Monday, January 27, 2014

Sad is Happy for Deep People

So...I love this weird little song.

The lyrics refer to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It's one of my favorite kinds of songs--the kind where the upbeat music contradicts the serious subject matter. It's the language arts lover in me...she thrives on oxymorons and juxtapositions and irony. In this case, you have your protagonist in the song (do songs have protagonists?) trying to find some inner-optimism in the midst of an unfathomable calamity. Even when he's singing about the doom-ridden gray clouds rolling in, he does so with almost a cheery demeanor.

But I think I like the song even more because of a Doctor Who episode I watched awhile back called the "Fires of Pompeii."

In the episode, the doctor and his companion, Donna, travel back in time to Rome the day before Mount Vesuvius erupts. Here the doctor faces a huge moral dilemma. The eruption of the volcano is considered a fixed point in time, thus, he can not alter the course of history by warning or evacuating the citizens of Pompeii. But while there, he and Donna bond with a specific family--heightening their dilemma.

The family awaiting their impending doom

The Doctor agonizing over this dilemma

In the end (spoilers ahead) the doctor, in the spirit of cold logic, decides to leave the family behind to die. Donna pleads with him, and at the last possible second he saves the family and drops them off on the outskirts of the town to watch their city burn. I loved the underlying theme...the idea that some things can never be changed, but once in awhile being human means breaking the rules. It's like a friend of mine once said...sometimes you just want to look up into the sky and say, "Hey, it's not always easy down here in human land."

It's interesting because there are so many parallelisms between the song Pompeii and the episode "Fires of Pompeii," you would swear that the song was written for this episode, even though the two were released five years apart. Still, every time I hear this song now, I see that family standing up on the hillside, watching fire and ash rain down upon their beloved town. I see them closing their eyes, imagining that "nothing's changed at all...."

I guess that seems depressing, but it's not. I can explain this through a brilliant quote I heard several months ago. Okay, I have to admit that this one also comes from Doctor Who. I can't help it--for such a silly, un-logical show, it has a ton of great observations about life. Anyway, in the episode "Blink" (one of my favorites), a young woman, Sally Sparrow, is asked by her best friend why she is so attracted to a yard full of crumbled, weeping angel statues:

It's happy for deep people. I get this. It's not that emotionally-charged books or gut-wrenching music appeals to some inner-sad person in me--"happy" is actually my default personality. I think (as I've mentioned in the past) it's because the writer/artist in me likes to explore the highs and lows of the human emotional spectrum.

The song below, for example, is one of the most beautiful  "happy for deep people" songs I've heard in the recent months (you can breathe a sigh of relief that this one isn't Whovian). When I listen to it, it doesn't make me feel sad at all. It just moves me and scratches some little emotional itch.

Oh, one more thing I left out about the Fires of Pompeii episode....

Yes, that is indeed the Doctor fighting off lava monsters with a bad ass...squirt gun. Hey, I never claimed it was a DEEP episode.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scrivener and Other Stuff

I usually thrive on Saturdays, but this one's kind of a bummer because Elijah is sooooo very grounded. I found out on Thursday night he had a science fair project due the next day (yesterday), and he never told me. Now he's spending today doing a science fair project that he probably won't even get credit for. I still need to run out at some point today and buy him his board and supplies and all that.

Plus my coffee machine broke. To not have my coffee on a Saturday morning is immediately starting my weekend off with a...okay, I wrote myself into a corner there. Let's just go with "It sucks."

I have a student teacher for the rest of the school year (I do realize I'm subject-jumping). I love having even a mediocre student teacher because it's a refreshing change of pace to have another adult to share ideas and lessons with, not to mention that two adults in the classroom lighten up the workload. But in this case, I was fortunate enough to get a pretty great student teacher. He's very proactive. In the two weeks we've been working together he already has a great grip on my students and has just about adopted 3rd and 4th period as his own. Plus he makes us COFFEE every afternoon just in time to get past the 6th/7th period lull...

We found PJ a home! (subject-jumping again). Shannon has a perfect fenced in area where Charlotte (her pig) lives, and she has agreed to take him in. PJ's new future home is lush and green, with overhangs to provide protection during bad weather. There's also a spicket of water, so he'll never go thirsty. He'll have freedom to hop around freely, but in a protected space, which he seems to crave.

Have I told you about my deaf dog yet? I'll save that one for a future entry.

In manuscript news, I had to adjust my word count goal for DoT, because it occurred to me that 100K is the maximum suggested word count for a young adult novel. To leave my goal untouched means that in order to reach 100% on my word meter, I'm guaranteed to have to go over the maximum, forcing me to make cuts. Unless by some miracle I end up with exactly 100,000 words, and what are the chances of that? So I brought my goal down to 90,000, just to give some 10K wiggle room. But now I'm about to have an anxiety attack because there is no way I can wrap this story up in 11,000 words. I'm screwed. I'm just going to write the thing and make lots of cuts when I go to revise.

I found an amazing program for writers called Scrivener. Although 'found' is a misnomer because it was actually recommended to me by a twitter friend/fellow writer, @_RScottWhitley (he and I were both part of the #WorldsEnd project). This program is designed for people who are writing a book, unlike Word, which is geared toward people writing an essay or a report. The program took me two days and several tutorials to learn, but now that I have it figured out, I was hooked. My favorite thing about it (although it's hard to choose one because there are so many cool features) is it allows you to save/print your book in ANY format, including paperback novel format, eBook format for Kindle, etc. You could literally skip the middle man with this program and create your own eBook with little to no outside assistance.

I might write another entry today because I'm feeling all blabbery.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Unsolicited Visitor

Elijah was playing outside when he came running in the house to announce "There's a bunny in our front yard!" I was pretty underwhelmed because, well, it's a bunny. The occasional rabbit isn't anything out of the ordinary in our neighborhood. But Elijah informed me that this particular rabbit seemed friendlier than normal, so I went outside to check it out.

The rabbit was sitting right in front of our side yard, hanging out with Pumpkin (our flemish giant) through the fence. He seemed pretty comfortable with our presence, so Trinity ran back in the house to get some rabbit food, wanting to see if she could feed him. We were all surprised when the rabbit ate right out of her hand. But then...she picked him up! I was standing there, stunned, thinking, "Wait, you can't do that! You can't pick up a wild rabbit!" But the guy didn't mind at all. He never kicked or protested in any way, acting like being picked up by humans was an every day thing.

So it became clear to me that this was a domestic rabbit. We brought him in the house so he wouldn't get caught by a stray dog (he already had scratches on his face as if he had scrapped with a cat that morning), and we gave him some more food and water.

Here he is, chilling under our coffee table.

The kids named him PJ. He's in our giant outdoor rabbit hutch right now, but I need to come up with a more permanent situation for him. He has zero interest in being a wild rabbit and has seemed to claim our home as his own.

Let the record show that I have put forth an exerted effort to downsize my pets. It's hardly my fault though when they deliver themselves to my doorstep.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Changes - Next Exit

Since Shannon will no longer share this blog with me, let me just get this out of my system:  NOOOOOOOOO! (said in big whiney howl).

Okay, I'm good now. But seriously, even though her posts were getting fewer and farther between, I'm going to miss having her here sooo much. I love playing off of her entries, and sharing a blog with her is like our way of having one long, never-ending conversation. But honestly, I understand her reasons, and I was the one who actually gave her the "out" today so that she wouldn't have to feel like she let me down in any way. Plus she has agreed to write a guest post from time to time, so it's not like she's going to completely disappear (you better not completely disappear Sho!).

I changed the template, temporarily. Emphasis on temporarily because I really, really love our old template. The only reason I'm switching over to a new one is because with Shannon throwing in her non-suicidal blogging towel, I needed to push that symbolic "restart" button. Switching the template is kind of a...psychological trigger for a fresh start, I guess? It allows me to start thinking of this blog as "mine" instead of "ours."

I decided to keep "Writeapy."* Even though the name was originally conceived as a combination of my and Shan's interests (me, writing; her, therapy), the name still works. For me, writing IS therapy. that I've gotten all this out of the way, normal posts will now commence. :) 

*Update: After a lot of thought and some helpful voters, the title of this blog was reverted back to Ocean in a Cup on May 18, 2014.

Throwing in the Towel - But Not in a Suicidal Way

Due to unforeseen circumstances (my laziness), I will no longer be cohabiting this blog with my wonderful, adorable sis. I did start to write in a journal (the kind with real pages and stuff), but I simply cannot get myself to write in an online blog the way I used to. And since technology hasn't come up with a way for me to upload my journal pages onto this blog, I'm pretty much stuck (Jodi says that "blogger" IS the technology to do this, but I'm ignoring her. Which is hard since I'm at her house right now).

Jodi has invited me to guest blog, so I may pop in from time to time. 

Thank you to those who read my pitifully few posts! Now I hereby relinquish all control of this blog to my sis (who is maniacally laughing in the background right now, saying "It's mine! ALL MINE.").

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Resolutions, Black Fish, & British Relatives

I'm a little late with this, but here's our New Year's resolutions. I say "ours" because I decided to post my family's resolutions too. After I forced them to make some up, that is. Okay, here we go:

"My New Year's resolution is to stop biting my nails and to like hot tea."

The hot tea thing is because she's a total Whovian who loves all things British. She even found out that her grandpa (Clint's dad) is 80% British. He himself just discovered this fact through (more about that another time). So she wants to liken herself to her British roots by forcing herself to choke down a beverage she normally can't stand. She is now drinking about three cups a day, so I think it's working.
"My resolution is to convince Dad to download Minecraft mods onto my computer." 

He's ten. His life is pretty simple. And I have no idea what "mods" are. 

"My resolution is to restore my Nova, and to go to the gym three times a week."*

*(It's possible that Clint's resolutions may have been completely fabricated by me due to his lack of playing-alongness. To my credit, I kept 50 % of his resolutions practical and relevant to his interests, when what I wanted to say was My resolution is to treat my wife like a princess and make her chocolate chip pancakes and rub her feet on a daily basis).

"My resolution is to finish my manuscript and to get a literary agent."

That would be awesome. I'll be thrilled if I can make that happen. The first half of that WILL happen, but that second half is...scary and partly out of my hands.

Changing the subject, we took Elijah to Sea World for his birthday yesterday. Before you decide to boycott my blog over this fact, I had NO IDEA about the whole Blackfish documentary and all that. I was off Facebook for a period of time, and I guess that's where I would have heard about it. But I have to say, ignorance is bliss, because the park was dead. We had free reign over the place. Shan's family went with us, and we made the mistake of sitting in the soak zone for the Shamu show where we got utterly destroyed. Like, not splashed a bit, but destroyed. I have never been that drenched in my life. Well, except for every time I take a bath or shower. Or when I get into a swimming pool, or a spa. Or the beach. Or...uh, I guess I have been that drenched before, so let's just let that hyperbole die now. But this was my UNDIES that were soaked, people. I mean, COME ON.

Changing the subject again, my husband is 40% British! Now if could only get him to talk in that accent....

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Better-Late-than-Never Christmas Post

I have to squeeze in a post about Christmas while it's still 2013!*

*(Bad news: it's now 2014. I never published this, damn it. But I'm still counting it).

For Christmas Eve we had our usual pajama-party slash breakfast-for-dinner extravaganza (why did I write out 'slash'?) with Teri, Carey, Amanda, Mike, and all of the kids. It was the usual fun. The gifts were super nice this year. I think my favorite was this set of "Sunrise" iced-tea glasses from Teri:

The glass is thick and textured, with bright glass bits embedded. I loved them so much I went to the website she had purchased them from (One Kings Lane) and bought another set of four.

My other, bigger favorite was this gorgeous Damask Parsons chair for my art desk (also from Clint's parents):

My favorite part of the night was drinking two shots of Blueberry Moonshine and trying on Carey's guille suit. I wish I had a picture. I looked like the Swamp Thing. After the Moonshine, Trin and I had the following conversation (her green, me red):
Are you drunk Mom?
No. Ask me any tricky question and I'll answer it.
Okay (glances at nativity set on side table).  What did the wise men bring as gifts to Jesus?
Incense, myrrh,
Really? You're going with lemons?
Yes. Lemons. They were a very rare commodity back in the B.C. They were like gold. Instead of lemonade back then, they had gold-ade.
I'm pretty sure the wise men didn't bring baby Jesus LEMONS.
You're just upset because you know I'm right. Cheer up kid. When life hands you lemons, make, uh, gold-ade.
I only have this conversation memorized because she's repeated it back to me over and over. And her dad. And her best friend. And her grandma.

Yeah, moving on.

So Christmas Day we all woke up and opened up our stockings. My stocking was loaded with chocolates, patterned stalkings, bikini undies, glitter nail polish, etc. The biggest surprise was this necklace:

It's sterling silver with a fire opal in the center. I couldn't believe Clint put that in my stocking. That could have been its own gift.

After stockings we opened up our gifts. My favoritest (like I still get goose bumps) was this Gusti Geniune Leather Messenger Bag:

I love it. It holds my laptop, my charger, my manuscript notebook, my kindle, and my pens. But as if that weren't enough, inside the bag was a confirmation for the San Diego Writer's Conference, a four day event that starts on Valentine's Day. I would never have dreamed that Clint would come up with this idea. It's a $350 event, and he's not a writer. But he understands my passion for writing, and he told me that he knew whatever he got me for Christmas was going to support that. The dude is seriously the idiot savant of gift-giving--this is his one amazing talent.

Oh, during the conference Clint arranged for me to have a one-on-one appointment with an agent who will be going over chapter 1 of my manuscript. Can you believe that? Granted it's not for promotion purposes (it's not being submitted for publication consideration), but I am super excited because I get to receive feedback from a real agent. I have to mail the chapter out this week, so thank God for Ifeoma who has helped me go over chapter 1with a fine-tooth comb and get it as smooth and tight as possible.

Okay, back to Christmas. After our own little Christmas was done, we headed over to my folks house. It, too, was awesome. Opening presents took about three hours, but when you have my parent's delicious spread of appetizers and egg nog the way it was meant to be dranken (WITH brandy), you never get bored. My favorite gift from my parent's house was my annual outfit from my sis. She got me cream colored jeans that fit perfectly, a maroon-colored sweater that hugs me in all the right places, and a gorgeous beaded necklace. My other favorite gift was a drawing from my dad. It wasn't a drawing he composed, it was one I did in high school--1994. The background of the drawing is sort of a long story, so I'll just skip ahead and say it was simple and childlike and eventually I threw it out. Well my dad found it in the trash, pulled it out (without telling me), and kept it all these years. He framed it and gave it to me for Christmas to show me where my "art" had begun. What got me the most was back when he pulled it out of the trash, we had a very volatile relationship. Back then, I felt like he despised me. The fact that we were in that rocky period of our lives when he salvaged the drawing is what touches me the most. I can't even say how much I love that man today. He's a prime example of how family has nothing to do with blood.

I just realized I wrote the word "dranken" above. And I teach Language Arts. This is the kind of education your precious offspring is receiving, people.

Okay, next up: New Year's Eve. Hopefully I get that one banged out before Easter.