Regarding candy, and Dumbledore...
Yet another important food discovery this week: bags of small candy bars are an exquisitely bad idea for me. I thought (quite logically I might add) that a bag of tiny Heath bars would be better to keep in my desk than going to the vending maching once a day to retrieve a Heath bar in its entirety for 75 cents. "Hey," I said to myself, "You know, I don't necessarily want a whole candy bar when I go to the vending machine. I just want a little sweet taste of toffee and chocolate. But then I have this whole bar and I feel like I need to eat it all. The perfect solution would be these!" And then I grab this bag of tiny Heath bars off the shelf in the candy aisle of Bi-Lo. Sounds good in theory, right? Sure it does. Sure. But you know, I bet a lot of things sounded good in theory, and then the results of their execution left much to be desired. Things like shoulder pads in women's shirts in the 80's. Bringing back mustard yellow, burnt orange and avacado green as acceptable (and even trendy) decorating colors. The Soviets parking their nuclear warheads in Cuba back in the sixties. Jar-Jar Binks. Wait, I can't see Jar-Jar ever being a good idea, in theory or otherwise. BLECH!!Anyway, so I discovered that having a bag of Heath bars in the desk is non-productive. Counterproductive, even. What I'm really trying to say is that I'm grazing from my own desk drawer like some kind of psychotic zombiefied corporate america bovine. Moo, motherfucker. Moo. No more tiny Heath bars for me!!In other news... wait, is there other news? Let me think... hmmm... ok, well, whatever, I'll just make shit up for a while, how does that sound? Or I could just talk about my minimally boring life for a while. On second thought, I'd like to state an opinion here, in the short version:Dumbledore is queer! That's awesome. I have a few reservations about it, but overall I can't be more pleased to have someone so cool hanging out on my side of the fence.Now, for the long version: People, stop being all verclempt about Dumbledore liking hot man love. Can you really imagine him in the arms of a woman? He's someone who, for the entirety of the series, was a strong, almost invulnerable character. He always knew what to do, what to say, who to talk to, what spell to cast, which remedy would work, et cetera, et cetera, world without end, hallelujah, amen. He was our Gandalf, our Yoda. Can you really imagine him becoming vulnerable enough with someone to give her his heart? For that matter, can you really imagine him giving ANYone his heart? Do you think Yoda got his sexual groove on with a lady salamander along his long road to Jedi Master? No. No, I just can't see it.Dumbledore, in my mind, is much the same way as Yoda - asexual, not bi, homo, or heterosexual. He had his heart broken when he was young, and decided that he would never be hurt that way again. He closed himself off to romantic love and dedicated the rest of his life to other pursuits, and it's lucky for the wizarding world that he did. No wonder he was such a sad figure at times - lonely, shut off emotionally, enigmatic on purpose. I feel kind of sorry for him. There are a lot of people in the gay community that aren't too happy with this "announcement" of Dumbledore's sexual persuasion. (There are a lot of people in the straight community that aren't, either, but their arguments are a lot more predictable.) I've heard, "Why didn't he actually say something about it in the books? Why would she capitalize on that now? She's had seven books and five movies to tell us about this... why couldn't there be something in print about it?" Well, my friends, as a writer, let me step in for a moment to share something with you... the fact that Dumbledore was gay just didn't fit in to the story. What's that? It doesn't matter, you say? Well, take it from a writer: hell yes it does. Sometimes readers don't understand that a story directs itself, and all we do as writers is tell you what we see in our brains to the best of our abilities. We have to be true to our stories and our characters. Would Dumbledore have told Harry he was gay? Would he have shared that fact with anyone, really? He had been hurt and his heart was broken and he turned his mind away from that time of his life every chance he could. We didn't even find out about that time for him until the very last book, and even the things we found out were few and far between. Dumbledore was far too dignified to display what would clearly be such an emotional topic. And remember, kids, that 98% of the story is narrated from Harry's point of view. Why would he need to know such an intimate thing about Dumbledore? It speaks for the man's discretion that he held back on most of his personal life, including this. It just doesn't make sense for him to have "come out" in the plot of the books. This was not a story about Dumbledore; it was a story about Harry. That being said, I'm sure you're thinking, "Well, why should she say it at all, then? The books are written, the movies are made. What's the point of bringing it up?" The answer is, readers, that J.K. Rowling was being truthful with one of her fans - the child asked, "Did Dumbledore ever have a special lady friend?" to which she responded, "Well, I've always thought of Dumbledore as gay." No press conferences. No fanfare. No flourish of trumpets. Just an honest answer to a simple question. It wasn't set up as a political statement. It was just a fact. You have to remember that once you've created a character as a writer that character takes on a life of its own, and as a writer it's your job to know as much as you can about that character and keep a record of it, either by writing it down or keeping it in a loose mental file. It's just what you do as a writer. Somewhere down the line of these seven books, Albus told her he fell in love with Grindelwald and had his heart broken. There was no political statement to be made - it was just a fact.I have to admire her for telling the truth about him. Many people won't understand, many people will think it's a publicity stunt. But I really believe that she was just telling the truth about this man, and we as readers now have one more dimension made clear to us about this enigmatic individual. As for me, I'm pleased to hear it.Now that I've said all that - perhaps the Potter Puppet Pals might want to rethink their portrayal of Dumbledore as a wizard that thoroughly enjoys "Nakey Time!!!!!". Less fundamentalists in your face is always better than more. Take it from someone who knows - hey, I live in the South, remember? In the buckle of the Bible belt. Mazel Tov!
Crap and Wraps (but not at the same time)
We've been in the new house for about three weeks now, and we're still navigating through a sea of boxes; about two thirds of them have been unpacked. It's at this point that I have begun lamenting that I am not of the wizardly world of Harry Potter. I'm sure there has to be some kind of spell to open the boxes, pull everything out and unwrap it, put it away neatly, and get rid of the trash in about twenty minutes or so. If you're Albus Dumbledore, that is.Things are currently slightly crappy: it's rainy and humid and my computer is broken, we're broke, my insomnia is kicking my ass again and we're both sniffly (not sure if that's allergies or an incubating cold, though). I haven't written anything new in three weeks and my muse has currently turned her back on me (bitch). On the plus side, I made vegetable pesto wraps for a pitch-in at work and they went over VERY well. See below for the recipe:Vegetable Pesto WrapsIngredients:6 sun-dried tomato tortillas6 oz. whipped cream cheese3 oz. pesto2 tomatoes, sliced into strips and seeded2 cups raw mushrooms, sliced4 cups baby spinach leavesDirections:Spread cream cheese evenly over tortilla. Make a 1" (approx) line of pesto in the center of the tortilla, bisecting the cream cheese. Put tomatoes and mushrooms over the line of pesto. Cover in baby spinach. Roll into wrap. Use cream cheese to seal the wrap to itself. Cut wrap into 3/4"-1" size pieces. Makes 30-35 wraps.People at my new job aren't as receptive to food as people at my old job (at Indy, pitch-ins were kind of like dropping a box of hot dogs into an alligator pit - you set your food down and walked away as quickly as possible, trying to show no fear, as predators can smell such things). Here it's much more casual and people don't go nuts about food, but these wraps have disappeared fairly quickly, and everyone's talking about how much they like them, which qualifies as a big hit. Of course, back in Indiana, they'd have been gone in about fifteen minutes... *sigh*. Sometimes I really do miss Indy... LOL!Has anyone been watching Heroes, season 2? I'm enjoying it, but it doesn't seem quite as good as last season. Of course I stared in rapt silence at the TV for all 47 minutes of its story last night, so I really don't have much room to complain.
Geographical Perspective Lists
Why I miss Indianapolis:1. My friends at Indy Lighting.2. Real fall weather and the possibility of actual snow in the wintertime.3. The Children's Museum, Keystone Art Cinema and Hannah Haunted Acres.4. Being in a big city (well, big relative to the one I'm in).5. Trader Joe's. 6. Being three hours from Chicago.7. Radio stations that actually play indie rock (i.e. WTTS).8. Being nine hours removed from family drama.9. Our apartment complex, including its fitness center, beautiful lake view and constantly maintained facilities.10. The Claddagh, Bella Pizza, and Chipotle.Why I don't miss Indianapolis:1. Endless gray suicide thought-inducing winters.2. Being stuck in a human filing cabinet with 400 other people so I can't do what I want at 2 am.3. My non-friends at Indy Lighting, including my ridiculous excuse for a supervisor.4. Having to drive 45 minutes to an hour to get to the other side of the city.5. Driving in ice and snow.6. Gas prices.7. Being so far away from my family.8. Veterinary highway robbery.9. Completely insane weather, including (but not limited to) tornadoes, golf ball sized hail, blizzards, and random sonic booms.10. Lack of culture, artistic and culinary creativity in anything but mass-produced predictable chunks.Why I'm glad to be back in Greenville:1. Close to the fam.2. Well-paying job.3. Gas prices.4. Incredible restaurants, including the Pita House (yay!).5. Within sane driving distance of best friends. 6. Living in a HOUSE where I can play my music as loud as I want at 2 am.7. No winter insanity of attempting to drive in snow and ice and risking life and limb for my stupid job.8. Reasonable, caring vets that don't make you take out a mortgage for pet treatment.9. SFH - Southern Fuckin' Hospitality.10. Living in a creative, artistic town that promotes art, food, culture, and good times.Why I'm not glad to be back in Greenville1. October 19th, 2007 - forecasted high for the day is in the eighties. (But Global Warming is a bunch a' hooey. Right.)2. No art cinema or Trader Joe's.3. Baptists, bigots and bitches/bastards bullying you for THE LORD.4. Proliferance of republicans.5. Liquor stores closing at 7 pm sharp.6. Two words: FAMILY. DRAMA.7. Lack of oddballs in the workplace.8. Charter Cable. THEY SUCK.9. Killing spiders, unclogging toilets, and cutting my own grass.10. ...still trying to think of #10... guess that means Greenville wins this round... HA!
Fighting The Man, banana rot, and toilet paper rolls
I learned a valuable lesson this week: if you like firm bananas (pretty much the only way I can eat them), don't keep them in your car. I guess they need to be at room temperature to stay relatively firm and not get all brown and mushy and gross. Ewww... so, be warned. Now you know, kids. And knowing, as we all heard from G.I. Joe back in the eighties, is half the battle. Though I'm not sure which battle we're talking about here, with firm vs. mushy bananas... some kind of strange fresh fruit battle. The battle of fresh produce? Anyway. It's Thursday, which might be the worst day of the week. Almost the weekend, but not quite. None of that reckless abandon I feel on Fridays. I'm always happy on Friday. It's easy to come in to work happy when you know that you're about to have two days to spend however you want. But Thursdays suck... so close to the weekend that you want to let go and be the free-as-a-bird spirit you are on Fridays, but you can't. There are still Important Things To Do. This evening I have to go to Lyman and help my mom paint... yippee. The writers' meeting went well last night. I've been trying to have something to be critiqued each meeting. So far, it's gone well. I've had two new pieces, and I've brought four older pieces to be updated and reviewed. They like my stuff. Pretty soon I'm going to be ready to start sending this stuff out to places to get published... I just need to find my Writers' Market and get things together on my computer so I can print a bunch of stuff out. (Wow, that was a serious overuse of the word "stuff", now wasn't it?) It's not the easiest thing in the world, sending out manuscripts, but I'm going to do it. I AM. I've got to take the plunge sometime. Maybe I'll get lucky and actually get PAID for my work. Who knows?It's always been my dream to be a professional writer - someone who pays the bills with the money they make doing exactly what they love, which in my case is making up stories. I know that the real money is in novels, but you have to start small before you can tackle the world. Besides, unless you have several published credits, a publisher, agent or editor won't even give you the time of day. So you have to work your way up, publishing short stories in magazines and so on, to work up your credentials. THEN you write a novel and send it off and get paid a bunch of money and retire from your 8-5 corporate america slobjob and say FUCK YOU to The Man and move into your home office permanently and sleep until ten and get up and make up stories all day to pay the bills. Only then. (And to be quite honest, that doesn't happen very often, even for amazingly good writers, but this is my little fantasy, so screw reality at the moment, right?) So, anyway, I guess I better start sending stuff out, huh? I haven't mentioned Max lately. He's good, though he has decided that toilet paper rolls may be the ultimate evil in the universe, and his mission in life is to destroy each one he finds to the best of his ability, through means of tooth and claw, and when his adversary is defeated, he is to strew the leavings of the toilet paper roll's corpse throughout the house to celebrate his victory. Damn cat.
Writing and Sex
I caught you with the title of this one, didn't I? Honestly, it's not what you think...I've started writing short stories again, and so far I've come up with two solid pieces in the last month and a half or so. I'm ready to start working on a new one, but I've come up against an inspiration wall. The first piece I created recently was more of an exercise than anything - I took one of my favorite songs and made the story of the lyrics into a short story - and while it is a solid piece, I'm not completely thrilled with the result. It feels flat, somehow. It might just feel that way to me because it wasn't wholly a concept that belonged to me and my imagination. The second piece I was much more pleased with; it was an entirely original work. I want to find something to spark that creativity again, because I've rediscovered the immense pleasure of fictional creation. When the muse has hold of me and is flowing freely, there's a feeling of being almost out of control, right up on the threshold of something that's very nearly too large to hold onto. I feel like I'm surfing this enormous wave of creative energy and using its kinetic power to shape and mold something into life. It's an amazing feeling; there are so many metaphors that come close to it, but I really wonder if the act of creation itself is something beyond description, something completely sublime. I guess this is the way of creation for all artists regardless of their medium - paint or music or dance or something less "art-y" like carpentry, numerology, birdwatching, etc. - anything that can inspire in its wielder that rushing feeling of being caught up in something larger than you, something you can momentarily control. (Okay, maybe not birdwatching.) Maybe this is the reason that sex is such a powerful thing for so many of us - at its very core it is an act of creation; whether it is creating a life or just a bond between people that is so moving, so inspiring and so overwhelming that it can never be easily described, just likened to by so many metaphors but it sublimity never really touched on.Do I liken the act of good writing to the act of good sex? The intoxication of fictional creation, the power of people bonding together in the most personal way possible? I can see it. Hell yeah.
Scare Me Silly
This week I'm looking for a good haunted attraction to celebrate the holiday with. If I was still in Indianapolis, I'd probably head to Hannah Haunted Acres (as we have for the past two years), but I'm not, so it's a moot point. I've found a couple of places online that look promising. I just want something fun and relatively scary. I'm sick to death of people with chainsaws trying to get you to run away from them. That's not scary, that's annoying. Chainsaws are loud and obnoxious and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can't hurt me with them at a haunted attraction because if you do, I'll sue your ass and make a million dollars. I know that the chain has been taken off that thing for safety and it's basically just a big noisemaker. Having lived in "red" states all my life, I'm used to noisemakers. They don't scare me - they're just irritating.No, give me something that's going to freak me out psychologically. That's the mark of a good haunted attraction, IMO. How do you get inside the heads of your patrons and freak them out? It's not with Freddy Krueger claws or Jason masks or idiots with chainsaws with the chains taken off. High school boys with red paint all over them are not frightening. However... I have been to a few places that were mentally challenging, and they were by far the best. My favorite by far was this one:Several years ago there was a place in Cowpens, SC called Area 51. It was put on by a big farm, and set in one of their large warehouses where they kept a good portion of their harvest... things like crates of potatoes, onions, etc. When you arrived you were greeted by "military" personnel at the gate, that ID'd you and took your money and waved you on with extremely real-looking carbine rifles and huge maglites. When you got down to the warehouse, you were greeted by more "military" personnel that explained the setup: the US government has been operating several "satellite" facilities to their infamous Area 51 facility in Roswell, NM. This site was chosen as one of the satellite locations because of its size, easy access to a major highway (I-85) and relatively secluded location (if you haven't heard of the place and you can't tell by the name, Cowpens is out in the middle of nowhere, friends and neighbors - I'm talking serious BFE). Due to a recently approved Congressional bill, federal law states that these formerly top secret locations be made open to the public for a certain period of time during each fiscal year so the public may view that their tax monies are being spent accordingly - no $600 toilet seats or $400 screwdrivers to be found. To view the site, a small licensing fee must be collected from the public, which is why you were greeted at the gate and your money was taken. You're then introduced to your "guides", a couple of guys who really look the part, with high & tight haircuts, dressed in military fatigues, carrying more of those sincerely real-looking carbines, along with other things like red-lensed flashlights and military issue glowsticks, which are distributed throughout your group. After explaining that you WILL see aliens but they WILL NOT hurt you, and you're allowed to ask questions but NOT touch ANYTHING, they give you a few other ground rules and put you in a single file line, then lead you into the warehouse, one military guy leading the way and the other taking up the rear, to ensure against stragglers.When you go into the warehouse, it's dimly lit and it smells kinda funky - anyone familiar with the smell of a root cellar will know what I'm talking about. Strange, organic, mildly mildewy. It's chilly - around 60 degrees. And somewhat damp. The guys have set the crates of potatoes and onions up in the warehouse so it's kind of a maze, and they begin leading you through the maze, stopping at various "checkpoints" to count heads and take questions. A different alien is on display at each "checkpoint" for the public to view. All is well until you get to the third alien, and then something goes "horribly wrong"... the alien at this particular checkpoint, who is supposed to be under heavy sedation, begins to move. The military guy at the rear of the group calls the attention of the leader to this, and suddenly the lights go out, and an alarm begins to sound... you hear the sound of gunfire on the other end of the warehouse, and a man screaming... the radios of the "soldiers" with you begin to crackle with distress calls... and suddenly you're being told that there has been a security breach and any civilian personnel MUST be escorted off the premises immediately. You turn to go back the way you came, and the crates behind the group are suddenly pushed over... you look up, and see an alien crawling across the tops of the crates... the soldiers with you pull their rifles, and fire off a few shots, then herd you through this twisting maze of crates, while you're surrounded by this cacophany of sound and flashing lights and aliens crawling along the tops and sides of things, reaching out for you and barely missing you each time. You burst into the cooler area of the warehouse, and the soldiers decide to take refuge in one of the coolers, so they herd you in to this tiny little space and shut the door (which has this impressive pump-vacuum seal spinning handle, like a pressurized room)... when suddenly you realize in all the commotion that the soldier that was taking up the rear of the party isn't in the cooler with you. You hear his voice crackle over the lead soldier's radio and hear him pounding on the door of the cooler, then you hear gunshots and him screaming... The leader freaks out that his buddy has been taken, then gets himself together and promises you all that he'll get you out alive if it's the last thing he does. He opens the cooler and leads you out, through the rest of the maze of cartons, and you're running, totally turned around, only aware of the darkness, the damp, the aliens around you... you see the light of the loading docks, and he directs you towards them... counts off each person, to make sure everyone has come through all right... and suddenly is taken from behind, yanked into the warehouse, screaming, and you're running out onto the dock, glad to be alive and pumped full of adrenaline.What a rush! I wish they'd do it again, but haven't seen it for quite some time. Maybe one day I'll construct a haunted attraction that allows such a psychological manipulation of the patrons. I'd love it. In the meantime, I'll just have to look for something that will at least give me the willies.Happy Halloween.... :-)
Bananas and the years to come
I've been thinking about the future a lot lately, and trying to set the basic bones of a plan for the rest of my life down in my mind. I've never been good at thinking/living beyond the moment - guess I'm a bit of a Bohemian when it comes to things like that - but ever since my birthday last month, I've been trying to figure out how I want the second half of mylife to go.I know. That sounds drastic, huh? "You're only 32!" you say. "You're YOUNG!" And yeah, I'm young. Kind of. But I've spent a lot of time in my life in ways that were very, when I look back on them, wasteful. I wish I could go back to my younger self and make her see how important some things are - school, credit, etc. At the same time, every road we choose leads us to where we are now, and I'm happy with where I am now. Maybe if I had spent more time when I was younger worrying about where I was going to be when I was in my thirties I wouldn't be the person I am now - and for the most part, I like that person. I like where I am in my life, and who I am. Anyway, I've been thinking about where I want to end up, and while I do love the town I'm living in now, I don't know if it's where I want to be for all time. I loved Chicago so much when I visited; I wonder if it's the same kind of place when you're living there? Of course, wherever you go, there you are. Your life catches up to you, and each place that you live is entirely what you make of it. But still, Chicago was such a great place... ::pining, shining, loving eyes directed to the northwest::I just want to be financially comfortable enough to be able to do what I want when I want, within reason. And I'm actually relatively close to being able to do that now, which is nice. I love this place (for now), because it has so much to offer, economically, artistically, geographically. I was talking to a friend of mine earlier today about what a good place it is to live. But I don't think I'm settled here for the rest of my life. I see so many things I want to do and so many places I want to live. I just wish I knew how I could move around without it being such a hassle and a financial drain. I'd love to live in the Pacific Northwest for six months, and Maine for six months, and take a few years and travel around the country and see everything. I wonder how I could manage to do that before I'm too old to enjoy it?RANDOM POLICE, BEWARE: I've also discovered that I am re-learning to love bananas. They're tasty and when I eat them, I feel like I'm being pseudo-healthy. Potassium is good for you. And so is fiber. But they've also got a very pleasing taste that's randomly nostalgic. Yay bananas. Well, wherever I go in my life, hopefully there will be bananas. And hopefully they'll continue to be surprisingly tasty and fulfilling.
God, it's been forever. Almost a month since I posted. I've fallen out of the blog-o-sphere, as DNR would say.It's ok, though. I needed to take a break from blogging. I was becoming self-absorbed and boring. Wait, I'm still self-absorbed and boring. But that's ok, everyone can be like that at times. We just have to find ways around it...Things are going well, still. We've moved into the new place, finally. The house has some issues, but they're slowly being taken care of. I know, I know. I hear you. "Issues, you say?" Yes, yes, dear reader, issues. Like spiders not realizing that they're not welcome to make their webs inside, or even around high traffic outdoor areas. It's very empowering to kill the shit out of a sincerely creepy looking spider. I've done it three times in the past two days. I talk to them just before their demise to psych myself up (I might be the designated spider killer of the house, but hell, they're creepy little shits and I hate them just as much as anyone). "You picked the wrong windowsill, bitch," I told the spiky-legged, vicious little beast I murdered in the kitchen two nights ago. And then, Hi-YAH, BAM, with the end of the broom. Victorious spider-killer! Woo!80% of our stuff is stacked up around the house, still in boxes. We're gradually moving into the new place. It's nice to be back under one roof again, me and the girlfriend and the cats. And no roommate (at least for the time being). We kicked out our last roommate after she decided she was going to try to screw us out of $2000 (this after not helping with the move AT ALL). At this, my usual forgiving nature just snapped and I told the bitch to get out of my life. In no uncertain terms. Hopefully she's gotten the message.I've joined a writers' group here in Greenville and have started writing again. So far I've created two new short stories. I want to write more but at the moment all the time I have to write is in my spare time at work, so it's very sporadic. It's great to be writing again, though. The second story I did was relatively sick and twisted, but I was pleased with the imagery. When I eventually get my office set up in the new house, I plan to devote a chunk of time at least a few nights a week to stroking my muse and eventually pumping her for inspiration. (That sounded relatively suggestive, but really only YOU took it that way, you naughty little minx, you.)The job is the job. There's nothing special to say about it other than the fact that it pays well. Nothing has changed much on that front. I don't expect it to change any time soon, either. I've discovered that, much like every other thing on the planet, the larger something gets, the slower it moves. I work for a huge company, so like the strides of the bull elephant, the heartbeat of a humpbacked whale, or the brain processes of an NFL linebacker, things move at sub-light speeds. So I count off each minute, each hour, each day at a time, count myself lucky that I'm being paid well and have benefits, and live vicariously through others while voraciously anticipating the weekend. Hm. Can't think of much more at the moment. Hopefully I'll feel the urge to start posting again. I've been thinking about this blog and how it became something more for the people who were reading it than something for me. And that's cool and all, because a blog (at least this type of blog) needs readers to thrive. But it's a give and take relationship. It needs to be even. It needs to be partially about the audience and partially about the writer. Hell, I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say, other than I got so caught up in editing myself because of what I was thinking other people would think about what I was writing (Good lord that was a complicated sentence) that each time I sat down to update I became overwhelmed. Caught up in the idea of trying to be interesting and engaging, I became stagnant. So, fuck it. I'm just going to post what I want and screw the rest. If you don't like it, gravitate your mouse up to the little red X in the top right hand corner of the screen. Empowerment, my friends, is the word of the day.And that's all for now. More to come later.~Becky