Thursday, December 30, 2010


"'I should like you to take me to see my great old grandmother.'

The king looked grave and said: 'What does my little daughter mean?'

"I mean the Queen Irene that lives up in the tower - the very old lady, you know, with the long hair of silver.'

The king only gazed at his little princess with a look which she could not understand.

'She's got her crown in her bedroom,' she went on; 'but I've not been in there yet. You know she's there, don't you?'

'No,' said the king, very quietly.

- George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin

There are three doors in front of you. All is quiet for a moment. You can hear the pigeons flapping their wings outside the tower walls. Your throat is dry and your feet sore from climbing. But you forget when you hear the humming. Soft, like a bee.

This part always gets me. My heart pumps and I instinctively lean forward towards the screen. I know what's coming, but it's still somehow new each time. This, my friends, is The Princess and the Goblins.

Although the movie and book have a difference of an "s" in their titles, the same feelings are evoked from both mediums. Did you ever grow up watching or reading this story? I had the movie on VHS and used to watch it all the time. Proof: if I put it in the VCR now, the picture gets all wobbly and the sound is horribly off. For Christmas I ordered it in DVD format, as well as finally getting my hands on the book for the first time (got the sequel included, The Princess and the Curdie). I would highly suggest finding a copy yourself (or... actually... I believe all of it is on Wikipedia... I know!).

Although there is a lot to love, my favorite character is and will always be the mysterious Queen Irene. I don't know yet if the DVD has it, but on the original tape, the film would start with a little talk by a real woman (the voice actress) dressed up as Queen Irene. She had on the sparkling makeup and long white wig. Child safety must have been a big issue at the time because she advertised a card that she said all little girls needed in case they were ever lost or needed help. I can't remember much about the card - it might have had an emergency number on the back, or the child's number, to give to a policeman if there was trouble. I never did get that card, but I always got chills when I watched this introduction. Her voice was so smooth and melodic, yet a bit alarmist at the same time. She was serious about future danger. And she could help you prepare for it.

She told little Irene, in such words: "I'll be here when you need me, though you may not always be able to see me."

I trusted her. I wanted my grandmothers to be like her - full of gentle guidance and floating roses.

I thought of the queen and this film today because I spoke with an old friend of mine for the first time in a while. We were sitting in our respective bedrooms, connected by a phone line, and feeling like we were back in college skidding on dirty dorm floors and eating marshmallow and peanut butter sandwiches. Apparently, I can be a little bit psychic, because I tend to call her right before something major happens. "You always seem to be there when I need you," she said, and I, blushing and yet familiarly snarky, quoted the above words from Queen Irene.

I think her words hold true for a lot of great friendships or any type of important relationships. Even in the age of texting and Blackberries, we still manage to find time to step away from technology and enjoy living. This can take many forms, though sometimes friendships can seem to slip away as we get some metaphorical shut-eye. I believe that you don't always need words to maintain a connection with someone. The connection still holds, even if you're trapped on a desert island without a bottle to send off into the sea.

Throughout the course of the story, Irene is constantly told that her great-great-grandmother is only a figment of her imagination. No one believes her. The danger she faces is not necessarily concerning the goblins, but that she'd stop believing that Queen Irene lives in the abandoned tower. Her father, as I quoted in the beginning of this post, is the only one who seems to know something about this mysterious ancestor. However, he can do nothing until she invites him to see her. Irene is on her own. And she proves strong enough to hold fast to the unconventional relationship with the wise woman.

Please enjoy this amazing moment of the film. I think you'll catch on to it's magic and realize, because I can't do her justice, just how amazing Queen Irene is.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Wishes and Prince Philip's Hair

"The moon stared at the princess, and the princess stared at the moon, but the moon had the best of it, and the princess began to cry"

- George MacDonald, The Wise Woman, or The Lost Princess.

I don't think anyone was staring at the moon last night. Christmas Eve leaves kiddies and adults either asleep in their beds or gazing up at the ceiling. Depends on how you handle impatience.

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 hope that this wonderful holiday went well for all my readers (and future readers) and even the people who have not discovered this place yet, haha. My far-reaching wishes stretch out beyond the computer screen. Wham! You've got 'em.

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.

When extended family live states and states away, you tend to form new traditions. Sometimes strange. Mostly fun. Braving the over-capacitated kingdom has become an exciting (and a little foolhardy) journey we make.

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 saw something beautiful and unexpected. I saw Prince Philip. And he had hair.

Should I backpedal? It's simple. I've lived in sunny FL for ten years, and in all the time I've gone to Disney World, I have only seen men casted for Prince Philip who have sported crew cuts. As a lover of tousled hair on men, and an occasional stickler for details, I couldn't understand why all the Philips were practically bald. He had a delightful head of hair in the movie. And a little curly forelock. Where did they get it wrong?

But today, on the Christmas morning, I saw Prince Philip with a full head of lovely fluffy hair. My heart pounded against my chest and I squinted until my eyes were shaped like squished peas (HAHA). I thought I would faint right there, on the boardwalk, and be trampled upon by angry parents with mean little stroller wheels. Maybe a girl wearing an Aurora dress would roll by and tug on my hair, as if saying, "He's my prince, you old lady. We're married. My dress even changed colors during our wedding dance." But, you know, Prince Philip is my favorite Disney prince. So this would be worth it. (I stress Disney prince. I have a top favorite animated prince - can you guess? - but I'll save that for another post, haha).

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

Welcome Home, Roppongi!

A blog within a blog, haha...

I'm a homebody.

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

The Traveling Dreamer

I often tear up when I see things that are overly whimsical. I can't explain it exactly, but it must have something to do with the ideas of imagination blending with and distorting the real world to create something wholly beautiful and nostalgic. It's harder to do this, I think, than bending reality for a new horror film.

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).

Originally a comic by Winsor McCay, Little Nemo became one of those classic videos that was a staple for little kids growing up. No matter how it made it into your VHS collection, it was there. I think we have to thank it for a lot of things. Sparking creativity? Number 1. If you haven't seen it yet, here's a nice clip to give you a feel for it (and prolly the main plot):

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

Writing Experiments

Happy finals week... to anyone still having to take them. I have one last paper to turn in and I swear, it is this close to being done. That's what today is for. And yet, as you're reading, I feel the the need to make another post. The need itches. Like a sunburn. Or something less peely.

I recently made an account on this fascinating website called Figment.

The website takes its inspiration from Japanese cell phone novels or keitai shosetsu. Writers will choose monikers and create novels from the bits and pieces... the steady flow of words that come unedited to be shared with the world. Some had become so popular that publishers picked them up and they made it on bestsellers lists. Read the article The New Yorker wrote about it for a better idea. With all this buzz, the founders of Figment want to see what we can do in America.

This is isn't the first website of its kind. However, the design of the pages are so inviting and it's hard not to get caught up in the adventure and goodwill that comes with the launch of a new idea.

With sharing stories comes the knowledge that all serious writers know about concerning the availability of online writing and publishing (And I won't go into it for the sake of avoiding ranting and/or being just plain boring). So how could I participate in this with a clear, carefree attitude? By writing something exclusively in mind for Figment.

Presenting my new side project: Birdcage Girl.

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.

I'm stretching my imagination by way of flash fiction. I try to put myself on the bus, or train, typing away on a small screen. Creating something that grows with each word.

Oh. My cell phone says "Hi!"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's Winter Now?

The grass is green, the trees are heavy with leaves, and the sun is beating down on my back. Yes. This sounds like winter. And again, like every winter before, I'm disappointed in my lack of aching fingers and wind-raw cheeks.

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:

Me: It's getting a little cooler out, isn't it?
Her: Oh, god. You're so right. It's terrible.
Me: What?
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.
Me: (After frowning a bit) But don't you find the chilly wind even a little helpful when you get hot flashes?
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.

I thought that she was working there at first. A weird crossover, but hey, it's possible. However, she moved with the line and did get her picture taken on the White Witch's throne. The Cinderella dress was full of sparkles, just like the crown on her head. I never related Cinderella to winter, though, now that I've seen the snow and ice side by side with the dress, I wonder why I never did. I thought the teen was very brave too. Wearing costumes is a lot of fun, but usually is the norm when you're at a Halloween party or at a convention. Seeing her wearing it out at the beginning of December was just plain awesome I'm proud of her.

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.

Hm. And make more progress on my manuscript. Heh.


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.

Small world!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Watching You, Little German Village

Today is Thanksgiving Day. I hope everyone out there has had a great one. As for me, there isn't much family left here, so I spent most of the day at the Magic Kingdom, and then came home to some delicious leftovers and watched alien shows on the History channel all evening (not my idea, I swear).

Although I had a super time at the Magic Kingdom, my thoughts strayed to my favorite park, Epcot, this evening.

There are many reasons why I love Epcot, but the one I am determined to write about goes way back. In fact, I always vowed that if I ever started a blog, I would post about this one thing frequently. What is it? Well, the little train village in Germany.

The village is a mini-scale model of a vast village, complete with a town square, a castle in the bushy background, and many, many trains. The figurines intrigue me the most and I'm always leaning over the bars, wondering about the little guys and what stories they have. I think I stare so ardently that tourists mistake me for some train fanatic. Truth be told, again, it's not the trains that impress me.

I've taken loads of pictures of the village over the years. I have a fairly good idea where most of the figurines are and what they've been up to. So when I went back this fall, after not having gone for at least a few weeks (yeah, it was a killer to wait so long), I saw a change.


On the corner of the display is a church. A wedding has always occurred. Here's picture of it from 2009:

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.

There are a lot of other figurines around the church that are just as intriguing, such as the lonely man on the bench below the church steps. Is he the uninvited guest? A mere passerby? I mused about him a lot. There's also the hunter and the deer, both balanced on mountains separated by the church. The deer is always on its side. Has it been shot, or is it just an accident of the wind? (I promise I'll post pictures of them eventually).

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.

So I graduate from college. I know that graduation always brings about change, but I never expected to see a change in the German village. It had been the same for so long.

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


I like to conjure up a particular image when someone asks me if I like dogs. I say, imagine that I'm standing in this dark, foggy alleyway at night. There's a chill in the air and I'm breathing hard because I can feel someone following me. Well, I hear someone shout, "Get her!" and I see, coming through the haze, a pack of dogs dashing toward me. Their eyes glow red, spit slaps their cheeks, and their snarls could make a grown man cry. What do I do? The only thing I can. I fall to my knees with the biggest smile, my hands open wide. "C'mere," I coo. I wait for them, sincerely expecting them to devour my face with kisses instead of... well... actually devouring it. Yes. It's strictly unconditional.

Naturally, I'm also one of the ten percent of people out there who hate movies where dogs die. I think there's even a book inspired by it... called No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Kormen. I haven't read it yet, but this is interesting to note. I can give you numerous stories of how sick I feel when I run into these on-screen or in-pages dog deaths. The most recent one had me so disturbed that I had to pause the movie for at least twenty minutes until I could calm down. That movie is going to collect dust... or forever have that opening scene (opening scene? Come on!) forever skipped. Ugh. Gives me the shivers.

"Do you like dogs?" Isn't that the best opening line for the start of a friendship? Of course, it can come off as a little strange if their are no actual dogs around. Or puppy mugs. Or even a pin. That's how it started out: this one tiny friendship I had in high school. We got off at the same bustop. We lived in the same development. We walked home down the same streets. I couldn't say a word to him because I didn't trust boys who didn't sing video game lyrics at the lunch table and couldn't fathom the satisfaction of playing a Pokemon card battle.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What I'm Doing When I'm Not Writing: Writers' Harvest

I have a feeling that this might be a reoccurring title... which is why I added the magnanimous colon to make this post specific. Since this is the novel writing month, my mind is wired with guilt for every minute I'm not writing something to add to the word count race. This isn't my first time writing a manuscript, but since the main structure of this one is not quite so linear, writing it is strange and wonderful, but mostly frustrating. Ah, yes. Sounds like I'm right on track.

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.

Photo Courtesy of Claire Stephens

Haha, here I am on the left, wearing what I call my "Sci-fi shirt." I fell in love with the teal stripes and the band of brass buttons along the collar. I think I gained a bit of money experience after manning the USF booth at the Other Words Conference, so I volunteered to sell the featured writers' books, tag teaming with fellow MFAer, Alan. With a full bar at my fingertips, I ordered a Diet Coke and got to work...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Am I Tired or Just Impressed?

It was one of those Friday nights where the fatigue of the week sets in and you find yourself buried in the cracks of your well-loved couch.

With a bag of no-name brand chocolate chip cookie sandwiches (the strange pimply step-child of the Oreo) and a bookmarked, bedraggled copy of Sara Teasdale's biography, I enjoyed the evening. The TV was set to the home and garden channel. With the Travel Channel gone (Why... oh... why?), I appease my travel bug now by watching rich people (they have to be) house shopping for international abodes.

My fingers on the keyboard of Gorgonzola, my randomly-named laptop (blame Chowder), began to slow. Yes, yes, I was on my laptop too. I really am a multi-tasker. The idea was to read a little, watch TV a little, and raise the word count on my novel manuscript another notch. Hey, it's only a first draft. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. It really is better to just get it all down the first time. So in the process of my usual bout of juggling, a commercial came on that made me stop in my tracks.

A new, Christmas-themed Planter's Nuts commerical.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The "Old" and St. Augustine

I'll be the first to tell you that Florida isn't magical.

If that comes as a shock to you, I'm terribly sorry. We do have theme parks, most of which I admittedly love and will likely blog about. Beyond that, though, Florida is a very new state. I say new in broad terms: we don't have much "old" going on here.

In craft class, we were joking about ghost tours. Thinking about the possible tours that could spring up in New Tampa, the best we could think of was one that boasted haunted outdoor shopping malls. "And over here," Claire said, wiggling her fingers for good measure, "is the haunted Steinmart! It's three years old... creepy, right?"

In order to find the "old," one must travel to certain parts of Florida for the fix. St. Augustine is, without a doubt, one such place.

As I said in my previous post, the lot of us mosied over to St. Augustine for the awesome Other Words conference at Flagler College. The air was sharp with cold and we huddled together as we wandered up and down the tiny streets and hidden treasures. I was so happy to have finally put my sweaters to good use: winter is a rare breed of season around these parts. With a red nose and aching finger joints, I grinned and sighed happily at each gust of wind attempting to tear off my face. It was so delightful. I friggin' love the cold.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ye Old Comics

When I was little, food shopping was a fun activity. There was a payoff. If I refrained from dunking sugary items into the cart, and the constellations were lined up just right to give us all a good mood, my parents would let me pick out an Archie comic for the week. Starry-eyed, I would dramatically reach for the little books on the tops of the towering magazine stands. Gum? No. Chocolate bars? No. Nothing was ever as tempting at the end of the hunt than holding Betty, Archie, Jughead, and Veronica in my grubby paws.

Flash forward to this past weekend when "Other Words: Literary Conference" in St. Augustine, Florida took place. A particular bunch of us MFAers answered the call for papers with a panel about comic books and creative writing.

I never read many American comic books. I lived and breathed Archie (and then later on, the Sonic the Hedgehog comics... by the same company, really) and only read Wonder Woman via a Christmas present of a collection of WW comic covers. Well... that's just the way it was. I knew that Archie and the gang would be making an appearance in my paper and it was just a matter of what it would be about.

"Behind the Trope: Love Triangles in American and Japanese Girl's Comics" was born.

I find love triangles ultimately exhausting and frustrating to read, so I attempted to overcome those feelings by thinking about what makes this device tick. Betty and Veronica helped me out in this matter, as well as studying one of Yu Watase's newer works, Alice 19th. Poor Archie. Kyo just might give him a run for his money.

I was half hoping for a Betty fans vs. Veronica fans brawl during Q and A, but nothing like that happened. Everyone was rather pleasant :)

I'll hold my tongue on the girl I rooted for over the years. That, I'm sure, would make an entirely different post.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm a Kid

Whenever I'm shopping at certain stores, I feel like I have to apologize for what I bring to the cashier. Hmm. Bold statement. But doesn't the cashier sometimes seem a place of judgment? It is a platform of the public where everyone can see what was sitting in your shopping cart. One by one, the items march into plastic bags and the cashiers can never, ever keep a straight face if they see something weird.

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

A new blog begins like the rising of the sun, drawn by Apollo's chariot...


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: