Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Writers Island: The Stranger

I didn’t expect to run into him as I cautiously pushed my shopping cart into the main aisle of traffic at the local Wal-Mart. I expected a distracted mother, oblivious to all but her noisy children and the path to the pharmacy. I expected an elderly man, slowly crossing my young and anxious path without even noticing the delay he caused me. But not him.

He wasn’t young, maybe middle-aged. The dark skin of his face was just beginning to fold into soft wrinkles and lines while bits of white flecked his hair here and there. He shrank humbly into his wheelchair as our paths crossed. “Go ahead,” he said. “I’m always in the way.”

Perhaps it was the softening effects of gift-buying and Christmas lights, or perhaps it was just my over-sensitivity to many of the truths of the world, but sympathy, tenderness, and a pity that I tried to resist seeped into my heart, and it seized with ache. I tried to find the right words; I felt an overpowering need to reassure him that, surely, this could never be the case. But I couldn't find the words. All I could manage was a n uncertain “Oh…” and we separated, I pushing my cart, he turning the wheels of his chair with experienced arms.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 5th Edition

Wowwie I've been gone a while. But I'm back and feeling better than ever. Last night was rainy and windy and spooky; the perfect mood for a suspenseful movie. So a friend came over and we watched Dial M for Murder; we both like it a lot. Though it's sun-shiney today, October is notorious around here for being rainy and dismal. So today's

covers 13 movies for a stormy, October night.

1. Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton never ceases to amaze me)
2. Hocus Pocus (I've been watching this movie since I was kid; it's not "good" but I still love it)
3. Seven (everything about this movie is dark and creepy)
4. Ghostbusters (such a perfect blend of creepy and comedy)
5. Death Becomes Her (I've seen this movie so many times, but it seems like no one else has--bad taste or hidden gem?)
6. Edward Scissorhands (this one always breaks my heart a little)
7. Sleepy Hollow (I mean, how amazing is Johnny Depp?)
8. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (I get upset if I don't get to watch this when it's on TV--I think the original Charlie Brown movies are, hands down, some of the best)
9. Young Frankenstein (I've only seen this once, but Gene Wilder is fantastic)
10. Donnie Darko (it's just so haunting and terrific)
11. Casper (I used to have the biggest crush on Devon Sawa--the kid that plays Casper at the end)
12. Rear Window (really, any Hitchcock--but I thought The Birds was stupid)
13. Requiem for a Dream (this movie makes me really, really, uncomfortable, but it's absolutely brilliant)

What do you watch on stormy nights or to get in the Halloween mood?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 4th Edition

I'll be packing up the last few items lingering around my parents' house today to prepare for the big move tomorrow. I'm so so so excited to have a kitchen to myself again, and I can't wait to really dive into the gems of autumn (pears, cranberries, pumpkin). In on honor of that, today's
celebrates 13 fabulous fall recipes:

1) Pumpkin Soup with Smoked Paprika (courtesy of Simply Recipes)
2) Apple Cranberry Stuffed Pork Roast (courtesy of Simply Recipes)
3) Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup (courtesy of 101 Cookbooks
4) Honey Wine Cranberry Tart (courtesy of Betty Crocker)
5) Apple and Butternut Squash Soup (courtesy of Orangette)
6) Sweet Potato Pot Pie (courtesy of 101 Cookbooks)
7) Blackberry Pear Cobbler (courtesy of Epicurious)
8) Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Almonds (courtesy of Apartment Therapy)
9) Pumpkin Biscotti (courtesy of Simply Recipes)
10) Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini (courtesy of Orangette)
11) Pear Crisps with Vanilla Brown Butter (courtesy of Epicurious)
12) Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (courtesy of Angry Chicken)
13) Autumn Stew (courtesy of Rachael Ray)

I'll be offline for a bit, but I have big plans for when I come back. Highlights include a LOT more posting, NaNoWriMo commentary, reviews of some writing tools I've picked up, and maybe even a new design. Cheerio and Happy Thursday!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 3rd Edition

1.5 weeks from now I'll be settling into a cozy little two bedroom place on Ann Street. I'm pretty excited about it, but a bit disappointed at the budget I have to work with for decorating/furnishing. I'll be hitting up some garage sales with my sister this weekend and, beyond that, I hope to work on these projects to spruce the place up a bit:

1. You can always count on design*sponge for interior inspiration. I go for the simple stuff, like using paper for noncommittal wall-art.
2. I think it's common to have t-shirts that you just can't let go of, even when you know you'll never wear them again. Thank goodness for Country Home and t-shirt art.
3. I think dust ruffles/bed skirts are silly. But box springs are pretty ugly. Leave it to Martha to think of a more economical and sensible alternative.
4. I often hit my head on hard objects that surround my bed. A padded headboard = problem solved.
5. Until I learn to sew, BH&G has me covered with no-sew window treatments.
6. I hate sitting without my feet elevated. Really. Good thing drawers aren't too hard to find.
7. If I can't find any drawers, maybe I'll happen upon an abandoned crate.
8. I've recently learned the value of an entryway. My apartment hasn't one. So I'll make my own.
9. I'd say it's pretty likely that I won't be able to afford much extra seating. But I love having friends over. Thankfully, the floor won't be too uncomfortable.
10. There are 2 things I require from a desk: space and space. Done and done.
11. No painting = no personality? No more.
12. I just got a new set of yummy brown cookware. Why would I want to hide them?
13. When I can't find hidden homes for the ugly but necessary bits and pieces that make life possible, I'll just cover them up.

Better get started!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Writers Island: The Journey

It's October 1st (well...it technically is October 2nd, 1 am, but...pooh pooh on that).
And here in the writing world, I think most of us are aware of what that means: the beginning of sign-ups for NaNoWriMo (or at least it's supposed to be--I was just at the official site and registration hadn't been activated yet). This will be my first NaNoWriMo. And I'm trying my best to think of it as an exciting journey.

I've always been a bit timid when it comes to venturing into the unknown. I Google restaurants before I eat at them so I know what to expect (this includes menu choices as well as payment options and where the bathrooms are located). I Mapquest every new destination to get a feel for the area and a detailed itinerary of how to get there. I like rules and guidelines, routine and structure. [Note: This is not to say that I'm a stickler for all these things, or that I freak out at nambdy-pambdiness. These are my preferences; 'tis all.] So, naturally, NaNoWriMo makes me a little bit anxious.

It's not that writing is new for me. I've been writing since I could hold a pencil. Though the quality of those early writings is embarrassingly questionable, a healthy dose of practice, reading, and some writing courses have helped me polish up my work quite a bit (though I'm still working on how to accomplish that perfect glossy sheen). But fiction. Oh dear. I'm not sure it was made for me.

I realize that I don't have to write fiction for NaNoWriMo. But I want to. Consider it the rebel in me. (There's one in all of us, you know. Mine insists on attempting feats I know I cannot excel at and wearing flip flops until November. What's yours do?) And that leaves me facing quite the rocky journey.

The first steps will undoubtedly land me in a quagmire of options. I being to feel like I'm sinking just thinking about genre. Just as I think I've landed on the sturdy ground of a futuristic dystopia, my foot slips into a mess of a buildungsroman.

But let's say I trudge my way through the swampy set-up of fiction writing. I know after that I'll struggle with the rugged peaks of developing a plot and characters, not to mention the hunt to find a location and time to house them. I've never been much of a mountain climber. And, yes, I can find almost anything, but it does help to have even a patchy set of directions.


So this journey will certainly be a challenging one. I'm certain I'll trip over a lot of underbrush and overgrowth. I imagine I'll get lost and have to backtrack more than once. And there will be times when I'll want to plop down in the middle of the NaNoWriMo jungle and cry, wanting to be rescued by a some ghost-writing hero. But if you'll take my hand, maybe we can trudge through this together. I've packed a character chart and a plot planner to help us find our way. And after all, I do have an excellent sense of direction.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 2nd Edition

Thirteen Reasons Why Fall is Fantastic

1) all things pumpkin (food, decorations, bevies...yummmm)
2) season premieres on TV
3) needing a fire to keep warm outside
4) cranberries (probably my favorite fruit)
5) Halloween (dressing up and decorating--2 of my absolute favorites)
6) pears (vastly under-appreciated i think)
7) sweater and jeans weather
8) festivals (ok, i seldom go to them, but i like the idea of them and i'm glad they're around)
9) being able to burrow under blankets at night
10) crisp air and cool breezes
11) the rustle of dried leaves
12) fire-tipped tree tops
13) burnt orange, rust red, burnt sienna, copper, gold

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Writers Island: The Key

After a few phone calls, an interview, and a lot of paper work, I (finally) have a job. Now I can get my head back on straight and return to my writing. Ahhh...


There's a key sitting in the middle console of my car. It's lost amid a collection of old gum wrappers, a cheap but pretty brooch, and the sticky remnants of the soda I spilled two weeks ago. But I know it's there.

In truth, I shouldn't even have the key. It should have been returned to a careless landlord several years ago. But nobody ever asked me for it after we moved out of the house; so I kept it.
I've thought about throwing it away several times. As I clean out my car I toss receipts, bottle caps, and dried up pens into a trash bag. I always come across the key sooner or later. I turn it over and over in my hand, run my finger along its ridges and curves. I tell myself that it's silly to hold on to something that has no purpose. But I can never quite manage to let go of that little gold key.

It's not a unique in any way. Just your average key; it could belong to one of a million front doors. Behind the door it does belong to is a quaint little house in sleepy Kirksville. There are three bedrooms. We slept in the middle one, flanked by our friends on either side. I remember the kitchen was quite large. Large enough to fit an oversized recliner that just wouldn't fit anywhere else. But what I liked best was the living room.

No, there was nothing spectacular about that room. A couple couches, a TV, a computer. But we were an unlikely mash of friends, and we created a psuedo-family in that living room. We shared pizza and laughter there. We watched endless hours of Sex and the City. We talked about our hopes, our fears, and our shortcomings. We created a home away from home for each other.

I guess that's why I keep that key. Because that was my first summer in Kirksville, and part of me thinks that if I throw away that key, I might forget. I might forget about making dinner together, cuddling on the Fourth of July, learning to live paycheck to paycheck, a sofa on the front porch, birthday celebrations, and all the lessons I took away from a couple months spent in a crowded house.

So I'll clean up the soda, and I'll toss out the gum wrappers and maybe even the brooch. But I think I'll keep the key just a bit longer.