Book Nerds Romp and Raise a Ruckus

April 20, 2015 at 3:03 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I needed a vacation. I’ve been needing one for quite sometime, but it took a bit of time, planning, impromptu not planning, and selfishness to make it happen.

I went to Dallas for a few days, with the nervous approval of my husband, left my daughter with my mother; where I ate, drank, and was merry.  And got a tattoo.

The tattoo occurred toward the end, but was the plan from the beginning.

It went a bit like this…

We didn’t book a hotel.  It’s Dallas.  It was Tuesday.  We thought we’d find one.  And we did.  About ten hotels later.  Note to self, book a hotel no matter how silly your destination.  I truly never believed this until this trip.  I very much enjoyed the fact that in the last ten years, if I wanted a hotel and was somewhere, I just arrived and walked in.  Then again, I haven’t gotten out much in the last ten years.

Post Hotel Finding: My old college chums and my best friend since high school all crashed into one group and found ourselves at Goodfriend, a bar and grill with amazing fried pickles and ghost ranch, on the first evening.  There I discovered what I shall now always call fancy whiskey, although it’s actually a Classic Whiskey Sour.  This is not your Chili’s or dive bar Whiskey with sweet and sour – this involves egg whites and shaking and frothy latte like smoothness and basically heaven in a cup of whiskey.  This is also where we discovered that there was whiskey in the water.  Not literally, we just found it very easy to become happily plastered there.  Props to Matt, the owner, who is amazing.  And to the bartender who got me hooked on those Classic Whiskey Sours.

Moving on… The Double Wide.  Yes, that is the name of a bar.  Complete with toilet bowls serving as planters that provide extra seating.  I laughed, I cried, I was in a ridiculous bar with an appropriately fitting name, and strange men trying to talk to my friends who handled them much better than I would.  My response would have been “Go AWAY.”  But my friends are way more classy than I am and found themselves saying, “It’s been nice talking to you, but you’re crashing girls night.”

Wednesday, we got pedicures and ate Mexican food.  Margaritas, bookstores (The Lucky Dog), lots of coffee, a Ton’s Mongolian Grill Reunion dinner at 7:30 with even more college chums.  More bars –  Bowen House (way overpriced but I got some more whiskey in) and The Ginger Man (fun beer).  It was good to see old friends.

Thursday morning involved Cultivar Coffee and the most delicious vanilla latte I ever had.  There was a little hole in the wall taco joint across from it on Peavy called El Ranchito.  If I lived in that neighborhood, that’s where all my money would be going… to $1.50 homemade breakfast tacos.

And finally, some shopping, lunch and coffee, another bar visit (The Libertine) where I refrained because I was about to get inked, I found myself at Death and Glory Tattoo.  Where a very personable guy named Cole Alexander Davis was able to put Jane Austen’s words and handwriting on my arm forever.

“I am half agony, half hope.”

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It was a shockingly cozy experience. My last tattoo happened in a place that felt very clinical to me. The guy was nice, but I don’t remember his name. Here, I realized why people find the practice so addicting. It’s like finding a bar you love, or a coffeehouse you can’t live without. It’s not just about the finished product, or the drinks being made properly, it is very much about ambiance and whether or not you have managed to find a place that seems like home away from home. They have a delightful front porch and a cat that lurked but didn’t touch me. I could have stayed there for hours after, but we had more drinking to do.

One of the guys there said that people tend to tell them their whole life story. They know everyone’s business because they are sort of treated like bartenders and shrinks. I can see that. I was too awkward to take advantage of that ambiance, but I definitely loved it.

My lovely JJ got a tattoo with me.  It is also a literary reference to a poem that was read at her wedding.  “And then this moment…”  This is us, back at Goodfriend, being incandescently happy.

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Friday… we had more tacos and Cultivar. We visited the Black Forest Cafe and the Flagship Half Price Books. We drove the many miles home, mostly listening to oldies.

Thanks for my trip, Danielle. I know it was stressful, but it was also lovely.

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Hello Wilderness, We’ve Missed You

February 13, 2015 at 3:04 am (Education, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , )

Since moving away from our beloved Timberlane Estates, we’ve been in dire need for nature.  Especially with this winter we just had – harsher than I remember winter being – wet, muddy, colder sooner, and nowhere cozy to defrost.  Temporary living arrangements have caused us to leave the comfort of having a nearly 1000 square foot library just down the hall from our beds.  We also don’t have a fireplace here.  It’s been a long time since I lived without a fireplace.  But the change is good, it’s helped us redefine necessities, discover the beauty of new public libraries we hadn’t yet visited, save mP1000764oney for the land and dream home we want, and teach our daughter lessons she might have otherwise missed.

We’ve also discovered the Lake Houston Wilderness State Park.  We went from 100+ acres of trails and exploration that we knew like the back of our hands to not having anything most of the winter, to Lo! And Behold! 4700+ acres of trails and wilderness closer than we could have ever imagined.  Ask and ye shall receive.  Take a ride down the highway and pay attention to those marvelous brown signs!

It costs $3 per adult to get in, kids under 13 and senior citizens are free.  OR (and this is what we’ve done) it’s $25 for a year pass for an adult and three adult guests; basically, a family pass.

We’ve been back about every other day since we’ve discovered it.  We walk, tromp, and read.  We snack and picnic, we play in the creek, we stare at the trees.  We read all the sign posts and discover new plants we’ve never heard of.  We soak up vitamin D and work our muscles.

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To the left you’ll see a Hercules’ Club. We were pretty excited about this discovery and did a mini-research project on it when we got home.

In all this much needed tromping and new library resources at my fingertips, I stumbled across a Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by a fellow named Nyerges.  It isn’t the best resource for Texans, only a few plants were ones I recognized, but if you hail from California then it’s right up your alley.  Either way, if you’re in the foraging scene, this book is a great read.  Nyerges personalizes a lot of his foraging facts with anecdotes of how he has confirmed or debunked various myths, legends, and general assumptions for certain plants.  My favorite was a bit about the Native Americans and poison oak – eat the young, red leaves and you’ll be immune to the rash for the rest of the season/year.  The science of immunizing oneself at its finest.  Already this is how we tackle seasonal allergies when it comes to pollen, it would not have occurred to me that there is a practical pre-remedy for poison oak.

 

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Coming Soon… Black Rose

August 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm (The Whim) (, , , )

cool TWCS logo

PRESENTS. . .

A Cover Reveal

for

Black Rose

by Kris Thompson

Black-Rose-Hi-Res-Cover

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Kicking it With the Letter “K”

July 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

brush-calligraphy-alphabet-kYou may have noticed a meme going around that goes something like this:

Say your favourite book, author, song, film, and object beginning with a particular letter. And that letter will be randomly assigned to you by me, via random.org. If you’d like to join in, comment in the comment section and I’ll tell you your letter! (And then, of course, the chain can keep going on your blog.)

From So Many Books I was issued the letter K.  After a day spent at the beach, I think I have made my final decisions.

Bookkung fu
Kung Fu : History, Philosophy, & Technique.

I grew up in a Kung Fu Studio.  I have a third degree black belt and can rank my own students.  For my very first black belt test I had to write  a thesis meets book report on David Chow’s book and its content.  I have never thought the assignment frivolous or regretted the requirement.  It’s a great book.  It’s an important book.  I make my own students read it as well.  In fact, I think my copy is on loan to a student right now.  Even if you aren’t a Kung Fu student, even if you’re knee deep into another style, even if you’ve never pursued any martial art in your life – this book is a valuable piece of history and helps explain a lot of those FAQs that arise when someone finds out you do Kung Fu.  It’s rich as well as concise and informative.  And leaps and bounds a better read than Kite Runner or Krakatoa – which are both excellent books.

Author

On this I have been so torn.  Kingsolver or Kafka?  Kafka? Kingsolver?  I couldn’t decide.  Metamorphosis is one of my favorite books of all time.  I have read it repeatedly.  It made the list of books that have changed my life.  But I have to say, Barbara Kingsolver has won my heart.  The Poisonwood Bible was beautiful and epic.  The Lacuna a fascinating concept.  I have almost all her books waiting on my shelf to be read and I find myself picking her up sparingly, not wanting to waste the moment of reading something of hers for the first time, saving her like I did my virginity.

kiss meSong

I could go old school with Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” but although I love belting that song with my Alto-ness, I choose “Sixpence None the Richer’s Kiss Me.”  It’s not even because it’s about sweet kissing, which I love.  It’s all that bearded barley and green, green grass.  It’s frolicking and tree houses and treasure maps.  And the 90’s.  Written and performed by a group who references C.S. Lewis in their band name.

Film

I’m a sucker for all things King Arthur.  From the old Sam Neil movie “Merlin,” to Jamie Campbell Bower’s show “Camelot.”  I picked up all of Rosalind Miles’ Guinevere series, just because they are King Arthur related and have John William Waterhouse paintings on the front cover.  The Lady of Shalott hangs in  my living room over the fireplace.  Naturally, then, I’m choosing “King Arthur” for my K film.  More specifically, the version featuring Clive Owen and Keira Knightly.  I thought it was brilliantly done, I love that Guinevere is a warrior and not just a lady in distress, and the fight scenes are awesome.  Of course, part of my preference for this version is that Horatio Hornblower (ahem, I mean, Ioan Gruffud) plays Lancelot.

kitesObject

Kaleidoscopes are cool.  But I’m going to be cliche on this one and go with Kite.  Mostly because I have a three year old who is fascinated by them, but partially because I can’t see one without singing, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins.  Sometimes in public.  With feeling.  At the top of my lungs.  I try to tell myself it’s because every choir girl has an inner Dick Van Dyke, but I’m not sure the rest of the world agrees with me.

Leave me a comment to keep this fun blog prompt going.

 

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The Skinny on Landscaping

June 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm (Education, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I wrote an article for a website that didn’t get used.  It happens sometimes, no biggie.  But this particular article is one that I did a great deal of researching before I wrote and actually talked to professionals that I know personally.  So, I want to share the blogger’s version (which means I’ve dressed it down and added my two cents where I otherwise would have held my tongue a bit).

The Skinny on Landscaping and Outdoor Projects

(DIY vs. The Contractor on the most common outdoor ventures)

Everyone loves a good do it yourself project. Pinterest and the TLC channel have made them more popular than ever. Home Depot and Lowe’s are certainly your helpful neighborhood DIY Home Project instigators and dare I mention the keeping up with the Joneses mentality amidst a major recession.

However, there are projects that are just not do it yourself friendly and with all the handy books, websites, and television channels, it’s hard to know which are for you and which warrant a good old fashioned contractor – especially when we’re dealing with our lawn and garden.

Re-Sodding Your Grass

before sod

Actual “before” photo of our front yard.

Landscaping is the most commonly chosen as a do it yourself renovation. Ironically, people hire companies to mow their lawns, weed their gardens, and trim their hedges, but when it comes to things like re-sodding their grass, more often than not, they opt to do it themselves.

Despite the process being fairly simple, though, most landscapers will encourage customers (and friends) to hire out a company. You might assume it is so they can get more business, but they are honestly advising this in your best interest. A landscaper can get grass at a discounted rate, already has the equipment on hand, and are experienced and efficient.

Tito Ortega of Ortega Lawn Care recommends calling your local landscaper for any grass project

“over a full pallet. For what someone pays for a pallet of grass, soil, and renting tools they don’t have, I charge more or less the same and all they have to do is pick up the phone. And I provide a warranty, plus informational packets on how to care for it properly.”

I had his help when I resod my own lawn after an extensive plumbing project in my front yard and can vouch for his sentiments. The process is easy, sure, but we still had to rent tools. I had to pay regular Joe Schmo prices for my grass – instead of fabulous bulk prices that businesses have access to. Over all I felt all sorts of useful, my grass is beautiful, but I didn’t really save any money by doing it myself.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

A lot of people prune their own trees and shrubs, but Gardener Joe in Washington State of PangeaGardenscapes.com encourages tree owners to call a professional. Many do-it-yourself sites, such as http://www.diyornot.com, propose the opposite, reporting that even after you purchase the sheers and appropriate tools you’ll still save 56% on just the first pruning.

Yet, Gardener Joe has some advice concerning that:

“Many people try to keep plants small which never works. A plant is programmed to grow to a mature height. Many times people buy a plant not understanding the maturity of said plant. Also topping a tree and some shrubs are a no-no. I belong to plant amnesty and if you check out plant amnesty.org it has many examples of different plants. So in my business I offer garden coaching services. I show how to prune and why. As well as my garden class I give once a month at our local library.”

So if you arplantamnestye going to trim your own trees and shrubs, do the research and know your plant. Otherwise, spend the extra dime to call a professional who can teach you about what you have in your yard so you can help your plants live long, healthy lives for the expense you’ve already put into having them there in the first place.   Many people prematurely kill off plants that would have lasted for generations by cutting them back too far and not giving them the appropriate room to grow.   Homeowners who plan to stay in the same place for thirty plus years should be very conscientious of this issue, otherwise they’ll find themselves spending thousands more over the lifetime of the property than they would if they spent a little bit up front consulting someone.  For more tips, follow Joe’s Facebook Page.

We trim our own shrubs, but not our own trees. The danger factor isn’t worth the risk when you’re talking about limbs falling from the heavens onto things like your car or the roof of your house. Even with the shrubs, I see Gardener Joe’s point. We did some research into ours and learned how to take care of the shrubs we inherited with our house – when the old owners came by for a visit they gasped, “We could never get them to bloom like that when we were here.” According to a lot of professional landscapers and truly green thumb kind of people, many people think they are over or under watering when really they are trimming the hedges incorrectly. Save yourself the cost of new plants every few years and have a professional teach you how to do it right – whether that professional is from the pages of a book or has been hired to come out and talk to you by appointment.

Building a Fence

You may need to call a contractor for planting new grass and trimming trees, but you’re probably looking for what you can do yourself. It’s far more cost efficient for you to mow your own lawn and weed your own garden, but the other best DIY option for outdoors is to build your own fence. Everyone should get that experience in before they die and it’s definitely worth the savings on your wallet.

Most landscapers and handymen will charge you roughly 30% more than the cost of materials. That’s about the difference of an $800 fence and a $1200 fence, just to have someone else do it. Though quality work might be worth that, there’s nothing worse than looking out at a fence you paid too much for that doesn’t look quite the way you’d like.

My husband was extremely busy with work the year after Ike and the hurricane had taken down our whole side fence. We hired sP1000295omeone to take care of it because we had three dogs and needed it up sooner rather than later. We shopped around, we called the most affordable handyman, he had good reviews online. My husband still complains about that fence. We overspent and the fence boards are spaced too far apart. It drives us crazy. Last year, when a tree took down another section in the opposite corner of the lot, we built it ourselves.

The most cost efficient of fencing options is a neighbor friendly fence, where each neighbor takes on the cost of the panels that face their yard and each section alternates. I’m especially partial to these because I had one growing up. It makes the most economical and hospitable sense. Get to know your neighbors, be old-school, built it together.

No matter what your project, remember to research materials and processes, be realistic about your abilities and your time, and call around for multiple quotes. Weigh the expense up front against the lifetime expense of the plants or space in question, and plan carefully.

Of course, this is primarily a book blog, so I have to share my favorite DIY Landscaping books, which are pretty much gardening specific because I’m a gardener.

The Complete Book of Practical Gardening
Small Gardens
Square Foot Gardening by M. Bartholomew
Low Maintenance Gardening
Herbs and the Kitchen Garden by Kim Hurst

To read articles that DO get used by Money-fax.com, check out my Freelance Writer page and follow the links.

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Plagiarism

June 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , )

Plagiarism sort of fascinates me.  Mostly because I am a reader, I think.  And as a reader I absorb.

I absorb thoughts, ideas, fairy tales, story lines, dialogue… and sometimes when I’m writing I find that I can’t remember if what I’m writing came from a dream I had, a book I read, or a an actual idea that I am actually formulating as my ink pours from my pen.

I am re-reading The Mortal Instruments series, and with a re-read comes more review reading, more research, because I no longer fear a spoiler.  So long after the scandal, I discovered this morning that Cassandra Clare was accused of plagiarism on a fan fiction site for a Harry Potter spin-off series about Draco.  Not only accused, but her account was cancelled because of it.

I’m not defending plagiarism, it’s not ok.  The idea that someone would purposely just copy someone else’s work turns my stomach.

But what if it is purely accidental?

What if you have internalized a work so completely in your youth that as an adult an idea, dialogue, plot points, come to you so wholly formed and you recall that it was inspired by something, but not necessarily who or where the inspiration came from?

I can see that happening to me.  I read so much as a child and I cannot remember it all, but I do have to say that I don’t think a single idea I’ve ever had could actually be attributed to myself.  They aren’t my ideas.  They are the ideas of those who came before me.  They are the ideas that came from authors I loved, and characters who became my friends.

I distinctly remember writing a story once, I was maybe seventeen at the time, and I was so in love with it.  I thought, man, I’m good – this story is fantastic.  I re-read it, I worked on it avidly.  Then I realized, about a month later, that it wasn’t mine.  I was re-writing The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.  Perhaps slightly in my own words, but the essence of it was entirely hers and I was forced to throw it away.

It was the first time I became doubtful that I would ever publish anything.  Until then, I had been completely convinced that no matter what happened in my life, I would at least become an author in some capacity.  It was in my veins since the first time I picked up a book and could decode the letters that made words and sentences.  I had been writing stories and ‘books’ since I could manage to scrawl out a readable letter with my number two pencil.  But right then, as a teenager, I realized my biggest fear – that perhaps I didn’t have any words of my own.  Perhaps they all came from elsewhere.

That is when I realized what the biggest challenge would be for me to become an author – writing something original.  How do you sort through all that you’ve read, all that you love, and find something that doesn’t already belong to someone in some way?

Because of this, my novella doesn’t have much in the way of plot points.  The characters came to me, yes.  I can write their essence, yes.  But ultimately, I am terrified of plot points.  I feel like they’ve all been written before.  But people, people are always capable of being their own.  Characters are easier to write than plots, because I’m surrounded by characters – they live in my head.  Plots, on the other hand, only live in books that have already been written.  Real life doesn’t seem to consist of plots so I can’t rely on life to deliver inspiration that hasn’t already been had by someone.

Logical fallacies, of course.  But that’s how I feel.

And I can’t help but wonder if Cassandra Clare felt the same way from time to time.

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Log Off and Smell the Lattes

April 2, 2014 at 9:48 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

DSC03062The phrase used to be ‘stop and smell the roses,’ I don’t know that it’s an entirely accurate turn of phrase anymore.

I am a busy lady with lots of activities, but mostly I’m busy on the internet.  I have my personal accounts, and most things started out as hobbies, but somewhere along the way all my hobbies turned into jobs – and most these jobs include manning facebook, twitter, pinterest, and a whole host of other social media.  Not just for me and my writing career, but for my art company, bookstores, and, well, everyone.

Because I do all this from an actual computer, because I don’t have what I call a ‘fancy’ phone or any kind of ‘spectacular device’ (smartphone, ipads, and whatever other twenty-first century gadgets the world has at their fingertips these days), when I go on vacation, or even a business trip, I get a true break from everything.

I had a book signing in Dallas this past weekend.  Which means from the time I got into my car to drive the four hour trek to the time I pulled back into my driveway 72 hours later, I was on internet silence.  No facebook to log into. I didn’t have a chance to or even a reminder to tweet anything.  My blog became an afterthought; and everything of the cyberspace variety went 100% on the back burner so that I could spend all my time with the real world – or ink and paper when I didn’t want to look beyond my nose.

And guess what?

It was marvelous.

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Click the photo to see all the pictures from the HPB Preston Village book signing.

My afternoon at my signing was completely focused on my customers, my business partner, and the beautiful friends that came to visit and support me.  I’ve seen many authors sit behind author tables and have no clue how to interact.  Instead they spend precious moments when they could be chatting with fans, typing on smartphones or figuring out how to take credit cards.  Being able to accept credit cards sure does make things simple for people – but my tech-free weekend kept all transactions cash only, and I have to say, it was nice.

Afterward, a group of us went off to a new restaurant in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas called Smoke.  I highly recommend eating there for anyone who hasn’t tried it.  The food was excellent, the service was great, and the place had a pretty stellar vibe.  (By the way, the creme brule is to die for – and the best part is the candied ginger. )  Part of that vibe, I must say, was enhanced by the fact that we spent little to no time on our phones!

P1010467 Instead, we discussed future events for Aoristos and myself, as well as books (both published and not yet published).  To the right, my lovely friend Miss Golightly is taking a brief gander at the Follies Past by Melanie Ker while we wait for our dinner.  (I’m still reading, but there will be a review posted soon!  Austen fans, stay tuned!)

Time and time again I have gone to dinner with the far less considerate only to sit at a table and watch people facebook and text all their friends who aren’t present.  It’s something I’ve never appreciated.  So, although having  a smart phone would make many of my events have a more solid online presence, I am not inclined to purchase one until I absolutely have to.  I’m less interested in an online presence and more interested in being present.  The online part can happen before and after, in my opinion.

After being stuffed to the gills with the most amazing barbecue I’ve had in a long time, I finished the day at my aunt and uncle’s house.  It’s practically a bed and breakfast it is so cozy and relaxing.  Homemade lattes were made, there was some time in the garden, and then afterward the kiddo and I slept here…

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Clearly, this is after I mussed up the pillows.  P1010517

FYI, there’s a manlier room down the hall…

It was the best sleep I’ve had in a good long while.  Probably helpful that my eyes hadn’t spent any evening time looking at a computer screen.  (Not to mention, I was physically exhausted.)

Bright and early, and well rested, the next morning… I stepped out of my room to something that is nothing short of heaven to my soul:

P1010502Yes, that’s a coffee bar right outside the guest bedroom.  Complete with bottled water for the Keurig, International Delight creamers (in hazelnut and french vanilla), sugar packets, and real mugs!

After helping myself to coffee, I took my journal and Melanie Kerr’s book and headed to the room one door down…

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It was a beautiful morning.  I did what I do every morning, sans computer screen blinking at me.  That lack of a computer screen makes all the difference.  And although computers are useful, and I adore my jobs and the freedom I have to raise my daughter while working mostly from home; once in awhile I need to remember that just because I’m sitting, doesn’t mean I need to be sitting with technology.

Log off… smell the lattes… breathe, relax, enjoy.

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Literary Journal Monday – Mapping My Mind

March 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am not ADD, but my mind is often many places at once. It goes and goes… it races… it is unstoppable.

hungerI’ve been reading Hunger by Michael Grant.  It’s one of my niece’s books – the second in a series she introduced me to.  No, that’s not how I want to start this post – is it?

I was craving a little bit of dystopian society literature after reading Herodotus.  My brain spinning in a circular momentum about democracies, oligarchies, and dictatorships.  Darius and then Xerxes tyrading around ancient lands building the Persian Empire.  A thousand utopian and dystopian variations of all societies throughout history – a million possible outcomes for our modern world – twisting about in my mind.  Conveniently, it was at this moment that a trailer for the movie Divergent came on and I thought, “It’s about time I read Veronica Roth.”

Cue discussion of autism I’ve been having on and off with people since reading Not Even Wrong written by Paul Collins. Collins is an amazing author and obscure historian. Still suffering from story hangovers from Divergent and the movie Tonight You’re Mine (all about instantaneous human connections) – I found myself thinking about my niece’s Gone series.

Set in a town in California, all the kids fifteen and under have been left in a supernatural bubble – all adults over puberty have vanished, leaving kids and babies to fend for themselves and create a new government. Not unlike Lord of the Flies, different factions have formed. One is under the leadership of Sam Temple, another under his half brother Caine (the biblical implications of Caine and Abel not to be lost on readers, of course). Sam and his new girlfriend, Astrid, are two of the oldest left behind. They have formed a parental union for the younger kids, caring for all the helpless, including Astrid’s autistic brother.

Like bumper pool – or pinball, if you missed out on the bumper pool phenomena – the synapses in my brain spark and twitch and leap bringing me back to Paul Collins/Not Even Wrong/ McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Then, I find myself thinking, “Goodness, it’s Literary Journal Monday.

tonight you're mineTonight You’re Mine still echoing in my gut (I’m pretty sure I love that movie far more than what is considered healthy or normal), I veer toward the London Magazine when selecting my Literary Journal Monday feature. (Tonight You’re Mine is set in Scotland – not England, but for an American like me, it is the closest I can get in Literary Journals once I mentally cross the pond.)

London Magazine February/March 1981 Vol. 20 Nos. 11 &12

The Private Letters of Tennessee Williams and a piece on Gore Vidal catch my eye. I flip through the first few ads, the table of contents, then stop dead on a heading: FINAL REMINDER.

“If we are to survive the next issue we need 1,000 new subscribers or their equivalent, and we need them immediately […]”

P1010303My reading screeches to a halt and I turn to the shelf. Were there more? Did they have to cancel the magazine? Did they get their 1,000 readers? Ah, sigh, they survived. At least until 1989 where the collection at the bookstore stops. So clearly, they got their 1,000. I wonder who these 1,000 were and if this final reminder is what provoked them to officially subscribe. Or were they friends and family of existing subscribers, terrified their favorite magazine would cease to exist if they didn’t recruit others to love what they loved?

My thoughts have veered so far off track that I forget what I was reading altogether. I flip through the journal in my hand trying to grasp the reason I had sat down to look at this in the first place.

It’s March. St. Patty’s Day is coming up. Irish authors keep popping in and out of my mind. Ireland… Scotland… Tonight You’re Mine… music… poetry… Derek Mahon, an Irish poet’s name blinks at me from the page of the literary journal in my hand. Literary Journal Monday, of course. I read the poem “The Elephants” first. I love elephants. Then my eyes skip over to “April in Moscow” and I read “Spring burst into our houses…” It does, doesn’t it? Just bursts right in and none too soon. At the end of the poems there is an ad for the Poetry Society Bookshop at 21 Earls Court Square in London. I wonder if it is still there.

If they do still exist, I bet they have a copy of Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure. I’m dying for a copy. Leav has been speaking to my soul lately. Misadventures stuck in the cogs of the mind of a woman turned 30.

A line from Grant’s book swings into full view of my mind’s eye:

“He buried his face in her hair. She could feel his breath on her neck, tickling her ear. She enjoyed the feel of his body against hers. Enjoyed the fact that he needed to hold her. But there was nothing romantic about this embrace.” – pg. 21

There rarely is when a hug is really needed. It’s that moment Leav writes about…

When words run dry,
he does not try,
nor do I.

We are on par.

He just is,
I just am
and we just are.

– Lang Leav

The lack of selfishness between the characters at this point is refreshing in fiction and real life.

In a 2014 American Society of infantile adults who never learned to fend for themselves and work hard without constant praise, we are fascinated by literature and movies where children and teens are forced to grow up overnight and be adults.

It’s sad when the idea of fifteen-year-olds co-leading a community and making wise, unselfish decisions for themselves and each other sounds absurd and fictional. My associative mind leaps back to all the ancient history I’ve been studying, back to the likes of King Tut – pharaoh at age nine – dead by nineteen, married somewhere in between.

We believe in responsible marriages like the Romans, but we chase telepathic connections like the Greeks. What a very convoluted and contradictory way to live – the reality of a dystopian society is that every society is a dystopia – even a society of one. Our minds are everywhere and nowhere. Of course we are in conflict.

I suppose you Literary Journal Monday followers got a little more than you wanted. I bit off more than I could chew today. I attempted to map my own mind and identify all the associations and patterns, leaving myself somewhat exhausted from chasing whimsies.

At least I got to spend a few stolen moments in this room…

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It All Started With an Upskirt Photo

March 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , )

Maybe I read too much dystopian fiction. Maybe I was a little too brainwashed by my very paranoid grandfather as a child. Maybe it’s a reasonable theory… maybe it’s not. Either way, as soon as I read the news about the man who got off the hook after taking an upskirt photo, a story idea presented itself:

It all started with an upskirt photo. A man on a subway sneaked a picture of a girl’s panties under her skirt and got away with it. The media went wild, the girl was indignant, the government smiled.

You see, it perpetuated a ball that had been rolling for decades. The government already had their talons in the news room, swaying stories in their favor here and there. But now – in the name of privacy and public safety – the right to take pictures on subways would be eliminated. In the name of protecting innocent bystanders from having their ‘public privacy’ violated – of course – the government gained more control.

From no camera subways came no camera buses. Then planes. No photographs could be taken by a non-government official or civil servant anywhere where fifty or more gathered.

Suddenly government didn’t just control how a story was told and which stories were the most important, they could eliminate the ability to tell a story at all. Bloggers and documentarians could no longer cover protests that major media groups were not covering. No visual documentation could be made against the wrongs of any government official. It evolved from having no fight against police brutality or civil servants on power to trips to far worse things. The police and military could be sent somewhere at any time to detain or massacre anyone at any time without fear it would be captured on film and shared via social media. In a time of technology and the globalized internet, the government brought the sharing of information and relevant news back to the 1700s.

The worst part was, the people asked for it.

In the name of safety – and privacy – of course.

Maybe that’s a far fetched story premise. Maybe I should branch out and write some dystopian fiction.  Maybe not. Maybe we should watch very carefully how this legal situation is handled.

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So Many Books

January 31, 2014 at 7:07 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , )

I reblogged a post this morning discussing books, the acquisition of books, and when a person could possibly have too many, (*gasp*) yes, too many books.  This got me to thinking, yet again, about my own collection – ahem – addiction.

You see, Spring is just around the corner.  My husband just cleaned out our master bedroom closet the other day and I donated a trash bag of clothes to Goodwill.  Nooks and crannies will be conquered.  The stuff that has piled up throughout Winter will be organized.  Although I clean the house every day, this is when the true disinfecting from top to bottom occurs.

And the biggest mess of my house is the part of me that I love to love the most…

P1000933Yes, those are piles on the floor.

P1000934Yes, those are paperbacks stashed in the window sill. (And an empty fish tank.)

P1000935You don’t want to see inside those cupboards… so many paperbacks.

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P1000936Guardian of the Library

P1000937I don’t remember what the top of that end table looks like… and that basket underneath is filled with picture books.

P1000938That completes The Library.  One day, the dream is for that room to be all built in bookcases.  When that magical day comes, I’ll actually have lots of empty space on the shelves and nothing piled anywhere.  I’ve done the math.  Therein lies the dilemma when it comes to purging.  Purge too soon and my shelves won’t be full.  Too late and I could be on the next episode of hoarders.

Wait, but there’s more…

P1000939This is the “school closet.”

P1000940Kiddo’s shelf, comprised mostly of the books from my childhood.

P1000941Kiddo’s actual shelf – you know, the books she picked out. (And a few given to me at the baby shower many moons ago.)

P1000942The last one… I promise.

This is why, other than review copies, my goal for the last few years is to make sure I read more of what is already in my personal inventory… and attempt to avoid new purchases like the plague.  I was largely successful in this venture in 2013 – here’s to continuing the plan in 2014.  I will not allow myself to spend more than $100 on books this year, and I must give away more than I bring in.  That is the goal.

What about you? Are you a book collector? A digital collector or physical copies? What is your vice and addiction?  How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?

And lastly – am I a pack rat?

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