Sunday, May 29, 2011

the most well-read cities in america.

I like to think I had something to do with this:

article here.

Goodness knows I've tried. Yeah, Knoxville!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

this is for my dad.

Happy 60th!

For any of you who don't know, my dad is a rocking dude. There is a lot of him in me. We both love eating grapefruit for breakfast, for instance. I got my thick, wavy hair from him, though his has calmed down a bit since he was my age. I hope my hair grays like his, too, eventually. He has the best salt-and-pepper thing going (you're taking all of this as a compliment, right, Pops?)

My dad has a lot of good things going for him. He's an accountant, which is a job many people are loathe to consider. But he loves it, and he's so good at it. He inspires me to do what I love. My whole life he's told me, "If it doesn't make you happy, Julie Bird, don't do it." My dad has called me Julie Bird since I was a baby. When I was really little, I just about thought "Bird" was my middle name. I sort of wish it was. Julie Bird Palmer (... Maughon).  Perhaps I could use Bird as a not-completely-untrue pseudonym, one day. [Why yes, this is where my online-persona name came from. How did you know? (I added the "my" because "Juliebird" was already taken on one of the platforms. Hence, Juliemybird. And now you know!)]

So, to celebrate my dad's birthday, here's his favorite old cartoon. He still makes himself laugh when he thinks about it. "I love to sing-a, about the moon-a and the June-a in the spring-a, I love to sing-a..."

Love you, Daddy!

(Yeah. That was the post featuring classic cartoons you were looking forward to. Surprise!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

hm. that was quick.

Surprise of the week: When I sat down to write yesterday, I realized... it was probably going to be the last day for my (very) rough draft. And it was. I had not expected such. I'd announced a hiatus and everything! Well... so much for that, huh?

I can now say that I've written a novel. Is it a mess? You betcha. But, as I told a friend on facebook, "at least it's a complete mess... huh." Want to know some stats? I've always wanted to write a post like this. Happy day for me.

Working title: Aurelia
Thoughts? It's a character's name, but not the main character. Is that allowed? Definitely just a working title. 

Original idea: summer 2007, whilst lifeguarding at Loucon.
Draft started: early September, 2010
Finished: May 25, 2011
Between 2007 and 2010: a lot of thinking and doubting myself.

Number of false starts: At least three.

Software: OpenOffice, thanks to a computer crash last January (I left my Word in ol' Kentucky).
Font/Spacing: Gentium Basic, 11 point, 1.5 spaces. Just because.
Pages: (only three breaks) 172

Final word count: approx. 90,900
Thoughts? Not as long as I feared it would be, but a lot longer than it needs to be.

Chapters: approx. 32
Thoughts? Another surprise! I wasn't too particular about chapter breaks while writing. I just put CH. and started a new line wherever I felt it appropriate. I figured I'd end up with 40 or 50, but apparently I like me chapters long. (that's pirate speak, for ye)

Number of major characters: 8
Number of characters I'll likely cut: Too many. I don't want to think about it.

A quick love list for this story:
  ghost towns
  dark histories
  the spines of books
  clouded windows
  raven hair and honey eyes
  sibling relationships
  yellow flowers
Thoughts: the love list is more interesting than the story its based on. Oops. Give me a break, though. It's a draft.
My ability to write in the last eight months brought to you by:
  The Blount County Public Library (of course),
  fancy coffee drinks, usually involving chocolate,
  long drives with mood music, such as:
    Abigail Washburn (and the Sparrow Quartet);
    Horse Feathers;
    The Greencards;
    Carolina Chocolate Drops;
    Black Prairie,
  A dang good husband,
  supportive friends,
  blogging (hey-oh!),
  listening to audio books,
  and Plants vs. Zombies.

Whew! Now, all I have to do is... fix the dang thing.  HA!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

whatever you do...

Whatever you do, friends, when you're this close to finishing a project you've been working on for nearly a year, don't start playing Plants vs. Zombies. Just don't. You'll thank me later.

My Zombatar. Ain't he handsome?

However, if you're NOT this close to finishing a project you've been working on for nearly a year, by all means. Have some fun! Who doesn't love obliterating undead keister? Especially with cartoon vegetation. 

[Who thinks of this stuff?]

Anyway, since I'm this close to finishing a project I've been working on for nearly a year, I might do a little vanishing act. Things you can expect, though, are as follows:

A special post on May 28 (featuring classic cartoons), and Bess Weatherby's Second Summer in the City Blogfest on June 6. Other than that, it's up in the air, but I'm hoping beyond hope that I'll have something to celebrate with y'all* very, very soon.

*I may not be Southern enough to drink sweet tea, but I sure am Southern enough to say "y'all."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

one award, seven things about me, and some other stuff.

In keeping with this week's theme of "rites of passage," I have officially received my first blog award. (!) Thanks, Jeigh, for being awesome and making me feel good about myself. And for laughing at all my stupid jokes. And for getting excited about all the right things. Dang, you're cool.

Look at how pretty it is!

The catch, of course, is that I have to share interesting things about myself. And then, you know, pass on the award, which is the fun part! But before we get to that fun part, here are seven things you may or may not know about me.

1. I am a vegetarian. Surprised? Strangely, even my grandmother forgets this about me, from time to time. Which is funny, because I haven't eaten meat since I was, like, six. I just don't like it. It began, in all honesty, with my dad referring to my half-eaten drumstick as a "chicken leg." The freak-out went a little something like this: "What?! WHAT. AM. I. EATING???!!!!!" Little Julie was horrified. Dead animals + my insides = should not be mixing. Soon after that, the texture of most meats began to revolt me--ground beef is the absolute worst. Even though I didn't officially call myself vegetarian until college, I hadn't eaten meat without grimacing or complaining (or abstaining entirely) since the chicken leg debacle of approximately 1991. It's a little bit animal rights, a little bit "I just don't like it," and a little bit of that original freak-out, still hanging on.

2. I am the only girl (of my generation) in my biological family. I have one brother... and five male first cousins. Surprisingly, I never played sports.

3. Scars: I have a scar on my lip from falling down the stairs on my fourth birthday, chasing after my new kitten. That kitten just passed away a year ago. She was 21. I have a scar on my hand that is a complete mystery, which is a shame, because it looks really cool. Yeah, I'm kind of boring at the scar game.

4. I am embarrassingly sensitive to silverware. Silverware rips holes in my sanity, if I'm not careful. I hate the feeling/sound of metal scraping against my teeth (uuhhnghg), on plates (eeeeenghkk), even other people's teeth (pleaseplease, make it stop). It doesn't upset me emotionally or anything, so don't feel like you have to apologize for scraping your teeth across your horrible, metal fork every time you take a bite *shudder shudder scream gag*, but now you know why I sometimes have to find a random subject to talk about, or suddenly go to the bathroom. I'd rather do that than say, "I'm sorry, every new friend I ever make, I detest silverware. I require that we only use plastic or bamboo flatware in my presence." I save that for my poor husband. In fact, his very first gift to me, back when we were dating, was a set of bamboo flatware. I'm not kidding (he's such a keeper). And every holiday with my parents, my place is clearly defined by the plastic picnic ware 'mongst the good china and fancy goblets. You didn't know it was this bad, did you? I'm trying to improve. At least I don't take my own flatware with me to restaurants (but don't think it hasn't crossed my mind).

5. I used to ride horses. Then I got scared. Story of my life.

6. I am mildly in love with anime. I don't have an excuse. It's a guilty pleasure. If I can ignore the typically over-dramatic dialogue (and steer clear of the particular shows involving larger-than-life boobs), there's just something about it that makes me feel all happy inside. There. Now you know.

7. The first blog I ever followed was The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. In fact, I joined blogger so I could follow it. Don't make fun. I was planning a wedding at the time. Baby cats = stress relief of kings. When I finally started my own blog, there was this huge mental hurdle I had to get over. I was like, "What do people who don't foster kittens blog about?" And then I found the YA writing community, and the "Aha!" moment was not far behind.

Aren't you glad to know all those weird things about me? I have dutifully prepared you for possible conversation topics, future trivia, and, of course, what to do when faced with the daunting situation of dining with me.

[Speaking of trivia, and anime, and The Count of Monte Cristo (were we not talking about that one?), this is a real thing. It is so bizarre. Be warned, though, it's not for kids... and not really anything like The Count of Monte Cristo (though still more faithful than the Jim Caviezel version). I'm also not technically recommending it to someone unfamiliar with anime (there are lots better out there). But it is just so dang weird, I had to mention it. If you're not familiar with anime, but you want to be (rah rah!), start with any film by Hayao Miyazaki, as I'm sure I've said before. Love love love.]

Anyway, now onto the fun part! *obligatory drumroll* My three picks for this award are:

Elisabeth, at fairbetty's world: A real life friend who just happens to also be a blogging, aspiring novelist. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. Plus, she just got back from "researching" in Scotland. You know you want to be a part of that. Tidbit: her cousin, Katie, and their annual family trip to Mt. LeConte (sound familiar yet?) may or may not be what brought my husband and me together. :) Them's family ties, right there.

Amber, at C(am)em(ber)[t]: quite possibly my favorite blog title, ever. She's a friend, listener, and make-happen-er: smart-as-a-whip and pretty, too. And her blog is full of thoughtful, useful stuff. She lives and breathes writing, and boy is it contagious.


Jessica, at Graduate Gourmet: Because after a long day of writing, is there anything better than gawking at beautiful food? No. :) Jess and I are long time friends and camp buddies. Now she lives and works in DC, and blogs about food, and dangitall if the girl can't roast some mean asparagus. Foodies unite!

So, go on over! Show some love! And winners, now you get to pass it on, if you like. See, isn't this fun? Later on, friends (I'm cutting this a little short, because hoo-wee, would you look at the time).


Saturday, May 21, 2011

where i am right now.

Quite literally, I am currently at a climbing range near Soddy Daisy, TN, which is about the most adorable and humorous name for a town I know of. I am also currently blogging from my husband's fancy phone, which is both difficult, and not as bad as I thought it would be. Some call this "thumb blogging," some meaning me, and I don't think I'm too bad at it. Of course, if you were here watching me, you'd probably laugh.

In other news, the world doesn't seem to have ended. Anyone else secretly think, Please not yet, I still have a book to write? Or, Please not yet, I don't want "Ode to Mumble Cruncher" to be the last thing anyone sees on my blog? Yeah, me too. Of course, if it came down to it, I've got nothing against spending eternity with my savior. But, you know.

As much as I'm totally cool with the possibility of being raptured, or whatever, I'm also glad that the world's not over because I've got an award to give out! More on that later this evening, though, because I'm kind of over the thumb blogging. Proof: g. w

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ode to mumble cruncher.

I don't know very much about Mumble Cruncher. I know he likes the newspaper. He seems to have a lot of opinions, because he's always going over them with himself.

I know he likes espresso.

I know he really likes crunchy food.

Why me, Mumble Cruncher? I used to only see you in the opposite corner of the library, where almost no one else goes. I've been avoiding that corner, because you kind of creep me out and I can never get work done around you I didn't want to bother you. But today, you're over here, where all the desk cubicles are. Did someone kick you out?

This isn't really the best place for you, Mumble Cruncher. Your mumbling and crunching, while thoroughly your prerogative, is driving me bonkers. The emptiness of the back of the reference section really misses you. Who else will sit at those tables?*

Also... is there something special about the floor? I just figured, you know... chairs. Are all over the place. Just wondering.

*Me, that's who. Time to leave Mumble Cruncher to ponder his existence, sans my company. I wonder if he even realizes I'm here?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

coming soon: my first blogfest.

It's a right of passage for any (somewhat) new blogger, I suppose.

Bess's blog is one of my favorites. Go check her out! And sign up for the blogfest! And stop me before I exhaust my personal daily allowance of exclamation points!

[too late.]

See you on June 6th. (!)

[added: But hopefully also a lot before then.]

Monday, May 16, 2011

a quick rant about worlds.

I see a lot of stuff out there about how a believable world makes the reader want to exist inside it. But is that really the case? Personally, I'm tempted to say, "no." A believable world is one that ties the story together, heck, maybe even makes the story possible. If a world is weak, the story will suffer, and vice versa. Thus, if the story is terrifying (due to the intrinsic nature of its location), I don't think that world--no matter how well-crafted--would offer much to my health and happiness. Here's a quick look into some books I've read recently that had rich, poignant worlds, in which I would never want to find myself.

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano. Oh, how I believed that world. I thought I wouldn't at first, but as the story went on, I really saw it take shape. Linden's mansion became one of the realest places I've ever read about. But would I want to live there? Not in a million years, at that cost.

White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black. I mean, it's brilliant, right? You live in fear of everyone, always thinking, Are they? Is she? Which kind is he? Perfectly chilling and compelling for the books. But in real life? I would never want to live in that kind of uncertainty, or in a reality where a naked hand is not only a possible weapon, but also as private as an entire naked body. It makes me sad, which I think is part of the point.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Um, yeah. This book is super-fresh on my mind, having just burned through the last half of it yesterday, and here's what  have to say. New World is simply horrifying. No place is safe, no place is entirely all-there, and home isn't even an option. Again, perfect for the story, and very well-written, but, oh my gosh. In a few centuries, when people start leaving Earth for other plants, JUST DON'T GO, OKAY?

And, hello, because there's no way I could leave this one out: does anyone really want to live in the world of The Hunger Games? Um, no. If you do, I think you missed the point, there.

So, what really makes a believable world? I don't think it's just a map and a list of clever, comforting foods (although I do like both of those). A real, honest world, is a vehicle. If the story's not pretty, the reality in which it exists probably won't be much fun, either. Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, Narnia. We're supposed to want to live in Narnia. Narnia, ultimately, is a place of joy and honor and growth and becoming the best version of yourself. Narnia is nothing like Panem, which tears down and destroys and murders. So, I'm not saying there aren't any well-thought-out, strongly written worlds in which I would like to find myself. There certainly are. I'm just getting it out there that, although I want to live in Narnia, but would rather get the ever-loving heck away from Panem, doesn't mean that both aren't brilliantly executed. You know?

Getting down off the soap box, now. Everybody having a nice Monday?

Friday, May 13, 2011

and then i quit my day job, again!

Well, poo. I wrote all about it, and then blogger ate it, I guess.

This is me on my first day of not working. I'm at the library, which is blissfully quiet now that schools are out (or close to being out). I'm excited about the next several months. In case you missed the post that got swallowed, it went pretty much like this:

I want to clean my house! I want to blog and write more! I want to learn how to cook, even though I'm not good at it and don't enjoy it! I want to go outside more!

I love Mast General Store, and I'll miss it terribly. And by "it," I mean my co-workers and the company. The job itself? At the end of the day, selling shoes is selling shoes is selling shoes. The only shoes I'll miss selling? Chacos. I could talk about Chacos forever. [Here's where I'd really like to put in a link to Chaco's website, but it looks like it doesn't even exist, right now. Weird.]

[my opinions, not those of Mast.]

I think that covered most of it.

Get excited, readers. I feel a lot of blogging coming on.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

and then i quit my day job.

Here it comes, friends: my last day at Mast. What to say, what to say.

Well, for one thing, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of pretending that I didn't quit so I could write more. There goes that semi-secret. Here's to hoping I actually do something about it. Me without a job, in the past, has been a lot like me without a personality, a will of my own, a spine, or a purpose. It was not fun, before. Granted, I had not started writing, before. I had not started writing (the way I am now), or blogging, and I was stuck in a lasting, college recovery/just married laziness. Perhaps I shall overcome it this time. I won't really be writing full-time, which is wise, I think. I'll be volunteering, too. And possibly moving, though we have no idea where.

I have several other lofty and unattainable goals for my foreseeable future. Please, try not to laugh so loud that it disrupts your neighbor. I want to clean this house. Scrrrrrruuub it, the way you want to scrub the gunk out of the waffle-cuts on your Chacos. And I want to throw stuff away. And organize things. Ha! Me! Organized! It will never happen, but I may as well dream (my mother is having a good time with this one).

I want to learn how to cook. OH! That's the real kicker. I hate cooking. I love the outcome, sure, but I am so terrible at the execution (and so baffled and frustrated by the whole "clean up" issue), that it's hardly worth it. Now you see why I'm so lucky to have married a boy who enjoys and excels in cooking. I will not have to live on spaghetti for the rest of my life. And, once I learn how to cook, he won't either.

Yes, please. [from this article]
I want to be outside more. This one's not too funny, because, unlike cooking and cleaning, it actually speaks to who I am. Ironic, no, that ever since I started working at an outdoor store, I haven't had one single chance to go backpacking? Oui. Or... I guess that's not technically "ironic" (I always feel like I'm stepping on someone's toes when I claim such things), but you get what I mean.

I will miss Mast, though. One cannot ask for a better company, a better retail experience. And boy howdy if I didn't meet some of the most wonderful people while working there, both co-workers and customers. I won't miss selling things, but I will greatly miss all the laughter, the camaraderie, the dogs, the break-room fridge (full-sized!), and the way everyone who works at Mast General Store feels like they are part of something important and beautiful.*

It's been a good run for me at 402 S. Gay Street. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Let's make our last eight hours together something special, yeah? Never mind that it's Sundown tonight, and things might get crazy. If nothing else, I'll go out with something memorable.

[*The fine print at the bottom: these are my opinions, and not those of Mast General Store. Though, I'm pretty sure they'd agree.]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

mid-week update. with drops of all sorts. and pictures!

I am so busy these days...
(How busy are you?)
I am SO BUSY these days, that I drove all the way to the library just to write a blog post. It hasn't been working for me at home, lately. I have been too easily distracted by such things as food, destructive cats, re-watching Firefly and Serenity (so productive), rekindling a lost love for Anime (even more [i.e. less] productive), that stupid doll dress-up site (still, I know), and, oh. That blond-headed boy I married. But I'll keep that one. He's warm and cute and knows how to cook.

So, here I finally am, and I figured it was time for a little update. Life is fun right now. The weather is nice (though it's bordering hot). We went home to Louisville for Derby Day, wherein my 83-year-old grandmother cleaned us all out with Animal Kingdom. Never mind that we pick at random in my family. She was all funny and gloaty-gloat over her $38 winnings. You go, Pa.* We drank Ale-8 mint juleps (Ale-8 with mint sprigs--no bourbon this year), ate strawberries with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar, and cried at My Old Kentucky Home. Oh, how I love Derby. It's a bonafide holiday, like Christmas, around here (here meaning Louisville. Knoxville doesn't care quite as much).

[*Yes, I call my grandmother Pa. No, she is not a man. When I was teeny-tiny, it was all I could say. By the time I mastered "Grandmother," the former had already stuck. So, Pa she is. I always wanted to spell it with an H at the end, though. Pah. Because, as I mentioned, she is not a man. But then the spelling stuck, too. Ah, well. At least it's unique.]

Animal Kingdom, for the win.
Beautiful shot pilfered from this site.
The Saturday previous to Derby is also worth mentioning. We drove up to Botetourt, Virginia (pronounced "Bottetott," I learned) for a wine festival, which is code for "to see our friends Laura and Kagey (The Honey Dewdrops) open for the Carolina Chocolate Drops!". Two Drops in the bucket, as I keep saying to myself. It was immensely fun.

Kagey, Laura, and their good buddy, Barry.
They make pretty sounds together.
We met Laura and Kagey* a couple summers ago when they played at a funky little place in Knoxville called the Time Warp Tea Room. A time warp it was, a tea room it was not. I ordered a grilled cheese with tomato soup, and got, straight up, two practically-fried slices of white bread hugging a melted Kraft single, with a bowl of Campbell's condensed tomato soup. It was the real deal. I shouldn't hate on it. The place really did seem like a lot of fun, and their website makes it sound promising... perhaps I'll go back someday. They did have neat fountain drinks. I digress. On the night THD played, we were two of, like, five people there. We got to talking with Laura and Kagey after they played, and just... became friends. Simple as that.

[*Pronounced kind of like Keggy, by the way. Or maybe... Kayggy. Sorry, Kagey, I'm pretty sure I pronounce your name differently every time I say it. At least I know this: it is NOT pronounced "cagey."]

After that, Joshua and I had a comically bad habit of going to see our friends play at the strangest shows ever. First was the TWTR, which, btw, was also full of sneering biker chicks. The December after Joshua and I got married, we went to see Laura and Kagey play in Lexington at a really neat place called Natasha's. Embarrassing fact #1: we had told them about this venue in the first place, which made embarrassing fact #2 (that no one but us and a transvestite named Marjorie showed up) even worse. But we still had a good time, right guys?

A few months ago, we drove up to Etowa to see them, and the entire auditorium was full of sweet, little blue-hairs who looked about to keel over at the slightest touch. Or, more rather, cover their ears in discomfort if the music got too loud. It wasn't a bad show, by any means. It was just... odd. Thus, imagine our joy to see The Honey Dewdrops at this festival, with a real, responsive audience! One that actually cheered! Laura told me once, "We really do have fans, I promise." And they do, and it's no surprise why. I could, perhaps, gush further about how nice these two are, and how awesome it is that they took the time to get to know us. The fact that they did speaks for itself.
Hit 'Em Up Style, y'all.

Anywhoooooo, they also play really great music! Music that gets stuck in my head at work. And, the icing on the cake for April 30: the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I mean, how could we not go to this show? Our friends, plus these guys? Granted, it was four hours away, but it was a blast. If you haven't seen CCD live, go do that. Please. And, while you're at it, go find The Honey Dewdrops, too. We could all use a few more Drops in our lives, you know?

Here's a picture of Dom Flemons, makin' me laugh. He cracked me all the way up during this show, especially during an exchange with Hubby Jenkins (a new--and incredible--group member) about where Hubby learned to play Cornbread and Butterbeans. The answer: a Carolina Chocolate Drops music book, of course. Dom asked, "Now, where'd you get that?" Hubby said, "I picked it up in a dumpster somewhere," which was funny enough, but then Dom said, "Well, I put it there 'cause I knew you'd find it," with the most hysterical, old-timey comedian face. I wish I'd known that expression was coming. I would have taken a picture of that.

All in all, after a month of non-stop go go go, this was one of the best Saturdays we'd had in a while.

Us and our friends, complete with Laura's Zoolander face.
I'm pretty sure I intended to write about some other things, too, but this post has gone on long enough. But keep your eyes peeled (ungh, terrible figure of speech) for some exciting things to come in the near future. There may or may not be prizes involved.

In closing, since I like to brag, this happened:

Dom Flemons, me, a signed LP,
and Kagey in the  background.
It was a good day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

a quick appearance, and a broom.

Just popping in to say, "Where did that week go?"

It's all sorts of spring madness in these parts, including both beautiful and deadly weather, a cat that has figured out how to push through the window screen, a trip to Virginia to listen to music (more on that later), and a new obsession with making Hogwarts versions of myself, my friends, and my characters. Are you ready for this?

Here I am, unusually tan, rocking it out for Gryffindor Quidditch:

*Not a working quidditch uniform.
Who knows what that collar might do?
And yes, I would so play it in sandals.

Good luck getting anything done for the next several days. Cackle cackle.