A road too long to mention

Well, there are only a couple more days left of our time in El Paso, and then it’s the trek back to Denver. In preparation, I’ve been reading On the Road. I’m glad I waited until now to read it, actually, because his journey in the beginning of the book, from New York to Denver, is very similar to the way Patrick and I drove with our U-Haul when we moved. I can really picture it: I also traveled through Illinois, took a quick stop in North Platte, felt the excitement of getting close when we hit Cheyenne.

Then, when he’s actually in Denver, I could imagine him running around Colfax; I could relate to his friend’s basement apartment and poems about those Denver pigeons.

Of course, there’s still parts I don’t understand at all– like when he casually mentions walking five miles to a friend’s place. I’m just like… How??? Wouldn’t that take a long time?? Was this a normal thing, to walk five miles to meet up with someone? Did they just sit around waiting for however long it takes you? EXPLAIN PLEASE.

Right now I’m sitting in a Starbucks, across from a stranger who is also on a laptop. It’s crowded, needless to say. I just tried to move my foot and I accidentally nudged theirs and I died for a second.

Another thing about On the Road is the way he hops from city to city, job to job. He gives his shirt away to a fellow traveler (and later, gets it back). It reminds me of what I love about movie hit-men: if they lose their coat or their gun, they just find another one laying around and use that. Goals, man. If I could go with the flow even half as much as movie hit-men and Sal Paradise…

Oh, the stranger got up for a second. Time to stretch my legs… Oh lord. Well, at least I’m not the guy who got stuck with just an armchair in a corner.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the road trip, and to getting home and having my own pillow back, and doing some projects. (One of which, I keep joking to Patrick, is going to be the opening credits of an indie film with the song “Rights of Man” playing in the background for absolutely no reason.)

I’ll miss this city, though. El Paso makes me feel so refreshed (*one hundred sun emojis*).

Also, I slept for twelve and a half hours last night… Which I guess might have something to do with it.

Advertisements

though my memory rusts, I will always see the icicle tusk.

So we were supposed to have this life-threatening winter snowstorm deep freeze thing today… but at the moment, it’s just extremely cold. Which is bad enough, okay, but seriously….?

People’s obsessions with weather used to annoy me, but then I got obsessed too. Or at least mildly interested, maybe because of my interest, always, in the atmosphere of everything. Some of the most lovely and interesting weather I have seen happens very late at night when Oliver has to drive me home and try not to crash. Fog, mist, rain, sleet, snow– movie-set snow, snow like moon dust or sand, and last night’s snow that seemed to hang in the air like fog, casting everything mysterious and white.

I don’t very much appreciate the atmosphere of danger that ice imparts, though.

Darn! I wanted a snow day, an excuse to drink excessive hot chocolate and lie around listening to records and reading books and maybe finally topping off the candles I made with Bug and Marie, which have been sitting in a box waiting patiently while I gallivant around in everyone’s Christmas break. “Yeah, you really need a break from… nothing,” Oliver said.

But it wasn’t a break! Actually, I think my brain has been more active lately than it’s been in ages. I’ve been reading every day, chewing my way through alleged classics and The Secret History (yum); I’ve been researching and gathering materials constantly for my current “Robots” story; I’ve been absorbing my surroundings better than ever, remembering more conversations, getting better at character sketches.

This probably still sounds like a break, actually, and I’m not saying that this was super difficult for me, or that any of this felt like work. But lately I keep remembering what someone in my writer’s group once said to me. She was talking about the advantages of keeping a journal as a writer, and she said that you start out just writing things down when you’re looking for inspiration, or when you’re waiting for the “grist”, as she called it. But then after a while you realize that you’re not writing stuff down while you’re waiting for the grist anymore; that stuff has become the grist. For me this isn’t all totally intentional, gathering grist– but thinking about that advice, I have become more aware of (and hopefully better at) the practice.

This probably also sounds like I’m all, “I’m taking time to focus on my Art” [*adjusts tortoiseshell glasses*], but… I did lie around a lot, too. Whatever.

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

It’s beginning to look a lot like… an utter failure on the part of nature to deliver an actual winter.

All I want for Christmas is SNOW.
I will aslo accept:
slush,
sleet,
brooding gray clouds,
marrow-clenching cold,
or a combination of the above.
So, yeah, hint-hint, you guys. Better get cracking on that, because so far it pretty much still looks like October. It’s already St. Nicholas Day, didn’t you know. (And I already snarfed the chocolate coins I found in my shoes this morning. I can’t control myself around those things. Shiny! Tasty! We must have the precious!) 

Hey, speaking of preciouses, I finally got my hands on Reached, the sequel to the fab book Matched (I am pretending Book Two never happened. Although it did help me learn something about myself: I can’t handle guys with issues. Sorry, I just don’t get the whole brooding + depressed = attractive thing. I mean, Rochester has issues, and he can be brooding sometimes– partly because that’s just his face– but he’s also teasing and independent and he doesn’t give in to melodrama. And seriously, if a guy in a GOTHIC NOVEL doesn’t do melodrama, then what the heck is your problem, Ky and that soldier guy and Arthur Clennam who I secretly love anyway?)

Ahem. Back to what I was saying… I finished Reached today after getting it last night. (Basically, I behave the same way around shiny new books as I do around shiny coin chocolate. Omnomnom.) It was not as good as Matched, which I obviously expected, but it was much more like Matched than book two was. So it made me happy.
It was also so good, good, good to sink my teeth into a book that’s not a classic, that’s not an “adult” book, that’s not something I want to nitpick or something I grabbed out of desperation. I just let myself enjoy this, you know? Classics can be enjoyable, but they require work to get through– I don’t mean “boo-hoo, they made me think!”, I mean “ouch my brain why why why are your sentences so wordy, Dickens?” Time and the evolution of the English language makes reading some classics hard. (To use Jane Eyre again, I initially rolled my eyes at that book every time it said “unclosed” instead of “opened”. But then I got into it, and I loved it so much, and also Eliza wrote a poem inspired by it that used the word “unclosing”, and I just couldn’t hate it after that.) I think some people believe that “easy reading” is for wimps or lazy consumers or the uneducated mass market or whatever. But you know what? Writers work so hard to write well, to make everything correct and clear and beautiful. They forge the same sentences over and over until it’s perfect. And then– they make it so you don’t see those words that they worked so hard over. They make it so that you see only the story. It’s hard to make it easy.
Plus, wouldn;t you rather puzzle about the meaning of the story– and by extension, the meaning of life!, says the hipster on my left shoulder– than the meaning of a sentence?

OK, well, I didn’t mean to go into a rant there… See what literature does to my brain?

Anyway. Hmm.

Oh, yes.

So, the other night we were watching “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because it was on TV. By we, I mean: Dad, Poncho, and me. We were kind of sitting there in quiet bemusement, because the movie is so weird. I never noticed how weird when I was a kid (I always liked “The Little Drummer Boy” better, anyway), but, okay. Everyone in the movie is mean, especially Santa Claus, and Rudolph’s mom doesn’t even have a name. (Also the snowman is a Communist, according to Poor Bill.)
Then Mom came in towards the end of the movie, right when there’s a big snowstorm and they’re going to “cancel Christmas”.
Me: “So this is the movie that started that idiocy.”
Mom: “I don’t know if they started it, or just jumped on the bandwagon.”
Santa: “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Mom: “So basically, Santa’s a total jerk to you until you have something he needs.”
Rudolph: Of course” (or whatever he said to the affirmative)
Mom: “Jeez, Rudolph has some boundary issues. He should’ve been like, ‘Screw you, Santa!'”
Me: “BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA”
Later…
Mom: “I’ve always felt that way about that movie, and I’ve never been able to express myself.”
Me: “Well, it’s true. I mean, Santa never has a change of heart in this movie. He gets fat, but he’s still mean. Also do you find it weird that Rudolph’s mom’s name is literally Mrs. Donner?”
Mom: “Yeah, kinda…”
Me: “And only the boy reindeer can fly, apparently? I mean, do not tell me that all of Santa’s reindeer are supposed to be boys. There’s girl names in the song. You know Dasher and Comet and Cupid and… uh…”
Dodge: “Well, they all have antlers.”
Mom: “Girl reindeer have antlers, too!”
Dodge: “No they don’t….”
Mom:
Dodge:
Me: “BAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
(Can you tell that “later” meant “after midnight”?)

Well, then I went to help “Saint Nick” get a certain present ready. It involved funneling fake snow into a glass ornament. The brand of artificial snow was called Rainbow Snow. But I mis-read it as “Raining Snow”.
Me: “Look, mommy, it’s raining snow outside! Ahahahahahahaha–”
Mom: “Har.”

Yeah, if only it were raining snow…

Yours till the snow flakes (DO YOU HEAR ME UP THERE! I SAID SNOW!!!),
Pen

Argh! or, my thoughts on series books.

I am so sick of series that if I never saw or read one again, it wouldn’t bother me in the least. Now, that’s a sad thing. I’ve read many a good series in my day. But the trouble is with all these new ones, these new series coming out. You pick up book One. You start to read it. It is a really good book; engaging, exciting, well-written, etc. So you stay up all night reading it under your covers, which is the only proper way to read anything suspenseful really, and then.
The End.
Except not.
It’s not the end. It’s The “End of Book One”. With some horrid, cruel, cliffhanger ending.
In short, the whole book was a huge ripoff.

And then to make things worse, book Two isn’t even out yet. So that means by the time it’s finally released in about a year, you’ve already forgotten half the characters and all the cute little details and everything from Book One. But even if Book Two is out, you start to wonder: how many books is this going to turn out to be? A reader can lose hope. Unless it’s called “trilogy” or something, then I start to get wary. How many cliffhanger endings can I deal with? How many 300 page books can I read?

What is wrong with books today????
So many things, my friends. So many, many things.

I mean, the book world, or at least my corner of it (the teen section, ugh), already has enough problems. Now this? This garishly obvious marketing ploy? “Oh, let’s make a cliffhanger ending. Then they’ll have to buy Book Two. And Book Three. And on and on.” Yeah, well, I’ll also have to throw your book at the wall when it’s over because it has a crap ending. So take that!

Seriously, though? No one thinks people deserve a whole book in one piece? No one thinks I deserve a halfway satisfying ending? A reward for all my trouble? It’s fine to write a series. Perfectly acceptable. It’s even OK to have a somewhat uncertain ending, one where the reader understands that they’ll need Book Two and Three and so on to complete the story. You know, where these’s a sense of hope and satisfaction but also uncertaintiy about the future. NOT like someone threw a knife while blindfolded at the manuscript to see where the ending would cut off. 

It takes skill to wrap a book up, to make an ending. I know. And that’s why it bothers me. The author is cheating when they just drop you off a cliff and then type, “the end” like it doesn’t mean anything after all that you were awake all night, waiting, expecting, hoping… only to be ripped off and reminded that everything in the world is just a stupid ploy to get your money. 

Of course, that’s just how the world works. Best we all get used to it. However, there are other ways to make me buy Book Two. Like, oh, I don’t know, writing a good story? Creating memorable characters that I care about? Just a suggestion. It sounds dumb, I know.

Maybe they’re approaching it too much from the “Information Age” perspective. As in, “they will buy Book Two because they will want to know what happens next.” vs “They will buy Book Two because they loved Book One.” I’d sure like to know whether the good team wins or if the guy gets the girl, or whatever. But that comes after the main reason, which is that I’d want to enter that world again. I’d want to revisit these people I’ve come to care about. I’d want to go through it all again.
But when I hit a cliffhanger ending that mean me throw the book across the room and sulk and feel betrayed and pace around and scour the internet for the next installment and pull my hair out and growl and rant and feel ripped off… Well, who wants to do that over and over?

And how can I re-read and re-read and re-read a book that basically has no ending? It can never be my favorite book. It can never be the book that I read when I’m sad or ill or bored or just wanting that good story again… Because it’s simply not worth it. There’s no satisfaction, no comfort. There’s not that feeling of when you finish a book and you just sort of sit there staring into space just turning it over and over in your mind for a while. Once you have the information, there is no reason to read it again.

That is a sad thing.
So don’t write crap endings.
Or else.

And hey– while we’re on the subject of what not to write in books… Don’t kill the dog.
Just don’t.
Why even put a dog in there, and go through the trouble of giving it a name and a personality and making me love it, only to kill it off quickly once the part you needed it for is over?
Don’t do that. Ever again.
Or else.
Two threats in one day… Bad endings put me in a sour mood.

-Pen

Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbir– jay.

GAH!!!
I am still dying for Mockingjay. We (Dad and I) are number 19 of 61 holds (I check at least once a day). For the Large Print edition. The regular edition has over 400 holds… Sigh. At least we’re moving up on the list, steadily. But slowly. Ag.

 I have not read anything in about a week. This is not good news for my mental state.
[Maybe it’s even what’s been causing my EXTREMELY PAINFUL writer’s block, which is not really a block but–
Curse you, Prefrontoral Cortex!
Is that even the right part of the brain? Hmm? It’s the only one I know. That and the hippocampus, because the word hippocampus makes me think of hippos camping, or going to college maybe… SEE what’s happening? I’m going off the deep end here!]

Anyway.

Yeah. So, I have been trying to find an alternative thing to read. There is pretty much nothing. This is the part of the show where I would usually go off on a tangent about the inexcusable idiocy of my library, and the suckiness of vampires (heh), etcetera. However, I am determined, despite my deteriorating mental standpoint, to write about something besides that which I have already mentioned, and mentioned numerous times before.

Ahem.
Ready?

I hereby propose that the literary world needs to re-configure its non-adult genres.
Firstly, there needs to be a separate genre for readers between the ages of, oh, 12-14. You see, when a good reader (ie, me) reaches the age of twelve, they walk into the library and there is. Nothing. To. Read.
They’ve already read all the good Middle Grade books (there aren’t that many…), and they are too advanced and intelligent for the rest of the MG books. But they’re too young for the Teen/YA books. So what is there to read?
Nothing!!!!
Now, all the adults like to complain that teens don’t read. Well, you wanna know why? It’s because by the time they were 12-13, there was nothing TO read. They end up going weeks, months, maybe a year without really reading much of anything, and so they lose their appetite for reading. They might try to come back to it when they’re 14 or so, but they’re instantly put off their feed again by the flagrant use of the word “puberty” in all those lovely Teen books. Like, if you want to keep kids away from something, like sugary drinks, just put “puberty” really big on the label. Believe me, they will be repulsed.
So anyway, by the time these young teens are old enough to actually read YA, they don’t care for reading anymore and therefore miss out. Only the handful of kids (myself included) who make it through those 3 or so years of literary starvation did so by reading the classics, or settling for absolute crap. I did a bit of both, sad to say. I discovered Alice in Wonderland, but I also read stupid stuff that was an insult to my intellect.

My second idea is to draw the line, a very clear, very dark line, between the genres of Teen and YA.
You see, Teen books somehow don’t have the same oomph as one I would call YA. Frankie Landau-Banks is YA. Curse of the Zombie Prom Date is Teen. See the difference? How the YA one is not pop-culture trend-following, not insulting to my intelligence, not bad writing with a lot of cliche and crap and words like puberty? Because Teen books are the ones that are about “growing up” “finding yourself” “the changes that come with becoming a teenager”, blah blah blah. YA is sort of about that stuff… I mean, Frankie Landau-Banks is sort of about how she “finds herself” or whatever, but it’s more than that. It’s more real. It’s not trying to be about that, you know? It’s really a book about an awesome girl with an incredible mind and what happens her sophomore year. Its underlying themes are just that– underlying themes. Not Morals to the Fake-O Story.
Teen books are the ones that try to be funny, and say stuff about bras, and boys, and being unpopular, and being insecure.
YA books are the ones that make you laugh out loud in public, and quote the characters, and actually use your brain, and think about them long after you’ve finished them.
Teen books are the ones that have cheesy titles, and white on the covers like they think they’re Seventeen magazine or something, and follow book trends, and were clearly written by some lady who thinks she must be super hip, but really she’s just a teacher with some kind of stupid degree that says she knows what youth are thinking and what they’re like.
YA books are the ones that have interesting titles, and use a wider vocabulary, and stand alone from the culture so that if your kids read it years from now they wouldn’t think it was lame, and you don’t even think about who wrote it because it seems like it wasn’t written, it was spoken or lived or told to you and only you, for the whole time you’re reading the book, until you finish it and immediately want to talk to someone else about it, and think about it with them, and so you suggest it to all your friends or your dad or your mom’s book club and then you talk about it with them for two hours straight.
See the difference? See? YA doesn’t belong under Teen. YA should have its own shelf, heck, it’s own library– it’s in a whole other league. If YA and Teen were spearate, I wouldn’t have to pick through a million crap books before finding the one that was worth it all.

That’s my proposition.

You know, everyone makes a big deal out of writing books for teens, books that all teens will want to read and not just the ones like me who are voracious readers. So they dumb stuff down. Well guess what? You’re just losing more readers, because most of the teens reading are NOT your every-teen, they are the reading teens, which means they stuck it out through 3 or so years of wasteland, and now what happens? More puberty talk? Stupid cliches? Bras and vampires?
This is not what young readers want. Yeah, the culture wants it, but the real readers who are there with a book day in and day out, who may not make you as rich as Stephanie Meyer but who are true and loyal and valiant and smart, do not want crap Teen books.
We demand YA!!!!!

Well.

It was nice to finally get that out of my system. All the exclamation points were building up pressure.

Yours till the Teen books don’t suck
(or in summary, Forever Yours),
Pen

How to Write for Teens

Step One: Think about what teens like to read. As an adult, you sure do know the answer to that one! Cuz you have market research! And aren’t those vampire books soooo popular? So let’s make those! Oh, and also, let’s make lots of books about “growing up” and the changes that come with that. Yeah, all those confusing emotional changes. Then, let’s make all the books have “meanings”, too. Because teens will read it and not notice that we’re really just lecturing them! But make sure you don’t use any grown-up words, because weak-minded teens might not comprehend– I mean, know— what you’re saying in the dialogue– I mean, talking parts. Oh, and make sure to add some slang and abbreviations, like this: “Yo, my homefries. Wanna come hang?” “IDK, let me ask my parental unit. BRB.” “Fo shizzle, dude.” “K, I’ll CU L8R.”  

Step Two: Once your book is finished, you want to make sure you have a catchy title, one that will really resonate with teens. Some examples are: The Hottie Vampire I Sit Next to in Class Who I didn’t Know was a Vampire Even Though He’s Remarkably Pale and Has Fangs; My Parents are Jerks; The Zombie Prom Date; Liar Liar Bras on Fire; The Mom is Dead and the Dad is Withdrawn; AngstAngstAngst. Now all you have to do is write up a little description for your book, which will go something like: “Sophie is an outcast. She has no friends and a pitiful life. her parents suck and won’t let her do anything. Finally she meets a cute guy who is coincidentally very popular and likes her even though she is of course a total geek, and also wears high-tops because she can kick your butt. But is her new BF human? She will soon find out….” Then get a stock photo of, say, a pair of Converse sneakers, and make that your cover. Now publish your book.

Congratulations! You’ve just written and published a book that is exactly like every other book on the shelf! Teens will love it! Now you can be as rich as that guy who wrote Twilight! or those Hippie Snotter books! Those were written by the same person, right? Oh, and your book will be made into a movie on Disney Channel! Except of course all those swearwords you put in to appeal to teens will have to be omitted. Still, Yay You, Adult Writing For Teens!! You’re fab!!

Ahhh. I feel much better now. All that sarcasm was building up pressure in my brain. But maybe I used too many grownup words in my little piece up there… well, basically it boils down to: I Teen. Library Stinky. Boooooo. Angstangstangst.

TTYL my salty homefries,
Pen

PS: this was going to be a post about how to fix the whole literary world in reagrds to teen and YA, but this came out of left field and I didn’t think my more serious essay would make a good compainion to it, so… another day, yes?

Who are You?

from the disney movie
"Who are you?" "I-I hardly know, sir... At least, I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then... I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, because I'm not myself, you see."

Yesterday and the day before, I spent much of my time reading. I finished two pretty intense books in the span of a few hours, and while the books weren’t perfect, they made me think.

The first was about a boy named Q whose neighbor and ex-friend Margo disappeared, leaving clues behind that seem to be meant for him. What was interesting about this book is that as Q searches, involving his friends and others who knew Margo, he realizes that she’s not who he thought she was. She’s not who anyone thought she was, because they all knew different versions of her. They all percieved her in different ways, but they realize that they never knew the real her. They were looking at her through something that was “more mirror than window”, as Q says.

The second book was, again, about a boy and a girl, except they were never friends and they didn’t even meet until the girl died and came back as a ghost or whatever to help the boy– well, the plot’s not important. What’s important is what she said about people. To paraphrase, she said that we’re too big. Too big to be fully understood by each other, too big to ever really fit into this world or our mortal bodies.

Both the books also talked about being connected to each other. The first used the example of grass, which is connected by the same root system though each blade is individual. The second had the girl talking about death/heaven, and saying that part of it is feeling connected.

It’s really lucky chance that I read these books in direct succession, because together, they present an interesting view of humanity, and one that feels true at least to me. First of all, I definitely think that we don’t really see each other for who we are. How can we? I act differently depending on who I’m with, so if all my friends got together maybe they wouldn’t know which version of me was the real me, either. When really all of them/none of them are. And the mirror effect that Q talks about is true, too, but it’s not entirely the viewer’s fault that they see me through a mirror and not a window. I perpetuate the mirror by acting like the viewer. Do you know what I mean?

And I definitely feel the “too big” analogy. I feel like when I die and shed my earthly body, I won’t look a thing like it. In my mind I look a completely different way so that every time I look in the mirror or at a picture of myself… It’s not that I think I look bad, just off somehow. Same way as if I hear my voice on a recording. 
I feel too big for my name, too. But as much as I’ve scoured the internet, name books, other languages… there’s nothing I would change my name to. It’s like I must have a name, but it’s a word that’s never been invented and never will be.

All of this makes me wonder who I really am. It makes me wonder if I’m a combination of my mirrored selves or none of them at all. I wonder if I will be someone else when I grow up. I wonder who I would be if I, like Margo, tore off my old life like a band-aid and started over completely fresh, in a new place with new people. Sometimes I feel like I can’t really be myself around the people that I know because they might think less of me. Like they might see me through a window and decide that they don’t like me anymore. I know, I know, that’s weird and paranoid. And incredibly insecure. 

I’m half considering not posting this at all, because people I know might read it. See? “Exhibit A: Subject is afraid to voice private opinion even on her blog.”

Is there any way to overcome this fear? Is there any way to really know someone else? Is there any way to really know oneself?

"I can't help you if you don't even know who you are, stupid girl."

Whether I like it or not, God knows everything about me. I can’t be a mirror-version of myself even if I tried, because He would know who I really am. All the good things, all the bad things. Things I tell people and things I keep to myself. I suppose He’s the only one ever who can see me fully, beyond mirrors and windows, opinions, the way I dress or speak around different groups of people, beyond my fears or my insecurities. It’s a bit scary to think that God would know everything about me. Indescribable to think that He would love me anyway.

It’s more than just loving me despite my sins, it’s loving me for who I am. I don’t even think I love my own self that much; I can hardly stand myself oftentimes. Humans are such complicated beings; we have so many layers and that’s why the heroes in books also have their flaws. I’m sure God is the only one who can stand knowing everything, every detail of who we are and love us anyway.

Maybe I don’t make any sense right now– that’s all right. I can’t seem to say exactly what I mean, but I hope you get the general idea…

Much Love,
The Real Pen
(She’s here somewhere.)

“Everything shipshape in Bristol with the fake mustache?”

I felt like quoting The Thief Lord movie today.
I need to watch it again. (Riiight. For about the thousandth time. ;P )

Well, I have a very funny story to tell you today. 

To begin, I must say that I am supposed to help the DHFs work on a project. We’re making something on movie maker for a dinner that is being had for a bunch of priests, it being the year of the priest and everything. We decided that I would be dropped off at their house on Tuesday morning.
So I woke up this morning (Monday, but I didn’t know that yet) and FREAKED OUT. Mom had already left for work, and I suddenly panicked because I thought for sure it was Tuesday, and I flew downstairs and shot off an email to Eliza, FREAKING OUT on her and basically blathering crazily. I hit send.
Then I looked at the date on the lower right hand side of the computer screen.
I sent another email, which said:
oh hey today’s monday.
heh. 
yeah i’ll be there tomorrow.

Eliza happened to be on the computer the same time and called me to say that she was cracking up, and “Did you get the days stright now, dear?” (We call each other honey, dear, etc– and then sometimes laugh at ourselves because we sound old. How we got into this habit I don’t know, but it’s our pet names for each other now.)

Everything is shipshape in Bristol with me and my calendar now, happily. ;)

And guess what?!?!?!?!?!?!???
Dad took me on a field trip today, to the library!!! (thereby saving me from certain death– or at least extreme boredom.) I got 11 books, one of which was for Dad, since he finished Catching Fire yesterday when he was “watching” the superbowl. In fact he was sitting on the couch reading while the TV blared irrelevantly in the background. None of us watched the susperbowl. OK, we did for like five minutes, but then it was 9:00 and I changed the channel to watch part 3 of Emma on Masterpiece Classic. (Love! a perfect movie before Valentine’s day.)
But anyway… I spent a good part of my day reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I finished tonight at Mom’s work (I went to help her answer the door and then only 3 people came; but I digress) and it was SO GOOD!!!!! I’m putting it in my Hall of Fave right now!!!

I will write a review for it later… I have to stuff a pillow for Girl Scouts. Oh, and I must mention before I go that Mrs. Dockril, my flute teacher, gave me a mini loaf of banana bread today…. I had some and it was amazing. I’ve been wanting banana bread so badly lately, too. 
Mrs. Dockril is awesome. :) I love her.

Well, ta ta for now….

Peace,
Pen

Heat Wave!

Dude, we’re having a heat wave here. It’s upwards of 30 degrees! I think it might hit 40 this weekend, thank goodness. Dad and I are going camping this weekend at Atwood, and I am so excited!! Last year it was really fun but soooo cold. So hopefully we’ll get a break this year and I’ll actually be able to go outside without having to bundle up everything except my eyeballs. It’s so funny though– whenever I go camping, I always end up wearing clothes that used to belong to either my grandfather or my dad. And they fit me. Especially my grandpa’s (my dad’s dad, not Grandpa Vegas) wool shirt thing from when he was in the army when he was seventeen. And here I am and it fits me very flatteringly. Haha.

Our icicles are melting, too. :( We had some on the front of our house but now they’re shrinking. Nooo! When we used to play elaborate gams outside in the snow we would always knock them down and use them as knives, spears, and ice picks. Good times, good times.

So what else is up today? Hmmm. Well, I am dying because AP says I have 0 posts and I NEED to put up part 6 of White Funeral!! I hate having 0 posts. Alas. I need to write some poetry, too, though. I haven’t written any AP-worthy poems in a while. I did write one weird poem that I will probably never post anywhere about this hill that my dad told me about.

Oh! Speaking of Dad, I had him read The Hunger Games, and he just finished yesterday. He was totally glued to the book all of Tuesday. I knew he would love it! So yesterday we had a little book discussion and…
Me: “What did you think of the ending?”
Dad: “I can’t believe it’s only the first book! Glad she ditched the doughboy though.”
Me: (a little incredulously) “But… But I liked Peeta!” Then again I was pretty undecided the second time I read it and then Catching Fire was total torture because I could not decide if I wanted her to pick Gale or Peeta. Sometimes I think Gale because, well, it’s Gale and they’ve always been together, they’re so alike, they make a great team and Gale really loves her… But then I also think Peeta because, well, it’s Peeta and he’s very sweet, he and Katniss are different so they kind of balance each other out, and let’s face it, he’d be completely crushed if she picked Gale. But Gale would still have Madge so it’s not really fair.
Wow. I have no life. But I love those books anyway.

Well, I guess that’s all for now…. Peace out, homies!! LOL. I was saying that to my mom and my ASL teacher yesterday because my ASL teacher said soemthing about “peeps”.

Yours till the tea leaves (oooh that was a good one!)
-Pen