That thing about how cats think humans are big kittens is a myth, y’know.
It’s basically born of false assumptions; folks were trying to explain how a naturally solitary animal could form such complex social bonds with humans, and the explanation they settled on is “it’s a displaced parent/child bond”.
The trouble is, cats aren’t naturally solitary. We just assumed they were based on observations of European wildcats – but housecats aren’t descended from European wildcats. They’re descended from African wildcats, which are known to hunt in bonded pairs and family groupings, and that social tendency is even stronger in their domesticated relatives. The natural social unit of the housecat is a colony: a loose affiliation of cats centred around a shared territory held by alliance of dominant females, who raise all of the colony’s kittens communally.
It’s often remarked that dogs understand that humans are different, while cats just think humans are big, clumsy cats, and that’s totally true – but they regard us as adult colonymates, not as kittens, and all of their social behaviour toward us makes a lot more sense through that lens.
The like to cuddle because communal grooming is how cats bond with colonymates – it establishes a shared scent-identity for the colony and helps clean spots that they can’t easily reach on their own.
They bring us dead animals because cats transport surplus kills back to the colony’s shared territory for consumption by pregnant, nursing, or sick colonymates who can’t easily hunt on their own. Indeed, that’s why they kill so much more than they individually need – it’s not for fun, but to generate enough surplus kills to sustain the colony’s non-hunting members.
They’re okay with us messing with their kittens because communal parenting is the norm in a colony setting, and us being colonymates in their minds automatically makes us co-parents.
It’s even why many cats are so much more tolerant toward very small children, as long as those children are related to one of their regular humans: they can tell the difference between human adults and human “kittens”, and your kittens are their kittens.
Basically, you’re going to have a much easier time getting a handle on why your cat does why your cat does if you remember that the natural mode of social organisation for cats is not as isolated solitary hunters, but as a big communal catpile – and for that purpose, you count as a cat.
Dear sheet companies,
I hate making my bed and stopped attempting the full set of useless linens sometime in 2002.
PLEASE SELL SHEET SETS THAT ARE THE PILLOWCASES AND A FITTED SHEET.
the person who just had the depressing realisation that pillowcases + fitted sheet + top sheet is cheaper than buying them all individually
When I’m superduper organized I buy the same sheet set twice and make a comforter cover out of the two useless top sheets, but that’s superduper and thus rare.
Les Misérables etches Hugo’s view of the world so deeply in the mind that it is impossible to be the same person after reading it.
I know most people associate LUSH Cosmetics with white girls and bath bombs but products from this beautiful company have faded my scars and stretch marks, completely gotten rid of my acne, fixed my dry skin problems, thickened my eyelashes, laid my edges, made my hair grow like crazy… I can go on and on. I’ve actually never tried the bath bombs, but their skincare and haircare products work magic.
Fading Scars / Stretch Marks Organic Therapy Massage Bar
Extra Dry Skin King of Skin In-Shower Body Conditioner, Skin Drink Facial Moisturizer, Sultana of Soap Bar, Tender is the Night Massage Bar, Each’s a Peach Massage Bar
Acne Fresh Farmacy Solid Cleanser, Eau Roma Toning Water, Full of Grace Serum Bar
Thickening Lashes Eyes Right Mascara / Lash Milk
Edges R&B Hair Moisturizer (if you put this on your edges before wrapping your hair, they’ll be relaxer-straight when you wake up, lasts about 12 hours), Dirty Styling Cream (cream-based edge control with a matte finish, no more shiny or crunchy edges)
Hair Growth NEW! Shampoo Bar, Retread Hair Conditioner
I was asked to list the rest of the products I currently have in my possession, so here y’all go!
FACE / HAIR STUFF
Magical Moringa Facial Moisturizer Oh my lordy. Let me tell y’all about this stuff. It’s marketed as a moisturizer but I use it as a primer because when you put this on your face, it’s completely matte. Like completely. All day. And it will lock your makeup in place like no other. You can sweat in it, swim in it, whatever. Shit won’t budge. Ever.
Jason & the Argan Oil Shampoo Bar Amazing for volumizing. It made the three bundles in my head look more like five when I used this thing the first time, I kid you not. Also gives your hair a really natural shine. I only use it when I really need a volume boost, otherwise it’s just too much.
No Drought Dry Shampoo If you have a weave, you need this stuff. Period. A lot of times, the natural oils in our scalps (referring to my fellow black women here) are too heavy for Brazilian, Peruvian, etc hair, and so it’s easy for weave to get weighed down between washes. Shake this stuff in your hair, brush it out – bam, flow city.
Honey Trap Lip Balm My favorite lip balm, ever. Really improves the texture of your lips and seals in moisture. However, this is not for fixing chapped lips – use Ultrabalm for that first, and then this to prevent them from chapping again. Also, pro-tip, if you apply it before liquid lipstick, your lipstick won’t crease or dry out all day.
Strawberry Feels Forever Smells like fresh strawberries! Has a much thinner consistency than the other massage bars, so it can be used every day, like a solid lotion.
Soft Coeur Smells like chocolate and honey, and is ridiculously moisturizing. More heavy-duty than the other bars, so I like to only use this one on spots like my knees, heels, and elbows.
From Dusk til Dawn The shape of this one is amazing. It’s shaped like a cone, so it gives a deep massage when you’re using it. Definitely recommend if you have any sort of muscle pain.
The Rough with the Smooth This stuff smells soooo good. Like cotton candy. I use it before I shave because it really does an amazing job at removing any dead skin and it doesn’t leave a residue, so it won’t clog your razor. However, it’s a sugar scrub, so it melts super quickly.
Ocean Salt This is a heavy-duty scrub. Really amazing if you have dry, flaky skin, and the healing properties of the salt are really great if you have acne. It’ll dry it up and heal it super quick.
Cup o’ Coffee Face & Body Mask I’m on my fourth jar of this already. The coffee beans are ground up just enough to give a deep, yet gentle scrub and the caffeine in the bar really does wake up your skin and make it look brighter. Great for the morning.
Buffy It smells like a vacation, that’s really the only way to describe it. It’s an exfoliant bar and body butter mixed together, so you rub it all over while you’re still in the shower, and then rinse the sand off. After, rub the oils in and pat dry. No need for lotion after because it seals in the moisture from your shower.
SHOWER GELS / JELLIES
Rose Jam Shower Gel Smells like roses and has a really bubbly lather. More cleansing than moisturizing. I like to use it before a more moisturizing soap because it’s great for removing dirt and oil from the skin.
The Olive Branch Shower Gel A long-time favorite of mine. Great for dry skin, as it has a really creamy lather versus a bubbly one. Also, the smell is very calming and lingers for a long time.
Needles & Pines Shower Jelly It’s a solid shower gel (consistency of jello), and it smells like Christmas trees! I like to store it in the fridge and use it when it’s hot outside, super cleansing and refreshing.
Roses All the Way Personal favorite! Smells like roses & vanilla ice cream. Super moisturizing and so, so creamy. Definitely buy if you suffer from dry skin.
Yog Nog Very moisturizing and the scent lingers for a really long time. Smells like snickerdoodles and eggnog.
Bohemian Not at all creamy, as it’s an exfoliating soap. It’s great to use on dark spots like knees and armpits because the exfoliants soften the skin and the lemon juice evens out your skintone. Smells like lemons.
Karma Another favorite. It has a super thin consistency but is still very moisturizing, so it’s a good shaving soap because it won’t gunk up your razor. Smells like incense and patchouli.
Figs & Leaves Smells like dirt and grass, in a good way. Super cleansing. As in your skin will literally squeak after using it, so I recommend using an in-shower moisturizer like King of Skin after using it.
Atomic Toothy Tabs Solid toothpaste that you crush up in your mouth. It sounds weird but these things are phenomenal. They really leave your teeth squeaky clean, and are the sole reason my teeth are so white – I don’t use any whitening products. This particular kind smells like cloves and cinnamon.
Ultrabalm All Purpose Balm This stuff is amazing. It’s an all-over balm for rough spots. I use it in the winter time on my hands and lips, because they get dry. I also use it year round on my face where I get dry spots, as it doesn’t clog pores.
Silky Underwear Dusting Powder Another holy grail. If you could turn cocoa butter into a powder, this would be it. It’s not drying like baby powder, it’s more silky (it’s also talc-free). I use it between my legs to prevent chafing and under my boobs when it’s hot outside to prevent sweating.
30 Day Art Challenge: Draw all the things
My first challenge, Improvement Hell, was a way to inspire people to draw different things different ways, drawing outside their comfort zone, and most of all to draw every day. I had a few people ask for a follow up. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the sequel: Draw All The Things
Each day has three prompts. Some are specifics, others are vague, but all are geared to spark your imagination and inspiration. Take from them whatever you want. Design a character, an illustration, a collage. Singular or plural. Literal or symbolic.
Casual Mode: Pick and draw one prompt each day
Normal Mode: Combine and draw two prompts each day
Hard Mode: Combine and draw all three prompts each day
Tag your artwork #Draw All The Things for others to follow and be inspired!
- Wild animal, Thief, Winter
- Jewel, Water, Contrast
- Garden, Teeth, Bright
- Old book, Pangolin, Clutter
- Deep, Earth, Curse
- Greed, Glass, Temple
- Three, Rain, Shadow
- Wire, Bottle, Pale
- Sunshine, Track, Abandon
- Cliff, Tattoo, Journey
- Bone, Laughing, Free
- Corner, Scripture, Dusk
- Stairs, Amber, Guard
- Vast, Alien, Glow,
- Jazz, Pen, Urban
- Sand, Royal, Red
- Child, Fur, Cookie
- Tree, Crime, Lizard
- Tech, Tank, Silver
- Scales, Vibrant, Smile
- Naga, Knowing, Tribe
- Witch, Jacket, Pattern
- Secret, Melanism, Wings
- Rogue, Bat, Dysfunctional
- Passage, Fox, Chime
- Star, Bridge, Mask
- Observer, Forest, Unique
- Degrade, End, Iron
- Vivarium, Gradient, Mix
- Imagination, Pencil, Borderless
(alternately, this can be a writing challenge too, if that is your preference!)
5 Moral Dilemmas That Make Characters and Stories Even Better
Readers can’t resist turning pages when characters are facing tough choices. Use these 5 keys to weave moral dilemmas into your stories–and watch your fiction climb to new heights.
#1: Give Your Character Dueling Desires
Before our characters can face difficult moral decisions, we need to give them beliefs that matter: The assassin has his own moral code not to harm women or children, the missionary would rather die than renounce his faith, the father would sacrifice everything to pay the ransom to save his daughter.
A character without an attitude, without a spine, without convictions, is one who will be hard for readers to cheer for and easy for them to forget.
So, to create an intriguing character facing meaningful and difficult choices, give her two equally strong convictions that can be placed in opposition to each other.
For example: A woman wants (1) peace in her home and (2) openness between her and her husband. So, when she begins to suspect that he’s cheating on her, she’ll struggle with trying to decide whether or not to confront him about it. If she only wanted peace she could ignore the problem; if she only wanted openness she would bring it up regardless of the results. But her dueling desires won’t allow her such a simple solution.
That creates tension.
And tension drives a story forward.
So, find two things that your character is dedicated to and then make him choose between them. Look for ways to use his two desires to force him into doing something he doesn’t want to do.
For instance, a Mennonite pastor’s daughter is killed by a drunk driver. When the man is released on a technicality, does the minister forgive him (and what would that even look like?) or does he take justice into his own hands? In this case, his (1) pacifist beliefs are in conflict with his (2) desire for justice. What does he do?
Another example: Your protagonist believes (1) that cultures should be allowed to define their own subjective moralities, but also (2) that women should be treated with the same dignity and respect as men. She can’t stand the thought of women being oppressed by the cultures of certain countries, but she also feels it’s wrong to impose her values on someone else. When she is transplanted to one of those countries, then, what does she do?
Construct situations in which your character’s equally strong convictions are in opposition to each other, and you will create occasions for thorny moral choices.
#2: Put Your Character’s Convictions to the Test
We don’t usually think of it this way, but in a very real sense, to bribe someone is to pay him to go against his beliefs; to extort someone is to threaten him unless he goes against them.
- How much would you have to pay the vegan animal rights activist to eat a steak (bribery)? Or, how would you need to threaten her in order to coerce her into doing it (extortion)?
- What would it cost to get the loving, dedicated couple to agree never to see each other again (bribery)? Or, how would you need to threaten them to get them to do so (extortion)?
- What would you need to pay the pregnant teenage Catholic girl to convince her to have an abortion (bribery)? What threat could you use to get her to do it (extortion)?
Look for ways to bribe and extort your characters. Don’t be easy on them. As writers we sometimes care about our characters so much that we don’t want them to suffer. As a result we might shy away from putting them into difficult situations.
That’s the exact opposite of what needs to happen in order for our fiction to be compelling.
What’s the worst thing you can think of happening to your character, contextually, within this story? Now, challenge yourself—try to think of something else just
as bad, and force your character to decide between
Plumb the depths of your character’s convictions by asking, “How far will s/he go to … ?” and “What would it take for … ?”
(1) How far will Frank go to protect the one he loves?
(2) What would it take for him to stand by and watch the one he loves die when he has the power to save her?
(1) How far will Angie go to find freedom?
(2) What would it take for her to choose to be buried alive?
(1) How far will Detective Rodriguez go to pursue justice?
(2) What would it take for him to commit perjury and send an innocent person to death row?
Ask yourself: What does my character believe in? What priorities does she have? What prejudices does she need to overcome? Then, put her convictions to the ultimate test to make her truest desires and priorities come to the surface.
#3: Force Your Character into a Corner
Don’t give him an easy out. Don’t give him any wiggle room. Force him to make a choice, to act. He cannot abstain. Take him through the process of dilemma, choice, action and consequence:
(1) Something that matters must be at stake.
(2) There’s no easy solution, no easy way out.
(3) Your character must make a choice. He must act.
(4) That choice deepens the tension and propels the story forward.
(5) The character must live with the consequences of his decisions and actions.
If there’s an easy solution there’s no true moral dilemma. Don’t make one of the choices “the lesser of two evils”; after all, if one is lesser, it makes the decision easier.
For example, say you’ve taken the suggestion in the first key above and forced your character to choose between honoring equal obligations. He could be caught between loyalty to two parties, or perhaps be torn between his family obligations and his job responsibilities. Now, raise the stakes—his marriage is at risk and so is his job, but he can’t save them both. What does he do?
The more imminent you make the choice and the higher the stakes that decision carries, the sharper the dramatic tension and the greater your readers’ emotional engagement. To achieve this, ask “What if?” and the questions that naturally follow:
- What if she knows that being with the man she loves will cause him to lose his career? How much of her lover’s happiness would she be willing to sacrifice to be with him?
- What if an attorney finds herself defending someone she knows is guilty? What does she do? What if that person is her best friend?
- What if your character has to choose between killing himself or being forced to watch a friend die?
Again, make your character reevaluate his beliefs, question his assumptions and justify his choices. Ask yourself: How is he going to get out of this? What will he have to give up (something precious) or take upon himself (something painful) in the process?
Explore those slippery slopes. Delve into those gray areas. Avoid questions that elicit a yes or no answer, such as: “Is killing the innocent ever justified?” Instead, frame the question in a way that forces you to take things deeper: “When is killing the innocent justified?” Rather than, “Does the end justify the means?” ask, “When does the end justify the means?”
#4: Let the Dilemmas Grow From the Genre
Examine your genre and allow it to influence the choices your character must face. For instance, crime stories naturally lend themselves to exploring issues of justice and injustice: At what point do revenge and justice converge? What does that require of this character? When is preemptive justice really injustice?
Love, romance and relationship stories often deal with themes of faithfulness and betrayal: When is it better to hide the truth than to share it? How far can you shade the truth before it becomes a lie? When do you tell someone a secret that would hurt him? For example, your protagonist, a young bride-to-be, has a one-night stand. She feels terrible because she loves her fiancé, but should she tell him what happened and shatter him—and perhaps lose him—or keep the truth hidden?
Fantasy, myth and science fiction are good venues for exploring issues of consciousness, humanity and morality: How self-aware does something need to be (an animal, a computer, an unborn baby) before it should be afforded the same rights as fully developed humans? At what point does destroying an AI computer become murder? Do we really have free will or are our choices determined by our genetic makeup and environmental cues?
#5: Look the Third Way
You want your readers to be thinking, I have no idea how this is going to play out. And then, when they see where things go, you want them to be satisfied.
There’s a story in the Bible about a time religious leaders caught a woman committing adultery and brought her to Jesus. In those days, in that culture, adultery was an offense that was punishable by death. The men asked Jesus what they should do with this woman. Now, if Jesus had told them to simply let her go free he would have been contravening the law; if, however, he told them to put her to death, he would have undermined his message of “forgiveness and mercy.”
It seemed like a pretty good trap, until he said, “Whoever is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”
I call this finding the Third Way. It’s a solution that’s consistent with the character’s attitude, beliefs and priorities, while also being logical and surprising.
We want the solutions that our heroes come up with to be unexpected and inevitable.
Present yours with a seemingly impossible conundrum.
And then help him find the Third Way out.
I hope this helped! I’ve been really busy today, seeing how my mom had surgery and I’ve been trying to continue writing my novel today as well. I thought I’d squeeze in some more stuff for you guys!
If you have any questions or just want to talk, feel free to visit my ask box!
Tagged for future reference
In third grade I had this teacher who would give every student the same grade on each assignment. After the A at the top of the paper, she’d mark all the wrong answers with a red pen, and then would come by each student’s desk to talk to us about where we went wrong. Together we would fix each sentence or math problem until it was right.
At Parent night, one of the dad’s complained that his daughter worked hard to get her A, and that some of the other kids deserved to fail. The teacher allowed him to finish talking, and then responded in the same polite tone she always used in the classroom. “I’m not teaching your children how to pass test… I’m guiding them on how to learn.”
Months later our teacher posted everyone’s final grade on the board, and at first, no one was surprised to see we all had A’s. But after looking closer at our papers, and book reports, and our final assignments, we didn’t see any red ink on them.
I don’t think we should lie to children and tell them they got it all right if they didn’t. That doesn’t help anyone. But I also know that if you keep telling a child they are a failure; they messed up; or they did a bad job, after a while they’ll start agreeing.
Learning to Learn (via