National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)takes place every November and challenges people to craft a novel, or at least 50,000 words of one, during that month. I had tried this once before. At that time I was dealing with a death of a close family friend and major stress from all of the end-of-semester college projects. (For that second reason, NaNoWrimo is very ill-timed.)
This time, I started about a week late. I still have classes and that friend is still never far from my mind. This time...I won. By winning I mean that I met the word goal, but I don't think that the story was quite finished. I had some pieces out of order and it felt choppy in places where I just pushed through to get to the next scene. But I did it.
This year has been about proving myself...to myself. People see much more potential and talent in me than I have seen in myself. So started working at it. I ran a mile this year. I got all A's last semester (first time when taking four classes). I finally made at least a partial decision about what to do post-community college. Completing this project just kept the 'I-can-do-it' ball rolling. I almost danced when I was done. I missed it when it was over. And I keep signing in and checking my page to see the little stat chart that marked my progress. I am a winner.
I've been told that the leaves don't change everywhere the way they do in New England. So a friend who is a New England native but is currently on scholarship overseas I went to our neighborhood park and took some photos. It felt good to have the camera in my hands again. I'd missed it.
I've been a writer that
I've been a photographer that
I've been disconnected from myself, not listening to my heart's desire. I've been claiming labels that I didn't live up to. It hadn't been worth the bother...or so it seemed. I'd fallen off in a subtle way, a tragic way. I was disappearing into myself. I wasn't happy.
I'm coming back. I'm starting over. I'm making the effort. I'm learning to live unafraid. I'm learning to embrace the things that I have to do even if no one else ever appreciates them.
To keep this from being all sort of psycho-babble here real examples.
I took photos the other day. (evidence to be uploaded shortly, I hope)
I started a short story that I don't know the ending of. I'm letting that be okay.
I kept walking, running, exercising.
I began voicing my thoughts a little more in my classes. It was strange to hear my voice at first. But it is good.
When I get home I plan to knit and quill a little.
I starting to see myself not as 'less-than' (for reasons I won't bother getting into now) and rather remarkably free. With help I can do anything. I can do anything.
I'm starting to believe.
Bro1 and I spent an evening with friends. During the course of the night the talk turned to how the group assembled would survive in the event of a zombie apocalypse. On the way back home, Bro1 brought up how we thought a certain friend, who'd been absent from this meeting but was part of the group, would fare with "The Council's" decision about her tasks in our "compound".
To which I said:
There's no way that she would agree to "The Council's" idea of making all the women breeders and cooks (so were the words of two-thirds of the self-appointed council. democracy, say what?). She would very likely take the zombie antidote that D made up, go out and bite people, turn them into the zombies and lure them back to the compound and into the zombie traps set out to get specimens for their basement experiments.
Then I stopped. I looked at Bro1, barely visible in the unlit van. But I could see his eyes...and his smile. I was right about the character analysis. He knew it, too, and was entertained. But what the heck were the words that just came out of my mouth? I shook my head. "I can't believe what I just said. I can't believe what I just said."
I've started running. This is something I never thought I'd do. Ever. Unless it was for my life, in which case it would be a really short chase, I would leave what I called 'pointless running' to the athletes.
I'm not really sure what changed my mind but I found the Couch to 5k program. The idea of running even for one minute rather freaked me out. I would pass out surely. Yet, I tried. In November. It's a 9-week program and winter was coming. I knew I didn't have the stamina to run through a a New England winter so I decided to retry in the spring. It took a while...until after the semester and I'd purchased proper running shoes. That done, in July I set off again.
A Twitter pal tweeted the pic above. She said she needed a reminder of this because putting yourself through the paces of physical transformation can be so subtle (and slow) sometimes. I was feeling beat down the other day when my legs just didn't have it. But then I sat down and thought about the fact that in a little more than a month I've gone from being not sure I could run for 1 minute to running for multiple 5-minute stints in the same workout. And I was amazed.
The post-run high has become my drug. I see a definite improvement in my mood. I'm liking this, anticipating the runs and I never thought I'd say that. I was not a runner. In adjusting to fact that my body adapts to my endeavors to be better much quicker than my mind I'm seeing the truth of the mind-over-matter idea, understanding that most obstacles to self-improvement are mental...understanding the Biggest Loser contestants. In facing my fears about my physical capabilities I'm growing and learning...I'm not where I was. I like that.
By Its Cover is independent book review column. Selections are mostly made based on the book's cover. I'm testing the old saying in my quest to find new favorite authors and books.
Twins: A Novel by Marcy Dermansky
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This is an ugly story about pretty girls: blond, blue-eyed, tall. It has many of the 'first novel' faults: it's messy and at times painfully redundant. In a book titled Twins I don't know why Ms. Dermansky felt the need to reminds that the girls were identical twins on nearly every other page. We get it.
I didn't find any part of the book funny, which bummed me out as promises of humor prompted me to select this tome from my library's shelves. There were comical bits...but in the completely farcical way i.e., "there's no earthly way situations/people like this could be allowed to exist."
It had moments where I could see the style that the author was going for. I could see what she was trying to do. But as most of them came late in the book...almost too late for me, she fell woefully short.
The idea of the necessity for separation from those who are supposed to care for/about us so we can learn to truly care for ourselves as individuals does strike home for me. It's a painful lesson no matter what the circumstances. But the overall story of Twins, the obsession and the clinging, led to me barely caring whether any one in this story got themselves sorted or not.
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I'd been immensely stressed and feeling rather low. The semester's almost over so there's that stress. One of the papers in particular is pure anxiety. Then I found out I need more classes than I'd previously thought. So I may need another semester at community college. That was crushing in the moment. I was ready to be done. Then there's trying to figure out post-community college stuff and career stuff. For some reason, call me childish, the idea of a career makes me cringe inside.
I went to a different place for breakfast and walking back to the bus stop, I saw the little smiley. And despite the cloudy weather, and despite not actually having any of my problems solved, I paused and smiled. Then I let the businessman walk by, took out my camera and took the picture.
I don't know who put the little smiley there. But thank you.
I have not mentioned that I'm back in school and loving it. Ok, that last part isn't exactly true. This semester has been tough for reasons that I can't fully express. Usually by now I'm into it, I have a class or two that I really like and too many projects due to contemplate how much I don't enjoy the others. Such isn't really the case this semester. I even skipped class yesterday for the first time ever. But I'm pushing through.
Among the classes on the slate for this term is Digital Photography 1. We've had three projects so far and I've done well on them. I think I'm feeling more confident with my camera. I'm loving my zoom lens. I'm learning to see things photographically, imagine in my mind what settings would suit situations I find myself in. Yet, I wonder...
The post picture shot was intentional. I like it. I like when photography fails like that...fails to focus, focus sharply. But what is it? What about that photo draws me in? What is it (in my opinion) that sharp focus would kill? A concern of mine upon registering for this class was that learning technique would make me obsessive and rigid. Still finding joy in a shot like the one above shows that it hasn't, that maybe it can't. That makes me happy.
inspired by Rabbit Muse's post
I keep my clothes forever. I think I still have a pair of shorts given to me as a pre-teen by one of my aunts. They still fit. I have only gotten wider from those days. I'm not much of a shopper; going to the mall to people-watch is more enjoyable than going to the mall to browse for stuff. Name brands and trendy fashions haven't lured me (credit/blame goes to my mother). I'm pretty much comfort over trendy. I have to live in my clothes. Being uncomfortable makes me even more self-conscious so...for years I've lived in sweats, corduroys, hoodies and t-shirts. And life has been accomodating, no posh office job to correct my fashion nonsense.
The same sort of logic, comfort over style goes for my shoe choice. These were bought on one of the few days when I actually bought more than candy at the mall. They are from Skechers. They are approaching 10 years old. They are tough. They taught me the importance of breaking in leather shoes before walking a mile in them. (I broke them in by walking a mile in them...) They are oh-so-comfortable now. I love them.
Bro2 (the brother youngest) got a new pair kicks and made a vlog about it. Vlogging is his art. It's really cool to watch his (self-taught) skills progress.
This post was written nearly immediately following order submission of my latest secret project. I even interrupted my other post-writing as regards how I'm finding out that who I am and pursuing a course tailored to me is okay to make this announcement, instead.
I'd taken a bunch of pictures documenting Thanksgiving preparation. Normally, pics like this languish on the hard drive of my family's main PC. (I still had pics from 2006 on there) One day, I say...I'll order prints and frame them or but them in a book...or one of the boxes/bags that hold all the pics we took with our film cameras before joining the digital era. (It took us a while.)
Through diligence, patience, prayer, this tutorial, this book, some dozens of tweets of encouragement (tweetpals) and frustration (me), a strange thumbnail caching issue, several lists, careful font selection, and many late late nights, I made a photo book.
What started as 625 pics (purely overwhelming, I got down to down to 200+. That was reduced to 100 or so, hi-res PSDs and JPGs further edited in various ways to correct color and brightness. Along the way discovering things about photography's post-processing mini-me Photoshop Elements. Like secret project 1, which also involved a beasty amount of photos, I learned a lot...about myself and about the process of creating something big like this. (and that I really really suck at project deadline estimation)
I also gained a new appreciation/admiration for people who create photo books or put together portfolios for a living. It's so tricky to tell a story with no/few words, just bold images. Layout helps. But does layout determine photo choice or should photos determine layout? (I found a balance worked. Pick a layout you think will work, then tweak it when you've chosen and edited the photos.) Then there's the pesky issue of captioning (or not), and order, and getting all bound and determined that a certain photo had to be on the facing page only to find another pic that created the PERFECT ending...but when added, threw off the entire layout by making extra pages necessary.
This is a very late Christmas gift to the family. I ordered it tonight. I squee'd when I previewed it. I hope it prints as nicely (or close to) as it looks on the monitor. I hope they like it.
Tweetpal asks, "Nicholas Cage, what are you doing?"
I reply, "Is that with regards to his new movie, Season of the Witch?"
She says, "yes lol."
Now, Nicholas Cage is one my least favorite actors. Also on the list are Steven Segal and Keanu Reeves. So the movie has a huge strike against it even without knowing the plot. But I was wondering the same thing as my tweetpal. However, the general 'what-the---?' reaction as things exploded and Little Dorrit whispered and capes swirled was contrasted with a sense of intrigue. This would be a bad movie, not matter who was the lead actor, it was just not going to be good. I was annoyed at myself for getting to the point where if the local theater gets that movie, I just might go on their discounted ticket day. (Tuesday) Supporting an actor I don't like is a capital offense. But why? Why am I almost willing to fork over my hard-earned money and two precious hours of my life to see something that I know in advance I will. not. like.? (strange punctuation-ing there...apologies)
Then I found this article, while searching the title of the movie. Apparently, I'm not alone in-
- a) being fairly certain that this isn't award-winning filmmaking.
- b) wondering what it is that causes me/us to want to watch such badness.
The article: When Does a Bad Movie Become a Must Watch Spectacle?
I have no real answer.
This year I want to work harder to make time for things that keep me sane and balanced. One of those things is writing. It's one of my ways for expressing myself creatively and for tracking moments. My goal is to write everyday...but I will not beat myself up too much about this. However, I've set the bar kinda low, because I know school causes great craziness. The minimum...one word. One word that I either learned, love or sums up the day. If I can get out a blog post or journal entry, short story or poem, so much the better. But I want to find and develop my voice, organize my thoughts into longform pieces...not just tweets. Here I go...