Thursday, December 30, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
- George MacDonald, The Wise Woman, or The Lost Princess.
One upon a time I was told that if I went looking for Santa in the living room, where the tree sparkled with electric lights, I would only catch a glimpse of his red coat before he and the presents evaporated like morning dew. I'm pretty sure I was told other things (I remember something disjointed about a Christmas deer). Funny how the most interesting tales come from warnings.
I won't talk about what treasures popped out from underneath the wrapping paper this morning. But I will say that something exciting, and maybe trivial, happened while me and the family took our traditional stroll through the Magic Kingdom.
We ate at Cosmic Rays; I watched enviously as my dad and brother ate burgers with guacamole sauce under the bun. I chewed on my own plain burger and was secretly jealous (maybe I need new glasses so I can see the menu better. How could I miss that?). The weather windy and sunny at the same time. Children were more violent than usual... maybe it's the promise of toys they are given by their short-tempered parents. The promises I heard were made under exhaustive circumstances. Empty, I'd say.
But it seems as if Santa had one more surprise for me. The daytime Christmas parade was passing through Frontierland and we were taking the shortcut along the boardwalk. Just over the trees, I could see the colorful floats roll by; the sky was full of ribbons and snowflakes and I got painfully excited when I recognized the float with the princes and princesses. I grabbed onto my mother's backpack so she could lead me blindly forward (our path was still jammed) and stood on my toes and looked.
I managed to keep my footing and sighed as we continued along. The rest of the day went very well, and, when we arrived back home, I dished out some leftover green bean casserole and went looking for proof of my well-endowed (hair-wise) prince. Well, heh heh, I guess he's new. I haven't found anything yet. But I'll remember to keep a look out next time. If his appearance is a gift, then that means that it has to stay long after this magical wintry day is over.
Have a great CHRISTMAS!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
My idea of a wonderful afternoon is to sit on a large, soft couch. The ethereal music of ice cubes clinking glass fills the quiet room. A pile of well-loved library books slowly slide into the dip between cushions. I'm cozy in a cardigan or woolly sweater, barefoot, and balancing a tiny laptop in my lap. Yes, yes, the laptop is always involved, it seems. But it's consistent warmth and gentle hum, like a long sigh, adds to the familiar atmosphere.
You may not believe me, but I'm a bona fide Gemini. And it makes sense - I make sense - as a child of the star twins until we crash headfirst into this issue. I like to settle into my space. I feel that when I am surrounded by what inspires me (via posters, knick-knacks, etc), I can tap into those creative zones that help me keep writing. While my astrological genes say I should be fluttering from party to party, I find that a trip to the outdoor mall makes my cheeks glow with fresh adventure.
As much as I love the tranquility of home, I still love to explore new places and find little spots to sit and think and write. I used to have a few I would wander to in undergraduate school. I remember a grassy field next to the music building that overlooked the lake. There was also a leafy hill that sloped down from the side of the science building - if you sat at the top, you could peek in through a set of windows to see a lab below.
As I started my graduate journey, however, I have spent most of my time on campus in my office. When I'm there for a good few hours, grading or researching or just rocking back and forth in my chair, the fluorescent lights start to burn and the walls of the pumpkin-colored cubicle shrinks. Why don't I get out and explore the miles of university land, sprawling and endless compared to my small college? Well, I need a computer. All the time. Emails plop into my inbox like raindrops every few minutes and work doesn't slink into the shadows for later. It's always there. I figured out that simply allocating time away from the computer was not going to work: these school days are rarely that predictable. So, instead, I would purchase a companion who would free me from my office, but would allow me to keep up with steady flow of work. This pal: a netbook.
The Dell Inspiron mini was officially born today. This afternoon, when I dropped my duffel bag and Christmas presents for the family onto the tile floor, I saw the cardboard box waiting. Yay, no one opened it while I was away. We gathered around and watched it come to life. I stuck a big sticker on the front; the sad animals seem to be saying, "Take care of the environment, please." Very compelling. The pictures I've posed thus far feature it: I named him Roppongi.
Okay, so technically, Roppongi is the name of a train station and a whole district in Tokyo, Japan. But this netbook is named after the character, a personification of the district and station in a show called Miracle Train. If you have never seen it, I sincerely recommend it. Especially if you don't watch anime often. It's a show about a mythical train that helps lost ladies. It's very sweet and funny. Check out episode 1 here. And don't forget to turn on the closed captioning (CC). I know I did, haha.
Left: Roppongi. Right: My Roppongi.
So with Roppongi happily by my side (I'm thinking even lapdog. Very odd), I am embarking on my mission to become a nomad on campus. I don't want to say that, at the end of my three years, I had never stepped foot outside of my office. While the air is cool, I'm going to enjoy each change of scenery that I encounter. It's going to be great.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I seem to have a penchant for commercials (Refer to my Mr. Peanut post) and so I admit with no shame that, yes, a mere commercial sparked this sense of wonder within me. Again.
Why commercials? I have a theory. Commericals = flash fiction. Do you see it? They share the same power. Both are short on time. Both can leave an imprint. Either you can flash a bunch of numbers and facts with a plainly dressed woman with white teeth or... you can take the opportunity to hit your viewers hard. Create not just a good ad, but an unforgettable story; something that still lives inside the viewers mind long after the program comes back on.
The commercial this time is for the Kia Optima 2011. Now, I usually hate car commercials. I'm not impressed with grinning families piling into shiny cars. I yawn when the sleek racers traverse various terrains. But this is no average car commerical. Here's a bar of screenshots:
A train full of animal-headed gentlemen and a pretty girl? Ooooo. Here's the commercial in its entirety:
Cool, right? I'm in love (of course I am - did you see the diorama?).
It's nostalgia alright. A pure dose of it. But after my head stopped spinning, I noticed that there was something familiar about it. Boy is in his room, ready to fall asleep, and then he goes soring off somewhere in his bed. Hm. Okay. Just like the animated movie, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989).
So what is with this image of the sleeping child going on a moving journey through odd, magical worlds? It's become a symbol. I believe it represents hope because we still have the ability to dream. The most important part is to never forget. So even as the kid in the Kia commercial becomes a grown-up in a fancy car and Nemo wakes up after his final adventure in Slumberland, we still leave both worlds with the strong sense that they won't forget what happened in their dreams. What do you think?
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I recently made an account on this fascinating website called Figment.
Birdcage Girl is a mock cell phone novel that I'll be working on for as long as the story keeps coming. I've written five chapters so far, each of them only a few hundred words long. I'm thinking flash fiction. Very small snippets that will, in the end, add up to a larger story. At least, that's the plan.
The little novel centers around 18-year-old Ashlyn and her mother (aptly named "her mother" for now). Ashlyn spends most of her days in a wire birdcage, wheeling herself around the house and secretly planning her escape. Why is she in a cage? Who put her there? How will she get out? Are those enough hooks for you? Haha.
The personal goal for me is to come up with the quirkiest characters I can, along with bizarre situations and circumstances. I can't wait to see where it takes me and I hope, as readers, you will share in that curiosity. It is free - of course. Just letting you know. You know? Just click on the picture of my hasty book cover to read what I've got so far - and check my link at the top of the blog when this post finally shifts down the page. Feedback would be great, whether through the site or comments on here. I'm listening :)
Oh. I say "mock" cell phone novel because I own a terrible cell phone for writing. Therefore, I simply can't write anything on it (and even text messages from me are horrendous specimens). Sure, my little helper glows like a rainbow when someone is calling, and it's sleek and green and can do tricks. But really, it's so old it's not in stores anymore. It came before the time of keyboards. So, yes, I don't even have a keyboard. Don't pity me.
Oh. My cell phone says "Hi!"
Sunday, December 5, 2010
It's amazing to see what kinds of snowy contraptions are created to help us Floridians realize it's actually winter. Without wreaths hanging from palm trees and Christmas lights burning up the night, we would continue walking through the days without any knowledge of the seasons. Some people, surprisingly, don't mind this.
I ran into a lady a few weeks ago and we fell into polite conversation in the grocery line:
Her: Oh, god. You're so right. It's terrible.
Her: I hate it! You know, last winter it was so cold! We had two whole weeks of it. I thought I was going to die.
Her: (Blinks slowly) Oh. I... never thought of it like that. I guess you're right.
Small victories, ladies and gents.
This morning, we spent a few hours at the mall. I came away with a Little Twin Stars ring and a giant sticker of the same Lala and Kiki that I will be sticking on something very special - when it comes in the mail (More on that in future posts).
Every mall has a Santa to sit on. This mall was no different... except, well, they pulled out all the stops. The exhibit (I can think of no other word) is called the Ice Palace. The theme? Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I stood on the second floor, admiring the giant bubble palace of ice and snow. Photos of all the characters decorated the gates around the palace, and there were even life-size plastic figures of such characters as Lucy and Edmund, acting out scenes we'll see when the movie comes out. It was beautiful.
There were two difference spots to get your picture taken. One was shaped just like a throne that would hold the caboose of the evil White Witch. However, the other one was a cozy chair made just for Santa. As I watched the little kids run up to the bearded man and beg for gifts, I saw a teenager dressed in a Cinderella dress waiting in line.
So I think I got a bit of a good chill when I got home. The plastic snowmen and penguins outside amongst the flowers made me believe, for a few minutes, that there was frost on the ground. It was fleeting, I admit. But the stirring of hope was much appreciated. Time to break out the apple cider.
Okay. So only a few days after posting this, I found that a bunch of people are buzzing about the Narnia Ice Palaces. They're invading malls all over with Aslan goodness. Here's an article all about it that I had to share.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Although I had a super time at the Magic Kingdom, my thoughts strayed to my favorite park, Epcot, this evening.
What a joyous wedding it is! There are plenty of figurines gathered to witness the moment. A lot of them are wearing hats. I think it's because of the Florida weather. I don't know what's it's like in Germany, but if those folks are supposed to stand outside for another couple years, they are going to need to those hats. We only get a few good weeks of cold. The rest is like sitting in an oven. Or a kiln, I guess, since we're outside. This state considers us no better than a bunch of soggy ceramic pieces (I'd be a nail-printed bowl). Only when we pass out on the ground is it alright to send a merciful breeze through. The bride and groom are lucky enough to be standing under the shade of the church. The groom poses proudly; he looks like he has no trouble holding up his bride. And the bride - well, she looks content. Not happy. No, this is a much deeper feeling. See how her arms are legs are relaxed? She's not stretching in his arms, getting ready to throw a bouquet. She's not fist-pumping like she just scored a touchdown. No. She looks serene.
The family and I got into the habit of walking up the Canada side of the World Showcase, so the wedding would always be the first group of figurines I'd see when we got to Germany. I didn't worry about them. I was thinking about the deer.
And now? Well, look what's happened:
The church is barren. A leaf from the tall trees above has floated down to rest of the door of the church (not planned). The only figurine near the the building is a lone nun. She sits solemnly with her hands folded. She's holding the Bible. If she had a face, I wonder what her expression would be? Maybe she knows what happened to the newlyweds. For some reason, I don't feel like it's happy. There's a quiet eeriness there.
You know, something interesting happened while I was searching my desktop for all these pictures. I zoomed in very close to get the close ups of the figurines and, in the process, made a discovery that adds to the mystery. In the new picture, with the nun, there is a figurine standing on a bottom step. I noticed, much to my surprise, that he is the same figure that is standing in the front in the wedding photo - he has his arms up like he's looking a long distance and he wears a red jacket. Here he is in the new one:
Scroll up the wedding picture if you don't believe me.
There's a story here, no doubt. Perhaps the man has a relationship with the nun. If so, he could be admiring her from afar, wishing she would give up her vows so that they could run off together. Maybe he knows that she knows something about the wedding, and he is going to interrogate her. What do you think?
I'd like to meet whoever is in charge of this model village. I really would. To me, this type of storyteller is special. Everything is laid out before you like a silent film with missing dialogue. Whoever is willing to take the time to examine such a complex creation will, indeed, find a story waiting to be told.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
So this past Monday I went to the Writers' Harvest, an amazing event that our department put together to help raise money and collect cans for Feeding America. I happily brought my cans, listening to them clank in a tinny, musical way. The sun had long set when we got there and the venue, Ella's Folk Art Cafe, was alive and waiting. The building was two-stories, inviting and exotic with its artistic atmosphere and earth-tone colors. We all gathered around the first couple tables, taking in the colorful bar and metal sculptures; Ella's is usually closed on Mondays, so we felt special standing within its doors.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
A new, Christmas-themed Planter's Nuts commerical.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
A curious woman might blush at the video store if the movies in question were a little... suggestive. An embarrassed father might look away as the items scanned are supplies his daughter sorely needs. As for me, I'm always finding children's book and movies.
"Wow, look at this," the cashier, maybe Sally, says as she put a paperback Nutcracker book into a plastic bag. She does the same for a McDonald's booklet story from An American Tail to a delightfully hilarious, illustrated book called King Bidgood's in the Bathtub:
"Cool, right?" I reply, still high off of the adventure of perusing.
She smiles like I'm ten and says, "Are these for you?"
"Yeah, they're for me."
She laughs and rings me up.
Monday, November 1, 2010
How strange it is to finally be writing in a blog. I'll be surprised if anyone follows me, but we'll see how it goes.
What better way to start a blog than share a poem? I'm no poet but I admire poetry all the same. I just discovered Sarah Teasdale and I think she'll be influencing my own writing from here on out. I feel akin to her. I drool over every poem of hers I come across. They are like tiny jewels.
Here is one of hers that I've been musing upon for the last couple days: