Wednesday, December 29, 2010

retrospective christmas qualms.

Why, hello, there.

I french braided my hair today and it looks funny.  French braids really only work in twos, I think.  Skunk-style, straight down the back of my head, makes me look odd.  Not even a headband can really help.  Oh well.  No matter.  No one's going to see me today, anyway.

I wanted to write a Christmas post.  It was going to have a list of all the best Christmas things.  Movies, books, traditions.  But, seeing as how Joshua and I spent 40% of our holiday traveling, 10% of the time sleeping, and the other 50% seeing our families, it all got away from me.

So, here's the abbreviated version:
1.  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
2.  It's a Wonderful Life.
3.  Oranges and walnuts on Christmas morning.
4.  Elf (the movie, and the one that sits in the Christmas tree).
5.  Mistletoe.
6.  "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
7.  Meaningful gifts that don't require lots of money.

That's something I definitely learned this Christmas season.  Money is the root of all evil.  Feeling like you have to get everyone on your list something PERFECT and EXPENSIVE is an extension of it.  My favorite two gifts of Christmas 2010 were from my mother and my mother-in-law.  The former gave me a Peanuts block calendar for my eventual desk (I've been in love with Snoopy ever since I played him in the eighth grade), and the latter, a beautiful notebook with a girl wearing fairy wings on the cover.  Both were incredibly simple gifts, but they meant the world to me because they showed that the gift-givers truly understood things about me.  That's all I need.  [That's also not to say that we don't appreciate the bigger things, too.  It's just that the simple gifts tug at my heart the most.]  Gifts are accessories to love, not proof of love.  Bigger and better gifts don't equal bigger and better love.  If anything, they boil down to emptier and less secure love.  Like, I'm not sure you know how I feel about you, so I'm going to give you a diamond-studded BMW to prove something.  Or whatever.  Why don't you just have an honest relationship with that person?  I am so blessed to have honest relationships with my family.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that.  For now.  It makes me think A LOT about what I want Christmas to be like for my own children.  Will we even bother with Santa Claus?  Author Kiersten White wrote this hysterical post about him.  I'm grateful that when I was a kid, my parents and grandparents told me that Santa was symbolic of the spirit of generosity.  That way, when I figured out that he wasn't actually squeezing down the chimney every year, I didn't get my feelings hurt or feel like I'd been lied to.  I can't explain it.  I know that "Santa," as we project him, is a commercial ploy masquerading as whimsy.  But the REAL spirit of Christmas?  Of tradition and family and celebrating the gift of Christ?  Not to sound pagan, but these are the things that encapsulate the "spirit of generosity" I was raised to identify with Santa.  The good things.  I wish we didn't call him "Santa," though.  I prefer St. Nick or Father Christmas, greatly.

I hate the commercial(s) where Santa/the elves are frantically putting together last-minute gifts.  I don't even think I need to explain why.

So, what's wrong with this world?  I don't think I ever want to tell my kids that Santa is "real," or that the Wise Men were there the night Jesus was born, or that December 25th was his actual birthday--because none of those things are true!  I was SHOCKED to find out that Jesus was born in the spring, and that the three Wise Men didn't get to Jesus until he was a toddler.  These things upset me more than the truth about Santa Claus!  I think it's important, as a Christian, to KNOW the history behind the holiday, to KNOW how it came to be held on December 25th, and to be okay with it.  I do definitely believe that it was all in the sovereignty of God that it ended up where it is, but it would be foolish and dangerous to put more faith in the traditions of the holiday than the purpose of the holiday.

So, I guess I just wrote a Christmas post.  An everything-that's-wrong-with-Christmas post.  Believe me, I could go on.  But I'll spare you.  Also, this is my only day off before the new year, so it's high time I moved onto something else.  I have every intention of posting again before 2011, but who knows if that will really happen?

To everyone going to the New Year's retreat at Loucon, I love you and I will miss you unbelievably.  But Loucon will still be there in 2011, and I will still be me in 2011, and even though I absolutely treasure ringing in the new year there, I know it's okay to let go and give you all a chance to treasure it, now, too.

When did I get so old?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

adventures with lu, my pesky internal editor. also, david mead! who, unlike lu, is an actual person.

Back to posting from the library = back to normal.
Somewhat normal.
At least, back to feeling like I could easily play normal.


And with this thought comes an entirely unrelated confession:  I let my mom read the giant spider story.  
It was a moment of weakness and confusion, riding in the car with my parents to Cocoa Beach, still reeling from all the people I'd met and the stories I'd heard.  I opened my computer and wanted to write so badly, but felt too mentally and emotionally spent to do anything about it.  I could have just put the computer away and gone on listening to whatever was on the iPod.  Instead I said, "Here, Mommy, do you want to read my story?" and passed her the laptop before I could stop myself.


I don't know why it's any different.  I'd let my friend Becca read it, without the slightest second thought.  Then again, Becca is 16, and I wrote the story with her age group in mind.  My mom is almost 60, and the second after I put it in her hands, I wished I hadn't.  My mom HATES spiders.  My mom does not do scary or sad or creepy.  I usually don't, either, which is another reason I was afraid to let her read it.


What if she thinks I'm unstable?  What if she says, "Where did this come from?" Or, worse, "What's wrong with you?"  I mean, that's what I would have said.  Giant spiders?  Really?  A), that's lame, and B), disgusting.  You can do better than that.


Those are the things I would have said to myself.  All leftovers from how I felt in creative writing classes at Union.  "There's no such thing as [insert whatever I had made up here]."  I know.  I know there's no such thing.  So... why am I writing about it?  Am I... Am I not fit to write about grown-up things?  Non-pretend things?


It was all food for my internal editor.  I've only recently learned to turn her off, usually by saying:  "No one else is going to read it, Lu, so chill out."  Lu was okay with this.  Lu has let me get a lot of writing done in the past four months, all under the conjecture that it was for our eyes only.  And Joshua's, but he counts as one of us, too.


You can imagine Lu's tirade against my peace of mind while my mom read the story.
"She hates it she hates it.  She thinks you're insane.  It's bad enough her son has problems, now her daughter is writing stories about monsters eating people."  
You can, therefore, also imagine my surprise when my mom turned around and said, "I really like it!"


Naturally, I tried to squeeze from her that she was only saying that, that it was actually really twisted, that it embarrassed her that I had written it, but NO.  She genuinely enjoyed it.  


I said, "But you hate spiders!"
She said, "I know, but I liked the story."
I said, "Becca liked it, but she's 16.  I didn't think someone your age would like it."
She said that was silly.  She said that it was just like hearing me telling a story out loud, which isn't something I had thought of.  She said that was a good thing.


Now, don't go taking this the wrong way.  Regardless of the warm feelings flying around here, the story is not where I want it.  And I strongly feel that anyone who is not my teenage friend or my own mother (or my husband) would sort of laugh at it.  And that's okay, because it's goofy.  And it's not a priority, which is incredibly liberating.  I'm in no rush AT ALL.  I'm only enjoying the ride.  And I'm learning that maybe Lu is crazy.  Lu needs a hot bath and some chocolate chip cookies.  Lu needs to take up some other hobbies.  Something meticulous, like cross-stitch, so she'll leave me alone.


Funny how letting my mother read my writing brought about such a break-through for me.  Remember my whole, "It's all fun and games until someone I know reads what I wrote," debacle?  Well, maybe it's not that bad.  If my mom can read my story, a wacky blob that came out of my own head, and not run away screaming... then what's to stop me?


It's like graduating from writers' kindergarten.  Let's all go get some ice cream.  Actually, no, it's too cold for that*.  Let's go for a peppermint mocha.  Yum.


*commences celebration*


Speaking of Yum, has anyone here listened to David Mead?  Yes, the David Mead from the title.  Go do that, if you don't mind.  His album Almost And Always is my Current Favorite Music On Earth.  Every time I listen to it, I can't help but say, "Soooo pretty!" over and over again.  "Twenty Girls Ago" is my favorite song, thought it's difficult to choose just one.  
And check out the cool (if slightly creepy) cover!  


I like it.  I think.
Well, gang, that's all from me today.  I like this blogging thing.  I should do more of it.  Over and out.


*I say "It's too cold for that," because I feel that's what I ought to say.  Truth is, I had gelato last week when there was snow on the ground, and I do not regret it at all.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

life stuff. brother stuff.

For once, I am not writing this from the library.

I am actually in quite an opposite sort of place.  Well, it's a hotel.  I don't know why a hotel is the opposite of a library, but it's certainly at least not the same thing.

I'm in a hotel in Florida with my parents, and we're watching White Christmas on TV.

There's a thing about blogging that confuses me.  ANOTHER thing.  You're supposed to be fun and interesting and... you know, within you readers' comfort zone.  No one really WANTS to read about life stuff.  You have your own life stuff to deal with.  But I feel like if I don't come clean about some of my life stuff, I'll be wary of blogging anymore at all.  And we all know how much of a loss that would be.  *self-depricating smirk*

Without getting into it too much (especially since a few of you won't be hearing this for the first time), my brother is an addict.  To... well, it doesn't matter what to.  He is an addict, and that's all anyone needs to know.  My parents hit their rock bottom with him a few months ago, and sent him to his last chance, an incredible facility called Caron Renaissance, here in Boca Raton.

Yes, the same Boca Raton where we've vacationed my whole life.
Yes, the same Boca Raton where Brother tried to kill himself a year and a half ago.
That one.

And that's where we are now, for his Family Week.  I know I can't share any details, but I did want to put it out there and say how much I'm learning, and how COOL it is to meet all these other families.  We've even met another family from the same part of Louisville as my parents.  The same part!  And Louisville's not a small city!

More than anything, I love watching people interact with each other in group therapy settings.  It really reminds me of sharing times at Loucon-- you know, the really deep, important ones, from back in high school.  Not to belittle sharing times on staff, but that was different.  I was the helper then, not the helped, so much (though there were always surprises).

And it really makes me want to go to therapy more often.  Since I need it so much.  (?)  You know how I love to talk.  To go deep.  All these family group sessions have been both exhausting and exhilarating to me.  We're not alone!  Everybody has feelings!  IT'S OKAY FOR MEN TO CRY!  IT'S OKAY TO GIVE STRANGERS HUGS AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM!  Is it proof of the fall that human beings do not behave so lovingly and openly with one another in "normal" situations?  I don't know.  Probably.

My parents and I were joking earlier that I'm going to need therapy for wanting too much therapy.

Needless to say, I've been pleasantly surprised this week.  Maybe not with Brother, himself, but with the place.  The way it works.  The people around him.  HE still needs a lot of help.

But I'm not worried, because he is in a safe place, with help lingering over his shoulders everywhere he goes.  It's a good thing.

I do not know how to close this post, for some reason.  White Christmas is still on.  I've never really watched it all the way through before.  It seems that tonight is the night.

Joshua, I miss you.  See you on Saturday, which can't come too soon.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

that christmas thing.

The last two mornings, I woke up to find snow on the ground.  Today I'm wearing flip-flops.  I know I just made that sound like it's gotten warmer, but really, I just wanted to wear the flip-flops.  So, my toes are cold.

I'm at the library, which is an excellent thing.  I'm looking forward to a long day of writing and thinking and maybe sending a few emails.  What I keep forgetting is that it's December, and that means that after today, I will pretty much be a psycho busy bee until Christmas.

Christmas in retail world is not at all like Christmas in everyone else's world.  Christmas in retail world means that your part-time job just turned into your full-time job.

But, you know what?  I'm actually enjoying it.  I guess I could do without the cranky I-must-complete-my-Christmas-list-NOW people (not that I've really encountered very many yet).  And I know I'm going to be completely exhausted by the end of it, but Mast is a really fun, pleasant place to be.  Even on bad days.  If any of my co-workers read this, they'll get a good laugh, I'm sure.  I get a lot of "You still like it because you're new," comments, and that's okay.

[[SUDDEN SIDE RANT:  I come to the library for quiet, so I can think and write in peace.  WHY IS IT THAT EVERY TIME I'VE BEEN HERE IN THE LAST MONTH, THERE'S BEEN A STINKING CONCERT GOING ON?  Even today, I thought I could avoid it by coming earlier than usual, but they're having one at 12 dang 30 in the afternoon!  Are you kidding me?  HOW IS THAT CONDUCIVE TO WORK?!?!?!  HOW?  HOW?  WHO PLANNED THESE STUPID THINGS?!  Okay, rant over.]]


Anyway, back to "You still like it because you're new."  I guess that in some ways, that's very true.  Everyone gets burnt out and jaded.  But while I'm still neither of those things, I'm going to enjoy this Christmas season as much as I can.  At least I don't work in a mall or department store.

It's even more fun on the inside.

Addendum:  That concert just started.  Here's a very weird thing.  I JUST added the label "Holly Jolly Christmas" to this post, because, you know, it's Christmas.  And THE FIRST SONG out of the children's mouths... is "Holly Jolly Christmas."  I am clairvoyant, after all.

UPDATE:  Two hours later:  Another concert?  Really, library?  What do you think people come here for? 

Monday, December 6, 2010

why i got into a play, and then left said play.

I made out a list of pros and cons for accepting the part of Philomena in Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You.  


PROS:
-I get to be in a play again!
-Friends will come to see me!
-Sense of accomplishment!
-I miss it I miss it I miss it!
-I get to be half a camel, which is hilarious!


CONS:
-I feel squidgy about the subject matter.
-I hate the way this portrays not only religious people, but Christianity in general.
-I would never want my in-laws to see this.
-I would never want my camp friends to see this.
-I would never want my family to see this.
-I would never want them to associate me with this.
-My schedule is already booked solid for the next month.
-I'm going out of town for a week in the middle of rehearsals.
-My free time needs to be spent on other things.
-What about writing?  That's been so fun lately, and this would compromise that greatly.  It's already distracted me for three days.
-I cannot participate in a mocking of the death of Christ, no matter how the director spins it.
-What about the painting I was going to make for my brother?  I'll barely be able to finish that while pretty-much-working-full-time, let alone if I'm rehearsing for a play, too (regardless of its subject matter).


I could go on.  You get the gist.  The schedule prospect stresses me out.  But, most of all, I would not be able to participate on stage with a clear conscience.  I'll get over the camel thing.


In the middle of my two-day OhmygoshwhatamIgoingtodoaboutthis episode, Joshua found a video of some community college's production of Sister Mary.  After watching it with me, he made an excellent point.  He said that if someone with existing negative views of Christianity were to see this play, those views would only be reinforced.  Something like that.  And I agree.


Thank you to all the friends I confided in about this.  I feel like it was a tough call for me, since I miss acting so much.  But, really, as several of you have implied, I think I knew the whole time.  I still feel a little guilty, like I'm missing both an acting and a witnessing opportunity, but at church yesterday the pastor mentioned doing all things as an act of glory toward God, and I was immediately convicted.  Hrm.  I know I just made that sound like being in the play WOULD have glorified God, but the very strong feeling I got upon hearing it was the opposite.  That there would be NO WAY I could do this show and all my actions glorify God at the same time.  It just wouldn't mix.


And, you know, with me, God should always win.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

announcements.

To all interested parties:

I know.  It's hard to believe.  I thought I'd lost my touch.  That is, I thought I'd forgotten how to act, or whatever.  Be on stage.  I had an actual "Oh holy crap I think I forgot how to project my voice" moment at the auditions the other night.  Truth.

But, the director must be desperate, or a fan of argyle and plaid (both of which I wore, unintentionally), because he let me in anyway.

I get to rehearse for a play all through the busy/crazy Christmas season now.  Yay?

:
:
:

Yay!

(?)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

hobble off to dreamland.

You know how I was never going to be one of those writers who used their own dreams as fodder for fiction?  Well, you might not have known that, but it used to be true.

Not because I have moral reservations about taking the inspiration in whatever form it greets you... I just usually don't have very interesting dreams.  I mean, I have some WACKY ones, as evidenced here and here, but not really any story-centric or inspirational ones.

I guess the dream I had last night about a kid getting attacked by a giant spider wasn't really story-centric or inspirational, either, but it woke me up and wouldn't let me go to sleep again.  Some of us call that a nightmare.

So I started writing it down and it turned into a story.  Kind of fun.

Thanks for listening.  Also, happy December!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what i was supposed to do.

I meant to do a lot of things today.  Mostly, I meant to write, but I didn't.  Haven't.  Yet.

I got distracted by taking the kitten to the vet, running errands, talking with our wonderful landlady Donna (for four hours), and decorating a Christmas tree with Nalgene bottles and tent stakes at Mast.  I was further distracted by eating dinner, and an overwhelming desire to watch every episode of How I Met Your Mother, starting as soon as possible.
Now I'm distracted by the new Divine Comedy album.  I HEART The Divine Comedy, and while Dante is cool, I'm not referring to literature, for once.  I'm talking about the music.

Who wants to go to England?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

fifteen authors who have shaped me in some way.

1.  Shel Silverstein.
     I assume that most would add this man to their list for such things as The Giving Tree, but honestly, he's on my list for the audiobooks of Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light In The Attic, which I demanded to hear on just about every road trip I went on from the ages of 5 to 13, probably.  The man's voice was like a creepy, buttery lullaby that made you want to stay up and hear more, and then stay awake thinking about it.  So, not too successful as a lullaby.  Brilliant as narration.  Also, seriously, I cannot help but *adore* Runny Babbit.  Don't you?  It grieves me that Silverstein died before its publication.  I would have loved to hear him recite it.

2.  Lois Lowry.
    I know so little [read: nothing] about this author outside the realm of The Giver, but, oh.  The Giver.

3.  CS Lewis.
     I used to sit in the corner of my grandparents' huge walk-in closet, turn off the lights and wait for Narnia to come.  Enough said.

4.  Harper Lee.
     I read To Kill a Mockingbird on a camping trip with my family the summer I turned 14.  Changed my life.  It made me want to (a), play Scout on stage, even though I was already way too old, (b), name something, possibly a daughter, Harper (which is still totally in the mix, as far as I'm concerned), and (c), though I didn't fully realize it at the time, be a writer.

5.  Tim O'Brien.
     I loved reading The Things They Carried in 11th grade.  I vividly remember sitting under the table in English class, devouring it and being thoroughly creeped-out.

6.   Ernest Hemingway.
     I will be honest, the only Hemingway I've actually read is A Farewell to Arms, and I pretty much hated it. Why on earth is he on my list, then?  Because I grew up going to Key West every summer, that's why.  I used to beg my parents to take me to his house, again and again, mostly to see the the six-toed cats.  But as I got older, I appreciated the whole thing a lot more.  I love seeing his pictures all over the wall at Sloppy Joe's.  Regardless of how you feel about him, isn't it incredible to sit where he sat?

7.  JK Rowling.
     I know this one is a given for any human being even remotely interested in literature who was alive (and most likely young) from 1998 until now, but it is irrefutable.  Nothing re-reads quite as delightfully as a Harry Potter book.  Especially on the back deck at my parents' house in the middle of summer, or on the choir tour bus back in high school, or out-loud in a car with someone you love.

8.  Christina Rosetti.
     Poets were supposed to be included in this, and I wish I had more, but the first one to come to mind is always Christina Rosetti, for Goblin Market.

9.  Anne Lamott.
     Bird by Bird is the best college textbook I ever didn't buy for class.  I invested in my own copy post-graduation, because I knew it was special and I missed it (I had borrowed it and, honestly, not done very much of the reading when I was supposed to).

10.  Kelly Link.
     When I first read her short story Monster, it absolutely astounded me.  It's a bizarre, enchanting, ultimately horrifying little tale about a kid getting picked on at summer camp, and, you know, a monster.  I love it.  I can't get over the voice.  She writes the way I want to write.  I don't know how else to explain it.  Also, I read a collection of her short fiction on my honeymoon, and so her voice will always sort of remind me of that, too.

11.  Yann Martel.
     What is it about Life of Pi?  The philosophy is often over my head (as most things are), I don't really agree with Pi's religious convictions, and I still have no stinking clue what happens at the end.  But I love this book terribly, and if I get to thinking about it too much, I always want to re-read it.  It's the way the man writes, that's what.

12.  Dodie Smith.
     "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and a tea-cosy.  I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left.  And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring-- I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house.  Though even that isn't a very good poem.  I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn't write any more of it."
     --is my favorite opening paragraph of any book I have ever read.  If you haven't yet had the absolute joy of diving into I Capture the Castle, just know that I cannot recommend it enough.  It is perhaps my true favorite, and has been for a couple of years.  It's so... melodic.  So sweet.  Honest.  Beautifully written.  Romantic (really, how can you not love a boy like Stephen Colly?).  And, in some places, completely hilarious.  I could go on and on.  Also, this woman wrote The 101 Dalmatians, and who doesn't love that?

13.  Sheldon Vanauken.
     I finally finished A Severe Mercy this past winter, and it... was... what?  Are there words to describe this man's story?  I bawled.  I learned.  I grew.  And, hey, the man was friends with Jack himself, and a good portion of the book is their correspondence.  Sharing in the grief of the women they loved.  We had a passage from it read at our wedding.  Sounds macabre, I know, but it was perfect: all about God defining a marriage.  Beautiful stuff.

14.  Laini Taylor.
     On a much, much lighter note, here is another author who writes the way I want to write.  In an effort to seem hip and reviewer-y, I wrote this post about her book Lips Touch, which is way more awesome than it may sound (the book, not my review.  The review is... just a review).

15.  Suzanne Collins.
     Here we go.  Deep breath.  The Hunger Games.  Catching Fire.   Mockingjay.  I do not know how she did it, but Suzanne Collins absolutely broke me (in a good way, kind of) with Katniss's story.  Please, friends.  Please.  Read these books.  I tore through the whole trilogy twice in five weeks, if that's any indication of my feelings.  The story is unforgettable.  And that's all I can say without turning into a total fangirl.

i pretend like i'm not peeing my pants with joy over the new harry potter movie...

But I must be, according to my subconscious.

The other night, I had what I think may very well be the oddest and most hilarious dream of my life, to date.  In short, I was playing poker with my cousin Justin, Todd Packer from The Office, and Lord Voldemort.

You heard that right.  Voldemort.  And my real-life cousin.  And an actor whose name I don't remember.  Though, in the dream, he was the sleazy character he plays on TV, not himself.  Insane.  Especially since I despise that character, do not know how to play poker, and the ONLY one of these people whom I would EVER associate with in real life, is, of course, The Dark Lord.  I mean, Justin.

I don't remember much of the dream, but right before I woke up, I must have said something awesome, because all three of these men reached out to give me a high five.  The very last thing I did before coming to was slap hands with Voldemort, who didn't know how to do it right.  He kept his fingers pointed out, like he was all about Hitler (which I wouldn't doubt, given his history), and I tried to correct him.  He looked down and admitted that his wrists didn't flex back.  He seemed so dejected and sad.  I was about to say something like, "It's okay, buddy.  I know that kid did a number on you," but then I woke up.

I whispered to my husband, "I think I just had a dream that Voldemort gave me a high-five."
Joshua said something like, "That's unsettling," but it was muffled and he was half asleep.  Then I realized how crazy I sounded.  I'm half tempted to look up in the books about those faulty wrist joints, but something tells me I just pulled that from some other unprocessed brainwave.

I must just be really excited about these movies.  And high-fives.  And... poker, I guess.

My total BFF!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

prime numbers.

Here's a funny thing that just happened.

I'm at the library again, big surprise.  In the study cubicle across from me, a fifth grader and his dad are doing some math homework.  The boy just said, "And prime numbers... I forget what a prime number is," and the dad said, "Me too."

I became immediately determined to remember what a prime number was before the dad could look it up.  I rattled off the thoughts in my head.  Prime numbers, prime numbers... one, three... can only be divided by something.  Themselves.  Themselves and one.  And then the dad said, almost as I was thinking it, "Here, a prime number is one that can only be divided by itself."  And one, I thought.  "And one," he added.

I had a little silent celebration on this side of the cubicle, glad they couldn't see me.

This is a big deal for someone who still can't remember how to do long division, and probably never will.  Is it sad?  Me being so proud of myself for remembering the definition of a mathematical term?

Seriously, I'm considering throwing a party.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

it's like they knew: a pondering of poor adaptations.

::I wrote this in July.  
I didn't post it then because I was too embarrassed.  
I'm over that, now.  
Confession number one:  I heart Avatar: The Last Airbender.  
This post is my love-splurge on the cartoon and subsequent "what-the-bluh?" on the film. ::







I must confess, I do love a good story, with great, well-developed characters, humor, heart, and a compelling plot. I must also confess, I hate it when these things are turned into films that miss the point, no matter how fun they are to look at through those abominable 3D glasses.
Two weeks ago [read: five months ago] at Creative Music and Art camp, our only boy (hereafter referred to as "Little Josh") had an adorable habit of waterbending in the hallway at Munday. I loved it. I even joined him, and we had epic battles in the lobby. Here's a picture of us, mid-showdown:











I'm not trying to be dramatic.  I just can't get the photo to go up any higher.
I was just about giddy when I first realized what Little Josh was doing. I asked, "Are you waterbending?" And he said, "Yeah, watch this one!" I practically squealed, "I love that show!" Little Josh said, "Me too! And my brother loves it too!" And then he taught me how to waterbend. My good friend and fellow counselor, Jesse, who has yet to see the cartoon, said, "What about... groundbending?" And I said, "Earthbending, Jesse, get it right." (Jesse, this is your second shout-out on this blog, which proves that you are super-cool.) [Jesse, now that five months have passed, have you gotten around to watching this show? You still need to. If anyone makes fun of you, you can blame it on me.]

Not many people will take me seriously when I tell them to watch Avatar, the cartoon that came before (and has absolutely nothing to do with) that James Cameron thing. But, trust me, if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy it. Then again, I am continuously, hopelessly drawn to things made for kids (two of my three favorite movies are Spirited Away and How to Train Your Dragon, after all), so take me as seriously as you want.
When I first dove into Avatar: The Last Airbender, I didn't want to tell my husband, knowing he would make fun of me for watching a kids' show, even if just a little bit. And, once I confessed, he did. Then he started watching it too. The next day, he requested that I not watch any more without him. Victory! We finished the whole series in about three weeks. We both laughed out loud, time and again, and I cried SUCH happy tears at the finale. The first thing I said when it was over was, "This does NOT need to be made into a movie."
But, alas, it had already happened, and we could not undo it. Thankfully, I had read enough to know how low my expectations needed to be in order to not throw popcorn at the screen. Actually, I suggested that we not even see the film, or just wait for Netflix, but my Joshua, who loved Avatar as much as I did, could not resist. So, for the first time in possibly forever, I went to see a movie on its opening day. Ha! Oh me.
Well, it wasn't SO bad that I wanted to leave, but I was tempted to take a bathroom break, which would have broken my usual hold-it-no-matter-what standard. In fact, the last time I left a movie to use the restroom (and buy a soda, and dawdle the whole way back) was when my best friend in ninth grade dragged me to see Love & Basketball.
I shouldn't go on and on about the misery of Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, because you can read about that anywhere. Or you can experience it yourself for $10 a piece on a Thursday night, like we did. [Or, you know, rent it, or something.] But I can't help it. Leaving the theater, Joshua had steam coming out his ears and kept saying, "I knew it would be bad, but I didn't know it would be THAT bad!"
I, on the other hand, couldn't stop laughing.  
I don't know what I thought was so funny. It definitely wasn't Sokka, whose lovable goofballery had been sacrificed for a more serious, "brooding" type.  Just look at Jackson Rathbone over there, pursing his lips. Who is this guy? Come to think of it, the whole thing seemed like it was trying to be the "serious version." Why?
[Hold on while I digress:]
Also, half the characters' names were pronounced wrong.  Maybe this is what cracked me up.  "Ahng? Soak-a? Ee-ro? [Ah-vatar?]" I wheezed. "What was that all about?" Joshua replied, "Maybe they changed his name to Soak-a because he always ends up getting wet," which made me laugh even more, because such moments were actually funny in the cartoon, but SO awkward and unnatural in the movie.  
Speaking of awkward pronunciations, none of the actors seemed convinced that they were saying the names right. I felt like every time the girl who played Katara said "Ahng" instead of good ol' "Aang," a tiny part of her died. I bet she'd been a fan of the cartoon, too. In fact, I think the only thing the new pronunciations gained was an alienation of the original fan base. Everything about these actors seemed shy, really. Shy and ill-fitting. Not including Dev Patel, of course, who pretty much set the bar way over everyone else's heads [dare I add, even over the head of the production itself?]. He was the only character I believed, though they totally dumbed down that wicked scar. Considering how great the other characters were originally, and should have been in the film, this makes me more sad than happy. The really funny part, I suppose, is that the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this could have been done right, but wasn't, and we may never know why.  
Oh.  Money.
On the way home, Joshua and I laughed at the fact that the first thing we wanted to do was go back to the cartoon and watch some of it that night, to get the bad taste out of our mouths. So, we did. And then, while perusing the internet for consolation, I found absolutely the best possible thing to make a sour Avatar fan feel better. 
This quote, and its corresponding video.
"Don't worry, folks, this movie isn't a live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but of the Ember Island Players." 



To quote everyone who commented on this on Youtube, " [o.m.g.] it's like they knew!"
I suppose the effects were decent. Buh.

This is what Little Josh said when I asked him if he was excited about the movie: "Yes! It's going to be awesome!" I asked him why he thought so, and he said, "Because, it'll look real, and everything's better when it's real!" I wonder what he thought of it, in the end?

**Addendum: Little Josh and I also went through earthbending and firebending, that afternoon in Munday Lodge. On of the absolute highlights of my summer at camp was when I asked him, "Oh, can you redirect lightening?" And he said, in 100% seriousness, "No, I haven't learned to do that yet." Seriously. I love kids.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

what makes me hesitate.

As one might gather from the title, I'm feeling a bit o' the block.  And it's no mystery as to why.

I finally know what I want to blog about.

Unfortunately, this will involve exposing my tastes in literature, music, TV and film, once and for all.  I will not be able to go back.  I may also have to come out and own that I'm trying to write a novel, which sounds cool coming from anyone else but sooooo dumb coming from me (to me).

This makes me hesitate because, well, my friends and family read this blog.  I know who you are [for the most part], you nine followers, you.  And you, most likely, will think my tastes juvenile and silly.  It incapacitates me to imagine your judgments.  Not that ANY of you habitually belittle others (as far as I can tell), so I don't know why I would worry.

Which makes me wonder, do all people fear what others will think of them? [Uh, yeah, I'm guessing they do.] If I admit that I've read cough*overtwenty*cough young adult/youth novels this year, will you roll your eyes and think,
Seriously? Why?
Or, worse:
Doesn't she talk about God ever?  <-- I do want to fix that.

I don't know.  There's something about blogging that makes me forget that people I know in real life will read what I post.  Isn't that strange?  It's like, I read strangers' blogs all the time, so naturally I assume it's strangers who are reading my blog.  But this is not so!

This makes me nervous.  Let's say I write something about... cheese wheels.  I get all excited about the post and put a lot of goofiness into it and then forget about it.  A few weeks later, I see a friend in public, and they say, "Your blog is cool/fun/better than sitting around doing nothing," and I realize, mortified, Oh my goodness, this person totally knows about the stupid cheese wheels. Why did I write that?

It's sort of like being on stage in a small space, where (no matter how hard you try to avoid it) you can clearly see every single person in the audience.

Which never bothered me too much, until I'd spot my mom and dad, or an old friend who'd surprised me by showing up, or an intimidating teacher. These moments shook me worse than messing up lines.  Not because of my parents, or the old friend, or the intimidating teacher, but because I was so thrilled or impressed (or horrified*) to see them there.  I've got no problem divulging my soul to the public, but when someone I know is involved-- someone who's used to seeing me in everyday life and expects me to be the person they know-- I get all clammy and embarrassed.

*Please note:  Absolutely none of you horrify me.  It was just an example.

Also, in a complete abberration, why does this kitten smell like he ate a skunk?
e/eee7ke7777777777777777777777758,5r  And WHY can he not resist walking all over the keyboard?

DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL THIS WAY?  About blogging, not about the cat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

hard to believe?

It is hard to believe, isn't it?  This girl who never pictured her future self in the arms of another, has been married for a whole year.  To one mighty charming fella, she might add.





(the funny part is, he does this just about every day.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

proof that the youth are revolting.

Yes, that title is a Five Iron Frenzy reference.  I am the "youth," and here is your proof:

video
And then Katie and I dyed it:


Which you can't tell AT ALL with it wet/against my pink shirt, so I put on my blue jacket.

It'll totally look redder dry... right?  Maybe not.  We did run out of dye too soon.  Yeah, even after cutting off like 5 inches, my hair is THAT thick.

P.s. I know that video is WEIRD and something is way messed up.  If anyone knows what I did wrong, please inform me.  I am not techno savvy in the least.

EDIT.  I was revolting against long, light brown hair, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

thoughts while waiting for my tea to cool.

I'm at the library, in my second favorite spot.  I have "Trampled Rose," by Carolina Chocolate Drops stuck in my head.  I ordered a peppermint chocolate latte (which, I suppose, is actually a peppermint mocha), but The Bookmark Cafe hasn't gotten their order of milk in yet today.  So I settled for an earl grey tea.  But, let's be honest, there wasn't much "settling" about it.  I kind of wanted earl grey, actually, but feared the lack of sugar mixed with my caffeine would inhibit the hyper mess I had hoped to become today.

My only problem with ordering hot tea at a coffee shop is that the "hot" is taken too literally.  With coffee drinks, you get the same "hot" at the beginning, but it peters out after all the other fun stuff goes in.  With tea, seriously, all you get is the tea to tone things down (which it doesn't).  I would have added cream or something, but I like earl grey the way it is, so now I'm stuck with a delicious-smelling cup of scalding water that I won't be able to drink for another fifteen minutes, at least.

I may not make it to hyper mess today.  I may have to settle for mellow mess.  But as long as I can get some work done, and touch my drink to my mouth without gagging on white hot steam, I'll get through the day just fine.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

prized possessions, a shell with shoes on, and some fancy fiddlin'.

Perhaps I changed the look of my blog AGAIN because I wanted to see it as retro blueish... wallpaper.  I don't really have an explanation for this, other than not having found the design that I Absolutely Love yet.

My Katie is here, and we had a well deserved girls night out.  Girls evening out, really.  I finally bought a thing I've had my eyes on for quite some time:


Coconut shell earrings.  I ended up with two pairs, actually.  A light and a dark.  Only $5 each!  And I was all like, yeah I want two!  Then I sat down in front of the full length mirror-- right there in the store-- and wiggled and fumbled until I was finally able to work those fastening posts.  It's not like you can see anything back there.  It was kind of like putting in contacts for the first time.  Hopefully I'll master these the way I mastered that.  Also, Fizz is a really neat place.  Go check out that link.  Jewelry/funky stuff heaven.  Hmm.  Kind of like the rest of Market Square.  But I am not complaining about that.

So, here are 7 things I'm loving right now:

1.  This video:

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.


Thank you, Leslie.

2.  Coconut earrings.  Check.

3.  Our new kitten, of course.  And the fact that said kitten likes to sleep under the covers.  And that he is nursing on my pinky finger right now.  

4.  Dahlonega, GA.  The name "Dahlonega," which comes from a Cherokee word for gold, is not pronounced, "daluh-NAY-ga," which is what I would have thought, but "dah-LOHN-ega," which is so much more pleasing to my ears.  Everyone in North Georgia is rolling their eyes at me right now, but I wanted to share my delight anyway.

5.  Poetry.  I want to read more of it.

6.  All the music Crooked Still has ever made.  Sampling, here:


7.  The way I feel on fall nights.  Romantic.  Adventurous.  Nostalgic.  Excited for nothing in particular.

That's all, I suppose, though surely I could go on for hours.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

my husband makes me laugh, part three. or four.

Me:  Would you still love me, even if you [insert vaguely spoilery detail from a certain book that shall remain nameless]...?

Him:  Well, since that doesn't really exist, yes.

***

And here's my favorite, from a couple of months ago, on our way back from D.C.  We were in Virginia, going south west back home, and we passed a sign for Glasgow.

Me:  Glasgow?  Is there a Glasgow,Virginia?  Or is it for Glasgow, Kentucky?

Him:  I don't know... it must be Virginia.

Me: (being stupid)  Or maybe it's for Scotland!

Him: (completely straight-faced)  No... It can't be Scotland, Scotland's east.

the hobbyist.

I believe the best job I could have would be to collect and study hobbies. I would be called The Hobbyist, and I would learn all kinds of fun stuff. Who wants to be an expert in any given field, when you could be mediocre at a lot of interesting things?!

No, seriously. That speaks directly to my soul. I am even, perhaps, an expert at mediocrity.

Here are the hobbies I would study:
1. Soapmaking. Vegan, probably, because dead animal parts freak me out.
2. Candle making. Same thing.
3. Cooking. Please.
4. Craftiness.
5. Making (but mostly watching) Youtube videos.
6. Blogging (hey!)
7. Hand dancing?


Sure. As long as you only expect so-so, I can totally do all these things.

Monday, October 18, 2010

cat baby.

Weeeee have a new cat.  He looks like this:


.



Friday, October 15, 2010

the pirate ship and the sand box.

When I was a little kid, I went through a phase where I didn't like books or movies or TV shows, because I knew they weren't real.  That's not to say that I was overly pragmatic or concrete (in fact, I doubt I've ever been either of those things).  I just couldn't bear the thought of these stories I loved-- desired, even-- not being real.

the rugrats having a pirate adventure.
from here.  also, "yo ho ho and a
bottle of milk?" hilarious.
Who remembers the Nickelodeon classic RUGRATS?  Man, it took a long time for little Julie to enjoy that show.  The basic arc of any given episode went as such:  Tommy and the gang create an elaborate and fun adventure for themselves, somehow revolving around the events of the day.  Let's say they have a pirate adventure.  It's grand and exciting and everybody's happy.  Until the end of the episode, when we find out they've really been in the sand box the whole time.  I thought this was so awful as a child.  I wanted desperately for them to really be on a pirate ship, and it depressed me that they weren't.  I knew that if it wouldn't really happen for them in the cartoon, it could definitely never happen for me in real life.

I pined for adventure as a child.  I don't know why.  I'd always led a happy life, and I wanted for nothing growing up.  But why did the characters in books get to have all these fascinating, compelling experiences, and I never did?  Maybe this is why I spent the majority of my youth involved in theatre.  I discovered an outlet where I could effectively pretend to be the one having the adventure, and people believed me.  I became, for one example, Joan of Arc.  I got to be closer to the pirate ship without having to wake up in the sand box.  Because if I had been in the sand box, I would have been in the audience.
the play in which i played joan of arc,
way back at walden in '02.  i would have
posted a picture of me in costume,
but those are all at my parents' house.

Looking back on it now, I realize it was taking that passive, observational role that upset me.  I wanted to be actively involved in the storytelling.  I miss acting so much sometimes, it's unbearable.  I miss the moment, the way I felt on stage.  I even miss memorizing lines.  I miss being a character, reacting to a situation.  But most of all, I miss the journey.  I miss the cathartic energy of living in someone else's story.

So, is it really that strange that I should enjoy writing, as well?  If my desire is to be actively involved in telling a story, then I think not.


I can handle books and movies and TV shows a lot better now, if you were wondering.  Though, I must admit, reading THE HUNGER GAMES, CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY twice through within a month (not kidding) has sort of shut down my creative brain for a while.  As soon as I get over the fact that I will never write anything as brilliant or important as that, I'll be fine.

seriously, why even try?
it doesn't get better than this.
remember the signs of a stellar book?
number one, fan art.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

in chicago.

Yes, that's where I am.  And it feels like July.  What happened?

Sorry, it's another tiny post.  Hope you don't mind.

The next time I have time to wrap my mind around something, I'll write more.

No, I did not run, by the way.  But Joshua did.  2:47!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

another joshuaism.

Me:  "Well, how do you know I love you no matter what?"  (I was having a borderline crisis.)

Joshua:  "Because you say you do.  And you seem pretty honest."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

one weird dream.

I had a bizarre dream last night in which I begged a lady I didn't know to cut my hair, right then and there in the cereal isle of the grocery store, because I just couldn't stand it anymore.  She did, I thanked her, and went about my day.  I didn't know what my new hair looked like until I caught my reflection in a mirror at some social event (odd, since I rarely attend such things).  It looked, for lack of a better example, a bit like this:

Not as flattering on me, and in the dream it was even weirder.

I went into panic mode.  I found the woman who had cut my hair (of course we were at the same party-- or was it in the grocery parking lot?) and screamed at her.  She said, "You said you wanted it short," and I said, "Yeah, but not this short!  And what's with the color?" (In the dream, in was almost jet black.)  She said, "I knew you wanted it colored."  Like that was an answer.  I said, "I wanted it auburn!  It looks like-- like--"  I never found out what my dream self thought it looked like.  I woke up and saw that it was 9:00, which is when I was supposed to leave.

I was ten minutes late to work because my hair issues have entered my subconscious.  Also, because I ignored my alarm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

things i learned from the hunger games.

1.  No matter how much I say I don't care for love stories, I have no defense against a really good one.

2.  It's okay to raise the stakes.  It will drive your audience into insanity, but they'll love you even more for it, eventually.

3.  Two signs of a truly popular book:  Lots of fan art online, and warring sides over which boy is better.  (Groan.  For the warring sides, not the fan art.  Fan art is awesome.)

4.  Two signs of a truly great book:  A world that seems disturbingly likely, and my tears-- not only for the dead characters, but also for joy at the end.

5.  First person, present tense might not be so bad, after all.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

september 17th.

Dear Blog,

Oh my goodness, today was incredible.  Okay, at first it was pretty typical (big plans in the morning, sucked into Netflix by 11, big plans lose their draw, the usual), but I let the typical happen because I knew we would be going to the fair later.

And I like fairs.

Before going downtown to meet Joshua at work, I thought I would attempt something productive, so I went to The Book Eddy on Chapman Highway.  Funky place.  I only saw about 5 books published in the last 15 years.  So, if you like old books, you'll like this place.  It even smells like old books.

Joshua and I got to the fair at about 4:30, and stayed till almost 9:30.  We pet some goats (a must when the opportunity presents itself) and saw a "Zonkey."  Yes.  It's a zebra crossed with a donkey, and it made me pretty sad.  Then I got to pet baby ducks and super-soft bunnies.  Made me miss the cat.

We drank Orange Juliuses (surprisingly filling) and ate this mysterious yet tasty sour rope candy.  I choked on a piece and coughed all over somebody's 165-lb. watermelon.  We saw a lot of prize-winning food we couldn't eat, but I wasn't too hungry right then because my throat tasted like Orange Julius and regurgitated cherry sugar.

Then we went to the circus.  For a 45-minute fair show, it was awesome.  Except for the clown bit.  Why does there always have to be a clown bit?

I wanted to ride at least one ride, but we never got around to it because Joshua got distracted by that wild instinct to win a stuffed animal for his woman.  I mean, it's necessary, right?  So he popped like 12 balloons, and I got this:
I had no idea about Domo until my husband won one for me at the Tennessee Valley Fair.  Granted, it's stuffed with paper, but I <3 it, anyway.  I've also just discovered that things like this exist, as well:

   
I love Japan.  Don't you?  I would have posted one of the videos, but it wasn't working for some reason.

So, now that I had my Domo monster, we needed some dinner.  How's this for fair food:  A bowl of beans, a cornbread muffin, and a basket of fried pickles with barbecue sauce.  I'm still thirsty from all that salt, even though I stopped eating the batter a quarter of the way through.  For dessert, Joshua had a root beer float and I fulfilled my duty as a true Arrested Development fan and got a frozen banana.  And it was delicious, even if some crass jerk made an off-color comment when I posed for a picture with it.  People are idiots.  If only he'd watched AD, he could have said something more tactful and humorous, like, "There's always money in the banana stand!" and then we could have high-fived or something.  Oh well.  His loss.

By the time we got to the Ferris Wheel, the line was so long that we decided to skip the rides altogether and go home.  We had had a great time, and definitely didn't need to spend any more money.  Especially since we knew we still had books to buy.  Yeah. Book Eddy is super cool, but if you're looking for something from this century that isn't The Lovely Bones or The Road?  You might not have too much luck.

We got to Borders with 15 minutes left before closing.  Joshua bought The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories, by Leo Tolstoy (which he could have easily found at the Eddy), and I bought the whole stinking Hunger Games Trilogy Box Set.  You can see how our literary inclinations differ from time to time.  I also got a cup of water.

At home after a long evening (and here's where the story gets good), we sat down to read our new books/half watch TV/Joshua fall asleep on the couch, just like most nights, when, Raaahw, raahw!  Meeaaahr!  I shot up.  "Did you hear that?" I yelled.  Joshua looked up from the other couch all groggy faced.  "Hear what?"  Before he could finish, the cat fight noise started again, and I said, "That!" and rushed to the door. 

I don't know.  Maybe after all these weeks of hoping that whatever noise I heard could somehow, magically, be Adelaide, I had finally given in to despair.  I honestly did not expect to see her there on our porch.  Or maybe I knew it was her, this time.  Who knows.  Maybe both, somehow.  I threw open the door to scare the fighting cats away, but recognized Adelaide (who bolted into the bushes) and started screaming, "Joshua it's Adelaide!  Joshua it's Adelaide!  ADELAIDE!  JOSHUA, GET THE FOOD!"  I absolutely flipped.  I think I started crying.  I walked around our front yard shaking the food bag and calling her name through giddy almost-tears.  Joshua got a headlamp and we found her purring by the picket fence.  I picked her up in my arms and all the stress I had accumulated over the last three weeks just fell away.  No more dreams about finding her swimming in a lake or at my parents' house or in a mall somewhere, and then waking up to find it wasn't real.

So there you have it.  We didn't have to put up posters, after all.  She probably never even got too far from home.  Three whole weeks.  Dang.  We had said, pretty much from the beginning, that if God wanted her to come back to us, she would.  And I am so glad he did.

Love,
Julie