Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In case you didn't already catch this, yesterday (June 10) would have been Maurice Sendak's 85th birthday.  In recognition, Google posted a Sendak-themed animated Doodle (a themed logo).  Sadly, I didn't see it first-hand, since I always search directly from my browser, but I was lucky enough to come across a friend's posting about it on Facebook.  (You can view an archive of Google Doodles - including Sendak's - here.)

I've always loved Where the Wild Things Are.  I even wrote up a proposal to adapt the book into a musical for a class when I was in college.  But it only occurred to me today that I haven't read any of his other books, which is a shame, because his catalog and work is extensive and impressive.

So, I'm thinking: At the tender age of 34, it's time I finally read the entire Maurice Sendak library.  How creepy would it be if I just go to the local library and hang out in the kids' section reading Maurice Sendak?  Too much?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Fasnacht Day!

That’s the Pennsylvania Dutch version of Shrove (Fat) Tuesday.  On Fasnacht Day, we eat fasnachts, which are kind of like donuts.

I can't get real fasnachts in DC, so Krispy Kreme will have to do.
I can't get real fasnachts anywhere in DC - I didn't realize how regional they are until I moved here - and because I'm not getting up at 5 in the morning to make fasnachts before work, I bought a dozen glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme, which is a southern chain (if you didn't know).  It doesn't get much further from Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine than Krispy Kreme.

I do find sometimes that I miss the food of my youth; so much of it is regional and can't be found outside central PA.  It never occurred to me that this was all part of my cultural heritage.  Some of it is odd or gross, but it's still part of my heritage.  And I love telling people about Fasnacht Day.  Where I work, there's a significant international population, and the Americans here are very interested in and aware of other cultures as well, but no one seems to know about Fasnacht Day.  So I feel like this is my way of contributing to the multiculturalism at work.

Are there any regional or culturally significant foods from your childhood that you find that you can't get anymore and miss?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside ... Oh, Yeah, and Happy Belated New Year

So, it is SERIOUSLY COLD in DC right now.  As in, the coldest temperatures the city has seen in something like 10 years.  And I'll be honest, I'm not enjoying it very much.  But I have been enjoying the electric blanket my parents bought me for Christmas.  The blanket is very useful, because my thermostat won't stay at a set temperature; it keeps resetting to its base temp of 58* and I have to keep re-setting it to keep the apartment warm.

Speaking of the holidays, Happy New Year!  I know I'm a little behind the times, but then again, I'm pretty much always late.

Happy New Year!  Sorry I missed the boat.
Speaking of the New Year, I was thinking about resolutions.  I haven't really made any, so my resolutions should be easy to keep!    My friend A.J. O'Connell posts all of her resolutions on her blog, and then posts monthly updates on her progress.  She did it in 2012, and is doing it again for 2013.  I think this takes a lot of chutzpah; I'm not sure I could put myself out there like that.
But today I did come across a good idea for a sort-off resolution, one that I think I can do and I'm happy to share here.  I follow a lovely blog called Chez Larson, which is written by a Swedish woman named Benita, and her blog covers crafty stuff and the renovation/design work she's doing on her home.  I love her blog, because Benita has a great minimalist sensibility combined with a real creative streak.  I find inspiration on her blog all the time. 

Anyway, so Benita published this yesterday, and I think it's a pretty cool idea.  (Ok, so if you don't want to click on the link, I will summarize: she takes a picture for each day, and then has all the pictures printed into a book at the end of the year.)  I would like to do something like this, and given that my Galaxy S3 takes awesome pictures and I LOVE Instagram, I think this could be fun. 

We're already more than 3 weeks into the new year, so doing a book by the calendar year probably won't work.  So, what I was thinking was I could do it by birthday year instead - start the "year of record" with my birthday, so the photo book would cover Age 34, 35, 36, etc ... this would also give me some time to get into the habit of taking at least one pic a day.

What do you think?  Could you do a picture a day?  Of do you have some other New Year's Resolutions you're working on instead?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To NaNo, or not to NaNo: That is the question

I'm pretty sure that Shakespeare was thinking about NaNoWriMo when he wrote this soliloquy. How do I know that? I know, because I feel the absolute anguish that Hamlet is going through in this scene. I totally identify with Hamlet.

You see, today is October 31. For most of the world - or at least the parts of the world that celebrate pagan-turned Christian-turned secular holidays - today is Halloween, which means I will be spending the evening sitting outside, freezing my butt off and handing out candy to adorable children and surly teenagers.

But to a smaller portion of the world, this dates signifies a countdown to midnight, when the date rolls over to November 1 and National Novel Writing Month (that's NaNoWriMo to those in the know) begins. In case there is anyone reading this blog that doesn't know what NaNoWriMo, here's the quick and dirty:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

And why does this stir up such an intense reaction in my gut? Because I've done NaNo pretty much every year since 2004, and I've done Camp NaNo (NaNoWriMo in the summer) in both 2011 and 2012. Well, I should say "attempted" rather than "done," because I've only successfully completed NaNo once, in 2009. Since then, I've felt a discordant combination of emotion: on one hand, I'm thinking, "I did it once and I will do it again!" with all sorts of bravada and optimism; on the other hand, I'm thinking, "I've done it once, so why bother proving that I can do it again?"

So, I want to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I feel the weight of many unsuccessful years that have already passed. (The one year that I did win, I practically gave myself carpal tunnel by writing something like 24k words over the last three days of the month, finishing only minutes before midnight.) At the same time, I feel like I HAVE to do it, because I'm a writer, and writers are supposed to write; I've been extraordinarily fallow since I finished my thesis last spring, and part of me thinks this might help get me out of my funk. At the same time, if I DON'T do NaNo, what will I do during the month of November? I do this EVERY YEAR.

So, to NaNo, or not to NaNo? I have no idea, no kernel, no plot or characters in mind, so what will I write? I've been investing all my mental energy into this historical novel idea, but I'm not ready to write that novel yet. And should I be investing my creative energies into another project right now? To be perfectly honest, I haven't been doing much work on the historical novel, so maybe working on a different creative venture will help get the juices flowing again.

What have I gotten myself into here?
Ok, so maybe my problems aren't as big as Hamlet's. He has Danish prince problems (like his uncle trying to kill him), I have first-world writer problems (like my printer won't connect to my wireless network). But really, if you think about it, Hamlet has a really hard time keeping things in perspective. At least I don't have that problem.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Back to J.K. Rowling

It's been a nice summer off, and now that it's after Labor Day, I suppose I must get back to the grind.  I didn't really take much time off from work (though I did go to a writer's retreat, which I will post about a little bit later), but I did take some time off from school, you know, since I graduated and all.  But I'm taking one final (unrequired, but in my estimation, fully necessary) course this fall: Teaching Writing.  We meet on Saturday mornings, which means no more sleeping in on Saturday mornings, and Friday nights filled with homework, rather than drunken revelry and sleeping until noon.

Back in the spring, I posted about the jacked-up price of J.K. Rowling's first adult novel.  In case you didn't know, the price of the ebook version is seriously jacked up as well ($18!!!), and for some very interesting reasons.  And I especially feel bad for the people that paid $18 for a faulty ebook.  Oh, well -- if you don't want to pay that much, the price will drop in a few months, or you might be able to find yourself a pirated copy.

Nice move taking advantage of the circumstance of timing, Hachette (could you have selected the release date any better?), but it also strikes me as a desperate move.  Would Hachette really have done this if the publishing industry wasn't foundering?  Because it feels to me like Hachette and Rowling are price gouging here - I wonder if Hachette is counting on sales of Rowling's book to keep them afloat?  I don't know anything about Hachette's finances, but their other behavior (like price-gouging libraries on backlisted books and attempting "to dictate terms to its rivals on the use of anti-customer technology") seems to indicate that they're not doing to hot, or at least they're worried.  Maybe their new CEO will do a better job.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

M.A. Thesis Readings!

Friday was a big day for me and my 11 classmates.  First, it was the deadline to hand in final FINAL copies of our previously approved thesis: 1) two copies tape-bound for the department archive, and 2) one copy loose, printed on acid-free paper, which will be bound (hard-cover) by the JHU printing/binding office, which will forever live in the JHU library.

Without further ado, here is a video of my reading from Friday:

Unknown to me at the time of the reading, there was indeed a full moon on the evening following the reading.

All my graduation requirements are met, and I will be receiving my degree at the end of the month!  Everyone keeps congratulating me and telling me what a big accomplishment this is.  I don't disagree, but at the same time it hasn't really sunk in yet. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Your Dreams ...

“But I couldn’t be happier / Simply couldn’t be happier / Well – not ‘simply’:
‘Cause getting your dreams / It’s strange, but it seems / A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost / There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross / You didn’t know you crossed / Until you’ve crossed”

-- Glinda in Wicked
 Several weeks ago, my friend A.J. O'Connell did a guest post about publishing her novella, Beware the Hawk, on a blog titles Reinventing Erin.  (OK, it was more like 3 months ago.  I've been really busy.)  And I was struck by a thought, and commented:
I wanted to bring this up, as it seems even more appropriate now than it did a few months ago.  It's relevant because I'm required to submit my work somewhere as part of my thesis class, and I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet.  And I have to, in the next few days.  Because it's required.  I had to email my instructor submission notes about where I was going to submit, etc., so I have a sort-of idea regarding what I'll do.  (I'm playing it vague and loose here.)  But then what?
Ahh, The Warning. I think the biggest thing that holds me back from submitting – I’m not scared of rejection, but I’m terrified of success. Success – having something published – takes the game to a different level, and the stakes are so much higher. What will people think of my work? What if I don’t find the same success with the next book/story/piece? Etc?
After I start submitting, I will no longer be a writer-in-training.  I will be a WRITER.  A most likely rejected, unpublished write - but still a WRITER.  And the prospect scares me, because I feel like I'm not ready, like I still have so much to learn.  I understand that as a writer, I will be constantly learning and evolving in my craft, and I know that I'm ready enough, but I don't feel like a WRITER yet.  I feel like the apprentice masquerading as the sorcerer (aka my thesis advisor), and as soon as she turns her back I'm going to foul everything up.  WRITERs are supposed to be sage,wise, and insightful - but I don't feel like I'm even close to that yet.

Or is it one of those things - like in the song lyrics above - that you don't know you've crossed that bridge, you don't realize you've arrived, until you're already there?  Am I nearing the end of the crossing, and I just don't know it yet?