Thursday, November 24, 2011

papetiers de l’ancien temps

Carl and Jeffrey are secret stationers, though anyone who saw them would think that they were just old men. They congregate with friends on the front steps of the general store, taking turns with the chess board. They wear matching sweaters in July and smoke wooden pipes. 

In his early years, Carl claims he had been a movie star. His blond hair came across horribly on the black and white screen, so makeup artists had to paint his eyebrows with thick, black ink. He almost rubbed his eyebrows right off, trying to wash away the comical arches. Carl used to play the villain, chewing on the hero's face in a bar fight and running away, usually with his pants falling down around his ankles. His face is shaped like a banana; you almost believe his story because, by now, he's lost his eyebrows for good. 

Jeffrey regales his friends with tales of his nautical adventures. He had been captain of a submarine that explored the seaweed green waters of the south. He used to wear a diving bell helmet and fish for sponges on his months off duty; he liked it when girls tried to kiss him through the glass. Jeffrey's stocky build, along with his bright blue eyes, reminds you of a faded hero. His smile is charming when he presses his lips against your hand and calls you his "little pigeon's egg." He never married. 

The two old men purchase bagels before heading home. They carry their separate bags, steaming from toasting, and pass under the streetlamps in silence. They sit opposite each other at the dinner table; the seasonal cranberry cream cheese leaks from their bagels. They lick their fingers. Wash the coffee stains off of their cups. 

Then, they sit on the screened in patio and create stationary. It's a delicate process, requiring suitcases full of pull-out trays. Carl puts on his spectacles in order to see his handiwork from the night before. His silhouette of the mayor, Mr. Hemshaw, is almost done except for the nose. He dips his pen in ink and carefully presses it to the paper.   

Jeffrey slowly stamps out a congratulatory message upon a blank, recycled paper card. The ink he chooses to press the letters in is a deep fuchsia, in honor of the head librarian's daughter. She just won an award for her science project. 

"We'll have to make more paper soon," Carl says. He creates a flourish around the the silhouette. "I'm running out of envelopes."

Jeffrey sighs. "The Sheep Festival is coming up soon, right? Maybe we can make some paper then. It's a miracle that so many people can be distracted by sheep shaving contests." 

Carl leans back in his chair and looks out at the converse behind their house. The lone light bulb above their heads make everything seem yellow. The trees are merely shadows. Animals cry out in the night. The old men continue their work and reminisce about the old days where they wore monocles with their tops hats and sang with the bards about poetry. Their jobs, for the longest time, have been secret. Create paper. Create stationary. Send words out into the world without your names. Let them fly. 

November is almost over already. How shocking, right? I had to make a break from my NaNo adventures to try out a small story - even though you can tell I don't need a break. My awesome little word count bar on the side of this blog shows that I'm very behind. I highly doubt I'll come close to reading the beloved goal of 50k, haha. 

Still, though, I'm going to try.There's nothing like a little competition to keep the words pouring! 

Photos from We Heart It. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shopping Oddities

November in Florida. I woke up to the steady fall of rain outside my window. The clouds were so thick that I stumbled around the kitchen in darkness, searching for the toaster. I curled up on the couch with my toast and listened to rain. I wondered if the whole day would be like this, a blanket of evening spilled over to block out the morning sun.

But, as with any rainstorm here, it magically cleared up before lunchtime. 

I decided to abandon my castle of papers and step out into the humid, hot day. I had a flyer from Jo-Ann's with an array of ridiculously cute holiday paraphernalia. Staring at the big-eyed gingerbread men and grinning snowflakes, I knew I had to leave my work nest to see these things for myself. I'm not a big holiday knick-nacker, but these were worth it. I left my red pen at home, haha.  

This is the first time, in this blog's history, that I'm reporting on a shopping trip. So if it's awkward, please let me know, haha. 

Holiday Owl Doll
I've been looking for a folksy owl doll for over a year now. A college friend had a very cool owl doll she left in her dorm room; sometimes I'd sit it in my lap while we worked on our literature homework together. This owl doll is pretty cool because it's design isn't dependent on winter. Sure, it has the floppy hat and a snowflake stitched to its butt, but overall, this owl could strut down the street in any season.  

Gingerbread Man Spatula 
This is it. This is specifically what I saw in the flyer that I knew I had to have, haha. I mean, since when do spatulas look like this? It makes me want to cook. I'm the queen of the microwave, in most cases, though I love a good cut-and-bake treat once in a while. I'm hoping that this lovely, smiling cookie might convince me to crack open a recipe book. 

Powerpuff Girl 10th Birthday Perfume
In an entirely different store, I found this Powerpuff Girl perfume... which caused me to geek out. 

I'm a big cartoon fan (as most of my readers know), and I remember this show being just one of the cartoons I watched with baited breath until its end. I think Bubbles is still my favorite, but I've discovered I'm more like Blossom, haha. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. 

The perfume smells great. It's refreshing and has a lemony undertone. I can't find much information about this perfume, so I don't know what the "10th Birthday" part means. Is it the ten years that the show ran or is it... representative of a ten-year-old's birthday party? I hope it's the first one. 

Have you been shopping lately? Find anything strange, lovely, or surprising? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tidbits: November Edition

Picture / Photo Find

Something I Did

About a week ago, I participated in a school reading called 6x6 that showcased six graduate students and six undergraduates. Writing a small piece to read for that has been both exciting and challenging; I ended up drawing inspiration from Sleeping Beauty and added quite a twist to it in the spirit of Halloween. 

Most everyone dressed up for the event and that made it more exciting. My favorite costume of the night was a couple who dressed up as bacon and eggs - they ended up winning the costume contest. The night was magical in the sense that we were at risk. A storm was brewing all day, all week, really, and we were lucky enough to have a pocket of relief where the rain decided to back away until our last speaker finished her words. The air was muggy, thick with mosquitoes. We sat outside and listened to the readers as they approached a torch-lit stage. The place was a treasure of a coffee shop called Felicitous - newly opened and already bursting with charm and excellent mango tea.

Although rain clouds lingered, just waiting for the perfect moment to pelt us, I still kept my black pea coat buttoned tight. Who cares about sweating in late October, right? I loved my costume. I was a reveur for The Night Circus. I have to admit that no one recognized me, but I'm sure, if this book makes it to film, everyone will be going to the movie theater wearing nothing but black and white clothing - with a spot of red. 

Quote from a Book I Love

To go with what I mentioned just above, I think I've become a reveur after finishing The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The book is stunning with its whimsical imagery that surprises you with its vivid nature - a few times while reading, I couldn't help but gasp at such lovely lines. It's so easy to get sucked into this world of black and white, caramel popcorn, and dueling magicians in love. Reveur in French means "dreamer," an appropriate name for the fans of the circus in the book. They wander the enchanted tents wearing their spots of red. I'd love to be one of them. I have got to see that ice garden. When it came down to it, I had a hard time choosing an excerpt, so here's literally the beginning of this shiver-inducing novel:

"The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The towering tents are striped black and white, no golds or crimsons to be seen. No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black-and-white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with an elaborate wrought-iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.

But it is not open for business. Not just yet." 

Fun fact: there's a free online game that anyone can play - you get to wander around the circus, stumble upon mysteries, and sometimes interact with the characters from the book. I'm kind of addicted, haha. 

A Writer Thing

Sooo... NaNoWriMo. Who's participating this year? I totally am. I can't help it. I tend to fall for challenges, especially when it comes to writing. I get a rush and ideas flood into my head like falling stars. So National Novel Writing Month, in which one must write 50k words, is the king of challenges. And I can't refuse. 

What's really remarkable is that you discover how much time you do actually have during the day. On busier weeks, I find myself tapping away at the keyboard late into the night, but when a brief reprieve hits, I surprise myself by writing a paragraph or two between grading or answering emails. After NaNoWriMo, I'm usually more productive because I get into a time-groove. I know when I can write, what precise music I must listen to and what font is the kind I won't cringe at when I stare at a page. 

My first time NaNo-ing was last year and I failed miserably. It was almost a precursor to Birdcage Girl in that I tried the same kind of bite-sized, fragmented chapters. But I had too many characters at once and wrote out of order (so not good for me), so that I ended up with a tiny mess at the end of the month. I'll be lucky if I'm able to salvage anything from that project. But this year feels different. 

Photo by Dream Bean. So inspiring!
I'm posting my NaNo novel on Figment for this run; it's called Olivia. Basically, it's a strange kind of retelling of the fairy tale called "Diamonds and Toads." Please read it if you're not familiar with it - it's a quick tale. And I say strange because, in edition to the elements found in the original, I'm including silent film, dime museums, real estate, and pratfalls. It's been so much fun already - I love discovering my characters' secrets along the way. Here is a teaser of my project, just for fun:

And so, the fairy said: “You are kind and pretty, so I will give you a gift, Olivia. Whenever you speak, flowers and jewels shall fall from your mouth.”
Olivia bowed her head and twisted her hands. “Thank you,” she said. A diamond slipped from her lips and clattered on the sidewalk. 
To anyone attacking NaNo this year, remember to stick with it, no matter how hard it gets. I don't think it's call about winning, but more so doing. It's hard to write. Truth. So producing something, while working alongside other writers and sharing the journey is just priceless and a feel-good event. I'm cheering you on.

Song I Can't Stop Repeating

"Elements" by A Fine Frenzy.

I've got nothing to say except that this song sends me sprawling across an ocean in a rickety, but loyal boat. I love A Fine Frenzy, but only recently purchased the newest album. I'm so glad I did. Each song really is a gem.

"If the sea should swallow up my house
I will turn the rooftop inside out and the wind will be wailing
But I will be sailing faster

Oh the elements I do not fear but I fall apart when you appear
'Cause you are the greatest
The greatest disaster"

Video I Watched Too Many Times

Okay. Seriously. You need to go buy The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore on iTunes right now. Do it, haha. My intense love for all things Buster Keaton had led me to discovering this. The main character, Morris, is inspired very much my the late Buster Keaton. It is remarkable to see his expressions match and the way he moves his body during sequences (and the slight nod to One Week with the trashed house). I do have an inevitable Buster Keaton post to make, where I will likely talk about this short film again, bur I still couldn't dream of putting another video in this section for this month. The animation is amazing and, if you love books, this film will make you smile and cry. I was tearing up at the end. It's superb.