Marvelous in My Monday: Que Será, Será

I am having an unabashedly awesome week.  (I’m sort of lumping in the past few days, as well as anticipation for the weekend, into it as well; not just saying that because Monday’s barely begun.) 😉  And this has been something of a rarity lately, so I really think we should commemorate it.

*cue streamers and confetti and strobe lights and music–anyone wanna make me a cake?*

I’m also not thinking in a very coherent-post-conducive manner right now (because I’ve been working a heckuva lot on Thaw as of late!  this is very good but it also means my writing brain is pretty fried!), so I think I’m going to break out the LISTS in order to detail why I’m having such an unabashedly awesome week.  (Is this bragging?  Is this shoving my happiness in your face when probably a lot of you are suffering the usual case of the Mondays and I’m sorry?  I hope not…this is just…chronicling.  A celebration.  It’s MARVELOUS.)

#1.  I have really awesome friends.

yayI’m not sure exactly why I’m just realizing this…I’ve known it for a while, certainly, but I guess I’ve never really fully internalized it.  Being around other girls my age, though, and hearing about spats and drama and huge fallings-out with their “friends” is definitely making me more appreciative.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a fight with a friend.  They’re all just too awesome.  And we all respect and love each other and are all really smart and have the same weird sense of humor and it’s just amazing.  I wasn’t aware of how rare this was until lately, and I am SO THANKFUL.  I LOVE YOU ALL, GUISE.

romione

One of my friends and I have recently started a weekly running thing (well–I say weekly–meaning it’s happened once and there are plans to do it again the following week) where we talk and we sort of run but there’s no pressure to really be speedy but we cover a lot of distance and last week we did 6 miles, which I think was actually the longest run of my life.  Granted, we definitely didn’t run for the entirety of it, but it was still very impressive to my mind.  And the talking and the repetitive exercise has been really therapeutic and happy-inducing and gah I love her.

#2.  Lately I have been conversing with an extremely smart dude with an overall pleasing aesthetic.  *giggles shyly and brings shirt collar up to hide face*

aww david tennant gif

#3.  I AM GOING TO SEE SARAH KAY PERFORM IN SEATTLE ON MARCH 1ST. (!!!)  If you don’t know–I’ll skip the shaming that you really deserve–Sarah Kay, as mentioned in this post, is my favorite spoken word poet ever and she’s pretty young and infinitely inspiring and her poem B was really one of the things that helped pull me out of my 7th-grade depression and disordered eating.  It is so beautiful and she is so beautiful and everything is sugar and rainbows and happiness because SHE’S PERFORMING IN SEATTLE AND I’LL ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO SEE HER IN REAL LIFE AND GET AN ADVANCED COPY OF HER BOOK AND THE ANGELS WILL DESCEND FROM THE HEAVENS AND CROON SWEETLY WHILE STRUMMING HARPS OF COTTON CANDY.

Her website is called Que Será, Será, which is both a pun on her name (Kay, Sarah, sera) and is a saying that, translated, roughly means “what will be, will be”.  (If you were alive in the 60s you probably know this, because Wikipedia informs me that it was also a pretty popular song back then, and one I think I’ve heard at least once on some Netflix show or other.)  I can’t express how much I love this.

(I knew there was a very good reason for not asking anyone to the Sadie Hawkin’s dance that night!  Good job, TGITO.  Such a prescient decision on your part.)

What’s your MARVELOUS today?

Advertisements

On Being Okay With Dying

The steps for writing a poem are as follows:

1.  Don’t write a poem for a year or so, only use previously written poems when people ask you for one, and wallow for that year in your inability to write anything quality.  Feel crushed.  Consider becoming a stripper to pay the bills. Buy only lettuce to try to channel and bask in that “starving artist” mentality.  Give it up cuz lettuce sucks and eat an entire pizza.  Feel briefly and primally satisfied.

2.  Stay up way too late one night so your brain is a mess of emotions and words and stanzas.  Read Dickens.  Turn out the light and listen to your bird make his way over to his perch in the darkness.

3.  The inspiration comes: it’s often just one line that just makes you want to take your muse by the shoulders and whisper sweetly

you are brilliant you are

 

(because apparently I can’t get through a post without including a Doctor Who gif)

4.  Your heart rate increases dramatically.  Gotta get the adrenaline going in order to make the trek across your room to notebook and pencil.  Much to the annoyance of your bird, you turn on the lamp again.

5.  Then you write.  It’s like how whittlers say the shape of whatever they’re carving is already in the wood, and they’re just coaxing it out–in writing a poem, you want to feel around in the corners for every scrap of imagery and line that’s supposed to be a part of it (I’m very spiritual about this okay) and make sure it all gets there somewhere.

Usually at this stage my mind is 90 miles ahead of my hand and sometimes words get combined or even whole stanzas.  Afterward I have to go back and disentangle them.  The important thing is just getting everything down.

6.  Stay up for another hour or so, heart still racing, unable to sleep because you’ve penned the Great American poem,  you feel it, and won’t your mother be so proud?  (It’s midnight now so you can’t rush to her and brandish it under her nose.)

It’s always much worse when you wake up, but, eh, it’s something.

Without further ado, I guess: the poem I wrote last night.

***************************************************************

On Being Okay With Dying

Maybe, someday, kids everywhere are gonna have to memorize your name

cramming first and last, middle initial, basic life stats

down their throats the night before History finals.

 

Maybe, someday, you’ll be a scorch mark in a family ledger

that obscure branch of the tree your nieces can’t quite remember

because, as far as they can recall,

it bore no fruit.

 

Maybe you’ll crawl into bed with someone some night

and to them your smile will taste like lemonade spritzers, watermelon sangria

and your laugh is like orchard workers tossing apples to each other from the tops of ladders

The way you move to turn off the lamp is peach brush strokes on a gray canvas.

 

Maybe you’ll start spending too much time in cemeteries

swaddling yourself in black and buttons and a scarf thrown over your mouth

walking with the crows and mostly trying to avoid one grave in particular

because you know how you’ll scuff your toe along the empty plot next to it, thinking,

Mine.

And who’s to stop you digging into it now,

folding earth around you like the cloak of a magician

performing his final disappearing act?

 

Instead you waltz, alone

slowly and gimpily

the way they never quite managed to teach you.

You can see your breath suspended in the chill

and you start to laugh

because you’re quite literally dancing on your own grave

and then you stop because you wonder if it’ll still be funny

down on the receiving end.

 

Maybe, someday, they’ll dig up your diaries

and you’ll be a relic, and a legend

a little girl in a checkered dress

imagined in sepia,

scented like yellowing old books and dust and sunbeams in an abandoned house.

Not watermelon sangria.

 

Maybe they’ll dress like you and your friends

at a theme dance at a middle school.

 

Maybe you’ll do extraordinary things with your life.

 

Maybe you won’t.

 

Maybe you’ll go down in textbooks.

 

Maybe you’ll go down quietly in the obituary section of your town newspaper,

circulation 800,

like a late-summer peach no one notices shuddering and bumping to the ground.

 

Maybe someone catches you before you bruise;

maybe something comes along a few days later

and leaves

with sticky whiskers and paws.

**********************************************

So…that’s all, folks.  As always, things are ©The Girl in the Orange, BUT if you luuurve (or hate?) things then any feedback or sharing (via reblogging, Twitter, Tumblr, email, shouting from the rooftop of your school gymnasium, etc) is GREATLY appreciated.  I’m pretty serious about this writing thang; every bit of constructive criticism/exposure helps.  Happy Sunday! 🙂

Snow Angels

IMG_0037It snowed last night! This marks our first official snow…all season.  Seriously; I think there was one back in November but it was barely a dusting and definitely didn’t stick.

Since I am working hard at officially being a teenager and therefore slept in until 10 (would have been longer if not for Mother Dearest and the small dog), I only got about an hour to enjoy it, but it was glorious.  A lively snowball fight took place, and after we were all done with that, I had the brilliant idea to make a snow angel.  Like, a 3D one–a literal snow angel, like a snow man but with wings.  It was a not-so-subtle ploy to erect life-size temporary monuments of Aziraphale and Crowley in the backyard, really.  😀  We got about this far into it

before heading in for lunch (which was delicious, in case you were wondering; I was starving and made a paprika-spiced hash brown with eggs and peppers and forgot a picture because I was a. starving and b. a bad blogger), and afterwards, Aziraphale had collapsed.  A fallen angel, you could say he was.  Now the yard is full of the sounds of snow melting and trickling down trees and trellises.  Not really packable anymore.  I feel like this is some sort of metaphor for the urgency of art, but mainly I’m just sad I didn’t get to deck snow people out in sunglasses and tartan vests and build a snow Bentley.  (It would have been far beyond my capabilities, but it would have been ineffably fun.)

On Skinny Characters

Bit of a tangential post today, but I’ve recently gone jean shopping (in other words: everybody run) and have been mulling over this topic a lot recently and finally think I have my thoughts organized into a sort of sense.

To put it bluntly, I am sick and tired of skinny characters in MG and YA novels.  Flashback to me as a bespectacled, nerdy, pudgy and enthusiastic wee young sprite: I was reading constantly, and books had an immeasurable impact on how I viewed the world and myself.  It was the predominate form of media I consumed, and, since I was in my highly formative years, everything left an impression.  The lack of certain things made an impression.  (Hem hem.)  I loved being able to relate to characters–while breaking boards at Taekwon-do class, I would pretend to be a favorite heroine because that made everything easier, and the characters I read were kind of my best friends.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t isolated or bullied (which was magical–I think I must have gone to a really good elementary school) and I had a few friends in the realm of reality as well, but, you know, they weren’t as portable.

So.  Skinny characters.  They’re like white characters, and straight characters, in that when the character’s weight/race/sexual orientation doesn’t have any bearing on the plot, it’s the default.  It’s not a thing you tend to notice if you’re not consciously scanning books for it, but to me it seems like a disturbing trend.  Excuse me while I go through the archives of my favorite MG books growing up as well as some popular YA books:

confetti girl

Confetti Girl (one of my favorites in late elementary/early middle school)?  “The tallest girl in my class, all legs.  Too tall and skinny for my jeans no matter what size I buy.” I have the exact opposite problem, Lina.  “Everything is high water.  That’s why I’m a sockio-phile.  I need something to hide my knobby ankles.”

divergent

Divergent?  Here we have Tris, our strong and fearless narrator, who is always described as small and fragile-looking (even if she isn’t emotionally).

the hunger games

The Hunger Games gets a pass because most people are starving to death.  So, like, that’s legit.  (The Fault in Our Stars gets the same pass.  *produces pass from pocket, shines it on shirt and hands it to John Green and Suzanne Collins*)

Wait wait wait, John Green isn’t entirely scot-free either…

LookingForAlaska

Here we have a MC who’s so scrawny he’s ironically referred to as “Pudge”.

hp7

Harry Potter?  Harry’s all right, he’s pretty normal weight, though this isn’t really fleshed out (no pun intended) in the books; Ron, however, is described as gangly and scrawny.  The weights of the female characters aren’t elaborated upon (except for perhaps Cho Chang, whom I think was called tiny and fragile? but I could just be making that up), but they are all played by skinny actresses in the movies.   (Though I can’t mistake movie casting for author’s intent, and hereby apologize to JK if Hermione was actually supposed to be bammin’ slammin’ bootylicious.)  They even changed the actress for Lavender Brown from the original casting after they found out she was going to be a love interest for Ron.

lavender brown

This was the biggest WTH??!! moment of the series for me.

Matched?  matched

As I was looking for these examples, I came across more and more and more…and it got me thinking.  Hey, you know, the YA book I’m working on now also has–you guessed it–a lanky, scrawny white teenage boy as the main character.  So why, as authors, do we do this?

Well, naturally, we can’t make our characters average weight.  I mean, they’re our darling little muffin misfits, and their appearance has to match somewhat.  Especially if they’re a girl, in a culture where women’s weights are closely scrutinized, we need to have them feel the tiniest bit self-conscious about it, even if it’s not really relevant to the story arc.  And I get that–it’s great to have characters that break the standard mold and that “misfits” in your reading audience can relate to.  But…why am I grasping at straws here to come up with examples of “misfit weights” from the other end of the scale?

Honestly, I think it comes down to the fact that in our culture, awful as it may be, being overweight or obese or even slightly chubby is seen as a weakness.  It just…is.  Yeah, we’ve got all these beautiful plus-sized models and most people would agree that bigger girls can be gorgeous too, but only if they go the extra mile and doll themselves up with posh clothes and heavy makeup, right?  Only if they rock that Rebel Wilson vibe and base their whole personality around the fact that they’re fat and they don’t care, right?  The simple truth is that as much as we may pretend, there’s not nearly as much skinny-shaming in the world as fat shaming.  Carved into one of the science lab benches today I read “[name withheld] is a fat ugly bitch.”  (Fat was underlined, yes.)  It’s an insult.

The same day I ducked into the bathroom and overheard an agonizingly stereotypical teenage girl conversation issuing from over by the sinks.  You can probably predict how it went–“OMG you’re sooooo skinny!” “OMG what are you talking about I’m like so fat today I don’t even know how anyone looks at me oh my god” “but OMG no you always look so skinny and perfect”…I wish I could say that was hyperbole.  “Skinny”, in our culture, is praise.  I probably don’t have to tell you to walk into any clothing store at the mall and look on the walls–you’ll see posters of emaciated girls with the golden sun streaming through their hair and a huge smile on their faces as some anonymous sexy-time guy friend holds their waist.  Ugh.  We’ve perpetuated this idea that skinny equals glamorous, skinny equals powerful and “in control”, skinny equals lovable and commendable.  “Fat”, on the other hand–when it should just be a physical description like anything else with no negative connotation–is what noncreative people use for insults, a word like a dagger to be drawn out at sleepovers and in locker rooms.  And I feel like these connotations have wormed their way into our books.  We don’t want our readers to view our characters as weak or ugly, even if the characters themselves feel this way, and so we align their physical appearance to match.

So.  Chop chop, society.  More fat characters, less fat shaming, less skinny-praising, less weight-judging.  More POC and sexually diverse protagonists would not go amiss either, but I digress.

Just my 2 cents on the matter.  What are your thoughts?  Has anyone else noticed this, or am I seeing things?

Surveys Are Like Sock Drawers.

So I really hope I’m not making this up, but I’m puh-retty sure I heard this one saying one time about how you can tell a lot about a person by the state of their sock drawer..?  (Confession: this might have been on Veggie Tales.)

I really like it when bloggers take or make surveys.  Yeah, you can learn a lot about someone through their regularly scheduled (or, in my case, wonderfully erratic) posting, but surveys pose the deep questions, man; they probe people for all these little delicious bits and pieces you would have never known about them otherwise.

sock drawer

So surveys are like sock drawers.  Just for all y’all, since I love ya so much, I took a trip into the dank abyss and snapped a photo.  Any psychologists in the audience?  I’m sure this is a veritable peep into my soul.  Let’s see, we have…a massive bag of leftover Halloween candy…socks that haven’t fit since I was 6…old bottles of nail polish, a beanbag, dirt, grime, pine needles, miscellaneous hodgepodge…a baby doll bottle…several dead spiders…

*clears throat nervously*

I’m really in the survey-taking kinda mood right now, but incidentally…I’m not, actually.  No pre-existing surveys, at any rate.  I just want to tell you guys random facts about myself, so I think I’ll pass it off under the guise of creating my own survey! and you guys can participate as well, either in the comments (answer your favorite questions!) or on your own blogs!  Link up!  Let’s have a party!

Favorite type of workout?  Oh, gosh and golly.  Why do I pick such hard questions?  I guess if I’m being totally honest, I like a leisurely but looong bike ride.  Walks are nice too.  Pretty scenic, none too aerobic.

Favorite type of cheese (or cheeze)?  Parmigiano reggiano, definitely.  It does contain rennet :(, but…I make the exception because…it’s delicious.

You’re on death row but they have allowed you to choose a most extravagant last meal.  What is it?  A hot fudge brownie sundae the size of my torso.

DSC_0130

Favorite variable to use in an algebra problem?  I must confess I’m pretty traditional.  I love x.  In fact it always really bugs me when a variable is t or y or something if there’s not already an x in the problem.  Please just stick with x.

Favorite outfit?  I’m mainly just including this question because I just got a really cute outfit from ModCloth with a pretty yellow cardigan, a typewriter-patterend tee, and wedges.  Look.

typewriter outfit

Hashtag selfie swag.  We’ll try to ignore how atrocious I am at taking selfies.  Also, from this rather awkward angle, you can’t tell that the paper coming out of the typewriter ironically says “laptop”, which is one of the best parts of the shirt.  Alas.

This is literally my only outfit that looks like…an outfit, and I normally haven’t got an ounce of fashion sense, so I’m really hoping someone else will take this survey and give me some inspiration.  Pretty please?

Favorite caffeinated beverage?  For me it really depends.  If I need a lot of caffeine then I’ll drink some coffee (black, I don’t mind), and I do like coffee, but tea offers so much more variety! I really like chai spice in the morning.

oooh tea is so dramatic

oooh tea is so dramatic

One of your favorite fictional characters has shown up on your doorstep, ready to take you on the adventure of a lifetime.  Who are they, and where do you go?  It’s the Doctor.  Preferably the tenth incarnation, though I wouldn’t say no to 9.  I suppose we go to Barcelona. 🙂

allonsy

Any tattoos you’d like?  I feel like this says a lot about a person.  I am actually DYING to come of age and have full autonomy over my body and write sompin’ pretty on it.  (Please do not suddenly go into cardiac arrest, grandparents reading this.)  I’d like a few, actually, probably on my back, literary ones; lines from poems that speak to me and that come back to me a lot or inside references to favorite works.  After reading Good Omens, I really want “ineffability and all that” somewhere, like along a collarbone.  Some Sarah Kay lines, too, like “this world is made of sugar” (from one of my favorite spoken word poems of all time, B.)  And I absolutely PROMISE to the adults in my life that I won’t be rash about this; I think my rule will be that if I still love a line or a quote as much as I did when I first read it 1-2 years later, then it can go somewhere on my person. 🙂 I hope to gradually amass a little collection of my favorite words.  I’ve given this a good deal of thought, and yes I KNOW they will be with me forever and I KNOW I will become elderly and they will sag and spot but HOPEFULLY only people I really trust are going to be seeing my back when I’m in my 70s-80s and onwards.  ALSO, if I get really fit and well-toned before getting said tattoos, it will be a good incentive to keep the muscle definition, since if I let it turn back into flab the tattoos will warp. 😉

(I’m not a huge fan of needles or blood [gah, blood especially], so this is an odd little yearning on my part, but incidentally I am a fan of meaningful and beautiful body art.  Huh.  Who woulda thought…)

Hair color?  Would you ever dye it?  Chop it all off?  Brown.  Some people say it’s blonde but then I look at them funny.HAIR! 004have chopped it all off before!  Well, not all off, but, you know, most of it.HAIR!! 005

I don’t know about dyeing it.  I’m really envious of those lovely ladies who are rockin’ blue or red locks, but, deep down, I know I’m not meant to be one of them.  It would be cool to have orange hair but not very socially acceptable and I am not deep enough into don’t-give-a-crap mode to go for it.  I am thinking about getting highlights once it gets longer, though.

Favorite smell?  Just-baked brownies, vanilla extract, old books.  (That was three.  Whoopsies.)

DSCN3806.jpgFavorite sound?  Laughter (certain people’s especially), Citrus whistling (as long as it’s not the middle of the night), little kids with adorable lisps reading aloud, pages of a book turning, pens scratching paper, marbles rolling across a hardwood floor, meadowlark song.  That was too many.  Whoopsies.

DSCN3526

For anyone interested in taking the survey themselves, here are the questions, in order:

  1. Favorite type of workout?
  2. Favorite type of cheese (or cheeze)?
  3. Last meal.
  4. Favorite variable to use in an algebra problem?
  5. Favorite outfit?
  6. Favorite caffeinated beverage?
  7. One of your favorite fictional characters has shown up on your doorstep ready to take you on the adventure of a lifetime. Who are they, and where do you go?
  8. Any tattoos you’d like?
  9. Hair color? Would you ever dye it? Chop it all off?
  10. Favorite smell?
  11. Favorite sound?

Also, you gotta show us your sock drawer.  😉  No straightening up beforehand, that’s cheating.

A good breakaway from the monotony of “what’s your dream vacation?”-type surveys, methinks.  🙂  I’m really dying to know what everyone’s favorite variable is.

Back to the Future

We’ve been having to take a lot of career aptitude tests online in Health lately.  The grown-uppy-types are very concerned that our lives have no apparent direction or focus (they are right on this account) and that online aptitude tests where you check boxes and mark bubbles will somehow help direct us and manifest our destiny (woefully wrong).

Apparently I should be a stand-up comedian.  *winks and smiles while the ba-dum-dum of drums and cymbals plays behind*  That or a naturopath, but, you know.  I really can’t see myself ever pestling herbs and prescribing clay masks for ailments.  I don’t doubt its veracity–nature is good, yay nature, I am very pro-nature–it’s just not my cup of herbal tea.

I’ve decided to post about my increasingly nebulous future simply because it’s started to feel all the more nebulous as of late.  I’ve always been told I have years and years to figure out what I want to do with my life, and now suddenly I…don’t.

I’m forced to face the fact that the ONLY THING in this world that I am very, very good at, and that I can see myself doing happily for the rest of my years, is creative writing.  It always has been, and I’m pretty sure it always will be.  And this is kind of a hard lot to draw.  Every day, even during said career aptitude tests and college education classes, I’m bombarded with reminders that careers in the arts are notoriously fickle in regards to financial security.  And, ermghurughmrrm.  As someone who relishes planning and security and self-sufficiency, this doesn’t really sit well with me.  BUT I CAN DO NOTHING ELSE.

And then there’s the whole question of c*llege??

I have never before in my life questioned the fact that I was going to college.  It was handed to me on a platter at birth the same way things like “the world is round” and “you have ten fingers” were.  But…I’ve spent a long time researching the pros vs cons of obtaining an MFA in creative writing.  Most successful authors, even those with such degrees, seem to be of the mind that it’s not really worth the money. And I might be on the same page with them.  (Haha, literary pun, haha.)  For me, at least–I don’t want to sound snobbish–creative writing has always been more about intuition, inspiration, practice, and trial and error than algorithms or plot diagrams or instruction.  Definitely, I think the environment of a college literary program would be inspiring, and it definitely would be helpful to be around other likeminded individuals for feedback and midnight NaNoing sessions (and possibly meeting cute college writer guys, ya never know).  But…maybe it’s actually more helpful to me to read a lot and toodle around on my own?  The problem is I’m also deeply engrained with the stereotype that if you don’t continue onto college, you become a reckless, rampaging teenage delinquent set loose on the world with no direction in life, even though there are plenty of wonderfully intelligent people who never continued to higher education and are still huge forces of awesome in this world.  (One of those links is not like the other.) Also, it may be that if I do not go to college I will hole up in my apartment or whatever and order all my groceries online and never see the sun and never socially interact again because it’s so much easier.

I just…I dunno, guys.  At least I still have a few more years to think on this.

Anyway…it does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.  What am I doing now to work on my writing?

  • I’ve made it to my school competition of Poetry Out Loud, which is exciting and fun and terrifying.  If I win, which is unlikely, seeing as I’ll be going up against kids four years older than me and vastly more experienced, I think there’s a regional competition, then state, then nationals.  Granted, this isn’t working on my writing at all–it’s actually one of the first times I’ve ever performed a poem not my own–but it’s still working on my stage presence and spoken word skills.  (I also love spoken word.  I would not be disappointed in the slightest if my future career ended up focusing more on performance poetry than other types of writing.)
  • Novelling has been somewhat stalled lately.  Remember Thaw?  I gave that up during the summer to take a new idea out for a spin because I am a NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY GIRL WITH COMMITMENT ISSUES.  Luckily, though, I realized that that new idea was actually way too complicated and it never progressed into novel-shape.  I’m not saying I’ll never do anything with it, but I realized it’s going to take a huge amount of finesse and concentration and dedication to flesh out the idea into something that doesn’t seem too bizarre, and, as I am a lazy sack of caffeine and societal angst, that doesn’t sound too appealing right now.  So I am back to Thaw.  It’s around 60K words at the moment.
  • Writing is gradually getting less dark!  Yay!  Remember when I was having this problem?

tumblr_inline_mthr9h93F81qi7ifk(The last two years of my writing life…)

I’m not sure why this took me so long to realize, but the only way to make things less fiery-destruction-y was not to force it.  My older writings were reflecting my mood at the time, and that’s been getting better this year.  And the dark writings weren’t bad–they were just a different side of me.  It’s good to write multiple moods, since everyone experiences multiple moods.  I still get a kind of twisted pleasure out of writing from the blackest pits of my soul, but I feel the need to do that less often. 😀  I’m slowly mastering the art of whimsy, and I like it just as much.  I’m learning balance.

  • Voice is developing!  Before it tended to be really malleable–as in, I would read Jane Austen and for the next few days I would write like Jane Austen (or a shoddy teenage version of Jane Austen), then I would read a shoddy blog post and would not be able to pull myself from the depths of the shoddy-writing mindset until I read something breathtakingly clean and articulate.  My current mood or mindset would influence the way the words came out a lot. But now, looking back on Thaw, especially, I’m starting to see some voice consistency and development of unique character voices…and I like it.  I’m not so critical of myself now, with some distance between myself and the novel, and I’m liking what I’m writing.  It’s really cool.

If you stuck with me through this entire post, thank you so much!  I had, um, a lot of thoughts.  I hope you all have a FANTASTIC 3-day weekend! In the comments: anyone know any really good quotes regarding THE FUTURE?

SURPRISE

Sorry.

Sorry.

Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.   Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry. Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.  Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.Sorry.

I think that’s exactly 100 sorry’s–not counting that last one just there–but, well, there’s no way I’m going back and checking.  If you count and come up with another number, prize* for you!

So, ergh.  I know this thing died went into hibernation, and I know that was a bad move on many accounts and I also know that it was entirely my fault.  I HAVE NOT POSTED SINCE SEPTEMBER 15TH LAST YEEAAR I MEAN THERE IS OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS.

The abbreviated version of the story is this: I actually did have a lot of ideas for posts and such that I would sit on, and then try to go about compiling, but something about the last few months (new school? insecurity?) let my inner perfectionist take an extreme hold and really start to stifle my…everything.  I couldn’t write a post or snap pictures to put up here without them being absolutely perfect, and obviously that was never going to happen, no matter how many hours I spent slaving over writing and photo and video editing.  Hence, no posts.

I’m going to do something insane here and not edit this draft once I finish typing it up.  It’s kind of nerve-wracking to think about, actually (ugh, I am so completely Type A), but it’ll probably be good for me.  Actually, if I want to jump back into this whole blogging thing, which I do, this is probably going to be the only way I’ll have time to do it–maybe I can type up a few posts per week, but I’m certainly not going to pour as much time into tweaking and nitpicking as I’m used to.

THERE IS TOO MUCH HOMEWORK.

(If you can count up the number of times I’ve ever complained of that on here, I will actually legitimately send you a $15 gift card or something.  We can work something out.)

Actually, I’m on winter break right now, and it’s New Year’s Eve, so it feels like a good time to jump back into this.

I know running TGITO was A Good Thing.  It gave me writing and social marketing and photography practice, it probably made me A Better Person, and it definitely helped me Feel Better About Myself.  (This is hard for perfectionists, you’ll have to understand.)  I let it bottom out, and that was A Bad Thing.  I don’t really have a constant in my life, something that always makes me smile and that I do just for me, anymore.  I needed to cut off blogging for a few months because it was ceasing to be that thing, instead becoming very stressful and anxiety-inducing and altogether just too much effort.

Once you hit high school you turn into a lazy sack of caffeine and societal angst.

I wasn’t warned.

Anyway, though, in spite of it all, I’m back.  I took a long enough hiatus that it feels a bit nostalgic to open up WordPress again, and also utterly terrifying.  My inner perfectionist is wringing her hands over the fact that this post serves really no point except to make a dramatic reentrance, but I suppose she’ll have to learn to be okay with that.  I definitely want to continue to blog!  I’m not exactly sure what I’ll start posting about from now on, but we’ll get into that later. 🙂

It’s the new year.  (Speaking of, Happy New Year, everybody!!)  365 blank pages that I’ll really try hard not to let whoosh by unfilled like 2013.  I don’t want to proclaim any grand resolutions here, for obvious reasons (namely the flaws of human nature), but I do want to keep writing and posting and I do want to approach the coming year with some sort of achievable goal, instead of just waking up every day and winging it (which as it turns out doesn’t really work for me).

2014 promises to be magical.  Justin Bieber is retiring from music.  Peter Capaldi has already argued with Steven Moffat over the sexism in Doctor Who scripts.  I’m sportin’ some pretty awesomesauce new glasses.  The little ponytail in my hair doesn’t look quite so awkward now.  I’m learning how to navigate the murky waters of the high school social scene, and hellyes I’m flubbing up a lot along the way, but learning is never a bad thing.  Plus my birthday was 22 days ago, so I’m rocking a brand-spankin’-new age to take for a spin and mess it up as much as possible in what is hopefully a joyous and eclectic explosion of orange.

Also I’m back.

Have a lovely day! 😀

(You should leave a comment on this post if you’re reading it, just cuz I feel kinda lonely and hope everyone didn’t forget about me. 🙂  I don’t care at all what it says.  Resolutions, the color of your pinky toenail, your favorite liquid to consume, your innermost secrets, musings on the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle.  Really.  Just write a thing.  I love you.  Thanks bunches.  Best wishes.)

*prize may or may not be only my eternal adoration and gracious admission of defeat

#ThrowbackThursday: Stereotyping Teenagers

The following post was originally published by moi on September 12, 2012.  I felt the need to bring it to the surface again temporarily, just for a breath of fresh air, because it’s currently pretty relevant to me.  From the magical old library, I “checked out” a book on teen runners entitled Finding Their Stride.  It looks good and inspiring and motivational and all that–I’ll probably love it to bits–but I have a problem with what’s on the front jacket flap:

DSCN4071

DSCN4074Granted, it does say “improbable” rather than “impossible”, and it does say that such teenagers are “not unique”, but the fact that this teen stereotype is still so pervasive it needs to be dissuaded on the flap of a book cover irks me.  It’s just…I don’t like stereotyping anyone, I don’t think it’s at all beneficial and it really bugs me when adults discount an entire age group made up of millions of complex individuals as “slackers”, “delinquents”, etc.  So, have fun reading my rantings below!  😀  I promise I’ve got a much more “fun” post in store for tomorrow!

*********************************************************************

My parents came home from my school orientation last week with a paper written by one of my teachers, trying to explain the changes that we’re going through as adolescents and reminding them that these years “are marked with increased independence, clearer personal opinions, greater capacity for abstract thinking, and sometimes illusions of adulthood.  Do not be fooled.”

I’m going to try to avoid the valley-girl oh mah God monologue here and not say “Like, isn’t it like soooo uncool that adults, like, think they’re like better than us?  Like OMG, right?”  Because that would be very counterproductive to my goal in this post, which would be to present myself as a mature, insightful, thoughtful, optimistic individual who most likely is a tad younger than you.  It just frustrates me when adults do this sort of thing.  Maybe it is my hormones speaking–there’s no real way for me to be sure–but right now I would like to be treated as someone, not just a teenager.  I fully understand (and appreciate!) the guidelines set for me by my parents, which include but are not limited to internet hour restrictions, allowance restrictions, what I can and cannot wear out and about, and permissions regarding electronics (Facebook accounts, cell phones, Skype, etc.).  What frustrates me is when adults talk to other adults about teenagers, trying to pretend they understand exactly how we operate.  They were teens once too, I get that; but I also believe that adolescence is a time period marked by so much strong emotion that it’s really impossible to get a clear handle on a teen’s thoughts at any given moment.  (I’ll give you a heads-up: half the time we’re not even sure what we’re thinking!)  I have difficulty believing that adults really remember every experience they had as a teenager, and I think the experiences they do remember are pretty–well, crappy, and that’s why when they hit 30 or so they like to laugh off the struggles that we’re going through with a wave of their hand as they sigh “Those teenagers.  What are you going to do with them?”  I think that they are made so uncomfortable by their memories of adolescence that as they watch teens struggle with the same exact things they went through, they like to look down on us and pretend that they were superhuman during puberty, that they just glided through it all without any of those random mood swings or strong opinions or zits or any of the unfortunate realities of this age.  Adolescence is very much the elephant in the room.  No one really likes to admit that it sometimes stinks worse than my feet after a run.  (Sorry for that visual–I just didn’t want to put anything about moldy cheese or rotten eggs in there.)

So, really, is it too much to ask of adults to just treat me like…me?  I am all too willing to admit that, yes, I am less mature than you are, I am not as skilled in the art of life, sometimes I really screw things up, and, no, I can’t “use the force” as you probably can.  I know I’m pretty dang naive when it comes to…most stuff.  But, I am not so naive that, as I type this, I’m not wondering what my reaction to this post will be twenty years down the road, when I look back at my crazy teenage rantings through the eyes of an adult.  Maybe I’ll laugh at this, and realize that my arguments were baseless, that it only gets harder as you grow and it’s only natural for adults to want to pretend they understand what’s going through teens’ heads at a time period where nothing is really certain.  If that is the case, I apologize profusely for this post, and all you skilled-in-the-way-of-life beings reading it can just ignore it. 😉  Sometimes, though…I just would like to be able to break free of the stereotypical “teenage” mold and just be The Girl in the Orange, not a slacker or a delinquent or a valley girl or goth or punk or whatever.  Just me.  That’s all I’m asking.  Please respect me for me, and remember that sometime in the not-too-distant future I’ll be out of the house and experiencing the other side of this rant.

On Sprites and Body Image

Remember when I talked about my year-long bird-training project last year? (Yeah…that went so well…)  Well, every student in my grade did this, and at the end of the year, every student had to give a presentation about their project. A lot of people created RPG video games.  (I think that’s what they’re called.  You know me, oh-so-knowledgable in the field of gaming; MMORPG looks like a weird onomatopoeic snort to me.)  During his presentation, one of these game designers said something that really resonated with me.  Yes, this was over three months ago–I’m not sure why I’ve sat on this idea for such a long time and deigned to post it–saving the topic for a rainy day, perhaps?  (If that was the case, I shouldn’t have waited this long.  It’s Washington, for cryin’ out loud…)  I think it was probably more along the lines of lack of conviction in what I would be saying.  My knees and the ensuing weight gain have made it tough to really have a positive body image lately, especially when I’m around the horserace-sleek cross-country team (no one tell them I described them as horses) or with some of my friends.  A lot of my friends are just naturally skinny.  They don’t starve themselves, think about it all that much, or even eat a particularly healthy diet.  😉  It’s just their physiology–so, good for them!

Bad for me.

As you guys know (since I tell you about it fairly regularly!), I’ve always been on the heavier side.  Being woefully vertically challenged doesn’t help matters.  And yeah, now that I can’t exercise as much or as hard as I would like to for fear of reinjury/stabbing pain, I’ve outgrown even my curvier frame and should probably nix with the desserts.  (Which I have been doing!  Saving my treats up for a big splurge on Friday, a la Carrots n’ Cake) Smile  And living in a location and zeitgeist obsessed with thinness, this is hard on me sometimes.  Probably because of my perfectionistic tendencies, my lack of ability to say “What the heck, no one’s judging me!” and let lie.  Body image (and “face image”, for that matter, if such a thing exists) has never been exactly one of my strong suits—but, back to RPG-guy’s quote!  I promise this all relates somehow!

Describing the creation of the characters in his video game, which are called “sprites”, RPG-guy (who will be referred to thusly henceforth for privacy reasons) said something along the lines of this:  “The basics of creating a sprite are this: first you choose the physical body for the sprite, the attributes and combat skills, general appearance, et cetera, and then you design a personality for the sprite—whether they’re hostile or docile, smart or…not-so-smart…skilled at forgery—you get the idea.  That’s really what’s going to determine how they navigate the game, how they get out of tight spots, once you program them into the storyline.”

Wow, you ask, how can this quote possibly relate to body image?  It doesn’t—at all—really, except I have this habit of chronically overthinking every single message my brain receives, and I was able to dig deep enough to find some metaphorical resonance within this. Open-mouthed smile

This was the quote that made me realize exactly what my body image problem was.  It wasn’t that my body was too big or didn’t look like everyone else’s—it was that I had a problem separating my sprite’s appearance from my sprite’s personality, mentally.  Body shame doesn’t result from a fear that people are going to judge our bodies, but a crazy irrational insecurity, a genuine terror that people will judge our personalities, our selves, based on the exterior we present to the world.  Up until this point, I had a definite problem realizing “body” and “self” are two totally different things!  I really like this quote from the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, (not that I’ve ever read the book, but it’s a pretty famous quote):

“You don’t have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.”

So why do so many women (and men, for that matter), forget to take this into account?  Your sprite’s appearance might determine how easily it shoulders a bow, but it says absolutely nothing about how slyly it can negotiate a dangerous deal. Smile  (Just stick with the RPG theme here—I’m on a roll.)

Most importantly, you actually have the power to change your personality, though it takes work.  If you decide you’d like to be kinder, more perseverant, or mature, eventually you’ll be able to become that person you’ve always imagined yourself to be.  While you do have the power to change your body, to some degree, there’s a certain max-out point—the Sprite-creator in the sky, if you will, determines the basics of how you will look.  And most of us, given the choice, would probably gladly trade in the hand we were dealt for a different figure.  But we forget to recognize the most important part of our sprite Smile–the personality, all the wonderful memories and talents and kindness crowded up into our skulls.   Don’t overlook your skill with forgery! Winking smile You are not your body.  Your sprite is two happily independent parts that happen to be in a mutually beneficial relationship; the physical exterior of the sprite is simply the container for the personality, how the sprite is going to navigate in the virtual game world.  Of course, you can always choose to be proud of your sprite’s appearance, further enhancing said mutually beneficial relationship, but please, sprites everywhere, remember your programming.  You’re part of this convoluted storyline for a reason, and your role in your preprogrammed Valiant Quest has nothing to do with your appearance.  Have fun discovering what said Quest is.

 

Safe Haven

In lieu of a proper Poemography post this week (because those take WORK, and I’m kind of not willing to expend that right now #sorryimnotsorry), I’m going to spare a few minutes (or thirty) here rambling about magic places.  Magic, safe places.  Enchanted places.  Wonderful places.  Wondrous places.  See?  Ramble.

First there is the library.  There isn’t a card system, or any overdue fines, or any computers or organization system or even librarians, unless you count the moths and mice.  There’s a short, winding footpath that you take to get there.  There’s an American flag flapping outside.  This is the building where my parents married, and there are antlers affixed to the wall inside.

DSCN3796

It’s made of logs, like everything here.  There’s a few decrepit washing machines inside, a bucket of ping-pong paddles and balls but no table, and cushy moth-eaten daybeds.  There’s tables to be rolled out come the 4th of July, when everyone brings their famous Jell-O Salad Spectacular and their most festive garb.

There’s a typewriter with no paper or ink, on a table next to a hibernating Shop-Vac, for the kids to bang around on.  Including this kid.

DSCN3809

DSCN3810

Typewriters thrill my soul.

And this is the inside of the library.  It’s nothing much, but it’s everything.

DSCN3799

DSCN3803

DSCN3805

DSCN3800

DSCN3801

DSCN3802

DSCN3806

I found a Copyright-2006 book there today, which is an immense rarity.  Mostly these are 1950’s-70’s, at the latest.  They’ve all acquired that lovely and acrid and wholesome yellowing-book smell.  And mostly they aren’t literature books, but they’re books with character, books with backstory and history and so many varied noses inside of them, all laid out and free for the taking.  It’s like a home for misfit books, and I want to make all of them my babies.

Honestly, the fact that places like this still exist are what kindles my hope for the future.  Pictures can’t really capture the aura of the free-for-all run-down library.  It’s magic, and mysterious, and historic, and lovely.

Then there is the dock.  Nothing actually docks on this dock.  It’s T-shaped and floats in the middle of the oh-so-creatively-named Second Lake.

DSCN3731

And it’s rickety and creaky and bobby and old and overall not too structurally sound but you step onto it and suddenly you are The Focal Point of the World.

DSCN3755

DSCN3732

DSCN3742

There’s just no other way to describe it.  It puts you in your place.  You are small and the world is huge and beautiful and amazing and you better galdang appreciate that for the brief time you spend here.  And it’s quiet.  The kind of quiet that you literally can’t imagine after living in a city.  Sometimes people fly-fish, and then there’s that soothing skimming of the line, and there’s the trill of bird and the creak of the planks, but it’s silent.  In a way that really should be eerie, but is the exact opposite.  Peaceful.  Very peaceful.

DSCN3757

DSCN3750

DSCN3751

I meditated on it.  Which, really, what??  I know; not usually my thing.  I’m pretty high-strung and, to be honest, I revel in being high-strung.  It keeps the ideas flowing and the mind bouncing around so as not to dwell on any one thing for an inoptimal length of time.  But it felt like The Thing To Do, and kind of renewed my faith that there is A Thing “out there”, regardless of what that Thing may be.

Tepee (my cabin village) has always been my safe haven.  You can’t feel sad, or stressed, or pressured here.  There’s no one here you don’t know and there’s nothing really disturbing the peace and most importantly there’s no Society.  I blame the constructs of Society for a lot of life’s daily stress and problems, which is maybe not the most healthy or proactive attitude to have about life, but…being here just reinforces that belief system.  Here, a boy from another state that we didn’t even know randomly dropped by our cabin last evening to ask if he could play with Little Bro, because he’d seen him in the yard earlier.  Here perfect kid strangers strike up impromptu baseball games with one another—here even I can bond with someone over fort-building and minnow-grabbing.  I don’t have to be a high-performing teenage academic or any of the other labels that are inevitable slapped on me—I can revert to Wild Child status in its most innocent form, and romp in the stream at the base of a waterfall.

DSCN3787

Special-looking toes, grimy sweatpants, and all.

This is my safe haven.  It’s wonderful here.

DSCN3754