Blog-Tember 13: Music is Messy

Prompt: Three songs you are connecting with right now.

It’s rare for my song obsessions to fully coincide with what’s happening in my life. Usually, they have more to do with (for lack of a better word) fantasies, or sometimes a song hits me because it’s catchy and it brings up a memory of something I felt in the past. So, I’m going to try to do one of each of those eventualities.

Current feelings: “Girl Can’t Help It” Journey

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Gah, this song. Granted, the feelings of the two characters here are mutual, just largely unspoken while in my situation, the feelings just weren’t mutual. The guy I love(d?) moved recently to find himself or whatever. It hurt when he left, and I still miss him. I sometimes wish that I had been enough for him, but I’ve also been realizing that I need more than he could have given me.

Most relateable line: “The girl can’t help it, she needs more/He hasn’t found what he’s looking for.” I feel this is largely self explanatory given what I’ve already said.

Past feelings: “I’m a Mess” Ed Sheeran

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The quintessential post-break up song when you didn’t want to break up. Worse, you didn’t want it, and still don’t want it, despite how awful everything was. It’s that torrent of emotion: of feeling like you shouldn’t want to be with this person, but you do.

Most relateable line: “Oh I’m a mess right now, inside out/Searching for a sweet surrender, but this is not the end.” I must admit, this line is getting me not because of the lost romance angle, but just because I feel like my life is chaos at the moment while I’m trying to figure out what to do with myself, but I know I’ll work it out.

Fantasy: “Lifting Shadows off a Dream” Dream Theater

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No one seems to be able to agree what this song means. It’s heavily metaphorical, and apparently, John Myung (the bassist, who also wrote the lyrics for this one) didn’t particularly want to talk about it beyond saying that it is about “The duality between a man and a woman and how they can compliment each other.”

Most relateable line: “Lifting shadows off a dream once broken/She can turn a drop of water into an ocean.” It can describe anything that was thought lost and is now regained. Also can describe how people tend to make mountains out of molehills; at least, I’m guessing that’s what is meant by the drop of water/ocean thing. Makes me very hopeful for cleaning up the messiness and uncertainty I’m in right now.

It’s kind of hard to find songs with lyrics that I really connect with. There’s lots of songs that I can belt out (I just sang “Honey, Honey” by ABBA at the bar the other night) but I don’t often find myself thinking “Wow, that’s my life right now.” Of course, that could just be me trying too hard.

Also, there are too many songs about relationships. I mean, all three of the ones I listed have to do with relationships (mostly ending) but the lines that I really connect with hit me precisely because they could be describing something else.

While relationships and romance and all that jazz are pretty universal, I think there are definitely other human conditions that are far more relateable, just without the inherent singability.

But then, I’m not a musician, so what do I know?

BlogTember 12: Pleasures of the Guilty Variety

September is almost over, and I still have several of the prompts from the #blogtemberchallenge list that I want to use. Best get started then, I guess!

Prompt: It’s guilty pleasure time! Shows, books, songs, foods, whatever it may be.

I’m actually kind of intrigued by the term “guilty pleasure.” Particularly because it isn’t really used to talk about something that we should feel legitimately guilty about. It’s guilty because some amorphous them decided whatever thing we happen to enjoy immensely is not popular or at least not good.

Anyway, here are a few of my guilty pleasures. And if I didn’t absolutely loathe the phrase, I would probably include a “Sorry, not sorry” here.

#1 Guilty Pleasure: Stargate SG-1 Fanfiction

#1 Guilty Pleasure: Stargate SG-1 Fanfiction

I’ve actually talked about my obsession with the show before. So I won’t go into detail here, but it really is an amazing franchise. And there are some amazing WIP in and completed stories on the fanfiction site. And update on the linked post: I actually started posting my WIP story that I started back in high school. There’s not many reviews on it, yet, though it’s had several views/visitors, so I’m thinking it might be utter crap (though the four reviews said some nice things). Anyway, if you’re interested in that sort of thing: take a gander.

#2 Guilty Pleasure: Scooby-Doo and Kim Possible

#2 Guilty Pleasure: Scooby-Doo and Kim Possible

My other long-time TV show guilty pleasures: Kim Possible and Scooby Doo. I’m actually planning a Kim Possible costume for Halloween, and Velma is a my spirit sister. I have literally woken up in the morning feeling around on my nightstand thinking “Where are my glasses? I can’t find my glasses!” I own all of the original series first season on DVD, I have various films (DVD and VHS), and there is a stuffed Scooby Doo sitting in a fuzzy purple saucer chair in my bedroom. I swear I’m an adult; sometimes I just don’t like to notice.

#3 Guilty Pleasure: Taylor Swift

#3 Guilty Pleasure: Taylor Swift

I really don’t want to like Taylor Swift since she turned into a pop diva. I loved her when she was a country singer, and I’m actually not ashamed to admit that. But I do cringe a bit when I remember that I freaking love the song “Blank Space” and that the music video to “Shake it Off” made me giggle even though I still don’t particularly care for the music itself on that one. One T-Swift song that can die a horrible death though: “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Stop playing this. Play more “Blank Space,” which also has a fab music video.

#4 Guilty Pleasure: 80s Music

#4 Guilty Pleasure: 80s Music

My other music guilty pleasure: 80s hair metal. Okay, really most 80s music. This genre is fail-proof for keeping me awake on long drives or at work. I just need a Def Leppard, Poison, or Journey song playing, and I can belt out the lyrics to stay alert. I have quite a record collection of these babies (and some 70s, of course). The Go-Gos album Beauty and the Beat is my go-to music when getting ready for a night out.

#5 Guilty Pleasure: vampire/werewolf romance novels

#5 Guilty Pleasure: vampire/werewolf romance novels

I love paranormal romance novels. My two favorite authors in this genre are Sherrilyn Kenyon and Laurell K. Hamilton. A friend introduced me to the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series in high school, and I was hooked immediately. I guess this is kind of like my grandma’s love of Harlequin romance novels, but because I like vampires and shapeshifters, I need the paranormal angle to feel justified in reading them. Of course, they also have to be well-written; I do have standards.

So, there it is: five of my guilty pleasures. And do I feel guilty? Not one bit. Just, you know, maybe a little sheepish.

Blog-Tember 11: The Best Week of My Life

Prompt: Tell us about one of the best days of your life.

I don’t know that I can pin down a best day. But I do remember the best week.

Warning: if you are prone to feelings of angst/anger/irritation when confronted with maudlin or sentimental issues, you may want to reconsider reading this entire post.

The best week of my life was spent at the “happiest place on Earth”: Disney World in Orlando, FL. It was the second time I had been to Florida, but my first (and so far only) trip to Disney.

Obligatory Castle Background shot

Obligatory Castle Background shot

Honestly, it wouldn’t have been my first choice in similar circumstances, but it’s what my little brother wanted, and I was just thrilled that he wanted me along for the ride. Actually, he didn’t seem to want to leave my side for the whole week. We had been living separately for years at this point, but he wanted me there. And I was happy to be there.

A little background: My brother had a tumor removed from the base of his brain when he was six. I was 12 at the time. After a year of chemo, he was declared cancer free. Shortly after that, I was adopted by our maternal grandparents while he continued living with our mother. I didn’t really get to see him more than a handful of times for a couple of years. Then, he went to live with his father and paternal grandparents.

By then the cancer was back, and now it was in his spine. I visited when I could, which wasn’t nearly as often as I should have gone. But for that one week, thanks to the Make A Wish foundation, I got to spend basically every waking moment with him.

And of course the requisite mouse ears

And of course the requisite mouse ears, which I still wear from time to time

Honestly, the details are hazy. I have tons of pictures from that time, and I cherish them, even though his face was nearly unrecognizably puffy from the steroids given to him to combat effects of the chemo/radiation.

I remember little of the parks themselves. Mostly, I remember exploring the village where we stayed (Give Kids the World). It was set up just for kids like my Short Butt. There was a playground, a pond, a swimming pool, a giant talking tree, a dinosaur-themed mini-golf course, a game hall with pool and Foosball, and a giant carousel that he absolutely loved. My favorite pictures are from the two of us playing in the empty playground.

Awesome playground

Awesome playground

So many smiles!

So many smiles!

I hate my faulty memory. I feel that if it weren’t for my PTSD, I would have more of those memories without the pictures. But I do remember little things: how excited he was to meet Goofy, how he wanted to walk rather than using the wheelchair, how much he loved the roller coasters, how we played board games on the floor of the room we shared.

I think that's Candy Land (which was also the theme of the playground)

I think that’s Candy Land (which was also the theme of the playground)

Oh yeah, he was excited for Goofy

Oh yeah, he was excited for Goofy

It was the last really good week we had. He passed away a few months later as I started my senior year of high school. Every year on his birthday, I think of how old he should be and what milestone he should be reaching now. Last year was especially hard; he should have been getting his driver’s license.

At least he got to drive at the park

At least he got to drive at the theme park

But no matter how rough it is knowing he’s not going to do any of the things that I have, and knowing that I’ll never have the nieces and nephews I wanted because (unlike me) I assume he would have had kids in the future, I have those memories of Disney. That one amazing week, even overshadowed by what we knew would come soon, gave me time with my little brother and our family.

The whole group

The whole group

So, yeah, it was sad, but it was also the most amazing week of my life.

Thank you Make A Wish.

Blog-Tember 10: Chasing Falling Stars

Prompt: A favorite quote/expression and how it has impacted you.

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I didn’t actually like the book On the Road very much. I liked Kerouac’s style, but the story itself did little for me. Granted, I was a junior in high school when I read it, so it’s possible that a reread now would change that opinion.

At any rate, this particular quote has stuck with me over the years. Because in this one thing at least, I did feel a connection to the character. I don’t remember the context at all, but as a stand alone moment, it hits me.

To me, this quote describes being a young adult today. Or at least, the young adult that I am today. I can’t settle on what I want to do with my life. My hobby and interest list is ten times longer than that of any of the people I’ve been meeting recently. I usually feel like I’m all over the place.

Today was particularly bad in the restlessness department. I’m trying to get back into freelance writing, but I just couldn’t seem to focus. I finally gave up on getting anything done in the freelance department and started jumping between three different books (it would have been four, but I finished The Osiris Ritual by George Mann yesterday): Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W Moore, Beginning Programming with Java for Dummies by Barry Burd, PhD, and The Subversive Job Search: How to Overcome a Lousy Job, Sluggish Economy, and Useless Degree to Create a Six-Figure Career by Alan Corey.

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Plenty of light reading, as you can see.

Well, to be fair, all three writers have very smooth styles that are actually easy to read, though Corey should perhaps lay off the catnip because dude is a little all over the place.

Anyway, I kept bouncing between them because I couldn’t focus on any one topic. I thought about diving back into An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should have Learned but Probably Didn’t by Judy Jones and William Wilson or Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything by F. David Peat, but I was trying to tame the madness a bit at least.

I finally had to mindlessly play the Sims 3 for four hours while vegging out and watching first The Mummy and then The Phantom of the Opera so that my mind would chill out. Now Repo! The Genetic Opera is on because I really can’t do just one thing right now, and it’s the only musical I own that isn’t all romance-oriented.

Anyway, this is what I mean: I like too many things, so I bounce around from one interesting topic or hobby to another until I fall into a mental wasteland to avoid collapsing entirely. And all I get out of it is more confusion.

See, Kerouac put it way more succinctly.

Blog-Tember 9: Bucket List

Prompt: 10 items off your bucket list. If you haven’t made one, now’s a good time to start!

I have to be honest; I don’t have a bucket list. There are several things I would like to do before I die, but as a young 20-something, imagining my own death is really difficult. I feel like I have all the time in the world. Still, I’ll be 24 in a few months, (Writing it makes it feel more real. Ugh.) and I know that anything can happen at any time, so maybe I should make a list of life goals and start working towards them.

So, here we go:

  1. Visit Paris
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    • I have been obsessed with the French language since I was 12. I’ve been decorating my living spaces with Eiffel Towers since high school. I want to see the real thing. Of course, I really want to visit Marseilles more than Paris. It holds a bit more allure, but the love of Paris has been there for so much longer that I know the real place I simply have to visit before I kick it is Paris.
  2. Publish a book
    • I’ve known since I was 6 that I wanted to work with writing in some capacity. Actually, when I was 6, I knew that I wanted to be an author. Later I switched to journalism, then editing, and now I just want to do it all. I am currently working on a novel, and I am hoping that this will be the one that I actually finish. If I can just tough it out, I think it’ll be something really awesome. I’ve got over 20,000 words on it at the moment, but it’s all outlined, and there’s still a long way to go.
  3. Read all of the books in my possession
    • I have two bookshelves overflowing with books that I have collected over the years. I’ve read many of them. In fact, a lot of them are books that I own simply because I want to read them over and over again. But many more are things that I picked up because they looked interesting or because someone gave them to me, and I haven’t read a lot of those. I made a list at one point of all the books I haven’t read yet. There were nearly 100, and that was before my aunt gave me a bunch more. This could take a while to accomplish, particularly as I have a penchant for visiting Half-Price Books every few months.
  4. Get a Master’s degree
    • I don’t know what I want the degree to be in. I just know that I want it. Perhaps Library and Information Science or Computer Science. Maybe continue from my creative writing Bachelor’s degree. I can’t afford it right now, but someday I want to go back to school and get a master’s. I know it might not even prove that helpful in the job market, but I still want it.
  5. Go snowboarding

    • This is another thing that has fascinated me from a young age. When I was in middle school, snowboarding seemed like the absolute coolest thing ever. Still kind of does actually. I’m told that skiing is better, but I’m still far more interested in learning to snowboard. I guess I just need to get a group together for a trip to Colorado this winter. Who’s with me?
  6. Learn to Waltz
    • I tried ballroom dancing when I was a student at Stony Brook University, and last Thanksgiving I tried to learn the basic waltz steps from YouTube videos in my dining room. I’d like to get a little more serious about it. And, I would like to have occasion to use the new found skill. For instance, how cool would it be to attend a themed (even period) ball including waltzing? That was a rhetorical question because it would obviously be amazing.
  7. Attend an anime convention in costume
    First cosplay: Soul Eater's Tsubaki.

    First cosplay: Soul Eater’s Tsubaki.

    • I have a Tsubaki (Soul Eater) cosplay from last Halloween, and I would like to use it for a convention. That or I have been planning to do a cosplay of Kisara (Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple). I’ve heard that conventions are a lot of fun, and I really want to check on out.
  8. Adopt a teenager (or preteen)
    • I’ve known for a very long time that I have no intention of ever physically giving birth. There’s still time to change my mind, I suppose, but I have very deep-seated beliefs on that whole process, and those beliefs in no way involve giving birth as a miraculous event. I won’t go into total detail, but suffice it to say that if I’m going to have a parasite in my body, I’d rather have a tapeworm, thanks.
    • That said, I do want to adopt at some point. And not a baby. Everybody wants to adopt a baby so they can raise it as their own and then give the kid a complex later when they find out their parents aren’t their “parents.” I was adopted by my grandparents when I was 15. If they hadn’t been able to take me in (or any of my other family for that matter) I would have knocked around the foster care system until I turned 18, and I imagine that would not have been a pretty time for me. I want to help out a kid that doesn’t have the safety net of a large and caring family like I did.
  9. Watch (and understand) a French film without subtitles
    • I’m not sure why this is such a marker of increased fluency for me, but it is. This is actually one of my goals that I hope to accomplish by the end of this year. Spoken French in films is far harder to understand than speaking to a real person (ditto for French news) and I think if I can get what they’re saying in a movie, I can probably understand an actual person if the occasion ever arises.
  10. [Insert something here]
    • Ok, so this whole list has been way harder than expected, and I can’t actually come up with a number 10 right now, so I’ll come back to it at some point. Suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

Well, that’s it for my bucket list at the moment. I’m actually working towards a couple of them right now, but most are on the horizon or over the edge of the earth still. Looks like it’s time to start developing action plans to actually get there. I love planning things!

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Blog-Tember 8: Books Books Books

So I have been completely neglecting this whole Blog-Tember Challenge thing for several days. At this point, I think I’m just going to pick and choose prompts on days when I feel like posting something. I’m being very lackadaisical I know, but there’s a lot going on lately. 

Prompt: The 5 books that have impacted your life the most.

I love books. I always have, and I always will. I’ve been reading at above a 12th grade level since I was 8, and I’m really happy I got started so early because it opened up so many things for me. Not that R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books everyone else was reading weren’t worthy pursuits, but I have to say that reading The Hobbit was more worthwhile for me at the time. 

The problem I’ve always had is that there never seems to be enough time to read all of the things that I want to read. I love such a wide variety of books and what I’m feeling like reading in the moment is constantly changing. It’s not unusual for me to be 1/3 of the way through a (guilty pleasure) paranormal romance while being halfway through a nonfiction book on black holes and nearly finished with some mainstream piece of fiction (currently that one is A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin). 

But I think I can pick out 5 books that have had special meaning for me over the years. Maybe.

Now I just need A Brief History of Time

Now I just need A Brief History of Time

1.) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

I read this one at least once a year. I discovered it at a book fair in middle school, and the copy I bought then is highlighted and written on throughout because at one point I was determined that this book needed to be a movie. I still think it would make a great film, actually.

Anyway, the story is of a young girl who joins her brother in a desert land where he is stationed with their home country’s military. She is more or less adopted by his civilian superior, and while life on the frontier is boring, it’s not half bad. Of course then the dashing young king of the native people from the nearby mountains shows up to try to gain an alliance against the heathen northern peoples. And he has these cool powers that sometimes make him do things he doesn’t understand, like kidnapping the protagonist and training her to fight like one of the Hillfolk. 

I love this book because the main character is a strong woman who starts out with no real advantage in her situation and ends up as a true heroine. She’s awkward and gawky and not particularly insecure about herself, but she ends up doing amazing things. As a teenager, this was a brilliant message to receive. Also, it’s well-written and action-packed and just generally a great story overall.

2.) A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

I’ve always been more of an Arts and Language person than science-oriented. But I read this in high school, and it inspired a certain awe of the universe in me that I had been sorely lacking up to that point. Black holes and time travel had always been these cools science fiction tropes, but I loved reading about them from a scientific point of view in both this and A Briefer History of Time. I can do math, but I’ve never been fond of it, so I know that a true theoretical physics education/career track is out for me, but I like that this type of book written for the layperson is available. 

Also, Stephen Hawking is just a generally amazing person, and one of the great scientific heroes of our time. Fun fact: we have the same birthday.

3.) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I’ve written before about my love of Scarlett O’Hara. And I know that the way race is treated in the book is not kosher, and tons have people have so many problems with it, and some of those issues I can understand. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great book, and while the Civil War setting is incredibly important to it. I can’t help but read it as more of a historical romance. O’Hara is a spoiled brat who wants what she can’t have and thus ends up losing what she really wants and needs. Rhett Butler is a paragon of masculinity and the poster child for communication issues in a relationship. There are so many reason why I shouldn’t like their relationship, but no matter how many times I read it, I root for them to get back together. I want them to work things out and make it.

I like the reality of that situation, though. There isn’t always a happy ending, and sometimes even two people who seem meant to be aren’t going to work. But there’s also that truly important message that home is always there. When the person you love stops loving you, go back to your roots. Or something to that effect. I’m not even sure. I tend to ramble when I start talking about this book because my thoughts on it are all so jumbled and varied and it covers just soooooo much. I’m mostly glad that I maintain my hopeless romantic nature despite this book.

4.) La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, Fils

I bought this at a thrift store when I was 12. It’s the French version. I had recently purchased a French/English dictionary at the school book fair.  I have never actually finished reading this book, though. It contains the novel, opera, and stage play, but I haven’t even read one of the three all the way through. At the same time,this book is the reason that I speak (or at least read) French. It’s what got me started on the road to learning the language, and it is what has reinvigorated my resolve over the years. After nearly 11 years of studying, one would think I would have achieved fluency at this point. Unfortunately, I haven’t been consistent enough with it to do that, though I do read the language with near fluency at this point, so that’s something. Someday, I will actually read this book in its entirety.

5.) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This is another book with underlined sentences and notes in the margin everywhere. But not because I wanted to write a script of it. Everything in the book is thought-provoking. And even when it is nonsensical and obviously fallacious logic, it sounds beautiful. Lord Henry is my favorite character. He spouts the most wonderful things that sound beautiful, don’t make sense at first hearing, but then require a second look just in case he’s being sincere without meaning to. It is easy to point to him as the reason for Dorian’s degradation and eventual destruction, but for Dorian to be so easily led points to a flaw in himself. I know the book was basically intended as a philosophical (and it’s Oscar Wilde, so also satirical) look at the society of time, but I have also found another message: Think for yourself. 

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Emma by Jane Austen; Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde; Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas; Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins; Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno.

Blog-Tember 7: Tis the Season. But which one?

Prompt: Tell us about your favorite season. Why is it your favorite and what does it say about you?

Living in Oklahoma is kind of weird because while we do have seasons, they don’t really stay in the order they are supposed to. One day it’s nearly 100 degrees, the next feels like fall, and then a day or two later we’re back to summer and this will go on well past the official start of fall. Still, eventually things settle down for a bit and we get a nice consistent season.

But I don’t really have a favorite. I usually say that my favorite season is which ever one it happens to be. At least, until the end of the season, at which point I am tired of it and ready for the next one. Right now, my favorite season is fall because it is right around the corner. I can’t wait to wear sweaters and the hundreds of scarves, hats, and gloves I’ve knit. I’m excited for hot chocolate laced with Carolin’s Irish Cream, and I want to finally use that can of pumpkin pie filling that’s been in the pantry for who knows how long (it’s been over a year, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to hit the expiration date by the end of the month). Halloween is such a fun holiday, and I already have my costume decided though not actually assembled.

Can't wait to put this on my front door again!

And I can’t wait to put this on my front door again!

But as much as I love fall right in this moment, I know halfway through it, I will be ready for snow and Christmas (I LOVE Christmas) and New Year’s and my birthday (they’re all within two weeks of each other, so it’s a busy time). I’m ready for wearing heavy coats and doing some serious knitting because I make my best stuff in the winter.

But then, of course, by February I will be so ready for spring. Tornado season is always sure to keep me on my toes, and I love listening to and smelling the rain. I like seeing everything go from brown and dreary to instantly green from one day to the next. I am not looking forward to allergies that come with temperature changes. But I can’t wait to switch from heavy coats to light jackets.

Honestly, it’s easier for me to pick a least favorite season: summer. But then, this is super biased because it has been summer for months now, and I am tired of it. By next year, I’ll probably be excited for swim suits and fruity cocktails and Independence Day. 

But right now, I’m just ready for autumn. Does that make me basic or just tired of sweating?

Blog-Tember 6: What’s in a Name?

Prompt: Tell us about your blog name. Where did it come from?

This is actually kind of a fun story. Well, I got far more amusement out of it than I probably should have, but that’s why I ended up using it for the blog name. This tale comes from my first year at SBU. I still miss it.

Seawolf for life

Seawolf for life

The Story:

Setting: Stony Brook University, 4.5 years ago

I sat in the sociology lecture hall fiddling with my pen waiting for class to start. It was the first day, so the seats were actually pretty much full, except the ones to either side of me. Well, I did sit in the second row, so that wasn’t entirely surprising. Also, I knew absolutely no one here. I hadn’t met many people on campus yet this semester, and I hadn’t completely met up with all the friends I had made the previous semester. It’s hard when you spend the month-long winter break in a different state over 1400 miles away.

Anyway, I was contemplating all of this (probably, my memory really isn’t that specific) when somebody took the seat next to me. Or maybe he asked first, and I said it was open. Again, details are hazy, but whatever. Of course, the details could be kind of hazy because my first clear thought was “This guy is cuuuute.” Yup, just like that. Dragging out the vowel. Like a high school girl. Granted, it was my freshman year and I was still a bit awestruck by my surroundings.

So this really cute (really short) guy sits next to me, and I honestly don’t remember if we talked during that class or if it was in the next class when he sat next to me again that we began talking. He was a physics major, formerly architecture, and he had transferred from SUNY Buffalo, but he was from Long Island. Oh, and he was kind of jacked. So there was that.

He lived off-campus, so sometimes between classes he would come to my dorm to hang out (read: nap). It was a really chill set up. Anyway, one day he had come over and we were laying (read: cuddling) in my ridiculously small extra-long twin dorm bed when he said, “Hey, do you think we can keep this strictly business?”

I probably should have been offended by the intimation that a relationship was out of the question. Maybe. Anyway, I wasn’t offended, and after only a moment of confusion, I started laughing and said “Sure, why not?” At least, in my memory I was that suave about it. But really I was super insecure about myself at that time in my life. Whatever.

The point is: I started this blog shortly thereafter and the phrase stuck with me. There was nothing business about our friendship, and there is nothing business about this blog. The whole thing was very personal actually. And I think I took it a lot harder than I should have when he (obviously) moved on after the end of the semester. He did apologize for it later, which was nice.

So yeah, that’s the reason. I know everyone has been dying to know!

Blog-Tember 5: A Fashionista I am Not

Share your style. What fashion trends do you love, frequent, or avoid?

I work at a store that sells clothing, and I even work in the accessories department, so you’d think that I had some idea about what’s on trend right now. I don’t. At all. If you come in and ask if the necklace you’re looking at goes with the dress you just tried on, I will probably say “yes” as a default. I won’t tell you the dress looks awful, but I’ll probably be thinking it because there is very little in the way of clothing that impresses me. And the simpler things are, the more I like them.

Anecdote: I was setting up a coat and boot display last week, and this involved dressing a mannequin. I spent forever picking out the “fall” stuff to go with this orange coat, and then I asked the opinion of a slightly more in-tune with fashion co-worker, who essentially helped me change everything but the coat. Le sigh.

Basically my downtime style is generally t-shirt/tank top and jeans with Converse. In the winter, substitute a sweater and possibly knee-high boots. And a jacket no matter the season.

High Fashion

High Fashion

But as I am writing this, I am realizing that I have a very big fashion issue right now: I have no idea how to wear professional attire. And I have an interview in a few days. I have been trying to buy pieces for the past year or so just a bit at a time of what I think are supposed to be professional.

Currently, I have two pairs of slacks (1 grey, 1 black), 2 sensible skirts (1 grey, 1 black), 3 Victorian-style shirts (2 maroon, 1 black), a blue 3/4 sleeve specifically designed for tucking (I think) and one fitted black blazer.

I also have some nice flats, but I cannot for the life of me find sensible pumps in any color. I’m pretty sure that heels (plain black, closed-toe) with a three-inch heel are frowned upon. Or are they? Does the sensibility of the heels rely on height or the ability of the wearer to walk in them? Because if it’s the latter, I’m golden.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I have googled images and articles on professional attire and none of them are the least bit helpful. I know how to tie a tie but not tuck in a shirt, and I’m pretty sure the first one is far less useful to me right now. Oh! And googling that doesn’t help either because everything that comes up is either about how to tuck in a guy’s shirt or is a debate about why women don’t even need to tuck in their shirts.

Don't even try to tell me this doesn't need to be tucked in. Also, the back is a good 3 or 4 inches longer than the front.

Don’t even try to tell me this doesn’t need to be tucked in.

Now that I’m looking at it (and wearing it) I’m beginning to wonder if I accidentally bought a maternity shirt. The shoulders and arms fit well, but the body is absurdly large.

Does this look stupid?

Does this look stupid?

It also doesn’t help that it’s nearly impossible to find size 0 slacks. Or pretty much anything else that fits me. It’s like ready-to-wear clothing companies don’t believe that grown women can be this small. I assure you, I’m not alone! I had to settle for slacks in a size 1, and I can’t tell if the fit is right or at least acceptable enough to fudge it. They’re a bit loose around the waist and very loose around the legs, but I think that’s how things are supposed to work? They’re also so long that I actually kind of need to wear the three inch heels or the hems will trail the ground.

Of course, I could also be shopping at the wrong places, but I am on a budget here. I think part of the problem is that the cheapest place for me to shop outside of a thrift store is where I work, and our career department leaves a lot of things to be desired. We don’t even carry legitimate blazers. The Misses section is a bit better (more career, less dressy) but if it’s difficult for me to find Juniors clothing that fits, it’s impossible to find Misses. Small in Misses terminology is not the same as in mine. Even the few extra-smalls I’ve managed to find tend to swallow me or at least fit funky.

I think I need somewhere with a petite section.

Also, I need someone to tell me what to wear.

Help.

Blog-Tember 4: Shuffle and Play

Put your iTunes/music player on shuffle and share the first 10 songs that play.

  1. Bulletproof” by La Roux (Fred Falke remix). Single. Such a great post-break up song. Video is a bit strange, but I mean, it’s techno stuff so what do you expect? It’s also just a generally fluffy song.
  2. Somebody” by Bryan Adams. So Far So Good. I have no idea how this got on my computer, but I for some reason have the entire album. I don’t even really listen to it. There’s a lot of stuff like that on my PC so this could actually be a very interesting/boring list. When the song first started playing, I wasn’t even sure what it was. Now that I’m listening through it, I’ve totally heard this. It’s got a Bruce Springsteen feel to it. I want to disagree so hard with the idea that “I need somebody/Everybody needs somebody,” but I can’t.
  3. Settle for Nothing” by Rage Against the Machine. Rage Against the Machine. Not one of the songs I’m really familiar with because I listen to the Battle for Los Angeles album more often. I love RATM because it brings out (or justifies) my liberal side and it’s just easy to rock out to.
  4. Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Single. Such a chill song. It makes me alternately want to take a trip to California today and never visit there ever.
  5. Drones in the Valley” by Cage the Elephant. Cage the Elephant. I love the disjointed sound of this band. Only problem I really have is that pretty much all of their songs sound the same. Still, I really like the debut album.
  6. Lost” by Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged SevenfoldThis was my favorite band in high school. The Rev was an absolutely amazing drummer. (I had a thing for drummers). This song is not my favorite and neither is the album, but it’s still good. Favorite album is easily City of Evil, though I also liked Nightmare. Favorite song from the self-titled album is “Dear God.”
  7. Ghost Opera” by Kamelot. Ghost Opera. So much love for this band. I was only introduced to their music last year, and the current singer is not the same as the one on this album. But the music is great, heavy but melodic. And the music video styles are pretty fabulous too. I love how “Ghost Opera” (and some of the other songs) use operatic female vocals as back up. It has sort of a Repo! The Genetic Opera feel to it, which I totally dig.
  8. Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Dizzy Up the Girl. Well, this was a bit of a switch from the last two. This is one of my go-to karaoke songs. It’s sweet and sad, and I had to stay far far away from it during my break up last fall. So much longing. Such sighs. I really do love 90s rock sometimes.
  9. Death Rides a Horse” by Russian Circles. EnterThis band. If you haven’t head this band, stop reading this and go check them out. I saw them perform at a tiny venue in OKC last year, and I have been in love ever since. They’re an instrumental rock group, so if you need lyrics with your music, you actually might not like them. I love good instrumental rock, though, and they are damn good. They played for about an hour when I saw them; I was tired when they started playing, but I was so entranced the entire time, that I forgot to be tired and just got lost in the music, which flows together beautifully, by the way. Sometimes listening to their songs out of sequential order can be jarring because the albums are constructed to flow seamlessly.
  10. Here by Me” by 3 Doors Down. Seventeen Days. I really liked this band in high school. I don’t listen as much anymore, but this is one my favorite songs, so I’m kind of glad it’s the one that played. It’s another kind of angtsy romantic rock song. Another one to avoid post-break up. But a great gentle listen any other time.
  11. Bonus Song: Now You’re Gone” by Whitesnake. The Definitive Collection. I decided to include the 11th song that played because I realized that there was no 80s music on this list, which is weird because I swear of the 275 hours worth of music on my Windows Media Player, at least 1/3 is 80s rock. So yeah, this song deserves to be here. The only thing better would have been Slaughter.

I was kind of worried at the beginning that it was just going to play random things I don’t even listen to but never bothered to delete. However, it turned out well. If you take anything from this list: Russian Circles and Kamelot. Go listen to them. Now.

Blog-Tember 3: Passion and Glory

Okay, so the actual prompt is: What are you passionate about?

So here, for your reading pleasure, I present a tale of passion and woe. And glory. And maybe a little weirdness.

It was a normal day like any other. Jen woke up later than she intended, but it was her day off, so it wasn’t like anyone would care. Except her. There weren’t enough hours in the day as it was. She was so behind on her goals for the week. She had only done yoga for 30 minutes once. She still needed to write another 4,000 words of her novel to be caught up with her goal of 7,000 a week (which many more prolific writers might find to be a shamefully low goal anyway). She only had one blog post under her belt for the week, and no ideas for another. She still needed to watch a film in French and read a chapter from a book, also in French. The one area where she was doing alright was cooking. She was cooking at home every night (and sometimes breakfast too) and her goal of using at least one new recipe each week was progressing nicely.

But now it was noon, and even though she would undoubtedly be awake until 2am or later, she knew that she was running behind.

“Yoga. Breakfast. Shower? Eh, not going anywhere or seeing anyone, I can skip it. Blog. Novel. French. Computer programming lesson. More novel. Oh, and I should probably do the dishes. Also the trash is full. Have I checked the mail recently?”

She lay back in bed and seriously considered just going back to sleep. But it could not be borne! She didn’t have another day off until her goal chart started over for the next week. Things must be accomplished! How was she ever going to become fluent in French if she didn’t practice (close to) daily? How was she supposed to finish a novel by the end of the year if she wasn’t working on it? And knowledge of how to use Java wasn’t going to simply materialize in her brain over night. 

Jen thought fleetingly of her abandoned knitting project sitting on the futon in the living room, and she sighed. There wasn’t enough time for it all. She spread herself too thin. Why couldn’t she be one of those people with only one passion? Granted most of the things on her list were probably not passions per se, but rather hobbies she wished to master. She wanted to know too many things. Do too many things.

Ach! Can you feel the tortured soul of this poor girl? This is slightly exaggerated; I don’t get that behind on my goal lists anymore. But I do really have that many things going on because I can’t not be busy. Can’t do it.

But I suppose if I had to choose one passion, it would be writing. For sure.

Blog-Tember #2: The best day ever

Describe your ideal day. Where would you go and what would you do?

I talk a lot recently about how much I love being single, and I swear, I really really do. But for some reason my ideal day still involves another person. On this day, a special someone (and I’m not being coy with the someone, I really mean this could be anybody special) gets snowed in with me. We are stuck in the apartment. Realizing our situation, we promptly make hot chocolate with Irish Cream and settle in front of a magically already crackling fire.

We talk. We talk about movies, books, science, philosophy, Pokemon, turtle racing, knitting, exercise, school, technology, and 80s hair metal. We talk for hours as the fire burns and we continue to refill our hot chocolates (better yet, since it’s “ideal” we never have to refill them; they are endless cups). We get hungry, and together we make a delicious vegetarian meal, most likely involving pasta or rice. Or maybe we make sushi. Anyway, after the dinner (magically clean dishes) we decide to play in the snow. We make snow angels and attempt to make a snowman, but we grow tired of that and end up simply flinging powder at each other until our faces are red and we’re breathing heavily.

So, naturally, we go inside to make cookies. Probably snickerdoodles. Or maybe peppermint chocolate chip. We cuddle on the couch with our plate of fresh cookies. And once we’ve eaten our fill, we kind of just do our own thing. Seriously. I’ll be reading or knitting (or both). They’ll be also reading or playing video games or what have you. We’ll still be next to each other, but we don’t have to touch or speak. Just sitting in the amiable quiet, with a background of a turntable probably playing Journey or Styx, while the snow settles outside and we enjoy each other’s company.

Finally, as the night draws to a close, we’ll cuddle watching Netflix (probably anime) before heading to bed. Where we’ll fall asleep in each other’s arms but wake up separate because seriously I cannot sleep through the night with somebody wrapped around me.

The merrily crackling fireplace

The merrily crackling fireplace

Ah, perfection.

Blog-tember Challenge: About Me

Editor’s note: When this post was originally written, it was accidentally linked to last year’s challenge. However, the writer finds that she really liked the book inset idea, so she’s sticking with that for her more general About Me that is this year’s first day prompt.

Ok, so I just discovered this nifty little idea from blogger Bailey Jean of Brave Love Blog. Thirty days of blog prompts! Yay! This will help me to exceed my goal of posting two posts per week and maybe help with a lasting posting fetish or whatever (it’s getting late; I should sleep soon). As with Kindel of Little Misadventures, the nifty New Zealander whose blog I found this on, I am starting a bit late, but who cares! Rules? There are no rules. Only guidelines and gentle suggestions. Like the speed limit signs in Pennsylvania.

So, I feel like all I do lately on this blog is talk about myself or occasionally review something. Just yesterday I had a post with a list of things that exhibit how I see myself. It was maudlin, overly serious, perhaps a bit pretentious, but undeniably true.

Anyway, here is the verbatim prompt: Imagine the front sleeve of a hard cover novel. Give us your “About the Author” so we can get to know one another, and for fun tell us what your imaginary novel would be about.

Tales of Whimsy and Reality: Inside the Mind of a 20-something Writer

About the author

Jen (the singular “n” is very important) was born in Oklahoma, raised in Oklahoma, and upon completion of high school, immediately ran away from Oklahoma. She ran away to a university on Long Island and studied journalism because it seemed like a good idea at the time (she no longer recalls why). Two terribly short years later, the blackhole that is the central midwestern United States pulled her back through a combination of the laughable U.S. higher education business plan of putting the entire population in debt and that other laughable enterprise of falling for a guy in her home state instead of doing the sensible thing and finding one in New York.

It all worked out for the best, though. She graduated from a subpar university with an English degree, but with about half the debt otherwise accrued. No, she does not want to teach; if she wanted to teach English she would have gotten a degree in education. Jen currently resides alone with her laptop in a tiny apartment with a gorgeous sunset view and terrible insulation. She enjoys knitting, yoga, reading everything she can get her hands on, speaking to herself in French, writing Stargate fan-fiction and depressingly incomplete novels (such as the one in your hand), and experimenting with roaches to see just how effective Lavender-scented Raid really is (results currently look promising short-term, but the long-term effects have yet to prove worth the price of admission). Jen has recently begun learning JavaScript, HTML and CSS, and she is unreasonably irritated by the fact that the WordPress spellcheck keeps underlining her name in red.