Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lookin' Turtlesexy

(What had you said a while back, Alex, about my hooking title phrases? Yeah. Convenient verbal plagiarism.)

Subtitle: NaNoFiMo Is For Mediocrities.*

No excuse, really, except that I wrote over 50 percent of my novel over Thanksgiving break last year, but this year I was loaded down with crap (I feel the need to add in this parenthetical statement that I don't mean this in the literal sense. But you knew that. Most words considered even remotely vulgar fall, quite interestingly, into one of three categories: a.) blasphemous, b.) fecal, or c.) sexual. Oh, taboos, you're funny in the way you don't actually mean anything.), so that fell by the wayside. I also don't have an ending, but whatever. The ongoing state of noveling is more exciting than the one month constraint to me. There's more time to be thoughtful, and there's no time constraint.

Still haven't seen Deathly Hallows, as if anyone who follows me on Twitter didn't already know that. But it's definitely worthwhile to go in a group of likeminded nerds, so what if the likeminded nerds are also all suckish at planning things?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go dig through the Once-Awesome-Cupboard-Under-The-Stairs-That-Is-Now-Filled-With-Crap-Nobody-Wants-To-Clean-Or-Look-At-But-Everyone-Deems-Necessary-To-Keep, to find pictures of excruciatingly specific events my Spanish teacher assumes everyone has. My family is not a very photo-taking-ish bunch, or at least they haven't been since the late 90s. It's my fault, I confess. Anyone know how to say, "I look homicidal because I was forced to wear a skirt" in Spanish?

* Thing I learned today: "Mediocrities" is the plural for people who are mediocre. I didn't know there was a noun to describe us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grocery Antics

Due to my employment at a natural foods grocery store for the past three months, I have a few new problems. I shall list first and explain second.

  1. Identity crisis
  2. Burgeoning obsessive compulsive disorder.
  3. Crazy muscles 
  4. Money
Okay so maybe the last two aren't problems, so to speak. But they are realities.

To address the first item, not everyone at work calls me Alex. My full name is Alexandra and I put this name on my resume and other formal documents which led to my nametag reading Alexandra. And that's fine. I don't have a problem with the name and there was a point in my life when I wanted to be called Alexandra, despite it being a mouthful of letters. Even though I introduce myself as Alex to everyone, there are a few people who call me Alexandra because that it what my nametag says. That's fine.

For a while though, my immediate manager (I have a few managers but this one is the grocery manager which is my department) has been calling my Alexandria. And that has been weird. 

You know when people call you by the wrong name or pronounce your name wrong and it feels weird to correct them and you don't want to make them feel like an idiot so you don't say anything and then every time they do it in the future, you let them because if it was awkward the first time, it gets extremely so to say anything and then two months pass and you're finally like, 'Okay, enough, this is ridiculous. I have to to something.' It got to the point where another person started calling me Alexandria too even though I had him on my side before. He was brainwashed. My name on the schedule is Alexandria. And so I finally told the first guy.

His reaction was weird. All I said was, "You can call me Alex if you want," and then he had this weird expression on his face that I cannot logically explain. Since then, he has still been calling my Alexandria. So I'm giving up.

My sisters and I are constantly joking about all of this. Pretty soon, I'm going to think my name is, in fact, Alexandria. I was very close to writing it on the yogurt I put in the staff fridge. Very close.

to be continued when I have the time (i.e. after NaNoWriMo--almost done!)

Friday, November 26, 2010


I’ve written two entire blog posts. They’ve both been reasonably well developed and reasonably well written. Neither of them is flat-out negative.

But they still seem too negative, given the season, given today, given everything. Lately, hasn’t it been so difficult just to be happy? Everything comes with strings attached.

Well, happiness shouldn’t be like that. Happiness is love in the air that everyone breathes in.

So, why am I happy?

I’m happy that I have a wonderful nuclear family and a pretty damn great extended family, even if by “extended family” I mean “the extended family that I know,” which mostly involves my grandparents and a few aunts and uncles.

I’m happy that my sister is home from college until Sunday and that she’ll be back home again in less than a month.

I’m happy that I have friends. I’m happy that I have friends that make me happy. I’m happy that I have friends who I may disagree with, theologically or politically or musically or whatever-ly, and yet I’m still friends with them and I don’t think any less of them. I’m happy that I know it’s possible so that I will still have those kinds of diverse relationships when I’m older. I’m happy that I’m realizing that people aren’t linear and that there are always new opportunities to become friends with people. I’m happy that there are always new friends to be made.

I’m happy that I’m making a conscious effort to be more positive.

I’m happy that I started my homework on a Friday night.

I’m happy that I went out earlier today.

I’m happy that I’m seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows again on Sunday.

I’m happy that I’ve decided to become the person I want to be. I’m happy that I might actually stick to that plan this time around.

I’m happy that I have food and water and a warm, cozy bed.

I’m happy that I’ve discovered that I love to help people. I’m happy that I’ve decided to actively pursue that passion in the future.

I’m happy that books still exist in print form. I’m happy that no matter how that may change in the future, the brilliance and poignancy and quality of great writers’ minds won’t deteriorate in the future.

I’m happy that I’m wearing fingerless gloves to keep my hands simultaneously toasty warm and free to move about.

I’m happy that I’m part of this blog and that I have two wonderful blogging buddies. I’m happy that this blog has become a part of my life, as cheesy as that may sound (no pressure).

I'm happy that many people, especially Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor, make music.

I’m happy that 30 Rock exists.

I’m happy that a lot of things exist, including but not limited to: Youtube, wizard rock, houses, music, education, vaccines, fainting goats, and cheesecake from the Chinese bakery semi-near my house.

I’m happy that even though I popped a tire on my family’s car today, nobody was hurt and the damage was easily fixed.

I’m happy that I get to go to school, flaws and all. I’m happy that I have an opportunity to learn, because even when the system is broken, it’s better than no system at all. I’m happy that literacy is being spread.

I’m happy that the Christmas season is either soon to arrive or already here, depending on your opinion and your feelings towards Christmas music before December.

I’m happy that even though my life is far from perfect, I have the ability and the means to work up up up.

I’m happy that even though the world sucks, our lives are still worth living.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hopefully Formed Thoughts On Deathly Hallows part 1

If you're expecting me to be spoiler free, you are sadly mistaken. I have opinions, you know. So yeah, this is pretty SPOILERIFIC. Proceed with caution.

To preface this, and it's not entirely unrelated--just mostly, it's been snowing on and off here for the last week. It started on the way to the Deathly Hallows midnight release at about 7:30. Then it seemed to go away. Then I went camping (yes, in a tent) and it snowed some more. That time it stayed and now it's snowing more. Yay?

Now, I know I live in Canada and we're supposed to live in igloos and ride polar bears to school. And I know I lived in Ontario until I was 8 and this weather is normal there but in Vancouver, BC... it's not. Normal. Its weird. We maybe get snow once or twice a winter and it usually turns to slush the next day, killing snowmen and making drivers everywhere breath a sigh of relief. Fortunately, it's supposed to rain tonight and maybe this situation will be resolved.

But seriously, these highs of -2°C (I did the math for you Americans, that's 28° F) and lows of -8 (17° F)? Not cool. I'm so cold and I hate going outside. Except maybe today when my mom tells me it's less freezing and the snow is coming down all prettily. Maybe I'll go outside today...

***In the time of these stars, I went outside, came back inside, went outside again and shoveled people's sidewalk. I like shovelling.***

I really liked DH part 1. I thought it was beautifully done and probably the most true to the book movie save for the first two. Regardless, I have to start with the PROBLEMS I had with it. I have narrowed down my discrepancies to just three major ones. Who is proud of me?

  1. I felt like in the movie, they really ignore Harry's faltering relationship with Dumbledore. I find that a huge theme in the book is him really losing trust in the one man that has always been a sense of certainty to him. He always believed in Dumbledore and thought he knew what he was doing. In J.K.'s book, you really see Harry struggling with this trust as he finds out that Dumbledore isn't the perfect man Harry thought he was. He's flawed and had a past that he never shared with Harry as well as a whole bunch of Voldemort-killing details that he didn't feel like letting Harry in on. That really hurts. In the second half of the book, he comes to terms with this and kind of accepts Dumbledore and decides to continue trusting, despite it all. I really enjoyed seeing Harry take a magnificent step forward in his emotional journey, so to speak. And they pretty much glossed over it in the film. I'm hoping they'll reopen it in part 2 but I'm currently learning to live with the disappointment.
  2. It seemed too easy. I thought they did a great job of showing how emotionally hard it was on all of the characters, with the fear and straining relationships and such, but physically, it was all brushed over. In the book, it takes them a month to plan their invasion of the Ministry. In the movie? A split second jump cut and here we are. They never touched on what they were eating when camping and how starving they all were. It seemed too easy. And I realize there are time constraints on this but I thought the point of having two parts of the book was so it didn't feel like every other second we were jumping to a new scene. There was such great pacing and I loved how they kept the story moving along every moment but sometimes it felt a bit rushed to me. Lastly for this, where was Voldemort? Voldy was supposed to be on his way to Godric's Hollow and was supposed to see them disappearing out the window. That is dramatic. Why did they cut it? He was also on his way to get Harry in the Malfoy Manor scene but whatever. I guess these things aren't that important but it makes it scarier and more immediate.
  3. There were some really interesting continuity issues. I know it's not as big a deal for us book nerds who can fill in the blanks with the knowledge we have from years of pouring over the thick volumes but if I was purely a movie watcher, I would be baffled at times. I'm talking about things like the shard of mirror never being explained, the invisibility cloak never being brought out, Phineas Nigellus's picture frame never being mentioned. I mean, come now, how are they going to explain how Snape knew they were in the forest of Dean? Like... what??!? Also, no taboo? How did the Death Eaters/Snatchers find them? Stuff like that simply bugged me. J.K. gave them such an amazing web of interlocked details and information to follow and I feel like in some areas they just decided to try and strike out on their own, to no avail. There's a lesson here for film makers everywhere. But I am not a filmmaker and I understand how naive it is to simply say "stick to the book," no matter how tempting.
With all of that said, I was minorly upset when Dudley did not get his moment to say his bit about how Harry wasn't a waste of space. I was hoping I'd see that but I guess I'll get over it being cut. I was also sad that Kreacher lost his story but I'm over it, too.

  1. Dobby. I don't really care about his graphics or any of that but I thought his lines were hilarious and touching and sweet. "Dobby, you mean you can apparate in and out of here?" "Of course, Harry Potter, sir. I'm an elf." (or something along those lines) I didn't cry the first time I saw it because I was wearing mascara and it wasn't waterproof. I did cry the second time around.
  2. The dancing scene. I can see why some people would have thought it was fluffy, annoying and unnecessary (or is that just my dad) but I thought it was adorable and incredibly important.
  3. The trio, especially Ron. I was really impressed with all of them.
  4. The Ministry scene. Even though the jump cut that eliminated all their efforts planning it, I thought it was incredibly well acted, as Vita said. I totally believed it.
  5. Hedwig. For a minute, I convinced myself they wouldn't kill her in the movie, but I was glad she didn't have to die in a cage.* 
  6. Harry seeing his parents graves. It's weird but I never really thought about how hard life is for Harry, being parentless. He's such a good sport and doesn't dwell on it that much so I never really have. And it was sad to watch.
I've been working on this way too long. I need to publish. *hovers mouse over orange button*

p.s. Does anyone find tacking on that 'part 1' awkward? It's so weird to me. I keep seeing these 'Deathly Hallows part 1 reaction' type things and thinking, 'There's going to be a second part to this 10 minute long reaction? What?'Anyway...

*As my sister so eloquently said, "Hedwig got what she deserved.   ... That sounded really terrible. I didn't mean it like that."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deathly Hallows Excitement

I intended to post this yesterday, honestly... but then I took a "short nap" at 3 pm and woke up twelve hours later, so that didn't happen.

WARNING: this is a review of Deathly Hallows, so if you haven't seen the movie, DO NOT READ THIS. SPOILERS. THANK YOU.

You know how there are some stories that nobody seems to care about? You tell one person, then two more people, and even though everyone responds with the same blasé "wow, that was fascinating..." snort, you feel compelled to keep relating that story over and over because somebody somewhere will appreciate you for it?

I embodied that personality yesterday at school. People would ask me what I thought of the movie. After the expected verbal explosion of praise and "I'm not going to spoil it for you but YOU HAVE TO SEE IT NAO"-ness, I'd say, "It was sooooooo good, but the two people I went with were sobbing through the whole thing and then this girl on the other side of me was either sick (she said she had a fever) or crying and I was just sitting in the middle not crying and surrounded by misery."

I think that was my way of coming to terms with the irrational sense of guilt I feel for not crying... at all... during Deathly Hallows. As I've said before, Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books of all time and I expected to start sobbing from the moment Hermione Obliviates her parents' memories (like my friend Faye, bless her). That didn't happen. I genuinely loved the movie; it's absolutely the best one so far (other than Sorcerer's Stone, which I adore primarily for sentimental reasons). Come to think of, though, I can't remember crying until the last few chapters of the book. It's been a few years since I first read it, of course, so maybe I broke down earlier than that. Sobbing while Harry uses the Resurrection Stone, that's what I remember. Love the book. Love the movie. Love them. Didn't cry. I know that doesn't make me a bad fan; it would have been nice, though. It sounds weird to say that you wish you had cried, but sometimes crying makes you feel better, you know? Ahh. Weird. Anyway...

Good things: (Basically the entire movie, so I shall list just a few of the highlights:)

- Bellatrix. Helena Bonhem Carter toned it down a little for Deathly Hallows -- AWESOME. She wasn't quite as WAHHHHHH I'M A CRAZAAY MOTHA EFFAH; it was more of a calm, collected crazy/evil with crazy explosions inserted at appropriate intervals , which was so good. I'm so happy with her!

- Hermione/Bellatrix torture scene. Emma Watson is most skilled at screaming.

- The trio's relationships with each other. I could rave about it for years, but everything was perfect -- they didn't seem like actors playing the trio, they felt like *the trio,* which has never really happened before.

- The trio in general. They've all gotten so much better at acting! Ron/Rupert Grint had a chance to actually have emotions other than vague befuddlement and he totally pulled it off.

- The dialogue. There were so many lines lifted directly from the books! And when new dialogue was added, it almost always seemed totally appropriate.

- Snape. He was in it only very briefly and those few seconds/minutes were breathtaking. I loved how even though he was still very stonefaced (as he should be) he managed to convey his conflicted emotions without ever cracking a smile or crying or whatever. Alan Rickman is going to kick so much ass in Part 2.

- The adult actors during the Ministry scenes. Their facial expressions and movements and everything were so perfect that, as my other friend commented, "I had to keep reminding myself that they were adult actors, not the trio in disguise."*


- Kreacher and RAB: they cut out the entire back story! I realize that the story would have done little to advance the film's plot and probably would have been lost on the general movie-going audiences, but SAD TIMES nonetheless.

- Dobby's appearance. This is a hugely superficial complaint, be warned: he didn't look real. Huge improvement over Chamber of Secrets, but he still looked, well, fake. I guess it's because I'm so used to seeing HUGE REALISTIC EXPLOSIONS that I forget that it's still hella hard to create CGI humans (or human-esque creatures). Nevertheless, his personality was perfect and I'm generally pleased with his character.

- Ron didn't try to escape from the jail at Malfoy Manor. Definitely not detrimental to the film, but the moments when he throws himself at the walls trying to get to Hermione (in the book) tears your own heart out and throws that at the walls, too. (It's worth noting that Hermione/Ron interactions elsewhere were excellent, though).

* I got the phrasing wrong, but she said something to that effect. Technically. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In which a young woman rants

*sounds of intense frustration fill the air around my mouth*
*fingers pound keys as if the letters are to blame*
*glares are sent in the general direction of American Republican senators*
Yeah, that's right, I'm looking at you guys. (not you guys, Vita and Rena, those guys. Just clarifying.)

I had something else planned for today's blog. I'm not sure what it was but if it was organized and formulated, it's gone now. It has been replaced and drowned out by the news my mother told me over breakfast that yesterday there were a whole bunch of idiots sitting in their fancy suits and voting, under the guise of representing what the American people want, about whether or not women should be paid fairly. And they ended up saying, "You know what guys? Let's not pay women the same amount of money that we pay men for doing THE SAME JOB. Let's put our foot down on equality and revert to the same unjust principles we had before. Let's put women back in the kitchen, where they belong, and pretend none of this 'fairness' ever happened. Sound cool?"

I'm not American. But I am mad. And not only at those Republicans who will vote how they're told and try to eliminate the equality that the rest of us are fighting for. I'm past being mad at them. No, I'm angry because when I checked my email this morning, I was not bombarded with news stories about this horrible event. I'm disappointed that there's no Twitter trends to reflect how plain wrong this is. I'm aghast that I'm not hearing about women rioting in the street all over America right now. Why aren't there more hits when I Google this incident?

Does no one care? Are we that ready to hand over those 23 cents for every dollar* we make? Are we that prepared to go back to ironing and keeping quiet and letting men speak for us?

Next thing you know, they're going to be telling women we can't vote anymore. Will we all raise our fists then?

I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop thinking about 58 people who have mothers and sisters and wives and daughters and who could actually vote against what is fair. I can't stop imagining how anyone could justify taking that fairness away. To prove they could? This is appalling.

And so I write out this blog, screaming these frustrated words into the internet because this can't be real. Do I really live in a world where a government actively takes rights away from women? Can this actually be happening? The scary truth is that it is real and it is happening.

On one hand, I'm in despair, hopeless for this failed attempt at human consciousness. What is one thing we humans have got right? Maybe we should be dissolving, making way for a worthwhile species to inhabit this planet.
On the other hand, I'm wondering what we're going to do about it. Maybe this will be the moment when we get to define ourselves. Something that pulls us together and snaps us out of our apathy. This could be our time.

As I said, I'm not an American. I am a woman, though, and I am affected by this. I'm also enraged and this blog is only a tiny step but it's the first of many. I'm urging every one of you who is reading this to get furious. Speak up, talk to your friends, family and acquaintances, call your politicians. We are allowed to be ANGRY.

This isn't fair and I decided a long time ago that I was going to stop taking it. We, and not just women but everyone, need to put our foot (feet?) down. And this is the sound of my own sock foot hitting the floor of my dining room. Metaphorically.

What does your foot sound like?

p.s. It's funny this happened the day before the midnight release of Harry Potter. I find it fitting, really. Honestly, if there's one theme (other than love) that rings through in the Harry Potter series, isn't it about equality? Isn't it that we're all worthy of rights, whether we're Muggles, Muggleborns, or the spawn of known Muggle/Muggleborn haters? Hasn't Jo said a thousand times that we need to promote, protect and fight for our fairness? There's something in that.

*That's an average of $10,000 dollars a year that each woman makes less than a man of the same profession.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wilderness Survival

I collect keychains. In truly masterful procrastinator form, I decided to sort through them before doing anything pertinent to schoolwork. (Because, you see, the cloth zipper-pull-thing from bag in which I haul textbooks--VERY important, school-wise--has fallen off, and if I replace it NOW with something, in the long run I'll save myself time trying to grab at the leftover metal ring. This makes total sense. And I'm avoiding writing a narrative for English.*)

Most of these can be categorized into one of the following:

-- Cartoon characters (from when I was about eight years old, and looking for an excuse to hoard things. Pop culture + time = Important pieces of history)

-- Free promotional things, with the names of banks/car dealerships and the like.

-- Miscellaneous SHINY TRINKETS.

-- Tiny versions of useful objects:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I could use them. And about 22,000 more.
(If the picture is of crappy, vampiric quality, they are [L-R] (this feels so professionally photographic now): a thermometer, flashlight, comb, watch, compass/thermometer/whistle, and a bottle opener.)

So yeah. If I'm ever stranded somewhere with nothing but my stash of knickknacks on my person, I am set for life.

On an unrelated note, I've started listening to Christmas music. The cheer is simply inescapable.

* I'm already writing a narrative. Screw your predetermined educational topics, curriculum.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Look Ma, I is growin'!

Speak Now
"'Cause twirling is my thing."
I don't know what your feelings are on Taylor Swift. I think I may have talked about her in at least one of my blogs on here in the last last year and a half (!). Anyway she's released a new album recently and I have kind of been obsessively listening to it for the past three days. I think it's really good and I love how I feel like I've seen Taylor Swift grow over the past couple years. She's like my far off friend who I have a small amount of contact with and I love her because she's a hopeless romantic who is always falling in and out of love. And she's sweet but I hate how much she can pine over guys and I feel like I know her but I don't really.

It's like I get to watch her change and evolve from afar without actually knowing what's going on in her life.

When I was at a friend's this weekend and we were sitting around her kitchen table and singing along to Taylor Swift's songs, some new and some old, she said to me "I thought you hated this song."
I seriously didn't know what to say. Fancy though. I replied after a second that I sing along to all of them but it unsettled me. I didn't know if it was an accusation or just a confused outburst or what.

I thought about it. For the next ten minutes, I considered myself hating the song*, what that meant and why I gave such a strong impression that I disliked it that much. But the actual thing I realized was not about the song but just about the fact that in the past year since my outburst**, I've changed a lot. What previously might have been hate has turned into casual indifference and a lingering sadness that some of us feel helpless to seize the reality we want. And while twelve months ago, her comment might have really bothered me with its judgmental tone and implications, today I can calmly leave those hurt feelings at the door and move on.

The other thing about her album is that, on her website, she posts a small bit of back story on each song. It's not extremely specific, she doesn't say which song is about Taylor Lautner (though she didn't really have to), but it clears some things up. I'm torn about the idea of this because as addicting as it is to listen to the song while reading the lyrics and then get her explanation afterwards, it takes the song away from me, the listener. Because if John Green is right and books belong to their readers, don't songs belong to their listeners? Shouldn't a piece of music be about whatever you feel when you listen to it? When the musician actually gives you a play by play of what emotions are expressed in their music, I feel like it not only takes the listener out of the music but kind of dumbs us down, like we're not intelligent enough to figure out what the song means on our own.

But that's just me, the girl who, about fourteen months ago, seemed to hate a couple of Taylor Swifts songs.
I'm mostly undecided now. About a lot of things. But Taylor and I are growing together. Her songs and my blogs are a pretty good record, I think.

*which I believe was Teardrops on My Guitar and, if you're interested in my opinion, I simply think it's sad that a girl would spend so much time and energy wishing that a boy would see her in a romantic light. It's just so sad and I can't help feeling like she's indulging the feeling by spending more time to write songs and sing about it. But I'm unforgiving and I guess if she needs to let those feelings out publicly, she can feel free.
**So there was a rant in which I complained that she is pathetic and slightly cowardly and she should move on or say something to this guy. I suppose this could have left some people to believe I hated the song. What I really hated though is what the songs stands for which [in my humble opinion] is standing by and waiting for things to happen to you rather than actively being the leading lady of your own life. I hate the idea that girls have to let things happen to them, especially romantically, rather than take control of their situations and act. And maybe that's why I get so passionate about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Is it sad or fulfilling that it's 10:37pm and I'm exhausted?
Today was a day of firsts for me. Well, a lot of days are but this one particularly. I'm into lists lately in case you haven't noticed.

    Scary Tornado of Fury Maker

  • It was the first time I had to entertain sixty 5-7 year olds for an hour with nothing but hula hoops and a repertoire of campfire songs that NO ONE WANTED TO SING. Still a bit angry about that.
  • It was the first day of my NaNoWriMo experience in which I did not reach that day's projected word count.* I should have had 18,337 words today and I have 16,829. Weirdest part is I mostly don't care.
  • It was the first day of being older than 16 and a half. Yeah, that's right, November 10th is my half birthday and I celebrated by eating a half a bagel.**
  • It was the first day that I had to push a car. Yes, I'm serious. Picture two teenage girls in a dark, serial killer movie set, parking lot with cloth bags full of groceries that they are taking to a cooking competition and then they get in the car and it won't start. So they don't know what to do but notice that the car has been rolling due to the emergency brake not being on. They get out and must push the car back into the parking spot that it is not in anymore, only they're laughing so hard about the ridiculous situation and orange lighting that they don't get much progress. Then the car miraculously starts on the next try and they drive away smiling. Yes, my friend has a car. That's what you get when you hang out with older people and their parents give them cars.***
  • I used on one of those vertical hand mixer things. Apparently, they're not good for whipping mousse, hence the "Chocolate a la Alex" (i.e. melted chocolate in lukewarm whipping cream). 
  • My feet smell. I guess that's not a first but it's definitely valid.
I'm going to bed now. It's been an interesting day of parades and poppies and cooking experiments gone wrong. And my feet don't just smell, they also hurt. Standing gets tough after a while.

VITA, You're welcome for the blog. It took me way to long to write so I'm glad you got some enjoyment. I may have come up with some new theories in the meantime that negate my epiphanies but that's a blog for another day. Also, good luck swimming the tide, or whatever that phrase is. I'm not a fan of the ocean, either. Unless it's the Caribbean. Though then there's sharks.

RENA, I LIKE YOUR EXCERPT. Not sure what's up with the ALL CAPS. But, um, yeah, you have some good banter going on there and it's very frank and fun to read. I lol'ed.

*By this, I don't mean that it was the first day of NaNoWriMoing that I didn't write 1,667 words--there've been plenty of those. I mean it's the first day that I wasn't ahead of the total word count and that is because I wrote exactly 40 words today.
**And then the other half of the bagel.
***Unfortunately, driving laws in BC decree that she may only drive one person outside of her family unless there is a fully licensed driver over 25 in the vehicle. So, she can drive to my house and pick me up but if my older sister, Rachel, is coming, Rachel has to drive because I am her family and she can drive me plus one (the one being my friend with the car). Crazy laws.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Treat

Novel excerpt time! I am being simultaneously brave and lazy in doing this, because I have little more to say than an uninteresting, disjunct series of thoughts about things no one other than me cares about (e.g: There's a beetle crawling around in my lampshade, buzzing and near-death. It's annoying.), but also because I think this is the one part of my novel that is good (not the very beginning, but the start of the things that actually matter, i.e introduction of the male main character.) I know it shouldn't be good without my having edited it, but that's why I only have 2,444 words total, I edit as I write. Must stop this practice. Without further ado, 776 fictitious words I have written in the past 4 or so days:

A blurry, haloed-looking figure comes toward me, tall and lanky, the only other person here my age, most likely. At first I think it might be Jane, my only other close friend, come to drag me to the movie theater or to see some oddly shaped leaf on the other side of the park. But it’s a boy. His skin is pale but lightly pockmarked with either acne or nicks from shaving, or both. His wide, feminine lips are spread into a smile, and he strides over as if I am just the person he wants to see. His hair is dark and ruffled, like it’s been slept on. His eyes, too, look sleepy and heavy lidded, and are a candy-like shade of brown. Suddenly I want to rip his irises out and covet them like a rare Halloween prize. My use of flowery adjectives is enough to make me want to kick myself, but he captivates my thought processes so. I can’t help but wonder if he is thinking of comparatively sappy ways to describe me. I mentally scan myself: short, pale, wire-rimmed glasses in front of swampy-colored eyes, waist-length hair the dark reddish-brown of an old scab (a burden in August, but it’s all I can do to loosen the curls that made me my mother’s little Annie in childhood, only fully Rhiannon in times of serious trouble). I am staring at him so intently that I don’t realize he has stopped in front of me and is staring back. At a rather downward angle.
“Can I help you?”, I say sarcastically.
“No. I came over here because you looked sad. And you have nice boobs.”, he responds, now looking me in the eyes. If I had fully comprehended this statement I would have blushed, but I am unmoved.
“Honesty is the best policy, right?” I laugh weakly, continuing my attempt at humor, “I fully expect you to now humbly admit your burning desire to steal my virginity.” He sits on an empty swing between me and two young girls. “In front of the children.”, I add.
“Exactly, m’lady. Though I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance for the merest of minutes, obtaining your body for sex--whether you be willing or conscious or neither--is now my ultimate goal in life. I must have you, you saucy tease.”, he soliloquizes loquaciously with a light English inflection. I am unable to decide whether to laugh or be flattered or slap him or take his face in my hands and caress it the way one would handle an abused eagle. I want to touch it.
I search his face for signs of sexual advance, but I find only mischief, not malice. My face cracks as I try to stifle a snort, but I continue the banter with exaggerated English dignity, “Ooh, I am overcome by your passion. But, dear sir, we mustn't! The townsfolk would think me a rather unsavory tart.” He laughs and takes off swinging. I won the unspoken competition of not laughing whilst sounding ridiculous (was it even a competition to him? Is he so naturally deadpan? Being deadpan is hard, but I still won. Small victories. . .), and follow his lead in a fit of giggles. I’m not a giggly person, but I doubt he’ll call me out on it. If he does, I can blame the heat. The preparation feels good, considering this is the farthest I have ever been romantically. It’s like a condom for thoughts: always have some way to back out. For a moment I am almost delirious with happiness, my head tilts back to see the sky whirling back and forth in my line of vision. The swing was poorly timed; I go back as he goes forward.
“Did you really just make a tart pun?”, he shouts in an unaccented voice.
“Yeah.”, I call back, “What of it, you--you, you BOOB STARER you?!” I’m near hysterics and stuttering. I should really get to know his name. Had he said I looked sad earlier? Wistful, maybe, but not sad. The fact that he cares scares me, even more than the possibility of sexual harassment. This might be what love feels like--the creepy type of love with an unknowable possibility of requital. On the one hand I so desperately crave romantic love, because it is love that happens by choice, not a relative love that happens by obligation. It’s like saying to another person, “I love you for who you are, not for your genetics.”, which is a powerful implication, and an implication I feel I will never deserve.

**I use way too many hyphenated words.**

Monday, November 8, 2010

even after a hiatus, i manage to complain about homework

Whoa. It's only been fifty bajillion years, jeeze.

I haven't been feeling motivated lately. My school workload comes in waves, right, and with everything else that's been going on, I'm just working to swim with the tide, or whatever you're supposed to do in that sort of situation.

(Why yes, I am the type of person who is not-so-irrationally convinced that wading deeper than standing level in the ocean = certain death. Thanks for asking.)

Like, I get so adamant about needing JUST ONE DAY OFF but then I get a day off and all I want to do is sleep and shit. It's unfortunate. Plus, I'm frustrated at myself about a whole lot of things that I would love to share but cannot given that the internet is not, as it were, a private location. And then there's The Laramie Project -- which is wonderful in the sense that it is extremely well-performed and a damn good piece of theater but is terrible in the sense that it snips, snips, snips away at your heartstrings before straight up punching you in the lungs -- consuming half my life and I'm not even acting in it.

Hello, when did this turn into my own personal diary? Focus. Focus.

ALEX, thank you for that lovely well-thought-out post about NaNoWriMo. Thumbs up on the achievements thus far and I salute you for the rest of the journey, soldier.

RENA, also thumbs up on the NaNoWriMo achievements thus far and I salute you as well. Also: agree about the bang situation. Why does that section of one's hair always grow infinitely more slowly than the rest of one's hair?

As for myself, well, if I go into that now I'm just going to complain more -- and I very much would like to stop complaining* -- so let's just say that I'm dubious about my ability to, yet determined to, finish by the end of the month.** I'll update you on Friday.

I must go and memorize Europe now (just Europe... all of it) and then perhaps host a Unit Circle after-party, starring myself and Trigonometry.

I LOVE Europe circa 1715

(Man, you can't see it in that picture, but the middle of Europe gets CRAYCRAY. It's gotten cramped to the point where I can only read what I've written because I know what it's supposed to be. The slightly waxy colored pencils don't help with the pen-writing, either (I'm lookin' at you, Crayola). And I still have to add seven things to it tomorrow because they're not on my atlas -- why are you such a failure of a map, H-26 of the Historical Atlas of the World? --and, yeah, memorize it. Fun times are being had at this household.)

* A life-long quest, it would seem, but I'm actually determined to not complain at all tomorrow
** Let's ignore the horrendous grammatical structure of that sentence and move on

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 1: Success?

I know, I know, I did a NaNo post on Thursday and I need to find something else to talk about but no, no I won't. Because a) It's still November and I've had some pretty big epiphanies this week that I haven't shared yet and b) I have tips which you may or may not need/find useful.
Therefore, this comes to you in two parts.

Part 1 - Epiphanies
Within this part are two parts. Cue bullet points:

  • Epiphany #1: Just write. 
They tell you this when you read the NaNo intro page and in every peptalk. You could recite it all back, Quantity, not quality. But you can read it as much as you want. Until you accept that you are not going to get 100% on the first try, you will be disappointed. And as much as I would love for you to come away from this paragraph and say, "Wow, Alex really convinced me. I have to write stuff like 'He said, she said, I scratched my head, they raised their eyebrows' and use it as practice," I know you won't. It's a personal thing and I cannot, try as I might, shove it into your brain. 

I won't hide that I had a really hard time re-accepting it this year. I'd written my first novel and been trying to edit it for the past year.* I knew the brutal truth: at the end of nanowrimo, you have a bloody, somewhat horrifying (but beautiful and fulfilling) thing that, after extensive editing, might someday resemble a novel. There are really, really good parts. There are also really, really bad parts. 
For 2010, I wanted to write something better. I wanted to be artistic and thoughtful, like John Green. I wanted my words to paint beautiful images and feelings, like Cassie Clare. I wanted to be "perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted," like Suzanne Collins. Hence the psyche out. I expected way too much of myself.
It was only after I gave myself back that permission to write three pages of back story and an extended paragraph to describe each character that I started to enjoy it again And I know that that back story is chunky and poorly written and won't make it into the final draft but I wrote it and I know three pages more about my character now then I did before and that, my friends, is not a waste of time.

Only you can give yourself permission to use this month as extended practice. Your practice doesn't have to be good at all--think back to learning to write a capital 'G' in cursive**. Don't call it a first draft, even. Call it a zero draft or a really long outline. Just know that if you don't write it, you won't write it. So think about granting that permission. It's worth it (and you'll have to trust me on that).
  • Epiphany #2: Do what works [for you] (this one'll be shorter, I promise)
I started off on November 1st with past tense even though I wanted to try present. Why? 1. I went to a writers conference where more than one person told me that present tense is distracting and a lot of people don't like it so stick to past until you really know what you're doing. AND 2. I was worried I wouldn't be able to pull it off.

I wrote four chapters in past tense and then, after nearly 10k, decided to switch. I was feeling it and it was so invigorating, I can't even tell you. I don't even care if it sucks. That's how enjoyable it was to write.

Lesson? Do whatever you want. I don't care if the world thinks vampire romances or bad boys with daddy issues are played out. Your novel isn't about what the world thinks. It's about what you want to write. This is your chance to rebel. Write whatever you want because if you don't want to write it, you won't enjoy it. And I happen to like misunderstood bad boys with daddy issues. It's hot. Class dismissed.

Part 2 - Tips
I'm not the most qualified person to be handing out writing advice but I will anyway.
  • Inflate your head.
If you write something that you're really proud of it, don't be modest. Be anything but modest. You're going to  write a lot that's less than noteworthy so if you churn out something you really like, cling to it, brag about it, smile to yourself and think about what a genius you are. If you're brave, post it on your blog. YOU ARE A GREAT WRITER. Get with the program.
  • Write Chapter 8
You do not need to be linear. I got stuck on Friday because I didn't know what happened next or maybe I did but I didn't want to write it. Instead of beating my head on my desk, however, I hit enter twice, typed Chapter 8 (my last chapter had been 4, by the way) and started in on a scene (and if you don't have a scene in mind, start with an emotion). I don't know where it started or where it was going but that's a good scene and you can read it here: http://dft.ba/-4la 
  • Don't stress it.
You probably don't need to be told this but just don't, kay? If it's not working and it's not working, it's not working. Do something else, or write something else or something. But don't force it. That's no fun. And we could all use some reminding that this, above all, is about fun. It's about a love for writing and a challenge.

That is all.

*That's really hard. Editing is when you get to figure out just how broken your writing is and try to fix it. What I'd found out is that my 2009 NaNo isn't great. It's not bad, per se, and it doesn't make me violently ill but it's not as fantastic as I thought it was as I wrote it. Which is fine with me, actually.
**Am I the only one who had a really hard time with that?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Anecdotes 'n' Odds 'n' Ends

-- I owe about half of my novel to the NaNoWriMo forums' characterization game. For this I am eternally grateful, even though the question was seemingly so insignificant*. My word count is lagging (the main problem being I had no beginning, just random scenes in the middle I've yet to get to. Though I suppose I could write them out of order and just fill in, which would be quicker), but at least I've managed to write every day.

-- Today is the first day of the fall I've worn slippers. I missed you, slippers.

-- I love Daylight Savings time dearly. So what if it's dark out at 5 in the afternoon (evening? when does afternoon end and evening begin)? 5 p.m. doesn't concern me much. 6 a.m. does. SLEEP. Another on the growing list of Reasons I Love Benjamin Franklin.**

-- The "b" key on my keyboard is sticking. Not beyond the point of usability, but just enough to require and extra amount of pressure to work and an unpleasant cracking noise when it does.

-- Instead of devoting myself to noveling and ignoring the written works of others altogether, I've become more ravenous for/in awe of books, now that I understand how hard they are to actually write. In addition to rereading Deathly Hallows (as is my personal tradition before the release of the movie. . . though I guess it'd save some time if I only reread the first half. . .), I'm reading books I've put off but wanted to read.*** Being a nerd is so time-consuming sometimes.

-- Random question: Was the subject of Hermione Granger's attractiveness ever described after Goblet of Fire (the book)? Emma Watson is, of course, fantastically talented; and the film industry rightly assumes that moviegoers enjoy looking at attractive people, but as a bushy-haired nerd girl myself I've always held some resentment over this book v. film deviation. I got bangs when I was seven specifically to look like Hermione (silly child, so easily influenced by the media. . .), loved them for a few months, and then spent years growing them out.****

-- Within the context of my novel, my knowledge of late-1980s-model RVs is sadly lacking. To Wikipedia!

* "What do you wear to bed?" I only had two main characters developed at that point, but the answers were hard to come up with. I decided on "Whatever is clean and comfortable, with socks year-round." and "Nothing at all, ladies. However, if you'd like to apply for the position. . ." Thus, CHARACTERIZATION. And innuendo is fun to write.

** Joke title with serious prospects. May post later.

*** The Mortal Instruments Trilogy, among others. City of Bones is so good I am jealous.

**** Do not ever do this it takes so freaking long.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day Four

I've been doing a lot of NaNoWriMo stuff lately. In addition to writing on my own, I've gone to a NaNoWriMo write in organized my the mini boss of my region. It was pretty cool.

As for my actual writing, I'm doing okay. Wordcount is good and school is falling out of sight but I'm surviving. I'm about to be out of my preplotted material. I had about four chapters in my head on October 31st and now it's all just blank pages. I have more story idea but no particular scenes laid out. I'll be fine.

On an exciting note, I talk to my distance ed school and they're going to give me course credits for participating in NaNo. I'm not sure if this'll be like an elective or if I won't have to take math next year but I am happy about whatever I can get.

I didn't realize until this week how much NaNoWriMo hate/distaste there is out there. I read this article which, in case you don't want to click and give the hatred filled woman more hits on her site, boiled down says something like this:
Writing is self absorbed and narcisstic so will all the peons please shut up and read the stuff more worthwhile people, such as myself, churn out. You're wasting your time to write 50,000 words of crap. Instead I think you should read a book for the first time this year.

But that's just my take on it. I was a little offended. And I mention this not because I want to give the writer, Laura Miller, more attention or to point out that she completely missed the point if she thought the idea of NaNoWriMo was to write the Great American Novel and then send it out to agents and editors on December 1st without changing so much as a comma. No, I wanted to direct you to the comments, some of which agreed with her vehemently and some of which did not. I didn't feel the need to actually write my own defense, because there were so many great ones out there. But I'll give you this and say that the two that I particularly enjoyed, the first of which actually made me laugh out loud, were "Well aren't you just the Queen of Everything" and "...but Laura, have you done it?"

It's easy to hate on things you don't understand. Hence the amount of racial prejudice and homophobia in the world? But I am doing NaNoWriMo this year because I love to write and if Laura Miller wants to tell me that it's a "waste of my time" that's completely fine. There will always be people out there telling you you're wasting your time, whether you're writing a novel or sailing around the world. Fortunately, you get to decide who you spend the seconds you have on this planet. So use them wisely.

How are you doing with NaNo?