Sunday, August 17, 2014

Society Woman

Last weekend was, for many, the second weekend in August. For anyone in the Twin Tiers region of New York, specifically the southern portion of Seneca Lake, last weekend was also NASCAR.

I'm not normally a NASCAR fan. I just don't see the point of driving in a circle turning only one way. But when they come to WGI? That takes true driving. The wheel goes both directions - it's a road course - and I will happily sit down and spend three hours of my life watching about 40 high horsepowered vehicles burn off copious amounts of fossil fuel. However, I rarely actually get to watch it.

My family has been part of the Grange organization for years. As a way to "make money" in which to pay the bills for the building, they've also been volunteering at WGI since, I believe, the early '80s. I spent many a NASCAR weekend up there in a food stand, pulling sodas with my cousins before the track transitioned to selling bottles instead of cups. Though we got out of the food stand a couple years ago, we still volunteer. This time we sell souvenirs.

I like to volunteer. I happily spent nearly two full winters volunteering at my local library during Saturday mornings and weekday evenings, and I did many hours of service in high school and college. I went on a week-long service trip to Virginia for two Spring Breaks, and I genuinely just enjoy helping others. So when Mom asked me if I would come back that weekend and help them out, of course I said yes.

Many of you know I had open heart surgery last summer (we're coming up on a year!) and that I have a fairly substantial scar smack dab in the middle of my upper chest. Really the only time it's not visible is if I'm wearing a t-shirt and sweatshirt. Other types of clothing usually mean the very top portion is showing. This doesn't bother me; I'm rather fond of my scar. It's a part of me.

Which is why it kind of caught me off guard when an older gentlemen, who was looking at some stickers last weekend, noticed it and, rather quietly said, "You've had open heart surgery, haven't you?"

To which I replied yes. Mom added we were coming up on a year. Turns out, he had had open heart surgery, too. He'd recognized the size, placement, and shape of the scar for what it was.

That's the moment that I kind of realized I was in a sort of club with everyone else who had ever had such a procedure done. Much like I am as a writer, I'm now part of a larger community that's been through something monumental and traumatic. It's a really awesome thing to know someone else has been through exactly what you have, and they, like you, have come out on the other side, too.

All in all, it was one of my favorite experiences from last weekend, and certainly a conversation that will stick with me for a while.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Who, Me? An Unofficial Official #PitchWars Mentee Bio

I should not be doing this. I should be frantically cleaning my apartment because my landlord is showing it to someone this afternoon while I'm at work since I'm moving this month. I feel like Loki's I DO WHAT I WANT gif his highly appropriate here, and, you know, maybe one of these days I'll teach myself how to put gifs in my blog text. Pictures I can do.

PitchWars is back! Yay! If you're not sure what PitchWars is, go here and see the lovely Brenda Drake (she has the details).

So who I am, besides a clearly Wandering Sagittarius? Weeell....I'm a performance grade asphalt binder technician for a construction company in Central New York. I work with the stuff that make roads and can use my BA in chemistry on a daily basis. Pretty much. So, my life is kind of like this.

Maybe not that extreme. More like this, really.

My coffee has clearly worn off. But this happens when you work 40-60 hours a week.

Righteo. Some cool things about me.

1) I'm Part Cow
Yes, you read that right. I'm part cow. I found out in March 2013 that I was born with an ASD - atrium septal defect - in which the hole between the top two chambers of your heart don't close when you're born. My cardiologist wasn't comfortable with the size of the hole (huge, apparently, and we later learned that huge meant size of a half dollar) and sent me to another cardiologist who was going to put an artificial patch in. Well, when he looked at the size of the hole, not only was it huge, there also wasn't enough on the one side of the heart wall for it to anchor to.

About a year ago (August 29, 2013) I underwent open heart surgery at the age of 23. They put a patch made of cow (they usually use pig, but I have cow) over the hole, wired my sternum back together, and my cousins dubbed me "The Iron Cowheart Lady" when they gave me an Iron Man arc reactor t-shirt while I was recovering in the cardiac step-down unit.

2) I've Always Been a Writer
When I was six I thought writing a book was taking a published book and transcribing it into a notebook. Now that I'm significantly older, I know that's called plagiarism, and I've since then started really working with my overactive imagination and ideas. As a result I've finished five novels - two of which belong in a series - and three of which I'm seriously querying to find an agent/get published. This includes my PitchWars entry, FROST, which is a retold fusion of Jack Frost and The Pied Piper set in a small town in the New York Adirondack Mountains. What's pretty cool is that FROST didn't start off as a novel, it started as a dramatic text I wrote for a class I took in 2010 while studying abroad in Wales. 

Though I still haven't managed to finish that ten composition book monstrosity I started my first year of high school, I did decide to start to rewrite it. There's something really fulfilling about reconnecting with the first set of characters you ever worked with.

3) A Dead Poet's Practical Magic
I'm a movie junkie. I have an ever-expanding crate of them, a years-old Netflix subscription, and can basically quote you certain films line by line. My favorites are by far Dead Poets Society and Practical Magic. My current favorite TV love is the BBC's The Musketeers, though I am a lover of all things geek, including various series of Star Trek and shows like Stargate: SG-1, The Big Bang Theory, Stargate: Atlantis. Superhero movies? Love those, too. My BFF came to visit a couple weeks ago and brought me mini action figures of Data and Riker. I squealed loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood at 1 am.

A Few More Random Fun Facts
- I can't have pets in my apartment, so I consider Henry the Houseplant my pet.
- My writing tends to have either alternating POV's or multiple POV's.
- I am not the world's biggest fan of first person POV, though there are some exceptions - like Kenneth Oppel's Matt Cruise series (which is phenomenal).
- I put together 750-piece puzzles in my spare time.

That's pretty much me in a nutshell. I'm also a hot mess of crazy most days, but nobody needs to know that. Thanks very much for stopping by, and good luck to all my fellow mentees, who's fantastic bios can be found right here. Go check them out!

"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz