adventures in time and space

The past… Well, I was going to say “week”, but to be honest I have NO IDEA what day it is, what time, whether it’s still August… Seriously. Okay, what was I trying to say? Yup, no idea on that, either. It’s two in the afternoon, which means I have been awake for two hours.

What have I been doing lately, you might ask. Well… a lot of driving around the city and over the valley (so many times that I think driving over bridges will feature in a story someday) and back to my house very late at night. A lot of looking at the sky and whatever light source currently glowed in it. Also there was quite a bit of fire involved, and games that I am terrible at playing such as pool and volleyball. It was a really cool end to summer, actually (except I don’t really think summer is over, and for the first time in ages, I really wouldn’t mind it going on a while longer).

Also, I have been thinking of some new story ideas, including one that I described to Bug as “a future world, but with classic stuff… And it has robots, and androids, and MURDER!” This, my friends, is what happens to your brain when you read Ray Bradbury on an excursion to the most behemoth Fakeworld you’ve ever seen. Yeah, would maybe not recommend. (Also, do not read “The Veldt” before bed. Just. Don’t.)

Speaking of which, I guess my somewhat unintentional summer mission has been to read everything of Ray Bradbury’s that I haven’t yet read. I am almost done with The Illustrated Man, a collection of short stories that I don’t like as well as The Golden Apples of the Sun. Next in line is Something Wicked This Way Comes, which was also unintentionally perfect for the start of fall and such. Wait, with all this Doctor Who and Star Trek stuff (I just watched “The Journey Home”, featuring the original Spock and Kirk and the annoying whale lady who the DHFs promised would not kiss Kirk but it was lies I tell you! I had to hide under the blanket), maybe my actual unintentional summer mission was to delve deep (“Probably too deep”, I hear you mutter) into my sci-fi side.

Well, it has been fun. I am especially glad that I have cool friends to share this with… Which brings me to: Eliza is gone again.  Luckily, I got to see her before she left… And I stayed at the DHFs house one night, and this is the conversation I overheard as they prepped dinner.
Francis: “I don’t know, that’s not a lot of food.”
Eliza: “I can make some corn.”
Francis: “I don’t know…”
Eliza: “Let me make some corn.”
Bug: “Yeah.”
Eliza: “Like, corn is corn is corn. I mean… it’s corn.”
Francis: “Well, all right.”

Now it’s time for Bug and I to combat our sadness by embarking on some odd project. Literary magazines, movies, lots of running around the random field in general. (And in costume. What can I say.)

Ah, one more important thing! My driver’s test is scheduled! September something or other. Basically, Mom looked at my temps yesterday and they are about to expire. So. Off I go to fail a test with a stranger in the car.

Oh dear.

I just realized… What car am I going to use for this test???? The big yellow truck, or the lumbering, lurching minivan??? Either way, hoo-rah. More fun than a barrel of monkeys. Rabid, feral robot monkeys that want to eat you.

I guess I am less prepared for this test than previously thought… I am going to have to practice. A lot.

But still! This thought won’t tarnish the last of summer. I am off to ride bikes with Dad and Poncho. They want to do this “Lake to Lake” trail, and I am bringing along the trusty (I hope– we haven’t been through that much together yet) camera, and my cool sunglasses. (So I will probably end up home later today with weird, owlish circles of untanned skin around my eyes. Fabulous, dahling!)

Arrivederci,
Pen

This should really be two separate posts. But… it isn’t.

So, I worked nine to five yesterday (yeah, cue the cliches) and had an oddly fun time. Because I got to, first of all, feel very official. (I mean, for some reason I felt like I was supposed to be there, unlike usual when I feel like… an intruding elf who sorts the books? I dunno.) Secondly, I got to hunt down books like Easter eggs for the first half of the day, talked to a lot of patrons (the place was hopping), and best of all, I got to spend some quality time listening to the circulation desk ladies chitchatting.

It’s true; the “Circ” ladies are maybe my favorite part of working at the library. Since the library is so large and busy, there are a lot of these ladies working at once; a couple of them behind the checkout area, three or four processing materials in the sorting room, and another one or two milling around taking care of odds and ends.

It’s a writer’s gold mine. The distinct characters! The dialogue! Not to mention, it probably fills some internal, subconscious need within the old-fashioned me to be surrounded by chit-chattering ladies while we all do some mindless task like weaving, or picking berries (or in my case, picking gross, faded pink “new!” stickers off of not-new-anymore books).

So, anyway, seeing as I was working a full day, I got a real lunch break. And this is what I heard as I ate my potatoes.

Guy librarian: “The new branch– have you seen it?”
Circ Ladies: “Oh yes, we hear it’s very nice.”
Guy librarian: “Lots of wood… And the kid’s area– They even have a little train going around above it.”
Lady A: “Yeah, a noisy, squeaking train–”
Lady B: “Someone needs to oil that thing.”
Lady A: “Ugh.”
Lady C: “I hate trains.”
Guy librarian: “Why?”
Lady C: “It’s a childhood thing. Always hated them.”
Guy librarian: “Oh, but did you hear what else? They have a fireplace, too. It puts out a nice bit of heat.”
Circ Ladies: “Psh!!”
Lady B: “And what’s going to stop some kid from going up and sticking their hand right on it?”
Lady A: “Parents.”
Circ Ladies: BAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA
Lady B: “You wish.”
Lady C: “Yeah, that happens one time, and they won’t turn it on anymore.”
Lady A: “Right! Why would you even put a fireplace in a library, anyway?”
Me (finally piping up): “Because it’s old school.”
Guy Librarian: “Yeah, it’s old school. It makes a nice mix of old school and new school.”
Lady C: “Yeah, there’ll be a fireplace and no books. Just stare at the wall!”
Me: (internally) Hear, hear!
Lady A: “I heard that the break room is like two chairs and a table. And that it’s practically in the middle of a hallway.”
Lady B: “And what was that one door…?”
Guy Librarian: “That was the staff bathroom.”
Circ Ladies: “That was the staff bathroom?!?!”

Totally worth the sore feet at the end of the day, that.

Well, I have been very negligent of you, blog readers. Sorry. I was going to blog about how Super Awesome my vacation in Kentucky was, but then I… didn’t. I really have no excuse.

This is the part where there’s a long silence and somebody coughs way in the back of the room.
And then you feel like you have to cough, but you can’t, because it would seem so loud–
But then–
Your throat itches–
And you decide, okay, I’m going to cough, but then you can’t cough so you do that awkward not-cough thing and…
Yeah.

Anyway, what else has been going on around here? Oh. Right.

WAAAAA-a-a-AAAAAA (Wua, wua, waaaaaaaaa). Aka the theme music from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. Or, as my dad calls it, “The most epic cowboy movie of all time”.
I would have to agree.

I don’t normally like cowboy movies, especially not long ones, especially not long ones where at least one person dies every five minutes. All of which apply to “GoodBadn’Ugly” (which is another name my dad calls it. As in, “Let’s watch a movie.”
Everyone: “What movie.”
Dad, in one excited breath: “GoodBadn’Ugly!” …. “What, we have to watch it at least once a week.”).

But I do like movies that weave multiple stories together, which this does. And when something is historical, my FAVORITE way for them to be that way is to have a personal story with the historical stuff as the background– for the main action to be about the main characters and their peculiar struggle, and then WHAM, history leaps up out of the dull background like an Asian carp out of Lake Erie and smacks you upside the head. But it never overshadows the main story– it only makes the whole thing more epic, adds depth and whatever.
Actually, I think what it really does is bend your mind. You start out with the main story, which, since it’s the main story,  has a great importance to the watcher. It IS the story. But then the history stuff comes out, and what’s happening in the history can be so huge– yet it seems small because it’s the background here. It’s a reminder of reality, that whatever you’re in the middle of, whatever you’re looking at very closely, is what seems huge and epic. The lives of ants and sparrows are epic if you could follow them closely.
Which is to say, if the story of three guys trying to beat each other to 2,000 dollars in gold isn’t enough to hold your interest, imagine that it also takes place during a (surprisingly accurate, considering this was an Italian film) Civil War.

So that’s partly what makes that movie the most epic cowboy movie of all time. I also think it’s due to the cinematography– the move is so long because they will spend AGES on certain shots, which builds tension (and is also artsy). Plus, it was all shot in real places rather than on a fake set, so all the landscapes and long faraway shots and such are really cool. It also helps that there are some scenes where I wanted them to take forever on the shot, like when the ghostly carriage is racing toward them across the open desert…

The movie is highly quotable, too, I must mention.

And another major factor in making the movie EPIC is the EPIC MUSIC. I mean, the main theme is pretty cool by itself (it’s what I like to call “adventure music”), but when there’s also songs like this, how can it not be epic? I’m sitting here listening to it while typing, and the sky was all gray and brooding, and then right as the song hit the crescendo a sunbeam came out and shone on me. Like I said.
Epic.

Also. There is a scene where Clint Eastwood pets a kitten.
That seals the deal.

Well, this has kind of been like two posts in one… As usual, a perfect example of how my strange mind works.

Yours,
Pen

the world is treating me ba-a-ad (misery!)

So… I had this big long story planned out in my head all last week, and I kept adding onto it as a new catastrophe occurred (daily), and I was going to tell you all about it in great length and detail with full-fledged conversations and witty asides.

But now that it’s all over I’m kind of too exhausted and also I never want to re-live last week ever again, even through writing it down. History can go jump off a cliff. It will take all my energy to tell the story of last week just once to my future grandchildren. And they probably won’t be able to hear me, because of the iWhatevers that were surgically implanted into their brains at birth. Or else they’ll be out of earshot, off in the woods shooting squirrels through the eye. (That was a Hunger Games reference, Mom.)

Basically, the Pre-Apocalypse (as it shall henceforth be called) started with the power going out– and then every catastrophe that could have happened. The power stayed out for a week, during which I stayed at the DHFs’ (you know, now that it’s just Bug there, I guess could just say I stayed at Bug’s) “indefinitely” and at the House of the Vegas Grandparents for a while, too– considering that by the third day of no power, we could see our breath in the house. BUT I AM NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT THAT. No more. I am sick of thinking about it!!!!! Hence the overuse of exclamation points and the shouty caps-lock.

The only thing that restored me in the Pre-Apocalyptic aftermath was…
The Beatles.

Yep, the first thing I did with my newly restored power was to plug in my CD player (aka the crummiest machine known to man– but it only skips on songs I don’t like, so maybe it simply shares my indubitably excellent taste?) and jam to Beatles music. And by “jam” I mean I danced madly as I unpacked all my stuff, all of which seemed to have multiplied like loaves and fishes. Except for my clothes. I mean, come on. Throw me a bone, here. A matching pair of socks. Anything.

The other day I was planning my Eighteenth Birthday Extravaganza (just kidding– I would never in a million zillion years, or “over the rainbow, far away, over the ocean blue and a bird will fly you there” as Poncho would say– have anything resembling an “extravaganza”, a word which makes me think of sparkles and, well, I stop thinking there before I upchuck) and anyway, the point is that I was trying to plan something for my birthday, but I got sidetracked and instead made a list of every Beatles song that I like so far.
There are thirty-eight.

I am trying to expand my musical horizons, I swear. Especially because I really, really need a playlist for a story I’d like to work on. Other stories, I can put on the same old Pink Floyd songs and go with it. But this one… It’s demanding. It wants a Shakespeare play and its very own soundtrack. It’s quite a precocious little thing.
(I know I sound weird now– just be glad I don’t have mental conversations with the characters, okay?) (Never mind. Mine does sound weirder than that, even. Because characters are like– like, if they take on a mind of their own, it’s because you made them so real in the story that they just have to act a certain way, even if it’s not what you originally intended. They have to take the path that would actually be true to the character you invented. But the story itself telling you things? That just plain don’t make sense.)
But at any rate, I just love the Beatles. They just sound… cool.
(I had a lot more to say on that, but…)

I just wanted to write a post to let you know I’m still alive. I actually have a bunch of stuff to do now, namely the finishing off of manuscripts for writer’s group tomorrow. Also the writing of a poem.

Also the mad dancing to the music that makes me happy.

red and gold and green and blue

It used to annoy me how people would talk about how beautiful fall is. Yes, yes, we all know, pretty leaves. Snore.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I am gazing out the window in awe. Cloudy, rainy, foggy, cold, and/or dim fall days are awesome, perfect for stories. But these cloudless clear ones bring back waves of memories, not inspiration. The blazing red trees against the bluest sky this city ever sees stops me in my tracks (or trains of thought) and re-routs them down memory lane.

Poncho: “Hey look. I turned it into a cube.” As he holds out some chewed gum to me. It is, indeed, shaped like a cube.

Brothers.

But even with it bein’ fair and sunny weather, I do feel strangely inspired for one of my current, sort-of-started projects. (Is it weird that I find it just as difficult to tell when a novel is started as when it’s finished? My process is kind of… um. Not very process-y.) It’s the most “realistic” story I’ve ever thought up so far, straying perhaps completely out of the realm of fantasy and more into the realm of whatever Jane Eyre is, minus the Gothic stuff, with other stuff to replace it. (I know, that was the best elevator pitch ever.)

This story idea kind of scares me because sometimes, you start a story and it’s all la-la-la, happy day– HEY WRITER, GUESS WHAT? And then it throws things at you. 

Let me tell you a little story. (There is a point to all this babbling, I promise.) Ahem. Once upon a time, I was forced to play sports thanks to the lovely institution called School, which I used to be trapped inside. Sports, I thought, were fun, but not for me. Because in sports, the player is faced with a choice as the ball (or Frisbee) sails through the air.

Choice A: Catch it.

Choice B: This. 

Yes. That is me, re-enacting every encounter with flying objects I’ve ever had.

And so, you see, I was not very good at sports. If it was coming right to me, I would leap out of the way. So there was definitely no way in heck I was going to leap into the path of the flying object in order for it to hit me to catch it.

Little did I know that there would be things thrown at me in writing, too. But unlike actual sports, there is no gravity in storyland. Once you get over the cringe reflex, you can still pluck it out of the air and decide what to do with it.

So I’m trying to decide what to do with the fact that this story says it wants to be, in fact, Ohioan. That’s right. It wants to take place right. here.  

What does that even mean? How can I even tell if it’s actually Ohioan? I mean, what do I know about Ohio, it’s not like I live–
Oh right. That’s right. I’m Ohioan.

So why do I feel like if I write it that way, it’ll be doomed?
a) Unlike Fantasy World, real people live in Ohio. People older and wiser and more knowledgeable than me. And maybe it won’t seem right to them!

Ah, but the key here: Perspective. Of course it can’t and won’t be “correct”. It might not even be close to what other people see/know/think about this place. But I guess I can let dear old POV take the blame/credit (whatever the case may be).

So, I think the project is a go. Despite my inherent fears.

Also, I know nothing about horses.
Guess what? 
There’s a big old horse right smack in the heart of the story.

The good news is that my other story, A City With Bears, is slowly breaking out of the idea-stage cocoon. And since other things I know nothing about– trains and streetcars– play a pretty big part in it, I am taking a writing field trip this weekend to a Train and Streetcar Museum! Hurrah! I’ll get to ride a real streetcar! 

Check that off the Life Dreams list. (It’s the one right below Live Next to Train Tracks. Thanks, 112th Street Garden, for that inspiration. You’re pulling carrots and then wwwwwwoooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo the train goes by so close you can see the color of the driver’s eyes. Dizzying and exhilarating and, the first time, a little scary.) 

Grand!

I think I shall go enjoy this unbearably lovely day outside.

Yours till the iron horses,
Pen

Watch Wars

Dad: “I never came home on time, so my parents bought me a watch for my birthday.”
Mom: “That’s why they got you a watch? …I’m sorry.”
Dad: “Yeah. But then I lost it like the next day.”
Me: Snort. “Sad.”
Dad: “Well, they got me a new one, the same watch. But then someone told me that my neighbor had found my watch. When I lost it I told this neighbor to let me know if he found the watch because I lost it outside somewhere. So I go next door, and my neighbor opens the door and he’s wearing my watch! So I punched him in the face and took it back.”
Mom: “So then you had two watches.”
Dad: “No. ‘Cause I sold the other one to my cousin for twenty-five bucks.”
Me: “What if your neighbor just happened to have the same watch?”
Dad: “Then I guess I stole it.”
Mom: “In addition to assaulting him.”
Dad: shrug.

Poncho’s Diner

My little bro Poncho just got his own blog! It’s called Poncho’s Diner, and he’ll be posting things that he writes, which includes stories such as the very renouned (in our house) one titled “Submarine”, which he already posted! Go check it out, seriously, because:
1) he’s quite a budding writer
2) he uses the phrase “we’re going in the drink”
3) If he gets no views he will totally blame me, and by extension, readers of my blog. Just saying… ;)

I’m sticking the link on my blogroll as well, but you could also click HERE.

So excited to see what he will come up with…
~Pen

Prince Albert, Blackberries, and my Grandpa

Grandpa was telling us stories about his childhood when we were eating dinner with him on Memorial Day. He told us about many of his mischievous escapades, such as:

Calling the drugstore that stocked a kind of tobacco called Prince Albert.
Grandpa: “Hey, do you have Prince Albert in a can?”
Drugstore Person: “Yes, we do.”
Grandpa: “Then you’d better let him out! AHAHAHAHA!!!”

“We used to do that every day!” he said at the end of the story.

So, the predecessor to “is your refridgerator running” was Prince Albert in a Can. Interesting.

Then Grandpa also told us about how he used to go into the woods to pick blackberries, and sell them door-to-door. The funny thing was, I had just brought over a blackberry plant for the garden in his backyard! So, he was happy and promised to help me eat all the berries.

He’s awesome. <3

Happy St. Practice Day!

At my latest dance lesson, the bar below the studio was hopping. I wondered aloud why, and my teacher said dryly, “It’s St. Practice Day, I guess.” Hahaha.

So, anyway… I am excited. My Grandpa Vegas probably is, too. He tells everyone he meets that he’s Irish; he uses it alternately as a threat. (“You tell that nasty woman that if she doesn’t listen to you I’ll come down there! I’m Irish!”) I can see him now, proudly declaring “I’m Irish!” at every gathering we happen upon tomorrow, then in the next breath saying, “Them crazy Irishmen…” until I remind him that he is one of them crazy Irishmen. To which he will reply, “Yeah, I’m an Irish hillbilly” and break into his impression of an Irish jig, singing “Doe dee doe dee do; Yeah, Grandpa, click your heels!”

He’s awesome. :D

Broduil Irish,
Pen

We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!

I really need to work on pitching. No, not baseballs!! (I was once in softball, though, and I never could pitch there either.) The kind of ptiching I’m talking about right now is for ideas, concepts, novels. You see, my friend Cory was asking me what Oak Heart is about. I found myself completely unable to explain without going: “Oh, well, I should have said in the beginning…” or “Wait, back up. What I mean is…” So I just said, “Uh…. I can’t explain!!!” And then promptly shoved more pizza in my mouth.

That was some good pizza.

Anyway, after that I got to thinking: what happens when I want to query agents for this? Or if I win this contest, then how will I pitch it? It’s got to be like the paragraph on the back cover/inside flap of a novel on the library shelf. In that paragraph, the reader decides whether or not they’re going to read the book. It doesn’t explain the plot, list the characters or even sometimes make sense. It gives just enough away of what the book is generally about to make the reader go, “COOL!!! I MUST HAVE THIS!!! oh, crap, where’s my library card?” And then if they forgot their library card, that paragraph makes them toss and turn in bed later until the next morning when they find said library card and RUN over to the library RIGHT NOW becuase THE WORLD WILL COME TO A SUDDEN AND TRAGIC END if they don’t read the book.
Or at least, you want them to say, “Cool! I’d read this.” and then get it.
Reel ’em in like a pro, I tell ya.

So if I can’t even explain the main character to my friend, that means I have (as they say in To Kill a Mockingbird) another think coming.
Where do I turn in my hour of need? Why, Apricotpie, of course!
That magic, blank box…. what would I do without it? Uh, probably sit around sulking. (Especially because I have a cold today and my brain is feeling muddled. I hate being sick. :( )
Anyway, I had a record number of TWO posts like all week or more!!! That never happens!!!! I’m always waiting impatiently for it to say, “you have one post” and then I go crazy and write something and post it asap. But this past week I’ve been busy and frankly uninspired.
But anyway, witohut any intention of really posting, I clicked on Poetry and just sat there staring at the screen for a while.

Thinking.

And then suddenly, my fingers started to type. I didn’t know what they were typing, only that it rhymed, and it was about Oak Heart. When it was done I added the title, the author’s note, posted it. I shut down my computer and went to sleep for like 2 hours.
When I awoke, I felt better. I clicked on AP and looked at my poem. I read it about 3 times.
I am pretty rpoud of myself. :)
And I think I have a great pitch in the works. Oh, it’s there, jelling in my brain. All thanks to poetry, rhyme, and that little magic box.

:D

My Horse Obsession

Well, even though it’s a lt longer than “tomorrow”, I will tell you the tale of my horse obsession. Ahem.

Once upon a time, there lived a girl whom we shall call Young Pen. Young Pen was a girl obsessed. Obessed about horses. She dreamed about them, day and night… riding them, feeding them, picking up their poo… okay, not the last part. She would gladly have picked up a ton of horse poo if she had her own, but alas, she did not, and so the only time she mucked stalls was at a horse day-camp. But that is another story…
              Young Pen collecred pictures and books about horses and taped them to her door, filled her shelves with them. She had plastic horses, ceramic horses, a horse rug, horse coat-hanger thingies, horse everything. Horses, horses, horses. Oh! the smell of them! The freedom of riding one! 
              But Young Pen lived in the city, so owning a horse was out of the question, though in many a story did she write herself one. Ah, youth. But since she could not have a real horse, she wanted a real horse room.
            She already had so many horse things! There would be hardly anything else needed. But then some other ideas began to come to our young heroine, and they were all about what a new room would be like. Maybe, instead of horses, she could have a jungle! Or a forest! Or Venice! Or… wait a minute! Her most favorite thing sicne she was a very yloung child: Peter Pan!
            But her mother shook her head. “You’ll get older, you know, and what if you don’t like Peter Pan anymore? But horses could still be mature so when you’re older you won’t have to redo your room again.”
          Young Pen sighed, knowing that nothing could ever make her stop liking Peter Pan, Neverland, and all that came with it. But she agreed not to have a Peter Pan room, and to have a horse room instead.
         But the room change came slowly, and soon it became clear that Young Pen was tiring of horses. So her room reamined yellow, and instead she got new bookshelves/desk, and a new bedspread.
          Now, let us fast forward to the future….
         Ah! It was good that our dear Pen did not get a horse room, for now, though she still loves them, she is no longer obsessed. She does not even long to have her own so much anymore. Perhaps one day, but a sailbat would be better.
          But oh! What room does she still want, what thing does she still hold dear and dream about? Why, it is Peter Pan! Neverland! Flying away with a boy who never ages, and fairies, and Indians…. ah, youth.

There is a moral to this story….

I WAS RIIII-IIIGHT!!!!

haha!!

That’s how it happened. But luckily I really like my room right now. It has a window seat now, that I love, and it has managed to incorporate all my favorite things such as Venice, the color yellow, Peter Pan, Saint George, books, etc. :D