On creating

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My writing space. Special mention, my almost 40-year old teddy bear. 

The countdown has begun again! In less than a month, National Novel Writing Month begins. NaNoWriMo is a contest where the goal is to write fifty-thousand words in a month. That’s 1666 words a day. Easy peasey. Sort of.

That is my future, but lately I’ve been working on other projects for myself. I recently completed a built-in bookcase that hangs above my desk. It’s mostly completed, but there are a few things I need to finish up before I can say I’m 100% done with it.

Next, I have to sew a costume for a friend’s Halloween party. I decided, in my insanity, to go as Severus Snape. The problem is that I can’t find a suitable costume. My solution, if you haven’t guessed, is to make my own.

That’s where creation and ingenuity come in. Although I did take Home Economics back in high school, and part of the curriculum was to learn to sew, it has been more than two decades since I took the class. Will that deter me? Hell no! I see it as a challenge. Bring it on!

The complication is that I cannot find a pattern to use, and that’s where ingenuity comes in. I don’t know how to make my own pattern, so I went to Jo-Ann, searched through their catalog, and I came up blank. The closest thing I could find was a costume jacket similar to the one Alan Rickman uses, but not quite. I decided to buy the pattern, knowing that I’ll have to make a few alterations to the pattern in order to make it.

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Found this a Jo-Ann in Lubbock. Not exactly what Snape wears, but close enough.

I’m actually rather excited for the project. I haven’t sewn in years. This’ll be my first since high school, and the fact that I rather loathe costumes isn’t enough to dampen my excitement. Actually, I can’t wait to get started. It’ll be interesting to see if I can pull it off. I have less than three weeks to actually do it. More than enough time for a tailor to make one, but I’m no tailor, no seamstress. I have almost no experience in something this ambitious. I also have to make the cloak, but that’ll come later.

I also have another project in mind. I want to build a couple of nightstands, again out of red oak, to match my computer desk and book case. I’m thinking about building a bedroom set as well, but one piece at a time. I’m not that skilled at woodworking, but I think I’m getting better. Experience really is the best teacher.

I still have my goal of publishing a book, but that’s only part of what I want to do. I like the act of creation, the art and the science of bringing into existence something that was not there before. It’s almost an alchemical transformations, bringing in several elements, combining them, and giving life to something new. Whether it’s a short story or novel, whether it’s cooking or baking, or even woodworking or crafts, it’s a subtle magic we can all perform.

NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to give yourself permission to lose yourself in writing, but it shouldn’t be the only time to let your creativity flow. There’s all sorts of things I want to build and create. In this, Adam Savage is almost like a mentor, and I look up to him. You should check him out on the YouTube channel Tested, where he builds and creates anything and everything. While I don’t have his level of skills and ingenuity, why should I let that keep me from doing what I like?

What are you reading?

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~Dr. Seuss~*

I bought the Divergent box set recently off of Amazon, and it has sat of my desk for several weeks, begging me to be read. I found some time on Tuesday to crack open the first book, and instantly found myself drawn in by the story. I stayed up until three in the morning reading the book before putting it down to sleep. I finished it the next morning.

I’ve started the second book in the series, Insurgent, and I’m loving it. I plan to be done with it by this evening, and maybe start reading the last book, Allegiant. Then there’s the movies. Divergent is in theaters, which I’m planning on seeing tomorrow after I get off work.

It’s been a long time since a book has captured my attention in this way. Rowling managed to do so with her Harry Potter series, and once I discovered it, So did Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I read the Twilight novels, and I enjoyed them as well for what they were, and I fail to see why people reacted to viscerally against them, especially since most poking fun of the series probably have never read a book.

These are just a few of the books that have entered the popular consciousness to such a degree that they become inescapable. I’ve read plenty of other books by authors that have not cracked the Best Sellers lists. I’ve enjoyed many self-published titles, many I have reviewed for you here on my blog. On of my favorite author is Morris West, author of The Shoes of the Fisherman, and The Clowns of God.

I read to escape the tedium of life. I read to lose myself to the imagination. I read to transport myself into adventure. I read so that I may know, and in so knowing, to learn, to grow, and to better myself.

I’ve encountered strange ideas, thoughts that were at once foreign and alien to me, but once read, helped shape me into the person I am today. I soaked up ideas like a sponge, thirsty for knowledge, insatiable and unquenchable. I know I’m not alone.

I read mostly for pleasure, but what I read can provoke me to think about the bigger picture. What is the book about? What is the author trying to say?  How is what I’m reading relevant to me and to the world at large? Good books promote lively discussions.

My question today – as you can probably guess by my not-so-cryptic title – is what are you reading now? What ideas are you gleaming from the book or article? Are you willing to share with us? Leave a comment and share with us your thoughts. I would love to know!

“A home without books
is a body without a soul.”
~Marcus Tullius Cicero~*


* – Quotes on reading came from ThinkExist.

When Harry Met Hermione

DH1_Riddle-Harry_and_Riddle-HermioneMy Facebook feed blew up recently, as did blogs and various other websites, when JK Rowling had the audacity to spew her vile belief that Hermione should have chosen the Chosen One over the Other One. Harry Potter, and not Ron Weasley, should have captured the heart of the young, fair maiden. Evil is she, that Rowling woman, to break the hearts of all Potterdom. I hates her forever!

I thought about writing my thoughts on this sooner, but I didn’t. Then I thought that too much time had passed, and quite frankly, it didn’t matter anyway. I was wrong. I’m still finding recently written articles about this scandal, accusing the author of going all George Lucas on us Potter fans, and changing the direction of the story after the fact. But she didn’t. She made her regrets known, but she’s not rewriting the story.

To me, I really don’t care about the mating of the characters. It’s a nice little postscript to the story, but not really all that important. Also, there’s a small part of me that maybe can see what she means. Not that I necessarily believe Hermione needed to be paired with Harry, but why Ron? What does he bring to the relationship? He’s not that intelligent or talented. He’s angry, slightly embittered, and has a horrible temper. He’s definitely side-kick material.

And Hermione? She’s not. She might have made a decent equal partner for Harry, but would that have relegated her to second-fiddle? She’s a star in her own right, and maybe there’s the attraction to Ron. She doesn’t have to compete for the spotlight. That said, am I suggesting that she’s not a strong enough woman to step out of Harry’s shadow? Of course not! That’s not what I’m saying! Honest!

But what of Ginny? She married Harry, and she’s a strong, independent woman. She’s not just Mrs. Harry Potter, but an accomplished Quidditch player turned Senior Quidditch Commentator for the Daily Prophet. Not exactly a wall flower by any means. She’s strong enough of a personality to deal with marrying The Boy Who Lived, and the fame that comes with it. But if not Harry, she would have been fine with someone else. Even Bonnie Wright, the actress who portrayed Ginny came out and said as much.

But what other pairings could there be? I’ll admit that I’m a fan of a Harry-Luna coupling. Luna Lovegood is my all-time favorite character in the series, which was cemented by the casting of the amazing Evanna Lynch. Both Harry and Luna were outcasts.Luna had a way of coaxing Harry when he needed it the most. She was blunt, but never rude, and could cut through the bullshit like no one else. She could both nurture and reprimand him in such a way that it didn’t seem harsh. She’s a matter-of-fact woman and forced him to confront things for what they were.

But what of Cho Chang? Um…puh-leese! I wish I had more to comment here, but Cho was really a non-character, a filler to illustrate his desirability among girls, and to show just how clueless he was when it came to the opposite sex. True, he had more pressing matters to contend with, you know, having a sociopath gunning for him, and the future of all mankind. You know, that old chestnut?

As for the other characters, who cares. I’m really a Harry-Luna fan, but I like Ginny, too. She’s got spunk. As for Hermione, who does she have? Harry and Ron. Sure, there was Viktor Krum, but that was just a fling. Then there was Corman McLaggen, but come on, he was just a tool she used to get Ron jealous. Now Draco Malfoy, interesting, but since she’s a mudblood, he’d never go for it. Stupid Draco.

And what of poor Ron Weasley? Does anyone care about him? Who should he be paired with? I guess there’s Lavender Brown, but she did die in the movie, though she lived in the book. Hmm… I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care. He’s not my favorite character, but I share a few of his worst traits, mainly his hotheadedness.

Now that I’ve taken the time to write this, I realize just how silly this conversation really is. Who cares? The characters are just that, fictional characters invented by some woman in the U.K. I think all I’ve managed to do is to demonstrate just how big of a geek I am. I should let it go. This is inconsequential, and I have better things to do.

Harry-Luna all the way!

Piece of the wrong puzzle

Puzzled

puzzle perspective

puzzle perspective (Photo credit: jugbo)

It’s hard to describe what my life is at the moment. It’s a jumble, a fragmented picture that I’m trying to piece together without a clear understanding of what the picture is supposed to be. Do you understand how frustrating it is?

Where does this piece go?

Here?

No.

Screw it. I’ll set it over here for the moment and deal with it later.

Playing the “What If” Game

I’m finishing up the last of my college. I have spoken about his often, probably because this is something I have wanted for a long time. I’ve often wondered where I would be today had I done the intelligent thing and finished over a decade ago. If I hadn’t stopped in 1999, presumably I could have graduated by 2000. Would my life have been better? Worse?

What if? I know you’ve played that game before. What if I had gone out with this person instead? What if I had taken that job? What if..?  What if…?  What if…?

The problem with this is that it presumes that we have the ability to know what would have happened. In hindsight everything seems so painfully obvious, but the problem is that what we know is a result of our experience. Had we gone and taken that other path, that what if, we very well could be asking what if we had done the very thing you currently wish you could have avoided.

You only ask because maybe things would have been better the other way.

In flight

But what I’ve discovered is that I’m a man still in flight, fleeing a past that has probably been long forgotten by the other party. Is this normal? When something traumatic happens, is it only a trauma to one and not the other? Could something that is holding me back be a non-issue for the other?

I realized that I’m still running away from the ghosts of my past yesterday afternoon. I had to go to the bank inside a Walmart to take care of an outstanding issue that I should have dealt with ages ago. Took fifteen minutes and I was done. Typical.

Anyway I left the bank and I wandered around the store and I felt apprehension. Why? Because that’s where the forsaken she-devil works. I’ve avoided the department that she works in ever since we broke up. Forget the obvious that she works at a store 400 miles away, but I really have no idea if she still works there, at the store, in that department, or even in the company. I could easily find out, but why do that to myself?

So why avoid it? I’ve conditioned myself to avoid it. Being in the area brings back memories which makes me sad, fills me with pain and anger, and all I want to do is to escape. I leave. I feel better. I think that may constitute negative reinforcement.

I haven’t dealt with the underlying problem. I ran away from it, from her. At the time the pain was all-consuming, it encompassed my entire being. Those close to me are probably better able to describe how I was than I am. I shut down. I didn’t function really for a long time. I lost my job because of it and look at me now.

So walked in, half-expecting to see her, knowing that I was being an idiot. I walked around, trying to break the synaptic connections that make me associate that department to the girl who hurt me. She hurt me, and she works there so being there brings back the pain.

Walk around.

Look at bbq things.

She’s not here.

Cool patio set

I wish I could see her.

What would I say?

Nothing. I’d run away.

I’ll have to go back more often to free myself of that particular association. It’s silly, but is it really? I’ve decided that it isn’t. I’m entitled to my feelings and I’m entitled to dealing with them in my own time. Emotions are too complex to figure out.

Some of you might be judging me, you may say I’m weak, that I fell apart. What can I say to that? Fuck you. That’s what. You don’t know me. You don’t know the experiences that I’m gone through. What would it take for you to fall apart? You’re not as strong as you suppose. We all have a breaking point, and the trigger may be something you’d never see coming.

So what now?

I live my life, that’s what. I walked around and window shopped for a while, but I didn’t buy anything. I left and drove to the Barnes and Noble to escape into fantasy. I walked in, after being gone since 2000, I’m immediately flooded with memories from an even more distant past. A less painful past.

I walked around, glimpsing at the thousands of stories there were to be discovered. It was nice to be surrounded by books. The feel, the smell, the connection you get by the tactile immediacy of holding a book. It’s wonderful and joyous and marvelous and…

Oh shit.

Do I really expect to join all of these books, vying for shelf space, hoping to attract a readership? Am I good enough? Do I have a story to tell? Would anyone be willing to spend their time and money to read what I have to say?

Don’t know.

So I walked around, forgetting myself and my troubles, leaving my doubts and fears behind, and I shopped for a story, somebody else’s story. There are so many books to choose from, so what do I get? I looked for a book, and it took me several minutes to remember the name, but who was the author? Crap. Oh there it is, magically appearing before me on a display. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was a NaNoWriMo novel she wrote and got published. I had to get it.

I walked around some more, searching but not finding, wondering if it did so poorly that B&N decided to discreetly banish it from the store. An employee asked me what I wanted. “The Casual Vacancy,” I replied sheepishly. Why sheepishly? It’s my money, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I knew J K Rowling was going to publish a non-Harry Potter book. Screw reviews I’ve seen. I wanted it.

Books in hand, and almost $60 poorer, I left the bookstore, knowing that there were better things on which to spend the money, but nothing that would give me more pleasure. I got into my car, went to Kohl’s and bought me a shirt. Happy, I got into my car, went through the drive through of a McDonald’s, and headed home.

So? What the hell is the point?

That’s the puzzle, isn’t it? You live, you have an epiphany, and life goes on. Here soon I’ll have my degree in hand, and I’ll find a job and then what? Hopefully I’ll find someone to blur the edges of my bad memories and who will dull the hurt that I guess I’ll still have. I know I still harbor resentment. Will that ever go away?

Who knows, but I have two books to read, and a few stories percolating in my head. I have a quiz on Monday, an exam on Tuesday, and an essay to read on Wednesday. And you know, I should probably start working on my mental health project that’s due on the 25th.

Life goes on and you deal with things as they come. I’m slowly dealing with her, but you know what, she’s not as big a piece of my life and I once thought. And you know what? That puzzle piece I couldn’t figure out where it went? It doesn’t even belong to my picture and I can chuck it into the trash can.

And just like that, maybe I’ll be able to throw her away, just as she did me. She doesn’t belong in my picture so why keep her on the table, and life moves on.