Tuesday, March 31, 2009
So, we keep the doors open. Since I am at the bottom of the stairs, I have learned to recognize the sound of who is coming down. For example, my boss is instantly recognizable by his loud clomping that actaully shakes some of the pictures on the wall. He has a heavy tread, that one. Some of the technical staff also have heavy treads but they are decipherable by the speed in which they come down. The sound of slow, steady high heels means a specific female coworker is coming down; she moves slowly in case her backless shoes slip off her feet.
We get a lot of traffic on those stairs. Our break area is just around the corner from where we sit and so in the mornings, a steady flow of coworkers comes down to see if there's any coffee made. As the bottom-of-the-stair sitter, and the first person in my area in the office, I am often the recipient of the coffee in the bottom of the pot. It's rather a luxury, actually, even if the coffee isn't exactly Starbucks level. I get served, waitress style, by whichever coworker wants to make a new pot of coffee. They want an empty pot, you see, and they don't want to dump it down the sink. I suppose if I look at it another way, I'm the equivelent of a garbage disposal.
Which, actually, is probably rather true if you ask my family. I hate to see food go to waste and when I'm at my mum and dad's, I usually have the treat of a delicious Sunday lunch. I'm usually the last one eating, picking slowly at the leftover potatoes, or finishing the enormous bowl of salad.
Anyway, aside from being the dumping grounds for leftover coffee, I also get to hear conversations, all day. Mostly they're very social, catching up from the weekend, discussing the latest weight-loss scheme, babies, husbands...all of the normal stuff you get in an office. We don't have a watercooler but we have a fridge, a sink and a coffeepot. Here is the social hub of the office.
Of course, when I and my two coworkers are trying to concentrate, it gets to be a bit distracting. Most of the time, I just pop on my iPod but occasionally, it gets to the point where we tend to just look at each other and roll our eyes. Days like this, it's hard to get as much work done. Yet we try. For better or for worse, we try.
We have a couple of new people in our office. One is the CEO who lives above me. The other is our new HR-type person. They both are very perky people. I am not a very perky person. As I've mentioned, when I am perky, people around me tend to check to see how much coffee I've been drinking or if I've been exposed to high-sugar content. Extreme perkiness gives me goosebumps and not in a good way. I just don't really know how to be perky without frightening people. If I try it and I say "Good Morning!" very brightly, people get this wary look in their eyes and begin to back away slowly. I can tell I've scared them because they won't make direct eye-contact. Those who know me well will say, "Uh-uh, what's wrong?" even when I'm just trying to be friendly.
This leads me to believe that I was not born to be perky. I was born to be the person in the corner who observes, listens, makes mental notes and occasionally interjects something mildly dry-humoured bordering on sarcasm. I do have days where I am a little chipper but it manifests itself in ways in which...I tend to worry people. When I'm happy with something, I say "Party in my Pocket!" Usually, this leads to a discussion on whether I'm being crude. I am not. I just like to say "Party in my Pocket" because it sounds funny. I picture a party in my coat pocket, if you have to know. I think it started when I kept a small stuffed meerkat (Timon from the Lion King- free with a Happy Meal years ago) in my pocket and I pictured him gathering friends to have a party. Yet, if I tell people this, I get that look, the one that says, "Oh dear, Sam's gone mental." When, really, I haven't. I mean, that's how I always think.
I'm not trying to be weird or funny, it just happens. It's the curse of having an imagination. Yesterday, my friend who is having construction done on her house told me that they were putting a hole in the roof. I started to wonder why. First, I thought, maybe they were putting a chimney in. Then I wondered if maybe it was a skylight which naturally made me think of a crazy person climbing onto the roof and staring down at the inhabitants of the house. Finally, I thought how cool it would be if they put one of those air-tubey things in the house like they have at drive-through banks; you know, you put your deposit in the tube, it sucks it up with a "Thwupp!" sound and then moments later, it's in the bank teller's hands. I love those; they're like high-tech banking at its finest.
Then, once I came up with the air-tube-in-the-house idea, I began to think what my friend my use it for. Notes to her mother was the most obvious reason since she'd be living in the back part of the house, her mother in the front. Then, naturally, I started to think of little baby chickens with helmets on, harnessed for safety, going for rides in the tube. No chickens would be harmed in the usage of the air tube.
My friend, being the great sport she is, discussed this with me, pointing out the flaws in my plan. Finally, the discussion digressed into whether it was ok to deep-fry baby chicks and eat them on a stick. I think that's a horrible, cruel thing to do and would never endorse it, just for the record.
I'm telling you all this because that was a normal, chipper, perky conversation for me. It took less than ten minutes to have this conversation over email. I'm glad it was with my friend who knows me because if it was a discussion I had with my coworkers, they probably would have stopped when I said "air tube thingy". Actually, they might have been alarmed when I started talking about the skylight and the person staring down. It's hard to say.
So, you see, although I am exposed to perkiness and trying to smile through it instead of mentally choking the person, I simply am no good at being perky. Chances are, I've probably alarmed you with oversharing how my mind works. I promise, I wouldn't really hurt those chickens. Really.
Oh, and by the way, the hole in the house was for some mundane purpose like a support column or something. I prefer my chicken-in-an-air-tube theory, personally.
Please don't be scared away.
Monday, March 30, 2009
It's not that I don't enjoy my job and that coming to work is a torture. In truth, I quite enjoy my job. I have a lot of different projects, I'm usually busy and the days go by quickly. Also, I like my coworkers which is a huge part of any job. It's a very good thing to like your coworkers, I mean, spending 40+ hours a week with them is quite a percentage of one's life and if you hate them, well, it just makes work difficult.
Yet there's something about weekends that makes you feel like you wish you could hold onto them and not let them go. I tend to be a little different at work than I am in my personal life; I mean, I never break out into a private dance party at my office the way I do at home. Well, not yet, anyway. Though I will say at my old job in California, there were nights when I was the last one in the building and my iPod and I would have a good old dance/flail around the top balcony of my office building. Very therapeutic. Also, tons of fun although occasionally I would boogie on down to the bathroom on the first floor and realize that though the windows to the building were tinted, there was a chance that people could see me and, well, it probably wouldn't do to have the Systems Analyst dancing around the building after hours.
I haven't started doing that at this job. I'm never the last one here. Also, I'm still trying to maintain some attempt at professionalism and normalcy. I don't want these people realizing exactly how strange I am. Although since the URL to this blog is posted on my Facebook page and I am friends with some of them on Facebook. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they realize that I am a wee bit quirky at times.
Yes, I am on Facebook. I used to be on Myspace but everyone slowly migrated over to Facebook and I decided that I, too, would give it a whirl. Wow, has that become a strange 'place' to be. I have a lot of friends. This is not to brag that I am popular because, I'm not. It's mostly to illustrate how much of a global monster Facebook has become. Through the wonder of facebook, I am now back in touch with my old friends from England, the ones I grew up with. My aunts and cousins are on Facebook and so I can keep tabs on what's going on with the British side of my family. The oddest thing is that a lot of people I went to high school with are on Facebook and they are my friends. They weren't really my friends in high school. Now I look back, I realize that when I was an insecure, shy little creature with low self-esteem in my high school days, I wasn't the only one. Back then, I truly thought that all the other kids in my class had their act together, that they really were as cocky and confident as they acted. Now, thanks to the wonders of television shows like "One Tree Hill" and "The O.C.", I see that all teenagers are neurotic messes and that most likely most of my high school peers were struggling as much as I was.
I'm just kidding about "One Tree Hill" and "The O.C." by the way. Any show that has twenty-something actors playing seventeen year olds can't be taken too seriously.
I'm not kidding about Facebook though. I actually do in enjoy it. It's a way of keeping in touch with friends, even when you don't have too much time. You can comment on their 'wall', a casual way of interacting, you can 'message' them which is to send them a real email message or you can 'poke' them which means you're letting them know you're still around and haven't forgotten them. There are a billion other things you can do via applications but most of the time I ignore these. There's only so many times you can have a stapler thrown at your head or be sent a virtual drink before you realize that you don't really want to install all the applications that you're invited to join. Still, I do enjoy reading the notes people put up there. Recently the "25 Randoms Things About Me" note was popular. Everyone posted 25 odd facts about themselves. I actually enjoy reading those; you get to know people that way and it's fun to realize that everyone's a weirdo.
I hear a lot about Twitter now, not quite so much about Facebook. I'm still not 100% sure what Twittering is or what it entails but I'm trying to resist it. I already have enough distractions with Facebook.
I'm rambling, yet again. However, being that it is a Monday morning, I hope you'll forgive me. My brain is always a little slow on Monday mornings. Actually...most mornings...but I'll try to do better tomorrow. As always, thanks for reading...
Friday, March 27, 2009
I still don't seem to be able to sleep. I'm not sure why. I wake up every night at approximately 2:38 a.m. and cannot get back to sleep. I think I might have read Stephen King's Insomnia one too many times because I thought about looking out the window to see if there were men creeping around with scissors outside. If you haven't read the book, you probably won't get that but it actually is a very good book, one of my favourite Stephen King novels, as a matter of fact.
It's been an odd week. I've been trying to wean myself away from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award message boards. There's an issue that is infuriating me and I'm trying to distance myself from it. I won't go into details other than to say that I hope next year, I hope Amazon implements a rule that if you make the top three finalists in the entire competion, you should not be allowed to enter the same novel again, no matter how much it's been edited. That is all I will say on the subject since I am fortunate and blessed enough to have been selected as a quarterfinalist and, having read some of my competition, I know that I would be extremely lucky to move onto the next round. There are way too many good writers out there. It's a good thing as a reader but as a writer, it's a tad intimidating.
As for the rest of the week being odd, I've newly discovered one slight disadvantage in moving back to the midwest: Allergies. I never had hayfever as a child and in the years before I left Indiana for Los Angeles, I had the sniffles a lot during the summer and would occasionally sneeze a lot if I spent too much time outside or around flowers. It was nothing that some Claritin wouldn't fix. During my years in L.A., the same thing happened, sniffles, sneezes but nothing too severe. Now I'm back, I've discovered that as much as I love springtime, it's not loving me too much. My sinuses seem to disagree with tree pollen and the Claritin isn't doing as well as usual. I'm hoping it's temporary and that as Spring progresses, my allergies will subside. Probably wishful thinking but I'm not going to let it interfere with my enjoyment of the flowers and trees. Now that it's not likely to snow much, I have to find something to wax poetical about, don't I?
Then there's my new neighbour who lives above me. She's very nice. She also happens to be the CEO of our new company. I have to confess...it's a little intimidating. Now I have to think about what I'm doing because we have thin walls and ceilings. Not that I'm doing anything incriminating but I do have rather a tendency to talk to myself and my characters. Occasionally, I forget that my windows are open or that I'm standing on the balcony outside. I also occasionally do have a one-person-flailing-dance party in which I burn off excess energy by having a dance. That's fun. I usually end up losing my balance. Inevitably, it involves thuds.
I probably don't really need to worry about it. It's just one of those factors I have to take into consideration. When you have anonymous neighbours, it's easier to not worry. When you actually know a neighbour, it's a little different. I don't even see her that often, only when she's walking her dog.
Speaking of walking (and in the most random transition manner), I saw a girl walking today in flip-flops. Now, I love flip-flops. They're comfy...in the summer. It was 36 degrees outside this morning, my car said so. I couldn't help but wonder what on earth made her think flip-flops were a practical foot choice. If she were dressed to match, I suppose vanity would have played a part but she sort of looked like she had bundled up to stay warm which is why I'm baffled by her choice of footware. However, I digress....
...I seem to digress a lot, particularly on Fridays. Thus, I apologize for being somewhat random today. As always, I thank you for staying with me and reading my blog.
Have a great weekend.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Not that it's particularly bright outside today. It's another gloomy day, the rain lightly misting my car which, by the way, mysteriously smells like something died in it. I'm not sure why. I took out the rubbish the other day on the way to work. The dumpsters are on the way to the exit for my apartment complex so I through the rubbish in the boot of my car. It was only there for less than 3 minutes but it was long enough to make my whole car smell like mouldy potatoes. I bought one of those odor neutralizing air fresheners that wasn't supposed to be scented. Well, now, in addition to the rotting vegetable smell of my car, I now have a cloying layer of scent that smells like someone filled my car with SweetTart candy and then sprayed it with water. At least, that's what it smells like to me. I'm leaving my windows cracked open today in hopes that it returns my car to its usual unscented glory.
Her mother, naturally, is worried when her daughter goes missing. When she discovers from Helios, the Greek god of the Sun who sees everything that goes on under the sun, that Hades now has Persephone as his wife, she is horrified. For a year, she uses her power over the world to bring drought and death to much of nature. Hades hears what is happening and when Zeus tells him that if the world above dies, so will his power, Hades relents to letting Demetra see her daughter and, perhaps, rescue her. However, there is a condition: If Persephone has eaten so much of a crumb in Hades' world, she can never return to the world above.
Unfortunately, though Demetra manages to be reunited with her daughter, it turns out that Persephone, during her year in Hades, ate a total of seven pomegranate seeds which, sadly, means she now belongs to Hades. Demetra ended up working out a deal with Hades so that Persephone got to spend nine months of the year with her mother and the other three months with Hades. Thus, it became that during the 3 months that Persephone spends with Hades, the earth dies for three months, thus giving us winter. When she comes back up to earth, Spring begins.
I love stories with endings like that because I'm not a scientist. I'm an imaginationist (yes, I made that word up). Thus, when I hear stories that explain nature and life, it makes me happy. I'd much rather believe that Spring is caused by the joy of a mother being reunited with her daughter than anything to do with the sun and earth's rotation. Now, whenever I see the first crocus, daffodil or forsythia, I will know that Demetra and Persephone have been reunited and Hades, once more, is alone for 9 months.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Yet, here I am, early into the office, ready to start the day anew. I'd say I'm fresh-faced and all that but, truth is, I'm probably not too many steps away from being a zombie. I used to not be a morning person at all; preferring to sleep late and stay up late. Nowadays, though it takes me at least an hour or two to fully wake up, I'd rather be up early and get a lot done then go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Of course, living in a college town, that can be difficult. Though my apartment building is supposed to be for grown-ups, no college kids, the rules seem to have been relaxed lately. Or perhaps I'm just getting older and they're graduate students and adults and they look like kids to me. Oh, I hope not though.
Now that the days are getting longer, there's often a game of Frisbee or ball-throwing going on in the open field behind my apartment building. It's like something from one of those CW-Gossip-Girl-One-Tree-Hill type shows except, you know, not. So far, these boys keep their shirts on. Mostly, though, they like to stand around and drink beer in the field. I'm not quite sure why the field seems like a good place to stand around and drink beer but who am I to question the ways of students?
For the most part, these frisbee-playing students don't both me. The only time they do is when their girlfriends decide to come out on their balcony and carry on a conversation to the boys who are drinking beer in the field. You see, these girls have very loud voices. The topics of conversation that they like to shout are not particularly intellectual. I did learn yesterday that one of the girls had her tarot cards read and was now a little freaked out. Poor thing; if she hadn't been shouting her conversation to the girl standing next to her on the same balcony, I might have a little sympathy.
Then there's my downstairs neighbour. Remember when I complained about the man shouting at his girlfriend in the middle of the night? Well, it turns out that the shouting wasn't coming from above, it was coming from beneath. Now he's taken to standing out on his patio and shouting at his girlfriend. It's nice to share his relationship problems with others. While, overall, I would prefer him to perhaps break up with his girlfriend instead of shouting at her on the phone, I'm a teensy bit relieved that he's no longer only bothering me.
Still, I will say that there's something about living in an apartment building that keeps life interesting. There's always something going on. In case you were wondering, my stray is still around. Usually, once a week, he asks for a ride. I still wonder why he hasn't got his car fixed but since I sort of go his way each morning, there's no reason not to give him a ride. He did buy me dinner once as a thank-you.
Now it's Spring, I expect to see more of my neighbours now that we're not just dashing from one place to another to get out of the cold. I'd say that's a nice thing but sometimes I don't like having people around, especially on days like this where I'm a little crabby because I need more sleep. However, I'm trying to be positive and maybe it's a good thing; it's a sign of the season I suppose. Spring is officially here, if the daffodils don't confirm it, the frisbee games do. I'm wondering if they last all summer or, as in the case of Spring Break a couple of weeks ago, the apartment complex empties out and it's just us permanent-livers, the grown-ups who don't depend on school semesters to determine our living arrangements. I'll just have to wait and see.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
It really seems to be Spring now and not just because the calendar says so. Daffodils are blooming so there's my sign. I always had this idea that I'd get married in the Spring so I could have spring flowers but then again, I always fancied a Christmas wedding. Nowadays, if I have a wedding, I will just be happy.
I'm not good at meeting men so I've been doing the eHarmony dating thing. While I know this method has worked for many people, I'm not so sure it's working for me. It starts out all good and fun because you suddenly have this thicket of men with whom you can connect. At first, it's fun. Then...it gets very, very tedious. You see, eHarmony starts you out by requesting communication between you and a match, depending on who initiates the request for contact. First off, you start with a list of questions provided by eHarmony. You can pick three to ask. Then...he answers them. From there, you move on to "Must Haves/Can't Stands" in which you have a list of things that you either must have in a relation or you can't stand to have in a relationship. You pick three of each. He picks three of each. Trust me, after about five matches, the list stops being relevant and you just want to move on to the next step which is....more questions. This time, you can write your own OR you can use some provided helpfully by eHarmony. These questions are a little more in-depth, at least.
After this, FINALLY, you're allowed to directly communicate with a match. From there, the matches are on their own. We can exchange emails or phone numbers.
As I said, in the beginning, the process is fun. Then it starts to get old. You find yourself asking every match the same questions. You find yourself answering the same questions. The frustrating part is sometimes, you actually find someone you think sounds interesting. These communications end in one of two ways: 1) You communicate with them for a while or 2) They never communicate back.
Yes, eHarmony is a whole new way to experience rejection. Rather than simply 'close' the match as you're able to do, some matches prefer just not to respond. Personally, I think those that don't respond are like me, people who have been doing the process so long, it's just boring.
I've met some interesting men. My first match was easy to talk to on the phone. He had a few red flags such as telling me I didn't sound at all like I looked in my photo which he seemed a little disappointed about. He also told me that he hated when women cut their hair so he hoped my hair was still long. Both flags were a sign that he might be a wee bit shallow. We decided to meet. It turns out that he was still a giant frat boy trapped in a 42-year old body. We went for a drink in the town where I live which, as I've mentioned, is a college town. He couldn't stop staring at the college kids and reminiscing about his own drunken, stoned days of college. He also was more interested in watching the hockey game on TV than talking to me, even though that was the whole point of the evening. I never saw him again.
My second match was a very sweet man who told me he was fairly recently divorced. He had great manners and finally formally asked me on a date. He even made reservations which, to me, is definitely a good sign. We had a lovely dinner. We hung out afterwards. I quite liked him. It wasn't like...Casablanca or anything but..he was nice. I thought we'd definitely see each other again. Then, two days later, he sends me an email saying he's only been divorced for a two months and he's just not ready to date. Yes...well, had I KNOWN he had only been divorced for two months, I would have told him that but since he asked me out....well, I'm an idiot. So...never saw him again.
Since then, I've had a few more matches, a few more conversations, a few more emails and so far...nothing. I find the odd ones. For some reason, I get matched with outdoorsy types. My idea of the outdoors is to find a nice spot to write, sit there and then go home. Or, at the most, go for a lovely walk and then...go home. I don't like camping unless it's in a hotel. I'm not big on fishing because I'm dangerous both to others and to fishing equipment (I think I still owe my friend Eric a fishing rod or reel or something because I got a bit enthusiastic when fishing one time). I don't like riding a bike much unless it's an exercise bike. I fall off a bike. I get distracted way too easily and before I know it, I've hit something or someone.
Recently, on eHarmony, I've been matched with a man who likes to eat crayons, someone who uses about 50 exclamation points per email and someone who told me his favourite book ever was "The DaVinci Code." If you know me, you'll know "The DaVinci Code" is NOT the way too my heart. Trust me, I'm not writing them off for such shallow reasons; I'm trying to give them all a chance. Yet there comes a point when I have to admit I'm tired. Finding Mr. Right shouldn't be so difficult.
Then there comes a point where I have to admit it's me. I know what I want; someone who has his own life and doesn't mind me being solitary so I can write and have some alone time but not someone who disconnects and disengages completely so that he forgets I exist. I know, I know, it's probably impossible to find what I think I'm looking for. I probably don't really know. I suppose it's like my writing really; it just takes a little patience.
I have about a week left on my eHarmony membership. I don't think I'm going to renew. I need a break from feeling obligated to respond. It just feels like so much work and I can't help but think it shouldn't be quite so exhausting. For now, I think I'm going to proudly accept my Bridget Jones status of Singleton-ness and just go with the flow. If, in a few months, I have more energy back, maybe I'll try Match.com. I'll let you know.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Don't think I'm fickle; I like winter too. I think we've established that. Yet to live in a place that has an obvious change in season is nice. I missed this during my L.A. years. Here, it's an obvious transition from winter to spring; there, it's obvious only to those who know their flowers and trees and the blooming patterns of each.
I had a nice weekend; the wine tasting was very nice. I like wine tastings because you get to try wines that there's no way you'd be able to afford normally. Well, at least people like me. Let's face it, if I spend more than $7 on a bottle of wine, I'm splurging. That's not to say I don't like nice wine but my budget doesn't allow for the luxury so I'm happy with my Sutter Home and Woodbridge for now though it is a happy day when Boujoulais goes on sale. My naughty little secret is that I adore french wine. Yes, I know, I'm British, I'm supposed to be anti-French. But....they make great wine. And bread. And cheese and their pastries are pretty nice too....So, uh, yeah, about that anti-French thing...
I have since learned that I'm not destined to be a good fake-sick-day taker. Karma works against me.
Yet that's ok, really. I do have a lot of work to do. It's supposed to be another lovely spring day so I'll take a walk at lunch to enjoy it. Hopefully the day will go fast. If not, it'll go slow but it'll still be the same amount of time than if it went fast. It's just a matter of perception, I suppose.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
As I grew older, I realized that high school didn't mean that much, it was just a foundation for building who you'd become as an adult. I realized that those shadows had only been there in my imagination. I think the torture of being a high school student is that you don't have enough experience at being a person to know who you are yet. You can fool yourself, you can be on the verge of knowing but it takes a few more years before you've lived enough to really start becoming the person you're meant to be. I'm still close to both of those high school friends; they've become amazing people. I could choose to live in their shadows, even now. Yet what would be the point? We're seperate people; there's enough light for all of us.
That's what I like about being an adult. I think you do get a little wiser with age. You can look back with perspective. When you're living through high school, there isn't as much perspective. It's hard to see it because everything is so raw, everything is about you, even when it isn't. I used to think that everyone thought I was weird; I had no self-confidence. Now, many of those people I thought hated me are friends on Facebook and I've realized that they, too, probably had just as much as a struggle with their identity when we were at school. Nowadays, we pretty much know who we are and it's fun to learn about people all over again.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I'm looking forward to starting something new, to writing with the breeze blowing into my room, the smell of the springtime in the air. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I do have a point. Bear with me.
I had gone to bed fairly early. I haven't been sleeping well and I was tired. I had spent the evening watching House and 24 and resolutely tried not to be glued to my email and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award message boards. You see, yesterday was the date they were notifying the quarterfinalists. I had made a vow that I would be ok with the outcome because just the fact I had enough novels finished and edited that I could choose which one to submit was an accomplishment. I felt pretty good.
By the time I went to bed at 11 p.m. EST, ABNA administration had still not notified us. I decided that I'd wait until the morning. Then, at 3:02 a.m., I woke up to check because of my Blackberry chirping. It turned out that it was a spammer. At least I think it was; I didn't recognize the weird number attached to the request and anyone who knows me should know that at 3:02 a.m. I'm not really in the mood to chat on my Blackberry because, you know, I'm sleeping. It's quite a common thing to do at that time of night, believe it or not.
However, while I was groggily looking at my Blackberry, I decided to check my email. I had an email from ABNA. I skimmed it, thinking it was a rejection. Then after I'd closed it, it occurred to me that the word "happy' had been used. I was pretty certain that the ABNA administration wasn't sadistic enough to say they were happy to reject me so I read it again. Yes, ABNA administration is pleased to inform me I MADE THE TOP 500 quarterfinalists! Even if the 10,000 entry limit hadn't been reached, I had managed to get through on my pitch and then, when given to reviewers to read, they liked it. They even compared me to Neil Gaiman. If you read my blog regularly, you'll know I love Neil Gaiman's writing. He's my favourite writer aside from J.K. Rowling.
Needless to say, at the moment, I'm on cloud 9. I didn't expect this. My optimist glass is worn a little thin these days and I find myself relying on the pessimist glass instead. I think this means I get to throw that one away for a while and get a new half-full one. I actually submitted under a pseudonym as an experiment. I'm going by Sam Hoffmann, and my book is a fantasy entitled "Sleep". It's open to customer reviews so if you get a chance, pop on and read my excerpt. You can view it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001UG3CFS .
I don't think I have to tell you I'm in shock. I am. I'm also ridiculously happy. I am sad for those that didn't make the cut though; from what I read, there was some tremendous competition and I'm honestly flattered and honoured that my entry was selected. I'm sure there were some great entries that slipped through the cracks. I was one of those last year and I know that feeling of deflated disappointment. I refuse to be superior and say I'm better. I'm not. More than anything, I feel like I won a raffle; my number was picked and I won a prize. I think good writing is involved but one thing I've learned since I started seriously writing and trying to get published is that I'm one of millions of good writers who are struggling to get read.
I will say that it really is about perseverence. I've whined about giving up writing a few times in this blog but when it comes down to it, I don't think I can. It's such a rollercoaster of highs and lows. I never like rollercoasters until I'm on one. I usually panic, kick up a stink and make myself nervous the whole way through the line waiting to ride. Then, as soon as it starts moving, I realize I do like that adrenaline rush a lot; it makes me feel alive
For me, this is my very first success with fiction. Even if I don't go further, I got this far. I got a review of a book I wrote that made me feel like a real writer. I got compared to Neil Gaiman. To me, that's a success in itself. I won't lie and say I don't want to make the next round, I do. Badly. Yet if I don't, I have something to boost me when I'm down. I've said all along that when success does comes for me, I'll appreciate more because of my struggle to get it. It's true. At the moment, I can't figure out who to thank at the moment, God, my mum, my sister, my friends and the strangers who've read my blog and offered me words of support. So I'll thank all of them/you. It's that kind of day.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
At least that's what I'm hoping on Monday evening. If not, well, I'll keep trying. One thing I've learned after my last brush with rejection is that I need to stop dwelling on those and write anyway. Whether short story, helping with a research paper on Machiavelli or a new idea for a novel, as long as I can find enjoyment from putting down words on paper, I think that means I've already won. When those words start flowing and I don't have to think, there's nothing like it in the world. Maybe it's not really about winning contests or getting published. Maybe the big event is the excitement of letting my passion for writing out, to weave the stories they find as they leave my brain and hit the paper. Whether it is or not, I like the idea anyway so that's what I'm going to believe, no matter what happens with the ABNA contest.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Daylight Savings Time has ruined that pattern. Now when I wake up, it's still completely dark. When I woke up Monday morning, I seriously couldn't figure out why my alarm clock was going off. It seemed so early that I almost turned off the music that was trying to wake me up. Then I groggily realized that it was, in fact, time to get up. My body was not fooled. It knew that it was really only 5:45 a.m. but thanks to the conspirators of the universe, I had to go along with their sadistic plot to pretend it was an hour later.
I can still do that but I've been cheated. I have less time with my fireplace in the evenings and instead, that useful darkness is being forced on me in the mornings making it extremely hard to wake up. I'd like to be able to keep that darkness in the evenings a little longer, the way it used to be. I didn't like the change in time much then but at least it wasn't so dramatic, it evened out day and night a little better, rather like balancing just right on a see-saw so that it remains perfectly still rather.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
This morning, it's freezing. My temperature gauge on my car read 39 degrees. That's a big difference. Instead of strolling from my car and enjoying the warmth, I scuttled, trying to stop my nose from getting cold. My nose gets really cold and I hate it. Just one of those odd quirks I have.
Yet in a way, it's quite nice to have variety. There's something quite nice about unpredicability. It's always there to surprise and sometimes you need that. Same goes for variety. It'd be nice if it were Spring but I'm still not quite ready to relinquish winter. I've missed it too much.
I tend to be a creature of habit. I have my comfort zones and I rarely like to stroll out of them. Yet, occasionally, I will try something new just to see if I like it. For example, this weekend, while I was flying on my oh-so-relaxing trip, I read a borrowed copy of the graphic novel, Watchmen. It's not the first graphic novel I've read. I wouldn't be much of a Neil Gaiman fan if I hadn't read his Sandman graphic novels which are amazing. I've read a few others too just because I'm fascinated by how great writing can be combined with great art. I knew Watchmen was highly regarded yet I wasn't sure what to expect. I figured it'd be a quick read but as soon as I encountered the first text-heavy excerpt from the fictional Behind the Hood novel, I realized it was going to take a while. I did still manage to read it on the plane but, by the time I was done, my head was spinning. It wasn't like anything I've really read before.
Watchmen is not a superhero novel. It is, in fact, an anti-hero novel. The main characters are a second generation of a group of masked avengers who originally banded together to stop crime in a way that the police could not. This generation is not so naive. Except for two of the Watchmen who now work for the government, the rest have been forced to retire or go into hiding because of an amendment added by Nixon that outlawed masked heroes. Now these former superheroes are a group of bitter, nihilistic wanderers who can't quite let go of the past but are trying to find their place in a world that supposedly doesn't need them
My favourite character is the tragic Rorschach, a man who now believes the mask he wears is he real face. His mask is an Rorschach inkblot, seemingly alive as it changes shape constantly with the movement of his face muscles. He is the last true avenger, refusing to go into hiding and executing vigilante justice because he feels the world is a morally blank canvas and if he rids the earth of the scum, it might at least have a chance. He's called a sociopath yet he seems to feel so much that it's turned him inside out. He's violent and cruel but his moral compass will never let him betray the belief that the world is black and white and you are either against evil or against good. He's a fascinating man, the only one of the Watchmen who doesn't give up on trying to save the world one villain at a time.
I saw the movie last night in Imax. I wasn't sure what to expect. The graphic novel is so long and intense that I couldn't imagine how it'd be adapted. However, I must say, I was impressed and amazed at how well it was done. There were shots that were real-life exact replicas of panels from the novel. The nihilistic tone was there, the characters flesh and blood rather than inked figures on a page. I don't think it's a movie for anyone who doesn't like a dark and twisty story and definitely not for someone who is uncomfortable with violence because it is spectacularly violent, gory and slightly twisted. They left out a couple of the story lines which I think was to their credit. Yet they kept everything tight, respectful of the original material and added just a touch of humour with some of the music choices.
I read this weeks Entertainment Weekly review of the movie. I don't know why I do that, honestly. Rarely do I agree with the reviewers who seem to have put themselves on a pedestal and have lost complete touch with what makes a movie good. They have their own ideas but they seem to forget that movies are supposed to entertain and inspire thinking rather than to have thesaurus-heavy meanings. The Watchmen review was written by Owen Gleiberman who said at the end of the review:
[Director Zach Snyder] doesn't move the camera or let the scenes breathe. He crams the film with bits and pieces, trapping his actors like bugs wriggling in the frame...
Here's the thing: If Mr. Gleiberman really did read Watchmen, he should have felt the exact same way about the graphic novel. The novel doesn't let you breathe, it's so crammed with action, emotion, metaphor and horror that you feel like you need to put it down just to be able take a full gulp of air. And the entire time I was reading, I felt detached from it and I think that was the point. I loved it, I devoured it but I never felt like I was part of the story. Rather, I felt as though I were being warned. So what if the Cold War fear of the '80's never came to pass? It still could. It's not like nuclear weapons have become tame little puppies that just need a little love. They can still kill us in a second. It's not Russia anymore, it's the Middle East.
No, I think what Mr. Gleiberman fails to recognize is that Watchmen in movie or graphic novel format is not about the Cold War, it's about human nature. It is doomsday noir but that doomsday is a darkness that has spread through human nature until the American Dream realized has become the American Nightmare. It's a long-distance warning, something that doesn't seem possible because it's so other, so fictional that it doesn't seem plausible. Yet, like with every good work of fiction, if you peer closely, you'll see that the fibers that hold the story together are familiar, something that we see every day even if we don't want to.
If you're into fiction that is so dark that it sometimes makes your skin crawl, I highly recommend reading Watchmen. It will make you uncomfortable but, at the same time, it will make you think. Just because it has pictures doesn't make it one of the best contributions to literature that I've read in a while. Now I just need to buy my own copy.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Seeing this commercial got me thinking. We're living in the future, the shiny sci-fi future that people in the 1950's and earlier could only imagine. When I was watching that car commercial, I suddenly wondered how someone from the early 1950 would feel if they were flash-forwarded to 2009. Back then, they had those cute little cars with the wings on the sides and the most advanced thing you could do with them was step on the accelerator and try to go faster. It was a world in which teenagers used to pin one another with an ACTUAL pin, not some sexual metaphor that it would be today.
Then I do stop and think about the components that make up our lives today. I'm an internet junkie. Living in the 1950's would seriously put a damper on that and if I tried to get someone to invent it, I'd probably be locked up for being crazy. Can you imagine trying to explain to somone in 1950 that in 50 years time we'll be driving around in cars that can do everything but steer themselves (and I'm sure THAT's not far behind)? Can you imagine telling them that everyone has cell phones, even children, that you can order pizza on a computer, that you can order pizza through your Tivo? Actually, can you imagine explaining Tivo? Because then you'd have to explain satellite TV and how you can pick up channels from around the world. I, for one, would rather like to sit Mr. 1950's down in front of, say, TFC (the Filipeno Channel) and the show WoWoWee. Now, talk about a surreal experience. It's a variety show and sometimes they play games. My favourite is "Coca Cola" where they compete for cash and prizes by calling out squares on a screen and seeing what's underneath. Contestants get so excited and they shout "Coca-Cola!" so enthusiastically, they make you want to grab a Coke and shout with them.
My point is that so many of the things we use we take for granted. Technology is just there. We forget to view it as a wonder. Taking a mental trip back in time and then attempting to look at what we have today is a great way to appreciate how far we've come, for better or for worse.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Except things never really turn out as planned, do they?
Anyway, so I asked my GPS to take me to the Cincinnati airport. Stupidly, I think I must have hit the "shortest distance" option rather than the "fastest route" option. I ended up going through all sorts of scary Kentucky woods, up hills that were almost vertical and being scared to death I was going to tumble down a ravine. That was a little alarming. By the time I got to the airport, I made a vow to always choose "fastest route" on my GPS because I don't like wondering if I'm going to end up murdered by a chainsaw in some backwards of Kentucky merely because I thought seeing "Rent" in L.A. with two of the original cast members was a good idea.
Congratulations on merging. I think that's lovely. One slight problem I have though: I booked a flight on Delta. You put me on one Delta Flight and one Northwest. You would not let me check in online because your computer said they were two different airlines. Also, because both of you are housed in completely different terminals at most of the airports, it makes getting from one flight to another virtually impossible. Also...at this moment in time, I despise both of your airlines. A lot. Please make sure I get my frequent flier miles.
Thus, my first morning in L.A. was spent talking Verizon into letting me renew my contract a little early. Verizon does not like to do this. Fortunately, I managed to convince them that while I did, indeed, have one month left on my current contract it was only a month and wouldn't they rather lose a month of my contract that have me leave them for another phone company? They agreed. I now have a Blackberry Curve. I refuse to allow it to become a 'Crack'berry. I've seen 'Crack'berry addicts. While they have the world of the internet at their fingertips, they seem to forget that there's actual life going on around them and that sometimes, you just have to ignore the beeps and glow of the Blackberry's little red light that indicates yet another message is waiting. I am working on fighting this urge to check my new phone. It doesn't help that it no longer seperates my text messages from my emails and so whenever any type of message comes in, it alerts me. I think I need to figure out how to seperate the notifications. At the moment, it's got a lot of shiny icons and i don't really know what they do.
I will say that it was nice to see my old friends and haunts again, even briefly. Seeing "Rent" was nothing short of amazing. It's been a show I have loved for years but, I confess, as I grew older, I was a little worried I was losing touch with it and I wondered, just a little, why they didn't just pay their damn rent instead of singing about it. However, this production reminded me that "There's No Day but Today", the theme of the show. Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp were unbelievable. It felt historic seeing those two 'legends of Rent' perform their roles as though they were brand new to them.
Naturally, flying home didn't prove to be easy. My first plane tried to land during a thunderstorm. I watch too much Lost on TV. I half expected a sudden flash of light and then finding myself stranded on a desert island. I like that outcome more than crashing to my doom, splintered into a hundred pieces on the ground. That flight was horribly bumpy and a bit hairy for a few minutes. The second flight got stuck because of a computer issue. We were almost an hour and a half late taking off. Thus, I arrived at my apartment at 1 a.m.
Lessons learned from this trip:
I'm sure there are more lessons there but this blog is already long enough for one day. Of course, I just realized that I left my stupid Blackberry at home but, at least I know where it is this time. I think.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Seriously though, I loved that vest in spite of the fact that I'm sick to death of Castle already. I think it would be a great thing to own. It probably wouldn't look as good on me as it does on Nathan Fillion but I don't think that would matter.