Saturday, June 29, 2013

There is an Orange Pillow

Picture by Caitlyn Tendick

There is an orange pillow.  Now, as I look at this orange pillow, I have to wonder, where did it come from? It’s not made in America, because nothing cheap ever is, so does that mean it was made in China? In India?  In Europe? No, not Europe.  We go to Europe to say we’ve traveled and seen the world but we never seem to import coffee shop decor from Europe. Not cheaply, at least. Have you ever noticed that? Maybe, if we want to stop all this importing and exporting drama, we just need to visit these countries more.  See them.  Experience them.  Be a part of them so we don’t buy cheaply made things from them (mainly because we expect more from them) or give them equally as downgraded items.  That’s what I want to do.  But, you know, in a nice way.  In a boost their economy in a personal way.  I don’t want to crash the market.  That would be bad.  

And in a nutshell, maybe that's how we need to approach life.  We need to look at orange pillows, think about where that takes us, and then follow through.  We don’t need to be sitting in a coffee shop and dreaming of orange pillows.  We need to take them, hug them, and then cut them open and dance in their feathers.  After all, isn't that what life is about? Dancing in a pile of feathers that you received from a pillow massacre?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review - Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them

One thing that I really enjoyed about this book is the way Marjorie Taylor focused on dispelling some of the more negative aspects of imaginary friends. Just because a child creates an imaginary friend, does not mean they are lonely or there is something wrong in their developmental cycle. This was the mainstream belief until quite recently. Then, societies perception changed and suddenly, imaginary companions were viewed with prestige. Studies have shown however that having an imaginary friend does not mean that a child is special or is showing great signs of genius. These children aren't even particularly more creative when they are older when compared to other children. You know what a child having an imaginary friend does show? It shows that a child is a child. End. Of. Story.

Children create because they can. The ones who do not create an imaginary friend don't have an disadvantage or advantage over the ones that do. Their interest just lie elsewhere. Furthermore, it has been suggested that due to parental disapproval, most children don't even let on that they do have an imaginary companion.

Yes yes. Of course there are always the exceptions to the rules and there are always children who are going to create imaginary friends to fulfill some sort of need they are not getting or to play out a desire or even to manifest a problem into a form they can understand. But those are the stories we hear about. They are not necessarily the norms.

In my daydreams I was training myself to be a fool; in mapping and chronicling Animal-Land I was training myself to be a novelist.”
                               ~C.S Lewis on his imaginary world he used to play in as a child.

This book originally interested me due to its topic. In my own story (Dear God let it be published and finally done with one day) I write about imaginary friends and what happens to them when children stop believing they exist. My premises falls into one of the harsher views of the imagination where one little girl couldn't distinguish reality and fantasy quick enough and so her parents decided to put a stop to it. While reading Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them, I must admit that I was a little horror stricken to find out that this scenario, doctors, priests and all, isn't a far stretch. I would like to note, however, that I do make the distinction in the story that this is one case and not an all encompassing view. Her friend, in fact, navigated this world and the imaginary one quite easily.
But where does that imaginary friend go when the child stops seeing them? Often times, kids let go of these companions without much thought and the companion itself is then deduced to a memory that may be recalled every once in a while. This, is one of the many subject that I try to touch on in my novel. So of course I needed to pick up this book because lets face it, Google search can only give you so much. Plus, most sights about imaginary friends out there were starting to make me sick seeing as it was mostly message boards about concerned parents not knowing what to do with the idea that their child was talking to something they couldn't see.

That's another good point this book makes. Children often times know that what they are doing is make believe. They can distinguish between reality and fantasy. They just continue to play in the fantasy world long past the point of comfort for some parents. It's natural. It's fun. And they are entertaining themselves in a way that doesn't include the acid trips that pass as children's television these days.

Seriously. What the hell is that?

Upon reading this book, I didn't necessarily gain new information but it was nice to hear about the studies done in order to gain some sort of basis for this phenomenon that we often see within children. The chapters that most interested me were the ones on older children or adults having imaginary friends. There was even a small section about writers and how by the definition of an imaginary companion, most writers fall under the category of having one. As someone who writes, I constantly feel like my characters are doing or saying things that I don't necessarily plan for them. Yes, a majority of my story is a flimsy little idea in my head but I never solidify anything because I have learned over the years that you have to leave room for your characters to tell their story. So, when my characters go off and say or do things that I am adamantly against, or surprise me in ways that I didn't know possible, I am technically participating in an imaginary friend type relationship. The irony of this does not escape me seeing as the main character of this story is based on my imaginary companion as a child.

There are so many good things about this book that I don't even know what to cover and what not to cover. I would love to just swoon over all the points that the author makes and relate to you everything Taylor covers or share the passages that I underlined (or in the cases where parents think their child was talking to Satan, got genuinely mad at) but then there would be no point in you reading the book itself.

If you are interested in psychology, read this book. If you are interested in imaginary friends, read this book. If you are a parent, please please please read this book. It is informative and endlessly fascinating and the little antidotes that the children relay to the interviewer are often times priceless.

Did anyone else have an imaginary friend as a kid? Comment down here or share your post on my Facebook page. I'm always looking for new stories in order to further enhance the Imaginaries in my own novel.

To see what else I'm reading this month and for more reviews, go here;
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Travel Tuesday - Venice, Italy

Let me take you back in time. Step inside your little time traveling box of choice, captained by your time traveler of choice, and lets go back... lets say two days? Pretend it's a beautiful Tuesday morning. You are just sitting down with your cup of coffee or mug of tea. The children, if you have any, are still asleep (or are at least quiet) and you are in the perfect state of being to read this blog.

In other words, I'm sorry for the delay.

Our topic of the week is Venice Italy. Not to be confused with Venice Beach, California. Even though Venice Beach has equal amounts of interesting attractions and a ninety year old woman who roller blades down the boardwalk in a Wonder Woman bikini. That tale is for another day.

Again, Venice, Italy. Home of the sinking city and the most expensive cup of coffee. I didn't drink said cup of coffee (which I regret) but there is apparently a little cafe in St. Marks Square that sells an espresso for close to forty euros. Which, at the time I was there, translated to close to seventy American dollars. All I can say is it had better have been a damn good cup of coffee with a diamond sitting at the bottom of it and a very attractive Italian man ready to take me to bed.

The city was not under water while I was there but the planks to walk on during its sinking months were present. They made a makeshift little walk way all across the square, winding in completely unnecessary ways in order to add to the maze like qualities of this town. It is easy to get lost in Venice. The alleyways are narrow and long and unless you are a native, you are not sure which way you should be going. And if you see a bathroom, use it. Their public restroom signs are plastered all over these alleyways, directing you to where one is, but it will take you on a small little tour through the city before leading you into a dead end. I considered it to be Venetian humor.

I only stayed in a small section of the city, wandering around the main bay area and entering into mask shops and kiosks selling colorful jewelry and fine scarves. While I probably circled the same ten block radius at least a dozen times, I still found something new with each lap. Venice is an amazingly compact, hot, decadent and sweet smelling city that is filled to the brim with shops and food and people walking with alcohol in hand. Don't make the same mistake I did, by the way, and start drinking at eleven in the morning just because it is a city that allows an open container in their streets.

The canals themselves were just as packed as the alley's, the gondolier navigating through them with an amazing ease and waving and chatting to each other as they passed. Some sang as they dipped their oars in the water, gracefully gliding between crumbling brick and stone and some even wore the stereotypical red and white striped attire in order to add to to the intoxicating atmosphere that this city breathed. But just because these gondoliers live in a city full of romance and Cassanova lore, doesn't mean they aren't going to talk on their cellphone while rowing their boat back to its home.

My only wish is that I could see Venice during its masquerade nights. The shop windows were filled with beautiful ball gowns and feathered masks dipped in gold. Everything shimmered and sparkled and as I sat in St. Marks Square, I closed my eyes and imagined the young and the old all dressed up, a mystery, dancing with partners under stars and candle light. Venice, after all, just seems like one of the few places in the world where fairy tales are a reality.

But then I remember how disturbing those masks actually are and decide that maybe me at one of those Venice Circus parties is probably not a good idea.  

Italy alone inspire so many images. It inspires that feeling of romance on hot sweltering days, the scent of spice and wine filling the air, and more pasta than you could ever want coaxing you into out of the way
restaurants. With the water blueish green and shimmering under the nearly white rays of the sun, Venice is one of the cities out there that truly does deserve the term breathtaking. Now, is it really as I have described? Probably not. But that's the thing. In this compacted little city that is filled with tourists and people trying to make a living, you somehow don't remember if human stench permeated the air. You don't remember if you felt the dirt and grime that usually comes with large cities. You don't remember rudeness or chaos or moments of sweltering exhaustion. You remember feeling beautiful and alive and knowing secretly that most of that probably has to do with the amount of alcohol you've consumed but you don't even care because you have gelato in one hand and you are sitting in the middle of a famous canal, sipping champagne.

Does anyone else have any good Venice stories since I *ahem* have a skewed memory of this place?  Also, has anyone been to one of their circus's? 

Like me on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date of when I blog (and probably hear more about my writing woes) and comment or send me a message on what you would like to see me blog next.   
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review - A Map of Time

 This was just not the book for me.

With reviews and snippets such as “A big, genre-bending delight...” and “A master of ingenious plotting”, I thought that it would be worth a read. Granted, this was an impulse buy because I had seen it advertised enough on my Goodreads sidebar so the fact that my interest in it wasn't stellar shouldn't be too surprising since its a novel I wouldn't normally pick up. Though, it went a long way to prove to me that sidebar advertising does work (I did buy it after all) and that the snippets and reviews on book jackets really are complete and utter bullshit. Oh the joys of taking classes where we find out that most of these little blurbs are endorsements simply meant to get you to buy the book itself. My little bubble that had me naively assuming otherwise has burst.

Anyway, Map of Time truly did start off well. It was jarring at first with the breakdown of the fourth wall and I found myself excited and intrigued at the idea that the narrator in this book had a type of knowledge that was all encompassing. This trick soon got old as we moved through the novel. With a constant switch between characters that we never stuck with long enough to care about or get to know, the narrator jumps from time period to person to story that may or may have not happened, jolting the reader out of a moment that was just about to gain momentum and placing them at another standstill. I'm assuming this was to create tension and interest as opposed to the typical ABC's of a linear novel but it did not. Its a tactic that I think would have worked beautifully if it had been used more sparingly but instead, Felix J. Palma took this single idea and decided to put it on a roller coaster that stopped being fun about twelve corkscrews ago.

That being said, when Palma does write well, he writes well.

This time he was sure he had made the right decision, because he had decided not to decide. There would be no more mistakes in the future because there would be no more future. He was going to destroy it completely by putting one of those guns to his temple.... obliterating the future was the only way for him to eradicate the past.”

I wanted more of that. This rawness. This dry humor and sarcasm that you believe is probably being delivered to you with a smirk. Maybe there were more passages like this but I found my eyes probably would have blurred over them since for most of the book I felt like I was falling into a sleepy haze despite the coffee in my hand.

That leads to my next point; Maybe this novel was simply not for me. I can recognize that it had beautiful prose and maybe this jumping tactic used will work for someone else. But for me, it was overdone. On top of that, there wasn't enough dialogue and I am a dialogue whore. So, in a novel with twenty plus pages of block text, I can understand why I was zoning out at times or trying to skip forward to the action. So, if you are a reader that likes inner monologue (think Portrait of an Artist but maybe less depressing?) and stream of consciousness, then I would actually highly recommend this book. If you a person who like character development and a meaty story, I would say to stay away. As a non linear novel, I had high hopes for it (I love non linear, the beginning is the middle and the end is the beginning type stories) but I felt like it didn't deliver and instead was a valiant attempt at an out of the box story but fell shy of it.

Also, H.G Wells was a time traveling maniac who helped create a time machine that inevitably was kind of dysfunctional since it could only travel to one period in time.

Anyone else read this? Anyone even know anyone else who has read this?

To see what else I'm reading this month and some other reviews, go here:

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Travel Tuesday - New New York

Have you ever met that person who when you talk to them, you are just amazed at the amount of knowledge their brain has retained? Granted, there are a lot of us that look at these people and feel like we are wasting our lives because we haven't spent our free time learning the ways of the world. We feel less enlightened and we might even contemplate reading a good history book or going to a lecture of some sort to further enhance our brain power. Maybe we'll even head to an art museum. Then there are others who look at this very knowledgeable person and question whether or not it is in fact, them wasting their lives because seriously, how the hell have you found the time to learn that much? Do you not work?

Depending on the day, I fall on either side of these personalities. But, when it comes to one thing specific, I am that person that knows way too much. Now, I would like to lie to you and say my knowledgeable subject is something useful like Medieval history or the life works of Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte. At least then you would think “wow, this girl has a discipline”. Sadly, my vast array of knowledge is of something much more... colorful? Yeah. Colorful is a nice word.

I can't tell you when I started listing to the Beatles. I was young. My parents and my brother listened to them and I don't think you can turn on an old rock station without hearing the sounds of “Love Me Do”. The point is that I have been listening to them since I was a kid and went through a phase in high school where I immersed myself into all things Beatles. Clothes, books, albums, history, bootleg copies of obscure songs... You name it and if I could get my hands on it, I consumed it. I was a little Beatles monster who decided it was her life mission to learn everything she could. I started saving for Europe for the soul purpose to see Abbey Road Studio's before it was torn down (thankfully, that never happened and the studio still stands). I went to Liverpool, I've stood outside the Cavern Club and was at a loss for words over the fact that this small, dark little club, somehow held hundreds upon hundreds of people to listen to a band that would change history.

In 2011 I traveled to New York (and side note: I have trouble sometimes not calling it New New York). I had never been there and upon hearing that a friend that I had met in Europe the previous year (and who lives in Australia) was going to be there, I promptly followed suite. Now I could go on and on about New York. I could tell you about how I actually found New Yorkers to be nicer than Californian's. I could tell you about the naked guitar player walking down the street. I could even tell you about the humid weather and what it was like to see my friend try a bagel for the first time. I saw a show while I was there, I visited the Statue of Liberty and I stood on top of the Empire State Building in the middle of the night. I was moved to tears at the 9/11 memorial and I got sunburned beyond belief from riding around on top of a bus where a nice tour driver told us not to stand because a tree would take our head off. When I think of New York, all of that comes to mind. But what probably had the most impact on me was that famous little mosaic, tucked away in Central Park.

I don't think we had been in the city for more than a few hours before we set out to explore the park. The Imagine mosaic for John Lennon was of course, on the list of must see places. It wasn't hard to find really. It was a weekend and there were people flocking towards it. Because yes, after all these years, people young and old still go to this tiled spot and lay flowers down in honor of this man.

When we came upon it, it was saturated in color. Reds and yellows framed out the floor and little yellow submarines and green apples were placed all around. People stood in a circle, snapping pictures, some humming their favorite tune under their breath. There was a hat for loose change that would go towards the cause of choice that day. The entire moment was beautiful and bright and full of life and as I stood there, I really couldn't believe that I was a part of it. This memorial that I had heard about for years, that I had seen pictures of, was sitting right in front of me. To me, it was like someone had taken one of those $4.99 posters that we see in tourists shops and smacked it down in the middle of this courtyard with a bit of gloss and flowers. It just didn't seem possible.

We sat there for a while, watching the people come and go. Little children ran around, unaware of the history that they were playing upon. Parents, college students, grandparents and babies all passed by that day. It still makes me smile to think about the reach that such a modest memorial has over people.

The rest of New York went by in such quick and city like ways. I want to go back. I will go back. The city is incredible and before I went, I figured it was simply a cliché that others said. There is something about that city. Everyone told me that but they could never tell me what that something was. I'm not going to repeat the sentiment to you, but part of the reason I have to go back is because I believe in that phrase and I need to discover what exactly that “something” is.

Ah, but we are not done quite yet. You see, my friend left early in the morning towards the end of our trip while I didn't have a flight out until evening. So, on my last day in New York, I went to FAO Schwarz (!!!!) and then headed back to Central Park. I was walking around this gorgeous area, tree's hanging overhead and blocking the sun. I wasn't paying much attention as I was chatting on the phone to a friend, trying to explain to her what I was seeing as I walked along, when suddenly, my phone cut out. I remember looking down at it and frowning. I had full service. Nothing should have been wrong. When I looked up again, I almost didn't recognize where I was. It was an abandoned little clearing in the park, the concrete paths jutting off into different directions, their destination obscured by small hills and flowering bushes. Then I saw it. There, right at my feet, was the memorial again. Though this time, it wasn't ordained with flowers or causes or memories of others. It was sitting there by itself, gray and lacking the luster it had shone with days before, and there was no one else around.

I knelt down in front of it, reaching out to run my hands across the tile, trying not to cry because lets face it, I didn't want to be the crazy girl crying at the Imagine memorial. But as I knelt by this beautiful example of this mans work, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. It was alone in this big park, completely abandoned for the time being, a few leaves having washed over it through the day. There was something so sad about it and soothing and so iconic at the same time. Life suddenly seemed much bigger than I thought it had been before. Suddenly, my thoughts and my experiences and all the little things that had to happen to lead me to that spot in Central Park, on that day, in that hour, came crashing over me in an almost crushing weight and for a moment, I couldn't breath.

But here's the funny thing about overwhelming life moments that threaten to shatter you into thousands of tiny pieces no matter how hard you try to keep it together.

You keep breathing.

Life still goes on.

I sat in the middle of the mosaic that day, kneeling down and ghosting my hands over the ground. A man with his daughter walked by after some time and offered to snap my picture. He did, on a blurry little camera phone of mine, and moments later, the courtyard was flooded with a tour group, carrying bouquets of flowers. My time was over. It was time to move on.

Two hours later I was in a taxi, heading to the airport, preparing to go home.

Like me on facebook to keep up to date of when I blog (and probably hear more about my writing woes) and comment or send me a message on what you would like to see me blog next.   
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Neil Gaiman on Writing and Werewolf Goldfish

 I apologize now for all the air quotes that I will be using in this post.

I was getting a tad bit irritated today. I'm sure friends and family are going to claim that I may have called them and ranted at length about the state of writing and the advice that is out there for writers. I'm sure they'd even go so far as to say that I was shrieking at them. I find that the people in my life over exaggerate.

In the past week, I have listened to countless writing podcasts and have read interviews with people who have boiled it down to a list of bullet points on what an aspiring writer should do, not to get published, but to write a book. Now, that sentence alone makes me want to rebel in the worst way. If you are sitting back and wondering how to write a book I don't think you should be writing a book. Now, I'm not talking about sitting back and wondering how to get published or how to work through writers block or if you should even attempt to write something. I think everyone who writes goes through those questions. I'm talking about the actual writing process. It is not a thing you can Google nor is it something that you can obtain from a handout sheet. Just because there are handy little formatted guides out there, it doesn't mean they hold the magical answers that fill your brain with the knowledge of how to write a book. They probably aren't very specific on where you should start, what your characters should do, or if you are even doing this writing thing 'correctly'. If those are your questions, and I mean this in the nicest way, I'm thinking its time to look for another hobby. If you don't embrace the answer 'just write' then you are going to struggle relentlessly over something that you probably don't have much of a passion for to begin with.

Apparently, I am alone in thinking this, however, since there are countless 'how to' blogs out there and podcasts, all giving step by step instructions on how to write a novel.

I then became a bit more agitated over the answers that were given when it became apparent that, according to some, there is a formulaic, fill in the blanks process that apparently can be used as a template for 'aspiring writers'. Then, the podcasts I was listening to, told very generic stories of how to gain inspiration in order to fill in those blanks on the mad libs sheet of writing. As I was listening and reading to all of this, one thing kept crossing my mind.

I have never done any of that.

Which of course promptly sent me on some sort of existential crisis where I doubted myself as a writer and wondered if I had been doing it wrong all these years and if this was a pipe dream bla bla bla. Then I found this.

 Thank whoever is out there, for Neil Gaiman.

Inspiration is not something that you can find on a Google search engine (well, you can but it's usually a fluke). Where do I find my inspiration is not a question that can be answered by someone that isn't you. These writing tips and these idea's of story boarding are alright, I suppose. While I don't particularly use them, I can see how they could be helpful for a jumping off point. But here's the thing. When you are inspired, you are inspired. You want to create. You want to write. Inspiration rarely comes from a rigid plan or a bullet point that was listed in a blog or podcast by someone who has already gone through the process.

Gaiman mentions in his video that inspiration happens to everyone. Writers just tend to take a bit more notice of it. This holds true. Inspiration is a jumbled mess of random thoughts that seem to always happen when you least expect it. It isn't something you can create by following a formula. I think that's what irritated me. The idea that you can become a successful writer with enough Google searches and by following AB and C not only takes the respect out of writing for people who have a genuine talent, but takes some of the mysticism out of it as well. Now, I'm not saying this process has never worked before but I think that this type of writing process gets old fast and it loses some of the very essence of what makes writing good.

My opinion (which may not work for you) is to write. Go into your story not knowing how it's going to end or what your characters are going to do in relation to the plot. Let them tell you. Let yourself learn your story and become excited about it like a reader would. Be a fan of your own work because if you're not a fan of your writing, you cannot ask anyone else to be either.

Neil Gaiman, thank you for soothing my writing woes and using werewolf goldfish to do so. Bless you, sir. Bless you.

Disagree with me? Want to point out something that I missed because I tend to get overly ranty in moments like this and pass over key points or contradict myself? Comment or message me. :)

Like me on facebook to keep up to date of when I blog (and probably hear more about my writing woes) and comment or send me a message on what you would like to see me blog next.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hello, Harto

There's this thing that bloggers do, or so I have noticed, where they put their opinion out on what others (usually these others are strangers) are doing. Or what the political offices are doing to the country or what the country is doing to the country or what their neighbor is doing to their yard. From my experience, those conversations and blogs lead to angry comments, angry people, and a general bad mood. It's what I like to call, the ugly side of the internet.

And then there's Hannah Hart. If you don't know who she is, go to her youtube channel (linked at the bottom of this post) and watch My Drunk Kitchen. It is exactly as it sounds. She gets drunk, while cooking. Dangerous. Yes. But, we've all done it... except me, Mom and Dad. Never me!

Her channel is funny and clever and this woman became and overnight success. With guest appearances by John Green and segments such as fish fingers and custards, what's not to love about her? Ms. Hart is a modern day woman who is gathering up her happiness and then rolling it in sugar and spice before dousing it in wine and handing it over to us on a silver platter called youtube. Well, just when I thought I couldn't love her anymore, she came out with this.

This is living proof that nerds and people that dwell in the evils of the Internet world can use their powers for good. Traveling the country and world in a manner that would make most practical people cringe, Hannah Hart and her crew of awesomely epic misfits (That should be there name from now on. The AEM) have made a youtube series out of their adventures by simply being themselves.

By being themselves.

I want people to take that in for a moment and maybe this realization that being yourself is a good thing, as long as you're happy, will finally sink into the collective conscience of this world.

During these escapades of theirs, they meet up with fans, sometimes going into their homes and filming and episode of My Drunk Kitchen there. But what's really amazing about all this? When they want to meet up with a group of fans on a large scale, they do it at a food kitchen. This is what I mean by using your power of internet charm for good. Her and her AEM volunteer both behind the scenes and in front and, together, with the community, have helped raise 70,000lbs of food to date.

I'm sure there are internet haters out there that can find something wrong with this whole scenario and I have long ago just accepted that those people are just living their life the way they know how and there's a certain respect I have for that. But personally, I look at a video like this, I look at these people and the people that are her fans and look at what they are doing, and I smile. It's so easy to sometimes forget that we are good people at heart. Thank you, Hannah and friends and everyone who was involved and continues to be involved with this, for reminding us of our potential.

For more information on how to get involved, click on the youtube link above and go to the information section. Also, visit to keep up to date on everything they are doing.  Also, if you want to watch My Drunk Kitchen or more of her amazing video's, go here:

Disclaimer: Don't get drunk and cook.  The food doesn't turn out well.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yes, I'm Crazy - Yes, I Write

There's a little bit of insanity that goes hand in hand when you are trying to write. Or, at least there is for me. Bachelor degree's, real world jobs, social lives, blogging and constantly searching for someone who will take my crazy and adore it, leaves little to no time to focus on a novel. Let alone a novel that for some reason I felt needed to be complicated in such ways that I wish I could go back in time and tell my fourth grade self, “Don't aspire to be a writer. It'll bring you nothing but headaches and an early onset of arthritis”. That, however, would create a paradox and if there is one thing I will take away from fictional characters experiences, it's that paradoxes never end well.

So, since I can't go back and change the mind of my little self, I'm forced to live this life. And when I say forced I do mean choose but you know, force just sounded like a more solid word choice.

One of the first things people seem to learn about me is that I'm writing a series. Oddly enough, I am never the one that shares this tidbit of information but I have a handful of friends and family members that point this out to almost every new person I meet as if this is a series that has some sort of discernible weight in the literary world. These same friends and family members are now going to point out that I just pointed all of this out to you in a blog post. And around and around we go.

Anyway... Eventually, these new people find out that what I am writing is more than just a dabble. The conversation usually goes something like this.

Strange New Person: “Oh, so what do you write?”
Me: “Umm... I'm just working on a small novel.”
Well Meaning Friend or Family Member: “Oh my Gosh! She is in the middle of writing her third book in a trilogy all about imagination and what it means for little kids and how we as adults react to it all and its really really good and I've already read it and it just blows my mind and she's being too modest. Have I mentioned its the third book?”
Strange New Person: “Wait... really? You've written three books?”
Me: “Well.... yeah...”

If you think I'm joking or exaggerating, I can give you the name of a dear friend who I am pretty much quoting verbatim right now. She'll have no problems probably saying this exact same spiel to you.

Now, after this is out of the way, people somehow coax out of me that this is a story that I've kind of been focusing on for, oh, about fifteen years give or take. Of course, I haven't been writing it this entire time. The idea started as something small when I was a child and then when I was older, it was one that I picked up again to write. It has grown beyond what I ever thought it would and now requires little self written note cards in order to keep straight the mythology I have created in this world. When, Strange New Person, finds this out, one inevitable question always arises.

“Do you feel like a crazy person?”

The answer?


Yes. Yes and YES.

I would add a few expletives to that but family members are reading this and they still sometimes pictures me as a little girl. I do not want to change this perception too much seeing as it still works in my favor during the Christmas season.

But, I am, in fact, a cross between Topher (below) and that owl. 

In short, writing makes you crazy. I didn't always feel like this. There was a time when I could write and I'd step away from my computer and switch to whatever else it was that I needed to do. Now, it's a very different story. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about that world I've created. I'm thinking about those characters. When something new pops up in my life, I wonder how they would react to it. When a song comes on the radio, my ears tend to hear words that relate to scenes and moments that I have either written or have yet to write. Upon knowing book three is going to be the final book, I create blogs in order to distract myself from actually writing it because I know when I finish, these characters are done. When you live with a small set of characters for close to fifteen years, they become something beyond what you originally created. When you have to say goodbye to them.... well, I don't want to think about that quite yet.

Thus, the crazy person feeling.

I catch myself, sometimes. There are times when I've been sitting and talking about my story with friends and realize that I am talking about my characters as if they are real people. It's as if I should be able to call them up on the phone and invite them out for a drink. I know them well. Too well. I know what they eat, I know their biggest fears, I know who they love and who they think they love. I know how they react to death and sorrow and how they laugh and what their smile looks like. One character, in fact, is what I measure all potential guys to in my life. Which is probably why I'm single. The point is that I know these characters as well as I would my best friend. I don’t always agree with them (which makes for some interesting writing nights) and there are plenty of moments where I have to walk away from the computer because I am too angry or too upset to continue to write what they have to do or what they have to respond to.
Thankfully, I have understanding friends who when I start speaking as if these characters are real, they know I am simply slipping into writer me. If they were less understanding, they'd have me committed.

Writing is a process that drives me absolutely insane. I love it and I crave it and sometimes, when the night is late and my living room is lit only with the pale glow of my computer screen and a few small candles, I put my head down and have to breathe deeply as I mourn, laugh, and love along with these character. Sometimes, I think they are so entwined with my life that I forget where they end.

Would I change this? Well... yes. I already admitted in the beginning of the post that I would tell little me not to become older me. But, here's the thing about little me. She was a stubborn little thing. I doubt she'd listen.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Life Moves Pretty Fast...

Take a look at this monument. If you sort of recognize it but can't quite place why, let me be of some assistance.

It is the monument featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off during probably the most famous scene from the movie. Of course it is just in the background but to anyone that loves that movie, it is recognizable. And yes, that picture above is one that was taken in person. It was in the middle of the night, in a somewhat deserted area of Chicago during late fall when my friend snapped it and I bounced around like little girl.

There are often things that we go back to in our adult life that, upon reflection, had a lot of influence on who we were to become. I first watched Ferris Bueller when I was tiny. Sitting on an old blue patched sofa, the wallpaper surrounding me fuzzy and green (not even kidding), my brother put in the then VHS for us to watch while both my mom and dad were out on a job. I couldn't have been any more than seven or eight. I remember watching it and feeling grown up because here was a movie that not only my older brother found to be good, but it used words that I was not allowed to say. There's something always a bit decadent about that as a small child. I was taken into this inner sanctum where my cool teenage brother dwelled, and furthermore, there was a lack of parental supervision around to stop the movie if it crossed lines that a young child should not be privy to. Ferris Bueller, when I was that age, was my sneak peak into the adult world.

Now, it has of course remained one of my favorite movies to date. I don't watch it all that frequently but there is something about this film that has always stayed close to me. Maybe it's the fact that Ferris lives in a world of his making and is able to defy the conventions that normal society wants to place upon him. Or maybe it's the fact that I found Matthew Broderick extremely attractive. I don't know.

I was in Chicago during the fall of 2012 on two separate occasions. A friend of mine who has known me almost as long as I have been alive, had moved there the previous year. Since Chicago was on my bucket list, and this girl is practically a sister to me, there was no doubt in my mind that I would make my way over there. Now, despite my avid love for this movie, it didn't even occur to me that most of it was filmed in Chicago. I think I was so excited over the fact that I was in a city that was filled with iconic brick houses and brewed the most perfect cup of coffee I've ever had, that I didn't make the connection. Not until we were down by Navy Pier, talking about going to the Sears Tower (or Willis Tower if you want), did I think of it. The fact that the DVD for the movie was on sale in a gift shop may have turned the light bulb on in my little nerd brain.

As the sun was setting over Chicago, my friend and I made our way to Sears Tower. There's something about cities at night that appeal to the writer in me. There’s more of a chance for heroes to lurk in the darkness here, slipping down alleyways, unseen by the general populace. And in a city like Chicago, with the history that it has, ghosts lurk in the dark corners of this world, running their fingers across brick and steal that will be here long after we are all gone. I've been in a lot of cities in the middle of the night but Chicago tops them all. It's the place where stories are made, where hearts are broken, and where if you close your eyes, the sounds and smells of the twenties can almost be grasped. Men in nice suites and fedoras walk those streets when your eyes are closed, tommy guns in hand.

Also, I know, my sense of theatrics or romanticism is a bit off. You don't have to tell me.

The city had gone dark by the time we climbed Sears Tower, where we of course, leaned our heads against the side of the glass partition and looked down. You can't be in Sears Tower without doing that and the smudge marks that lined the windows at forehead height, told that story very well.

Looking out over this city at night I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the sheer presence that pulsed through the air. The city itself was so full of hope, passion, culture, death, destruction and gritty realism that every light that flickered before me seemed like a little piece of the world working in tandem with each other to create this beautiful array of life. It's a feeling that never ceases to grow old and each time I'm faced with it my heart flutters in what I can only describe as the moments following three triple shots of espresso on two hours of sleep. Not that I've done that but I hear that its like your heart wants to leap from your chest and maybe do a small dance across the floor.

Either way, Chicago is beautifully dangerous and messy at night and is easily a city that tempts you into becoming lost in its strange and eerie depths.

I don’t know how long we spent in the tower, over looking the city and creating a mental snapshot to take home with us one day. But as we left, we were full of excitement and full of energy and life that we just wanted to breathe back into the world. It was then that we began our epic quest to find that statue. In a evening spent retracing Ferris's steps, how could we not?

I will gloss over the fact that we thought we found it at one point and how when we finally realized, upon stumbling over the actual structure, that we had not, we felt foolish and slightly high on our ability to convince ourselves of anything. But, we did eventually find that iconic red structure, lit up in the middle of the night, standing strong and proud in the middle of an empty expanse of concrete. I may have let out a cry that was unbecoming of someone who is supposed to be a woman, and then promptly ran to the structure to give it a hug. I think we called and texted everyone we knew that night, telling them in breathless excitement where we were and what we were seeing. For one moment, my friend and I were transformed back into little girls. We were the two children that had grown up in the middle of the country, running around fields and pretending to surf on hills, now dancing around the city streets of Chicago under the watchful eyes of the street lamps that served as stars.

Since coming home, I've watched Ferris Bueller again. It provoked a wave of nostalgia in me, even though I had only been absent from that city four a few months. As I continued to watch the movie, I had to laugh. This movie that was created before I was even born, that was watched a few times during the early days of my childhood, apparently had an undeniable influence on the person I am today. My penchant for dark haired boys in jeans and a white t-shirt was suddenly explained (though, maybe my love for it came first and it is the reason why I love the movie?), my later love for all things Beatles suddenly had more roots, and my undeniable urge to visit Chicago, even though I knew absolutely nothing about the city, was all playing out before my eyes. Not to mention the fact that Ferris's world is the type of world we all wish we could inhabit, at least for a day. I feel like I am constantly chasing that type of day, experiencing it when I can, and realizing how fast it moves by when the day comes to a close.

For, in the famous words of our dear Ferris “Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop a look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Photo of the monument is courtesy of

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Author Review

Side note: This is a school assignment. This isn't normally what I would be talking about in this blog but I need to show that I have a blog entry in order to pass this class. Read and enjoy, or come back in a few days for more information on traveling and maybe some zombies.

This week, I examined the profile pages of authors Gerald Brom, Patrick Rothfuss and George R.R Martin. I chose Patrick Rothfuss's facebook page to examine further because he writes the types of books that I hope to some day published and figured it would be useful to examine an author that resembles what I want to do. You can find his link here:

His page was easy to navigate, which I think is the first thing that should be looked for. Furthermore, he promotes his other social media pages without it being too overwhelming. Under his biography section, he has a link to his personal website and in his About Me, he asks readers to send him a message through a preexisting contacting form on his website as well. A link to his personal blog can also be found in his section about personal information. This directs people away from the facebook page and also serves to promote his work in a medium that works best for him.

The page is also personal. His 'likes' are listed to the side, showing that he is active in the social community. Despite the fact that he gets tons of messages and wall posts a day, it seems as if he still tries to answer them in order to continue to be involved with his fans. There is also a consistent amount of facebook updates that talk about what is going on with his life and what is upcoming in his professional career. What I found most intriguing was the fact that he also promoted other authors. If he reads a book that he likes, he makes sure to tell his fans about it, thus creating an even bigger social web for him.

Overall, I think his facebook page is clean cut and efficient. It operates as it is supposed to and generates interest while keeping fans up to date. It is being used more as a vehicle to promote his other, more professional sites yet manages to hold a presence all on its own.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wonderland - Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

To say this review is mocking me is an understatement. I feel like these words that have jumped out at me from this little fairy tale is a bully on a playground back at my old Elementary school. Alice and her menagerie of characters are taunting me with words that I'm not sure I understand and smiling at me in such a way that makes me think that they might very well hold the secret to happiness.

Upon finishing my copy of Alice's adventures, I was left kind of befuddled. I've never even used the word befuddled before but somehow it seems like the only appropriate expression to describe my feelings. Vowing to sleep on it for a night, I put it aside and the next morning I began reading what I could about the lore surrounding this beloved tale.

I really wish I hadn't.

My initial reaction to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass was this.

I had never read it before and my only experience with the fairy tale itself is a vague memory of the Disney movie, a made for TV movie that I don't remember liking very much, and Jefferson Airplane creating a beautifully haunting song about this tale that most likely supports the drug idea.
                                    Sidebar: If you have no idea what I'm talking about then here.
                                 Also, learn your hippy culture. It's kind of disgraceful at this point if you don't know this song.

I knew going in that most claim this is a tale about drugs and with only a few chapters behind me, I felt like looking at these people and asking them if they thought it was about drugs because they were on drugs themselves? I'm not judging or anything. Just curious because these so called “obvious” drug references weren't making themselves known to me. What's that you say? There was a Caterpillar smoking hooka? Right. My apologies. That obviously denotes a full on acid trip the author was having about a little girl. Oh, but wait. The girl was eating and drinking things that ended up altering her perception of herself? My morning cup of coffee does the same thing. I know, I know. Why didn't I see it before? In fact, these little nuances of the story explains so much about my own writing. Thank you, you drug reference seekers. Please review Peter Pan next and tell me about the pixie dust. (sarcasm mostly done. Promise.)

From what I could gather, Alice is a little girl wandering through the creative mind that she has managed to mold around her. Whether she is walking through a dream or she is playing pretend in her living room, is up for debate. As she makes her way through Wonderland, she meets a cast of characters who all offer tales and wisdom which are described in such ways that the young and the yet to be educated seem to have a knack for. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go listen to a child ramble about their day for a bit. The way they understand the world and the words we use in them is vastly different than our our. Carroll loves to play with this, taking words that we automatically see one way and twisting them into something entirely different. Alice's journey is a mish mash of word play, imagination and nonsensical moments that we all have while dreaming, and some of us even have while pondering life during the quite moments of our day. (And while on drugs. See guys? I'm not forgetting about you!)

When looking further into this tale, I ran across a lot of different things that always make me a bit sad to be a literature major. People have of course dived into this story, picking it apart until there is nothing left and then treating it as an atom and dividing it some more. Suddenly Alice is a metaphor for the struggles of puberty (she doesn't like this being little and big scenario all that much and comments about how terribly confusing it all is). The caterpillar is seen as a sexual predator, obviously after the small girl. The Garden Alice is so desperately trying to get into is of course the Garden of Eden (because all gardens in literature are for some reason) and the tale itself is about a child trying to come terms with the fact that death is very real. We can also take a more mathematical approach to it and view the mushroom as Alice's way of understanding the properties she needs to manipulate in order to regain her proper size. There are theories and there are passionate essays out there that go in to much more detail that I will here and if you are a person who wishes to read more of those, I highly suggest this site ( ). It has everything Alice related you could want to know. Here's the thing about all those theories though and it is a problem we face in school and in what is meant to be scholarly critics of a work of a literature. Sometimes, authors just write in order to create a story. That's it. That's the big secret. They don't always sit down and try to figure out what Alice is going to mean to the rest of the world. They don't always take into consideration that people out there are going to be analyzing their characters every action and looking for the deeper meaning in this piece of text simply because they can't find the deeper meaning in life. Sometimes, authors write what they think is good and funny and enjoyable and then they sit down at night and move on. Motifs and symbolism often times go too far in literature and I think Alice is a victim of that more than anything else.

"I'm very much afraid I didn't mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I'm glad to accept as the meaning of the book."(source: Collingwood, "The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll")

In the authors words, it was never intended as anything more than a fairy tale. Of course, we shouldn't discredit how people view literature because often times it tells us more about the people reading the tale, than the tale itself. But, in the case of Alice, I think its also important to remember that nonsense is fun and the wild imaginings that have been produced from this tale are timeless and obviously hold a sense of power over us.

Now that I'm done with that rant, I would like to ask one thing. Did Alice annoy anyone else? Seriously, kid. Shut up. Stop interrupting the tale of the Jabberwocky and just sit and listen for a minute.

If you are looking for other Wonderland-esque stories, I suggest Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Before even reading Wonderland, I thought that Gaiman made some beautiful references to the text.

Also, if you are interested in seeing what else I will be reading this month, view my previous post, June Reads, here:

Disagree with me about Alice? Please let me know. Comment below or mail me through my authors profile on the side. Also, go like my facebook page in the sidebar in order to keep up to date on when I post.

And, as always...

Torchwood - Top Secret

Not a fan of Torchwood? Why the hell not?

Alright, alright. So it's not a show for everyone. To my fellow nerds out there, however, here is a very different spin off of Doctor Who. If you haven't watched it, go Netflix it now. Granted, it's a bit overdone at times, but is still one of the only Sci-fi shows I have seen that makes me cringe over what humanity might do if aliens invaded.

The Torchwood Archives isn't exactly anything special. It is more of a companion piece to the first two seasons. Presented to us as someone who has managed to follow the Torchwood team around and collect notes and pictures of them without them knowing, the book compiles all of the authors research into a volume that Ianto tells us is never supposed to leave the Hub. There are logs from Captain Jack and little post it notes from the other team members. If you are a fan of the show, you will like it. Little one liners give more depth to what was happening between the episodes and some of the innuendo is definitely worth a giggle or two. It was nice to see how these characters related to each other and see this universe expand a bit more.

Pick it up if you want a fun read.  And if you are looking for what else I'm reading this month, go to my June reads post found here

And, just because I can.... Here