17 September 2014

Flight Instincts

Having to panic about stuff two weeks in advance is stupidly inconvenient and not at all like in Through the Looking-Glass when the White Queen's finger hurts before it even gets pricked by the pin and then doesn't hurt after the fact, because no matter how much I panic before an event happens, I still panic during the event until I slowly get back into the flow of the rest of the universe, though even that doesn't always happen. I get so stressed out about things that I start to think that purposefully breaking my leg would be a good idea because then I could just stay home and watch movies. Which is pretty messed up. Which is why I have to leave the house more often.

16 September 2014

My Chamber of Little Solitude

September is half over and I've only blogged once?! What have I been doing? I honestly don't even know what I've been up to. Probably spending too much time on Tumblr in order to forget some minor stressful events (such as taking public transit to Toronto later this week. It's a problem that this nearly debilitates me.). Anyways, so I finally dragged out the old camera and took some pictures of my room. The pictures aren't the greatest (my camera is 2005 garbage; sorry camera), and my room looks kind of lame, but whatever. I like it well enough.

Full disclosure: it looks like the bedroom of someone half my age because it hasn't changed much since it was last painted (when I was ten). The biggest change, besides the aging bodies of myself and my sister (with whom I share the room; her stuff is not pictured), occurred relatively recently when we put the majority of our stuffed animals into storage. In their place I put books.



The furry thing is a cat.
A cat at each end.

My bed. Our room isn't especially big, so we have a bunk bed. As the eldest, the top bunk is my domain. One the shelf about my bed are books and sundry curios (such as Hedwig, the Cheshire Cat, a goblet, and a Morning Musume clear file). Those dangling things are dream catchers. On the walls are the remains of cloud press on things, and one of those banner/flag things (which I made out of construction paper). 




My dresser (and creepy things on the shelf above the dresser). CDs, jewellery boxes, a crystal ball - regular stuff. On the right lamp, you may notice the crown from Rookie Yearbook One. On the wall behind it is a poster of a painting by Monica Ramos (I got the poster in Yen Magazine's 2013 Photography Issue) (Monica's work is really fantastic, by the way). Of the other paintings, the top left is a Tricia Romance print (it's also signed by her; my parents got it in a month or two before I was born, and after I was born the three of us visited Niagara-on-the-Lake and got a signed poster and Tricia Romance held me while my mom was in the bathroom and my dad was MIA, probably getting something to eat; we have a number of her prints); the bottom right is a really cheap Monet print. I have no idea who the other paintings are by. 

I also have no idea why young girls are often gifted with porcelain dolls which they are not actually allowed to play with and which subsequently sit upon shelves across with unblinking eyes...I'm not as scared of them now as I used to be. It's probably for the best that they are out in the open and not boxed away (because god knows what they would do if we weren't here to keep a watch over them). 

The other picture is a close up of one of my jewellery boxes (and the only mirror in the room) (and me!).

A close up of a little cat statue from Mexico.
I collect old keys. This is only some of them. The small one is probably from a diary. The middle one is likely for a gate or cabinet. The biggest one is a legit key from an antique store in Quebec City. The other thing is something my mom recently found under a vending machine at work, possibly an old coat-check tag. It's fitting, because I turned 24 this year.




The window. The thing at the very top is something my mom crafted years ago; it's a bunch of branches and fake vines and berries from a craft store, twined around each other and held up by two nails. The flying figures of the Beatles and the Yellow Submarine I made this year, in honour of the Beatles 50th anniversary of being on the Ed Sullivan Show. I made them mostly with construction paper and glue, with a bit of assistance from pencil crayons and markers. The colours have faded and the construction paper is starting to warp, which is sad, because it all used to match the Yellow Submarine cartoon exactly, but I'm still proud of it all.

George and John.
Ringo and Paul.



The bookshelf (yes, it is just one foot away from the bed; I have to knell with my legs under the bedframe in order to properly access my books). Top shelf are Precious Moments figurines. Then sundry stuff. Then photographs. Then Cherished Teddies. Then my fantasy books. Then "regular" books and my jpop CD collection. Then the radio and my sister's books. The typewriter needs to be repaired, but it is over a hundred years old.



Harry Potter tin lunchbox.
Playmobil fairy and unicorns. 


Bracelets I made. Rocks the Earth made.
Signed by Tavi in Toronto last October.



So there it is. Not exactly the bedroom of a hip young adult, but screw it I like this stuff.
If anyone wants to know more about anything, just ask. ^_^




9 September 2014

Words, words, words! - Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 192)

Mom: What are you doing?
Me: Writing.
Mom: Writing about what?
Me: I'm writing about writing.

It's hard to tell if I'm any good at this whole blogging thing. Each post comes after a solid interval of time. Is it because it's writing-based rather than visual-based? (And because my writing tends to be long and rambling?) I don't know. Things have been hectic without anything actually happening. And since I'm applying to a couple masters programs, I've been thinking a lot about that.

I've decided that I'm gonna have to suck it up and just write some literary pieces. I did send an email to one program, asking if they accept pieces in a variety of fiction genres, but I never got a response. So to be on the safe side, I must create something literary. Bleh. I'm really not a fan of literary stuff. I can write it all right (even if I don't enjoy it), but, when it comes to reading, there's only a few authors whom I find acceptable. Mostly Haruki Murakami and Chuck Palahniuk. Alice Munro is good too, though I haven't read very much of her work. Most people write literary in a very straight forward kind of way. I think a lot of them try to hard to write it in a Modernist style. But not everyone needs to be Hemingway or Chekhov. You have to write as yourself, though it can take a while to figure out what exactly that entails.

For me, it means being as ridiculous as possible while still managing to get away with it. That's pretty much my goal when it comes to writing. Being ridiculous and getting away with it. Making strange choices and making them work. I can't really explain how I manage to enact this, but this is what I have to keep in mind when I write literary stuff. To write a straight-up normal story is boring - to write it is boring and to read it is boring. To me, at least. I guess other people like normal stuff, or they have small imaginations maybe. That's harsh. But I have to make it weird in some way. Usually as weird as makes sense for the story/character. There's not point in holding back the weirdness because, hey, life is pretty weird. So that's my mission. The literary piece I'm working on now, it's possibly the opening of a novel, but I'm writing it so that it can also be a stand-alone short story, it's sort of a dream sequence, I guess. (But there's more to it than that; the way to get around the academic world's disdain of fantasy is to write speculatively instead. :P So in the place of fairy dust is technology and conspiracy.) It's pretty weird (hopefully). We shall see how it turns out.

It's been useful reading Palahniuk and the Beats alongside working on this piece. (I recently read Palahniuk's novel Diary, and now I'm reading Kerouac and Ginsberg's Letters.) Palahniuk is always good to read because he tends to write weirdly. Like, the things he writes are firmly set in reality, but there's always something oddball about it, or hints at the supernatural. Reading his work is very encouraging for me. And the Beats are always good purely because of their language and rhythm, and even just their shear excitement about writing.

They say that reading the work of anyone whom you respect is useful, but I think it really depends on the situation. Like, when I'm working on a fantasy piece, I cannot read Harry Potter. I just can't, or the story will morph into a re-writing of Hogwarts and Co. (It's happened a number of times already.) So sometimes you do have to make a conscious effort to stay away from things that are influencing you in a non-useful way. It's important that you remain in control of your piece and not let other things sway you. Whenever I find myself losing control, I move on to a different piece. Sometimes you just have to let something sit for a while. If you think the piece is worth working, you will go back to it eventually, probably with a clearer sense of what exactly you want it to be.

..................................................................................................................................................................................

I've got this place stuck in my head. It's not a real place, more like a pastiche of real places. I dream a lot about this place, and weirdly it resembles some of the locations from Arcade Fire music videos (I dreamt of this place for years before I even saw an AF video, so it's not just like the things I see when I'm awake seeping through my unconscious). I call the place Renton (after Mark Renton from Trainspotting). I can see Renton pretty clearly, and there are a few stories I've got stored up in my head that are set there, but they aren't developed enough to set down on paper yet. I've got some rough notes, but nothing concrete. People say that you should just write anyways, no matter how bad it is, just to get the thing out, blah blah blah. I do a lot of work in my head, though, and I've written enough in general to realize the difference between a concept/an idea and a story/plot itself. There is one Renton story that I probably could just sit down and write (I've got a lot of it out in pieces anyways). I know the general arch of it - where it starts, where it goes, where it ends. It's a matter of filling in the missing pieces. (I've been developing it for over a year now, I think - which sounds like a lot of time, maybe too much for a short story - so hopefully I do know enough about it to set it all down.) It's sort of like a guessing game sometimes. I tend to start off with characters (and sometimes places), take some time to learn about them, to see them are real people and fully functioning locations, and then figure out what kinds of stories they are living.

Even though I haven't been as productive with my writing as I want to be, I think I've been learning about the way in which I actually approach writing. I don't know if it's necessary to do, but it's happened nevertheless.

30 August 2014

Deep Breathing during the Twelfth Hour

Last Saturday was the premier of Doctor Who series 8, as well as our first full episode with the Twelfth Doctor. I was pretty nervous about it, as well as excited. This was my first time as a fan actually experiencing a regeneration. It's one thing to watch old episodes, knowing what's about to happen, but it's quite different when, in your heart, you think it's going to be the same old Doctor walking out of the TARDIS. You keep expecting the same face and movements and voice - and the you remember that it's not going to be him, your Doctor, anymore.

Except he is. He is still your Doctor.

That seemed to be the main thing that they wanted to accomplish with "Deep Breath": reassuring Clara (and, through her, the audience) that, although the Doctor looks extremely different and although his personality and quirks may have changed, in his hearts, he is still the same alien.

I think that a lot of people assumed that, because of his age/appearance, the Twelfth Doctor would be more serious and academic, so it was quite entertaining for the episode to begin with the Doctor ranting and raving in a nightgown, proclaiming the dinosaur to be his lover, using chalk to do mathematics all over a bedroom, and then escaping from said bedroom by climbing out the window because it feels more natural to him than the door. His banter with the grubby man was good too. I especially liked that they addressed the fact that Peter Capaldi had been on the show before: "I never forget a face. I've seen this face before. Why this face? Why this face?" Clara's conversation (or what it a test?) with Vastra was equally interesting. It was good for both Clara and the audience to hear all that from Vastra - that we have to trust the Doctor, because he trusts us and he needs us there with him, no matter what happens. (It was also good for Vastra to hear Clara's comeback - though she was probably hoping/expecting to hear it, she needs to get told off every so often. Those bloody lizards. )

It was a pretty solid episode overall, with excellent acting from everyone. The plot with the robot things was obviously secondary to the main action of the regeneration fallout, but it was a decent enough plot to introduce the new Doctor. Really though, besides the regeneration, it was the little things that made the episode perfect. Like the little mystery of who placed the ad in the paper (and of who led Clara to the Doctor in the first place). I'm sort of assuming it's River, but that's a bit too obvious, so I'm hoping that it's someone else. (I don't know if this is possible considering they're travelling in different directions time-wise, it'd be cool if this Doctor and River could meet somehow.) Anyways, now that the mystery behind Clara's identity has been demystified, it's good that they introduced something new like this, albeit seemingly small. (Of course, there is also the major question of what will happen with Galifrey - personally, I'm hoping that the Doctor will manage to bring in back to our universe somehow.)

Another little cool thing is how, at the start of the episode, Peter sort of mirrored Matt's all-over-the-place speech patterns (similar to how, in his first episode, Matt copied Tennant's iconic "What? What? What?"). And of course, a "Geronimo!" is always welcome. The phone call from Matt was also a nice touch. Again, similar to how Matt stepped through Tennant's holographic face, when Clara turns to the Doctor and asks why he is listening to the phone conversation, and he says it is because it is him on the phone, and then she hugs him, visually we are taken from one Doctor to the next in a way that is less dramatic than the initial regeneration itself, but still a very powerful statement that this is the Doctor, forever and always.

Looking forward to tonight's episode!

EDIT: OH I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THE CREEPY "WELCOME TO HEAVEN" LADY. It's totes her messing with them. It'll be interesting to see how all that plays out. (Also, why does she look so much like that creepy woman who kept appearing to Amy and then turned out to be a crazy doctor or whatever who was planning on taking Amy's daughter from her and raising her to be a murderer (backfired, didn't it?)??? Crazy women on TV always look like a youngish strega-nonna.

28 August 2014

Realizing or Remembering

In my pre-Adventure Time preparations (which involved cleaning cat pee and eating raspberries - not at the same time) I realized why I've been feeling so angry and anxious. It's not depression  -- it's because I haven't been writing!!! Well, I've been doing this blog, but it's not the same as writing fiction. I haven't solidly worked on something in forever, and that is what's making me crazy. It's a relief, to be honest. I was worried that I was getting bad again, but it all comes down to writing!

One of the main reasons that I haven't been writing is that I'm always afraid that I'm just wasting my time. Because, in terms of applying to masters programs or submitting pieces for publication, the stuff I write isn't what people are looking for. It's all about literary these days (intelligent! academic! literary!), which isn't what I do. I like writing fantasy and YA stuff. And unfortunately, the academic establishment scoffs at this kind of writing. It's too commercial for them. Bleh! I don't write what I write in the hopes of being super commercially successful - I just want to write good stories with good writing!

I really have to learn to remind myself that, whenever I feel down, it's probably because I haven't written in a while, and I should open the nearest notebook and fill a few pages, and then I'll feel better.