Bandwidth overload

It’s been a while, so I suppose you want a preamble of some kind. I don’t really have an excuse for not posting on here because the truth is, I have had the time. I just have chosen not to. That’s ok.

The realization that it’s ok was a hard won internal wrestling match. I’m the type of person to takes on too much, and then get stressed out when I realize that I have done so. Telling myself that it’s ok not to do things is a new concept for me.

See, I like to take on lots of things. I feel sometimes like I can do anything and everything. But I can’t, because I’m simply not superhuman. It’s only something to aspire to. Dreams are dreams, no matter how realistic.

Let’s have a run-down of my current projects in progress, shall we?

1) Screenplays, being co-written with my S/O.

2) Personal writing – Novel

3) Work. My job is technically a 9-5, but I often take it home with me. Why? Because I care about what I do. It really makes the difference between a job you love and a job you hate.

4) Parenting – recently the living arrangements with my daughter changed, and she is now living with me full time. This is a blessing, but also sucks away a lot of personal time. Those hours are so precious nowadays.

5) HIH This is super fun but also a huge time suck.

6) The Reading List. You know there is ALWAYS something on there. Right now, it’s Feed, by Mira Grant. That reminds me, I will be posting some reviews soon on Doc, by Mary Doria Russell, and WWZ, by Max Brooks. Spoilers, both are fantastic and YES I recommend them.

7) SUMMER. I am so excited to just go outside and do hiking again. This past winter has given me awful cabin fever, and I’m planning on several weekend adventures. Would love to go back to Baxter’s Hollow this summer.

Oh, and 8) Blogging again. Obviously.

 

Phew. I know it’s not a meaty post, but here it is. Now that I’ve done it, I am starting to feel the motivation to continue. I’ll be back with more posts in the near future, guys. Count on it.

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Nonsense

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

— Ronald Dahl

I’m a prominent purveyor of nonsense. Oh yes, that’s me.

Apparently I began this post, oh, a week ago and <forgot><lost interest><overestimated my attention span> suddenly had important other things to do, probably. So I was about to delete it when I realized that if I did so, I would be wasting the dozens of seconds of thought that I initially must have put into it. The above quote by Ronald Dahl and the sentence following it were all that existed when I curiously opened up the draft post NonsenseClearly, I had big plans for this. 

It was a tough decision, requiring even more thoughts, and by that time I felt that I was too fully invested.

“I’m already on a roll,” I thought, as I began this quotation of my thoughts, “Why stop now?”

“I’ll tell you why,” I responded internally. This is becoming a bit of a mess, admittedly. But once I began this internal debate, it was already too late to stop myself. “Because you have no idea what to write.”

But sure I do. I’ll write about nonsense.

<<blank draw, try again>>

Hmmm, I could just write

R~A~N~D~O~M

things as they pop into my head.

That’s what you’re doing right now, lady. You’re having trouble following yourself, how is your readership going to follow this train wreck? Besides, you don’t even have a topic.

Nonsense! See?

Oh for heaven’s sake. That’s not a topic. You don’t even have context. This is a disaster. Look, I’m just going to

-cut-

-you-

-off-

right here before this can go any further.

Oh great, now I’m doing it too. 

—End—

 

Children’s Books

Having a 4-year old, I have a standing routine where we read two stories before bed every night. She always tries to con me into “one more book, mommy”. 

 

I try to keep the books educational, appropriate, and when I can get away with it, good literature. As far as the good literature goes, I’ve succeeded with A.A.Milne books about Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan. By succeeded I mean that she allows me to read these to her, even though the copies I have contain minimum to nil pictures. She actually listens and asks intelligent questions when something goes over her head.

 

I have failed with a number of other books, including Alice in Wonderland (and Lewis Carrol’s other stories), A Little Princess, and I even tried once (with utter and complete failure to my dismay) Harry Potter.

 

There is hope, though. Some of the picture books I read to her are actually pretty great for little bibliophiles. She really enjoys this version of The Princess and the Pea, the Strega Nona books, which I mostly bought out of nostalgia, and a lot of the Dr Seuss books that were my favorites as a kid (Oh, the Places you’ll go, McElligot’s Pool, and others). 

 

She memorizes certain books, which fascinates me. She will recite entire books from memory if you get her on a roll. Her favorites are pretty much anything in the Pete the Cat series. I get it. They are sort of song-y and have a certain melodic flow about them. They are not my personal favorites, because the hundredth time you hear a shrill toddler voice belting out “I’m Rockin’ in my School Shoes!”, your brain begins to eat itself. However, the messages of the books are not something I can argue with. They are pretty educational and she’s learned certain skills (counting backwards, associating names of places with the function of that place, the books are very clever and engaging to toddlers), and they all have an “it’s all good” sort of message that I guess is supposed to help little ones not see small problems as the end of the world. 

 

Anyway, bad books, good books, annoying books, whatever; What I really enjoy is spending that time with her. It makes me so happy and so proud that my little girl loves reading and books as much as I do. I didn’t really get bedtime stories as a child, I think my mom was probably too busy just trying to keep the rent paid and food on the table. When I read to her, its a way for us both to communicate and also give me some background material to reference when I can’t quite understand what she’s saying – for example, when I can’t understand her words (she still has some trouble pronouncing certain things) she often goes to books as a reference point because she knows that it will help me to understand as we both experienced the story together. She knows that I’ll be able to find the connection that way. It’s amazing to me how much our little routine means to her, and it’s something we share, just us. I didn’t think it would become such a special and treasured time for me, and I was pleasantly surprised.

 

Here is an Article detailing the many benefits of reading to children. 

 

And a quote, to end with:

 

“When it comes down to it, I don’t have much in the way of advice to offer you, but here it is: Read to children. Vote. And never buy anything from a man who’s selling fear.” 
― Mary Doria RussellDreamers of the Day

The Man with the Time Machine

The Man with the Time Machine arrived at his destination. He was going to make it right, this time.

He stepped out of his machine and looked at the house in front of him. It looked the same as it would eight years in the future. There were small differences; the siding would not look so pristine where he came from; the garden, now lush and beautiful – would be abandoned to wild negligence. The doghouse – this thought stopped him momentarily.

“Webster?” His voice almost broke, but he held himself steady. A small ball of fur bounded out of the bushes and hurled itself at the man. He burst into surprised laughter as he picked up the little creature. “You’re still a pup, aren’t you? I’d forgotten. I’ve missed you, buddy.”

The man looked at the house again. She would be in there, right now. She would be crying and packing her bags. His past self would have left a while ago in a huff, and wouldn’t be returning for hours.

This would be his only chance to stop her. He set down the excited dog, took a calming breath, and strode towards the house.

Inside, he could hear the sounds of hurried departure. The muffled swish of clothes being strewn about and packed, the crinkling of newspaper as trinkets were carefully wrapped and placed in boxes.

He faced the stairs with something akin to hope, mixed with paralyzing fear.

Upstairs Sabine was zipping closed a suitcase as he walked through the door behind her. She grabbed a photograph from the nightstand beside her and raised it over her head, pivoting on one heel to face him. At the sight of him, she frowned and the picture frame fell from her hand. The sound of shattering glass was magnified by the tense silence between them.

“Joel? Is that you?” Sabine blinked at him. Her voice was shaking.

“Sabine, you know it is. Please, please don’t go. I’ll do anything, just don’t leave.”

“What happened to you? You’re…different. And your clothes…  Joel, tell me what’s going on.”

“I did it, Sabine. I finally built the time machine. But since this day…” Remember the rules, he reminded himself, she can’t know. “Sabine, since you left, life has been hell. I’ve worked for eight years to come back to today and convince you to stay with me.”

Sabine looked at the sad, scruffy, thin man in front of her. He looked like her Joel, if her Joel hadn’t eaten or slept for months. His eyes, though, were the dark and sunken eyes of a man obsessed. This Joel, though she wouldn’t admit it, terrified her.

She steeled herself before she replied.

“No, Joel. You can’t fix this that way. If we were meant to be, we’d have eventually worked things out. You made some really big mistakes, and you need to live with them for the rest of your life. I’m leaving. If you want me to come back to you, you need to talk to your past self about making that happen, not me.”

With that, she picked up the suitcase and stepped over the broken glass, brushing past him through the door. He heard her descending the stairs, slamming the front door behind her. He heard the car engine start, heard her drive away.

Joel was dumfounded. He’d thought this would work. And now there was nothing he could do. He heaved broken breaths as the sobbing threatened to choke him.

Back inside the time machine, Joel was cradling Webster the puppy and looking at a yellowed newspaper clipping taped to a panel.

Young woman dies in tragic car accident

The date on the machine panel is the same as the date on the paper.

Joel gives a few more sniffles, then gently ushers the pup out the door.

“There you go, bud. No, it’s ok. The guy in there will need you more than I do.”

Joel closed the door and began fiddling with his panels. He couldn’t give up, he wouldn’t give up. He would just have to find another way to do it.

The Man with the Time Machine arrived at his destination. He was going to make it right, this time.

Little Bell’s Challenge

“Get up. Get up, Little Bell, and do it again.”

Little Bell lifted her head from the ground and opened her eyes. The pain that exploded in her temples nearly knocked her out. The Master was still talking, but Bell couldn’t hear it past the ringing in her ears. Her automatic response was to shake her head, and she suppressed it.

Instead she tried to focus. Slowly she pulled the pain inward, siphoning it from her aching head to her chest, where she pushed it down towards her feet and into the ground beneath her. Bell stood and faced the Master.

The Master had a proud smile on her face.

“Again.” She repeated. Little Bell nodded.

Across the sunny field was a large woodpile. Bell looked at it and took a deep breath. She felt deep within herself the spark that was needed and pulled, using all her power to control the searing energy on its way up. Without controlling it properly, it could burn her alive from the inside.

Finally she felt the fire in her throat and expelled it, sending an enormous plume of flame across the field and igniting the piled wood.

“Master! I did it!” Bell exclaimed. She was so excited that she spread her wings and did an exuberant victory lap around the field. When she landed, the Master – teacher of all the young dragons, was beaming at her.

“Good, Little Bell. Again.” She said.

Jitterbug Perfume: a (late) review

So I thought that in the spirit of the sort-of original intention of this blog, that I might as well do an actual book review, eh?

Since I’m in the middle of a project right now, my reading has been put off to the wayside, as I love to read between projects, but if I read while I’m in the middle of writing something, my head gets too full of ideas, and it’s hard for me to differentiate between my own, and others. 

So I’m going to be reviewing a book I read years ago, and to this day I recommend it to anyone interested in reading a million miles off of the beaten track. Really, any of Tom Robbins’ novels will take you that million miles, but my personal favorite has always been Jitterbug PerfumeMaybe that’s because it was the first of his novels that I read. Maybe it’s because that particular writing style is so underutilized, probably because not a lot of people make it work. Robbins does. Here is what the book has to say about itself, a type of synopsis not uncommon for all his novels, and yet so fitting:

Image

“Jitterbug Perfume 
is an epic.

Which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time).

It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.

The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. 

If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.”

It’s actually incredibly difficult to try and explain to someone what this book is about. It’s about immortality, and perfume, and a very smelly god. Oh, and beets. I know, right?

The characters are fantastic and memorable, the dialogue is carefully and lovingly crafted. Alobar, I think, is the main protagonist. He is the king of an ancient pagan tribe who, by custom, kill their leader once he begins to show signs of aging, replacing him with a younger, stronger leader. Alobar is not okay with that, and worries once he sees one gray hair. He makes his escape, with his favorite wife, and thus begins a wild ride around the world, through the ages. 

Robbins is a talented writer, who does not fly through writing a book. Nor should one fly through reading any of his books. They are something to take your time with, to savor each clever, hilarious, (and more often than one might think) incredibly wise and insightful word. He is a wizard with metaphors, and this book is full of them. 

“Life is too small a container for certain individuals. Some of them, such as Alobar, huff and puff and try to expand the container. Others, such as Kudra, seek to pry the lid off and hop out.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume

And:

“I do not fear death. I resent it. Everything must die, apparently, and I am no exception. But I want to be consulted. You know what I mean? Death is impatient and thoughtless. It barges into your room when you are right in the middle of something, and it doesn’t bother to wipe its boots. I have a new passion, my darlings, a passion for being myself, and for being more than previously has been manifested for a single lifetime. I am determined to die at my own convenience. Therefore, I journey to the east, where, I have been told, there are men who have taught death some manners.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume

And I think art of the brilliance of Robbins’ writing is his masterful use of words. His sentences work into his tapestry of paragraphs, and every word, every thread of thought, used in a way that I can only describe as just-so. In my head I see his stories as comparable to a carefully layered painting, a perfectly timed photograph, a sculpture which takes the viewers breath away. Robbins is an artist with words. 

“There are no such things as synonyms!” he practically shouted. “Deluge is not the same as flood.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume

 

 

Sneaky? (The Room of Requirement)

So the Daily Prompt today says this:

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 9.27.26 AM

My answer, which I had to think about for a while, because I was slightly confused by the stipulation that it had to be sneaky, is (sneakily)Yes, and (mysteriously) Yes.

So I’m going to take this prompt to mean I should tell a story which involves being sneaky.

A while back one of my friends rented an apartment, the kind that sits directly on top of a business, in one of those extremely aged downtown buildings.

look-through-1425253-m

Haha, not that old, silly. Besides, that place probably has lots of spiders. Ugh, spiders….

More like this:

Old downtown building

Yeah, it had the huge open floor plan and the impossibly high ceilings and the big windows, and the cool, but kind of creepy, shady, barely-held-together metal staircase coming out the backdoor leading to the creepy alleyway in back. I swear, walking (or in my case, crawling carefully) up and down those stairs was like a 10 on the terrifying things to do scale. Right up there with bungee jumping and skydiving, neither of which have I ever done, but believe me, I know those stairs were comparable.

It was an awesome place. And I haven’t even gotten to the most awesome part. The mystery door:

closed-doors-1400451-m

Doesn’t a door like that just make you need to see what’s behind it? The possibilities are endless. It could be the lair of an eccentric inventor, or the door to Narnia, or a Saw style room (Yikes), or the home of the Fraggles. Who knows?

So, naturally, after much debate, and my friend saying that the landlord doesn’t want us in there because it’s dangerous (which is only going to make me want to go in there more, duh), we decided to go in, albeit sneakily.

And to our intense (quietly exclaimed) delight, we had just walked into a real-life freaking Room of Requirement.

Yeah, like that, except without the magical fire.

There was a little bit of everything in there. Random books, paintings, furniture, tools, you name it, this room probably had it. It was hard to contain my joy. I began (as quietly and sneaky as I could) to sift through the incredible contents of the room. It looked like a room where someone just kept storing random things so they would be out of the way, but what magnificent things! There was an encyclopedia of types of birds, and some truly awful acrylic/canvas paintings. There was an old desk, a box of yellowed postcards, random nails laying everywhere (It truly wasn’t safe to walk around in), unidentifiable broken things, and more.

I felt like Indiana Jones, poring through ancient artifacts. I was in heaven. My friend scolded me for turning on the lights, saying that someone would know were in there. I turned off the lights, not because she told me to, but because I didn’t want to have to use my suddenly acquired Indie skills (including the bullwhip, which was undoubtedly around somewhere) to lay out anyone who might try to stop me. I’m above that sort of thing.

I explored until getting to the red zone of irritating my friend. We went back to her apartment, talked about that room, HP, and a lot of other things that I’m sure got more deep and insightful as time went on, and then I went home.

But I never forgot my adventure that night, the night I stepped into the real-life Room of Requirement.

Rennie Heaven

When the weather starts to get warm it’s like something in me wakes up. I love the warm weather months, especially living in Wisconsin, where the winters can just be brutal. I love seeing the green come back, the flowers, the leaves, watching the world be reborn. I love the chance to get outside again, to interact with nature. There is one thing, however, that I really really really look forward to during this time. 

The Queen

Renaissance Faire! It’s practically magical, this place that’s open every weekend during the summer, where jousting and maypoling and courtly customs still live. Yes, I am one of the dedicated Rennies who dress up to go. Here are some FAQs I often get at the faire because of that:

Why are people dressed up? Is there a costume contest?

-Because we like to, and yes, sometimes there are contests, but there are usually dedicated weekends for that. I’m not trying to win any contest. This is a Ren Faire, and I want to dress up in Ren Clothing. That’s the whole reason.

Aren’t you hot in those clothes?

-Yes, I am. That is why I have this lovely feather fan here, and also drink lots of water. It’s not unbearable, and if it was, I wouldn’t put myself through that much misery to look authentic. I’d change into normal clothes.

Excuse me, do you know where (insert random place, show, bathroom, etc) is?

-Not always, but this is a great question for anyone who is dressed in period clothing because, usually even if they don’t work the Faire, they’re aficionados enough to know their way around the fairgrounds.

I love your shoes!

-I know, this isn’t a question, but I get the comment pretty often, and yeah, my shoes are pretty great. I got them here, in case you were wondering. 😉

So this weekend is the last weekend of the Bristol Renaissance Faire this summer. Extreme sadness mingles in me with extreme excitement, as the last weekend is usually a superblast!

Aaaand Excitement wins! Until I realize that it’s still only Wednesday, at which point, I pout.

If you’ve never been to a Ren Faire, you may still be able to catch one this summer. Try it, even if you don’t dress up, it’s an experience worth having! It’s such a rare thing to see so many people passionate about something, to soak up that kind of ambiance, to learn about those times! Go, merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!

Writing spaces

As a writer, I have specific spaces that I like to write in. Spaces that inspire me, and at the same time make me feel comfortable. 

I use my library, most often. I have to say, there is almost nothing better than curling up on the big pouf in my library and writing. Maybe reading is better, but only because there is less “work” involved. The feel of that room is so conducive to creativity and relaxation that it blows me away. Every time I go in there, I know in my heart of hearts that the aura of the room is exactly perfect for me. However, not everyone has a library, and that’s cool, because…

There is also the outdoors. My city has a LOT of parks. We’re a park-loving place. A lot of these parks hook right up to the gigantic lake (technically 2 lakes, but I digress) Madison nestles around. A few of them even have neat (and not so neat…looking at you, Union Terrace….) piers that one can go out on. I have to say, it’s always a great day when the boyfriend and I can pack up a picnic, or our laptops, or both, and head out to one of the many fabulous parks our city has to offer; We find a nice spot, get comfy, and spend our time munching, drinking frappes, shooting ideas back and forth, and writing together. That is honestly my ideal day. 

I know that all of two people read this blog but I seem to have some followers out there, I want to know: What is your favorite spot to write or read? Why? 

The absorbing power of books (and alienating people)

I love Harry Potter.

Yeah. You heard it. I don’t care about the movies – they were “meh”, and I really don’t care what Rowling gets up to these days, that’s her business. I don’t troll paparazzi and news sites to find out what Daniel Radcliffe is up to, don’t care. 

When I was 10, the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves. I lived in backwoods nowhere and didn’t start reading them until the third book came out, because BACKWOODS NOWHERE.

It didn’t deter me that I was behind everyone else because it actually worked out awesomely for me. I got to read book 1, then the next two books in rapid succession, and it only took me about a week to finish all three of them. I was hooked, and BOY did it take forever for Goblet of Fire to come out. 

Anyway, I grew up with those books. Every time a new one was set to come out, I would count down the days, practically salivating, waiting to get my hands on it. It would drive me into a frenzy of anxious waiting. The moment I had it in my hands, the rest of the world disappeared and all that existed was the story. I once waited at B&N for  Half Blood Prince to come out with my friend, and we had a lovely time, drinking butterbeer, hanging out with other Potterheads, finding interesting ways to pass the time. I’m afraid, though, that once I had that magical tome in my hands it was all over as far as my socializing skills. She had been nice enough to drive us to B&N, so I slid into the passenger seat, book cradled in my arms, and cracked open to the first page. I realized it was totally illogical, it was 2am, super dark out, and I couldn’t reasonably ask her to keep the dome light on for the hour long drive back to backwoods nowhere. Also, and this registered with me (barely) that it would be rude for me to begin reading while she was right there, just as much a fan as me, and couldn’t. 

Friend: Are you really going to start reading that right now?

Me: Yes.

An incredulous look is exchanged.

Me: No?

(I am going to note here that I remember the almost physical pain of closing the book.)

Friend: Seriously.

Is that verbatim? Pretty sure it’s not. Give me credit, it was a while ago . I don’t remember every single word, but that was the gist of it.

Yeah, I’m a selfish dork.

I’ve realized that my unhealthy absorption of books alienates the people around me, and that’s a bad thing.  I try not to do it, but even today I’ve been known to ignore the world around me when I’m reading. It makes me feel like a total jerk when I’ve been reading and I suddenly realize that someone is mad at me for it, because they’ve been talking to me for the past 10 minutes and I haven’t heard a single word. 

Anyway, books are awesome, reading is fantastic, but it can easily become an escape attempt from the real world. If that’s what you are doing in your reading; stop. The world is  going to be right where you left it when you look up from those pages. If you’re looking to escape, you should probably look at solving some life problems first. Don’t worry, your books will always be there when you get back.