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Ira Glass on the Creative Process - Dynamic Text Video

I've been slacking on the blogging front...and feeling rather stressed and stretched thin. So here's a video to boost my creativity and yours.



I Think I Have Officially Grown Up - *sad*

There is nothing like feeling you have officially grown up. I feel as though my personality has solidified. That this is the person I will be from now on. I’m sure little things will change, but overall this is me.
My Niece, Not Grown Up Yet
I don’t want that to be. I want to change and develop and become better and better. I don’t want to be a critical and judgmental person. Positivity is very important to me, especially because it is hard for me.

As a writer and a reader I want to push myself, read things I wouldn’t read, write in ways that would never occur to me.

What do you do to continue moving forward?


Classics Challenge - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

As part of November's Autumn Classics Challenge, I read Great Expectations. She prompted us to write about setting this month. And wow does Great Expectations have setting. Obviously the most important is Miss Havisham's house (which I imagine something like the image below).
Thomas Jorion Urban Decay
But there's also the Blue Boar, Joe's forge, the marshes, Pip's various apartments, the Castle...so much with such meaning. But without Miss Havisham's mansion, there wouldn't be a story. That house is as much a part of her character as her old wedding dress or the shoe she doesn't wear. It embodies her spirit and is torn down when she dies. It is a place that I think Pip is in love with as well as loathes, just like Estella. Without the mansion, Pip wouldn't have anything.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Book Review

I have not had the pleasure of reading a book like this in a long time. The Night Circus is really a gem. This is the type of book that students will be studying in years to come. There is so much hidden inside, I simply cannot imagine how Erin Morgenstern does it.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The first chapter, wow. So many little nuggets of confusing information. The writing is fluid and captivating. Although it's hard to fall in love with the characters until you're a good chunk into the book. I think this is because the circus is what you are supposed to focus on, but it made it hard to care about the characters. I wanted to see the circus take on a life of its own, since it is supposed to be a character. But instead of that we find out things that have much more impact. (No spoilers, I promise.)

The story is one big ball of twine, dropped from a skyscraper and unraveling before your eyes. Secrets come out of the corners, flying at you like the paper birds Marco creates.

My one regret with the ending, it was perfect and simple and just wonderful, but I don't really understand why. I don't want to give things away so I'll attempt to explain. Someone is given something, and it just seems like this someone is pulled out of thin air. I don't see the reason. Maybe that just means I need to reread!

I read this book for my themed book club. And man are we planning a party! I will definitely share pictures because my roommate and I have big plans for decorations. The circus is coming to my apartment.


Drabble Dienstag - How I Felt

I had an experience last week that I have never had before. Let's see if you can feel what I felt. What do you think? This style is different from what I'm used to, please critique me in the comments.

The anticipation; the bouncing knees; the slimy palms; and the people sitting around me all participating. Should I? What could it really hurt? There’s no fear of addiction, that’s silly. There’s also no fear of passing out or being eaten or getting cancer. Well, maybe that last one. The most it could do is embarrass me, make me cough. They pressure me, but I wouldn’t if I didn’t want to. I take it in my hands. Breathe in. The taste fills my head; taste buds have nothing to do with it. Without coughing, I exhale the hookah smoke and giggle.


Peter Pan's Mermaid

It's time for the Original Fairy Tales Challenge. I've read J.M. Barrie's The Complete Adventures of Peter Pan. Now let me know what you think of my story about Peter Pan's mermaids.

Credit [Contrapposto on deviantART]
She sat on the edge of the rocks, leaning into the water, drawn by the mystery and beauty of the siren sisters. Peter Pan had brought a girl to the sacred pool. How dare he.
Typhoon sat under the surface, listening.
“I told you there were mermaids,” Pan said.
“Where are they?” Wendy whined, peering over the edge into the water as if she could see through the murky liquid to the seawater-colored face that stared back up at her.
Typhoon slid her webbed fingers up the rock and over Wendy’s hand, startling the girl. Pan laughed. She glared with her bulging eyes into Wendy’s blue gaze. The water rippled with a flick of her thick, silver tail. Her dorsal fin stuck up above the water, and she shivered from the cool air. Wendy stretched to caress her seaweed hair, following it down to where it lay on the water floating around her. She squeezed a strand as if it were just a plant, and Typhoon hissed. Pan yanked Wendy back.
“Don’t fall in. They’ll take you under,” he said.
“But they are stunning. Can’t I swim with them?”
“They aren’t dolphins, Wendy. Promise me you won’t go in the water.”
Another of the mermaids hopped up onto a rock, sitting sideways so her fish tail could dangle in the water. The moonlight glinted off her silky skin and scales, almost glowing green from the algae. She started singing an awful screechy song. Wendy covered her ears and Pan pulled her into the air. Pan took off faster than Wendy, forgetting she was following.
“Wait!” Wendy called. Typhoon smirked. The mermaids sank under the water, able to breathe normally again.
“Why would you sing to her?” Typhoon asked.
“I wanted her gone. She was annoying.”
“I want her drowned. Don’t scare her away again.” Typhoon twisted her body and flashed away from the others. They all heard a ticking sound echo through the water and knew to hide from Typhoon’s pet crocodile. She was coming. They didn’t trust her when Typhoon was in a foul mood.
Typhoon swam to meet her. The croc was four or five times her size, but when Typhoon rubbed her hand along her spiky back she purred like a leopard. The rumble covered the sound of the clock that lived in her belly. Typhoon tugged on her tail as they swam past each other, and the croc turned to follow out to sea.
Headed for the underwater caves hidden in the coral, Typhoon thought about Pan and the girl. He had brought a girl to the sacred pool. How dare he. The more she considered the girl–in her nightdress and long, soft hair, all innocent and cute–the more she wanted to pull her to her death.
The shadow of a boat blocked the moonlight, darkening the purple and blue and yellow of her underwater world, and Typhoon looked up to see a rowboat passing over them and close to Marooners’ rock. Flicking her tail, she followed.
The crocodile went under the overhang under the rock to settle on the sandy floor. She didn’t want to deal with visitors and sulked in the corner.
Typhoon looked up through the water to the rock and watched a pair of legs in deer hide slide down. Someone looped a chain around the Indian and secured her to the rock. Typhoon saw the red face of Smee distorted by the surface. She thought he was smiling.
When the rowboat turned to head back to sea, Typhoon glided up next to the Indian and found Tiger Lily.
“Would you like loose?” Typhoon asked. Her voice sounded sweet as honey because only her eyes peeked above the water, her mouth stayed under, bubbles curling up and popping in the air.
“Perhaps not yet,” Tiger Lily said. She grinned, knowing she had the upper hand. “Hook has me here as bait, and I want Pan to show up. Maybe Hook will be able to kill the Wendy girl.”
“We think alike,” Typhoon said and camouflaged herself against the rock. They watched Hook arrive. He couldn’t hear the ticking of the crocodile through all the water, but Tiger Lily could. Pan flew in, they saw his shadow leap and dart over the crags circling the lagoon. Something in a dress flew in after him.
Pan, in Hook’s voice, told Smee to let Tiger Lily go. The rowboat started back the way it had come. Hook asked Smee what he was doing. They went back and forth. Typhoon didn’t feel bad for Smee. He was a pirate who feasted on mermaid flesh. She remembered seeing the green grease on his fingers and surrounding his lips one night after one of her sisters disappeared.
Finally, Hook found Pan and they tussled. Tiger Lily gasped against the rising water, and Typhoon slipped the chains over her with a little bit of sea cucumber goo to oil them. Then Typhoon called to the crocodile.
“Hook is here,” she whispered. The croc licked her chops and shot to the surface, scaring Hook and Pan from the water where they had fallen.
Hook had not killed the girl. Maybe the crocodile would do the job. The siren headed back to the underwater caves to have a starfish snack and brush the scent of the girl from her hair.

Credit [EternalEden on Etsy]
The mermaids didn’t see Pan for days. They knew the Wendy girl had his full attention; it made them irritable. Typhoon was tired of stopping them from attacking birds floating on the water or biting each other’s fins.
Lying on the sandy beach, half in the water, she saw fairies flitting in the trees above her. She had slept and needed to wet herself before she completely dried out. She dipped into the water but noticed a fairy waving her arms about. Typhoon came back up and held a hand out for the fairy to land.
“Hook killed Pan. He poisoned him!” the fairy said. Typhoon didn’t trust the little bug but patiently listened.
“Tinker Bell saved him! But she died. Some children believed. Pan kills Hook.”
“Doesn’t he always?” one of the other mermaids had surfaced. “Or is it just a game?”
“Hush,” Typhoon said.
“I’m tired of Pan and Hook, Hook and Pan. When are we an important part of the story?” another mermaid laying on the shore squawked.
“Tinker Bell wants help,” the fairy went on. “Pan mustn’t die.”
“Does she want the Wendy girl safe?” Typhoon asked.
“Girl should die. Pan is important.” The fairy pinched Typhoon and took off before Typhoon could dunk her and wash all the fairy dust off. She grabbed at the air, trying to capture the creature and smother her under the water. She scrubbed at her hand to remove the gold; it burned.
Typhoon gathered the other mermaids and the crocodile. Like a well-trained school of fish they stormed from the cove and into the bay. Hook’s ship floated before them, shading them from the rising sun.
Aboard, Hook and the pirates held the children captive. Hook was giving them a telling to, shaking his fist and tickling their bellies with his hook. Typhoon gloated when she saw Wendy walking the plank. She waited below but was thwarted when Pan flew by and caught Wendy.
“No splash,” Smee said.
“I’ll create a splash,” Typhoon said. She motioned to the crocodile who came close enough to the surface that Hook could hear her but far enough below that he couldn’t see her. “Hook is here,” she whispered and the crocodile went into a frenzy, knocking her body against the ship and making it rock. The children broke free, and all hell broke loose. The pirates and children fell to while Hook climbed a mast to get to Pan.
Something fell into the water, something big. Typhoon watched her sisters drag the pirate down to the floor and wrestle with him until he was still. They hooked him to the floor with a rock and left him to gather the rest of their prey that continually dropped into the water.
“Not the children!” Typhoon cried. One little one had fallen in and she helped him to the surface so he could swim ashore. “Only the girl,” she commanded her sisters. But the girl never fell in.
The sun continued to rise. Pan had Hook on the plank at swords end. The crocodile circled in the water, her mouth open and waiting for Hook to simply fall in whenever Pan pushed him over the edge. Typhoon was sure it wouldn’t be that easy. She crossed her arms, rubbing the scales sprinkled on her skin, and waited. All around her the water churned. Sharks had come to feast on the drowned pirates, and her sisters were not only gathering more and more pirates but trying to fend off the other predators. The dappled sunlight filtering through the water to the sea bed below hurt Typhoon’s eyes and she squinted. She much preferred the dark; it was safer. Hook balanced on his toes on the very end of the plank where one jump from Pan would tumble him into the crocodile’s waiting jaws.
Silence. The fight raged on but something was missing. The ticking clock had stopped. Hook looked behind him into the water, expecting the crocodile to be gone, but she circled below him still. The clock had run down. Hook skittered past Peter back onto the boat and hid behind a wall of pirates.
From the corner of her eye, Typhoon saw something billowing and white sink under the ship. Two mermaids went for it, but Typhoon was more agile and faster. She grabbed the Wendy girl and dragged her through the water, under the boat, toward the cove, until she knew the human needed to breathe or would drown. She brought Wendy to the surface in open water between land and ship.
After spluttering like an idiot and thrashing about, Wendy calmed. She just stared at Typhoon, whose grip on her wrist was nearly tight enough to break the bone.
“You will go back to London,” Typhoon said.
“I suppose we should.”
“No. It is not a choice,” Typhoon dunked her under the water again and snarled. The girl didn’t understand.
“You will go back to London,” she said to the flailing arms and swirling water. She brought the Wendy girl up for more air.
“Yes. I will go back to London,” Wendy managed between gasps.
Typhoon dragged her back to the ship, accidentally pushing her under the waves a few times. If she killed the Wendy girl she would be happy. But if she killed the Wendy girl Pan would be sad. Pan would not return to the lagoon if he was sad, and Typhoon could not live without Pan. There was no other way around it Typhoon decided. The Wendy girl would have to live for the mermaids to get what they wanted. She had promised to leave.
Wendy was spent when they sat under the hull again. Typhoon helped her onto the rope ladder.
Typhoon called her sisters away. Back to the cove they swam, the crocodile couldn’t be pulled from her prey so Typhoon left. They heard later from the fairies that Pan had taken the children to London, including the lost boys, and that the crocodile had feasted upon Hook’s flesh. The croc wouldn’t come back, her business was finished.
Pan came back to the cove, his shoulders slumped and his head tucked down. He looked at the mermaids, who glared back at him. He pulled out his flute and smiled his boyish smile. Typhoon sighed and patted the rock next to her. He jumped into the air and landed with a thump, blowing into his flute. Typhoon pretended to ignore him until the other mermaids gathered around and he gave them his attention. Then Typhoon flopped into the water and lay her head in her arms on the rock, gazing up at him as a moonflower worships the moon.
Credit [Deisi on deviantART]


Trip Home to Visit Family in Colorado

Albert and I went home to Colorado for an entire month in January. We planned two weeks of snowboarding with our German friends, Jule and Bastian, and then found out that Albert's sister was getting married just two weeks later. So we stayed. And what a month it was. Everything was so relaxed and wonderful. (Well, excluding the fact that Bastian broke his collarbone but we'll get to that part of the story later.)

Breckenridge was the first stop. We spent a week there at my parent's condo. The first day we arrived Albert and Bastian went night boarding at Keystone. Bastian should probably have stopped earlier, or gone slower, but he fell and broke his collarbone. We made the best of it and went ice skating one day. The snowboarding was awesome for the rest of us (Bastian even went once with his broken bone!)
Sapphire Point in Breckenridge where we were married.

We spent the next week relaxing in our parents' homes, shopping a lot, taking brewery tours, and checking out the Mustang.

While Albert got Jule and Bastian off the ground to head home (it was blizzarding that day and their flight was canceled twice), I jumped over to Oklahoma to visit a writing friend. She posted on my blog about the weekend. This is her sweet and crazy dog, Ophelia.

And then there was all of the time with family and friends. We ended up with extra bags that were very full, I don't really know how. My best friend, Cora, and I did the photography at the wedding. Then early the next morning we were off back home. Oh yeah, and I fractured my toe a few days before the wedding. First broken bone, yay!


Ape House by Sara Gruen - Book Review

Ape House by Sara Gruen is about bonobos, a language specialist working with the bonobos, and a reporter, John. They're all interconnected, but they all have separate stories. The bonobos are attacked and sold out from under Isabel, their caretaker and researcher.

The foreshadowing throughout the book is done so deftly I had to facepalm every time something happened that I should have known about. She hides the concepts well. But on the other hand, everything seemed so perfectly planned and coincidental that it was a little too perfect. I can imagine that she had charts laying out what order things needed to happen in and not leaving any loose ends.

As in Water for Elephants, the animals are as much characters as the humans, if not more. They have a depth that most people can't impart on an animal. There were times I was frustrated by what the bonobos did; I didn't just blindly love them. It's that range of traits that makes Sara Gruen's writing simply amazing.

The plot has a lot of twists. They aren't huge but they are big enough. I was very happy because I assumed the two main characters, John and Isabel, would have an affair because of a strong attraction and problems in their own lives. But she didn't ever bring sex into it, at least not in that way, and it made the book that much more wholesome. There is sex, even some monkey sex, but it's all natural.