R is for Rocket

This is how I spent last night and also part of my Independence Day (who calls it that? I seriously thought the name of the holiday was “Fourth of July”; I mean… Well. I digress.): eating sticky red grapes and reading The Martian Chronicles.  And this is what my family experienced as I read:

Me: “Dude. This should be made into a movie.”
Dad: “It was a movie.”
Me: “No! It probably sucked! They probably ruined the Martians!!! I mean, if the movie doesn’t get the vibe, it has no vibe.”
Dad: “Oh…kay….”
Me: “Shh! I’m reading.”
Family:
Me:
Family:
Me: *GASP*
Family: *eye roll*
Dodge: “What? Pen?”
Mom: “She can’t hear you, she’s reading.”
Family:
Me:
Family:
Me: “Wha–? I don’t get the ending.”
Mom: “She doesn’t get the ending.”
Me: “Oh! I get it!”
Mom: “She gets the ending.”

And it was a really good ending. In fact, I liked the book a LOT. Except for a few chapters that I thought were kind of unnecessary even if they were a cool idea, like the automated house, and even the House of Usher bit– they sort of introduced the idea of “robots”– which were really androids, obviously– but then the idea never really gets carried through much. Except for the bit with Hathaway and his robot–android!–family. I’m just saying, there could have been a lot more done with that. Although maybe it wasn’t supposed to be its own theme, maybe it was actually just another piece of what I felt was the overall, underlying theme of the book: Do Not Wish You Could See Your Dead Loved Ones. Seriously. No. Because basically, on Mars, your dead loved ones appear all the time, but it’s never really them and it never ends well. I don’t know if Ray Bradbury just thought this was a cool idea or if he was trying to say something meaningful or whatever, but either way, that’s what I got from the androids and the hypnotic, hallucinogenic Martians.

I mean, there were the obvious themes, too: Who Is Really The Alien In This Situation, Go West Young Men/Humans Spread Everywhere, The Destruction Of Native Cultures, Space Makes People Crazy. But another theme I really liked in the book was the significance of memory, dreams, and perception/perspective. These are things that show up a lot in my own stories, so it was nice to know that I’m not the only one intrigued by these things, and that they don’t have to be cliche.

What was weird, though, was reading a sci-fi, spacey book from the forties. Sometimes it made me laugh– a hot dog stand? Really? And  why is everyone in this book from “farm” states like Ohio (har har), Idaho, Minnesota? Not to mention: atomic wars. Also, how come no country besides America sent people to colonize Mars? Really, the Russians are atomic-warring us on Earth in this story, but they don’t have rocket ships? I guess it would have added too much complexity for there to be other Earth nations mixed in when we already had conflict between the Americans and the Martians– but then I think, when the English colonized America, there were French, Dutch, Spanish, and German people coming in, too, and somehow that is still comprehensible. So… I don’t know. Maybe Ray just figured that since the Americans in the story were all killing each other anyway, adding other Earth people would have been redundant.

“He did not turn. He felt a cold wind blowing. He was afraid to turn. He felt something on the seat behind him, something as frail as your breath on a cold morning, something as blue as hickory-wood smoke at twilight, something like old white lace, something like a snowfall, something like the icy rime of winter on the brittle sedge.

There was a sound as of a thin plate of glass broken– laughter. Then silence. He turned.” 

I loved the descriptions best of all, as you can tell. The words had poetry. And pacing. And, as Bug and I would say, VIBES. Which is probably why I kept wishing I could somehow make this book into a really, really good miniseries or movie. The Martian costumes would be an absolute dream to create, silk and silver. Most of all, strangely, the scene I most want to make is Ylla cleaning the house on Mars. I imagine how the magnetic dust would look as she tossed it out of the window, toward the valley where York was supposed to land. I also would love to make the guns the Martians have: “From it hordes of golden bees could be flung out with a high shriek. Golden, horrid bees that stung, poisoned, and fell lifeless, like seeds on the sand.” I mean, that’s just… cool.

In conclusion, The Martian Chronicles is the most creative, original, intriguing, and surprising book that I’ve read in ages. It definitely gets put on the list of books that have changed (or at least moderately altered) my life.

Aaaaaand it was first published in 1945.

Sigh.

Also, I have realized that I’m knee-deep in sci-fi of late. This, plus watching old Star Trek episodes with Eliza and Bug, plus Poncho and I just finished watching the full fifth season of Doctor Who. ( Every single time there was a hint of aliens, Poncho said: “I bet it’s a weeping angel. Maybe it’s actually a giant angel. Wouldn’t it be awesome/funny if it was a weeping angel?”) I’ve always liked sci-fi-ish stuff (see: Lost, superheroes, The Golden Apples of the Sun), but now I am well and truly falling down the rabbit hole of no return. I’d like to make one of my new story ideas into a sci-fi, but I’m kind of afraid to take the leap. Fantasy is easy for me because you can pretty much make it up and/or manipulate the world so the weird stuff makes sense, but with science fiction I feel like I’d have to understand, say, radiation. Or, you know, technology in general.

At least I know the difference between a robot and an android. Geez.

Yours til the final frontier,
Pen

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(insert title here)

Mom: “My favorite blogger has not been blogging…”
Me: “Mhm, okay…” As I finished stitiching up my patient– You see, I was performing minor surgery on a leather jacket. It needed its tonsils (fine, I’ll say it: *gulp* shoulder pads) removed, desperately. The surgery was successful and now the jacket can live a happy, fahionable life as a member of my wardrobe. But it can only eat ice cream for the next week or so.
Me: “Anyway, I have nothing to blog about.”
Mom: “Um, your job?”

The first week, I dreamed of sorting books. For three nights in a row, all I did was sort in my sleep, shelving in sections made up of spinning racks with endless rows of last names beginning with O. Jeepers. Luckily that has worn off and I am free to enjoy my usual variety of dreams about being Prince Hamlet and fighting lions and solving murders and leading rebellions.

I also got my temp license renewed for ID purposes (though I do intend to start driving soon), and I got a bank account in the same day. The picture on my license is… Well, let’s just say that I laugh every time I look at it. I was trying to smile gently and not look like a moron. To no avail: my eyes appear to be half-closed, and my mouth is rumpled grouchily. Oh well.

The bad thing is that lately I feel like the Red Queen, or rather Alice when the Red Queen is pulling her along by the hand. Because I don’t accept this running-as-fast-as-I-can-to-stay-in-place thing as the only way of life. I am trying to adjust to the new schedule, and to being organized. I’m just not there yet.

Hence why my blog has been neglected thus…

Anyway, I did manage to squeeze in the beginning of Basket-Making Attempt no. 4, planting fall greens and collecting flower seeds, and dancing crazily to “It Won’t Be Long” as it spins, slightly scratched, around and around Dad’s record player. (Dad may or may not have been the one who, back in his youthful days, drew pink-highlighter glasses on all the Beatles’ faces.)

Oh, and drinking tea. The temperature suddenly became a teensy, tiny bit chilly. I have decided this means it’s now permissible to drink gallons of Earl Grey and wear sweaters.

So that is life at the moment. Hopefully I shall be back here soon, with many more thoughts.

Yours truly,
Pen

be careful, little sister– the bears are near.

I have a fever and I am fairly sure it’s part of the reason my head’s been so muddled. At the same time, I think I’ve been pondering my winter novel (I’m calling it that, since calling it my ‘new novel’ feels empty… besides, both the winter novel and Oak Heart are new, so…) too much.

Let me explain. The winter novel, which Mom and I have nicknamed Bears, is about a city which is surrounded by bears. And I can’t go into much detail, because I am sort of paranoid about putting my ideas all over the ‘net, so please excuse me for that. But I will say that the main character, Zoe, has nightmares about the bears in between attacks (yes, the bears attack the city).
Now I am suffering the same affliction.

The night before last, I had a “Hunger Games” dream, in which I was one of the tributes to fight in the arena. We come to find out (my fellow district-whatever tribute and I) that the arena is surrounded by bears to keep the tributes from escaping. I guess the Gamemakers reverted to more low-tech means after the incidents involving their force-field things (Haymitch and the axe, anyone?). :P 
Well, we somehow found the Gamemakers and questioned them about the bears. They said that they had meant to use the bears as a weapon against the tributes, but they could no longer control the bears, because being Capitol people they’d genetically altered the bears to be bigger, stronger– and, by accident, smarter.
I awoke from that dream feeling pleased, because it had given me an idea about the answers I needed to answer at some point in the novel. And besides, it’s been a good long time since I’ve dreamed about something I was writing. So I must say I was feeling a little proud because I’d actually figured something out as I was sleeping. 

Then last night the fever hit me. I had all kinds of crazy fever-dreams, dreams haunted by quantum physics most of the time. (I need to stop reading about quantum physics, but it’s so interesting! I love to learn about this theory because it always gives me inspiration for stories… Oh, science. I do so like it homeschool-style.)
Well anyway, last night I had the most frightening nightmares about bears. Bears that I, the author, have created in my head! For these bears are not the usual kind, of course.
In the dreams, or rather nightmares, there was always this same bear. (And I do think this dream-bear has earned a spot in the novel by now.)
The bear was in our house. It was trying to get me. It’s all very vague, but I was definitely frightened. Right now it’s barely even unsettling, but while it was happening I remember being so frozen with fear. I was absolutely terrified… and I will remember that bear. If it ends up in the novel, that part will just flow from this pitcher of memory that I have inside me. The bear will practically write itself. 

I don’t know. I was kind of freaked out when I first woke up. Of course I wanted so badly to work on the novel, but I was too ill until just now to even get off the couch. The medicine must finally be working now.

I must say, though– bears are creatures that have long lurked in my subconscious. Not always in such a malevolent way, however. I can remember being very young and always having this dream that I lived with bears, like Mowgli and the wolves, or a different spin on Goldilocks. I suppose I should have seen this novel coming from miles away.

This novel thrills me. I can’t stop thinking about it, writing it, working on it and collecting ideas and fishing for answers pertaining to it. At the same time it is very frustrating, because I’ve painted myself into a corner and I don’t want to write this one scene, but I have to and basically I need to find a good way to do it, to let Zoe take the reins. I think I will be better able to do that now. I feel a lot more connected to Zoe now that I’ve experienced a kind of little taste of what she goes through. Not nearly as bad as hers, but still. I can’t wait to get to work on it. I would now but all I can manage is blogging, since my head hurts and in a minute I’m going to go lie back down on the couch with something cold on my forehead. I won’t be able to stop thinking about it, though. My brain will work on it if my hands cannot. Day and night, conscious and subconscious….

Writing, I tell you, is a 24/7 job.  

Peace,
Pen

Smartness = Awesomeness

Awesomeness! Okay, I just found out the name of the author I was telling you about in my previous post ‘Beddor and the Bard’– it’s Frank Beddor. So I guess not specifically English, but I’m happy I know that now. Anyhoo, let’s see…. oh yes. Yesterday was another crazy rehearsal for our play. We’ve been working on our (as the lady says) ‘show stopper’ Ug a Wug number. Oh. My. Gosh. It’s pretty hard, but a lot of fun. And yesterday we were informed as we drank water like people who’ve spent three days in a desert that we’re only halfway done. That’s good, and also not. What else? Well, I also learned about this composer guy yesterday called Schubert. I play the flute, so I was playing part of his Unfinished Symphony, and I asked my music teacher why it was unfinished. I thought maybe something interesting happened to him, like he was poisoned before he could finish. That’s not the case. But it was interesting to learn about him anyway. Sometimes he couldn’t get a job in aristocratic society because he was supposedly rather ugly, but there was a picture of him and I thought he was okay. I mean, at least he wasn’t wearing a huge wig and an angry expression… and his hero was Beethoven. He was buried by dear Ludwig, too. Which is good, because if he was buried by Mozart they would’ve thrown him in a pit and sprinkled this powdery stuff on him. (I saw that in a movie when I was still in regular school. So who knows, maybe it’s not true but it makes for a good show– they play the Requiem music and it’s all dark and cloudy… yeah.) And then at rehearsal we were talking about how you get dizzy and that liquid stuff in your ears that keeps you balanced. So I feel very smart right now. Plus I remembered what ‘facetious’ means. One of my favorite words, although I have a list of favorite words– I have about sixty. Yes, I have problems. But you would, too, if you were me. I read constantly, my mom used to be an English teacher and my dad always talks in big words. Plus some words are fun to say or they just look funny. Or how about the word ‘extraordinary’. It means, like, out of the ordinary, right? Then why is it extra-ordinary, which seems like really ordinary? It’s weird. A conundrum. (see me sneak that other favorite word of mine in there? Oh, I am good.) (*singing*) You know you really got a friend–a friend!– we’ll be true blood brothers till the end, blood brothers till the end! I wonder if I’ll ever get that song out of my head. Ug. Tee-hee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Well, I bet you’ll be interested (or not) to know that my Girl Scout troop is going to World Friendship tomorrow. My mom is our leader. World Friendship (in case you don’t know– in case you heard ‘Girl Scouts’ and thought, yummy! cookies!)  is where a bunch of troops in one area come together and they each represent a country. They make and sell crfts and food that have to do with the country, and usually we put on a skit. This year we’re being China, so we’re doing a skit of two songs of Mulan. And we’re raffling off this parasol thing that I want becuase it’s amazing. We’re selling egg rolls and fortune cookies (which I’m going to buy a zillion of) and paper fans, necklaces, and these drum things. Somewhat cliche, what with the egg rolls and stuff, but it’s fun and it’s good so let’s just go with it. I’m excited but not, becuase they changed it this year (long story–let’s not get into it) and I’m worried no one is going to watch our skit. That makes me sad. Even though I’m really a writer, I still love the stage. “All the world’s a stage” as the Bard would say. I had a dream about a stage once…                                                                                     I can remember dreams even from years ago, if they were particularly real to me. It’s weird. Once I asked my dad “What if  dreams are real life, and real life is a dream?” and he said “Then I must be dead” becuase he claims he doesn’t dream. Which I half believe to be true. MissPrez (my best friend, as you may remember) says she knows she dreams but doesn’t remember them ever. Alas.

Well, I think I shall be on my way now… Arrivederci!