Sunday, February 28, 2010

Faith & Mulct

Listenin' to a little "Falling Down Blues" by Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Gorgeous song.

I learned a new word, today! The word is "mulct", which means a fine or a penalty. I have NEVER seen that word before (and that's saying something, because I'm in the business of words). But it's fun to say. Say it ten times. Mulct, mulct, mulct...

Anyway, I also did something kind of gutsy today: I rededicated myself to faith.

By that I don't mean that I "re-became" a Christian. I gave my life to Christ years ago and I've been working on that ever since. And I'm not perfect (no one ever is) but I endeavor to follow after Christ's example and His will for my life.

No, what I mean by rededication to faith is that I decided again to give myself over to that freefalling feeling of believing that not only does God love me, but He's sharing with me what life can be in little beautiful pieces.

I'm not really sure how to explain it, but it's everywhere in my life. New songs, old songs, when I write, when I sing, when I go walking, when I meet someone new, foods, family, work, school...all of these things give me delight on a daily basis when I give myself over to faith. The belief that God is good and He is making all things good through Himself.

Have you ever had one of those moments that makes you pause, and it's SO BEAUTIFUL or SO AWESOME or SO EPIC that you just want to wrap it up and stick it in your pocket? I truly believe that God is behind those moments. It's like the tiniest glimpse into what true perfection is. It explodes inside of you and makes you want to laugh and cry and spin around in circles all at the same time.

And life becomes a beautiful story, don't you see? I can't give myself over to cynicism. I have a very hard time with cynics. Because even though the world is dark and there is hate and heartache, I can't help but see the fingerprints of God everywhere. And it's astounding when you have the faith to look for them.

Call me a dreamer if you want, I don't care.

I'm going to turn on Ramblin' Jack's blues again and give myself over to joy in the form of well-crafted art.

God is in that, too.

-The GLS

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Villains & Clouseau

I realized that certain of my tagging categories were a little thin, so I decided to do something gutsy in the area of films.

Tonight I watched a movie--without any reviews or suggestions--called "A Shot in the Dark", which is actually the second Peter Sellers Pink Panther movie. It was made in the mid-60's and it's Peter Sellers in all of his goofy, slapstick, ridiculous glory.

Be forewarned of a few things: First, the Pink Panther doesn't actually have anything to do with the movie. It's just that Sellers plays Inspector Clouseau, so they kept the franchise intact. In fact, you don't even have to see the first one in order to appreciate this one. They have nothing to do with each other except Clouseau.

Second, don't watch if you're offended by 60's sensibilities. And by this I mean moments of bad humor (bad as in not funny), sexist attitudes, affairs between pretty much everyone, and weird plots that seem pointless and stupid. Oh, and nudists. But it's 60's film censorship, so you don't see a thing.

However, a lot of Peter Sellers' slapstick really is very funny, and it's a goofy mystery movie so you can't be too tough on it. It's perfect for a popcorn movie, doesn't require any thought and all you need is to sit back and witness the ridiculous.

As far as the noveling goes, things are speeding along nicely. I'm trying something new with this novel, which is actually taking time to craft suitably creepy and realistic villains. I tend to make my villains SO grey that they really aren't villains at all, and therefore my novels end up with no conflict. Having empathetic villains is different than having ambiguous ones. I've realized that I'm allergic to conflict. So I'm trying to fix that.

I actually had to write a section of my novel in the daylight, today, because it was creepier than I normally write and I kept freaking myself out last night when I tried to write it. Pathetic? Yeah, probably. Does it mean I'm doing better with villains? I hope so!

Current Word Count: 9,730

-The GLS

Friday, February 26, 2010

Singsong & Architecture

I am currently looking through one of three ENORMOUS books I got from the library about fancy shmancy architecture. It's for my novel, you see, the beginning of which is set in a very large house. I'm staring at pictures of early American mansions, the mind is running wild, and this brings me to a very interesting point (well...interesting to me, anyway).

In my humble opinion, anyone who wants to write fantasy (specifically...but I'm sure other genres as well) needs to do ONE THING very well. Not record their dreams, not plan out their plots, not even read voraciously.

They must RESEARCH.

Hold on, GLS! Research in a fantasy novel? Isn't the point of a fantasy novel that you don't NEED to research because you're making it all up?

I ask could I POSSIBLY create a good description of the palatial mansion I'm trying to write about if I don't know anything about houses in the era I'm thinking of? Not only that, but what happens if I've done no planning and I miss out on all of the fantastic possibilities that research affords me: detailed photos of what houses looked like in the old days, color schemes, floorplans, rooms I didn't know existed, patterns...etc.

Besides the practical, it's also very inspiring to fill your head with these pictures and the colors. The colors!

Truly, one of the best parts about writing is the problem-solving. It's the figuring out connections and making them work for you. And research plays a huge part in that.

In other news, I have done another gutsy thing! After a few weeks of hemming and hawing over it, I signed up for a one-time Irish Folksinging class coming up in mid March at a local folk music store. Sure, it's going to be a little awkward...but I really am interested in Irish folksinging, and so I thought this would be a good introduction to see if I like it!

I love Fridays. I love that it was a good, wholesome, solid Friday. But now, it is time to bring that Friday to a close.

-The GLS

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Literariness & Telepathy

Yeah, it's another "writings" post. Sorry, I'm a little attached to my new novel at the moment. It's still the honeymoon stage.

Inspiration is a funny thing. I was sitting here watching "Frasier" episodes (which are oddly inspiring...probably the brilliance and tightness of the writing makes a difference), and suddenly I had a random flash of an idea for my novel involving telepathy.

Understand, I don't like the concept of adding telepathy to every fantasy novel that rears its head. I think telepathy is often an easy way out, and sometimes it adds a dimension that doesn't need to be there. Typically I just ignore the whole idea, and my fantasy novels often don't include "magic" for the same reason. Magic gets boring to write about, and it's not necessary to have magic in order for something to be fantasy. By definition, fantasy is whatever the heck you want it to be. Swords and sorcery be darned.

However, in the spirit of writing a whimsical subgenre western I started entertaining the thought of this telepathy thing, and pretty soon I had concocted a new character, a hilarious spin on the old "telepathy" theme, and a way to write about something I don't usually write about and enjoy it. It ALSO solved a random problem I was having with moving some characters forward further down the line of my plot.

I guess my point in all of this is that random flashes are a fact of life. They don't happen extraordinarily often, but when they do they're gold. They should not be easily tossed aside, both in writing and in anything else. Sometimes we get random bolts of inspiration and instead of distrusting them or throwing them away because they involve ideas we're not comfortable with, maybe we should embrace least long enough to see if they have any merit at all. If they truly don't work, write 'em down and put 'em on the back burner. But you never know when it might mean more than you thought possible.

Sometimes the gutsy thing is to entertain the dumb/annoying/weird/uncomfortable ideas for a change.

New Novel Word Count: 4,512

-The GLS

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspired & Ill-Advised, Perhaps

My big news today is that I have made two literary breakthroughs, if you could call them that.

First, I wrote my first villanelle! It's a type of poetry. And it's kind of personal, so I'm not going to share it. But it's fun to know that I can write one if I want to!

Two, is that I've started a new novel. Yikes. It's kind of a subgenre western, oddly. A genre I don't write in often, but I'm REALLY enjoyin' the droppin' of the g's in order to imitate a drawl. It's fun to do such things. And it's fun to smush genres together and hope they get along. And if they don't, the more's the better, because conflict is fun.

The catch is that I was in the middle of my FebNoWriMo novel, wasn't I? Yes I was. But the problem with that novel is that I've been overthinking it for four years. I know the characters and the settings too well, and they didn't want to go anywhere because they were frozen in my brain in a certain formation already.

But this new novel...while not perfect, as I still have no idea where I'm going with one-up on the other one because it features characters I'm still getting to know and setttings that are "foreign", for lack of a better word. I don't know. I'm of the mind that as long as I'm writing it's all good. Something that prompts me to open Word every evening is aces in my book.

However, creativity is exhausting. I think it's time for bed...

-The GLS

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shuffle & Comments

I turned on my iPod to "shuffle songs" for the first time in forever, today. This evening I was treated with a long-lost friend, "Take It Back" by the Barenaked Ladies. And as much as I love the song, I hadn't really listened to the lyrics until tonight. This line popped out loud and clear in terms of my day, today:

"It's hard to keep your mouth shut. Harder still to make noise."

In fact, that line played right as I sat down to write this post. Kind of spooky.

It would be very easy to say I was gutsy because I didn't say anything, today. I kept my mouth shut when faced with great temptation to let someone have it. I should get applause for my restraint, right?

No. I shouldn't.

Let me explain.

Remember That One Kid in Poetry class? Well, this isn't about him. This is about another sort of That One Kiddiness, a distant relation to that concept known as "That One Older Guy In Class Who Won't Shut Up".

This is not to be confused with "That Continuing Education Person". Because I LOVE having older folks in my classes. I love hearing what they have to say, and I love picking their brains about stuff, and I love their down-to-earth-wisdom and their excitement and their just plain awesomeness, even when they're arguing with me.

But That One Older Guy In Class Who Won't Shut Up (hereafter known as TOOGICWWSU) is another matter entirely. He (and it usually is a he) is the sort of person who thinks he knows more than the professor, and wants to share this information liberally and with great fervor, often interrupting other students...or the his zeal. He is often condescending, often bigoted, and often wrong.

In my Mass Media class, I have TOOGICWWSU, and he has the three strikes: often condescending, often bigoted, and often very wrong.

I know what you're thinking. GLS, why didn't you realize this sooner? You've been in this class for awhile now, right?

Because he was a sneaky one. He kept his mouth shut until last week, except to utter a few brief (albeit insightful) comments. And then? The dam broke, and now he can't open his mouth without sounding ignorant or racist or both.

I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, at first, because he's an older fellow. And granted, none of his racism is said "in anger". But upon further examination I realized...he's in his late fifties. That's not THAT old. And he's of the generation that probably "knows better", or at least has had time to think about it. He ought to know that there are some words that it's just not right to say anymore, just some topics that it's okay not to bring up in class, and just some basic manners that are human to human, not race to race.

But while I'm sitting in class thinking all of these things, and in the car fuming about these things, and sitting here at my computer typing about these things, I come to a sadder realization.

Yes, props to me for not strangling him out of sheer embarassment and anger. points to me for not saying anything. Because isn't that the problem? When he talks, everyone (including the teacher) just winces and says...nothing. Not even a sneaky deflection. Not even a wry comeback, or a carefully-worded clue that he might not be right. That he might not have all the answers. That he might clean up his replies if he wants to engage in "continuing education" at a college in Seattle, where liberalism is quite rampant and you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Democrat (not...that you'd want to...I'm just making a point).

The reason why people feel free to say what they say is because they assume they are agreed with. I think it's fair to say that others are intimidated by the common TOOGICWWSU because he is older and "wiser" and hard to argue with.

But at least I know where I sidestepped, even if today does feel like a gutsy fail. Maybe on Thursday (our next MM class) I can think of a way to gently let TOOGICWWSU know that I do not agree with his assessments by thinking through a logical contribution to the discussion. Could backfire on me, or I could chicken out. But being gutsy is about trying, isn't it?

We'll see.

-The GLS

Monday, February 22, 2010

Contests & Flurry

This blog post will be extremely brief, because I've just had the most remarkable story idea and I need to get cracking on it.

However! On the gutsy side of things, I've signed on to perform a piece of slam poetry out loud at a school poetry reading coming up. I'm a little nervous about it, but I knew that the fact I was nervous was the very reason to do it. The reading is going to be judged (though I don't think there are any real prizes or anything), as if it's a real slam poetry competition. Yikes.

Gutsiness is not for the faint of heart, it seems.

The reading is on March 1st. As the date draws closer, keep me in your thoughts. I don't usually read poetry out loud. Indeed, I don't usually write poetry in order for it to be read. But my teacher liked my poem, so at her behest (and mine, through this blog) I decided to go for it.

That's all, for now. I'm off to concoct the weirdest Western you ever heard of.

-The GLS

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Disciplines & Hurricanes

What a day, what a day!

I spent most of the day with my good friend Indefish, eating good food (yay Red Twig!), perusing bookstores searching for Browning and his ilk, antiquing, and worshipping in the evening. A very fun, very wonderful day!

But my mind has been heavy, recently, on something which I wish didn't matter but turns out it does, and that's money.

Ah, money. Money and I have always had a fascinating relationship. My parents happen to be very, very good with money and have always tried to instill in me a responsibility with it, too. I always label myself "cheap" and "frugal" and shop at thrift stores and think I'm so good at handling money.

But the truth is that I stink with money. I am truly blessed to be working at the moment, but my paychecks tend to disappear into those thrift stores, coffeeshops, bookstores...anywhere there's something neat to bring home.

So when it started to become clear that my car--the car I learned to drive in and have been comfortably driving for a long time--was starting to become more trouble than it was worth, I started to panic. Saving up for a new (used) car seemed miles away.

Tonight, I received some information from my parents that put the idea of saving in a more reachable light, and I feel hope again that I won't go broke from saving!

Tonight, I wrote my very first realistic budget.

It's rudimentary, but it's designed to keep me from needlessly spending. It's designed to keep me accountable to myself, teaching me self-control. And with a lot of prayer, I know I can succeed.

Discipline is such a good thing that gets such a bad rep. In any part of life we KNOW that discipline is good for us, and yet we shy away from the very idea. As we embark on the Lenten season, my discipline for Lent is going to be managing my money responsibly. Because money, thus far, has drawn me further from the Lord than I would ever want to be. I convince myself that spending money will give me pleasure, and then I sink into the depths of guilt and anger when spending doesn't work. When it just makes me feel like a failure. And anytime I'm those pits of unhappiness, God is the furthest thing from my mind.

There are so money things I want to do with my life. I would like to travel some more, take more classes in things that interest me, maybe learn a few more instruments or a new language. And the unfortunate part is that money is required in all of those things. But I can build myself up to financial security. I know I can. I'm starting relatively young, and I know that being responsible with my money is an attainable goal.

I am giving the control of my money to the God whose timing is perfect, who knows what's best for me, and who is standing by to help me. It will take a lot of work on my part, but I know it will be so worth it to come out of this feeling comfortable with my finances and having a fair degree of self-control to my name.

I'm currently sitting in the glow of a little red kerosene lantern as I write this to you. It was $15 I spent at the antique store today. Perhaps the last $15 spent in a moment of impulsiveness, at least for a little while. But the glow is a nice, homey reminder of what I've decided to do.

-The GLS

PS: Kerosene stinks when it burns. But hurricane lamps are totally worth it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good & Quiet

Sometimes, the gutsiest thing to do is keep your mouth shut.

Today, that's what I'm doing.

-The GLS

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Whim & A Trim

(Look out, male readers, this is a blog post about HAIR.)

Well, I was feeling impulsive, today. You know those days? Where the sunshine makes you nutso and you decide to do something that, in hindsight, might not be the best idea?

It's a good thing my impulsive behaviors are pretty minor...

Today, I decided that I haven't had shorter bangs in a long, long time. And it made me sad, really. Because I think sometimes it's nice to have a little variety in the length of one's hair. And having curly hair is hard, because you get so much conflicting advice about it.

Up until now I've always heard, "ZOMG! No bangs for curly-headed girlies! It doesn't work! It looks awful! Don't do it!"

...but I have a stubborn streak. So I went to the great Wizard of Google to find out what other people are saying on the subject. And wouldn't you know? There are people who are TOTALLY for the idea of curls and bangs co-existing!

That was enough to convince me. I grabbed some $$, hopped in the car, and drove to SuperCuts. Yeah, SuperCuts. Because I'm cheap, and because I don't get my hair cut often enough to have some fancy salon do it.

I told the gal what I thought I wanted and let her do the rest.

Now, here's the thing. When you have curly hair, any type of haircutting place is a nightmare. Because they use A COMB on your hair. (People don't kill curls. COMBS kills curls.) Combs are the gateway to the Arch Nemesis of the Curly-Headed Woman: Poof (whose sister is the other Arch Nemesis of the Curly-Headed Woman, Frizz). Combs destroy the curls and create a poofy mass of afro, but not COOL afro. Like, 80's style poof. Ew.

So when you initially get your hair done, you get what I like to call "scissor shock" (which, apparently, is also a band...?). Until you get home, take a shower, put in the necessary products, and do a little finagling you will not be satisfied with your new look. It's just the way of things.

However, I'm pretty happy with it! It's almost dry, now (I air dry, because I'm lazy). And it looks a little something like this:

Nifty, yeah? Welcome back to the world of headbands, clippies, and tendrils, hair! I'm glad to be back, at least for a little while...

Do something impulsive, today. It's fun!

-The GLS

PS: I gave myself a good chuckle over deciding how to tag this post. Is getting your hair cut an activity? Should I start a "Hair Cuts of Gutsiness" tag? Could I get away with tagging this under "Music of Gutsiness" or "Musings of Gutsiness" under the pretense of being philosophical? In the end, I decided to just opt for haircutting being an Activity and stop overanalyzing everything I do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pesto & Hope, Actually

I don't like saying things like this, usually, because I don't like to compare days too much. However...

I just came off of what might have been the best (or at least the most needed) day I've had in a long, long time.

It started with one of those mornings where you stare at the wall for longer than necessary before getting out of bed, but then--when the sun came out after Algebra--everything became clear. Work was good, Mass Media class was good. KEXP played an alarmingly perfect set on my way home. I mean, every song was a dead ringer, beginning with my new sunshiney favorite "Nice Weather For Ducks" and concluding with "Summer Light" by The Cave Singers and a little Iron & Wine. Yes yes yes!

When I got home I had a wonderful phone conversation with a good friend I haven't seen in awhile, and it was uplifting and lovely to hear her voice, and I was so glad that she and I had a chance to share our hearts with one another like we used to when we were face to face.

Once home, I also realized that I had the house to myself for the evening, since my parents had plans. So I popped in "Love, Actually" (which I had borrowed from the library), fried up some Italian sausage, and boiled water for pasta. Mix pasta and sausage with pesto and mizithra cheese with a nice glass of white wine, with a dark chocolate-covered salted caramel for dessert.

Finish the evening off by knitting the night away, whistling to yourself, and the gentle clicking of knitting needles, and the sweet feeling of yarn between your fingers.


Now, I know it's silly. But sometimes I think we need days like this, because days like this become memories (because they can't last forever, you know) and memories are what we recall on the rainy, lonely, confusing, stressful days. And those memories combined with rain, loneliness, confusion, and stress create something very strange, and that's Hope. Because on those sad and sorry days it's important to remember the way life dips and sways and ups and downs, and that it will sway upward again eventually, and not to worry.

So don't forget the next time you have pesto that carries you away, nor the time you found your favorite hobby, nor the best conversations you ever had, nor the way you feel in the arms of a favorite place.

Because it's those rememberings that keep you sane.

-The GLS

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ashes & Jazz

Let me make this clear: I've been attending church since before I can remember, and my family attended church for a few years before that. I've always been a church kid, with church parents, and a church sibling and now a church sibling-in-law. I was involved in sunday school in elementary, youth group in middle to high school. I've done Bible studies and I've done chapels in private school.

And yet, age 21...was my first Ash Wednesday service.

I honestly have no explanation for why I've never attended an Ash Wednesday service before. I think I never knew about them until they had passed me by, I'm not sure. But tonight was my very first.

I was intending to go to my regular church for Ash Wednesday, but ended up going to the Methodist Church near where I work because we had a staff meeting up until the service time started, and there was no way I'd make it to my regular church in time.

However! The service was beautiful, and though it made me a little embarassed at first, I opted to have the ashes put on my forehead (one part gutsiness, and one part knowing it was important). Obviously it was a time for silence, contemplation, and preparation for what lies ahead in the church calendar.

My regular church is not liturgical, nor is it especially traditional (since it's a nondenominational church) but sometimes a little tradition and liturgy is nice. It can ground you into the rich history of where we came from as a group of believers, and you feel interconnected in a special way with those who worship--past and present. Lovely.

On the way home, I was treated to some old-time jazz and blues on KEXP, which...for some reason...brought the spirituality of the evening full-circle for me. You forget until you really listen to jazz and blues the passion behind the words, the licks, the rolls, the unconventionality that defined an era. Those fantastic old voices, a touchstone to the past...yes!

Tonight has been all about touchstones, it seems. Whether "Lord have mercy" or "My woman ain't comin' back no more", there's something necessary about connection to our past. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll forget, until Richie Havens busts out, "Trouble In Mind" and I lose myself in a swirl of yesterdays.

Don't worry. It'll come back to you. All you have to do is listen.

-The GLS

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Updates & Symbology

Well, hello!

Just thought I'd update two of my knitting projects, because I've been remiss (read: lazy) in uploading pictures of certain projects.

The two I'm most excited about are 1) my new and improved coffee cozy with the clasp-enclosure, something I've never tried before, and 2) my first Fair Isle hat.
Both projects were/are knitted with yarn in my stash that I'm trying to be rid of, so I feel really quite accomplished that I'm using stuff up.

First of all, the coffee cozy. It's knit with a pale blue mystery yarn that I got from the yarn store near my house for dirt cheap. I'm pretty sure it was $2 yarn. But it's definitely wool and is nice and cushy. The silver clasps cost more than the yarn, but it was worth it for the effect. The picture doesn't do it justice, I'm afraid, since my photography skills, camera, and lighting (I always take pictures at night...) are not the greatest. But here it is:

Not bad, eh? That cable was also something I haven't tried before, called a Horseshoe cable. In all, it's nice having a new coffee cozy for myself, as my old one was pretty ugly (it was my first attempt at one, so I can't be too hard on myself).

The second project, still in progress, is my "Rose Red" fair isle hat. For the yarn I'm actually using four different kinds and double-stranding for each color, and it's ALL leftover yarn from something else. So, for the off-white/grey portion I'm using Lion Brand Wool-Ease in "Wheat" doubled with Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool in "Oatmeal". Then for the red portion I'm using Vanna's Choice in "Cranberry" (leftover from my brother's Jayne Cobb hat) doubled with a mystery yarn from a hat I bought in Ireland that unraveled before I even got it home. It's nice to recycle.
And here's the hat, so far:

Yeah, it's a lot of work. But it's SO worth it! I can't wait to see it all finished, even though I have a terrible feeling it'll be very big and slouchy because I'm ignoring gauge just so I can get rid of all this ridiculous yarn.

In other news, I'm continuing to knit with "The Boondock Saints" in the background. Everyone needs their guilty pleasure movie, the one that respectable people arch a quizzical eyebrow at them for watching. The Saints is mine. Along with Zoolander.

Phew, I am tired, and I still need to go over my slam poem for Poetry class tomorrow. Time for a little scholasticism.

-The GLS

PS: Say it with me. "I think the word you're searching for is symbolism. What's the symbolism there?"

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Film & A Smile

Short post, this evening, because I have miles to go before I sleep. (Robert Frost, y'all...)

I went out to a movie tonight with Indefish! We saw "Valentine's Day", which featured a truly all-star cast. I mean, every person that turned around and showed their face on screen prompted a, "Whoa! I know them!" from myself and my companion. It was pretty crazy.

The story itself--or stories, rather--was pretty cute, in an interconnected web of people in LA who are all experiencing Valentine's Day in their own way. Lots of love triangles and broken hearts and mended hearts and reconciliations and hugging in cemetaries and flowers and cute kids and dogs. And Julia Roberts in fatigues.

The only thing I kept getting caught on....was that parts of the story seemed vaguely familiar. Not, like, word-for-word, but the airports and the lovesick kids and the doomed marriages with husbands having affairs? Why do I remember that? Only with...English accents...?

Oh yeah.

"Love, Actually."

However, if we're comparing the two films "Love, Actually" beats out "Valentine's Day" hands-down. Because it has Colin Firth falling in love with a Portuguese woman who doesn't speak English in what might be the cutest love story of all time. Instant win. It also has Hugh Grant acting muddled (shocker!) and Bill Nighy singing totally insipid pop songs. And Julia Roberts in fatigues.

Okay. Forget that last detail. It just kind of tripped me out.

Anyway, go see "Valentine's Day" if you like sappy romcoms with misunderstandings and Indian restuarants and Jamie Foxx (which, I do!).

In other news, I have decided that I am going into this week with a smile. Because I need to, and Tuesdays that act like Mondays are tough. Because I have a lot to get done before tomorrow's class experience will be a good one. And because without a smile...we ain't got nothing, right? Right.

Much love to all. Feeling all warm and fuzzy...

-The GLS

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Camembert & Zach Braff

This is a post about Valentine's Day.
But it's not THAT KIND of post about Valentine's Day.
And you know the one I mean. The one single girls always write on Valentine's Day.
This is not that post. So let's get to it.

Valentine's Day and I have always had an interesting relationship. At the beginning it was fun, you know. Exchanging little cards with the friends at school. Making mailboxes out of empty Kleenex boxes or little heart-shaped envelopes. Getting chocolate and candy and flowers from my parents, and sometimes random gifts.

But it soon occurred to me...around high school, I think...that Valentine's Day had a more sinister side for those who cared to see it. I think it was in high school that I first heard about "Singles Awareness Day" and I started to think about what it meant to be the OTHER contingency on Valentine's Day. And for six or seven years of February 14ths I've wondered when I would ever be able to cross that line into celebrating Valentine's Day instead of that OTHER day that single people say they're PROUD of but then secretly grind their teeth at the cards and the hearts and the pinks and the reds hung like streamers from people's faces everywhere they turn. And there's a lot of watching romantic, sappy movies that represent a life they can't possibly have and blubbering into their popcorn, or their tray of brownies that they're not sharing with anyone else. (The higher the fat content, the higher the level of comfort, I guess.)

To be honest, I've never spent a Valentine's Day WITH someone, if you know what I mean. I've been angry at Valentine's Day, I've ignored it, I've cursed it, I've pretended it wasn't important, I've laughed at it, but it just refuses to go away. And I'm not saying that so you'll, I don't know, ask me out or something, or even so you'll feel sorry for me, but just so you can understand the context for what I'm about to say.

This year, I decided to do the gutsy thing. I decided to embrace Valentine's Day. NOT Singles Awareness Day, because yes...I'm aware that I'm single. I'm aware of that every day. Why devote a day to being aware of it? But for the first time, I'm letting myself embrace the idea of all that singleness is, all that it can be, and realizing that singleness is not the same as loneliness, it just feels like it sometimes. Today, I decided to go into February 14th with eyes and arms wide open. (Stop singing Creed. No seriously, stop.) I wanted to see if the day itself--and the God that I wholeheartedly believe exists--would woo me in lieu of someone more, ahem, earthly.

I started this day sleeping in, which is always a fantastic way to start any day. And I don't mean sleeping in until noon. Nope, for me, sleeping in until about nine is perfect. That leaves plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the day, but you still feel rested and rebellious for ignoring your alarm.

The day started out fantastic: an email from a dear friend put me in an extremely chipper mood, and I thought...okay. Maybe I feel a bit wooed. Keep it coming, V-Day.

I decided to go to church in the evening, so that left the morning and early afternoon free for other things. I spent the first part of it knitting and catching up on old Taxi episodes, and then when I noticed the sun outside I put on my coat, grabbed the overdue library books, and headed into my town.

Listening to a soundtrack of some favorite tunes, I spent three hours walking, thinking, singing to myself, perusing the library, sipping earl grey tea, meeting very sweet dogs, waiting for trains, wave-watching, people-watching, and feeling very, very plugged in, yet also unplugged. As I walked up the hill and homeward at the end of it all it had just started to rain, and I watched the slate grey clouds roll in over the Peninsula and the ferry boats and all. It was...perfection.

Very good, V-Day. You've got my attention.

The only hiccup was church. On the way there I noticed (thanks to a truck I was following with a very shiny rear-end) that my headlights had gone out. Phooey. By the time I got home to switch cars (because driving in the dark sans headlights is not advisable, really) it was too late to get anything but the last few minutes of Richard's sermon. Poo. Minus points for that, V-Day. Minus points.

But I stopped by QFC and decided to make myself an extravagant V-Day feast. I grabbed some white wine, camembert, Italian sausage, and pasta shells, and created an incredible concoction that was inspired by something I made when I was in Galway. The recipe is on its way and will soon be up at my other blog, The Good Hobbit Wife.

Finishing the evening with a red velvet cupcake that my parents brought me back from Claim Jumper yesterday and a viewing of Garden State--one of my all-time favorite films--it was a satisfying dinner, to say the least, and a perfect cap to the evening.

And, overall, a very satisfying Valentine's Day. I think we can be on speaking terms, now.

And you know what? For the time being, I am glad to be single. I think when you spend too much time comparing your life to other people's lives is when you get yourself into trouble worrying about things like singleness. Truth be told, I don't know where a fellow would fit into what I've currently got going. Between school and work I don't have a whole lot of time, and I wouldn't want to shortchange him when I've got him, you know? Someday, yes, I want to be a hobbit wife. But I can wait. It's not going to happen overnight, and patience is a virtue (though one that I often need to practice...regularly).

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Whether married, dating, single, divorced, complicated, bitter, delighted, excited, lonely, confused, or all of the is about you deciding to be content with who you are and what you've got going. Don't let the day end without recognizing a little love in your life, no matter who that person may be.

I shall now dream about Zach Braff in that leafy shirt and sing, "Once...twice...three times a lady" over and over until I can't take it anymore.

-The GLS

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fairy Hunting & Clasps

We're down to five projects on the needles, because I finally finished a new coffee cozy for myself, since the one I've been using was the first one I ever made and I've improved a bit since then. I made it a button-closure this time, which is new, and bought some antique-looking silver clasps for it. Lovely.

Today was a good Saturday, in that I felt no obligation to do much of anything most of the day. I like Saturdays like that. It's not a Saturday unless you can spend at least part of it relaxing, am I right?

But I say "most of" and "part of" because I did have an obligation this morning. I once again found myself at the home of Choo Choo, the five-year-old neighbor that I babysit occasionally.

This particular Saturday was a bit different, as Choo Choo did not seem interested in doing much of anything, today. And by that I mean he seemed to want to do everything, but couldn't settle on something in particular. We started about five movies, played with six different sets of toys, and nothing seemed interesting.

So, in the end, we decided to go outside for a walk. For him, a walk technically means that his mother walks and he rides along beside on his bike. Unfortunately his bike helmet was in his mom's car...and the car was with his mom, which is to say elsewhere. I made it clear to him that he was not riding a bike without his helmet, and after a brief resistance he soon saw things my way.

Next he grabbed his t-ball bat, ball, and glove and we spent the next three minutes playing catch. But neither he nor I possess the coordination to do much in the way of baseball (maybe someday, but not currently) so that idea was scratched as well.

After putting away the t-ball gear, I posed that we should go down to the creek.

Let me explain. Choo Choo's front yard has a large dip right below the street where a very small creek (read: one and a half feet wide) runs from the neighbor's house down to a culvert and then disappears under a solid bridge over to MY yard. But we haven't seen our side of the creek in years, due to an overabundane of ivy, blackberry bushes, and morning glory.

So we put on our rubber boots and went down to the creek. As we walked along the muddy bank I spotted a little spot on the opposite side where my grandmother would have said Teenie Weenies (fairies, pretty much) would have lived. Teenie Weenies were very small and lived in those tiny places along creeks and such, and as a child I loved looking for those places.

I told this to Choo Choo, and I didn't think he had heard me nor cared until we were exploring along the bank and he suddenly said, "Look! That's a Teenie Weenie hotel! And over there, a Teenie Weenie buffet. And a HUGE apartment complex!"

We spent an hour like this, hiking around in the mud in the rain by a little creek, dreaming about fairies and how they must take little boats to work and what they must eat, and how those little tiny plants that grow along the banks of creeks must be Teenie Weenie lettuces. In all, the finest afternoon I've had in a long while. I was sorry to see it end.

Sometimes I think little fibs aren't so bad, you know? We've become so obsessed with KNOWING, with not having the wool pulled over our eyes, that we don't like to recognize little magical things like Teenie Weenie hiding spots. Honestly, I don't mind that I'm responsible for my neighbor believing in fairies. Someday he'll "know better" and decide what to believe in, but for now? He's having fun, and he's using his imagination, and I'm not so obsessed with "truth" that I'm going to spoil that. There's more to life than practicality and wisdom without wonder and delight.

So there.

Go put on your rubber boots and go hunting for fairies in the rain by a creek. You won't be disappointed.

-The GLS

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hats & Prayers

We come to the end of one of the longest weeks in recorded history. Sickness sweeping through my workplace, heinous videographic crimes shown in the classroom, general mayhem involving poetry and mathematics.


In pretty strict contrast to my last post, all I have to say is this: I've started two new knitting projects! Bringing the total works-in-progress for the moment to six. Whoa. Maybe I ought to finish something soon....

1) Starting my very first fair isle hat! As you may remember, fair isle is a type of knitting with two or three or more colors to create really pretty patterns. Now I'm putting that fair isle-ness to good use in hat-form. Wish me far I'm not sure if it's working or not. Hard to tell when you're only a few rows in. In any case, the finished product will hopefully look something like this.

2) Ever heard of a prayer shawl? It's where people knit shawls--because they're pretty easy to do without concentrating--and pray as they start every row. It's kind of like a spiritual discipline, in a way, and in the end they typically give the shawl away as a gift to the person they prayed for. Well, I'm starting a scarf with some of my scrap yarn, and I've found myself thinking about different people and things in my life as I start every stripe, so I thought...why not? It's a prayer scarf! Cool!

Yikes, that's all, I can barely keep my eyes open.!

-The GLS

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unexpected Awful & Who?

I'm going to start this one off happy, because I don't want to do a complete 180 once I get ranting.

In the "trying something new" department, I finally watched an episode of Dr. Who all the way through! I'm pretty proud of myself, and a little embarassed that I've never got into it sooner. It's one of those things you'd think I'd be all over, but I was always intimidated by the fact that it's been so long-running and everything is so intricate and stuff. So I watched the episode "Blink" and it was absolutely wonderful...if not a little terrifying because of the creepy angel-statue things. Ew. I'm keeping my eye on statues from now on...

Okay. 180 degrees. Get ready for the GLS really, really pissed off. (If you want to avoid the ranting, skip to the slightly-more-optimistic very last paragraph. Don't let me stop you.)

So, truth be told, I was having a good day today. Math went homework due, mostly review, good class. Work went much better than yesterday, much smoother and less stress. Everything was going fantastically.

Until I hit Mass Media Class.

I have such a weird love/hate relationship with that class. I love the professor (she was the same one who taught the Journalism class I took long ago) and I love the discussions. I also love learning about the history of mass media, where we've come from and where we're going. Interesting stuff.

Yes, interesting stuff. So when she said we'd be talking today about journalism and what journalists do and how they do what they do, I thought COOL! Love history and the "whys" and "hows". Awesome.

We got through a few whys and hows (and the history of journalism, which is fascinating), and then she said she was going to show us a brief video clip that was made by a magazine regarding the current goings-on in Liberia (which, if you didn't know, border on the absolutely hellish). She didn't really preface it with anything, except to say that it was quite graphic and those who chose not to watch could do so. (However, may I point out that no one would necessarily leave unless they knew themselves to be so squeamish they'd vomit on the spot? Human curiosity and the peer pressure of everyone watching you leave is enough to keep anyone in their seats, I think. Especially since our class is very small. Like, a dozen people on a good day.)

She turns on the video, and right off the bat I know I've made a mistake staying in my seat, but I'm not going to leave now because I'm too stubborn.

I'm not even going to bother explaining the video, nor am I going to tell you where to find it, because when the thing ended I was so enraged I could hardly engage in the discussion afterward.

And here's where my outrage comes from, and why I would rather no one else watch it on account of me:

The video depicted an American film team going into Liberia to "expose" the atrocities happening there, as journalists often do. However, the atrocities aside, the depiction of the people was monstrous. It was pure sensationalism in the form of "exposition". No, no, it was the worst journalism I've ever seen. There was no view of the common citizen, no call to help or sympathy, no reason at all why we shouldn't let Liberia implode. Even the tamest part of the video--a trip inside a hellhole brothel, which tells you how awful the video was to begin with--ended with the prostitutes chasing "our heroes" (as in, the American film team) out of the brothel shouting for money. Back in the van, the film team laughed nervously and talked about the "fucked up shit" they just saw.

Hello? Who's the monster, here? The angry mob or the giggling twits in the van?

My teacher was--obviously--using this video as an attempt to explain sensationalism in journalists' methods, but you know what? There are some images in my head that may never go away, now. Some might say, "Good. That's good. You're learning about the world, and how horrible things can be. You should know about this stuff."

Here's my problem. It's all well and good to be informed--I relish being informed--but where am I supposed to fit into all of that information? The journalists never told me. They made me sit through ten minutes of their crap, and by the end I feel hopeless and privileged and sick.

And I got to thinking...videos like that are not meant to be seen. Do you know why? Because it's exploitation. It's people saying, "Hey! Look at this pit of a country! Pretty messed up, isn't it? Look away if you can, but you can't! You know why? Because you're human. And humans like to look at messed up things. And we're generating ad revenue every time you click the play button."

Tell me: is it sick that a general leading the revolution tortured and cannibalized the displaced president of Liberia and filmed the whole thing? Of course it is. Then tell me what's sicker: the man taping the torture, or THE FAT AMERICANS SITTING IN AN EDITING ROOM REBROADCASTING THE VIDEO FOR OTHER FAT AMERICANS TO WATCH IN THE NAME OF JOURNALISM????

Snuff film journalism. That's all it is. And I'm ashamed of it.

Yeah, I'm actually a little ticked at my professor, truth be told. Because no matter what anyone says...films like that are exploitation. At the end you're left with the most hopeless feeling imaginable, because there's NOTHING to do except pray, which I did. Fervently. But the film makers don't want your help. They want your reaction to their film to be disgust and morbid curiosity. It would have been nice to know a little more about what we'd be seeing BEFORE the images--and the sounds...oh my word, the sounds--assaulted the eyes and ears.

And in her own small way, my professor made us complicit in that unimaginable twistedness that causes cameras to capture the most horrible of human atrocities and let other human beings feed upon that darkness.


Obviously, this has been a long post. And obviously, it has been intense and angry. I know that. But I also know this: Tomorrow will be a better day. I have to believe that. Because if I don't, I'll become like one of those journalists. And that's a price I cannot afford to pay.

-The GLS

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Conlangs & Horseshoes

A few small but gutsy things to report.

One is that I tried a new cable in my knitting, called a horseshoe cable. I'll be sure to post pictures once I cease to be lazy and actually take a few.

The second is that I've been playing with conlangs again. Conlang stands for "constructed languages", and since I'm a linguistics geek I've always thought it would be interesting to create a language. Marry a love of linguistics with a love of writing and you get...a person who creates worlds and populates them with languages that each have their own grammar system and unique vocabulary (read: a Tolkien wannabe).

Obviously it's not an instant process, but now that I'm working on a novel for FebNoWriMo I thought I'd get back into it a little more. Working on a language now that is a mixture of Irish, Russian, and French. Pretty fun, and crazy, but mostly fun. It's a time filler, anyway, and a good daily puzzle to solve. Hitting a word I haven't come up with yet and being like, "Drat...gotta pull out three different dictionaries and figure that one out."

Incidentally, my FebNoWriMo is currently up to 10,690 out of 50, I'm behind. But the important thing is that I'm writing, so even if I don't make 50,000 I totally don't mind. It's just good to be working on something. And I'm liking my story so far, as that's good.

To be honest, though, the gutsiest thing I'm going to attempt tonight and tomorrow is NOT getting the stomach sickness that is sweeping through Seattle right now. Really, honestly, I don't want it. Mainly because throwing up is my least favorite thing. I can handle a lot...really I can...but throwing up sucks big time.

Anyway, wishing everyone a healthy long weekend (for those of us with President's Day coming up!).

Maybe I should plan a gutsy adventure on Monday?

-The GLS

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taxis & Percentages

So, gutsy studying pays off!

I got a 98% on my mid-term! Yahoo!!

Feels good to get such a good grade, especially since I don't typically study for things like this.

In other news, I went to the Library and decided to pick out something that I've never seen before, and ended up going home with Season 2 of the old 70's show "Taxi", knowing that my mom and dad really enjoyed it when they were dating and stuff. As soon as I got home I popped it in.

My review: Taxi is HILARIOUS. Very funny show, and features a lot of famous actors before their time. Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Judd Hirsch, Rhea Perlman, Tony Danza, and the fantastic Andy Kaufman. Obviously it's very 70's, with the hair and the clothes and the weird humor (and did I mention the hair?). In fact, the writers of the show were Les and Glen Charles, the same writers for "Cheers". So if you like some of those classic shows you'll like "Taxi", as the humor is very similar to "Cheers".

Can't speak to Season 1, but Season 2 is really funny so far. A good experiment. Worth it to see Andy Kaufman pull a kitten out of his pocket. Classic.

It's time for sleep.

-The GLS

Monday, February 8, 2010

Harmonicas & Ducks

I've been unimpressed with my gutsiness of late, so I thought I'd pick up a new instrument. I don't have the money to go buy something new, so I went digging through my drawers of randomosity (courtesy of a disorganized mind) and found...lo and behold...a harmonica.

A harmonica in C. One of those fantastic metallic blue Sousa Band dealios from elementary school with the portrait of John Philip in gold leaf on the front and "1912" underneath, as if the harmonica itself is that old. Good stuff.

The nice thing about such harmonicas is you can't make them sound bad when you're playing solo. I mean, the chords are all laid out for you. All you have to do is inhale and exhale. I had no real trouble with that. I just noodled around for a bit, tried out "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and stuff to prepare myself for the real test of my gutsiness...playing the harmonica with a recorded song.

The first song I elected to play along with was Copland's Rodeo, because the music in that makes me thrill inside. However...I neglected to realize that Rodeo is in D, and my harmonica is in C. The ensuing noise was...interesting.

Hmmm. What else do I have in C that goes well with a harmonica?

After trying and failing a few other songs in which the keys didn't match, I had a brainwave and played along to a song called "Images of Camilla" written by a very talented friend I met in Ireland. That song--and his others--can be found here.

The bad news? I don't have a mic on my laptop, so you'll have to take my word for it that I accomplished what I said I did. The good news? For a little while, I made the harmonica sing. And that's exactly what I wanted.

In other news, do you ever get embarassed at the lyrical unoriginality coming out of the speakers on your stereo that you actually find yourself ENJOYING?

My example: "Nice Weather For Ducks" by Lemon Jelly. Heard it for the first time on the radio, today. The lyrics consist of this: "All the ducks are swimming in the water. Falderalderaldo, falderaldoraldo."

That's it. Over and over.

And yet, I turned it up so loud I thought my ears might bleed and LOVED EVERY MOMENT OF IT.

There might be something wrong with me. But because it's music...and because I have a weakness for good music...I think I'll let it slide.

For today.

-The GLS

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Boots & Temptations

I convince myself of things very easily. One of those things happens to be the inclination to spend money.

Thankfully I have no credit cards or vast amounts of cash to blow on things, but every once and awhile I'll convince myself to walk out of a store with something I don't really love, just because I can.

Por ejemplo...I've been looking for black boots for awhile now, but since I'm cheap I've been looking for under $30, if possible. And seeing as how there's lots of sales on now I was hoping I'd find something that fit my price range and that I loved the look of.

Walking into the Shoe Store With The Clingy Sales Associates (which shall remain unnamed), I didn't expect much. But I DID find a pair of black boots that I didn't hate the look of, in the box.

Obviously I decided to try them on. And they didn't really look all that bad. But I asked myself a tough question...are they worth it? Do I really LOVE the way they look on me? Do I think I could find something for cheaper somewhere else that is a better bargain and will suit me better? And honestly, does this all this angst over boots really matter in the long run?

The gutsiest thing I did today was look in the mirror with those $40 black boots on, decide they just weren't worth the money (or the angst), and put them back on the shelf. I then proceeded to flounce out of the store (yes, founce) with a very satisfied and happy feeling. The Clingy Sales Associates didn't know what hit 'em...

There's a part of me--a shallow and very selfish part--that still yearns for those boots, but I think what I yearn for is the control of handing a store clerk a debit card. Something about that is fulfilling in a very empty but potent way. The boots weren't really that good-looking and were kind of cheap-feeling. But it's so easy to get caught up in what you think you really need, isn't it?

It may not seem too gutsy, but it's been a long time since I've turned my back on a purchase like that.

Happiness is not a pair of boots, nor anything you can hold. If only I lived my life more aware of that simple fact.

-The GLS

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Frogging & Not Frogging

In knitting and crochet there is a term, frogging, which essentially means to start a project, get a little ways into it, decide it doesn't look good/doesn't look like the pattern/is too difficult/all of the above, and then completely take it apart to use the yarn for something else, or possibly restart the same project again.

Yesterday, I started another knitting project, got almost finished with it, and decided I hated it. So I took the whole thing apart. My parents--who had watched the process, as I was knitting while watching a movie with them--were horrified.

I restarted the project again today, expecting that I would get it perfectly this time. After all, I had learned from my mistakes, right? There would be no problem, now.

60-stitch cast-on and three rows later, I messed up on my ribbing. Not horribly, but enough to offend my need for perfection.

And I had a choice to make. To frog, or not to frog? To start again and get it PERFECTLY, or to leave it be and keep going?

Have you ever noticed that we live in a world where people like to frog their lives? You get a little ways in--or a lot--and you say, "Eh, this isn't going like I planned." And you change directions, sometimes to the extreme, in the hopes of getting it perfectly the next time.

My last post, I think, was an attempt to frog my life. When something gets hard, or complicated, or boring, I start looking at airfares for another Ireland trip or even somewhere I've never been. (Reykjavik, anyone?) I start dreaming about moving out, moving my life across the sea, doing anything else but what I'm doing.

But the one thing we don't realize when we think like this is that once we've unraveled the work we've done, and decide to start over, we're still using the same yarn and the same needles and the same brain and the same fingers. The same imperfections in the materials. So why do we expect perfection THIS time around? We can uproot and restart our lives as many times as we want, but we'll never be happy unless we choose to be. Imperfections and all.

I decided not to restart the project another time, mostly because I wasn't interested in doing another 60-stich cast-on with yarn that had already been frogged one too many times and was becoming thin and stretched. I kept knitting, despite the mistakes on the ribbing annoying my delicate sensitivities about such things. I made a few other mistakes, too, on my way up. But it's done, now. And for its imperfections, I think I like it all the more. It took working WITH the imperfections, working them IN to the work, improvising a bit in places. And learning to live with the ones that I couldn't make look perfectly right. Seeing them as part of the work's personality, I guess.

If only I could learn to do that with my life. Learn to work with the imperfections, blend them in with what I've done. Maybe I'll get there. Perhaps the first step is just knowing that I need to fix it.

And to stop frogging stuff all the time.

In my opinion, the world needs a few more hobbits and a few less of the restless and frogging-types. I'm happy to oblige.

-The GLS

Friday, February 5, 2010

Eyelets & Musings

(Warning: This post may get a little prickly-personal, and I apologize. Sometimes it's easier to see your thoughts when they're in front of you, not inside of you.)

The gutsiest thing I did today was decide not to run away from life as I currently know it.

I was sorely tempted to change my name and move to another state, today, or even another country. And it's not because life is awful here in Seattle, but because life is good. Is that backwards? I think it might be, but I don't care.

Admittedly, I have a good life. Loving family, education, exclusive use of a car, a job I enjoy, hobbies that I love, friends I can invest time into. But more and more often I find myself it possible to change the course of what you expect for yourself? Sure, it makes perfect sense for me to finish my Associates degree, get a career, meet a nice Seattle man who likes my hobbity ways and settle down, have kids, etc. I know life is never that simple, but in my mind's eye that's the path in front of me.

And...I'm not sure I want that.

I've thought about so many scenarios for my life it's not even funny, and not until today--walking the gathering dark in the little town where I've lived for seven years--did I actually start entertaining them as serious ideas. After all, I believe that my life belongs ultimately to God, but that He has given me paths to choose and choose them I do. The only wrong choice is not to give Him all glory as I travel the pathways.

So here I am, with a list before me, ready to plunge into the next stage and perhaps take an even gutsier leap than I thought. Will it happen tomorrow? Probably not. Money is more of an issue than it ought to be, and such is life. Besides, it would be nice to have my Associates in hand as a culmination of years of education. But will I still be sitting here in this little house in this small town a year from now? I don't know, but somehow I don't think so. I hope not.

Does this make for a very satisfying blog post? No, most likely not. But it needed to be said.

Here's hoping for more gutsiness on a grander scale in the future...not just new alcoholic beverages, writing techniques, or restaurants, but something ultimately more satisfying.

Until then, I need to figure out how to knit these stupid eyelets so they don't poof.


-The GLS

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blood & Whimsy

I'm usually not very gutsy about my prose writing. I tend to follow a pretty rigid formula:

-have a fairly detailed idea of the beginning
-have only the faintest idea of the middle
-know the ending like you know your own face
-make it as angsty as possible

Okay, so that last one is usually an accident. I have a hard time making my characters anything but overly dramatic about everything, no matter how hard I try. Oh, sure, at the beginning they can be fair to decently cheerful, but by the end they make Edward Cullen look like Bobo the Clown.

I also write fantasy, but not like you know. No swords and sorcery for me, no sir. I've heard my genre described as "Contemporary Fantasy"...which I think is kind of a general way of saying it, and not very descriptive.

Sitting down to write my FebNoWriMo Novel, an idea that has been percolating in my mind for a few years now, I drew a complete blank. I needed my two main characters to meet in a bar. They haven't seen each other in twenty years, and the last time they met one of them allegedly died. So this meeting in the bar was supposed to be unexpected...surprising...explosive...

And angsty, apparently. Because no matter how many times I started the stupid thing, they kept angsting in the first few sentences. My viewpoint character wouldn't stop waxing poetic, and not in a good way, and the other character kept acting all righteously angry about something that I couldn't quite decipher.

This was a problem.

So I started taking apart everything in the scene. What was I doing wrong? Why could I find nothing funny at all about this meeting? What was my problem?

It wasn't until I was noodling around the NaNoWriMo website that I found an adoptable opening line that went as follows: "The man in the corner booth was crying into his tomato soup."


Suddenly it all clicked into place. They're not meeting in a bar, but in a diner! Who cares if it's incongruous to the world I've built? It's my world, and I can make it work. My viewpoint character is no angsty poet; he's a socially maladjusted misfit who can't stop thinking about the other man's lack of hygiene. And that other character--the man crying into his tomato soup--is crying partly for his situation, but also because his flask is empty. (Get ye flask! You can't get ye flask...)

Isn't it amazing how a little change of scenery can do you a world of good? No, seriously.

Thus, I'm changing the name of my genre. From now on, I write "New Whimsy". Sounds legit, doesn't it? The moment I find the barest hint of angst, I shall replace it with a wash of whimsy and turn everything on its head. Fantastico.

Incidentally, there is a new song on my "makes me cry it's so beautiful" list. The band is called The Middle East, and the song is "Blood". Gorgeous, haunting, and if you're not singing along with the vocal hook at the end you have no heart. Look up the lyrics, too. A winner all around.

Word count: 2,495...I'm behind! Better go write.

-The GLS

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slam & Enchant

Well, today was another, "Hmm...what sort of gutsiness will I get up to today?" sort of day, without knowing the answer until poetry class.

(No, I didn't decide to ask That One Kid his impressions on the meaning of life. I hope I can get around to that eventually, though...)

Today we had a few presentations given by peers on certain poets that they like. One gal did a presentation on a slam poet.

For those who just went, "Huh?" when I said slam poet, click here.

Now, here's the thing. I don't hate slam poetry, but my impressions of it up until today were slightly less than favorable, and here's why. Up until today most of my impressions of slam poetry were that many of the poems included a LOT of what I'll call "aggressive whining". This tends to be the same way I feel about rap, but even in rap there are exceptions to that, and there are certain rap songs I find really interesting.

But slam poets are different. I always felt they spoke with the exact same intonations as one another, complained about the same things as one another, and had the John Mayer-esque idea of "waiting on the world to change" which I think is the laziest thing I ever heard.

There was one exception to this rule, and that was the work of Eric Darby. I was introduced to Mr. Darby through a camp friend who performed one of his poems at a talent show. But I thought Eric Darby had to be a fluke, because I still can't watch or listen to "Scratch and Dent Dreams" without crying with the joy of inspiration, and that couldn't be REAL slam poetry, right?

Well, today, I decided to face the beast head-on, and I started clicking around on YouTube watching slam poets I had never heard of to see if I could at least come close to understanding this phenomenon and find out if it was as pointless as I thought.

Slam poetry: 1, GLS: 0.

Friends? Whether or not I feel the messages of these poems are aimed at me, there is a lot more to slam poetry than whining, complaining, or protesting. As human beings, it is our privilege to listen to the voices of other human beings calling out, and these poems touch me to my core, some more than others. I hope, even if you aren't a poetry fan, that you can feel the emotional pull and spiritual call behind the words.

Here's what I suggest. I don't care if poetry isn't your thing, it's worth watching anything once, right? Go watch "Scratch and Dent Dreams" and then just start clicking around on YouTube. I suggest a lot of the "Def Poetry" stuff, hosted by Mos Def.

Once again, the GLS was proven effectively mistaken. I should make eating crow a full-time profession...

Also watched a new film, tonight, called "Enchanted April". TOTAL girl movie, but well worth it and beautifully acted! Highly recommended for a girl's night in.

-The GLS

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cunning & Celebratory Gumbo

(I just noticed that "Celebratory Gumbo" sounds like either a band name or an album title that you'd hear on KEXP. Get on that, indie musicians.)

The secret is out! My Top Secret Knitting Project has been delivered to its proper recipient, which means I can blog about it! (Though, technically, this gutsiness happened yesterday, but let's not split hairs.)

Brother Bear (whom you may remember from a few posts back) had his birthday this past weekend, and I decided that for his gift I would knit him something....but what to knit?

A cursory pass around the Internet quickly revealed the answer to me.

As Brother Bear is an ardent Firefly/Serenity fan, I realized that my only recourse was to knit him up a Jayne Cobb hat, post-haste. For those who don't know what the Jayne Cobb hat is, there are some fine pictures, an explanation, and the pattern I used at the link above. I find myself fortunate that there's a person in this world obsessed enough to take such diligent notes.

There was only one foreseeable problem with this plan: I had never made a hat, knitted in the round, done a Twisted German cast-on, or made a pom-pom before. Ever.

Sounds like a job for the Gutsy Little Knitter!

Eight hours later, here's the result:

Vivid, eh? Haha! My very first hat. And this yarn made me really happy. I don't usually work with primary colors, much. And perhaps Ma Cobb might have found the hues a bit much, but I don't have the same access to faded and antique-looking yarns that she undoubtedly has, probably owning her own sheep and all.

Pretty cunning, eh?

Shiny, captain!

In other news, my gutsy studying paid off! That was probably the best mid term I ever had, and I celebrated by eating chicken gumbo (what else, right?).

Also, FebNoWriMo has begun, and I'm up to 1,040 words, currently. Hmm...I'm gonna have to do better than that if I want to reach 50,000 by the end of the month. Let's hope I can get a few more before I turn in for the night.

I've had "Hero of Canton" stuck in my head ever since making that darn hat. "The hero of Canton, the man they call Jaaaayne!"

-The GLS.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gutsy & Smart

Sadly, this is not a long post.

In fact, it's a very short post.

Because I'm doing something very gutsy and new...for me. Ready for this?

I'm studying.

Not just studying, either. I'm studying for a test. A mid-term exam. What's so gutsy about that, you ask? The fact that I never study. Ever. I'm a take-the-grades-as-they-come sort of girl, and usually I do alright without cracking a book. I'm also...just the teensiest bit...lazy about such things.

However, this time I thought I'd be responsible--and gutsy--and actually look over my notes from my Mass Media class and read over the chapters before I go in there and make a fool of myself when I don't know the answers. This teacher is tougher than I thought she'd be...

Obviously, since I'm in the act of gutsiness right now, I can't talk. So I'm going to leave this post at this and turn my computer off. Wish me luck!

-The GLS.