Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Ideas

I feel like I should write, but I'm not sure what. It is the darkest day of the year, and I am alone. But not lonely.

I am by myself in my new apartment, in my yet-disastrous and unpacked room, sitting at my bare desk. Bins of clothes litter my floor in varying stages of unpackedness, and I'm borrowing a lamp from the front room so as to not sit in utter darkness. I have no curtain to hang over the blinds, so I've made do temporarily with my red Victoria's Secret "Mama Claus" bathrobe slung over the curtain rod. (Classy, I know. But it is cold otherwise...) I've moved my bookshelf and stereo into the room, but I haven't brought my books yet--or my CDs. My closet is the only thing that looks truly finished. My winter wardrobe has been hung with care, and my numerous pairs of shoes are all packed neatly into a bin or hanging in this white cloth thing, if they qualify as "nice" shoes.

In spite of this still rather spartan aspect of my room, I find that I feel totally at home. I enjoy the quiet, the solitude, and no roommates for at least another week. I just moved in two days ago--and while I already know the girls I'm living with very well, it will be good to have a chance to find my own space in this world I've reentered after living at home for four months.

I felt very strongly about moving in to this specific apartment, and I still feel good about it. If I've learned anything over the past little while, it is to trust my gut implicitly. And though I may not have much of an actual gut, the little I have has served me well, especially of late.

It is really amazing what can come of simply following through on what merely seems like a good idea. It's a good idea, for example, to try to develop more patience. To stop judging people. To trust more, in general. To stop hiding any candles under any more bushels. And to just try to be good.

A good idea, followed through, can bear amazingly good fruit.

Yes. It was a good idea to move here, back to my old place. One of many good ideas that for one reason or another--call it fate, call it an act of God--I've taken a chance on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today, I bought myself a beautiful green coat

...and it felt like early Christmas.

I went out to run other errands today. I set out with the determination to get all my shopping for other people done. First to the UPS store to return some expensive boots I bought on Zappos. Then to Macey's for candy and other yummies. Then to the Mall.

I went to the mall with trepidation. I hate shopping at the best of times, and shopping at Christmas is like shopping in Hell. I always feel a little lost in a department store, like I don't know quite how to navigate my way. There are too many wrong turns, too many people trying to make me a deal or sell me perfume, and too many choices. Once I found the section I wanted, there were so many options within that section.

Then up and down the long corridors of the mall, peeking into almost every store to see what was being sold these days. I had no idea. Smells of soft pretzels and fast food, and new plastic. Lots of noise.

And then? I found myself suddenly shopping for myself. Why?

I wasn't sure. I peeked into stores I don't usually patronize. Stores a person like me, in a gray pea coat and Italian scarf, have no business entering. Stores like...Zumiez. (I've never snowboarded in my life!) What was I looking for? I don't know. A distraction. Urban Wear was familiar territory. I felt the tension in my chest ease instantly. Beautiful, classy, funky clothes. I left without buying. A pit stop at Banana Republic just to look. (Like I could afford any of THAT.) Maurices. Aeropostale. Charlotte Russe. (Who shops at a store called "Dress Barn"?) What was I even looking for?

Finally, I do it. I wander through the little cafe and the smells of coffee, past the fireplace, into Nordstrom. It's like coming home. I glance at the shoes out of habit. Am I looking for shoes? No. Up the escalator. I wander around the expensive section for a while. That's a nice sweater. Do I want a sweater? Let the price determine. Negatory. What about that coat? No. I don't wear real fox, thanks. I'm drowning in these prices. Into the teen section.

Suddenly I knew what I was looking for because I found it. So I bought it, thinking maybe if "Santa" hadn't found anything for me yet, "he" could buy this from me and re-give it to me on Christmas morning. :D

At any rate, I bought it because I loved it. And because sometimes when you are having a day where your brain will not stop churning and you feel restless and crazy and wildly insecure, and you wish there was something you could do to just turn it all off, and outwardly you have to maintain the appearance of sanity by remaining calm, collected, and cool as a cucumber...

...the only thing for it is to go out and treat yourself to something nice (that was actually on sale) for Christmas, if for nothing else, than to remind yourself that everything is actually really, really
okay.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why Bones has Consumed My Life, or, How I Got my Creativity Back


Bones is so good. So, so good. A brilliant, socially inept forensic anthropologist teams up with a streetwise FBI agent to solve murders. Action, suspense, a little anatomical gore, a lot of tension and a little romance ensue. It’s perfect. It’s like reading a mystery. A really compelling, really long mystery. Bones has been my constant companion these last two and half months. I have been watching Bones since Halloween night until today, at least one episode daily. Today I will finish Season Four.

So what’s the big deal? I’ll tell you what the big deal is. I have not written a word—a word—of fiction since I started watching Bones. I have written a few blog posts, but hey! They haven’t been very literary either. When I started Pear in a Partridge Tree, my original intent was to write down my experiences in story-like fashion. To report factual events in an interesting, literary way. Practice, basically. And a type of journal. For the most part, I’ve done that. And I do allow myself the indulgence of introspection every now and then…

But I digress. I want to be an author. I want to write fiction. To stir up people’s imaginations and explore all kinds of What Ifs. How can I do that if nothing I’m doing is stirring up any ideas? Ideas, believe it or not, do NOT generate themselves.

A week ago, I was at work editing a 79 page document that will soon be a new, extensive Library booklist. As I read over the hundreds of annotations under each title my mind began to race. Story ideas I’d had in the past—one in particular—began to come alive in my head. Characters I had formed only conceptually in my mind became real people with goals and desires. It was actually difficult for me to concentrate on the task at hand. I was excited! I was motivated to begin writing anew. I’ve been working on some other story for years now that has sort of stonewalled me, but this other idea…it was fresh! It was all I could do to keep from jotting down notes then and there.

I should have. I really should. But I’ve stopped carrying a notebook around with me—which I need to remedy immediately.

After two full days of editing, of reading the synopses to hundreds of books, my life went back to its normal routine. I thought about writing down my ideas, but…the moment, really, had passed. It was too hard for me to sit down and try to regain that flash of creativity. It was a moment that had come and gone. After a long day of hard work, or unfulfilled expectations, or a little bit of tedium, it was easier to just sit, kick back, and let…well…Bones take over that part of my brain… Mental anesthesia.

I have a theory: I think the part of the brain that creates is one of the most complex and developed parts. I have no scientific evidence at hand to back up this claim. But my own personal experiences seem to point to this truth. It takes effort to create. I feel that it takes GREAT effort to decide to do something new—and that, by the way, is my definition of creativity: doing something new. Nothing more nothing less. It doesn’t have to be new to the world necessarily. Just new to me. Make a new food. Learn a new song. Write a new story.

Etc.

So here’s my big new goal. Now that my stint with Bones is coming to an end, I’m going to start reading again. A Neil Gaiman book that should have taken me two or three days to read has now been stretched out for over two weeks. That’s pathetic! So my first order of business will be to finish that, then pick a book from a different genre and move into that. And then once that is done, I’ll start into a different genre.

To what point? Is this all just a different way of anesthetizing my brain after months of Bones? Nope! Just trying to kick my creativity back into gear and get some real writing done.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In Which I Confront a Fear of Mine

...and that is confrontation itself.

I know my own mother would say, "You? Not like confrontation? Ha!" and she would be justified. But the thing is this: I know my mother, and she knows me. She knows that most of the time my "confrontation" is all in good fun. What I don't like and tend to shy away from at any cost is real confrontation. The nasty kind where you have to tell someone to stop doing whatever it is they're doing.

Like drinking coffee in the library. And preparing to whip out a full lunch and spread it out on the table.

I spent about ten minutes just kind of discreetly circling around this guy, threading my way through the stacks, (okay that sounds so creepy. I was doing other stuff besides watching him, lest I appear stalkerish...sheesh) debating whether or not to say something, and how to say it and if he'd get mad at me or if I'd look like a stupid teenager, etc. Finally, I got my supervisor, and told him what was going on. I confess...I had ulterior motives: I wanted to pass the buck. I was hoping that E, being a tallish male person, would, you know, step up and say, "Oh hey! Don't worry about it, little buddy! I'll go over myself and tell that guy to get his butt--and his lunch--out of the library."

What he said instead was this, "You know, we have been asked to enforce the no-eating rule. So just go tell the guy that we've had some problems lately but that he's welcome to go out and eat in the foyer."

Argh. Another five minutes vacillating. Do I tell him do i dont do i tell him do i not do i tell him...

Yes. integrity demands that i do. So I straighten my collar and march over, donning my most winsome smile. Sometimes it helps to march somewhere. It bolsters courage and creates a sense of purpose where, perhaps, there is little. Well anyway, knowing that I couldn't look authoritative, I decided to go for "professional." Or something close to it...

The guy left without any problem, even though he had already unpacked and set up his laptop and everything. I felt bad. Really. I felt bureaucratic. I wasn't in the mood to enforce policy. And what's more, I was scared to death. But I did it.

And I felt justified when I saw him come back in a little later. I guess i didn't offend him. Which is--you know--a good thing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Can't Win...

Yesterday I was complimented on my ability, nay, my unconscious practice of walking fast. Sometimes I walk fast. I do. (I guess...) And I write this post only for irony's sake, because today, at approximately the same time of day, a different individual remarked on this same practice...but wondered if I was okay. Was I cold? Was I in a hurry to get somewhere? Why did I walk so fast?

err...

Can't please everybody, I guess.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Complexity

Sometimes I think about how little anybody actually knows me. It is no exaggeration to say that I can probably count on one hand the people that have seen every side of me. The people who have seen me ecstatic, or depressed, or intelligent, or wrathful, or ridiculous, or rude, or confident, or elegant, or insensitive--even cruel--and even the rare moments when I feel truly lovely. The people who knew me as a dancer and an artist--even a missionary--that know how much I love old and new films alike, and calm music (AND loud music) and dumb jokes, and interesting, off-the-beaten-path kind of things. The people who accept my whimsy without question, and question my so-called "intelligence" without hesitation. The people who put up with my caprice, my impatience, and my tendency towards impulsiveness--and forgive my impertinences. The people I don’t have to prove anything to or pretend around, even a little bit. The people who know that there are better things in store for me, and who have the right to expect more of me.

Yes, I can count on one hand--maybe one finger--how many people that makes.

As much as I preach the gospel of sincerity, it is hard, hard, HARD to be 100% genuine. I’m afraid it takes an awful lot of self-assurance. I wish, I wish, I had the guts to say to anyone and everyone, “I like what I like, and to hell with the rest.” But I wish I could do it without being defensive or belligerent.

Of course, all of this is a good reminder of how little I know other people, and how very little call I have to judge them.

I wasn't going to post this because it is personal almost to the point of self-indulgence. But I did.

hoop-de-do