O | The Alphabet Julen

Maura O'Connell

Amherst, Massachusetts. 1993. The best concert I've ever been at. It was a small room, intimate. There were maybe 100 of us there, and Maura was on the little stage singing and talking, and it was magic. She commits herself so fully to the music, throwing herself into it, connecting to everyone in the room, deploying charm and charisma and tremendous amounts of talent. She sang songs I knew by heart and songs that knocked me over; she spoke to us like we'd just stopped by for a visit. It was transcendent; it makes me sad we'll never get a live album from her. Her recordings are gorgeous and perfect in their own way; her live performances are differently marvelous.


I used to have a strange, twisted, poorly-constructed, self-mocking entry here, but it was regarded widely as being both unfunny and dumb. That's a bad combination. So now let me just say: I love tentacles of all kinds, but I think Octopus is my favorite.

Odd Duck

I am not.

Onion Rings

Whoever invented these should be canonized. Is there anything more comfort-foodesque than Onion Rings, except, perhaps, Onion Soup?


When I was small, I decided I hated all the color orange and all things that were orange. I proclaimed it widely. I refused to eat anything that was orange. This was convenient because I didn't like pumpkins or carrots (I've relaxed slightly on my dislike of pumpkins; there are Afghani recipes that make them quite edible) or the orange squashes. So with the logic of a 5 year old in summertime, I made sure everyone around me knew how much I hated orange things.

I forgot about oranges. And orange juice. (I justified cheese by passing on yellow cheddar for white cheddar.) I love oranges. And super-pulpy orange juice. So that declaration had a short shelf-life (but lives on in family lore). When I painted the master bathroom in my old house a deep rich orange, every single relative had to remind me how much I hated orange. I didn't mind - that color was FANTASTIC. At night, it was as if you were bathing in a blood orange; in the morning, it was bright and cheery and lovely.


Orchids are not disposable plants; it annoys me so much when people toss them after they're done blooming the first time. So many of them require just a minimal care - (i.e. soak them regularly and make sure they are well-potted and get an appropriate amount of light) and they'll bloom over and over again for you. My favorites are often the odd ones and the offbeat ones - the small twinkling bank, the thick stalks of flowers, the brusquely brown and textured.


When you work for a small start-up/post start-up company, you have (by necessity) to wear many hats. I used to refer to myself snarkily as MoraleGirl when I was organizing lunches, robot death matches, and fomenting office entertainment in the old building. I later promoted myself to Organizer-in-Chief (with a side of the Exit Fairy - even though I had no access to it, myself, I would tell people how to get on the alumni mailing list when they departed) as we put together a team of folks who would shepherd new releases into the light, fill in all the gaps, and get things done.


It's usually a freaking popularity contest married to a "Whoops!" and divided by a "I only read the ads in the trades" mentality. Occassionally, they get it right. More often, they don't settle just for wrong, they head straight for "Holy Heck, Batman!"

Outer Banks

Some summers, the water is perfect. You can wade out far, swimming the small passes between sandbars, and float or catch waves in an ocean warmed by three months of summer. We used to go when we were little and my father worked on the Duck Pier. We had a massive family gathering there one summer, and there's something entirely endearing about little kids just learning about waves lapping at the beach. Less endearing are those pretentious OBX stickers half the cars flooding out of North Carolina have...

Oxford Comma

I am pro-comma. I believe in it firmly. It isn't an leftover workaround (like the two spaces after a period) or a pretentious frippery. It still serves a purpose - to fully define each element in a list and reduce any potential confusion.

Words I particularly like: