Weary Wednesday’s Rainy Writing

I haven’t been writing much personal stuff lately. Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy on an amazing fiction project with some friends. We are all very inspired right now and the stories are flowing out just beautifully. I am so happy that the project is going so well, partially because it’s so fun to read the resulting stories, and partially because when I started it I was in such a horrible depression and needed to do something, create something good. And this creation has really taken off. Related or not, I am feeling much better and this exciting work is making me very happy.

This idea that has come to fruition is a collaborative writing project based on my memories of the forums of an online role playing game I participated in during college. While we did most of our interactive adventuring in the chat rooms, we wrote really fantastic extensions of our scenes in the forums. I did some of my best writing in those days, which I discovered in a box years later and was happy to see that they held up pretty well post-graduation.

In this new project, we have created a world, characters, events, interactions, all built on each other’s words . . . and it’s all growing so gorgeously. I am so proud and so anxious to read more and see where else we can go with our imaginations.

 

It seems that writing breeds writing. I think that’s part of Art breeding Art. Inspiration creating more Inspiration. I keep thinking of other things I want to write. Other stories I want to tell. Other stories I want to be told.

 

I was thinking this morning that apart from this particular collaborative project I’d like to start a different type of collaboration. When I was a kid, I had a subscription to American Girl Magazine. Occasionally they would give the readers a single sentence, the beginning of a story, and it was the readers’ job to finish the story. The magazine held a contest and the three top entries were published in a future issue. I loved this. Each story started the exact same way, or at least with the exact same words, but the stories, the characters, the events – everything was vastly different from writer to writer.

 

I want to do this. I wrote a little background piece a few weeks ago for one of my rpg characters who I have incorporated into the new project, in a small way, as a little homage to our old game. The story is very interesting to me, but has nothing to do with the new works.  So my new idea is to present this short story to participants and have them write a new scene, a little history of what happened before or what will happen after it. How many variations based on one short page of a story? How many interesting worlds will be created from that one scene? How many pages will be created from a single idea? How many new ideas? New stories? New worlds?

 

 

Boob Quake Revisited

Tomorrow is the four year anniversary of the great and magnificent Boob Quake* Day.

For those of you who were out of the loop at that point in time:

There was some jerk guy who blamed massive natural disasters on how women dress; on the ‘fact’ that so many women dress ‘immodestly’, thereby leading wholesome men astray and causing earthquakes all in one go.

Apparently.

Sounds legit, right?

Hearing these claims, then university student Jennifer McCreight joked that we should work together to prove Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi’s** point by . . .  dressing immodestly, for instance: showing our cleavage. The idea took off, spreading across the interwebs like ye olde proverbial wilde fire.

Normally I’d find a request to show off my uncomfortably obtrusive chest offensive, but it was for what I saw as a very good cause:

To prove that there is nothing to fear about women’s anatomy and natural disasters are just that. NATURAL disasters. They are not divine punishments for some perversion that the critics invented.

[Also, dudes***, take responsibility for your action. This may be a little off-point here, but: No woman in the history of ever wants to be raped. So go to hell if you even think that shit’s acceptable.]

So, on 26 April 2010, we set out into the bright sunshine, showed our beautiful bosoms to the world, and waited for the mass immodesty to take control of the tectonic plates.

Our purpose: cause the greatest natural disaster of all time.

Our result: proving that dickhead wrong.

 

Whoopsie!

Boobquake

(my contribution. a self portrait taken at a Starbucks on Wilshire Blvd.)

 

 

 

 

 

*at first I accidentally wrote Book Quake, which is a different event entirely that I need to go invent right now, excuse me, bye.

** the jerk dude previously noted.

*** or persons of any gender. rape is wrong. no matter your gender or the gender of the person you are attacking.

The Book List

As a kid, it took me a little extra time to learn how to read. It wasn’t that I disliked books but that I had a great struggle in comprehending the words. By second grade I was separated from the larger portion of the class and put into the remedial readers category.

I grew up with many books that were very important in my family. I loved them and relish many of those stories still to this day.

 But I still have the trouble that I did as a small child. I understand the words better, but the speed at which I digest them is extremely low. When I start reading a book, it has to grab me really fast or I lose interest out of tedium. There are few and amazing exceptions to this, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing writing, publishing, and reading. We discussed several books we’ve both read and some projects that I’m working on. In the midst of all this, she informed me that if I gave her a list of the books I like, she’d probably love every one of them, as so far we’ve had very good luck that way.

As you all know, I don’t always like giving out recommendations because I am Book Selfish. But I do love talking about my favourite books. So, I decided I would, after all, post a list of books that I appreciate here and write a little about each one, whether it’s how I discovered it, if I have a significant issue with it, or if I refuse to let anyone else talk about it, etc.

I’ll try not to give any spoilers, but I can’t promise there won’t be any, as I get so involved that I sometimes forget that the tidbits of knowledge from a favourite story aren’t commonly known.

OKAY, here we go.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This book reads like a history text book in the form of a novel, complete with footnotes often lasting several pages. So believable that when reading actual non-fiction accounts of the time, specifically Our Tempestuous Day by Carolly Erickson, I find myself waiting for the appearance of fairies during the accounts of the madness of King George. A well represented but quiet love story dances beneath the struggle for power between the fairy world and normal society, and is beautifully overwhelmed by the frustrated friendship between two magicians vying for an unattainable superiority. This is one of the few books I have managed to get through that was so incredibly slow. It’s over 700 pages long and the action doesn’t pick up until halfway through, and even when it does, it’s only by the slightest acceleration. Even so, the subject matter is so jam-packed with interest that I couldn’t put it down, no matter how drudgingly I moved through it.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

I just finished this one a few weeks ago, after several years of trying to read it. This description may contain major SPOILERS, so please be aware and move ahead if that bothers you:

This book is dark, beautiful, dirty, and could not have conceivably produced a happy ending. It was perfect and sad. I needed a break after finishing it, moving on to something much lighter, but will return to the world of Bas Lag after finishing a couple of books in the queue.

King Rat by China Mieville

Again, potential SPOILERS:

A story somewhat of the pied piper in modern England. Strung together with the movement of Drum and Bass music, which I have only since completing the book become familiar with, and bringing forth a long ago suppressed fear of underground trains.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

I read the first book during a difficult and very lonely time in my life. It was haunting and lovely and I adored it immediately. I reread it over the past few weeks, in preparation for its sequel.

Miss Peregrine’s is a strange tale of Before and After. Set in both the modern world and the time of World War II, it mingles coming of age, old family secrets, and ferocious beasts that prey on those with peculiar powers. Obviously a First Novel. Simple but Captivating. All surrounding a collection of bizarre antique Found Photographs. Hell of a concept that did not translate well into the second novel.

Hollow City is even more obviously a First Novel than the actual first book. Keeping with the photographic theme does not work in the sequel where the characters are traveling after a disaster and have no possibility of taking or seeing the included images. There are editing errors in both books, but most pronounced in the second are the continuity errors. So much is packed in that it seems the author is trying much too hard, making too heavy a point of the peculiarities of the characters and the situations, and creating confusion by the late establishment of ‘facts,’  instead of allowing the simplicity of the first book to more greatly inform the story’s progression. I want so badly to love Hollow City as much as I loved Miss Peregrine’s, but I groan at every page, finding a beautiful moment only every few chapters that reminds me why I’m reading it in the first place.

 

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

This is a book I have difficulty sharing because it is very personal to me. It is my inner monologue. It is my favourite book. My very favourite book. And I bought it with my last $12, years ago in a small bookshop in Easley, South Carolina. All because of the description on the back and because of the following letter to the reader in the front of the book:

 

Note to Reader

People speaking British English and people speaking American English mostly understand each other fine. But there are a few words we use in Britain that you might not recognize, or that we use differently from you. Should you encounter a strange or difficult word in the story, please flip to the short glossary, which is located in the back of this book.

 

That right there sold me. I have hated for years the mutilation of books, such as the Harry Potter series (another major favourite), changing words that I know or would have liked to know, into American forms that in my opinion dumb down an entire nation instead of teaching its people to go to the library and look in the dictionary.

 

I adore Un Lun Dun so much that I carried it in my wedding in place of a prayer book, wrapped in ribbons and covered in flowers. In honor of all the times that I had Nothing.

Prayer Book(photo by Steve Badgley

 

There are a few other books I plan to tell you about, but I have to get ready for work, and I need more time to refine my thoughts about each other story. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you about your favourite books. And if you know of a book that you think I might like, please leave it in the comments, but please please please, NO SPOILERS!

 

[I apologize for the screwy formatting. No matter how many times I change it, it won’t stick that way. Hopefully I can fix it this afternoon. Ciao!]

Unholy Days

A lot of holidays have lost most of their meaning for me in adulthood. I am not religious, but I always celebrated a mix of secular-religious days as a kid, including Christian, Jewish, and Pagan traditions. I’ve had Jewish Seder and Easter egg hunts all in the same weekend. We had a Christmas tree in the living room next to the menorah. I used to drag a fallen branch out of the forest and tie ribbons to it, making a May Pole in the meadow behind our house.

In college, however, my separation grew. We worked through every weekend in the theatre and had class on every bank holiday, so I almost never even remember what day is which and when. The ones I tend to remember (and the ones that never change) are holidays like New Year’s and Christmas.

Even so, holidays have gotten to be progressively harder for me over the past four months. 

Just three weeks after our early November wedding, my husband and I found out we were expecting. The excitement and wonder didn’t last more than a month when at our first prenatal exam we found out that I had a condition called a blighted ovum – which you can read about here. The conclusive pronouncement happened two days before Christmas, crushing any hope I’d had of celebrating my favourite holiday with joy. 

We had told our families on Thanksgiving, the loss came at Christmas, and now at every Holiday I have to muster all my strength not to hide in the bedroom with the door locked when it’s time to go celebrate.

Yesterday was Easter, and we arrived at my in-laws at about 12:00 noon, and sat there at the end of the driveway for at least ten minutes. I could not even open my car door. Nic sat with me holding my hand reminding me that everyone inside loves me and that no one is judging me for what happened – for what I cannot stop myself thinking is my greatest failure, despite my absolute knowledge that there was nothing to be done to change the outcome of that pregnancy and its inevitable loss. I still feel like I lied to them. That I should have waited. That I should have known better than to spread a secret without knowing how much of it was true.

I keep going over every moment from the time we found out until the agonizing final physical loss and on into a future of uncertainty and fear.

A future of should-be-bright holidays.

So many of those days are kid-centric. Like Easter. There were all the cousins’ little ones running around the yard picking up colored eggs filled with chocolate in the bright hot April sunshine, and there was I on the deck, laughing at the antics of these kids that I adore, trying to suppress the ache in knowing that their expected playmate won’t be coming for at least another year, assuming all goes well next time around.

What little connection I had to these myriad holidays has been replaced by sadness and shame, all excitement for these events replaced with anxiety and fear.

Everyone kept wishing me a Happy Easter, and I tried to make it one. But honestly, it was really hard, and as for mainstream holidays, I don’t think I really care anymore.

I think perhaps we’ll just have to make our own holidays from now on. Ones that only my household will celebrate. The days we triumphed personally.  

Our anniversary. The day we met. Our next vacation. Our next adventure.

SUNSHINE

Dudes, I wore flip flops All Day today.

Sorry. That’s lie.

I was barefoot actually longer than I had my flops on. I mostly wore them just to get between each house and the car.

It reached probably around 70* today.  When we got home from Easter at my in-laws’ house, we walked the dog, and I took off my over shirt and walked the block in my tank top. This might not seem so remarkable for a late-April Easter Sunday, but you have to understand that I live in the North East, and it has been winter here for about the length of a lion, witch, and wardrobe.  I mean, this was taken in front of my apartment FOUR DAYS AGO:

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Granted, it was gone by noon that day, but the point remains: I wore flip flops today!

I’m half Sicilian, and that Mediterranean blood still rules most of my temperature tolerance, despite my having never even set foot anywhere in Europe south of Paris. I like it warm and being from an area of the US where it seems to be winter 2/3 of the time can become especially daunting when you decide to move back to it immediately after spending twenty months in Sunny Southern California (this is actually how they welcome you to the state at the DMV in Los Angeles). I like a mix of weather, but overall, I prefer being warm.

Yet, I’m not much one for shorts and tanks most of the time. I guess I don’t like it that warm out. Or at any rate, I don’t like being that exposed. My preferred wardrobe is actually that of autumn falling into winter: long sleeves, long pants, scarves. Warm clothing. But I am incredibly ready for some summer weather. We didn’t really get a good summer last year. It rained most of the time and when it wasn’t raining it was too bloody humid to go outside and enjoy ourselves doing anything.

After this incredibly harsh winter, with many days reaching temperatures well below 0*, I am looking forward to what I am determined is going to be a perfect summer: Plenty of sunshine, moderately high temperatures, and me sporting capris and tamis as often as I can. And days and days of bare feet.

I think so far we are off to a good start.

Easter Sexy

 

Tuesday’s Muse

Today, it is supposed to snow. As a precaution, I am dressed in layers and wearing my Annis Shawl, because it is chilly and likely to get colder throughout the day, and I like showing off my work (I get asked all the time about items I’ve gotten as gifts, and I feel better about myself when I can say, Yes! I made this!). The Annis Shawl took me an absurd amount of time to make, as my lace projects usually do, and now I think I don’t really like crescent shawls. As a prairie-girl-minded child, I’m sure I’d have loved the shoulder coverage, but it just doesn’t seem to suit me these days, or perhaps I really am reaping the misfortunes of having bound off too tightly. Before giving up on it, however, I’ll see how it functions on a summer evening over a sundress.

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Taking my doubts into consideration, I decided for the first time since November, to grab some yarn and needles on my way out the door. A rectangular scarf or shawl seems in order, considering how I managed to demolish my beautiful baby alpaca Invisibility Shawl by catching it in a car door (I’ve always wanted to be Isadora and live to tell the tale!).

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I will probably look through available patterns on Ravelry later, but I still haven’t managed to finish rereading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs so that I can finally start its sequel, Hollow City. So I’m going to try to do that, too.

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Happy Tuesday!

 

If She Is To Write

I have not quoted Shakespeare in a while, but I feel I must do so here. Though, perhaps, a cliche line, Polonius’ advice to his son still holds true, beyond all other phrases spilled out by characters who likely never realized the full depth and importance of what they said:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” 

~Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

Above all else.

 

It is important in all relationships, of all variation, to have a sense of one’s own truth. No matter how close you are to someone, no matter how much you trust them, you must have a sense of your own self, your own soul. You must keep, for your sanity, a sanctuary of mind.

 

So we come to Virginia Woolf and A Room Of One’s Own. Truly one of the only things I recall from my single semester of Intro to Women’s Studies, the following words have echoed through the life of this part time artist, and resonate still, both in hobby and in profession.

 

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

~Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

 

If she is to write fiction. Or if she is to write nonfiction. Or poetry. Or create anything at all.

 

 

The need for a room of one’s own has so much to do with personal needs, more than it is a reaction to those around one.

 

As I sit cross legged on our bed, a wall dividing our spaces, I am able to freely spill my thoughts upon a page, a step removed from my beloved husband. My trust for him is greater than I have for any creature. I have no fear of stepping wrongly either in words or any other ways in front of him.

Yet, seeking the innermost secrets in the inner most chambers of my very own being is something I alone can do.

Sometimes it is the quietest solitude of my own breath that can tell me what my truth is.

For you must be able to know your deepest thoughts alone, thoroughly secure, before you can falteringly or confidently give your truth in any measure to another being.

Separate yourself from distraction, from the needs of others, from even the loving attention of your dearest companions. Take time for yourself and your art and your truth. For one needs a room – a space – of one’s own to create honest wonders.

Nope.

It’s Friday morning. I slept ok last night, but apparently not well enough to make up for the abysmal night of pseudo-sleep I got the previous night. Wednesday night we always go to Trivia, so as usual I got in bed way late. And woke four hours later from dreams of high tension and potential devastation. I fell back to sleep only to dream about an entirely different kind of horror. I woke again. Fell back to sleep. Then struggled out of bed at my alarm, skipping my workout which I realized too late might have salvaged my morning.

No devastating dreams plagued my sleep last night, that I remember. But, that hasn’t stopped my sluggishness, even after a workout, shower, breakfast (for a change), and the brisk morning dog walk.

I arrived at my office at the usual hour, climbing out of my car, and gasping as I closed the door and spotted my reflection in the window. I looked exactly as tired as I felt. I ran inside and fished out my makeup bag.

Mascara. My only saving grace.

So I went for coffee. More of a ritual and a taste bud pleaser than a real waker upper. (It’s been researched. It’s really not as helpful as we all claim.) Came back to my office. Dumped my coffee all over my desk, narrowly missing my netbook, but coloring every page of my notes a delightful creamy brown.

To misquote my amazing ADF dance instructor, Geri Houlihan:

 

It’s Friday.

 

An Average House Cat

I was thrilled the other day to discover that I have managed to drop eleven pounds. I’m even maintaining that loss. Which is, of course, the important part. So I was looking on Pinterest, as I am wont to do, and found this chart I’d pinned a while ago, which gives a realistic idea of what we have actually managed to lose, which is often hard to envision, by comparing it to other objects.

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(I cannot find the source for this pin, as it links to a spam health site, and src-img is not bringing anything up, so right now this image just links back to Pinterest)

 

I laughed so hard when I discovered the size equivalent of my weight-loss to be . . .

an average house cat.

 

I laughed because I’m sure they mean an average house cat who does not live with any of my relatives. I’m still excited about a loss of that magnitude, but, seriously, it is nothing compared to an actual Barronklin house cat’s true size. Because our house cats tend to look more like this:

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Ziggy, my sister-in-law’s not-so-average house cat.

 

Or even this:

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Sasquatch and Yeti

 

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but this cat, whose real name was Midnight, earned her moniker of Behemoth:

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Hemoth lived with my dad and step mom.

 

There is an exception of course, but it doesn’t last very long, and that exception is when they look like this:
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Tadorable litter from a couple years ago. But they are barn cats, anyway, so I’m not sure they really count. Even with all those extra toes!

Massage Brain

There are so many things that cross my melting mind while getting a fantastic massage. Here are a few of them.

 

Holy Crap, when did That muscle get there?? I mean, obviously in-utero, but gees bob, where the hell have I been keeping it?

I know my own clients say this all the time, but damn, I had no idea I was holding tension there!

I know I tell my own clients all the time to let me know if it’s too much pressure because it won’t do any good to cause More tension, but . . . I CAN TAKE IT. *grimace*

BREATHE.

I really wish I had a way to record my thoughts while I’m lying on the massage table.

I really wish I had a way to record the scenic design and choreography ideas I get while I’m lying on the table listening to this awesome music.

Speaking of that, I really wish I had a way to record all the writing ideas I have when I’m lying in bed just falling asleep and too lazy to wake myself back up and grab my pen and notepad.

 

Melty-face-massage-brained-coffee-guzzling-dog-snuggling Kirstin Withajay, Signing Out.

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