Tag: Confessions

Creative. Writing.

“And by the way, everything is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
– Slyvia Platt

I’m in a bit of a bind, darlings.  I signed up for a creative writing class this semester(after work hours so Chief can’t quash it) both to get me back into the school mindset and to make me start writing again.  I’ve lapsed of late, so I thought this would be a great way to spur me on a bit.  I got good and excited for the class and then I walked in on the first day and immediately realized Creative Writing was not going to be a comfortable class for me.

See, I want to be a writer.  Most of the (mostly freshman) class want to be creative

This is not the same thing at all.  When we shared what our favorite books are most of the class said Twilight (blech and sigh) or named a fantasy series of some type or another.  Then when we went around talking of what we wanted to do with our writing almost everyone said poetry, a couple said songwriting.  

Appropriately artistic and moody writer.

My teacher is a poet as well, but talking about “snow melting like a woman crying” and trying to bring “the magic and mysteries of the cosmos to the page” is not really…what I do.  He gave a long, rambling lecture about how he wants us to create art, ART (said in a rolling voice with a dramatic fist shake towards the skies), and that’s what he expects.  I immediately blanched.

Inappropriately chipper and fairly happy C.

Now, I think I may be a talented writer  but by no means do I think I’m a Great Writer (I’d paraphrase an evaluation of someone I heard once and say that I’m mediocre with flashes of brilliance).  Mostly I just like to tell a good story.  To be honest, I’d have to say that my sense of humor is probably what makes my writing at all readable, but I have a feeling that humor in this class would not go over well.  So, whilst I was floundering in this sea of doubt, my teacher volunteered me to write a piece for class this coming tuesday.  I have to submit it by email tonight to be ripped to bloody shreds by the rest of my artistic and suffering classmates in peer evaluation. 

Of course, I probably shouldn’t tease them so much because this assignment plunged me into a pit of despair and I wandered about in a pretty artistic slump of my own for a couple days as I was seized with Writer’s Block and whined about the lack of poetry in my soul.  Not that I’d ever want to write it, but that I’m shallow enough to want to impress my teacher.

Quick, someone tell me to suck it up and get to work!  I’ve been telling myself for three days but my inner wanna-be-writer is actually pretty fragile and seems to be ignoring me out of fear of scathing peer reviews.  Or the realization that I’m not actually any good.  Yikes.

For My Next Trick, the Rest of You (Pt 2)

 “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.”
– Ambrose Bierce

So, Avatar.  I have to give it one big “Meh.” 

Now, before the raging hordes come for blood, I can absolutely appreciate the scientific whammy of creating completely new technology to make something totally innovative.  I can also appreciate the fact that the special effects are indeed pretty special (as long as you’re not in the second row at a 3-D theatre…woof…).

But, and I stand on this, the plot is boring. 

I have seen A) Dances with Wolves, B) Pocahontas, and I have also lived through the Bush administration (subtlety, thy name is not James Cameron.  Might as well have named the planet Iraq and the invading commander Cheny…yes, we get your point.  Thank you).

I Will Now Probably Alienate Some of You (Pt 1)

“I think it’s a terrible shame that politics has become show business.”
– Sydney Pollack

There are far worse vocab words than I!

My name is actually not a real name, per se.  It’s a word that my parents turned into a name (which incidentally has enjoyed rising popularity in recent years, which makes me long to kidnap, rename, and adopt out any of these children who’ve stolen it, but I digress).  I’m very fond of my name and when I see the word used anywhere I tend to get a bit excited.  I was a vocabulary word in 8th grade, a fact both my teacher and I still find funny.

However, occasionally my name can cause me pain.  Yesterday for example, as I was doing the laundry run and scanning through different radio stations I crossed paths with the Sean Hannity Show on talk radio.  And he used my name.  I felt unclean.

Politically I’m moderate and don’t associate myself with any parties (America needs a few more, I’m convinced, but that’s another post for another day) because I tend to agree with some things a party will support and strongly disagree with others.  To be honest I think there must be a lot of people like me with opinions they’ve arrived at after lots of thought and examination.  And if they’re like me they don’t like being herded by politicians or pundits into one camp or another for their own convenience. 

Too loud to hear yourself think? Mission accomplished.

However, I irrevocably and unequivocably hate Fox News, more specifically Fox Talk Show Hosts Claiming To Be News.  I find them inflammatory and painful (like a bad rash) for their circular reporting and flagrant bias.  Now, I understand that all news sources have a bias and that you need to be aware of that bias when you use them for information, but I maintain that Fox News is the only one to wave its around proudly and use the protection of free speech  to declare their opinions fact.  See here for further details.  (Genius.)  Oh, this too to expound.

And now, they are bringing on…Sarah Palin?  Um, has anyone ever listened to this woman speak for any period of time?

All of which has nothing to do with my name, but it really got my goat!

Thoughts on Air Travel

“How much sleep have you gotten in the last three days?”
“…twelve hours…maybe…”
– Parents and C.

Hello, darlings!  J. and I have returned from Merrie Olde Englande but I’m not at all intact!  For some reason I didn’t adjust to English time at all this trip, and no amount of Tylenol PM could fix me.  And rest certainly wasn’t on the agenda because J. had never been and there is SO MUCH TO SEE/DO.  All of which I will faithfully recount, as soon as I have recovered from the exhaustion induced headcold fog I’m currently clawing my way out of.  Thank goodness I’ve the weekend to rest before going back to work.

And now, a few observations.

Small Dog, upon arrival.

Item the first.  Some women look good when they travel.  I am not one of them.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve been flying at least a couple times a year for a good portion of my life, how much I hydrate, how many naps I squeeze in, whether or not I put on makeup, how many vitamins I’ve popped, or whether I’m seated next to the banshee child from Hades or a perfectly silent baby, I will inevitably arrive looking haggard.  My hair will be in desperate need of a wash, my skin will have turned to an ashen mess, and my eyes will be rimmed in red agony.  And also inevitably, on every flight there will be a leggy blonde in skinny jeans that fit her properly, a flowy cardigan, the perfect carry-on bag, at least one unobtrusive and flattering accessory, flawless skin, and perfectly mussed hair that will come out of the jet in the same lovely condition it went into it with.  I hate this woman. 

Item the second.  Terrorists will make an appearance.  I’ve had some experience with the fallout of their behavior.  A few years ago I was flying out of Brussels back to the States, my family was on their way to the UK and I was back off to university.  It was a day after the UK-based terrorist plot to use liquid explosives on airliners had been discovered and dismantled (2006, if you don’t recall in these fast-paced times) and the resulting chaos was ricocheting around airports world-wide.

Do be safe, dear, and don't talk to extremists.  See you at Christmas, maybe!
Goodbye, dear. Be safe and don't talk to extremists. See you at Christmas...maybe.

My parents drove me to the airport, waved a cheerful goodbye, and off they were down to Calais to take the ferry across the Channel to Dover.  And there I stood in the Brussels airport staring blankly into the pandemonium.  There were security guards everywhere, dogs, and barking airline employees informing me that I would not be permitted a carry-on on my flight so I would either need to repack everything or throw my carry-on and everything in it away.  I had turned in my European mobile phone (and so had my parents) so there was no way to keep in contact, and exchanged all my money for US dollars so there was no way to pay for anything unless I wanted to eat the exchange rate fees on my US credit card.  And they were on their way to France (without me!).  A very nice Middle Eastern family made room for me with their group on the floor where we all repacked, stuffed, sat on suitcases to close them, and repacked again to make sure we were within weight requirements.  Going through the security screening took nearly two hours, but it didn’t matter because my flight was delayed for five. 

After the foiled terrorist plot this past week, Heathrow had stepped up security but J. and I actually made it through in good time with only a frisking.  Unfortunately, after we were frisked and shown into our containment area, we weren’t allowed out again and so I had to forego breakfast.

And item the third.  Continental’s new entertainment system?!  Amazing!  You should fly with them just for the countless movie options!

8 Puppets Blaspheming

 “Twelve monkey mating,  ‘leven donkeys dancing, ten pygmies farming, nine socks a-swimming…FIVE GOLD RINGS!”
– Eddie Izzard

For some reason, our productions did not receive nearly as much acclaim. Can't imagine why...

As promised, here is one of our favorite and probably most quirky/embarassing family traditions.  Long ago, my mother made some hand puppets for a group Christmas project.  Nothing fancy, just felt oven mitt sorts of things.  We used them for years at Christmastime to act out the Nativity Story, without incident or indiscretion until one year, Dad had the brilliant idea to turn on the video recorder.

The footage of this historic event is long departed into the void of computer-crashing-moving-technical-kablooey, but mutual stored memory among the siblings suggests a potential fist-fight behind the stage (sofa) and much arguing and some sacrilegious name-calling.

In subsequent years our quiet family puppet show devolved from its auspicious starting point.  It didn’t take too long for it to hit the point of parody. 

The next year King Herod breathed like Darth Vadar (complete with asthma inhaler), and the Holy Virgin did lamaze breathing to calm her nerves while Saint Joseph (who was captain of the football team at Nazareth High) stumbled about flexing uselessly.  The cap and crown to our we-will-go-to-Hell-for-this performance was the angel Gabriel as played by Yoda as played by Dad.  “Annunciating I am!  Have a baby you willll…”  His voice cracked on the last word and has become holiday tradition ever since to impersonate Dad (as Yoda as Gabriel) choking.  Somehow, I misremember, the cow featured prominently leading Gio to exclaim, “It’s a holy cow!” which immediately became our production company name.

A subsequent year featured a lampooning of Monty Python: the taunting Frenchman as the inn-keeper, Mika as the Dreaded Black Beast of Augh, an improvised kick-line (performed by the intrepid puppeteers) and, naturally, the falling cow of catapult fame.

You're destroying cultural and literary icons, you barbarians!

Our most memorable foray into the dark, iredeemable depths of nerdiness was a Lord of the Rings spoof.  Our three wisemen (Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli) form the Fellowship of the King.  Galabriel annuciates.  The shepherds of Rohan ride sheep around energetically.  Mary, who looks wearily into the camera and whines and constantly about the terrible burden she is forced to carry alone, is saved when Joseph Gamgee (Gio) declares, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry YOU!” and sweeps the other puppet gallantly off.  Then there is the memorable presentation of the gifts: gold, myrrh, “and my axe!”  There were random interjections of Buddy’s dragon puppet (which does not feature in the usual cast, but he wanted to use it), Gio stole one of Snickers’ lines which nearly brought on an actors’ strike, and most of the outtakes feature us alternatively arguing with one another or dissolving into giggles while Dad vainly demands, “Quiet on the set!”

We are hopless, helpless dorks.

The Emotional Equivelent of “LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

“Why the HELL didn’t I continue with French?!”
“Don’t swear.”
“Why the CUSS didn’t I continue with French?”
“Well, you can take classes.”
“Yes but if I don’t do well, and I haven’t studied it for three years, it will affect my GPA which will affect my application.  CUSS CUSS CUSS!”
– C. and J.

We all have them, but for about a month or so I’ve been going through a right awful funk.  And although I wish I could say I’ve been keeping it under wraps, I’m afraid it’s been spilling over a bit.  I’ve gotten noticeably sharp with people, even friends, short-tempered at work, and bitter about small things that have just seemed to mount on top of each other.  It culminated last night in a meeting for J.’s new fraternity for accountants when I was exhausted and stressed.  I tried to be funny but only succeeded in being rude, and collapsed in a sobbing pile of guilt when we got home. 

Unfortunately, I’m a bottler: I keep things locked up inside until the inevitable explosion that tends to leave a wake of destruction.  And even though we’ve all been told time and time again that this is not a healthy way to live, so many of us keep doing it because it has some obvious immediate benefits.

Liar.

My problems are petty and selfish, but that doesn’t make them irrelevant or mean they don’t affect my life. 

– I’m in a state of constant frustration that I spent four years getting an education, but work in a job that has nothing to do with what I studied (the European Studies field is not exactly conducive to jobs in the Western United States).

– I don’t really like living where we do.

Humph!

– Truthfully, I had this plan post-graduation, which involved me moving back to England.  I am an ENTJ, I frame my life in these little plans and get frustrated when they don’t come to fruition.  It wouldn’t matter if common sense, good counsel, or God changed my plans, I’d still get annoyed/angry if things didn’t work out the way that I had intended.  (Which I absolutely think happened in my decision to get married and stay in the States, and which I still think is probably the best decision I’ve made for myself.  It’s just not what I thought was in the cards a year and a half ago; that’s what makes my little control-freak, inner Napoleon jump up and down howling, “Zees was not le plan!”)

– I miss being in school and recently came to the conclusion, after much deliberation, that I wanted to pursue grad school.  And seeing as I can take classes for free, a perk of working for a university, why not?  Problem A) my major, which I loved and would not hesitate to choose again, did not really prepare me for any of the graduate degrees offered here.  My emphasis was in history and they have removed the MA in History degree (an idiotic move if ever there was one!).
Problem B) the next best degree, and one I am really interested in due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, requires more classes in French.  Which, if I want to get into the program beginning this coming fall, I’d need to complete in record time.  A troublesome goal if one works full-time.  Oh!  And I’d need to take the GRE in about a month.

Mostly, I feel stuck.  I can’t progress (at least immediately) in the way I want my education to go, we aren’t leaving this area (at least immediately) for a small eternity, and I can’t pursue my own interests (at least immediately) due to duty to my family. 

And I’m the most impatient person I know!

There are treatments.  Obviously I need to take better care of myself.  I don’t work out anymore [again] and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been eating enough, which would put anyone in a strop.  I also don’t have any pursuits outside of work right now, and that’s soul-numbing.  I’m committed to grad school, but will I kill myself trying to make it happen all at once (or at least before the March application deadline)?  Maybe I should make it a goal for next year and work more slowly and steadily towards it instead of trying to rush it.

Weigh in, friends.  Had a minor life crisis recently?  Plans get disrupted?  Get impatient with goals that are attainable, but seem so far off?