Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It Was Better

This was going to be a cutesy post about rocking out to Jack's Mannequin or watching all of the Vlogbrothers videos or other things I do randomly. But it can't be that kind of post, because I just finished reading The Laramie Project. For anyone who might not know, Laramie is a play about the beating and death of Matthew Shepard, a crime motivated by the fact that Matthew was gay.

I did theatre all four years of high school. I heard about The Laramie Project, but I never read it. Now, I'm glad I didn't. I wouldn't have been ready. I wasn't a stranger to the fact that violence existed in the world. In sixth grade, I listed my fears on a project for school. I was afraid of my parents dying, bombs and school shootings. Bad things happened.

They happened for no reason. They didn't happen because someone happened to be gay.

I know I'm lucky. I grew up in the south. The Bible belt. I'm related to people whose conservative viewpoints I will never sympathize with. But sexuality was never an issue worth disliking someone for, let alone hating them. I had friends who changed their love interests--male or female--monthly. My theatre troupe had boys who liked girls and boys who liked boys--and I managed to be attracted more to the latter than the former. It was a problem, but only for my poor sixteen-year-old heart. We gossiped about it the way we gossiped about everything. No more, no less.

After I read the play, which wasn't my first exposure to Matthew's story, I called my mom, unable to believe it happened in 1998. Like, I must have blocked that detail out, absolutely unable to believe it could happen in a time when I have memories. When I was playing with Beanie Babies and planning to be Dorothy for Halloween.

And I wish I knew now that the world has gotten better. But it hasn't--not in a huge way. In fact, now things are different only in the way that kids are inflicting the hate crimes on themselves. In my world, it's gotten worse, because at sixteen I could have never imagined a world where someone's attraction to another human being could get them killed.

I'm also listening to the audiobook of Lauren Myracle's Shine, a similar story that takes place in a small, Southern town. Some of the sound bites probably could have come from people in my hometown, and I wish I'd never had to acknowledge that fact.

I only hope one day everyone will be able to grow up in a place where they're safe, no matter what.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Five!

1. Last weekend was President's Day weekend. On Valentine's day, I ordered the complete set of Slings and Arrows--the funniest Canadian show about Shakespeare ever--to keep me company over the weekend. I have Amazon Prime, so this shouldn't have been an issue.

Except, I still don't have my DVDs. World, what is wrong with you? (They've shipped, finally, but are in transit)

2. I'm working on a paper about The Chocolate War and My Sister's Keeper for my Contemporary YA Realism class. One of the critics I'm referencing has the last name Trites, and I keep typing Tripes, which is not an acceptable substitute for the woman's actual name, but is very amusing when you type phrases like, "According to Tripes, the power in the novel...."

3. Grey's Anatomy did ALL THE BREAKING of my heart last night with the current Alzheimer's storyline. The only thing that made up for it was Zola's hair. That baby, I swear.

4. I just commented on someone's photo of their one-year-old, who had on a monkey hat similar (NOT IDENTICAL) to my Henry. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and am choosing to believe the one-year-old and I share a fabulous sense of style and whimsy that is not affected by age.

5. I'm kind of frustrated with my current writing project, guys. It's a rewrite of my 2006 NaNo, which I last looked at in 2009 before I started this program. It's a story I really want to tell, but for reasons I don't know, getting into the swing of telling it hasn't been easy. What do you do when you need motivation on a project?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Transport Me

I've started looking at PhD programs, which is the summation of all the scary things in the world. I won't start for another year at least--possibly two, I may defer to get some surgeries done--but I'll start applying next fall. One of the things that I'm really having to think about, that I didn't much consider the first time 'round, is transportation.

I don't/can't drive, and until cars drive themselves (MAKE THIS HAPPEN), that's not changing. Of course, programs with a children's literature focus tend to be in random cities that aren't generally known for their public transportation. (I'm looking at you, UF). Most big universities do have disability transit, but often they require a lot of foresight to arrange pick-ups, and aren't always reliable.

Even here I have my issues with transportation. For instance, all Boston cab drivers seem to have taken courses in being an asshat, that the nice ones must have played truant for. The line of the T I live on thinks it's a trolley half the time and a subway the other half. Both halves tend to involve stairs.

But at least I have it, and it works. And that's a thing I can't live without. It doesn't gel well with the nomadic, go anywhere for tenure, academic life....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Minority Report

I've been thinking more lately about what it means to belong to a minority group.

As a person with a disability, i consider myself to be a part of a social minority. It's harder to see, especially because the ideal model for educating people with disabilities is for them to be mainstreamed--put into classes with typically developing kids. Thus, you create two groups, the mainstream kids and the ones who have to be in ESE throughout their education. They're often the ones who get involved in organizations that find jobs for people with disabilities, and host events such as dances and parties for their clients.

On the other hand, you have mainstream students who have been "successful" out in the world and who could look with scorn on those organizations, because they don't think people with disabilities should have to have their own dances and parties, or need someone else to find their jobs.

But then they realize that during the time they spend with other people with disabilities, they feel safe, and they dance freely, and it's okay--because they also have their mainstream lives. How is this at all superior to the other way of life? It's not.

But I think the answer to all of this ends in the choice. If an adult can choose where they work, who they work with, what function they want to go to, then they can move in a world with both typically developing people and those with disabilities. They can learn to feel safe both places. To connect with people in both places, in different ways.

I'm not sure we're they're yet....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Five!

1. I am SO behind on my to-read list, guys. Like, I had to renew my library books. This does not happen in my world. It might be because I've regularly had three books per week for class, but come on, still not acceptable in my world. In high school, my theater teacher once said one day I wouldn't have time for recreational reading, "Like maybe when you're in grad school." I am determined to prove her wrong.

2. Another reason I'm behind is that I...uh....

Wrote a novel last week.

The project I'd been querying got three rejections on fulls in three days, and all of a sudden it just clicked with me. I knew how I had to rewrite it. And I had to write it, or go mad with the desire. It fell together in exactly seven days. It's very first-drafty, which is frustrating because it's kind of draft 9,002, but I have to try to think of it as a new novel because it really is.

But yeah. A week.

3. I also have papers coming out of my ears. We had one due Monday, the one due the 27th and I have one due the 12th due to a lottery for oral presentations that clearly hated me. But then I'll be done-ish until the seminar paper. This class (young adult realism) is altering the way I read. I finished a book this week and couldn't stop thinking about the pat ending, and characters who never turned up again. In a way, it's just the culmination of everything I've learned in the past year and a half, but still. Thinky thoughts.

4. I ordered the Slings & Arrows boxset as an early birthday present for myself. The fact that Amazon hasn't shipped it yet makes me sad. I want commentary on Paul Gross being insane and hilarious!

5. This. Song.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Don't Want to Go to Denver!

Actually, I did. Want to go to Denver.

But the title is a line from an Eddie Izzard sketch that I couldn't get out of my head on the plane.

I went to Denver to give a presentation on inclusion at the a conference, and it was so much fun. It's something I really love doing, and people seem to like hearing my goofy stories.

That said, it wasn't until I stood up there narrating my life that I realized exactly how many of my tales had "and then I went to the doctor/ER" in the middle of them. In fact, so does this one.

I scratched my eye at some point last week, and by the time I got to Denver it'd gotten way obnoxious. Mom and I had to go to a walk-in clinic our first day there, and then a specialist because I'm too complex for doctors at a walk-in. (I have a detached retina in that eye, and they worried it could have been more than a scratch. It wasn't, but safe>sorry).

I did get to go to the Denver Art Museum, and to Boulder to visit my college professor/mentor who now lives up there. I also, finally, got to meet his little girl who is the cutest thing that ever wore a tutu.

Then I came home to write a paper on Narratology. Oh grad school life.

But I also realized how much more I want to get into public speaking/disability advocacy, so that's a thing.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Musings: The Fault in Our Stars

Like most people, I've been trying to put my thoughts about this book into words for weeks. I didn't post it as my best book of January, because everyone did. I wanted my review to stand out. But the truth of the matter is, it can't. It can't because every person experiences this book differently, and no person's opinion matters more than another.

For many people The Fault in Our Stars represents a glimpse into a different world. They don't "relate" but their "eyes are opened." I spent the first two-thirds of the book wondering how John Green managed to retell my life. I deal with chronic illness and disability, not cancer, but so many of Hazel's emotions and interactions spoke to my experiences. There's a scene in the book where she goes to the Ann Frank Hais. Her physical struggle there, and her justification for working through it, took me immediately back to my own fight to climb those ladder-like stairs.

Encountering a book written by a non-disabled person that captures the nuances of disability is an incredibly rare occurrence, but I found it in The Fault in Our Stars. I highly recommend it to people who don't have experience with disability, but I recommend it more to those who do.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Musings Don't Breathe a Word (+Trailer Launch!)

Last weekend one of my library books was Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala.

I loved Tell Me a Secret, so I couldn't work to dive into her newest book.

I wasn't disappointed. Cupala's praise is incredible, and the situation her main character is in--living on the streets--is depicted in a very believable way. Some reviews have said they couldn't relate to Triste (nee Joy), because of her decision to live on the streets, but for me her Asthma was a way in. I found myself wonder what I'd do, how I'd get my medical supplies if something like that happened in my life.

But Triste isn't defined by her asthma. She has fierce loyalty and drive that both spark her adventure and keep it going.

The book surprised me in several places, and kept me reading to see how Cupala would end it. The ending works, I'll put it that way. I wasn't disappointed.

And I'm proud to be part of the blog tour announcing the new trailer for the book, which is embedded below. And you can be a part of it too! See how below!


Embed Code:
<iframe width="450" height="253" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/uP61zlerel8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Five Grand Prizes:
Signed copies of Don’t Breathe a Word, Tell Me a Secret, the TMAS special edition audiobook, bookmarks, stickers, and other swag*
Ten Runner-Up Prizes:
Don’t Breathe a Word flyers, bookmarks, stickers, and a TMAS button*
Plus the first forty people who buy the book at this link between now and Valentine’s Day get DBAW bookmarks, stickers, and undying book love from me!*
*Must include mailing address with entry. (US + up to 20% international winners)

1. Click here to go to the DBAW trailer link, then click the Share button to send to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, MySpace, blog, or other social network. 5 pts each
2. Buy the book at this link for more chances to win (include in your entry below)!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Bug

I think I'm coming down with something.

My symptoms are as follows:

1. Loss of desire to venture into the outside world
2. Increase in creative brain-activity
3. Increased belief that school work will somehow "do itself."
4. Loss of time awareness
5. Exponential increase of Word documents open.
6. Excessive scheduling of things marked "revision" and "one chapter," not so much "read for class" or "fly to Colorado."

My diagnosis isn't clear yet, but I have a hunch that it's multiplemanscriptsitis. I guess it's a good sign that writing and revising are literally ALL I want to do, but this is very bad timing....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Five!

1. I know the Disability Profile isn't up yet, but something happened this week that made me change my mind about who it's going to be, so that'll be up Saturday.

2. Grey's Anatomy last night was so the bomb dot com. I am a sucker for homages to old episodes, and for alternate realities, and also have the same brain as Shonda Rhimes some times, so I was right there with it all. I find it fascinating to imagine where the world might be if people had made one different decision, so it made me happy to see my show explore these things too.

3. I'm going to Colorado for the first time next week. I'm presenting at a conference on inclusive education, seeing one of my mentors who moved there several years ago and my mother is joining me. With so much to do to prepare, this is not the time to have writing projects eat my brain. And yet.

4. Some of you know I've had a week of writerly disappointments. My final three partials came back with three nos, in three days. But I think I've figured out where that MS needs to go, and I'm working hard on others to send out in the meantime. My immediate reaction to the rejections weren't despair, but determination. I think that's a sign that I'm meant to be in this thing for the long haul.

5. Not the Kristen Bell with a sloth video. Aren't you glad?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

SPJ Editing

This a post I should have made a long time ago, but I put it off because I'd been putting off doing the edits on one of my manuscripts. I didn't want to sing Natascha's praises falsely, so I made myself wait until I'd made the corrections she'd suggested and seen how fabulous they were.

Natascha is the awesome editor behind SPJ Editing. I discovered her almost a year ago now, through a post on her blog. I sent her an early draft of the manuscript I was working on, and she put it through the wringer. She's continued to do that with every piece I send her, and my work is ALWAYS the better for it. Whether it's calling me out on my love of dashes and the word "either", or pointing out places where my characters actually have to have FEELINGS (omg), she's fabulous at it.

And, so, loathe as I am to share, I have to say, if you're looking for a freelance editor, look absolutely no further.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Rest of Ever

Yesterday was one of those days where it sucked as a day, and I sucked as a person, and I just wanted it to be over. Bad doctor's appointment, bad commute, sore thumb (literally! And yes, Willow, it does stick out). All in all, it blew.

Except for the four hour period where I sat at Panera crossing out words, expanding character motivations and responding to comments from critique partners and my awesome, school-assigned mentor.

And I realized, more than I ever have before, that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I just have to make it happen.