Skip to main content

SURPRISE!

Everyone likes surprises, even people who say they hate surprise birthday parties, surprise filling desserts, and popping an unexpected candy flavor into their mouths. Consider the fun of a mixed-flavor bag of candies à la Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans in the Harry Potter series, one that includes intentionally gross, spicy, or sour little landmines. Consider roller coasters that swoop into dark tunnels and horror movies and thriller novels full of ridiculous plot twists. Science and the experience of every childhood tell us that human brains crave surprise--and need it in order to learn new things and to maintain emotional health.

If you are like me, you also enjoy a certain amount of predictability in your life. For example, my family and I just returned from a road trip during which I was the only one who consistently washed my hands, did not eat off the ground, and did not let any semi-feral animals lick the inside of my mouth, and I am the only one who developed a fever, chills, and muscle aches upon our return. I am not particularly enjoying this surprise.

But that sort of thing, too, is good for us. This experience reminded me that precautions aren't guarantees, that life isn't fair, and that Mama can lie on the couch for a couple of sick days without the world falling apart. Surprise!

When I was younger, of course I was more adventurous and enjoyed taking bigger risks like rough travel, camping in bear country, going on shady carnival rides, driving too fast, partying, whatever. I've gone full worried mommy since I conceived my daughter, and I've learned to appreciate a calm and safe lifestyle, but I still crave surprise. So these days, I get it mostly via thrilling novels, TV shows with plot twists, and artsy foreign films--especially creepy or emotionally jarring ones--that I've never heard of before watching them.

And I'm trying to create a whole string of deliciously horrible fictional surprises for safe-lifestyle, book-loving, vicarious-trauma-seeking readers like myself in Matka Danu Miklagarth, which is now 95K words long (and I'm estimating that the finished first draft will be hitting close to 150K) and which will be carefully tested for thrill quality upon my husband, friends, and whoever else wants to help me fine-tune this absurd story of pirates in monster costumes.

Unwelcome tricks usually do us good in the end. As the character Ginny says of her prankster brothers in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,
The thing about growing up with Fred and George is that you sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.

I hope to one day surprise myself along those lines by turning this insane freak of a historical thriller into something other people enjoy.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

A Bad Romance Starring Till Lindemann, Sophia Thomalla, Gavin Rossdale, Simone Thomalla, Sven Martinek, Andy LaPlegua, and Leila Lowfire

November 2018 Update: Sophia is settled in with Gavin a young soccer player (like mother like daughter) now, I guess, and Till is spending time with 36-year-old (hell yeah, thank you, sir) Ukrainian singer Svetlana Loboda. He is either her latest babydaddy or doing her the favor of bearding as such (not that he's great with beards, but we don't mind--we know how much he loves pregnant and lactating ladies) to help her keep some distance from her crazy ex who cuts his wrists over her. The juice continues...


To misquote Gaga, "I don't speak German, but I can look at foreign tabloids and guess what's going on if you like."


I guess it would be more professional and ladylike for me to be above this sordid celebrity gossip, but I'm not. I'm so not.


So let's see if I've got this straight. From what I gather...


Metalgod Till Lindemann, 54, and model Sophia Thomalla, 27 (upper left) recently exited a five-year, on-off, opennish relationship, which bega…

DEUTSCHLAND Video

I've only been waiting 10 years for this. NO BIG DEAL.

As someone who loves history, science, anthropology, art, and Rammstein...

As a descendant of German-Americans who served in both world wars...

As the wife of a Holocaust survivor's son...

This is epically satisfying.

Using an unfortunately hilarious turn of phrase amounting to a gallows pun, German authorities have "condemned" the video before its release (ironically and hypocritically doing all the work of promoting the video and single in the German mass media) because of a teaser depicting executions in a Nazi concentration camp. I find this unsurprising--the German government often censors and speaks out against Rammstein's work (thus increasing their concert ticket and music sales). But all to the good. It is an unfortunate reality that a full third of Americans today are misinformed or in denial about the Holocaust and that anti-Semitism and right-wing hate groups are on the rise in Germany and elsewhe…