Friday, December 24, 2010
Sense is encouraged with blogs/comics/random elves, but not required, right?
Hey, wait, this is my blog, and I make the rules around these parts.
Conversations with my Elf: Good Advice!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Instead, this is what happened:
Maybe I'll get better.
Or maybe the Elf will turn into an Egg. Who can really say what the future has in store for any of us?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
And because going back to school and starting a whole new adventure, volunteering again to ML NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org) just isn't enough....
Or maybe because it is enough, because it's so much, so special...
I've decided to document what promises to be an exciting, inspiring, and amazing year by participating in yet another project.
(Haha. Funny joke. Mostly it is because I'm crazy.)
Anyway, this project involves taking/posting a photo every day. I'll be posting it on Tumblr (http://nataliaproject365.tumblr.com/) so, if you're at all interested, check it out. In the event that a photo could use a little more explanation, I'll post a blog about it here, too.
Why today? I figured September 1 was as good a day to start as any. Also my friend Angela (http://catnipkitty365.tumblr.com/) is also starting her project today.
Oh, and before you go being all observant, yes, I took it on campus on the 30th. It's so not cheating! Shut up! I saw the same flock today! And also I read that it's all right to use a backlogged photo as long as it represents the day! Just this once. Please? I'm taking your non-comment to mean that you'll let it slide. So... thanks!
Anyway, as you may know, I'll be studying Writing and Producing for TV, which I'm pretty sure is the most awesome thing to study ever. I'm very excited. I'm so excited, I could afford to use a period after that last statement, because the exclamation mark would be redundant. That's excited. (Haha.)
Of course, I'm also super nervous. I feel a tad old and out of place with a college backdrop. I've been there, done that, got many t-shirts.
I took this photo in a rush, but the moment seemed frozen in time. It felt significant somehow. It made me remember my first campus and the Canada geese that called it home, too. Seeing them all there reminded me that the more things change, the more things stay the same. I forget who said that, but I'm pretty sure it's kind of true. It reminded me of past successes, people who are still my friends, and that sometimes home is just a different patch of grass.
So, here's my first Project 365 photo. One part hope, two parts reminder, and another part home.
(Also, I thought it was funny how they were divided into Team Seagull and Team Canada Goose on a sports field.)
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Still, that hasn't stopped me from being all reminiscent-y about things. I remember my first "real" job. I was a cashier at a grocery store and I worked there 3 years. By the time I left, most of the people I'd started with (including the store manager) and got along best with had left, I'd developed pain in my arms from the repetitive motions, and Death by Sheer Boredom was a distinct possibility.
Anyway, I would have been about 11, even though that number seems far too small to be accurate. I had moved to Toronto only 2 years before and those years were terrible. The kids at the school hated me before I even walked through the door. They made fun of everything about me. My mom used to tell me they didn't spend their time trying to figure out how to make my life impossible, but even now, I maintain it was a favourite past-time of theirs.
Heh. I realize now that I haven't actually talked about the job I'm leaving, even though that's what this blog was supposed to be about. That's kind of funny. Can I pretend it was intentional?
Oh, I know! Here!
I Owe You:
One Blog Post about Working in the Lost and Found Before I Forget All About it
One Blog Post About my Hair, Possibly Including Embarrassing Photos of my Youth
One Blog Post Ensuring You Finally Know if You Are Indeed a Troll
Until next time, may we venture a little farther out to sea and learn the true strength of our fins!
(No, I mean, that's the end. Or rather, the beginning. Of the end. I'm just kidding. I only mean you can stop reading now. And... start commenting! See? It really is a beginning!)
Saturday, August 21, 2010
"Can you believe I'm friends with my ex and the world didn't end?!" asks my friend, not for the first time.
"Only you think it's funny because you're involved in it."
She instantly replies:"My ex will think it's funny!"
"He's involved in it, too!" I protest.
"You never made me a troll questionnaire so you have to draw the comic."
"I can't draw!" *
"Yes, you can!"**
*I may have said this more times than represented here. Heh.
**She may have said this more times than I said the opposite, hence the post.
***Look, three stars! Also, the conversation was like a comic, but I'm not drawing it, damnit!
Friends With The Ex (or The End of the World):
P.P.S. Stop making me draw things!
P.P.P.S. Hope you liked it anyway!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
A cryptic laundry list? I’m not even sure what a laundry list is, much less how it could be made cryptic. Is it a list of things one needs in order to launder? Laundry soap, a stupid amount of quarters and loonies (yes, loonies. It’s a Canadian thing), dirty clothes. Or is it a list of the dirty clothes themselves? No, I’m not going to list (or air) my dirty laundry. (Ha... get it? Unseen shooting stars, I’m tired.) Really, I think “a laundry list” is cryptic to begin with.
As I traveled home, this line and thoughts remotely connected to it echoed in my mind. Perhaps I should note here that in addition to songs, I sometimes get lines and titles stuck in my head. One particularly annoying time, I had Mordecai Richler’s name on repeat in my brain for what I remember now as days. Out of desperation, I read “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”. I’m not sure why, but it actually worked; my mind was cleared.
So traumatized was I by this strange wordsworm (for lack of a better term), that I decided to apply this same theory to the cryptic laundry list. Also, I was curious. I wanted to know if I had the writing chomps to create a list of laundry so obscure and clue-full, one might only describe it as cryptic.
Here’s where I should definitely mention, I’ve been up since four in the morning. Actually, that’s not true. I woke up at five twenty, due to a particularly odd dream about my roommate asking me how to get “dead things” out of the sofa I was sitting on. Incidentally, I’m sitting on that very sofa right now... Anyway, in the dream, she very earnestly said, “Chicken soup!”, and I have no idea if it was the “dead things” in question, or the preferred method of removal, or perhaps just a craving of hers. Wait... Why am I telling you this again?
In any case, after work, I met a friend in a cafe to be exceedingly distracted by a man making eyebrows at his laptop (trust me, there’s really no other way to describe it) and also to write. Not that I’m upset about the eyebrow-watching to writing ratio, but I think I should insist that mostly I met her to write.
Look, if this makes little to no sense, know that that only furthers my case. After all, I’m writing this at 1 am, and I’m squinting in order to do so. Words look a little funny when you squint. Kind of slanty. And blurry.
So, please, keep my utter exhaustion and general squintyness in mind when I tell you that when I sat down to write a cryptic laundry list, I somehow ended up with a cryptic grocery list.
And because I enjoy revealing things that should be otherwise embarrassing, especially when I’m squinty and giggly as I am right now, I’ve decided to share that list. Even though nobody asked me to. You’re welcome.
Here it is:
A Straightforward and Yet Unnecessary Title for a Cryptic Grocery List
An animal, a meal, and a taunt.
A fruit, described by its colour.
How can something decreed as perfect also be in such disputation of order?
A letter so useful it both begins its own title and is its own word.
Ever predictably, that which you call one thing I call another.
The truth is, we know but the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, let us not worry our heads about which is better, and which is best.
This is to hair as salivating is to Pavlov’s dogs, only shinier.
On any other, this would make one blue, especially if you hate waste.
A house of this could be blown away; a bowlful devoured.
To do nuts or not to do nuts: that is the question.
A game to crush or a plant to eat?
Don’t cry. It’s actually pretty funny.
Whether it’s a secret or water, don’t wait for someone to spill it. It’s probably already on the internet.
We need room to grow and room to write, of course. They say it’s fun, but I really hate this guy.
If one killed as often as some eat this, and one was caught and judged as guilty, I would hope the sentence would be as long as this one or longer, only with years instead of words.
Can you figure out the items on the grocery list and/or do you have any to add? Can you write a cryptic laundry list that doesn't somehow morph into a cryptic grocery list? Can you tell me what a laundry list (cryptic or not) is?
...and good news! The line's out of my head! For now...
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I watched Toy Story 3 last night. Some might call it fiction. Some might say the screenplay was written by this Michael Arndt guy, who has allegedly written such things as "Little Miss Sunshine", but hear me out: all is not as it appears to be.
I haven't even told you what the conspiracy is, and already you want proof? Okay. Here's proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbrL7N3tVrM&feature=related
Right. I couldn't find the scene that *actually* provides the theory , but if you watch the episode of Angel (and you should most definitely watch it), you'll see that toys -- and people -- aren't always what they appear to be.
Don't worry. I won't turn this into a "... and that's why Joss Whedon is a genius!" sermon. I'll just mention that he was one of the writers of the original Toy Story as well as that he is unequivocally brilliant and let you draw your own conclusions.
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure how Joss Whedon hijacked this blog, because this is a serious post. This isn't just about "toys". This is a serious blog of conspiracy.
Now I'm not generally a believer of conspiracy theories. But this one -- and yes, maybe it's because I just invented it -- strikes me as completely, undeniably logical and true.
I'm just going to go right out and say it. Toy Story 3 was written by toys under the guise of being created by a human in order to prove their influence.
Think about it. Most, if not all, of us have had toys in our youths. I suspect many of us have kept some of these toys. They're in our boxes, in our closets, on our shelves, forgotten and ignored. Toy Story 3 makes us remember them and the stories of our childhoods that accompany them -- this movie will make us bring them out. Who, I ask you, benefits from this? The toys.The Toys: An Inside Job
Allow me to introduce you to Lambie.
I've had Lambie for as long as I can remember, and then some. I've had Lambie for so long, and got him when I was so little, that I don't think I ever had to wrangle with the decision of whether to spell his name an "ie" or a "y". This toy has stuck with me for longer than most of my family. He's, uh, lived in five cities and been through more moves than that. So, however it's spelled, I love you, Lambie, not-so-fluffy fur, half-worn pink nose, and all. Even if you are part of the conspiracy.
The Barbie in Toy Story 3 made me remember my first two Barbies. While I have no accompanying photo and their names escape me, their story does not. They were sisters, and in that tragic way of things, one was Good and the other was Evil. They shared an affinity for mountain climbing, where kitchen cabinets equal mountains. The Evil Sister always tried to kill the Good Sister, but inevitably endangered her own life in the course of things. And while she hung precariously from a curiously knob-like part of a mountain, the Good Sister would risk life and limb to rescue her. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the Evil Sister would once again betray the Good one, but such is the eternal struggle. One thing they'd finally agree on? Yes. That's right. Toy Story 3 and this toy conspiracy.
This doll is named Deanna. Here's the story of how I came to be acquainted with her. I was maybe 10ish. My grandparents had promised to buy me a doll, and they took me to this small store. There was something mystic about it. I felt it from the moment I stepped inside, and the door closed behind me, the bell on the door eerily jingling its alert. Shelves lined every wall, from floor to ceiling, and there were dolls on every one, even behind the counter.
And all these dolls save one were evil.
EVIL, I tell you.
The lady working at the counter seemed nice at first. She asked me which doll I liked best. Without hesitation, I pointed to Deanna. I was sure she wanted me to rescue her from this hellish prison where she was trapped by the evil dolls. The lady cooed, "Oooh, good choice!".
Her hand moved towards Deanna, but at the last moment she started to pull one of the evil ones from the shelf instead.
"Noooo!" I said, in horror,"Not that one!"
She laughed, but I'm sure it was out of nerves. I had discovered the truth about her little "store".
Deanna was more expensive than the one the lady had tried to turn loose onto me, but my grandparents bought her for me anyway. (And then the lady tried to put her in a box! Egad! Hadn't she been through enough already?!)
Anyway, Deanna's totally involved in the conspiracy. And if she has a part to play, we are safe from no toy.
Except this guy. He's a Mountie. And a oh-so-Canadian beaver. He's pretty much just in this blog because it was Canada Day yesterday. You don't have to worry about him being up to anything. Despite those too-white teeth, I'm pretty sure he's not part of the conspiracy. Mostly because I hate when police are brought into conspiracy theories, and this evidentally extends to police of the inanimate stuffed animal variety. Yet, note the angle of the picture, and what could only be a jail cell behind him. Truly, he's a noble officer.
It's the horse you've got to look out for. The horse has total Crazy Eye.
In fact, I can't help but wonder if he's related to Bad Horse.
Yes, that's another Joss Whedon mention. Go watch Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog if you don't know what I'm talking about.
I could tell you more stories. I could tell you about the Balloon Man Toy who used the slightest gust of errant wind from a vent or window to wander the apartment, gathering intel. I could discuss Lambie's sheep companion, Blackie, who had softest velvet paws imaginable. Or the lionness and her cub that stood guard in my room for many a year. But I won't.
I think I've proved my point that Michael Arndt was merely a human figurehead for the toy-written Toy Story 3, that this was a movie created by toys for toys, in order to make us laugh, cry, write a blog, take long-unplayed-with toys out of the closet to take pictures of them for said blog, to take our toys, be it from shelves or memory, and remember what they meant to us once upon a time.
And, so, I beg of you: Never underestimate the toys. They get in with you when you're young and vulnerable and set up shop in your heart. Then, years later, no matter where they end up, all it takes is a fantastic movie for you to realize the truth of the matter: they've got you for life.
If you don't believe me, go watch Toy Story 3. After all, conspiracy theories usually aren't true...
Sunday, June 6, 2010
It's worth saying a second time, because the first time was just a title and doesn't really count and also because they're kind of driving me crazy. See, there's three of them and... and... I really shouldn't talk about them. They are the Current Object(s) of my Irritation and part of a story I hope one day you'll read, if ever they stop being COI.
Okay, that was a bad play on words, but still, you get the point.
I know where they are, and I know where they have to get, and I don't think the two are so very far off from each other. It's just a small complete transformation in terms of... Oh, I've said too much already. And now I feel like Hagrid.
So... I have these goats.... And... Whoa! Wait! You're not going to believe this, but I just saw what happened-- and will happen -- in the story. FINALLY. Inspiration, how I've missed you! Oh, and, goats? I have you now.
Apparently, if you write about not being able to write about something that you can't really describe because then everyone will know the story, something, somehow, miraculously may reveal itself to you.
And, there's my advice. Which I came up with right now. Out of desperation.
I mean... wise wisdom. Oh, that's over redundant, isn't it, right?
Don't mind me. I'm just happy about the goats.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I read this article this morning, post-very-little-sleep and pre-finishing-my-morning-coffee, and found myself mid-writer/feminist uproar. Please know I am not angered by the article itself. In fact, I think it takes an appropriate stance on the alleged trend that women writers are writing darker material in an attempt to get away from being dismissed as writing "chick lit"/"fluff" and to prove that they are "serious" writers, which is what actually got me worked up. Now, considering my sleep and coffee situation, I probably should be concentrating on merely staying awake, but...
(Read more: http://www.psychologies.co.uk/news/lets-have-more-grim-lit/)
Argh. Okay. My reply shall come in two parts:
Part 1: Writer
Part 2: Woman/Feminist
First, I have to reply to this as a writer because, in the end, I think this suggestion is harmful to all writers. I believe writing is all about reaching outward, twisting, blending, bending, and experimenting with readers' expectations and our own capabilities. Limiting that, saying we have to choose a box and cram all our stories into that one box to make some kind of statement strikes me as going against everything a writer is, or should be.
Someone told me recently that I should narrow my focus. I should decide whether I want to write for TV/movies, comics or novels, and so on. Also, I should pick a genre.
The way I see it, many of us have multiple stories in us, and they won't always fit neatly into the same genre or even the same medium. Cramming isn't fun. I've taken public transit long enough to know that. And why should we have to take the same crammed bus? I love learning ways to improve my writing, challenging myself to write in new ways. I don't want to ride that same crammed bus forever. How boring would that be?
Of course, there are writers who naturally write a certain genre/medium, and I'm not criticizing that at all. As long as they are writing the stories they want/need to write, that's fantastic. For the record, that's a niche, not a box. All I'm saying is if Stephen King suddenly wanted to write a romantic comedy, I sure hope no one tells him he shouldn't try his hand at it.
It's bad enough when someone else tries to box us in. We don't need to do it to ourselves, too.
As a woman, I find the suggestion that female writers need to prove themselves by writing a certain genre or style simply ludicrous. Male and female writers should prove themselves as writers by the quality of their writing, by the strength of their stories, the contours of their characters. Of course, male and female writers may veer towards certain genres more than others, but we shouldn't be corralled into them. And we certainly shouldn't corral ourselves into them.
I understand the temptation to say "Whaddya mean I can't write horror?" and to write it just to prove 'em wrong. But what is this "serious writer" business? If you write a good story, whatever the genre, if you capture someone's heart and imagination, that is what makes you a serious writer. Not the genre. Not your gender.
I think writing darker stuff because you're a woman is just as wrong as writing "chick lit" just because you're a woman.
I consider myself a feminist because I believe there's not much a man can do that a woman can't also do, and vice versa. I look forward to the day when a woman can win an award without it being stressed that she's female, and when recognizing that women can harm others (men, women, and children) doesn't count as a strike against the feminist agenda.
We're capable not only of opening doors and walking through them, but also of letting them slam into other people trying to walk through, too. It's really not equality until we can accept both sides of that. But, by all means, let's not slam the door on ourselves!
So... as a writer and as a woman, I implore you...
Let us not be judged, or judge ourselves, by gender alone. We are individuals, not part of some Borg collective (Heh. Part 3: Geek?).
Be who you want to be, and write what you want to write. Let all your stories bask in your imagination and emerge without being unnecessarily stunted. Experiment with style, genre, and medium, because one enriches another, and because writing is fluid and we must swim along with it, even if it is upstream.
We are writers and our kites are the kind that come without strings.
And swim. And switch buses once in a while.
And, you know, mix metaphors with relish. Just not literally.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I'm working towards finishing them all (in a perfect world in which there are both unicorns and holodecks) before I start school in September.
Of course, if inspiration strikes in the form of a Flash Fiction story, I'll write and post it, but other than that, I'm pretty much on a Flash Fiction hiatus.
I may post some actual blogs though. Possibly about my random thoughts/experiences as I write/rewrite/edit because then it doesn't count as cheating on the projects I'm supposed to be devoting myself to. Right? Right? Facepalm.
Anyway, consider yourselves updated.
Update'd, you are.
And now that I've resorted to Yoda-channelling with a touch of Zaboo (from "The Guild
: http://www.watchtheguild.com/ ), I'm going to sign off.
Till next time! ; )
Friday, May 7, 2010
She opened the car door, her other hand already fumbling for her keys in her purse.
Gord smiled. "Neither are we."
His seat belt was unbuckled before she could blink, his hand on hers. She felt like she was trying to swim in mud.
"I'm sorry, Gord," Kelly said, "I can't do this. I thought I could, but I can't."
Gord's smile disappeared. His retracted his hand, put both of them on the steering wheel. At ten and two. Overcompensating, she noted, without meaning to.
"I thought you said we were trying again. I thought you said there'd be a clean slate."
His words were a metronome. Kelly tried to remember a time when there was music to them, too. She shut the door, and waited for the flock of memories in her mind to land on a single branch.
"I said I'd try," she said finally.
She couldn't look at his face. She'd break right in two if she did. She stared at his hands. Ten and two, Kelly thought, ten and two.
"And yet you haven't." His knuckles were white on the steering wheel. "You haven't tried at all."
Kelly sighed. "That's not fair. I have tried. And if you hadn't--"
"It's not a clean slate if you're allowed to say 'if you hadn't'. If it was a clean slate, there wouldn't be anything on it, don't you see? How can I win? How can I win if the rules are always changing? Tell me, Kelly. You have all the answers, right? Tell me how to win."
His knuckles were bulging out oddly, white islands in the tanned sea of his hands. Kelly could feel her whole body tense. She wanted to tell him to let go of the wheel. He couldn't win, he couldn't steer away from the cliff their marriage had fallen off -- it was too late. But she couldn't say it. She couldn't say anything.
"How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?" Gord shouted, "It's like you don't even hear it. I could be saying 'beer' for all you'd care."
"You might as well be saying beer!" she said, "I'd believe you if you said 'beer'. I'd believe you meant it. I'd believe it's what you loved, what you wanted, what you cared about. What is 'sorry'? When you say it, it's random sounds that happen to sound like a word people know how to say."
His hand became a fist then, and he punched the steering wheel, hard. She flinched, and hated herself for it. The honk pierced the silent night, and echoed in Kelly's ears long after his fist had reverted back to a hand.
"Please," Kelly said, "The neighbours..."
"I don't give a damn about the neighbours."
Kelly laughed. She couldn't help it. "That's because they're not your neighbours anymore."
"Yeah? Yeah? Or it's because I care about our marriage more than you ever did," he said.
"Gord. We don't have a marriage anymore. We had a separation, we had another try, and now we have nothing. We have a dream that became a nightmare that we both should have forgotten by now."
"I'll never forget," he said, "And neither will you."
He locked the door in the same instant she reached to open it.
"Let me out, Gord." She tried the door even though she knew it wouldn't open.
"I don't think so. I let you out, and it's all over, isn't it? That's what you're telling me. Not only do I not have a clean slate, but I don't have any slate at all."
"Unlock this door, Gord. Unlock it or I'll scream."
It was his turn to laugh. "You're the one who cares about the neighbours, not me."
Panic rose in her like a sudden storm. She tried to stay in the eye of it. It was a quality she'd cultivated well, considering all the years she'd had to perfect it, living with the tornado that had been her husband.
"You'll meet someone else. I know you will. We just don't belong together. Please, Gord. If you ever loved me, please let me out."
He leaned back, considering her words. "Do you think I ever loved you?"
Kelly stopped trying to pull up the lock. She twisted her head back to look at him. "Didn't you?" she asked.
He smiled. It reached all the way to his watery blue eyes. "I didn't think you thought I did."
Clarity hit her then, like lightning in her panic storm. The sky lit up and power jolted through her.
"You're wrong. I didn't think you didn't love me," Kelly said softly.
Slowly, she leaned over him.
"I think, deep down..." She ran a finger across his chest. "In your heart of hearts..."
"Yes...?" he breathed.
Her lips nearly brushed against his. Her knee was on the seat between his legs. He didn't move.
Then, finally, her searching fingertips found the button.
"....You never really gave a damn what I thought," she finished.
The lock released; its 'click' punctuating her sentence. Without hesitation, she slid back to her seat, opened the door, and slammed it closed behind her.
"Kelly!" Gord yelled through the window, "You'll regret this. You just made the biggest mistake of your life. You're going to wish you died here tonight. I know how to win now, Kelly. I know how to win!"
Kelly kept walking, keys resolutely in her hand. She didn't look back. She didn't want him to see that she was smiling.
Monday, May 3, 2010
What you may not know is that last Saturday, I printed it out.
Yes, that's right. Script. Printed.
I had no intention of doing this. But, at some point, between rushing home from work and running to comic book shops for Free Comic Book Day, it occurred to me that I was incapable of picking an excerpt to bring to the Wrap Party. What?! I couldn't miss Free Comic Book Day! And anyway -- I went to get Script Frenzy prizes! Okay, fine, you can add an "under the guise of" before the "get" and "ing" immediately after, but then you'd have to get rid of the "to" and that's just too much effort so you might as well leave it as is, since it pretty much leads to the first point anyway.
Point number one: I was rushed and/or lazy.
I decided I might as well print it all and decide what part would be read out... later. After all, why do now, what you can do in some other indeterminate point in time?
Point number two: I don't have a printer.
This isn't, strictly speaking, true. I have two printers, both in a box in my closet, both destroyed by vastly entertained felines. Their innards have been, well, not so innarded. Why are they in a box in my closet if they don't work? See previous point.
Point number three: I haven't printed anything out other than résumés since I graduated university where I wrote and printed more essays than I care to remember.
Essays are a different animal and are therefore not affected by this odd printing experience. And I'm not talking about résumés. You can't make me.
Point number four: Writing things in bold is fun! Whee!
No, really, this is an actual point. Some of my script more than resembles this point. The characters wonder if the author has reached 100 pages. The author tells the characters to stop talking to her and finish the scene. Print... that? Really?
The Rest of the Story:
So there I was, comic books-in-bag, listening to the printer making strange "I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death" noises, and watching a hundred and one pages spill out of the complaining printer.
Unexpectedly, a variety of emotions washed over me.
First, shock: I wrote all that? But there's so many pages? So... many... pages...
Then, panic: Oh my God. It's still printing. The pages. They're never going to stop. NEVER!
Some guilt. Can't forget the guilt. How many trees died in the making? Oh, no... There's someone else waiting for this printer, and she only has one page... *Apologetic glance*
But, after the guilt, and the shock, and panic, and other miscellaneous feelings passed, pride and glee took over. See that? I wrote it. All 101 pages. I printed, therefore it is!
Now, I've been writing since I knew how to write -- possibly earlier -- and yet, it's still hard to consider myself a Writer. Note the capital "W". Yes, okay, some of the stories of my youth involve a koala bear named Cuddles being smuggled into Canada because he was just too cute to leave in Australia. But, Cuddles not withstanding, if I found out right now that no one would ever read a single word of mine, I would keep writing because I don't know how to not write.
But... printing that which has been written by me? It just seems so... final. Once printed, it can't unexist.
Printing is a strange thing, and watching something I wrote being taken seriously by the printer (even a complaining printer) was a special event. It forced me to realize that I needed to trust and respect myself and my writing more. It proved to me that I had truly accomplished something. And, in a whisper that might have been my own, it said "Now go edit."
So... I'm off to find a Red Pen. I can't wait to plotify plot holes, re-write characters, cross out entire scenes, and underline sentences that trail off into...
My advice (you know, the thing you didn't ask for?) is this: when you doubt your inner Writer, print.
When you question whether your writing means anything, print.
When you think "What?! $10.60 to print something I wrote, that's sitting on my computer screen as I fish for my credit card?! Chihuahua! (I had written "Pshhhh!", but spellcheck insisted on changing it...) I could buy a real book/script by a real writer for that price!"... especially print.
It's worth it. You're worth it.
After all, when it's on your computer screen, it's there, and it's real, but when it's in your hand, printed in all its typo-y glory, it's really, really real.
P.S. Writing in Italics is fun! Whee!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I look up to find Karl peering at me from behind the cubicle divider. Typical. With theatrical flare, I open the bottle in my hand, take two pills, and swallow them down with the water. I think he likes watching me take the meds, like it's some kind of sick fetish, and who am I to disappoint?
"Karl," I say.
"Yeah, Hells?" He means it to sound casual, but his words come too quickly. I think he overdosed himself again. I figure his theory is: Why take two pills, when I can take three and be more awake and productive and talk really, really, fast even when I don't mean to?
"Do you remember darkness?" I ask, "Remember dreaming?"
"Not really," he says, "It's been so long. And the lights are so bright. I think it makes me not remember things. Like it's searing my scull, burning a hole right through my brain. But it's not so bad. It goes all the way out the other side. Just take the pills, keep going, get the work done. Some day they'll figure it all out. Some day thing's will be back to normal. Just keep working, doing our little part to save the world."
I stare at the paperwork I still have to do. It's getting harder and harder to care. I don't know why anyone cares about anything anymore, really.
Karl's disembodied voice floats to my ear. "Hells. Hells...?"
I know it's the damn drugs. I never used to zone out like this. They won't let me opt out. If I don't take the pills, they'll stick a needle in me, and I hate needles.
"Yeah. I'm good." The pills are chalky, painful. They write hate messages on the inside of my throat.
"Listen, you know that new kid that's starting?" Karl grins at me, chinless. I hate that I can't see his chin. He always hides it behind the top of the cubicle. I think he's self-conscious about his stupid chin because there's a mole on it with three thick black hairs, each pointing in a different direction.
"Yeah," I say, "what about him?"
"He's... uh... well, he's here. And you got to train him."
Stupid chinless Karl. He should never have been promoted to supervisor. He was all right before, when he was just an overachiever. Now he's an overachiever who gets paid more.
I take another sip of water, more to swallow my animosity than to wash away the bitter aftertaste of the pills. "Fine. Where is he?"
A second, younger, head pops up beside Karl's.
"Hullo, new kid."
"Why'd Karl call you Hells? Is it really your name? That's a strange name, you know, but I kind of like it. You're pretty. I mean, pretty pretty, not really beautiful exactly, but I'm glad you're going to be training me, because it's better to be trained by someone who's pretty pretty than beautiful because it'll be easier to concentrate. Don't you think so? I do because--"
"Karl, just because you can handle three pills, doesn't mean everyone can."
"Yeah," says Karl, "Well. You might have a point there. Anyway, take the kid and see what you can do with him. Find him a place to call home."
"Anything for you, Karl." He knows as well as I do that I don't mean it. Sometimes I'm such a bitch. He shoots me a smile that looks remarkably like a raised middle finger would look if it was a bunch of crooked teeth. I grin back. He shakes his head and disappears behind the cubicle. The kid comes around to my side, dragging a chair.
"The name's Jones," he says, "Well, that's my last name, but people call me by it. My first name's Jones, too. My parents filled out the form wrong and didn't get around to changing it because they said it was back when sleep was first outlawed and they were too ti--"
"Listen. Kid. Skip the sob story. Have some water and calm the fuck down."
I pass him my glass and he takes a sip. At least he's obedient.
Then he asks, "Is your name really Hells?"
"Fine. I'll answer that, and then we're going to get to work. My name's Ella. Karl calls me Hells--"
Karl pops up again, chin-level. He'd probably been listening in all along. "Because in the early days, she'd always say, 'this must be what Hell's like.' Like it was her motto or something. And now it's her name."
They laugh. I don't.
"Pile of papers to go through. Computer to input the data. Piles of paper you've gone through." I point to each in turn.
"What are the papers for?" he asks.
I smile. "It doesn't matter what the papers are for. Your job is to feed them in here. Confirm input. Move them to the other pile. Repeat until your shift is over."
"Then go home and sleep?"
I raise an unimpressed eyebrow. "You're too young to make jokes about things you don't even remember."
"I remember sleeping! I was --"
"How many times do I have to tell you I don't want to hear your sob story? Don't answer that. Just nod you understand what the job entails as I've described it."
"Hells?" he says, not nodding.
"Do you -- Karl says this'll help with the nightmares. He says the computer'll figure it out, how to make it so people who fall asleep don't die. And then sleep will be legit again..."
"And you believe him?" I laugh. "Of course, you do. You took the third pill."
He smiles the self-confident, over-medicated smile of the next generation, a smile that says he believes things will change, must change.
I want to roll my eyes. Instead I tell him what the papers are for.
Friday, March 26, 2010
But you still won't believe it.
It's hard for me to accept that. Like most people, I like to be believed. I have one of those trustable faces. Yet, if I told you this story in person, you still wouldn't believe me. It hurts a little. See, I was honest again. About my feelings. My feelings you're about to hurt.
The printer was a birthday gift to me when I turned fifteen. I don't know why, since I didn't get a computer for another six months, but I was very happy with my printer. It was pink. I named it Sophia. Here's the part you won't believe: Almost exactly a year after I got it, my printer disappeared.
No. I don't mean someone stole it, or borrowed it, or anything else you're about to suggest that everyone else has already suggested over the years.
I mean, it freaking disappeared. I was printing a report about how Hamlet's main problem wasn't that he was indecisive, but that his actions--when he did act--were rash. For instance, how he accidentally killed Polonious. If he had just looked behind the curtain, instead of slashing first and asking questions later, it never would have happened. Rash, Hamlet, rash.
Yes, I know I remember the essay really well, even after ten years. You would too if it had been printing when your printer vanished. I'm pretty sure I'd remember every item on the grocery list if it had been printing at the time instead. Yes. I printed grocery lists when I was fifteen. Don't make it into a thing. It's not a thing. Plenty of kids type up grocery lists.
I wish I could say "it vanished right before my eyes!" but I can't. I had been up all night writing the paper and I closed my eyes as I listened to the sweet melody of a newly-finished essay printing. And then it stopped. I lifted my head, and the printer was nowhere to be seen. It took half my essay with it.
My teacher didn't believe me. My parents didn't believe me. My friends didn't believe me. You don't believe me.
It's all right. Clearly, I'm used to it. Slightly traumatized, but used to it nonetheless.
Here's the thing: yesterday, Sophia returned. I don't know how it found me, seeing as I've moved since then. Twice, actually. But find me it did.
I was having dinner at the time, and it appeared on my coffee table. Grey's Anatomy continued on while I gaped at the pink memory-incarnate.
And then it started printing. But get this. It wasn't my essay! It was a letter, signed by me! Future Me! Mrs. Me! There was a note about my future husband, how we meet, things like that. And birthdays of my future children. There was something about not taking the job I'd soon be getting a call about. And warnings about crossing the street on the night of September seventh. Didn't mention a year, but that's all right. And there's lottery ticket numbers! I bought a ticket today for a million dollar lottery. I'm going to be so rich!
I know, I know. How do I know it's even true? It knew which house to come to, didn't it?
Oh, there's also a note that says not to tell anyone about it, but I figure no one will believe a story about my time-travelling printer anyway, so what's the harm?
Friday, March 19, 2010
"He's certainly taking his time," the Dragon said, "Doesn't he know there's a schedule?"
The Princess stopped pacing. "I'm sure he does. He'll be along soon. I am sorry for all this trouble. I'm sure you've someone else wai--"
"That's putting it remarkably mildly," said the Dragon, "You aren't the only princess is in need of such a situation, as you well know. Also, I have plans with my wife after work. And a real gentleman does not keep a lady waiting."
The Princess said nothing. She gazed out at the horizon, eyes peeled for a great white stallion with a gallant crowned rider.
"He'll be here," she said, as much for her sake as for the Dragon's.
The Dragon twisted his head towards her sceptically and snorted.
"Look! That must be him now!" The Princess pointed out the window eagerly.
The Dragon looked where she pointed and relaxed. "So it must be..." he said, warming up his fire-breathing, "So it must be. It seems I might just make my engagements after all."
The Prince leaped from the horse and bounded across the bridge over the moat, purpose in his every step. As soon as he had crossed it, the water evaporated--as per the terms of the lease--and the Princess received the bill, payable to A Rainy Day Inc.
"Dragon!" shouted the Prince, drawing his sword, "I am here to save the Princess! Come out and fight me to the death!"
The Dragon needed no further provocation. He spread his great wings and flew down to where the Prince stood waiting. A moment passed. The Prince's green eyes bore into the Dragon's amber ones. Neither blinked. And then--
"Stab. Stab," said the Prince, "I have slain you."
"Oh, oh," said the Dragon, "I am slain."
The Prince grinned back at the Dragon, who rolled his eyes. Not for the first time, the Dragon considered retiring. He was getting too old for this nonsense.
"Fly safe, old friend" said the Prince, "See you next time!"
"Always," said the Dragon, as stretched his wings, "and perhaps."
With that, the Dragon tipped his claw towards the Princess, who stood watching in the window, and took flight towards the next Princess who'd hired his services. Another bill appeared in the Princess' hand. Deadly Dragons-R-Us, like the others, charged by the second.
True love, she thought, is always worth the cost.
"Hullo," said the Prince, who had climbed the stairs and was standing before her. In his hand was a beautiful rose.
"Hello!" she said, and reached her hand out to accept the flower.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, and pulled back his hand, "No, I'm afraid this rose isn't for you to keep. Look only. But it's quite beautiful, isn't it? Like you."
The Princess wasn't sure how to respond. She withdrew her hand, and her fingers closed around themselves.
"Oh..." she said. "Sir Prince?"
"Yes, my Princess?" he said, flashing her a smile. His teeth were the whitest teeth she had ever seen.
"Please don't take offence to this," she said, "but I was wondering how old you were? Since you and the Dragon are old friends...? And because your hair...?"
"I'm forty," he said.
"Yep. Forty. Why? How old are you?" he asked, "Twenty-five?"
"Twenty-six," she answered. Forty? "I'm sorry, I'm a little confused. The call I put out was for a young gallant Prince, my heart's true love."
"Twenty-six is a good age. You're not so young that you're naive nor too old that you need to settle down and have a family. Twenty-six, I'd say, is the pretty much the perfect age."
"I see," she said, unimpressed, "The perfect age for what exactly?"
"For anything," he said, "Look, we should get a move on... My castle or yours? I'll only be around these parts for a fortnight, until I must go visit my fiancee, so we'd best get to it. "
"Fiancee." She'd heard such tales, about Princes who already had a Princess to call their own true loves, lining up in the que for another anyway.
"Ah..." He flashed her his too-white teeth again, "I didn't mention that to you before, but please don't be alarmed. We have an open relationship, and I'm not looking for anything serious with you. I hope you don't think this all was a waste of time."
"First of all, Sir Prince, what you do with your own life is your business, not mine, so long as I am not a part of it. And, to be honest, the age difference alone is enough for this not to continue. But the fiancee... is far, far too much. Frankly, you're not what I'm looking for at all. And I'm rather annoyed about the moat. I had to specify by number of water droplets."
"Well, here, take this," he said, thrusting the rose unceremoniously towards her.
"I don't want your damn rose," the Princess said, "I think you should leave now."
"I really wouldn't have had a chance with you, even without a fiancee?" asked the Prince, "Well, I can at least give you a lift back to your castle. I have that white steed you asked for."
"Definitely not," the Princess said, "Good day and good luck with your Princess."
The Prince gaped at her for a moment longer, and then clumsily mounted his stallion and rode away.
The Princess shook her head wryly and took out the bills she'd received. The customer support lines were in the small print, but she searched until she found them.
"If I can't get an ever after today," she said, "I'll damn well get my refund."
And she did.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
For some reason, it popped into my mind in cartoon form, and this friend didn't try to talk me out of it. In fact, I'm pretty sure her exact words were: "YOU HAVE TO DO IT. RIGHT NOW." I argued, mind you. I told her I couldn't draw. I suggested that, even if I could, I had no idea how to draw somebody actually sitting on the fence. But she wouldn't have it. So... I drew it.
The speech bubbles vaguely remind me of the old version of the Pepsi logo, or possibly a hamburger. And the critical fence? I really have no explanation for that one. The fence sprouted a mouth, and started talking, and I had nothing to do with it, I swear.
Please comment and tell me to stop drawing the crazy random things that come to mind. Because otherwise.... I might not.
Scary thought? Yes. For me also.
"Horse. Cart. No gettin' all disorderly now. And don't think I'm not watchin' neither. I know who's the trouble in this here equation."
Friday, March 5, 2010
So many people see a dead bird and all of a sudden they are infused with an overwhelming, burning desire to be a vet. I can understand this kind of thing inspiring someone to become an coroner, but how exactly would a vet treat a dead bird? Ignore the question mark. It’s not a question; it’s a statement. I don’t need an answer, though I half-anticipate a certain overzealous reader of this blog to explain it in some detail. (You know who you are. Please stop or I will block you.)
Looking back, I think it was actually quite a traumatizing experience. I remember I caught a glimpse of the dead bird as my foot descended towards it. In that terrible moment, I could almost hear the crunch of its bones; feel my shoe sink into its body; feel absurd guilt flow through my veins. It didn’t happen, of course. I managed to avoid stepping on it, albeit just barely. Yet, even as an adult, in the moment between anticipating something happening, and the actual occurrence, I’ll sometimes feel the same sinking feeling and think of that little dead bird.
Today I sit at my computer, watching the cursor blink at me tauntingly, wordlessly daring me to perform some feat of cunning, to transform the unthinkable into something structured, something comprehensible. Words in a sentence, sentences in paragraphs, paragraphs on pages: I’ve always relied on words. I think I’ve done right by them. Words aren’t supposed to fail me--me, of all people, with half a dozen New York Times best sellers under my very well-buckled belt—but today they do.
Today, the words in my head are the doctor’s, as he says he regrets to inform us that Andy doesn’t have much time left—a few days, maybe a week, at most. My wife and I have deathbed conversations in code, the kind you never think you’ll have until you do.
“I should go with him. I’m his mother.” Gingerly, she pushes his hair away from his closed eyes.
“You’re Penelope’s mother, too. You have to stay here for her,” I tell her, “I’ll do it.”
But Joanna’s eyes fill with tears again as she whispers, “She needs you, too. And I can’t do this without you,” and my broken heart shatters even more.
I find people expect life lessons from writers, some kind of translation of horror into normality, so here’s a bit of wisdom for you: no matter how small the pieces are already, a heart can break into smaller ones. I’m sorry if you wanted more from me. Maybe another day I’ll be able to tell you how he fills me with the strength I need to continue living in this world without him. I hope that day will come. But that day is not today.
Today, I watch him sleep. I try to savour the moment, remember exactly which way his hair curls, and how his little fingers clutch the pillow, and I lie to myself. I tell myself I’m like any other father watching his son sleep. I write a happy ending and imagine him all grown up, watching his own sleeping child. My breath comes in synchrony with his laboured one, mine catching when his does. I watch him sleep and I see that little dead bird, feel that helpless in-between moment, and wish, more than anything, that I could take a miraculous sidestep and avoid this completely.
Strange, isn't it? My son is dying and all I can do to make sense of it is write about the dead bird of my youth.
Friday, February 19, 2010
My mind was on overdrive and I was thinking that I was pretty sure I’d passed that tree more than a few times before, when I felt a tap on my shoulder, soon followed by a man’s concerned voice asking, “Are you all right, miss?”
“Just trying to make a decision,” I said, looking up. I was a little startled. I think I’d forgotten I was out in public. (Public: where people think you’re crazy for staring intently at your shoes or a wet glove for extended periods of time.)
The man nodded with exaggerated sage-ness. “Decisions are often difficult,” he said, “What is it you are trying to decide?”
I debated not answering his question. I really didn’t want him to think I was crazy. But crazy is as crazy does. “I’m not sure if I should pick up that glove.”
“I collect coins,” he offered, “Sometimes stamps. But I like coins better. They’re round. If it was rare, I’d pick up a coin from a puddle on the street." He poked the glove with his cane. “That glove doesn’t look rare. You could buy another. With fingers, maybe. If it was a stamp, I wouldn’t pick it up. It’d be ruined. Can’t wash stamps. Not even on a gentle cycle. Stamps are funny like that.”
“Silly Grampa!” A toddler on his tricycle peddled up to us. “We’re not at the park yet!”
“Yes, my boy, we’re going soon,” he said, “But we’ve got a damsel in distress here. And a glove hangs in the balance.”
My eyes went back to the glove in question. I couldn’t help it. It drew my eyes like a black hole draws planets. Actually, I wasn’t sure if that was possible. Some say black holes don’t exist.
His grandson paused, and then, unmoved, said, “But I wanna go on the slide!”
It’s funny how words can sound like what they refer to. He whined the word “slide” until it appeared, bright yellow and plastic, in my mind’s eye, and I was sliding down it, like Alice into a rabbit hole. I’d never really considered that before. Did rabbits really have holes? Maybe it was actually a gopher?
“This is silly,” I said, “I can decide this. It’s just a glove. A stupid purple fingerless glove that just can’t be his unless it actually is. Do you have a quarter? I’ll flip it.”
“I’d give you a quarter, but I wouldn’t want you to lose it in the puddle. Quarters aren’t rare, but they aren’t exactly pennies either,” the old man said, “Are you looking for a specific glove? I can keep an eye out for it. Maybe there’s one at the park.”
I sighed. If only it was that easy. I should have asked what it looked like. I should have, at the very least, glanced at his other glove. “That’s all right. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for anyway. I figured I’d know it when I saw it... but....”
He smiled encouragingly. As he slowly walked away, I heard him say to his young grandson, “Those naughty kittens! They lost their mittens!”
Shaking my head, I picked up the glove. It was dirty and dripping wet, but I couldn’t leave without it, and I couldn’t stand there any longer. It was the right thing to do. Yes, I was satisfied with this decision. I couldn’t risk leaving it soaking there if it could have been his. There was a spring in my step as I continued on my walk, holding the glove before me by one of its dirty half-fingers.
I could just picture the look in his eyes when I would return his glove to him. Elated, mischievous, hot.
“I don’t know how to thank you for this,” he’d say.
“I have some ideas,” I’d say.
I stopped walking.
It was blue, nylon, with fingers. Much more like I’d think his style would be, but I didn’t remember walking down that way with him. I stared down at it, and then eyed the purple one in my hand, and knew what I had to do.
A glove in each hand, I was mid-way through congratulating myself on my fine-tuned decision-making skills when I found yet another one. It was black.
Muttering to myself, I picked it up. “Coin collecting, eh...”
Friday, January 29, 2010
"Honey," she'd say, "I swear working night shift just kills me."
And, half-asleep, I'd mumble something along the lines of "Switch shifts already."
And she'd laugh. "I like night shift. I work the forgotten hours, the hours that don't exist. They're magical and starry and each night, when the world's asleep, I discover them."
She worked indoors, but I could just picture her staring up at the ceiling as if she could see the stars anyway, you know? She never cared if people thought she was strange.
Sometimes I wish she had a grave just so I could go scream at her.
I imagine myself smashing her grave, until the stone breaks into so many tiny crumbs, the sweet message I'd have put on there would be impossible to read, and people deep in their own thoughts and mourning would kick them down the street in passing.
And then I'd yell, "Not so damn magical now, is it?!"
Oh. It sounds terrible when I say that aloud. I've never told anyone that before. It's strange telling a stranger, but I guess that makes sense, eh?
Please don't get the wrong idea. I loved her and anyway she was cremated, so you don't have to worry about me doing anything drastic.
All I can do is wake up the same time I've woken up all these years, and listen for the jingle of her keys and her heavy, tired steps up the stairs. Every morning, I listen so hard I almost feel my eardrums shatter with the hope of it.
Oh, trust me, I've tried not to. I've tried to sleep in. I've tried the radio and the TV. I've tried reading and eating and drinking too much rum. Nothing works.
I should be over it, right? 13 years is a long time. Our kids grew up: Sheila's 20, Don's 25. I changed the voicemail. I cancelled her magazine subscriptions. I donated her clothes and her books.
But I can't make it stop.
What do you think? When I hear the jingle and those damned steps every morning, do you think I'm crazy or do you think it's really her?
Yes, of course, it matters. If it's me, I'd want you to give me drugs that begin with every letter of the alphabet. If it's her, it wouldn't really help, now would it? If she's stuck in some kind of hereafter, me taking all the drugs in the world wouldn't change that. 13 years is a long time to be trapped. Trust me, I'd know.
I have to forgive her? For what? It's not like she could have helped that she was working that night. It's not like she could have known that man would bring a gun to work. Not like she could have stopped him. That one lady--the one who hid under a desk--said Myra tried talking to him. She said that after he killed that first guy, Myra pleaded with him to put the gun down. She'd worked with him for 5 years. And the bastard shot her. You believe that? But she didn't do anything wrong. There's nothing to forgive.
Coming here was a mistake. I don't know what I expected you to do, 13 years after the fact. You don't have the answers. You don't even have the drugs. All you have is a prescription. Words on a piece of paper that I wouldn't even be able to read.
I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to go home and forget about all this. I'm going to pretend I never heard your pretentious gibberish. And tomorrow, I'm going to listen real hard for her coming up those stairs. I figure, either I'll hear her finally reach the bedroom, or I'll go deaf trying.
So that's it, then. I'm gone.
No hard feelings, eh? Can't save us all. Best of luck with your next hopeless case.