Mind the Gap

When I was about eleven, I read a book that told me that teenagers and adults don’t have time for reading. It recommended that I read as much as I could before I hit thirteen or else I will miss out on all of the thousands of good books there are in the world.

At least, that’s how eleven-year-old me understood it.

I took this sad fact of life very seriously. I had only two years left of my literate life, so I proceeded to read at least three books a week. If I read fewer than that, I was letting my future self down.

I went on reading like this after I turned thirteen. Then I turned fourteen with still no change. I read and read and read all through my teens. I decided that I must be one of those unique human beings who would keep my reading abilities through adulthood. I found some sort of fountain of youth that would keep me eleven forever. Eleven is certainly not the worst age to always be. You’re old enough that desperate parents will pay you to watch their kids, but you’re too young for puberty.

But alack. My fountain of youth runs dry.

At around eighteen my devouring of books slowed way down. I didn’t have as much time to read, but more than that I was way too tired to read. After all the teenager stuff I had to do, my brain couldn’t take anymore work.

I really love to read. It makes me very sad that I can’t read as much. I still get tall stacks of books at the library feeling hopeful and certain that I will read them, but they stay in the same stack in my room until it’s time to return them all untouched. Poor books. I feel sorry for them.

But the story does not end there.

I fell in love with a book like I hadn’t since my youth. We met through a mutual acquaintance: Alice in Wonderland.

While I love the Alice books, it was the Tim Burton movie that brought us together. I am really excited for the new Through the Looking Glass movie, and I wanted something to watch, or read, while I waited.

 

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Doesn’t it look exciting??

I Googled “books that are like Alice in Wonderland.” According to various sites, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman was a book with an Alice in Wonderland feel but darker.

And thus, our love story began.

Neverwhere is a combination of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, and fairy tales in general, but it did not seem like a fairy tale itself. It was weird, quirky, confusing, and half of story was never explained. It was everything I loved about Lewis Carroll’s books.

Unlike the original stories, the main character was amazing and believable. I have not felt such a strong connection to a literary person in such a long time.

I wanted to go back and read the book again once I finished, but I’m saving it for when I go back to my teenage ways and am tired of reading.

For now I am doing something I have never done before. I read all the way to the end of one book before I start a new one. It’s weird. I probably do it because I am adult and mature and now I know the most efficient way to read.

The moral of this story is don’t lose hope. The joys and true loves of youth don’t fade, they gradually change and grow.

Just kidding there isn’t a moral. I just wanted to talk about Neverwhere. Now go read it.

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26.2 Miles of Death

You know the story of the marathon, right? Of course you do. I’m just going to recap for those who came into class late today.

It all started with a battle, per usual. This is history, people.

The Battle of Marathon was fought between the Persians and the Athenians. The latter were the underdogs in this case. The Athenians doubted that they would win, especially because the Spartans didn’t show up. The Spartans were the jocks of the ancient world; the Athenians were the nerdy artistic types. If the Spartans bailed there was no chance for the Athenians to win at anything that involved immediate action as opposed to Socratic thought.

So it was shocking when they won. The outcome was so surprising and exciting that this one guy named Pheidippides ran 26.2 miles back to Athens to shout Nike! (Victory) to the astonished Greeks and then fall down dead.

The average marathon finisher.

Because I value my life, I don’t have much interest in running marathons, but I do know a little bit of what I assume the Athenians must have felt.

This week I started two, yes two, college classes plus a job! Actually, the job is an unpaid internship, but whatever. If anyone asks I am an employed millennial.

This past week was the busiest I’ve had since I don’t remember when. I am thrilled at how well I handled it and even enjoyed it! I had a daily cry and sometimes a nap at the same time, but for the most part it was a good week.

Now after that exciting victory, I am tired out and kind of dead. I’m wondering if every weekend will be like this. It probably will, but now that I’m thinking about it, a lot of people I know are kind of dead by the weekend.

I am thrilled that I am finally able to start up some activities again. I’m the sort that finds checking things off a to-do list one of the greatest joys in life. Now I have plenty of opportunities to experience that illusive joy.

So here is to getting better than I was before.

And here is to not dying at the end of a marathon.

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Spooky

When I was about eleven or twelve, I decided that I was going to read every Irish folktale there was.

Because Ireland.

And folktales.

Apparently my goal wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d thought it would be because I soon gave up.

Of the twenty or so stories I got through, there was one that stuck with me more than the others. I don’t remember the details, but it had something to do with a traveler who came to an inn that required people to tell a story if they wanted to stay for the night. The traveler did not have a single story to tell so he was kicked out and had to wander through the night.

While he was out, a bunch of really trippy things happened that, if they had happened to me, I would never tell anyone about because I don’t want the after conversation to be about what I was on at the time. Instead, the guy shows up at the inn again, tells his weird story and gets to stay for the night.

Because Ireland.

This folktale disturbed me. Not because of all the crazy stuff that happened but because I wouldn’t have a story to tell if, you know, I have to stay at an Irish inn sometime.

What would I do? I would have to recount a Doctor Who episode which would probably be trippier than the story the guy in the folktale told.Crazy Doctor Who

I decided that I, like the traveler, needed to live a story. I couldn’t just wait for one to happen to me at the last minute.

Okay, to be honest, it was a family friend of ours, Jo, who decided to take me on an adventure. She decided that we should spend an entire day visiting religious services.

That was her idea of fun, I guess.

So Jo, Jo’s daughter, my mom, my sister, and I drove to the biggest city in our state (which isn’t very big) to see the biggest variety of religions we could.

First stop: a Hindu temple. Nobody spoke English so we awkwardly sat and watched a ceremony we didn’t understand until it seemed like a good time to leave. At least it smelled really good.

Second stop: a Muslim mosque. My mom and I had been to a mosque before, so this wasn’t as far outside of our comfort zones as it was for everyone else. Plus, the Imam spoke English which made this visit much better than the temple we had just been at and also better than the first time we were guests at a mosque.

Third stop: a botanica. This is where my story really begins.

First a little background. A botanica is a store where one can find stuff like tarot cards, folk saints, and Santeria Orichas all on the same shelf.

I don’t know how botanicas usually are, but this one was the spookiest place I have ever been.

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It was almost as spooky as this guy

The door and windows were barred, and we had to ring a doorbell to get in. The first thing I heard when we walked in was gunshots.

I didn’t run in fear. No, dear listeners, I stood my ground.

I calmly scanned the area for danger.

With my quick observation powers, I realized that the sound came from the tv behind the counter. I deduced that the man watching was the botanica owner’s husband and that this said man enjoyed westerns.

The botanica owner was not the most welcoming person, but she didn’t demand that we leave. So, we figured that meant we could stay as long as we wanted.

Second observation: there were huge amounts of cash laying everywhere; dollar bills in a dish in front of a Buddha, cash sprinkled all over a huge image of a crucified Jesus. There was money offered to every image and statue in the shop.

I am a person of integrity. I hardly even thought about stealing anything.

We wandered around looking at things. We had to guess what they were because the owner was so evasive when answering questions.

I spotted the patron saint of drug dealers.

saint of drug dealers

Jesus Malverde

Don’t ask me how I know who he is.

Finally Jo asked if we could go into the backroom. We had insider information (from our world religions teacher who has visited everything to do with religion in our state) that there was something particularly interesting there.

I walked down the hall to find something more than interesting. It was terrifying.

There before me was a huge figure of Santa Muerte.

She was a life-sized skeleton clothed with a purple quinceanera dress with dollars stuffed into her bosom. She wore a long red wig and sparkly crown.

Her quince court was made up of smaller skeletons. From floor to ceiling, there were images of grim reapers and tiny Santa Muertes piled on bookshelves and boxes behind and around her. On the floor at Miss Muerte’s feet were offerings of cigarettes, liqueur, and baskets of fruit.

It took a while for my eyes to adjust to… everything.

When they did, I used my detective skills to figure out that Santa Muerte had recently had a birthday. There was a colorful banner on the wall that read, “Feliz Cumpleanos.” It seemed slightly out of place.

For the first couple of minutes, I only looked around in amazement and curiosity; there was a ton to see. I didn’t get really spooked until I heard a noise behind me and saw that the back door was open. That’s when I sort of freaked. It was night, okay? (Why were we there at night? I don’t know.) I was surrounded by grim reapers and there was a general creepy and unwelcoming vibe in the air. You should be impressed that I hadn’t freaked earlier.

We decided that it was time to leave.

But first, Jo took a selfie. Miss Muerte is pretty photogenic.

We thanked the botanica owner over the sound of gunshots and left on good terms. We were welcomed into the car by Jo’s frantic daughter who had been sure we were dead because her mom had not answered the twenty-thousand texts she had sent while we were gone.

There you go. That’s my story. Maybe not as action packed as you would have liked, but I’m sure I’ll embellish the more I tell it.

If you are lacking in the story department, I suggest visiting a place of worship (or botanica or wherever). You will learn that it is completely possible to use every single one of your senses at a Hindu temple. Once you go to a mosque, you won’t ever think that all Muslims are crazy terrorists.

And you can go to a botanica. Maybe you have to go to the very specific one I went to if you want the complete freak out affect of a riveting story. Most botanicas are probably pretty boring and normal. But being the adventurer you are, you can risk a little boring for the chance of something exciting.

So here are some tips to living a story: call ahead, be respectful, and go somewhere that you are slightly afraid to go. That’s all there is to it.

Have fun.

I’m going to Ireland for my next trip.

 

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First Day of School

This week I did something that I haven’t done in nearly a year.

*drum roll*

I enrolled in a college class!

Last year I had to drop my class which was a bummer and a pretty big shot to my self-esteem. I was pretty nervous about starting college again, even though it’s only 4 credits this term.

I’m still kind of nervous about what this course is going to be like because both classes were cancelled this week because the professor is sick. (I have a theory that she’s not actually sick. It’s a Criminal Justice class, so she probably found out about some government conspiracy and They had to take her out.)

mulder's theory

But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t do anything this week.

I had a lot of trouble registering for the class. The website wasn’t working, so I was worried about needing to talk to an actual human being in order to get into the class.

So the morning of, I was at the student help center talking to humans. The class was at 12:45. I was pretty sure I could get everything figured out by then.

10:30 Waiting in line to register. I was informed that I couldn’t register because I needed to retake a math placement test. I argued that I didn’t need to because I wasn’t taking a math class. They said it didn’t matter. Rules are rules. I told them rules are dumb, except I didn’t because you should always leave a good first impression on the first day of school.

10:45 Walking from one end of the campus to the other. In uggs and snow. I arrived at the testing center and was told that the next test would be at 11:10. The test would take about an hour. I still needed to resister and update my ID and I needed to walk across campus again. Now I was really worried.

11:30 I tested way below my actual math level, but I also got the test done  in 20 minutes. I’d call that a win.

11:40 Waiting in a much longer line.

12:00 Registered. I realize that I totally should have done better on that placement test as I now have more than enough time to eat lunch.

12:10 Realize that I forgot to bring lunch.

12:45 Discover that class is cancelled. Can’t decide if I’m relieved or thoroughly annoyed that I went through all of that for nothing.

Well, it wasn’t completely for nothing. I made two new friends and discovered the importance of fandom merchandise.

When I was waiting in line for the second time, the man behind me stared at my Tardis backpack for a long time before he said something about Doctor Who. Then I asked him who his first Doctor was. And then we were best friends and kindred spirits for the next couple of minutes.

We finally had to part ways and I headed off to the student center. It wasn’t long before I was stopped by a guy who thought my Wonder Woman shirt was “F-ing awesome!” Of course that led to a discussion about how great superheroes are and how excited we are for the Batman Vs. Superman movie. (In other words: “The Movie in Which Wonder Woman is Finally Introduced” [but at the time as Aquaman who is not even remotely in her league in any way. Not that I’m bitter or anything.])

batman_v_superman_dawn_of_justice___trinity_poster_by_lamboman7-d7sesun

This wasn’t the only day that I’ve made friends through merchandise. Little boys immediately trust me way more than they should when I wear my Superman shirt. Adults like my Batman shirt (it looks like a van Gogh painting.) Nerdy peers like my Wonder Woman. Parents and teachers like my Lorax shoes. I like my Doctor Who shirt. Nobody has ever said anything about it, but I know I’m awesome when I wear it.

So, a word of advice for those starting up college again: plan ahead and wear a conversation starter. Or do one or the other. Or just be yourself. Unless you can be Wonder Woman.

Then be Wonder Woman.

But everyone already knows that last piece of advice.

Lynda-Carter-as-Wonder-Woman

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Winner!

Hey, guys.

Guess what.

I wrote a book last month.

harry-potter

55a35fb9bf9ed12e23950ef63c697d9e

That is all. Carry on.

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NaNo Blues

I’ve hit a low in my novel writing venture.

I’m blogging instead of noveling.

And I’m listening to Shawn Mendes.

Usually not my style. Usually I’m more of an indie rock “let’s go get ’em, guys” sort of music style; you know what I’m talking about. I guess I’m feeling self-pitying.

Here are some excuses for why I am not writing:

  1. I could be blogging
  2. I’m at exactly 21,256 words. That’s behind where I should be at, but, hey, that’s enough words, right?
  3. I could be experimenting with boy bands. Do I really dislike them as much as I think I do?
  4. The answer to the above is yes
  5. I’m going to catch up tomorrow. I swear
  6. I thought of another novel idea. It’s probably better than what I am currently writing. Anything would be better than what I am currently writing
  7. I could be doing literally anything other than write a novel.
  8. When I say literally I mean figuratively
  9. I could be naming all of the things that I could literally be doing. Like some of the above and a whole bunch of other things not including scuba diving

Those really aren’t excuses now that I look at them. They’re more like whines or complaints. Or jumbles. Just like what my novel.

Supposedly, this is the week that most NaNoWriMo writers struggle with the most. I hope that is the case and it won’t be like this for the rest of the month. I’m sure I could muscle through some painful writing all month. Afterall, I’m a pretty badass writer. I prefer not doing that, but I could.

Well, I have to go. I haven’t memorized all the lyrics to Stitches yet.

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

I have decided to write a 50,000 word novel in a month this November. It is a long tradition that I would like to be apart of called NaNoWriMo.

I am terrified.

Not that normal writing is all that hard for me, but novel writing? That’s crazy. And 50,000 words in a month? Even crazier. That comes out to 1,666.6666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666667 words a month! That’s so crazy it’s literally impossible!

Despite all of the insanity, I have made up my mind to write a novel even in the face of seemingly inevitable failure. And I am afraid of failure, so I am going to work like my life depends on it.

Which is why I will probably not write many, if any, blog posts in November. Sorry, adoring public.

I’m sure you are wondering what I’m going to write about. Well.

I have no idea what I will be writing.

My original idea involved Shakespeare, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and college students. Most likely there would have been some witches (because college students aren’t that interesting) and someone would die by overexposure to puns (to keep things realistic).

I thought of this idea near the beginning of October. I had been brainstorming and planning and making outlines and doing all sorts of similar boring stuff.

Now, a week before November, I don’t want to write that story.

It was when I was rereading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then reading the Welcome to Night Vale book all while listening to Steam Powered Giraffe. I suddenly realized:

I want to write about robots and aliens and a time line that leaks through the pages and into a parallel universes.

That’s it. That’s the whole idea. No setting, no characters, no plot. Just robots and aliens and time is weird. It sounds pretty great to me.

Let’s be honest, nobody wants another college coming of age book. There are way too many already and there is probably a law that says romance is required. I am really, really bad at romance.

When I think about it, my favorite books, and even my favorite music, always had a touch of chaos and nonsense spattered with dark humor. And they always say, write what you know.

So that’s what I’ll be working on this next month. I’m pretty sure it will be a bestseller.

Of course, I am not only dreading this next month. I probably wouldn’t be doing this unless I really wanted to be a novelist. I’ve had this dream ever since I read The Little House on the Prairie books when I was about ten. Now I am finally going to give myself the chance to achieve my dream.

Maybe that’s the root of my fears: I am afraid that I will fail my young self by being terrible at writing fiction. Then I will be a failure at life and never reach for another dream again.

But who cares? Who needs dreams anyway? I’m hoping the process will be enjoyable enough that any disappointment at the end will be a bit softened.

Well, so long until December. Unless I’m too ashamed to write another word for the rest of my life.

But that won’t happen, right?

Right.

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