I’ve long suspected that heavy use of passive voice indicates a passive person.

I’ve had so many times when I’ve pointed out passive voice to people who’ve asked me to look over something and had them respond, “It just sounds more natural that way.”

If one finds it difficult to conceive of taking action, of course passive voice will sound more natural.

Back in November, I set myself the goal of either finishing Stars Fall Out or writing 25 scenes. I did my 25 scenes, but my planned ending has taken many more words than I anticipated. Now, at the beginning of March, I think I’m at a point where I can say I have a month of work left. This time, I’m basing that on the rate at which I’ve been finishing scenes since November, and that I can much more accurately count how many I have left.

“Can’t you make another one?’

“Do you have any idea of the intricacies of creating that particular item?”

In fact, I did not. For all the reading I’d done, for all the notes I’d found scattered in his various places of work, I still had found nothing that explained how his vials worked.

What I had found instead was his attempt at a book of aphorisms—his answer to the widespread popularity he was certain his magic would enjoy. Everyone would look to him not only as the creator of a new magical discipline, but as a fount of wisdom in all areas. It combined abstractions about shadowmantic theory—long paragraphs as winding and impenetrable as a hedge maze—with advice on sleep, diet, and the raising of children. Rise with the sun. Meat only on Athuday. He’d even written rules of etiquette for how to treat oneiromancers once his own magic supplanted theirs: treat them with the bemused kindness one would show an elder, but the distant wariness one would show a strange dog.

“You’ve yet to teach me how the vials work,” I said at last.

Gluten-free expensive + Girl Scout cookie expensive = probably the most I’ve ever spent on cookies as an adult, even though I only got one box.

I am consoled by the fact that they have toffee bits, and won’t kill my digestion.

Here is a metaphor for my general level of competence at day-to-day life skills: a soggy pile of deflated wet towels.

If you’re thinking, “That makes no sense because towels don’t inflate or deflate, unless I’ve been using towels wrong this whole time,” my response is: “exactly.”

If you’re female and doing a traditionally masculine job, every time you prove your competence, you’re punching out of the box you’ve been put in.

If you’re female and doing a traditionally feminine job, every time you prove your competence, you’re proving how well you fit in the box.

Both situations come with different but complementary senses of unease. Hurt your knuckles punching out, or hurt your head trying to stand in too small a space.

If someone has one of those “Protected by such-and-such” security system signs on their lawn, but the sign uses Comic Sans, is that code for “Haha, we don’t even lock our doors?”