble complicated hat displays, if you lived in the twilight of the day when women still wore hats. And you clean the female torso mannequins that are used to display the wares of Olga and Bali, which are two foundation undergarment manufacturers, not Russian ladies who want to date you!
Given the number of plastic mammaries that I handled before I reached puberty, it is a wonder I didn’t end up working in the adult entertainment industry. But like someone who works at a candy factory, you can get sick of . . . uh . . . busts if you’re surrounded by them all day, no matter how much other men may crave them.
In economic terms, the principle that I follow as a result of my depraved boyhood has been best expressed by Frank Zappa, the brilliant rock composer whose works were too complicated to ever attract much of an audience. “Anything more than a mouthful,” he said at a concert I once attended, “is wasted.”
I’m somewhat proud of the fact that I’ve never purchased a copy of Playboy, the mammary-obsessed rag that was once the hallmark of sophistication among wild and crazy guys, but which now seems to be identified primarily with air fresheners hung on the rear view mirrors of cars driven by men who may or may not have green cards. I used to read the copies my friend’s dad bought, but that was for the Saul Bellow short stories — just like everybody else.
As I reach the age when the body begins to lose its battle with gravity, I am often amazed at the persistent youthfulness of some women I know, whose upper decks, shall we say, seem to have undergone major renovations. They look like something out of science fiction, not National Geographic. Isn’t there a happy medium?
So to paraphrase Emma Lazarus: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free beneath your sweater. Not some giant-sized monstrosity filled with saline solution.
Anything more would be wasted.
— Con Chapman
Con Chapman is a Boston-area writer whose works include The Year of the Gerbil, a history of the 1978 Yankees-Red Sox pennant race, 10 published plays and two novels, Making Partner and CannaCorn (Joshua Tree Publishing). His articles and humor have appeared in magazines and newspapers including The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor.
My name is Marlene and I am a blogger.
At first it all started innocently enough with a few blog posts on WordPress. Having always enjoyed writing, I figured I would just jot down a few thoughts in between loads of laundry and put them out there.
I learned how to set up my site and was up and running in no time at all. I shared those initial blogs on Facebook and smiled at the likes and encouraging comments I received. I admit that the positive feedback felt good, and I was deeply grateful to the friends who shared my blogs. I checked my stats and marveled at all the people in the different countries who read my posts. I said things like, “isn’t that lovely, someone from Australia just read my blog?” It was just nice to be writing again. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it.
But all too soon it became apparent that my little WordPress site wasn’t going to be enough. I needed more. I moved on to sending out my blogs to online publications. A dear friend, who I realize now was an enabler, had sent me the list to feed my addiction. When the first blog I sent out was accepted for publication I felt heady intoxication. The positive reinforcement became something I started to crave. I was used to snarky comments from my children, not this sudden validation that I still had a brain. It was a rush I couldn’t explain. I also discovered that the blogging community is one that is comprised of supportive and intelligent people. It was a community I wanted to be a part of.
Each day I searched the news for topics to write about. I lay awake at night thinking about my next blog topic — hoping for an idea that would go viral. Friends and family started to shy away from me; concerned that anything they might say in my presence might turn up in a blog post.
“Write about something other than us,” my middle son implored. Was there something other than my family I could write about? I considered my son’s request for a brief moment but then realized that I had spent two and a half decades devoting my life to my children and they owed me — it was my right to write about them and their antics.
Antics, which, I might add, had probably taken decades off my life. My existence had become so much about being a mom that when it came time to send a bio and headshot to the online publications I couldn’t even find a picture of myself that didn’t include my husband and kids. I finally found one where I was able to mostly crop them out.
In my quest to write the perfect blog the laundry started piling up, the breakfast dishes remained on the table and I stopped going to my spin class. Ok, maybe I hadn’t started taking a spin class, but I had definitely considered it. I knew I would have to get myself under control before I lost it all.
I decided that while I would continue to write, I would do it at a more moderate pace. I would allow my family a modicum of privacy and scale back on checking the views and clicks my posts received. I even bought a Peloton bike for the house so I can take spin classes in between writing my blogs.
This is a cautionary tale for anyone considering starting his or her own blog. Blogging can suck you in before you realize what is happening. Proceed with caution. But if you have a desire to write, do proceed, because it really can be fun and fulfilling.
— Marlene Kern Fischer
Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mom of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire and blogger. Her work has been featured in the online publication Better After 50.
Why has winter lasted six months this year? Being trapped inside with the kids while the snow is thigh high is not my idea of fun.
My husband confessed to wearing long underwear to work. He says his office is heated, but when he leaves his coffee unattended for a few minutes, it changes to brown slush.
My 6-year-old son Noah, the geography expert, has been asking questions about the temperature. “I thought negative numbers were only in Antarctica. Is that true, Mom?”
I couldn’t answer him because my teeth were chattering.
Like most kids with autism, my boys are schedule oriented. Late starts, early dismissals, and missing a day of school can be problematic. Nothing in our house full of toys keeps their attention. It’s tough to entertain them all day. I’m convinced it would be easier to organize NASA’s next launch.
During the last snow day we made cookies, spent four minutes with Play Doh, and then it was time for television. I had recorded their favorite educational shows. Two boys sat glued to the set while Isaac opened and shut the front door repeatedly. The utility company will love us this month.
Although Noah was mesmerized by Word World, it was time for his nebulizer treatment. I set up the machine, and he held the mask to his face. I looked at the clock. It was only 9:30 a.m., and my nerves were shot. When I turned on the nebulizer, Noah could no longer hear the TV over the roaring machine.
“Turn up the Valium,” he cried.
“I wish I could,” I laughed. I walked to the television and adjusted the volume.
Later the trio wanted to play in the snow. We burned 45 minutes bundling everyone in snow gear. Three-year-old Henry attempted to make a snow angel but was unsure how to move his arms. He growled and went inside after his mittens were full of snow.
Noah was disappointed that he couldn’t create an igloo where he could hide from me. He had expected to build a gigantic fort with a door and four windows that could double as a guest house. This was not possible in 15 minutes.
Isaac experienced pure joy sledding down our deck steps and nearly collided with the swing set. He zoomed down the steps again and again and again. I had visions of Isaac being knocked unconscious. I was sure if I had to call 911, I would be told the ambulances wouldn’t be running until the spring thaw.
The rest of my day crawled on.
When my husband returned from work, the kids ran to greet him. “Oh yes, we had a great day,” said Noah. I wondered why Noah’s definition of “great” didn’t match mine.
“Since I’m already wearing my long underwear,” my husband said, “I’m going outside to shovel the driveway.”
Then he noticed the bags under my eyes. “Honey, I think you need some Valium.”
— Tyann Sheldon Rouw
Tyann Sheldon Rouw lives with her husband and three sons in Iowa. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Parenting, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, The Mighty, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and various newspapers. She blogs regularly at tyannsheldonrouw.weebly.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Dear Writers of Open Letters,
A trend has emerged in recent months of writing open letters for publication as a means of presenting arguments, salient and otherwise, on matters of public policy, societal ills and economic theory.
I know, in this age of social media postings to which trolls respond with hate-spewing comments, angry subtweets and outraged text-on-photo memes, one longs for the opportunity to make one’s opinion known without the fear of reprisal, repercussion or disagreement. As discourse becomes less and less civil, it becomes increasingly tempting to find means of expressing oneself in a vacuum of sorts, avoiding the need for actual discourse of any sort.
By creating the false intimacy of an open letter to an individual (i.e., Donald Trump, Rahm Emanuel or Gallagher), one can address a troubling social or cultural issue without seeming to engage all those at whom one’s comments are aimed, building an effective preemptive defense against claims of generalization. Conversely, by addressing such a missive openly to a general group (Pharmaceutical advertisers, 9-11 Truthers, People Who Wear Camouflage to Funerals, for instance) a modicum of anonymity may seem to be afforded the specific person(s) toward whom one aims the ire. Either approach, though, serves only as bare cover for a tactic that we can all clearly see lies somewhere between the subtly repressive and the outright fascist.
From behind the veil of the open letter one may comfortably launch ad hominem attacks (I know some of my mouth-breathing detractors will assume that this is an attack that sounds just like another attack but has a different meaning; if you’re too stupid to use a dictionary, Google it.)
The one-sided nature of the open letter presents no opportunity for debate and thereby frees one of the need to obey the basic rules of debate. A writer of an open letter to aficionados of proper punctuation, for instance, might set up as a straw-man some militant user of the Oxford comma whose righteous insistence on clarity might then be mocked in absentia as pompous and hermeneutic despite his never having actually existed at all. Such a strategy might not hold up in a proper debate setting under examination and cross, but the ne’er-do-well who wrote this imagined open letter would serve the purpose of his or her opinion and face literally no consequences for the rhetorical crime. Can we as a people allow such grievous wrongs to stand? I think not.
This abandonment of the basic tenets of public debate sets a terrible precedent. Once we begin to allow straw men to go unchallenged, it will lead to the common acceptance of the casual tautology because that is what will come next and then, bam. We’re down the rabbit hole into the slippery slope argument and there’s no going back. No. Going. Back.
I ask you, therefore, to stop. All of you. The age of the open letter must come to an end and I urge you all to accept this and move on.
The comments section has been disabled, because frankly, I don’t need the hassle.
— Dylan Brody
Author and humorist Dylan Brody calls himself a “purveyor of fine words and phrases” and specializes in smart, humane storytelling. He has performed in venues all over the world, regularly opens for David Sedaris and has written for dozens of comedians, including Jay Leno. He wrote the satirical self-help book, The Modern Depression Guidebook, and the novel, Laughs Last. He is a thrice-published author of fiction for the young adult market with one of his books, A Tale of a Hero and the Song of Her Sword, finding a place in the curriculum at several public schools in the U.S. In 2005, Dylan won the Stanley Drama Award for playwriting.
Let me share the events that led to me, BOMBING the interview I had for my dream job. A very lucrative job that I happened to have turned down three years ago — because I didn’t want to relocate to D.C., where I now live. Go figure.
Anxious, excited and nervous for the big interview, I pack my gym bag so I could hit spin class and get ready at the gym. This was my brilliant plan to work off all the nerves and walk into the interview cool, calm and collected. As opposed to how I feel after attempting to get ready at home, with toddler Ava, who is far to0 curious about my body in the shower and morphs into a WWF wrestler when I attempt to apply eyeliner.
I meticulously pack my gym bag with a pencil skirt, a modest modern sheer blouse, an appropriately nude bra and undershirt, professional heels, nylons, etc.
The sitter arrived right on time to watch my toddler while my oldest is at school. I snag my bag from Ava, who of course has it open and the contents completely disheveled, and head off to the gym. I had planned everything down to the minute, 50 minutes of spin, 10-minute shower, 20 minutes for hair and makeup, check! Now, to get dressed. This is where my day dove face first down disaster hill!
Nylons: why does it look like I wore these in a barbed-wire hurdles event? Sigh, Ava had caught them up in the zipper while “helping me” rearrange the contents of the bag. “ Oh, well,” I think to myself. I can pull off no hose; Thank God, I shaved my legs. Skirt, heels, bra… Bra? Where the hell is my bra? You have to be kidding me. I’ll be late to the interview if I go home for a bra. Of course, I couldn’t just wear my sports bra that day. I had worn one of those normally “awesome” fitness tops with the bra sewn in. Today, I loath this clever innovation!
Well, after concluding my only option was poor posture with my shoulders rolled forward, I decided I would attempt to keep my blouse from making contact with my chest. I ended up at the interview looking like “Tits McGee” in a room where they forgot it was NOVEMBER. With the ac on full blast, no nylons and a peanut butter handprint on the rump of my skirt. That, I might add, I didn’t see until I got home. I was so flustered that “confident and competent” are the last things on the interview team’s mind. The critically arched brows and flared nostrils of one interviewer and complete lack of eye contact from the men on the panel confirmed that I would not be getting a call back.
On my drive home, knowing I had just BOMBED my interview and stifling back tears, I tried to gain perspective and tell myself that the day’s events just meant it wasn’t meant to be. The girls must still need me at home. Upon walking through the door, my little Ava begins screaming, “No, No, No,” and launched into a flailing whirlwind of tantrums and poop. With a deep breath, I reminded myself that this time at home with my children is a short-lived opportunity.
I may also have made a mental promise to my youngest that when she is 16, I will be walking her into school every day, in the exact outfit she sent me of in for my interview.
— Emily Woolf
Emily Woolf is a wife, mother, group fitness instructor and former consumer studies teacher who enjoys fitness and blogging. When she’s not chasing after her three spirited girls, teaching or helping clients learn how to work out, she manages a health, fitness and family life blog and a Facebook page called Full of Grit. She does not consider herself a writer — just someone with a knack for finding herself in humorous situations where you can choose to laugh or cry.
This morning I had the pleasure of working out next to my former self. She was young, fit, skin as smooth as porcelain, perky, young.
Oh, did I mention FIT!! You know which girl I’m talking about.
I found myself being a tiny bit catty and snarky in my head while she was doing her perfect leg lifts. That’s not so hard, I said to myself. I can do that.
OK, maybe not right now because my hip hurts from the too-much-sitting-on-my-a** syndrome, and I am a bit gassy from the taco soup I made last night. After having kids, I find that in addition to urine leaking out ALL the time, I also have lost control over my flatulence. I figured doing leg lifts while squeezing my a** was NOT a good idea.
As quickly as the snarky comments in my head appeared, they disappeared. I smiled. I remembered how far I have come. Not just physically, but mentally.
So I sucked up my pride, peeled my 41-year-old body off the floor and looked her way. As she was probably completing her 50th Jane Fonda-like leg lift, I looked at her and said “great form.” She smiled, said thank you, and returned the compliment. “You’re really fit for your age.” I laughed so hard I snorted and possibly farted. She had no idea why I was laughing.
I might be older, not as fit, not so perky or smooth, definitely not fast or limber anymore, but I’m good with that.
Later that night I found myself thinking about my unlikely workout partner from earlier in the day. Thinking about what that 19-year-old girl said about “being fit for someone my age.” Thinking about the way I laughed and actually took that as a great reflection on my life right now. Her comment got me thinking about just how far I have come and how I like the direction I am going.
One of the best parts about being “someone my age” — I find that I just don’t care anymore. Consider:
1. I love eating buttercream frosting from the bowl.
2. I love that my husband pointed out to me that the blender was still plugged in and I had my finger on the trigger. Hey, I never claimed to be the smartest bulb in the bunch.
3. I love that the guy at the Taco Time drive thru knows us.
4. I love that I don’t care anymore about how much screen time my kids get.
5. I love that it’s more important to me that my kids stomp on ant hills than do homework.
6. I love that I don’t buy everything organic anymore.
7. I love that after we got home from parent-teacher conferences, I threw away all of my daughter’s standardized test scores.
8. I love that my kids are getting to know the fun side of me.
9. I love that I didn’t wait too long to say “I don’t care anymore.”
10. I love that I am finally confident enough in myself and my family to not feel the need to compare our lives to someone else’s.
11. I love that there are perks to “being someone my age.”
So, this is life. I think I like it!
— Sara Lindberg
Sara Lindberg is a full-time school counselor with two kids, ages 5 and 7. Her background includes a B.S. in exercise science and a M.Ed. in counseling. She has never considered herself a writer, just a woman with a lot of random thoughts in her head and access to a computer.