Friday, June 22, 2012

So-Called Art

If you read my Facebook page, you'll remember a few weeks ago I got all sad and mopey about not being able to find my sketchbook for the last three years (since I moved into my house).  But, you'll also remember about a week ago, I found it, in a safe place, all nice and undamaged, and how happy the discovery made me.

To tell the truth, there isn't much in it.  About ten, possibly fifteen pages out of maybe one hundred actually have stuff on them, but those pages show the only times I've been able to put an image on paper that didn't remind me of grade-school scribbles.

I'm no artist, by any means.  I have friends who can draw comics or manipulate digital images or create something extraordinary out of a few paint streaks.  THEY are artists.  Me, I'm a dabbler.  I manage to squeeze out bits and pieces of what might eventually be art, but they're hardly anything worth displaying.

So why does this little sketchbook mean so much to me?

Short version: There are pieces of my soul in this thing, pieces I don't want to lose.

There's something about creative expressions that reflect the essence, the core of the artist.  It can come as paint on a canvas, or ink on skin, or words on a page, a song, a dance, a dramatic performance.  It gives a hint to his or her world view, his or her mindset, life experience, values and morals.

When we, as the audience, see a finished expression and have a passionate response, it means something in that artist's spirit resonates with ours.  It's what makes me cry, or simply stare in awe, captivated by a message, conscious or not, given to me through the medium of art.

I have many things I've kept over the years because something in what I've done still speaks to the person I am now, even if faintly:
- Journals from junior high and high school.
- Stories, mostly unfinished, from five years ago up to something that occurred to me last week.
- Photographs I've taken
- Sketches I've made.
- Scripts with my notes in them, character backstory notes I've made up.

Whenever I look at each of these things, it's a reminder of what I was like during that period, or even that moment, compared to the me I am now, whether I like the change or don't.  It's also something that proves I have some level of creativity, even if I lack proficiency.

Five years from now, maybe even ten, I'll read back on these blogs and see who I was, how I changed or didn't, and maybe a hint of who I'm becoming every day.
And maybe, I'll see whether my so-called art resonated with anyone, and what they did with the message given to them.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Personal Nouns

Written circa September 2009, I think.  This came from my turmoil over a lot of relational struggles, friends and family alike.  Happily, those struggles were resolved well.

Easy, familiar, safe
The center of my universe.

Harder, alien, strange
Difficult to understand.

Separate, abstract, divided
Near and far, outside "my" sphere.

Hardest, friction, resistance
Oblivious to each one's misery.

Is there a bridge
From "me" to "you"?

Harmony, affection, agreement
Conflict, resentment, threat

How comes "me" and "you" to "us"?
"They" and "us" to "we"?

I don't hate you
I just can't live with you.
I love you
But words hurt too much.
Don't leave me
I'll leave you
Then maybe "we" can survive "me" and "you."

Amazon Unmourned

Written circa September 2009, a comment on human pride and mortality.



How if she fall?
How if she despair?
Where then the will
Where then the prayer?



Goddess majestic
Majesty disgraced
Madness immortal
Mortal erased

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Dad

There are some things in life one cannot fully understand, and therefore fully appreciate, until one grows up.  When I say "grow up," I mean take over those responsibilities that one did not have when one was a child, such as paying one's own bills, faithfully attending work day in and day out despite the repetitiveness, feeding one's pets, budgeting one's income so one CAN feed oneself and one's pets, repairing one's living space, etc.

Having grown up, mostly, I look back on my childhood and more fully appreciate the things my Dad did for me and my sister.

  • He tirelessly went to work to provide for us.
  • He fixed a myriad of items around the house, and if he didn't know how, he'd either learn, or find the right person to do it for us.
  • He showed us how to change the oil in a car, the tire of a car, how to do the small things to keep our vehicles running smoothly.
  • He instilled in us the value of doing a job right the first time.
  • He ensured we knew how to handle a gun, and that we respected it.
  • He taught us the value of money, the value of earning it for ourselves, and the value of budgeting for the things we needed and the things we wanted.  He even gave us our first credit cards, and our first copy of Quicken.
  • During school, he made sure we had what we needed to succeed, right down to computers.
  • During college, he faithfully came up to visit for important events, like Parents' Weekend and at least one performance of any show in which I participated.  One time, he and Mom surprised me by bringing my sister along.  I still cry thinking about it.
  • When I got married and moved, he called just to talk, and we found we had things in common, like beer and BBQ and science fiction and Arnold movies.  He frequently told my sister and I when we were teens, "I can't wait to get to know you as adults."  I didn't understand it then, but I do now.

But there are some things in life that one does not want to fully let go, that one wants to be able to do again, or be again, because it meant so much.

Having grown up, mostly, there are some gifts my Dad gave me that make me wish I could have stayed a child.

  • The gift of quality time, wrestling with me and my sister and pretending to let us win, or giving us foot rides down the hallway.
  • The gift of memories, forcing us to take pictures no matter where we went, so that when we so had a mind, we could look at them and remember.
  • The gift of family vacations, taking us to places like Disneyland or Disney World, or to the Grand Canyon, or to Seattle to visit family and the Space Needle.
  • The gift of invested interest, coming to our elementary school Christmas plays, or to our city league basketball games, and later to our junior high and high school sporting events, be it basketball, track, or volleyball, and always taking advantage of that one hush during a game/meet to yell in a booming voice, "Go team!"  He also suffering through our high school Shakespeare plays, or parts of them, because he knew how much it meant to us for him to be there, not necessarily because he liked the playwright.
  • The gift of Star Wars and Star Trek, which became life-long relationships. :)
  • The gift of pride in his children, when he'd tell his friends and neighbors of our accomplishments.
  • The gift of faith, setting an example of prayer and trust in God so that we would see in action what we learned at church.
But most of all, he gave us the gift of love, being the best father he knew how to be, even until now, though my sister and I have moved far away.

Thank you, Daddy.  I love you.  Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gothic Angel

This is a poem I found recently, again - written circa October 2010.  It was inspired by a dream or a waking dream, I can't remember which, but I'm pretty sure there was music involved.

I saw in my mind's eye
an angel and his charge
She lay on sands abandoned
he above her towered
From the moon glis'ning sand
there rose infinite hands
to pull and push and grasp
drawing her into mire
How this dark herald missed his time
or perhaps aid he withheld
but in that moment of hope and despair
his blade in her he plunged
Now I see her lay, quietly
in red dyed sand
her angel guarding what remains
of his long loved one
He killed her body
to save her soul
and with soul departed
she lay no longer desired.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Letterman Jacket

While I'm on the subject of nostalgia and items from my adolescence...

I found my Letterman jacket!!

I have tons of memories wrapped up with this thing.  I remember my parents being extraordinarily compliant about getting it for me, AND getting me a class ring.  You're a high school senior only once, right?  It's like spending hundreds of dollars on a wedding dress.

Okay, maybe not, but you get the gist.

I also remember getting measured for it at a shop three doors down from The Golden Dragon on State Street (there was a furniture store and a used book store in between, as I recall), telling the tailor that I wanted it a size bigger because I liked the extra room, waiting impatiently while he made it and the patches to go on it, finally picking it up and being warned not to wear it in rain too often, and to not wash it in the machine at home lest the leather crack.

As disgusting as it sounds, I have actually never had this washed.  NO, it doesn't smell, but I can see dirt and navy bleeding on the off-white leather sleeves.  I should really find a cleaners here that can do leather, but the embroidery around the collar on one side and a bit on one wrist is unraveling, so I have to fix those spots first.  I'm very protective of my jacket.  I haven't officially worn it in about ten years - it's been at the bottom of my costume box (yes, I have a giant plastic tub designated as my "costume box," don't judge me!), waiting for a Halloween when I dress up as a jock or a cheerleader.

I finally pulled it out about two weeks ago to give it some air and make room for my Ren Faire pieces, but also because I figure, hey, I might not wear it around town, but that sucker is WARM, and winters in the desert can be frigging COLD, especially if you work from home and have a husband that doesn't like turning on the heater because it makes our electricity bill spike.  Love you, honey! :P

I used to wear this all the time after I got it.  I'm not sure if I was more proud of how awesome I looked in it (I still look awesome in it, esp. on our motorcycle with my blue and white full face helmet), or because I finally had something to wear outside of the court that identified me with the largest clique in my school: the jocks.  I was more brain and theatre geek than sports nut, but this made me feel part of the larger whole that was our athletics department.  This gave me some connection to the people that ignored or bullied me - with this, they HAD to acknowledge the part I played in making our school known for winning.

I played volleyball at the time, and whenever we had an away game, we wore our Letterman jackets into that gym and out of it, making us look a coordinated force with which to be reckoned.

At football games, those of us not on the field would sit in large groups, staining the bleachers in navy blue and teal splotches.  The girls even wore complimenting ribbons in our hair.

Oh, and don't get me started on pep rallies.  We all rolled our eyes when we had to pile into our small gym and listen to the same-styled speeches, but there were occasional high points, like when the cheerleaders would do a new half-time routine preview for us.  Spirit week was especially vivid in the colors department.  Before getting Letterman jackets, the students would either wear their team jerseys on School Colors Day, or the non-sports kids would have to scrounge for ribbons or teal shirts (wear that with blue jeans with white shoes, and there you go).  After getting the jackets, we'd just don those and some jeans, and voila.

Heh, Spirit Week.  I'll have to tell y'all more about that sometime.

Anyway, after I pulled out my jacket and ribbons (I kept them from the homecoming game I attended my freshman year of college), I put on some pins I still have from high school, tokens of academic achievement, like high marks in History and Bible and, get this, Driver Education. :D  They might not be related to sports, but it's somewhere to put them.  I didn't have many patches on the Varsity side of my jacket because I didn't commit myself to getting to that level, so I pinned these little tokens just below the pocket because, let's face it, I was a Varsity level in my studies. :)

Does that make me a Varsity Nerd?

I kinda wish the guy who made this had a Theatre patch.  I'd put that on the Varsity side, too.

Oh, and kids?  If your parents ask you "When are you ever going to wear that again after high school?" tell them this from your Auntie CLynn:  "At 23, when I'm living in a run-down apartment without a heater in winter."


Consolation Trophies

My house is still in upheaval with the DIY improvement projects, and I consequently have a few things unpacked from boxes with no place to go, so they sit in random spots where I occasionally stare at them.

Like these basketball trophies from days of yore.

They look all sparkly and shiny and gold and blue, but I've started considering what they mean, if anything, and wondering why I still have them.

One of them has this inscribed on the plaque: "1996 DVCS Girls Basketball COACHES AWARD."

I remember the coach that gave this to me, the coach that started our team during fifth grade, the coach that ended up sticking with us through half of high school, and the coach for whom I kept playing, even when I didn't like playing anymore.  I've got this loyalty thing sometimes.

What I don't remember is why he gave this to me.  The Coaches Award was essentially a consolation prize.  After the "Most Valuable Player" and "Most Inspirational Player" and "Most Improved Player" awards were presented, they would give one or two coaches awards.  Sometimes the reason would be an outstanding game at some point during season, or for the player's efforts on the court and off, perhaps in the form of team captain duties.  But then, sometimes the trophy was given because they didn't want the other girls, or one other girl in particular, to feel left out, or to feel jipped.  It turned into a "political" move the last couple of years I played, which disgusted me.

However, in 1996, I was twelve, which would put me in seventh grade, which would be right before the political stuff.  And before I lost interest in the game.

Thinking about it now, even though I don't remember why I received it, I'm pretty sure I was proud of the reason.  There might be a printed certificate to go with this around here somewhere, and it might tell me why, but for now, I just have this object of granite and plastic, depicting a girl in mid-dribble, and all I can say for it is, "Oh, yeah.  That."

The other trophy I have is from 1997 - the "Most Improved Player" award.

For a while, I hated this thing.

A lot of people I've talked to agree that the "Most Improved Player" award was created for the kid that tries really hard but doesn't actually contribute much to the team.  It's so they don't feel like a failure.

Being the recipient of one, I agree with that statement, but I still think the "Most Improved Player" award is an important award in its conception.  If a child's efforts, despite the outcome, are not recognized and encouraged, then the child does not learn the value of hard work.  They only learn the value of results, and will either develop a workaholic's mindset, or never put effort into anything.

Sometimes, I wish they had "Most Improved Player" awards in the adult world.

So why do I still have this one?  It just sits there and stares at me, this object of granite and plastic with one girl trying to block another girl's shot, and it reminds me more of the things at which I've failed than the things at which I've tried hard and succeeded, even if marginally.

But I still can't bring myself to discard these pieces of my youth, not yet, and so they'll stick around, either in my closet or in a box or on a secluded shelf, taking up space and collecting dust, while I grapple with the meaning of my existence and let some memories fade into apathy.


Memory or Dream

Last night, I lay in bed trying to go to sleep, and for goodness knows what reason, an image of a toy store popped into my head.

I'm not talking a toy store like Toys R Us or the toy department of Walmart.  I'm talking a small business, a sole proprietorship, one of those small places that carry the more rare stuff simply because they know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody.

It sat next to the local drug store - or maybe that location later housed a drug store.  It might have been a health food store at the time.  I can't remember.

I remember this store because there was a certain doll there that I wanted, but never got.  As I recall, it was quite expensive.

But I think they had Lego models there, too, which my sister and I ADORED for a brief stint.

I was quiet small at the time, so the shelves seemed to tower over me, loaded with box after box of action figures, puzzles, Barbies, paper masks, baseball cards (I went through a collectors phase with those, but never knew who the players were), and Nerf guns.

Thing is, while I'm pretty convinced this place actually existed until the business went bankrupt, I actually don't know for sure if what I'm remembering is real, or if I dreamed it and it's an amalgamation of many different small stores to which I've been.

My dreams can be really close to life - I've had whole dreams of conversations with people I know, and later think that the conversation actually happened while the other person looks at me like, "Uh, Carol, what have you been smoking?"

You ever had that?  Dreams you think are memories, or memories you think are dreams?  (No, drunk memories don't count.)

One "memory" I know for sure is a dream involved me smoking a cigarette for the first time and not coughing.  It was so vivid, I actually thought it happened.  But then I got older and figured out the person who gave me the cigarette in my "memory" wouldn't actually have done that.  So I got a hold of a real cigarette and tried it.

I coughed.  Case closed.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Snow White and The Hunksman

If you haven't seen the movie and actually care about NOT knowing the details, turn back now.

Having said that...

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman the other day.  I actually saw it twice - once on opening night, resplendent with my husband, two of his friends, and a host of giggling, "like omg"-ing Twi-tards.

Okay, maybe they weren't Twilight fans necessarily, but they sure fit the stereotype.  I'm positive one of them will start a "Team Hunstman" versus "Team William" campaign at her school.  Probably already has.

I saw it a second time, alone, on a Monday evening, with just me and a few other QUIET patrons.  I actually chuckled to myself when I realized most of the people in the theatre were girls dragging their boyfriends with them.

Having had enough time to gestate the overload on my senses from the first viewing, and connect some dots thanks to my second viewing, I have some comments and OPINIONS! :D

1. I'm sure everyone, by this point, knows my opinion of Kristen Stewart's acting.  She's stoned when not speaking, and robotic when she is.  Ten bucks says she was hired because of her pretty face, which actually looks LESS pretty when she does that baked gazing of hers.

Now, someone accused me of being biased against her because of the Twilight thing.  Guilty as charged, but let's face it, she plays herself in pretty much every movie she does, so it's not like Twilight is an exception.  I will give her this, though: without Edward's equally stoned expressions opposite hers, she didn't seem too horrible in The Huntsman, not the second time around, anyway.

But she also doesn't speak for long stretches, so that may have had something to do with it.

I said it on FB, and I'll say it again: Anything that made this movie drop from "great" to "ho-hum" was due to poor writing/editing, or Kristen Stewart, and most often the latter.

Props to her costumer, though.

2. Speaking of costumers, omg, Charlize Theron's dresses were AMAZING (see left).  SHE was amazing!  The evil queen, Ravenna, carried the freaking movie.  She was complex, diabolical, pathetic, gorgeous, terrifying, even pitiable.  There are some scenes in there where they must have covered Theron in goodness knows what to get just the right effect, and it looks stunning.  I can't find fault with any scene in which that woman performed.  The backstory provided for the queen (in the form of a flashback) was so brief, I wished they had explored that more.  Perhaps included in a prequel? Maybe?  Hopefully?  Who WOULDN'T want to see more of Theron?

3. The queen has a brother!  Not a magic-user like Ravenna, but he benefits from it - doesn't age, heals from injuries - but he's practically her errand boy.  And he's got some kind of weird pervy-stalker thing going on with Snow White.

After Ravenna conquers everything, she locks SW in the prison tower, presumably to either forget about her or let her rot - odd for a woman who scorns men for their "ruination" of women, when she does exactly that to maintain her powers.  We learn that during the time SW spent in the tower, she never learned to say the Lord's Prayer convincingly or completely, she made animated bird buddies, and the queen's pervy brother developed a habit of watching her while she sleeps.

This creeped me out at first, but after the second view, I thought, "Okay, there could be two reasons for this.  First, he does actually have perverted intentions but is kept in check by his sister, or, second, he actually takes some pity on SW.  Or he's feeling sorry for himself because his sister gets all the hot women to herself, who she then devours to keep her beauty fresh and glowing."  I suppose I'll figure it out eventually, but whatever his motivation, he gets super-pissed when SW attacks him and escapes.

4. Rant time!

I kid you not, there were so many elements from other movies in this one sequence alone, I laughed.
So SW escapes with the help of her virtual bird buddies, and when she finally emerges out of the ocean and climbs the cliffside, lo and behold! a white horse lies waiting for her.  A throwback to Legend, much?  They do make a big deal of her innocence, after all.

She gallops off, and guards chase her.  Dressed in black.  Riding horses.  Black horses.  Through a grove of trees.  Where's Frodo?

They get to the Dark Forest, a very creepy dead place.  SW's horse falls into a pool of mud and refuses to follow her.  No, Artax!  Don't give in!

She runs into the forest and trips into a grouping of funky ash dispelling... plants?  Fungi?  SW starts to hallucinate.  Apparently, The Capitol has influence here, too.  Must have crossed mushrooms with a tracker jacker.

Other mockable moments include:

  • A bridge and a troll.  Seriously?  Billie goat, billie goat...  Oh, and then SW has a staring match with it, the winner presumably getting the Huntsman, and it gets * embarrassed* there at the end.
  • Captured by dwarfs, taken to Ferngully.  Not kidding.
  • SW meets the king of Ferngully, who happens to be the Forest Spirit from Princess Mononoke.  I had at least hoped she'd meet Aslan, but no.  Apparently, it's all the rage now to portray magically majestic beasts in the form of natural prey.  No wonder it got shot.
  • And finally, after SW's death and resurrection (is this lost on anyone?  An inherently compassionate and pure figure gets slain/sacrificed, then brought back to life to free the masses from evil), she dresses up in plate mail and goes to fight a war.  Hello, Snow of Arc, did I mention your speech back there was fabulous? *cough*bullshit*cough*

5. Oh!  That leads me to another rant.

There's two guys she's supposedly going to eventually-at-some-point-but-we-don't-know-when have to choose between: the younger guy, William (Sam Claflin, see right), who's been in love with her since they were, what, eight?  Or maybe he was ten (I can't tell kids' ages anymore), and who feels guilty because he got out of the castle during the hostile takeover and Snow White didn't; and there's the not much older guy, known simply as the Hunstman (Chris Hemsworth), drowning his widower sorrows in a leather flask, which he takes to throwing on the ground when emptied of its contents.  Apparently, he decided at some point that the helpless girl needed someone to teach her to fight - motivated, I think, by the fact that his wife got abducted and killed sometime after Ravenna's usurpation, and he might possibly, but I don't know for sure, feel that if his wife HAD known how to fight, she wouldn't be dead.

Continuing on to my rant.  We all know from Disney that a spell is broken by a kiss.  In some movies, it's "true love's FIRST kiss," while in other's it's simply "true love's kiss."  We'll go with the latter, because, let's face it, it's less of a mouthful to say.

During the sequence where Snow White kisses William (yes, she chose that one herself), who wasn't actually William, and then she bites into the apple and takes forever to "die," we see something interesting.  The real William does, in fact, kiss her, albeit awkwardly, and nothing happens.  Nothing.

Apparently, "true love" in this movie isn't the guy who followed you around every day when you were kids, obsessed over rescuing you for the last ten years, and now vows to never abandon you again.

Then we get to the scene where Snow White lays "dead" on a pile of furs in an empty, albeit grand, chapel, with the Hunstman drowning in a bottle nearby.  He makes his confession of guilt and remorse, kisses the princess goodbye, and leaves.

And Snow White wakes up.  Ta-da!

So "true love" in this movie is the grief-stricken widower who hangs around because of a guilt complex and an uncanny resemblance?

I still vote that one of the dwarfs should have kissed her, but that would be doing a disservice to the dwarfs.

6.  Mentioning the dwarfs leads me into special effects.  The makers pulled an LOTR with the dwarfs, using non-dwarf sized actors to play dwarfs, and in the far away shots, used doubles.  Very effective, and I enjoyed seeing faces such as Ian McShane, Nick Frost, and Toby Jones.

This movie was chalk full of visual effects, from fire to shooting arrows to the previously mentioned Fergully scenes.  For a few tiny things here and there, I found some element of "fake-ness," but otherwise, I thought they did wonderfully integrating live action and animation.

Except when Ravenna morphs from William to her original form.  That one.... that one could have used a lot more work.  She looked very clay-like.

7. Last but not least, music.  LOVE!!  I will own this soundtrack, mark my words.

I'll admit, I went to see "The Hunstman" (as my husband and I have abbreviated the title) for Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron - mostly Hemsworth, because I have something of a crush on him right now, but Theron is incredible in her own right, as previously mentioned.  Those two made me happy despite my (anticipated) disappointment with Stewart.

Hemsworth is so pretty.  *giggle.  Do you blame me for calling it "The Hunksman"?  No, of course you don't. ;P

~ CLynn

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Importance of Learning the Importance

While I lay immobilized by the flu this weekend, I started planning and re-planning where I would put things once the home improvement projects we have going are finished.

This normally wouldn't be such an ordeal, but I have three new pieces of art I purchased from Daxiong at Phoenix Comicon this year.  Images attached at the end of the blog. (I'm so darn proud of these things.  He's an amazing artist.)

Anyway, visualizing furniture and wall decor placement, of course, rabbit trailed into thoughts of Comicon, which rabbit trailed into thoughts of Ren Faire, which rabbit trailed into thoughts of what costume pieces I need for what geek occasion, how much I know/think they are, and how much I can have saved by the time that occasion rolls around.  It also led into thoughts of whether I could afford to get another sword at Celtic Festival.

Then it hit me: when was the last time I went shoe shopping, just because?
When was the last time I tallied my allowance for book or manga purchases because I had an unfinished series?
When was the last time I splurged on jewelry because it was pretty?

I suddenly realized that as I've gotten older (yeah, I'm still in my twenties, but I can pull this one) and as life events and experience have taught me valuable insight, or forced me to cope, I actually have hobbies that are important to me, that I enjoy so much, I'm okay sacrificing other money-required things to keep them.

And that made me happy.  And a bit relieved.

It's always nice to find that external factors are demanding less of you simply because you realize they aren't that pressing anymore.

I love reading, and I love my books, but I have a local library.
I love shoes, but I have many good pairs still.  I've also gotten used to not wearing heels that much anymore.  Working from home will do that to you.
I like having pretty jewelry, but I already have pretty jewelry, stuff that actually MEANS something.

Life simpler is good.

Time to budget for Celtic Festival. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Story Time with Carol: The Lonely Shoes

The Lonely Shoes
by Carol Edwards

Once upon a time, there was a shoe maker. He was a very talented shoe maker. People would come from many miles to see his creations, to admire and praise them, and to buy and wear them.

One day, a rich man from the city stopped at the shoe maker's store with his wife. The rich man's wife fell in love with the shoe maker's shoes, and bought many pairs. The rich man, knowing his wife had excellent taste, told the shoe maker that he wanted to mass produce his shoes, so that people all over the nation could admire them, and praise them, and buy them, and wear them.

The shoe maker liked the idea of many people enjoying his shoes, so he agreed to the rich man's proposal.

Months later, in a factory in no place in particular, a pair of shoes emerged from the depths of machinery. A woman standing by the assembly line said, "Oh, what a pretty pair of shoes!" The shoes liked this, and glowed for her.

Another woman further down looked at them, and also said, "How pretty! I do love red." She carefully closed the lid of the shoes' box, whispering to them, "I hope you find a good home someday, and that your owner will love you."

The shoes smiled to themselves. Why, yes. We are pretty. We will be loved by everyone. Surely we will be purchased the first day people see us.

The day came when a shopkeeper proudly opened the shoes' box and put them on display in his store. "These are very nice shoes," he said. "I will sell many of these."

The shoes sat smugly on the shelf, near the center of the store. We are the prettiest shoes here, they thought. Those other shoes are so bland, black and brown and tan. No one will want those shoes when they see us.

The first customer walked in. "How delightful! A pair of red shoes! I wonder if they fit." She took one off the shelf and put it on. "They're a little tight." She took the other off the shelf and put it on. "No, these shoes are too small. Perhaps the shopkeeper has more."

The woman took off the shoes and set them back on the shelf. The shoes felt disappointed, but one cannot expect to fit every foot. Someone with the right size feet will find us, they thought. We will be purchased and worn and loved always.

Another customer walked in. "Oh my, how daring, red shoes! They look my size. Just trying them on won't hurt..." She took both shoes off the shelf and tried them on, but they kept slipping off her heel. "Oh dear," the woman said, "These are too big, even though the tag says my size." She took them off and put them back. "I'll just get a normal pair of black shoes. Black goes with everything." The woman moved away down the aisle, a disappointed expression on her face.

The shoes felt equally disappointed. That's okay, they thought. Not everyone with this size foot has the same width or length. There will be someone else, surely.

Days passed, and many people tried on the pair of pretty red shoes, but always with the same result: too small, too big, not wide enough, not tall enough, not low enough. The shoes started to feel stretched and worn and tired. And sad. Is there something wrong with us, they wondered. All these other shoes are being purchased. Were we made wrong?

Many more days passed, and people stopped trying on the pretty red shoes. A few customers here and there would glance at them, and maybe one would say, "Oh. Red shoes."

One day, the shopkeeper took the shoes off his display shelf and put them back in their box. "You're the last ones," he said to them, "and nobody seems interested."

The shoes lay limply in the tissue paper. It's not our fault, they thought. We really thought someone would want us.

The shopkeeper slapped a sticker on the side of the box, and put the shoes under a red sign at the back of the store.

The shoes lay in the box for many weeks, consoling themselves, thinking, Just because we're at the back of the store doesn't mean we won't have a home. We're still pretty, and who doesn't like red? Red means fun. We're fun, right?

Customers came and went from the rack at the back of the store. Sure, several people tried on the shoes, but never with any admiration or praise. They simply analyzed according to price and fit, and then moved on.

One afternoon, the shop keeper put another sticker on the side of the box, but the shoes couldn't see what it said.

The next day, a tall man came into the store. He wore a grey suit and a dark blue tie, and he fidgeted nervously.

The shopkeeper approached him and asked, "Is there something I can help you find?"

The man nodded. "I want to give my wife a birthday present, and she just loves shoes. I know her size, and I have a general idea of what she likes, but I’m a bit out of my depth, here." He gazed around the store, overwhelmed.

The shopkeeper nodded knowingly. "I understand completely, sir.”

After a moment’s conversation, the shopkeeper smiled. “Come with me." He led the tall man to the back of the store. "Back here is where we keep shoes that were on the shelf for too long, or were replaced by a newer style.” He pulled the red shoes' box off the bottom. “I believe these are the size you need.” He handed the box to the tall man. “Would these be the sort of thing you’re looking for?”

The tall man stared in awe at the shoes. "They're lovely," he said. “They’re exactly what I think she’ll like. Thank you so much!"

Finally! thought the shoes joyously. We will have a home! We will be loved!

The shopkeeper wrapped the shoes inside their box and put on a pretty bow. The tall man tucked the package under his arm and went home, and late that night, he sneaked the gift in his wife's shoe closet as a surprise.

The next morning, the wife opened her shoe closet and gave a shriek of delight. "Honey," she exclaimed, "you didn't forget!"

"Of course not, my love." The man sounded pleased. "Open them. I think you'll like them."

The shoes waited impatiently as the wife tore the wrapping paper off their box. Almost, they thought. Almost...

The wife yanked the lid off the box, pulled back the tissue paper, then stopped. She just looked at them and said nothing.

"Darling? Are you alright," the man asked, suddenly sounding nervous.

"They're red," she replied. "I never wear red."

"But… you said the other day you wanted a brighter pair, that you have so many dark ones -"

"I meant white or tan, not RED." The wife tossed the box back on to the floor and sighed. "I don't suppose we could take them back."

The man shook his head. "There was a no refunds or exchanges sticker on the box," he replied. “I thought you’d really like them…” The man’s head drooped dejectedly.

The wife felt bad. He had tried – he’d remembered her birthday, even personally gotten her something. She stood up and went to sit on the bed by her husband. "Let's go out today, spend time together."

The tall man brightened. "Really?"

The wife smiled. "Of course, darling. Spending time with you makes me happy." She kissed his cheek, and the tall man stood up. "I'll go get dressed," he said.

After the tall man left, the woman approached the closet again, glaring at the shoes. "I'll deal with YOU later," she grumbled. "Stupid garish, last season pumps. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing you."

The shoes lay in despair on the floor of the closet. We're ugly, they thought. We're outdated. No one will love us.

After a few hours, the wife returned. She picked up the box without so much as a second glance. "Off to the donation center for you," she muttered.

The shoes tried to stop caring. They tried not to notice being lumped in a bin with dirty work boots and torn flip flops. They tried to think of their days in the fancy shop as they were shoved unceremoniously on a metal shelf next to grubby sneakers. They tried not to feel lonely when other, more abused shoes were grabbed and thrown into baskets and taken home.

The shoes stopped paying attention to anything. Their toes smudged and their edges flagged, their heels scratched a little here and there. Kids played with them, threw them, tromped in them. Surely, they thought, surely we will leave even here, unwanted, and end up in a garbage heap.

But then, one day, a young woman entered the store. She didn't act like other customers. She handled things carefully, like they still had value. She would admire the pieces she picked up, and every so often, put an item in her basket.

All the shoes perked up. It's her, they thought to each other. It's her. Someone who still cares about us.

The red shoes lay on their sides, unconcerned with the general excitement in the shoe aisle, especially among the shoes in their size. They didn't want to get their hopes up, didn't want to be poked, prodded, examined, and rejected yet again. No more, they thought. Just go away.

But the woman stopped in front of them, gazing at the shoes. "Oh," she exclaimed quietly. "It can't be."

The shoes became curious. They listened.

"I always wanted these shoes, but I couldn't afford them." She picked them carefully off their perch, brushed off the dust and dirt. "They still look beautiful."

The red shoes perked up a little. We're beautiful?

The woman took off her brown sandals. "I hope they fit."

We hope we fit, thought the shoes.

She slipped in one foot. "They feel so soft."

The shoes beamed.

She slipped in the other foot. "I've wanted red shoes for so long."

The shoes practically glowed with happiness as the woman turned and twirled in front of the mirror. "They're perfect."

We're perfect, thought the shoes.

The woman took them off and held them to her chest. "I've been looking for you for so long. You'll come home with me now, and I'll wear you, and love you always."

And they lived happily ever after.

Then end.

I Edit Things

As a writer, or an aspiring one, it's a good thing to have some sense of grammatical continuity, like commas, periods, not ending sentences with prepositions, spelling, etc.

Frankly, I have an overactive "edit check" permanently fixed in my head, thanks to my junior high English teacher, Mrs. Peters.

My impression of Mrs. Peters, to this day, is a no-nonsense type of person who holds every one of her students to the same standard, regardless of whether they're willing to live up to it.  She enforced discipline in her classroom, endured complaining and whining from all of us, and drilled they're/their/there corrections and appropriate comma usage into our brains like a well-oiled machine.  Every time I'm typing and I use the wrong it's/its, I cringe at the thought of what Mrs. Peters would say if she knew.

Thank God for Mrs. Peters.

Because of her, I became a marathon research essayist in college.  Because of her, I flourish in the technical writing tasks I'm assigned in my current job.  Because of her, I can appreciate literary devices and identify themes.  Because of her, I can read and re-read my fiction and be proud that while I have not yet found my writer's voice, I have impeccable mechanics.  And because of her, I can help others, like my husband, in their writing, and they trust that I know what I'm doing.

Every time I'm asked, "Who was the most influential teacher in your life," I'll bet you can guess my answer. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Movie Moment

I had an epic movie moment on the way home from workout today.

And yes, this will reveal just how much of a sap I am.  *spoilers*

I live close to my gym.  Very close.  As in walking distance close.  So I walk to and from workout most days because, hey, it's good warm up and cool down time, I get a jump start on the writing creativity, and it's more calories burned.

So off I go at my usual time, arrive at the gym at my usual time, work out for my usual time, then head home.  As I'm totally not paying attention, walking along the side of the road, halfway between the gym and my house, a familiar sound reaches mine ears.  What could it be?

Lo, and behold, Mike pulls up on the opposite side of the street, on his motorcycle, looking all dashing with his long hair and helmet (HE WORE A HELMET!  Safety is sexy, guys.), and just waited for me.

I felt like the girl in the teen romantic movies where the cool guy drives up on his bike, wearing leather and sunglasses, all sexy-like, and just stares at her, and then she runs to him, climbs gracefully up behind him, and off they ride into the sunset.

Folks, I damn well ran to him, climbed gracefully up behind him, and we rode off into the sunset.

Well, a half mile into the sunset, at which point we reached our house.

But HECK YEAH!  I had a movie moment on my anniversary.  :) *nerd alert

Manga Envy

I have an envy.  Girls in manga are usually delicate and small, so in random chapters where their brothers or fathers, or, heaven forbid, their boyfriends, pick them up like it's nothing at all, I feel all sad.

Don't get me wrong.  I love being tall.  I get adjectives like "statuesque" and "regal" and "elegant" attached to me at some points.  But the little girl inside me still wants to be able to be picked up and carried around, or curl up in a lap without being told I'm "too big" or, worse yet, "too heavy."


Blogging, Take 2

So here we are again, doing this blogging thing.  Trying it on for size, seeing how I like it, or other people like it.

And I have nothing to write about.
Okay, that's not true.  As my first "blogging" entry, I'll share a memory.

In the course of unpacking boxes to put my books away, now that the tiling is done and I have bookshelves again (thank you, honey!), I found one of those ceremonial sashes one wears across one's chest.  This one was from my Pioneer Girls days, resplendent with patches and pins and other adornments of achievement.  For those of you who don't know, Pioneer Clubs is much like AWANA, or Brownies, or even Girl Scouts, except it's organized by churches, etc.

I have vague memories of Pioneer Girls.  I recall singing and craft type activities - I still have a Christmas mini wreath I decorated.  Or maybe it's my sister's.  She was always better at the crafts thing than I was.  I also have a Bible cover I sewed (poorly) with my then nickname on the binding.  I might, somewhere, still have a denim book pouch decorated with smears of puff paint (remember that stuff?).  I got it all over the door handle of our car the night I made it, so there's a huge smush mark right in the middle, under my name.

I remember a spiral book, too, one of those where every set of two, maybe four pages was some kind of activity that, once accomplished, earned you a badge/patch to sew on your sash.  I finished that silly book in record time, and I remember wearing that sash so proudly every Wednesday until the end of sixth grade.  Or was it eighth?
They still owe me badges for a lot of what was in that book.

Thing is, I'd worked on this sash for about a week several months ago - found it in my sewing box while organizing my closet - sewing on the patches my mom hot glued on for a "graduation" ceremony, telling me I could fix it later.  "Later" turned out to be eighteen years.  So standing in my alcove, looking at it, I decided, of all things, to try it on.  It barely fit, but I managed to adjust it so it actually looked pretty good.  I doubt the "Come to the Dark Side.  We have cookies." shirt underneath contributed to the nostalgia, but it was still nice to see some things hadn't changed, at least not too much.

So much of me is reflected in this thing: my overachiever mentality, my perfectionism, my completionist attitude, my hyper-activity, my enthusiasm, my attempts at creativity.  But so much of who I'm not anymore is in there, too.  I'm not a child anymore.  Life experience has made me more mature, yes, but also jaded, hypocritical, depraved.

Have you ever wanted to go back to being a kid again?  That period after your brain developed enough to create discernible memories, but before you learned about life's cruelties?  Me, too.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Manga Thoughts

I'm staring at the cover of a couple manga sitting on my work desk - Tenshi Ja Nai volume 6, and Hana Kimi, volume 3.

Yes, I read manga during my breaks.  Or just plain read.  #nerd.

Anyway, I was re-reading both of these series for the tenth time, being the sappy romantic that I am, and I noticed a few things now that I didn't a few years ago.

Like a common ploy in dramas, not just manga, is to introduce a character early on that challenges the relationship between the protagonist and his/her love interest, making at least ONE of them figure out how they actually feel, while the other one is blissfully ignorant (Tenshi Ja Nai).  And then later, the author does it AGAIN, just to give the second person a good kick in the arse so the audience doesn't get bored and say, "Oh, he/she is totally clueless again.  When will we get to the good stuff?!"  Apparently, the author doesn't trust the characters to figure this crap out on their own in a timely fashion.
I don't blame her.  They're teenagers.  I rarely understood myself at that age.

Like the next most common ploy is to make one character dense as all hell (Hana-Kimi).  How else can you keep the story going if they get together too fast?  *rolls eyes.

Like how the author makes it seem plausible for a teenage girl to have a romantic relationship with her teacher, a grown man at least six years older than her (Tenshi Ja Nai). When I first read it, I was too busy thinking about how tragically romantic it all is.  Yeah, no.  I have a bone to pick with "romantic tragedies," but I'll save it for another time.  Regardless of the guy's personal preference (boobs versus no boobs), there is no freaking way a teen girl would act "normal" around her teacher.  Have you seen girls whose crushes have admitted to liking them back?  There's no way to hide that.  None.

Like how ridiculous it would be to have a boy masquerading as a girl in an all-girl's school (Tenshi Ja Nai).  Yeah...during the teens, girls have done most of their pubescent changing, while boys are just hitting theirs.  This explains why I was the tallest person in my class until 9th grade.  Then I was second tallest until 10th, when the boys suddenly sprouted like weeds and I had to tilt my head up at them.  My point is it's silly that we, the audience, could buy into the concept that a cross-dressing BOY would not only keep his secret from the girls at school, where he LIVES, but also from his fans because he's a high-profile ACTRESS.
Of course, on the flip side, Hana-Kimi, one of my favorite series, has the protagonist, a girl, masquerading as a boy in an all-boys school, and that's a sports environment instead of an entertainment environment.  But apparently, we can believe in feminine boys better than we can masculine girls that keep getting taller and have their voices change.  But whatever.

Like how it seems so cute to have a girl sharing a room with a boy when she thinks he's clueless, but he actually KNOWS (Hana-Kimi).  Would a normal teenage guy just go with it?  Or, not just go with it, actually help and she STILL stays clueless?  Oh, who am I kidding, I like believing in nobleness of character. :)  *squeeeeeee!

Yes, this is the kind of teen smut I read.
And I love it. :)
Well, so long as it doesn't affect my writing.  You are what you eat; you write what you read.