Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little Red Needed Her Huntsman

After a rocky but good weekend in Portsmouth, our Halloween costume party and viewing of Clint Eastwood's beautiful beast The Changeling, I'm glad to be home. I picked up a few ridiculously cute pieces of clothing before heading back to Richmond, but I regret nothing.

While the Halloween party was a train wreck at first, it evened off. I think we had an alright time. The girls who came over were almost ten years my junior, so the generation gap was incredibly obvious. I was not an immature teenager and neither was I ever really much of a girl; these girls were my antithesis. It was surreal and so I will leave it at that. As you can see, I went as Little Red Riding Hood. My huntsman called me in the middle of the party and got me out of the awkward teenage-ness for a little while and things were better after that.

This week, I don't have to do much, so instead of watching election coverage, which only stresses me out, I think I will probably watch the last season of Sex and the City and read a few Harry Potter books as I attempt to wrap up the series. I may write some, but after last week's illnesses and meanness and cold, I think I might relax. Alot. How was your Halloween?

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Settling into Life in Richmond

Cool Blue Evenings at the Edge of November
Leaves are falling here in Richmond and the cooler temperatures make for nice walking weather. I’ve taken to riding my bike around the neighborhood, picking up a soda from the 7-11 on the loop back home and I find that I’m beginning to enjoy life here. I have a full library of new books, a warm bed and tomato soup and grilled cheese when I come home from a long day at the Writing Center. It’s quiet where I live and so I get my work done, read in my big comfy chair and sit out on the back stoop to eat dinner and watch the neighbor’s cat stalking finches in the high grass.

While I mourn the loss of Boston from the World series, life has taken an upswing in the past few days, for a few reasons. I got a new computer and I dropped the evil composition class that was bringing down my self esteem and my grades. I picked up the perfect eight-hour-battery-life computer and NaNoWriMo starts in just a few weeks. I'll be running through it with my friend, Kathy from Travel Well, Leave None Behind. I’m preparing myself to pick up North of the Line once more. This story has followed me for most of my adolescent life and has surfaced once again in graduate school.

The Great Story
I think, and please don’t judge me for this, that each author has that one great epic story they want to tell. That story will haunt each of us until we write it and define our writing life when we do. Maybe some of you don’t believe in this, but I do. North of the Line has been that story. I have figured out quite a few things about myself in writing this story and I love it for its sudden complexities and its characters, each of whom embody specifics of my own life. The story has also matured as I have come up through college and I am pleased at the changes it has endured in the past few years. While grad school has become the bane of my existence for the moment, this story has become a way for me to escape and enjoy writing again.

Holding the Line.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jason Varitek is My Hero

Must-Win Game and a Must Finish Paper
So, while I'm waiting for the game between the Red Sox and the Rays, I'm working through the composition paper from hell. The thing has to be fifteen pages long, touching on every singe article we've read so far this semester - an impossible thing to accomplish in that page count. I do get a chance to revise it, so I guess I have a chance.

On a lighter note, tonight I get to see Boston in a must-win Game 7 against Tampa. Jason Varitek has become my hero over the past few weeks. He's knocked in some of the pivotal scoring runs for Boston and he's maybe one of the better catchers in the league. And, just as a personal aside, I adore catchers. Tonight, I hope to see a Sox victory, then Boston v. Philly next week.

As October and baseball's postseason wind down, I'm gearing up for November and Novel Writing Month! A friend and I are launching into the project, with a goal of 20,000 words instead of the traditional 50,000. We're both busy with school and life, her with kids, me with 150 students. So, we're taking it easy and trying to get a story going in November. I'll be posting segments of it every Friday for your consumption.

I'm not expecting a great literary work on the first go round from NaNoWriMo, but I do expect to have a few ideas to work with over Christmas break, which I will be spending in Richmond, VA.

Let's See How Far We've Come
I voted by absentee ballot last week and all I can say is that the election can't get here fast enough. I don't really care how you guys vote, but definitely do it; this may be the most important election in decades. We're picking the next leader of the free world and all of the responsibility that comes with that position. So, vote. I include the following video, just because it's pretty nifty.

Holding the Line.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Right Path and Praying for Boston

As October rolls in, the American and National baseball leagues battle it out for a chance at the World Series. I admit, I'm a baseball fanatic. During college, I could never guarantee that I would ever get to see the Series, but I followed the post-season quietly, not wanting to alarm my roommates or my boyfriend. This week, Bear has discovered my obsession: baseball is my religion. The Brewers have fallen while the White Socks and the Cubbies retreat back to Chicago. Last night, the Red Sox retired Anaheim in game four. That's tons of fun, but I just want to see the Sox in the Series. Say amen.

This past weekend, I went down to Portsmouth to drop off the face of the earth for a few days. I visited my friend and after we rode bikes, we watched episodes of Frazier while we ate ice cream, grumbling about our aches and bruises and weary legs. I found I was able to concentrate, to focus on my school work, to even consider the life I'm leading. I have decided to continue with my MFA, but once I'm done, I think I'll take a break from academia for a while. I want to be a professor like my undergraduate teachers; they inspired and encouraged their students and I didn't feel like the breath got knocked out of me every time I went to class.

Have any of you ever realized that you may have set out on the right path, but maybe that you did it at the wrong time or in the wrong suit? That's what this feels like.

Holding the Line.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Reading List for Graduate School

From what I hear, graduate school is supposed to be, pardon me, a bitch. Finances, classes, jobs, grades, students, etc. I don't know if I manage my time and my money very well, but I've not run in to most of this evilness. So far, I've picked up thirty books, a few DVDs, and enough fresh fruit to survive the apocalypse. Life is good my friends. Life is pretty freaking good.

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Sula by Toni Morrison
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
  • Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
  • Tuck Everalsting by Natalie Babbitt
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Anthem by Ayn Rand
  • Heaven's Net is Wide by Liam Hearn
  • The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Liam Hearn
  • Brilliance of the Moon by Liam Hearn
  • The Collected H.G. Wells
  • The Collected H.P. Lovecraft
  • Winter's Tale by Mark Heprin
  • Big Bang by Simon Singh
  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
  • The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
  • Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson
  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Holding the Line.

p.s. Thanks for the encouragement on the last post! Knowing you guys understand helps.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blazing Epiphanies in Graduate School

Blazing By
Graduate school has picked up and I'm blazing through each week, wondering some days if I've even eaten breakfast. As the months shoot by toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, I find I can't wait to see my parents and Bear. Life in Richmond is fantastic amounts of fun, but I'm ready to be with people I love. Jocelyn came up to visit this weekend and we had a smashing fun time driving out to Mechanicsville in search of a clothing store. I was sad to see her leave this morning.

Realizations and Epiphanies
I came a realization on something, but don't judge me too harshly. I woke up this morning and realized that all through high school and my undergraduate career, I did what I thought everyone wanted me to do. I made perfect grades, I had perfect attendance and I fulfilled all the requirements to get into graduate school. The epiphany came when I realized I am unhappy doing this. I like being able to read whatever I want, on my timeline. I like being able to write what I want, without fear of being crushed for mild mistakes and I like being able to get to bed at decent hours without stressing about some assignment.

What I realized was this: I was glad I wasted the weekend with my friend instead of preparing for another round of schoolwork. I'm glad we ate noodles and watched sappy chick flicks instead of laboring over some obscure article or another. I know that may sound very childish and very selfish, but I think at some point, you've got to do what you want and stop stressing over what everyone else wants.
Holding the Line.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Suckage and Twilight...Shopping Too

Shopping Spree
The money from the school finally came through, along with two paychecks they’d been holding. That’s the first thing you need to know. Second is that after my money from the school came through, I went on a shopping spree. I bought cute outfits, cute shoes, cute jackets. The WHOLE nine yards. I look classy and adorable. Its amazing what money can buy: it may not buy happiness, but it comes damn close. The only thing that would make this week any better is if Bear could be here with me.
The thing is that long distance relationships suck. The Long Distance Relationship of Bri and Bear is probably not as bad as others. We talk throughout the week. He’s busy. I’m busy. Those are the facts. But it still sucks. Here are three reasons why.
  1. He can't be here to check and see if there are zombies or other monster-esque things downstairs when I hear a noise at night.
  2. He can't be here to say things or make faces or do dances that make me laugh.
  3. He can't be here.
And so it goes. But the thing is that when I do get to talk to him on Skype, or I do see pictures of him on Facebook, it is enough for now.

Twilight...and Feminism

I just lately finished the second book of the Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, when I hear an uproar on the Internets. There is apparently a row about the author being an anti-feminist pro-stalker vampire lover. Honestly. I read the series. I adored it. I chewed through the first two books in days. I'll tell you this. It is pulp. It is entertainment. It is base. But that doesn't mean its not a good book. That doesn't mean that kids shouldn't read it.

I'll be going into Twilight more later this week. I'll just say for now that this sort of book is the reason I eventually picked up the classics. Formula books, books like Twilight are the reasons students stick with reading long enough to develop taste and good sense in literature.

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Notes from a Debate on God - Hitchens v. Turek

Last night, I attended a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek on whether or not God Exists. The debate was handled well, but I felt Frank Turek was a little outmatched. I was relieved that no chairs were hurled or pitchforks and torches brandished. I left during the Q&A because Turek started circling his arguments and I got bored with the dogma. I am a monstrous fan of Christopher Hitchens, so to actually see him debate in person was incredible.

The sum total of the debate was that Hitchens believes that religion requires a person to become an absolute slave to a totalitarian dictator who may not even exist. Meanwhile, Turek was pretty much the run-of-the-mill Christian Apologetic and made the typical arguments for God (note, specifically the God of western religion). The debate shifted near the end, focusing on such typical subjects as a woman's right to chose, morality, ethics and so on. I found this slightly disappointing in that I wanted a more substantial debate that did not fall into the routine and predictable dogmas.

I could think of various ways to answer Turek and I felt that Hitchens sort eased around the questions, either because he didn't want to answer or because it wasn't worth expending the energy because someone like Turek wouldn't have cared to listen anyway. It comes the point that it's not worth arguing, since the other side isn't interested in listening to reason, only in proving their moral superiority or justifying their beliefs. Its not that I condemn one side or the other. I just feel a public debate should rise above such childishness.

Here's a great review of the debate that goes into more detail.

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hoping for the Best...

Mediterranean Markets and Bagel Shops
Over the last few days, I've been working through graduate school assignments and trying not to completely freak out over rent and bills. My money still has not come from the school and I could really use it right about now. I try to relax, walking through downtown Richmond. There's a Mediterranean market not far from here and every morning it makes my mouth water. The bakery puts off a cloud of smoke and steam, thick with spices and herbs. I also discovered a homemade bagel shop right down the block where they make their own cream cheese and will stack turkey and bacon as high as I want. While living without funds from the school, life is fairly good.

A Fiction Class...Without Any Writing
I've taken to writing in a Moleskine after last week's fiction class. I left feeling about two inches tall, doubting why I ever wanted to be a writer in the first place. The professors pedagogy was all lecture. In a two hour and thirty minute fiction class, I didn't get to write a single word. At least as an undergrad, I left almost every class with over two hundred words. So, Moleskine to the rescue. It looks fancy and nifty, and I like writing nifty and fancy ideas in it. Take that, lecturer! My notebook is superior to your pedagogy.

Politics...Hopefully Not as Usual
I saw an article this morning on CNN suggesting the likelihood of Palin being dropped from McCain's ticket later in the election cycle. While I'm not sure of that, I do know that picking her was probably a mistake. I follow politics closely, though I rarely discuss my opinions on the state of the union and our (regrettable) president. But in watching the news this morning, I was struck by a melancholy and the realization that we cannot continue on our present course. Of politics, I remember most clearly the first Gulf War, when I was five, the prosperity of the Clinton years as a teenager and the wanton disregard of the Bush administration for the Constitution, American foreign policy and human rights through my entire college career. Watching the news this morning, I was glad I already cast my vote, via absentee ballot. I've just got to wait till November to how the chips fall.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What Was He Thinking and Some Writing

Waiting for Funds
I've settled into the life of graduate school. The routine is comfortable, for now. Bear has been able to talk more lately; I don't feel like we're so far apart when I hear his voice. I'm still waiting on my loan money, but once I get it, I'll have a heyday. I'll get a cute little laptop, an adorable blue bicycle from Walmart and a ton of books, beginning with The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I'll paint the apartment and buy the Ultimate Chair. There you have it. My plan to rule the world.

Wheat Field Heresy
On a much more serious note, I've been working on the story about the scientific minded girl in the rural southern town. One of the scenes I've drafted deals with what happens when the young boy takes one of her books home, without her permission. When his father finds him reading it, he rails against his son and demands the book be taken from their home and destroyed. The boy complies, mourning even as he burns the book in a trashcan in the driveway. When he tells her what happened, the following conversation takes place. It's not so much what I'm wanting, but it's a rough idea.

"I'll buy you another copy," he said.
"It's not that," she said. "What burns brighter? The book in your trashcan or the idea still in your head?"
"I hate you," he said into the curve of his elbow. She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed.
"No," she said. "You hate what you fear and fear what you don't understand."

In Other News
McCain's VP choice is mind boggling; what was he thinking? Better...was he thinking? Also, I'm not sure I like my graduate level fiction class and I wish the rain would go away so I could go swimming. That's about it.

Holding the Line.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adam and Eve: Controversy in YA Lit

I attended my first batch of grad classes this past week and assisted in a class of almost 420 students. At some point, I'll receive my financial aid, decorate my apartment and pay rent ahead for the next six months. I figure once all the grad school issues are resolved and I'm settled, I'll be able to talk to Bear and not be at my wit's end.

Adam and Eve in YA Lit
One of the requirements for my Young Adult literature class is that I have to draft the first few chapters of a YA novel. I've decided to write on a subject that is terribly close to my heart and terribly controversial. I am of the persuasion that science and reason have been fighting an age-old battle against religion and superstition in order to bring understanding, maybe even compassion, to the world. Through people like Galileo and Copernicus, Darwin and Lyell, we learned our place on earth and in the universe was not privileged. Through countless others, we learned that the universe was marvelous in itself and vast beyond our comprehension. In short, we learned that everything did not revolve around us.

I've drafted out the first few pages, modeled on the story of Adam and Eve as well as the myth of Prometheus. Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and because they learned, because they did not remain blissful in their ignorance, they were thrown from Paradise. Prometheus brought fire and knowledge to humanity and was destroyed for his efforts. My YA novel follows a similar pattern. A young girl moves into a small southern town with her family and the local boy is completely infatuated with her. He is pulled into her world of knowledge and science, wonder and, to his mind, blasphemy. He becomes a halved person. He can no longer believe in his God as he did before, but the fear of Hell and the uncertainty of his soul does not allow him to live fully without his religion.

It's a work in progress and I have a feeling it will ruffle a few feathers. I'm drawing from my own experience for this book, so I'm wondering if I should put some distance between myself and the work. Any thoughts?

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writing: An Oroborous Tradition

After reading Stephanie Vanderslice's post on boy's literacy, I thought I'd add my thoughts. One of the themes I found the examples she gave was adventure stories. This is probably how most people come up in the literary tradition: pulps, comics, magazines, ten-cent westerns. When we're young our parents grab the cheapest, safest books that are close at hand. My progression was as follows: Laura Ingalls, Louis L'Amour, J.R.R. Tolkien, William Golding, Joseph Conrad, Cormac McCarthy. Slowly, I climbed toward more complex storytelling, character development and themes.

We all have horror stories of early English teachers who took away our story notebooks because it wasn't the assignment or who commented on the lack of substance in our reading preferences. Every form of art or creative endeavor makes this cycle, though, from genre to genre. Everything moves through cycles of epic, pastoral, romantic and so on. I use the word cycle because I don't believe that people evolve in a linear fashion. We're like Oroborous in that we come back to the beginning, time after time. We find what is useful in our literary tradition and create our own voice.

In my own work, I developed my own voice by studying the deeply personal characters from Laura Ingalls, plot from Tolkien, setting from Conrad, moral themes from Golding and beautiful language from McCarthy. The Epic is no more valuable to us culturally than the Romance. Each has a place and each offers us a tradition for our own writing.

Holding the Line.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Skinny Scarves, Orange Soda and Textbooks

Beginning the Skinny Scarf and My Books
I took it easy this weekend, cleaning the house, doing laundry, talking to Bear, and drinking bright orange soda while I listened to Pandora and wrote. I picked up my textbooks, eleven books of young adult fiction, for my class. I've already eaten my way through two and plan to devour the next eight in the next few days. I also learned to crochet over the past week and started a skinny cranberry-colored scarf. It has grown in epic leaps and is now almost eight feet long. I am sure it will look completely charming, come winter.

Grad School Update
Tomorrow, I go to meet the professor I'll be working for this semester and to attend various workshops and orientations for graduate students and TAs. I'm excited, but also a little nervous. I cut my hair today, shaping it back into a cute bob, a little long in the front, but just how I like it. At least I can be confident that I look good when I walk in there.

What's Coming
After studying the Big Bang and various other cosmological phenomena yesterday and today, I find myself in awe. I'm not sure how people can look at this information and all these centuries of research and not be astounded at our abilities and our determination to find and understand our place in the universe. I'll be posting more about this me, I won't bore you. It's fairly fascinating.

Holding the Line.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I Have Chaos in My Heart

Graduate School and Tradition
After attending the first of several orientations for graduate school, I made my way through downtown Richmond, easing off the stress of the past few days. I'll be relieved when school starts, but I'll miss life without deadlines. With a deadline though, I know I'll write more and I'll write better. I always do under pressure.

One thing that is bothering me is that I didn't come up on a tradition like most of my fellow writers. I didn't read Joyce and Hemingway, Faulkner and Steinbeck. I came up on Robert Heinlein, Phillip Pullman, Michael Chabon, Frank Herbert and J.R.R. Tolkien. I can guess how these writers are viewed, and it makes me worry. Alot. I just hope I don't look like a schmuck in my fiction workshops for not having read any of the classics.

Heroes and Lesser Men
"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

As I mentioned in previous posts, I've been reading Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre. The most appealing, from a writerly perspective were Nietzsche and Sartre. Kierkegaard, at times, went off into weirdness, claiming God would rejoice in all our deaths. He was a Christian existentialist...which would seem to create a paradox.

Nietzsche's Overman is everything that everyone would ever want to be. He's powerful, he's confident and he's not bound by anyone's morality but his own. He lives his own life. The Last Man is the opposite: a mediocre conformist. He can't get beyond his own smallness and his fanaticism to small ideas. Sartre claimed that man is alone in the universe and is made by and responsible for his actions.

I think the heroes in my story (among them, my villain), are rooted in these concepts. I include my villain among my heroes, because most people pave the road to hell with good intentions, never intending evil. I admire that these misguided characters act because action, to me, is a heroic quality.

Holding the Line.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Particle Physics and Philosophy

Recently, I've delved fairly deeply into subjects a little out of my realm of understanding: particle physics, biological evolution and Eastern and Western philosophy. This may seems strange, but I use most of what I learned to further develop my characters and my writing.

Nietzsche, Buddhism and the Ubermensch

One of the main concepts I've been looking into is the idea of Nietzsche's Ubermensch and Buddhism. These may seem completely unrelated, but there is a connection: Nietzsche compares Christianity to Buddhism. He labels Buddhism as the more honest of the two, because Buddhism longs to end suffering while Christianity wants to end sin. Christianity condemns natural tendencies like sex and desire for strength, while Buddhism exhorts humanity to compassion and does not deny the urges million-year-old genetics. I haven't really formulated my opinion yet, but I find Nietzsche's distinctions interesting.

Nietzsche also had the ideal of the Ubermensch, and while I don't necessarily agree with all of it, I like the idea that we can aspire to something instead of waiting for an afterlife. I also entertain the idea of the Ultimate Man being similar to someone who has attained nirvana, ultimate compassion and ultimate knowledge...and maybe ultimate power?

Reasons for this Study...
Over the summer, I've realized exactly what my story could be and exactly how daunting this task will now be. I feel as if I've arrived at some important point, that somehow I've moved up a notch or two. I understand the grace and power and art of a well told story. And I realize I can tell more than a just a children's story. I can relate deeper concepts like the struggle of rationalism and humanism against superstition and entrenched authority. That's why I'm studying subjects I didn't have time to study in college.

Holding the Line.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Steampunk and Avatar OR Bri Returns to the Blog

The Story Continues
I know I've been out of the blogging loop for a long time, but this summer, I'm back. I've recently settled in Richmond, VA and made a few major decisions regarding my writing. Over the summer, I revived an old obsession with the sciences and philosophy, two passions I put aside in college due to class load and thesis. I knew I wanted to write more than a simple children's story. I wanted make a statement on the role of religion and science, philosophy and personal choice.

I've also developed a more steampunk feel in my story. Taken from the old scientific romances of HG Wells and Jules Verne, steampunk worlds operate in a more Victorian era with steam powered engines and some technology like airships and rifles. I decided to try my hand at it after reading Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials and watching Last Exile and Avatar. With classy action sequences, clockwork mechanisms, early universities and the unsavory aspects of the industrial revolution, steam punk fits my story more than a medieval fantasy society dominated by monarchy.

Speaking of Avatar
On a last note, I wanted to show you some stuff from Avatar. This is the first piece of American animation that has caught my eye since Samurai Jack. Beautiful and stylized, without any of the bland colors of other kiddie cartoons, Avatar offers a cast of characters, all morally ambiguous and charming. An interesting cartoon and a delightful surprise. Its only a few minutes long, so please enjoy!

Holding the Line.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Humble House for Bri

So I've moved into my new home in Richmond. Its a two bedroom apartment, with the bedrooms upstairs and a pretty great living room downstairs. I've got a willow tree in my back yard and two huge oaks in the front. The pictures below offer proof. Behold and enjoy. I'll be back with more updates as they come.

My Living Room: Before and After
My Bed: Before and AfterNew Sketchbook, Phone and My Empty Peach JonesMy Humble AbodeNew Home, New Moi
Here I am, exhausted after a day of moving, shopping, drilling and wrenching new hardware and fixtures into my new place. I am happy, despite the disheveled look. Promise.
Holding the Line.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This is How We Say Goodbye in Texas

This is the last night I will spend in my parents' house. The thought is a little mind-numbing and at the same time a incredibly joyful. No two households should ever exist under one roof; no three adults should ever expect to live in peace. I've been here less than two months and I can't wait for this coming Wednesday morning when I drive to Virginia. We love each other, but we also know we can't tolerate living with each other one day longer.

As a born-and-raised Texan, I will miss my state, but I look forward to the beach, to graduate school, and to a life outside of a small town. I'll be further away from Bear, but only for a little while. Things are as they should be.

So say we all.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Reason I've been Away

This summer has been hectic, with packing and moving plans, with graduation and settling into the idea of grad school in a much larger city. My creativity has not suffered though. I offer these as a sort of apology for my absence and general distraction.

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Meme - Please Read Dresden Codak

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

A Meme about Various Things

What were you doing ten years ago?
I had just graduated from middle school. I know. I'm a young'un.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
Continue packing for my move to VA, sketch a character design, write at least one scene, come up with a plan to get revenge on the cat across the street for biting me (this involves a water hose) and purchasing a cherry limeade from Sonic

What are some snacks you enjoy?
peanut butter, fudge rounds, string cheese

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
pay off my student loan for grad school, go on a cruise with Bear, have a house in Alaska and one in South Texas near Galveston, write

What are five places where you have lived?
Little Rock, AR, Texarkana, TX, Nash, TX, Red Lick, TX and soon, Richmond, VA

What are five jobs you have had?
clerk at Office Depot, receptionist at Coldwell Banker, manager at a rental properties place, a tutor at university, and soon a tutor at VCU

What were the last five books you read?
Jostein Gaardener's Sophie's World
Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy
David Peterson's Mouse Guard
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

What are five web sites you visit daily (in no particular order)?
The Dresden Codak
Rice Boy
Hawty McBloggy Invites You to Play

And I Tag You!
Joce the Potter
Crystal King
Jaye Patrick
Qualcosa di Bello
Stace Dumoski

So say we all.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And So I Said Goodbye and Hello

I know I haven't posted in a long time. With my undergraduate career ending on Saturday, my farewell to friends at graduation and saying goodbye to Bear, I sort of feel like I've been kicked in the guts, had my heart ripped out and been handed the greatest opportunity in the world, all in the same instant. Needless to say, I'm exhausted.

Since leaving the Rock, I've whittled everything I own down to only what is most important. I'll be driving to Richmond, VA with all my belongings in two cars. This includes headboards for a 100-year-old bed, a desk and all of my books. This may not sound so hard, but believe me. It is. I love my books.

I'm looking forward to it though. I'm tired of living in a box, in a crappy dorm room where the walls are paper thin and the windows mold. While I adored my suitemates, I'm ready to live alone.

Right now, my living room looks like a bomb went off, with boxes of books piled high and DVDs scattered on the tables. As soon as I get all this squared away though, I'll be able to paint, to write and get a few things in order before I head to the rest of my life. Wish me luck.

So say we all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Some Sketches and Thoughts on Cormac

Graduate School and Thesis
As the semester draws to a close and I wade through the final weeks of undergraduate assignments, I can barely contain my excitement about living in Richmond and being so near the coast. The fact that I have a teaching assistantship and three years of graduate school waiting for me in Virginia has taken the edge off of anything my professors could say.

With this newfound independence and sense of self, I've plunged ahead on my thesis, further developing themes and characters in the hopes that it'll be ready in May. I'm a little nervous because think a common misconception about fantasy is that it's full of cliches and flashy anime-style fight scenes.

I've actively worked to write past these tropes. My characters are neither good nor bad; they're just people. I find that a solidly good character is boring and a completely wicked character is predictable. Complicated characters, unsure of their own decisions and beliefs, are much more sympathetic and much more believable.

No Country
Last week, Bear and I went to Target and I picked up No Country for Old Men, the movie and the book. I've adored Cormac McCarthy for almost a year after I read The Road, so when I heard he wrote No Country for Old Men, I knew I had to have it. I finished the book in one night. I walked over the Bear's apartment and we watched the flick as soon as I was finished.
The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But I don't want to push my chips forward and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard.

(In the dream) it was cold and there was snow on the ground and (my father) rode past me...when he rode past I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. 'Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was going on ahead and he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold.
The thing about both book and film is that the good guys do not win. Neither have resolution. Some of my friends didn't much like that, but the more I thought about it, the more I was disturbed. The hero's death is not shown on screen, but we all wanted to see him duke it out with the villains, taking a few poor souls with him.

What does that say about us as an audience? We revel in violence. We justify it to ourselves, saying that we want to see a meaningful death for our hero, that we want to see him take some of the bad guys with him. Honestly, I think that may be the entire disturbing point of No Country for Old Men.

So say we all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Marius in Black

The Last Spring Break
This is my last spring break as an undergraduate. While the thought of life after my BA is exciting, I'm not terrified of "real life" (whatever that is). I don't sense an uncertain future looming ahead or anything so ominous as that. Surprisingly, I am not worried about this major change in my life. I've worked hard and I'm almost done.

Spring Break is a welcome week of relaxation, but more than anything, I'm ready move and find a place where I can live for more than nine months. Sure, I'll miss this university, I'll miss Bear and Ezra and all of my other friends. But a three bedroom apartment waits with a teaching assistantship and a wonderful graduate program.

Marius in Black
My idea for a webcomic/novella called Marius in Black began as a dream. I remember a young man in a pea coat standing in a wide snowy field under wheeling stars. The whole scene was caught in black and white except the flame-red of his scarf and the cold brilliant blue of his eyes. When I told Bear about the dream at breakfast, he volunteered the first words Marius would say. Here's what followed...
It's a cold night here in hell, Jezebel, Marius thought. He leaned his head back, taking in the brilliantly blazing stars, blue and wheeling overhead. The winter chill gnawed through his pea coat, but Marius relished the cold. Under his steel-toed boots, the snow grunted and soaked the heavy cuff of his jeans.
I've sketched out a few details of the story, and hope it will be my new Friday Snippets project. I know I've been out alot since late last semester, but I think this idea, in all its simplicity, would be a way for me to relax as I edit my thesis. When I woke up this morning, I started working on designs for his outfit and drafted out a few scenes before starting on anything else school-related.

So say we all.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Under the Stars and the Moon

Good News for the Future
Today, I thought I'd let you all in on why I've been absent from the blog for so long..again. It's good new, don't worry. I've been accepted to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and the University of Southern Maine in Portland. I've debated between the two and VCU is the probable choice. I'll be able to teach creative writing my first year, live in an apartment off campus and have enough financially so I don't have to worry for at least three years.

The State of the Novel
I also haven't been around the blog much lately because I've been working on my novel for my thesis. I'm nearing the end with just a few chapters left to write. Each storyline lends itself to a dramatic conclusion and each comes together seamlessly with the others, giving me very little to worry or stress over.
The lady on the left is named Amarie, sister to the hero and one of my favorite characters to write. Her outfit was a little difficult. She has the ability to hide and reveal her wings at will, but I needed her to be able to fight and look feminine at the same time.

The character on the right is named Oni, the Oracle in the West and one of the most wicked and yet loving characters in the novel. While most readers so far have mixed feelings about her, Oni is one of the more complex characters and I really enjoy how she can roll the story just by stepping into a scene.

I've developed a fairly strong cast of female characters and while I want them to be beautiful and alluring, I also want them to be developed, as interesting and complex as my male characters. I've hinged several story lines to these two ladies and their choices turn the story near the end.

Philosophical Thoughts on Atoms
Recently, I finished Sophie's World, a beautiful book about the history of philosophy. One of the philosophers, Democritus, believed atoms make up the soul and would fly apart when a person dies. Its such a beautiful idea that I find myself actually hoping that this is how it really is. Phillip Pullman, in his powerful and poignant statement on religion and children's literature, His Dark Materials, describes the idea in language far more eloquent than I can manage.
We'll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass and a million leaves; we'll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we'll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world, which is our true home and always was.
-- The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 23
That's all for today. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the news about grad schools. I'll hopefully be updating more during Spring Break as I finish my novel.

So say we all.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Too Pretty to Survive the Snow

When I woke up this morning, I looked out the window and saw something every student wants to see - a thick fall of snow coming down in flurries and torrents and veils. Immediately, I realized all the things I would actually be able to get accomplished since I didn't have to go to class and lab. My roommate and I watched the news reports that I-40 and most of the state was under ice. Yet...when I called the university, our classes were not canceled as we'd hoped.

So, after trudging through sludge and ice I arrived at Thompson Hall for writing and speech, only to discover that my professors, either iced in or staying home with their kids decided to cancel their classes on their own. The day was not a loss though: I brought my camera with me.

I'll have more of a post in the next few days, concerning a few concepts I've been working into my writing and a few thoughts on a series I just finished. Until then, enjoy the frosty photos.

So say we all.

Monday, February 18, 2008

God in Science and a Good Day With Bear,

God in the Sciences
So, I'm a senior, so I've seen most everything weird that could happen in a classroom. I have never seen what happened on Friday in my Physical Science class. The Prof lectured on the birth of the universe. A girl on the front row, obviously a freshman, raised her hand and worriedly said: So,like...what about God and - like - Jesus and stuff?

Personally, I'm not a religious person. I marvel at the beauty of the universe and the fact that we are the only known species that ponders abstractions like beauty and truth. I find solace in a higher power because I see no way for all of this to exist otherwise. I have no problem with religion. But I had a problem with the girl who asked this question. First, she should reconcile her faith and her science on her own time. Second, interrupting a lecture wastes not only the professor's time, but also mine (not a good thing). Third, she is an adult and should deal with her problems like one.

All said, I couldn't really get angry at her. Since a college Physics class could so easily shake her faith in something she built her whole life around, I could only pity her. Any thoughts or am I way out of line?

A Good Day with Bear
While Bear had lab until late on Valentine's Day and we barely got to see each other, we had a fantastically awesome time on Saturday. But first... at the beginning of the semester, Bear gave me 3:10 to Yuma as an early V-Day present; he knew he had to give it to me before I went out and bought it. So, on Valentine's Day, I wasn't expecting anything. Then I get this message, "You should come see your car today." When I got to the apartment, I found the sweetest messages and doodles drawn across my windshield. Needless to say, I was pleased.

But on Saturday...First, we saw Jumper, which was entertaining and unpretentious, completely satisfying in its delivery. After the movie we drove down into the Rock and ate at Chili's, playing tic-tac-toe until the food arrived. Trust me when I say that, though the meal was great, it was insignificant compared to the wholly divine dessert: seven layers of chocolate in a shot glass. On the way back to the dorm, we drove through an incredible lightning storm. At the end of it all, I mark it up as a good day.

All Work and No Play
Despite submitting all of my grad school applications and getting graduation forms in the bag, I was still constantly under stress. So after talking with Bear and my mum, I decided to cut a few hours at work so that I can focus more on my classwork and my novel. I love working with students and tutoring, but I didn't love going to bed at 11 and not getting to sleep until 3 because I'm so worried over what I didn't get to write.

Hopefully, I didn't offend anyone with the earlier section concerning the question asked in my physics class. Let me know what you think!

So say we all.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Technology Hates My Thesis and Some Etc. Artwork

I'm determined to have a more regular posting schedule this semester and so far, I feel I'm not doing too badly. This is the second post in less than a week. We're doing well my friends. Very well, indeed.

When Technology Rebels
Today, I meet with my thesis adviser to pass off two more chapters. I wanted to have more, but with the lightning storms, tornadoes and evil printers eating what little was left of my paper supply, I'm lucky to have that much. The other two chapters I wanted print off were either eaten whole or were not up to my usual standards. Graduate school applications and graduation rigmarole stressed me out, just a tad, so my blog schedule so far this semester pretty much mirrors my writing schedule. I am proud of what I'm turning in though - so at least, I have that.

Artwork to Appease the Tech Gods
Here and on my new Deviantart account, I give you a few pieces that accompany my novel/thesis. Please keep in mind that I am not a formally trained art student, nor have I had lessons in Photoshop 7. I'm self-taught, so please, let that temper your judgment of my artistic merit and any errors inherent in the work. Also, their heights are not accurate in this two pictures. The lady is actually about four inches shorter than the guy.

The character on the left is one of the more powerful females in my story. Fearre is the last of her House and leads her men into combat on giant wolves. In drawing her, I wanted her to be sexy and cool, but not the typical short-skirt stereotype. I think I balanced her fairly well. Fearre is a no nonsense sort of character and I hope her outfit and design show that.

The character on the right is one of my most tragic in his role as The Traitor. Laer always wants what he can't have and in the end, he destroys everyone and everything he loves to get it. He's a character torn between a few cultures and through the course of the story uses specific aspects of each to help him realize who he is. This is an outfit of his homeland, so it's not very culturally mixed. At some point, I'll do a sketch of him nearer the end of the story when he has settled on a specific look.

I'll probably post some more sketches on Sunday, but I'll drop by to post on everyone's Friday Snippets. See you then!

So say we all.

Monday, February 4, 2008

This Broadcast Continues...

An Explanation
After so long with no posts, I'm surprised this blog is still here. My deepest apologies. University has started up again, and with it all the stress that built up over the holiday season has come rolling down on me.

After I completed three admissions applications I was sure I could probably crawl into bed and sleep for the next four years without a single qualm. Once I complete the official graduation hullabaloo by Friday, life will settle back into the most pleasant of routines, I'm sure.

Amid all of this stress, the most wonderful thing has occurred. My creativity has returned after a long winter nap. I meet with my thesis adviser this week and hopefully my chapters will sing off of the page. As the semester goes on, I'll post sketches and summaries to accompany my progress in the actual writing process.

Imitation and Art
In my classes lately, I've noticed a trend where people consider imitation an art. I'm not sure how I feel about this just yet. I know in my own artwork, I learned through imitation and mimicry. At what point does a plot become original and innovative instead of cliche and predictable?

I know there came a point in my own work, as a writer and an artist, where I developed the techniques I learned and created an entirely new style that was mine alone. I'll probably continue this conversation in the next few posts but the question is plain: What differentiates art from imitation? Is learning through imitation hurtful or helpful to an artist?

An Offering and An Apology
In my illustrated narrative class, I was given the assignment to create a collage from several photographs and any other work I wanted. Below is the piece I created. Enjoy and please accept this as an apology for my long absence.

So say we all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy in the Sunshine

Where My Heart is Happiest in Life
Classes began today, and while I welcome the challenge of new classes and new professors, some part of me is sad. I hope to be a professor someday, and though the hoop-jumping games of academia are always entertaining, I find I don't enjoy them as much. I'm thinking every semester helps to jade me just a little further as I jump through further collegiate hoops.

I think part of the sadness comes from the knowledge that this is my last semester at this university - this place where I have been happiest in life. This is the place where I woke up and learned to think for myself. This is the last semester with my very best friends, with Bear, with this community we've created for ourselves. I guess all things must pass.

Sunshine: Blinded by the Light
I adore science fiction and science fiction movies. Alien(s), Terminator II, and Battlestar Galactica all rank among my favorites. Let me add Sunshine to the list. We rented it the first day it came out and watched it twice before the night was over. I think the reason I most loved it was, like Alien, Sunshine had a large interesting cast and an interesting take on man's place in the universe against unstoppable laws of physics.

The operating systems of the ship, their means of oxegyn and food, and the dynamics of their crew never once slowed the pace of the film. Once trouble set in, the audience barely had a moment to breathe. I'm a fan of Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Trainspotting), and Sunshine never let me down. Give it a look if you get a chance. It's definitely worth it.

Here's Lookin' at You Kids
Today, I attended the first Senior Seminar for my Honors Minors and a Persuasion class for the Writing Major. Tomorrow, I go to Physics, Linguistics, Thesis and Illustrated Narrative.

So say we all.