Monday, June 14, 2010


Hello everyone! It's nice to be blogging so often right now--suddenly I find I have things to say and ideas I want to share again!

My boyfriend and I did some shopping this past weekend for manicotti and muffin ingredients, and of course ended up buying other fun things like Greek yogurt, cherries, and risotto. I've been eating the cherries this morning, and just decided I want to bake with them instead--we have enough to cook with and eat on their own, so I want to have fun with them. I found a recipe in the cookbook my boyfriend got me for Christmas (The New Taste of Home Cookbook) for raspberry coffee cake, and since I have all the ingredients but raspberries, I think I'm going to put my own spin on it and use cherries instead. I don't know if I'll have time to make the coffee cake tonight or if I'll wait until tomorrow, but I'm excited!

This cookbook is great because it has sections with labelled tabs for things like poultry, seafood, vegetables, sauces, quick breads, candies, etc., and many of the recipes offer four variations: classic, time-saver, light, and serves 2. I particularly love looking through the breads/cakes/desserts sections and bookmarking particular recipes I'd like to make. In fact, I have more parties to bake for in my mind than are actually on my schedule!

I also got the next Auel book, The Mammoth Hunters, this morning. My boyfriend's mom talked to her friend at the library near where she lives, and they held the book for her to pick up. She brought it over here this morning, and I'm already blazing through it!

I also got a good start on packing this morning. I have a final load of laundry to do before I leave that will clean up some shirts and (a-hem) undergarments I'd like to take with, but for the most part, I am largely packed up. I leave for Detroit in a few days, and from there fly to Europe! My Prague roommate (and close friend) and I are planning on doing some cooking in Europe--we'll be eating baguettes and nutella for breakfast most days to conserve our money so we can travel more and splurge on delicious lunch/dinner foods. As I am a recent captive of the deliciousness of nutella, I am very excited to have it for breakfast so often! To make up for the less-than-nutritious breakfasts, I'm bringing vitamins and supplements. I'd hate to get sick so far from home!

Well, when I make the coffee cake, I will take a picture and post it for any interested parties. I may or may not have time to blog much in Europe, but I'll make sure to update pictures and stories when I get back!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Books and Food

Well, it is officially 8 days until I leave for Prague for four weeks of poetry, screenwriting, and travelling! I am very excited and also rather nervous--nervous mostly for packing, which I've barely begun. So far I have three jackets or varying thickness, for use depending on how cool the nights get, pants, and two dressy outfits for when our group goes to see a show.... and I have most of a suitcase left to fill. Yikes! Better get started on that soon, but first must do laundry.

As I've mentioned before, I have been doing a great deal of reading. I'm currently working through the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel. This is the third time I've read the series (which consists of 5 books, all of which are between 500 and 900 pages long--the sixth and final book in the series is due out next year, and I am SO EXCITED!!) since middle school. I've been taking the books out of the local library because my copies are still at my parent's house, 6 hours away, but I've just discovered that my library doesn't have the third or fourth book! I finished the second two days ago and spent many moments yesterday and this morning aching to continue reading the story. Today I plan to go to a library where my boyfriend grew up and check the books out from there. And yes, I do plan on having those two books finished by the time I leave so I can get the fifth from my local library the day before I leave. What can I say? I love books!

I actually feel some fear about reading this third book, called The Mammoth Hunters. The very first time I read it, I stayed up the whole night to finish it just so I wouldn't have to spend hours dreaming about what might be happening to the characters in the pages. It is an agonizing story about love, communication, truth, and exploration. And when I say agonizing, I mean agonizing--think Love Actually, when the boy Sam says "Worse than the total agony of being in love?" and Liam Neeson's character replies with, "Yes. Total agony." Well, this book is like that; the cultural differences between the two main characters and the people they are spending the winter with make for some grave miscommunications, misunderstandings, and a near loss of their relationship.

Just thinking about reading this book again puts knots in my stomach and a lump in my throat. But despite the professed agony that I know to be buried in the long pages, I can't help but love the book and the whole story that follows the series--I could no more skip this book and move on to the fourth than I could skip a dificult time in my own life and move on to simpler times. So, I may be a glutton for punishment; I do love a good tear jerker. A book that can make me cry and laugh and cringe and read in awe has my seal of approval any day--and Auel's endearing series never fails to surprise and torment me.

What I did yesterday instead of read was cook. I made blueberry muffins in the morning, and manicotti at night for a barbeque my boyfriend and I were going to that evening. We were going to bring the leftover muffins to the barbeque, too, but they were so delicious that we decided to keep them all to oursleves. So I have blueberry muffins for breakfast again this morning!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Genre writing: yes, it has a purpose

I've been a writer for as long as I can remember. As a child, I had countless journals and diaries that I filled with the dreams for and beginnings of novels. I wanted to go to college and major in creative writing long before I knew that such a major even existed. I read books like my very existence depended on meeting new characters, learning new words, exploring new worlds, and having impossible adventures.

Once I graduated from Nancy Drew and Goosebumps, I found my love for science fiction and fantasy books. This probably had a lot to do with my parents: my mom, who read my brother and I Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son long before we could really understand what was going on; and my dad, whose improvised storytelling accounted for some of my most vivid memories from a childhood that I seem to have largely forgotten.

In middle school, I entered a contest for young writers and completed my first novel (technically, a novella). It was a fusion of (as I mentioned in the last entry) Stephen Donaldson's A Mirror of Her Dreams and Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard--and, of course, written by a 13-year-old. When my novel didn't win the contest, I thought about giving up on writing. I was sure that, if I wasn't good enough for a middle school writing contest, I wouldn't ever be good enough to get anything published. But after some time, I began to work on the story again. The plot and the characters grew with me throughout the years as I matured and read more and discovered new writing voices. I rewrote the book several times, killed and birthed different characters, created a new world, honed talents, introduced morality. Then I wrote a sequel and had lofty plans for a third in the series. But then my mind began to wander, and I wrote new stories and sequels to those. I tried writing from the point of view of girls, then of adults, and young children, then people who were disabled, some who couldn't speak, and I created new languages.

I became aware in high school of the stigmas that are attached to the scifi/fantasy genre. It's difficult to put into words, but largely I became aware that when I told people I wrote (and read) scifi/fantasy, they saw me as a joke--it was as if scifi/fantasy books couldn't be serious or important or have anything valuable to say about the world. I also felt, some place below my conscious mind, the stigma that scifi/fantasy was written by and for men only--and I'm a woman (and was a girl). Desperately wanting my writing to be accepted and for people not to judge me harshly the moment I uttered those words, I searched for a new way to label my writing--and I came up with creative fiction. Still, though, I wasn't satisfied.

In college, I went through a period where I lost my writing--I told my family I was still working on my novels, but I really wasn't. Sometimes I would sit down at my computer and read through my stories (often hundreds of pages worth of writing), change a few spelling or grammar errors here and there, and then quit. I worked on my writing for workshops, and since there was no "genre writing" allowed in most classes, I learned in another way that scifi and fantasy weren't good enough.

I got a fiction short story published my freshman year, but I resented it a little. It seemed to me that now I had to explain to my family and the people who knew I'd been a fantasy writer all my life that my first publication wasn't in my chosen genre. I had a difficult time explaining to new people I was meeting that I was a fantasy writer--not to mention the prodding, disbelieving questions when I told people I was going to school for creative writing--but I thought that the fact I'd gotten something published would give me some credibility in their eyes.

For so long, I thought that I had to overcome other people's bad opinions about genre writing, and though that is still true to some extent, what I really needed to change was my own attitude to it all. I considered myself and my writing unworthy--my embarrassment about being a genre writer stopped me from standing up for myself when I knew that the quality of my writing was very good, and my ideas were creative and clever.

Just this morning, I came to an understanding about my chosen genres. I'd been worried so long that people didn't think my writing meant anything or could say anything valuable about the world, but after so many years of reading scifi/fantasy, I finally understand something different. Fantasy gives people an opportunity to explore what's good about the world through the lens of a new one. Science fiction is a way to understand the potential problems that will develop in the future if the world society/economy/mindset stays the course it is on, and how to deal with them. While both these genres can be fun (and what isn't fun about discovering that you can hop through mirrors into different worlds, or play war games in anti-gravity, or how the needle may have been invented?), they can also be tremendously important. Reading or writing scifi/fantasy is not just about escaping our world and wishing you could live in another--on a very important level, it's about how no world is ideal, but ours is the one we live in, so how can we make it better?

That's what I want to do with my writing--I want to see my world and be the one to take a stand against a problem if I'm the one who sees it. But I also want to celebrate the joy and beauty of being alive. I know I can do that with whatever form of writing I choose.

Learning lots,

Friday, May 28, 2010

Writing, How I Love Thee...

I have been woefully slacking on this blog recently--however, to be honest, I've had other dry spells before this, and I can't truthfully blame it on "having too much to do." Lately, especially the past five days, I have not done much of anything that was overly time consuming or inflexibly scheduled. The fact of the matter seems to be, when I have more to do, I actually get more done. Seriously!

This week has been spent, largely, reading. I read through Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game in a day (yes, one day!), barrelled through The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and am already a third of the way through Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear. Next up is the series "Mordant's Need" by Stephen Donaldson--I love those books so much that I think no matter how many other wonderful books I read throughout my life, Donaldson's The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through will always be in my top favorites. They (along with So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane) directly inspired and influenced me in the writing of the first full book I ever created. My story was initially a fairly exact hybrid (that is, stealing of ideas) of Donaldson's and Duane's novels, though I have since revised, rewritten, and rethough the whole storyline many times.

Up until my final year of college (this past year), I was an almost exclusively scifi novel writer. Only very recently did I start to pick up the joy and challenge of writing poetry. In my study of poetry in school, I all but stopped dead my work on novels and the type of story I have written all my life since I can remember writing. Though I by no means regret having begun my studies in poetry, I do regret having so compeltely cut off the other side of me as a writer. And now, after reading so many fantasy/sci fi books recently (many with religious/spiritual and feminine power themes), my mind is brewing new ideas for stories that my fingers ache to write.

The biggest obstacle between me and writing (and typing this blog, and job hunting, and exercising, etc.) right now is getting off the couch, out of my book, and walking the ten feet to the computer.

Reading two very inspirational and charming blogs recently (and this morning especially) has gotten me back into the swing of writing my own. If you're looking for something good to read, check out, and if you're looking for something good to eat, check out

Lots of joy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finals, graduation!

Sorry for the long absence! The past few weeks have been very hectic--this week is my final exam week, so I've been spending my days doing the last of my school work and then working on projects, papers and exams. AND NOW I'M DONE!!! I have to turn in my compelte editing portfolio by this afternoon, and then all I have to do is graduate!

I made a big mistake recently. I wrote down that all my finals were on Tuesday (yesterday), but thought that they were all on Wednesday. When I actually looked in my book and saw that they were due a day earlier than I planned, I burnt myself out on getting them done in time.... only to discover that they were, in fact, due on Wednesday. Obviously I just wasn't paying attention to which box I was writing in, and so stressed myself out more than I needed to. On the one hand, I got my project and paper done early, but on the other, I didn't leave myself enough time to study for my ethnic studies exam. The biggest problem was that I didn't start work on any of these things early enough. I had some of my editing portfolio done (as a class assignment), but hadn't worked veey far ahead and so made this week really difficult for myself. I also didn't get a head start on my philosophy paper, or make enough time to study for my exam. So, after eleven years of exams, finals, and graded projects, I still haven't learned my lesson. Let this be a lesson to me for the future!

On the other hand, I've read a ton of books this semester in my spare time. The count as of right now is sixteen--not bad for a graduating senior with a full class load! I read Ken Follett's 973-page novel, The Pillars of the Earth, recommended to me by a dear friend, in under a week. I blazed through that book faster and with more hunger than any book for a long time--faster than some 300-page books I've been reading recently. It is definitely what I would call a character-driven book. The characters live and act and react exactly like living humans would in similar circumstances, and all the action, love, murder and fear in the book was created by the characters, not by plot. Often, plot drags characters around a world they have no desire to be in, through lives they would not actually live, and the characters lose their autonomy--the plot becomes more complex than the people. This book had a simple plot--it could be explained in one sentence, but it would not describe the story. The characters are what give this tale life and love and meaning, and they shape the plot with their lives. I felt like these people were truly alive, and their pain was my pain, their love my love. I would read this book a thousand more times!

It's been difficult to tear myself away from my books and my schoolwork, so I've barely started packing. I've devoted the rest of this week to getting my things in order, and this weekend to moving my storage stuff to my boyfriend's parents' house and my necessities slowly to his.

I promise I'll have more interesting things to write about soon!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So I've been toying for a while with the idea of becoming a vegetarian again. I went veggie in high school/college, but found the lifestyle difficult to maintain healthily when I was living in the dorms with very limited access to off-campus food (and anyone will tell you that, at least until recently, there has been little-to-no vegetarian options except for pasta offered on my school's campus) or any feasible way too cook or prepare meals. So, what I'm saying is, I gave up. It was easier to stop trying, especially after my reason for becoming a vegetarian (an old boyfriend) was out of the picture.

Over the past few years, I've learned more and more about the truths of factory farming and the disgustingly, terrifyingly inhumane way most industries treat animals bread for their meat (an other products). I heard a really powerful presentation from a member of the campus veggie club last semester and picked up some flyers and informational packets. I was appalled by what I was learning and the things I already knew that were getting confirmed, but I still hadn't made the commitment to stop eating meat.

The truth is, I enjoy meat. I love a good steak, I've recently discovered some delicious recipes for cooking chicken, I will jump on almost any excuse to eat shrimp, and have developed a semi-recent taste for fish. Thinking about the things I eat during the day, at least one meal usually contains meat--usually that meal is dinner, which I often make for and eat with my boyfriend, who gets home from school at 10pm most nights, and who isn't a vegetarian.

The lifestyle changes that would be required by becoming a vegetarian are huge. I am not willing to cook separate meals for my boyfriend and I, though I don't see him being willing to stop eating meat any time soon--here enters the compromising. I would be eliminating many of my staple grocery products (hot dogs, chicken breasts, chicken fingers, deli turkey, burgers) and would stop eating some of my dinner "treats," like my favorite pork and greenbean recipe, a tender, grilled steak with A-1, my uncle's famous lime-something marinated grilled shrimp, and more.

I'm also not sure how to get all the protein and other nutrients I need into a vegetarian diet. I already like tofu and avocado, but I don't like beans and asparagus and other "good for you" veggies....

Clearly, this requires some planning, some research, and some important discussions with my boyfriend. Overall, though, I am on the road to becoming a vegetarian. Wondering why I have decided this all of a sudden? I saw a video in my ethics class today that disturbed and pained me so much that I don't think I can justify eating meat anymore, unless I can confirm that the animals were treated humanely during their lives and killed humanely at their time of death. I will post the video when my teacher emails me the link.

Learning lots,

Here is the link to the video. I warn you, the images are very disturbing and graphic. This is not fun to watch, but it is powerful. The argument in this video subtely changes throughout, but reagrdless of what the narrator says, it is what is shown that really matters.

Monday, April 19, 2010

MATH! haha just kidding

Two more weeks of classes and then one week of finals, for which I don't actually have to take any finals! I have a bunch of huge projects due during or before finals week that are taking up a lot of my time right now. I was a poor planner earlier in the semester and didn't get a great head start on my editing portfolio (which, to give you an idea of the ginormity of it, will consist of, at least, fifty pages of edited material and an explanation page for each, plus extra project parts for certain documents, not to mention a few pages of professional intros and lots of other fun but time-consuming pages...) and that is pretty much taking over my life right now. If fate is with me, then the project won't be due until finals week. However, since I haven't actually written down the due date, I have no clue when I need to get it done by... aaaand, go!

I'm also moving out of my current house shortly after I graduate and moving some of my stuff into my boyfriend's small apartment and the rest of it (like my desk, bookshelf, winter gear, and dresser) to his parent's basement/garage. Thank goodness they live close and are willing to let me store my stuff there for a few months before my boyfriend and I get our new place, otherwise I'd have to blow a lot of money on storage lockers, since there's no way we could get all my stuff into his tiny place and still have room to breathe. I don't even know how I'm going to fit my bare essentials, like toiletries, books, and clothes. (Yes, books are essentials.) But I will make it work, hopefully with some cleverly-stashed boxes and plastic drawers.

I had a fun facial party with my boyfriend's mom and some of her friends over the weekend. It was the biggest party I have ever done, and so it took longer than I expected. All of the women were fun and chatty, so the time felt like it was going by quickly and I was surprised by how late it was when we were done. The more I do the parties, the more I enjoy them, and the longer the span of time between them, the more I forget that I enjoy them. I have another one coming up this Thursday with one of my teachers, who is very fun and already likes Mary Kay.

Next weekend my mom is coming to visit. She's never seen the house I live in and, quite possibly, has never met my roommates. I'm so excited for her to come and see the things I do around here and to meet my friends. I'm going to take her to... oh wait, I can't write it here because she reads this blog! It's a surprise. Granted, there aren't too many super duper exciting things around here, but there are some places that I enjoy and I want to share them with her.

This afternoon I'm getting my hair cut for the first time in a long while! I've been growing it out for years and getting it trimmed when it starts to get nasty, but now it's way too long and gets tangled all the time, no matter how well I care for it. A few inches need to go! I will donate to locks of love if my hair is long enough that they can take 10 inches without leaving me with the same mistake of a hair cut that I got four years ago that made me look like Peter Pan... and not in a good way. If not, I'll just lose between 3 and 6, depending on how risky I feel like being.

Learning lots,

UPDATE: Lost 10 inches of hair today! Bumped my hair back up to my shoulders... I am getting used to it, and comforting myself with the knowledge that I just gave my hair to a child that needs it more than I do. Now, how do I style short hair??