Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adventures in the Digital Realm

or On Being a Gen-X'er, Raising a Millenial

Boychild found a disposable camera in my junk drawer. It's there in case of emergencies. What kind of emergencies might necessitate a disposable camera? I have no idea, but I feel better with it there.

After a weekend of teaching him to sew, and then watching him operate on every single stuffed animal in the house (seriously, one poor kitty cat has zero in the way of guts now), I figured he was done making mischief.

I clearly am unschooled in the ways of eleven year old boys.

As I said, he found the disposable camera, and delighted in flashing my eyeballs blind, taking the requisite Myspace arm photo and then shooting randomness in the house. I wish I had cleaned up more.

Now let it be known that I have an entire Flickr set devoted to pictures that boychild takes. He is not new to the idea of photography. He is, however, new to the idea of "old-fashioned photography."

After showing him how a manual flash works, and after he gleefully blinded me repeatedly, and shot avante-garde shots of the coffee table (I kept warning him he had finite amounts of shots...) he turned to me, with about 13 shots left, and asked (while trying to pry the camera body open),

"Okay, how do I see what I shot?"
"Umm, well, you finish the roll, and then we go down to Walgreens, where they process it over a week or so, then you pay for the prints. Also, if you open that case, all your shots are ruined."
"Like ACTUAL prints?!"
"Actual prints."
"But then I have no idea if I took good shots!"
"Welcome to my childhood, son."
"Your childhood was CRAZY!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Remember That Time I Tried to Write That Novel?

Sometimes, I tell people I am a writer.

This is true in a really literal way, sure. I am a writer in the same way I am a breather, or a blinker, or a walker. I have written things. Countless things.  Diaries, emails, grocery lists, to-do's, and yes- sometimes poems and short stories. I have long held this teensy little dream of being a novelist, but have never been able to get farther than 120 pages into a story, and have certainly never come to any conclusion with any of them. Either plot-wise, nor public-wise.

I always described my dad as a poet by heart and a housepainter/firefighter by trade. I suppose his daughter is a storyteller by heart and a residency coordinator by trade.  I have a small library of books intended to motivate someone to finish a book. They have all succeeded... in reminding me how hard I fail at finishing this seemingly simple task.

Even right now, I am 20,000 words behind a writing challenge. That's a literary fuck-ton of words, right there. Am I working to rectify this? Um, unless you have inabilities to put concepts together (and my apologies to those with that disorder...), you have figured out that I am writing a blog, instead of catching up on my 20,000 words. Halfway through the challenge, I believe this is what one calls, "giving up." Or rather, "giving up again." Because I've been here before. Three times, in fact.

In 2005, I checked out Chris Baty's book, "No Plot, No Problem."  I was intrigued by it's claim that I could write a stress-free 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It seemed insane, yet doable. After reading it, I decided to take the the next 30 days, and try it. It wasn't November, but April, 2005, and I got about 11,000 words into it before a work change, a kindergartener, and a crushing bout of writer's block brought on by forgetting where I was in the story and growing tired of my main character forced my hand into committing literary infanticide.

For the next few years, I was busy writing my own story by way of living it, but by 2009, I had heard that Baty had started an online crew of writers, who were doing this whole, "One novel, one month" thing together, under the name NaNoWriMo.  which is a completely silly break down of National Novel Writing Month. Which occurs in November. You know, when we all spend all of our time Christmas shopping. Or personally, when my work kicks into overdrive. Also of note in November, it gets dark and cold. These things make it hard for me to write a novel.

Recognizing a "begging-off" excuse when I hear one (even from myself!), I jumped into the fray in 2009. And tanked about halfway through. I had a killer novel that I actually loved. I got 27,000 words into it, and then I missed a week due to random busy-ness. Realizing that I could never catch up from there, I gave up. I started turning on my story, deciding that zombies were passe (of course they're passe- they were only new in the 60's when first introduced.)

In 2010, newly single, I decided to give it another shot. I logged on to the NaNo site and registered. I loved the little progress meter and the ability to see where my friends were with their projects.  I also started with a plan this time. To avoid the forgetting characters, and to fool myself into writing many short stories, I decided to have a main story that unfolded via several smaller, seemingly unrelated vignettes. I got about 12,000 words into it, before my dating life shot into gear and I gave up writing for socializing. Fail number 3.

This year, I started with no idea what I would write. I had a strategy that I would keep track of characters with an ingenious system using Flickr's ability to tag and cross-reference. I assigned each character a picture, and tagged them with words that I could call upon if I needed a refresher. It was a brilliant system. I revived the "Several short story in a bigger novel" structure, in the hopes that that would keep me able to bite up chunks of wordage. The new boyfriend was fully recruited as a cheerleader and even found me awesome spots to write, and drove me to the midnight write-in on November 1st. I started carrying my laptop with me, in case I found myself somewhere I could chill for a few hours and bang out a story. I typed and typed, not giving a second thought to what I was even typing. Plot? Who needs a plot?!  Characters? Does it matter that they are poorly fleshed out and have no discernible reason to exist? Psh!

And then week two happened to me. Sudden, total brain lock. A dark cloud the likes that I hadn't seem in years rolled over and prevented me from even desiring to work on anything- not brushing my teeth, or feeding myself, or even opening my eyes more than a slit. I had just enough energy to go to work, come home, climb under my blanket on my couch and console myself with Rachel Maddow and uber-liberal political discourse. I am currently at 5,000 words, halfway through the month. And I think, waving my white flag.

There's always 2012....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Because What Would The Innernets Be Without Random Ranting?

I have about three other topics I wanted to blog about, but instead, because Flickr decided to tweak some stuff mid-middle of the night, I'm feeling ranty...

(As a sidenote, Flickr initiated a project for those of us who were getting aggressive to chew on. Here's my entry.)

And now on to my set of random rants, in list form- because listifying rants makes them less random, right? Right??

 1. Pandora Radio. I recognize I don't pay for Pandora (and actually as an addendum to this rant, I do love the way the new Pandora looks, and that they did away with the 40 hour listening cap...buuuut....) One of my favorite things about Pandora was the ability to move songs from station to station. When Usher "Nice and Slow" plays on my Wispy Ladies station (a station that is supposed to host willowy lady voices singing angsty things) I shouldn't have to thumbs down it. I like "Nice and Slow." It should go on my Panty Droppers station. There doesn't seem to be a way to do that any more. That's lame. Spotify and are looking better and better to me.

SIDE ANECDOTE: Moral quandary- I was recently in Pandora's hometown of Oakland, at a bar, and there was a Pandora gathering occurring. When it came time to pay for my drink, the bartender asked if I was charging to the Pandora party. Given that I was already peeved about the track moving thing, I was tempted to answer in the affirmative. I didn't, I behaved. What would you have done?

2. Twitter. Hey twits, if you find a trending topic offensive, tweeting that you find it offensive and using the topic hashtag only helps the popularity of said topic. As with everthing offensive on the innernets, it's always better to ignore it...(recent examples include #Aaliyahsfinalplaylist and #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend) On a related topic, Why come Twitter you block some trending topics (recent example that comes to mind are the NYC protests and the Troy Davis fiasco...) Do you not remember the impact and cultural relevance of the Iran protests on Twitter?  It makes the medium less "of the people" and more "just another media outlet."  Super sad.

3. iVillage email updates. iVillage, you asked me if this "email doesn't look right." I should say so, but not for the reason you think. I suspect you mean to ask if the format is correct, and it's fine. What I take issue with is that you pretend to be news and articles tailored to women, but in actuality, you are nothing more than a trashy, patronizing women's mag set to bytes. "10 Tips to Keep Your Man"? For reals?

4. The bleak future. Hey teenagers, those seats at the front of the bus? Those are for the elderly and the disabled. You know, just like the sign says? I weep for the health and education of our future if modern teenagers can't read a sign, or can't walk to the back of the bus. I'm about two years away from perfecting my upturned shaking fist...

5. I don't know why it incenses me, but I can NOT abide by people who open a new product before the old one has run out. You know who you are. You were cute enough to get away with it this time-- but next time, you lose a pinky.

6. And last but not least, the incident which is responsible for my elevated blood pressure... for the last, like month. I was standing at a crosswalk with my cutie boyfriend, waiting for the light to change in our favor. The light changed for the cars moving in our direction, even though the walk crosslight hadn't changed. I took that as a cue to walk (I frequently watch for the cars going in my direction rather than the "Walk" light. California lights can be wonky...)

Unfortunately, a car was turning, and almost hit me, but cutie boyfriend pulled me back in time. As we discussed the incident, chuckling at it, I said the phrase, "but it was green!" (meaning the streetlight) to the cutie boyfriend. At that moment, we passed a restaurant with a security guard policing the entrance (why the hell?). I guess he felt the power of his authority swell up inside him and he C'd his way into our A and B conversation with, "Actually it wasn't, actually."

Yup, he both started and ended the interruption with "Actually."
I don't know what made me want to scratch his eyes out more, the interruption, the presumption that because he wears a uniform he deserves to interject into our conversation, or the absolute fumbling with my native tongue. Actually-actually? ACTUALLY-ACTUALLY?! To be fair, I like to play with words, but I consider it a flirtation with my favorite things, rather then an utter disregard for how things sound, or how to make word usage sound mindful. Actually actually.

I'm done here, yo.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Press "FLARGH" For English

Over the past few months, I am rapidly learning that I do not speak my native language.
It began with relative strangers, so naturally, I assumed it was their terrible comprehending skills.

Now even those closest to me hear, "I'm going to take a nap," as "Garffllapppfgrpsshhhh?"

My very best friend and I had the following discussion via text, for example:

ME: You ever feel like you are about to make an epic mistake, but are powerless to do anything but make it, so you can learn?

J: Whatcha up to, babygirl?

ME: Riding the bus. Writing bad poetry (I resisted the urge to follow that with, "With a crazy kind of urgency." In the hopes of not being confusing. I should've typed it.)

J: What kind of mistakes you getting ready to make?

ME: Just thinking. My brain is on hyperdrive. Everyone can spot a mistake in hindsight... what if you could see it coming and let it happen?

J: We do that all the time. We call it self-destruction, right?

ME: Nah, that's not what I mean... not like planned mistake making based on crazy brain. I mean I guess a solemn determination to test life.

J: That makes no sense to me!

ME: I apparently no longer speak english. No one understands what I say anymore.

J: Haha. Awww. rough Monday, babygirl?

ME: Nah, this shit has been going on for months. Pretty soon I'm just gonna babble and throw my own feces.

J: I'll still love you!

ME: You are required to, because I keel you otherwise.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Fall (or Autumnal Woes)

Labor Day is over, and although Fall doesn't really begin until the 23rd of this month, everyone is in pretty solid agreement that Summer is over.  Our pool is officially closed, Halloween stuff abounds at the grocery store, and most kids are back in school. I have always been a staunch anti-autumnist... or so I thought.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that many things that are associated with Fall are things I claim to like.  This of course prompted me to make a list. (Who am I kidding- blowing my nose prompts me to make a list. Staring at linoleum prompts me to make a list.)

Reasons I LIKE Fall:

1. HALLOWEEN! The day of the year that adults get to play dress up (except you Furries. Hats off to you for making it Halloween, Game Day, and freaky all around all year long!). Halloween is about magic and mayhem and my favorite thing ever... CANDY. That is a win for Fall.

2. Good smelling stuff- I'm not much of a Suzy Homemaker. In fact, until recently, I thought the name was in reference to a bad-ass lady pimp (Suzy Hoe-maker). I do however, geek out tremendously at things that are scented cinnamon and apple, spiced pear, spiced fig, spiced anything really. Spiced marshmallow, spiced koala... I don't care. Let me sniff it.

3. Color palette- An icy blue is my favorite color (not to be confused with Icy Blu), but really, my favorite over-all palette consists of maroons and golds and deep, chocolate browns. Falls colors make me comfy and warm.

4. My Birthday- Most people would call me a winter baby, but being that my birthday falls in the first half of December... that makes me a fall baby. Ain't nothing wrong with that...and now....

Reasons I HATE Fall:

1. It's freaking cold.

2. It's freaking dark.Fer reals, the sun already spends all of it's time on the other side of the planet during fall, but then you factor in Daylight Savings Time, and it feels like we live in a planet of Darkness. And not awesome Charlie Murphy Darkness, either.

3. Did I mention the cold? Because that shit sucks.

4. I always think rats are hiding under piles of leaves- This could be my own neurosis (I really hate how many viable sentences I start off like that...) but every time I shuffle through a pile of fallen leaves, I imagine my booted foot connecting with something breathing and furry. This is something I can safely assume both I and the rodent world would like to avoid.

5. Traffic- Living in California, just thinking about the Christmas shopping rush and what it does to already aggravated commuters is enough to make my stomach churn. Not owning a car myself, I still have to contend with walking packages home in inclement weather. Sorry, grandma, your new doilies smell like dirty rain because Christmas is inconveniently in the fall.

Things that conflict me about Fall:
These are things I couldn't decide whether they were pros or cons. But still they exist. Bastard ambiguities!

1. I'm glad that it's not winter yet, but sad that summer is over.
2. The smell of fireplaces is comforting, but also a reminder that the year is almost done, causing me to reflect on shit. I get sad when I reflect on shit. But damn do those things smell awesome...
3. I love the anticipation of Christmas, but start panicking on how to afford it. Being a broke single mama is never more panic-inducing when I have to factor in affording stuff. And don't even get me started on the whole "Presents made with love are worth all the Legos in the world!" Because we both know that's a load of bull-honkey.

In conclusion: Yay, fall?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Um yeah... So there's this.

So I've been blogging in one forum or another since 2005.

From my humble beginnings on the ill-fated Yahoo 360! vehicle, to Multiply, to a half a dozen social networks...

It looks like it's time for a new forum- so here I am.

Hullo, guys.

Oh wait... I promised fart jokes.

Here you go, from none other than Mr. Leslie Nielsen.