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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Joy, Pure & Simple

Last night was one of my rare nights out, rarer still since my husband is out of town. Instead of doing what we usually do, going out to the local dance/bar scene (we have nothing that could even be referred to as something resembling a club here on the Outer Banks), we decided to just relax and hang out and enjoy drinking mimosas while watching the funniest YouTube video's ever.

It was so wonderful! Hanging out with my best friend is like the best kind of therapy there is. And I have to get it all in now since it's looking like I'll be in Georgia in a month tops! Man, I'm going to MISS HER!! She understands me, and she's the best person I've ever met. Her soul is good. I feel lucky to count her as a friend.

While I was drinking my mimosa (BTW: whoever said those are only for breakfast was crazy!) I was filling her in on my writing progress.

(Tangent: I will now refer to my writing progress as "litterforts", thanks to the wonderful Patricia McKillip and her book The Bell at Sealy Head, which I am currently reading and completely charmed with.)

I told her that I was working on Story 1, but that I wanted to write this other one, Story 2. I started telling her about plot and a little tiny bit about the characters. Just so you know, I am a very passionate talker, I get very into the story I'm telling if I feel strongly about it. So I'm totally getting all wrapped up in this story I'm telling her about and she interrupts me and says,

"That sounds like a screenplay Ali."

And I swear, I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to jump up and down and yell "YES!" as loud as I could while pumping my fist in the air maniacally.

Because here's the thing about Story 2: I see it in my head as a movie. I see the actors and their characteristics, I see the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, and why they are who they are. I see backgrounds, scenery, and hear a soundtrack in my head. And I'm having a hard time writing it in the form I'm used to because I keep seeing this movie playing over and over in my head. That's never happened to me before; neither seeing a movie, nor writing a story out of my head onto paper. And I've very secretly, very far deep down in my brain thought about attempting to write a screenplay.

I cannot believe I even just typed it; the idea is that daunting to me. I'm a high school drop out, a wife, a mother of two, a lazy bones, a poet, a wannabe novelist. I am not a screenwriter, I know nothing about it at all.

But I can't get the damn idea out of my head. It's like this little splinter in my brain and I have to pick at it all the time, but it never comes out. Except it's not a painful splinter, it's a happy one! :)

Also a splinter with a huge amount of possible failure, the biggest handicap I have, in my opinion. Fear of failure will ruin your life. I'm doing my best to overcome, and so far most of the battles have been in my favor.

And the fact that my totally awesome bestie just listened to me talk about this story I saw in my head and pulled out my secret wish into the open to be examined in the light...I don't even know what to say but wow. Moments like those are what life is made of.

So, now, here I am, with an idea and a fantastic dream, and not the slightest inkling of how to turn the one into the other....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Untitled Poem

I'm moving in a few weeks, so I spent today going through boxes and trying to throw away everything I can. It's a long process because I invariably get wrapped up in nostalgia...and believe me, as a person who keeps every strange little memento, there's a lot of nostalgia. One very large box I pulled open was full of poetry I wrote from the ages of 12 to 18 or so, and let me just Reading them again was like looking back at myself. It was like I was sixteen again, feeling all those hormones jumbling around, but I was also reading it with eyes that were ten years older, ten years wiser. I was laughing at the more horrible ones, and feeling a little proud (& surprised) by the better ones when I realized something. I started my love affair with writing by writing poems. I've written literally thousands of them, in every style about everything under the sun. But I haven't written one in a few months. And that's just crazy because I love writing poetry sooooo much! In poems, anything goes. There's no set form, nothing that can't be written about, no grammar, nada.

So I think I'm going to start trying to write something poem-ish every day, just a few lines, because it is so cathartic for me. This was one of the last ones I found, written in 2008, and I thought I would share it with y'all.

Feel free to criticize-I don't bite my tongue, you shouldn't either!

that one word seems to somehow encompass all the rest of them
He wasn't her first love-
He wasn't even love.
But he was something big,
Something formative, something shaping
A movement, a vehicle
From who she'd been to who she wanted to be.
He was a mask she pulled on
to play a role she'd otherwise be too frightened to try.
She learned, she grew, she stretched beneath his hand
Until he no longer recognized her smile
In the bared teeth she showed.
No claws, not yet, but they aren't too far behind
And now-
That one word, like an answer to all her questions
and yet it only makes her more confused.
He doesn't know her, he never did
Although he thinks she is his soul mate
His other, his all
She knows better.
She knows she is only poison in a river
Delicious poison, and more deadly for it
He asks for the heart she gave to him
all those years ago
And when she says she cannot find it
She is lying
She never gave it in the first place.
She kept it tucked away
Safe from herself
So there are no pieces for her to gather out from underneath his skin
Nothing but memories
Begging to remain nothing more than that
Not immune to her own poison
the price of being so sweet
Why can't she stay her own hand?
Knowing it is it's own sweet death
Only makes her want to temp fate a little more
Finding the tipping point on the dagger blade she's walking.
Seeing through her own deceptions makes her ill
but excited too.
She wants to fall down just so he can catch her
knowing she will resent him for it later...or sooner...
And how he did make her head swirl!
For a moment of those colors flying in her brain
She thinks she would trade anything.
Just a word she uses to convince herself she is stronger
better, different.
Funny though, at fifteen, she would have been so much more decisive.
At fifteen, there was no gray
Just black just white
History grows morals crumble
Mysterious mortals start to mumble
Age answers youths questions
But rarely in the dulcet tones we think we want to hear.

And in a completely unrelated tangent: my spellchecker is adamantly informing me that "ya'll" is not spelled correctly.

Well Mr. Spellchecker, I must assure, it is. I'm a southern girl, this is North Carolina, and "ya'll" is a bonafide, contracted way to say "you all"....but better. =)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Full Pages, Full Belly

Hello all, I hope this post finds you well and happy, because I am surely both. I wrote today!!

(insert glorious angel song here)

I wrote and wrote and wrote, and it was so awesome I was just smiling like an idiot at my computer screen. It was one of those days where the words and plots and intrigues and romances and EVERYTHING was just there, waiting for me to come along and scoop it up. The more I write, the more there is to write about. I know there's something I'm wanting to compare it to, you know I'm all about giving examples to help you see what I see, but for some reason whatever it is I want to allude to is eluding me.

(thank you thank you, I'll be here all week)

As my story grows, my plot line changes, and that's really turning into some exciting stuff! And on a totally unrelated yet almost equally satisfying note, I made manicotti and salad and garlic bread for dinner, orange-glazed cinnamon rolls for dessert, and (I know, you're asking yourself how my day could have gotten any better) I watched the SAG awards (yay for Kate and Sean and 30 Rock!) AND (yes, there's even more) I watched United States of Tara and Secret Life of a Call Girl.

I know, they're both slightly trashy, perfectly crass, and hilarious. I adore them both like I enjoy smoking a ciggarette on the porch with a beer in the summer. I know it's bad, it just makes it so much better. I highly recomend US of Tara to anyone who gets my sense of humor. Toni Collette will be recieving awards for it, you heard it here first!

So, my day (and belly) were packed full of happy goodness today,
which I do so hope continues tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ugh, Technology!

So my computer has been down for a couple of days, which meant NO INTERNET.

Ugh, I'll give you a minute to empathize with how truly empty my life has been these past 72 hours without my close companions Facebook, Hotmail, and of course, Blogger.

(big, refreshing inhale....good.)

Now, I'm back, my IV of 'net-goodness is firmly in place, and life can go on again!

(I really missed you guys!)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Story #1, Welcome Back

I only have a few minutes so this is going to be short. Well, as short as is possible for me, the notoriously long-winded, detail obsessed, wandering story girl.

I re-opened Story #1 the day before yesterday.

(big sigh)

It was glorious. It was like waking up on Sunday morning to the smells of bacon and coffee that someone else made and you just have to get up and get some. It was like Christmas morning.

It was like....

It was like running into that guy from the past who you still think of from time to time, and after running into them realizing that they are everything your mind has built them up to be over the past ten years or so. (That never, by the way, they're always much less interesting than our minds build then up to be over time. I just happened to run into someone a few days say it was disappointing would be an understatement.)

In case you're not getting where I'm going with this, I'll just clarify.

It was amazing!! I spent a few hours doing editing and re-writes, and then suddenly I realized why the story had slowed down before, which is why I lost interest. I had the story line a little confused, and I wasn't quite sure what my characters were doing.

But, lo and behold, I have seen the error of my ways! And now I have a good, solid plot to build off of, and characters who are well and truly their own people.

I can't describe the feeling I get when I'm writing and things are going well, but it's sweet, way-deep-down-in-my-soul sweet. So I'm off to write some more since I have, by my calculations, a solid 20 minutes before my kids start freaking out.

Back again soon faithful readers! =)

Monday, January 12, 2009

What is the meat
the middle of the story.
Madness, hardness of life, troubled.
Incandescently happy. Lust. Sweetness.
She is beautiful. Young body. Old Soul.
Except where it's naive. Shy. Outspoken.
Closed. Opened.
He is beautiful. Dark. Shady places under trees.
Soft covering hard edges. Smooth touch. Fire.
Too much. Too soon.
Too arrogantly right.
But right.
Fighting. Fear. Others.
Running. Forced into togetherness.
A unit of opposite poles. Like puzzle pieces.
The loss.
So this is Goodbye.
She is running.
The magic is dead.
He is lost.
Search. For. Her.
She is almost whole again.
A new friend. Good?

small town usa. girl wakes up.

her finger was bleeding again from where she was chewing her hangnails. a bad, old habit. one that she broke just long enough for the skin to heal, making her long-fingered hands and their oval nails almost beautiful. but then their was life again, stressing making her fingers itch, the scratch each other, then before she knw it they were shredded again.

maybe she was some sort of scik canibal.

probbably not.

what was she supposed to write about? there was no great story line in her head. no leads to be chased. they all seemed to have dead ends. no excitement. just blah.

like everthing else in her life.

shw was young. and unmotivated. and full of wanting for things she did not have.

Another dayy. the same as the last. and the next.
when had that happened to her? When had she ssuddenly stopped moving forward? Or had it not been sudden? had she been creeping towards this life for years? inexorably pulled into the exact life she'd denied she'd ever live. A life full of complaceny. She had a husband, a man she whose ins and outs she knew so well they irritated her. They had a house. A boring, often messy house, full of things that reminded her of other times in her life. Better times perhaps. Pictures of adventures, times when stories had been made, memory turned into legend with the tellings. Stories were all she had now, and the ictures she surrouned her self with.
She had had bgi dreams. To be someone. Someone who did something. A mark maker.
Now she was a mediocre maker. A settler. She had settled. And every day it seemed more and more like she had settled for less. Less than she could have. Less than she should have. She deserved more. She was wasted here, in this small coast town. It was a place of history, drowned in the past. No place for her future. The future she was supposed to have. Why had she setteld? She could no longer remember. It was time for her to leave.
The thought woke her up a little. Where had that come from? She couldn't just leave. She had no car for one thign, and responsibilites here.

they grew up together. they dated a few times, but they seemed to realize that it wasn't the right time. Things were not mature enough yet. they both went off to live their lives. they ened up at home around 25, both with others. had one night, he wants to marry her, she realzied she actually

Friday, January 9, 2009

English Teacher Shout-Out

Today's topic boys and girls-English teachers. We all had them, some of us loved some of them, some of them were scary monstrosities from other worlds, (I'm not kidding, I think my 5th grade teacher really was an alien), and some were forgotten in the summers between verb conjugation and grammatically correct sentence structure.

I'm not sure if my love for English class has biased me, or if I've had a long string of really awesome English teachers. I truly thing it's the latter, but I could be mistaken I guess; it has happened before, actually. ;)

So today, as I prepare for a month without my husband's help with the kids, which means a month with very little actual writing being done, I thought I should give a shout out to those who, for one reason or another, made a serious impact on my life.

DISCLAIMER: This might be really boring for you guys to read, since you don't know these people, but I've been thinking about it for a long time, and I think credit is long over due, so here it is.

Mrs. Cartier- 1st grade- The first teacher who fostered my already evident love of words. She introduced me to Christina Rossetti, and began my life-long affair with poetry. Looking back, I realize what a non-conformist she was, a big deal at the private Christian school I went to, and what a truly amazing person she was. Mrs. Cartier wanted all of us to be exposed to the world, and the different people, and cultures in it. Pretty deep stuff for a bunch of 1st graders. She brought in seaweed for us to eat, years before I had any idea what sushi was. When we asked questions, she answered. An amazing woman, who I've not forgotten once in all the years since.

Ms. Lynch-4th grade- Ahhh, Ms. Lynch. She was young, beautiful, patient, with just enough temper to keep the boys in line. I adored her. She praised my reading abilities, already tested at the college level, without making me feel pressured. She gave me my first copy of The Secret Garden, my all-time favorite book, then and now; and while I've got a few more copies of it since then, the paperback she gave me still sits on my bookshelf, worn and well-loved. She told me to read anything I wanted, and had that kind of incandescent faith only teacher of the young can have: I was able to do anything after her, I was young and untouched by the world, my future was wide open. When I told her I wanted to be a writer, she said "Okay, then you will." I miss those years of innocent dreaming, when I really could do anything.

Mrs. Magan-5th grade-Even though I didn't like her, and often daydreamed during class about what planet had sent her here in disguise, she was the first adult in my entire life to actually discipline me. I quit doing homework that year, I don't remember why, but she put me in after school detention more times than I can remember. I was the only girl in the 5th grade who had ASD, come to think of it. The beginning of my bad ass years, I'm sure.

Mrs. Barnes-7th grade-I was a new girl in a new school in a small town. The type of town where the kids have all been in school together since daycare. They had so much history I was destined to be the outsider for the remainder of my school career, something I always felt keenly over the years. Mrs. Barnes was a firecracker, quick witted, smart, funny, and an iron will to keep those 14 year old hormonal boys in line. They loved her too, despite their attitudes; we all did. She pushed for more, she wouldn't take less than she knew we could give, and she made me feel like I actually belonged somewhere on the small island I was forced to inhabit.

Mrs. Draughn-summer school-I spent a few summers in summer school, I think three total, although it might be four. I was too smart to be there, and too lazy to do the work that I should during the year to prevent having to go. Mrs. Draughn appreciated that, and gave me work to do that was interesting, and work I enjoyed doing. She was my first experience with interpretive writing-she put a picture up on the board and said, "Write me a story. Tell me what's going on." I was hooked. Oh, and one other small, itty bitty thing. She was the woman who introduced my to Stephen King and the Dark Tower. A ways past the "appropriate" reading level for my age, but she understood that books and I had a special relationship. Looking at my bookshelf now, with every book Stephen King has written filling it's shelves, I wish I could have told her thank you. But she probably already knew.

Mrs. McRae-high school- I was lucky enough to be in her class twice, my freshman and sophmore years. Not because I failed, but she taught a few different classes to different grade levels. There are so many things I would say about her, but I'm trying to be concise, so I won't. She was an amazing person, a great teacher, and a true soul. I don't know if that makes sense, but it feels right. She took my enormous love of all things wordy and tamed it into something resembling a frame, gave some method to my madness. She also worked with me, something more teachers should do. She understood that I wasn't going to do the final project because it was boring to me, something easy that I could/should have done in one night, something I would ignore because it didn't interest me. So she gave me an alternate project: To read Great Expectations and write her a paper on it, breaking down the story line chapter by chapter. While this would be the worst form of punishment for normal high school kids, I was in heaven. And as a result, I got a 98 on my final project, pushing my grade for that year high enough to keep me from summer school (again). I still have that project, and I pull it out from time to time.

Mr. Irving- junior year- He was my Creative Writing teacher, my all-time favorite class. He understood that I skipped the entire day of school, only showing up for his class in the afternoon, and he always thanked me for coming. He fostered my creativity, encouraged it, and praised all my efforts. His class was easy for me, being what I loved most, but he kept making me think, kept things fresh. He was a minor character with a lasting impact.

Last, but certainly not least, Mr. Guiley-senior year- Ah, Mr. Guiley. The type of teacher who spawns legends for years to come. My senior English teacher, and last class of the day. Another class I always made it to, though it wasn't the easiest one I had. Mr. Guiley supposedly scored a 1600 on his SAT's, something that was believable and unbelievable at the same time. He drove the oldest car in the school's parking lot, and said he was keeping it for his daughter for her first car. I think she was around 7 at the time. He only actually drove to school when it was raining, otherwise, he walked. He often had a blank expression on his face, and in the middle of a lecture, he would trail off, and stare silently at some unknown point in space, thinking about God only knows what. We would all sit, waiting, wondering, then suddenly he would give himself a little shake and start talking about something totally unrelated to his original conversation. We called them his acid flashbacks, and they were truly amazing. For example:

"Henry David Thoreau was a.........................................(60 seconds later).............................................does anyone know how much pollution LA has by cubic square inch?"

When a student would fall asleep on his desk, Mr. G would continue talking in the same tone of voice while he went to a closet and took out his 9 iron. Never pausing or raising his voice, he would line up his swing, all the while telling us about early American literature, then he would swing with all his might, hitting the underside of the desk with the golf club, producing a shocking sound. It scared those of us who were watching it happen, I can't imagine waking up to that, a golf club hitting directly under your face. And never would he stop his speech, walking to the closet to replace the club, like nothing ever happened.

We had speaker box on the wall beside the clock, where we could hear the school's announcements in the morning and afternoon. No matter what he was talking about, when the voice came out of the box, he would stop, face it, and raise his hand in salute. He would stay there until the announcements were through, and only then would he continue teaching.

He seemed erratic, dazed, slightly silly, and very smart. Despite all of his eccentricities, students loved him, and we all learned exactly what we were supposed to. I adored him and his teaching methods. I just wish we could have gotten out the secret of his SAT score though....

Monday, January 5, 2009

(Insert Large Sigh of Relief Here)

To quote Napoleon Dynamite...."yessss!"

The holiday's are over, the new year is here, and we all survived. Thank God.

I love my family, I love the Christmas break time that allows to all get together, something rare indeed, and I love the relaxed, vacation-like atmosphere that surrounds it. But I am so ready to get back on schedule here! My house is a wreck (one I have no desire to do anything about at this juncture in time), my kids need some structure back in their lives, and I need to write!!

I really enjoyed watching the family dynamics of the holidays, and I had a lot of thoughts drifting around for story lines. The relationships between people have always fascinated me, both in reality and literature, and I've been a people-watcher for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure whether it's due to my years of "practice", or an inborn ability, but I seem to be very....empathetic? I can meet people and get a reading on them very quickly, a very definite sense of who they truly are on a very deep level.

That sounds kind of like a narrator in a terribly bad late night/early morning movie talking about the lead who is actually an idiot (& a terrible actor to boot). Don't get me wrong now! I am a twenty-five year old woman with a very stubborn, opinionated outlook. I am naive, optimistic, idealistic, and much surer of my own worldliness than I have any right to be. All of those things cloud my judgments occasionally, or even frequently ;), however I stick to what I said.

8 times out of 10, my gut tells me no lies. My perceptions (which I just mistyped as "perfections", which is making me giggle now) are usually accurate, if not dead-on. I'm especially reminded of a person I knew was a shady, slimy, no good character over ten years ago. There was nothing obvious about it, and the group of people who have known my longest in my life were all adamant that I was just being a silly teenager when I mentioned my thoughts. Which they had every right to think....Slimy had them all fooled. But my gut told me, and I listened.

Now, ten years later, people are shaking their heads, muttering "What a creep" under their breath (and sometimes not so quietly), about the same Slimy. I'm not surprised. No one can fake it forever.

So anyways, I love to watch the interactions of people, and their reactions, their expressions, and take the things I glean and spin them together into little blurbs, a few sentences in a story. A few of these I've written down, others I let drift away again, but all of them great for keeping the creative process of the mind from getting as fat and lazy as the rest of me over the season of eating rich foods non-stop (which I love).
(See picture at left.)

I'm going to try really, really hard over the next few days to concentrate on turning my house back into something resembling a vague attempt at cleaning, and keep thinking about the blurbs, and then I get back to the nitty-gritty.

It's nice to have work you look forward to; maybe that's how you know you've found the right job. =)