Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Slipper Talk

I made you many and many a song,
Yet never one told all you are --
It was as though a net of words
Were flung to catch a star;

It was as though I curved my hand
And dipped sea-water eagerly,
Only to find it lost the blue
Dark splendor of the sea.

- Sara Teasdale, "The Net"

I always view grocery shopping as an adventure. I love finding a new flavor of potato chips, admiring stunning packaging designs, and rolling my cart as if I were a tulle-trimmed skater along the tile floors. This past weekend had been particularity exciting; I found a pair of Hello Kitty shoes. Now, I like Hello Kitty, but other characters are more appealing to me (I'm not much of a pink person, besides). These shoes were black flats, with Hello Kitty's face sewed on as a patch over the toes.

I stopped the cart, gawked at them, and then check the sizes... children's shoes! Don't worry, dear readers. I was no deterred! The beauty of being short is that I can, on occasion, put my small feet to good use and do impossible things. I found the biggest size - four - and managed to slip them on with no problem. As I looked down at my feet, I was reminded of the Cinderella fairy tale. Her stepsisters tried to fit into her glass slipper but their feet were too big. I believe, in some variants, they even cut off parts of their feet to try to fit them into the slipper. I couldn't imagine cutting off my toes for these Hello Kitty shoes. But still, remembering that fairy tale put me in a bittersweet mood for the rest of the day.

Besides the small feet, I never used to associate myself with Cinderella. I didn't have stepsisters, or a stepmother, and probably did less chores than most children my age. One set of grandparents left the world early, so the remaining set, well, provided me with a grandmother who was better at finding coupons than changing a pumpkin into a coach. I wouldn't expect a stranger to crawl in through the window and change me into a girl ready for the ball. And - this is embarrassing - I never made friends with talking birds or mice.

But now that I'm older, I've found that I can understand Cinderella a little better. And acknowledge that, yes, I've done something that she had done.

Would you believe me if I said I left my glass slipper for the prince?

"She then rose up and fled, as nimble as a deer. The Prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully." - Cinderella

I've always felt that she left the slipper on purpose. Unless you're wearing flip flops, it's hard to just lost a shoe (without tumbling down the stairs and breaking a nose). She must have realized that, no matter how well of a time she had with the prince, she could never have hope of meeting him again without leaving a piece of her behind. You could say, in effect, that the glass slipper was a piece of her heart.

If you do believe me, then I'll tell you this: I made my slippers. Glass is too fragile, too transparent. Fur is too thick and soft. So when I reached for the materials that, I thought, would surely catch the prince's eye, I turned to paper and ink. I wrote until ink stained my fingers, until the text on the page transformed into a story wild with whale-song, lonely planets, and singing stars. The images shivered in the air like holograms, delicate as smoke, as I fashioned the tiny story-shoes around my feet. As Sara Teasdale writes, I had cast my net as best I could.

Rain drenched the walkways leading to the palace. I knew that if I wore the slippers, they would melt away like abandoned ice cream. So I kept them safe and warm inside my bag and trudged to the castle with sneakers. Water ran down my cheeks, clung to my hair, and when I stepped inside, no one paused to look at me. Unlike Cinderella, I had no gossip to precede me.

"There was immediately a profound silence. They left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was everyone to contemplate the singular beauties of the unknown new-comer." - Cinderella

I didn't dance with the prince either. After all, he was the one making the music. Bodies crowded the ballroom, bringing heat to the chilly, rainy evening. The music flowed into my veins and it felt, sometimes, like his voice whispered into my ears. When the ball ended, I stepped outside into the humid air; the rain passed away, leaving a trail of blurred lights and mirror-puddles. And I made sure, while holding my breath, to leave my slipper outside the castle gates. I kept the other one in my bag. A memento. Something to compare the other by if I woke up one morning the rhythm of a knock on my door.

I slept peacefully that night, awakening with the rags still clinging to my skin. The magical night seemed to be nothing but a dream, replaced my peasant thoughts like finishing homework, making breakfast, and finding quarters for my laundry.

The most important number in fairy tales is three. I've left paper-and-ink slippers twice. Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

First Photo from We Heart It, Last from SurLaLune.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

At this time of year, Florida likes to hoard the world's rain. I dream of the land crying out in greedy thirst, spreading its sticky nets from every corner of the state line to catch unsuspecting clouds. We don't need all this rain. Not really. At least, that's what I think when I jog to my car each morning, covering my head with my hands until I've come close enough to unlock it and slide in. Thunderstorms paint the sky with flashes like spotlights, as if Batman is being called by someone greater than the local police. Sun showers make me smile; the clear drops splatter my windshield like globs of pudding.

Summer rolls on by with her meaty arms and watermelon-breath, refusing to give me the rest I think should come with a few months off from school. Instead, she lifts her armpits and humidity flows into the air. If I were only a little lighter, I bet I could swim up over the rooftops like a fish.

I used to think that rain was beautiful. As a child, I watched the rain drip, drip, drip off the trees and abandoned toys in the backyard. I'd stick my hands in puddles and watch the ripples distort my reflection. I liked when the rain was cold, so I'd come inside with a red nose. This was back when I lived in a world of changing seasons and kinder temperatures.

Today, I sit by the window and watch the rain fill the pool until it overflows. The rubber duck thermometer bobbed bravely and never leaves the deep end. The chair legs shiver when the water spills onto the deck.

"It looks like snow," I say to my cactus. It's been around for years, insisting on growing in an unhealthy shape - ready to dive from its pot.

Sometimes I can't tell the difference between snow and rain. Snow, in many ways, is merely a whispered legend in these parts.


So suffice to say, it's been raining a lot. I've been more busy now than I have been all summer, balancing work, future semester prep, and writing furiously to meet my self-imposed deadline for Birdcage Girl. The days pass slowly, and yet, at the same time, I can't believe that summer vacation ends in just a few short weeks. Strange too that I haven't lifted any of my new video games (poor, lonely dears) or made a dent in my pile of unwatched movies. But hopefully I'll have a complete first draft of a novel manuscript. And that just might be worth it all.

Great news! The witty and all-powerful Linna over at sleuthy has interviewed me on my writing (among other things). I'm honored that she asked me. It's my first time being interviewed about writing and the like, so I'm smiling and blushing all over from seeing it up. Linna's words are so kind and it's fun to see her own view on my writing style.

I talk about quirks, not-so-old ambitions, fairy tales, and, of course, writing. For anyone who's read any of my Figment writing, you might find it especially fun to read.

Check it out here

Photo from We Heart It

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tidbits: July Edition

Picture / Photo Find

Something I Did

Sometimes I'm in the mood to watch marathons of wedding shows. I like to marvel about the dresses and shake my fist with the disgruntled wedding consultants who deal with troublesome clients. I gasp at evil brides and, well, gasp again that the amazing displays of expensive parties. And watching those shows can really skew reality when it comes to the real purpose of weddings.

I attended my first wedding this past weekend. Just thinking about it kept my mind buzzing; I fell behind in almost everything, including my blogging, haha. Technically, I've been to weddings before - but I was too young to remember. So when I was invited to a friend's wedding, I jumped at the chance to celebrate with her and find out what it's really like to attend such a happy gathering.

I grinned like a fool when I saw my friend in her lovely wedding dress; the ukulele strummed "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson, people dabbed at their eyes, and the groom waited with his a smile. They both made faces at each other to ease the tension and the love between them carried on in the air well after the music stopped playing. We listened to poetry during the ceremony (which was fantastic - I'd like that for mine one day) and the vows they wrote themselves gave a precise indication that, yes, these were two creative people in love.

The lights dimmed at dinner and we donned our 3D glasses; the candlelight bloomed hearts when we wore them. I had come with a few friends from school, and we sat back and talked about how our summers were going and the deliciousness of the stuffed peppers served with dinner. I felt warm and happy, even surrounded by people I'd never met before. The atmosphere was like nothing I've experienced - perhaps this is why Shakespeare liked to end his comedies with a wedding. And I realized this: More than anything else you could have at a wedding - fancy placeholders, table decorations, fresh flowers - the most important thing is to be surrounded by people who love you. I know that sounds incredibly mushy, but it's how I feel, haha. So, I think, I need to keep making many humorous and heart-warming friends :D

A Quote from a Book I Love

A friend of mine (not the wedding friend, haha) once recommended this book called The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I hadn't gotten to read it right away, but it mysteriously showed up at a bookstore while I wandered one day, and I took the little paperback home with me and devoured it within a day (bad habit of mine, haha). There is a movie based loosely on this book, called The Secret of Moonacre, but I promise you that it's very different from the book. So I suggest you read the book first, and then enjoy the movie, haha.

One of the aspects of the book I thought was lost with the changes into film is the relationship between the heroine, Maria, and her friend named Robin. So, in honor of the two of them, I'll quote from the first time Maria thinks about Robin, upon moving in with her uncle in his mysterious home:

"Wiggins was deeply asleep at once, but Maria lay for some time between sleeping and waking, thinking of the beautiful park through which she had driven to this lovely house and imagining herself running up one of its glades. And then her fancy became a dream and she was in the park, with the scent of flowers about her and spring trees talking to each other over her head.

"But in her dream she was not alone, Robin was with her, running beside her and laughing. And he was just the same - just as he had been when in her childhood she had been sent to play in the Square garden, and had felt lonely, and he had come running through the trees to companion her loneliness. He was just exactly her age - or perhaps a little older, because he was a head taller than she, and much broader.

"There was nothing ethereal about Robin - very much the opposite; which in face proved to Maria that he was a real boy and no mere creation of her imagination..."

Song I Can't Stop Repeating

"Walnut Tree" by Keane

Keane's an old favorite of mine, but I always seem to find more songs by them that I've never heard of. This one is so haunting and gentle. Lyric time!

Once there was a great storm,
Pushed my head beneath the waves,
I was gone.

Underneath the walnut tree,
Where you said you'd wait for me,
And I waited a long, long time

A Writer Thing

Speechlessness. When is it do you find that words fail you? Maybe you see an painting hanging at a museum that makes you pause and stare. Perhaps you found your grandmother's old photo album and leaf through a old black-and-white story. I've been relying on the written word a lot more than I used to, the more immersed I get in my grad school endeavors. Sometimes I dream about words. I have tea with them. We play miniature golf. But sometimes there comes a moment where I open and close my mouth like a fish, trying to summon words and finding them gone as a giant broom has blown by and swept them away.

And when I feel this way about another piece of writing, it often scares me. I want to respond. I want to send out the email, the letter, the postcard that expresses my wonder and excitement in just the right way. Or any way at all. That word-broom is a good one. I might have to replace my vacuum if this keeps up.

On the flip side, I wonder if someone will feel this way about my own writing. I'd feel bad about it, actually, if the gaping fish syndrome were to fall on an enthusiastic reader. I think I've gotten so used to hearing back, and talking with my readers, that it surprises me to have a troll reader now and then (since I'm mainly referencing my Figment.com experience here, I guess it's okay to call them trolls, haha). I have to remember what it's like again, to stare a blinking cursor until my eye's tear up from, well, staring. If only there was some substitute for words, just when you need it, that makes the message clear.

Video I Watched Too Many Times

So, you all already know how much I love silhouettes. Well, here's a vision of magic, haha! I wish I could do something like this, but I think my high school art classes assured me of failing at eyeballing the world realistically (Hmm... that may have something to do with my writing, haha).

Food I'm Craving

New Potatoes, guys. Have you tried them yet? I'll preface here by saying that I'm not a big potato fan. I do eat french fries and love potatoes in soup, but I won't choose a baked potato or mashed potatoes over most sides. However, I'm madly in love with new potatoes. My supermarket doesn't sell them fresh, but I picked up some cans of them to try - and they're delicious. Kind of like the lychee nut of potatoes, haha. The main difference between new potatoes and regular potatoes is that the new ones are picked immaturely. That's it. And someone, there's something mystical in this act of early picking that creates a great taste.

I've been chopping up the new potatoes, added onions, and drizzled them with garlic-flavored vinegar. I'm not anything like a chef (Queen of the Microwave), but it's really easy and tasty.

Photos from We Heart It