Thursday, May 31, 2012

High School Graduation


So, I’ve had my high school graduation on my mind lately.  It’s probably because it’s May and I keep having recollections of where the moon was on pivotal nights of my life.  This time of year, the moon is hanging in the same place, so I keep having flashbacks. 

I can’t think of one thing I liked about grad.  My shoes were too expensive and uncomfortable.  My dress was the wrong colour.  My hair didn’t work out.  No one except my date, my mother and my grandmother came to congratulate me.  I didn’t go to any parties.  I stayed up too late that night because I felt some ironic pressure to do so and was sick the next morning.  About two weeks after the ceremony a boy came up to me in and asked me why I didn’t go to his party.  I told him, “I wasn’t invited.”  He said, “Everyone was invited.”  I just smiled weakly and moved on.  I really didn’t think ‘everyone’ could possibly include me.

So what was so wrong with me that I was so completely alienated from these people I’d grown up with?  I was beautiful.  I had clear skin, 95% straight teeth, I was teenager-girl skinny, got excellent grades, volunteered in the community, held down a job (sometimes more than one), went to church, and about a zillion other things that should have made me grade A material.    

It wasn’t that anyone was particularly bad to me or that I had anything serious to complain about.  It was just that I had this vision in my head.  I used to imagine if one of the guys I liked told his mother that he wanted to date me (it’s a town where everyone knows everyone) and her reaction.  I could seriously see whoever’s mom flipping out, telling her son that I was no good.  Her baby could do better.  It wasn’t just the boys either.  I knew girls had the same conversations with their mothers.  It’s because everyone always wants more and better … and pretty and smart girls don’t fool anyone’s mother.  They’ve got to have a lot more. 

But worse than any of that, what really bothers me is how much I held back my personality and my style.  From grade ten to twelve, I was like a muzzled dog.  I put that muzzle on myself, because I couldn’t bear to stand out more than I already did.  I was so dazzling in a colour none of them had ever seen before.  And I’m still strange, like an alien to some people, but as a grown-up I can just flip my hair and a courageous salute.  It’s not like it matters if anyone in the world likes me.  That’s the beauty of my adulthood – I’m not afraid of those things anymore.  But I still didn’t go to my ten year reunion – no cobwebs to clear either.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview Me


Did you all know that I love The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron?  It’s a book/program about how to connect with your inner artist and get to work.  I love it because it says it’s okay for me to hate reading.  I know, everyone thinks it’s unforgivable for me to hate reading when I’m an author myself.  I think that reading dulls your mind.  Julia Cameron says it’s a tranquilizer.  I’m like, “Sing it, Sister!”  So, I’m going to write a little interview with the questioner being me (the angst ridden, oppressed me) and the interviewee also being me (the happy, free me).

Q.  Isn’t the first step to becoming an excellent writer reading?
A.  No.  Reading someone else’s work will never put you in contact with your inner voice.

Q.  But how will you write something of the same quality as Jane Austen if you don’t study her work until you accidentally start calling your husband Darcy?
A.  Who wants to gain their success by imitating someone else’s style?  She wrote about her day.  What’s so bad about writing about mine?  Do you hate me?

Q.  I’m the one asking the questions here.  Don’t you know that everything has been done and anything you create will just be a copy of something else?
A.  Wait a second.  Two seconds ago you were telling me to copy Jane Austen and now you’re telling me that I can’t use any material that anyone else has used in their writing ever?  The human experience has many similarities.  Naturally, there is going to be some overlap with other authors.  We are all humans.  If you make it too weird, or original, it loses its relevance.

Q.  You have written 18 novels and you only have one tiny novella up for sale.  Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?
A.  No.  Putting my books online for free has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.  My readers spoke to me and encouraged me.  I couldn’t have written such good pieces without them.  And truly, I write better when I’m writing a serial.  I almost want to go back to doing that instead of putting books up for sale because I wrote excellent cliff hangers at the end of chapters when I knew I had to work my tail off to get my readers to come back the next week.  Living that way really suited me.

Q.  What about awards?  You hear about authors who can barely find publishers for their pieces getting awards and winning prizes.  Why haven’t you tried to do that?
A.  I hate reading.  Reading the rules of how to enter a writing contest puts me to sleep.  It’s the same with recipes.  I can’t make something that has more than nine ingredients or more than six steps.  I just get too bored.

Q.  And you don’t think you’re weak minded? 
A.  If I was really weak minded, I wouldn’t have been able to finish 18 novels. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gokusen


Gokusen is without a doubt the fowlest manga I have ever allowed myself to read … and I’ve been following it for years.  It’s about a woman in her twenties who becomes a teacher in an extremely rough high school for boys.  You’d think that she wouldn’t be able to handle the delinquents that attend the school and go home crying after one day (after what they do on day one – I would have quit).  She doesn’t, because actually she’s a mafia princess and can handle anything these punks can throw at her.
                                                                     
The series was quite popular and had an anime and two seasons of a drama made for it.  Forget those.  The manga was where my heart was even though it was quite disgusting.  There’s frequent mention of prostitution, really bad language, and violence and icky vulgarities are abundant.  But I fell in love.  Our little teacher, Kumiko, has a student who is this brilliant boy who should have gone to an elite high school but because he punched out a teacher in junior high – he got stuck at the school for stupid rowdy boys.  His name is Shin.  He dyes his hair red and is eventually referred to as ‘Young Master Red Lion’ by the yakuza (Japanese mafia).  And guess what?   He’s suffering from an excruciating love for Kumiko.  That’s what got me.  Hook.  Line. Sinker.

The author places so many taboos in their relationship that it is totally and completely out of the question.  I decided that I would be satisfied with the series if he kissed her … once (P.S. That’s my favourite in Gone with the Wind when Rhett is like ‘Kiss me, Scarlet – ONCE’).  Anywoo – so today I finally got to read the end of Gokusen.  As an aside, it was really quite pathetic.  I heard the last chapter came out and I didn’t know how much I’d missed, so I went back and read like 20 chapters (maybe more) to catch up.  And it turned out that the only chapter I hadn’t read was the last one.  BUMMER.  In the last chapter Shin confesses that he loves her and he tries to kiss her … and she uppercuts him. 

MY HEART IS BROKEN.

I didn’t care if he got to be with her forever.  I didn’t care that he’d set up a way for him to follow her into her world.  I didn’t care about any of that.  All I wanted was a picture of him kissing her – ONCE. 

You see, this was my thing.  Other people have things they’re suckers for.  You know someone comes in while you’re reading and you throw a pillow at the door and yell, ‘Can’t you tell grandma’s watching her stories?’  That special thing that makes your heart flutter like you’re 13 again?  This was mine and he didn’t even get to kiss her ONCE. 

Thank goodness for fanart.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Poetry Selection - Black Mask


For my blog this week, I’ve decided to repost one of my old poems.  This particular one was once included in a suspense newsletter on writing.com (I didn’t choose it – the person who was organizing the newsletter did), but even to this day I think it’s kind of a fun piece, so here’s to sharing it one more time.

Black Mask

There’s a city set against a setting sun
The outline of the skyscrapers fades as the city lights flick on
As the sun sinks behind the buildings
I wake up

I’m not a night creature by nature
It’s just my favourite pleasure to use the night as my sparring ground
Although I’m not your enemy tonight
I’ll meet you

I wear a black mask over my eyes
It’s added adventure for me to keep my face a secret until the last second
I haven’t met you formally
So I’ll wait

You’re the sort of woman I’ve seen
Hang upside down in your loft just to let the blood rush to your head
Pop pink bubblegum at strangers
You tease me

Maybe it’s your playful eyes
Or the way you walk when you know everyone is watching you
It’s your style that draws me to you
You’re too good

I’m the kind of guy you follow
Because I caught your arm when you tripped coming out of the tunnels
You saw my black mask and couldn’t resist
Our eyes met

Chasing me all the way to the pit
It’s smoky and the air is filled with something to let you know it was a mistake
Coming here and watching me fight
You were interested

Your eyes were wide as you warned me
You didn’t think I stood a chance against the giant guy who stood opposite me
I was too slender, my hands too white
I’ll show you

His blood splattered into the third row
But that was only the beginning for me since I’m not even warm yet
You don’t know how tough I am
You’ll see it

By the fourth brawl I’m ready to go
I thought you would have run home or passed out on the floor by now
But you relaxed and you cheered for me
I heard you

I’ve got a cut above my eyebrow
I ignore the sting and the pain in my jaw and asked you if I could take you home
Still, I wear the black mask
It’s my name

My wet hair falls over the material
You’re exceptionally conversational as we leave and head out the back doors
I was wrong about you
You had fun

I think only that you’re beautiful
And how I want to blow your mind apart with the exact colour of my eyes
I haven’t decided that path yet
Will you wait?

I’ll watch you tonight
You’re the type of woman who eats ice cream directly from the tub
Who sits on the countertop and talks about me
And how I kissed you

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Letter to a Child


Dear Child,

You are not as helpless as you think you are.  Not all things are accomplished with money.  If you are standing in a room with thirty children, there is at least one person there who wants to be friends with you.  Don’t be snobby.  Social climbers are the worst and if you are generous socially, you could unwittingly be the inspiration of another person.  And at some point – you will be become a source of inspiration for multiple people.

Fine motor skills take time to develop.  Right now, the visions in your head do not match what you are able to put on paper.  Persistence in all areas is eventually rewarded.  Remember, you need not be an exquisite painter to be an exquisite artist.  And discarding projects is not a cause for regret, but discarding everything is.

Start reading now.  You don’t have to read anything you don’t want to, but work hard to find things you do want to read.  The exercise will help you do better in school and even though the grades don’t matter – the confidence boost does. 

Beg for singing lessons.  Apart from extra lessons that could save your life – singing lessons have the highest value.  You will not be able to cart a piano or your bagpipes everywhere you go and having your own voice with you to cheer you up and give you strength when you feel all alone will do wonders.  Never underestimate the power of music.  Even if you can’t sing on key, learning the words to the songs is of an extremely high value.  The music provided by pop culture is insufficient for healing the soul.  You need something higher.

Don’t waste your time trying to impress people.  There are some people you will never be able to impress, but chances are – you have already impressed them.  You just don’t know it because the reward was insufficient.  That’s how it will always be.  The gap you feel will never be filled unless you fill it yourself.  Gaps are filled with doing good things, improving yourself, finishing things, weeding out the bad parts of your personality, and being willing to give of yourself. 

And little Darling, remember that you are precious.  Don’t hurt yourself.

From,
An Older Adult