Monday, November 26, 2012

Tis The Season for Writing Papers

It has been QUITE a weekend, y'all. It's finals time, which means everyone I know is cooped up in their apartments writing papers.

Wait, what?

I'm supposed to be talking about Thanksgiving weekend?


Thursday was the one day I left the apartment last week, to go over to my friends' for the holiday. We did have a nice meal and played Evil Baby Orphanage, but then it was back to the laptop. Not too hard, considering I was alone in the apartment. One of my roommates went home to Jersey for the holiday, and the other is gone visiting family in Norway. (I know, right?)

I had to write a justification paper for my independent study, which ended up being almost fifty pages. I somehow also managed to finish the draft of my Work In Progress, which I've been working on for since some time in September. I have sent it off to critique partners and have sent another project to my iPad for revision-reading.

But even with all that, I had a friend over for paper-writing and delivery. My meeting with my advisor is tomorrow, but right now roommate and I are watching Once More With Feeling, the Buffy musical episode. We just created the Facebook event for our Muppet Family Christmas Party, and bought tickets to see RENT at the Oberon next week.

What I'm saying here is, even though there's a ton of work to be done this season, I'm trying to take advantage of the fun that is to be had. I'm living in a great apartment with amazing people, and I don't want to lose a month to work the way I did in September. It's not worth it, no matter what the season!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Way the Medication Makes Her

Pain. I've been trying to come up with a way to properly discuss the effect of pain for weeks. The conclusion I have come to is that it's one of those things that is difficult to describe unless you're coming out on the other side of it. Maybe it's a societal thing. Humans don't like to admit to pain, and therefore when you're experiencing it, you don't want to draw attention to it. You question yourself whether it's as bad as you think it is, whether you really need the medication you're taking for it, whether it's something you're doing. There's guilt, and shame, and the pain itself, which is beyond frustrating to deal with.

In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green's narrator Hazel says, "The pain was always there, pulling me inside of myself, demanding to be felt. It always felt like I was waking up from the pain when something in the world outside of me suddenly required my comment or attention." Ir's the truest description of pain I've ever encountered, but it doesn't acknowledge the difficulty of escaping said pain. Sometimes it's utterly impossible to comment or attend to a paper or an assignment when the pain tugs you inside. You only become aware of this when the pain is no longer there and suddenly parts of your brain are free.

Pain separates you from what's on the stage of your life.

At least, that's how it was for me until this weekend. 

The picture is my view of the first of two Amanda Palmer concerts I attended this week. The roped-off ADA section on Friday was behind the soundboard and trunks of sound equipment, stage left. It was a great view, but it wasn't the best I could have gotten had I not needed a chair. It made me think about fielding the crowds on Saturday, except by the end of the show, I knew I couldn't have. The new meds I was put on recently took care of most of the pain, but the twinges remained, making themselves known by the end of the night, taking me further away from the action.

Things had gotten so much better. The pain was no longer constant. The separation less noticeable. On Saturday night, I vowed, I would not be forced to disconnect from a minute of Amanda's show. 

Fate was on my side. This was the new location of the ADA section. Needing a chair was no longer a problem. 

I got lucky. The new meds make the old meds work. The pain tried to break through, I could feel it trying, but it didn't succeed in getting my attention. Amanda won that. She always does. 

My dear blog readers, you are perhaps tired of hearing me discuss the way concerts inspire me. They do, though. They inspire me. They enliven me. 

A friend once told me that the feelings she experienced at Wizard Rock events made it her church. 

That's what shows, particularly Amanda shows, are to me. I don't want to miss a second of them. 

Near by me, in the ADA/VIP section, there was a woman clearly in pain. I'm not sure who she was, though I'm fairly sure she and her husband were the "VIPs." Toward the end of the show, she was obviously in pain--migraine, I assume. I watched her detach from the show, until she was curled up in her seat, eyes hidden behind her hand. She cared enough to stay, and yet she wasn't there. 

I wished I could have offered her the pills in my bag. Not because I thought she'd take a pill from a strange girl at a concert. I know how creepy that is. No. I wanted a way to say, "I know what you're going through. I know. It's real. It's awful. I'm sorry. So sorry. You are not alone."

Except, somehow we are all alone in our pain, even in the places we should feel the most connected. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Real Kids Like Me!

I read this book two nights ago. I'm not calling this a full review, because let's face it, only a disability studies obsessed weirdo is going to track it down (ie me). It's just as ridiculously eighties as you'd expect from the cover. The girl, Amanda, is spending the summer on the island where the pilgrims first landed (as opposed to settled). The boy, Jake, is a deaf boy who lives on the island helping his father, a lobster fisherman. I liked that Jake's deafness wasn't the only barrier between them, and thought the author handled it marginally well, with a bit of--oh, no of course he doesn't REALLY try to fit in at school. And, really, he's been deaf ten years and his father still needs him to sign slower?--but generally well.

But that's not what we're here to talk about. (I know, right?)

What I want to talk about is the sheer beauty of eighties romance novels. Amanda wears her boyfriend's ring on her finger, secured with adhesive tape. Her parents fly him out to the island for a week, and there's no suggestion of ya know, makin' whoopee. They lament not being able to 'phone like normal people, but she writes him long letters! Jake gives her his sweatshirt! He rides up to her house an a horse named Lightening.

There's just the right amount of pointed feminism, too. Jake bets Amanda she can't ride Lightening as well as she can. He tricks her by not bringing a saddle but, oops!, Amanda can ride bareback! And pilot the boat! And dig for clams! (But she'll only throw the rake away if she's searching for Chris's ring.)

There's even a scene where they shower together with all their clothes on.

It's beautiful. And on the last page, scholastic helpfully gave me a list of books to read about "real kids like me!"

If this was what being a "real kid" was like in 1989, then we've gone downhill since. Maybe it's my fault. I was born that year.

To quickly get back on the disability soapbox, the last chapter annoyed me. Amanda teaches Jake to dance--which is great, I love that the author acknowledges that deaf doesn't mean he can't dance--but then she takes him to a party on the mainland and his friends exclaim that he never participates at these things! Look at Amanda humanizing him! Now, granted, the whole novel has been about her entering his world, but there was so little build up to the him-entering-her-world (which is really still his world at this point) that it felt forced.

Still, pretty good overall.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Defining Literature

Last night, my roommate and I went to Org: Literati. Orgs are a regular event put together by Singer Mali, a Boston-based singer/dancer/woman of all trades. They are a pastiche of performing arts showcasing Boston talent, and based on a specific theme. Last year, I went to Org: Insanity. I haven't made it to any between now and then, but since we moved to an apartment literally four blocks from the Oberon, which often hosts them, and we're literature nerds, I couldn't miss this one.

The audience at these things always fascinates me. The Oberon is tied to the American Reparatory Theater, so most of their shows get a handful of ART subscribers, who are often a world apart from the glittered, corseted Org attendees--and yet, this is Boston, so all appreciate the English professor MC teaching us about the ties between sex and synecdoche, and the Victorian-styled band singing about Humpty-Dumpty.

Once the lights go down, I adore Orgs, because they always inspire me. Little things, like the shadow of a performer on the video screen behind her, or the way the bassist sways with his instrument, to the big things like an animated film based on a Bukowski poem. A trapeze artist performing to a haunting melody. The way the MC laughs when members from three band sing along with her musical interpretation of Sailing to Byzantium. It all makes the wheels in my brain click.

But I think what I most loved about this Org was how all-encompassing it was. Something titled "literati" suggest pretension. And, yes, like every art event there was a certain amount of "let me now explain MY SOUL unto you all." But mostly it was "let's all have fun with the words that inspire us." Let us translate literature, a solitary, two-dimensional art we all love, into something tangible.

The best moment of the night for me came during Karin Webb's performance piece. She had her friends send her their favorite quotes, taped them to her body and had audience members choose a quote and read it off. Many quotes came from the authors you'd expect. Hemingway. Kafka. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Soem made me wonder if they were the person's favorite, or if they wanted to sound educated. There was a Gaiman quote. Not unexpected from a social circle that--to some degree of separation--includes his wife. But there were also quotes from Marcus Zuzak, and best of all Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins.

This made me happy for many reasons. First of all, because I loved seeing my beloved YA authors appreciated for what they are--writers of literature who have important things to say. Also, because it reminded me that the people I associate with can appreciate art of all types. They do not limit themselves to books that would be "impressive" or "pretentious". They read books that are wonderful, thoughtful, and enlightening, no matter who they are published for.

I don't know who submitted those quotes. I don't know everyone who performed last night. But I do know I've picked the right group of artistic people to interact with. I can't wait for the next show, for the next opportunity to feel that I'm part of such an intelligent inspirational community.

Luckily for me, it'll probably come soon. I'm going to two Amanda Palmer concerts next week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Whatever I Do

This post is going to get lost in the buzz of vote, vote, vote. Which, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, but I sent in my absentee ballot a couple of weeks ago and want to hide from the returns. Hence, another topic for the blog.

Last night, my supervisor from the summer called to tell me that my intern had come in for his meeting with her gushing about how he wanted to go to college, actually interested in his schoolwork and generally more motivated than we've ever seen him. He called me a couple of weeks ago to discuss the same subjects, but the fact that it has stuck means so much.

There are a lot of possibilities for what I might do with my life. I want to be a YA writer, that's not changing, but that's a timeline I can't control. I don't know where I want to live or how I'll be employed, but I do know is I want to keep getting the feeling I got hearing about the progress this young man made. To know that our time together had some kind of an impact on him. That I made a difference.

I'm not egotistical enough to think I hada big hand in the changes he's made, but the influence is there. My books might, once day, influence readers. They might make a difference. And whatever I do, I want to do that.

Huh. Maybe this was kind of about voting....

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Five!

1. This Southern gal has seen her share of hurricanes. Ivan whipped out my hometown in 2004, and then Katrina came through to destroy what we'd fixed in 2005. There's something different, though, about it happening to a place like New York. Whenever the hurricanes hit home, it's awful and devastating, but it's expected. We've been through it before. We'll, unhappily, be there again. But New York always seemed kind of impenetrable to me. I understand that cities can get destroyed--I've read about the Great London Fire, the burning of Atlanta, I saw the effects of Katrina on New Orleans--but this...I don't know. It's different.

I still want to live there one day, though.

2.  Best joke I've heard about the Random House-Penguin merger: Hurricane Sandy let the pengins escape from the zoo, and they wandered into random houses.

It took me two reads to get it.

3. I'm finally at a point in my Work in Progress where I WANT to work on it. A lot. It came from changing the ending and restructuring it. I've got a stronger throughline, and I want to get through it!

This desire to work is not helping my sleep patterns, which have gotten ridiculous. I'm naturally nocturnal, meaning that I'll get my writing wind at almost midnight. My body likes to get nine to ten hours of sleep, meaning that I tend to get up at ten or eleven.  I'm trying to let go of the guilt about this and be productive during my awake hours whatever they are. I don't feel overtired or anything like that, so I don't think it's a problem. Just, nocturnal. But my roommates are both morning people and have entire days before I'm up....

4.  A friend of mine on Twitter mentioned the musical The Last 5 Years yesterday, and a high school friend is in a production in Orlando, so I've been relistening to it today. It's beautiful and really captures what failing relationships can be like, but what I've been focusing on the anachronisms. It's about a protege writer, and in one place they mention "Borders" and then later "Random House," which wouldn't have been an issue until last week. It makes me think about how hard we work to make our books timely, when really we never know what's going to change.

5. We had a 90s Halloween Movie Extravaganza in the apartment from Monday to Wednesday. We'd invited people over, but hurricane, so it ended up being my roommates and me. Occasionally just me. We viewed The Witches, Halloweentown, Casper, Tower of Terror, and, of course, Hocus Pocus. Trends noticed? A lot of famous actresses playing witches. Some pretty bad insults. Screenplays that were much better when you were ten. A lot of kitsch and yelling of "GRANDMAAAAAAA!"

It was wonderful.