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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

MOIST. And then a diatribe.

After a long day of doing a lot of nothing and then going out for dinner and movie with Jer, I have decided to accept the challenge posed by Lee when I posted the rules for this challenge:

Start a legitimate short story thusly:


It's your choice whether that's in quotes or not. Go.

Moist. That was the only word I could think of to adequately describe the way the room looked.  My big brother and his fiancĂ©e had just finished painting the first room in their house, and it was an uncomfortable shade of blue- the kind that made you feel squidgy inside and this effect was made worse by the fact that A) the ceiling was the exact same shade of blue and B) there was thick, squidgy-blue shag carpeting below my feet.
"The carpet was already there, so we figured... why waste such a great... retro look!" Cindy was genuinely excited about this decision.  The only part about this that could possibly crush my soul more was the look on my brother Luke's face, which illustrated nothing but total agreement with Cindy's assessment of the situation. I was hoping this was a pre-honeymoon honeymoon phase, and neither of them could possibly feel this way.  There was some kind of pheremone or hormone or chemical imbalance that made them blind to how moist everything was.  I couldn't stop wiping my hands on my sweatpants as I nodded.
"Oh, yeah.  Totally great and retro and not at all... weird." They beamed.
"It's going to be the guest room!"
"What? The GUEST room? You mean you don't want to keep this room all to yourselves?" Cindy's wide-set smile faltered then but just by the tiniest bit.
"Well. The other room is... bigger... and..."
"Calm down, I don't actually care.  And it's not like you couldn't paint YOUR room the same color, if you really wanted..."
"OH COULD WE?" She actually jumped up and down. Luke looked around, soaking up all the color.  I could see he realized what a horrible, moisty mistake that paint color had been.  He flashed Cindy a lopsided smile, the kind the girls always thought was cool or whatever but I knew meant he was hiding something.
"We'll see." He grabbed Cindy's hand. "We don't want to do ALL our remodeling at'll... you know... all look the same if we rush it and we won't have a good variety of ideas or...something" He mumbled the last part, but Cindy didn't seem to notice.
"Brilliant. You're brilliant, your brother is brilliant you know that?"
"Yeah, he's...something."  Luke winked at me- silly girls always believing whatever he said with a wink and a smile.  I did not understand anyone who fell for that.
"So, Cindy... we should probably be off.  Flowers to pick out and parties to attend and stuff."
"RIGHT YES can you believe I forgot already why you were here? Ha things just so whirlwindy around here lately..." She poked at the wall. "Oh I just LOVE this color."  My stomach lurched.
"Right. Well. I'm going to the facilities, ready to go?"
"Oh yeah sure!"
It was a week to go before the wedding and not only had Cindy used the rest of the moisty blue paint to highlight the baseboards in the upstairs bathroom, she had stuck sea animal shaped sponges in it and decorated the bathroom walls with moist octopus, moist seahorses, and moist non-descript fish.  It looked like, surrounded by all that "water" these sea animals needed a toilet worse than whoever found themselves within the bathroom to begin with.
Cindy presented the shapes and the baseboard to me as proudly as she had shown me the guest room. I felt that same squidgy uncomfortablness that I had the week before.
"Luke, why don't you just throw that paint away? It's really... terrible."
"Nah. It's not bad and anyhow she's happy. I've got the rest of my life to make her upset, I'll let her have the stupid paint until it runs out."
"Fine, alright, who am I to criticise?"
"Exactly. What kind of relationship are YOU in?"
"Oh the perfect kind. The kind that doesn't exist."
"Again. Eeeeexactly."
"But seriously. Haven't you noticed how... moist... that paint color looks?"
"Oh gross." Yeah, that word is kind of gross. but also it sounds awesome.
"Stop it!"
"Moisty moist?"
"Oh stoooop it!" He covered his ears.  Cindy arrived in the room, smiling and covered with moisty blue paint smudges.
"What is he squirming about?"
"Oh nothing. Just semantics."
"Lalalalalalala" Luke was still keeping his ears covered.
"What do you mean?" Cindy went to the sink to rinse out her paint brushes.
"Nothing. Doesn't matter.  Bathroom looks great, Cindy. I've gotta take your oaf of a fiancee out to the tuxedo store and we're going to try and make him look presentable.
"Good luck with that."

At the tuxedo rental place Luke and I got to sit, quietly, just enjoying each others' company. It felt like we hadn't seen each other in months, even though I had probably seen him more since his engagement to Cindy than I had since he moved out to go to school. And that was almost six years ago.
"are you EXCITED to get MARRIED?" I nudged him with my elbow.
"Actually, no, you know I was thinking maybe I would just do this because I'm bored or something."
"You know, I got that feeling. I didn't even think you liked girls, let alone Cindy." Actually, nothing was further from the truth.
"I don't, you know?"
"I didn't think so." There was silence for a few moments. And then--
"But seriously.  So excited."
"really? Isn't that like... the girls job?"
"Well, yeah, she's excited too, but I can't help it.  A whole life changing--two lives changing and you know, eventually, more lives because you know... babies and stuff."
"What sexual intercourse is gross?"
"SExxxxx is gross?"
"when you're having it, yes."
"And when you're having it?"
"Oh it's freakin magical. Like unicorns leaping over rainbows while butterflys burst through the sun and glitter comes out of cotton candy skies."
"Wow that's poetic. just so you know that's like... that's one of those binders you used to have when we were kids."
"Oh please you know what they're called."
"Whoa now, just because ms. Frank comma Lisa targeted a female audience doesn't mean she only appealed--"
"get your sticker book out of a bunch."
"Stickers are NOT ONLY FOR GIRLS!"
"When they're panda bears with sparkly pink eyes, I would tend to disagree."
"Excuse me, Mr. Sanders?" A tall, thin man with a measuring tape around his neck and a clipboard in his hand held out his free hand for Luke to shake.  Luke reciprocated.
"That's the colonel." I interrupted. The thin man stood up a little straighter.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't-- we'll have to be sure to include a military discount in your price quote today..." Luke was laughing.
"Please excuse her-- this is my idiotic sister who thinks fried chicken jokes are funny."
"Of course the chicken isn't funny... it's the mustache and the bolero tie that are hilarious."
"Bolero tie? I don't know if we have any in stock... ever." The two of us started laughing again. This was going to be a fantastic appointment if the man were as thick as he was acting.

The thin man was taking Luke's measurements.  He was clearly new- his hands were shaking, he kept apologizing for having to measure Luke's inseam "To which my incredibly mature and totally-old-enough-to-be-getting-married self continuously responded 'no homo', dude it's totally cool. whoa hey that's not my leg!" to which the thin man let go of the measuring tape as though it were a hot tamale, followed by the raucous laughter of both myself and Luke.
Finally, almost twice as long as it was supposed to take later, we were leaving the tuxedo shop and heading to the comic book store across the street.

Alright. I'm done working on that story, I'm not at all interested in where it's going and I'm tired and Doctor Who is on and I am not doing this challenge anywhere near properly.  I hate that I skipped yesterday, I couldn't even make it more than two days without totally fucking up a challenge that I posed to myself and I hate that.  Plus I'm not feeling well, I didn't write an article for 3dsbuzz yesterday and I feel like a total bum.  I'm probably not even going to publish this part of the writing because it's so annoying and whiney and I HATE IT. I'm so distracted and I know WHY right now, but I don't know why for yesterday and most of today.  I am so sick of feeling sick I just want to feel not sick any longer and right now writing is getting me more frustrated because I'm not even following my own rules.  I should be doing this for my own benefit and on some level, that's totally what's going on, but on another level I am frustrated that I've already busted it up and I'm not getting more feedback from the people I keep tagging and shit on facebook.  I am just tired and I have a lot of editing to get to tomorrow and I don't see why I can't just get the writing done that I need to get done.  IT's not even hard.
This is stupid.
I would much rather be writing things that are good, and not stupid and obvious and boring as fuck. I feel drained right now, angry and frustrated and tired and drained and I don't even know why.  I don't have anything to be angry about- I have a cool internship for the summer and I have places to apply for work at the mall and it's all going to be okay, but in this period where I don't know what's coming next or where we're going to be moving to... everything seems to be in flux except for one or two things and those are like... gimmies not even things I need to worry about.
I need to know where we're going to be living and when we can move there, how I'm going to get a new car and whether or not I'm going to need to register for parking on campus or get a metro card that lets me take the train every day.
Plus, I need to plan better for this challenge for next week.  This week was a dry-run and I guess it's only to be expected that I totally messed it up, but I really wish I could do ONE thing right on the first go.  i don't tend to be able to do things right on the first go.  That. Makes. Me. Bonkers.
You know what's even worse is that I'm the one controlling what words go onto this page or whatever and I can't even muster up some good words for my own sake.  IM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SHIP AND IM TOTALLY DRIVING US INTO THE ICEBERG THAT'S GOING TO CAUSE OUR DOWNFALL.
Truer words have never been written.
I'm exhausted.  I'm hoping that tomorrow's post will be better planed.  I'm going to try and do a round-up tomorrow, finish my penalty for not writing yesterday, and then re-build the challenge based on what's working and what isn't.  I think pushing myself to write for an hour each day is definitely working, it's got the muscles exercising and keeps me from sitting on my ass and doing nothing with my ENTIRE day.

Penalty Post

I did not write a challenge specific blog yesterday.  Partially, this is my fault, but I'm going to go ahead and blame it on the New Jersey Transit Authority, since a half hour drive home last night took me two hours instead.
I feel very sick today, so I'm going to post today's challenge after I take a nap and this migraine hopefully disappears, and if no one poses a penalty by then I'm going to be writing for two hours instead of one.
Happy penalizing (That's what she said?)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Part two: going to disney

Alright. Next up on the agenda is Animal Kingdom. This is the only park that you can do in one day, have time for another park, and never return (well, until your next trip to Disney, that is). You have to know that this park is a glorified zoo, and I say that in the most loving way possible. There are animals literally EVERYWHERE and it's awesome. This is the biggest of the parks so make sure you've got plenty of water and comfy shoes or else your feetses will be barking.  You're going to want to start your day with an Everest fastpass, and again, get in line for the ride.  The queue area is amazing with plenty of hidden mickeys.  Camp Minnie-Mickey can be off-putting if you don't have kids, but this area was originally going to be used to represent fantasy animals (look at the animal kingdom logo- you can see hints of this with the dragon in the parade of animals) and there are still some indications of this never-developed land.  If you don't care about that, skip the Camp.  I can almost guarantee the two areas you're going to spend most of your time in will be Asia and DinoLand USA.  Asia has the Everest ride as well as the Kali River Rapids (do not expect to stay dry on this ride.), the best place to eat in the park (Yak and Yeti hotel) and it has the best animals, including monkeys, tigers and seriously the biggest bats I've ever seen.  DinoLand USA also has an awesome restaurant (Restaurantosaurus) and the best ride in the park: Dinosaur!  This ride has an air conditioned queue and is awesome.  Don't skip over Primeval Whirl, because it's a cool classic ride with an awesome Dinosaur theme!  Finding Nemo: The Musical is also in DinoLand, and believe me when I say there is not a bad seat in the house. DONT miss the Safari, it's the best place to see animals roaming free. Check out the tree of life and see the Bug's Life show inside the tree! It's so much fun!
Last, but certainly not least is EPCOT.  this park is going to take more than one visit to complete.  this is the best place for food and the best place for drinks (including the alcoholic kind...) and also has the most ground to cover on foot (Animal Kingdom is technically bigger because of the land they need for the safari grounds.)  EPCOT is literally two park ideas smashed together, one is "Future World" and the other is the "World Showcase." Future World has more rides, and all are great, but thrills are few and far between.  Definitely explore ALL the pavilions, because they are constantly changing to keep up with modern technology and new attractions are being added all the time.  There are games that are designed for kids but so interactive and cool that they're also fun for kids our age!
Also, ride living with the land twice- once during the day, and once after dark.  The greenhouse looks totally different between the two.
The world showcase is where you're going to want to eat everywhere you go.  Each country has at least two places to eat.  ALSO- it seems really cheesy, but don't skip out on the Kim Possible game.  You get a fake cell phone and characters from the Kim Possible cartoon call you based on your location in the showcase, then send you to interactive places in the shop and attractions, where you can interact with things like a moving coo-coo clock and dancing skeleton.  It's so great to watch people who aren't playing the game get confused when the parrot starts calling for your attention, or the nutcrackers begin to dance.  And if you get tired of the game, there are places all over the world showcase to deposit the phone. Three things you will kick yourself for missing: Maelstrom ride in Norway, Off-Kilter rock band in Canada, and the Illuminations fireworks show on the international lake.  Seriously, you want a good spot in the showcase for this one.  The music is phenomenal, the fireworks are mind-blowing, and the globe screen can't be seen anywhere else.  Also, characters are EVERYWHERE in the world showcase, even ones that are less popular, and people don't expect to see them so the lines almost never get too long.
Alright. that's it for now.  More later.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Part one of Many: Disney Planning for Twenty Somethings!

Today, born of an idea I have recently stumbled upon and been inspired to begin working away at (thanks to Mom for the nudging), I will be creating my own how-to guide for twenty somethings taking trips to Walt Disney World.  I spent a lot of today researching, thinking about my next trip which (if all goes well) will be taken along with some friends who have not been to Disney as adults.  Planning this trip is already different from any other, I've got to consider the essentials rather than just the stuff I like doing... So here's the start of my planing guide for others like myself.  And I'm going to finish it tomorrow, but this is what came of one hour:
Now. There are certain things that I am going to acknowledge before I begin.  I know that college kids and just-out-of-college kids are typically either not going to Disney World, or are going to Disney WITH their families. But some of us go by ourselves and I feel like something should be said for that. Personally, I have done the trip using my families vacation club membership to pay for the resort, and I've gone paying for the whole trip out of pocket.  Both are doable, with enough planning and forethought, and managing what you're willing to splurge on and what you're not.
It's silly not to book the trip with Disney.  It's sillier still to stay off Disney property.  I know- that is exactly what the Disney company corporation business bastards (I prefer to call them brilliant, but to each his own) want me to say.  But you know what? It ain't baroque.  I won't fix it.  Here's why:
Booking with Disney means that you can call one person and they will book your flight, your resort, your park tickets, and your transportation.  If you want your own rental car, they take care of that, too.  But when there are buses, monorails, boats and trains that can take you everywhere (starting at the airport), why bother paying for the car? And if you take the right free bus to the right Holiday Inn, you can even get to Universal for free! (At least... I'm 98% positive that's possible... I haven't had to cross that bridge yet.) So yeah.  I would suggest booking through Disney.  They take care of everything and you'll get certain amenities that you probably wouldn't even think about were you booking the trip yourself.
When should you book? That's simple. Book when college classes get out, and before the rest of the worlds' summer starts.  End of May, beginning of June. Crowds aren't bad, weather is beautiful, and the timing is perfect to kick off the summer.
It's also the time of year for Star Wars weekends at Hollywood Studios (which I still call MGM) and who doesn't love Star Wars?
So that's the time of year taken care of.
Flight taken care of. Bus from the airport to the resort. The resort! How do you choose where to stay?
Well, if you're anything like myself and my friends, you're not going to spend much time at the resort so ultimately it doesn't matter.  Even what Disney deems as "Value" resorts- their cheapest options- are the kind of quality you would expect from Disney.  Nice rooms with very little if anything at all to complain about. The Value resorts have heavy-handed themes and usually you'll find a lot of families there, which doesn't bother me.  There are four themes: All-Star Sports, Music, Movies, and Pop Culture.  All are awesome. If you want to spring a little more cash then be my guest.  The resort will probably have less kids, nicer pools and quieter places to sit and enjoy the sun, but the parks are what really matter to me.
Unless you can mooch off someone's vacation club points. Then spring for the Animal Kingdom Resort because, really.  Giraffes at your window.
Wherever you end up staying, spend at least one day (evening, morning, mid-day break... whatever.) exploring the resort. Disney puts tons of time and effort into every last detail and you would be upset with yourself if you missed out. Alright, so resort taken care of.
Next, you need tickets to the parks.  Here is the first piece of advice that you really can not pass up: DO. NOT. PASS UP. THE PARK HOPPER. OPTION.
Seriously. You're at Epcot, but so are three other tours from some country in South America and you want to go somewhere the lines are a bit shorter.  BUT YOU CAN'T BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T LISTEN TO ME! Silly. It only costs about fifty bucks more, and it's good for so so many things.  Say you end up with the dining plan (I'll get to that...) and you've booked dinner in MGM, but run out of rides to ride by noon.  So? Hop on over to Magic Kingdom, enjoy the mountains of space and splash and thunder, and then head back to MGM when it's closer to nomming time. Done and done.
So tickets booked. Now let's talk about food.
This year, I think we're going to try out the Disney Dining Plan.  The Dining Plan can get pricey for a family, but when you're just paying for yourself or traveling with a significant other, or with friends, it will definitely be a nice way to break up the day. Based on how much we spent on food last go-round (and we were NOT starving...) the Dining Plan is more than woth the bang for your buck.
Okay. You're done letting a very nice representative book your trip for you, and it's time to start packing for the trip.
Things to not forget: Comfy shoes. You're going to be doing a lot of walking.
A water bottle. Disney would be so mad if you knew this, but if you ask any cast member in the parks for a water refill, they can not refuse to give it to you.  This goes ESPECIALLY if you have a Disney mug, which by the way is worth it because you can also fill it with whatever you want at your resort, however many times you want.
Sunscreen.  I don't care if it's foggy or blindingly bright outside.  You never know when you're going to be waiting in line for Finding Nemo the Musical and suddenly the sun comes out from behind the clouds and fifteen minutes later you're a tomato.  Silly.
A portable umbrella. 2:00 hits and almost without fail, the skys of Orlando open up and you're soaking wet.BUT NO YOU'RE NOT BECAUSE YOU BROUGHT AN UMBRELLA!
Non-perishable food stuffs.  SEriously. Bring some snacks, and I tend to bring bread and PB and J to make my own sandwiches as well.  IT cuts back on the money I spend on food in the parks and keeps me happy and fueled all day long.
A light jacket.  The AC Disney pumps into their buildings can be bone-chilling at times.
Alright. So you're now packed and ready to go.
Fast forward and there you are, day one in the parks. But where do you start? Well, I hope you did your research, because if you didn't this is all going to be very overwhelming.
Disney is not a park for kids.  It is a series of parks, each more brilliant than the last, designed to be enjoyed by EVERYONE. And if you're a total nerd, like me, a little research doesn't destroy the magic- it just makes it better.  I'm running out of writing time for tonight, so I'm not going to get into specifics, but here's a little run down.
Seriously. Research. I did this first when I was in seventh grade, going on my first substantial trip to the World since I was about three and had absolutely no say in what was going one. So I went to the library and took out both Frommers and Birnbaums most recent tomes on the Parks.  I literally sat with a pen in hand and a notebook in the other.  This turned out to be the best possible thing I could have done.  I went park by park and wrote down the rides I felt I HAD to see, restaurants I would like to eat at (still, not much say in this matter. I was twelve and there are four girls in my family.  None of us got to specifically pick where to eat) and other attractions I wanted to visit.  I checked them off as I went along, making changes and taking more notes.  I've never been quite so diligent since, though I've always done the same amount of research (if not more) before each trip, taking more and more responsibility for the itinerary as the years have gone by.
The research has gotten more nerdy as the years have gone by- research into behind the scenes, history, and secrets the imagineers have imparted along the way.  The depth and amount of research you choose to do is clearly up to you, but know that no matter how many times you've been to Disney Parks, they are constantly undergoing changes and there's always something new to learn and explore.
I suggest you do the same.  With the dining plan, I've started going through and chosing where I would like to each in each park, but I'll be narrowing it down the closer we get to the trip.
Now. There are certain tips you need to know about the parks.
Lines are inevitable. Disney is starting to build interactive queues in their more popular attractions: video games in Space Mountain, musical garden at Winnie the Pooh, etc. to make the time go faster. In the mean time, you've got to plan out your day.  There are fast pass machines at almost every attraction that has a queue, where you can get a ticket for admission to the ride later in the day.  If your number one must do is a more popular attraction, go there first thing when you get to the parks and snag a fast pass.  IF the wait isn't that bad yet, hop on line, too.  Then you'll get to ride at least twice!
Oh and for arrival times at the park: get. there. early. Every park has a unique "rope drop" ceremony in the morning.  There are tons of characters there and plenty of opportunity to take pictures. During star wars weekend, there are even Storm Troopers on the roofs at MGM waiting to open the park.
Grab a park map. No matter how well you think you know the parks, the maps are invaluble for planning out your day, deciding how to proceed around the park, and it will save a lot of arguing over where the Pirates of the Caribbean is.  Because we ALWAYS forget.
In every park, there are parades and fireworks shows.  These are fun and impressive, if A) your hometown neglects Fourth of July and Memorial Day, or B) you've never seen them before.  The only fireworks show that I would definitely say you HAVE to watch is Illuminations at Epcot. Otherwise, while all the kiddies and their parents are lining up for the Mickey parade, please. Walk the other way.  All these people waiting for a glimpse at Goofy are exactly the people who are NOT in line for the Haunted mansion.  So run, Forest, Run. And enjoy multiple goes on all those rides that just moments ago had a 60 minute wait time. Wheeeee!
On the opposite end of things, when you're planning to see a show like Finding Nemo (which you should, btw), don't worry about getting there too early.  If you miss out, there's another show in fourty minutes.  The later you get into the show, the earlier you get out of the stadium and on to other rides.  The less time you waste standing around to sit in the front row, where you have to crane your neck to see half the stage anyways.  And if you REALLY want to be involved in the show, do it at the backstage tour.  You get to cool off. Trust me.
Special hints for the Magic Kingdom: Climb the Swiss Family Treehouse at night.  There are way less kids. There is less sun beating down on you as you climb stair after stair, and there is an AWESOME view of Tomorrow Land all lit up.
Ride Dumbo OR the magic carpets.  The carpets always have a shorter line though, and are exactly the same ride.
The railway, river boat, and transit authority are excellent places to sit without staying in one place, and you get a mini guided tour of a part of the park.  Excellent way to cool off and rest your feetsies.
Fantasy Land is currently under construction. When it's done, it's going to be awesome.
Most of the characters who show up in Magic Kingdom also show up in other parks, often in funny costumes, and often where you least expect them.  If you REALLY want to meet Mickey, book a character meal.  You will A) get to spend more time taking pictures with him B) feel less guilty without a crowd of little ones screaming MICKEY MICKEY around you and B) enjoy noms. In an air conditioned environment.
If you're at Magic Kingdom during a holiday, it's every man for himself.  I can not help you for making such a silly mistake. But enjoy the fake snow on Main Street. Please.
MGM is the best park.  Flat out.  Some people call it Hollywood Studios. Those people are wrong.
The parades here are even less worth standing around and watching, except the Pixar block party which is fun to walk by and watch while you walk. Sully breaks it down.  Here, every ride is worth the wait.  Get a fast pass for Toy Story Mania FIRST THING IN THE MORNING if you have any desire to ride it ever, but definitely get in the regular line also-- the queue area is AMAZING especially if you like Toy Story. Tower of Terror has an equally amazing queue area--more so if you're familiar with the Twilight Zone at ALL.  Star Tours is currently in it's second phase, it was very recently updated so now every ride experience should be unique.  This is new.  That means the lines are going to be MONSTERS, especially if you're there during Star Wars Weekends.
Speaking of Star Wars Weekends- if you're there during the SWW, get there early. The areas where the characters meet and greet are deserted, and you can feel free to take photos on the mini-sets that have been erected everywhere without waiting in line. Of course, the character won't be in the photo, but what's better than a photo with Darth Vader? A photo where you're pretending to BE Darth Vader.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

That Sentence Kind of Got Away From Me

I've decided I'm going to dig deep into my past, to where all this writing madness started.  Very few people know that this all began with something so simple it's almost stupid, and that simple, stupid thing is fanfiction.
I suppose there's an argument to be made for the first book I ever wrote- called The Talking Book and both penned and illustrated by five-year-old me, but that was a different kind of writing.  The kind of writing I'm talking about- the kind that started with the fanfiction and hasn't stopped since- is the kind I absolutely HAVE to do. I used to write two kinds of fanfiction: The kind that was essentially an exercise in genre in which I implanted myself and my friends into an already existing world of fiction, and the dirty kind. I only say this in the interest of full disclosure: more often than not it was the dirty kind.  Today's challenge did not turn out dirty. In fact, it turned out... a little weird. I prepped by reading a whole bunch of Tangled fanfiction I've been meaning to read, and yes, it was dirty.  Anyhow.  I'm not going to edit what came of today's hour of writing, even though I KNOW some of it doesn't make sense.  In fact, I'm kind of liking where it took me.

So here it is: After ten years (and change) of reading and writing and generally getting messy, here is one hour's worth of (arguably) fanfiction.

It was a warm, end of summer day when this all began.  The kind of day you definitely don't want to hear the following things in quick succession, but always, inevitably, do:
1. an alarm clock going off.  Regardless of the fact that the alarm is the spongebob theme song.  Regardless of the fact that this annoys your sister, which always brings a hint of happiness to your soul.  Regardless of the fact that the clock is within reach and all it takes is the press of a starfish before the alarm is off for five more blissful minutes of not-quite-sleep.
2. the alarm clock hitting the floor, because your sister, who is in the top bunk, is not within reach of said starfish and now that she's chucked her pillow with deadly accuracy at the clock in question, neither are you.
3. your mother, from her room across the hall, announcing that it is indeed time to get up school starts in an hour and she will not be driving you if you miss the bus even though it is the first day. muffled below the projectile pillow, a loud and angry pirate still sing-screams of pineapples under the sea and sponges who wear pants.  This makes you smile ever so slightly because really. who comes up with this stuff?

Since your sister is a lucky piece of shit and still gets to go to middle school, you have to get up and she gets another hour or so of that wonderful, lovely, gorgeous thing people call sleep.  So, to make things only worse for her, you reset your alarm for exactly ten minutes before hers is set to go off, and groggily head downstairs.
Two more sisters, both wide awake because the world is cruel, sit in front of the television watching PBS.  One sucks her thumb, the other stares with glossed over eyes as Lunette and Molly dive into the couch for something.  She follows suit and pulls the couch cushion off the couch behind her, placing it more gingerly than a five year old should, atop her head.  She is less awake than the youngest, who shouts along with the television when instructed to do so.  Upon your arrival, the older of the two abandons the cushion and follows to begin the Morning Mime, where she does everything you do (everything you don't just do for her, because she's still a bit too small to reach the milk and she shouldn't have to when you're right there and perfectly capable) at exactly the same time and then joins you at the breakfast table where the two of you eat cocoa pebbles silently.  Caitlin and I always got along because we had a lot of things in common.  We loved sleep, we loved television, we laughed at Spongebob, we liked chocolate flavored cereal.  This made living together easy. Why my other sisters couldn't be the same, I never understood.

Anyhow.  These were my mornings, when this all began.  These were the way things progressed in the early hours.  The rest of the day was painfully boring--school, band rehearsal, cup of noodles, toonami, homework, bed.  Never in that order exactly.  I was not one to notice how things had changed ever so slightly that fateful day when the gears began to shift, when Sara didn't show up for lunch and Brendon didn't call at exactly 2:25 (when he got home from the bus) or when Caitlin slept through Big Comfy Couch.  I didn't notice, because I had been programmed not to notice.  I wasn't there to notice, because I was somewhere else entirely and I was not at all happy about it.  Well, not at all happy is a relative term, I suppose.
I didn't notice, because I was, embarrassingly enough, in New Jersey.

Okay, so there are some details that you need to know, I guess, before New Jersey makes any kind of sense.  I mean, realistically New Jersey will never make any sense, but for the context of this story, let's pretend that it does.
A few short years before the spongebob clock and the big comfy couch and cocoa pebbles, there was perfection.  Perfection existed exactly where I didn't expect it to, and was not as easily come by as I would like to have some believe.  Well, as some would like to have some...others... believe. I couldn't care less. BUT. There was this perfection, and it was in the shape (the deceiving shape, by the way) of a school.  More specifically, Rippowam Magnet Middle School, which sat proud and stout on High Ridge Road, which is a stupid and dangerous place for a school.  But for all it's illogical geographic problems, it was perfection.  I did not always know this.  After a few awkward days of hating everything for not being the fifth grade, I realized the girl in my language arts class is a kick-ass artist and I would love to be her friend and guess what? She would love to be mine. So we become friends. And "Jen and Amber" became an inseparable line of words.   A few weeks pass and things are normal.  Middle school isn't quite perfection, but guess what? It's also not hell.  And then you get partnered up with that boy who lives down the street and reads all the Star Wars books, and the two of you become friends while you're outside trying to define what types of clouds are lolling by overhead.  And he turns out to be really good at art too! And now the three of you (plus the Star Wars kid's-his name is Jeremy, so Jeremy's friend Brendon and their friend Steve) are just kind of hanging out all the time.  And all that awkwardness and dread and boredom seems to have disappeared.  Because things are kind of... well... awesome.

So there you are, the Family of Awesome sitting around doing awesome things, when one day out of nowhere, this terrible sounds erupts in the sky.  Or maybe it was from below.  Or maybe, just maybe... it was from everywhere! A terrible sound has erupted from everywhere and you're all sitting outside in the grass drawing and minding your own buisness when BAM the story is in first person:

It's true, the sound was everywhere and we couldn't have anticipated it if we tried. We were sitting in the grass, like the narrator said, just reading and drawing and talking about last night's episode of one cartoon or another, when suddenly BAM there's a sound from everywhere and a giant unidentifiable THING in front of us.  And I don't mean a bit off in the distance, I mean if Steve's legs had been a little bit longer he would have been the four toe wonder after this affair.  I didn't know it at the time, but this thing looked exactly like a 1930s sci-fi movie space ship; there was fog coming off the door as it lowered itself (at least it seemed autonomous) and everything.  The light from inside this thing was so bright that at first the person standing in the doorway looked like just a black shadow, edges softened by the smoke or fog or whatever was coming out of the ship thing.
"HOLD YOUR BREATH THAT SHIT COULD BE TOXIC" Brendon screamed from behind me, his voice cracking at least five times in that tiny sentence.
"Oh calm down, it's probably a fog machine" Amber tried to reason with him.
"Fog machine? What would a space ship be doing with a fog machine?" Steve countered.
"What would a spaceship be doing HERE" I answered
"If it's not a spaceship then what is is?" Steve crossed his arms.
"EXCUSE ME!" The black shadow boomed over our bickering and all five of us cowered. The fog had cleared and the figure in the space ship was... but that was impossible.  He sure had the right costume on, but it was literally impossible for the next words out of my mouth to be true.
"Wow. You look an awful lot like..."
"Like what?"
"Like... Goku." I whispered it, because the longer I stared at him, the more it became true.  The five of us had been sitting in the sun long enough without hydration to make impossible things happen, and the part that was actually impressive was the fact that we were all having the same hallucination at the same time.  I tore my eyes away from my imagined cartoon-character-come-real to look at my friends and realize, they were seeing it too.  Amber was trying to look around his form, I would assume looking for his tail.  Brendon was squinting, I can only imagine looking for some flaw in my hypothesis. Steve's jaw had dropped.  Clearly he had no doubt in his mind that our simultaneous hallucination was the single best thing to ever happen to him ever.  Jeremy had never looked more eager to explore a spaceship probably in his life. I couldn't decide how to feel, but I knew I had nothing more to say on the matter. Except maybe "Guys.  When did we get so good at make-believe?"
"What? No... I'm real." Goku grabbed at his face and his hair and his clothes, as though this self-molestation would somehow make himself more real in our eyes. " I'm not a mirage, I'm really... man I knew I should have just flown in on Nimbus."
"NIMBUS! that's the cloud type I forgot!" Amber pulled her notebook out of her backpack and furiously scribbled "NIMBUS" with some characterization notes into her science notebook.
"Really, now is the time for editing your science homework, you think?" Brendon now crossed his arms.
"Well yeah I mean it's due tomorrow I would forget again if I didn't write it down."
"Guys" Steve whispered. "Guys, Goku is TALKING TO US." And he was right. Well, he would have been right except Goku wasn't talking to us so much as TRYING to talk...
"Technically, lab is not homework."
"Technically, you need to sort out your priorities."
"Technically, way to quote Harry Potter."
"Technically..." But we never found out what Brendon's next technicality was, because Goku finally shouted
"HEY Planet in danger need your help no time to explain in the ship now pleaaaase" And with that, Jeremy jumped up even faster than Steve, fairly ran past Goku into the ship, and stopped short.  Steve was right on his heels.  Amber crossed her arms and stood up, more graceful than anyone ever did anything, and walked onto the ship.  Brendon followed, trailing off with another "technically..." and then there was just me.  Without a single thought in my head besides how incredibly impossible this all was (and it wasn't until later that I thought about how much thinking we HADN'T done in that moment, but can you blame us? This is a pre- 9/11 world we're talking about here...) and how much fun we were about to have and how I sure as fuck hoped I wasn't about to wake up again.

But, as these dreams often do, the world disappeared with a snap and I woke up almost immediately.
WHO LIVES IN A- I smacked the starfish, squished my eyes shut and desperately tried to fall back asleep.  I laid there, waiting and waiting for my entire body to get the picture.
"I am not waking up I am not waking up I'm still asleep I'm still asleep I'm still asleep" but it didn't matter.

They were gone.  Goku hadn't shown up to gather us in a space ship... at least not in years and never in the realest of senses.  We used to travel everywhere together.  We fought off the wild west and saved the town.  We outraced the most evil racecar driver in the history of racecars, and then sent him off to jail.  We trained with the most elite Saiyans, defeated the Negaverse, hacked into criminals' computers and hunted them down for money.  We were royalty on planets that never existed.  We fell in love and out of love and back in, trapped and never able to escape.  But it was all slipping away and Goku was fading back into shadow, and with him slipped everything that was perfect and impossible; but real in the most tangible sense.
I was awake.  I was going the one place none of them could follow- off to High School.
And there was nothing that said it was't ALL a dream.  Nothing that said the act of writing the stories themselves wasn't part of the impossibility.  I reached for the binder under my bed. The cover was sparkly, flaking glitter all over everything, but that didn't matter.  The rose and the girl with the pink hair and the boy with the bat wings- they were in there, but only parts of them belonged to me.  I opened up the binder.  Amber's handwriting- so different from mine, so elegant and slanted and beautiful where mine was lumpy and roly-poly and ready to roll off the page at any moment, was on every other page.  Jeremy's drawings, in the rough edged style that only middle school boys seem to master, ended and began each chapter.  Witty, sarcastic edits that only Steve could provide peppered the tales we were so serious about.  And Brendon, well he was just mad he never got to be in the book.

The Rose Planet was there, it existed, and we had created page after page of story to go along with it.  We were princesses, finding out dark secrets our parents had kept hidden from us.  Goku made a guest appearance, as he always does, in our dreams.  We were going to stick together, and keep working on the books-- it was to be a series that people loved just as much as this new Harry Potter fellow.  We were going to have a girl-warrior television show and a tie-in comic book and live in Japan and be rock stars.  I was going to be awesome at snowboarding.
And everything was going to be perfect for forever- some may even dare to say to infinity and beyond.

That never seems to work out, does it? Somehow, at some time or another, you wake up and the world you left behind is almost always better than the one you're waking to.  I often wonder if that's what I've done, frozen these few short years into a cryogenic chamber where I could pick out the bad parts and throw them away, keeping this impossible perfect world frozen forever.  I often wonder when I'll wake up.  But this binder still exists and the stories in it are so happy and elaborate and hopeful.  And on one hand, that seems to be proof enough--couldn't we have HAD to be that happy to create something so mystical and beautiful?
And on the other, why did we need it so badly? Why were we all so eager to develop and be part of something so far and away and... impossible... if the real was that perfect itself?  Why would we need to imagine we were princesses if we could just BE that?
The answer is we couldn't.  We weren't.  We fell apart for a reason- because eventually we have to stop getting on spaceships and do our science homework. I guess.

Or maybe it's the other way around.  I don't know.  All this talk of real and impossible has me confused.  So I close the binder.  I put it back under my bed.  The Pirate shouts again
"OHHHHHHHHHHH" And I let him finish the song.  And I turn off the clock.  And I head downstairs for breakfast.