Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writer's Digest Writing Challenge, Day TWO

Recap for those of you who didn't read this yesterday: I'm attempting the Writer's Digest 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing.

Day 2: Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.

I have to admit I am not happy about this challenge. Because of that, I'm going to push myself to develop TWO characters (GASP!) one male, one female.  Also, I'm using a composite of personalities and physical traits. So don't ask me if "this is you". It might be, in part, but not in whole. Here it goes:

He has a fantastic sense of humor, but knows when to take things seriously. Never satisfied with the easiest answer to a question, he goes and finds answers on his own and expands his knowledge base at every opportunity. If you were to flip through his iPod, you would find classic rock as well as newer, alternative bands. He never tells you what you want to hear in favor of the truth. He knows answers to practical questions, and has a strange pocket of cooking knowledge. 
He's a bit on the short side, too thin for his build, and never bothers changing into real pants when he leaves the house. Sometimes when you look at him, you can't help comparing him to a "Guess Who" character, because his features look like hyperboles of eyes, nose and mouth, where all three are too small for his head. Maybe that's why he wears his sunglasses all the time, even when he's inside. 

It's very hard to take her seriously, because she's shorter than her sister who is five years younger. She's almost orange from tanning, and you can tell the ends of her hair are brittle from over processing. 
You would think, just by looking at her, that she couldn't possibly contribute to conversation in a helpful or interesting way. But every time she speaks, she surprises me with her references and comparisons and random tid-bits of information. In fact, she doesn't talk very often but when she does it's to say something that counts. 
A lot of her time is devoted to things like graphic design, writing poems, and considering what it would be like to really be on her own. Sometimes she watched movies in different languages, just because she liked the way it sounded. Whenever music was on, she danced along and made up her own lyrics if she didn't know the real ones.

I like tomorrow's challenge much better. LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writer's Digest Writing Challenge

Writer's Digest has posted a writing challenge (at least I'm calling it a challenge) for the Holidays. You can find the complete challenge at the Writer's Digest website, it's called the 12 Day Plan of Simple Writing.
I'm starting today, because WHY NOT? 

Day 1: Write 10 potential book titles of books you’d like to write.
  1. The Critical Guide To Harry Potter
    • Written with Sarah Murray, at a writer's retreat, over long nights without sleep and pages and pages of notes.
  2. Tales of a Teenage Twenty-Something
    • This is what I want to call my memoir.
  3. This One Band Camp
    • Self-explanatory, and nowhere near as sexual as people expect it to be.
  4. Disney for In-Betweeners
    • A Travel guide for people in their twenties/early thirties.
  5. The Continuing Tales of Starbuck McLaw, Told by Those Who Knew Him
    • Technically, draft one has been written, but I want to COMPLETE IT.
  6. Mario Beats the Game
    • This will be a full-length play.
  7. Because the Chicken Told Me So
    • I don't know what this would be about. I don't care. I just want my name on a book with this title.
  8. <3 (Or Less Than Three. Or Geek Love)
    • Also a book I have the first draft for, but need to severely edit and complete.
  9. Cowboys and Can-Can Girls
    • Working title for a Western I've wanted to write since I was in the seventh grade
  10. Caught Between a Book and A Bookcase
    • I just came up with that. I don't know what it means.
Tune in tomorrow for more challenge work!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things I need

I'm adding "Zelda Apron" to my list of costumes. Because apparently, I need one.

And by apparently, what I mean is OBVIOUSLY.

Here's my inspiration: Janielle on Etsy.

I am adding it to the sidebar of projects, and now I'm going to get back to noveling. 900 more words and I'll be at 30K! Exciting things, even though I'm still a few days behind. I've banned myself from facebook until the end of the month. I should probably also ban myself from Neopets and tumblr, but I'm not INSANE.

Or perhaps I am. Anyhow. More later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Daily Thought

I got into the conference to which I applied last month, with my paper on Science Fiction and Broadway. Here is the conference website, in case I haven't linked to it yet: IAFA Conference. I have to publicly thank Neil Baldwin for even bringing this to my attention. I never in a million years thought I would get in, though.

I am incredibly excited and also very nervous. Also I am learning that academic conferences are very very expensive.

I don't know what this means about my life career, but I am definitely diversifying my portfolio if nothing else.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

People who Inspire Me

I'm taking a break from frantic noveling to write a list of people who continually inspire me. So here it is, in no particular order.

  • Walt Disney-- always inspiring me to be creative in everything I do, to bring that creativity to others so that they can be as happy as I am when I'm creating!
  • George Lucas--for striking out on his own and believing in his own work so strongly, loving what he does so passionately that he was wiling to put his entire career on the line.
  • Jason Segel-- for writing the Muppets movie. Because it's something he's wanted to do his entire life, and he's never stopped working towards it.
  • John and Hank Green-- for taking a small project about communication with each other and turning it into a huge, beautiful community of people decreasing world suck.
  • Stephen Hillenberg-- for knowing when to quit his day job and start doodling full time.
  • Jonathan Larson-- for teaching me that there's no day but today, and that some people's landmark birthdays are just the beginning for others.
  • My sisters-- for being themselves and letting me be myself. For never following in each other's footsteps and continually challenging but still loving each other.
I'm sure there are more, but for now that's what's coming to mind and I've got to get back to noveling. Until next time!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Jen's Note: I told you guys I had big news. It's bigger than big... it's HUGE!
Please welcome two new writers to the site, one being Lauryn, who is my awesome sister. She'll be doing book news and reviews, and maybe some movie stuff, too!! Here she is!

Hey everyone! My name's Lauryn and I’m Jen’s little sister. She asked me to start writing reviews and add to her blog so I thought, why not? I’ve tried to begin blogs before but distractions with school and extra courses took over my life. I’m a 13 year old 8th grader and this has been the easiest year of actual classes. VHS (Virtual High School), however, has been very stressful and most of my homework is articles and reports for Contemporary Irish Literature. I like to read and write but performance is really my calling. I’m an actress, currently in Seussical the Musical at school and rehearsals are really hectic. One of my favorite shows is Adventure Time. I mean, really, who doesn’t love that show?
With Lauryn's intro, and the news that you'll all be getting later today, I figured now would be a good time to do a tiny intro myself! I’m Jen (obviously) and I started this blog back in the winter, when it was cold. Now it’s cold again and the blog is getting an overhaul. Here is a little about myself: I’m a 23 year old grad student, working on my Masters in Theatre Studies. I will hopefully be done this May. I love to write, love to read, and love to watch movies. My favorite anime is Cowboy Bebop, I love tea--iced or hot, Robot Chicken never ceases to make me laugh, and I was devastated when Nickelodeon Magazine folded.
Like I said, the blog is undergoing an overhaul (I like the opposites there, under and over...) and we're going to try and focus on entertainment news and plenty of reviews. Which leads me into my news for this evening. LOOK OUT FOR A WHOLE NEW SECTION TO THE SITE!
Signing off,
--Jen and Lauryn

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kindle Fire and Comixology are a Match Made in...the Factory

Remember when I went on a big rant about digital comics?

Well here's some interesting news about the way digital comics distribution is changing ever so slightly:
Comixology is going to come standard on the Kindle Fire. This is great news because it will encourage people who may not have thought about digital comics, or even reading comic books at all, to start doing so on their Fire. Heck, the app is there, we may as well use it.

David Steinberger, CEO and co-founder of comiXology, had this to say about the announcement: 
“Comics have arrived! Today’s news opens up a whole new audience to the world of comic books. We’ve worked long and hard to become the leader in the field of digital comics and this opportunity enables us to turn a whole new generation of people into comic book fans…and we can’t wait to do just that!”

Comixology online

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoLand Welcomes You and Me

I should be writing my novel. Here's a picture of a mummy, because I didn't know if mummies had noses. As it turns out, some of them do.
And some of them don't. 
But it's 11:00 and I'm still about 3,000 words behind and every weekend this month has me doing something insane like driving to Baltimore or going to my sister's sweet 16. 
However. I have exciting news that I swear is going to be officially announced later this week and you will all be like "whaaaa--oh no she di-int." But I did.

Okay that's all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh Hey Look Who's Alive

It's me. I'm alive.

I just finished obsessing over my midterm paper for a class tonight, but here's a Daily Thought full of links!

First, you can see on the sidebar that 1. you can now follow me on twitter right from the blog! and 2. Jeremy has been added as a writer. Mostly that's because he's a Code Monkey and I am not, and hopefully the site will be getting a facelift soon, but if you stick around long enough, maybe you'll get to read some of this writing!

Second, Quirk Books wants you to know about Taft 2012. I also want you to know about Taft 2012. Lauryn will also be telling you how much she wants you to know about Taft 2012. Each of those links will take you somewhere different, and in December/January, you will get to hear what Laur and I think of the book, which we will be reading.

Third, NaNoWriMo is this month. I am already behind, but only by one day and I blame my midterm paper, which is now done. If you haven't signed up for NaNo, then you seriously have some issues. I love that my literary peeps are all abuzz about NaNo. You can watch my very own progress bar fill up, if you'd like, and fill up your own progress bar along with me! Seriously, the community over there is amazing and you'll fall in love.

I guess that's all for now. LEAVE COMMENTS!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Thought-There Ain't no Rest for the Wicked

I have a lot of parts in motion.

I like it this way, very very much. It does, however, require that I keep careful track of when projects are due, submission deadlines are approaching, and how many projects I can actually complete both on time and to a degree with which I am satisfied.

I am still getting used to telling people I am a professional writer, but it's true! I am!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, I think, but more on that later.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Daily Thought

I understand Brecht plenty in theory.

It's when I have to read his work that I get confused. Anyone else have similar problems with Brecht... or any other writer for that matter?

Oh and if you haven't already, you should check out the writer's conference at Towson next month.

Why do Towson events love thinking they're in Baltimore?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Serving the Digital Generation" While Preserving our Libraries

It has officially been one week since Comic-con ended but it most definitely doesn't feel like it.

The whole experience was amazing and you can read a kind of overview on kotaku here. I want to write about the weekend, but it's going to take several posts, two of which are going to be interviews I had with pretty awesome people. But today, I want to write about the fact that I'm currently reading Archie and Friends on my iPod.

I'm putting the Archie thing aside because really that's a post in and of itself. What I want to talk about here is the digital generation, and the fact that I don't want to be a part of it when it comes to my reading habits...except when I do. Interestingly enough, I learned this in a panel about libraries.

Let's talk about libraries for a second. I love libraries. I would not have been such an avid reader when I was a kid without libraries. And I love that ultimately, Comic-con is for people who love to read, because it makes me feel like I'm among my people. Come to think of it, it's not really surprising that video games aren't as prevalent at Comic-con as one would expect. Because Comic-con is for readers and lovers of all things Nerd/geek culture.

That's not to say that video games don't have their place at Comic-con because obviously they do, and I would love to talk about the fantastic storytelling medium that video games have always been and continue to be... but again, that's another post.

Libraries are starting to integrate technology more and more, both in how they catalogue their collections, and in the actual contents of said collections. Increasingly, this has included video games, but more relevant to the topic is digital books. The thing that scares me the most is this digitization of previously print forms, because I love books. I love collecting them, stacking them, organizing them and obviously, most of all, reading them. It feels so satisfying to close a book after reading it through, and to put it back on the shelf or pass it on to friends. That's something that digital and audiobooks will never be able to replace.

On the other hand, as the panel went on from the history of digital comics to the present day, the presenters, David Lisa and Michael Maziekien, began talking about comixology and other sites like it. Comics in digital form--who'd have thunk it (as you can see, based on the powerpoint that Lisa and Maziekien showed us, a lot of very important people have been thinking it for decades.)? At a convention that devoted hundreds of square feet to physical comics new and old, here were two men describing how libraries could make comics more accessible by subscribing to online services, keeping everything safely on a screen.

And then, just in case anyone wasn't yet convinced, they announced the Kindle Fire.

Nerds love their comics. But we also love our numbers, and the numbers don't lie. Last year, 66% of the country's libraries offered access to eBooks. Since then, graphic novel circulation has gone down 20%, and circulation of digital comics has gone up 1000% (facts shared with us during the presentation). With numbers like that in an economy like this, where my hometown library has had a hiring freeze for three years and has been cutting back on their hours, I can't really turn away from ebooks any longer.

Now, I can't speak towards what this all means for publishers. Amazon is, after all, attempting to cut out the middle man. And now Barnes and Noble is pulling DC titles from their shelves because of the comic company's exclusive deal with Amazon. After Borders closed its doors this summer, it's a risky move to pull any titles from any shelves, let alone an entire publishing company's worth, but if the Nook can't have Superman, then neither can the literal comics nook at B&N.

Maybe if Amazon and the dwindling number of bookstores start getting picky about what titles they're going to carry, we as readers will be forced back into the arms of our local libraries. Or maybe everything will go digital and libraries and bookstores will cease to exist. Though I don't think that's very likely.

I'm hoping that devices like the Fire make it easier for us to get content from our libraries. Perhaps this will allow for digital check-out, and then when there isn't a title available in digi-form, digital reserves for physical pick-up. Maybe this limiting of resources in bookstores (and limited bookstores, if they keep closing, though that is definitely not what I'm rooting for here) will mean us book-worms will start meeting up in library coffee shops instead of the Starbucks in the B&N.

I don't know what's coming next, and neither did the Comic-con panelists. But I do know change is on the horizon, and the digital generation is holding the reins. As long as they keep steering towards using all this fantastic technology to better our reading habits, I might actually be okay with it.

Want more on librarians at comic-con?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm a Betty

Quick off schedule post about how I was at an Archie Comics panel this morning and about how adamantly I am a Betty. Yes, adamantly is the word I want to use there.

I used to have a sweatshirt that said "I'm a Betty" with Betty on the front of it. It was awesome, but it shrank in the wash to the point I couldn't wear it anymore and I had to get rid of it.

They gave out a bunch of free Archie comics at the panel, including some of the "Life with Archie: Archie gets married". I love me some Archie, but I had totally missed the weirdness of the Archie/Betty/Veronica love-triangle. I was probably about ten the last time I went crazy and read all the Archies in the house, which is a lot because Grammy used to get them for free at the publishing office in which she worked.

It's always going to be Betty, by the way. There just is no other way to be.

More on Comic-con tomorrow, when all this lovely weirdness is over.

Friday, October 14, 2011

NYCC, Day Two, and the weekly Round-Up

Here is some of what I did yesterday:
and here is some more of what I did yesterday:

That's Petah's youtube channel.

Today I did Star Wars things. And then some Robot Chicken things.

I handed out almost all of my business cards, which is both awesome and frustrating because uh I still can't figure out my printer. Anyhow, I'm very sleepy and I've got nothing particularly exclusive to report, except that Ashley Eckstein is incredibly sweet and nice and I'm going to buy her t-shirts tomorrow.
I'd like to get some Sims Medieval in before bed, so the weekly round-up is also going to be very short:

Books: I started reading The Geography of Bliss, which my Mom is supposed to be reading with me. So far, so good. I'm only twenty pages in,though. I've got my eye on a couple new books that I'd like to buy tomorrow, we'll see.

Games: I bought my own Minecraft account this week. Once my life slows down a little, I'll be jumping on the game more to play with the boys. I want a Beauty and the Beast castle. And a Tardis.

Movies/Television: Robot Chicken Season 5 is coming out on Blu-ray next week. Want. Oh, and tangentially related, Cody and I bought a collection (yes a whole collection) of Totoros today. Family photo:

Hopefully there will be a nice "my first con" diary piece up on Kotaku on Monday. I've got a few pieces I'd like to post early next week, too, and expect to be able to see photos and videos up soon. I've gotten kind of addicted to vlogging, and it's a disease I honestly thought I would never catch, but it's so highly contagious that just being around Peter all day while he vlogs away has given me a case, and a pretty severe one. Don't be surprised if a sister youtube channel ends up happening sometime in the next few months.

Anyhow. I've got to go plug in everything I own so it's charged up for tomorrow--so far I've held off on buying anything (except Totoros... but those were already on a list of things to purchase) but tomorrow there will be a significant chunk of change left with various vendors. I've got my eyes on a few books, I've got to get presents for the Leebert, there's a book I think Maxwell will really love, and I have to go back to Ashley and buy shirts.

I think I can keep the "cash spent" number pretty low--I've avoided buying food at the convention center by bringing a sandwich and a refillable water bottle, and I've gone wandering around the show floors reminding myself that unless something REALLY jumps out at me, it will be there the next day and if I really want it that badly I'll remember where I left it.

It's definitely time to go play Sims Medieval before bed. Night!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New York Comic-con Heart's Me.

My knees are sore.

My printer is not cooperating.

There is a Sailor Moon poster on my wall.

I should have been in bed like an hour and a half ago.

I would not trade this for the world. Tomorrow, day two begins. Check the twitter throughout the day, I'm going to TRY and be vigilant about updating but the internet at the center is really quite terrible.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I need to get in Better Blogging Habits.

I'm setting a new goal, starting today.

Two blog posts a week--one on Friday, one on Wednesday. I want to start a series of lists, probably in addition to the blog posts.

So mark this in your calendars, friends. This is the first of regular posting to the site. Regular updates. Wednesday will be a real post, Friday a project round up, and Monday will be the lists. I think I can handle that. And so, without Further Ado, the weekly project round-up.

I finished my Doctor Who scarf earlier this month. It's twenty feet long and currently keeping the headrest to my driver's seat in my car nice and toasty. The next projects for crafts are Jeremy's Jedi costume, and Totoros for Jer and Code. Margaret and Ben visited a couple weeks ago and we found a great yarn store where I'm planning to get supplies for the Totoros as soon as possible.

Reading is kind of on hold lately, though I just read the first book in Dangerous Angels for the umpteenth time and it made me think a lot of things. It's my favorite book for so many reasons, most of which I had forgotten. First of all it's the first book I read that really relied on character development rather than plot. Well, it's the second book that acted that way, the first being A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Anyhow I was reading it and I realized there are a lot of Big Ideas in there that I sort of take to heart still today. For instance, being gay is just a way to be, it's not something the characters argue about or hold against one another. It's accepted and the characters are loved. And when Weetzie is raising Cherokee, she tells her about love with another Person-- girl or boy doesn't matter. And the characters are all very aware of the World Outside. Even when things are good, that doesn't stop them from thinking about the people outside who have it much worse off. There's a certain amount of perspective that I really appreciate.
I love the idea of a surrogate family-- a group of people who love each other even though they aren't obligated to.
This was the first time I read Weetzie Bat as a standalone piece rather than the whole book, and I think that made my awareness more acute, because I was focusing on way less text. Anyhow, I thought it was really interesting and still count it as my favorite book in the universe even though it has its flaws.

I'm back at school and schoolwork is taking over my life, as per usual. I feel kind of stressed all the time, even when my work is done. It's weird.

Movies are going slower, now, too, because I cancelled the DVD portion of my Netflix account, so I'm relying on the streaming library.

Comic-con is coming up in a few weeks, and there should be plenty to talk about then. I'm working a little for Kotaku that weekend. We'll see what comes of it. I'm attending the con as press this year, and I'll be there on Thursday-Sunday. There are a bunch of what look like really interesting panels on Thursday about integrating video games and libraries, and the two working together to promote reading in young kids. I'm really interested to see what that all even means and how libraries are changing and what-not. I'm super excited for the con in general.

I think that's it for now. I'll be back, hopefully, on Monday with a Monday List-a-thon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter is my Star Wars... and other thoughts

First of all, I love Star Wars, almost as much as I love Harry Potter. The difference is that I knew all Star Wars' dirty little secrets before going into any movie-viewing experience.  Even when the prequel series was brand new and in theatres, by the very nature of the beast I knew somewhere along the line that blonde kid was going to have breathing problems and Natalie Portman was going to get HUGE.
But as each Harry Potter book came out, it was a brand new experience, and, with the exception of Order of the Phoenix (more on that in another post), I read them faster than anything could get posted, written, or said about them.  That's not to say I rushed--I definitely took my time and read them at whatever pace it is I normally read at.
I have three younger sisters. The sister closest to me in age (17 months younger, to the day.) sort of read the HP books, but never really got into them. The next sister (seven years younger) tried reading one because I wouldn't stop pestering her, but only liked when I read them out loud with lots of different voices.  If you've ever tried this, you know it is not an easy endeavor, and you have a grand appreciation for Jim Dale or else you have no soul. My youngest sister, who is now 13, decided to start reading the books this past January and just finished up the seventh recently.  Upon asking her about the books, she told me her favorite was Half-Blood Prince, which confused me a lot, considering books five and six are sort of hard to get through even if you're the same age as the characters. I asked her why. Her response "It's like the book that Belle reads in Beauty and the Beast-- far off places, daring swordfights, a prince in disguise."

My sister, who is brilliant and imaginative and original, was basing her favorite Harry Potter choice on a tumblr meme.

This troubled me, because what the hell.  Anyhow I decided that I wanted to talk to her more about her choices re: Harry Potter, why she thinks she read them and who she identifies with and why she decided to marathon-read the books before the last movie. (there is some dispute between Jeremy and myself re: the definition of the word 'marathon'. I think the way that Lauryn read the books is more important than how fast she actually read them.  Jer disagrees--the fact that she read, on average, one book a month is pretty normal, and he doesn't think that counts as a marathon based on the speed.)
In the mean time, I'm thinking about my relationship with Star Wars and how I saw Phantom Menace in theatres before ever watching one whole Star Wars movie all the way through. What's that about? Maybe it's the same thing--social pressure to be into something that's hugely popular.  I mean, I've been sending my love Star Wars' way for years now, and I still barely understand what the "War" is actually about. True, my Han Solo-Princess Leia knowledge is a bit above average, and at one time I wrote a paper comparing literary greats to Jedi and Sith, but how can I chastise Lauryn for doing... exactly what I'm doing?
These thoughts, and plenty more, have inspired me to start a series of conversations with my sisters about their relationships with popular literature, particularly Harry Potter and Twilight, and about YA fiction in general.  And so, I am launching a series that is yet untitled, but will consist of myself and my sisters talking about books and movies.
I've got to go back to work, but I wanted to make sure you guys know there are projects in the works (always. I promise) and that I am so super excited about this one I wanted to let you all know about it! Let me know what you want to hear about from me and my sisters (that sounds both cultish and ghetto at once...), and I will do my best to accommodate!

EDIT: Check this out while you're waiting. CAUTION: SPOILERS AND BAD LANGUAGE AHEAD:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Google +

Jeremy got an invite to google +.
Now I have an invite to google + that I promised myself I can't activate until my to-do list is done or at least partially done for today. CURSE YOU LONG-ASS TO-DO LIST!!!
Ah well. Here's to hoping I get to activate it before the end of today!!!!!

EDIT: Oh dear.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Boosting Productivity

Lifehacker had a short but cool article about boosting productivity, focusing on what matters and shifting priorities to minimize wasted time. Check it out:

I'm going to get started on that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy July--Welcome to Camp!

Alright. June Challenge ended up falling flat, that's largely my fault and if nothing else I've learned from my mistakes.
This month, however, there will be no failure. launched just a week before July started, and it was way too close to the start of the month for me to write a whole new book (Don't worry. There's a project in the works for August. An awesome project about glimmering zombies and Dom is going to star in the motion picture.)
So I'm using July to edit.  It's already going well. I'm starting working on By the Sound, and I'm already on scene three, which is the notorious beach scene. (That sounds a lot sexier than it is, I promise.)
Anyhow, that's what I'm working on primarily in July.
I also just ate succotash at work and now I want to learn to make it, too.
The Jedi costume pattern has been cut out and I need to pin it to the fabric and cut that shit out sometime this month.
I'm slowly but surely (mostly slowly) making my way through Ocarina of Time, which Jeremy will get to play once I'm done. I can't guarantee that will happen within the month of July.
I spent July 4th weekend in Medford with Jer and Cody and Dom and Lea. It was awesome.
Harry Potter 7 part II comes out a week from Thursday. I can't handle that, but I ordered my new t-shirt for the movie premiere (I'm going for irony on this one) and I'm super excited.  We're springing for the double feature where they play the first part 7 movie before the new one at midnight.  I love going to movie marathons at the cinema. I love movie marathons, but especially at the cinema and even MORE when it's Harry Potter.  If I didn't have a stupid job where I have responsibilities and shit, I would go to the week long marathon, where they're playing all eight movies (two a night) leading up to the premiere.
Anyhow, I'm at work right now and I should get back to... looking for things to do at work. Follow me around on twitter, where I've reemerged:!/Jenisaur
C'ya later!

Friday, June 17, 2011


I finished reading Wesley the Owl and I can't believe how good it was. I wrote a short review for it over in my goodreads bookshelf, but that definitely didn't do it justice.  The book was beautiful, and so much more than a memoir.  It brings in themes of science versus spirituality (and how the two actually go hand in hand, if you look at it from a certain perspective) and brings everything back to the Way of the Owl.  The Way of the Owl has a lot to do with loyalty and emotion and respect, which are things that people need for all living creatures, not just other human beings.
Stacey O'Brien broke into the world of writing with this book, and although it sometimes shows I think that just makes the book all the more heartfelt and honest.  She's not worrying about making the story masterfully crafted, or making it mean more than it is.  The book is about her relationship with Wesley the owl, and the relationship is a beautiful one.  If course, when it came time to describe Wesley's demise, I read the words but tried to speed through it as fast as I could, so that I would be able to stop crying asap.  At that point, I felt that Wesley had taught me almost as much as he had taught Stacey, though of course that's impossible considering I only knew him for about 250 pages, and she had 19 years to fall in love.
I've never liked stories, even the most fictional ones, where animals are in trouble.  I for some reason have no problem with it when people are in danger.  I think this has a lot to do with conscious decisions.  We decide to wage war (over what? Land?) and gun each other down.  We waste precious time and energy designing the best ways to kill each other, when we could be putting a LOT more effort into efficient energy, understanding each other regardless of...well...everything..., etc. Now, I'm not at all pretending to understand how the intricacies of government run, or the ins and outs of politics.  I do like living in society where there is a government in place and I think that we have been living in a time and place for centuries now that to decide against one would be foolish.  However, I wish we didn't.  I wish we could all get along without a problem, that we could let each other live in quiet harmony, share cups of sugar and loafs of bread.  I wish no one would feel the need to steal, or commit any crime against another human being.  I wish we could live more like our "lesser" animal societies do.
I'm not a fool.  I know that animal societies are not all fun and games.  There are wars against tribes and survival of the fittest and it's all very savage.  But where's the harm in that? If you're too weak to keep up, why SHOULD the rest of your tribe slow down and risk getting hurt or running out of food? I'm sure that's some kind of weird philosophy that someone's going to point and me and be like GOD YOU'RE SUCH A MARXIST (I don't understand philosophy, either...) so whatever.  Call me what you like.  It may just be the living situation I'm in right now, but I don't think it's fair for the strongest member of the pack to have to support everyone else. Either learn to keep up or learn what it means to be left behind. Your fate is in your hands, not mine.
Anyhow.  Back to the animal movies.  I hate animal movies, for the most part, because I know they're going to begin or end in tragedy for the animals that I fall for the hardest.  I can watch Finding Nemo in pieces, but not all at once. I can listen to The Lion King soundtrack all day long, but not the stampede music. And fuck if I'm going to watch that scene. On the flip side, I love Inglorious Basterds.
There's just something about animals getting hurt, even if they're bringing it upon themselves, or the causes are natural, that kills me every time.
This all got worse in spring 2009. April 2009. April 3, 2009.
That's when Blue went away.  I was at Goucher, and I knew he was sick and when my mom was calling me a thousand times I knew why but I didn't want to hear about it.  So I didn't, until late in the day. It was almost better that I wasn't there because I just couldn't handle it.  I had to sit and say goodbye to SamWise the summer before, and it was all very abrupt and just sucked and I can't keep writing about it too much because really, it's not even something I can describe.  So when I knew Blue had gone, too, I was almost (selfishly) glad I wasn't there.  The only regret is not getting to say goodbye ever to him.  Sure, I said it in prayer and thanked God he wasn't stuck here, on Earth, sick and in pain anymore. Because animals don't let you know when they're sick and in pain.  In the wild, that would be their undoing.  So my last memories of Blue are of him looking slightly older, a little thinner, but still in good spirits and...
It's been two years now.  I've tried so hard not to think about it that I can't remember much.  Just that he was there, and then he wasn't.  I remember, of course, as we often do in situations like these, all the things I didn't do.  I remember the times I pushed him out of my cereal bowl, the times I yelled at him for pooping on the floor, the times I didn't want to go out in the cold to walk him.  I remember how terrible he smelled when he got sick, and none of us knew why.
I remember how gentle he was around CJ when she was home, and then I can't help thinking of when CJ left, too.
This is a dangerous path I'm on, but it's one that I really wanted to write about. It's a path I think about every time I consider getting a new pet.  I have four parakeets at home that I hate not taking care of. I want them with me, I want to sit with their cages open listening to them sing.  I get mad when they screech at each other, but I think I've learned from Stacey that they're just imitating what they used to hear Sarah and I do, which was scream pointlessly instead of just talking.
All of these pets relied (or still rely) on me, and any other pet I bring into my life will do the same. I think about all of this when I think about Buster, and I want to do right by him everywhere I did wrong by Blue.  Of course, I do this sometimes to a fault when I slip him scraps of my food and take him everywhere with me in the car.  But he's so small, "portable" may as well be in his name.  And unlike Blue, Buster knows what it's like to truly be cast out in the cold and literally unloved.  Blue should have been treated like the Knight that he was, instead of just like a dog.
I think one of the reasons I like Jer's family and his house so much is the animal presence.  Even though it gives me allergies like whoa, I just love being there.  The animals run the house, they're members of the family rather than an "other" presence, and that's how I want my pets to be.  His whole family loves the pets like I've never seen a family love pets before.  They really try to understand the way that the pets love and feel and why they act the way they act.  They concede that the animals have a full gamut of emotions and can be just as easily depressed or excited as we human beings can.  It's not only human nature to think and feel and react accordingly, it's animal nature, too.

Stacey talks about how Wesely brought spirituality into her life in an almost tangible way, how she could look into his eyes and see the vast expanse of the universe, and how it made her feel her place among the stars.  My pets have done the same for me, but none so powerfully as CJ did.  Regardless of the circumstances by which CJ came into my life, or the ones by which she almost was taken away, she was a gift from above.  It was the most tumultuous, hopeless year ever (yes, moreso than the year that would follow) or would have been without Ceej.  She brought tranquility, she took care of me when everyone else was more willing to abandon or scold me.  She reminded me that there was something more than me at stake, and that there would always, eventually, be a tomorrow worth waiting for.  She showed me what happiness and joy looked like in a time when those elements were literally vacant from my life.  These are the kinds of things that only animals can do.  People worry.  People hold back. People have to take care of themselves before they worry about the girl who has given up on taking care of herself.  CJ never did those things. Blue never did those things.  Buster will never (really) do those things. CJ was perfect. People may always have flaws, but CJ was perfect.  She showed Willow Bird exactly the same amount of care and respect that Blue showed her.

At the end of the day, losing a pet is one of the worst things in the world.  People who don't understand this... I don't understand them.  Taking a pet into your home, regardless of what kind of pet, is like having a kid, in my opinion.  You are telling this creature that you're going to take care of it, no matter what.  You're going to make sure the animal is comfortable, well fed, taken care of, happy.  And in turn, the pet will thank you.  You abandon that pet, and the pet knows what you've done and will never forget. They're incapable of forgiving.  It's not that they don't want to forgive you, but they can't trust that you won't slip up again.  (and really, if we all treated each other this way, don't you think maybe things would be better? I bet if we were all less forgiving, we would be less likely to abuse each others' trust. There's no REASON to treat another human being in a less than exemplary way.  Try treating EVERYONE exactly the way you want to be treated, and see if anything changes.) I'm not saying that this is something I practice, but it sure is something I strive to practice.  I certainly don't go around violating other peoples' trust, I would hope you'd be willing not to violate mine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Want An Organizer For My Organizers

I am so tired.

I worked my first full day at my internship today, and seriously, time has not flown more swiftly while I'm at work in so very long.  I was busy all day, I was challenged all day, I would think I was done when really that was just phase one. It was perfection.
And now I'm back in front of a computer, trying to continue to work (not for my internship.  that would be insane.) except the server is down.
My Thinkgeek order came in today, and while it's just things I wanted for the apartment, I'm so happy it's here.  It's little touches that will go into the new place that I don't have the space (or the trust in my housemates) to make happen, and I can't wait for that to change.  I have so many ideas for this new place.  Cody and I are going to build a fort.  He is in charge of the flag.  It's going to be awesome.  There are going to be many pillows, and if we're super lucky, a bean bag chair of epic proportions.
There's going to be a lot more cooking and baking going on and the general mood of the place is going to be...better.  I'm not going to dread coming home, I'm not going to be grumpy every time I'm there, and when I lay down to sleep I'm not going to have to wonder whether the front door was ever locked and if someone has forgotten to turn off the stove and IM NOT GOING TO HAVE TO PAY FOR EXTRANEOUS ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES WHICH ARE LEFT ON EVEN WHEN THEIR OWNERS ARE NOT HOME! Oh it's going to be glorious. I am so excited to go home and get the truck and load it up and move things out of this house. I don't even want to be associated with it any more.
Anyhow, it's been an incredibly long day jam packed with reading and writing and learning, and I need to go figure out what the hell is going on with that server.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Today's Blog Post Brought to you by History!

I'm going to get a little history nerdy in tonight's post.  I bought a new book today, called American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, When FDR Put the Nation to Work.  I bought it for several reasons. Here they are, in quick succession:
1. I love the idea behind the WPA.  I seriously seriously do.  From what I know of the program, it was a bit of genius on the part of FDR, it brought art and beauty across the nation and gave a whole bunch of people work. I want to know so much more than I do about these projects, and this book is a great start.
2. I love FDR. There are very few presidents I love more.  I probably couldn't explain this in any kind of logical way, except that the ideas he proposed and then put into action, including the WPA and Fireside Chats (see photo above).  He was a president of ideas AND of action.  I want to know more about him, too.
3. The Federal Theatre Project, which was of course part of the WPA, is brilliant and fascinating and incredibly important to the history of theatre in America, and so few people ever learn about it.  But they should. I want/need more context for this particular initiative.
4. The WPA holds a special place in my heart because, regardless of how I feel about current Stamford, the Stamford of the mid-20th century was being revived and made beautiful by various projects initiated as part of the WPA.  It's one of the reasons that history was so interesting to me--one of the reasons I've always loved learning about the WPA--because I can see the actual results of it all around me every time I go home.

Alright. So WPA, FDR, Theatre, Stamford.  Maybe it seems unrelated to the average consumer, but it's a list that seems perfectly logical to me. So I bought this book and I'm eventually going to read it.  In the mean time, I want to explain a few things.
I learned about the WPA first in my tenth (eleventh? They all blur together...) grade American history class. It must have been eleventh grade, or maybe twelfth? I don't know at any rate it was one of those history classes with a teacher that takes literally no nonsense. Mr. Moriarty, or Coach Mo as we all referred to him, would lecture throughout the class period and if you paid any attention at all, asked a question or two, and wrote down every word he let fall out of his mouth, you had the answers to all the tests right in front of you.  The thing is, he didn't ask for regurgitation, he asked for critical thinking.  You passed his test by UNDERSTANDING what he lectured on, not regurgitating it.  I wrote one of my favorite papers (still, to this day) for Coach Mo, about advertising in the 1960s and 1970s America, and I still remember a lot of what I learned while researching for that paper.  This was where I first heard of the WPA. Not only did I hear of it, I actually got to see the results.
The image above is of a mural which (the last time I saw it, anyhow) has been re installed in Stamford High School since it was originally painted there in the 1930s, as a part of the WPA initiatives.  Not only is it a brilliant example of art-deco style, it's also tangible evidence of the Works Progress Administration.  There used to be 30 murals in the school, but construction happened (alright, realistically, construction is ALWAYS happening in that god-foresaken place) and the construction workers threw out the murals.  They were rescued by a student who took the now-chopped-up-murals to a barn for storage until they were bought back by the state years later, restored by an artist and then re installed to their original location.  Other sections of the murals have been installed at the Ferguson Library (worth it's own post, but that's for another day) and in other arts institutions across the city, or at least that was my understanding of the situation, and now they stand, scattered, but still a strong reminder of the state of the country after the great depression and it's recovery thereafter.
These murals, we were told by Coach Mo, were far from the only remaining evidence of the WPA.  If we wanted a more intact example, all we had to do was enjoy a Friday night football game.  So this is what it looked like when it was first built:
And here's a picture of what it looks like now (ish)
It's sort of awesome.  But what's Stamford, in the grand scheme of things? So far away from Washington, D.C, so far from any decisions being made about war and depressions and anything important.  Alright, so on the map of the U.S... you could definitely get farther away.  But still.  Not an important city.
Eh. Think again.
Stamford is actually a major commuting city, still today.  It's only about a forty minute train ride to New York, and even before all the wonderful buildings and billboards and shiny, overpriced theatres, New York City was a big fucking deal.  And you have to keep the people who keep the City running... running.  So, according to Coach, FDR zoomed in specifically on Stamford.  He sent out a great big greeting card to the City That Works (well, at that point, the City that WILL work, dammit!!) inviting us to develop and thrive, setting up theatres and a new satellite of the Whitney Museum, building stadiums and painting murals, and making the city beautiful on so many levels. 
The city was full of so much promise, when someone was still promising it a future.  Now, however, I don't see any of that in Stamford.  At least, I don't see much.  the Whitney has been taken out in favor of more offices, the stadium needs repairing, the library has truncated hours; the city is but a pale shadow of what FDR was so close to making it become.  When I was a kid it was beautiful in so many ways.  Now it makes me sad.
Because I've seen the murals, and the stadium, and the art museum and the theater, when it wasn't being infested by Jerry beads. (that's right.  The stage where I once sat on the edge of my seat, watching the Hobbit and Curious George and countless productions of the Nutcracker... it's been handed over to trashtastic talk shows. It has literally become the sound stage for Jerry Springer. Or for Maury Povich.  I suppose it depends on the day, and the stage... you can't make this stuff up.)
Alright, I'm totally off topic now.
The WPA.  There we go.  Back to the source.  So Coach Mo shows us these murals and tells us that Boyle Stadium (that's what it's called, Boyle Stadium) were actually created as government initiatives to stimulate the job market, the economy, and the general loveliness of the City of Stamford, and I can't help thinking about all the other fancy tidbits I may have missed in the history of my hometown.  I tried researching it, but guess what's a little bit not at all well documented (any more, anyhow)?  A city that used to be so vital it was hand-chosen by the President to get special treatment, in a time when most of the country was starving, has been left to the vultures.  How can I feel proud of a city that doesn't seem to take pride in itself?
At that point, however, I was still smitten with stamford (that should be on a t-shirt, though no one would buy it and even less people would actually wear it.) and I believed a great many things about what I also still considered My City.
It wasn't until my freshman year of college I found out about the Federal Theatre Project, and how some playwrights used the money doled out by the undermine the government.  We watched The Cradle Will Rock and Cradle Will Rock (yep, they're different. One is a play written and produced as part of the FTP, and the other is a movie about it's production and place in history. Both are fascinating.) and, although the soundtrack is atrocious, the story behind the whole affair is brilliant.  Check it out if you have time.  Angry writers (oh, and Orson Welles) decide to produce a play about unions and how they are a Good Thing and how Mr. Mr (the proverbial Man) is trying to keep the working man from working.  Well.  The government wasn't so crazy about this idea and even though the show was sold out, the theatre it was supposed to go up in was magically padlocked, props and costumes and all, on opening night.  What does a cast and crew and group of musicians with a padlocked theater do?
Announce there has been a change in location, and march block and blocks away, picking up even more audience members on the way.  So now they have a theatre, but no one can perform on the stage because it's a government production and they're all under contract.  Well, everyone except the playwright, who sits on stage in front of a piano and plays.  One by one, the actors stand from the audience and perform among audience members.  Nothing in their contract against that.
The show is still performed from the audience in most productions today.
Oh Jeez.  I've made it to my hour mark. I supposed I history nerded a little harder than I expected. Ah well.  I suppose that must be the point.  Go watch Cradle will Rock.  There'll be a test on it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Inglorious Basterds always makes me want Apple Pastries and milk

It's late. I'm tired, I was editing the manuscript that I'm editing almost all day, and I'm going to start round two tomorrow on the train.
Ah yes. My internship begins tomorrow.
I have decided that a full hour every other day and about a half hour on the off days is a more realistic goal, especially with my new internship coming up and getting ready to move, and thinking about the dramaturgy project that's coming up (I'll be working on A Chorus Line at Montclair State in the fall!!)
Today we watched the final three specials of Doctor Who with David Tennant as the Doctor, and now there's going to have to be a lull before we get more Doctor fix because Season 5 is mad expensive.  Except that I just found season 5 on netflix, so maybe when I'm done with this entry we will start watching Max Matt Smith's seasons.  We also watched the first X-Men movie, which I can't believe came out about eleven years ago.
Last night, I picked up my copy of the Writer's Yearbook 2011, and I found a billion excellent resources for working on my writing, from both a creative perspective and a business perspective.  There's a whole new list of websites to visit, in order to get more familiar with the writing market, make myself more marketable and more of an internet presence.  Both reading through the Yearbook, and reading the manuscript I'm editing (which is about being an educator and balancing an online presence as a writer... well... that's not precisely what the book is about, per say, but it plays a large role in the unfolding of the book...) make me fell great about keeping this blog.  It means I've got somewhere to stretch and work out my writing muscles, as well as somewhere to continue building my portfolio.  Being present and relevant are great things, and keeping up on this site, be it daily or every other day, will help me do that.
Days like these are the days when I know that writing isn't just something that was convenient.  It's not something I'm JUST good at (though I hope that I am good at it... good enough for other people to enjoy reading what I've written as much as I enjoy writing it...), it's still something I HAVE TO DO. Reading about the market, and editing other writers' work, just feels natural.  It feels like breathing and eating and making it through the day happy and satiated.  It's the world in which I belong, and I'm so happy to be going into unfamiliar parts of that world tomorrow, with my internship.
Anyhow, it's getting sort of late and I've got to pack a backpack for tomorrow, so I'm going to take my internet leave for the evening.  Tomorrow, I'd like to write a full blog post as well as a post about why I love Inglorious Basterds.  Because I really really do. Night!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My new Printer/Scanner has its own email address...

Hi! So it looks like maybe every other day is the goal I'm going to be aiming for.  Even in a month as quiet and relatively empty as June has been, writing for an hour each day has proven to be incredibly difficult.  I spent the better part of yesterday in the city with Sara Z for her b-day and it was an incredibly exhausting day (I did not expect to be out in the sun for hours and was not hydrated enough...) but it was also awesome and full of new adventures for me and for Sara. I will definitely be writing about that today.
We started off taking a ferry to Governor's island where a group called Figment has artists come and install interactive art pieces.  Not only was the art really cool and fun to play with, but the island used to be owned by the army or something and so there are all these buildings (including a library and gigantic fort, which is called Castle Williams) that are closed but still in excellent condition, being kept up by the city and what not.  There are all these bikes that are free to ride around the island, and little cafe areas everywhere and a mini-beach and when ferrys drive past the wake makes the water crash up and over the seawall and you can stand at the fence and cool off your feet.  It's a place I wish we had had more time to explore, because it really was beautiful but by the time we got there there was definitely a "packing up" vibe, and we were in the middle of a game of mini-golf on a course where each hole was designed by a different artist when men in golf carts with megaphones started driving around telling everyone the last ferry would be leaving soon and we had to head toward the docks.
Then we ventured into Chinatown, where I had also never been, and I honestly felt like I was in Epcot.  I thought there was no way that Chinatown could really exist in the middle of New York (alright, so it's not the middle, but still.  It was a weird dose of culture shock...) and we went to this vegetarian Dim Sum place.  I had never had Dim Sum before, but the food was delicious (Sara was less impressed) even though the service was... weird.  It was getting late so we had to part ways at that point, Sara apparently headed to a museum that was open until about 9 and I headed to Penn station, met up with Jeremy, and headed back to Montclair.

I used to go into New York all the time when I was in high school, and pretty much every winter and summer through the first couple years of college.  The problem with those trips was that they never covered much of the city.  For the most part, they consisted of heading straight from Grand Central to my destination, which was almost always a Broadway theatre.  Sometimes I would walk around to Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Plaza and the Nintendo store, but rarely.  In the past two or three years, however, I have explored whole new (to me, at least) sections of the city, starting with Greenwich Village on a trip with Goucher people about two years ago.  Sarah (different Sarah.) and Eric and I headed straight from Times Square for the Village, where we had never been, and explored our hearts out.  We were at Oscar Wilde bookstore the weekend it was closing.  We had lunch at some hole in the wall where I got black bean soup.  We sniffed the air at Magnolia's bakery (that was about all we could afford...) and then topped off the night with dinner at a bar/restaurant I couldn't find again if I tried.  It was the first genuinely spontaneous day in the city I had ever experienced. Then last summer I followed Margaret and Hannah to a theatre where they had been putting in slave labor hours, and I passed Ground Zero for the first time ever- before or after 9/11.  I couldn't stay long.
And just a couple weeks ago Margaret, Ben and I wandered about Chelsea before a Bowling for Soup concert at the Highline Ballroom.  It's only starting to dawn on me now that I have barely even scraped the surface of what New York City really is, and even though none of the city makes me nearly as nervous as it's supposed to, I'm starting to realize how unfamiliar I really am with the greatest city in the world.  Instead of depressing me, this actually makes me really really excited.  This means that
1. New York does NOT have to drain my pockets.  I spent MAYBE  thirty bucks all day yesterday.  The less expensive, the better, and actually I would wager good money that the off-broadway scene is way cooler than seeing Wicked sixty thousand times.
2. There is a ton of stuff to discover.  Governor's Island is what really brought this home for me.  My camera also died early in our time there, which bummed me out but also meant I wasn't seeing everything through a screen, but witnessing it first hand and participating in a lot of different installations that I may not have participated in if I was busy documenting it in photos.
3. Times Square is kind of boring.  You can only wander through Toys R Us so many times--and this experience is made worse when your pockets are empty--before it becomes sort of depressing.  Also, my old trips into the City were really consumer-centric, as in, the worth of the trip could be measured in what I brought home from it, in a tangible sense.  These new trips I spend the train ride home thinking and mulling over the things I've seen and been a part of, and realizing all over again how New York really is something I just want to be a part of.  Broadway is great, but discovering a new restaurant is even better, and experiencing art and meeting really interesting people for free is best of all.
Anyhow.  I'm really pleased with these trips that have me riding the subway all over creation, and figuring out how to get back to Penn station without spending too much money, and walking until my feet are numb and collapsing into bed when I get home.  I'm really excited to take other people on these adventures with me, especially Ali who has gone on more than one trip with me where most of the pictures we take are of billboards.  I think she really would have loved the Figment experience, and so would Jer.  I would have loved to explore the buildings more, Jer would love the bike riding, Ali would love all the art and the water...
I've also never done a few incredibly touristy things in New York, like visiting the Empire State Building, going inside the Statue of Liberty, and seeing the Imagine Memorial in Central Park. These are all on my bucket list.
On that same note, while I was sitting in Borders waiting for Sara to arrive, I came up with a new idea: A Shame list.  This would be a list of things we're embarrassed we haven't done yet.  Like, never going inside the Empire State Building or never reading Animal Farm or never seeing Singin' in the Rain.  This is more than just a bucket list.  This is a different, albeit similar, kind of list.  I'm going to be building my shame list soon, and hopefully start working on it with Margaret soon after that.  Exploring New York is part of my shame list, and I'm so happy that I've begun chipping away at it.
Of course, this will get easier once I'm working in the Village three days a week... which begins this coming Monday!
I'm about twenty minutes away from the end of my hour, and I don't know what else to write about.  I got a new scanner/printer today, and it's a much bigger deal than it should be.  This is only the second printer I have ever owned and the first one was so brilliant that I cringe to think that I had to swap it out.  I'm going to be giving my old printer (which was a high school graduation gift from my Grammy) to my sister, who will probably be heading to college herself in about a year and even if she stays at home she will need a printer of her own.  It's the best printer ever- I have literally never had a problem with it- and if Caitlin doesn't want it, and Lauryn doesn't want it, then I will keep it and have two printers just for the hell of it until they stop making ink for the original printer.  That's how good this sucker was.  The problem, of course, was that this old trooper didn't print photos very well and it didn't have a scanner... which is what led me to the printer section at Target in the first place.
But this new printer (his name is Winston.) has a scanner, and it's wireless, and it has its own email address that I can send things to it from anywhere in the world and it will print.  Like a fax machine, only sexier.  Also, this new printer is an HP, just like the old one, so I feel like at least I'm keeping it in the family.  I guess.  If Winston is anywhere near as reliable as the old Printer, then I will have him for at least six years without any problems.
I guess that's all I've got to say today. With any luck, I'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quick check-in and then I'm off to work on tonight's challenge.

Hi! I'm going to be handwriting tonight for a change of pace.  I'm hoping to find an inexpensive scanner this weekend, and then I'll scan in what I'm counting for tonight's entry.  It's an exercise in character development, and I'm really excited to try it, so... I hope something interesting comes of it!
I'm taking the main character of the Rose Planet books-Rini- and working on figuring her out, as more than just a projection of me when I was twelve.  Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cold-Brew iced tea still confuses me

I'm going to be honest. I'm totally at a loss re: what to write about today.  I got sort of distracted yesterday and didn't write, so article number one is that I need a penalty.  Plus, I don't really know what to write about today, and I had real work while I was at the school today, so I didn't even do anything to build towards my challenge tonight.  Plus, I really have to pee so I'm going to have to take a short break from the hour solid to go use the facilities.
I'm sort of in a totally unjustified rut.  I'm in a pretty good place in general (in every sense but the geographic one...) and I have no reason to be feeling the way I've been feeling this week.  Maybe it's the weather. I don't even have any good guesses as far as what could be getting me this down.  I need a break, I think.  Sunday was the first day in a really long time where I literally did nothing, and it was glorious.  I need more days like Sunday. And now My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is on, which is... weird.  I am so distracted by the giant dresses.
Okay I just lost ten minutes staring at the tele. Where the hell did that show come from? And why are eight years olds dropping it like it's hot?
I really think I should take a few days off from the challenge proper and redesign it.  Or maybe now that I'm not doing my assisstantship anymore for the summer, I'll have a little time to think about what I'm going to do for the rest of the month.  I feel like I should push myself further than I ever have before, and I like the ideas behind this challenge, I'm just getting lazy and it's only a week in.  I can't miss any more days, I think it would just depress me to give up now.  So what should I write about for the next hour? That, I guess, is the million dollar question.
I want to get more organized.  I would really like to start moving things out of this house to other locations-mostly up to Stamford since we can't move it anywhere else really... because we don't know where we're going to be moving to.  That might be the thing that's really bugging me right now, is being so close to moving while still being so far away.  I want to get the hell out of here and start living in a place I actually like with Jeremy.  I think being able to decorate the apartment however we want and only having to worry about each other is going to be a huge change and I can't wait, because I am so sick of this house and all the lazy bullshit that ensues here it's really absurd.
I'm looking forward to not keeping things like garbage bags and toilet paper on the floor in our bedroom, and not having to throw out garbage bags full of rotten food once every two weeks.  I'm looking forward to a lot of things, and they're far enough away on the horizon that for right now it's frustrating.
In the mean time I sit around trying to make the best of what's kind of a shitty situation, and you can only do that so much before you just get defeated and frustrated.
I apologize this challenge was not supposed to be about me griping, although getting the gripe out onto the page (be it digital or not) may help with this creative roadblock I seem to be hitting.  There was something about writer's block in the imagineering workout... hold on ooooone second
*jeopardy music plays*
Okay. A quick thumb through of the book reminded me of three things:
1. to stay positive.  Maybe it's just because it's coming from the imagineers.  Maybe it's there all the time and I just forget (most likely) or maybe I can't help smiling when I see Figment, but this advice is pretty solid.  I'm feeling a little better already, especially considering that thing number two is:
2. regardless of what you think re: the quality of what's being recorded, you can only get through writer's block by continuing to work, especially if you have a deadline.  I am going to keep writing today's entry, because "won't" and "can't" HAVE to come out of my vocabulary.  I have to stop being so hard on myself and even though I love Yoda and believe all of his advice, there is such a thing as try.  I think Yoda knows that, too.  I think what he's saying to Luke isn't that there's no such THING as try, but that you can't have the attitude that trying is good enough.  You either do something, or you don't.  If plan A falls through, there's always a Plan B and as soon as you shrug and think "ah well. At least I tried" you've already failed. Just keep going and doing and swimming, and eventually the pay off will come. And on a slightly related note:
3. Changing gears is okay.  So the first rigid set of rules for the challenge are proving to be a bit self-defeating.  Plan B goes into effect now.  I'm going to write for an hour every day, best case scenario it's going to be about a new movie, article, project, etc. The topic HAS to be new, and the writing HAS to happen for an hour.  Everything else is relative.  Penalty for not writing still has to happen, and it can be more writing, if I so choose, but it has to be decided and completed within a week of the original offense or else more penalty gets tacked on.

I have to edit for Elizabeth tonight.  I am love love loving her book so far, which makes it infinitely easier to edit, because I want to help make it even better.  I hate editing things that aren't fun to read, because I feel like the writer won't be able to benefit from my edits because I have no stock in the piece itself.  But I like Elizabeth's book, I feel that I can sympathize with her, and I want to work on it until it's perfect.  Unfortunately, that project DOES have a deadline, and it's coming up soon, so I better get crackin because I NEVER get work done on the weekends, even though I really need to start.
My internship starts on Monday!  Well, technically it doesn't.  Monday is orientation day, so I don't think that technically counts as the first day.  But I'll be doing something new, and fun, and challenging and something I def. can't take home with me, so that will be stellar.  It will be a nice change of pace to have some guidance and supervision, so that I'll actually know what my bosses want from me as opposed to... other places I have worked.
You know, an hour has never been as long as it is when I'm writing these entries, but then I inevitable stumble upon something I like with like five minutes to spare and then I end up writing frantically to make up for the time lost staring into space while I'm at the half-way mark like I am now.  I'm going to write a list of things I would like to work on next week in the challenge:
1. Working through the AP stylebook.  I need to know about how journalism actually works, in the real world, as opposed to my strange, specialized free-lance world.
2. Reading Wesley the Owl.
3. Editing By the Sound.
4. Starting work on A Chorus Line dramaturgy.
5. Writing about Music- reinstate Blink 182sdays. Find out where that takes you.
6. New Crafting project. This can be a craft in the design stages.
7. Searching for people who don't want to be found.

That seems like a pretty solid week. Some nice variety. At the very least, I'll stumble on something interesting, and get to flex some muscles I haven't flexed in a while.  I still need to do an hour of exercise as a penalty for my mis-step last Friday. This Friday I better write early, because I'm going into the city with Miss Sara Z for her b-day and we're going to go to a museum that has as of yet been undetermined.  Although I could wait to write until the end of the day... that could be my field trip challenge. Anyhow.  It's been an hour(ish) and I'm too fascinated by this gypsy shit... I want to get back to watching this show.  I will be back tomorrow. <3

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Genesis: My Life in Games

E3 officially began today, and even if I weren't gearing up for an internship at Kotaku, and even if I weren't working for 3DSBuzz, and even if I weren't dating a ginormous gamer... I would be tuned in all week long.
This is the second time I'm following E3 with any kind of regularity (live broadcast from the G4 network makes that kind of thing really easy...) and every time I am immersed in video games or nerdyness like this, I start thinking about my own history as a nerd and what makes this nerd culture that has become oh-so-very-hip so important to my personal history.
I have to make a confession.  I am terrible at video games.  I haven't read many comic books.  I didn't own a gameboy until I was in about 7th grade. I know most of what I know about superheroes from movies that came out in the past ten years.
By all non-nerd definitions of what it means to BE a nerd, I am a poser.
But by the definitions of the people I know and love and who (at the very least pretend to) know and love me too, that couldn't be further from the truth.
The nerd world is the only one where I fit in, it's the only place I've had to TRY to get better at things, and to learn, and the only place I've ever been challenged.
I am, honestly (I promise you this has absolutely nothing to do with humility) trash at every video game I have ever played, unless i devote countless hours to it.  It took me two years to beat Kingdom Hearts, and that was after I gave up and used the guidebook. So good for me--I know how to read.
But that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep trying. Regardless of what I might say mid-game, I will not stop playing lego games until I complete them.  I will not put down Super Mario Galaxy (I know, I know. 2007. Get off my case...) until I can 100% that bastard.  I WILL. keep rocking out. in rock band.
Now this is me on a good day.  Catch me on a bad one, and you'll probably have to pry the xbox controller out my hands before it goes flying. And there are certain games I simply won't play anymore, like Left For Dead, and any game that has Halo in the title.
Part of the problem is (and don't a single one of you take this the wrong way) the people I play with.  That is to say that there is a HUGE learning gap (part of it, I will admit, is due to practice, but another part I'm still convinced is the fact that I'm just inept) between myself and my lovely game partners.  This means co-op has literally never been co-op for me.  Unless I'm playing with my Mom, every other person I have picked up a controller against or with has been running ahead while I'm almost literally trying to catch my breath to keep pace.  It's one of the reasons I love farmville, and sims, and the Movies.  I can deal with those games, because they require nothing more (except maybe Movies, which requires some knowledge of the movie industry and a little bit of history...) than time and a touch of OCD.
I like RPG games, too, because it doesn't matter how long it takes me to beat Oogie-Boogie... I'm not holding anyone back. And maybe I just hit on why I've always loved Dead Rising, but hated Left For Dead.  It's not the first person shooting that bugs me... it's the other people playing.
This all makes me sound incredibly anti-social and that's not at all what I mean, because I love playing video games with other people.  I just always feel a twinge of suckiness re: how atrociously bad I am at every game I've ever picked up.
So what keeps me coming back? Is it a sick over-developed sense of masochism? Is it some kind of feeling of pandering to all those other folks who are that much better than me?
I think that it's the challenge.  Like I said, the nerdy world is where I've always been challenged, and felt the need to push myself further.  That extends from the video game and comic book world out to the nerdy literary world from whence my BA originated.  I love to read, I love to write (one would hope) and I love to learn.  Where is a better place to learn that somewhere where your skill sets and knowledge base are so low?
I love Chaucer because he's hard to learn and so much fun to unlock.  I love science fiction because the rules get reset every time you start exploring a new world. I love video games, because they're not. easy.
When I was a kid a few things happened that changed the way I learned and thought about the world around me.
1. I found out I was smart. Really smart.  Couldn't see my score card from the standardized tests I had to take in school, because then I would go bragging about the score to my "friends."
Of course, what I didn't know (and I wish someone had told me) is that standardized tests don't count for shit, and that unlike some other things, if you don't use it, you lose it. Or at least it doesn't develop.
2. I found out other people knew I was smart.  Specifically people who graded my homework.  And those people always wanted me to prove how smart I was, when really all I wanted to do was create plays for my American Girl dolls on this awesome computer game I had that would take forever to explain.
3. I found out If I put off my homework long enough, I could stay home from school for a day.  I could complete that homework in one day, and trick my teachers into thinking I had worked hard on something that mostly I just let my Mom do for me.
4. I gave up.  Based on my discoveries (coupled with hormones taking over my brain and middle school encroaching on my horizon) I decided that it wasn't worth it to be smart any more.  I was going to stop trying, and trick my teachers again- but this time into thinking that I had somehow gotten dumber.  Rushing on those standardized tests was a great start.  But I did it too well, and was given a note by my teacher, instructed to hand it right to my mom without reading it.  Right.  I suffered a "surprising change in attitude and aptitude" and the teacher wanted to speak with my Mom after school the next day.

And so began my long and arduous journey from the bottom back up to the top.  My Mom tried scolding me, but trying to scold a kid whose problem is lack of motivation can NOT be easy.  Go ahead.  Punish me.  Turn off the television. Oh no.  I guess I'll just read.
And try yelling at me for reading, when what you're trying to get me to do is... read. Yeah. Catch 22.
I may not have been getting into trouble, but I definitely wasn't doing what I was supposed to.
So there I was, eleven years old and trying not to try.
But Middle School was so cool! We were learning about mummies and volcanoes and reading about dragons. I couldn't help doing my homework.  But it's okay. that only took three years, a giant technology exit project, and a handheld Yahtzee game to wear off.

And that's when I started playing video games again.
It all seems pretty simple, but I promise you it's not.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Travel doesn't often make me weary

Today, I'm doing something I haven't done in... a long time. I'm going to write a bucket list.  I'm going to try and add a hundred things to a bucket list that hasn't been written since before Steve Irwin died. I have spent a lot of today doing a lot of nothing, except playing the Sims on my iPod, watching Doctor Who and Sleeping Beauty, and eating cheesecake.  I also spent time thinking about yesterday's sort of failure to complete this challenge, and the day before's total failure to complete the challenge, which means tomorrow I'm going to be editing the challenge rules, and maybe coming up with some preset challenges for the week, including the prep for the challenges. Today's bucket list started as an idea for planning a road trip, when I realized I'm going to do that when I finally have a big fold-out map in front of me, a set time to go on said road trip, and a partner in crime to plan the trip with me.
SO.  Let the bucket list begin:
1. Road trip across the country.  Best case scenario, the trip would start here on the east coast, and then it would end in Disney Land in Anaheim. There's too much of America to think about what I want to see in one trip, but there's plenty to see and do and I want to find the abandoned amusement parks and giant balls of yarn and paper towns.
2. Visit every Disney Park in the world at least once.
3. Publish a novel.
4. See a play of mine produced for a paying audience.
5. Visit every state in America.
6. Go snowboarding again.
7. Write the Harry Potter book with Sarah.
8. Own a pet pig.
9. Grow my own vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc. Grow things I can eat, and then eat them.
10. Get my Ph.D
11. Own a Thunderbird.  Yellow, with yellow and black leather interior.
12. Spend a summer reading at least two books every week. At LEAST.
13. Take proper cooking classes somewhere reputable.
14. Learn to decorate cakes like Mom used to.
15. Make my own ice cream.
16. See all the James Bond movies.
17. Build the yellow Padme dress.
18. Visit Scotland.
19. Go on a Harry Potter tour of England.
20.  See every Disney movie at least once (feature film. Made for TV doesn't count)
21. Spend a winter holed up writing and reading.
22. Attend every "event" in a Walt Disney world calendar year.
23. Visit Japan.
24. Live in at least five different states (and I do mean LIVE.)
25. Own an iguana.
26. Go on a "writing retreat"
27. See a television show taped live.
28. Meet Jason Segel.
29. Work with Muppets.
30. Work with Disney.
31. Play through Zelda: Ocarina of Time on a Nintendo 64.
32. Write for a video game developer.
33. Learn to play electric bass guitar
34. Learn to play ukulele
35. Explore an abandoned amusement park.
36. See a movie at a drive-in theatre. The older the movie, the better.
37. Go on a cruise.
38. Spend a night in a "haunted hotel"- Lizzie Borden's house is the top of the list.
39. Picnic.
40. Sleep under the stars.
41. Own dogs (yes. multiple).
42. find the question to life, the universe, and everything.
43. Read the Lord of the Rings.
44. Read the Harry Potter series out loud at bedtime to kids (They don't have to be mine, and I know that sounds so creepy but I think it's also self-explanatory.)
45. Work on Broadway
46. Own a Persian cat.
47. Meet John Green
48. Attend Comic-Con San Diego
49. Go to the San Diego Zoo.
50. Go to Harry Potter World.
51. Go to Lego World
52. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
53. Go inside the Statue of Liberty
54. Catalogue my book collection
55. Visit Germany
56. Spend an entire day at the Metropolitan Museum of art
57. See Star Wars on the big screen
58. Harry Potter Movie Marathon
59. build a train set
60. take a train overnight across the country
61. Astoria, Oregon.
62. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of fame
63. See all of the movies on the AFI top 100 list
64. Read Narnia
65. Read the Wrinkle in Time series
66. Paint on a canvas
67. get a real fancy-like camera and know how to use it
68. See all of Doctor Who
69. See all of Flash Gordon
70. Collaborate with Lee on a play about a monkey running for congress.
71. Live in England
72. Run a webcomic
73. Read one Jane Austen novel (besides Pride and Prejudice) and try to understand why people find her so appealing
74. See Singing in the Rain, and Reefer Madness.
75. Learn about Stamford's history.
76. Understand Mandelbrot.
77. Visit Strawberry Fields
78. Have a proper tea party- British
79. Have a proper tea ceremony- Japanese
80. own a ball gown
81. replace my VHS collection with DVDs
82. own a fireplace with an overstuffed chair and books everywhere
83. build a star wars bookcase
84. See Bowling for Soup perform in Texas
Technically, that's an hour. But I'm going to break the rules a little and continue on to 100.

85. Learn to use a gun
86. Finish my Doctor Who scarf.
87. Make a "Books to read bucket list", then complete it.
88. Read all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries
89. Finish reading the Hitchiker's series
90. Finish a bucket list of 100 items
91. keep a journal every day for a year
92. Beat Kingdom Hearts II
93. Build Hogwarts out of legos without the instructions
94. Learn to build my own computer
95. volunteer at an animal rescue shelter
96. attend a red carpet movie premiere
97. go to a county fair
98. make a quilt
99. Play Super Mario 64... on a Nintendo 64.
100. Build a treehouse someone can live in.