Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday has this friend . . .

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

So, Carlyn, I'm not sure if this is what you wanted, but here we go.

So, I have this friend. Her name isn't all that important, but her situation . . . well, I was hoping you all might be able to offer some advice -- you know, to pass along to her.

So, my friend has, uh, gotten herself into a bit of trouble. I can't go into many of the details, because it's classified, but on a very routine trip to South America, she found herself in the midst of an international ring of penguin smugglers.

Yes. You read that correctly. Penguin smugglers. In South America.

Okay, okay, I know it sounds crazy, but here's the thing. She was invited by a (very rich!) friend to go skydiving in Peru, and she thought, yeah, sure, why not? I mean, would you have turned down such an opportunity? BUT, upon jumping out of the plane, she was caught in a vicious updraft, which carried her all the way to the southern tip of the country. Well, there she was, miles away from her friend or anyone she knew, she didn't speak the language (I mean, she'd taken Spanish in high school, but let's be real. That was six years ago, so it's not like she remembers it), and it was the middle of the rainforest! Where was she supposed to go?

Well, she knew she had to start somewhere, so she just started walking, and after a while, she came upon an abandoned-looking structure. It was getting dark, and she didn't want to sleep out in the open, so she  headed inside, found an old crate, and curled up to sleep, figuring she'd figure out a better plan in the morning.

Thing is, when she woke up, she was still in the crate. She just wasn't in the building. Or the rainforest. Or Peru! No, she was on a boat, in the middle of the ocean! Well, this was quite distressing to her, as you might imagine. But she kept a good head on her shoulders, and decided rather than just sit around and wait to be discovered, she might as well explore and see what she could find.

She had hopes that this would be a friendly crew willing to help her our of her predicament, but no such luck. She did find her way to the bridge, but it was full of severely unfriendly looking men, and she decided not to take her chances just showing herself to the crew, so she hid herself and did some reconnaissance work first. And it was a good thing, too!

Turns out, she was in the midst of a band of penguin smugglers using that abandoned building in Peru as their base of operations! They'd picked up 3000 penguins from a boat returning from Antarctica just that morning and were on their way to distribute them! Well, my friend knew what she had to do. Liberate the penguins! She worked all night at it, and it wasn't easy, let me tell you! But finally, she managed to get all of them over the side of the boat and into the water.

But just then, she was discovered! The watchman spotted her, and called for reinforcements, and that's when the penguins, grateful to her for setting them free, formed a giant penguin tower and took her from the ship! They formed a kind of raft and carried her away to safety. BUT, here's the thing. Now, they're so enamored of her that they've insisted on staying with her. She can't go anywhere for the mass of penguins!

And so, the advice she needs is this:

Once you've liberated 3000 penguins, what exactly do you do with them?

Anyway, if you could please give her some advice as quickly as possible, she'd really appreciate it. My
Her apartment just wasn't made for such a high volume of aquatic birds, and her landlord is starting to get suspicious.

Oh, what? What's that noise in the background? Yeah, just ignore that. :)

And that, ladies, is what happens when Cassie just starts writing things without a plan. And has she mentioned her NaNo novel has no clear end point? Yeah, this coming month should be fun . . .

One hour to NaNoWriMo! Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 34: I have this friend . . .

From Carlyn:

Week 34: Tell us a story (it can be true or contrived) about a "friend." You know, like, "So... I have this... friend... who has this... problem... And she keeps coming to me for advice about it... And I don't know what to tell her... Uh... Yeah."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday has had a very pet-filled life.

Christina: Things sound like they’re really moving along! That’s very exciting. I also like the idea of P-word costumes.

Cassie: Your pets had really great names. Including “Jeffrey.”

Alexandra: I don’t know what it is about cats and flat surfaces… For my cat, laptops are especially alluring when I’m attempting to use Skype.

My pets! Like Cassie, I grew up with fish. We always had them. Unlike Cassie, I also grew up with dogs, cats, and other assorted animals.

My parents had a cat when I was born. Her name was Walker. I don’t remember her. They also had Fairbanks the black Labrador. She was a good dog, and she died when I was in the fourth grade.

There’s actually a rather morbid story about that. Just as Fairbanks was sitting in her last days, we were watching the movie “Old Yeller” in class. You know, the one where the little boy has to go out and shoot his dog. It was terrible. Three years later, our new dog Abbie (also a black lab) was hit and killed by a car. The next day at school, my sister (who was then in the fourth grade and had the same exact teacher as me) had to read the book “Stone Fox,” wherein a little boy and his dog join a dogsled race and the dog runs as fast and as hard as it can until its heart explodes and it dies. Her teacher could barely believe my sister’s tearful story.

Ten days after Abbie died, we adopted Wrigley, who is the best dog ever. At this point, she’s about ten, and still about as puppy-ish as ever.

Those are my dogs. The cats are as follows…

My first cat, after Walker, was Flint. She was really dumb and ran away. After that, we adopted Dart and Ramone. Ramone was the very best cat of all. She (or so we thought, though her name [bestowed by a little girl who knew her in her old home] was a male name) was the runt of her litter and about half the size (and intellectual capacity) of a normal cat. Her face was flat, as if she had run into a wall. And she purred if you so much as looked at her. She only lasted two years with us, but she was amazing. Dart, her younger brother, lasted until about a year ago, dying peacefully at age 9.

My dad, a firefighter, met our next cat at the fire scene of a vet’s office. A tiny orange kitten climbed out of the coat of a nearby vet tech and clambered into my dad’s arms. Thus Cheddar joined our family. In the seven-ish years since, Cheddar has since become weird and quite blobbular and has a very unfortunate voice. She (whose nickname is “The Icky”) likes to sit in the middle of empty rooms and comment on things around her.

My junior year of college, I was adopted by a cat my roommate named Caroline. She is a good one, and she now lives with my family as a Christmas-present replacement for Dart. After giving Caroline to my family, I adopted Carlisle (I did not name him and call him CatCat most of the time). He is a wonderful cat, and I don’t know what I would have done without him in my first days in a new city all alone.

The summer before my senior year of college, my then-roommate and I effectively ran a kitten rescue out of our apartment. We fostered four-week-old kittens Lemon, Lucille, and Ted, and while Ted unfortunately passed away in our care, Lemon and Lucille went on to be adopted from our local humane society. That year, we also found several kittens in parking lots and fields around town and adopted them out to friends.

I’ve also owned lizards, mice, frogs, crayfish, grasshoppers, butterflies, hermit crabs, and probably some other animal that I’m forgetting about. All of them had names and I have story after story about them. However, this post is already about seven minutes late (Please don’t punish me! I started writing in what I thought would be plenty of time!), and I don’t want to bore you.

Those are my pets.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Had a Dog and Has a Cat


I suppose, when I was very very little, I also had a cat. Her name was Sherry - I don't know how that is spelled, to be quite honest. I never had to write it down. But my brother, he was and probably still is allergic to cats, so my grandma got the cat. She had another one named Pepper, too. She says she's too old to have cats now, too much work, which would make her the baffling counter example to the stereotypical crazy cat lady, as she had a ton of cats when my mum was a kid, but gave it up in her old age.

We had a dog, too, who died when I was... 11? Give or take. Her name was Athena. Her colouration would imply that she was at least half German Sheppard, but she wasn't big enough to be a pure breed. Very friendly, good with children sort of dog. I don't remember her particularly well, to be honest. She spent that last year sleeping, for the most part, so I think I was pretty... numb to the idea of her being put down, when she started to suffer. I wasn't surprised by it, I probably wouldn't have noticed for months if my mother hadn't told me. I do remember the day, though. Right around this time of year, actually, I remember our school was selling pies for a fundraiser and my mum bought, like, six. I probably cared more about the presence of pumpkin pie in the house. I'm not sure she ever did outright tell my brother, to be honest. I guess at some point he must have realized what happened, but it went without comment.

We didn't get another pet after that. We've always had a pond, with goldfish in it, but I certainly never thought of them as pets. They lived outside, they hibernated during the winter, one of them was eaten by a frog (we had some big frogs around where we lived), but I wasn't attached to them and I barely acknowledged them. I think at some point they died? I don't know, for all I know they're still in that pond. We still have it, at least to my knowledge (I moved out a couple of years ago), so maybe they still have a goldfish or two. We certainly have frogs, whether we want to or not, since they just come from the wilderness and set up a home there.

Now, I guess I have Charlie, who is a cat. I say 'I guess' because it's really, by all rights, my mother-in-law's cat, but as I live in her house, it is by proxy my cat, as well. I don't even know if Al thinks of it as 'his cat'. We've certainly said that once we move out, the cat is staying here. And we don't particularly want one of our own, though maybe we'll get a low maintenance pet once we have enough money to confidently support another living thing (because we're not going to have a kid, I can tell you that right now).

Charlie is a cat, which means he is annoying, but adorable. He likes to claw people by luring you into petting his tummy and then scratching and eating your hand. And he walks on your laptop and on your book and on any vaguely flat surface that has your attention. And he scratches at the window at 3 AM to come inside, because he's an outdoor cat who often ends up nocturnal, as well. But he's cool. Except for the fleas. He's brought fleas in here before, and I resent him for it. I'm not very attached to him, but he's a kitty cat, so he's nice to have around, as long as I don't have to take care of him.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's face goes all a'splody

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Alexandra: Yes, indeed, hooray NaNo! And not-so-yay cooking challenge . . . this could get interesting . . . But I look forward to NaNo updates throughout November. :)

Carlyn: At least you don't think I'm crazy. Because I've gotten that reaction to my approach to writing before.

Christina: Huzzah for sporadic and random posts! Seriously, it keeps things interesting. :) It sounds like you're having a great time in France -- and I completely understand about only wanting to teach certain students. I was an education major for about a year and a half before I changed it, and honestly, a lot of why I changes was because I want very badly to teach the students who wanted to learn, but I knew I would have no patience with the ones who didn't! So more power to you!

Also, a follow up from last week: I will be writing Deliverance's story. I have no idea where it's going to go, like at all, but that's what I'll be writing. I will keep you on informed as November goes along.

And now for this week's topic.

. . . Um, yeah. Okay. So, basically, I am allergic to any an every kind of dander and pollen. If it's a plant or has fur or feathers, I can't go near it without taking super strong prescription allergy drugs. Otherwise, my face goes all a'splody (That's pronounced just the way it looks, by the way.). As my boyfriend so perfectly put it when asked if he didn't have pets because his apartment wouldn't allow it, "My apartment is pet-friendly. My girlfriend is not."

Couple this with the fact that I grew up in parsonages that didn't belong to my family and the Board of Trustees was usually against having things there that would tear up the baseboards and carpet and yard, and the end of the equation is: Monday didn't really have pets.

There was a hermit crab named Murgatroyd that I owned for about seven months when I was eight or so. I got him on a Girl Scout trip to COSI. Then there was the semi-aquatic frog named Thaddeus that I had when I was nine, also from a Girl Scout trip to COSI. I had him from a tadpole. Then he turned into a frog and promptly died.

And then there were the goldfish. We had goldfish for a really long time. From, like, the age of eight through high school. And for a while, I was really excited about the goldfish. And by a while, I mean pretty much until the first one died. Then I was kind of over it because they didn't live very long and you couldn't really play with them and so all they did was swim and poop and eat and occasionally eat each other. Which, okay, that was pretty exciting when it happened. But for the most part, the fish were really my mom's project, and my little brother's.

So, yeah. Monday had goldfish. Because they didn't make me sneeze.

Oh, and Monday had a little brother. So there was that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 33: Our Furry Little Friends

Another topic from Carlyn:

Week 33: Pets! Past, present, future.

Have at!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday apologizes for her poor attendance

Hello again! Sorry for being late... the internet in my room is cut off and I couldn't blog yesterday or today so I'm at the library quickly writing up a post before they close in... 8 minutes now. Okay, so here we go!

This was the first week that I actually talk students on my own: my own room, no teachers. It went well overall, I think. There are of course those few problem students who try to show off in front of their friends and are just difficult in general, and also those students who want nothing to do with school and make it well known that they don't want to be there by sulking in the corner and giving you a blank stare whenever you ask them to do so much as lift their pencil. But then there are the good students who love learning English, put effort into class, talk to you, and are overall just the best. I just love those students, I wish I could teach just them. I'm sure most all teachers feel this way... you teach for those students who want to learn and try to turn the other students into the former.

Also, I'm on vacation now! We have October 22-November 2 for La Toussaint (All Saints' Day). I'm going to be in Paris October 28-November 2 to visit my friend Sarah who lives there and before that Anna (another assistant who lives in the res hall) and I are thinking about going to Belgium (either Brussels or Bruges), so we're going to research and hopefully plan that today and tomorrow, then maybe be there Monday-Wednesday or so!

Let's see... what else can I say in two minutes? Oh, last night I went to a party! The theme was "dress as something that starts with a P" and I was a panda. It was the closest we Americans are going to get to Halloween here. It was enjoyable, but not as good as American Halloween. Okay, I have to go, I'm getting looks from the librarian who clearly wants to pack up and go home.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday says hi

Cassie: I love thinking about writing the way you talk about it. I hardly fancy myself much of a writer (we’ve all read my not-so-fan fiction), but I’m going into counseling, which can be a lot like writing in the way you conceive of it. I’m helping people write their life stories; it’s not up to me to dictate any of it. I have to help them tease apart their own life’s intricacies.

Alexandra: I hope you’re in the clear! Being sick is no fun. Also, I love your challenge! I’ve been trying to teach myself to cook, with varying degrees of success. I’m excited to get started : )

So my life right now!

It was a really good week. I had my university’s fall break Monday and Tuesday, so, combined with the weekend and the fact that I don’t have classes on Fridays, I got to spend a miraculous six nights in my undergradtown. It was quite nice! I got to see a bunch of friends and, most happily, spend a good deal of time with my lovely and incredible girlfriend. I also managed to get some (read: minimal amounts of) work done on a couple projects for school!

That leads me to my classes. Things are about to get super crazy. I have four classes, and each class has at least one major project due within about the next month. That means a metric crapton of reading. I’m really enjoying the reading, but it’s just a bit intimidating. Once I get all the background literature read, I’ll be able to write with very little further drama.

Wish me luck! Hope you’re all doing well : )

Vendredi est ici!

Hello again everyone!

I am currently at the library using the free wifi to update before heading back for dinner. My internet situation will (hopefully) be improved November 3rd when I'm having my own internet connection installed. After that (hypothetically) I should have as much unrestricted internet access as I want!

So as to prevent my post on Friday (internet access willing) from being exorbitantly long, I'm posting my missed topics now! Okay? Okay!

So, ghosts. I'm afraid my take on this won't be too exciting. No, I don't believe in ghosts. And I also don't watch scary movies, so I don't have much to add to that either! Despite not believing in ghosts, scary movies still terrify me, so I stopped watching them about four years ago and have never looked back. The last horror movie I saw was the remake of Amityville Horror and that was quite enough for me, thanks. Oh! I will add though that I'm going to be seeing The Woman in Black to support Dan Radcliffe. I'm already stealing myself for it even though it will be months until I subject myself to the terror. I had to watch the trailer through my fingers. So. It will be a good time. Yes.

Seasons! My favorite seasons are also transitional seasons: spring and fall, with fall in the lead. Fall has been my favorite season for years and years. Michigan fall is the best (though I have nothing to compare it with, if I'm being honest). The leaves are so pretty and on those crisp but sunny days it's wonderful. It's a tradition amongst my group of friends to go to the cider mill early in fall when the leaves are changing but the weather is still nice. It's one of my favorite parts of the year, I look forward to it year round. I'm really glad I got to go this fall before leaving for France! So far French fall hasn't been as nice as Michigan fall and that's a bit disappointing. The North of France really shows its proximity to London in the amount of rain we get here. It is very rainy and chilly. Chilly chilly chilly. The radiators in the residence hall were thankfully turned on about a week ago (they were originally going to wait until November), but it is still freezing in the rooms. And the school I teach at hasn't even turned the heating on yet! They're going to wait until after vacation (we have a vacation coming up October 21- November 2, but that's a topic for JAB), which means that the classrooms and especially the teachers' lounge and computer room are FREEZING. Whinewhinewhine, I know. But seriously guys, it's cold. My favorite parts of fall are the leaves, the crispness in the air, apple cider, and pumpkin everything. Hot non-alcoholic apple cider does not exist in France and this makes me very sad. Every French person I've asked has been very confused when I ask if they drink hot cider here. I just want some cider, it's not fall without cider! And pumpkin treats are also missing. Whereas in the good old US there is pumpkin EVERYWHERE the minute September rolls around, the only pumpkin to be found in France is still in its original form and not ready to eat. Very disappointing. :(

Alright, I've got some tv shows loaded up on my laptop and this update under my belt, it's time to head back for dinner! Oh, and Cassie- I have no forgotten about your craft! I have started on it, now I just need to find paints/some sort of decorations to finish it and then I'll post it. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Honestly Has Nothing To Say :p

@Cassie, yay, NaNo! What's your username? (I'm Ophiucha.) I've been living on the forums for the past month, basically. :p And I'm torn between working on a worldbuilding project I have and working on my NaNo, so I think this November is going to a bit blind for me, since I've dedicated little to no time to planning it.

Anyway, not much is new with me. Still waiting for my residency things to clear out for the time being. Paid off my Disney World vacation for this Christmas. Worked on the aforementioned worldbuilding project ('tis about a world where sound is magic - taken to the logical and necessary extremes I tend to take these things to). My husband and mother-in-law were sick all week, so that was fun. I don't seem to be sick, but I'll give myself another day before I say I am in the clear.

I notice that it is week 32, which means it's about a month until you are all subjected to the unimaginable horror that is my challenge. It's a good week, really. Either the week of or the week before Thanksgiving (though I can't be bothered to pull up a calendar right now to figure out which it is - partially because I've already had my Thanksgiving, since I live in Canada and we celebrate it on Columbus Day). Probably the week of. Given the holiday and my own passion for food, I think it is only fair that I give you all a culinary challenge! Here's the rules.

Ophiucha's Culinary Challenge

  1. You must cook a meal for both yourself and at least one other human being. It can't be a can of soup, anything microwaveable, a box of Kraft Mac n' Cheese, etc., etc. The more you do from scratch, the better.
  2. You must cook something savoury, which means no brownies, cookies, cakes, or candies. I know how my generation is, "I like to cook! Look at my gluten-free brownies!" Nah-ah. You're making a meal, no treats, snacks, or desserts.
  3. Other than that, there are no rules. You can make anything from bread to a roasted chicken, and you can make something that isn't cooked (like a salad) as long as you put some effort into it. 
Have fun!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday is having issues with Deliverance

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

So, Peter Pan  has closed, and the kids have given me their throat and nose crud, and I am actually scarcely less busy than I was, as my two acting classes have, predictably, both reached the point where they are ready for their script -- at the same time. At least it's not three scripts in a week like last year?

Actually, I've got a little leeway on the one, and it doesn't technically have to be finished until the end of next week. But I really want to get them both done before the end of October because of what I'm going to talk about for my JAB week.


For those of you who may not know what NaNoWriMo is (I know Alexandra mentioned it a few weeks back, but I can't remember if she explained it or not), it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write an entire novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) in the 30 days of November. Sounds daunting, sure, but when you break it down, the total word count per day is less than 2,000 -- 1,667 to be precise. Which may still sound pretty daunting, but hey.

Last year was my first time participating, and I won, though I had the extra incentive of having the full, finished novel due for a class in the first week of December. This year, I don't have that. I just have all my writing buddies on the NaNo site to help keep me responsible and on track.

The problem is, I knew exactly what I was going to write this year. I was finally going to take the fantasy epic that started forming itself in my head when I was 15, reconfigure all the ideas that were cheesy, signs of an immature writer, or epic fantasy cliche, and actually sit down and write the thing. That was my plan. I talked in all the forums about my future book, Seeking Word and Melody, about a music-magician named Shannon  who has to help save her kingdom from destruction (it was going to be better and less-cliched than that sounds, I promise).

And then in walked Deliverance (I am fully aware, yes, of the irony of her name in this situation). Deliverance is causing major problems in my plan.

I should take a moment to explain that I approach writing with the philosophy that the characters I write about are not entirely my own creation. Every bout of writer's block I have struggled with has come about because I was trying to force a story to do what I thought it should do rather than let it unfold on its own or let the characters speak for themselves. I often joke about having conversations or arguments with my characters, but it isn't far from the truth in terms of how I approach unfolding a story. As a storyteller, I'm given a glimpse, a peek, and then it's up to me to probe at it and unfold it and figure out the story that has come to me to be told. I am not, in other words, in control really at all. This first peek can be anything from an opening line to a particular situation to a certain scene to, most often, a character.

Which brings us back to Deliverance.

Deliverance is one of the twelve dancing princesses of fairy tale fame. I have long loved this story and long wanted to do something with it, but I could never figure out how to get a handle on it. Then Deliverance walks in and tells me, "My sisters and I go dancing every night and wear through our dancing shoes. They don't remember any of it the next morning, but I do. I don't know why, and I haven't told anyone. And also, I'm not the oldest or the youngest of us. I'm number eight, right in the middle, and nothing exciting was ever supposed to happen to me."

And I got very excited. Because I love the original story, and this was an intriguing look at it, and so I turned away from Shannon (because the thought of sitting down and writing my epic opus of a story after eight years when I still don't really know how to "fix" it or focus it was starting to become legitimately panic-inducing) and I said, "Okay! Tell me more!"

And then Deliverance got frustratingly silent. Slowly, but surely, I have begun picking apart the basis for this adaptation,  but it is slow going, especially when I start to realize that I'm taking elements from other adaptations that I've read and really liked, and the whole thing would be much easier if Deliverance (or, hey, one of her sisters, I'm not picky) would just start talking again and let me know whether or not I'm on the right track.

So we'll see where that goes.

Let me know if any of you are participating in NaNo this year! We can check in on each other throughout the month of November!

And in case anyone was wondering, that was about 900 words! Less than 1000 more and I'd have my word count! :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 32: JAB

Well, girls, it's that time again. Just Another Blog. How are things?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday likes crunchy leaves.

Christina: My goodness, how exciting and new things must be! I’m so excited to hear all about your travels.

Cassie: Ditto on the cold of BG winters… ::shudder::

Alexandra: Vancouver weather sounds simply heavenly. Sign me up. I’ll bring my own air conditioner.

As for my thoughts on seasons…

My favorites are, like Cassie’s, the transition seasons. I’ve never lived anywhere that didn’t alternate between ice storms and heat waves, which sucked but made for an acute appreciation of the “nice weather” days.

The most beautiful time of year, in my opinion, is the very beginning of spring, those first days when you don’t necessarily have to wear a coat outside and the sun shines on your face through a brisk breeze. The day you can first smell spring—that’s the most lovely day of the year.

A close second, though, is around this time in fall. It can still get pretty warm, but the leaves are all turning and everywhere you look is resplendent beauty. I’m also a HUGE proponent of leaf crunching as a pastime. Last year, at the end of fall, my mother gave me a twig with several dry, crunchy-looking leaves on it and told me to save it for when there were no more leaves on the ground to crunch. I did. They were very crunchy.

While I would love to have temperate weather year-round, I think its acquisition would mean the forfeit of my favorite times of year. It would be wonderful to be comfortable at all times, but then I wouldn’t appreciate the privilege that comes with leaf-crunching season and sun-breeze combinations. The face-melting heat and heart-stopping cold make it all worth it. : )

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Likes Living In Places Without Seasons

The change in seasons just gives me the sniffles, to be quite honest. I can't say that I really have a favourite season, otherwise. I grew up in New York, where the seasons went to their extremes. When it was cold, it was below 0, and we often got two or three blizzards, full of snow days, cancelled flights (my husband ended up missing a week of work last winter when we visited by family for Christmas), and shovelling the drive way. A little snow is nice, but I don't care much for the icy roads and back breaking labour. When it was hot, it was barely under 90 in the dead of the night and my pale skin burned and I didn't want to be outside. I can't say I care for shorts or skirts - I have big thighs, and it's just not comfy - so having to wear jeans in 100 degree weather is not my idea of fun.

Around here, in Vancouver, it rarely goes over 80 and never goes under 30. So I quite like it here. The snow is never debilitating, though people around here are far less used to it and overreact when there's an inch or two of snow. It's never painfully hot, though the lack of AC in most Vancouver homes can be murder. It's not perfect, but the lack of range is very comfortable. Given that spring tends to start before the blizzards end, and that it brings in the allergy season, I am going to have to go on ahead and say that my favourite season is Autumn. Not really sure why. My birthday is in summer (technically), my favourite holiday is in winter (Christmas, for the record), and I rarely liked returning to school, particularly in these past few years when I saw more of my friends over the summer. Still, I like the temperature, I like the weather, I like the lack of allergens, and Halloween ain't too shabby.

Also, I love pumpkin pie. So it's all good.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"And so she changes seasons . . ."

". . . it's Mother Earth's routine. Green to brown, brown to white, white back into green, she changes clothes and puts on something clean." *continues humming and bobbing head*

Tom Chapin's children's songs? Anyone? Anyone? No? Okay.

Christina! Fantastic to hear from you! I think we can be lenient given the circumstances. :)

Hey girls! It’s Monday!

So, seasons! This won’t be long, because I have a crew assignment sheet, list of house manager guidelines, and program to finish before noon, but here we go! (I have a show going into tech today, yay!!!)

Winter: God, I hate winter. I hate it. I like to look at it; it’s beautiful, but I’d just as soon not experience it if it’s all the same to you. Especially Bowling Green winter. Bone-chilling wind? Frequent sub-zero temperatures? Tons of snow? Yeah, screw that. I like snow for nine days: Christmas Eve to New Years’ Day. After that, winter can get directly out of my seasonal periphery, thank you very much.

Summer: I enjoy summer, for the most part. Again, it’s this Midwest thing I hate. I will take a dry 95 degrees over a humid 80 any day, though I’d be lying if I said 75 degrees wasn’t my first choice either way. But I love cookouts and swimming and being able to hang around outside and getting sunburnt and feeling the grass beneath my feet. It’s when I feel like I’m breathing through a wet towel when I do all those things that I start to wish for fall.

Spring: My favorite seasons are definitely spring and fall, the transitioning seasons. Sadly, Ohio barely gets a spring. It’s winter until about mid April, spring for maybe a week, and then, bam! Welcome to Ohio humidity! But while it lasts, I love it. Spring symbolism (rebirth, new life, etc) and spring thunderstorms are wonderful things. I used to hate spring because it meant tornadoes when I lived in Illinois, but it’s grown on me since we moved to Ohio.

Fall: Probably my favorite season. I love the changing colors, the cooling days, the smell of September, and having an excuse to eat pumpkin-flavored everything! Again, we don’t get much of it in Ohio, but my favorite day of the year is probably the day I walk outside and know that fall has arrived. Now if I could only get all that without the ragweed allergies, we’d be all set!

And speaking of sets, I’ve got work to do, so Monday out!

Friday briefly has internet access!

*slinks into frame* Helloooooo

I'm writing this very quickly in between observing classes at the school I'm teaching at. I don't have reliable internet where I'm living yet (at a student residence for the engineering university here... French dorms are different, you can live in them even if you don't go to school there), so I finally got access to the computer room and work and found some time to give you guys a quick update! Anyway, the internet at my new home is really restricted and is limited to about 2 hours a day (I know... what??), so I haven't been able to blog yet, I hope you all will understand and be nice...! *puppy face* As soon as I pay my rent (today!) I'm going to start working on getting my own internet connection in my room so that I can have as much internet as I want and go to all the sites that I want (I'm dreadfully behind on all my shows). I'll also be able to buy supplies to do the challenge! It's not that I don't have enough money to get them now, it's that I can only withdraw so much money per day from my American account and all that money has to go towards my rent for now, and my French account isn't ready yet. As soon as I pay that rent today I can use the leftovers to buy things elementary things like scissors and paint and get all crafty. It feels very weird to actually need to go out and buy such simples things like scissors and glue.

My first two weeks of work are classroom observations and I'm in my second week as of today. I'm observing another class in half an hour, so I should be going to get ready for that! Also, French keyboards are confusing and hard to get used to- typing this took a lot longer than it normally would have. That last sentence alone took about five tries to get right.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week 31 - Season!

From Carlyn this week:

Topic: Seasons. Which do you love, which do you hate, and why? Tell us stories of seasons!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday has few words, but much (little?) belief

Casey: Come back to us!

Christina: Hope you’re doing ok!

Cassie: No shenanigans! I came up with the idea all by myself : )

I believe it is entirely possible that aliens exist, potentially even sentient ones. We’ll find them sometime.

In terms of ghosts and the paranormal, we see what we want to see. And right now, we know little enough about the world that there are unexplainable things that manifest as paranormal. I’m not sure we’ll ever get to the point in our society’s knowledge that we understand enough to disprove all the things that we currently comprehend best as superstition. But we might. I think, given enough time, we will be able to find material explanations for every single thing that happens in our universe.

I have had paranormal experiences that, at the time, I promised myself I would never doubt the authenticity of. Once, when I was at a several-dozen-thousand-person conference, I felt a hand on my shoulder and didn’t see anyone’s hand there when I turned around. It was quite eerie, and it was a spiritual conference, so I attributed it at the time to the hand of God. I have since doubted the authenticity of this experience. I no longer believe in God or souls, really, and I’m pretty sure someone just moved their hand.

Also, and importantly, I am prepared to be completely wrong in everything I have ever thought and believed. So that’s fun.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuesday Imagines You Could've Guessed This

I do not believe in ghosts. I'm pretty firmly placed in the sceptical side of things, and it takes a great deal of mystery for me to even begin to conjure up possibilities. I don't believe in a soul, I don't believe in God, and I don't believe there is anything supernatural or metaphysical to be found on Earth, or as far as Earth can perceive it (that includes astrology, which happens to be my sceptical area of expertise - my username, Ophiucha, comes from one of my favourite inconsistencies in astrology).

To give me something to say, though, I will say that I accept the possibility of alien lifeforms. No, I don't think crop circles are the work of aliens, and anyone who has a cow and probing story to tell is a lunatic (a fitting word indeed; lunatic). But I know that the universe is vast and that the conditions for life are not exclusive to Earth. Though we have not found life, we've barely had a chance to leave our solar system. I don't know if, or even think that, there is a species out there which is sapient. We may well find life in the form of amoeba or plants or some bloody awesome terrifying dinosaur planet. Perhaps that barely even counts as 'aliens' to many people, we think of little grey men and two-mouthed, acid-for-blood killers, but in the strictest 'living thing of another earth' definition, I don't think it'd be absurd to find a flower out there, light years away.

I don't think I'll ever know of it, of course. I imagine I'll be dead long before  the technology to explore the depths of space are perfected. I wouldn't be surprised if we all, all of humankind, are dead before that technology is with us. It's a far more daunting task than I think most people realize, and I wouldn't think it odd if it took us less time to blow ourselves up in a nuclear war or drown the planet with melted, glacial ice than it took us to truly explore the Milky Way. Still years and years out, after I'm dead. But still, I don't know if we'll ever know.

Anyway, I maintain scepticism in regards to any matter bound to Earth, and even a bit beyond. Particularly if they've been proven wrong. I will never understand how homoeopathy is still around. Or astrology, as I said. There are so very many things that prove astrology wrong that it's invasiveness is all the more frustrating. Can't pick up a newspaper or magazine without being told my horoscope. Which is, without a doubt, completely different from my horoscope in the next one I pick up. Truly outstanding how these things manage to persist.

I suppose it is part of our culture, in a way. Not in the same way religion is, but these superstitions and attachments to the paranormal and the otherworldly. I think it's engrained in us. Maybe it's just a desire for something less mundane, maybe it's a desire for their to be an unknown (as every day, another mystery is solved, or at least proved not very mysterious at all). I don't understand it, but I was raised away from it. I've had spiritual beliefs before, and even those were so far away that I could justify them. Matters of the soul, mostly. I've lost that belief as I grew older and felt how the world changed, and could put these things into words. That might be it, really. All flights of fancy I have are put into writing fantasy. And I like it that way.

Oh, and as a kid, I was only ever told one ghost story. You probably know it. Amityville Horror. I grew up not a twenty minute drive from Amityville, so it was really the only one that was ever talked about in my part of Long Island. As it is, though, I'd already seen the movie by the time I heard the story, so I could never quite get into it. I'd probably have to say my favourite 'ghost story' was The Ring. I loved that movie when it came out; bought the manga and the Japanese DVD and everything.

Monday will not tempt the wrath of Alice

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Alexandra - Your dragon was wonderful. Congrats on a well-completed challenge.

Carlyn - I'm still tempted to call shenanigans . . .

Christina - I hope France is wonderful and everything you were expecting, and I hope you're settling in very nicely! I look forward to hearing all about it in weeks to come.

And now for the theme of the week!

Do I believe in ghosts? . . . That's a difficult question. And yes, I know, I asked it, but still. The simplest answer is, I suppose, yes, but there are qualifiers.

First, I think humans see and sense the paranormal a little too easily. Alone in a room or a building and we hear a noise we can't explain, we get spooked, and we start to imagine all sorts of things lurking in the unknown. When we visit a place supposedly haunted, any unexplained voice will immediately have us screaming, "GHOST!" rather than, say, a grate that leads to the street, through which perfectly normal human voices are filtering.

That being said, though, I also believe in the scientific idea that nothing can be created or destroyed, it can only change form. Something has to happen to our life force and energy and essence once we die. If I believe that a person's soul can go to heaven, I also have to believe that it can choose to linger on the earth as well.

Thirdly, I believe that energy collects in a place, and I don't think it's a coincidence that often the most haunted places are prisons and the like, places where there has been a great deal of suffering. That energy lingers, in the same way that a home can be welcoming or feel cold before we ever meet the people who live there. The energy of a place lingers and resonates even when the people who once inhabited it are gone.

And finally, I believe in Alice.

This will be one of those points where my desire to keep an open mind and not shut any possibility out gets thrown out the window for the sake of theatre tradition. So, for instance, I will say that it is possible to be haunted, but not necessarily by ghosts, and that what we think of as ghosts may just be a residual spiritual energy, but I will also say without a shadow of a doubt that Alice is real and I believe in her whole-heartedly.

So, who is Alice, you may ask? I hesitate to say, because she doesn't like to be talked about, and I wouldn't anger her for the world. But I'm not in U Hall or even on campus, and there isn't a show coming up any time soon, so I think I'm safe. And Alice, you know from our dealings together that I hold you and have always held you in the highest respect.

Alice is the theatre ghost of BGSU. She haunts the Eva Marie Saint and Joe E Brown theatres. The legend goes that she was a theatre student here who was killed in a car accident on her way to accept an award back in the 1920s, I believe. So now, she haunts the theatres, and she's generally on pretty good terms with the theatre students, but there are a few things that will get her angry. One, talking about her in the theatre. Two, breaking theatre traditions (like saying "Macbeth" in the theatre). And three, failing to ask for her blessing or to invite her to the show. You can say what you want about the Macbeth superstition, that people psych themselves out and that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy and we bring the bad luck on ourselves, but offer a possible explanation for the fact that the last time Alice wasn't invited to a show, the main actor's throat started swelling shut for no reason in the middle of the afternoon on opening night. He had to be hospitalized, and the doctor's couldn't find any reason for the reaction.

So yeah, I believe in Alice. It also helps that I've had an Alice experience, which I won't go into here, but I know what I saw.

So, yeah. I think I've equivocated enough. I look forward to hearing what you think!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 30: Paranormal Activity

Hello girls! In honor of October and eventual Halloween, let's talk this week about the paranormal. Do you believe in ghosts? Spirits? Sasquatch? Have you ever had any paranormal experiences? What was your favorite ghost story as a child?