Thursday, June 15, 2017

American Bitch

Now Playing: Michael O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori - Perchance to Dream

So this is a topic I keep coming back to: change. Impact. Blah.

See, my problem with Lena Dunham's Girls comes down to Hannah and Marnie. While Shoshanna and Jessa made mistakes, felt guilt, felt anger, and were forced to change, Hannah and Marnie are the same throughout the entirety of season 6 as they were in season 1. If anything, Marnie used to be the Straight Man of the four girls and she went on a complete downward spiral.

It's also frustrating to hear Dunham talk about the episodes. On the HBO site, every time an episode finishes, it automatically plays an "Inside the Episode" segment where she and sometimes other creators talk about the events in the show. Half the time, I have no idea what the fuck she's talking about. It's like her actual characters have depth and intentions that are interesting to analyse and figure out, but as soon as I hear her opinions, I want to be like, "uhm. No. That's stupid. I don't think you get it." (And she's the creator).

It's condescending, but the quickest way to explain how I feel it harms her writing is how she's forced a lot of the relationships in the show. More than a few times, she's been like, "there's this girl and this guy and I always knew something sexual/romantic would happen between them." It makes me think not only does she not understand her own characters, she also doesn't seem to understand a man and a woman don't necessarily have to have a sexual  encounter just because they're a man and a woman. (Not even gay characters are safe from this treatment. Or side characters).

I have trouble with the way she develops dialogue and character arcs. It's like I start to see it go in the right direction--a progression that feels both earned and organic. Then she either goes too far or veers off the rails completely.

So when American Bitch aired, I not only did not trust the show to be able to handle the complicated nature of sexual assault and power dynamics, I also made sure not to listen to the Behind the Episode segment. 

It surprised me how much I liked the episode. And I adored a lot of the think pieces that came from it. But as the series continued, I realized that it hadn't been an episode at all. It'd been an essay. Nothing that happened in American Bitch ever affected a single aspect of the show. Not in terms of impacting the plot, not in terms of how it could have affected the characters, and definitely not in terms of themes or issues. 

So I finally watched the Behind the Episode and sure enough, the creator discussion is so vapid that I regret even clicking on it.

(And yet its YouTube comments are a lot more profound. Go figure).

But I try to give Dunham the benefit of the doubt sometimes. It's not like she's a bad writer, after all. Maybe the lack of lingering impact is supposed to be the point. Maybe it's supposed to comment on how the events that transpire in American Bitch are relatable to a lot of women, and no matter how odd, troubling, or even traumatic those can be, they're just snippets of our lives we don't know how to address. So we don't dwell on them--if only because we don't know how or because they're so commonplace--and life goes on.

I hadn't even thought much about the episode until the other day--the day I referenced in my last post, when I talked with one of Flip's friend about the bizarre phrasings we use surrounding sex and virginity. I spoke up about that, and later I wondered if I did it purely because it bothered me or because I had the slight hope he might think critically about the strange ideas we hold of "virginity" in our society.

But if I truly believed I was trying to steer this person into any kind of critical discussion or (and I'm being widely optimistic here) lasting change, I would have addressed the one thing that always bothers me about him: he cannot refer to women as anything except "bitches." 

It's driving me nuts. To the point where I actively avoid being in the same room as him. I stay civil and I'll make small talk when prompted, but it's like as soon as I forget about that habit of his and I decide to be friendly, I immediately regret it when he rambles on about, "if I did X, I'd get all kinds of bitches." (That's a somewhat-direct quote. If I went word for word, you'd think I was making shit up). 

It's such a ridiculous way of talking that it should be cartoonish and therefore easy to dismiss. But it's infuriating because I know he's one in a million who think the same things and say the same things and have it influence so much of what how they perceive and treat other people--especially women.

So why didn't I say anything?

In the moment, I simply forgot. But maybe I don't think we can have any lasting effect on one another. It's one of those things about life that exist and I don't dwell on it for long because I don't know how to address it.

(Although that still makes for shitty fiction. So I guess Girls isn't any more profound for being as crap as real life is).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Meaning

Now Playing: Rihanna - Desperado

Yesterday, I talked to one of Flip's friends about relationships, sex, boundaries, libido, etc. He'd come over with another one of their mutual friends and they breached the subject and ended up asking me and each other a bunch of questions until it turned into a discussion.

I disagreed with a lot of the points two out of the three boys brought up, but at the very least they seemed to acknowledge a lot of their opinions were completely centered on who they were as individuals. So, like, they hold strong opinions on subjects like sleeping in separate beds or the kind of boundaries they have with strangers vs. girlfriends, but they don't expect those opinions to be universal.

But anyways--at one point, Flip's friend mentioned his girlfriend, and he got to talking about how, despite being a modern millennial Casanova, he's willing to wait for her to be ready to have sex, as she's still a virgin.

AND YET

Based on all he's shared, that label has been shredded to strips until a single, tiny piece remains. They've done a lot together and she's clearly interested enough to progress the sexual aspect of their relationship slowly. But because there's been no "finishing act", she and her boyfriend and her friends maintain the label of "virgin." Which isn't to say that since she's practically not anymore they might as well get the intercourse over with--if she's not there yet or doesn't want to, that's fine, that's her business, no one should impart any judgement.

But broadly speaking, it's odd that in heterosexual relationships that label has to remain firmly attached (with a few asterisks and footnotes of clarification) until the so-called "actual" fucking takes place.

I wasn't going to comment on it. Then Flip's friend said the dreaded words,

"Well, when I take her virginity--"

Cue barf sound.

I don't mean metaphorically. I mean I interrupted him to pretend to gag and roll my eyes and kinda screw up my face like I just saw someone take a dump on the carpet.

I told him then what I'm going to repeat now: I hateee that phrasing. With a passion. The hate only intensifies as I get older.

I always disliked it growing up, since I thought the whole concept of it was arbitrary as hell and I already knew "virginity" was mostly used to shame boys who "had" it and girls who'd "lost" it.

But I hated the phrasing because I hated that it made it sound like some physical thing you could hold in your hands and toss out. Soon as I learned that there's not even such a thing as "popping" or "breaking" your hymen (and how troubling it is that we use such violent language to describe what should be normal sexual situations), I realized there was even less need for that kind of phrasing.

When I read the great Jenny Trout's breakdown of Fifty Shades of Grey, it solidified my dislike for it because in one particular chapter analysis, she wrote:

Why do we talk about the “giving” and “taking” of virginity? Like it’s a tangible object than passes from hand to hand? I don’t understand it, but it’s definitely in the parlance of our society. The woman “gives” and the man “takes”. I’ve always hated that. I don’t feel like I gave anything away when I lost my virginity. I feel like I shared an experience. But then again, the kid who punched my v-card was also a virgin, so maybe in that case we just swapped virginities.

(Emphasis mine because that's just too funny).

Oddly enough, when Flip's friend used that phrase yesterday and I objected, he initially seemed to think I was against the word "taking." He immediately tried to correct himself with, "when she offers me her virginity" and that sounded equally ridiculous.

I had to ask him--does he collect virginities? Does he put them in a jar and then place them up on one of his shelves?

Now I can't stop thinking about that. Like. There's gotta be at least one fantasy novel that does that.

It could even be with witches to play with the old stereotype that women only want sex as a kind of currency or in exchange for favors. Maybe there's a coven out there that preys on unsuspecting boys, takes their maidenhood (? see?! There's not even a male term for it! ARBITRARY), and then puts the virginity in a vial to be used for spells, potions, hexes, etc.

It's the only way that concept would ever make sense.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

From the Past

More like from October 2014--senior year at FSU, fall semester.

I stumbled into an old email exchange from back when I was applying for my last required creative writing workshop. There were two classes I applied to. The one I ended up taking included in its syllabus the disclaimer that writing genre fiction wasn't the same as writing literary fiction and if we chose to attempt the former, we were subjecting ourselves to harsher grading for we had to manage great literary fiction-style accomplishments while also "adhering to the constrains" of genre fiction.

(I never figured out what the hell that meant but at least my grade didn't suffer).

And then the other class, where the application processed asked we include an email talking about ourselves and our influences. I told the professor I was "a speculative fiction and character-oriented writer," who'd been greatly influenced by the likes of Mary Shelley, Octavia Butler, and Isaac Asimov.

I was careful not to include authors I thought would make the professor eye-roll (like megapopular superstars J.K. Rowling or Stephen King--though I did include other popular authors) and instead focused on sci-fi and fantasy writers who are arguably renowned for really shaping their genres. The writing sample was a short story featuring an android and there was only one author on my list who wasn't under the speculative fiction umbrella. So of course, I got this from the professor:

Rebeca,  
You're welcome to take my class, but I must warn you that we are going to be working on character-driven literary fiction. I don't care where you set your work--on Mars, in the future, in the past--but we'll be working on subtext and character.

๐Ÿ˜‘

So yeah. That reminded me why any interest in obtaining an MFA tanked after FSU, despite all I did learn from professors ๐Ÿ˜’. Not worth it.

That said, as I've mentioned before, grad. school seems to be a real possibility as of late. I'm going for that MLS degree.

Hypothetically (???). I'm still hashing everything out but it's more of a plan than I had two/three years ago ๐Ÿ˜›

(Yes, I did just discover the emoji tool on Blogger. Why do you ask?)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Red

When I think about Courtney Summers's All the Rage, two points spring to mind:

1) It's as visceral and unforgiving and brutal as everyone said it'd be--and for good reason; it handles the subject matters of rape, bullying, and victim blaming as unflinchingly as they need to be handled.

2) Romy Grey and her red lipstick and red nails.

The book kept coming back to point two, so I kept coming back to it with it. It was this little detail that formed her personality and a little narrative device that inherently had so many layers to it. The obvious is the use of her surname in contrast to a bold color like red, and what it means for her to not only return to it, but to find strength in it. The other is how we so often frame red in terms of themes--the color of anger, red lips the stereotypical color of a two-dimensional femme fatale, the color used to brand a "sinner" in The Scarlet Letter, the color of blood, the color most often associated with love,  the color of sacrifice and courage, etc, etc.

The fact that it's make-up and nail polish which feel like armor to Romy adds more dimensions to it--the lines of femininity and masculinity meshed and blurred.

I like color in books. I like it in movies too. My college professors and a good deal of fellow readers might find them a little gimmicky, but I have an affinity for them. Maybe because a great deal of superheroes have color associations.

Anyways--it was mostly because of Romy that I finally gave red nail polish a try.

I hated nail polish when I was little. I hated the smell of it and thought it looked tacky and ugly 100% of the time. It didn't matter if my eleven-year-old friends were applying it on each other or whether someone got it professionally done, fake or painted nails always looked repulsive to me. My mom conned me into getting my nails painted for my 8th grade formal, and I hated that salon more than I hated the dentist.

I don't know what eventually turned me into it. I think it was seeing the colors on Ren's hands. It made them a little more vibrant. While writing a particular rough chapter of one of my books, I told Ren I was thinking of painting my nails in an effort to encourage me to write. I thought, if I have something pretty to look at, I'll be more inclined to keep typing.

(Typing is my favorite part of writing. Love for my characters goes in second place).

She ended up agreeing. She said she found she was more productive with her hands when her nails were painted.

Of course I started with black polish, roughly $2.00 a bottle. My mom was horrified when she saw the end result. I'd fucked it up so badly--my hands were shaky and I didn't know how many layers to apply or how thick the consistency was supposed to be when you drew it out of the bottle. The color bled over the edges and tainted my fingers. I tried to use this cheap bottle of perfume I'd bought at CVS a year ago to rub out some of the stains (since I didn't have rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover)  but it barely helped. My mom ran to Walmart (despite my protest) and bought me top coat, q-tips, and nail polish remover. She told me if I was gonna wear black nail polish of all things, I might as well make it presentable.

I'm still not very good at it and it takes me an eternity. But I managed to come to red finally, and even if it now really bleeds over to my fingers, I like it. My hands don't look like my hands. They look like Romy's.

By pure chance, twenty minutes after I painted my nails red, thinking of Romy the whole time, I watched The Handmaid's Tale.

(Red, the color of the handmaids).

I've never read the book, though I have read other works by the great Margaret Atwood. I do think she's a great writer but I find it a little annoying that she so often rejected the label of science fiction for her work (although it's not quite as aggravating as the way Harlan Ellison and Terry Goodkins rejected sci-fi/fantasy). I can almost understand her, in the sense that I can imagine maybe she'd feel the need to make the distinction if she worried her work would be easily dismissed by critics, which they'd be far more prone to do when the writer is not only a woman but writing about deeply feminist issues.

I find it even more annoying that the lead actress behind the Hulu adaptation was a complete chicken shit about the label of "feminism." To a point where I feared any overt feminist themes would be seriously diluted because of it. It ended up taking my excitement for the adaption down a notch and I didn't jump to watch it the day it premiered.

Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case for these first three episodes.

 I was hesitant to give it a try without reading the book first, but over at the subreddit AskWomen, shortly after the premiere date someone asked what we all thought about the show. Most people said, "it hurts because it feels real."

Shorty after seeing it, I was talking with someone who said they could not stomach the series. They asked me, a little appalled, why I'd want to sit through something so horrible. And to be fair, people weren't lying: it did hurt. I held out as much as I could then ended up crying at the birthing scene of the second episode.

There's many reasons why I want to keep watching--I think it's well-made, the acting is good, the writing is great, I'm intrigued to see where the characters go and what happens to them, how they'll choose to act, what'll happen to this regime, etc. But I ended up saying, "because I think it's important."

I'm not of the opinion that a story can be saved by a good message. Execution matters more than anything else. But I will be drawn to a story if I get the sense it'll explore themes and ideas I find intriguing. If it does it well, then I've found something truly worthwhile.

When I was talking to this person, they brought up that it's just as valid for them not to want to watch The Handmaid's Tale so not to be subjected to such an overwhelming horrifying portrayal of rape as it is fair for someone not to want to watch Game of Thrones due to the violence.

And in theory I agreed--but then I remembered that this person does like Game of Thrones and has seen every available episode. And Game of Thrones has done something worse with the subject of rape. It's thrown it in there for cheap shock and cheap characterization, it's sometimes ignored or lessen the severity, a few times it's even fetishized an aspect or framing of it. (Which is arguably an issue with all of the writing as the series went on--death and violence are included so often and are so poorly set-up that they no longer carry an impact).

So how could one justify watching the subject be so thoroughly mishandled in Game of Thrones while being put-off by how visceral it's portrayed in Handmaid's Tale? (Which manages to be horrific without any nudity or physical violence).

And they said it's simply because it's not a focus-point of Game of Thrones. It's easier to stomach. It doesn't hurt.

It hurts when it's in The Handmaid's Tale. It hurts in All the Rage. Pretending it shouldn't is such a disservice to the people who have survived it.

But that's just a little too unpleasant for some of us, I guess.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Coming to You Live From Chapter 18

I hate this chapter.

But only because I want it to be so perfect that it becomes my favorite piece of anything I've ever written.

Unrealistic expectations of my work that are shattered as soon as I try to actually craft something amazing are not an uncommon component of my writing process. But this chapter tends to hurt in a very acute way. I can see how far I'm trying to reach and how little I'm accomplishing.

A lot has changed from the first draft of this chapter. I know that partially because I have the first draft printed and propped up in front of me and also because I've spent the last half of the year rewriting the whole thing. The essential beats are still there and the characters are still roughly the same. But I tried to add more depth (and probably fattened up the story--don't ask me about a word count cuz I'm too scared to combine the chapters and find out) and more details. Now I'm in the same place I was roughly three years ago--struggling with the one scene that's supposed to deeply affect the main character and change the course of the story. It feels like the point of a book where a reader could easily go, "soon as that chapter hit, the book lost me."

I wish it got easier with more revisions. Or that I found enough of a reason to believe I've steered this in the right direction.

But I won't know until I get the book to someone else. Someone with an impartial view who'll read it and tell me, "this does/doesn't work."

And that's gonna suck, but it'll probably be freeing. I've been sensitive to criticism before, but I'm starting to think I'd rather take that than wallow in the confusion brought about by self-doubt.

So let's see if I can get this chapter done today. I'm running on Coke Zero and shrimp tempura sushi and Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile album. That's gotta help.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Resolutions

Now Playing: Highly Suspect - My Name is Human

Last week, I:

1) Read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

2) Watched Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele.

I've been thinking about these two stories in the context of how our world influences fiction, and of the narrative choices we make as creators--not necessarily in a "good choice" vs "bad choice" kind of way, but in how those choices differ because of framing, tone, what we feel is best for our stories, and how we react to real life events.

Both The Hate U Give and Get Out deal critically with the subject of racism, but they approach it in different ways. The former is mostly focused on police brutality (although it also touches on the complexities that arise from conflicts within poorer black communities and the kind of struggles a kid, Starr, who straddles two worlds is forced to face). It's mostly about the kind of racism that arises from hatred--a white community looking down to a black community. Always assuming the worst. Get Out is almost about the opposite, instead dealing with prejudices born from a misplaced, ignorant racism that has a white community "admiring" black people for completely asinine reasons. Both have their own ignorant justifications, and while the attitudes are different, the outcome is the same in the way that the black heroes/characters are mistreated, at times villainized, often scrutinized, etc.

They differ in tone too. There are amusing, funny scenes in both, but The Hate U Give is clearly trying to set a more serious tone than Get Out, which is never ridiculous, but it does have a closer relationship with the hyperbolic given its genre. It has an almost equal amount of tension and comedy and horror. Tonally--and again, just because of the differing genres--it sets them apart.

I wouldn't necessarily be comparing the two if it hadn't been for their endings.

(SPOILERS HERE AFTER).

It's not necessarily the focus, but Get Out does acknowledge the presence of racism within law enforcement officers, and in the ending, it very clearly played with our expectations. I believed--the second that Chris made that call to 911 as he was escaping the house--that he would be arrested for the "murder" of the white family. And I know I wasn't the only one--I felt an overwhelming sense of relief go through the theater audience when we saw it was his friend, Rod, who'd arrived not in a police vehicle but a TSA car. It didn't, however, surprise me to find out that Jordan Peele had originally written out the ending we feared: Chris getting arrested and most likely falsely tried and convicted for the deaths of the family.

But I find it most interesting that Jordan Peele decided to end the film with hope. Not because he was trying to squander or minimize his original message--I don't think the new ending takes away from that. But because he does feel hope and he wants us--and his hero--to feel that hope too. As the article states, "Peele explained that when they finally got around to making the movie, times had changed a bit, and the perspective of society regarding racism was a little “more woke,” thanks to headline-making stories about police shootings."

Maybe because I'm wildly idealistic, I wanted to have a bit of that hope too as The Hate U Give was ending, even though I knew--because I wasn't surprised--that the outcome in the book would be the same as it often has been in real life: the white police officer who murdered an unarmed black civilian is not indicted.

In an interview she gave to Ebony, she talks about how the real deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland pushed her into writing and finishing a novel with a such a difficult, taxing subject matter. And I couldn't help but wonder, if in an earlier draft, or even just as a fleeting thought, she ever considered giving Starr a far happier ending.

I don't think she would have. The tone and overall structure of the story riles on realism, so diverting from that had a higher chance of hurting the book than of helping it. But I still wonder if she ever considered it, if only because it could only be in fiction that some sense of justice would be claimed.

The Hate U Give doesn't end completely bleakly, but it's clearly not the outcome that Starr would have wanted. Of course because I'd grown to care for her, I wanted the best for her, after everything she'd been through. But I'm not mad about the ending or feel like it should have been done differently, despite how brutally realistic it is. And I don't think the ending to Get Out needed to be different either. Just like The Hate U Give doesn't have a completely bleak ending, Get Out doesn't end in roses and rainbows either. It's a balance, even if they did pick slightly different directions.

Both stories found the ending they needed and the endings the rest of the narrative built up to. As someone who struggles with figuring out endings, I have to admire The Hate U Give and Get Out. It speaks volumes to the talent of Thomas and Peele that they were able to give completely powerful resolutions to very complex stories with heavy (and personal) subjects. And that, despite some similarities in themes, the stories develop and resolve in completely different ways.

Side note: I'm glad they've both gotten critical acclaim and been a huge hit with audiences. It brings me back to that perpetually-challenged hope I have that art can change culture.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Innovation

Ever since I discovered a wedding planning subreddit, I've been obsessed with analyzing all the wedding dress posts that go up there on the daily. I've shown them to my mom on occasion because it can be fun to critique fashion with her. She has a very minimalist approach to it. A single flower on a collar can ruin a dress for her.

I like to think I'm forgiving with most of fashion. I tend to like weird, crazy stuff you could never wear anywhere except for on a runway. But I tend to be overtly critical of wedding dresses. I find them most often boring or forgettable. Sometimes quite ugly. Which is a little strange because I feel like I should give them more leeway--there's only so much a traditional wedding dress can be. There's only so much variation you can bring out of beads, lace, the established necklines and skirt types, and various shades of white. Most often I find I hate too many repeated aspects of wedding dresses that ultimately cause me to rule out several styles from the get-go. I find sequin tacky, I dislike off-white colors like champagne or ivory, I find layers of sheer fabrics on puffy skirt a little too ugly, really huge flowery patterns makes me think of tablecloths, and transparent sleeves with lace never look that good in my eyes.

It sounds way too negative and a little ridiculous, but it is one of those things where I look at wedding dresses and I want to find one that somehow doesn't break from using traditional materials/designs and still somehow comes out looking beautiful and unique. I've found a couple I like--even if they utilized aspects that I tend to hate on their own or in different dresses.

I got to thinking that's a (subconscious?) apprehension I have with all of art. I can't help but wonder with all the years humanity has spent making music, writing books, or utilizing visual mediums, well, how do we keep coming up with new sounds and new wordings and images and stories? Though admittedly instruments, language, and techniques have evolved, it still sometimes feels like we should have ran out of ways to tell new tales in new ways or to arrange musical notes in a way that have never been arranged before.

So maybe that's why I'm obsessed with wedding dresses. Every style tries to be innovative despite the limited groundwork/materials it so often must adhere to. And sometimes, even if I think it ugly or boring, it manages to find a glimmer of individuality despite the limitations.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Note (tiny update)

Rum and coke was the first drink I ever had. First few times I tried, it only ever tasted like flat soda. Last night, I discovered that the right kind of rum practically caramelizes coke zero.

I had two drinks after switching off the borefest that was Iron Fist for Arrow. When my head was floating, I got the urge to reread Neuromancer and add a few more paragraphs onto my novel--which is what I did while sitting on Flip's lap.

Today, I remembered I'd left this note to myself midway through the chapter:

sorry future-Becca. Might be kinda drunk. Hence why this doesn’t make much sense

So much for, "write drunk, edit sober."

But see. I added that last bit as if what I'd written was totally worthless. And it's technically not. The writing is bad in a way that a first draft is allowed to be.

But. Yeah. This ain't a first draft. Which is why "write drunk, edit sober" doesn't apply to rewrites. You'd think tipsy me would have remembered that before I started slamming away at the keyboard.

Ugh. When will this rewrite enddddddd.

I'm on chapter 17. Halfway there? Who knows.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trips and Futures (Updates)

Now Playing: How to Destroy Angels - The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Early note: The nickname I was using for my boyfriend, Red, is kinda pointless now that I want to share some pictures of us and my friend Ren at Orlando. So like. His name is Flip. (Well, his nickname is. There's a cute mega-tiny story behind it but it's so silly I shan't share. There's also a short explanation behind Ren's nickname but it's one I never remember).

But yeah--I went to two theme parks this past weekend despite the fact that Flip and I don't exactly have limitless funds. It was not a smart choice, I'll say, but it was fun. There was a concert on Friday for one of Ren's favorite bands, and somewhere between drinking two cranberry vodkas and realizing there was an unexpected screamo band before the main act, several mosh pits broke out. Dimly I remembered hearing about fans who'd died in, like, Smashing Pumpkins concerts due to mosh pits and since I don't have the body mass to slam into people who slam into me, I started kicking and elbowing anyone who hurdled themselves at me.

Never. Again.

Senses Fail was good and the venue was cute. So that was nice.

Opening band.
Second band. (There were three in total before the main show)

Next day was Islands of Adventure. Twas fun. Ren and Flip are apparently aficionados of roller coasters and the closest thing to a roller coaster I've ever come to riding was Splash Mountain when I was twelve at Disney soooo them throwing me into the Hulk was terrifying. And though I can't make myself ever enjoy the initial escalation and first drop of any roller coaster ride, they are soooo fun.

Hulk was great, as was the Harry Potter dragon ride and the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (which I rode on Sunday at Universal). We rode the Hulk twice, if I'm not mistaken, the dragons twice (one for each dragon, both times front seat), and three times for the Rip Ride Rockit. On that third and final time of the latter, I picked Beastie Boys' Sabotage on one of the playlists. It was synced at the beginning so perfectly.

On that first drop at the Hulk, I discovered roller coasters are far more enjoyable once I realized they're the closest thing I'll ever get to riding a dragon.

Although, like I told Silvia, I think I'm more scared of a roller coaster malfunctioning than I'd be of a dragon accidentally dropping me.


 
Despite my hair and weird thumb placement, this might be one of my favorite pictures of us.
On the Hippogriff ride.
I know it's not a particularly harsh ride, but it's hard to explain the panic Flip and I felt when Ren pulled her phone out up there.  
She assured us she'd done it a million times before. 
There was no line for this ride because no park-visitor wanted to get soaking wet.
We rode it twice. Then went to ride the Hulk at the end to try and dry off.

I barely got any pictures inside the new King Kong ride because my phone couldn't manage anything decent in the darkness. Despite being told it was a 90 minute wait, we were there for over two hours. Flip was unimpressed by the actual ride, but a dude lunged at him from a hole in the wall before retreating into the darkness, scaring the shit out of everyone within a 5 feet radius, so that made the whole thing worth it.

Also, as fun as 3D rides can be (particularly the Harry Potter ones), it's hard to fight against classic rides like The Mummy. Ren led us in there, also practically had no wait time, and we rode it twice just cuz it was so fun.

When I came back to work that Monday, I had two full carts of books waiting for me to be shelved. Which is what I get for missing one of my scheduled days. (I'd made up the hours, but earlier on the week, which meant I didn't have extra time after to make up for my missing day). I was also sent to another library mid-week for some additional training, so things are piling up again. Ughhh.

Three hours into my shift, I'd barely finished organizing the carts.
This was even after shelving the new books, DVDs, YA novels, and a few large prints.

At training, I got to talking to a lot of the librarians and library assistants. A few seemed impressed that I already had my Bachelor's and gave me some advice on the assumption that I would for sure go to Grad school to become a librarian.

I didn't say I was still considering it, and to be honest, it was a relief that they didn't ask. I hate having to give an answer. It was nice to have them give me a few personal anecdotes of their own profession and what it was like to work in the library system. I can't help but worry that part of my apprehension towards getting a Master's degree isn't just in the money-problem, but I also think maybe it'd mean cementing my roots in Miami permanently. Wasn't the dream to live in another city? The chances of getting work in a different library system are slim, and I've already been selected for this one, even if I'm just starting out and anything can happen.

I don't want to gamble too much with my future. But I've decided on like eighteen different life goals/plans within the past three months, it'll be nice to settle on a particular direction.

I don't know. We'll see how it goes. If I stay, I think I'll be happy. What more could I ask for?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Disposable Teens

Now Playing: Marilyn Manson - Killing Strangers 

After I mentioned it on my last post, I AGAIN toyed with the idea that I could rename Death Awakens and reference a Marilyn Manson song. Except this time it'd be into Disposable Teens.

Thematically it fits better but I wasn't sure because it's not my favorite Manson song and seemed a little too obvious. (Is that dumb? Probz. I do like it well enough, but I really, really want to reference The Pale Emperor).

Then yesterday I was looking up some videos regarding the Columbine Shooting and I came across an interview Manson did where he talked about how easy it was for the public and the press to blame him for that kind of event. It got to a point where after Columbine he estimated he'd been blamed for around 36 different shootings. 

And like. 

Motherfuck. Now I'd feel bad if my book was just another, "devil's music linked to violent teens!" narrative perpetuated by the public and the media. I don't know if I'd reference the band in the book, but if I do, even if just in the title, it might not be as neutral towards Manson and us fans as I'd wish. 

Dammit. And here I just wanted my witches to have good taste in music. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Qualms?

Now Playing
  • The Neighbourhood - A Little Death
  • Marilyn Manson - Cupid Carries A Gun

Few thoughts related to my death-centric stories:

1) After titling that other post Fated, Faithful, Fatal, I've been toying around with the idea of outright renaming Death Awakens after that song. But like. Is that . . . legal? Or advisable?

I read on Wikipedia that the Red Hot Chili Peppers sued Californication because they'd never given any sort of permission for the show to use the word and it was causing an unwilling connection (and therefore confusion) between their hit-song/album and the show. (Or something. I'm butchering it. The wiki quotes the full argument but I think that's the gist of it).

But the network and creators were all, "Uh, you didn't create the word 'californication' and you didn't register a trademark. We weren't even thinking of you when we named the show this. So fight me *fisty cuffs.*"

(again, paraphrasing here).

My dilemma is different but I keep thinking I'd be in the clear because I've been seeing a book at the library titled Paint it Black; no one is gonna be dumb enough to bend over backwards and try to argue Janet Fitch wasn't thinking of the Rolling Stones when she titled her novel. And just looking at Goodreads, it ain't even an uncommon title.

But it's not like I'm naming the book The Beautiful People or Disposable Teens so--

Hold up.

Holy fuck that's a good title.

Wait, okay. Sorry: it's not like I'm naming the book after a popular band's hit-song. Fated, Faithful, Fatal only appears in the deluxe edition of "The Pale Emperor" and is the acoustic version of another song on the album called The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles. Both versions are amazing and helped inspire one of the scenes I've been visualizing, but only the former would make any bit of sense as a title. So like. Is it worse that it's a little less known? Does it not matter? If Manson ever heard about it (which I doubt, but, shhh), would he be all, "...can you not?"

I'll just cry endlessly if I'm ever in a position where one of my favorite musicians slaps me with a lawsuit.

Guess that's a question for a literary agent. Uh. You know, if I get there. I'll probably think of another title by then.

I should probably start the stupid book before I worry about this >_>

. . . I need to look something up.

Crap. I am both relieved and sad no one's used "Disposable Teens" as a title. Although now I'm finding out that's not to Marilyn Manson what Paint it Black is to the Rolling Stones. The Beautiful People was more accurate.

I don't know music charts >:(

2) I've been going to Coral Gables on my free days to write at the Books & Books cafe and I've made significant progress on Millennium Girl. However, I noticed I haven't been utilizing the first draft all that much.

I guess because I have all major plot points memorized and the writing/voices of the first draft is super rough so it hurts to look at it.

But not everything is trash. I've been hesitant to go back and reread it to aid my current rewrite, but some bits of dialogue and passages can survive the next few drafts, me thinks. It's not like I got all the voices wrong.

So that's my goal right now: quit shunning the atrocity that is the first draft. If it truly was trash, I wouldn't be here in the first place.

3) I never mentioned how, a few months ago, I found the perfect picture to embody both Millennium Girl and Death Awakens:



Oh yeah.

I need to find the artist to credit. (Why are you so bad at this, Pinterest?! Help me out!) But it fits so well for completely different reasons.

Hell. That's a title I could get behind.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Little Words

Now Playing: Highly Suspect - Bloodfeather

I'm so amused.

I hadn't checked Rainbow Rowell's website ever since I read Eleanor & Park on my second year of college, so I hadn't noticed she'd answered a question pertaining to the ending of the book.

Spoilers hereafter.

Well, actually, she spends a good chunk of the F.A.Q. avoiding the question, and her avoidance-answers are so amusing.

I'm of the opinion that there's no point asking an author a question like that because if they'd wanted to tell you something that's been omitted from the book, then it would have been in the book in the first place. (The one exception is probably when the great hand of the editor slaps you in the face for your insolence and removes shit for you but, uh, I don't know how common that is? I figured editors and writers just eventually learn to agree on things. For the most part.)

As a fellow writer, the final lines are kind of genius because of the possibilities. As purely a reader, it's fun to guess something positive, given Park's uplifting response to it:
  • I love you.
    • (Get the obvious one out of the way)
  • I miss you.
  • I am okay.
  • I'm better now.
  • I'm still alive.
  • Wait for me.
  • I'm still here.
  • I'll find you.
  • See you soon.
  • Come see me.
  • Come find me.
  • Be there soon.

Genius, right?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fated, Faithful, Fatal

Now Playing: Marilyn Manson - Fated, Faithful, Fatal and Fall of the House of Death

Quick early note: I titled this post from a song found in The Pale Emperor, some of Marilyn Manson's best work. (You need the deluxe version in your life).  I was never a die hard fan of MM, but did tend to have a soft spot for the covers (Sweet Dreams, Tainted Love, Personal Jesus, This is Halloween, I've Put A Spell On You). Then I sat down and actually listened to all the albums and I'm so in love....

I've mentioned before that whenever I'm on road trips or staying at hotels, I tend to read up on crimes (past, present, solved, ongoing, etc) to traumatize myself and make me fear the road and strangers and never coming home again.

Well Red and I drove to Key West on Saturday just for funzies (but did not get to go to the Earnest Hemingway House because we forgot to bring cash), so on the ride there, I pulled up the FBI site.

I've done it before. On occasion I like to check the FBI's wanted lists to see what's changed, what's been updated, and generally for any new faces/cases. The Ten Most Wanted Fugitives is often the one people think about, but I tend to gravitate to kidnapping/missing person cases as well as the general Seeking Information list.

I find them significantly more disturbing, as they hit a more personal note than, say, fearing a wanted terrorist.

I've noted that Natalee Holloway is listed under the Seeking Information list and not the Kidnapping & Missing Persons list despite the fact that Amy Lynn Bradely is in the latter and there's the belief (at least to us in the public; authorities can and do know more information not available to us) that the two could have been victims of human trafficking. Natalee's profile also contains the disclaimer that no one has been charged with her kidnapping as there's no real hard evidence to suggest foul play happened to cause her disappearance. Therefore, coming forth with information is not an admission of guilt. Is it because of that disclaimer that Natalee is in that list? And why was she declared dead in absentia despite the fact that she disappeared in 2005 when so many other missing person cases can remain open for decades on end?

There's a lot I don't know, as you can tell. Maybe because I don't necessarily delve in to all the conspiracy theories and documents. Mostly I just tread the water.

Anyways, while looking through the Missing Persons list, I found the case of Michaela Garecht, a victim of kidnapping.

I remember once watching an interview done by the parents of Madeleine Mccann where her mother, Kate, mentioned how frustrating it was that people so often criticized them for the circumstances surrounding Madeliene's disappearance. To an extent, I can't help but sympathize with those criticisms. As an outsider I think, "well what the fuck were you thinking, leaving your kids sleeping in a hotel room, in a foreign country, with the door unlocked, while you dined elsewhere?" It's a knee-jerk reaction that hits me whenever I read about someone being kidnapped for accepting a ride with someone--family friend, stranger, etc--like in the Ariel Castro kidnappings. My brain goes, "but why didn't you know better?"

But (and I'm sure I also discussed this before) why should I fault people--especially children--who can't help but believe in the good of others? That's my mindset most often, after all. The crimes committed are not in any way their fault.

Plus, it's not like I haven't made choices that could have had terrible outcomes. I went to Red's dorm room the same day we met. I got in an Uber with him and his roommate and hung out with them for hours with the door closed/locked in a mostly vacant building. His roommate and I had this conversation while we were both lying down, me on Red's bed, roommate on his own bed:

Him: I can't believe you trusted us not to murder you.
Me: I can't believe you trusted me not to murder you.

It's also unfair of me to be critical because it can so often be unavoidable.

Jaycee Lee Dugard didn't get into a stranger's vehicle; the car pulled up while she was in view of her school bus and she was paralyzed with a taser before being grabbed. Jacob Wetterling was biking with friends in broad daylight before a man with a gun terrorized them and took him. And poor Michaela was also with a friend, during the day, retrieving a scooter from a parking lot, when a man nearby threw her into his car and drove away.

I felt for her and her parents, as I often do in these cases. But it didn't hit me fully until I discovered her mother keeps a blog--updated often, nearly three decades after the disappearance--titled Dear Michaela.

I haven't read all the entries, but I am trying to, slowly. I've seen a lot of interviews and read from people who've lost family members to cases of kidnapping and murder, but they haven't lessen the impact of reading Sharon's posts. I want to talk about all of them but they touch upon so much that it's better if you just take the plunge for yourself.

I always wonder about the families of missing victims. Time becomes so warped when you try and consider what it feels like to have someone you love disappear for years and years. It must be a void that stretches to eternity, there for every birthday, every holiday, every milestone of life. And in the little moments too: washing dishes, driving to work, seeing friends. I try my hardest to imagine it but of course it's impossible for me to comprehend.

Sharon touches on a lot of subjects. Faith, memory, love, pain. One I found particularly fascinating is about the actual events of that day. Sharon remembers so much of it in detail, as does Michaela's friend, Trina, who witnessed the kidnapping. But they also mention how sometimes the memories are warped; by retellings or by the reenactments done in public television. For years Sharon believed Michaela was grabbed immediately by the kidnapper, but in a conversation with Trina, she states that it's possible Michaela did speak briefly with the kidnapper.

It's a little detail but it carries a lot of weight because it's the last time anyone can think of Michaela concretely.

Another post of hers (talking about the aforementioned Jacob Wetterling case) also discusses the suspect. There's no doubt in her mind that Michaela suffered after being kidnapped. We know what so often happens to children who are taken. But Sharon also admits that she's never quite given the suspect as much thought as she does to Michaela. To an extent, it might not even matter if he's brought to justice so long as Michaela comes home.

I'm going to quote extensively from it:

. . . I realize how little thought I have actually given to the man who kidnapped Michaela. I can't recall spending even a small amount of time hoping to find him and bring him to justice. Every bent of my mind has been always and only been on finding Michaela. I would have approved the same deal that Jacob's family approved, that Jacob's killer will go to prison for 20 years on other charges, but will face none for Jacob in exchange for his confession and providing the location of his remains. We can't ignore the kidnappers. We can't say, let him go free, because we have a responsibility to the other children in the world, to keep them safe. But from the start I went on television and begged the kidnapper, "Please, just drop her off somewhere and go away. We don't care about you. We only want our daughter back." There was nothing else I wanted and no price I wouldn't have paid to get it. Today I would say the same if she was alive.  
I might say the same if she is not alive, just for someone to tell me what happened to her, and where she is. A number of times I have been faced with the possible location of Michaela's remains, and I have thought about her little bones being touched by the sunshine for the first time in years, and it has meant more to me that you might guess, not just in solving the mystery, having a "resolution." In my heart, even if just bones, my little girl had been lying alone, and lonely, for all that time, and I wanted to just throw myself on those little bones and hold them and cry and cry and cry.  
The place where Jacob was found was green, and sheltered by trees. But it was lonely.

It got me thinking...

You can find the same sentiment in the writing of many families in similar situations. Take for example Amy Lynn Bradely's page. Her family has this message for her captors:

PLEASE LET AMY GO. BLINDFOLD HER AND LEAVE HER SOMEWHERE SAFE AT NIGHT, UNHARMED. SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND ONLY WANTS TO BE WITH HER FAMILY IN HER COUNTRY. WE WILL ASK NO QUESTIONS. YOU WILL REMAIN UNKNOWN. PLEASE LET AMY GO.

The part of me that's unattached and that wants to be logical without being emotional says the same as Sharon, " but won't we want to capture those people? So they'll never again hurt someone else?"

I use to hear often about that thought experiment involving railway tracks. One person is tied to one set of tracks, five people are tied to another. A trolley is coming and you have a choice--pull the lever and have the trolley hit one person, or do nothing and have it hit five people.

To really test your morality, the variations of the test I've heard get more complicated: what if the one person is someone you know and love? What if the five people are criminals? On and on it goes.

I think people choose to believe they'd be logical about it and select that which is more beneficial to society or that which is considered the better choice from a morality standpoint. (The individual may be important to you, but those five people have loved ones and lives that matter too).

But I think it's naive to pretend I wouldn't save my brother, my parents, my best friends, or my boyfriend over the lives of five strangers. It wouldn't be an easy choice and it might destroy part of me in some way, but I wouldn't be able to do anything else. (Hell, not to trivialize the lives of real people with a fictional example, but I made a similar choice in Life is Strange. Even pixels I've formed emotional connections to matter to me).

I don't know if that makes me a weak, weak human or just a person who'll act based on love. But it does mean I can't quite impart judgement on those who would choose the same or who would choose differently. It all hurts, in the end. But it's worth discussing.

Anyways. The one thing that lingers the most about Sharon's entries is that she often ends them with the same message for Michaela: she's loved, she's missed, please come home.

Maybe she will some day. I can only wish that it doesn't hurt Sharon to hold onto hope.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Candor

Now Playing: Gustavo Cerati - Artefacto

I was telling Silvia the other day how I sometimes feel like I'm failing to live up to those "say no to peer pressure" after-school specials or the "speak up, say something!" commercials I used to see back in middle school. You know, the kind of mini-programs tailored to teens and preteens that tell them if they see or hear something that's, well, fucked up, they shouldn't worry about repercussion from their peers and instead voice their concerns.

That shit was always cheesy, but grand epic stories are centered around people who saw or heard terrible things and decided to act. So I guess the message is good to impart whenever possible.

Too bad I don't have a backbone.

The few times I've actively stood up to someone who has said or done something that I thought was rude, immoral, deceitful, or fucked up in some way, my limbs turned to pudding and my heart tried to burst out my chest. I cannot deal with confrontation.

Yesterday, when I was feeling melancholic because of this shit country and a possible shit future, I was in the presence of a bunch of boys who were hanging out and having a good time. TBH, I was probably trying to absorb their happy spirits without having to be an active participant.

Problem is, I have trouble discerning how much high regard I have for one of those boys. I think I do like him some of the time. I don't the other half of the time. I especially don't like myself in the overlaps where he and I exist in the same space.

He'll do that annoying thing where he'll use the N-word at random or refer to women as "bitches", probably under the belief that words are paper-thin and our shared, silly, social media-obsessed generation is too fucking sensitive to them. I've never once told him to cut it out, because I don't want to get into the complicated ways in which language influences mindsets/culture and how it's completely asinine to pretend prejudice doesn't manifest and is reinforced through subtle behaviors.

I don't think I could actively change the mind of someone I'm convinced hasn't had to deal with consequences once in his life, but for the most part, I'm too chicken shit to start a fight when we can't sever ties if all goes wrong. Like maybe I can storm out of the room and run down the street if an argument escalates, but I'm sensing I'd have to see him again at some point or another. So I keep my mouth shut.

Then the weirdest thing happened last night.

I don't remember how or why the topic came about. I barely remember exiting it. I know for a fact I didn't say anything, not even a whisper of, "that's fucked up."

He told us a random story involving his dad. When he (the dad in question) was in college, him and his friends would put firecrackers inside bread and then toss it to pigeons or other birds. Then they'd watch the birds eat the bread and explode.

And as this boy told us this story, he laughed. Laughed as his puppy pounced on his stomach to be snuggled.

When one of the other boys said, "that's messed up," he laughed again and said, "no, it's funny!"

I'm sure I had a look of disgust, but he didn't pay me attention. So the conversation just went to some weird, "I guess it's okay because it was different times and animal cruelty wasn't an issue yet."

????

Less than three decades back? At most?

Are they saying humanity collectively developed empathy for non-human, sentient beings in the last 30 years or so?

Wat.

And I went to sleep shortly after and didn't say a word. Not to him or the idiotic justifications that tried to normalize his anecdote.

I don't know who I'm angrier at.

Right now? Thanks to what happened today and what happened last November and generally what this country has contributed to across generations, in both big and tiny, tiny ways?

Me. I'm angry at me the most.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rose

I have a theory that if you add "Rose" to any name, you've immediately got the name of a YA  or romance novel heroine.

I realized this because I wrote about Caroline Rose once and ever since I heard Anastasia Rose Steele, as it's the worst name of all romance heroine names ever.

But you can totes keep going.

Georgia Rose
Regina Rose
Blair Rose
(cuz Briar Rose)
Jenny Rose
(Jennifer Rose)
Jessica Rose
Theresa Rose
Amanda Rose
Evelyn Rose

and the worst of all:

Liliana Rose.

I think I'll use Blair Rose for something.

(Sounds like an android name.

Everything sounds like an android name to me).

Monday, January 9, 2017

AGHHHHH

Hi me.

This is you, writing from the not-too-distant present.

Sometime in the middle of last week, I kept thinking I swear I'm twenty seconds away from a full out psychotic episode where I rip my clothes off and bolt into the street, shouting at the sky, "WILL SOMEONE PLEASE PAY ME ALREADY?!"

I don't know what the lack of clothes would accomplish. Other than institutionalization.

I couldn't figure out if I was being unreasonable or if it wasn't all that outlandish to believe people you, at one point or another, did work for would let you know when you're being paid. Or pay you at all, for that matter. Or not make you run back and forth in rush hour Miami traffic, getting lost in scary highways, to obtain said payment.

And once all that was over and done, I GOT PAIDDD!

And I thought yay! No need to worry this week anymore. Paychecks are in, bills will get paid this weekend!

Then I spent half an hour juggling numbers around in my head and when I came home my dad saw me and it went like,

Dad: What happened?

Me: :( I got paid . . .

It leads to today, where I'm looking at the last drops of my conditioner bottle trying to remember how much 12 oz cost me last time and thinking of all the other products I need to spend on--especially as I continue on the perilous journey of Growing Out Curly Hair and Use A Shitload of Products To Maintain It.

So if by the end of this week or this month I end up with short, short hair and resting bitch face--

It was all said hair's fault. It deserved that scissor attack.

EDIT:

Unrelated, but check out this cool lighter (it matches my socks!)



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ragamuffins & Entanglements

Now Playing: Neutral Milk Hotel - Where You'll Find Me Now and Fool

For the last twenty minutes I've been tearing my room apart trying to find my copy of 1984 without success.

(This is not a political post. Never fear, I am being super dumb right now.)

Maybe the real reason I asked for a Kindle is so I'll never again lose another book in my life. Then again, I find it easier to browse for a quote based on general page location than by using a search feature, seeing as I can't locate the paragraph I need through the good ol' internet either.

I'm not 100% sure how it goes. Winston and Julia are lying together, talking, and she mentions she's had dozens and dozens of other lovers. Winston is strangely pleased about it and says it makes him love her more.

In context, I'm pretty sure he's happy because it means she's corrupted the party even more and he loves that she's not pure and perfect (because promiscuity = imperfect impurity. . . then and now and in alternative realities, blegh). But when I read that line the first time, many years ago, (Twelve? Thirteen? Sometime in 7th/8th grade), I wasn't following 1984 all that well, so I went, "??????"

Like I said, contextually, it's quite simple. It makes even more sense now because of Red.

I ask him a lot about his life. From the difficult beginnings to the happy middle to the struggling near-present. I want to hear all his stories about traveling, school, recreational use of alternative substances. All his conflicts and adventures.

I've also asked him quite often about girls he's been with in the past. Ex-girlfriends or crushes or complicated entanglements. It doesn't spark jealousy but I don't take it as far as Winston does. I don't believe it makes me love him more nor does it bring some perplexing spike of desire in me. It's just nice knowing who he once was and the people that have been significant in his life.

But while I've been trying to untangle all the layers, I've caught myself simplifying everyone connected to him.

He told me once of this girl he'd been in love with who hadn't shared his feelings. We talked briefly about her at a cemetery, the day after he told me he was in love with me.

The first time he said her name, I imagined this beautiful, green-eyed waif dressed in converse, jeans, and Beatles t-shirts, with an incandescent smile and long, long blonde hair. The only real concrete thing I got out of that initial story--outside of the romance plot points--was that she'd accidentally kicked and shattered some super expensive, giant bong that belonged to someone they knew.

The girl in my head wasn't all that accurate. I was right about her being pretty and thin and about the Beatles t-shirt--but that last one was easy, as I found it in Red's possessions. It was a leftover of their brief stint of cohabitation with a side of love triangle.

Though he told me stories of the time they'd lived together, I learned more about her by accident. Gradually. The Beatles T-shirt was the first concrete piece I stumbled into.

The second happened on an early roadtrip up to Ocala. Most of my time in his car is spent trying to figure out music, and for whatever reason I decide Neutral Milk Hotel was perfect for the road. I put on a few songs  and he mentioned they were that girl's favorite band.

Another time I wanted to show him (500) Days of Summer but kept having trouble acquiring the movie. While I had that on the back-burner, I learned he has a list on his phone of TV shows and films that he's watched and considered amazing. Much to my surprise, he had The Graduate on his list. I asked him about it. He told he'd seen it because the girl had shown it to him, as it was her favorite movie.

I also learned by the time they'd all been living together, she had already been married and had already been divorced. The whole time I'd been picturing a girl our age, so I asked him to clarify and reconstruct the image he'd so quickly ripped out of my hands. He assured me she was young. Barely a few years older than us. It glued the picture back together.

Though I've admitted to this before, a quick reminder: I have a bad habit of romanticizing people. Especially people I don't know. I'll think of them as if they're the quirky two-dimensional leads of a shitty, indie, coming-of-age movie. Easily describable in one to two sentences.

Thereafter I thought of her as just "the girl whose favorite movie is The Graduate and who listens to Neutral Milk Hotel." Who platonically slept in the same bed with boys who were either in love with her or who she might have one day been in love with. Who has Beatles t-shirts and short, short hair. Who had freed herself  from a marriage that hadn't worked out at such a young age.

I thought by focusing on the details I was trying to imagine the complexities inherent to that chapter of his and her life.

But I wasn't. I wanted the simplicity of a girl-next-door who listens to Neutral Milk Hotel and has seen and loved The Graduate. 

She wasn't the only one I'd done it to. Point to someone in Red's life, and I'll introduce their character to you like I'm pitching the next season of Girls. 

So while at work on Wednesday, I was running through a list of ways I've summarized people close to me and close to Red. Then, as I was crouching at the bottom of the fiction section trying to jam another Bradbury book in its proper place, I saw one of my spiders crawling by my boot.

And I came up with my character elevator-pitch: the girl who works at a library and struggles with getting paid and murdered the fuck out of the worms by the bookshelves (with a broom!) but refuses to disturb the wispy spiders and their webs.

I liked it--for about a minute. It was so ridiculous, thinking it defined me. Thinking it said something about me.

I have no idea who the other girl is. And despite endless talks, I probably have no idea who Red is yet. Or who anyone else is--be it my friends or parents or brother.

I can't figure out how to make people real. In my writing or in life.

And here I thought that was one aspect of writing I'd figured out >_>

The Hatching

This is a Christmas recap~ I keep forgetting I never revealed what was in the scaled-egg present that Silvia and Ren gave me. Since Silvia was at her mom's house the day of without a charger, I figured I'd take her on a journey of my present delving so she'd see whenever her phone awoke.

Here went the texts:

The journey begins!

Styrofoam?! I had to open it in the kitchen since it was causing a bit of a mess.

The hatch Silvia foretold. 

?!?!?!?!?!

AHHHHHHHH
asoeihraswiehrawer

HEADPHONES.

NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES.

I've been living my whole life with $7 to $19 earphones. Then Red one day let me experience the wonder of his noise canceling headphones, I started stealing them on the regular, he got tired of my thieving ways, I stole them on occasion anyways, and thennnn I guess I told Silvia about my obsession or my boyfriend told Silvia or Silvia read everyone's minds and BAM. Her and Ren got me my very own headphones.

She told me later that her plan had involved buying two halves of a Styrofoam ball and then join them together. No luck in that. Instead she found only a full one--no hollow place for the headphones. So she hacked it in half with a kitchen knife, then went at the insides with a spoon.

No wonder it took two hours in total to wrap. I'd have given up 10 minutes in.

I'm grateful. Especially since whenever I get kinda tipsy (shhh. It's allowed, I'm finally legal), I want to do one of two things: talk about German or French cinema and/or listen to music with these. Magic.

I got some other cool stuff. A lego Batman of the aforementioned Bats, Harley, and Deadshot. Also, Fantasy Boy Band Simulator AKA Final Fantasy 15. It's so much trash at times, but so much fun the majority of the time. The yaoi fuel is real. I had considered asking my dad for it as a present but by the time I decided I wanted it, it was like, December 23.

He bought me Day 1 edition. His argument was that he, "always buys me Final Fantasy for Christmas."

It's true. I'm FF trash, now and forever.

Last was an urban fantasy YA book about Hispanic witches written by an Ecuadorian-American writer.

. . . .

Yeah, it's a mystery why I kept mentioning it to people :P

It's called Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cรณrdova.


Just started it. I never know how I feel about reluctant witches, but hers are also closely associated with death so that's amazing.

EDIT: Now I remember why I originally assumed the present would be a gigantic Ferrero Rocher chocolate:
No wonder I've been daydreaming about it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Owed

At work, I was reviewing my profile on the system with my supervisor as the information had been input by the H.R. department back during my application process. They're very thorough. They assessed me, interviewed me, ran background checks, ran drug tests. I passed everything seeing as I got the job, but as I was scanning my profile, I realized there was a few discrepancies. Maybe they'd been placed there simply because they were the default--it listed me as a natural born citizen and as white.

Due either to obsessive tendencies to be accurate, or maybe because I never gave it a second thought, I went in to correct them: naturalized citizen, Hispanic.

I regretted it immediately.

Not that there's any way to hide that from people who'd really care, but I got this uneasy feeling in my stomach that with the current and future political climate, maybe I shouldn't go around declaring in yet another concrete way that I wasn't born in his country, that I'm not part of the majority.

The day after the election, the immigration website for Canada crashed due to over saturation. People always joke, "if so and so wins I'm moving to [blank]!" around election years. But it felt so much more real now. Maybe because I'm an adult and hopefully one day an independent and it gets a little harder each year to stick my head under the sand and pretend the worst will happen without involving me.

But I could never get on board with the idea of snagging a plane ticket and getting the fuck out of this country. Not just because I neither have the money or resources. But because it felt wrong. I chose this country. I wasn't born in it. I already moved once and I came here and I started to build my life here. I loved aspects of it. When it got rough around the edges, shouldn't I stay and deal with it? It's my home. I don't want to pick another one again. Once was enough and it was all I wanted.

It's like the seeds of patriotism starting to sprout. I feel so committed to this country, I forget immediately it's a piece of land with hundreds of people who don't know me, don't care about me, and might actively hate the idea of me if given enough (possibly asinine) reason. It never owed me anything, and I too never owed it anything.

I have no idea why I ever thought otherwise.

But I'm not wholly pessimistic  (all doom-and-gloom) as of yet.

Mostly I'm sticking my head under the sand.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.