Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things to Know XII

[I know it's been a while since you've had a decent list. Bear with me.]

- Strangely enough, I've got a handle on things. Really.

- I made it through my chem test yesterday night without freaking out completely, something that I'm quite proud of (and so is the woman that I saw at the Counseling Center).

- Physics in action is quite a sight to behold: Reaching for a tissue and tipping the picture frame off the printer and into the iced coffee, which then hits the floor and splatters everywhere.

- Physics in action is sometimes not entirely fun: Case in point - said coffee catastrophe.

- One of my favorite things in my dorm room is the photo of my sister and I - me in my graduation robe, her with her favorite red heels off, both of us under a tree on a June day.

- One of my other favorite things - the photo of the small child that is more like me than one would think possible, pigtails and all, as we sit on the steps of the porch.

- And yeah, the boys of Boondock are always lovely to look at.

- My sister may disown me for watching Glee. I'm fairly okay with this.

- My room smells like coffee when you walk through the door. This is due to the foot and a half stain on the $20 indoor/outdoor dark green carpet from Wal-Mart for when I moved in last August.

- There are worse things that my room could smell like.

- I'm not entirely sure why I can't access the site that gave me my blog background to search for one for my sister in exchange for monster cookies.

- Yes, I allow myself to be bribed with baked goods.

- It's the Townsend Bakery, what do you expect?

- You're probably all waiting to hear about the shenanigans that I got up to in Toronto because I couldn't tweet them. Patience. I'll get to it.

- Is it bad that I'm looking forward to going back to work?

- Fred has turn signals!

- I could quite possibly declare my minor today.

- For the first time in quite a while, I feel really comfortable with myself and my own skin. Not quite warm enough to let bare arms run rampant, but it's getting there.

- I'm currently in the process of growing my hair out again, because, quite simply, I miss the length.

- My winter hat is tied to the door handle to dry from its run in with coffee.

- I took both FOCI to Toronto - Murf came back with fur missing; my sister's is singed in more than one place. I think they did well.

- My current can't-possibly-live-without-listening-to-this-right-now playlist is as follows: I'm Alive (Kenny Chesney), American Honey (Lady Antebellum), Rain is a Good Thing (Luke Bryant), Hey Good Lookin' (Jimmy Buffett), Hell on the Heart (Eric Church), The Truth (Jason Aldean), This Everyday Love (Rascal Flatts), Drops of Jupiter (Train), 100 Years (Five for Fighting), and Smile (Uncle Kracker).

- The other playlist is one that begins with Lady Gaga and only gets weirder from there.

- Yes I listen to Jimmy Buffett. I think we've been over this.

- Hey hey. Tomorrow is Friday.

- And things can only go up from here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It's funny. The title, that is. Because I sure as shit don't feel like it right now.

For one thing I'm incubating a head cold. For another, I can't really sit up straight right now - my digestive system is running rampant and it's just downright painful in a way that I haven't had to deal with in a very long time. And I'm at a little bit of a loss as to how to deal with it, because it's intense. And I just want to curl up and sleep for about twelve hours (honestly, but I can't do that, because I have this lesson plan that I need to finish for tomorrow because I'm teaching it) and maybe invest in a hot water bottle. Or a heating pad. Anything to make it so that I can sit up straight at the moment and not look like I'm going to permanently damage my spine in my chair.

My nose is runny, I'm hacking up a lung to a point that reminds me of my Whooping Cough days (but not there yet, and hopefully not again), and I can't really breathe through my nose. My lips are chapped, flaky, crusty, and downright disgusting. I'm so bloated that I could pass as pregnant. If anything, I feel the complete opposite of the title of this post.

What made me feel slightly better?

Well, my sister is probably going to attempt to disown me for watching Glee (to which I blame my last perspective because she watched it, and now I'm watching it) and the song they did at the end, during their "pep rally" thing - after which the episode was spent about an upcoming reporter coming to do a piece on the cheerleading squad in which they wanted one girl to drop about ten pounds in one week (again, reminiscent of my Whooping Cough days) and in the end they realized, as people really should at that age (and my age, because it's something that people still struggle with) that people are beautiful the way they are.

So they sang Beautiful.

And I'm not going to lie it made my day a little better. I feel pretty shitty right now, health wise, considering that I keep breaking into random cursing because my belly thinks it needs to stab itself from the inside, and I'm wheezing. Especially when I sleep. Makes me wish I was home so the cat and I could sleep and wheeze together.

However. I'm currently 40 miles from home (and Pepper, the cat, and Corona [yes, most likely named after the beer, but you would have to ask my sister] the dog), still feeling like crap and occasionally barking like an asthmatic seal and more or less have to do this on my own. Lovely.

I got Ruby (the bear) and Edgar (whatever the hell he is, we're still trying to figure that out, but we do know that he's green and fluffy) and a dorm bed currently calling my name. And above all, I have the knowledge somewhere in my brain that to someone out there - and to myself right now - I am beautiful in ways that aren't necessarily evident at the moment.

Or maybe it's because of that that I am beautiful. I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bad Road

I'm an honest person. A very honest, very open, empathic personality.

Occasionally it comes back to bite me in the ass. Hard.

This past week has been quite rough on your favorite (I know, I'm assuming a lot here) Sagittarius. It's a combination of lots of little things - and some not so little things - and everyone has a tipping point. It fluctuates a little (not wildly, otherwise that would mean some pretty big issues) and I tipped over it yesterday. Yesterday night, in fact (which, if you read that and you're slightly confused, yesterday night is also synonymous with the phrase 'last night') and it wasn't pretty. It's never pretty when someone who's usually completely with it completely freaks out and dissolves into tears for an hour while on the phone with her mother. At eleven, no less. On a Thursday.

And I'd be lying through my teeth if I said that everything was back to where it should be. For the most part, it is.

I have a legitimate to-do list in which I write things down, give them a number (not for ordering purposes, just because things should be numbered - it's a quirk), and cross them off when I'm done with them. I've used my planner more this year than I have ever in my life, including high school where they gave us one at the beginning of the year. Then again, it also doubled as our hall passes, and they greatly frowned upon you if you had no pass in the hall or came to class without your planner. I have a planner. I write things in it. I used red ink for the important things - major due dates, major events, things like that. Regular homework (you can find my physics homework in black ink) is a different color and not all capped. And my to-do list is folded in half (both pages - we hit page two earlier this week) is under the binder clip holding the front pages, the weeks already gone by, together so when I open it it's on the current week. It's hectic, messy, and largely reflective of the girl that keeps it.

Girl here is deliberate. I don't feel very much like a young woman - a young, twenty-year-old woman - one her own at college and striking it out on her own feet at her own pace and time. I don't feel much like that at the moment, even though today is, as my mother told me yesterday night it would be, amidst my tears, better. I'm frustrated, overwhelmed, and the part of me that's never quit anything in my life no matter how badly it's going is trying to silence the part of me that keeps screaming, You can't do this!! Silencing that voice is like trying to silence that voice in the back of your head that says, your tummy doesn't feel well today. Where's those pants, the big ones...and the sweatshirt and t-shirt, because your love handles look exceptionally large today, too.... Those voices live together, and when one starts clamoring, the others aren't far behind and before you know it, your self-esteem drops through the floorboards and the pints of Ben and Jerry's at Wegman's start lookin' real good.

I've already had my pint for the week. Wednesday. Em and I really need a RENT night, so I biked to Weggie's, got three pints (the cashier, a guy about my age, just more or less looked at me, asked me how I was, and then looked at the amount of ice cream. I merely replied it was a 'rough week') and then went back to the house where she lives (she lives in a theme house) and we walked to the corner of Jackson (that feels like a second home to her, dare I say like the one in Townsend does) and proceeded to bask in each other's company and the music, story, and love of RENT. Thank you, Jonathan Larson. And thank you, Ben and Jerry.

I'm going to point out that we laughed ourselves silly when Collins first appeared, after getting mugged, and burst into the loft with a cheery, "Merry Christmas, bitches!" around a cigar. We backed it up three times, at least. Same with Mark's first twitch-dancing in Tango Maureen.

Now fast-forward to Thursday. The paper proposal went fine (I changed my entire topic from poverty to education, and should mention that we have been denied access to schools in Toronto, cited as, 'invasive' and therefore most of my 'research' is going to come from any and all random conversations I have with people on the streets) but the test - the retaking of the second exam - started off good.

And rapidly went downhill like a freakin' landslide of monumental proportions. Village-leveling, even.

It's frustration. It's frustration and self-doubt, those two things that constantly follow you everywhere and that you can't seem to get rid of. It's not that I don't know the material. I can tell you what's going to happen, what you should do, and I can do it on the homework just fine. Put me in a room with a test and I, for lack of a better way to phrase it, freak the fuck out. I don't know why. I just do. And, yesterday started off great - rolling along through the multiple choice, doing just fine and dandy - and then that first question that you're not sure of pops up. Then you start to doubt if you know it well enough, because the next one seems a little trippy. From there, everything snowballs ridiculously, and there's really nothing you can do about it, but sit there, swear silently in your head, try not to look at the cute guy further on down the row that you've somehow developed a ridiculous crush on, and before you know it, it's been three hours and you and another girl are the only ones left. And by that point, I was so frustrated that I wanted to cry, my calculator had died, and I wanted nothing more than for the floor to open up and swallow me whole. Test and everything.

Which led to the call home and freaking out, with much crying and sniffling, and I need to wash my one long-sleeved shirt before I wear it in public again, and Mama being Mama.

It's one thing to tell someone that you have enough faith in them for them to get the help that they need, and quite another to finally tell yourself that you can't go on the way you're going and that you need assistance. What we figured is that because the housing for next year, due to the fact that I'm going abroad is a little up in the air, that's been eating at me, in the back of my mind. I don't want to end up living somewhere in which I don't know my roommate, if I have one, or if I sign with someone in a quad, don't know the people I'm living with. That being said, there's also the frustration of not knowing what to do in order to actually meet these people going abroad in the spring, and the whole housing process in general. It's not like last year when I was looking for a single, and ran up two more floors and kind of scoped out, after the fact, where my room was and even looked at it because I knocked on the door of the girl living there. I knew what I was doing, what options I had. I don't know any of that, at the moment. And that's something that's probably been bugging me.

Another big, big issue is the freaking out about the tests. That's most likely not something the CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning, of which I'm not going back if I don't have to, simple as that - I thought it was maybe just multiple choice tests, and walked out of there feeling less intelligent than I was and like I hadn't accomplished anything) can fix, but probably anxiety related. And the way to fix that is to see someone at the Counseling Center.

Which, naturally, brings up a lot of internal conflicts.

The first, of course, being, I've got no problem telling someone who needs that extra person to talk to see someone. When it comes to yourself? You really have to tamp down every misconception you have, and a good part of your pride, too, because you need the help. I'm not going crazy in any aspect of my life other than the fact that there is something wrong when I sit down to a test. Some part of me that simply panics and goes blank, and gets frustrated. Something that I haven't been able to fix on my own, but that I need assistance with. So I have an appointment. It was really hard to do, but this can't go on. This disconnect between knowing the material - liking it, too - and shitty test scores can't go on. It's not good for my stress level - which is probably why my face looks like Louise a la middle school, again, and I'm really impressed that I haven't seriously started itching because of my psoriasis - and something that just keeps weighing you down no matter how you try to fix it on your own.

I'm not going to lie because there's part of me that's twitching sporadically at the thought of having an appointment at the Counseling Center, but if it's going to make things better (thinking and comparing back to surgery because nobody's really sure what's going on in there), then you hold your tears, let go of your pride a little, and reach out because it's what you need.

My very wise friend, who was lying face-down on the quad as I walked out of class earlier, told me, You can keep going on your own because you've always done it, alone. Or you don't have to do it alone.

It was hard. It was really hard to walk in there, and tell the secretary that you think you need to talk to someone because this whole freaking out about tests is not good. And that's that. Mama said last night that there was help available, and that all I had to do was reach out a little. People are willing to help; you just have to swallow enough times and allow them to. It's not saying that you can't do it on your own, it's just that you don't have to do it on your own.

Things are in a sort of fragile equilibrium at the moment. Taking little bites over a longer period of time (Mama) will help space everything out, and that way, when it comes time when everything is due, there is no freaking out. It's sound advice. Difficult for a recovering procrastinator, but sound advice.

Right now? Decompression is much needed. Which is why I'm going to spend the time until my appointment with Residential Education to talk about my housing for next spring working on some of my writing. Which, as usual, comes back at the most inopportune moments (not that I'm really complaining) and I've really made some headway with working on the beginning/editing slowly Sage, which is really due for an update. That, and maybe I'll get around to making more changes with The Crossing. And speaking of that, there's good news to come out of this whole emotional hurricane - I know where I'm going in the composition book. I know where things are heading from this last set of page-break stars. And I'm really excited for that.

Things are a little difficult. What's important to remember through everything is that there are people who love you, and care about you. And want you to do well, and look at the bigger picture when the details get overwhelming. Look at the bigger picture of coming home, going back to work, and seeing a smile on a little face. Normalcy in a way that's intimately familiar, and makes sense on a bone-deep level. See the bigger picture of what's in the Fall, and the adventures just waiting to happen, the new friendships waiting to blossom, and the chance to wander in a completely new place. It's entirely possible to drown in the details when living in the bigger picture, and you can't throw yourself a safety line. Or if you can, you're damn talented. I'm not that talented.

So now there's a bit of a plan, the repeated mantra of You can do this, and the reminder that there's a place that's always behind you. It ain't easy, but that's just life.

And this...well, this was a reminder. At exactly the right time, from someone who always knows what I need and when I need it.

"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh?' he whispered.

'Yes, Piglet?'

'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'"

A.A. Milne

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Murphy and Me XX

I'd labored through the first three weeks of my gimpy ankle, had learned to shower without inuring myself further, and mastered the art of getting into and out of bed on one leg (quite an accomplishment when it's jacked as high as it is). All with minimal damage. There were, however, still some issues.

Namely, a physics exam, and my sock drawer was damn near empty.

The physics exam would be fine (probably not, but I'm going to illusion myself for a little bit longer) since I could crutch there and back no problem. The sock issue? A little more complicated for the simple reason that I'm on crutches. Crutches and a laundry hamper don't necessarily mix too well. I guess one idea would be to put my dirty, crusty socks in my backpack and take them down on my back, but honestly that's a bit disgusting, even for me. And I eat crunchy Cheetos and vanilla pudding. Together. Which turns people a really nice shade of green.

Right. Long story short - I was going to need some assistance.

Which led me to the hazel-eyed boy downstairs. But...well...laundry - even socks - is a bit too personal. I mean - married people, people who live together for years and are seriously dating and are probably having sex do laundry together. Murph and I don't fit into those categories. Which isn't to say that it's a good thing or a bad thing. It's just....a thing. It's just how we are, and I'm comfortable with how we are. And I'm pretty sure he's comfortable, too.

Damn it. This is making my head hurt.

Bottom line: I trust Murph. And like him (if I didn't, I wouldn't have let him kiss me and be my boyfriend) but not enough to ask for help to do my laundry, even if it's just my socks.

I rolled over and searched blindly for the cell. Flipped it open. Speed-dialed Sasha. She picked up on the fourth ring with a groggy, "Hello?"

"Hey, Sasha," I said, blithely forgetting that while I run on an earlier time frame, not many other college students (unless they're freshman and have no choice) do. Especially Sasha.

It was only 9:40.

"Ollie? What's wrong?" She was more alert now, probably deciding if this was panic worthy.

"Nothing. Really. What are you doing tonight?" Please be free, please be free.

"Nothing. Why?"

"Can you come help me do some laundry?"


"Socks. Just - I'm almost out of socks." Least it wasn't something odd like underwear. That would have been awkward. Which isn't to say that I don't wash my underwear (eeh) but it's one of those things that if you need more you can get six pairs at a pop at Wally World. Least until I find my balance again.

"Okay. I'll come up at eight thirty or so."

Thank you, I mouthed to the ceiling. "Great. See you later."


What now? "Yeah?"

"Why couldn't you tell me this at practice? In the afternoon?"

Because I would have forgot. "Later." And snapped the phone shut. No doubt in my mind that she would whack me with my own crutch later. Absolutely none.

We have an open door policy on our floor - if the door is open then anybody can just poke their head in and say hello or stay a while. One of my usual habits is to leave the door open and be sitting in the pseudo-lounge at the table doing homework. My desk was full - computer, printer, desk lamp, ridiculous amounts of paper - that there's no room for me to have books open. It's also fitting because I never had a desk in my room at home - homework was done on the couch, floor, or kitchen table. So a desk was an unusual thing for me when I came to college.

And with the whole open door policy, it's not like I'm a hermit, either. Sometimes Jo does he work out there, too. She's a chemistry major and we actually met because of a mutual friend who knew we were both going to be living on the same floor. We've become pretty close, actually, which is really nice. We make late-night Wegman's runs (drives - I do enough running at practice, thanks) and eat dinner together when we can. It's a nice contrast between Sasha, soccer, Murph, class, and life in general.

Probably what keeps me sane.

I rubbed my eyes, tired of trying to make any sense of the Tudor line in English history. Nutjobs, every one of 'em. If I had more brain power at the moment I could figure out what marrying your own cousin does to you on a biological level.

Can I make that an Honors Project?

Jo thumped her organic chem book on the table and went to pull the armchair over.


Jo could help me wash my socks. I grabbed the phone and opened a new message. "Hey, Jo?"

"Yeah?" she flopped into the chair. Opened the book - the same one that she was going to let me borrow when I took orgo. Which would be next semester. Oh. Joy.

"Can you help me do my laundry tonight? My socks?"


Pretty sure Sasha was more excited than she should have been when I told her she didn't have to come down. Once again I ignored the you couldn't tell me at practice? line. I'm gettin' pretty good at that.

That could be a bad thing.

We spent a few minutes in silence before my copy of Early Modern England 1485-1714, A Narrative History hit the table in frustration.

"What?" Jo didn't even have to look up.

"Waffle. A shit ton of waffle."

"Waffles are good."

You read in literature when a character - often female - hears a voice that she'd be great not hearing again and seems to freeze completely. I had underestimated that feeling by a factor of about a million. It's hard, brittle, and ice-capped water cold. And it dominates your chest. Jo was looking at me in confusion and I couldn't articulate myself if I tried right then. My higher brain functions had taken a holiday.

Much as they used to around Bobby.

I generally tried to live in such a way as to regret nothing. At times in said life - much like this one - I was ready, willing, and able to regret my complete tool of an ex-boyfriend. Of which I was currently under the opinion that if I never saw him again it would be entirely too soon, as overused as that damn cliche is. That's the sad truth of it, though.

Biting back every acidic comment longing to spew forth (an impressively nasty list, by the way) I turned sideways in the chair and simply stared.

Jo had abandoned orgo for the drama across from her. She could have held out a little longer; I'm not a walking reality show.

"Bobby," I ground out.

"Olivia." He knew he'd get his head ripped off if he even attempted my nickname.

"What are you doing here?" Not nice? Don't. Care.

"Can't I come see you?"

Four floors up? "Let me rephrase - what do you want?" Because he wanted something. He walked up four friggin' floors, knowing full well he's on my shitlist! Tenacity and stupidity. Overwhelming stupidity.

"I want to hang out."

Now? He needed his head examined. "You couldn't have sent me a text?"

He simply stared at me. We both knew I would have deleted it. Unopened.

"Bobby. I don't want to see you. I stopped seeing you. There was a reason. Please respect that." Which was a lot more civility than he deserved. A lot more civil than I wanted to be.

He continued to stare at me, rather stupidly, and then, without another word, turned and left. I slumped in the seat, swearing violently in my head. He was such a...a...what was the word the boys used? Oh. Yeah. He was such an asshat! And a whole host of other things that were too nasty to say in public. And I was no sad to have him gone.

"He's still creepy," Jo said absently. I grunted in agreement, swinging my legs under the table again.

Resolutely picking up the highliter, I went back to reading of the Tudors. Couldn't shake the feeling, though, that whatever good vibes I'd had going on were gone. It hadn't been much to begin with, which more or less pissed me off that it was gone.

I picked up my phone and opened a new text message. 'Hi.' Sent it through cyberspace or whatever it runs to Murph. He hit me back pretty quick.

Hi beautiful :)

That made me smile. So much that I didn't care when Jo caught my sloppy grin and rolled her eyes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wandering Abroad

For the most part, most of you know that I'm going abroad to Wales this fall. Well, before you can actually go there are all sorts of meetings that you have to sit through - and they classify them all as mandatory - one of which is called Passport to Success. It's not so much an informational meeting about the nitty gritty details of studying abroad (airfare, housing, classes) but more about the experience, the expectations you have going in, and what you hope to come away with at the end of the semester. So, at one point, he handed out some paper and posed to us some general questions.

What are my goals?
How do I want to be?
When I'm back, what did I do?

And we spent a couple of minutes filling them out. It wasn't meant as a long thing, just short and sweet. Considering I'm cleaning my room (I have people coming over at 4 and the place was a mess), I found the paper and wanted to share with you what I want out of the experience that's coming up. More or less.

- I want to learn enough Welsh to introduce myself and say more than hello.

- I want to be open and take every opportunity that comes my way.

- Watch a football game in London.

- Regret nothing.

- Make friends.

- Learn and understand culture different than mine.

- Have an awesome birthday.

- Enough contact with back home to ensure my mother I'm still breathing but be fairly independent.

- Get lost multiple times and be okay with it.

Things to Know XI

- I watched a 3-D movie last night for the first time: How to Train Your Dragon with two girls from my floor.

- How to Train Your Dragon is a really, really good movie and reminded me of my cat. Okay, Toothless reminded me of my cat.

- Said cat, Pepper, actually resembles a pot-bellied pig more than a feline because she's been licking the fur off her sides.

- I took my best friend for a bike ride around one of the littler squares by where I live. She just wasn't sure it was that little.

- Pam works just as well on rusty bike chains as does WD40.

-I got a C on my physics test that I thought for damn sure I was going to fail miserably.

- I had NO H8 painted on my cheek, duct tape over my mouth, and my photo taken in protest of Prop 8.

- I was voted slightly without consent to be the layout editor next year for martini. They just verified that that was alright when I walked through the door at the meeting.

- They'll more or less have to wait for me to come back from abroad unless we want to trust the editions through the internet.

- I finally got my NYC blog post done. It is appropriately massive. And can be found here.

- We leave for Toronto in two weeks.

- The semester is almost over with. Uh.....

- I've got a bunch of free weekends now that I am not doing the sound board from the production of, Devotion to the Cross. Because I had too many evening conflicts that they apparently couldn't work around.

- I just instead have a 10-15 page paper to write instead.

- My sister is going to punch me the next time she sees me because I keep promising her Murphy and I haven't actually given it to her yet.

- That whole no procrastination thing? Yeah, gone out the window at the moment.

- There is a clothes island in the middle of my room. Therefore there is only one path from the door to the bed.

- I'm ready to go back to work.

- I am bad at being feminine - I forget to shave my legs for weeks at a time.

- I've had so much coffee in the past week that I'm impressed I haven't died of caffeine overload.

- Tonight is Relay for Life. Cue the voluntary all-nighter for the sake of hoping to one day abolish cancer.

- It's quite frightening - cancer, that is - because as a scientist in the chemistry and biology fields, you know exactly what happens in the body to form cancer, and you know the effects of the ways to fight it.

- In this regard the human body is incredibly resilient.

- Last summer I went out to visit my best friend for a week - not in her hometown but as she was vacationing on Martha's Vineyard. This year - and I need to have this talk with mom and dad - but I'd like her to come out for a week. Specifically the one where we're at the lake.

- The only snag in that plan is that I might have to work, and I'm not sure how many cruises I'll have.

- Did I mention I'm ready to go back to work?

- I don't know where I'm going to live next year. I'm more or less okay with this.

- Until I learned it was illegal to pitch a tent on the quad. Damn.

- Technically it was also illegal to go sledding on campus, but we did that anyway.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wonderfully Wordless

Still workin' on the mammoth NYC post. It's coming; I only have about two more days worth of stuff to write about (currently on Day 4) so it really should be coming, and it will have pictures and everything.
Anyway, enjoy this Wonderfully Wordless Wednesday post. From Easter Sunday.

As my sister succinctly put it: Two peas in a pod.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Author at Soul

I wish they made bendy straws for the pub. It would be so much better to drink my coffee with. (FYI - Louise is on her second venti-sized Starbucks for the day. You have been warned.)

As usual, I was trolling (creepin') across the Twitter world and seeing what was happening in the lives of the people that I follow and/or mutually follow me. I came across this post from Megan over at Velveteen Mind and, well, honestly couldn't help myself. Writing is such a big part of my life and a big part of who I am and realized that yes, this is indeed "right up my alley." Her post was absolutely packed with questions (some rhetorical and some non, as always) and while I've given my readers an insight into what it's like living with your own created characters and the facets of personality that they encompass....this is different. Maybe not on the outside, but definitely the inner core is different.

There is a little bit of a difference, believe it or not, between my creative writing and my blogging. Yes there is a creative aspect involved in the care, feeding, and maintenance of The Wandering Sagittarius (the blog, not the girl) because that's a mainstay in the life of the Wandering Sagittarius (the chick, not the blog). It's also quite interesting to know that you can trace the evolution of the person through the writing.

I've gone through some revolutions, revelations, evolutions, and some incredibly interesting times since I started writing in a fashion of what some would call "seriously." It actually started off, more or less, as therapy of a sort. I hadn't made the greatest decision in the world, the consequences were incredibly ass-biting, and for the better part of two years there was this emotional clusterfuck of a girl who was also trying to proverbially find herself and manage her first year of high school all at the same time. She had nobody but herself to blame, and she did. She did just that - she took responsibility for her actions (or lack thereof) and she learned how to deal with things. It took a shit ton of time and effort, more than a few sleepless nights, lots of tears, and a composition book with M&M's Minis on the cover that had, weeks previously, been slated to be a poetry book or a journal. Instead, it became the foundation for rebuilding. Rebuilding a person and part of a personality, a mentality, and going from a fragile emotional state of shame and responsibility to someone unafraid to be on her own again, no longer scared of her own shadow or the creaking of an old house as it moved in the wind. She had her moments, her bad days, and she realized, shortly after the second composition book was started, that while writing was fun, and she did it well, it was also the way that she maintained some level of coherency when stress really, really threatened to level everything completely. It was calming. It wasn't always relaxing (you try weaving four different individual perspectives into something coherent and readable and see how relaxed you are at the end of the day) and writing fit around homework, sports, and general (sort of, more or less) social life.

The Crossing was the first thing that I did, the first story to reach over fifty pages and then continue on that I had done since I had started "writing" at the age of six. It's written in long hand, in a composition book (there's eleven of them now) and it started off that way because Louise had lost every one of her extra privileges that a teenage could - phone, internet, staying home alone, etc. I went to school in the morning, went to practice, came home at night, and in my spare time when homework was done (and you bet your ass I did my homework - I didn't need another ass-chewing) I wrote. My parents actually figured out fairly quickly and without much ado that when I was writing, I had probably had a really, really bad day and it was best to just let me alone until I was finished and had become semi-human again.

I don't think I had expectations of finishing The Crossing when I started it, simply because I have issues finishing things. Finishing stories, especially long ones, is something that is difficult for me because I don't like things to come to an end. Life to me just keeps rolling, and you go along with it, take its punches, and keep going. In a way, the story sort of spiraled out of control. It gained its own momentum, its own life, and started to take new shape. My junior year of high school saw me creating a query letter and attempting the first meager searches to get published. I had the idea that I was going to finish this thing before I graduated from high school. Now I'm aiming to have this finished before graduating college. Considering I'm almost done, this might actually happen.

The one thing about being a writer, though, is that your brain never stops working. So, while working on this massive thing (which is incredibly near and dear to my soul) I got other ideas, too. Some of them I kept, locked away, and used some of them in the novel in uses probably not what the characters or myself were expecting (you can find the fifty-page story I started in eighth grade titled System of the Downs in parts of The Crossing - character crossovers because I needed names and characters for another purpose). I learned the fine art of balancing - balance plot lines, characters, individual stories, and everything else associated with writing. I people watch whenever I'm stationary to pick up on body language and interesting habits to translate to characters, but everything no longer fits into the neat (large and messy) box labeled The Crossing and that's okay. There are things that I can now apply to the others projects that I'm working on - namely Murphy and Me and Sage, inspired by my best friend and our tendency to wander through the cemetery at twilight to see the leaves in their fall glory. I take a lot from my surroundings, and transfer that, make it into my own, shape it as necessary, and filter it back through into the writing itself. Whether it be people or things, places or bits of conversation, while the essential, underlying idea and concept is mine, there are a lot of things that can trigger more pieces of the puzzle.

And pieces of the puzzle is not an accurate metaphor for me. It's like there's a movie screen in my head, and depending on whether or not I'm writing or have the time to sit down and write, the screen will either be paused or running. I want you to see what I'm seeing, so I write it down because I can articulate better with paper and pencil than I can with spoken words (my sister will attest to this). I want the people who read what I write to see the worlds that I see, the people that I have come to know (even the villains, and they're some of the craziest personalities ever created), and see the lives. Characters, while they might be facets of my personality, are tangible to me. And once something gets written, it gets checked by them. Almost like they're verifying that it happened the way that I have it down. This only really happened halfway through the fifth composition book, and it's something that has stuck in my writing ever since.

There is not a single piece of writing that I will lay claim to that either didn't originate or didn't spend time on a piece of notebook paper, scrawled with a pen. Hell, I even start my college essays on paper. It's more...natural, I guess is the only way I can figure out to describe this. More real. I'm not knocking computers in any way but for me having a hard copy is breathing and sleeping a little easier. Should something happen to any of my files, I have hard copies. I don't have to start from scratch, which, when you have at least six years of work on one project....that's actually something that I have difficulty fathoming. I nearly have panic attacks when I think about something happening to The Crossing because I don't remember the specific paths that I took back in the beginning without actually looking. To lose all of that, even accidentally..... It's not a risk that I'm willing to take. And being a packrat comes in handy in these instances, too.

I'm an odd duck. I've got odd habits, weird colloquialisms, and an over-active imagination. What I don't have are specific rituals. If I'm ready (read need to) sit down and write, I just grab the book or a piece of paper (or fifteen), find a place to land be it the couch or the kitchen table, and just go. Occasionally, if the situation calls for it, there's music (namely, I've been trying to write an off-book scene with Ral and Bella, and he's so incredibly emotionally screwed that I've been listening to classical, Star Trek, and other mellowed out songs to try and get into his headspace) and sometimes, like whenever I write any paper (both of my history papers and nearly everything else academic), there is tea. If I have the opportunity to work for about five or six hours straight, I'll down about four cups of tea, at least. And churn out about thirty or so pages, if I'm really motoring. There's not really a specific time of day - whenever I have time and the urge or I get tired of the fact that I really haven't written anything in the book since January (which bugs the shit out of me at the moment, but I'm a little backed up by college and summer is coming soon, which is always a good time for me, writing wise). There's no specific outfit, no real choice between glasses or contacts.

I am also my own worst critical enemy. If I read something of mine I end up thinking along the lines of, This looks like you wrote it in fifth grade and you want somebody else to like it? WTF is wrong with you, Louise? Part of me always remembers what my eighth grade English teacher wrote on the back of my yearbook - Molly - You are a truly gifted writer and don't let anyone tell you different. There are days when that's really difficult to remember; days when I'm ridiculously unassuming about my writing. I craft stories, characters, and plot well - that I know, and I know there are people out there much better than I am. How do I know this? They're published and I'm not. I'm working on it, but it hasn't happened yet, and as always, that begs you to question every little detail about why you do something repeatedly and get no positive feedback from. Hell, it still bugs me that my work is so far out of the Top Five on inkpop and I know sixth graders who have better sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and believability. Which begs me to question myself about whether or not I'm actually good and this. It's an endless, semi-vicious cycle that I'm pretty sure all writers go through. I'm no exception.

I do know, however, that some of my best work comes when I'm the most off-balance and emotionally overloaded. That's just how I operate as a person. It's completely illogical, but that's me, in a nutshell.

Another completely illogical thing is that I don't plan. I don't sit down and write out a coherent and cohesive plan about what I'm going to write about. Not for college papers, and not for whatever project I'm currently cranking out. The only "planning" that I did for The Crossing is the list of characters (Jack, Gin, Kayley, Ned, Nell, Richard, Anna, Danny, Elizabeth) and ages for them, and two places (Pine Hollow, the Journeyway) that can be found the page before the actual novel begins. That is the only planning that happened in the beginning, and the only "planning" happening toward the end is that I know what I want to do for an ending, and just need to actually get there, hitting a few key points along the way. Then again, the story could head in a completely different direction, and things will shift. There is nothing set in stone between where I am and the ending. Even then, if something better comes up, the ending might change. Planning for Murphy and Me? Absolutely none. It's coming out of my head as I go along. I have an inkling (faint) of where I want to go, some things that I want to do, but nothing really concrete. Same with Sage and the tentatively titled Horizon Line that looks like it's going to be a sequel to The Sunset Girl. Go figure. I don't plan, which is a mirror to how my life goes. I very rarely plan anything more than a week or two in advance, and that's only because I'm working on not procrastinating so much and working on improving my time management (which, at times, doesn't seem to exist) and to get myself ready for tackling the workforce in whatever job I happen to get after my four years of college are done. Other than that, I just roll with whatever comes my way. Occasionally I drown, but mostly I wander. Appropriate, don't you think?

I don't normally touch things when I write, other than the pencil. If I need to sort some things out before I proceed, I usually rub my forehead or play with whatever necklace I've got on. Occasionally I play with the back on the piercing in my right upper ear or curl a strand of hair that's fallen from wherever I've put it up (the hair must go up when I write - it's actually a rarity to find it down, in all reality) or I trace the top of my mug (that usually has tea or coffee or cocoa in it), which is an action that I have actually given to Ella, my title character in Sage. When she sits at her table, deep in thought and trying to figure out life in general, if her coffee up isn't too far away, she runs her finger over the top edge of it. I also (because I just did this as I was thinking of what to say next) cup the web of my hand (either one) just under my nose and squeeze my cheekbones, or rub my forehead in the same way.

My theory on the whole planning thing coincides with life because if you try and plan everything that is going to happen in your life, where is the time to take the opportunities you weren't expected? The Wandering Sagittarius mentality: Take every opportunity you can and regret nothing. You get one life.

I told you, I'm an odd duck. I would probably fly backwards if given the option.

A writer takes inspiration from their surroundings; a good writer is selective of the situations they put themselves in, for writing purposes; a great writer creates their own inspiration. Writing is something in which you craft, much like glass-making, and you shape whatever language you need to fit your purposes, to shift someone else's lens and have them see through your eyes. It's an incredibly personal way to get to know somebody since it's difficult to write and not have yourself come through, even just a little. It's an extension of who you are, what you've become, and occasionally where you're going. It's infinite, divine, darkly delicious, and definitely devious. It's fearless - all those things you wanted to say, the possibilities that you wanted to walk through, to see in detail? You can do those. You can be whoever you want to be. Most importantly, you can be yourself.

It's wonderful to love something with all your heart, but to love something with all your soul is something sacred, nigh untouchable, and humanly fundamental in all its grace.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz