Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making the Calls, Writing the Stuff

Did the big girl thing and called Vizio and the Sheraton people.  Once again, the Vizio customer service representative told me a higher up from corporate will be contacting me within forty-eight hours.  We'll see.  I don't have much faith in the system at this point.  Also I went back and looked so see exactly how long I've been having issues with my computer and the first email I officially sent them was on 10/11/13.  Over a year ago is when I started having trouble.  It's pretty sad that I bought this computer specifically to help me through my MFA and I've used it for that purpose about... hmm... three or four months out of a two year program.  Shitty.  Anyway, someday my computer will come.  Or it won't.  We'll see.

The call to the Sheraton people was much more successful.  They got me put over to the Pine Manor College rate of $113 a night versus $199 a night.  That will be split three ways between Hannah, Eileen, and myself so it will actually be quite reasonable.  I'm excited for January and for Boston and for late nights in the dorms doing tarot readings and drinking.  And I'm excited for graduation!  But to get to that point I have to keep on trucking on the creative thesis.  

I wrote five pages single spaced last night and I'm decently happy with them.  More to come tonight and then I have to spend some time stitching it all together.  I think my Mentor was right when she said that this is going to be a long ass book.  My creative thesis isn't even going to tap into the real meat of the novel.  This is all the lead up and I'm finding it to be incredibly illuminating and helpful.  I'm getting to learn a great deal more about my secondary characters as well as creating a better rounded protagonist.  

Tomorrow I have work but this weekend is going to be another binge writing session.  I will get this damn book finished!  And after I am done with my MFA I am going to piece it all together and create something I can be truly proud of.  Or at least that is my hope.

Executioner and Hunter's YN by doubleleaf - I'm pretty sure this picture
is fanart for Assassin's Creed but I think they would make a pretty cute
 Death Man and Kylin all grown up and eating yogurt.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Computer, Hotels, and Gore! Oh, my!

First I'll so an update on the not-so-fun stuff.  My new computer from Vizio has yet to appear even though I received an email from them on the fourth of this month indicating it had been sent.  I have called and was promised a return call within forty-eight hours and that was more than forty-eight hours ago.  I've been using my father's computer in the living room for the majority of my internet stuffs and writing.  Today I got my mom's wireless keyboard to work for my old laptop (you know, the one missing the 'F' key) and have been using that today.  I did manage to get some writing done at the library but then after we came home I started my period and pretty much curled up into a little ball of misery.  Meds, heating pad on high, and nap.  Repeat.  And now I'm feeling a bit better.

The other thing that's not-so-fun is that I have to get my hotel accommodations figured out for Boston for Hannah, Eileen, and myself and there's a special rate for Solstice people... a rate that I'm not getting for some reason.  I called and was promised that I would receive an email within 72 hours giving me the reduced rate or giving me a counter offer rate.  As it stands right now I'm stuck with a rate of $199 a night and that doesn't include tax or parking.  That's bullshit.  This promised turn around time was promised much longer than 72 hours ago.  So that means I have two places to call tomorrow.  I'm not happy about this but I suppose that's what being an adult is all about - calling people when you don't want to and being generally disappointed afterwards.  Being an adult sucks.

Something a bit more fun is that last night we had a surprise retirement party for the Assistant Manager at the bra store.  The party was held at the the Manager's house and she cooked homemade lasagna for everyone.  It was a great party but also a little sad.  We're all really going to miss the Assistant Manager.  She's been there over twenty years and has been a wonderful presence on the floor as well as behind the scenes in the office.  The Manager made a toast to her and it was beautiful and tearful.  We drank, we ate, we had delicious cake!  I learned that I may be allergic to alcohol.  I drank almost a whole bottle of wine and while I did feel a nice warm buzz, I felt something else too!  I felt itching in the soles of my feet and in the palms of my hands.  And eyes even went itchy and got all fuzzy.  This happened the last time I drank too and I was positively miserable from the itching of my feet.  I drank hard cider not too long ago and it didn't seem to affect me in a negative way aside from some heartburn but the last two times I've really consumed a large amount of alcohol this has happened so... I'm not sure what that means or if the alcohol is even to blame.  Could be a spice, who knows.  But I do know it sucks.  Just like being an adult sucks.

You know what doesn't suck though?  Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) definitely doesn't suck.  It's an anime that Hannah and I binged watched the last couple of nights.  We watched fourteen bloody episodes and can't wait to finish it.  It's really exciting and like most dystopian art pieces, it shows the delicate balance of the outside and inside threats.  The characters are amazing, too.  And the animation when they are in battle and using their omnidirectional gear is stellar!  The premise of the story is that giant humanoid beings appeared suddenly on earth and pretty much ate humanity to near extinction.  Humans are now hidden behind giant walls that keep the huge predators out but as with every perfect system, it fails.  It's pretty intense to watch giant human faces munching down on any little human they can get their hands on.  What's even worse is that the giants (so called Titans in the anime) don't even require food to survive.  They are eating us just for fun.  Pretty shitty, huh?  I love it!  After I finish more work on Death Man, Hannah and I are going to binge through and finish the series and then start watching Blue Exorcist.  

Also, we are going to finish reading No. 6 just as soon as the library gets in the copies I put on hold a little while ago.  It's a pretty hot series right now and a lot of people are checking it out so it may be a while before we get our turn.  All of this dystopian anime is really getting me in the mood for teaching my class.

This next residency I have to teach an hour long lecture on the things I learned while writing my critical thesis.  It's all about dystopian world building and I would like to share with you, because I can, the class description that I recently had to turn in for the director of our program.  
Dystopian World Building and Other Disasters

“People ask me whether I feel any hope for the future. I want to say to you: Yes, I do. I absolutely do. Not hope for the human race; we’re screwed. But I feel tremendous hope for the Insect Overlords who shall succeed us as masters of the Earth.” ― M.T. Anderson

What’s the difference between a dystopian world and a ‘normal’ one?  How does one create that difference through narrative voice? In this class we’ll explore dystopian world building by breaking it down into key elements.  I’ll be drawing heavily from M.T. Anderson’s Feed to demonstrate how narrative voice can create a fully realized dystopian backdrop without muddying up the story with extraneous information.  
Suggested Reading: Feed by M.T. Anderson, The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Suggested Viewing: Equilibrium, WALL-E, District 13, Repo! The Genetic Opera

Questions:  In Feed (and other dystopian movies and books) what is at stake when a character resists the controlling element?  What does the phrase ‘make the strange familiar and the familiar strange’ mean to you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seventh Anniversary is for the Bats

I had to work on our anniversary this year so the celebrations began in the evening.  But the prep began that morning.  I wore a pretty, lacy black dress to work and wowed the girls.  Then, during my lunch break, I put on some eyeliner and mascara to give Hannah an extra surprise when I picked her up later.  So after work I zipped off to find some flowers and treat my honey.  But finding flowers was a bit more difficult than I had expected.  

First I went to Super One but their assortment was very limited and what they did have was wilted, browning, and over priced.  So I went to Trading Co.  They had some really cute bouquets with a breast cancer awareness theme.  Hannah's favorite aunt in the world passed away from breast cancer back when Hannah was in high school, so I felt a bouquet to support the race for the cure would be very well received.  But I had to pay for it and get out of there and that was proving to be a challenge.  The woman in front of me was very frazzled.  She was buying one pack of instant cheesecake mix and used the remainder of her EBT and had to supplement with a roll of pennies and some other change.  She was short about fifty cents.  There was a little muttering between her and the cashier, mainly 'Oh, I'm sorry, I don't think I have enough' and 'it's okay.'  So I asked how much she needed.  I happened to have cash but if I hadn't I would have just put it on my card for her to give her a break.  I handed her a buck and she was so thankful.  The thing is, I know how that feels, to stand in line and be just barely short.  And what she was buying was so specific I couldn't help but figure she had company or some kind of special thing going on that evening.  I've been helped by strangers before and it made me happy to return a small portion of that kindness.

After I got the flowers and bolted to pick up my date, we headed for the dinner at Azteca which, oh so conveniently, is located directly next door to the theatre.  I have a southwest chimichanga and Hannah had a tamale and enchilada plate.  All the food was wonderful and our server was just terrific.  Lately, when Hannah and I go out, I like to sit on the same side of the booth as her, or next to her rather than across from her at a table.  It makes me feel closer to her and a bit more conspiratorial like we're plotting something - and that is always a good feeling to have with one's mate!  So we sat together at the booth however, we planned it all wrong and sat with my right arm and her left arm doing battle all night for superiority.  We need to remember for next time to put our non dominants together instead our dominants, but you live and learn.  

The best part about Azteca however wasn't the food or even the really sweet server, it was the Halloween decorations all over the place!  They had fake webs in the archways and a humongous nylon pumpkin in the entryway and, handing from the wall decor over each booth, they had big fake bats upside down watching with red eager eyes.  They were adorable!  And it was kind of perfect and put us totally in the mood for the movie we were about to see: Dracula Untold.  The cost to see a movie these days is ridiculous but I would say this one was kind of worth it.  The graphics and music and overall sound were amazing and that's not mentioning the excellent performances by the leads.  (I can't get enough of Luke Evans with fangs, he's just sooooo cute!)  And to top it off, the movie used an age-old vampire trope (a vampire dematerializes into a swarm of bats only to rematerialize later as himself again) and make it fucking cool!  They did it so right.  Everything in the movie was spot on as far as I'm concerned.  

And of course, after all the excitement of yummy dinner and yummy vampires, we had some fun in the bedroom.  I didn't need it - I was pretty sated from the evening - but it was really cute how into it Hannah was.  I had to hush her a few times (and she had to hush me as well) - someday, when we have our own place, the hushing will only be for erotic effect.  I can't wait for that day.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Death Man Update and Borderline OCD

My poor abandoned 'F' key sitting
 in the apartment entryway near the
 drain like a lump of something too
solid to wash down.
Right now I'm in the process of figuring it all out. Finally. I referred to myself as a tenth frame bowler in my cover letter to my mentor and now it's time to put my money where my mouth is. I need some strikes this month if I'm going to graduate but the good news is that I've charted out the first part of the book and I'm on my way to plotting through the second part of the book as well. I'd like to take you on a photographic journey (please excuse the quality of some of these pictures (the ones I took) as they were taken with a Blackberry and I lack my girlfriend's photo editing patience and skills.  

Yep, that's how I felt all through September.

Narcisa helped me with my chart by
acting as a sleek, black paperweight.
Last month I was a frazzled mess but this month I'm feeling much better. October is going to be a crazy time for Hannah and I as we are participating in a variety of events with the IEPG as well as throwing a Halloween Party on Halloween night! By the time we actually throw that party I want to eat nachos, drink vodka based vampire themed libations, and crash like a college kid at our friends' house in Spokane with the knowledge that I have 120 pages to turn into my mentor for the next packet. I don't think I'll be able to relax and fully enjoy the party unless that much is true - the 120 pages part. But I think now, I will be able to do it. First of all, my mentor made me smile very broadly today.  She sent back her response to my charts and scenes that I sent her for my mini third packet. The subject line read: good work! And she sent a cute picture of a painting that I do believe she painted herself (she does some fun abstract stuff in her spare time, which she has less of since she's dealing with a troublesome grad student such as myself). The title of the painting is "Cheer Up!" said the Lemon to the Fish. It was pretty darn cute.  

The messy paper!
A few days ago I sat down in mom's room and went to work doing what I should have done from the start. It took a while but seeing it all laid out was not only helpful to me in a writing sense but enormously pleasing to my OCD sensibilities. I chronicled the process for it shall be repeated very soon in order to plot out the rest of the novel. By the time I was done I had a huge paper (and I do mean huge - I wrote this out on the back of my mother's calendar paper that she uses to plan out activities for her work) full of scribbles, numbers, and notes. But then I played around with Excel and created a spreadsheet of sexy color coordination. This is kind of my pride and joy right now and it's giving me some real direction for my story. I do have some pages written but not nearly enough for my creative thesis. Wish me luck that by the time I hole up for Halloween that I can can relax in the comfort of having followed the charts and created a novel that is good enough at least to get me my MFA. After I graduate I'm going to binge on tv shows and pulp for about a month and then I want to finish up this bad boy and work on polishing it for publication. If I can get this and SoAH charted and written, then maybe I'll have a chance. Or, hell, I'll at least have a couple of books I can share with friends. 

BEHOLD! My chart of Glory!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hello October

Today was a busy day.  I was up until about five in the morning fine tuning and finishing up some work for my MFA packet.  I'm so far behind where I should be right now that I'm in perpetual panic-mode and suffering some rather unpleasant nightmares.  But I'm getting there.  I need to breathe and relax and just hunker down.  That's what I'm doing this week, especially this weekend.  I'm hoping that my replacement computer gets here very, very soon so that I can enjoy some free range writing time at the library and just about anywhere I would like.

After a brief sleep, I woke up nice and groggy and headed to Spokane with Hannah.  She dropped me off the Spokane Falls Community College so I could take my TSA computer based test.  It was supposed to take over two hours.  I finished it in about one hour and apparently aced it.  By the time I got home I had already recieved an email telling me I passed and inviting me to continue on in the application process.  That means now I'll have to pass a credit check, background check, piss test, a vision test for colors, and a medical check.  If I do get the job, it isn't going to be for a while I can already tell.  Oh, but if I can actually get the job then that will mean some big changes in my and Hannah's life.

Apparently the other coworker that I thought was no longer applying for third key is actually still in the running.  So my hope is that she can just have it.  Let her have it and I'll go frisk people in the airport.  My biggest fear in all of this... I actually love my job at the bra shop but can't afford to live on that kind of pay, so I worry that if I do get the TSA position, that after a few months I will despise the job.  I've done that before, gone to work every day and suffered through misery just to get a hefty paycheck.  I hated it.  Money isn't work being miserable.  But then again, a work day of misery is worth some freedom and independence.  I love my parents but Hannah and I need to grow and become our own people.  It's time.  Here's hoping I get the TSA job, or that I can use my MFA degree to get something equally as lucrative.