Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve. I feel as though I should write a deep and meaningful blog, a reflection of this past year. Or I should give my best and worst for the year as other bloggers seem to be doing. There's nothing wrong with that. Ok, so I don't often agree with the choice for the best of 2008 but then again, once I find something I like, whether it be music or not, it becomes my 'best', regardless of what year it's from. For example, if asked what the best album of 2008 is, I would say "Green Day: American Idiot." Ok, so it was released in 2004 but it's still the album I listen to most and since nothing really came out that made me drop this from my 'best' list, then it's still the best.

So, that's why I won't do a Captain Monkeypants 'Best of 2008' list. Because my 2008 is your 2004 or 2005. And once something's the best, it's hard to top that.

Instead, I'll do what I seem to do best...ramble for a while.

New Years Eve has never been a hugely momentous event in my life. Many of my years have been spent quietly at home with my parents, drinking Baileys, occasionally champagne and turning off a movie to watch the ball drop. This may read like I'm pathetic. Perhaps I am. Yet the thing is, I adore my parents. They love me unconditionally and they're always there for me. I know the trendy thing to do is go to a party and kiss someone at midnight but if I don't have anyone I want to kiss at midnight, well, then a quiet evening in with my parents is actually a rather nice alternative.

Ok, so there have been times when there's someone I wish would kiss me at midnight but I've never been much of a romantic heroine and it never happens.

The odd occasion where I've been away from home for New Years have been interesting. One year, I had to go back to school early and my roommate and I tried to go to a New Years Eve party but by the time it was 11 p.m., almost the entire body of the party was either drunk or stoned. It was clear that the seeing in of the New Year wasn't going to happen unless the host of the party stopped throwing up enough to remember what night it was so we slipped out the back door, went home, grabbed a bottle of strawberry wine and went and watched the Midnight fireworks dance over the Ohio river. I have to say, that was a nice way to see in the New Year.

Another year, I was in Pasadena, crammed like a sardine into my friend's living room. That was a fun night. It was a houseful of people, all just relaxing. It was freezing and it was hard to stay warm. We crammed around a little fireplace, warming ourselves enough to go outside. We all planned on seeing in the New Year, watching the Stealth Bomber fly over in the morning, signaling the start of the Rose Parade.

Well, we did see in the New Year. Yet we all managed to sleep until we heard the bomber flying overhead. By the time we all sprinted outside, we'd missed it. We managed to wander up to watch the Rose Parade, a truly amazing spectacle. I don't think watching it on TV does it justice; the sight of a million flowers, wound into patterns, designs, ornaments,'s truly something to watch live.

Tonight, I've been invited to a party. I was excited to go to a real one. Unfortunately, though, my return to the Midwest from the moderate temperature of L.A. is playing havoc on my immune system and I'm coughing and sneezing and feeling generally unlike imbibing and infecting others with my germs. I may try to go but it may end up being a quiet New Year's after all. It honestly doesn't matter. To me, it's not what you're doing on New Year's Eve that matters but it's how you pass the following year that does.

2008 has been a strange year. It's been a year of loss, change, old and new experiences. It's been a year when I've learned that friends can also be family, that dreams don't die, they just strengthen and grow stronger. It's been a year when I've learned that the important things don't have to be huge, they can be tiny and still mean just as much.

I don't know if I have resolutions for the new year that I don't make every day. It's something to think about, I guess. The year starts anew and we're supposed to also but do we, really? Do we really become better people tomorrow because the year has started over? Do our slates really clean and give us a new chance?

What does the turning of a year offer us that we wouldn't have on any other tomorrow? It's all symbolic, that I know. Yet maybe there is something in the closing of the year that does make everything feel fresh, feel new. Maybe there is a reason to resolve to do things better, to try harder, to reach harder and grab tighter to the dreams we have in our hearts and minds.

Whether I celebrate as a group or I see the New Year in alone, it really makes no difference, I suppose. It will happen, regardless of what I'm doing. My friends in the UK will be in 2009 five hours before I am, my friends in California, three hours after. It's a strange time when midnight hits on New Years: time travel is actually possible. I like that aspect, it's exciting.

I suppose I should think about New Years Resolutions. Perhaps I should resolve to not be so mean about Stephanie Meyer. Although, since it's still 2008, I can safely say the WORST book of the year is definitely Breaking Dawn without breaking that resolution. I'll work on the rest.

In the meantime, no matter what you end up doing or who you end up with, I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year. Here's to 2009, a year of hope and newness.

-CM 12-31-08

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Other Side of Christmas

So, it's the other side of Christmas. The tree is still up, the music still plays but it feels like it's a downward slope rather than an upward one. It's a strange feeling to know that all that preparation, all that gift buying, all the decorating is over for another year.

I've noticed that some people have already taken the tree down. It's the saddest thing to drive by houses the day after Christmas- on Boxing Day as we Brits call it- and see the discarded trees by the side of the road, the last of the icicles clinging, ready to be picked up and disposed of. I hate that. My family keeps the tree up for twelve days after Christmas, until Ephiphany in January. It's considered bad luck to take it down sooner. I like this tradition because it extends the season, makes it ok to listen to Christmas music, enjoy my lights and scent the room with cinnamon for a few more days.

Yet though the tree is still up, there's still that overwhelming Post-Christmas letdown that inevitably hits. Prior to December 25th, we scurry around, buying gifts, adding more decorations, wrapping like fiends, hoping that our internet orders will arrive on time (which they don't. They're always late. Most annoying) and baking to make the house feel even more Christmasy.

By the time Christmas Day arrives, it's been anticipated so much that it never quite feels like it should arrive. It's like when you're expecting a guest- you dust, clean, scent and vacuum and when you're done, your home has never looked better. It's the time before the guests arrive and it's just you and your clean home that are the best moments. It's not that you don't want the guests but the feeling of seeing your place clean, unmarred from interruptions that makes it hard to see the guest actually arrive. To me, Christmas is like a guest. You want it because when it arrives, it's easy to enjoy and relax with it but the preparations and effort that go into the expectation of its arrival mean that when it finally does arrive, it's hard to see everything change in one day.

Now it's after Christmas. I got some amazing gifts that, once again, make me realize how lucky I am in my family and friends. Last night, I used my new tart-warmer and my living room smells like mulling spices. I listened to a mellow Christmas CD that my best friend gave me and I relaxed with a book. It was peaceful and nice and let me postpone the post Christmas letdown that was threatening. I closed the blinds and shut out the world and escaped into my cocoon of Christmas. Until my tree is down, I refuse to acknowledge that it's time to move on. Just because the actual date has past doesn't mean it's over. Granted, it's hard to walk into a store and see Valentines decorations already but I'm ignoring them.

Then again, as far as Valentines Day goes, I tend to ignore it anyway. It's the penalty of being a thirty-something singleton. But I definitely am NOT ready to see red hearts and flowers yet. I'm still enjoying the trees, lights, chocolate and snowmen of Christmas. I know it's all about marketing but it's sad that you go to Walgreens on December 24th and pay full price for items that, two days later, will be 50% off. There's something odd about that.

I'll take my tree down on January 6th as I do always. I will keep my Tran Siberian Orchestra CD in the player for a while longer and I will continue to use my holiday dishes. Just because it's the other side of Christmas doesn't mean it's over yet, not for me anyway. I'm back at work which feels strange. Yet it's New Years tomorrow and after that will be another long weekend. Four more days off from work is a Christmas gift unto itself.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Siberian Temperatures on the Monday before Christmas

It's a Monday. Normally, I'd be blogging about how Mondays are my least favourite day of the week and that I wish I didn't have to get up to go to work and that I wish it were Friday. I can't today however. I'm on holiday from work for a week. I got to sleep in until after 9 a.m. and I've been deliciously lazy all morning.

Now I'm comfortable in my parent's office, listening to the cool sounds of the Tran Siberian Orchestra (TSO) and enjoying the fact that it's very nearly Christmas. I'm enamoured with the TSO- they take two genre's of music I've always loved- rock and Broadway- and combined them with my favourite season, Christmas. It's just fun to listen to. I've also taken great pleasure in watching some videos on Youtube in which people choreograph their Christmas lights to this music. It's pretty amazing. Ok, so they probably have WAY too much time on their hands but you should check it out- here are my favourites: Christmas Eve in Sarajevo (Carol of the Bells) and Wizards in Winter.

Anyway, so my parents live in Indiana, as I've mentioned. Indiana has been hit with an ice-storm that makes the one we had in Ohio last week look like slightly pathetic. We drove up to Fort Wayne yesterday to shop and it was unbelievable to see the results of the storm. The further north we drove, the harder the storm had hit. It was the most incredible natural paradox I've seen in a very long time: Awe inspiring beauty that is destructive and crippling. It was stunning to see. Nature had crystalized the world, painting every tree, house, blade of grass and sign with a thick coat of ice. The sun glinted off the ice and it was unbelievably beautiful. Yet the power lines hung lower, the trees could not carry the weight of the ice and they had snapped. Branches lay everywhere, not just twigs but actual trees, broken down the middle. Except for the super-strong and resistant fur trees, there were few trees that hadn't sacrified branches to Mother Nature.

It's also absolutely freezing. Seriously, I've complained that it's looked like Siberia before but now it feels like Siberia. It was 1 degree yesterday. The wind-chill was sixteen below zero. It was windy. It took your breath away just to walk out to the car; a frigid sweep of blown snow could render you speechless, your face numbed before you'd even left the full warmth of your home.

You may be wondering why I decided to leave California. I have to admit, I'm wondering that too. Yesterday, apparently, it was in the 70's there, sunny, balmy and a clear beautiful day.

Seriously though, despite the frigid temperatures and the icy world outside the window where I'm sitting, I have to say I'm loving it. I love winter; unpredictable, cruel, brutal Winter who can also be incredibly generous and change her mind when she feels like it. It's supposed to rain on Wednesday, rain that will wash away the ice and clear the world ready for the next Winter blast. Naturally, I'm hoping for snow. After all, it's Christmas on Thursday. Christmas isn't truly Christmas unless it's white, not for me, anyway.

This week is all about Christmas for me; not just the gifts but the fact that I get to spend time with my family, talk to my friends, eat too much and wrap the last gifts. It's about getting to sleep in a little, stay up later and not worry about routine. I'll hope for snow to dust the world and turn it into a winter wonderland, muffling the Christmas lights until they can burn through with their warm glow.

Whether Winter complies or not doesn't really matter though. It's still Christmas, snow or no snow.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Rants

It's pouring with rain outside. It's lovely. It's good rain, not the scary freezing stuff that makes it hard to drive. It's also Friday which means I'm done at work for a whole week after this. Finally, it's less than a week until Christmas. All these things should mean Captain Monkeypants is ready to wax poetically about the beauty of the holidays, the soothiness of the rain, the twinkly lights of the beautifully decorated houses she's seen.

However, I'm actually in a mood to rant. Maybe it's because I'm tired. I went to bed too late and I woke up too early. That's my excuse anyway. It also may have something to do with the fact that while fudge may seem like a nice easy way out of a cookie exchange, preparing ten bags with a dozen pieces in it is a sticky and time consuming way to spend the evening.

I was already in a bad mood when I sat down to put the fudge in the pretty cellophane bags I had ready for it. Mostly, it was because of online retailers. Correct me if I'm wrong but we are in a bad way with our economy, right? Which means businesses are failing left, right and center? So, hypothetically speaking, as a business, wouldn't NOW be the time that you would be paying a little more attention to your business practices and customers so that you don't go under with the rest of the victims of this horrible economic environment?

It would seem not. I started Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I did a lot of it online this year, thinking it would save time and money. Well, it hasn't done either. I ordered two items within two days each other in the first week of December. Neither has arrived. You're probably thinking, that's ok, there's a week until Christmas.

Except there's not. One of the items needs to be rerouted to California. I'm still waiting for that. I paid for regular shipping, they decided to send it media mail. I am not happy about this. The other company did the same but they didn't even ship it until ten days AFTER I had ordered it. Seriously, online stores, do you really want to screw your customers now? I know how to leave feedback and, trust me, I will.

So, last night, I packed my boxes full of gifts for my Los Angeles friends but there's a big gift missing. This does not make me happy.

This morning, I'm already crabby. I shouldn't listen to the radio in the mornings. Have you heard the new McDonalds ad campaign? I think they're trying to be clever and start a trend. They're trying to get people to say they're "Nug Nuts", meaning they're nuts for chicken nuggets. "Nug Nuts" sounds stupid. It sounds like some overpriced advertising company sat in a roomful of desperate marketing people and said "Hey, let's come up with a catchphrase."

You can't manufacture a catchphrase. They're organic things that grow out of a natural ease of saying them. They're clever or funny. "Nug Nuts" is not funny. It's desperate.

The thing that is amusing about that is I'm a HUGE fan of calling people "NumbNuts" which sounds a lot like "Nug Nuts." To me, "Numb nuts" is just hilarious. It sounds funny and it makes me giggle to say it. "Sugar Tits" also makes me giggle. I thank Danny DeVito and Mel Gibson respectively for those insults. They're fun to say.

"Nug Nuts," however, is not fun.

Speaking, of commercials, there's another one that irritates me. It's for the X-box 360. Have you seen them? Basically, the commercial starts with a family sitting on the couch in a living room watching Netflix. Then the camera pans and moves out and the scenery rotates and you're looking in the back of someone's skull. I don't get it. Also, it's vile. Why do you have a family watching Netflix in the back of your head? I get the whole 360 degree rotation thing and the tie in to the X-Box 360 because I'm not THAT bad at maths but why are we looking at the back of someone's head. STOP IT. I don't want to see that.

In other advertising rants, I'm still irritated by the jewelry commercial in which the guy gets up in the night, gets the pretty necklace for his wife, lays it over her throat while she's sleeping and the first thing she does in the morning is reach for her throat and find it. I get that it's supposed to be romantic and sweet but let's be realistic for a moment. First of all, ladies, is the first thing YOU do is reach for your throat in the morning? Not me- I look at the bloody clock to see what time it is. Secondly, he didn't do up the clasp so even on the stillest of sleepers, the necklace wouldn't stay in position. And I AM the stillest of sleepers, seriously. I've had friends check to see if I still have a pulse in the morning because I don't move while I'm sleeping.

That necklace would be lost somewhere in that bed. Couldn't he do something more romantic like give it to her with her coffee and toast? For me, toast=love. A man that makes me toast AND gives me a necklace at the same time? That's true love. I'm still waiting for that.

Ok, I know, I know, I'm getting wordy. And I'm ranting. I haven't had a rant in a while. Now that I have a nice working iPod, I can't complain about that anymore. So I have to find other things. Bear with me; ranting is the same as venting, it's therapeutic.

Yet it is Friday which means things can't be that bad. I'm heading home for the holidays on Saturday evening which means I can relax, eat too much and not worry about work for a while. There's a lot of good to be found in that. I'll be blogging at least some of next week and I promise to be in a better mood. Hey, at least I'm not ranting about Stephanie Meyer again.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In the Kitchen with Captain Monkeypants, The Sequel

It's a week until Christmas, can you believe that? I'm having a hard time realizing it, actually. I've been shopping for a while- I start looking for gifts early so that I'm not pinched for funds or time by the holiday. Of course, this doesn't mean I don't still have last-minute stuff to do. I do a lot of online shopping. Unfortunately, this can be a bit of a nuisance. I'm still waiting for two gifts to arrive. Even though there's a week until Christmas, I have to put one of those missing gifts in a box to ship to California. I was hoping to do that this week. Actually, I HAVE to do that this week, missing gift or not. I'm heading to my parents for the whole of next week and this means I won't be able to get my mail while I'm gone.

Still, aside from that, the holidays are sliding nicely into place. Last night was the Great Fudge Making Event of 2008. I cheated- my friend over at RadLincCrafts forwarded me a recipe for easy fudge because she's awesome. It's a website by engineers with really easy ways of baking and cooking. You can look at it here. Rather than have to do scary stuff with sugar crystalization and all that, I just melted chocolate chips, bunged some condensed milk and butter in there and melted it all. Voila, fudge! It looks like fudge. It even tastes like fudge. I put some peppermint extract in there along with some creme de menthe chocolate chips, sprinkled it with crushed peppermints and, well, it sort of looks like I knew what I was doing. I even used a pizza cutter to score the fudge. I even know what scoring the fudge is. Although when I put it like that, it feels like I should add "That's what she said" to the end of that sentence.

However, I now have something that looks like fudge in my fridge. It tasted pretty decent. I'm shocked. I also even baked sausage rolls. These are a British savory snack that are remarkably easy to make and are always a hit at parties. They consist of...sausage meat and pastry. They're quite tasty, if I do say so myself. My only calamity there was realizing I lacked a rolling pin. Naturally, this realization couldn't occur when, you know, I could do something about it. Also, given our recent ice-storm, running out to Walmart isn't as easy as normal. So I improvised. I used a bottle of wine.

Surprisingly enough, the wine bottle made a great rolling pin. I was very careful not to relive the Great Wine Disaster of 2008. I made sausage rolls. It was nifty. I even had a couple because, well, frankly, it is, as my grandmother used to say, "cook's privilege."

I had a bit of leftover puff pastry so I decided to get creative. Why waste good pastry? So I had a bit of ham in the fridge and I used that in place of sausage meat. I put a bit of mustard between the ham and the pastry and you know what? It tasted like one of those fancy hor d'ourves thingies you get at parties. HA HA! Captain Monkeypants baked!

If it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, I'm not. Trust me. The fact that I managed to emerge from baking in my kitchen with no fire, no burnings and a complete set of edible goods is a little frightening, actually. I didn't break anything. I even got to use my meat cleaver to cut the sausage rolls. It's a bit excessive but I imagined I was Dexter and it was sort of fun.

Not that I have Dexter fantasies because that would just be weird.

However, this morning, contrary to normal happenings, the sausage rolls still look like sausage rolls and the fudge is still looking like fudge.

Now that the scary Cookie Exchange is taken care of, I can now look forward to Christmas. With a week to go, I have to squeeze in a lot of traditions. I still have to watch "Love Actually." I still need to have a mince pie. I need to finish shopping. I need to just enjoy the fact that it's Christmas and sit by the glow of my tree and take it all in. It's the small things that make me love this season most, the warmth, the lights, the snow, the food, the family and the friends.

I love Christmas.

Happy Thursday

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So, uh, About that Ice-Storm

So, about that ice-storm. Not much to say other than: Now is the time on Captain Monkeypants when she eats her words.

We had an ice-storm last night. Actually, it began yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, none of us in the office could tell because it merely looked foggy and damp outside. I discovered it was actually freezing drizzle as soon as I headed out to my car and almost went flying. Not fun. The annoying thing about freezing rain and drizzle, as I've mentioned, is that it's pretty. It really does turn everything into a glass-encased landscape in which everything has been preserved.

The only problem is that it's a nightmare to walk on and scary to drive on. That is, of course, if you can even get your car defrosted enough to drive. Freezing rain does not mean a thin little layer of frost on a car as is common on cold mornings. Instead, it is a layer of 1/4 inch ice that literally has to be chiseled through with an ice-scraper to get to the car window below. It took me ten minutes to scrape my car last night when I got out of work. Since the storm had recently begun, the roads were very slippery and no matter how slow you went, it was hard not to fishtail when going through intersections.

This morning wasn't so bad. I warmed my car up which allowed the ice to gently melt from beneath. This meant when I scraped, it broke off in wet sheets and allowed me to clear off my windows fairly easily. The city had put salt on the roads, it was just the parking lots which were like ice rinks.

And, by the way, I did not see my stray hitchiker skating in the parking lot. I was disappointed.

So far, the office is quiet. Most people have kids here being that it's the Midwest and the traditional lifestyle is to marry fairly young and settle down. Their kids have school delays and thus their parent's can't come to work until their kids are safely deposited on the bus or in school. There are a few of us here, clustered in our cubicles, waiting for the morning buzz to begin. Outside, the daylight is starting to creep in, revealing the polished glow of an ice-coated world. Inside, I drink my slightly-vile coffee and hope that we get the snow that's forecast, rather than the ice that threatens.

Though I wouldn't say it was the Dooming Event that my coworkers predicted yesterday, it is definitely a wake-up call that winter isn't always about fluffy snowfalls and hot chocolate. Like every part of nature, Winter has a sharp, shadowed edge that can surprise you with its danger, rather like hippos and platypi.

(Side note: Did you know that hippos are vicious and deadly? I always thought they were cute, dopey things a bit like cows but I watched this special on Animal Planet and wow, hippos are vicious. Also, platypi (plural of platypus, I think) are venomous. I didn't know that. I always thought of platypi as fun, cute, playful things. Not so much)

Anyway, my point is that Winter woke me up yesterday. She reminded me that she has many skills and colours and that she doesn't like to be too predictable. I forgot that and now the crystalized world outside my door has reminded me that not all things that are beautiful are safe.

As a bit of a control freak, I need reminders once in a while that things aren't always under my control. Nature's good at reminding me of that. Next time the weather warns of a Storm Watch, I won't mock until enough time has passed that I know we're safe. In the meantime, I'll drive more slowly, walk more tentatively and respect Nature a little more.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Storm Watch 2008

We were supposed to have an ice-storm last night. It was one of those things that sent the weather people scurrying around like squirrels, interrupting TV, reporting on "Ice Storm Watch 2008," and having that banner flash across the TV every five minutes to tell which counties would be affected.

We never got the ice. We had nothing. It's cold. There are patches of ice where the puddles were yesterday but no ice storm. Supposedly, it may hit today but there was definitely an air of disappointment in the weather people this morning. I, for one, am not too disappointed. I did, however, discover an area of my parking lot that could be compared to an ice rink. It's where the storm drain sits below a slight incline. It also happens to be in the main traffic area. I'll have to remember to watch out for that. I'll also keep an eye out for my stray there; maybe he'd like to use those ice-skating skills for which he was so eager to hitch a ride.

It is cold though, so cold that my window on my car freezes shut and going to the drive-by mailboxes at the post office isn't so simple. I had to open my door to mail my letters since my window wouldn't budge. Now I'm in the office and people are being very...ominous. Several people have walked by my cubicle and said, "No snow....yet." They say it in this tone that implies dark and shady happenings are afoot. Personally, I'd rather like some dark and shady happenings, nothing too depressing but something to liven up my day.

Then again, maybe I have enough dark and shady happenings in my dream life to fill the quota. I've been having weird dreams. A couple of nights again, Keanu Reeves was an alien, just like he was in "The Day The Earth Stood Still." I haven't seen the film but I did see the preview. Anyway, Keanu was going to kill us all. We had to run. I ended up in a house that was filled with frozen food. Not sure why. The night after that, I dreamed Heath Ledger was talking to me. Given that he passed away, that was a shade creepy. Last night, I dreamed a high school classroom had caught on fire, killing everyone. I know why that one happened- I was editing too much. I have a scene in which that happens in Rainlight.

I did mention that I wasn't into sparkles and rainbows in my novels, right?

So maybe I don't really want dark and shady happenings. I wouldn't mind some snow though. Just a dusting would be fine. It is coming up on Christmas. I have my decorations up, my lights glowing. I even have a little electric fireplace that simulates dancing flames on logs. I love it. It's not like I can roast chestnuts on it because it's not an open fire. Besides, roasting chestnuts on an open fire is a bit dangerous anyway- those things can shoot right out like bullets if they get hot enough.

But I have my apartment set up and I'm ready for a little more snow now. I'm a traditionalist: Firmly believing that Christmases should be white. That's one of the problems I had when living in L.A. Granted, I spent the actual holiday with my family in Indiana so I often got snow but the preparations for the holiday were all done in L.A. It's not easy to be festive when it's 80 degrees and sunny. The campiness of palm trees with lights on it wears off fairly quickly. That's why I loved our annual trip to Disneyland; the might fake it but at least it snows there. It's hard to hear "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" in L.A. Sure, you can drive to the mountains but it's not always possible.

I'm rambling. I'm a rambler. By now, you'll know that's normal. Blame it on my dark and shady dreams from last night; my brain feels a little mushy this morning. I'm surprised I can form a complete sentence. More people are trickling into the office now; the first pot of coffee has been emptied, more is made, steadily growing in vileness so that this afternoon's pot will be disgusting. I usually skip the afternoon coffee these days.

Another person just said "The storm is coming!" It makes me smile at how dramatic it is. If we have a storm, I'll let you know. In the mean time, I'll just sit back and see what happens. There's no controlling nature; if she wants to be dark, shady and stormy, she will. If not, we always had "Ice Storm Watch 2008".

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Joys of Literary Schizophrenia

I've discovered it's impossible to plan these blogs. I've tried. Some days I have every intention of having a rant and then I get sidetracked and I end up waffling about something completely unrelated.

I have a feeling today will be one of those days. It's a Monday again. It's a rainy, windy Monday morning. It reminds me of England when the weather is like this. The sidewalks are shiny with puddles, the wind tosses the fallen leaves which stick to everything with the dampness. The wind manages to blow the rain so no matter whether you have a hood or an umbrella, there's no fighting the rain and you end up wet. As is always the case on Mondays, I didn't want to get up. I wanted to lie longer, listening to the howl of the wind outside. Yet, as is also always the case on Mondays, I knew I couldn't.

I take pleasure in the fact that this my last week of work before the holidays. That, alone, made it easier to emerge from my covers and get out of bed. This week is actually already better. I have 95% of my shopping done. I giftwrapped last night. My Christmas cards are mailed. And, writing wise, I think I'm back on track.

Now I'm pulling out of my mini-funk, writing is easier. I'm editing the first novel I ever wrote at the moment. I'm intending to try, once more, to throw my lot into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest this year with this novel. I know a lot of writers hate to edit but I have to say, I actually enjoy it as long as I don't do it immediately after I write a novel. I tend to work on other projects for a while and then, when I'm ready, I go back to the novel and edit. I love doing that; it's a luxury to have already created that fictional world I'm reentering and just being able to look around, listen to the characters whose story I'm telling and see if it still fits. It's like getting to hang out with old friends again.

That's what's happening at the moment. I love my first novel, Rainlight. That's just an opinion, not an expression of arrogance. It's a novel about three teenage boys who all have their own issues to deal with. One of them, David, is hearing strange voices, mysterious whispers that he doesn't understand. His brother, John, is just trying to survive under the tyrannical thumb of his religiously zealous father. John's best friend Michael, has been diagnosed as bi-polar. The three of them are just trying to survive, to seem normal although normalcy keeps eluding them. It's a strange novel but it's not really mine; it belongs to David, John and Michael. They're just nice enough to let me tell their story. And I'm not nice back which is a little unfair. I'm not good at telling stories with puppys, rainbows and sparkles. Their story is funny, poignant and, at moments, heartbreaking. You'll hate me at the end if you ever read it but it's only the first novel in a series of five and in order for the larger story to be told, sacrifices had to be made.

So I'm revisiting that novel at the moment. I still love it but since I wrote it, I've written seven more and lots of short stories. My writing is better now, more fluid. I'm not trying to be Stephen King or Neil Gaiman anymore; I've figured out who I am as a writer. I've a thousand influences but, in the end, it's my writing that has to shine. Editing Rainlight after writing so much other stuff feels like a treat. I've mentioned before how I don't think I'd be a good fit in a writing program. The truth is though I think there are things I can gain from them, ultimately, the goal of a writing program is to make me into a better writer and if writing eight novels hasn't done that, no writing program will.

But writing those other novels has done that. It was hard to write Revelation, the last book in my series about John, David and Michael. It meant I had to leave those characters and move on. Yet they never really left me, they lie low, waiting until it's their turn again. In the meantime, I've 'found' other characters: Jimmy DeLeon, a modern day Joab from the Old Testament, trying to be a loyal soldier for his boss, Ethan, the modern day King David. Briar Richards, whose love for her skater boy threatens to destroy the fragile connection to life to which she clings. And then there's Ryder, Bastian, Foster and Gaz, my Sleepers. Some of them are dead, some of them are not but they all have ties to Sleep, a place where a few chosen go when they die in hopes to find meaning and redemption from their troubled lives.

I don't know which characters will find me next though I have a suspicion that Gaz, from my novel Sleep, will not be appeased. He's the type who knows how to get his own story; no matter how quiet my other voices, Gaz is willing to pipe in and let me know he's waiting.

You probably think I'm crazy. I probably am. Though a friend who is also a writer told me that she, too, hears the voices and she calls it her literary schitzophrenia. I love that term. It's so accurate and true. When I hear my voices, my heart leaps, just a little. No matter how dark life can get, those voices sometimes get me through. They let me follow them into their world for a while and they let me sketch it with words. It's a haven and I love it.

I've only edited Rainlight for one night and already I feel different. I feel like there's a piece of me missing when I'm not writing or talking to my characters. That piece of me is back and it feels right. While I'm editing, I'm still submitting, still trying to find that one agent or publisher who really does want to take a chance on a new writer. Somehow the rejections are a little less painful when I'm content with writing or editing because I remember again why I write in the first place.

I can't wait to get back to editing tonight. It makes getting through the workday easier. It makes the numbing dullness of my day job tolerable because my night job is waiting.

Happy Monday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Quickie...(not THAT kind of quickie)

Just a quick blog today since it's Friday. Also, I want to prove that I don't always have to use so many words. I just like to. Words are fun.

It's been a weird week, up and down. I'm not sure why that sometimes happens but it does and nothing you do can stop it; you just have to hold on and go along for the ride. But next week will be better. For one thing, it's the last week I have to work before the holidays. That means I have plenty of time with my family before Christmas in which to help them do last minute shopping trips and preparation.

My family is big on last minute shopping. It used to be the tradition that my dad and I would go shopping for my mum on Christmas Eve. I loved that but it got to be a little hard to wrap gifts as well as get the shopping trip in. I always wait until the last minute to do my wrapping. So last year, we did it a little earlier. It was still fun. The thing was, I think I ended up going with my brother on Christmas Eve instead. I tend to be the shopping fiend in my family. I love to shop. I especially love to help other's shop. Watching other people spend money is almost as fun as spending your own.

I'm just glad it is the holidays. It's my favourite time of year. I love the lights, the colour, the snow, the music (except the annoying Christmas songs that I talked about the other day). I just love the overall mood.

This weekend means we're moving closer to Christmas. I don't mind if it takes its time in coming. I always love the days before Christmas more than the day itself. Christmas Eve is my favourite, it's the anticipation that is so wonderful. It's a magical day to me. Don't get me wrong, I love the traditions on Christmas Day but on Christmas Night, when you go to bed, you have that sad feeling that suddenly it's over, all that preparation is finished and you're suddenly on the other side of Christmas. I like the climb towards Christmas better.

I've been weirdly random in my blogging this week, just rambling on about whatever I choose. Thanks for sticking with me. Next week will be better...I hope. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Randomness

It snowed a little last night. It's very pretty but not icy which means I'm feeling poetical about snow again. Don't worry, I won't write about it today. I'll give it a couple more snowfalls before I start talking about the twirling, whirling flakes that create their buffer of peace for the world.

It's Thursday, as I'm sure you know. Unless you're one of those people who can't remember what day it is when you wake up and don't bother checking because knowing doesn't really alter your day all that much. I have a friend like that. I have a feeling he only knows it's the weekend because there are movies opening and he's got a radar for those things. I always know what day it is because I'm a regular TV viewer and I know what show is on that night. This time of year is a little tricky for that though because it's coming up on the winter hiatus and most of my shows are off the air now until January. I probably should just rely on a calendar. I love calendars.

This morning, I took my stray to campus again. He's getting sneaky. I went to leave my apartment and he was waiting outside the building. I'd started to leave a few minutes before but realized I forgot to turn my thermostat down. When I'd left then, he'd been coming down the stairs and I knew he was headed to my place. When I went outside to my car, there he was. He had his cell-phone out but wasn't dialing. He seemed surprised when I politely asked if he needed a ride but it was the type of surprise you feign when you're secretely hoping for something. Like when someone says "let's have lunch, my treat" and you're supposed to say, "Oh, really, are you sure? It doesn't have to be your treat" and then you hope they insist so that you get a nice free lunch. Of course, this backfires if they say, "Oh, alright then, we'll go dutch."

I didn't mind giving him a ride though. It's the last time since his class is over. Of course, had I know that he was stuck for a ride because his class was ICE SKATING, I might have been a little less generous. I mean, Ice-Skating? Seriously? Not that there is anything wrong with ice skating- I can fall on my bottom with the best of amateurs but I thought it was one of those " I stayed up all night to get ready for it and now I'm going to flunk because I can't make it to campus" classes. Ice skating wasn't what I imagined his crisis was. Oh well, glad I could help him become a better skater. Or something.

Anyway, being Thursday, it is The Office and 30 Rock night. Normally, it'd be "Grey's Anatomy" but that's done until January. This is actually a good thing. I used to love my Thursday night ritual of glass of wine and Grey's. Lately, as I've mentioned in my other blog, I'm a little worried about that show. The last three episodes have made me angry. I don't like being angry at Grey's. It's like having a fight with my best friend. It means I can't rely on it for escapism at the moment because the storylines have been making me want to escape from the show.

So, without Grey's, I think I'm going to get festive. I have Christmas cards to send and presents to wrap and some nice holiday movies to entertain me while I do so. My absolute favourite is "Love, Actually" because it's a fantastic film, I love everyone in it and it makes me extremely happy and hopeful that everyone can find love. I'm very susceptible to a good, non-sappy, romantic film like that. Also, I love British actors and it's rare that you find one film that has as many great British actors in it as that one. Except, maybe, Harry Potter but they're all split up. "Love, Actually" has Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant along with many others who I love. I won't watch that tonight though: "Love, Actually" deserves it's own evening, not to be spent multi-tasking. That's what "Elf" is for. I can feel my mother cringing as she reads that. She's not big on movies like "Elf." She also hates "The Santa Clause" which is my dad and my tradition for Christmas Eve. Sadly, I enjoy "The Santa Clause," mostly because it's syrupy and silly and a nice habit to have for the holidays.

I think I'm going to have to apologize for the randomness of my blogs this week. I haven't had a great week. I got myself into a nasty dark mood as I indicated earlier. It's better now but I hate getting into a funk like that. It makes me doubt myself which is definitely not a good thing. Self-delusion is so much less painful and makes the world all shiny and pretty. Like snow. Snow can be shiny. Snow is pretty. And there's still snow on the ground outside. But I promised to hold my lyrical musings on that for the day and so I'll honour my promise. For now.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Great Cookie Exchange of 2008

So, today is one of those blogging days in which I have no intended topic nor do I have any clue what I'm going to blog about. Which means I probably won't have much of a point. For which I apologize.

I'm not feeling as gloomy today as I did yesterday which is definitely better, at least. My stray from yesterday found me again. He actually knocked on my door and found me. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I don't mind giving someone a ride but I don't like being hunted down. I also suspect he might be the owner of the alarm clock that goes off for hours and beeps. I can hear it through the floor. In every room. The reason I suspect this is that he's a student and he informed me he'd just got home 20 minutes ago from working all night on a project. I wasn't going to ask about his all-night project because, well, he's a student and there's such a thing as too much information. However, he told me it was a finals project though and he had been out at least twice this week and got in 20 minutes before he had to leave for school again. The incessantly beeping alarm clock finally stops about 20 minutes before I walk out the door, as though someone got home and realized he forgot to shut off his alarm. Yes, I'm very good at putting two and two together. It's as far as I got in maths and still managed to get an "A". If I'm right in my suspicions, that alarm clock will not be bothering me much longer because I will be Having Words with my stray. I'm a very wordy person as people like to inform me. It never sounds like much a compliment, unfortunately.

In other news, I made a monumental error late last week. I stupidly agreed to be part of a cookie exchange. Yes, Captain Monkeypants decided to get in the community spirit and participate in a festive event. Captain Monkeypants has since realized it was not one of her brighter moments in life. It seemed like such a nice idea: People bake a dozen cookies to give to everyone participating along with the recipe. In exchange, you get a dozen cookies back. Like a chain letter. With cookies. Nice, huh? What a nice idea, you give, you take, it's all good.

Except that it's not. It's not good at all. I thought they'd be about five of us participating. Sixty cookies is a lot but it's manageable. (See, look, my math skills are rearing their head again! Who knew?!). I could bake sixty cookies. Then, after I'd foolishly agreed to bake my cookies, I discover that there are ten people participating, not including me. That's ten dozen cookies. That's 120 cookies.

Now, if you're a baker or, at least, you like to bake, I'm sure you're thinking: "That's not that many! It's doable."

No. It's not. Trust me. Did I mention that I don't bake?I'm of the opinion that you're either good at baking or good at cooking. You might be able to do both but most people are stronger in one area than the other. Me? I'm not a baker. I'm a cook. I make soup. I can make good cabbage with juniper berries. I even make good potato pancakes. But that's not baking. When I try to bake, I end up with nasty little items that rarely resemble that which it should. My chocolate chip cookies turn into chocolate chip bullets. My cakes don't rise and, instead, turn into cookies that don't taste right because they were supposed to be CAKE. It's like the baked goods know it's me baking and they laugh in my face by morphing into something completely different. Some people blame their oven. Some people blame their pans. Not me. I blame me. I have no illusions. I'm ok with saying I'm a lousy baker.

The problem is, I think I like to bake. I like to have all those nifty little kitchen-looking things around that are part of baking. I like to put things in bowls. And that's usually when I realize what I'm actually doing and I want to stop but it's too late. That's why I thought the cookie exchange was a good idea. I thought, "Ooh! What a cute tradition! I want to play! I want to play!" And then as it inevitable does, reality set in. I can pinpoint the exact moment when reality hit: It was when someone said I had to bake 120 cookies.

I tried to get out of it yesterday. We were asked to say what type of cookies we were baking. I offered up my secret "Air Cookie" recipe- they're calorie free and taste exactly how you want a cookie to taste. They make no mess. Oh, and they're invisible. Apparently, being sarcastic also does not help you get out of a cookie exchange. I'm still in.

So now, I have to bake 120 cookies. I'm terrified. I did think of buying cake mix and doing something with it until I realized that cake mix is also not a success in my hands. No amount of frosting or icing can turn it into a cake; instead, it looks like a lopsided ski-slope. I'm thinking of making fudge. Yes, it involves stirring a lot but then you put it in a pan and you cut it and then you have fudge. 120 pieces of fudge is MUCH easier than cookies. Just because I actually don't like fudge doesn't mean I can't make it. Ok, so it's not a cookie but if I call it Cookie Fudge, then that counts. No one said it actually had to be cookies.

I'm going to find a loophole. I just need time. I have to keep reminding myself of Douglas Adam's famous words: "DON'T PANIC!". But it's 120 cookies. There's no running away from that. Eeek, gads. What have I done?

Happy Wednesday

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In which I pick up a Stray...

There are some days that seem like they were made for not getting up. Today is one of them. The temperature is warmer today; it's supposed to reach almost 50 degrees. For Ohio in December, that's rare. It's also welcome because it means the ice will melt, the ground will clear, renewed and ready for the next snowfall. Today, however, it's raining. It's the gloomy kind of rain that is set in for the day. The sky is a charcoal gry, the clouds angry and heavy, the drops falling sporadically but heavily and the ground is soaking wet.

Naturally, I love it. I love the sound of the beating rain against the window. I got to hear that last night. Despite my intentions to go to bed early and get a good night's sleep in hope of kicking this dark Pootle cloud that I've been under since Sunday, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and tried to sleep but it wouldn't come. I hate nights like that. On nights like that, it's hard to clear your head whether it's a 'to-do' list, a writing idea, a bad experience you keep replaying over again or just a dejection at the way life is going. It's hard to sleep with that much on your mind.

When my alarm went off this morning, I was already awake. Though burrowing further under my covers would have been most appealing, I finally got up. I keep the heat low at night because I like the room to be cool while I'm cosy in bed. It was chilly though I knew it was warmer outside. I followed my normal routine but somehow managed to leave work a little earlier. The vague thought of Starbucks danced in my head but I wasn't that early. As I was going out to my car, I was stopped by a man I've seen around my building. He was stranded; he was a student at the university for which I work, his car died and his ride hadn't showed.

Though I don't actually work on campus, I drive right by. I felt sorry for him. I hate being stranded. So I gave him a ride. It turns out he recently moved from San Diego, California, had been in the Navy and now was a part-time student. He was friendly and he was nice. I dropped him off.

That was it, really but, in a way, it was much more than that. It was a break from my routine. It not only took me on a different route to work but it actually gave me a chance to interact with a human before I got to the office where, depending on how you see my coworkers, some of them never seem quite human anyway. Sometimes a little human interaction is all you need to give you a little boost. I love living alone but sometimes I get trapped inside my own head and those shadows of doubt that I blogged about last week seem a little deeper. Playing on Facebook doesn't always help, either. I have a lot of friends on Facebook, most of the time I love that. Yet every now and again, I'll receive a suggestion for a friend that takes me by surprise, it's a face I haven't thought about much in years. It's not always a face that comes with fond memories. Most of those faces are on photos that include children, wives and families. And every now and again, I see a former acquaintance and I can't help but think "HE/SHE has kids?" and then the inevitable "What's wrong with me?" starts.

So, I know, sometimes I need to get outside of my own head. But sometimes I have to go there, particularly when I'm writing. It helps to shut out the world and let my story/characters in. Lately, the writing isn't so easy. I can't get a grip on it. I can't settle down and let it flow. My character's voices aren't so clear as usual. That's a strange feeling for me.

I know that it's times like this that make the sunny days and snowfall seem that much brighter and uplifting. After all, you can't have the shadows without the sun which means eventually when the clouds part, the sun will shine brightly and the darkness will fade. Sometimes, all it takes is a good, fluffy, wet snowfall. Sometimes, for me, all it takes is a trip to the post office, a slice of toast and a mug of tea and a little change from routine.

I've already had my change from routine for the day. Tonight, I get to go to the post office. For most people that's not fun; for me, it always makes me feel like I've accomplished something. I love the order of the post office, the stamps, the flat-rate envelopes. Yes, I know I'm weird but we've established that. I'll save my full adoration for the post office for another blog. In the meantime, tonight I'll pick up my package, go home, make some toast, drink some tea and relax, hopefully to the sound of pelting rain against my patio doors. And, if not, it means the clouds are going away and tomorrow the sun might shine.

If that doesn't work, maybe I'll find another way to break the routine, to try something new, to climb out of my shadows on my own. Sometimes, all we can do is ignore the darkness and find our own light. I still have the glow of my two-hundred Christmas lights. I've added more since then. I figure if I keep adding them, maybe I'll drown out the darkness completely. Either way, I'll try to be cheerier in my blog tomorrow. Maybe I'll pick up another stray. I'll keep you posted on that.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Songs Do Not Always Inspire Comfort and Joy

Once again, it is Monday. And, like most Mondays, I did not want to come to work today. It's supposed to sleet, freezing rain and snow and be generally nasty on the roads later today. Combine that with the fact that, being a light sleeper, I woke up to the sound of my neighbour's alarm this morning. It's fairly loud and it's one of those incessant beeps that make you want to throw it across the room. Either my neighbour is the heaviest sleeper in the world and doesn't wake up after even an hour of the beeping or he's gone away and forgot to shut his alarm off. Since I didn't hear his large dog barking, I'm going to go with the latter option.

Needless to say, it feels very much like a Monday. It snowed this weekend though. I have discovered that while I adore snow and love it when it falls, I prefer not to drive in it. It's a little less friendly and peaceful when you start to slide on the road. This morning, fortunately, the roads are clear. I'm hoping they stay that way. If it freezing rains, it's going to be awful. I don't know if you've ever seen an ice storm but it really is one of the more beautiful acts of weather. The rain falls and encases everything into this ice shell, like you're looking at a crystalized landscape. It's absolutely lovely to see. The downside is that freezing rain is a nightmare to drive on. Your car feels like it's trying to ice-skate. Not fun. Hopefully if it does freezing rain, it'll be after everyone is home for the evening.

While I was driving in to work, I had my radio tuned to one of those 24 hour Christmas music stations. Now it's the season, I don't mind some Christmas music. Since it's a small Ohio town, I don't have many options for music on the radio unless I like country music (which I don't) or that deep-fried Midwestern rock where everyone sounds like they swallowed a pound of gravel and only know about three chords. So, Christmas music it is at the moment. It occured to me that Christmas music is a little odd at times. I'm a bit of a traditionalist. I like my Christmas Carols- to me, that's real Christmas music. I love the Transiberian Orchestra with their rock spin on Christmas carols. I don't mind some of the contemporary stuff, I mean, who could NOT like "Do They Know it's Christmas" by Band Aid?

I'm talking about the songs like "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer". Have you ever really thought about that song? You have this poor creature who is born with an odd nose. He can't help it. It's red and it flashes. I agree, that wouldn't be terribly easy to ignore but apparently, all of the other reindeer laughed and called him names because of his nose. They wouldn't let him play their reindeer games. Then, the minute he proves to be useful, they suddenly turn around and are his best friends. I suppose it's good that they had a change of heart but I don't think I'd be trusting those reindeer any time soon. They sound a bit fickle to me.

I'll ignore the "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" abomination. I despise that song. I know it's supposed to be funny and, maybe it was, the first time I heard it. Yet the charm wears off extremely quickly. There are these really, really syrupy songs on the radio this time of year. I know I'm likely to offend but have you heard "The Christmas Shoes"? Oh, wow, talk about your insipidly manipulative method to try to tug at your heartstrings. It's about this kid who has no money and his mother is dying. Yet she's always wanted these special Christmas shoes (or something) and since his mother is going to die, the kid goes to the seller of the shoes and tries to buy them when he doesn't have enough money. Naturally, in the end, the kid gets the shoes and takes them home to his dying mommy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not heartless. I just find that song sickly and disturbing. I know the kid was trying to do the sweet-little-kid thing and get his mommy what she wanted most before she died but don't you think his mommy would rather have him there than have him appealing to strangers to help him buy a pair of shoes for her? Just a thought.

I heard another depressing song on the same radio station. I don't know what this one's called but it's by Dan Fogelberg and it's about this man and women who apparently were involved once upon a time and they meet up (in the rain, of course), I think on New Years. I say that because the song doesn't really say but it ends with the strains of "Auld Lang Syne". Anyway, the man and woman still love one another but the woman is married to an architect but doesn't really love him. After some mournful conversation where they both regret not being together, they seperate. Cheerful little ditty, that one.

There are a lot of other Christmas songs that I don't like much. I get fed up with "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" too. I mean, you'd think that song would only be good for about a week because, technically, once it's begun to look a lot like Christmas, wouldn't it then be "It Now Looks a Lot Like Christmas?"

I could go on but I don't want to see completely embittered. After all, there are some songs I love to hear over and over. Like I said, I'm a sucker for a Christmas carol. I love "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Oh Come All, Ye Faithful." I even like some of the non-carols like "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." I don't know the words to "Sleigh Ride" but I love to make it up and sing along loudly with a chorus of "LA LA LA LA" because it's fun. Then again, I do that with a lot of songs.

I tend to make my own Christmas CD's, once a year. They're usually a combination of old favourites: "Christmas Canon" by Transiberian Orchestra is one of my all time favourites. I love it when punk bands do covers of songs. I have an awesome Pennywise version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

But part of me still likes to listen to the radio because it's so much more spontaneous. I mean, I might have to flip too often when I hear "The Christmas Shoes" but then they'll surprise me by playing Band Aid, Paul McCartney, Transiberian Orchestra, even Mannheim Steamroller. Mostly, I like Mannheim although occasionally it takes at least a couple of minutes to figure out what song those synthesizers are actually playing. The only other song that rubs me the wrong way is "The Little Drummer Boy." That song gets stuck in my head. I'm not fond of that little drummer boy because I find the "Rup a Pum Pum's" rather obnoxious. Though, they're really great if it gets quiet and you feel like waking people up. A rousing chorus of "RUP A PUM PUM, RUP A PUM PUM" does the trick rather nicely.

Anyway, that's my random musing for a Monday. As is usually the case, I was going to blog about something completely different but the mean-spirited and fickle nature of Rudolph's new best friends got me to thinking and thinking usually leads to blog-babble. You're just lucky I didn't hear that "Christmas Shoes" song because then I'd be ranting in a manner I usually reserve for Breaking Dawn. The bad news is that now I have the stupid "I want to buy these shoes" line stuck in my head....That's what I get for complaining, I suppose.

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 5, 2008

In the Kitchen with Captain Monkeypants (and Other Random Musings)

I am not awake this morning. Not only is it really early but it looks a bit like Siberia outside. Without the snow. It looks more like that frozen tundra-y thing you think of when you think Eastern Europe. Well, maybe that's just me, actually. I'm sure it's not cold there all the time but every movie about Russia or Siberia shows it as being cold.

I'm glad this week is drawing to a close. It's been a long, tiring week. There's really no cause for complaint unless you count the two rejections I got yesterday AFTER posting about how much rejection sucks. Yes, I'm sure it'll be humourous one day but for now, it's a bit like salt in the wound, to use a cliche.

I did, however, get an email from telling me they were doing their Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Contest again next year. Entries were due in February. I did this contest last year and found it to be a somewhat disheartening and unpleasant experience.The good thing was I got an article published about it in a writing e-zine about my experience. It was one of the few submissions I've made that I was paid for which, as you can imagine, felt fantastic. If you're interested, you can read it here. ABNA was a bit of an chore and it wasn't terribly well organized. I'm really hoping this year will be better. Since it's free to enter, I'll probably put something in but I'll see how my self-esteem goes. On the plus side, they did send us a published copy of our submission. It was my first real book. It looks good. Someone even read it. It was quite exciting. So maybe I will submit again. I figure if I submit every year, eventually all of my books will get published, even if it is self-publishing of a sort.

The rest of the week has been fairly blah. I've been making soup lately. I've decided that since my baking skills always end in some form of hardened rock-like substance, it's probably best that I focus on the non-baking side of cooking. Unless it's in a bread-maker because, let me tell you, that is some fine bread and it takes away the smell of Christmas pudding.

But my soups are actually turning out quite well, surprising. I have an excellent cookbook. I've found if I stick to that, the soup is good. However, internet recipes are hit and miss. Mostly, I like to turn vegetables into soup. You can analyze that if you like but try not to compare me to Dexter Morgan just because I really enjoy chopping the vegetables into pieces and then cooking them to oblivion. I love vegetables. I can spend hours in a good produce section. I have spent hours in a produce section.

I bought a swede (aka a rutabaga) a while ago and didn't feel like mashing it up and eating in the traditional British fashion. I wanted to turn it into soup. So I found a receipe. The finished product looked really pretty. It smelled interesting. I wouldn't, however, advise eating it on a regular basis. A little cup of it would be an excellent appetizer. A bowl of it is a little vile. Ok, fine, it was more than a little vile. It was a little like eating a bowl of baby food. Not recommended. On the other hand, my Green Onion and Forest Mushroom soup was a winner. Now that was good soup. I've had some successes with the soups but also some flops. I cannot make a good pea soup. It usually ends up being so thick, a spoon can stand up in it, unattended.

Anyway, I also made a recipe called Best Cream of Broccoli soup. It was not the best. It was merely ok. It lacked flavour. Next time, I'm adding white wine, provided I don't have to use it to clean a red wine stain off my carpet. I'm actually learning tricks to cooking soup, such as ways to enhance flavour and yet still preserve the natural taste of the veggies. Are you scared yet? I am. I'm not known for my culinary skills though I now own this wicked meat cleaver that a friend so thoughtfully sent to me. I like to hold my meat cleaver and think about chopping things. I have a fondness for things like that. I once found a hatchet in an antique store that felt like it should belong to me in one of those fantastic deja-vu moments. I didn't buy it but sort of wished I had but then, what would I do with a hatchet, honestly?

Ok, so now I've officially terrified you. I think I might like that, actually. I've realized I'm a little bi-polar in my blog One minute, I'm waxing poetical about Christmas lights and, of course, snow, and the next, I'm talking about how much I like really sharp objects. If you think about the fact that I'm Mistress of the Calamity, you might realize sharp objects are not a good idea. Probably not but I still like them. Just as I still love soup even though an unfortunate incident with a little microwavable container Campbells Soup at Hand Broccoli Soup scarred me, literally, for life. I now call it Soup on Hand.

Anyway, on that note, I think I better wind this up since I really don't have much of a point today other than it's the fact that it's Friday and Friday's seem to be about randomly babbling.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shadows of Doubt

I never have a clue what I'm going to blog about until I sit down. I often have a completely different idea in my head and then, when I start writing, something else comes out instead. It's an interesting process. Then again, that's usually what happens when I sit down to write a novel; I start with a basic idea and then it goes in a whole other direction. I wrote a novel called Skater Boy. It was supposed to be a chick-lit romance with comedic tones. It turned into a dark little novel complete with child abuse, rape and the coming of age. I tried to make it light and fun but apparently that didn't work out so well.

I like just writing to see what comes though at times, it's frustrating. There are times when I just don't know what to write and nothing's coming and the flow just isn't there. I don't consider this writer's block at all- just a case of Writer Needs to Do Something Else Right Now. Often that involves watching TV, reading a book or even, when I'm really frustrated, playing on my Playstation 2. I've found that I can't force the writing; if I do, I always end up scrapping it and starting again. It feels forced to me when I read it and I hate that.

Then there's the other extreme: Too many ideas. This does happen. And you'd think it'd be easy to write some of them down and just pick one. This does work. Sometimes. But the worst is when you pick an idea but can't get started so you pick another one. Then you go back to the first idea because the other one isn't working. Sometimes this can happen with as many as three or four ideas. It ends up feeling like a disorganized mess and the only way to get through it is to stick with one of the ideas and push through until it feels natural. That's happening to me at the moment. I haven't written fiction in a while. Moving cross country tends to interrupt your life for a while; there's the packing, the organizing, the cleaning, cramming in as much time with friends as humanly possible and then the actual moving. After the physical move happens comes the unpacking, the myriad of Walmart trips because you realize you gave a lot of really useful stuff to Salvation Army because you just couldn't be bothered to pack any more boxes. This continues for a long time. For example, when you spill wine on your carpet and you no longer have any carpet cleaning supplies. Then you have to make a frantic dash to Kroger to grab some before the carpet is forever ruined.

So, now, finally, it's time for me to start writing. The thing is, lately, it's hard because there's a lot of self-doubt getting in the way of the flow. I mentioned I was sending out query letters to agents. I sent out 15 of them. I've already had 7 rejections. None of them have read my novels, they're rejecting my letter. I suppose that's not quite so personal but it still is extremely frustrating. I've sent out batches of queries for three wildly different novels. I know my letters are well written, they summarize the plot well, follow all the guidelines but they still get rejected. I only send them to agents who represent the type of novel I've written but I inevitably get variations on the one line rejection email "Not for me, I'm afraid."

I don't know anyone in publishing. This is a huge problem. Many of the success stories these days are from writers who either did a writing program and networked that way or they had a friend who had been published and they introduced them. I've thought about writing programs but I'm a new-ish writer. I only figured out I wanted to write professionally after I had been out of college for a couple of years. For a while, I thought I wanted to go to law school. So I worked as a legal secretary. That is an excellent way to realize that being a lawyer is not like you see on TV. Being a lawyer is very boring. Being a legal secretary is also very boring. I decided not to do that. After a lot of jobs, I finally wrote a screenplay and decided I loved it. Then, as I think I've mentioned, I couldn't come up with an ending for one of my scripts so I wrote a novel and that was my Epiphany moment, the moment where I realized that I had to keep writing because it fit.

The problem with MFA writing programs is that they need a lot of stuff. They need letters of recommendation from professionals in the field. I don't know any of those. They also want you to take the GRE which is the graduate version of the SATs. This means I'd have to relearn all of that horrible maths stuff I didn't like in high school. The logical question becomes: WHY do I need to prove I can do math to be a writer? I applied to one writing program and, naturally, got rejected. It took months to round everything up. My letters of recommendation weren't terribly good though I tried hard to find appropriate people to write them. And the truth is, I don't really want to enter a writing program, anyway. I like writing on my own; I hate workshopping my stuff because it makes me think too hard. My 'process' is to just write the novel and then figure out what does or doesn't work. Workshopping means taking scenes out of context, of letting others critique them. How can they critique something that isn't finished yet? It's like trying to judge a painting when it's just a pencil sketch. I know it works for some people but not for me. I need to be left alone with my work, to see where it goes. I never feel like I'm writing a novel, honestly- I'm just 'finding' it and writing it down. It's happened eight times now so I'm pretty sure that method works for me.

Writing workshops also help with writer's block. For me, the only thing that works for writer's blog is to sit down with a character. It sounds nutty but I've gone so far as to 'have lunch' with them, talking to them in my mind, writing down a backstory or anecdotes that don't have anything to do with the novel but tells me who they are. I've done that countless times and it has never failed me.

So, I don't think I really would enjoy a writing program other than the fact I would get to focus on my writing full-time. I just want the contacts I might make from them. I also can't afford it. The same goes for writing conferences or writers retreats; I don't really like the idea of them anyway. I was naive enough when I started to think that my writing was good enough, that I had enough ideas and talent that I'd be ok on my own.

But now I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall. I've entered contests, I've written short stories, I've queried publishers and agents....nothing. And so I am filled with doubt. What if I can't write? What if I secretly suck and people are too nice to tell me?

And no matter how much I love writing, how much passion I have when I do so, the doubt creeps in. It taints my ability to get lost in a story, to hear a characters voice because I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. There's this voice in my head constantly saying "what's the point?" The point is that I love doing it and so being successful shouldn't matter but it does. Now that I've written eight novels, it does matter, no matter how much I love it. Each new idea is tinted with that shadow of doubt, the idea that I should concentrate on what I've already written rather than hiding in another work.

I invited agents to look at my blog in my last query letter. That's probably a faux pas but, frankly, I don't really care. I've followed the rules and that got me nowhere. So, I tried something new. Seven down, eight more to go. If only one of them would ask to see part of my novel, that would be something.

In the meantime, I'm making myself write again. It may end up sucking canal water but I'm pushing on and last night, I felt the doubt disappear for a while when I let my character in; I let him tell me what to type instead of forcing it and it felt right. In the end, it's just a question of persevering, of dreaming, of hoping that someone will, in the immortal words of Abba, "Take a Chance on Me."

And, if not, I can always blog some more about snow.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Captain Monkeypants and the Art of the Calamity

I'm very sleepy this morning. It was one of those mornings where I debated staying in bed for another half-hour and going in late, making up the time this evening. Yet I got up anyway. I never get much benefit out of lying in bed for another half-hour unless I'm actually sleeping. Mostly, it's spent hiding my head under the covers and thinking about how much I don't want to get up which leads me to constantly check the clock to see how much time I have left rather than actually sleeping. If I actually do get up, it's just easier.

It's freezing out this morning. The snow patches are still clustered in the shadows and my car was iced-over. I'm too lazy to scrape: I've taken to starting my car ten minutes before I want to leave. It's SO much easier and, I find, actually safer because even when you scrape, you never clear your windows completely. I saw a girl driving an identical car to mine this morning but she'd only managed to scrape a little hole on her windshield. She practically had her nose against the glass, trying to see out. The rest of her car was so frozen that there was no way she could see out of her windows. This is why I start my car early. Also, having just got my car fixed from my last accident, I do not want another one, thank you very much.

So, now I'm at work. It's quiet in the office. I'm sipping vile coffee again because I cannot get my act together enough to make a pot at home. I'm really only capable in the mornings of getting ready for work, starting my car early and then a maximum of one non-routine task. Often, it involves putting things in my crockpot to cook for dinner. I do the preparation for this the night before. Other times, if I'm REALLY ambitious, it involves making toast. I adore toast. It's a joy in my life. I do not, however, really enjoy my toaster. It was one of those $7 deals from Walmart. It's a two-slot toaster but it's not deep enough to toast the very top of the bread so by the time it pops up, the top of the bread is still soft and untoasted while the rest is fine. Also, it does not have one of those nifty buttons to hit to make the toast pop up on your command. You have to turn the dial to the lowest setting and then it pops up. This is great except I like my toast dark and I inevitably forget I turned the dial to low until my toast pops up and it's still white. I need a new toaster.

This morning, I decided to try my new bread maker. It was actually my parent's but it's new to me. There was no instruction book. My mother provided instructions on how to put the ingredients in which was very helpful. There's a lot of buttons though. I like hitting buttons. I think I might have set the timer right on it since it was counting down as I left the apartment. If all goes well, I should be greeted with the scent of fresh baked, yeasty bread when I get home from work. Either that or it's The Breadmaker of Doom and is counting down for more ominous reasons. I prefer to think positively, however.

Aside from adoring fresh bread, I decided it might be a good idea to introduce a new smell to my apartment other than rather-cheap-wine-covered-up-by-Christmas-candle. You see, last night, I had a rather large accident. I have this wine rack that is very pretty but the bottles aren't terribly secure. They sit on a rather thin ledge and are easily dislodged. I bumped the rack last night causing the top layer of bottles to fall onto the ones below. You wouldn't think this had much effect but I am Captain Monkeypants, Mistress of the Calamity. No, this top level bottle shattered the bottle beneath which lead to a nasty mess. I try to keep my good wine on the top rack, the Two Buck Chuck on the bottom. I should probably explain that the difference between the Two Buck Chuck and the Top Level wine is about $3. I like good wine. If I had a nice fat income, I'd probably splurge. However, for now, Sutter Home is my friend. Not that it isn't good wine. It's just not good wine, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, so, I stood there, taking in the sudden and unexpected calamity, I realized I had to Act Now or Forever Lose The Newness of my Carpet. So I flew into action, sopping up the worst of the spill and reading on the internet the best way to remove wine stains. Did you know everyone says white wine works as a stain lifter? I did not. I also prefer red wine and so I lacked white wine. Also, I would have felt rather cross if I'd hate to waste more wine like that. So I ran to the store, purchased some Oxy Deep Cleaner and went back to work on the carpet. Fortunately, I managed to remove the stain, I think. The carpet looked ok in the pretty lights of my Christmas tree and my not-so-bright lamp. I'm hoping that in the light of day, it'll look fine too.

So, by the time my scrubbing was done, my apartment smelled a bit more like Oxy Clean and a little less like Two Buck Chuck. I lit my Glade Gingerbread candle. It seemed to help except somehow the smells seemed to combine and now my flat smells like a Christmas pudding. For all you non-Brits, a Christmas pudding is a very dark, raisin-y, rum-my, fruity concoction that is steamed and served with brandy butter. I just like the brandy butter, truth be told. Though when I was little, the tradition was to hide money in the Christmas pudding for the children so that when you'd get your piece, you'd find a nice 5 pence piece, usually when you'd bite into the pudding. Yes, that was back before people were quite so germaphobic. Which was probably not a good thing, now that I think about it. I didn't realize that my parents were the one putting the money into the pudding until I was quite old. Yes, I really thought it came that way, ok?

Anyway, once more, I digress. Back to my point: Fresh Bread. I'm hoping that the bread maker works and that I have nice crusty bread waiting for me and that my apartment smells just like fresh bread rather than Christmas pudding flavoured bread because that would be a bit vile. I'll keep you posted on that.

So, the moral of this story is really Don't Spill Wine on the Carpet. It is a bad thing. However, if you do, may I recommend Oxy Clean and Glade Candles to alleviate the disaster a little. As long as you don't mind the smell of Christmas pudding. Also, as an added side bonus, Sutter Home crushes Two Buck Chuck. Literally.

Happy Wednesday

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Trees and the Reflection of Two-Hundred Multi-Coloured Lights

It snowed a little last night. It was the clingy snow that forms clusters on the ground and sticks to your car windshield. It's pretty. Since it is now officially December and thus Christmas season, I have my tree up. It's the first tree I've ever put up by myself. When I moved to L.A., I lived by myself for five years and because I had virtually no money, I made do with decorating my mantel with ornaments and one of those green tinsel garlands that is the same colour as a Christmas tree from the 99 cent store. I twirled lights around the tinsel for effect and it was pretty. As the years went by, I upgraded to a fake pine garland and added some nativities and candles. Since I flew back to the Midwest for Christmas every year, it didn't matter that there was no tree. My little gas fireplace always looked cozy and with the glow of the multi-colour lights that I had wrapped around the garland, it was very festive.

When I moved in with my roommate, she liked real trees and so we would go pick our tree every Christmas and then spend hours in Walmart picking out decorations. That was always fun. I love the smell of a fresh tree, it brings the outside indoors without the inconvenience of mud, ice and, well, the outdoors. I'm not a very outdoorsy person. I don't mind a good hike or a walk but then I'm done. I hate camping. I've really tried to like it. I even went camping with some experts who cooked gourmet food and had all sorts of nifty camping stuff. The company was awesome, the camping was miserable. I hate sleeping outside. I hate that my feet get so cold that nothing warms them. I hate that damp cold that creeps in overnight so when you wake up, you can't escape from it until you crawl outside and practically wrap yourself around the camp fire that the more experienced campers have already set. And though that warms me, I then smell like smoke for the rest of the trip. So, yeah, a real Christmas tree inside my apartment? That's as outdoorsy as I get.

This year, I don't have a real tree. I have my Black Friday Triumph Tree. It's pre-lit so I don't have to worry about wrapping the lights around the branches. I've never been good at that. I've watched other people spend hours and hours individually wrapping each branch with lights. It always looks awesome but during the time the lights are being put on the tree, the would-be decorators eventually lose all hope that they'll get to hang the baubles on the tree at all that day. I was worried my pre-lit tree would be skimpy on lights and I'd have to supplement but after plugging it in, it is beautifully lit with no bare spots.

I hung the ornaments I inherited when I moved. It was a little sad to hang them alone; I remembered picking them with my roommate and choosing the colours carefully. I also hung up my garland that I first bought when I lived alone. My apartment is twinkly and festive and it makes me happy to turn on the lights.

I tried not to be too reflective when I decorated. It has been a tough year, full of loss and change. Christmas is hard that way. While it's full of tidings of comfort and joy, it's also a reminder that life changes, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. The change can be good; I'm still grateful and thrilled that I was able to move so much closer to my family. It's such a treat to drive home and be surrounded by the people that I love, even when we drive each other crazy.

But the change can also be bad. Christmas is a time when the emptiness in our life is a little louder and no matter how many twinkly lights or gift-exchanges you fill it with, it's always there. There's always a gap that can't quite be filled. Christmas is a time when ghosts whisper a little louder, wanting to be remembered and nostalgia grows into something tangible, something that makes your heart break just a little at the most unexpected moments.

Yet Christmas is also the end of the year, a time when all things end, only to begin again. It's a gentle reminder that everything comes full circle. For each year that begins, an ending must follow. It's the in-between part that is tricky. New Years is a time of renewal, of new hope, of resolutions for change. Christmas is a time to reflect and look back. It's a time to celebrate the promise of hope, provided you remember why we have Christmas in the first place. It's a time to spend with loved ones, to honour the spaces that are left unfilled but to not let those gaps overwhelm us.

There's a lot that I miss in my new life. I miss the trip to Target or Home Depot to pick out the tree. I miss laughing and being silly as we decorate the tree. I miss the bickering over whether we should be tasteful (as my roommate preferred) or colourfully tacky (my prefence). We usually compromised and ended up with a pretty cool-looking tree. I'll miss the mini-Christmases I had before I came home for Christmas with my family, the gift exchanges, the laughter, the food. Most of all I'll miss the friends and family I have in California who filled the gap when my own family was too far away and the distance couldn't be bridged with a phone call.

It's been a year full of change, good and bad. It's a year of growing up and realizing that life is too short to waste. Though the new year is still a month away, the inevitable reflection begins in the comfort of 200 multi-coloured lights, blazing away on my $25 pre-lit tree. Though my writing is no further than it was a year ago as far as publishing goes, it's taken leaps and bounds with the subjects I choose and the way in which I write them. The rejection I receive is hard but it's not everything. It depends on how I let it affect me. And so as I lay beneath my Christmas tree and stared up at the lights last night, I decided to enjoy the beauty of life rather than the harshness. The lights, the tree, the snow, the family and the friends, absent and present, all these things make Christmas my favourite time of year.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bonus Blog: Twilight...My Review

If you've read my blog on any given week, I have a tendency to rant. My favourite ranting topic o' the moment is Stephanie Meyer and the awfulness of Breaking Dawn. I'm also not much of a Meyer fan in general. I read Twilight a while ago, before I knew about the Twi-hards or (Twi-tards, as I prefer) and the Twilight moms. I thought it was an ok book, one by which Anne Rice should feel a little plagerized but I sort of understood why it reached teens. The rest of the series was bland and silly with the exception of Breaking Dawn which should never have been published without mass rewriting and editing.

My hatred of Breaking Dawn retroactively made me despise anything to do with Meyer and Twilight and so when the movie became the cover story for Entertainment Weekly on a regular basis or, at the very least, a huge space-stealer, I was irritated beyond belief. I was sick to death of the hype and still, to this day, can't understand why Entertainment Weekly and other magazines could not promote the far-superior Stardust movie last year with the same gusto. Stardust, based on the Neil Gaiman book, was cute, clever, romantic, hilarious and just a fun ride that makes me want to rewatch it over and over. The original book is a grown-up fairy tale, written with lyric and simplicity and worth ten of Twilight any day.

Yet, because I am a fair Monkeypants, I knew I couldn't complain about a movie without seeing it and so, I knew I had to see Twilight. After all, I'm a firm believer that you can't mock properly without having done your research.

I had no expectations. I expected it to stink. The previews had done nothing to prove otherwise. So I went into the theatre, expecting to snort with derision and emerge at the end, satisfied that I'd been right.

Truth is, that didn't happen. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a good movie by any means. It just wasn't as horrible as I expected. Given my earlier scathing comments, that's high praise.

Let's start with what I liked. I thought that the scene in which Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart) are paired as lab partners was awesome. The look of revulsion on Edward's face was perfect. The problem was, it made me wonder how much cooler the books would have been if he had continued to loathe her. So much more interesting than puppy-love, don't you think?

Yet this scene made me feel differently about Robert's portrayal of Edward. I got a strong feeling that he was almost mocking the character as he portrayed him, that there was a snarky and bitter undertone in his performance that played perfectly on screen. I'm probably wrong but I felt like Robert didn't think much to Edward and that added a rather good layer to the character who otherwise is one of the wussiest, blandest vampires ever to grace the fiction world.

I also liked Billy Burke's portrayal of Charlie Swan, Bella's dad. In the books, the character has always been rather obtuse and uninvolved in his daughter's romantic entanglement with vampires. Even when she disappeared for months and then re-appeared as a vampire in Breaking Dawn, all it took was for a football game on TV to distract him. I get the feeling that the movie Charlie would kick that Charlie's arse. He's protective, wry and funny. Granted, the man is town Police Chief and he cleans his gun while drinking beer but he's funny and I loved the layers he gave a somewhat background character.

I also actually enjoyed the baseball scene. Set to Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole", the scene is fun and enjoyable. Then again, I've always liked Muse so maybe that was why.

So, see, I can be nice. But I can also be scathing. For example, though Bella Swan has always baffled me as to why Edward can love such a drip, Kristin Stewart's portrayal is beyond dull. She's very pretty and has good hair in the movie. However, she delivers Bella's lines in a monotonal fashion that show that she, like us, is bored with the character. The turning point in the movie in which it went from being decent to being bad was the scene where she confronts Edward and tells him she knows he's a vampire. Ugh. The way she says her lines: "Your skin is ice-cold and pale..." and all that stuff is cringeworthy.

Speaking of lines, there are some stinkers in there. The two worst, sadly, are taken directly from Meyer's book: "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb" and "You're my special brand of heroin". Really? I HATE the lion/lamb line. It makes me think of one of those high-school freshman who want to be writers journaling in their notebook, writing what they think is deep prose but really is a glorified diary entry.

Then there's the special effects. I know the budget sucked for the movie but it seems that they skimped on areas that should have had the most attention paid to them. We didn't need to see Edward jump and run up so many trees. The money spent on that would much better have been spent on makeup. Seriously, Carlisle Cullen looks terrible. You can see the pancake makeup piled on. Maybe it was the blonde hair but he looked washed out and unattractive.

The scene in which Edward shows why he can't go out in the sun (he sparkles- in case you hadn't read the book) was awful. He looked sweaty. He didn't look like "he'd been sprinkled with diamond dust" as the book so frequently and gushingly describes. He looked wet and sweaty.

And then there are the rest of the Cullens. Alice was pretty good, very accurate to the way she is in the book. Emmett was supposed to be strong and big but he looked like a lumberjack to me. Rosalie, played by Nikki Read, was over-acted and pretty terrible. And then there was Jasper. He stood there with a blank look on his face. He's supposed to be able to calm people's emotions, that's his Vampire Power. I now call him Jasper Scissorhands because his hair and facial expression are so much like Edward Scissorhands, he should be sued.

Overall, there were moments where I was entertained. I only cringed a couple of times. I won't mention the author's cameo in the movie. It irritated me, let's leave it at that.

I wouldn't recommend Twilight. It isn't good. It's the type of movie that, if it didn't have an army of militant fans, would probably have flopped and emerged as a DVD rental. It's ok. It's watchable but it won't explain to the non-Twilight readers what all the fuss is about. Harry Potter it is not but then, it doesn't even deserve to be placed in comparison with those books though I'm reading otherwise.

I had to review this movie since I've ragged on the subject so much. I think perhaps if it was viewed as a comedy, it'd be better. I can't help but think Robert Pattinson might like that. Yet, overall, it wasn't as painful as I expected. But it wasn't good. And that, for now, is all I have to say about that.