Monday, September 15, 2014

Highland PEANUTS

Two weekends ago, I went down to the Los Angeles area for my grandmother's memorial service. But through sad times like this can come beautiful memories and family re-connections, and I think that would make Grandma Asher happy.

Every couple of years during trips to the L.A. area, I like to take time and revisit important locations from my childhood in Arcadia, which is where my family lived until I was almost 13 years old. A good chunk of those memories came from my elementary school, Highland Oaks.

Walking across the fields and past the classrooms twists my heart and warms my soul in so many fun, painful, and interesting ways. To compare how I viewed life then and now, and how I viewed myself then and now, is probably a healthy exercise for a writer. Or maybe not! Either way, I do it.

And even if I don't look the same as back then, the oak tree in the middle of the "older kid" playground does!

I drove by my old home, as well, which also looks much the same. In that bay window, I spent many sunny and rainy days reading in a comfy chair, facing the San Gabriel Mountains, and the round porthole-like window was at one end of my bedroom. My mom recently told me that when we lived there, a previous owner stopped by to walk through the place to have his own nostalgia trip. I'm trying to gain the guts to do that myself.

Last weekend, I went the other direction in California to Santa Rosa for my sister-in-law's engagement party. I knew I would also be making my second visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum. If you've seen me speak about my journey as a writer, or have known me for some time, you know Mr. Schulz was a huge influence on me creatively. One of my most shared blog posts begins with a Peanuts strip, and if I ever get a tattoo there will be a recognizable Peanuts element to it (something else I need to gain the guts to do).

On this second visit to the museum, I was even more excited than the first time (and I could feel my inner Highland Oaksian absolutely freaking out!). This time, I was going to meet Jean Schulz, the widow of Charles Schulz. How did that awesomeness come about? This summer, I ran into Mo Willems at the American Library Association conference. During our conversation with a few other authors, I apparently let it be known what a huge Blockhead (major Peanuts fan) I am. It turns out that he's a friend of Ms. Schulz, and said the next time I went to the museum, he'll see if he can arrange a meeting. Shortly after, I learned a trip to Santa Rosa was going to happen. So I contacted him through our mutual publisher, Penguin, and... I am with Ms. Schulz (or Jeannie, as I now call her!!!).

She was way above the sweetness I'd hoped for, and was so generous with her time. She shared personal thoughts about some of the strips currently on display, and showed me design elements of the museum that were her ideas. She even signed a copy of Happiness is a Warm Puppy, the first Peanuts book, to my son and me.

I also spent a few hours on my own in the museum. They have documentaries and cartoons you can watch, a recreation of the artist's studio (using the actual items and furniture he worked on and near), and memorabilia from his life.  The pull for many fans is seeing the actual strips he drew, which are much larger than what appear in newspapers. These strips rotate several times a year, so repeat visits are necessary. And it is a real treat to see his ink lines up close.

Just like Charlie Brown's dad in the strip, Mr. Schulz's dad owned a barbershop, which I've been fortunate enough to visit (actually, it's a bar now, but the bar recognizes its historical significance!). Apparently, just like me, Mr. Schulz liked to revisit places from his childhood. On a trip back to Minnesota in the 90s, he saw that his father's barber pole was still posted outside the building even though there was no longer a barbershop there. So he brought it back to California.

So maybe one day I'll move the oak tree from Highland Oaks and replant it in my backyard!

But I'm sure there's a slightly better chance I'll get a tattoo before that ever happens.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Debut Author Q&A: MARY WEBER

release date August 19, 2014

"I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don't want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you." 
In a world at war, a slave girl's lethal curse could become one kingdom's weapon of salvation. If the curse - and the girl - can be controlled.
As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning, she shouldn't even exist.
Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.
Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she's being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.
But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been waiting for? 
Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

JAY ASHER: I have to ask this because it’s been bugging me ever since I read your book. Your story and characters are great, and your writing is so beautiful without ever distracting from the story. Do you ever look at other authors and feel a little bit greedy?

MARY WEBER: *laughs* Aw, thanks for the compliment! And no, but there are about a HUNDRED authors I seriously ENVY. Including this one guy who wrote a series of books about an impetuous boy and his very dangerous tiger...

Maybe you’ve heard of him?

JAY: I love Watterson! I mean, he's no Schulz, but we'll get to that later.

So, how did you get into writing YA? Because I have a theory, if you’d like to hear it.

MARY: Does your theory have anything to do with zombie unicorns? Because if it does that’s amazing.

Also - true story: I was at my first writers’ conference four years ago sitting behind this row of authors, when one of them got jealous of me complimenting his friend’s beautiful hair and proceeded to demand I compliment his as well. Turns out this guy was apparently famous for a YA book called 15 Reasons Why or something. Anyhow, he and I became cool friends. Fast-forward a few years later and I was approached by a HarperCollins publisher with the prospect of writing a YA book. When I told my 15 Reasons Why friend, he grinned as if he’d suspected I’d eventually go this direction all along!

(But seriously – does your theory involve zombies?)

JAY: Zombies? No. But I do remember the awkwardness of you two ladies fawning over each other's hair while, simultaneously, about a dozen of mine were falling out. Anyway, I'm cool with it now!

When I met you, you were writing a paranormal adult novel. You invited me to speak at the monthly gathering of a local writing group, where every month they have a different speaker. I used to belong to that group and have since rejoined, and my talk was the least attended of any I’ve seen. My theory is that you don’t like speaking in front of large groups, so you saw the attendance for my talk and thought, “I need to write YA!”

MARY: Okay, ignore my answer to your previous question because, yes, this is exactly how it happened. Except I wasn’t thinking “I need to write YA.” I was thinking “I wonder if that guy got to have free coffee because he’s a guest speaker? Can I get free coffee? Do all guest speakers get free coffee?”

JAY: It's one of the perks.

MARY: By the way, how did YOU get into writing YA? Inquiring minds here…

JAY: I was at a writing conference, too, but trying to write middle-grade. I noticed that a lot of YA authors were losing their hair, just like me, so it made sense to join them. No, that's not true. But I really was writing middle-grade, with no thought of writing YA. One day, the premise of Thirteen Reasons Why just came out of thin hair.

I mean, thin air.

Anyway... Speaking of men and hair, you call your husband Wolverine. I know that’s because he does look like the superhero, which I think is so cute! But I’ve always wondered if at some point you actually just forgot his name (I can tell you if you need to know).

MARY: Okay, I totally just told him you said that. His response was, “What?! Jay said I’m CUTE??!!!”

Yes, yes, he is. (*shameless photo plug*)

And I’ll let you in on a secret. Wolverine is actually a cover name for his REAL secret identity, WONDER JACK FLASH. Who, ahem, MAY have been known to dress up in spandex and a cape all throughout high school. You know – showing up at opportune times to set students free. Such as during Assembly. Or graduation. And yes, it was totally upon the discovery of this that I promptly married him.

JAY: Okay, now that's cute!

Is there a certain element of storytelling that is the most fun for you?

MARY: Definitely creating the characters. And I’m not saying it’s because those characters are based on any specific people I know, but...if Adora’s dead squirrel rings as slightly familiar to anyone…

And now I’m curious – what’s YOUR favorite part of storytelling?

JAY: Brainstorming. Any element is fun to brainstorm. I could think about plot twists and foreshadowing for days and days. And then I realize...reality check! I have to write it.

Speaking of writing! Your initials, if you repeat them, remind me of the squiggle on Charlie Brown’s shirt: MWMWMWMW And as I hinted before, I love Charles Schulz and PEANUTS! So that makes me kind of jealous. What do my repeated initials remind you of? JAJAJAJA

MARY: Definitely the sound onions make when they’re frying in a pan. Why?

JAY: They do not! Take that back!!!

MARY: ...

JAY: Your family-of-origin built a ghosttown. Literally, they took abandoned buildings from all over and relocated them into a brand new deserted town. That’s awesome! But it’s also weird, right? (But a totally awesome kind of weird.) And now for my actual question, which I’m sure has nothing to do with what I just said. Do you have any idea at all where your extreme creativity comes from?

MARY: *laughs* That place is creepy and cool, right?! We totally do weddings out there. We do funerals too…which is kinda weird when I think about it.

Anyhooooo. My creativity comes from my family. As do any disturbing traits.

JAY: George Lucas claims Star Wars, which is science-fiction, was heavily influenced by a different genre: westerns. Your book is fantasy, but I could also feel an influence of the best parts of westerns. Is that accurate?

MARY: Wait, how did you guess? Okay, so I’ve never told anyone this, but here’s the thing - Storm Siren’s original cover totally had a shirtless Fabio on it carrying a pair of six-shooters. Sadly, due to copyright issues we had to change it. However, if you look real close you can see that my main girl Nym on the front is actually still Fabio – just turned around.

JAY: (Dang it! I totally scrolled back up to check.)

MARY: But since you mentioned it…has anyone ever commented on the similarities between The Future of Us and the movie Sharknado? Just wondering…

JAY: No, no one's ever said that before. Usually, they say it's similar to Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (which is a huge compliment). Another thing that tipped me off to a possible western influence is that STORM SIREN MARY WEBER is an anagram of MAYBE MIRROR WESTERNS.

MARY: It’s also an anagram of WINTERBERRY SMORES, MA. Which sounds like a western girl asking her mom for an awesome dessert, so win-win!!

JAY: Since this is your debut book, what has been the most exciting part of this journey so far (other than this interview)?

MARY: Well…after 87 rejections for that paranormal adult novel, I think the most exciting part has been each of the moments when I realized the “yeses” for this YA book were ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Along with that, my favorite bits have simply been celebrating this journey with my husband and kids and an amazing community of friends and other writers whom I could not have done this without. Thank you for being a part of that community, Jay!

JAY: And thank you for agreeing to this interview, Mary. If you want, I have connections with a local writing group that meets every month. It’d be great if you came to speak!

MARY: Okay, but do they serve free coffee?

JAY: Now that you're published, it's one of the perks.

MARY: And I’m serious, Jay - thank you. Especially for inspiring the world through your fabulous books and great humor, and for yours and JoanMarie’s kindness and amazing encouragement through the years. You guys are INCREDIBLE!!!!

by Mary Weber
is available…

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Today's post mashes two conferences together. One has been my annual home conference, attending every one since 2000, and the other is becoming my second-home conference, attending every one since...last year.

This year, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) held their annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. Remember the Alamo? It's in San Antonio. But you're supposed to say it like this:

Remember the Alamo!

I spoke at RWA's Day of YA, giving a speech called Back to School, where I described why I love school visits so much (even though I still get stagefright and am shy), and hopefully encouraged other authors to enjoy them just as much.

When you attend the Day of YA, you're given a pink flower to wear throughout the rest of the conference so YA authors can identify each other amongst the thousands of boring authors (I mean, authors who write for adults).

It was my first time meeting fellow YA author, Simone Elkeles, but I hope she becomes one of the authors I regularly run into. She's hilarious! (And smart and generous and a bunch of other good qualities, but if you make me laugh a lot, you're added to My List.)

An author I've grown fond of on Facebook and couldn't wait to meet in person is Wendy Corsi Staub. It's kind of awesome (in a really awesome way) when an author you admire is a fan of your work. Only after praising each other online post-conference did we learn that we've both worked with Kristen Pettit (she edited Thirteen Reasons Why). So we're basically fans and family!

I had lunch with author Jennifer Snow, who has several books in a genre that gets its own table at bookstores the last couple months of every year, and which I've devoured more than my fair share: Christmas romances. I was first introduced to Jennifer after reading an article she wrote (and later signed for me) called Writing Holiday Romances.

And yes, she realizes how fun it is that her last name is Snow.

As I do in most big cities, I took a ghost tour. This pic was taken right outside the Alamo (remember that?). Here, the guide is teaching us how to use divining rods, which he then passed out to all of us so we could use them on our walk. I won't tell you what my divining rods did, but the scene may wind up in a future book.

Like last year, the most inspiring time at RWA was during the awards ceremony. I sat at a table seating the most YA Golden Heart finalists, including the eventual winner, McCall Hoyle. Here's a pic of all the finalists in attendance taken prior to the ceremony (where they dressed even fancier!).

Vanessa BarneveldBarbara GerryMcCall Hoyle

I was lucky enough to get a pre-publication signed copy of Amy's debut novel (a New Adult book written as Amy Patrick), Channel 20 Something!

Less than a week later, I was in Los Angeles for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) conference. Each year, faculty members introduce themselves by name, and then give one word. My word this year: #selfie. And then I took a selfie, having no idea it would be retweeted over 1,800 times. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have offered a nostril shot!

Here's a video of me taking that shot.

Several months ago, author Stephen Chbosky asked if I'd like to co-lead a workshop with him. Stephen has become a friend over the past couple of years, and we both love each other's work, but I was nervous as we approached our event. What if we didn't blend well in front of an audience?

Well, as one writer tweeted:

One of many inspiring events at the SCBWI conference is the portfolio showcase. It's always a well attended event, giving us a chance to check out the illustrations of other attendees.

The theme for this year's afterhours party was Old Italy. So a month before the conference, off to the costume shop I went! And Ruta Sepetys was kind enough to pose with me.

Here's a family pic, of sorts. Romina Russell and I are bookending our mutual agent, Laura Rennert, and our mutual Penguin sales & marketing team, Shanta Newlin, Emily Romero, and Felicia Frazier.

The reason for the Old Italy theme was the celebration of Tomie dePaola's 80th birthday. Unfortunately, he couldn't make the conference in person. So he Skyped in, where he was just as funny and charming as he is in the flesh.

I was fortunate enough to have my conference align with a break in Joel Johnstone's acting schedule. The last time we met up was in New York City when Joel recorded the voice of Clay Jensen for the Thirteen Reasons Why audiobook. He did an amazing job with that role, and is a great guy with some exciting upcoming projects!

Monday night, there's always a faculty party where we stuff our faces, mingle, and check out photos taken throughout the conference. Scanning the pages of pics taken when each person introduced themselves and delivered their one word, I was (sadly) instantly recognizable.

That's what I get for taking a selfie!

That party was also my chance to thank Lin Oliver for another wonderful conference, and to chat with Judy Blume. At three-and-a-half years old, my son is too young to realize the remarkable coolness in Ms. Blume's first words to me: "How's Isaiah?"

With all the coolness of the RWA and SCBWI conferences, my most exciting time came during an L.A. breakfast when a friend and I had a business meeting. Want more details? Are ya sure? Then cross your fingers, people!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014


Yesterday, I returned from my first writing retreat. Hardly anyone knew I was attending because I wanted to have this experience without the inevitable added pressure of, "Did you feel creative? Did you write a lot?" I've learned that there's only one thing that severely stifles my author brain: expectations.

But inspiration began the moment I stepped off the plane in Jackson, Wyoming at sunset.

The next morning, I drove to the Idaho cabin where seven YA authors would be gettin' their write on!

A cabin with its own waterfall right outside.

A cabin with a view like this!

Here's our host, Wendy Toliver, being interviewed by an Idaho station that did a story on us. The reporter who interviewed us was a lot of fun and asked great questions.

That first evening, during dinner, an intense storm blew through. Heavy rain! Hail! Clouds that wrapped around us, eliminating our view! Lightning! Wind that threw patio furniture, shattering a glass tabletop! Flickering lights!

And then, a rainbow.

We wrote at tables...

...or on the patio (once the furniture was put back in its place)...

...or at a downstairs desk...

...or sitting in a chair incorrectly (but comfortably).

And here we all are, the first seven attendees of the Cabin 'n' the Words YA Writing Retreat.

Here is the news report I mentioned earlier. Of course, as usual, they got my stats wrong. No, I don't know where they got that number. Yes, it was a running joke during the rest of the retreat. And yes, that made it worth it!

So, did I feel creative? Did I write a lot?

To both, I can answer...yes.

But even better, I made some truly wonderful, sweet, and inspiring friends.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

ALA 2014 - Las Vegas

It's been a few days since I returned from the American Library Association's annual conference. Physically, I've recuperated. But the inspiration and emotional high I get from hanging out with librarians, the brilliant people at Penguin, and other authors is still raging!

I wasn't expecting to attend this year, but I was invited to co-host an event organized by the Class of 2k14, a group of debut middle-grade and YA authors. I was in the Class of 2k7 (the original!), so this was a huge honor. But I was also excited about sharing the stage with Josephine Angelini again. Two years ago we were on an extremely fun author panel in Ontario, California.

But this time we were in Vegas, baby!

The 2k14 event was a Mid-Grade vs. YA trivia smackdown. On each chair was a bag o' swag for participants to take home. In the photo below are the teams clustered together to come up with answers to our questions. Winning teams got additional swag bags!

And here I am with the 2k14 graduates!

Afterward, I headed to the Penguin booth for a booksigning of my own. Here are the beautiful people at the front of that line!

As I walked the convention floor to grab signed books for myself, I also grabbed a pic with these three amazing authors.

It was my first time meeting Adele, my first time having an actual conversation with Mo, and Jacqueline is one of my favorite people to run into at these things. But y'know, we're all authors. It's not a big thing to chat with such respected book creators. We see each other as colleagues. Really, it's no big deal.

Okay, that's a total lie. While talking to them, I'm hoping I come off as part of the crowd, but I still feel like someone's younger brother who got invited to the party just so he won't tattle to the parents.

Being Las Vegas, I had to gamble. So I put one dollar in a slot machine, lost it, and really didn't see what the fuss was. So instead of losing more money, I grabbed a cab (which cost much more than a buck) to take me down to the Gold & Silver Pawn...otherwise known as the home of Pawn Stars!

Then I grabbed another cab to take me to the Luxor hotel and casino. The last time I was there was 1995. That's when I took a tour through their King Tut exhibit, which was my first audiotour, and at the conclusion I decided to one day write a book with that audiotour structure (cassette tapes instead of chapters; a recorded voice as one narrator and the thoughts of someone listening as another). It's a very lucky location for me!

Hmm... I guess I should have bet another dollar there.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Debut Author Q&A: BETHANY NEAL

release date: June 10, 2014

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.

JAY ASHER: I’d like to begin our conversation as if we happened to bump into each other on the side of the road. So…

Hey! Watch where you’re… Oh, Bethany. How are you?

BETHANY NEAL: Jay! Great to see ya. Wow, I’m glad I picked today as my one day a week to leave the house!

JAY: Now, we’ve been friends for a while online, but really connected when I changed my profile picture to a Garbage Pail Kid. I think it was Jay Decay. And since you love GPKs, you changed yours to Beth Death. We thought it would be awesome if we started a trend! Unfortunately, no one was cool enough to play along. So if you created a new GPK card for Cassidy, the main character in your book, what would the card say and why does that fit her?

BETHANY: Unabashedly Cassidy. Her picture could have her posing with a mallet, bashing her own head in because she’s so sick of not being able to remember how she died. Brains could be flying everywhere. It would be awesome—I mean, gross. That would not be so super hilarious that I’d stick it on my locker door. 

JAY: I thought it was hilarious, and I’m sure intentional, that you can rearrange the letters in MY LAST KISS to SLIMY TASKS. With my books, the titles always end up different (and better) than what I first came up with. Was this always the title for your book?

BETHANY: Hm, yes, I always intended to title my first book so it was an anagram for SLIMY TASKS. That was very integral to my creative process. I’ve heard stories about authors having to submit long lists of alternate titles to their publishers, but I lucked out and got to keep my original title. My next book is tentatively titled FOLDED SAUCY. Fingers crossed I get to keep that one too!

JAY: If you were to design the perfect donut, what would be on and/or in it? And by the way, this donut magically has not calories. Also, if you’re on any sort of special diet, the effects of whatever you’re avoiding doesn’t happen with this donut.

BETHANY: I’d actually prefer my perfect donut to make me gigantic, dietarily speaking of course. This mythical donut would contain custard (inside) and chocolate frosting with salted caramel-covered blueberries on top. Oh, man, I’m having an intense Homer Simpson moment over this fictional donut. Mmmm, donuts.

JAY: Your initials are B & N, just like Barnes & Noble. Did that have an influence on you getting into writing? Like, if your initials were A & F, would you be designing clothes that were sold in stores that smelled funky?

BETHANY: You know, I never thought about this, but it makes total sense. My alias is Ariel Eugenides, and I used to do a lot of guest spots on that A & E show The Killing. Mostly dead body stand in stuff, but it was a solid gig.

JAY: Did anything surprise you while writing your book? For example, did the tone change, or a character surprise you?

BETHANY: In the first draft I had a different character as the Big Bad, but after going through my standard character development exercises with this person, I ended up liking them so darn much that I had to cut them some slack. Everything in the mystery kind of hinged on this person, so I didn’t expect that to happen. Nor did I appreciate the rewrites, but such is the job. Now they’re only, like, one third bad. The Medium Bad at most.

JAY: Kind of the opposite of the previous question, is there a part of your book that turned out exactly as you hoped it would from the beginning?

BETHANY: I always knew how Cassidy would die. I had a very vivid image in my head from day one what that would look like. I also took a long time perfecting the descriptions of the covered bridge where it happens. I have this desperate hope that one day I’ll be walking in the woods somewhere and happen upon an eerily identical bridge and flip my lid. That is literally a dream of mine. I’m so weird.

JAY: I read a study that said people who flip ahead to the end of the book enjoy the story more. While I could never bring myself to do that, I can also understand it because those people may let themselves enjoy the journey more. So I thought I’d give you an opportunity to spoil the ending of MY LAST KISS (even though books are supposed to be read from beginning to end!!!). If you’d like…

BETHANY: As a joke, one of Cassidy’s friends slipped radioactive protoplasma into her lip gloss the night she supposedly died, but she’s not actually dead…she’s Spider-Man!

JAY: You know what? I’m so glad we bumped into each other. I hope you enjoy your experiences as a published author!

BETHANY: I'm so glad too. It's always nice to see a friend at the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in jolly old England.

by Bethany Neal
is available...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Words Matter

Words have power. They affect how others see us and influence how we see others. When we speak with easy clich├ęs about serious issues (“Suicide is selfish. “), it’s a good indicator of how much we’d like to ignore an issue or believe it’s something it isn’t rather than consider its complicated causes or imperfect solutions.

That’s why these new “homeless meters” that popped up downtown disgust me. CHANGE FOR CHANGE / HELP THE HOMELESS / HANDOUTS DON’T HELP / FEED A METER, NOT AN ADDICTION. The first two lines sound so optimistic! And if that’s all they said, at least it would sound like we’re trying. Then you realize, wait, why are they placed in the most common spots homeless people ask for money? Thankfully, at least the city and business leaders are honest in interviews, saying part of what they’re hoping is that it’ll get transients out of downtown. And the money does go to causes that help the homeless. Of course, we already know how to give to those causes. So that’s where the meter designers decide to give an additional…slap.


Really? Ever? Because if I was homeless, I guarantee that a handout would help. A lot! So why do the meters say it won’t? Oh. Right. Homeless people are addicts. All of them. They are! Except that’s not true. You can admit that, right? Not every homeless person is an addict. But when we’re told HANDOUTS DON’T HELP / FEED A METER, NOT AN ADDICTION, that what’s being said. Great! Because now we can feed the meters and sweep homeless people out of my sight while also avoiding buying them drugs (and they are all on drugs). And that’s great because we all need more encouragement to be more selfish and judgmental.

But I get it. Some of them are addicts. Many of them? I don’t know. Maybe. But I can always walk on by without giving them money, which I usually do. (Well, I usually did. But then I was so disgusted by the inaccurate reasoning and untrue words of these meters, I now give more handouts with bigger bills.) How about, since there are so many places to buy food downtown, instead of meters, we post signs asking people to bring a homeless person a meal instead of giving money directly? HA! Just kidding! We already admitted that’s not the full agenda.

But at the very least, c’mon, don’t post one of these meters in direct view of the Catholic mission. I realize the sidewalk isn’t part of the church, but this makes it even tackier. Apparently even that guy who wears the big hat in Rome sneaks out of the Vatican from time to time to feed the homeless. Of course, I guess he wouldn’t have to do something that risky if they installed these meters where the homeless gather. Or, y’know, if he didn’t genuinely care without judgement.