Archive for September, 2010

I return to the internet after my weekend absence. I missed it here. It’s warm, and the people are faceless, just the way I like them. Did you miss me internet? I missed you. *cuddles*

My weekend was rather eventful, bouncing between borderline alcoholism and multiple miniature fiascos. My extended family is an… interesting bunch. Interesting like a Lifetime Movie Special (but with less wife-beating and rape).

But long story short, we gathered and celebrated my grandma’s 80th birthday, we ate overly sugary cake and bickered, drank many interesting beers (the local grocery store had Blue Moon. I did a little dance to Dionysus in thanks), I stayed up too late watching old shows on Nick at Nite (I secretly love The Nanny. Don’t tell anyone), I read a few books and picked up a few more at the local Borders, and decided that when I become a member of the elderly community, I will pay people to make sure there are no gnomes in my garden.

I love my grandma dearly, but she has garden gnomes. And they creep me the HELL OUT.

[this is where I’d put the picture of the creepy gnome in her front yard next to the statue of St. Francis, but it creeped me out too much to record it on camera in any way. So here’s one I found through google:

I call him ‘creepy child molester gnome’. Seriously. His stare makes me feel wrong inside.]

So I returned to Nebraska yesterday afternoon (somehow, despite both flights being turbulent and nauseating) and was greeted by the cozy pile of work awaiting me this week. Papers are due (another one on Macbeth – seriously, I have to have written at least twenty papers on That Damn Scottish Play in my times reading Shakespeare during the last decade), there are short stories to be read (most of them boring, but more on that in a later post), books to read about lesbian nuns (no, seriously) and of course, multiple shifts at work. It’s gonna be interesting. Interesting like … something witty and violent. I don’t know. I’m still tired, too tired to come up with a good comparison. Make up one of your own. Feel free to share if you like.

In other news, the NaNoWriMo forums are wiping soon to ring in NaNo 2010, which means shiny new forums, shiny reset wordcount bars to refill, old friends returning to the party for conversation and scheming, and thirty days until the madness begins and November swallows my soul.

So, as well as all the difficult stuff this week, I have NaNo novels to plot out and prep for. But I’ll actually enjoy that, so I’m looking forward to it. That and my new book (A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin) is getting very good.

Now to figure out what to get for lunch. Perhaps a delicious sammich. I love sammiches.


Read Full Post »

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

People always ask me questions about what I’ve been reading lately. Maybe it’s because I work in a library, maybe it’s because I’m an English major, maybe it’s because they’ve known me for longer than two weeks and are aware of my constantly expanding and utterly ridiculous personal library, which takes up two self-assembly bookcases stacked two deep, one floor-to ceiling shelf stacked two deep, and the small shelf above my desk.

Someday I will have a room walled entirely with bookshelves, and I will want to remain there until the end of my days. I intend to begin achieving this goal in my next apartment.

Lately I’ve been avoiding one of my favourite themes in novels – apocalyptic fiction – because that’s what my current novel is about. I don’t expect to be overly influenced by my recreational reading material, but I’d rather read outside my chosen theme for variety, except of course when doing research (and I do most of that on the internet).

So, here’s a short list of the books I have on my recreational reading list this month:

Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

I picked this up at the campus bookstore last week. I’m working my way semi-systematically through Palahniuk’s works (so far I’ve read Fight Club, Diary and Choke) and wanted to pick up one that wasn’t a hard-back book. I’ve read the first few chapters and it’s excellent, though the language is a little hard to get into.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while now, ever since I started watching Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations on the Travel Channel and Netflix. As well as being a lover of travel and culinary experimentation, I’m also a huge fan of Bourdain’s humour and frankness in his performance in the TV show. The book has a similar reputation for those two attributes, and I often succumb to obsessive addictions.

Anthony Bourdain is kind of my hero.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Another book I’m reading because of TV. I admit it. I have a problem. But Dexter is one of the better shows I’ve watched on and off this year, and I was thrilled to discover that the entire premise of the show was based on a book. I’m a firm believer in the idea that anything TV and movies can do books can do better in terms of storytelling. Fight me if you like, but the book is ALWAYS better than the movie and you know it. And Dexter is a fantastic show, at least what I’ve seen of it has been fantastic (I made it halfway through season 3 before I got sick of beating the internet with a stick until TV falls out. Hopefully Netflix will help a sister out before too long).

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

I picked this up yesterday on my weekly torture trip to Barnes and Noble. I usually don’t have much money to throw around and tend to simply wander the aisles of BN with a pained expression on my face, suffering from perverse book lust. But I’ve been meaning to read House of Leaves for the last few years after stumbling upon its extremely convoluted and intriguing TV Tropes Page (if you haven’t been to TV Tropes, there is something wrong with your life. You cannot achieve true happiness if you don’t go get lost on TV Tropes for a while. Go. Now. The monkey compels you!). I haven’t made the time (or, admittedly, effort), to pick it up, not even after being pestered by Jeff (who considers it one of his favourite books) and my crazy friend Steven in Kansas. But I spotted it on one of the sale tables in the front of the O Street BN store and figured, ‘what the hell, I’ll give it a shot’.

So I bought it, and spent a good hour and a half of my four hour work shift getting into it. It’s definitely going to take me longer than any average read, since it’s a very convoluted story. But so far, I’m very intrigued. I’ll post a spoiler-ridden review when I’m done with it.

So there you have it; what this writer reads when she wants to relax and escape the madness and curiosity of her day-to-day existence. I’ll try to post about books more, in the hopes people will actually start reading this blog so I’m not just talking to an empty void.

Anyone out there?


Nope, just me then.

Upcoming blog topics include: NaNoWriMo Prep, my wacky experiences with my writing group, my fantastical mini-vacation to Virginia where I try not to kill my extended family, writers as alcoholics (true or false), digital readers and the ‘death’ of the paperback novel and writing and relationships.

Also kittens. Because who doesn’t like kittens?

(also, all images were found via Google Image Search and are copyright their respective posters. Don’t sue me plz).

Read Full Post »

I absolutely loathe being sick. I have enough issue functioning in reality with my full health, let alone when I’m under the weather.

So, here’s my breakdown of today (Wednesday September 15th), timestamped for your pleasure and up-to-the-minute convenience.

9:00am – alarm goes off for the first time. I wake with a splitting headache, groan and roll over. Jeff attempts to rouse me, but gives up when I mumble curses.

9:30am – Jeff gets ready to leave for class and asks me if I’m going to make it to my one class of the day. I mumble in the negatory and text Kelsey, telling her to inform our professor that I will not be attending class due to being royally dead. Jeff tells me he set the alarm clock for about noon, and gives me ibuprofen to make the headache go away. I declare him god and fall back to sleep.

1.25pm – I wake up and realize that I’ve overslept by over an hour and the alarm Jeff set me has failed to go off since he set the numbers, but didn’t turn the clock back on. Shit. Fling myself out of bed in a panic and into the shower. Am relieved to discover that my head is better despite my panicked state.

1.45pm – stumble out of the door with a poptart and my bags, muttering to myself that I’m gonna be late for work, shit, I’m gonna be late, I’m not gonna get a parking spot in the lot near the library, fuck my life, awesome, things couldn’t be better.

1.56pm – find a parking space in the lot near the library. Believe in god again for a few moments.

2.05pm – cease believing in god when my stomach reacts poorly to the poptart and I’m in excruciating pain for ten straight minutes while at work and trying to be civil to patrons.

2.30pm – remember that I have to write my first short story for fiction class tonight. Curse the universe and continue to feel nauseated.

3:00pm – nausea dies down. Decide to try some of the mac and cheese I brought with me to work.

4:00pm – finish first shift at work. Feel relieved the mac and cheese is sitting without reacting poorly in my stomach. Decide to go forage for food that may also sit well so that I don’t starve to death.

4:1opm – run into friends Paul and Stevi outside the union. Sit and talk about politics, philosophy, and the internet, especially 4Chan. Drink a bottle of water in the hopes that it will appease my stomach.

5:10pm – Go to Bison Witches and eat an order of their amazing mushroom soup and drink a coke. Believe in god again, briefly.

6:00pm – return to work, and remember that I need to write my short story. Curse the universe and my body for its ill-timed revolt.

6:30pm – realize attempts to write current story idea are failing. Curse, flail, and beat head against the desk. Alarm coworker Ian slightly. reassure him it’s all part of the writing process and he goes back to work.

7.00pm – Text Jeff bemoaning my creative block. Much whining occurs in textual format.

7.30pm – give up on writing and decide to watch Skins.

7:45pm – have brilliant idea while watching Skins. Begin writing frantically while listening to Nine Inch Nails. Become convinced The Fragile is the album I want to listen to right before I die.

9:25pm – Finish writing short story. Do a small victory dance and amuse Ian. Feel mildly nauseated again and curse the universe once more.

10:00pm – get off work, resolve to do nothing for the rest of the evening despite needing to read Shaw’s play Saint Joan for History tomorrow.

10:20pm – do another victory dance at Jeff’s place, and seclude myself in his room with the TV while he does logic homework. Hope tomorrow will be better for my body and my brain. Feel mildly amused at my writing process when feeling ill. Hope my story isn’t a tremendous pile of shit. Make a note to make Jeff read it later when he’s done with his homework.

11:00pm – blog. Like a cool kid. Remember that no-one’s emailed me Thursday’s assignment for Religion in Late Antiquity. Hate people more than I normally do. Decide things could be worse though. Return to TV.  Feel glad tomorrow is on the way. Look forward to the weekend and my stomach calming down so I can drink beer and vodka like a normal person.

The end. By me.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been meaning to compose this post since last Thursday afternoon, but all manner of derp including homework, family obligations, mild indulgence in alcohol and laziness has prevented it thus far. But now, as I sit and listen to old Radiohead CDs and ponder procrastinating my reading for Religion and Culture (because I don’t care about old Irish Saints right now), the idea I had for a blog post has wandered back into my cranium from the gutter it has been resting in.

My mind’s natural state is gutter you see.

Anyhoo, last Thursday during my 400-level writing class, my professor spent a good twenty minutes discussing with us the options we would have as writers beyond an undergraduate level.

Let me tell you, the options did not sound overly cheery to me.

Dr. S. is great. Really, I love his style, he’s this adorable wiry old man with glasses and a scruffy little beard and he talks in a really soft, calm voice and has this eager, wide-eyed ‘I’m so happy you’re all here’ look in his eyes whenever class begins. But it’s pretty clear not only from what I know of his writings but also from the stories we are assigned to read that he’s very much a traditional literature kind of fellow. By traditional literature, I mean fiction that is likely to win literary awards and end up being analysed by college students for many years to come. He got his MFA in creative writing, and therefore he told us all about our options going to graduate school for creative writing. He recommended MFA and PHD programs, encouraged us to wait a bit before going to graduate school…

… and then informed us that all the writers he knew at the professional level were not ‘just’ writers. They were also teachers. They had day jobs, none of them he knew as colleagues and friends wrote full time and lived off of it.

Needless to say, this was not something very cheerful for me to hear, someone who has been aspiring to publish her novels ever since she realized that it was possible (around the age of seven), especially since if I do go to graduate school, it sure as hell won’t be for creative writing.

So I moped over this revelation for a day or two. My friend and classmate Thomas and I wandered around campus after class got out and we commiserated over how we were doomed to wage slave or go get graduate degrees and teach *shudder* if we ever wanted to be anything as writers.

But that was last week. Lately I’ve garnered a modicum of hope from this depressing pile of saditude we received in class.

Because you see, I am not a literature writer.

I’m not bashing the quality of my work or anything. I’m not saying I’m a bad writer. I’m saying there’s a difference between writing literature and writing genre fiction. A big difference.

Genre fiction is a poor way to define it; Jeff and I talk about this frequently and he often voices his hatred of genre as a definer, as a method of categorizing fiction. By Genre fiction I mean popular literature. I mean stories you pick up in a section of the bookstore other than Fiction (and a few of them in Fiction too, don’t get me wrong). Science Fiction. Fantasy. Romance. Crime. All those novels lumped into categories that represent the morphing of literature, of writing and novels, into an entertainment industry.

I don’t want my novels, my stories, to be analysed in a stuffy classroom hundreds of years from now. I don’t want my writing to be a homework assignment.

I want my writing to be what someone comes home to at the end of the day, what a person picks up for recreation at a bookstore or on Amazon.com.

I don’t want people to write papers about my books, I want them to read them, to enjoy them, to pick them up after a hard day and enjoy them with a cup of tea.

I don’t want to write great works of literature. I’m okay with not being one of the ‘great writers of our time’. I don’t want my novel to be the next Great Expectations, I want it to be the next Dresden Files. Or not even that, I want it to be it’s own work, a pioneering adventure.

I just want it to be a story, unfettered by genre or expectation. I want to tell stories. I want to publish those stories and share them with the people of the world who want to escape their own humdrum existences.

That has far more appeal to me than trying to appease an academic or literary standard.

And because of this line of thinking, I feel better. My professor is a brilliant man, a great writer, a fun guy to hold a conversation with, but I don’t think my future is as bleak as he may tell me. I think it’s safe for me to hold on to my dreams at least for a little longer, at least long enough to write that novel, the one that’s been lurking in the back of my mind for the last few months, and start putting it out there for the world to see.

So that’s that. Reality is as may be. Dreams don’t always mesh with the harshness of the world, and that’s why they are dreams. We have to work to make them possible, to bring them to life.

So that’s my thoughts. I appreciate your advice Dr. S, but I’m not going to give up on my dreams just yet. I’m only twenty-two; there’s plenty of life left for me to work my ass off to write as my career, as my vocation. Thanks a bunch, but no thanks. I’m no quitter.

Read Full Post »

The exercise from today’s Fiction Writing class:

Write an interaction between two characters. One must be on the other side of a window, i.e. a bureaucratic or service industry position.

“Welcome to hell. Got a form of ID?” the woman looks like she hasn’t moved for centuries. The chair beneath her creaks from years of neglect and severe lack of WD-40 and the thick glass separating her from the line of new arrivals is unwashed and cloudy. Her voice is flat, monotone, and Bostonian in dialect.

“Uh…” the new arrival stumbles forward and rests his hands on the marble counter. “I have a driver’s license?”

“That’ll do,” the woman sliders a bar at the base of her window and points at the newly exposed tray. “Her eyes do not move from their fixed position, staring at the computer screen. “Put it in the tray please.”

He pulls a slightly damp wallet out of his back pocket and removes the laminated ID, placing it gingerly on the tray. The woman slams the bar to the side and picks up the card, glancing at it and then typing at her computer keyboard with red manicured fingernails. Her skin matches them.

“Luke Atkinson?” she says, still not looking up.

“That’s me,” he says.

She slides the driver’s license back through the window. “Double homicide?”


The woman rolls her eyes and speaks more slowly, glaring up at the ceiling. “Were you in the double homicide?”

He looks perplexed. “I was at the bank where it happened, but I just took a bad fall is all, in the commotion. This is, well, it’s a dream, right?”

The woman rolls her eyes again and sighs pronouncedly. Then she taps at her keyboard. “Take this slip when it prints,” she says, pointing at a slot to the left of the window. “You’ll receive Form H-1 in the Minos room, which is down the hall, second door on the left, not the right, that’s employees only. After you get that slip stamped go to the basement level, down the stairs. Charon Express will take you from there.”

“But,” the man stammers. “I don’t understand, I’m just asleep.”

“Sir,” the woman finally looks over at him. Her eyes are black and empty, a bleak void, and he shudders. “Take your slip and go down the hall second door on the left, or I will ask security to  escort you. NEXT.”

“But, but, this can’t be right!” the man’s eyes widen and fill with a primal fear. “No, no no, this is wrong! I’m alive damnit! Alive!”

“Security to Window Four please,” the woman presses a button at the base of a microphone in front of her.

“This isn’t right!” the man cries as two burly red-skinned men in expensive suits take him by the arms. Small black horns protrude from their foreheads. “No! It’s a mistake! I’m not dead!”

“Yeah, yeah,” the woman rolls her eyes and returns to her computer. “You should be so lucky. NEXT.”

Read Full Post »

I love comics

Current Music: Saul Williams – Black Stacey
Current Location: Work
Current Mood: a bit sick. I blame Coldstone

I appear to have acquired another muse, which is both convenient and confusing. I have also been tremendously unproductive today. However, I did discover two new webcomics that helped me procrastinate quite effectively!

Octopus Pie is one.

Anders Loves Maria is the other.

You should read them while you procrastinate too.

Also, because I seem to be posting pictures, here is one of me eating lunch today.

I ate more than funyuns, but the funyuns were the highlight.

Have I mentioned that I Loovvvee funyuns? Because yeah, I totally do. Like a boss.

Read Full Post »

Already a week into September and I’m hitting novel-plotting road blocks. Nothing major, just difficulty planning the novel I intend to write. My characters are being uncooperative, my muse is sitting in a corner with a bottle of whiskey muttering to herself (she’s a belligerent one), and I’m tired enough that I’m blogging in class instead of paying attention:

There I am. In class. Not paying attention. Only week two and I’m back to my slacker style. Can I get a woo hoo?

I’ve been lurking back on the NaNoWriMo forums now that November is creeping closer. I’ve missed them.

I have writing class later today. We have two short stories to read and discuss: Silver Water by Amy Bloom and Brownies by ZZ Packer. I’ll get them read after History. hopefully they’ll spark interesting discussion, otherwise I’ll be spending the class period trying to plot out NaNo items.

So I’ll hopefully get back on here later to talk about that.

This blog isn’t nearly as interesting as I’d like. Maybe I’ll work on that later this week. We’ll see.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »