Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009!

Well, 2009 is drawing to a close. And I gotta say, this year, I'm glad to see it go. It's hard to classify this year. On the one hand, I want to say the year was a success. After all, I met the girl i want to spend the rest of my life with--something I never thought that I would do, but especially not so young. And yet, I have, and it's fantastic.

With that said, in the same year that I met my beloved, I almost lost her. Twice. I met her at the beginning of the year--one year ago today, as a matter of fact--and I almost lost her in April. A tornado hit and destroyed a good portion of my hometown. Several months later, I was in a horrific car crash that my girl and I are still recovering from.

So where does 2009 lie? Is it a draw? Or should it be packed up and shipped out with a "good riddance" to follow it out the door. These are questions I don't have the answer to.

So I talked about the bad things--a tornado, a car wreck, various drama's a college involving regime changes, major drama in the summer from my fiance's crazy family--now I need to talk about good things.

I met my beloved. We began flirting, and the first several months of dating-but-not was awesome. We talked on the phone for hours. It was amazing. We started dating, which was even more amazing. We had tons of fun over the summer, despite drama, and our relationship grew. We went to college, where things were nearly perfect. I was fortunate enough to come into a bit of money so that I could some things I've always wanted and a new car. I got engaged. I began planning the rest of my life with my girl. My fiance has made a dramatic recovery from the wreck. The doctor's said she's 3 months ahead of schedule. She's doing amazing, proving, once again, how awesome she is.

I think if there were a theme to 2009, the theme would be change. So much has changed this year. My brother is in his senior year, I got engaged, we both got new cars, friends moved across the country, others drifted away, some drift back and forth. I got a bit of money to start planning a life with. I walk with a cane. My town has been rebuilding itself. Hundreds lost their homes, and yet, I've heard some say that the tornado saved a drowning town--now many of the companies that had no work have work to do again.

Whether they're good or bad changes, they were changes nonetheless.

So, goodbye 2009. I really won't miss you that much. You gave me some tough love, and I'm not sure I've forgiven you for everything you've done. But you brought me some really good things, too. I extend a firm, curt handshake to you. Welcome 2010. I hope you bring twice the fortune, with none of the tragedy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

News, Good and Random

French the llama, is it only 4 (almost only 3) days until Christmas!!!??!!!??!?!?!

(For an explanation about the "french the llama" thing, visit this video. It's nothing bad, I promise.)

Okay, so, some good news.

Darling Dearest is doing great. She's gained significant movement back in her left side since last I saw her. She has a slight case of "word salad", which, in case you don't know, means that sometimes she gets the words she means confused with a different word. However, it's much better than it was when she first woke up.

On the down side, she's very, very angry, but that's also understandable. She hates relying on other people, so I totally expected her to be pissed off at the nurses and such when she can't do what she wants.

They're going to start physical therapy with her soon, and she'll probably really like that. She's been trying to crawl out of the bed for a while anyway.

I'm doing good, myself. I've upgraded from crutches to a walker, and hopefully I'll be upgraded to a cane before I head back to college. It'll be hard to get to room on the second floor with a walker.

My Christmas shopping is done, I believe. I just got the last thing today. It's a great present for my mom.

Also, I've been very interested at cryptograms. They're very interesting and fun...but I'm rubbish at them. So...hopefully I'll improve. Also, I'm trying my hand at crossword puzzles. I'm rubbish at those too.

I've found myself not writing like I should be. I'll want to, I'll get on the computer...and then start surfing the net instead. I've been trying to make myself. Gotta get that discipline ready for next year.

I participated in an amazingly awesome project a few days ago. John Green, YA author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns, is also known for his video-blog project The Vlogbrothers, which he does with his environmentalist/musician brother Hank Green. They're both very funny, and both promote ideals that I hold very dear myself, including green technology, reducing your carbon footprint, and promoting to charities.

Every year the brothers Green head up a project -- which they have dubbed the Project for Awesome. It's a great project where all of their viewers (dubbed "nerdfighters") get together to take over YouTube. You make a video promoting a charity that you really like. Then everyone spams the crap out of the comment sections, rates the videos, and favorites them, so that most popular, most discussed, and most viewed pages are all Project for Awesome videos. This is meant to raise awareness about charities to the average YouTube viewer, instead of them watching videos about water-skiing squirrels.

I participated in it--a 48 hour event--and I am proud to say that not only were all but two of the videos on the most discussed page Project for Awesome videos, but on Twitter, Project for Awesome trended above everything, including the movie Avatar, which made it's debut during the project for Awesome. John Green's goal was to trump Avatar, because it cost $250,000,000 to make, and, as John said, the Project for Awesome is free.

Anyway, so that's what I did with my weekend. It was fantastic. I was very proud to do it. John also auctioned off a pair of what he called his "nerd glasses"--the proceeds went to charity. In addition he's donating $1000 to his favorite charity from the list.

On a tiny sidenote, should you want to help with a charity, but have no money to do so, go to freerice.com. There's a vocab quiz there, and for every question you get right, they donate rice to starving nations. Totally free, and totally helpful in "decreasing world-suck," as the Brothers Green put it.

Anyway, that's all I've got for right now. Tomorrow my brother will be putting up Christmas lights and our tree. I'll be there for moral support mostly. And then we're going to see Darling Dearest before coming back for Christmas Eve with mi familia. Then it's back up to the hospital the next day to spend Christmas with Darling Dearest--because we will have our first Christmas together, dammit!

I hope you and yours are having a very Merry Christmas, a very happy Hanuka, a very happy Kwanza, or whatever it is you celebrate. As long as you're a live and you've got people to celebrate with, then you've got the world.

Happy Holidays all and Best Wishes!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It Was a Very Black Friday

What I'm about to tell is bad. Very bad. But I'm not telling you this for sympathy. Of course, prayers and well wishes and such are appreciated, and in one place encouraged, but I just wanted you to know that I'm not posting this to further my pity party, but because I respect everyone that reads this blog, and I can't just ignore what happened despite my not wanting to have to think about it. The truth is, I've been avoiding posting this because I'm so very tired of retelling what happened, but I think it will cathartic to admit what happened to not just you guys, but to myself. To fully realize what I did, what the consequences are, and what I can do to get through this.

Let me take you back to Thanksgiving. Darling Dearest and I went to my family's annual Thanksgiving get-together, which is really more of a Christmas warm-up. Virtually the same food, but it's been a lot longer since we've seen each other all together. This is the one where all the latest news is revealed--big news doesn't really crop up much between November and December 25th.

Unfortunately, the evening didn't end well. We had plans on going out of town later in the evening to see one of our college friends and keep him company as he stood in line outside of Best Buy for a doorbuster. It was a computer, and he needed one--his crapped out--and we wanted to take advantage of the good deals anyway, so we decided we'd go. When the time came, the evening hadn't improved much, but we did the best we could to perk things up a bit, and then we left.

The line standing was uneventful, really, except that it was long--horrendously long, and in the freezing cold. The doors finally opened, and we were among the first 50 to get in, which means we had access the best deals the earliest. We grabbed a lot of movies--admittedly, most were for ourselves, but I was also there to get some late (for me, anyway) Christmas shopping done. Then, we checked out. We went and got breakfast, and then, at like 7 AM, we went home.

This next part is the part that's the hardest to write. Bear with me.

I was fine for an hour. Not bothered at all. Then, I started getting sleepy. That was when I started falling back on the thing that usually keeps me awake -- singing. I sing loudly (and more than likely out of key) when I'm in the car alone. Darling Dearest is one of the few to hear me sing totally unbridled like that. She loves it, and I'm flattered, even if for the life of me I don't know why she loves it, but I digress.

The second hour was much harder than the first, and even singing wasn't keeping me alert and awake. I started looking for a place to pull over. I wanted us to be save, and the towns between the city with the Best Buy and my hometown are very Deliverance-ish. So, I wanted to look for a place where we'd be out of the way, but safe from getting raped by hillbillies before we woke back up. This is the most horrific and ironic part -- I was looking for a safe place to pull over. Some place where we would be safe and I could catch a few Z's to recharge. I'm sure you know what happened next, but please, I'm trying not to jump the gun.

The last thing I remember thinking was, "I need to find a place to pull over before I fall asleep. I don't want to crash." The next thing I new, I heard the sound of the rumble strip and the sound of my car in the grass. I couldn't get the car to get back onto the road--it wouldn't hop the curb-like edge of the highway. Finally, I cut the wheel, but when the other tire gripped the road, it sent the car flying across the road faster than I could correct--the road was only a two lane, it wasn't very wide. I slammed on the breaks to slow it down and give me time to correct it, but it wasn't enough, instead the wheels locked and I was sent into a fishtail. The last thing heard was Darling Dearest scream, "Baby!" An almost separate memory was of the impact. It was more of a single frame and a sensation of the world flinging onto it's side.

The next thing I can remember, I was sitting in the passenger's seat. Darling Dearest was lying on the ground just outside of the door, which was open.

I know what happened, thanks to police reports and what my family has told me. When my car started to fishtail, another car--an SUV--came flying over a tiny hill. They saw me, but when they tried to avoid me, they wound up turning into me instead. This next part may sound like me trying to shirk blame, but that is not it at all. It's merely a hypothesis and a guess for why things turned out like they did. They must have been going very fast--well above the speed limit--because when my car was hit it split into two halves, the front half looking fairly untouched, and the back half sent sprawling into a fence as a massive ball of twisted metal. The police report stated that my car split, but really it was more like my car was gutted from the back half. This image is sort of helped by the fact that everything from the door frame on teh passenger side back is gone, safe for the back door on the driver's side, and a tiny, thin strip of metal that used to be a part of the trunk. Apparently the front part of the car was sent airborne, because there were no tire track marks leading to where we stopped.

I don't know how I got in the passenger seat. I was wearing my seat belt. As a matter of fact, I clearly remember making Darling Dearest put her's on before we left.

My mom says that I told her, when I was drugged up on pain killers and sedation medicine, that I saw Darling Dearest and I tried to get to her, but every time I would move my hip would hurt really bad. So apparently I crawled my way out of the driver's seat and over into the passenger's seat to get to my fiance before I passed out.

First of all, the easiest to post, were the injuries in the SUV. They were fine. Although the police report says that someone was transported, being on the scene, and having talked to one of the first responders, I know that no one has. Everyone was fine, although out a car, now, but then again, so am I.

I remember, at some point, talking to a man who I thought was a first responder, but who actually was a reporter for a local newspaper who drove up on the accident by chance, and who was sent over to make sure I was okay and to keep me calm and keep my mind off of my fiance. He said, "I know it'll sound stupid, but...how's your day going?" I believe my response was, "Pretty shitty."

On a side note, I don't begrudge the man at all. As a matter of fact, I'm very very thankful to him. While he was there, he talked to me about Darling Dearest -- about how I proposed to her, what I wanted to do, what I actually did, and a ton of other memories. It was good, calming, and kept me from coming out of the shock and realizing what a horrible mess this actually was. I read his editorial later, where he kicked himself for not having anything better to say. He said he led with something stupid, and finished with something weak. "Well, I'll be praying for you guys, hard." In retrospect, he wanted to have said something better. Being a devout catholic, he wanted to have broken out the rosary beads, or said Psalm 23, or something. Instead, he kicked himself for "I'll be praying for you guys, hard." In my opinion, that was the exact, perfect thing to say.

That's what I wanted.

That's what I was doing.

When I wasn't answering questions, every fiber of my being was going into praying for the survival of the person I care for more than anything else in all of existence. More than my own injuries, more than my own life, the thing I wanted most was for her to be okay. I remember telling her as the first responders worked on her, that had to fight. She had to get better and make it through this, because we had a wedding to plan, we had a life to start, so she had to get better for me.

Out of the accident, my injuries were: a fractured pelvis...well, technically two fractures, but they're on the major and minor pubic bones. It won't require surgery to fix, just time to mend itself. I also had a minor contusion on my lung, which has since gone away, and a ruptured disc in my back.

Now, the next part will sound bad, but what I'm telling you is good news. It shows significant progress, which is why I'm glad I waited to post this.

Darling Dearest got: a broken leg, broken ribs, a punctured lung, trauma to the back of the head, a fractured pelvis, a broken clavicle, and a fractured neck. She also had internal bleeding. I was told later, much later, that they didn't expect her to live. She had to be air-evacuated with a chopper, and they didn't think she'd survive the helicopter ride. She did, but she was hooked up to a ventilator.

Now the good parts: the internal bleeding was only from her spleen, which has been removed. No other bleeding. A rod has been surgically placed in her left leg, and they said they're not gonna even cast it, because the rod is holding everything fine. Her chest tube has been taken out, which means her lung has been fixed. Her neck fracture was, apparently, very minor, and with no spinal injuries at all.

They kept her in a medically induced coma for a week, but now she's awake, her breathing is stable, and she's very lucid. The one downside is she has difficulty moving her left side--not just the broken leg, but her arm, which was not broken. She can move it a little, and she's gaining more movement everyday, but she's still going to need some rehab. She can't talk, but not because she's not actually able. They put a tracheal tube in because the breathing tube was causing her to gag. So, unfortunately, she can't talk. But she can write and do sign language (something I didn't even know she knew!) and that's enough for me, for now. I do, however, look forward to the day when they take the trache out so that she can start telling me everything that sucks. I don't care how much she complains, just to hear her voice will be such music that God and his choir of angels couldn't match it.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that things have improved significantly. If you want to, I highly encourage prayers, good thoughts, good vibes, or whatever you happen to believe in and want to send our way--particularly her way. She needs it, because I want her well ASAP.

Please don't pity me or her, as the news is very good and getting better everyday. Also, please, if you're outraged by this event, and think that I should be strung up for being a terrible and neglectful driver, please don't comment. Believe me when I tell you I'm well aware of my mistakes, and I would go back and fix them in a heartbeat. I would spin the car the other way and take the full brunt of the blow. I'm sure none of you would put anything like that, but I thought I'd get it out there just in case. Everyone I know has been sympathetic, save one waitress who asked me why I was on crutches, and then proceeded to politely and sadly drive what little self-respect I'd managed to gather back together into the ground.

Anyway, I don't want this post to get pitiful, sappy, melodramatic, or anything like that. I've tried to keep to the facts, and I just wanted you to know. I know I'm not the most prolific of bloggers, but I thought I'd let you know, my presence on the blog might or might not be scarce. It could be that when I go back to college this semester, since Darling Dearest won't be able to be there, that I blog a lot with nothing to fill my spare time. Or it could be that I'll throw myself into school work or writing or something, or I may be busy with Darling Dearest, should they move her nearby or should I have the time to leave off to be with her during the week.

What I've taken away from this is, no matter what happens, you have to take your time to understand and adjust to the situation--grieve, laugh, whatever you have to do--and when the moment passes and you have clarity, you have to set your shoulders and keep pushing through until you make it out the other side. There is an "other side," and Darling Dearest and I will make it, and we will be all the stronger and closer for having gone through this. Maybe, though, with your prayers, we can make it just a little faster, though.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some News

FIRST: Up until this post, I had 222 posts, which I just thought was awesome.

SECOND: I'm typing this post on my brand spanking new Sony Vaio laptop. I can feel the power radiating beneath the keys.

THIRD, AND THE BIGGEST AND GREATEST NEWS EVER: I'm engaged! I asked Darling Dearest to marry me, and she said yes!

The wedding won't be for a while, because I want to be graduated and have a job before we jump into marriage, but just the fact that we are now engaged is hugely amazingly awesome and I'm so super excited!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Story Updates

I didn't post it on here, but I sent in a short story to a fantasy/sci-fi magazine last month. Unfortunately, it was rejected. However, I'm not bummed. Not just because I'm keeping my chin up, I'm really really proud. Last time I mailed out any stories, on top of a lot of really, really dumb mistakes, they were all form rejections. This time, I received a more personal rejection. I'm not sure if it was just another form of form rejection or not, but it was addressed directly to me, and mentioned my story by name. Regardless, it was a different rejection than the one I received from the same magazine previously, possibly because it was from the Assistant editor? I'm not sure. I just know that any change is good, and I'm taking this as a plus. I'm gonna send it back out into the world come Monday and keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Today is November 3rd, which means that NaNoWriMo has begun. Even such writers as John Green knows that it exists, and I really wish I could partake this year. Someday...ah...someday.

Anyway, so I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween weekend. I sure did. I went to a masquerade ball a couple of days before -- with a mask I made myself. It looked pretty damn good, too, if I say so myself. The best thing about it -- and really the best thing about being in college surrounded by fellow nerds -- was all the Star Wars themed costumes. At one point a Sith Lord and Luke Skywalker got into an epic lightsaber battle before Luke had disarmed the Sith Lord of his two lightsabers and thrust his lightsaber into the Sith Lord's chest. Ah...nerd-dom!

The only thing better than a Sci-Fi movie based costume is a literary nerd costume! Someone came dressed as the Ghost of Christmas Past!!! I wanted them to win the costume contest so bad, but the winner was someone who came dressed as an urban gangster...yawn.

Back to the Star Wars stuff, though. At one point, Luke walked up to a girl dressed in white and asked, "Are you Leah?" She responded with, "No. Padme." He responded, "Sweet." The flirting was pretty obvious, and I almost shouted "Incest! Incest!" but I didn't want to be that guy.

Halloween night I watched a couple of horror movies -- really good, cheesey ones, including Zombie Strippers (yes, that is a real movie, no, it's not a porn, and no, you shouldn't watch it if you're easily disturbed. I thought it was funny as hell, though.), and Trick or Treat (a movie featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons about the evil spirit of Rock, so you know it had to be freakin' funny) -- and played Apples to Apples with a couple of friends that came up from my hometown and Darling Dearest. She beat me...of course.

Now we have three gigantic bowls of candy and only me and my Dearest to eat it all. I wanted to give a lot away, and she almost strangled me for suggesting it.

So, it's after Halloween, and you know what that means...

WE GET TO FORGET THAT THANKSGIVING EXISTS AND JUMP STRAIGHT TO CHRISTMAS!!!!!

I may have already done most of my Christmas shopping... I love it that much. Darling Dearest will love her presents, and I really can't wait for all of my friends to get their gifts. I love giving gifts.

I also may be hinting heavily for several books in the near future (including the most recent addition to the Hitchhiker's Guide series).

Speaking of gifts, one of my good friends was nice enough to purchase the Rent movie soundtrack, a rare find indeed. I have yet to find it in any music store. My friend heard me lamenting about my lack of funds, and soon he was insisting to buy it for me. I am now a very happy fellow.

Sorry for the sporatic nature of this update. I've had many essays to write, many books to read, many poems to create, and not a lot of freetime. Hopefully things will slow down soon, although I doubt it. It's creeping up on the end of the semester, things will only get more hectic from here.

Anyway, good luck to those who decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I'll be rooting you on from the sidelines.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Little News on Goings-On and Musings on Plans for the Future

So, over the past few weeks, I've been procrastinating. I have (or rather, had) three essays to write (two now). One for Mythology, one for British Literature, and one for Women in Chinese History (due the day before yesterday). I did get the Chinese one in, but I have yet to start on the other two. This procrastination can be blamed on two things (besides laziness, which should be obvious).

Number the first: I have had an absurd amount of drama at my dorm. My girlfriend and I ran an amazing campaign for such short notice -- we were only told two days before the election that the election was coming up. Usually, we have two or three weeks, this time, we had only just signed up to run when it was already time for the election.

After some amazing campaign posters done by yours truly, and some good promises, which we intended to keep, we sat back and waited. I got the position I wanted -- Vice President. However, my girlfriend did not win President. Then, we discovered a series of fishy circumstances where ballot boxes may have been stuffed and the Resident Director may have rigged the results to put one of his friends in office instead. Regardless, we decided to stick it out. Until we saw the rest of the results of the election...or rather..the consequences.

The entire government was outrageously one-sided, with virtually every position filled by one of my Resident Director's friends. No matter what any of my fellow government members decided to do, it was vetoed instantly if my RD didn't like it. Beyond that, he began lying to us, making threats if we didn't do what he wanted, and doing things that were way beyond what power his position as RD is capable of.

I have taken steps to report him to the people in charge of all of the dorms, and I would like to start an anonymous letter writing campaign of complaints, but as of yesterday, I have also resigned my position. I refused to be berated by someone who was my equal in power and an underclassman and had no idea how the dorm community worked.

Number the Second: I might have stumbled upon one of the greatest things in the history of my entire life. A video blog on YouTube known as Brotherhood 2.0. They're known as the Vlogbrothers now, and they're fans are...Nerd Fighters. How cool is that?

I decided, one day, to start watching from the beginning up to now. I'm only about a quarter of the way through, I've already experienced so much with them -- new jobs, new books being published, having to move, the drama of your house almost being sold out from under you, and through it all, they greet these challenges with a great sense of humor.

Beyond that, though, they do more. They realized, after a few posts, how popular they were becoming, and not only set up a "scholarship to decrease world suck" which went to help one of their friends' family who died of cancer, but they also began donating money to help people in poverty stricken nations start up small businesses. They share many of the same causes I do, but they also differ from eachother enough to have actual, and interesting, discussions.

The thing that has me hooked the most? One of them is a literary aclaimed YA author. John Green, author of Paper Towns, An Abundance of Catherines, and Looking for Alaska.

The other, his brother, Hank Green, is a computer programmer, and a writer for magazines like Mental Floss.

It's so amazing, because to see they interact with the world, their jobs, their wives, life...it makes me think about how I'm going to be when I'm they're age.

I will turn 21 in April, and then I really will be a man. I will have earned every right that you can earn in this country with the exception of lower car insurance, which won't kick in until I turn 25. Anyway, I digress. I'm in my Junior year of college. I've taken the Praxis I already. I aced it. I'm that much closer to becoming a teacher. I'll be graduating in a couple of years, and it scared the bejeezers out of me.

I haven't told my mother this yet, because we're a very, very close family, but I'm thinking about moving out this summer as well. I've been looking at apartments. I've been calculating my budget, based on what I'll earn over the summer, my refund check when I return that fall for school, and other things. I've also been looking at where I want to settle down and spend my life. I would like to move to Chicago and experience the Big City Life for a couple of years. I'd like to get an apartment and a teaching job and just teach for a couple of years, and then move to a 'burb somewhere and get started on the rest of my life. I want to go to England sometime before I settle down so I can say I've been to Europe at least once, and I'd like to get married somewhere in there too.

It's very interesting, but I feel like I'm staring at my own mortality. Planning out these steps for what will begin the real beginning of my life -- and not the safe "Real Life" that college creates, but the real Real Life that comes when you've achieved your goal of having a career and now you're stuck with it for the rest of your life.

I think part of the reason this has been on my mind is because those guys, specifically John Green, are how I want to be when I "grow up." He's a full time writer, he's married, he has a few odd hobbies that keeps him busy, and he's also very worldly, intelligent, well-read, etc. His life is pretty much the goals I've been setting for myself since I was in high school. And seeing someone living the dream -- my dream -- has sort of re-focused me on my dream.

Yesterday, I was looking up cities I might want to think about moving to either after I leave Chicago or if Chicago doesn't work out. I found it. It's amazing. It's everything I want in my future town -- MUCH bigger than my home town, and actually even bigger than my college town. It's cold, it'll get lots of snow, it's not too big, either. It'll be a good break from the city life. It's also really close to some cities that will keep me entertained on the weekends. It's basically my dream place.

And between shopping for apartments for the near future and looking at houses for the somewhat more distant future, I've been so excited I can't sit still. I've also been so scared I've had a hard time going to sleep. It's what I want to do with my life, and really look forward to it, but leaving my family and striking out on my own is...mind-boggling, terrifying, and foreign.

Anyway, enough rambling. I just had stuff I needed to muse on for a bit.

Friday, September 25, 2009

College Update: What happened to my life?

Let me lay out what I've been up to:

Chinese History Reading
Girlfriend Time
Brit Lit Reading
Poetry Writing
Girlfriend Time
Mythology Reading
Girlfriend Time.

You can see where my priorities lie, right? Heh heh. I've blown a lot of money so far -- way more than I intended. I'm a little worried, but most of the money was necessary stuff -- like clothes, since a lot of mine have destroyed themselves.

But, Hastings was having a sale recently, and I love books, so I checked in. My newest purchases make me really happy:

Odd Thomas in hardcover.
Forever Odd in hardcover.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in hardcover
Stephen King's Bag of Bones in hardcover.
Thomas Harris' Red Dragon in hardcover.
Einstein in hardcover.
The Tale of Despereaux in hardcover.
Schindler's List in paperback.
And the screenplay for Sleepy Hollow (that one was for my girlfriend).

Also, from one of our good friends, my girlfriend got Russell Brand's Booky Wook for her birthday. So I'll borrowing that as soon as she's done.

The one I'm most excited to read out of all of these...besides the Booky Wook? Einstein. He's such a fascinating character. But first, Chinese history, Brit Lit, and Mythology await!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

College is coming

This next week is going to be pretty busy. I've got to start getting things together, packing things up, and just generally mentally preparing for my triumphant return to college. My girlfriend moves up a couple of days before I do, and I'm helping her move up. I also have to take a very important test for my teaching degree this week. And my last hoorah with my friends and fam before I go back. So much to do...so little time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Quick Sunday Update

Friday night I got around 2500 words, and last night I got 2217 words. The story has really come easily. I'm enjoying the quickness with which it's flowing. And the story is so unique and bizarre that it's keeping me wondering what's gonna happen next, even though I've already plotted it out.


Anyway, besides that, I finished Hawkspar by Holly Lisle a couple of days ago. Fantastic book. I couldn't put it down until I was done. It's the sequel to Talyn, which made quite a splash when it came out. If anyone hasn't read it, I recommend going out and getting a copy right now. You'll be glad you did.

That's really all for, just wanted to pop in and update quickly. Hope everyone's been having a great weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Impressions

This isn't a blog post about first impressions in the business world -- although it would be a great subject: comparing first impressions in other areas to your writing. Not to self: get on that one.

Anyway, this is just my first impressions on a few things. First of all, I got to see the new Harry Potter movie over the weekend. It was absolutely phenomenal. In my opinion, it was the best one out of all of them -- leaps and bounds better than the last one. You can tell that the original writer is back after letting someone else take over for the 5th one. The diaglogue, pacing, action, all great.

I have two complaints off the top of my head. The final scene should have had Ginny in it. I understand that the scene was showing how the trio started together and would finish together -- sort of a symbolic scene summarizing their friendship -- but Ginny was built up so much in the movie, I felt she became sort of forgotten in favor of action scenes at the end.

And, there was one moment where the cutting from one shot to the other was a little abrupt and awkward. But other than that? Amazing. Absolutely breath taking.

And the man who did the score did a pretty good job. There were moments where I just noticed how fantastic the score really was.

The movie did a great job of getting me excited for Deathly Hallows part 1 and 2. Especially since Steve Kloves is writing this one, too, and John Williams is returning to compose the score for this one -- he was the man who composed the score for the first three movies. And David Yates really proved his chops with this one, so I can't wait to see how he pulls off the final 2 movies.


Anyway, and also, I've been trying out a program that I found and was very interested in a while back, but felt it was too big for me. It's called yWriter, and it's the free, PC answer to Holly Lisle's Scrivener. Everything that Holly says Scrivener does, as far as I can tell, yWriter does as well, and since I don't have a Mac, this is an answer to my prayers. Version 5 is actually the newest version out, but for some reason a run through Google only brought me the logo for the 4th version, but you get the gist.

I was hesitant about downloading it, not because it seemed like a bad software, but because it seemed way too much for what I've been focusing on. I've been trying to write short stories lately to practice my craft and my ability to tell a story before I work on writing a novel and this software just seemed like way too much. Great for novels -- long sprawling things that they are -- but just too much for a tiny, little short story.

I was wrong. This thing is great. In about 30 minutes I had worked out not only my main characters, I have my plot lined out, and it even has an area that keeps track of your writing goals. Input a start date and a finish date and the number of words you want in your story and it calculates how many you need per day to meet your goal.

Pretty user-friendly once you poke around a bit. It can be very simple -- offering just a bare-bones notes area -- or it can be amazingly complex in helping you remember subplots, side characters, locations, dates, items that you introduced that don't need to be forgotten. It'll even help you remember that a character that died in chapter 17 showed back up across the country in chapter 22.

All in all, I'm very impressed with this handy little piece of software, and look forward to using in all of my future projects. It may give me the kick in my pants I need to get writing sometimes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let the Countdown Begin!

25 Days

25 Days until I go back to college. My girlfriend leaves two days early, and I'll be going to help her move in, and I may leave the day before I have to go back up so that I can get there early to move in.

Just thought I'd pop in and update a little. It's been busy. Last week was full time, and this week is back to part time, but I still have two weeks of work left.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Book Giveaway!


If you're a frequenter of Lynn Viehl's blog, you know she talks highly of Marjorie M. Liu's writing ability. You'd also know that she's got a new book coming out -- Darkness Calls. Well, over at Bibliophiles 'R' Us, they're having a giveaway of the first book in the series -- The Iron Hunt. Pop on over if you want a chance to win. Contest ends July 14.


*Edit* Feel free to stop by Sweeps4Bloggers for their giveaway of Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey as well.

*Edit numero dos* -- 7/14/09 -- if you're itching for a chance to read The Iron Hunt or her new book, Lynn Viehl is giving away copies of them and some of her novels during her "Left Behind and Loving It" week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bad News, Good News, and Other Random Junk

I hope everyone had a good fourth of July weekend, and I hope that this weekend is going well, too.

My fourth of July was a fascinating example of things being great and tragic all at the same time. I decided to go with my girlfriend and make a trip to my college town to enjoy a nice day out with my girlfriend and my best friend. I figured we'd piddle during the day, and then watch the fireworks show in the park that night.

The trip up there was tons of fun. I love going on road trips with my girlfriend. We argue, we debate, we laugh, we joke, we play with the radio -- we have a great time. The whole trip up there we took turns picking music to listen to and laughing and telling stories. That's when disaster struck. A gaggle of buzzards were enjoying their mid morning breakfast when I slammed into one by accident -- it chose to fly straight and race my car rather than veer to the right. My stomach turned as I heard a glorious thump and crack, and saw, to my dismay, my mirror dangling from my car.

After stopping my car, looking at the damage, and swearing a lot more than I'm proud to admit, my girlfriend calmed me down and convinced me that everything would be okay. A quick stop at an auto parts store revealed that a new mirror would be $64. I'll never make a visit to them again, though. They offered the suggestion of duct tape to hold my mirror in place until I got home and could find another solution, and as the man spoke, he grabbed some duct tape that they had been using -- 3/4 gone -- and proceeded to tape my mirror to my door. It was a terrible job, but it would hold for a while. They proceeded to charge for the duct tape. Jerks.

It was great, though. I got over it, and I had a blast. When it came time for the fireworks, the heavens opened up and produced a hellstorm of rain and thunder. When I had to go back home, it rained so hard I was driving 10 mph at one point, hoping to find a place to pull over to wait out the storm.

Despite it all, I had fun.

Friday was my girlfriend's and my 3 month anniversary. To celebrate, we went to the city. We couldn't see the movies we wanted to see, because my girlfriend forgot to bring her ID, and so they refused to sell her the tickets -- R rated. So, instead, we went and watched The Proposal. It was cute, and Betty White was great. Yes, I know who Betty White is.

Anyway, it was a fantastic date day. We got lunch from Subway, and then ate it in the park. We noticed, at one point, that a train ran around the park. At my insistence, we rode the train around the park twice. It was funny, silly, and romantic. I had a blast. She had a blast. And we were very happy.

Anyway, so that's all the updates I've got. I've written a little, but not a lot. What do you do when you planned to write a short story, and the short story seems like it's going to expand much larger than you intended? It seems like it could extend into a full book. I guess I write the book? Do I set it aside and write something else for now -- since I don't really have time to write a book? I dunno. It's an interesting development.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day



Here's wishing you a happy 4th of July weekend from SoaM. I'll be heading out soon to go see one of my friends from college with my girlfriend, and I'll be out 'til Monday, so until then, take care, and don't blow off any limbs with fireworks, please. Be safe.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Handling Our Children with Rubber Gloves

"Tell them the dangerous things can be over come. Tell them that you can go out and dream. Tell them that you can go out and change the world." --- Neil Gaiman

I've been thinking about something a lot lately. Have you noticed how, as standards on one end of our society continue to make more allowances -- you are now allowed to say the "f" word once in a PG-13 movie -- the allowances at the other end of the spectrum are becoming much more strict.

I was watching Kung Fu Panda at the daycare I work at, and I started thinking about something. Anyone who watched that movie must agree with me that it is a very, very kid friendly movie. And yet, it's rated PG. Why? No where in there is there anything that should garner a PG rating. Then I thought back to the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. Have you seen that movie? It's incredibly violent. It's amazing, and of course I'll let my kids watch it, but it's also very dark, very moody, and pretty violent. Wolves attack Belle on her horse, the beast is all kinds of angry and violent, and although it may get lighter for a bit, by the time Gaston is out to get the best -- to the tune of a song called "Kill the Beast" -- it becomes very violent again. While Po gets a few karate chops in, and uses the "Wushi Finger Hold" -- which involves a whoosh of air and that's it, Beast gets shot with several arrows and stabbed in the arm with a knife before Gaston falls to his death off of the castle.

Let's not forget a few other children's classics from a few years earlier -- The Black Cauldron, The Secret of NIMH, and The Wizard of Oz. All pretty dark and scary, and yet amazing and valued to this day for kids to watch. And then look at Enchanted, a very cute Disney movie that does a throw back to classic Disney cartoons -- including the witch turning into a dragon at the end. The rating...PG! Even though the movie was a live action amalgamation of every Disney movie ever made, it was rated a whole rating higher than those old movies.

So, I have to wonder. Why do we worry so much about our kids. I was raised on Rocko's Modern Life, Doug, Aaaaah, Real Monsters, and even stuff like The Nightmare Before Christmas. All of those were way darker and more mature than Phineas and Ferb, The Replacements, Lilo and Stitch, and The Emperor's New School. I'd like to think I'm a fairly normal person.

Back in February, I watched a new movie. It was based on a children's book, and when I watched it, I was blown away. The movie was spooky, yes, but it was also fantastic. The movie was Coraline, based on the book by Neil Gaiman. It was a very well received book, and a very well made movie.

One thing that I think makes a really good children's movie is where there's depth -- things for kids and adults. Of course kids aren't gonna notice a lot of the adult jokes -- and they shouldn't. But the adults enjoy it too. And it feels real, instead of dummed down and boiled down to a simple little drivel.

I always heard the phrase "A hero is only as power as the villain he overcomes." That's why fairy tales still resound with us to this day. Sure, it's pretty scary when the witch turns into a dragon at the end of Sleeping Beauty, but what kids take away is not that evil witches and dragons exist...or anything evil for that matter. What they take away is that they can be beaten.

What made me decide to write this post was an interview I saw with Neil Gaiman on YouTube. It covered a lot of his works -- his book Coraline, the fact that it was being made into a movie, and his new children's book The Graveyard Book, which won the 2009 Newberry Medal. There was a bit of controversy that it may be too scary for kids, but from what I've read of it, it's got about the same tone as Harry Potter when it came out. And it's a fascinating read for anyone, with little jokes for adults and kids throughout, well written, smart, and provocative. True, the book may start with a triple murder...but most stories start with an important death. Harry Potter started with a double murder, The Secret of NIMH started after Mrs. Brisby was widowed, and while the Scarecrow didn't die in The Wizard of Oz, he was torn limb from limb by the flying monkeys.

Anyway, there's really no right or wrong answer, I'm just curious why we've decided to treat our kids with rubber gloves more and more over the years. Kids used to be raised on the Grimm's Fairy Tales, and those were very morbid, but they taught us love conquers all, good defeats evil, and magic really does exist. Now we have very watered down versions of the original tales with the dragons' defanged and the witches' warts removed. And with these new prettied up versions of the old tales, are the heros really as heroic as they once were if the villains that they're overcoming are now mere shadows of their former selves? How heroic would Harry Potter have been if Lord Voldermort had been just an angry man with a grudge against kids instead of a murdering sociopath? Or if the dementors had been just hooded guards? What if the prince from Sleeping Beauty hadn't had to fight that dragon to get to his love?

Where have our heroes gone? And why do we feel that we need to diminish their struggles to protect kids from the real world. Neil Gaiman uses an amazing quote by G. K. Chesterton at the beginning of his book Coraline:

"Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

What do you think? Do you think it was wrong to show us those scary, mature things when we were kids? Do you think that we should protect our kids from the darkness of the real world for as long as we can, or do you think that kids know there is darkness in the world, and these little stories and things are a message of hope that you can beat the witches? Let me know in the comments.

And judge for yourself. You can listen to Neil Gaiman's entire book The Graveyard Book on his site here. -- Read by the author! Very cool to see.

Also, here's the original interview -- a long interview, but a very, very interesting one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walking On Cloud Nine...Er...Driving

I don't believe I've mentioned it much on the blog, but my car is...a junker. It's a pretty good car for what it is -- a '90 Chevy Caprice Classic. It was nice in its day, and it still has the remnants of a nice car on it. It was great back in 2004 when I got it, but I've driven hundreds of miles every other week for two years. That does some work on a car. It has a problem with accelerating sometimes, two of the doors are broken, it's just got a huge scratch on the side from my fridge, one of the side mirrors hasn't worked since I got it.

Despite all that...it was a very good car.

However, every car has a time when they're getting past their time. Granted, any car can be repaired, but I don't have the money. I need to give it to someone who can. And in the meantime, I need something to drive. Something smaller, faster, that gets much better gas mileage.

I went shopping around, skeptical about even being able to get a car (I was unsure that I could access my inheritance yet, which has been tied up in court and legal stuff.)

I found a car that I liked that wasn't ridiculously expensive, and so I checked it out. It was a great deal -- great gas mileage, very few miles on it, low price, great shape. So a quick call to my lawyer revealed that I can in fact, get a little of my money if it's for a car.

So, I am now the proud owner of a 2005 Honda Civic.

And I think it looks very snazzy. Really a great buy. Runs like a dream. And when I went to the gas pump, I put $20 in it...and almost filled it up completely. I grinned ear to ear, the whole way home.

P.S., As if to throw out one last "Eff you!" to me, when I got home to get my checkbook to buy my new car, I got back in to discover that now it won't start at all. It won't even chug like it wants to. I had to get my brother to take me so that I could buy my replacement car. Irony, eh?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Revenge of Lobster Man

How did I get here again? I'd like to say that I made some kind of horrible mistake, and I'm reaping the consequences of my actions, but that wouldn't be true. This is one time where I am not to blame for the misfortune that has befallen me, it is simply sorrow delivered straight from the Universe.

No, I didn't perform scientific experiments revolving around the genetics of lobsters and humans resulting in a super powered lobster man to rampage through my lab and nearby town in a furious rage on a quest to understand his origins. That would be way more interesting.

Thursday was my day off. To celebrate my day off, my friends and I -- and My Darling Dearest -- packed up and headed off to a swimming hole that we know of. It took a while to get there. My brother, who came along, thought we were fooling him when we told him you had to climb rocks to get there. We weren't. We were actually underplaying it a bit. It's a pretty hard hike to get to this swimming hole -- over enormous rocks cliffs.

Once there, I put on enough sunblock to fill the ozone layer and protect the Earth for the next 30,000 years. Then I went swimming. Then we ate lunch. Then I put on even more sunblock. I was literally dripping with it at one point, and I asked my girlfriend to aid me in the quest of rubbing it all in. We're both significantly Irish, so we burn easily. We knew the dangers.

Anyway, by the end of the day, which had resulted in about five hours of swimming, we headed back. It was hot. So hot, as a matter of fact, we all almost passed out. My face started going numb, so we all got back in the water -- a different spot, since we were on the hike on the way home -- to drop our body temperature some. By the time we got back, we were all thankful to be alive.

However, since then I have learned of the price I paid for my desire to continue shuffling along on this mortal coil. My ears, face, and back are sunburned raw, and my shoulders are so sunburned I have hundreds of blisters popping up. It hurts to move, and shirts are things worn only in the most dire of situations. Nobody else got it that but, just me and Oh Dearest One. She got it just as bad as I did.

I missed work Friday because it was so bad, and while it's improved since then, I'm not looking forward to going back to work today just so I can see the little tykes and have them slap me on my burns. By the way, it's "Wet and Wild" themed week at work...yippee dee. I get to be outside in the baking hot sun for hours on end. And I have to go to a water theme park on Wednesday with the kids. Even more time spent outside...

As if that wasn't bad enough, I got a TB test on Monday. On Wednesday, I was supposed to have it checked, but my boss left for the day and left me in charge, so i couldn't leave. So now I have to start all over!! I hate needles, and now I have to do it again...and then again b/c if you haven't had a TB test in 2 years, they make you take two...

Wake me up when this week is over, okay?

Friday, June 19, 2009

One

The other night, I was out with my girlfriend. We had just had dinner, and then we went and just wandered around Wal-Mart (I looked at the books, but she got bored so she wandered around looking at a few knick-knacks) and then we left there, too. We went to McDonald's and had a tea and we just sat and talked.

The next part of the evening was the best part. It was that strange part of the evening where there's nothing left to do in a small town, but you really don't want to go home yet. So, we drove around for about an hour, talking. We talked about everything -- family, friends, school, our hopes, our dreams, where we saw the future taking us. It was an amazing conversation, one that doesn't get had very often.

I brought her back home at about 11:00, and we noticed that someone had left her door open and the dogs were out and running around in the dark. So, I helped her wrangle them up, and after we got them back inside, I put my finger to her lips and leaned my head back.

"What are you doing?"

"Listening."

"To what?"

"Nothing."

She was silent after that, listening to the same thing I was. Then, I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed up to the sky. The stars were very prominent out in the boondocks where she lives. I could almost reach out and grab a handful.

Something came over me right then. It was the strangest feeling I've ever had, and really had nothing to do with the situation. I could almost see how the flow of time was going. How everything in my life had led up until this moment, and I could practically see where my life was headed too. It was like the veil that closes off the past and the future from us had thinned, and I could easily peak into one or the other for a short time.

It was the most calming and yet awe-inspiring feeling I've ever had. At that moment I was truly happy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Being a Public Nuisance

So, on top of the new job, I am now the proud owner of lower ears. I received two things yesterday: a new haircut, and a shot.

I had to be talked into the haircut. I don't mind haircuts. Except for the fact that I never like the outcome -- which is probably more the result of me being terribly down on myself -- they're not terrible experiences. My aunt, my mother, she who is so dear to me all talked me into getting a shorter haircut that can be gelled into the "messy" look. Since that was three votes from three women I respect highly, I caved. They think it looks fantastic, so I'll take their word for it. Anyway, haircuts = not a big deal. Sitting in a chair while someone hacks off the fluffy curls that I get when I let my hair grow long isn't painful, and actually sometimes results in some nice conversations.

On the flip side, needles are the devil in every way. Shots are an outdated procedure, and a large source of physical and mental torture, in this age when we can land men on the moon and carry an entire library of books on a device about the size of a cigarette box or smaller. I also, I'm ashamed to admit, throw a huge fit when I have to get them. I complain for days in advance, and the complaining grows worse the closer the shot gets. On the plus side, this means I can never be a heroin user.

Because of my new job, I had to get tested for TB. I have never had a TB test before, but anything that has to do with needles or me losing blood to anybody else puts me on edge.

My girlfriend went with me and, God bless her, she should be optioned for sainthood for not strangling me in the waiting room. I complained the entire time about how they were going to stick me with the wrong concoction and then I'd be sent home in a pine box. When the nurse finally led me back there, I heard a kid crying, and started accusing the doctors of running an underground organization that tortured children and sold their tears on the black market. All this was in good nature, but to cover over how scared I actually was of the needle. I don't think my girlfriend realized how scared I really was until she saw the look on my face -- the look of panic in my eyes -- when I saw the needle.

"Are you serious? Do you see that thing? I thought they said it'd be tiny! You could harpoon a whale with that thing! I was thinking a quarter of an inch long, not two inches! Are you harvesting my marrow? You'll scrape my bone with that thing!"

My girlfriend is way too patient. She even managed to keep her cool when I began demanding blood for blood when the area I got the shot started bleeding.

On the way out the door, I was still ranting, so they gave me a sticker with a happy purple hippo on it that said, in big, happy, ironic letters, "I got a shot!" I accused the hippo of making a mockery of my traumatic experience, and obviously the hippo got it's jollies by laughing at my pain. Also, because the test left a bump for a few minutes, I began trying to convince my girlfriend that what they really did was give me an injection that would raise my body temperature to ridiculously high levels, and that bump was actually me boiling from the inside out.

Eventually, for the sake of our relationship, and my relationship with anybody that meant anything to me at all, I shut up. I consider it payback, though. Dearest One has had her moments where she has gone off on rants too -- usually in traffic when she sees a bumper sticker that contradicts her beliefs, or when she's cut off by some inconsiderate bozo. Once, she tried to tailgate and intimidate a diesel hauling a backhoe in her tiny little Ford. You just can't do that.

I may have been loud and obnoxious before and after the shot, but during, I was calm, quiet, and still as can be. There's something to be said when all you have to do is look into someone's eyes and know that everything is going to be okay.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sore, Sick, and Satisfied

Being home for the summer opens up a lot of problems. I don't have as much money, if any is left, and so it eventually becomes needed that I get a job. Unfortunately, my experience with jobs has been pretty poor. Fast food restaurants are really terrible places, and I couldn't bring myself to work at another. I was desperate to find a job other than a fast food restaurant.

However, as I mentioned before, my town was hit by a tornado a few months ago. Jobs have become scarce, since many of the places that you could have worked are now piles of rubble. Just because the jobs are gone, doesn't mean the bills stop coming, though, and I had a nasty sized car insurance bill coming my way. My mom was very insistent that I find a job since I didn't have any leftovers from my refund check this time -- I spent down to the wire, mostly on emergencies that kept popping up.

As my flexing room got smaller and smaller, and the ideal places to work -- where I can score a more desirable, and cleaner, job as a cashier or stockboy -- hiring fewer people, I could practically see the fast food employers rubbing their knobby hands together and getting the human parchment contract ready. (For those who don't know, I claim to this day that the last fast food place I went to work made me sign a human skin contract in my own blood.)

Just when things started getting desperate, my family reunion rolled around. These things always mean two things: 1) A whole bunch of people will pack into one very hot place, and 2) There will be much smiling and greeting and idle chatter until they eventually cluster off into little cliques like some kind of bizarre high school. I'm always hesitant to go to these things because I only know a handful of people really well, the rest are just acquaintances I see every year. To make matters worse, I was talked into doing a skit for them this year. God bless my girlfriend, she spent the whole hour before I was supposed to go on doing her best to pump up my ego enough to get me on stage -- I think mostly it was so she could laugh at me.

Anyway, I digress. I did the skit, and then I started talking to my aunt. She's an awesome lady who I love dearly. I mentioned that I was getting desperate for a job, and she mentioned needing help at the daycare she's running at her church. Of course, I'm thrilled to find this out. True, kids are a handful, but it's so much less stressful than a fast food place. I was ecstatic. I love kids, my girlfriend says I'm nothing but an oversized kid anyway, so I couldn't wait to get started.

Now I'm sore all over. I haven't been this tired in a long time. And to top it all off, it's only a week in, and I already caught a cold from one of the little...darlings...despite all this, I'm amazed at how smart these kids are, and at how creative they are, and as long as they have someone to mediate things, how well they get along.

Needless to say, I'm very pleased with how things turned out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fear

Fear. Writers try to ensnare it in words all the time. It's our job to try to find those words that will make readers' hearts race, their palms sweat, and their hairs stick up on the back of their necks. An entire genre was created for those who couldn't get enough of the heeby jeebies, and even if you don't read horror, every writer uses the tool of fear at some point or another because every character has fears, desires, goals, and the like.

I thought I knew fear. I've experienced some terrifying things before. When I was six, I fell into the adult deep end of a very large hotel swimming pool. I was terrified that I was going to die, and if one of my family hadn't seen me fall in and dove in to get me, I may have.

When I was 12 or 13 I was hiking with my dad one day and fell off the trail and off the mountain. The only things that stopped me from rolling and crashing to the bottom was a patch of briars that I bounced into.

A couple of years later, when I was hiking with my step brother on a camping trip, we became surrounded by coyotes.

However, I never really knew fear until a few months ago. I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone. We weren't quite dating yet -- we were in that awkward "basically dating, but still not official" stage, when suddenly she told me that she was watching the news, and some pretty big storms were brewing. I was at college, so I was more concerned with her, but she was more concerned about the ones brewing near me. As I spoke to her, I was slightly concerned, but nothing more than the typical, "Man, I hope the storms don't get too bad."

Well, is the storm progressed, she was placed under a severe storm warning, and then a tornado watch. I became a little more apprehensive, but tried not to let it get to me. My dad died about a year ago from tornadoes, so I have a new found respect for their power. I know what they can do -- I saw his solid oak and stone log house. It was gone except the foundation.

As I continued to talk to her, the "watch" progressed into a "warning." Then, she told the sirens went off. My heart leaped into my chest. She had to go into their shop so that she could be away from windows. She lived in a mobile home...this could end badly.

I had two things come to my mind. I had to talk to her, because she was crying and hysterical and her mom was rocking back and forth in the floor praying and frantic, but I also worried for my family, because my mom and brother were in the same town. However, my mom could console my brother, and my girlfriend had no one, so I talked to her.

Now, I've been terrified, before, but I knew nothing of real terror until this moment. Nothing has ever made my heart stop more suddenly, or my blood run colder than these words: "I can see it."

In those four words, I felt my entire life go away. More than that, I felt my sanity break down. My mind shattered. I stopped breathing, my legs gave out, and the only thing holding me up was the fact that I was leaning against my bed. I was silent, speechless, and in complete and total shock. I finally came back to my senses when my girlfriend said in a fragil, tiny voice, "If you could say something to talk me through this, that would be great, because I'm kinda scared right now."

I was instantly talking. I told her everything would be alright, I told her that nothing was going to happen, she would be fine. I told her all these things, but I didn't believe a word of it. I had an empty feeling in my soul. I could feel a blackness hanging around me, and I felt hopeless as I was witness to everything I loved being torn from me.

After a few minutes of talking, it was over, and my girlfriend got in her mom's car, and her and her mom went to go check on a few things. She heard word from her mom, who was on her cellphone, that the tornado hit the court house, which is just a few blocks from my family's house.

I immediately began calling my family. I couldn't get a hold of anyone. My mom's line was dead, my grandmother's line was dead, and when I tried to call back my girlfriend, I couldn't get through to her either. I was completely and utterly cut off from everyone I loved.

As the minutes dragged on, each second counting off a thousand years, I became convinced that everyone I loved was dead. My stomach twisted into knots, I doubled over, and I cried. I cried with everything I had. As tears streamed down my face, I looked up at the sky and begged God to let everyone be okay.

For 30 minutes, the longest 30 minutes of my life, I called the same 5 numbers over and over again: my mom's cellphone, my house phone, my grandparents house phone, my brother's cellphone, and my girlfriend's cellphone.

Finally, I got a hold of my girlfriend, and while I was relieved, I wasn't consoled. I still hadn't heard from my family.

Just when I was about to go into a full hysteria, with my girlfriend doing her best to console me, I heard my phone beep. My mom's cell. Like a flash, I switched lines, ecstatic to hear from them. Not only were they okay, but there was no damage done to our house. The tornado hit, literally, 2 blocks away, and went in the other direction.

I missed my college classes that day and went home for the weekend early. My town was decimated. Hundreds lost their houses, and a good portion of the town was just gone. It will never be the same again. I could see signs of the damage a couple of miles before I even got there.

The first place I went was to my girlfriend's house. It was then and there that I told her it was ridiculous of us to try to fight it, that I cared about her more than I've cared about anybody in a long time, and that I wanted her to be my girlfriend. Obviously, she accepted.

Next, I went to my grandparents house, because all the roads leading to my house were damaged or covered with debris so badly that no one could get through. I met up with my grandparents, and then found a tiny back road that I used to sneak past the cops and the National Guard and went home, and hugged my mom and my brother, and then we went to go see how my aunt fared the storm, all the while, my girlfriend and I called friends to make sure they were okay.

I'm so glad that everyone I cared about not only is totally okay, but none of them suffered any damage to their homes.I've never really understood fear, but after that night, I know it. I've seen it's face. I almost lost everything I love. I'll never take my family for granted again.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Which Our Hero Realizes He's Very Competative

So, for the past several days, I've been playing a lot of board games. I used to hate board games. As a younger kid, I thought you had to be really bored to play them (hence the term "bored" games), but for some reason the older I got, the more fun I had with them.

Recently I was challenged to a game of Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture Edition 2 by my girlfriend (Miss Gloatsalot) and her mom. Unfortunately, I already knew how this would go. I know a fair amount about pop culture -- being 20, it would be embarrassing if I didn't -- however, I also knew that they cheat. And the bet was, losers wash the winner's car.

Miss I-Must-Be-The-Best-At-Everything and her mom came out of the gate swinging. Honestly, I don't know why I was there. I just sat in awe as the two titans started going at it. The cheating began early. Since there were no rules included in the game -- as it was bought from a yard sale -- they started making the rules up as they went along. I feared for my life when one would begin protesting rules the other one made.

Eventually, a winner had to be found. And thankfully, it wasn't me, or her mom, which was a good thing. If either one of us had won it, I have a feeling I would never have heard the end of it.

However, there came time for a rematch, and I was tired of her smack talking. So, I went out for the crushing.

The night before the Epic Grudge Match of Revenge and Gloating, we had a small game of team Scene It with a couple of our good friends. My girlfriend and I were on a team, and I noticed we work well on a team. We don't get angry, we're nice and cooperative, and supportive. However, I learned that when it's just mano a womano...things get fierce.

The first match was in Scene It TV edition, and while I didn't win that one, I came very close. My girlfriend didn't either, thankfully. My brother did. The next one just wasn't fair. We played Scene It Music Edition. My girlfriend has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical. Of course she won that one, but barely. I was right behind her the whole way.

It was just two games, but we trash talked each other and gloated like crazy. Sparks nearly caught the curtains on fire as we gestured rudely behind each others back, and my brother just sat in wonder at our titanic battle.

Fortunately, nobody said anything stupid, and we know how to leave our stuff on the field...er board.

But next time...oh she's in for it. I'm gonna brush up on music and get her. And she has a new challenge: Harry Potter Scene It.

Bring it on.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Triumphant Return of Write Cassidy and the Grammar Kid

Long time no see...

I refuse to feel guilty about disappearing, ha ha. Life came like a train and smacked the crap out of me. My school load piled up insanely high, and the by April the countdown Doomsday clock ticking into May was so loud I could feel the vibrations each tock sent crashing through the air in my bones. I had an insane amount of work to do by the end of the school year, including wrapping up 30 illustrations for my Edgar Allan Poe class, a 7 page paper for the Poe class, finishing up my observations for my secondary education class, and finishing my portfolio for my creative writing class. I think I'll post some of the stuff I wrote from that class and maybe some of the illustrations from Poe eventually, but it might be a while. My printer/scanner is in storage right now.

The thing keeping my writing bug alive by the end of the year was my creative writing class. Thankfully I'm taking Poetry Workshop next semester. It should be pretty interesting.

As events go, the biggest thing in my life is that I have a girlfriend now. It was a quick courting. We only met in January, but we're already insanely comfortable with each other. So, needless to say, I've been really happy.

In other news, my birthday was April 1st, just like it is every year. I'm 20. I'm no longer a teenager anymore. My girlfriend makes fun of me for it all the time, calling me "Grampa" and such, because she's younger than me and still technically a teenager. But she may not realize it, but I'll get her back, because I plan on giving her hell when she turns 20.

So with my school work keeping me busy, then family problems, and my new girlfriend, I've been really busy. But I also am starting to notice things slowing down some.

Unfortunately, I was not wise with my funds over the last semester, and I'm so broke I can't afford to pay attention (bah dum tish!). So...I'm going to have to find a job. If at all possible, I would like to avoid a job in the food industry -- particularly food of the fast persuasion -- because every one of those jobs that I've had has been hell. I would like to enjoy my summer, rather than come home and consider opening a vein or two. An ideal job would either be working with kids, or working as a cashier or stocker at a super market, or a check out person at a movie rental store or something. A low stress job is what I want. But then again, wouldn't we all.

Well, catch up post over, just realized that I haven't been on here in forever.

Oh, P.S. more sad news, I planned on going to a concert to see a rock band I really like -- Forever the Sickest Kids. Guess what? Apparently, the lead guitarist got the Swine Flu! Hopefully he'll get better and I can go see them some other time.

Anyway, it's late, I'm tired, so I think I'm gonna head to bed. Write On!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Still Alive

I'm still alive, ha ha, just up to my eyeballs in school work. The move was successful, and I'm much happier than I was. Hopefully my school load will lighten in the near future, but Edgar Allan Poe and Modern American Lit look like they want to team up to kick my butt.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Moving



Things might be a little scarce around here for a week. I'm transferring dorms. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

My first meme of 2009! Alyssa from On the Writers' Road Less Traveled tagged me in this.

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Write down six things that make you happy
3. Post these rules
4. Tag six others
5. Notify me that you've tagged six others--or that you're not in a happy place right now...


Six things that make me happy:

  1. The smell of a freshly opened box of crayons.
  2. The look and smell of a new book before it's been opened.
  3. Waking up early in the morning to find snow already thick on the ground, and it's still coming down.
  4. Reading outside on a warm spring day.
  5. Diving straight into a pool for the first swim of the summer.
  6. The warm feeling of freshly laundered sheets.
As for tagging people....I don't know if anyone will do this. I hesitate to tag people, but I guess if they don't want to they don't have to. Ha ha.

PJ Hoover
Sheri
Jaye Patrick
Merrilee
Beth
Laura

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Swore I Wouldn't Do Another Review


I know I said that I wouldn't do more of these -- and I won't -- but I have to talk about Blaze by "Richard Bachman", aka Stephen King.

I've loved Stephen King since I was a kid. He was one of the first adult books I ever read -- I believe it was The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, but I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, the point is, I really like him. Most of his books are enjoyable to me. They may not always be legendary, but they always provide me with entertainment. I am unfortunate enough to say that I have only read one of the "Bachman" books: Roadwork.

The difference between King's books and Bachman's books is a very noticeable tone change, while the style of writing stays about the same. Bachman books are always sad books, in my opinion. While King focuses on the more fantastic and horrible events, Bachman's stuff is about ordinary people who just happen to get the shaft. His books are, I think, some of King's best work. They always pull on my heart strings.

Blaze is no different. Blaze is about a man named Clayton Blaisdell, Jr -- aka Blaze. Poor Blaze used to love to read when he was little, and he wasn't too bad at math. Unfortunately, he lived in a broken home with a horrible father who got drunk and angry one day and threw him down the stair...and the took him back up...and threw him down again. Now Blaze doesn't think as good as he used to. Reading and math aren't easy like they used to be. They're hard now.

Blaze grows up to be big. Really big. 6'7 big. And like most big, stupid people, he's recruited as the intimidator in a bunch of crimes. He meets a man named George who decides to pull of the biggest scam ever by kidnapping a rich family's kid. However, George dies just before the scheme can begin. Blaze, not knowing what else to do, decides to continue with the plan.

Blaze is structured to alternate every now and then between Blaze's current situation during the kidnapping, and every now and then a chapter or two about Blaze's life growing up in, basically an orphanage.

This book, like a lot of other Bachman books, puts a regular guy in a horrible situation. My heart went out to Blaze. After he kidnaps the kid, he begins to view the kid like his own son. He grows to love the little guy, and like a mama bear protecting her cubs, becomes fiercely protective. As you read, you begin to like Blaze. He's not a bad guy, just dumb. And after reading the rough life that Blaze has had, you feel so bad for him. This pity or sorrow or whatever you call it is increased when you realize that, although Blaze wants to, he can't keep the kid. You find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. I couldn't pick who to root for, simple and sweet Blaze, or the cops who are just trying to get the kid back home.

If you like Stephen King, this is a must to pick up. He really shines here. If you're on the fence about it, pick it up anyway. The story is so heart wrenching, you'll find yourself almost in tears by the end.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Resolution Updates

Exercise progress: Decent. I worked out twice this week. My work out time is determined by when I go to bed, and that has been effected (not my fault) the last few days. I've been assaulted with loud neighbors, loud music, and noisy roommates snoring and coughing in their sleep. Hopefully this will improve, and with it, my work out schedule will improve.

Writing Progress: Pretty good. I've been trying to adjust to my class schedule. The plus side: I've written over 1400 words this week, which is more than I've written lately. The down side: I can usually write that in one sitting. The writing is coming slow, and at times I have to fight to get started, but once I get the words going, it feels good. I'm hoping that I can keep a weekly goal of 1500 words a week. That seems to be a good goal that's attainable, that keeps me writing, but also gives me the opportunity to do homework.

Eating Progress: Decent. I've slacked up on portion size and the amount of sweets and other good unhealthy foods that I eat. However, they're still a weakness I have to over come. If I can't have sweets, I find myself tempted by seconds. I have to fight these urges.

Money Progress: Steady as she goes. I haven't been spending much money. Between having to buy extra supplies for school, I've only bought two things: a birthday present for one of my friends, and a sample issue of a magazine that I've been wanting to submit to for a while. I'm considering it research on possible types of stories I could write and submit. Other than that, I've made sure that all urges I have are deterred.

Reading Progress: Very good. I'm about to finish Blaze by Richard Bachman (aka, Stephen King). It's awesome finishing two books so early in the year. Hopefully I can keep this up. It's gonna be bit of a challenge with all of my lit classes, though. However, so far, I've been able to balance them very well.

School Progress: Too soon to call. I can say with full confidence that Edgar Allan Poe is absolutely fantastic! I love that class. Getting to read more Poe is so awesome. I forgot how much I like his stuff. Modern American Lit is also a major improvement. I've been able to complete the readings pretty easily, which is a surprise. I think the difference is 1) the teacher is more charismatic, and therefore gets me more excited about the class, and 2) because it's a different teacher, she picks out better stories to read, ones that engage us more. Creative Writing is still kinda so-so. I'm hoping it will get better as we progress. Intro to Secondary Education is still up in the air. We've only had one class. Physical Science is also up in the air, because it's only the first week. It's easy so far, but I know it won't stay that way. Intro to Linguistics is a puzzle. We haven't really done anything yet. Judgement on that class is being reserved until we actually do something.

And, that's it. Hopefully this post wasn't too boring, but I felt the need to record the progress I'm making, and also record so I can see where I need improvement.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Class Description

So, I finally have all of my books and required things purchased. The total made my jaw literally drop open. $489!!! $433 for books and $56 for a freakin' transmitter that I will only use for one class and then have to get rid of. Break down of my schedule:

Intro to Linguistics: Studying the concept of language -- where it comes from, some of the truths about it, and the differences and similarities about all of them. Also we won't be using "grammar" in the sense you're used to. So, part BS, part hippy-dippy grammar. We'll be focusing on "the way we naturally use our language, rather than the principles that have been laid down."

Physical Science: Just when you thought you were done with math, we'll throw math AND chemistry at you! That horrible pain inside your skull like someone is crushing your brain with a vice? That's normal. Wear earplugs so your gray matter doesn't leak out your ears.

Introduction to Creative Writing: Yes, we have an Introduction to Poetry class, and yes it is a prerequisite for Poetry Workshop, and yes this class is a prerequisite for Fiction workshop, so we should technically be working on Fiction rather than poetry, but I don't care if you can't rhyme worth beans, that's what I like so that's what we're doing.

Introduction of Secondary Education: Welcome to Bootcamp for Teachers. We're gonna beat you into the kind of teachers we like.

Modern American Lit: In place of a life, you will spend the rest of this semester reading. You may be as pale as an albino by the time we finish -- you won't have seen sunlight for 3 months, but hey! We're teaching Faulkner!

American Literature Seminar -- Edgar Allan Poe: We heard that you like Poe. Well, I just happen to know everything there is about Mr. Poe. I'm sure you heard all those FILTHY STINKING LIES that the media has published about him -- crazy, a drunk, a drug addict -- and I will spend a ton of time dispelling these FILTHY LIES in a calm and even voice. Oh yeah, and we'll read a bit of his stuff too.

Physical Science Lab: See Physical Science.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do YOU Have a Life?

Supposedly if you’ve seen more than 85 of these films, you have no life. Mark the ones you’ve seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, then put x’s next to the films you’ve seen, and add them up. I tag anyone who wants to play. Have fun.

() Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
() Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x)Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
Total: 7

(x) The Princess Bride
(x) Anchorman
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
() Labyrinth
(x) Saw
(x) Saw II
(x) White Noise
() White Oleander
(x) Anger Management
() 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
(x) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far: 16

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
(x) Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
(x) Scary Movie 2
(x) Scary Movie 3
(x) Scary Movie 4
() American Pie
() American Pie 2
() American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 23

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
(x) Resident Evil 1
(x) Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
(x) Little Black Book
(x) The Village
(x) Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 33

(x) Finding Nemo
() Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
(x) The Grinch
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30
(x) I, Robot
(x) Robots
Total so far: 42

(x) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
(x) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
() Along Came Polly
() Deep Impact
() KingPin
() Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
(x) Meet the Fockers
(x) Eight Crazy Nights
(x) Joe Dirt
(x) KING KONG
Total so far: 50

() A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
(x) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
(x) Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
(x) Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
(x) Final Destination 2
(x) Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring
(x) The Ring 2
() Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber
Total so far: 62

(x) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
(x) Ghost Ship
() From Hell
(x) Hellboy
(x) Secret Window
() I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far: 67

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child’s Play
() Seed of Chucky
(x) Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
(x) Just Married
(x) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
() Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
(x) The Grudge
(x) The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 78

(x) Bad Boys
(x) Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
(x) Lucky Number Slevin
() Ocean’s Eleven
() Ocean’s Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremecy
() Lone Star
(x) Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
() Predator II
(x) The Fog
(x) Ice Age
(x) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total so far: 88

(x) Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
(x) Darkness Falls
(x) Christine
(x) ET
(x) Children of the Corn
(x) My Bosses Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 98

() Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She’s All That
() Calendar Girls
() Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon
() Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
() Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3
Total so far: 106

(x) X-Men
(x) X-2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
(x) Sky High
(x) Jeepers Creepers
(x) Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday
() Reign of Fire
() The Skulls
() Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
(x) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total so far: 120

(x) Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
(x) Old School
(x) The Notebook
() K-Pax
() Krippendorf’s Tribe
(x) A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
(x) Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old Virgin
Total so far: 127

(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
() Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
() Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 131

() Basketball
(x) Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
() Highlander
(x) Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
(x) Three
Total so Far: 135

(x) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(x) Shaun Of the Dead
(x) Willard
Total so far: 139

() High Tension
() Club Dread
(x) Hulk
(x) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(x) 28 days later
(x) Orgazmo
() Phantasm
() Waterworld
Total so far: 145

(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
(x) Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
(x) Kingdom of Heaven
(x) the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
(x) Army of Darkness
Total so far: 151

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 157

(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
(x) Animatrix
(x) Evil Dead
(x) Evil Dead 2
(x) Team America: World Police
(x) Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
Grand Total: 167

So...basically they're saying that my absence of a life or anything resembling it, that not only do I not have a life, the gravitational pull from the black hole that is my non-life is a danger to any innocent passers by. Be afraid, be very afraid.