Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crawling

I'm goin' in about twenty different directions today. First is the idea that I should do some laundry because, well, I'm running out of things to wear, but I'm not entirely sure of my quarter situation. Second is that, well, I should make my To-Do list and get goin' because that's going to be quite lengthy, I need to call my mother and tell her that, despite my efforts to call my boss, I haven't been able to get a hold of him to tell him that I want to come back to my job for this summer (this is my third year, is it safe to assume that I'll be coming back every year unless otherwise noted? Yes? No? Probably not...) and then I kind of got sidetracked with another let's check out literary magazines and think about what I've got that can fit where and hope to get published.

And that's where I'm at. I've got six tabs open on my Firefox browser, one being this window to type this post, and the others pertaining to the literary magazine search, and one pertaining to CMT and a music video that I like.

There are quite a few that I need to wait on for a bit, because they aren't online submissions and I have to pay them to even look at it (which seems wrong on so many levels, at least to me) but I think I might have found something. It's a sort of offshoot of The New Yorker and, after some deliberation on my part, and then some old-fashioned texting my sister for advice, we've settled on Definition being the first that I will attempt to have this place put up. It's probably one of the most powerful things that I have written, and...we'll go with that.

And it's sent. And now we wait. Actually, you guys wait, I gotta go do some homework.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Many Layered Thing

I'm well aware that it's 9:51 at night, and that I probably should be doing some of my chemistry homework (though it's due Monday, but there is still a quiz tomorrow) and I should also email my cooperating teacher and tell him that, due to the snow we are getting and will continue to get, I'm not driving out a windy, curvy, worse-plowed road than the ones that I live on to spend about twice the amount of time it takes me to get out there and risk putting my car (the only one that I have) in the ditch on the way to or from. Not happening. I'll probably leave some of that sentence out, for politically correct reasons.

So, at the moment or rather, since coming back from the martini meeting about twenty minutes ago, I've been flipping from Twitter to some blogs, checked my email a few times, and then kind of wondered, after reading Writing Well Is *Not* Enough Anymore. Damn it over at velveteenmind and the part where she mentioned trying to randomly find blogs using search engines, what would happen should I try and search for my blog without actually searching for it.

Opened a new tab. Hit the home button to bounce back to Yahoo! and then typed in sagittarius. Alrighty. There are an incredible amount of websites defining a sagittarius, and probably providing star charts with the constellation and line drawings of centaurs and whatnot, and I started flipping through the pages of results. And found a gem.

How to Date a Sagittarius.

Found, of course, at eHow where you can apparently learn to do anything that needs doing, and probably some stuff that should have been better left alone.

I clicked on it. I'm curious. How, exactly, does one go about dating a sagittarius?

Keep in mind the article is only two and a half stars out of five. Still...I'm gettin' a kick out of it. And it's a really long week so any extra excuse to smile is great.

First line: Sagittarius, the noble Centaur, makes for a compassionate and very exciting friend.

So far, so good. And not only do Sagittarius's come with actual instructions, we come difficulty ratings and a list of materials that you will need. These materials include picnic lunches and camping gear. So, let's get down to business.

Step 1: Go walking, hiking, or camping. Sagittarians tend to have lots of energy and love the outdoors.

Step 2: Invite a Sag to a political demonstration or campaign rally. Issues of justice are important to them.

Step 3: Take your Sag to a big party. They're fun-loving and usually out-going.

Step 4: Behave in a principled fashion. Sagittarians are very idealistic and will respect only those who are honest and fair.

Step 5: A Sagittarian won't appreciate a purely frivolous gift, seeing it as a waste of money which could be better spent helping someone.

Step 6: Be prepared for a fascinating time - your date may jump from a dry philosophical discussion to an intense psychological encounter.


This the part where I'm supposed to tell you that whoever wrote this hadn't met a Sagittarian in his/her life. But I can't, because, oddly, this fits. At least, this fits me. These are things that I am, things that are in my character and my personality, and it's quite interesting to see them all laid out here, in a 6 Step method. Now, is this going to work if you attempt to ask me out on a date? Probably not. Because, seriously, just ask me for coffee or something since, asking me to go to a political rally or something might make me slightly angry and I'm not really fun to be around when I'm even slightly pissed off. Also makes me snark better.

Now I've gone back to the list of stuff to look through, and found another interesting thing. Which is a look-through of the planets and how they affect a Sagittarius. Which, is quite long and I'm not really going to say anything about it other than, take a look at it here, and that, hands down, my favorite line of that whole thing is: Saturn in Sagittarius: feels safe and secure as long as it understands every situation that it's in. This is not always the most practical placement ("The house is on fire, but that's OK; I know how it started. Never mind that. Get out of the house!).

There is the general consensus that my ruling planet is Jupiter. Notice that I'm not arguing with this. Sagittarius is also a fire sign. And, oddly enough, I came across another personality trait paragraph that, pretty much, is me to a T. It's slightly frightening in a way. That can be found here.

And this, my friends, is classic Louise at her best:

Sagittarius is the traveler of the zodiac and considers every day an opportunity for another adventure. This is a cheerful, spontaneous, and idealistic individual with an exceptional sense of humor. Though there is not a malicious bone in his body, Sagittarius often suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome, giving honest assessments where a little tact might suit the situation better. (The rest found here.)

So, out of the 50,100,000 search results for the word sagittarius, I didn't have enough patience to sit through there and search until I found the link for my blog.

But if you type in wandering sagittarius then I'm the first to pop up out of 430,000 results. Which makes me giggle about as much as the steps to landing me as a date does, as mentioned previously.

And now, I really must go do some homework and get to sleep, and hell, I might even take something for the cold that I'm trying to incubate. Hope this made you giggle - I know it made me chuckle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Masquerade! Paper faces on parade! Masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you - Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Middle Ground

I am being a very bad person right now. Not only am I lurking through Blogs on the internet (not inherently bad, but the next part is worse), I'm also procrastinating on some homework that, while not exactly due tomorrow in the strictest sense of the word, I still need to get done so it's not piling up. And if you hadn't noticed, I've been really, really good about that so far this semester, and I have no intentions of discontinuing that line of fabulous thinking and good motivation, but I'm looking for fresh things to look at and read. The search has gotten a little odd, mostly because I keep running across a certain category or type.

Namely, I keep running across blogs maintained by married people or people with kids.

That's awesome! Really, it is. Props to you for maintaining a blog the way that you do, and doing it well, and I'm well aware that my sister is in this group and that's awesome, too. She keeps me more or less updated (and the rest of the 'Net) with what Mads is doing, and how the family is, and that's awesome. I wish we had that back when I was a kid and she was in college, but that's neither here nor there, nor the cause of some of my frustration.

There is a lack of college-age blogging. I'd be alright with high school blogging, too, but I can't seem to find that, either. Which begs this question rattling around in my head: Am I a minority in the blogging community?

At this point, I'm inclined to think that yes, I am an anomaly in the blogging world. Not only am I younger than most other Bloggers (does that get a capital and why is RTE telling me it's not spelled right?) but I'm also single, don't have any kids, and spend my days in college classes instead of a steady 9-5 job (or something close to it).

This bears some thinking, and pardon me while I get a little introspective.

I'm a lot like some of the other Bloggers currently floating around. I'd love to get recognized for my writing, to break into that scene, because, hey, somebody in the publishing industry might be trolling looking for new talent and that could possibly mean a closer look at my fiction writing and maybe a fairytale ending with less hard work and more luck. However, Murphy and his Luck and I have a wonderfully strong, relentless relationship, and that scenario will happen as much as Kirk and Spock will magically drop into my dorm room and start talking Science. Maybe I'll wind up on the Enterprise to scour the known and unknown universes. An entertaining thought, but simply that. A thought.

In terms of a target audience (I know, I'm gettin' a little fancy), the stick is a little short on both ends. I could, quite possibly, be one of the very few out there who fit the target audience that I'm writing to. As much as I like to look back and what I write, I've no desire to read it on a regular basis (and I'm impressed that you people do, but hey, by all means, continue) mostly because I'm thinking it on a regular basis.

It gets better. I was tooling around a couple of places - BlogHer, BlogNash - just seeing the general large scale that blogging can achieve (something that most of us probably strive for, and I'd be a lying moron to say that I didn't, on some degree, want it, too) and I was looking for something that would really appeal to me, not just personality wise, but person-wise, too, if you get my meaning.

I'm looking for someone out there, to read and be read (hopefully, though not mandatory as that might be weird and like a swap thing and those people on Inkpop sometimes never make good on their end), and go, Wow. I can totally relate to this. This is has meaning in my life right now and not so much, Wow...I remember this time in my life. Only, this happened this way, usually, and I remember it like this. Remembering is all well and good, really, it is. But there are some subtle differences between you and I.

I'll use, like normal, my sister and I. I love my sister, and that will never change. And for a twelve year age gap (yes, you read that right, twelve years, same parents, just me and her) we're really close. This relationship that we have (and I'm incredibly glad that I have this relationship with my sibling, I think I'd flail through life and college more than I already do without her) has only been around for about four or five years. We're in different stages of our lives - if you need some numbers, I was five when she graduated high school, turned six not far into her first semester of college, and was twelve when she moved into her first apartment - and in some ways we'll always be in different stages. She has a family of her own now, which by no means suggests that she's no longer part of ours (she always will be, and it's a proven fact that I don't so much live in one house or the other, but rather that I set up a tent on the center line in the road, figuratively speaking) but we're in different times. I'm a college sophomore and she's a 29+3 happily married mom of one who lives in the house we grew up in.

Naturally, she blogs about what she knows - Mads, baking, and general life as she knows it.

I blog about life as I know it - moments of brilliance (not quite, if you hadn't noticed the sarcasm), a tangible Focus named Murfee, and the general fabulousness (use sarcasm as necessary, depending on the situation) that is college life at a private institution in the middle of Upstate New York (and yes, Upstate deserves the capital).

We overlap because we are family, and she's also a really cool person to learn a lot from because she's got this unique view of the world. We blame Mikey's Wisdom on that one, most of the time. And really, when you read us, you can tell that we're related because we have the same sense of snark.

Happy Fact: I've learned alot about having kids and raising them and the challenges they provide by real life (her name is Madaline) and also by the blogs, and Bloggers, I pick up from my sister.

Not-So Happy Fact: I'm not planning on having kids anytime soon, I know they're challenging, and sometimes I'm lookin' for a perspective that's a little closer to mine than a look-back type of thing.

Don't get me wrong, I'll take what I got, and I understand perfectly well the whole grass is greener idea/mindset, but....if I gotta sit happily in the middle ground for the moment, can I at least have someone to sit with me? I'm housebroken, I play relatively nice with others, and I've got a great smile. I'll even say please. Please?

We can work on the whole plays nice in the sandbox thing later......

Butterfly for Me

I'll admit to a lot of things, truthfully, but whether or not I admit to them in some semblance of public is up for debate almost every time. Guaranteed.

Tomorrow's the Open Mic/Speak Out event hosted by HWS does NEDAW. And you're looking at one of the people signed up to speak, since, well, I can write but can't carry a tune even in a bucket. I'm fine with this - hell, I volunteered for it. The three pieces that I'm sharing (no idea what order yet, or when in the program that I'm going, that's going to be decided tonight) are Definition, The Entity Known as Fat Pants, and Cracked (an original poem that hasn't seen the light of the blog but has been running over on Inkpop for a while). These pieces are quite personal. And tomorrow night I'm going to read them, out loud, in front of a group of people that I most likely don't know but have to see for a pretty long while yet.

It's 23 hours from the event and already the butterflies are forming.

I shouldn't be nervous. I used to do Public Presentations for fun, and I've never had a problem reading what I've written. Then again, my English classes are a smaller audience that what I'm going to see tomorrow, and that there might be the issue.

Especially if Fizziks boy shows up.

Now, there may be some changes to Definition and Fat Pants, but if there is, then it won't be anything that detracts from the overall message of the writing, just taking out some of the more minute details that I assume those who read on a regular basis are familiar with. That or I'll drop slight explanations in there, I haven't quite decided and I'm hoping that I can take a look at this stuff before the event tomorrow, after Stagecraft.

Which, honestly, might start driving me up the wall.

If you want to continue with butterflies, then we can probably assign this class a different type. My professor, who shall remain nameless (and now that I think about it, he might not actually be a professor - might need to check into that) has this increasingly annoying and slightly tacky habit of calling people out, in class, in a semi-derogatory manner.

The winter show ended about a week and a half ago. We've already torn down the stage, and there is an open stage now, which we'll use to start getting things ready for the spring show (which I'm doing sound for, just got the script tonight, and won't have a chance to look at it until later this week, because, honestly, there are a few other things that trump that) and, I guess it's alright to assume that you'll come to the show if you're in the class that had a hand in finishing the set, but as it wasn't in the syllabus, it really can't be classified under the heading of mandatory. Our professor was, however, of the mindset that it was under the previous heading, and, the class the following Wednesday (we had Monday, the next day off) proceeded to ask this student, in front of everyone else in a not-so-nice tone of voice, You didn't attend the show, did you? Which she said no, and you would have thought someone had tried to cancel his birthday, or at the very least rained out his parade.

The butterflies, in this case, would be in the fact that everyday is a little more than unpredictable with him. You could be walking along fine - answering things right in class (oh, by the way, don't flip through your book - it says to him that you didn't do the reading even if you did and forgot your photographic memory at home) - and the next thing you know it all goes to hell and you're falling through the floor, silently staring at the clock as though you can will it to go faster. Pitfalls. The top of the hill and then falling straight through to the bottom. And you never know which you're going to get that morning.

But those aren't the same butterflies that you get when you have to get up on stage and say something personal and oddly baring. And they're not the same as the ones that you get when the boy that you like sits next to you in class; definitely different than the ones you get when you walk into class slightly later than usual, and he's more or less sitting in your seat and you have to be the one to sit next to him. Those are whole different species of butterfly - a little more rare and reclusive, but still content to beat at your ribcage, up around your heart.

I'll take my butterflies. Every last one of those frustrating, beautiful things.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Things to Know IX

Giving up something for Lent is generally painful. Giving up coffee is somewhat masochistic.

I would like to thank the moron who parked in the Jackson lot, who lives in Potter, and thinks that he really needs to have a never-ending car alarm that goes off at 4 in the morning for 45 minutes. Thank you. I love to be up that early on a regular basis.

My sister sent me a card in our usual funny (lewd) card exchange along with some photos of Mads and the instructions not to cry.

Didn't follow the above instructions.

I have a new follower on Twitter and a new follow here, so, welcome officially to the slight insanity. Hope you brought a helmet.

Drinks are not meant to be ingested through the nasal cavities.

Just missed my mouth and poured tea all over my hand but missed my pants.

I am no Shaun White.

The human ribcage is not meant as a landing pad for snowboarding excursions.

My cat is bigger than my professor's little yippy dog.

My dog would consider said dog as a "snack."

I wore a dress on Saturday to a semi-formal event, left the hair down, and felt like a young woman with confidence - even when walking in high heels.

Louise can't dance....It's more of a flail, really.

The topic of ice cream came up at the dinner table on Saturday - then pints of Ben and Jerry's - then if you could down an entire one by yourself.

I am woman enough to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in one go. And I'm okay with this.

I also gave up ice cream for Lent.

I am Microsoft Excel Stupid. I find no shame in this.

For the first time (ever, I think) I will be reading aloud to an audience of people that I don't know, and who probably don't know me, but will have to see probably on a regular basis, things of my own creating for Open Mic Night.

I'm rather terrified of the previous statement.

If I'm feeling daring, I will ask the Fizziks Boy if he's going to the Open Mic.

If the previous happens, I may have a heart attack at age twenty. Or at least actually grow an ulcer.

I'm really bad at remembering to take my OTC stuff on the weekends at a fairly normal time (i.e. before midnight).

Ragtime is still currently kicking my ass to next week and back. Along with Bonfire of the Vanities and The Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets will join in the proverbial kicking as well.

I have a physics exam tomorrow in which I am allowed one 3x5 notecard with which to write anything that I want. Physics information would be useful.

I am incredibly tired at the moment, and tonight we are watching movies with a Spanish flavor for BIDS, and if there are not subtitles, then I am most likely going to wind up snoring. Which would be rather embarrassing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Writer's Mentality

Authors have a different sort of mentality than the rest of humanity. We're a little more out there, probably not all connected (Stephen King, anyone?), but still brilliant in our respect (again, Stephen King, anyone?).

While I'm not actually a published author yet, I think I've been doing this long enough (working seriously on a novel for six years) to recognize some commonalities from writer to writer. There's always going to be an individual uniqueness in each writer and his or her style, and the way they see things, but there are some general categories that we fill without actually getting into strict stereotypes.

I see my story as a movie in my head. A movie that is constantly changing close-ups and far shots, and viewpoints. There's a rewind button, a pause button, and a play button that usually vanishes at some points (like now, damn it) but it's all there. And my job is to take what the characters are showing me and transfer it to words so that anyone who reads it knows what I'm seeing. That's mostly for the overall picture - where I am in the composition books, and not necessarily the spot at I'm at in terms of typing. For those spots, it's a little more personal for the characters, because this isn't the first go-round. This isn't so much I gotta get this down now before I lose it! as Let's go back and really look at what we were trying to accomplish here, and see if everybody agrees with what you've got.

And by everybody, I mean my supporting cast of characters.

There is no way that an author considers his or her characters one-dimensional and absolute figures of their imagination. If they did, then we wouldn't have the rounded, life-like characters that we have in great (and not so great) literature. And the characters themselves don't seem to think they're not actually people. They are. Writers' have given them life, breathed into them personality, individuality, and flaw. They can be used as metaphors, foils, or segments of the writer's own personality. That being said, they can be downright Divas at points.

Over winter break, I had a list of things that I wanted to do. I wanted to edit the first 400 and something pages of my novel and really start sending avidly to publishers and agents (which, I found out from my professor that I see to help with my prose, you don't have to pay out of pocket - they take a cut of the royalties and actually pay you when the book sells, which made me jump for proverbial joy) and failed miserably at that. Not the editing, per say, but the avidly sending out. And, okay, yeah, maybe with the editing, too. What really turned into my project through the break was the new beginning for the thing that I wanted to do. And that was what I ended up working on. As it stood, the novel began slowly, and skipped over Jack's younger years to when he was eighteen. And when you meet Ralurick, you meet him at seventeen, when he's got more than a few issues. I thought it would be better, all things considering, to show the boys' progression through they childhood, in snippets (not doing snippets would probably require an entire other book that my brain is not prepared to write) and show how they got to be in the places and mindsets that they are when the novel started originally.

This is a really good idea, except that I'm dealing with younger versions of my main characters, and versions of my secondary characters that originally hadn't existed.

Meaning I am out and out ready to strangle one of the first vampires that I have ever met. And by met I mean came out of my head. And it's not just him. Nobody anywhere wants to say a damn word right now! Including my main characters. Which, really, for the one of them, is pretty difficult to do, considering that he's slightly socially starved most of the time. Or maybe he's settled down. Either way, ain't nobody sayin' nothin'. It's like a bad mafia film. Don't get me wrong - I love my characters. If I didn't, then I wouldn't have spent the six years getting to know them and their personalities and their idiosyncrasies the way that I do, but the silence can be deafening. And that's puts another thought into your head, one that probably doesn't truly belong there.

Doubt.

There have been quite a few times over the years and composition books that I've asked myself, Louise, what the hell are you doing? You're [insert number of composition books] in, with some vague idea of where you're going and who's going to get you there, but other than that, you've got nothing. What are you doing?

Well, inner critic of mine who sounds kind of like my mother but mostly like me when I'm annoyed with someone, I'm doing this because not only do I love to write, but I kind of promised Jack and the rest of my unruly characters that I'd tell their story. And trust me, I'm just the mechanism here. The idea might have forged somewhere in the cortex of my brain, but I'm just the messenger for Jack, Kayley, Ralurick, and everyone else involved in this massive project, this massive fight between doing what's right, what's good, and deciding what's neither. That and I want to feel like I accomplished something meaningful in my life and yeah, this has been a dream for a really long time, and now it's starting to not feel so much like a dream in the full sense of the word, but something that I can reach. This is achievable. I can do this.

Which is also another important aspect for a writer's mentality. You can't give up. You are going to get rejected and reduced and you're going to be screaming at your characters to say something helpful instead of just rambling fluff, and you're going to want to give up. Fact of life. You will get knocked down repeatedly, and hell, they might not even let you stand up and prepare for the next hit while they do it. You could be taken out at the knees! It will hurt!

You want it, you gotta work for it. Plain and simple. And that means not giving up even when you sit in a corner single and go, Huh!? and have a staring contest with a seventeen-year-old fictional character who won't tell you where he hid the remote to the movie in your mind while looking painfully like he wants to spit out valuable information.

But he won't, and you'll just have to sit there until he does. And this, is a writer's mentality.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Murphy and Me XVIII

Balance and a certain amount of flexibility are required components to shower with only one working leg.

I got nothin' in either department.

The handicap stall with its metal railing has become quite helpful, and in four weeks there is the possibility that I'll get damn good at washing my hair one-handed (the other required on the railing for this process).

Once I had showered for the day, had clean clothes on, and had crutched it down four floors feeling like a school bus with lines of cars behind it, stopping at each landing to let the masses behind me trample ahead, I felt marginally accomplished for the day.

It took almost twice as long to get to Mac's as usual. And there weren't many people in there - an exiting male soccer player held the door for me. Hopefully Mac wouldn't bellow because I still had my sneaker on my functioning leg, and shoes of any kind weren't allowed in the training room.

"Shoes," Mac chided without looking up from where he was poking laundry pins through dirty towels.

"How?" I hopped onto one of the tables and almost went off the other side. Wiggling into a stable position, the crutches were leaned against the bed that Mac didn't mosey over to. I scooched back - and since I was wearing the team sweatpants with the drawstring thing on the bottom and they were already up at the top of my shin like breeches or whatever, there was no need to pull my pant leg up to get to my cankle. I relaxed back on my hands; Mac undid the air cast and pulled off my sock. The thing - and by thing, I mean ankle - was downright nasty. Purple and black with bruising and about the size of a grapefruit. Didn't hurt, though. Thank you, Tylenol.

The guy on the next table, his knee wrapped in the blue sleeve of the machine on his other side, ogled as Mac inspected.

Then it hit me that he was staring at my face, not my disfigured joint.

"Hi." My usual starter, tried and true.

"You're Elf's girlfriend, right?"

I needed to work on my opening lines after that bombshell.

Mac hit a sore spot; I nearly bit through my bottom lip; the guy was a little open-mouthed.

"Yes," I said, once I'd retrieved my voice from my bronchial tubes.

"MacRiley's your boyfriend?" Mac asked while I breathed through my nose.

"Yes. Murphy's my boyfriend." My phone buzzed against my thigh. Probably said boy.

"Have you met Liam?"

"Yup." I yanked my right foot up from where it dangled off the edge of the table and flipped the shoe off so I could plant it and wrap my arm around my knee. You wouldn't think there was so much to look at with a sprained ankle. What was he lookin' for? The key to the universe? "And the twin approves."

Mac slipped my sock back on for me, finally. And slipped back into trainer mode, too. "Well - You want ice bath or bag?"

"Can I bag now and bath on Monday?"

"I just want to get a handle on the swelling." He went toward the ice machine; I scooted back against the wall and fumbled for my phone.

"He's a good guy."

I looked over at him. "I know. And I'm not going to hurt him." Mac came back and gently slapped the ice on my ankle. Multiple bags, actually. Awesome. He wandered away, and I was left with my phone, ice, and a football boy that I didn't know. Which, that last part especially, was probably going to become a story of my life. Well, better start the introductions somewhere.

"I'm Olivia." I reached across the gap and awkwardly shook his hand.

"John."

Psychic senses are tingling - a crash-course in names is coming my way. There are sixty guys on the team. Flashcards might be needed.

"He was quiet when he first started to get to know you. Clover wouldn't say anything, either."

"Clover is Liam?" There didn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to the nicknames I was hearing. Then again, that was probably the point.

John nodded. "I had trouble telling them apart."

"Did they stand next to each other a lot?" That's what I would do, if I was a twin.

"Every chance."

I chuckled. "Yeah. Murph has hazel eyes and Liam has...blue-gray. Other than that....it's up for grabs as to who's who at a distance." Finally had the chance to flip open my phone. New message. From Murphy.

what does mac say?

'not much. i'm icing.'

John's stim machine beeped and Mac appeared moments later. He was unwrapped and his knee slipped back into the type of brace usually worn by those who have done serious knee damage. Which made me so unbelievably glad that it's my ankle and not my knee, crazy as that sounds. Knees - You can do a lot of damage with minimal effort. Damage that takes time to heal. That, in a way, you kind of never really heal from.

He gave me a wave as he limped by.

Yeah. I'll take my busted ankle as long as I can keep my knees intact.



Not having use of both legs confines you to places. Namely, it confines me to my room with all my homework, physics included. And, not having a clue when Murphy was going to pop his head in and ask if I was ready to go, I was more or less prepared. In terms of what I was wearing, that is. Jeans, one shoe, mis-matched socks, and a Women's World Cup t-shirt from '03.

It was going on five in the afternoon when Murph appeared in the open door. "Hey."

"Hiya." I tossed the book I was reading on the floor and stood, wobbling. I was damn sure to be careful around the carpet edges - caught one the other day just right and had almost hit the TV. Not one of my finer moments, and definitely more scary than funny.

It was, once again, a piggy-back ride on the stairs. I was in charge of the crutches, Murph was in charge of me, and we had only a couple of oh shit moments before he set me down at the bottom. He was even a gentleman and the door.

The Honda was idling by the curb. Once I was loaded, Murph behind the wheel, I ventured that eternal question of all date-goers. "Where we goin'?"

"I'm taking you to dinner."

Which was a good enough explanation in my book. So I sat back and perused the interior of the car in the fading daylight. Last time I had been in the car I'd been a little preoccupied - Murph in the backseat tryin' not to puke; Liam and I eyeballin' each other in the front. Plenty of awkwardness for all, that ride was.

The Honda was a faux stick-shift - an automatic with the gear shift between the two front seats. The CD was nice, but not gaudy and overly expensive. It wasn't like someone had poured hundreds of dollars into the sound system to be impressive. It was simple and functional. And, damn my curiosity, I snooped a little, rifling through the CD case. Broad spectrum, and by broad, I mean - Nickelback, DMB, NIN, and Brad Paisley. Even the odd Britney and boy band. I held up one such disk when we stopped by the library to let pedestrians cross.

"That," he grinned, "is my brother's. From our cousin as a joke on our last birthday."

I was appropriately skeptical.

"Does it hurt?"

Which was a little ADD of him, to switch topics so fast. "Not really. But I've been taking Tylenol pretty regularly." Ever four hours on the dot, like my parents had fed me Percocet after my surgery.

"Why not ibuprofen?" We went through the intersection I expected us to turn at, and then pulled into a driveway. Colby's driveway. I think.

"My system doesn't like ibuprofen." I prepared to get out. It was a fairly lengthy process at the moment. "Why are we at Colby's?" He didn't answer; he was by the hood, coming around to open the door. Murph really was a gentleman.

"Trust me?" he asked, walking at my hobble-speed once we were on our way to the door.

"'Course."

Into the house we went, and it was kind of deja vu, in a way, only with less bodies and alcohol. There was some laughter from the kitchen, and I crutched that way, following Murph.

"Hey, Murph." Colby stood by the sink, straining pasta. It looked mighty familiar, and sure enough there was the famous Blue Box on the counter. I'd loved that stuff when I was little - would make it every day for lunch during the summer.

"Olivia!"

I jumped. Liam had been hiding by the fridge. Rummaging through it might have been a more correct assumption, given the butter in one hand and milk in the other. "You broke yourself!"

My cheeks began to heat. "Thank you, Liam."

He shrugged and passed off the dairy products to Colby in order to closer inspect the damage. "Sprained?" He looked up from the air cast and must have seen something that was a dead giveaway. He whistled low. "How long?"

"Four weeks."

"Murphy squeezed past me and out of the kitchen, passing one large hand along the small of my back on his way by.

"Clover!"

"What? I'm talkin' to Ollie." Liam stared at Colby from across he kitchen.

Colby held up two bowls. "Food?"

Liam looked at me helplessly. "Food trumps the gimpy girl." He moved in Colby's direction.

Murph returned with a stool that had probably come from the bar in the other room. He set it by the counter near the stove. Leaving my crutches out of the way by the fridge, I hopped over, taking Murph's proffered hands for stability and allowing him to help me onto the stool.

"Kitchen's yours, bro," Liam said around a mouthful of Kraft Blue Box. He swallowed. "We're gonna chill in the common. Boondock time."

"You only like that movie because it has a set of BAMF twins," Colby called from another part of the house.

Liam muttered darkly, turning an interesting shade of red and stalking out of sight and hearing distance. Until there was a hearty thwack from the common area followed by muffled thumps.

"Put up a tent and charge admission," Murph groused, barely loud enough for me to hear. He pulled a dishtowel from a drawer with a flourish, draping it over his forearm with a charming smile. "Welcome to Cafe MacRiley."

It hit me then that Murph was going to seriously make us dinner. Which...left me feeling at a loss for words and undeniably very, very special. Cue the onslaught of the warm-fuzzies.

"Can I see a menu?" I asked around a jaw-cracking grin, keeping his charade.

"Well," he drawled, attempting a God-awful French accent that made me giggle like an idiot, "we have only one thing on ze menu." The accent was so bad it was truly hysterical. "Chicken alfredo with whole wheat penne pasta." He finished with an uh huh huh straight from History of the World, Part I and I almost hit the floor. He laughed, deep and loud and it filled the kitchen, hands out to make sure my ass stayed on the stool.

He put some water on to boil and dumped a jar of Ragu alfredo sauce into a saucepan, eerily reminiscent of how my dad makes it when I'm home on the weekend or on break. On the counter was a Lock-n-Lock container with still warm chicken breast, if the foggy sides were any indication of contents.

"Your prep chefs are good."

"Colby," Murph smiled. "He likes to cook. And there are days when I burn toast."

I had no room to complain - water burnt in my kitchen on a regular basis. "I like this. Better than if we had gone to a restaurant or something." Paused. "Not that Cafe MacRiley isn't Five Star. Though your accent..." insert hysterical giggle that definitely didn't come out of my mouth, "leaves....well...I plead the fifth."

Murph grinned, adding chicken to the sauce and fiddling with the temperature. "That's 'cause I'm Irish."

"Y'know, I think I knew that. If 'Murphy' didn't give a hint, then MacRiley was about as subtle as a flung hammer."

He blushed, ducking his head a little to look at me through his bangs. "And you're undeniably Polish. The 'ski' at the end is a giveaway."

With a name like Karizslowski....Yeah. Polish. "Where are you from?"

He took a deep breath. "Originally from New York City, but there was a better job available for our dad in Lake Placid, and that's where and that's where we've been since Liam and I were three." Gave the alfredo sauce another stir. "My parents are Irish immigrants. Ma got on a plane six months pregnant. They have dual citizenship."

Which was really, really cool. "That's cool. I'm from Townsend. It's about an hour south of here. And I've lived in the same house all my life." And there was no shame in that. I'm proud of what I have, where I'm from. And Murph wasn't going to judge me.

Murph dumped the the penne into the water, and then sheepishly handed me the box. "I guess I should have asked if this was the right kind in the beginning, before I just dumped it in. You can eat this, right?" He was worried. Nervous.

I looked at the coarboard. It was the same that my mom buys for me at home. "Yeah. Yeah, I can eat this." I would have said yes even if eating it would have meant mass amounts of pain the next day, simply to see that smile and his relief.

We at in the kitchen, by the stove, drinking water from the mismatched set of wine glasses found in Colby's cupboard (there were no other options, not even Bell jars). We talked about anything and everything.

"Wait a minute," I said, my brain finally catching up. "Your parents are immigrants?"

He was a little wide-eyed, cautious, and nodded.

"Are you bilingual?"

Murph grinned, nodded again, and said something in what I assumed to be Gaelic. And yeah, hearing that voice in a language other than English (though that was pretty good, too) was incredibly wonderful. He turned almost shy then, placing the dishes carefully and silently in the sink. Wiped his palms on this thighs.

"D'fheadfadh se teacht me pog sibhse?" he asked, nervousness radiating from every pore. It was a request, that much was obvious, and one that he was worried about. I was in the position of trying to figure out what he was asking from body language alone, and had an idea. Wasn't sure, but it was a solid idea.

"Ask me again?" I asked, keenly aware of how quiet it was in the kitchen and how close he was standing.

He obligingly repeated it, hazel eyes wide and unsure.

Pretty sure, at that point, that I knew what he was asking. "What does it mean?"

Murph swallowed thickly and looked me in the eye. "It means 'May I kiss you?'"

I thought back, hoping to remember how to pronounce the Gaelic affirmative, failed miserably, and wound up nodding with a semi-breathless, "Yes."

And then he did.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Break It Down

There seems to be a lot of talk today, floating around Twitter and the Blogging world, about statistics. Basic Blogging statistics about how many people view/visit your page on a daily basis, how many comments you get left on a general post, and, the big one - how many followers you have. It threw my sister for a little bit of a loop a couple of weeks ago when she lost a follower. Heather, at Madaline the Magnificent Mayhem Maker, has 40 followers. The Townsend Bakery, the Blog that we write together (though she puts more effort into it than I do, because she actually cooks and bakes on a regular basis and for me to eat something I walk down the street to my dining hall, but that's mostly because she's in a different phase of her life right now, and I'm in mine, but anyway...) has 10 followers.

The Wandering Sagittarius has a whopping 9 followers - including that rather crazy chick that writes it (her name is Louise, I think, or some form of that), her sister, and her cousin. So, if you take out those 3, some simple math gets you 9 - 3 = 6. Six followers.

I'm okay with this. To an extent.

None of my followers fit the demographic that I currently occupy. I'm a college student, female, drives an Oldsmobile, is a chemistry major, writes in what spare time she has, and Blogs when she's got something to say. I could probably, if thought hard enough and went through it carefully, give you a fairly accurate materialistic list of the things that I have. I can also give you a fairly accurate materialistic list of things that I don't have. There should probably also be a third list in there, titled the accurate materialistic list of things that I want.

If you saw the first two ideas for lists, and automatically assumed that the Don't Have list is the same as the Want List, then you either haven't read very much of me, or don't have a clue as to the type of person that I am.

Do I want people to read what I write? Of course I do. I like to share the things that come out of this thing sitting on top of my neck (some call it a head, but I'm not entirely sure what function it's supposed to serve because it doesn't seem to exist for some people) because some of them are entertaining, designed to make you laugh, and some are designed to make you think. Some of them exist for the purpose that somebody needs to say something about the 800-pound gorilla currently sitting in the room, and everybody's thinkin' it, but nobody'll say a damn word.

I'm that somebody.

Now, statistically speaking, everybody should fit in a box. Let's take, for example, the statistical demographics of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. And thank you, to the Admissions department because you just made my life (and this post) so much easier.

549 of the 2,091 students are First Years (We're politically correct now - because woman can't be Freshmen)

64% come from a Public High School and 45% come from New York.30% drive from New England and 12% come from the Mid-Atlantic. The remaining 12% come from the Far West, Mid-West,Southeast, Southwest, and Internationally.

Okay, so we're a pretty diverse campus, right? On the outside, right?

This up there, doesn't tell you a damn thing about what it means to live here and not be able to be fit into a tiny box. New York does not automatically mean that you are from the city. And when you tell people this, they can take it a few ways - either start smiling, or get that look in their eye that says, Eh...I'm not really sure about you. Tell them you're from Upstate, and you don't mention a big city like Syracuse or Rochester, and the look has a tendency to get a little more derisive. And your self-esteem? Well, in any normal person it would start to sink through the floor.

Let me put things a little more into perspective - let me twist your lens a little. If you look out the window on the parking lot side of the building, and you look at the cars, you'll see newer models. Hell, I think there's even a Hummer out there on the weekends, and there's definitely a Lexus, and some Hondas, a few Audis, BMW's, Volkswagons, and then my floor-mate's white Subaru station wagon. And right beside of that shiny scrap metal, is a beat-to shit Oldsmobile. And the owner of the beat-to shit Oldsmobile is the girl from rural Upstate New York. Her favorite shirt is red plaid, and she's more than happy to wear jeans and a t-shirt and play with the boys than buy a pair of Ugg boots and stuff herself into spandex two sizes too small. And has nothing to do with body image, if you're thinking that, simply because that's not her thing. Her thing is real food (cheeseburgers, chicken, pasta, sandwiches), country and classical music (with the occasional foray into pop), and getting mail in her campus mailbox. Her thing is her family and their eccentricities and quirks, the smile on her niece's face when she walks through the door, and, yes, stomping around out in the mud because it's the thing to do and hot damn is it fun.

But...But what about those things that we all desire? Money? Fame? Fortune?

Well, let me see. See, this chick, she neither wants nor needs any of the above. Just enough to put gas in the car, buy the occasional cup of Starbucks coffee when the mood really strikes (though not for another how-ever many days, because she gave it up for Lent), the occasional pint of Ben and Jerry's (again, gave it up for Lent), and enough to buy what she needs to keep her screwy digestive system in good working order. Because when that functions well, then she functions well. It's a direct relationship. Fortune kind of goes hand in hand with that, and while sometimes money gets tight, she's rich in other things, like love, good health, and good family and friends.

Fame. I don't want Fame in the sense that everybody is going to know my name, and I'll do anything to get it there. No. By following this line, not only are you setting yourself to fail, pretty much, but you're setting yourself up to fail epically - and probably drag yourself through the mud on the way there, too. No, the fame that I want to have is that I want people to read what I write. I want my book to be published not for the money or the recognition, but because I want to accomplish something that means a significant amount to me on a personal level. It want that satisfaction that comes from doing a hard day's work, and you get rewarded for it. And a reward doesn't have to monetary.

Which, in an add way, brings me all the way back around to the starting point of this monstrosity of a post: Statistics.

Blogging statistics was a big topic in my Twitter feeds today. About followers and about un-followers and writing and numbers. And before the beginning of this week, I was completely clueless as to who was reading, or not reading, my blog. In some ways, I still am, even though, yes, I have a Stat Counter. Seems a little hypocritical at the moment, but the only purpose that it serves for me (other than to confuse me with all the damn categories to choose from to look at) is to show me where my audience - however small or large - is reading from. The U.S., Canada, and even some International viewers. Does that mean they stayed long, went through the archives with a fine-toothed comb and started at the beginning and read every post that I have? No. Probably not. Could I find that out? Probably. Do I want to? Hell no.

I am going to make an assumption that you could probably track your readers by how much you market yourself and your blog - meaning, how much you get out there and spread the word. Basically, you sell yourself. Those in the publishing industry (or trying to crack it) are doing much of the same thing. I send query letters, emails, still workin' on that synopsis that I might need to send, and I shove my hope and my dream into a mailbox periodically and see what comes back.

This, however, is a little uncomfortable for me, believe it or not.

I'm a little Old School. Which probably has some of you wondering how I can be "Old School" when I'm firmly entrenched in the definition of New School. My feeling is that if you need to excessively market yourself - in terms of writing, and I'm talking on the scale of novels and short stories - then you're writing isn't strong enough to withstand scrutiny on its own.

Your writing should be able to speak clearly and definitively by itself. You should only need to supplement how good it is, not market it like it's a the last damn junker on the lot and it's gotta go, regardless of how you have to get it gone.

Inkpop is a prime example of this. (Long story short, those of you clueless to what Inkpop is, it's a site that, at the end of the month, the top five stories are reviewed in full by HarperCollins and, if it's good enough, and they think it'll sell, they'll pick it, and publish it. Either way, you get a lengthy comment about how good it was, what you need to fix, and generally probably nearly have a heart-attack. Then again, to come that close and get nothin' but an Atta Boy is more than a little frustrating.) I've got projects up there (under the name thewanderingsagittarius) and among them is The Sunset Girl (found on here, too, a reprint of my original ENG 309 story, which was also submitted to The New Yorker, which I have yet to hear from, if I ever will), Sage (inspired by the local cemetery, my best friend Em, and probably a healthy dose of Supernatural), Depths of an Illusionist (on here as well, the thing that didn't have a title but was pretty deep), The Crossing (my pride and joy, the thing I been workin' on for six years now and am trying to publish, write a new beginning, and finish at the same time - gotta love multi-tasking), Definition, Murphy and Me (written for my sister, Heather, to make her smile and laugh because she's beautiful when she does both), Tangible Focus (self-explanatory), and some poems. There is also, The Entity Known as Fat Pants.

My site messaging inbox gets at least three Read my story and comment and tell me how good it was and put it on your Picks to raise its ranking and I might do the same for you if I feel motivated! Stereotyping there on my part? Oh yeah. Do I feel guilty? Hell no. What I've read on there, and I'm no published author myself, but what I've come across and what I've read...it blows my mind. Not because it's great, or good even, in some cases, but...and I have a hard time finding what to say because I don't want to ruin somebody else's parade but it needs a lot of work. And I just don't get where the hell all the comments come from saying how wonderful it is, and I'm still trying to make out how they're in the top 5. And I think what happens is that they cross that line. That fine, fine line between self-advertising your writing for a good cause (a Forum thread saying that you're new and that you've got some things to look at, or you'll do a swap) and then there's the obnoxious, I want as many readers as I can so I can be in the Top 5 and have a good rank and be number one but my writing still isn't as good as other people's on here.

Which can be applied to Blogging.

It's great when someone reads something that you've written, that you've put time and thoughtfulness into, and that you've painstakingly edited to make it the best that you can do because maybe your writing skills aren't what you want them to be. That's when effort outweighs the little mistakes that you have, and you get your overall message across. As long as you write what's important to you, and what you think you need to say, and that somebody had damn well better listen to.

I have six followers, and get less than probably 20 hits a day. I could tell you exactly my numbers, but I would have to look, and, quite frankly, probably none of them are the intended audience. I am the college student, the in-betweener, and of my six followers, none of them are in the same boat as I am. Would I love to be recognized for my Blogging? You bet. I would love to be recognized for any of my writing, and that's because I've been doing it so long and I put effort into, that, occasionally, like anybody else who's poured themselves into something (we're talking novel, in this case, not this Blog, though I am pretty in love with it, otherwise I wouldn't type as consistently as I do) I want some feedback. Some comments. But I have six followers outside of the world that I live in. This is why I don't want to know how many people read me other than an occasional glance, because I do not want to become obsessed with it.

I don't need to obsess because I don't need to change the way that I do things.

And this, my friends, is the confidence that you should have in anything that you write. That what you have written, what you have shared is meaningful to not only yourself, but to someone else. That it makes someone else take a step back and examine something they didn't think to look closer at, to make them feel a certain way, to make them laugh (and, on occasion, to make them cry).

The Wandering Sagittarius (the blog, not the chick) exists because the meandering Sage (the chick, not the site) enjoys writing and thinks that she's got a viewpoint that you should consider. No, actually, she doesn't think she has a viewpoint that you should consider, she believes. She has value in the words that she writes, that she thinks, and that, this coming week, she will speak at Open Mic Night for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

To you "biggies" out there in the Publishing and the Blogging world, judge us not for how much we knock on your door and practically beg you to read our things - read us because you are intrigued by who we are as people, the viewpoints we represent, and the way we have with words. Not because we've tried to shove it up your nostrils. Don't put us back into the high school days of popularity contests and whatever you do, have the common courtesy to your less fortunate neighbor and fellow Blogger to not bitch about the approaches you get from PR firms. That's just a wee bit tacky.

Then again, what do I know? I'm just a sophomore in college who hasn't cut her teeth on the "real world" yet, am I right? I don't know what I'm doing with only a basic knowledge of HTML, limited financial resources, and a naive worldview, right? I can't possibly have enough experience to compete in this industry, right? I haven't attended an conventions and conferences about Blogging, so I must be an amateur, right? With limits and limitations? With things that need to be fixed and critiqued, to be patted on the head and told, maybe next time you can sit at the big people table?

Tell ya what. I'll sit on the hood of my Oldsmobile in my favorite pair of jeans and my favorite sweatshirt, listenin' to my favorite song, with my notebook and my pencil and my imagination, and when you're ready for me, you come get me. When you're ready.

I'll sit right here, wait patiently, and smile. And I won't even have to wipe the snot off my notebook.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Murphy and Me XVII

[No comments on how long it took me to do this - the delay is caused by the fact that Louise does her reading and her homework NOT at the last minute. That being said, there was some writer's block with this, but I have the next section in my head, and should be getting it down after I take a break and do some more reading. Anybody's who's never read The Bonfire of the Vanities - Good luck if you decide to do it.]

I dialed my home number on his phone while scooting closer. My mother picked up on the third ring, and if she was watching TV she was probably confused as to who was calling. Kudos to her for picking up.

"Hello?"

"Hi. Mama." I looked at the closet, then the picture of my niece, pretty much anywhere that wasn't in the general direction of Murphy.

"Where are you calling from?" She was concerned. Worried. Nothing new there.

"From Murphy's phone." Who I had yet to tell her about.

"Who?" She paused. "Murphy? A boy?"

Yup. That's my mother. "Yes, Murphy is a boy."

Murphy cocked his head to the side but said nothing.

"Boyfriend?"

Enough with the third degree already. "Yes." Oh. Well, why not throw caution to the proverbial win and all that jazz? "Mama?" It was that tone of voice that said I had something to tell her, and she might not like it. Which trumped the news of the boyfriend.

"Olivia?"

"I sprained my ankle. Bad." It was best not to skirt the issue.

Silence. Say something, Mama. Something. Anything.

"When can you go without crutches?"

We had been through this type of scenario before. It was almost always a given that when I wound up in the ER for the joint at the bottom of my left shin that I would hobble out on armpit legs. It was so much a given it might as well have been a universal law.

"Four weeks, no weight."

"I see. Are you in pain?"

"I have Tylenol." And Murphy, my porta-furnace. "And it doesn't hurt." There was another pause. She was gearing up for more questions about Murphy. That was also a given during silences like this.

"How long have you and this boy...?"

"Six days. Almost a week." I looked at said boyfriend, his face carefully neutral. "His name is Murphy."

"That's ironic for you," she said with a chuckle.

"Thank you."

"Olivia, remember that you're - "

"I know." There for academics first, everything else second, and, given half a chance, she would probably launch into a sex talk of some sort which I honestly did not need to hear. "Mama, I gotta do some homework and try to get to bed early. I call you tomorrow."

"Call me tomorrow." Which, was not a question, and not a statement. More of a demand, than anything. Said in the voice that the universe bestows upon people when they become parents.

"I will. I love you, Mama."

"Love you too, Olivia. Talk to you tomorrow."

I closed Murphy's phone softly and looked at him. "I hadn't told her. I'm sorry."

Murphy leaned in close and kissed my nose. I smiled. That was probably his intention. "I haven't told my mother and I made my twin promise to keep his mouth shut." He shrugged. "Next time I phone home..."

It wasn't a matter of embarrassment - far from it, actually. It was just...telling your parents that you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend changes things in a way. It changes your social life, and your academic life, too, and...parents some times don't help the situation. Or they blow your mind, like my mother sometimes does to me. From what I can tell - so far - she's okay with Murphy. And that's more than I expected.

He scooted back against the wall, taking me with him to tuck into his furnace-like warmth. The busted appendage was resting on his shin.

"You tell Liam I broke myself?"

"Ah, no. I figured you would want to do that. Or wait until tomorrow."

I looked at him. "Aren't we going out tomorrow?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes."

Know what? I trust him. "Okay." My ear found his chest.

"This is a nice room," he said after a moment. "The little girl your niece?"

"Yup. That's Elizabeth." That little girl made my heart hurt, I loved her so much. "She turned two in July."

"She cute. Like her aunt."

My cheeks warmed. If that had come from anybody else I would have shook my head and told him to stuff it, but it came from Murphy. Murphy was genuine. That was one of the things that I liked so much about him - he was genuine, sweet, and sincere.

"Cute like her mama," I said, oddly content. Content and tired. I'd had a shitty day. And now I was comfortable.

"I don't know that. I've never seen her mama."

"Photo on the printer."

Pause. "Oh. Yeah, cute like her mama, I guess."

I shamelessly snuggled closer.

"You want me to go so you can sleep?" Murphy asked softly.

"Nope. Just stay right here. S'not like your roommate doesn't know where you are."

Murph chuckled. "Alright." He rested his cheek on the top of my head. "You like chicken, right?"

"You cook?"

"I haven't poisoned anyone yet."

"Well, that's good."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14, 2010

I should be reading Ragtime right now, for my BIDS class, but I honestly can't keep my Focus on it. The Olympics are on (Go World), I haven't written anything in an incredibly long time, and it's a Sunday and I'm not feeling the greatest from my wipe out of epic proportions at Bristol Mountain on Friday. (I tried to use my right side [lower] as a landing pad and that didn't work out too well.)

And today is also Valentine's Day. Which is great, if you have someone to share it with.

Take, for example, my sister and my brother-in-law. They've been together for about ten years now, three of them as a married duo and have the most beautiful little girl who is two and a half. Valentine's Day is for them, to celebrate the joy they bring to each other's lives and how they will continue to bring that joy to their lives. They also celebrate their daughter, and the joy that she brings, the Little Mayhem Maker.

For me, Valentine's Day serves as another reminder that I'm spending it by myself.

True, I have good friends, some that I love like family, and many of them will say that having a significant other is overrated and unnecessary, but your brain doesn't think that way. When your eyeballs see that girl who opens that pale pink envelope and sees even the tiniest of Hey, hope you have a great day, Happy Valentine's Day and she smiles that smile that you want....your brain says, maybe there's something missing in my life. It shouldn't. Really, it shouldn't, but I think we all know that when we're not supposed to feel something, or think a certain way, it's automatic that we do. It's human nature. And there's a certain happiness that comes from a significant other.

Now, Louise. You're the one who says frequently that you should be comfortable as yourself. That it shouldn't matter. A bit hypocritical are we?

Well, yes, in a way I am.

We all know the differences, on an emotional level, of the people in our lives. When we have a bad day - things just don't work out how they're supposed to, or something inevitably goes wrong - our friends are there for us. And that's great. I love the friends that I have and would probably be slightly crazier than I am without them. Not to mention, I wouldn't have anybody to make midnight Ben and Jerry's runs with, and when you go for a Ben and Jerry's run by yourself, it's a little bit pathetic, honestly. I've done it before, and nothing says, I've had a really bad week so back off, pal like a pint of B&J's, some E.L. Fudge cookies, and a bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider. And there are times when my girls have been right beside me. They supply the hugs, the tissues, and the It'll get better. You can do this. And bless best friends because we'd all be slobbering messes at least twenty percent of the time without at them. At least, I would be. I'll admit it. Readily.

However, it's quite another to be hugged by a significant other when everything's gone to hell because that's a different kind of safe harbor. It's a set of arms that, on another level emotionally, says You stay right here and I'm not going to let the world in until you feel better. And I'm not going anywhere. You can say all that you want about it being the same, or that the set of arms belonging to friends is better because they're friends, but really, if you've had the opportunity to sample both, it's not the same. It's different. It feels different, and that's what it comes down to. The feeling.

It's actually quite...well, I'm not sure how to classify it, but I kept thinking, on some irrational over-emotional level all this week, that, come Friday, or Saturday, I would find something in my campus mailbox - from a boy - that would be along the lines of I want to be your Valentine. Even if it was anonymous. I keep thinking that somebody's going to be waiting for me to come around a corner and hand me a rose or something and say, You're cute, and I would like to get to know you on a deeper level than just friends.

That has yet to happen. I doubt it ever will. But I can hope. In the back of my mind, the place where the characters for my novel live along with the other ideas that I have for writing interesting things, and the general black hole that is my inner consciousness, this idea, this scenario has life. It is vibrant. Then again, the girl in this scenario is probably a lot stronger than I am, even on my good days. But it's my mind, and I'm entitled to whatever hopes and dreams come spewing out of it, even if they remain only hopes and dreams at the end of the day.

Also, the likely hood of someone waiting for me outside my door is greatly diminished now that they locked our floor door because of our creeper from a couple weeks ago. Still, it's a nice idea to have.

There is no happy medium for somebody on Valentine's Day. There's no place for the single lady without making us feel like utter crap because we don't have somebody that close to us besides our same-gendered friends to spend it with, and the likelihood of a boy crawling out of the woodwork with a rose between his teeth and a smile in his eye is utterly, utterly nothing but a fantasy of the highest order. Life, for the most part, is neither a movie nor a Taylor Swift song, as much as we'd love it to be. My life certainly isn't, and I can probably guarantee that yours isn't, either.

As for how I've spent my day? I tore down the set that was in the theater from the winter show that just finished so they have a clear stage to hold auditions for the spring one, I've done some homework, I've attempted to get through a chunk of Ragtime, and my mother is coming up with some things that I need and we're going to go to dinner. I'll send birthday cards for my sister home with her, as well as hugs for my niece. And then I'll go to physics Teaching Fellows tonight and do my physics homework so I'm not scrambling Tuesday morning at breakfast because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Am I hoping to see Fizziks boy there? Yes, I am. Am I going to hold my breath? If I do, I might pass out. It'd be great. Then again, the last time that I thought I saw him was on Bristol Mountain and then I epically flailed in the snow. We can discuss later what it means when a girl uses a half-assed scientific experiment to determine whether not said boy likes her by where he sits in relation to her in a class. We can also discuss what this says about said girl's people skills. Boy skills, more correctly. Or, more accurately, lack thereof.

Bottom line: Does Valentine's Day suck for the singles out there? No, not really. It just makes them more acutely aware of the thing they're missing. And everybody adores that reminder.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Cappella Revisited

So, my darling sister was kind enough to DVR the Sing-Off for me so that when I watched Mads before Christmas, I could watch it. And, one of the groups that I really, really liked (and they were cute, to boot) was this group called Beelzebubs, from Tufts University.

Naturally, I just looked them up on YouTube (because that's what you do when you miss something on TV or want to revisit it) and they're an a cappella group, so there's no background music that's not coming from their mouths and their microphones. There's nothing that's not coming from them.

They opened with Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles. And then they did one of my favorites - Come Sail Away by Styx. I have found them on YouTube and are sharing them with you.

Magical Mystery Tour




Come Sail Away




I own absolutely nothing. I'm just passing on the good word.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

She. Wouldn't. Dare.

I have, for probably the first time in my life, my academic things truly under control. I feel good, I get sleep, and I'm on top of my homework. This is a pleasant place to be. I like being like this. And when something threatens this hard-fought peace of mind, it leaves me ample room to raise my hackles, shake out my claws, and snarl. Especially when it's a blast from the proverbial past.

Long story short (I'm trying, really) is that when I went to college two summers ago, I broke up with my boyfriend (we were off and on for three years). Less than two months later I receive word that not only has he got a new girlfriend, he's apparently proposed to her. Okay. That was a little tough to handle. So was the moronic move on my part to let them visit me at college when they asked. I'm a nice person, which, can sometimes come back to bite me in the ass. I even - eventually - was okay with the prospect of them maybe having a kid. There were rumors she was pregnant. I'm good with this now. I'm good with where life as led me since then, and I'd like to think that I'm doing just fine (some days more, some days less, but that's life, too). I'm even okay with them both being at the community college literally half an hour down the road because, hey, I don't run the risk of running into them anywhere on my campus. For that, I'm golden.

If I'm as a golden as I say I am, why am I bringing this up?

When I opened my computer to check my email, Twitter, and Facebook - maybe do some IMing with my sister before she left work for home - I see there is a notification box on my desktop from AIM. From her screen name.

Hell. No. (It actually wasn't a hell that went through my head, but I like to try and keep my blog somewhat clean, so this is what you get.)

I am happy with where I am in life. I am happy to be where I am, and the people that I surround myself with, and there is no. Way. In. Hell. Are. They. Coming. Anywhere. Near. Me.

My compassion and goodwill only go so far. And, at this time in my life, it doesn't include them. If you think I should be giving them a chance, burying the hatchet and extend the olive branch, I don't need the drama in my life, and they carry drama like a second skin. I neither want nor need it, truthfully. I've got no problem with burying the hatchet, persay, but give me the olive branch and if they come within reach, I'm gonna start whacking.

I am stronger for the trials that I have faced, the paths that I have walked, and though sections have been dappled in shadows and others in pure sunlight, I have wandered both and come out the other side for the better.

Case and point: I'm freakin' happy, and I'm not going to throw it away even if it's the civil thing to do in this particular case.

Even the Wandering Sagittarius has her limits.

An Adventuring Focus IV

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

M is common, but not. She quirky, funny, kind of scatterbrained, and incredibly Polish. But me no have it any other way.

We sit in many big-brick places, listen to many people, and me deal with many other Foci. And they different from me. Some have pillows or cushions they sit on. Me flop on M's ankles. They play with phones and other junk. Me get coffee some mornings - either from the breakfast place or the place where me fall down the stairs. M fidget, so me get to fidget and use M's legs as a climbing frame. Occasionally me sit and listen. But M in something called Fizziks. His Focus skinny and smart-looking, and M spend lots of time swearing under her breath because she frustrated sometimes. But he wear cool glasses, so it okay.

Life with M interesting. Three days we get up and go visit a big-brick place with littler learners and Foci who now awake. Me stay close to M. Me no know them.

Me proud of M. M no procrastinate so far, and she happier. More content. She sleep better when she sleep and she smile more. Stress - damn fool maniac - has been very quiet. She sleepy - sometime she no sleep - but she okay. She keep up.

And she feed me fiber on a regular occasion.

Still stingy on the coffee.

M ready to scoop out insides with a spork. She eat something and tummy make *annoyingslightlypainfulbutmostlyannoyingashellgrumblingandsoundlikehungry* noise. She turn a fun pink color.

She also turn pink because the boy she likes is sitting by her. He could have sat a row over, but he sit next to her. M going to do an experiment to see if he keep doing it on his own. That why she science-y. But she nervous, too. She no want to read too much into it. She no want to be wrong.

And she almost don't want to be right.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Entity Known as Fat Pants

I will admit that I am, on occasion, courageous, fearless (to a degree) and confident of myself and the way that I present that to the world. By no means does this imply that I have complete and total body peace with myself (something we all struggle with at times, some more than others) but, like everything in life that deals at some point with emotions and such things, I have my good days and my bad ones.

This being said while I snack on Cinnamon Streusel Frosted Mini-Wheats because A) They're good when they're dry and B) FIBER! I have an interesting digestive system, which, being almost a year since my last medical test, I'm rather used to. And so are those who are around me at meal times.

Now, there are quite a few body parts related to the words meals, food, sustenance and they are not all good. At least, for women.

Fat Pants. Everybody's got 'em. But not everybody likes 'em.

Since I don't know many people who will willingly discuss the Entity Known as Fat Pants with complete and total strangers, I will gladly go down that road myself. Everybody has a favorite pair of jeans in their closet. There the ones that, when you feel like you're on top of the world (higher than Trump's ridiculous toupee, even) give you the extra bounce in your step, the extra confidence that shows in the set of your shoulders and the way that you carry yourself. If your a single woman, you put a little more swing in your hips. If you're a married woman, well, you still put a little more swing in your hips because it feels good. The pants make you feel great. (I highly recommend to anyone to read Ann Brashare's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants because it is excellent and can prove several points about friendship, body image, and total kick-ass ability ingrained in all of us as women - and men, too, but mostly women.)

I actually have two favorite pairs of pants - a light wash, and a dark wash. The light wash jeans are currently on my body.




These, because they are the favorites, are the ones that it's all right to notice the hint of that lovable back fat area that we all aren't crazy about, or the sight of the love handles that we try so hard to lose. That's okay, because they hug the assets in all the right places and with my Converse on, I feel pretty damn invincible in these pants when the situation calls for it.

On the other hand, there are those days when you just feel like nothing can go right. Where, as you're looking through your closet, nothing that you want to wear is going to cover the stuff that you can't seem to get off your mind - my hips look huge; my muffin tops are going to stick out; I really like this shirt, and I want to wear it, but I don't want it to look awkward. And for the days when we feel bloated out of our mind for whatever reason, and we just don't feel like making an effort because everything just seems drawn and tired - enter the Fat Pants.

The Fat Pants. They live in the bottom of our dressers, in the backs of our closet, and for those days when we need something with a little give in a world that pushes constantly, they're just the perfect thing. These, are my Fat Pants.



Let's take a look at the tag.

52% Ramie
27% Cotton
18% Polyester
2% Spandex
1% Rayon
Made in China
Size: 14
See Reverse for Care


I bought these things at Barbara Moss, and they have some great give to them. Perfect for coming up over the muffin tops and disguising the back fat. And they're dark wash, so they hide imperfections and stains from whatever life decides to hurl my way. They're good pants. The bottoms of the legs are a little worn from where I step on them, but still, they're good pants. They're my Fat Pants. I wear these bad boys when I'm having a bad day and I need to hide.

And that's a crazy idea, isn't it? Hiding in our clothes. Crazy. Laying on sweatshirts and other shapeless pieces because we don't like the way we look, because we don't feel as good as we should in our skin. So we hide. It's crazy, isn't it? The things that people do because they want to hide their imperfections from the rest of the world because it's not okay to be the way they are. Why would somebody want to do that to themselves?

For as much as we ask that question aloud - be it to an empty dorm room or a room full of people for a common goal of gaining body peace (and peace of mind, too) - there's not one person who can readily answer that truthfully without looking and sounding like a hypocrite. Because I can guarantee that in each and every closet there is a pair of pants or some other form of clothing designed for the specific purpose of hiding.

I know many a confident, courageous woman. And still, we have things like Fat Pants.

So, I have another dare for you. I dare you, each and every one of you reading this, I dare you that each morning, when you stand at your closet and your dresser, deciding what to wear for the day, when you pick up an item of clothing, instead of saying what's wrong or ugly with it on your body, remind yourself of why you bought it. Did you buy it because it was your favorite color? Did you buy it because it showcased you in a way that made you stand a little straighter? Like you wanted every eye to be on you, instead of trying to blend into the background? Remind you, as you stand there, of the ways that you are beautiful and unique. Remind yourself of the way that your body curves, since, if it didn't...well, you'd probably resemble a man. And, honestly, no self-respecting woman really wants to overtly resemble a man any more than they have to.

We are made individually different. And for that, we are beautiful. So put the Fat Pants back in the closet, stand up straight, stare the world in the eye, and say, Now what?

[If you really want a challenge - Leave the Fat Pants in the closet for as long as you can. Get a friend and have a contest of who can leave their hiding clothes hidden in the longest. Who knows - Go so long without finding them, and you might lose them. Be a shame, wouldn't it?]

Things to Know VIII

I have given my Focus a name. His name is Murfee. You can probably see how this relates to my life in general.

I haven't written anything brand-spankin' new in anything that I have (Murphy and Me, Sage, The Crossing, An Adventuring Focus) since I came back to college because I stopped procrastinating and actually do my work when I need to.

Because I have stopped procrastinating, I actually sleep at night.

Because I actually sleep at night, I function better in the morning when I have to be on the road at 7:15.

I only bought Starbucks coffee one day this week.

I only bought coffee today because I didn't remember to take my travel mug with me when I left the room this morning.

Remembered earlier why I don't eat lunch. Though the eggplant was pretty good. At least, I think it was eggplant....

Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is indeed abso-friggin'-lutely ADORABLE!!!

A bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider looks remarkably like a bottle of champagne from about six feet away.

Ral Foster is a stubborn S.O.B. And Jack's not much better.

I'm going home this weekend.

My floormate (basically my roommate that lives across in the hall in her own single and that I don't have to see 24/7 but almost do anyways) created a Relay for Life team titled Jackson 4.5 of which I am now a part of.

I consider the fact that I am now signed up for Relay for Life just cause in not going to the Hope Ball tomorrow and instead going home this weekend to spend time with my family and the Mayhem Maker.

Must remember to stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way through and get said Mayhem Maker a donut that is both frosted and has sprinkles.

Could quite possibly have writer's block.

There is currently a car alarm going off in the parking lot four floors below. This is not my car, because my car was built before car alarms.

I over-estimated the temperature outside my window. Therefore, when I bought my pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Cheesecake Brownie, the Redneck Freezer was not at maximum functioning capacity. Sadly, it hasn't fallen off the ledge yet.

I have no sense of direction.

Whenever Em and I go anywhere it winds up being an adventure. And we're both okay with this.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Dreams

I don't normally talk about my dreams. And by dreams I mean the shit that my mind comes up with when I'm buried under the comforter and completely oblivious to the outside world, not the hopes and aspirations that I want to one day achieve. While my mind can (and does) come up with some odd things at times (including but not limited to: Running for my life in a variety of places for a variety of reasons that are never fully explained; being in a slightly modified episode of Stargate: Atlantis in which Ronon is sitting on my back porch blasting Wraith as they come out of the woods; being arrested multiple times after running for my life and winding up in the back of a taxi cab in NYC; more Wraith; and that really funky one where I was gamboling around my high school looking for my boyfriend at the time and finding him mackin' on another girl behind the curtain in the auditorium....) but last night's was different. And It was different in the sense that it was, for lack of a better phrase, normal. It had a normalcy to it that, if I really stop and think deeply, probably scares the hell out of me.

Now, a lot of the times the places in my dreams are a little hazy, especially if it's not important. But this was set in a lounge of some sort, like you'd find in a college dorm complex. And there was a guy, and I now know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Louise. I don't really think I need to hear what you're going to say next. Really, that might be flirting with this little thing called TMI...

But it's not, because the only thing that was happening between me and this guy in this lounge was that we were simply, honestly....snuggling. Cuddling, whatever you want to call it (I could probably break out the dictionary, but that might be overkill), we were just simply sitting there, occasionally holding hands, but mostly just sharing a common space. And what really struck me was how I felt. I felt warm. Safe. And, above all else (and this is probably what freaks me out the most) I had this overwhelming sense of happiness. Almost rival to the feeling that I get when I see my family or when I build with blocks with Mads. It was this wonderful, rich, happiness that just made you glow from the inside out. And I was smiling, and I was genuinely, wonderfully happy with where I was at the moment. I literally didn't have any other care or worries. It was like we were in a bubble.

And then I woke up (with some assistance from my phone and it's Twitter updates, and there's really only one person that I follow via my phone who's also up at 6:30 in the morning) and I was literally freezing. I was under the comforter, under the sheet and the Giants blanket, and I was still cold like I'd been sleeping out in the snow. And the feeling of utter happiness and contentment that I had found with this person (who was pretty damn cute, too, like a cross between Anton Yelchin [Star Trek, Alpha Dog] and a college soccer player [Not the one you were thinking of, Heather]) was faded, almost completely gone.

I think what scares me the most about something like this, was that I feel like I've had a taste of that kind of happiness before. On a few, occasions, actually, and even though I feel like I might explode with joy when I see Mads, this is different. This...this fills a different part of you that you really didn't know that you had.

When I take a moment, step away, and look back on the relationships that I've had - one guy off and on for three years, a psuedo-no-idea-what-the-hell-this-is-and-don't-want-to-examine-it, and a two-week fling thing a year ago - I'm reminded of a quote from Sally from Practical Magic. It's when she's writing a letter to her sister.

"Sometimes I feel like there's a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there's a circle around it. Sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing... I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don't know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don't want to believe it but, there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon." - Sally

I'm twenty. I'm not entirely sure I should really feel this way. But what can you do?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

From the Archives IV

[I had quite honestly forgotten that I had written this - it was actually on my MySpace, of all things - which means that this was written back before I became fairly serious (in some respects) about blogging, since MySpace had a sort of blogging function, and it worked at the time.

Anyway, this was...This was a project, as mentioned below, for a friend/teammate of mine and her battle with leukemia. And there are things in here that are worth saying, especially about fulfillment and what matters to you as a person, in your life and around you. And it's quite evident that you see my voice, but it's not as....refined, as I've more or less become since then. There's good things in there. You just...might have to unpack a little.]


June 17, 2008

I feel like there's so much running through my head right now. I'm going to graduate from high school in a matter of days (I'm not bothering with weeks anymore) and that itself is a large step. My head is filled with those thoughts and everything that has been my life for the past 12 years. Trust me, it's a lot. There's so much and while some of it isn't very good or whatever, there's still a lot. It's almost like, after you walk across that stage, it's a permanent part of your past - something that's there and you remember, but can't go revisit. It's over and done with. It's a page in a book that's been laminated; viewable but unable to be edited. It's weird.

My friend, also my hero, Marika, she's home from being in the hospital battling leukemia. Her teammates, her WAZA sisters, we're making her a book with each page dedicated to the words that define WAZA. That define us.

W - Wisdom

A - Awareness

Z - Zen

A - Application

F - Fulfillment

L - Liberation

O - Oneness

I was given the page of fulfillment. You might think it's easy; look up the definition, find something that fits that, fits what you do with soccer and WAZA, and something that fits Marika's journey through cancer. It's not as easy as it sounds. I had to look for what fulfillment actually is, how I see it and feel it. Three hours and many steps of the gorge later, I have an idea of what fulfillment means to me. It's being happy; doing the things that you enjoy, being with the people who bring out the best in you, and just being who you are, even if it's a little crazy and all the actual tourists look at you funny. It's looking at the beauty in nature and seeing certain reflections in yourself. It's listening to piano music that makes you want to cry because you can just imagine what it would be like, listening to the music and hearing the speeches at graduation about how everybody is remembering the past but moving on to bigger and better things. It's listening to music from RENT because it speaks to you and fits perfectly the fact that you're balancing on ancient stone ledges in a natural gorge with swiftly running water at the bottom. It's connecting yourself to your world, the one inside your head and body and soul and the one that Mother Earth has created. And it's realizing just how you are, just who you are. The lens of the camera that you use on that journey is the one of truth. The pictures that will follow are who we are how it was today trying to find fulfillment in so many ways.

It's about listening to music, taking pictures, and realizing that there's more to life than what you're taught in school and see everyday. There is something to be said for saying "screw it" and doing what you want to do, simply because it makes you happy. That's fulfillment.

Fulfillment = Happiness = Spontaneuity = Being Yourself = Love = Life
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz