Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adonde vamos

Where have we journeyed this year? The usual haunts and new locales.

-la isla de Puerto Rico
-la isla de Culebra
-El Yunque
-Alexandria, VA
-WaWa! and
-Stewart's! (Both of these are worthy of exclamation points, trust me.)
-Amtrak, north and south
-a resort in Florida -- an unusual turn of events for me, but by no means a bad one
-the ESPN Wide World of Sports
-Wildwood, New Jersey
-New Paltz, New York
-a return to the ice skating rink. Beyond a random day in college, that hasn't happened since I was, oh, say, 12.
-a return to the college classroom (oh, snap!)
-Central Park
-FAO Schwarz for the first time since I was approximately 10. It was, in fact, more outstanding as an older person (and late at night, sans crowds).
-Wing night, many an eve
-Emeline's pimping apartment/Christmas tree
-Storm King
-Scranton, PA...in a metaphysical sense

More interestingly, where to voyage to in 2012?

I don't feel fatalistic about the coming year, as interpretations of the Mayan calendar would have me feel. As opposed to the way I feel when my birthday arrives, it is but a day. Another year. Things will happen. We go on.

So for 2012, I can anticipate the following:

-Journeys to the southwest, specifically El Paso, land of my dreams.
-An undisclosed locale for a potential half marathon?! Lord help us all. 
-If not London for the 2012 Olympics, another country in its place. Spain? Germany? Un lugar en Sud America? Si, I say, a todo.
-At some point in life, I'd like to catch these in person:



See you there!

Before the year runs out,

I will sneak in my final songs!

What have we learned about the music? Apparently I really like country music these days, although I'm not afraid to try something new.

However, when it comes to choosing music to listen to as I run, I'm as picky as I am with meals: Something particular at a certain time and no deviations. I want a particular song or genre, be it slow and nostalgic or fast and dancy, and I will not stop pressing the "forward" symbol until I find it.

Next year's memes? I don't forsee one. However, I will occasionally keep track of movies, books, and songs that strike my attention, or that I want to keep track of. I look back on 2011 and while I know that I read a number of books, I can't remember any of them outside of Captain Corelli's Mandolin and those I banged out in the past month (oh, and Interview With the Vampire). I want to remember.

...

#361: Florence + The Machine, "Shake It Out"
#362: EWQL Symphony Orchestra, "Sherlock" (potential floor music, Emeline?)
#363: Sherlock BBC, "Moriarty Suite"
And to conclude the year in Coach Kim's honor:
#364: Girls' Generation, "Gee"
#365 (the grand finale!): DJ Earworm, "World Go Boom" (if you have any interest in pop, worth checking out)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ewan and Harrison

"Don't let Tony back on the market, or I'm going to scoop him right up." -Dan

Christmas: amongst typical present-like activities, reading the IMDB trivia section on each LOTR film. Merry day!

...

In the twilight of still-sleeping and swimming awake, I was struck by this:

Nothing is going to change unless I actively do something about it.

There's nothing hanging over my head like graduation or the end of funding (one hopes) or an otherwise obvious end point which will force a transition.

I need to take control.

...

#359: The Twilight Singers, "On the Corner"
#360: The Twilight Singers, "She Was Stolen"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

6.67

Usually I throw on a sparkly sweater or long denim skirt for Christmas Eve, something that I break out once a year, along with a suede jacket that's actually rather nice but also participates in the once-per-annum dance.

This evening, I dressed like I was heading out for a business meeting with God. We'd sit across the desk from each other, maybe share a few laughs, shake hands at the end of it. "Email me that paperwork, would you?" he'd say on my way out. "I seemed to have misplaced the hard copy."

In other years, I walked down the hill to the church with the satisfying clack-clack-clack of heels on pavement, already uncomfortable despite the lovely sound and already fantasizing of sweatpants and bare feet. Tonight, no discomfort. I could walk up and down that hill several times if I had to. I could break into a jog. I could duck away just as God said, "There is the matter of your attendance."

I am becoming real.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Real or not real? I am on fire.

A little of this action for your holiday Friday:

...

I crept onto what's visible of Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook last night and came across this quote:

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up." - Pablo Picasso


It sums up everything I've noticed about musical friends who turned to careers in auditing, writing friends who look back at their old work with a heavy sense of past tense, acting friends who became just one version of themselves. 

It's not easy to make a living in such a way, and that's fine. We all get that. Real jobs have real use. But when I talk to some of these folks, it's clear that they've left those crafty days behind. No dabbling in the old screenplay or novel after hours. They sound a little wistful, they say they really should start something up again, but those embers are reluctant. 

I beat against it. I still burn. 

...

#358: "Safe and Sound," Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars

Thursday, December 22, 2011

y eso me hace feliz

"Miss Diana?" says Valentina, looking up at me. "Why..."

Oh, boy.

"...Do we have the best coach?"

"Aww," I say. "Now try that one again during strength."

...

I've been doing this magical thing lately called "lying around in my free time and reading." There has not been nearly enough of it.

I use activities as a means of checking out from the world. Reading and otherwise. I say I've got plans, prior engagements, but really I'm just tapping the glass screen periodically and the page turns. I'm sitting at the desk in crisp gray pants with the attendance book and the pencil raised, but really I would rather hide in other words--especially if I've read them before--instead of stringing my own together.

Occasionally I shower just out of boredom, because water is a better means of filling time. I still think while running, but everything feels distant and pleasant and I create this mental heroic narrative for myself. When I started coaching during grad school, I used to tell people that it gave me a new set of problems to worry about, ones that distracted me from the new school setting and all that follows such a situation (and at this particular school, 'twas a unique setting indeed). I dip in and out of the world.

...

Apparently I'm more or less caught up on the songs, though I wouldn't be surprised if I tripped up somewhere along the way.

What did I learn musically this year? That I'm still not inclined to sit down and listen to music as I write and surf about. It can feel like sensory overload. But sometimes, it works.

Also, it would seem that a sudden but strong love of country music has swept the soul of one who used to say, "I like everything, but really just alternative because I sound cooler that way."

#345: Coldplay, "Paradise"
#346: Jo Dee Messina, "I'm Alright"
#347: Keith Urban, "You Gonna Fly"
#348: fun, "We Are Young"
#349: Noisettes, "Don't Upset the Rhythm"
#350: Cascada, "Pyromania"
#351: Chino y Nacho, "El Poeta" (The rare song that earns an instant download from one D.M.G. Spanish and writing! What more could you want??)
#352: Willow Smith ft. Nicki Minaj, "Fireball"
#353: "Snow Miser & Heat Miser," The Year Without A Santa Claus
#354: Skillet, "Awake and Alive"
#356: Breaking Benjamin, "I Will Not Bow"
#357: Skillet, "Don't Wake Me"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Car wash songs

We meet again, 12/18 and I.

This year, I went from questionably employed to having a juggling act of jobs. I’m grateful for all of them. I returned to the college classroom as professor, not student. I walked into the gym in the navy blazer, not the leotard or the warm-up jacket (though certainly there was plenty of the latter, too). I re-dabbled in journalism, that old chestnut. I gained an office and also started watching The Office, which means that my Dundie Award has a loving home.

My gymnasts made me especially proud this year. All-around champions in abundance. State and regional victories. Two weekends ago, their first-ever first place trophy as a team. Every day, their humor, their resistance, their successes, their incessant commentary that rolls the story along.

I survived air travel post-blizzard, which is more difficult than you’d expect. A fall journey brought me back to a Spanish-speaking land, place of my roots, and although I am not from there nor from that language, it felt right. Sometimes I think that your roots choose you.

There was a great deal of soul-searching. I felt bitter for a while, or maybe a watered-down version of the emotion. But still, I did not look well upon some aspects of the past until recently. Then it loosened. The water broke through.

I finally did that thing I claimed I wanted to do, which was to run ten miles, and it was a pretty horrendous experience. I was trained and ready, but sometimes, it comes down to the day and an overabundance of Gatorade post-race. But I rebounded. I still run. Maybe even farther in this coming year.

There were small successes in my publishing world. I finished the story of Katie/Savannah and continue the story of Nick in Mexico, walking the streets at night in search of the right words.

Right now I am having my typical anxiety about aging (let’s not forget the mental drama when I went from nineteen to twenty), but as always, I feel the old age slipping away like the snakeskin, outgrown, ready now for the new rawness.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

accents

This morning I am my own earthquake. I wake up before the light and tremble. A small dance that grows in vibration but not in warmth. I step over the puddles of sleeves and hoods. Keep moving.

First call

On Saturday at the gym, Gia inquires as to which Disney Channel shows I watch, then offers her recommendations: "You should watch Victorious. And Shake It Up. And--"

"How old do you think I am?" I ask.

"Seventeen," she says, with complete confidence.

...

Man, I love epic music.

#337: Pierre Gerwig Langer, "Call for Heroes"
#338: Shattered, "Trading Yesterday"
#339: Linkin Park, "Iridescent"
#340: Short Stack, "Jack the Ripper"
#341: Lana Del Rey, "Video Games"
#342: Hunger Games trailer song that doesn't appear to have a title yet
#343: Vitaliy Zavadskyy, "Hunger" (Emeline will enjoy the second half of this.)
#344: Groove Addicts, "Mercury"

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Empire Strikes Back

The best part of reading blogs and online articles? The comments.

The crazies, the armchair academics and experts, THOSE WHO TYPE IN CAPS come out in one cyber playing field at all hours of the day to have at it. There are run-on sentences and typos. There are insults and rebuttals.

But once in awhile, someone says something interesting.

I've read interviews with actors who talk about how excited they were to perform in a play that they've always loved, or to take part in the film adaptation of a beloved novel. They know the story. It's become internalized in some fashion.

Tonight, I read comments that bemoaned The Office's subpar eighth season, and one person suggested that the new staff writers had probably been fans of the show before they joined, "and that's never a good thing."

I wonder: why is that? No problem if the actor has long admired a work and then has the chance to play the role, but an issue if a writer is a fan of the show's previous seasons and has watched previous arcs unfold?

Discuss.

...

Has an ample amount of time passed? I say yes.

#326: Fanny Lu, "Fanfarron" (Laurel, pienso que vayas a disfrutar esta cancion.)
#327: Milly Quezada y Juan Luis Guerra, "Toma Mi Vida"
#328: Mikail Aslan, "Xatune" (who can say no to a song whose name begins with "X"?)
#329: Pitbull ft. Kelly Rowland and Jamie Drastik, "Castle Made of Sand"
#330: Ahmed Romel, "Only For You" (Arctic Moon Remix)
#331: Further Seems Forever, "Snowbirds and Townies"
#332: 30 Seconds to Mars, "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)"
#333: The Gaslight Anthem, "Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts"
#334: Kate Nash, "Habanera"
#335: Girls, "Honey Bunny"
#336: Karmin, "Crash Your Party"

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Space debris

Recently, I used the term “space junk” in conversation. I’m not sure why. But it’s pretty applicable to my organizational skills.

Spreadsheets, I can handle. Essay and story organization, I’ve got it down.

Physical stuff?



That’s about right.

For lack of better word, “stuff” occupies small piles on my floor. It rests in the backseat of my old car, hanging out like an old man on the porch with a brew. It’s not going anywhere. My email accounts are filled with useless messages that I keep anyway.

Somehow, I find the sentimental value in everything. A receipt, a note someone left tucked into my windshield wipers, the one-line email from a friend or teacher. A T-shirt I haven’t worn since ninth grade. Pants that I *might* wear one day. People on Facebook that I’ll never talk to again but leave them on my Friends list anyway, just because.

But now, I’m fighting back.

Folders, folders, folders. Move those emails and push that paper. “My Documents” never looked so tidy, cover letters now in their own space and drafts of articles in another. The documents left in the main folder are the strictly creative ones. As it should be.

I deleted or moved over one hundred emails last night. Old meet line-ups and memos: balled up and thrown away. I finally worked up the nerve to toss out the yellow poncho from Puerto Rico, which I would have kept had it not ripped as we walked/ran through the hours-long downpour.

(There’s still time to yank it from the garbage.)

(Now, from writing this, I probably will.)

Because sometimes, the softer side gets the best of me.

I drove up to the church drop-off bin for clothing donations. The plastic bag waited in the passenger seat, ready to go.

I took it out of the car. Hesitated.

Pulled out a pair of periwinkle flip-flops, tossed the rest of the bag into the bin, and drove back.

You never know.

Friday, December 02, 2011

La Ley de Laurel

Y para ella? El mundo, senor.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNo to the left, NaNo to the right

All right. Slightly over two thousand words to go and then we’re outta here, kids.

Then I’ll return to my “normal” writing schedule and maybe, you know, making note of recent music and the like.

Immediate similarities recognized between this year’s novel and the last: both have central characters who have difficulty remembering.

Another six-word memoir, in honor of a dream two nights ago:

Why did you touch my face?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seven six-word memoirs as I charge/sleepwalk through the last 8,000 words of NaNoWriMo

She said, "Small or medium?" C'mon.

Ghost left, but the dream didn't.

Dancing with socks on slippery surfaces.

My mouth is on the phone.

Pink tomboy from down the circle.

He saw you, but didn't speak.

Can it be louder? This works.

Friday, November 25, 2011

single-sentence memoir

My father warned me not to drive this road, but on the nights I was late, I took it anyway.

exigence

Sometimes (not enough, but at least it happens), I am shot with the sudden fire of clarity: This is what I ought to do, there is the exact place I'd love to be (literal and non).

I need more of that urgency and less mental twiddling of the thumbs. But I am working right now. I am pounding back at it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Below 50

I have issues with dying notebooks. You know the kind: you've been writing all along and traveling together, and just now you've become aware that the full pages outnumber the blanks. You keep going, but your pace slows markedly. You bring along a new notebook now, the fresh kind, one that won't run out on you just yet. And if you're me, eventually you let the dying notebook live on the floor or in the blue box in the corner, those final pages still waiting.

...

On that note, happy Thanksgiving!

On Facebook, I posted, "I'm grateful that I didn't throw up at the finish line" as friends posted their gratitude for the various individuals and circumstances in their lives. Cheeky, but I meant what I said.

I ran a comfortable race today because finally, I found the right songs and the right stories to tell myself. They kept my head out of the race instead of up on the course and around the curve, looking looking looking for the finish. I exhaust myself that way. I give not enough and then too much at the end, and then I bend at the waist and hope that my fear of embarrassment is stronger than the need to throw up.

But not today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Remember those two days where we thought about transferring to Cornell?

A week since the last post, yet it feels like Monday still to me.

Realization as I started writing: my birthday is in exactly one month, and what have I accomplished in this year?

I feel weird lately, the on and off weirdness that had toned down in the beginning of fall but now comes back loudly. My feelings are hurt easily. I resent quickly. I'm supposed to listen to one song per day, but instead I hear the steady track of what others might say about my life and my rebuttals. Constant, constant. I would say that I'm tired of it, but it's the noise I've come to know.

When I fall out of the loop, I don't want to do it ever again. It = just about anything. Like NaNo, which I slacked on this past week but forced myself into tonight (and I'm glad I did -- I will finish on time, dang it!). Or running. Or going back to college after regularly scheduled breaks, back when that was relevant. Checking work email. Writing, at times.

But I come back.

But perhaps that is the problem. There should be more departures than arrivals, except I don't know where to go and if I need to go there in the first place.

...

#319: DJ Fresh, "Gold Dust"
#320: Adele, "Rumour Has It"
#321: The Beatles, "Eleanor Rigby"
#322: The Beatles, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
#323: The Beatles, "P.S. I Love You"
#324: The Beatles, "From Me to You"
#325: The Beatles, "Rain"

Friday, November 11, 2011

I've got the magic in me

courtesy of 11/11, of course!

...

I have a particularly hilarious young gymnast who is funny primarily because she makes comments that are off the beaten track. They're rather adult-like observations for a tiny 7-year-old.

Yesterday, I decided to learn more.

Me: "Sophia, do you spend a lot of time with adults?"
Sophia: "I watch a lot of darn stinkin' FOX News. NOT BY CHOICE."

...

While all has been quiet on the Word is Bond front, I've continued to fight the NaNo fight. Two of the past three days have dragged. I have a sense of where the story will go, but getting there felt tedious on those nights.

Solution: get the two characters into an argument. Keep them there.

CatFIGHTS!

...

#313: Adele, "Hometown Glory"
#314: Montgomery Gentry, "Where I Come From"
#315: Alan Jackson, "Where I Come From"
#316: Kenny Chesney, "Back Where I Come From"
#317: Jason Michael Carroll, "Where I Come From"
#318: Digable Planets, "Where I'm From"
11:11:11!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

sometimes there's airplanes you can't jump out

(of).

Several times a week (less if it's a good week, more if it's not), I try to unravel the ever-present riddle: What am I supposed to be doing? The brain and the good grades -- what were they meant to lead to? Did I ever know? I don't know that I did, which is a small comfort, because then I can't fully disappoint myself. But I can be mostly disappointed, which I am on the bad days.

Then there are the moments like today, when I stand in the black suit and the high heels, and out of all the teenage girls lined up and waiting for this to begin, one of them breaks formation to wave at me and grin. Like we're in on a secret. Like she's genuinely thrilled that I'm here, that we're existing in the same space.

At those times, I feel like I'm circling closer to the answer.

...

I wrote this post on the sixth of November, but I'm changing the published date to the fifth. Just because I can, y'all.

However, here are two songs:

#312: White Lies, "To Lose My Life"
#313: White Lies, "Farewell To The Fairground"

And a last line:

"There must be something wrong with the man."

Friday, November 04, 2011

thoughts on extracurricular activities

Down by the dock yesterday, with a wind that wasn't too cold and a sky that was just right, he told the story of how she'd said she had too much going on. So busy that it affected the way she interacted with people, she said, but that was it, really, no hard feelings.

Months later, the big reveal: No, that hadn't been the case after all.

I knew that line was coming.

The perks of growing up: illumination where there used to be mystery in the ways that people behave. And, especially, in the ways they avoid, skirt around, try to escape.

...

I opened up the NaNoWriMo document at 10:30 p.m. the past two nights and went to work immediately. By midnight, I had over the recommended 1,667.

It's not a sprint, but certainly a brisk run. And I'm really enjoying it.

The first year I signed on for NaNo, I didn't actually go through with it. I had vague notions of finishing my thesis in that month. Extracurricular activities and jobs (see above: avoidance), as well as a general sense of despair toward the story, kept me from doing so.

Also, I was a snob: Who can really turn out a quality novel that quickly? What's the point of putting forth something shoddy? It's not for me, no.

Last year, my job situation was in flux and I knew I really ought to spend more of my time writing, anyway, so I jumped in four days late and made it to the finish. And I enjoyed myself immensely along the way. Former snob, now convert.

This year's goals, besides finishing (that's what she...): Allowing myself to be playful with language. Remembering that I can write in the third person past tense. Experimenting. Yes, more of that.

...

Last night's final line:

"She was the one who had the potential to be dangerous."

...

#309: On a recommendation, "Colours" by Grouplove
#310: Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith, "Not In Love"
#311: "Bigger Than Us," White Lies

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 1, or Finish What You Started

If I say I'm going to do something, and I have multiple witnesses, I will do it.

Running a race. Keeping a blog. Visiting a country. Writing a novel.

Others will start with me. They will not all make it. I will.

It's just who I am.

Except that today, I almost didn't get there. Seven hundred and seven words into the novel, I thought, Screw it. Do that nonfiction book instead. In fact, maybe write nothing at all, since what's dribbling out isn't doing anything for me.

I opened a new document and started to write an essay about Mark Sanchez, although I didn't get to Mark just yet. I wrote my way over to him, and the process wasn't too painful, and just when I arrived, I decided that I'd give the novel another try. Why not.

Weep not, Mark. We'll meet again in .docx form.

I conclude today at 1,691 words. The story may eventually be parceled into parts and shopped around, it may work magnificently as a whole, it may be nada, but I'm doing something. Not just talking about writing, or thinking about how I ought to submit, or letting ideas romp around. I am actively writing outside of this space, and I've needed more of that lately.

What are you doing? Will you stop, or do you have the endurance for the journey?

...

#308: Pitbull, "Pump It Up"

12:12 on 11/1/11

NaNo. It's happening!

Monday, October 31, 2011

More Lore

Happy Halloween!


After middle school, I was never a tremendous fan of Halloween. I felt silly trick-or-treating and, as high school progressed, found that I'd rather dress as Frodo Baggins than a hooker.

In college, turns out students are nutso about Halloween. Crazier than I ever was as a kid.

I also learned in college that I'm not a huge fan of holidays where I feel socially obligated to do something. I'm not talking about doing good for the sake of the world. I'm talking about big, public plans that will provide fodder for Facebook photos and OMG that night was the best lulz.

In the aftermath, the subtle implication: if you weren't doing it up like us, you clearly weren't having fun. And if you weren't having fun, well, you just don't know how to enjoy life.

But eventually I decided to roll with it.

Turns out I was meant to bond with these girls:

Beth will kill me if she sees this. Hi, Beth!


...

As the youngins gear up to head out, I wonder which story I'll tell tomorrow.

I have several novel ideas in mind, but I can't stay that one is winning favor over the others.

Last year, I was very clear on the story I wanted to pursue. This year, there are options:

  1. YA novel
  2. Adult novel
  3. YA fantasy novel
  4. Novel in short stories
I've never done the latter two, which intrigues me. However, I feel that the fantasy novel deserves more planning and thinking than I've yet to grant it.

I really liked the "novel in short stories" idea last night and this morning. There would be a common theme and connections from story to story. Except the theme started to depress me, and I haven't even begun writing it yet. Hmm.

Then there's another option:

     5. A collection of creative nonfiction essays, also on a common theme.

Is that considered cheating?

I've actually thought about this collection (there's a list in a notebook somewhere) and felt quite excited about it. However, as with much of my recent writing, I've been poking around rather than digging in.

What sayeth the bloggerverse?

...

#307: "Tubular Bells," Mike Oldfield

And in honor of the holiday: Rocky Horror Picture Show, "The Time Warp"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Whose line is it, anyway?

I know it's still October, but my mind's already in January.

Wake up, wake up, wake up.

...

Signs of a productive evening: changing profile photos on my various Internet locales. Spent far too much energy reducing and reducing a photo for the NaNoWriMo profile page, and after successfully doing so, the page's view box cut off my head. Sexy.

But I don't think I will change this blog's avatar. Not the large photo on the right, but the small photo that appears when I log into the Dashboard and comment on blogs. The girl in the purple leotard, upside down on the low bar.



I remember the exact competition and the precise skill. I never loved uneven bars. It was something to get through rather than to savor. Not like floor, which I loved to compete, and beam, which I loved to practice.

In the photo, I am in the midst of a skill I sometimes missed in the season. Didn't make it up high enough and had to swing back down and turn around quickly. My teammates would clap but the judges knew it was a mistake.

But that night, with my friends cheering from the front row of the bleachers, as one of the first girls to compete, I hit that handstand and knew I would make it over to the other side. Just the way I intended.

And when I landed, there was applause.

...
#305: Toby Keith, "Red Solo Cup," in honor of college students everywhere
#306: AWOLNATION, "Sail"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life advice at 7 a.m.:

"Don't drive too fast, but don't drive too slowly."

...

From Twitter:

"Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied." - Zadie Smith

...

Sounds from the sideways rainforest in honor of a rainy day:

video


...

#304: Amy Winehouse, "You Know I'm No Good"

The satisfyingly slow sound

in the quiet night of your just-repaired car exhaling. But this is no normal sigh. This is the continuous whoosh of all the air seeping out, quite literally.

It's too late. But you crouch down anyway, wrap the sweatshirt over your fingers, begin working your way out of this.

...

#296: Katie Herzig, "Lost and Found"
#297: Katie Herzig, "Wish You Well"
#298: Katie Herzig, "I Will Follow"
#299: The Killers, "Boots"
#300: Yes, "Arriving UFO"
#301: The Killers, "Tranquilize"
#302: The Killers, "Shadowplay"
#303: Sea Wolf, "Winter Windows." I found this song by typing "hipster music" into the search.

Is the year really running out? Already?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

PR: Into the Rainforest

We headed out to El Yunque a little wiser and a little savvier. We knew that if we saw a time posted somewhere, we shouldn't believe it.

But could we trust signs with unicorns?

The road rose into the mountains. The lanes narrowed and the curves spun us in and out of thick greenery as we climbed up, up...

We were in the rainforest now.


The map showed dotted lines that indicated hiking trails. My goal for the day was to swim at the base of a waterfall, which we'd heard we could do. Thus we began to walk.

Yokahu Observation Tower.


The ocean, a world away.





As we walked, we heard the coquis chirping. But we saw little wildlife. No flapping of wings through the palms. No monkeys swinging from the vines. Turns out no monkeys live there. Instead, it was the trees that climbed over us and the fog that met us as we moved higher.

And the rain.

...

Blogger is a little feisty in regards to how many photos I'm attempting to upload, so I will pause here and instead catch up a bit with musics.

#291: "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See," Busta Rhymes
#292: "Gangsta Nation," Westside Connection
#293: "Guantanamera," Julio Iglesias
#294: "This City," Patrick Stump
#295: "Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)," Patrick Strump

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yessss!

Just found the YA fantasy novel I started when I was ~16!

Dusting it off for NaNoWriMo? I think so, babycakes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Intro to Puerto Rico, Part 2

There was no time to waste the next day. We woke up and drove to the east coast town of Fajardo, using our signals although others did not.


I'm glad we rented a car, for then we were able to see the Puerto Rico that, I suspect, is much more a reality than the sun-bathed hotels on the ocean.

Once in Fajardo, we scampered over to the ferry bound for Culebra.

The last ferry.
In Culebra, we learned more lessons:

  1. On the mainland, the brochure in the terminal says that the return ferry times are 1 and 5 pm.
  2. On Culebra, they tell you that it's actually 3 and 7 pm.
  3. The ferry departed Culebra at 4 pm.
I also learned a life lesson:

  1. Although I am not, by nature, a beach person (I'd rather frolic on the sand at night, or go swimming, than lie in the sun for hours), that can change under the right circumstances.
Flamenco Beach. Unreal.
We eventually paused for lunch:


Refueled, we made our way over to the Sherman tanker. The beach was once used by the U.S. Navy/Marines for "military exercises," quoth Wikipedia. The guidebook led us to believe that the beach was, in Lena's words, "littered with Sherman tankers." We saw two. But as Matthew pointed out, compared to a normal beach, "littered" works.



And so we frolicked until it was time to wait for the phantom three o'clock ferry.

...

Tonight on the radio, I caught bits of two stations meshed together. The mash-up of these particular songs was quite wonderful: "Just A Kiss" by Lady Antebellum, promoting chastity, and "Only the Good Die Young," in which our hero Billy Joel does his best to dissuade that Catholic girl.

#286: "Sexy and I Know It," LMFAO
#287: "Diamond Eyes," Deftones
#288: "You've Seen the Butcher," Deftones
#289: "I Would Do Anything For You," Foster the People
#290: "Dreamtime," Sunburns

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intro to Puerto Rico, Part One

Prior to journeying to the PR, you can see that I was up to all sorts of shenanigans.



Namely, watching The Office on Lena's iPhone in her car.

But we navigated morning traffic, slim seats, and small patches of turbulence for a new adventure. One that led us to Burger King chicken wraps, wild left turns, and a room with a view.

Not actually our room, but nearby!
From the get-go, we learned three valuable rules of the Puerto Rican highway:

  1. Nobody signals.
  2. Nobody is afraid to turn, switch lanes, or wiggle in front of you.
  3. Few people seem to honk in protest. This is not NYC, lean-on-your-horn-into-the-night. They're comfortable with this aggressive way.
But there would be more of that in the coming days. For now, it was time to enjoy a calm, warm ocean. No stones in the sand. For the first time, real tropical warmth.



...


Omg, less than twenty songs behind!

I won't get all caught up tonight. But I'll make a start:

#281: Andra ft. Pitbull, "Something New"
#282: Kaskade ft. Mindy Gledhill, "Eyes"
#283: Flo Rida and Avicii, "Good Feeling"
#284: Lil Wayne ft. Drake and Birdman, "See Right Thru"
#285: B.o.B. ft. Lil Wayne, "Strange Clouds"


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

lulls

So what's the next adventure?

...

In the interim, learning how to use the Snipping Tool has enhanced my p.c. experience.

...

#280, "Storm Warning," Hunter Hayes

Monday, October 03, 2011

Return the favor

(That's what she...)

I've become annoyed when folks ask to read my work (namely Mexico, as many friends have been told of it), and then I send it to them, and the rest is silence.

At first, I thought this was because they read it and found it so terrible that they didn't dare mention it again. This is certainly possible. But there's another reality: people just haven't read it.

They're under no obligation to read the work, of course. Or to enjoy it upon reading. But now I will assert myself. If I send it, I will ask, "What part are you up to? What do you think so far?" The litmus test. I'm not going to wait around in silence.

But this means that I have to man up and read what's sent to me by friends. I too have been a slacker on this front. I receive attachments, and then I tend to forget about them.

So here we go. Building up the reader's karma.

...

Here's a cute chipmunk.

Nom nom nom
...

Here are less than twenty songs!

#277: Edens Edge, "Amen"
#278: David Guetta with Sia, "Titanium"
#279: Sia, "Soon We'll Be Found"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sooner rather than later,

I'd like to try my hand at writing a love story. Of course, there will be complications and probably a lengthy courtship. But maybe there will be a better ending for this duo than some of my past pairs.
Like this happy, healthy, totally realistic couple.
...

How many consecutive days can I go without the need for a twenty-song-catch-up list?

#276: "Somebody That I Used to Know," Gotye

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I know I'm a little late to the party on this,

but I'm slightly obsessed with Pam and Jim.

Judge away! I don't care!



...

Also, I'm now using Facebook's "ticker" to creep on what people are listening to on Spotify, though I don't use the service myself. Here's one:

#275: "Stay With Me, Baby," Terry Reid

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Preliminary research shows that

my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel will likely take place in or around Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

As Deana would say, "So majestic."
I feel good this week. Making the time to make things happen. Running up that hill.

I'm also, finally, being proactive with the YA novel. SeƱor Tony did the first read-through and now the Bahlin' one has taken on the task. Though neither is the target audience, I know they'll have astute feedback.

I want to get that story out into the world.

...

And now, we dance:
#262: "Glass," Thompson Square
#263: "Getaway Car," Thompson Square
#264: "Find Out Who Your Friends Are," Tracy Lawrence
#265: "Helena Beat," Foster the People
#266: "Solar Sailer," Daft Punk
#267: "Raise Your Weapon," Deadmau5
#268: "I Might," Wilco
#269: "You and I," Wilco
#270: "Moving to Mars," Coldplay
#271: "Sing Out," The Grand Magnolias
#272: "American Dreams," Paul McDonald
#273: "Welcome to the Black Parade," My Chemical Romance
#274: "Tattoos On This Town," Jason Aldean

Monday, September 26, 2011

all work and no play makes Jack...

All of this work has helped me get a better grasp of what it is I like to do, and what it is I tolerate, and then the final category, what it is I do not want to pursue.

This comes in handy because I like to maintain the childlike sense that Well, I can do whatever I choose to do. That could be true, besides being a professional male basketball player or algo asi.

But I am honing in on the realization of which tasks I prefer over others within my fields of writing and living. That, although I succeed at them, I don't need to do the things that make me wake up in the morning and realize, Damn, I need to do that today and then Oh, God.

...

In keeping with labor, a sudden fond flash to the RA life: "managing" the "Quiet Study Lounges." The lounges were used, on average, by about two people per semester. Tough times.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

buckle down

(Buckle up? I suppose that's the appropriate metaphor for an adventure.)

Sunday morning. Back to work. But the kind of work where you don't need to leave, except if you want to, and you don't need the professional pants or the heels that ache after twenty minutes. You also don't need a bag full of your life for the rest of the day at 10 am: notes for here, notes for there, textbooks and essays, water and lunch and snack and possibly dinner, a change of clothes, a laptop charger. You feel a whole lot of things, including despair and anxiety and envy, but you don't feel exhausted.

This is a start.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

contact solution, 1:30 a.m.

I am confident that tonight, I am the only customer here.

The soft whine of floor cleaners. Every lantern shut above every register. Even so, these aisles are comfortable. I move from mouthwash to toothpaste and wonder what they think, the few working tonight in their green uniforms: What is this girl looking for? Then: Where is she going?

.

Afterwards I dreamt of driving down a road without dotted yellows. Reeds lined the pavement and the fog and rain made headlights useless. I kept going, hoping nobody would come from the other direction.

Then something happened. The fog cleared. The rain came down more distinctly and the wipers worked to clear it away. But I could see the road now. I could see everything.

.

Read today about Oktoberfest: "refined bitterness"

.

#261: Thompson Square, "I Got You"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The curve and the clearing

Which do I do more of: working, or driving to work? Is it cyclical or am I moving upward (or downward)?

Regardless, I chose to drive by the bay this afternoon. I would take the extra two miles and the stop lights to see the sun on that stretch of water through the trees before the curve and the clearing, and I would do it again. She is singing out of one speaker in my car and so I stay tuned in.

I have to make this day count in some small way.

...

#260: Rascal Flatts, "Easy"

midnight cowboy

I hit that numbness on the drive home. That feeling when you've worked all day here there all over and you should feel relieved, maybe even a bit accomplished, but your mind's muted. Not a twitch in the hand or a foot. Pure stone at the wheel.

From somewhere in the night, a DJ presses "play" on the next song and it fills the car.

"It's all the same, only the names will change."

Windows rolled down a crack and the passing fields smell like bagels, and I don't know how that could be, but I do know that while this song plays, I am awake.

...

#259: Matt Nathanson, "Modern Love"

Monday, September 12, 2011

sudoku exposure

It makes me wonder: What's the story we're not telling?

I have posted about the story we're meant to tell. Is that the same one that, for whatever reason, we're not writing?

A friend of mine has primarily written poetry until recently. I told her several times that she ought to write a memoir, as she has the life experiences and the voice for one. Now she is. She says the writing is difficult for her, but when read, the words fly. It is an honest story, one that makes most sense in prose.

I don't know if it's necessary to bare it all. But are we keeping what makes us innately us from the page? If so, why? And will it one day find a way through?

...

"I used to play Sudoku. But a woman I worked with played it, and I hated her. So I stopped playing because I didn't want to have anything in common with her." - the D.Q.

...

#254: VNV Nation, "Genesis"
#255: Eric Church, "Homeboy"
#256: Eric Church, "Love Your Love the Most"
#257: Jason Aldean, "Big Green Tractor"
#258: Chris Brown and Justin Bieber, "Next 2 You." Yes, this just happened.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

a day at the fair

The things we do for free T-shirts.



Soldier: "Are you interested in joining the Army?"
Me: "I'd like the exercise. I'm not really good with confrontation."

But I am good with size XL T-shirts.



///

#243: Journey, "Feeling That Way"
#244: Journey, "Anytime"
#245: Journey, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'"
#246: Sparks, "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us"
#247: Sparks, "When I'm With You"
#248: Bjork, "All Is Full of Love"
#249: Bjork, "Army of Me"
#250: Sonic Youth, "Superstar"
#251: Sonic Youth, "Do You Believe In Rapture?"
#252: Beck, "Where It's At"
#253: Whitesnake, "Love Will Set You Free"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

board up my windows, prepare for hurricane

This morning, the air was thick. It rained earlier as we sat in the car, watching the waves that were too small for anyone else to stay longer than a moment.

Flood Watch in effect from...

Flood Advisory in effect until...

Now the usual chirping in the trees. Breezeless.

But they keep multiplying:

Tornado Watch in effect until...

Hurricane Warning in effect.

When I was younger, I thought the meanings of "storm watch" versus "storm warning" ought to be reversed. In my opinion, "warning" meant it was a possibility, a heads-up. "Watch" meant: "Look out your window -- it's coming."

I charge everything and use the Internet while I can, reading updates and chatting with friends, and also being productive in my writing life. I type louder than the fear, but I still stop and listen as a soft breeze begins.

Tonight, I will watch.

...

And listen to these:

#224: A Fine Frenzy, "You Picked Me"
#225: Lady Gaga, "You and I"
#226: M83, "We Own the Sky"
#227: Don Omar, "Danza Kuduro"
#228: Barbra Streisand, "The Way We Were"
#229: Sick Puppies, "Riptide"
#230: Hoodie Allen, "The Chase Is On"
#231: Hoodie Allen, "#WhiteGirlProblems"
#232: Neko Case, "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth"
#233: Priscilla Ahn, "City Lights (Pretty Lights)"
#234: The Runaways, "Cherry Bomb"
#235: Courtney Love, "Almost Golden"
#236: Courtney Love, "Hello"
#237: The New Cities, "Heatwave"
#238: Gladys Knight and the Pips, "Neither One of Us"
#239: Peter, Paul, and Mary, "Leaving On A Jet Plane"
#240: Peter, Paul, and Mary, "Blowin' In the Wind"
#241: Peter, Bjorn & John, "Young Folks" (Just realized that I know this song. Whoaz!)
#242: Live, "She." Not a new song. But it took about ten minutes to find on YouTube earlier today. Also, it's lovely and uplifting. So here it is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

earthquake commentary

Gymnast 1: "My mom was excavated from her job." ::starts laughing as she realizes her error::
Gymnast 2: "Your mom was executed at work?!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How to Run Your 10K With New Shoes, Little Sleep, and Less Training

This is what happens: you return from the Warrior Dash with no sneakers. You didn't lose them in the mud pit, but instead donated them afterwards. You've had them for years. It was time.

You intend to buy new sneakers early in the week to run this weekend's 10K. The draw of this race is that it's a trail run, just the way you like it. Dirt and roots and rocks. That's about right.

But for various reasons, you don't get to the store until Friday. Which means that your exercise this week has been limited to treading water and spotting back tucks. Not ideal, but no big deal.

Fueled by increasing crankiness, you reject the Nike and Reebok pairs and reluctantly head into the last store. There you find a beautiful pair of white-purple-green Asics with built-in gel pads. They fit. They are deliciously squishy. This is perfect. Mexican food is the only way to celebrate this achievement.

Until the next day, when you take the prettiest sneakers you've ever owned (with the exception of the Little Mermaid kicks in kindergarten) for the maiden voyage, and a couple of miles in, they pinch your inner arches so irritatingly that you stop.

Egads.

You dust them off and return them to the store. Then you hustle out to another store in the opposite direction, the last stop for the evening. If nothing fits here, no race manana.

Oh, but you'll make it happen.

Play Cinderella. Try on every sneaker that comes in your size, especially if it's on sale. This is not a night of fiscal risks. You pluck out a box of sneakers that has no mate on the top shelf. They are black and electric blue, like skater shoes, and instantly you judge. They can't be real sneakers. They're faux-sneaks that girls wear to look athletic and occasionally ride the elliptical.

Forty-five minutes later, you leave with the faux-sneaks that actually seem to be real sneaks hiding under ridiculous colors. Your father will probably judge you. You're ready for it.

You try to fall asleep at midnight in your friend's guestroom. Midnight turns to one a.m. turns to thrashing about half-awake until the alarm goes off at six.

This will not be pretty.

But you have said you will do this, and so you will. Even though you have to make sharp and wide turns to help your friend Jess find a functioning ATM so she can pay the entry fee. Even though your body is still dreaming and you're already sweating from the humidity as you walk to the registration table.

You put Vaseline on the sore spots. A woman ahead of you on the Port-A-Potty line donates two band-aids. You are as ready as you can be.

How do you run the race? You don't stop running.

You give up despairing over your split times, knowing they're much slower than they could be. After all, there are choices: Run hard now and be ill later, or take it easy and finish without throwing up. You don't move quickly, but you don't stop moving. Over the small bridges and under the tunnels and around the lake.

When your stomach starts to hurt and your feet feel that these shoes are stiff with not being broken in, Jess says, "We're almost there. It's almost over." You keep telling yourself that, too. You hold the pace until the finish line appears a few short meters ahead and then you sprint with Jess calling behind you, "Where are you going?" the way she would chastise a child. You know you deserve it. But that's okay.

The entire race, you think about how awful this all is. Painful and slow and sticky. How do people run double, quadruple this? How do their bodies handle it? Not you, no way. No more races.

Soon after the finish, you take a flyer from a stranger and say, "Hey, Jess, here's a race with costumes."

You keep going.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

spotted ponies

It looks like previous plans will overlap with Day 2 of gymnastics nationals, so if you had looked forward to a sequel to Day 1 (Flo Davies, I'm looking at you), it may be delayed. But that's cool with me.

I'm here tonight to say that I'm back. Back to the YA nov, which I left shivering because I started to worry that maybe it was not the novel I thought it was (that is to say, good). But thanks to several days of avoidance and thought and simply letting outside forces shape what they will in their way, I think I have new paths that can be tunneled.

But there's one thing that keeps the headlights glowing: I know how it all ends.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 1 of the VISA Championships - Live Bloggin'!

Rice, gymnastics, and blogs -- what more do you need tonight?

Interesting leotards already. I'm kinda digging Shawn Johnson's black and blue number, though the see-through mesh on the back is a bit disconcerting. I feel similarly about the gray-and-pink number donned by WOGA. It's weird. But not in a bad way.

Who's the dude who's commentating with Tim and Elfi? He sounds uncomfortable.

Chellsie Memmel, bars: BIG Tkatchev. Nice, clean routine. Good extension throughout.

Shawn Johnson, floor: JK.

Gabby Douglas, floor: So cute! Such a baby. Liang Chow is always smiling. Clean triple twist. Interesting use of vocals in the background -- very NCAA. Flying out of bounds on double Arabian. I feel like Marta is not amused by "Me No Speak Americano" music. I feel like this girl will only get better with age.

As per Wikipedia, that song is actually produced by an Australian duo.

Break!
...

Alicia Sacramone, floor: Dislike the weird X on her leotard. Nice triple full. Tremendously high double Arabian. Really enjoy this music, though the choreography isn't really a revelation. So it goes. Aaaaand falls to her back.

Jordyn Wieber, beam: Freaked out by the yellow/gold leotard. I was never really a fan of yellow. Wobbly wobble out of the layout. Can't imagine too many "laymen" are watching Universal Sports right now. Nice switch-side-half. Seems to be becoming popular lately. Shakes all around. Nice 2.5 dismount.

McKayla Maroney, floor: Really casual 3.5 twist. This music must be so irritating to practice to day in and day out. Very clean. Looks like she could break in half, but she's a beast. The requisite (thus far) out of bounds. Will she make the double Arabian??? Nope. End scene.

Rebecca Bross, bars: Looks like she's about to fall asleep. Nice Khorkina to high bar. Off on the Tkatchev. Tim is shocked. Then again, Bross has a history of being a hot mess in major competitions on at least one event. I am not shocked. Big Pak salto. She has nice amplitude on her releases -- I have never truly appreciated it before.

Aly Raisman, floor: I bet Aly is a lovely person, but I fear she will win tonight. Egads. Man, though, she is an insane tumbler. Two Arabian passes. Random vocals in the background. Semi-sexy moves on the floor. Triple full. Must also be annoying music to hear day in and day out. But she stayed in bounds, so good for her.

Break!

...

Just realized that they're not telling us any scores. Ah, well.

Super neon green for Legacy Elite. Meh.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Neon Leotards for the Caquatto sisters? Maybe.

Lol, uh, commercial break again?

...

Bridgette Caquatto, bars: feet crossing on some handstands. Extra swing. Piked down double layout dismount.

Did unknown male commentator just say, "The sweat is dripping down her bra"???

Alicia Sacramone, vault: Leotard by Under Armour? Will check out that logo again. Wow, that first vault looked higher than ever. And that's def Under Armour. Really nice execution in the slow-mo replay. Pretty solid DTY.

Anna Li, bars: The much-hyped routine is happening. Some form issues and close to the bars on releases, but she's making it happen. Cool!

Jordyn Wieber, floor: Right now I'm guessing Aly 1, Jordyn 2, Rebecca 3 for the all-around finale. Just a hunch. Double-double to start. Crisp dance. I appreciate that her moves actually go with the music. Very clean twister. I feel like she has new routines at every meet. Or maybe that's just because she's always injured and does like 1 major meet per season. Nice routine! I liked it.


TOO MUCH YELLOW.

Mackenzie Caquatto, bars: Looks worried. BIG Church. And big Pak. (That's what she...). Very aggressive routine.

Rebecca Bross, beam: Stuck Arabian. She's going all the way here -- no hesitations. Yikes! Foot slips on the back tuck. Tim is shocked again. Valeri will not be pleased. And down on the dismount.

Aly Raisman, vault: I fear this Amanar. JK, she does a DTY instead. I feel better now. On the plus side, she looks nice in pink.

Sabrina Vega, bars: Break on the handstand and kicks low bar. Aw. And off on the Church.

So many falls!

Nastia is helping to make the selection for the World team? For why?

Do we really need to keep the camera on Sabrina Vega's face as she cries? Really?

And Steve Rybacki also chooses the World team?

So many questions, rhetorical and not?

Chellsie Memmel, beam: barani connected to back handspring. Not beautiful, but definitely admirable. Long pause pre-Arabian. Too many looooong pauses throughout this routine. Successfully 2 for 2 in not splatting.

Shawn Johnson, finally! vault: A serviceable DTY. Not going to change the world, but not embarrassing. She sprints awaaaaay. In the slow-mo replay, crooked but not terrible form.

Casey Jo Magee, standing: Her hair is cute. Also, a nice leotard.

Jordyn Wieber, vault: Wow, really nice Amanar. High, clean, and not scary. Win!

Anna Li, beam: Business-like switch-ring. Seems confident. I type this just as she wobbles majorly. Oops. A decent routine.

McKayla Maroney, bars: Extra swiiiings. Seems to be required along with the OOB on floor. This probably WILL spur on Nastia's comeback.

Mackenzie Caquatto, beam: Save on the side somi. Off on the layout. Hot dang, sons, I miss the days when you'd see very, very few falls at a big competition. I sound like I'm ninety.

Rebecca Bross, floor: I feel bad for her. She must hate life. Watched this routine in the training videos and found it to be a major step up from her previous routine. HUGE first pass. I really like this music. WOGA sure loves those violins in their floor music. Slow movements in contrats to high energy music. Lots of posing and standing. Haha, I like the landing of the last pass to the music -- very MIOBI in its conclusion. No disasters for her in that routine.

Aly Raisman, bars: Leg separations. Flexed toes. You know the rendez-vous.

Casey Magee, beam!: Broken connection in the double to single turn. She looks taller than the rest of the pack. I sense that Tim is rooting for her. I am, too. Yikes, didn't really complete that round-off pre-layout. Off she goes. Triple turn, saved. The crowd appreciates it. Love that handspring down to the knee.

Where did Gabby Douglas go?

Breeeaaaak.

...

Shawn Johnson, bars: Nice Geinger - big! Resists the extra swing. Nice dismount! Redemption from the CoverGirl Splatfest.

Chellsie Memmel, floor: Runs out of bounds, OF COURSE. High tumbling. reminds me of Kristen Maloney with better form. This routine is dragging. A fierce finish.

Gabby Douglas, bars: They found her! Holy Tkatchev. Wowzas. Nice extension. Wild dismount almost to her hands.

Bridgette Caquatto, beam: This group is still on beam? Man. Gets a lot of height in the aerial skills. And she's off. Tim calls these falls "infectious." The zombie viral apocalypse? The heralding of 2012? I digress.

That judge hit the bell with true relish. She too is tired of the nonsense.

Is it wrong that I'm looking forward for this comp to be over, but yet I can't look away?

...

I feel like there's no urgency to this competition. Everyone (for the most part) looks like a mess. Whoever survives will win. Kudos to Wieber, however, who has performed like a real champ.

Quite simply, it's boring.

But we'll see what the final rotation brings.

As Andrea Joyce talks about Gabby Douglas's family, does anyone else miss the days of fluffy montages and interviews? I lived for those. Again, I'm ninety.

Rebecca Bross, vault: High vault, scary low landing - bent knees in the air and chest down. Aw. She needs a long rest, and maybe something sugary.

McKayla Maroney, beam: I'd like to see her have a nice routine. Will she? Ah, yes, a fall on the layout. But of course.

Mackenzie Caquatto, floor: Will we see a techno FSU floor routine? Looks like it. Kind of a yawn.

Aly Raisman, beam: Aly looks slightly like a young Emeline, which is a supreme accomplishment. Stays on the layout. Hence why she will win (or place top three). An improved leap. Bent knees on the front pike. She's a tough customer. Whoa, a legit dismount/landing.

Chellsie Memmel, however, is not impressed.

She vaults: FTY. It's fine.

Sabrina Vega returns after the break. Floor: Out of bounds. Spicy music. Lots of energy and sweet ending pose.

J-Wiebs, bars: I suddenly fear a meltdown a la Vanessa Atler in '97 on bars. Legs apart. Seems to be muscling through. Low Tkatchev. That routine seemed really short. No meltdowns, however.

Shawn Johnson, beam: I'm excited. Stays on for the layout. She's very aggressive today. Big save on the aerial. The haters will love the low back leg on her switch leap. Honestly, this is one of the best beam routines at this meet. Over time. She and Raisman desire to be co-champs on beam at this rate, based on this telecast (maybe second to Wieber).

I'd like to ask SJ about her knee surgery. Which graft did she choose: patellar tendon, hamstring, or cadaver? The grand questions.

Gabby Douglas, beam: My goodness, she is tiny. Those damn layouts, man. Off she goes. And off on the back full.

Tim: "This is, quite honestly, one of those meets that's hard to recover from."
Dad: "And hard to watch."

Yikes. Off on the switch ring. One of those times where you wish you could get off mid-routine and hide.

Her coach, however, smiles anyway. I'd like to see what he's like in the gym.

Seriously, who doesn't hate her life tonight? Raisman, Memmel, Wieber, ShawnJohn? That's it.

Alicia Sacramone, beam: Goin' big. No wobbles. Huge switch-side. She may need to be the national beam champ. Really good routine. The execution score should be high.

...

Parting Shots

Much like the CoverGirl Classic, that was one heck of a brutal meet to watch.

Is it really the open-ended scoring that encourages so much difficulty that the girls are a mess? If that's so, then, why did nearly all of the falls on TV come from layouts, a skill that Level 10's perform comfortably? Nerves about the rest of the routine? Nerves about Marta? Nerves about something else? Would we see these sort of routines at Russian or Chinese nationals? What happened to that supreme confidence of a Miller or a Zmeskal, or even Patterson? Is it the Code that makes the confidence impossible? Or is it the undercurrent of something else?

The standings thus far:

1. Jordyn
2. Aly
3. Chellsie
4. Bross

To conclude for the night, here's a beam routine to make you feel better about life:

Don Joy, mud pits, and retail soundtracks

The best part of a custom-made knee brace: the complimentary bag.

Bing Images doesn't have any photos of the duffel bag, which is a real travesty. I've made it to Europe and back by rolling up my clothes and fitting my life into that bag.

This weekend was no different.

Our journey began on Friday evening, when we drove to the town of Coxsackie (which has a body of water called "Climax Brook"). The requisite sing-along took place. But this was not a mere anthematic, "Don't Stop Believing" sing-along. This was an ode to the songs that played again and again and again as we each worked jobs in retail (Banana Republic, Journeys, and the Baby Gap, respectively). Songs that may have been decent but were ruined by memories of standing for hours and pretending to fold baby clothes (me). Or songs that we never knew the chorus to, such as this one.

After getting lost in our quest for a hotel that didn't exist, we found our correct habitation for the night. We went right to sleep, minus the fact that the room was 978786 degrees and very silent. You lie there wondering: Who else is awake? Does their breathing mean they're sleeping?

At 7:45 the next morning, Lauren and I waited amongst folks in Viking costumes and fairy skirts. We were dressed simply in blue T-shirts and black shorts. As music played down below, we worried about the big issues in life: Would we die? Would we have to pee while on the course?

Fire spewed from torches. We were off.

The first mile or so ran strictly uphill. That doesn't sound like a big deal, except for when you're running up a ski mountain. It kept going up, and up, and up...

After I saw jacked-looking men walking, I decided it was okay to join.

The first obstacles we encountered were nothing to write home about. Crawled under some wood and made our way through the junkyard of old cars and tires. However, we soon heard screaming in the woods. That's when we knew we were in for the good stuff: jumping into the water to climb over logs.

The logs spun toward us as we tried to climb over them. The water came up to my shoulders and my super-saturated sneakers kicked for the bottom. Some chivalrous boyfriends held the logs down for their girlfriends, so we tried to capitalize on that. Then they'd release just in time for us to fall back. I tossed one leg up and over and propelled myself to the other side. True gymnast form.

We exited that obstacle thoroughly muddy.

The other obstacles up on the mountain weren't too tough. There were ropes to climb and wooden A-frames to slide down. Lauren and I had some romantic Titantic-like moments where she waited to catch me, should I have needed catching.

The actual running course, however, was another story. After going uphill for that first mile, the two miles down were just as steep; it felt like you could easily fall over yourself and roll down the mountain. There were divots in the long grass and you had to watch your step. Parts of the trail wove through the woods, bringing back the cross-country days.

Down below, we could see the smoke and the parking lot. "I smell food," Lauren said, and thus we were motivated to run forth.

Three obstacles presented themselves at the very end of the race, as the spectators cheered and took photos: a slip and slide, fire to jump over, and a mud pit with barbed wire.

Now, there's actual video footage of me at age three refusing to go down the slip and slide in our front yard, because I was too scared of wet tarp, apparently. On this day, Lauren ran all gungho and leapt belly-first onto the slip and slide. I was more conservative, but still cruised down the tarp on my stomach.

We made it over the fire, and for the finale, crawled in the mud under barbed wire. The wire wasn't all that low, so I didn't live in fear of getting stuck. However, one had no choice but to go on one's hands and knees as the photographer snapped away.

Finally, Lauren and I ran through the finish line together. I threw up a fist in the air, but did not throw up. Which is an achievement.

Sure, the Warrior Dash was a silly time. But it brought back something I'd forgotten: the desire to work through unusual physical challenges and find that I am capable of accomplishing them. Like the Project Adventure courses in high school and trapezing last summer. Contorting not only my body, but my mind, in unexpected ways.

Monday, August 15, 2011

shorty shorts

I just wrote what may be the world's shortest screenplay. That's hyperbole, certainly, but it's quite brief. 358 words and just onto the second page.

Often I have glimpses of scenes. Usually they're comic sketches, over in a moment. The sort of thing that would probably lose its humor if extended beyond a few minutes.

This piece, I think, could stand to go a little longer. Maybe five pages, max. ::does a quick re-scan:: Maybe three. Or a full two.

There's nothing wrong with scenes, I believe, especially since so much thought lately goes to lengthy works. Scenes are the heartbeat. A quick inhalation of air, the hand on the doorknob, the voice that asks, "Who's there?"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Family Friday

I touched upon writing preoccupations back in May - what is the story we were meant to write?

As someone who enjoys writing about the inversion and struggle in relationships, I appreciated this quote from writer Kevin Wilson:

"I'm most interested in the way that people are put together and told that they're connected and how they make peace with that and make a life together. I think I'll write about family forever."

Monday, August 08, 2011

I wanna hold your hand

As I write, I hear the words of the workshop: Why is she saying this? I want to know more about this character. What is their relationship? Why is she acting this way? Tell us more.

Many times those questions have been helpful. I probe into areas that I wouldn't have gone into otherwise. I think through all the why's and why not's.

My brother's advice for writing a cover letter is to make things as obvious as possible for the prospective employer. "You need to add a little more here about how your experience relates to the position," he says on the phone.

"Yeah, but isn't that clear already?"

"Yes, but sometimes you have to hold their hand a little."

However, I hear those same workshop voices when I read a novel and see a slip of a character that I know, I know, somebody in the group would jump on and say, "I'd like to see you develop this more."

But maybe that person just doesn't matter much beyond their one appearance. Maybe we don't need to know everything about his background and her interior monologue and what they wore when they sat down to breakfast.

Maybe a little mystery's good for you, and if you want that relationship developed further, well, keep on wishin'.

///

#220: Keith Urban, "Long Hot Summer"
#221: Pitbull & Marc Anthony, "Rain Over Me" (beyond ridiculous...to the point where I kinda love it)
#222: Enrique Iglesias, "Ayer"
#223: Lykke Li, "I Follow Rivers"

Sunday, August 07, 2011

You love the thunder

People have always come to me with their stories. They find me empathetic or sympathetic or maybe quiet in the "I can count on her to keep a secret" way. I'm not sure.

For the most part, I enjoy the stories. But there's a particular variety that I enjoy above the others: disastrous relationships.

To be clear, I'm not talking about abuse or stalking or real danger. But I am thinking of stories before those points. The relationships that seem lovely on the surface but, after the fact, turned out to be a hot mess of missed phone calls, inexplicable silences, public fights, drunken texts, and a whole lotta he said-she said.

In college, Lena and I reunited with our friend Natalie one afternoon for lunch. Natalie had been in a relationship for several months and, as far as we knew, things were just peachy.

"How are things going with you guys?" I asked.

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, God."

To me, that just screamed, Tell me more!

I love the denouement. The undoing. I can spy it coming now in stories. He's been a little weird lately, but I think he's just stressed. Watch out, girl. It's on the way down.

But to be fair, I also enjoy beginnings. Quite a bit, in fact. I love learning how people in the randomness of life and humanity and coincidence find one another, start talking, connect. The chance encounters, the nothingness that becomes something.

Then there's "everything is great and we're thinking about buying a dog together" in between. It's great and I'm happy for you.

It just doesn't make for as good of a story.