Thursday, January 28, 2010

Awards (thanks!) and challenges

OK. So. A few things to discuss, today.

First is a great big thank you to Elle Strauss for giving me this lovely Circle of Friends award! She said it would warm me up, and though my fingers are cold, she is so totally right. Her blog is pretty interesting, by the way, and would be fun to check out, if you haven't, yet. She has lots of great thoughts about writing.

So, I suppose I should pass this along...along with the award that Amalia T. gave to me a while (Lovely Blog Award).Which I will do...eventually. So many people deserve these awards, and I'm just so touched to be included in the giving. I just can't decide who to give them to! So. That will come eventually.

Secondly, I want to discuss writing challenges, and challenges in general.

I was looking at Kate from The Neverending Shelf's blog today, and she is starting a mini challenge. I keep getting excited over these challenges--the Kiss blogfest, the No-Kiss blogfest, an upcoming Love-at-First-Sight blogfest that I signed up for...somewhere. (I can't remember! But I do remember it's on the 14th of February. Perfect for V-Day, right?)

Here's a link to this new mini challenge: Read a bunch of books, and then clear out the ones you won't be reading again. Clear the Clutter! Perfect for me and my library of books, which, as much as I love them, are sort of also my bane. Seriously. Do you know how heavy it is to move boxes and boxes of books?

I have to sift through and decide which ones I want to read, but I will be posting that soon...and then...hopefully...sticking to the challenge. Which I have some time for--two months, I think?

I love this challenge especially, because it's coming at the beginning of the year, and I feel that this fits into my goals for the New Year--to downsize, to simplify, to create peace. It feels lovely just to think about it!

Anyway. That's all, for now--break's over. Back to work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hey, Baby, it's C-O-L-D outside.

I'm cold.

I am always cold, but I am especially cold right now. Why? Because it is winter. Because I live in a cold part of the US. Because we just had a storm go through (not as bad here as elsewhere), because the temperatures dipped, and now, because of all of this, I'm huddled up on my couch, wrapped up in my fuzzy robe, thinking warm thoughts.

Or trying to.

I would just like to state right now that yes, I understand that some people like the cold. Yes, I've heard many times that it's easier to solve being cold (so, putting more clothes/blankets/covers on) than it is to solve being warm (how many layers can you decently remove?). But you know what? When you get chilled to the bone, it really doesn't matter anymore. After a while, you just can't layer up anymore.

When I was in college, I lived in dorms where the heaters kicked on when the higher powers that were turned them on...i.e., we didn't have control to the (small) heaters in our rooms. One day, in the dreadful winter, I came back to my room to discover that there was frost on the inside of the windows, a draft coming in, and that the room was about 50 degrees. Probably less.

Having just returned from the arctic that was outside, I was still in my coat. Thinking quickly, I did the only thing I could possibly do--I threw my robe on over my winter coat, made sure the curtains were closed against the frosty draft, and climbed up into my loft and under my covers.

I don't recall if my roommate at that time thought I was crazy--all of my roommates have been warmer than me at all times--but even if she did, at least I was able to stave off the cold somewhat, for a little. Though I couldn't really move my fingers.

Much like right now.

But seriously, today's cold, though uncomfortable, is nothing, compared to that. I don't have drafts blowing in on me. It's not negative five thousand outside. (Only slight hyperbole, believe me.) The wind isn't even that bad, today.

I suppose if it gets really bad, I could always go get my fingerless gloves and find a few warm blankets to toss across my lap. After all, what's another layer, now?

People are going to start thinking my skin consists of fleece.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have just spent the majority of this week being sore.

I think I slept wrong on Tuesday--I couldn't move my head much to look over my right shoulder. And then on Wednesday, it got worse--a different sort of sore kept my left shoulder pretty stationary.

Between that and the cold snowy blustery yech that it is outside--I didn't do much last night. I played Farmville (which I should quit. But I've been saying that for the past few months), and I finally wrote a blog post again, and that's about it. That's about all I could fit in--though I had time.

Oh, and I almost fell asleep on my couch. It was pretty close. Instead, I went to bed early!! Shocking!! Well, like 11-ish.

Somehow or other, though, I've been just feeling lazy and have had no inspiration. I don't know if it's because I'm sore, or because it's deeply January and the weather played a trick on me, or if it's because I've been so busy with the rest of my life--teaching at the YMCA, my regular job, my writing of articles (which I've gotten somewhat lax with)--that I don't want to do anything else, or what, exactly--but I do feel lazy. Which makes me unhappy. I pull up my short stories and think, "I'm going to revise this!" But instead, I'm having my own personal Psych marathon (I love that show. I love James Roday. Oh, my.), and I'm wasting time as possible, and I'm not really working on what I want to...

I just have to trust that I'll get myself back in the game, I guess. And in the meantime, I'll just take the little things in, things that may end up inspiring me later.

Oh, and maybe I'll reread the lovely letter I got from a dear, longtime friend, today--actual mail. Oh, how I love mail!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

By the silvery light of the moon...

First, an apology; I haven't been able to post anything for a while, since I've been busy busy. Sorry! Now, a question.

Do you love the moon as much as I do?

When I was little, I was obsessed with the night sky. I still am particularly fond of it--the way it just presses on forever, presses down on you, yet stays so open. The way the stars form shapes that have so many stories in so many traditions. It seems so secretive and delicious, and I've always felt looking at it, being out under it--it's just prime for getting ideas.

I made up a poem about the moon, one which I don't recall right now and could probably only find if I dug for it. So mysterious and so far away, there's so much to think about it. Luna. Moon.

OK, so today at work, this article was sent out to us (because, being in an archives/museum, we have gotten a lot of questions about moon stones, lately). It's about moon stones, and how so many states and countries were given some...yet, now, many of those stones are missing.

It's pretty darn interesting. And sort of sad, too. Something so historical that was so lost to us? Though now, as always happens, we are interested in where the history has gone. Better late than never, right?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sherlock Holmes, the movie

I was going to write a post about dreams last Friday, which is sadly when I last updated my blog or practically even came up here. Because dreams are so interesting, and mine are so chaotic--like an action movie.

But you know what? I'm not actually going to write about dreams today. I'll save that for another day, preferably a day when I can remember all the twists and nuances of my dreams the previous night. Then I'll share some of the crazy dreams I've had in the past.

So, let's segue into an action movie: Sherlock Holmes.

I saw this movie last night, which, considering how skittish I can be, probably wasn't the best idea. Seeing it at night, that is. Let's just say that I have a strong imagination when it gets dark. That when I finished reading Coraline at home, in bed, around the stroke of 1 or 2 in the morning, I was too scared to do anything other than shiver under my blankets and hope that the scary button-eyed monster wouldn't try to get me to climb down any rabbit holes.

Maybe this is partly why my dreams are so vivid?

In any case, Sherlock Holmes wasn't really scary--for most people. For most of the movie. But the voo-doo and black magic that it showcased, though of course perfunctorily and logically disbanded by Holmes, played very well (in the vein of this movie) by Robert Downey Jr., spooked me. Even when I knew it had to be logical. Because I couldn't explain away all of the logic!

Plus, there was quite a bit of getting-cut-open-ness that I wasn't so keen on watching.

But overall, I have to say that this was a pretty good movie. The acting was--really well done. Jude Law was attractive, yes, but even more so believable! I believed in his character, and if he wasn't Watson, I didn't care--he was Holmes' companion, the only man to keep him as he should be. The filming of the movie itself was interesting--the flashbacks, the way Holmes thought (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you should see the movie. I don't want to spill all the beans!), the coloring, the deductive reasoning at play, keeping the audience engaged--very interesting, very cool. In my humble opinion. There was humor, clever word play, creative characters, and an engaging plot.

More than a few explosions, too.

However, if you like Sherlock Holmes books--love them--live by them--I don't think you'll like this movie.

In fact, if you don't like action movies, if you hate them and cringe when you see a commercial for them, you might want to think two or three or maybe even four times, before you decide to go and see it.

But if you want a twist on tradition--this may be the film for you.

I'll tell you that even with all the flinching, I found many points of interest and laughed a few times throughout. Oh, yeah--and I also fell a bit for Holmes.

And Watson. Much better than Watson from the book.

Of course, I was never Arthur Conan Doyle's biggest fan, so what do I know?

Friday, January 8, 2010

DOLL HOUSE! No spoilers, but lots of exclamations.

I don't know if anyone out there is in to Doll House. Well, yes, I know my pal Amalia T. is, but otherwise, I don't know. Because, apparently, this show has been cancelled? And it is just like Pushing Daisies all over again. Or, for those of you who are so inclined, that other show by Joss Whedon--Firefly. Don't know what I'm talking about? Did you see Serenity? Well, that's the TV show that launched the movie.


OK. First of all, when I was finally introduced to Firefly/Serenity, a few years later, I have to admit that I liked it. It could be because of the stellar cast (including Nathan Fillion. He seems to sparkle in everything he's in. And no, I don't mean like Edward Cullen. Sorry Twilight fans.), it could be because of the story line, it could be because of anything. But man--Joss Whedon knows how to tell a story.

Last year, I gave this show a chance. I had just lost Pushing Daisies, a wonderful show that had been cancelled, and I now knew who this Joss Whedon character was--yeah, I'm not so good on directors and such--so I gave it a chance.

And I fell in love. Seriously. I mean, all you have to do is see Victor or Paul Ballard (below, in order)

And, that's it. But the story! The intricacies! Sure, it started off slow--but it was so phenomenal!

Maybe I'm just showing my inner geek?

But seriously, it's like--spy and high tech and romance and all of this, wrapped up into one. Oh, I almost forgot one of my very very favorite characters (aside from Victor)--Topher!

OK. So, enough of that.

But the story! The story!

And now it's being cancelled. And I thought tonight's episode was the last. But I sincerely hope not. Because I may just FREAK OUT if it is. Because of everything that happened.

OK. So not what I planned to write about...but AWESOME EPISODE. I was hysterical when it ended. Simply hysterical. I think I still am. Eep!

*Photo images not mine and not intended as a copyright infringement.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Old maids and all that

Did you know that in my neck of the woods, the average marriageable age of women is around 21 or 22? And probably a year or two older, for guys. But still.

OK, I don't have any hard and fast stats on the subject. I'm just going off my friends and their engagements--what I see in the papers--and who I see standing outside the occasional churches, posing for pictures.

I understand this isn't the case with everyone, or everywhere. But let me tell you--it's quite an odd feeling, knowing that people my age are married, some expecting. Makes me feel--well--old maiden-ish.

Roman women married between 14 and 16, usually, back in the day. I'm totally past my prime, on that account. (Thank Heavens!)

So...a link to a story about a way one guy sought someone out for marriage in the wilds of ND. What verve!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sweating Bullets--update--and award!


This post is to serve two parts. One, to thank Amalia T. for granting me an award! I am so honored! The other to update you on yesterday's uneventful post.

Let's start with the first.
Amalia T., my wonderful friend and fellow-blogger, and writing buddy, gave me this award, today: One Lovely Blog! I am so honored. Amalia and I have known each other for some time, and have been writing buddies for some time, too. She has helped me with my writing, and has been encouraging to me with everything. But more than that, she is a wonderful friend, and I am lucky to count her as one!

And now for the second: the update.

Yesterday's class was... interesting. I couldn't get one of the microphones to work, and then at the beginning of class, the microphone's pouch (like a fanny pack) fell off! And I had to try and fix it (the strap unwound from the snap) right in the middle of everything. was okay.

Really! I mean, sure, it could have gone better...but--not just through the power of positive thinking!--it was seriously not bad. I had about 50, 55 people--a huge class! Almost too many. But they had fun--I had people smiling, sweating and jumping. And it was awesome! I felt so good when the class was done!

So, it has to be uphill from here, right?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sweating bullets...

So, here I am, ready to teach a new class for the first time tonight--of the fitness variety--and I'm figuratively sweating bullets. What if they hate the class? What if they don't get a good workout? What if?

Sometimes, I think it's good when we're thrust into things like this. We're forced to do something outside of the box. Like writing--writing is like that, for sure. But that doesn't make it less scary.

I shouldn't be so nervous about this. But I'm just afraid that in half an hour, I'll be standing in front of 40 unhappy faces, trying to make jokes they won't laugh at. Yikes!

I just need to think positively!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Procrastination, again

Well, here I am, procrastinating again.

Oh, and welcome to my blog, all you new followers! I'm so excited to have more people to be connected to. It's quite thrilling.

OK. So, I am sitting here, on my couch, thinking about everything I should be doing.

*Writing this story about Yoga and Pilates, which is due tomorrow.
*Writing some Datebooks, probably by tomorrow.
*Clean house, organize, and unpack more things (I just moved. Well, not just), which lifetime project.
*Practice to teach a new exercise class, which is starting, oh, tomorrow.
*OH! Shoot. I'm supposed to send out an email about Sunday School by I should do that.

This is what I'm doing:

*Looking at my story about Yoga and Pilates, but not really working on it.
*Looking at some of my old short stories. But not doing anything with them.
*Watching Psych, Season 3. One of my favorite television shows.
*Thinking about everything I should be doing.
*Blogging! Ever so slightly. Oh, gosh, I wish we had some sort of writing challenge every week. I enjoy posting and reading scenes. And I've met so many people, now!

So. Yes. Good job. I am now procrastinating.

I better go write that email. Wow, what an exciting entry *this* was.

Friday, January 1, 2010

No Kiss Blogfest smidgen

I just want to say—I cheated a little. There is a kissing scene mixed in with this no kissing scene. And it's a first draft. Enjoy!

The last time she saw them together happened by chance. Liz was going to do some work at home again, but Derek never worked from the comfort of her apartment—it was by choice, he said.

He was quiet that morning, as usual; he smiled at her, kissed her cheek, and then left. He was gone for a handful of minutes by the time she realized that they were out of bread and eggs and a few other necessities. She didn't want to really start her next project right that minute anyway, so instead of calling his cell phone, she decided to run out herself.

She wouldn't have normally gone that way, but on leaving, she saw one of her neighbors, the talkative one, standing a few steps away from the door, drinking coffee from a silver mug, talking to a plump woman in a plaid coat. She didn't have time for him today. She turned, to go the longer route around.

That was when she saw Derek, waiting at the bus stop. She almost didn't recognized him first from his straight-backed stiffness, but then she saw his profile, his face stoically turned to the side. Then she saw what—who—he was so carefully avoiding. Claire, standing just as uncomfortably to his left, staring off in that direction.

She slowed, and turned, and walked behind them, quickly, looking down. She spied the little tree that had been planted a few feet away, next to the stump of the old tree that the city had cut down, and she crouched down there. She was still close enough to see them, to hear them, but they would not see her, not unless they were really looking. And, she guessed, they wouldn't.

She watched them. For seven and a half minutes, she looked at them, then her watch, then at them, then her watch.

Finally, Claire turned to Derek. Liz was so intent, she could tell every small movement that was being made. She watched as Liz glanced in the direction of Derek's neck, then up at his ear. Liz read her lips, but she could hear every word. “Hey.”

He turned, nodded with his chin, and his eyes were tracing every inch of Claire’s face.

“We have to keep meeting like this,” Claire said, putting her hands out in a dumb mock pose, pretending to smile. She laughed a little, a hee-hee-hee laugh that was nervous and annoying in one, which she seemed to realize, as she stopped almost as soon as she started.

Derek barely moved. “Yeah.”

“Look, I’m sorry about the last time. I keep saying dumb things. So many dumb things. I don’t know how to stop saying dumb things.” Claire laughed again, the same laugh, but shorter, and breathier, and when she stopped, she frowned. “I’m just dumb. Really. Ask my friends.” She looked away.

"You’re not dumb.”

She turned back, and Liz knew why; she could feel it in his voice. The timber of it pulled her, even from where she sat, several feet away.

Liz watched as Claire turned slowly to face Derek. She watched them both, watched as they both rotated on the spot. A woman with short blond hair brushed by them, pushing them even closer together, and Liz clenched her fists, and swallowed hard.

She thought about the most romantic moment she had had with Derek. It was not hard to remember, though it had been a long time ago. She had been handling some business from home. He returned from work, had removed his shoes, marched across the floor to where she was sitting. He said something to her, something unimportant, now. Then he turned her, smiling, and massaged her shoulders while facing her—massaging her while staring at her. His hands had moved so carefully and so gently, gliding toward her neck, where he brushed her chin, raised her face to his, and kissed her, soundly, so that she almost forgot what she was doing.

She grabbed onto that thought, that memory, and she returned to it, as she watched them look at each other. As she looked down at her watch. Up at them. She thought about that moment, when she had fallen so in love with him. She thought of that moment as she watched the two of them, standing there, staring at each other, so unaware of anything around them. By this point, they were completely turned toward each other, their elbows barely touching, each uncertain, neither of them looking away. 

The bus came, and the woman with the short blond hair glanced at the two of them. Liz watched as the woman raised her eyebrows, and climbed up through the sliding door of the bus. She vanished, and so did a woman with a small child, a man with a newspaper, and an older man, who walked with a cane.

Then there was movement. The bus door closed with a clang. At the same time, Derek reached out, almost to touch Claire’s face, almost to brush some hair away from her face. But he didn't. Instead, he lowered his hand, his goal unrealized.

The bus moved away. The two figures were left alone, along with a trail of blue exhaust that swept over them. One of them jumped as the smell of diesel swept over them, and they were so close, Liz couldn't tell who it was, who interrupted the moment. They broke apart, then. They broke apart, if that’s what you could call it, when they were barely touching. And they turned away from each other. Claire was biting her lip, and smiling and frowning. Derek’s face was blank, and then he shook his head, and then it went blank again. They waited twelve minutes more for the next bus. Liz waited with them.

No Kiss Blogfest coming tomorrow...

I should so be in bed right now. But I'm not. Why? Because I'm writing. I'm writing a short story, one of my favorite things to write, and I'm writing parts of it as quickly as possible for my upcoming readers who will be excitedly reading through posts and posts of No Kissing, a blogging event hosted by Frankie Writes. Yes, I'm excited. I'm hoping for lots of readers! Perhaps some who will consider staying to follow me! But I'm also just hoping for some reviews. Good, bad, and the like.

Why should you read my bit of no-kiss-high-tension storyline? Because I am anxious for feedback; because it is freshly taken from my imagination; because, I hope, it is different; because I need to know.

So--look for that tomorrow. Peace out.

I just really like to say that.

Oh, and Happy New Year!