Paris Elects First Female Mayor

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authorajpalm:

It’s 2014. This should have happened a long time ago. Nonetheless, I’m very happy for Hidalgo.
Now Hillary got to help the U.S. catch up. This is the land of the free, of liberty and of opportunity, ain’t it?

Originally posted on TIME:

(PARIS) — Anne Hidalgo has claimed victory as the French capital’s first female mayor.

While the Socialist candidate won Paris, the party lost to the conservatives in dozens of other towns and cities around France in Sunday’s municipal elections.

“I am the first woman mayor of Paris. I am aware of the challenge,” Hidalgo said in a victory speech.

She defeated the candidate from the conservative right, former minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

Hidalgo had served as a deputy mayor for 13 years under outgoing Socialist Bertrand Delanoe.

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February gallery

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The art students of Central Michigan University displayed their talent at the gallery by the UC last month. It was quite the event when I arrived that Saturday afternoon for the reception. The main room and the sideshow were packed with people, plus when you crossed the hallway connecting the two rooms, you had to walk closely along the wall to leave space for people to pass (bit inconvenient since one of the snack bars stood there, too). I saw both students and folks of old and very young age. It was thrilling having little boys and girls observing the paintings and the sculptures, because I think it’s so important for them to see life beyond cartoon network and video games and plastic toys.

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“American Psycho” by Taylor Wattles

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“The Factory” by Kate Mielens

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“Boboli Gardens” by Kate Mielens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m curious to know whether the artist looked at a photograph or drew from real life or mustered the image by pure imagination. The details are both amusingly sloppy and elegant.

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painting by Katy McAllister (I shamefully didn’t write down the title for this one; I think it was along the lines: “The Last Shrine of the Fallen Empire.”)

 

 

 

This is a painting by my friend Katy, which I really love. As someone who knows her good taste for romance and who has read some of her writing, it comes as no surprise that she created something resembling a world that has long passed.

I particularly like the fog hovering throughout the landscape and how beautiful the water looks. I know from experience that drawing or painting water is on of the hardest things to recreate.

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“Dusk” by Larissa Parker and Chrissy Waggoner

Honestly want to find the artist and buy this deer painting from them (to hang in the living room of my future apartment). It’s amazing!

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“Natasha” by Janna VanderBand

 

In addition to my personal favorite paintings, I took pictures of some 3-dimensional art work.

Nowadays, it feels as though older photographs are art within themselves. These are of course creations of this modern world, but the message stands, I believe.

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“Mitzi” by Nikolai Westgare

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“Mitzi” by Nikolai Westgare (part 2)

 

I spent a good whole minute staring at this amusing Viking book, or whatever I should call it. I want to touch the pages really badly, but there was no sign granting me permission to touch or move the art so there I remained still, scared that the gallery police would cuff me and drag me outside if I caved. Then another admirer of the weird stuff snapped some pictures and stood there with me for a moment, staring as well. We made a pact to touch the pages together, which we did, and we laughed and we scurried from the crime scene.

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“Trudge” by Kathryn Hoffman

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“Hidden Demons” by Melissa Misley

 

 

 

Not sure what to say about this one other than that it’s frightening and intriguing.

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this slideshow. However, nothing beats the real experience. I advise you taking the initiative and visiting a gallery or museum, because the atmosphere, no matter which kind of art, does such a great job in removing a person from daily ordinance of work and schedules and shores. 

Novel in-progress (2): Alissa Nutting and the Inner Editors

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The fiction reading with ‪#‎AlissaNutting‬ was such a cool event! HILARIOUS writer! Good talk during the Q&A and I loved seeing my peers there. I don’t know every single one personally, but I recognized almost all the faces in the Barber room tonight. We’re like this tiny community of writers and poets here in Mount Pleasant. Pretty neat.

Unclean-Jobs-Cover

Alissa Nutting visited the college library the other day for a fiction reading and read a passage from her intriguing, controversial first novel Tampa. She also read one of her stories from the short story collective book Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls; this story (I think I understood) was about the toxic elements within a magazine publication and the editor who fell apart because of the business and her determination and ambition. I could be wrong. I have to go back and re-read that story at one point. Professor Doyle assigned our class to read “Dinner” from that book, and I still have issues grasping what the fuck that story is supposed to mean. Good story nonetheless.

Once Nutting had completed the obstacle course, she took some questions from the audience. I pride myself in being the first person to raise her hand.I asked, “Where do you get your stories from?” She said she got them from news articles and from cultural aspects (not her exact words, the latter, but something to that effect). She included an example: ‘One day, Dominoes announced that they were going to put a restaurant on the moon. I thought that was so great, because when I look at the moon, the one thing I think is missing is a Dominoes pizza place.’ So she wrote a story about a pizza place on the moon. Cool stuff.

The best part of that Q&A in the Barber room that evening was when someone (I think it was Gino) asked what she does about her self-doubt. Yes, there is no question whether a writer (or poet for that matter) ever has self-doubt. We do. I can tell from personal experience that once you spend enough time with yourself — and writing is rather an activity of solidarity — your mind will begin playing tricks on you. Nutting said her “inner editor” is a bald man who steps in when she least expects it and he waves his arms in flipper movements, like, “Not good, not good!”

GardenGnome

Road blocks and my Gnome

My self-doubt and inner editor is a fucking gnome. Not a cute garden gnome with a red hat and white beard; not at all nice like the one in that travel agent commercial that shouts, “Smell the roses!” No, he’s a mean bastard and looks a lot like the garden gnomes from Harry Potter, resembling a stupid potato with arms and legs; sometimes he wears a dark wool cap. His hobby is to crawl on my shoulder whenever I get writer’s block and to hiss in my ear, “You suuuuuuuuuck~!”

It was especially bad once I finished chapter three and realized I had no idea how to kick the plot into gear; I had only evolved some key moments of the book. So I stepped back for a while and revised what I’d written so far. That whole time, my Gnome hissed, “Your story is too complicated. It’s boring. No one is going to want to read it. That Francesca character is such a bitch, I hate her. Why are you wasting your time with this? HOW MANY times have you revised the first chapter? Like ten times. What~ does~ that~ tell~ you~? Get a real job.” Eventually, as I always do, I flicked him off my shoulder and shook off the insults like a dog shakes off water from his fur.

I’ve struggled with my novel for over two weeks and it wasn’t until Monday when I finally knocked down that particularly thick wall. Right before I went to sleep that night, I lied down in my bed, closed my eyes and walked straight into my mind palace (you win brownie points if you get that reference). Pretty awesome journey I traveled as a result, because as I answered certain questions and filled some extremely deep plot holes, the characters showed me where the story would go. It might seem insane to you that I simply lied there and daydreamed for over an hour, but slowing down and thinking does wonders.

I might have lost sleep because of it, working on the novel that is, but sleep is for the weak anyway. This week I’ve found it so annoying that I need to sleep in the first place. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t mind staying awake as long as I pleased so I could spend those eight hours writing instead. Anyhow, now that I’ve sorted out the foundation of the story, I might be able to finish the entire draft by May as planned.

Spring Break ’14

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Boys get trucks and naked chicks on their birthday cards. Girls get glitter and flowers on theirs. Most of the staff at Bath&Body Works refers to the female customers as “dear” or “miss” (which I adore). The woman behind the cash register fan-girled with me about Benedict Cumberbatch when I paid for ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’… 

If I had money I could spare, I’d get a ticket to London, or someplace warm. I feel especially strongly about the latter today, because it’s snowing AGAIN. For cough! Just as it was getting warmer outside — funny how 40 degree weather feels warm; as though we’re slowly waking up from a frostbite coma. Before yet another winter storm hit, it really felt like spring break.

1) “On the way home” – Birds and job hunting

I had an internship interview in Cass City, almost two hours away from school and fortunately only a little off the usual route home. I dreaded having to leave my brother waiting in the car in the meantime, let alone visiting a random small town I had never heard of. As a side-note, Simon said that small towns creeped him out so that didn’t make me feel better. This was an internship at Cass City Chronicle, a weekly newspaper, and they could only afford to hire one person. As far as I knew, I was going against seven people. I walked into their office fully aware that this was the first job interview that actually mattered to me.

Long story short, the editor liked me and I did well, but someone was better, I guess (Isn’t that always the case?) and he let me know in an e-mail two days later that they’d hired this person instead.

Additionally two days later, my teacher and mentor Tracy announced that the Society of Professional Journalist had acknowledged our organic reporting project and awarded it “Mark of Excellence Award regional winner.” We’re going to attend a conference in April at Ohio State University, which I look forward to! It feels as though almost everyone I meet from the journalism department at CMU talks how import it is to NETWORK, and now I get so see what that is all about.

MARK OF EXCELLENCEWhile we were on the road, Simon and I saw a lot of cool birds (bet they’re pissed now that it’s gotten so cold again): Many flocks of black, emerald-shimmering European Starlings sat in groups along the pavement, which made me nervous; I slowed down a little every time they lifted from the ground so I wouldn’t hit them mid-flight. You know, I’m talking about those birds that fly in formation, like a moving cloud gently and calmly drifting in the sky.

We saw a sharp-shinned hawk and a family of female ring-necked pheasants picking on the earth in a field. Some rock pigeons hung out on a power line over the bridge when we arrived in Bay City. The river looked frozen solid and was covered with untouched slow; the sight of that could fool you, because if it wasn’t for the bridge, you could have thought there was no river at all, that it was part of the landscape. We saw some raven, too, or crows, not sure which.

My mom and I like to bird-watch, in case you’re wondering. We get many feathered visitors during the summer, plus a bat that lives in the neighbor’s attic; I think they like our pool. The bat, Bruce, passes through to take some sips from the pool when it’s hot. The Canadian Geese and Northern Shovelers certainly love to swim in it. I know only a few by name actually; I had to look up some names here.

European Starling (nestwatch.org)

European Starling (nestwatch.org)

2) “Couch potato” – Movies, movies…

Other than celebrating a friend’s birthday, doing some much-needed shopping and having a (“serious”) movie night that lasted till 2 in the morning (‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’), I’ve been very lazy. I have one homework and a row of scholarships to handle, but since yesterday, I’ve been swimming in a spiral of procrastination.

I’ve watched ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and three episodes of the BBC show ‘House of Cards’, I’ve finished a book called Songs for the New Depression, spent more time on Tumblr and YouTube than I care to admit, and it’s not getting any better. I brought all three ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies to my room this morning. I’m doomed.

Favorite from tumblr (theclassicreader); sums up the essence of my spring break. Wine and martinis and large meals of culture.

Favorite from tumblr (theclassicreader); sums up the essence of my spring break. Wine and martinis and large meals of culture.

The most productive things I’ve done so far are cleaning my room (there was a mountain of crap hidden in the corner behind my armchair), revising the three chapters from my novel (they’re good for now), and catching up with the family (I haven’t been home for three weeks). My other brother Kris is now one of the managers at Five Guys; that’s pretty. I’ve started calling him “BOSS” any chance I get.

Open Gardens 2011: Maughan Library, King’s College London

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authorajpalm:

This aligns with the research for my novel in-progress, believe it or not. God, I could kill for a ticket to London right now. It would be a chance to escape this brutal Midwest winter, too.

Originally posted on Visiting houses & gardens:

Just off Chancery Lane, opposite the Law Society, sits the former Public Records Office building.  Today this space is a library.

During WW1 the garden to the side was allotments.  King’s College employed George Carter to design a new garden, which was built by James Weston.

The garden is a green garden, planted with hornbeam, pleached limes and yew.  Rooms have been created, with spaces left to guide the eye over the most important views, as can be seen here in my picture.

I recommend a stop off here.

In 2010 the Confucian Academy of Hong Kong donated a bronze statute of Confucius to King’s and this take centre stage in the middle ‘room’.  Normally closed to the public, the garden is open for Open Garden Squares Weekend.

The library building - impressive Victorian public building architecture

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My own journey with the Hobbit

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The first time I picked up The Hobbit, I couldn’t have been older than ten. I have a feeling that my maternal grandparents gave it to me, but I honestly can’t remember where I got it from or whether it was a gift for a special occasion. Interesting fact, it didn’t actually say “the hobbit” on the cover, but the book was titled Hobbiten. Since I grew up in Sweden, it was obviously translated into Swedish. (Everyone in Sweden can speak English very well, but of course one cannot expect a Scandinavian child to fully know it yet.)

borrowed from geekosystem.com

After hearing several accounts on how people connected with the novel and how it sparked their love for literature and influenced their childhood, I feel a bit dumb for not being one of those people. For me, it was Harry Potter that pushed my cerebral wheels into motion… but that’s another story for another time. Other than being enthralled by the book cover — the Swedish version (at the time) was a picture of Smaug, lying on the treasure, with a smoldering golden red heat illuminating from him. Until I bought a new copy about a week ago, the only pieces of the story that still remained in my mind were;

(1) The game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum, especially the instant when the little hobbit feels the ring inside his pocket.

(2) When the company of Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf are taking shelter in the trees from the Wargs and the goblins, but the fire they used to protect themselves with is now being used against them.

Maybe if I had read it more than once, who knows. Or perhaps the experience would have been different if someone had read it with me. Even though it’s “just a book,” diving into that world of Middle Earth can be quite scary. Since last weekend, I have been reading the book, which was long overdue, and when Tolkien describes the caves inside the mountain and the goblins living there, I get creeped out. Imagine a kid reading this story. The reason I finally returned to this story was because I was curious to see why this little group of angry Tolkien fans criticize Peter Jackson’s movies so harshly. (Yeah, some people really hate “An unexpected journey” and “The desolation of Smaug.”)

Last night I finished chapter eight, ‘Flies and Spiders,’ and yes, I can see why people are upset, because Bilbo Baggins is a fucking badass in that chapter (such a raging badass!), and they cut the forest part rather short in the movie. So, yes, I see it.

But keep some things in mind: Peter Jackson is using much more than this one book. Thing is, Tolkien was planning to write an expanded version of The Hobbit, but he never got to finish it and the notes thereof were later published in the appendix of The Return of the King. Jackson has used these notes in order to go deeper into the history of Middle Earth and the way I see it, he is also intending to give us various points of view of the way people live and the politics and the demographics. It’s fascinating. And it’s rare that I can enjoy a book and then the movie(s) based on the book separately. Remember that.

[skip ahead to 16:39]

Additionally, Jackson is bringing other exciting elements to the table, without diminishing any of the characters. You should hear me rant about the Harry Potter movies, most of which I hate with a passion, because no one stopped for a second to truly develop some important key characters: like Ginny. In the books, she’s cool, fun, intelligent and you can really see why Harry likes her. They completely fuck that up. She’s just plain awkward! I don’t understand why… okay, again, for another time. Anyway… for instance, despite that Bilbo doesn’t do the teasing and not as many cunning tricks or as much fighting in the forest, I think they still portray his courage and badass-ness in other scenes and using other methods. My favorite one of his brave acts is the one where Bilbo faces the dragon. Dude’s got nerves of steel. I might be wrong and I haven’t gotten that far in the book yet, but I’ve heard from people that in the book, Bilbo keeps the ring on, thereby remaining invisible, as he talks with Smaug. That change, that little detail, says a lot about the character.

[UPDATE 3/4/14: Bilbo Baggins faces the dragon with the ring on, twice, but I nevertheless think their encounters stand fairly awesome and clever, and equally dramatic to the movies. Perhaps I should switch those two around, but oh well, you get what I'm saying. I did see the movies first.]

Then remember also that if it wasn’t for Peter Jackson, we wouldn’t have the awesome Radagast the Brown, who is only mentioned in the book. (Let’s also appreciate Sylvester McCoy for wearing that brilliant black coat when he’s not in costume. And that he can bird-whistle!)

[UPDATE 3/4/14: A friend of mine has met Sylvester McCoy; I'm so~ jealous!]

To wrap this up, I’m putting up some videos for you to enjoy. I’ve had some geeky days previously, watching many interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff. I won’t put up the production dairy videos here; if you’re a fan like me, you can easily find them online.

The Suspense of the Novel in-progress

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Long time coming. It’s been almost a month since I was here, talking to you, an invisible crowd more or less. I’ve been occupied with something far more important than the Writer’s Corner (and by admitting that, I believe I’m breaking some sort of code in the blogging sphere).

I feel silly for naming the subject since I feel as though everyone I run into has to hear about it: I am writing a novel.

It’s a mystery with two main characters. The format consists of three parts, the first two playing out in London and the final one in Chicago. That’s all I’m willing to say on cyberspace. I am extremely paranoid about my work, as every writer and artist ought to be. I’ve only trusted three people with the task of reading the drafts and giving me feedback: my mother, my roommate Kaye, and my buddy and colleague Nick. I might add another person to help me out, also a friend and a writer. The more eyes pointing out the flaws, the better.

This is completely new experience for me, writing on a daily basis — or at least five days a week (college and life in general get in the way). On days when I don’t write as much as planned, or not at all, shamefully, I always make sure to scribble notes on the book; it can be a scene, ideas about the plot, things I need to look up, problems, questions.

I’ve run across things that my professors have talked about in class, and some things I didn’t know could happen. Here are two examples.

(1)

The “I” point of view is the easiest method of storytelling for most authors, which I’m using for the novel. Several times, I’ve heard that beginners tend to have problem with disconnecting themselves — as the author — from the narrator, causing ultimately the person who speaks to think, talk or act similar to themselves. For an autobiographical fiction, it’s awesome, like City of Angels: Or The Overcoat of Dr. Freud by Christa Wolf.

However, usually professors encourage their students to step out of their comfort zones and try to create a character that is very much unlike them when they pick the first POV, because it will open up new possibilities and scenarios that otherwise couldn’t have happened if the narrator were like ourselves. Additionally, it creates an element of surprise, even for the writer. The narrator and I have some things in common, but our personalities are largely different; for one, she is a lot more egotistic. There was a moment where I had to take a break from typing, because she was about to make a huge mistake, something cruel, and I felt so disgusted with myself for planning this scene. Not something any teacher I’ve ever had has discussed.

(2)

Another thing I’ve been told over the years is not to “over-plan” the story. There are writers who will draw detailed outlines of the plot and write entire biographies for the characters before they begin. That doesn’t work for me; I’ll have a partial skeleton of the story if anything, and unexpected ideas will pop in my head like fireworks while I’m doing homework or something like that. Overall, when I write, it feels as though I am putting a puzzle together, and sometimes, I have to pause so I can search for a piece that’s hiding under the couch or that has fallen into the trashcan. Or I have to stop all together, because I keep crashing into walls and I’ll come back when I’ve found a sledgehammer.

Two nights ago, I had a nightmare that helped me solve an issue in the second part. The other main character was supposed to get into a lethal dilemma, but I realized early that there were plot holes in that scene. I was debating tossing out that plan all-together before I had that epiphany…

In the dream, I am in my bed, about to go to sleep, but it is in my dorm’s living room for some reason and my two brothers are going to watch “The Ring.” I crawl under the sheet and pull it over my head, but somehow, I can still see what is happening outside the dark interior of the sheet. The ring appears on the TV screen. I blink and my brothers are gone. Next thing I know, a hoard of black birds fly out of the screen, screeching, violently pulling on my sheet. It won’t come off, though; it has molded itself around me like a cocoon. I myself cannot move. I’m paralyzed. I’m then back under the blanket and I can see it shaking, feeling the claws pricking. Once the birds are gone, it’s silent for a moment. Then I hear this sick inhale, like someone breathing in heavily, as though it’s taking them a huge amount of effort. I can only see the inside of my blanket, but I know the girl from “The Ring” is standing in the room. For what feels like a whole minute, I listen to her breathe. Then the molded blanket looses its hold off me. I know somehow that I’ve become vulnerable. I then feel pressure on the bed, two hands next to my shoulders, two feet by my ankles. The girl is hovering above me, breathing. Then a hand slowly grabs the top of the sheet and pulls it down. I see the dark bangs. And just  as she stares me down with her pale eyes, I feel a jolt in my stomach and I wake up with a gasp.

Spooky, huh? I’d forgotten the dream when I woke a couple of hours later, but it came back to me at work later in the day. I stopped washing dishes as I relived that memory. I had finally figured out how one of the antagonists was going to attempt killing the other main character. It involves claustrophobia, that’s all I’m saying.

Progress of novel:
2 chapters completed (the first of which I’ve edited once)
41 pages
15,522 words

Till next time.

In the cold writing corner

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“Hibernation is great for writing,” said my professor in an email about a week ago when winter began its invasion. The final frontier.

As the temperature dropped dead and masses of snow grew, I stayed in my jammies and wrapped myself in layers, boiled plenty of coffee and watched attentively through almost every window in the house. In between re-watching “Sherlock” and reading about it online, and combing through old notes, I felt myself wandering around my home. Not necessarily bored or tired, but at a level where physically I couldn’t be bothered to do anything. I was thinking up scenarios beyond my currently dull reality — repeatedly consisting of serving customers at Macy’s and picking up shoe boxes, a job that has dug up grave, sometimes extremely sinister thoughts on consumerism and people with entitlement issues. Back at home, I feel as though I can rest and be left alone to my imagination. A good snow storm, or in this case, several of them, create a perfect excuse for staying indoors where it’s warm and comfortable.

Flakes bounced on the glass. They then picked up the habit to stay glued on the windows as the wind pushed on harder and the snow fell more quickly. This white substance blanketed itself across the lawn, over the roof, laid down to rest on every car. Some large golden Christmas globes that still hung on the branches outside were each humorously decorated with a pyramid of snow, elegantly balanced. Birds sitting in the trees fluffed their feathers so they looked like beaked furry balls that twitched once in a while. They made me laugh when two birds sat closely side by side yet a third bird tried to squeeze in between them. Both of them turned vicious, one raising its wings in threat and the other one opened its beak and bit and pecked that intruder. The third bird retreated to a neighboring branch, then the two friends resumed to their cowering positions.

Today I poked through my desk and several old files, folders and handwritten notes. Astounding really, how much I’ve hoarded over the years. Movie tickets, theater programs, lists on books to read, movies to watch, places to visit, many drafts on one book I hope will make my name, small ideas written on torn pieces of paper, inspiring quotes on post-it notes, old postcards (some which I’ve received, some I’ve bought at antique shops), articles on writers and related topics for my stories, other drafts, short poems, bundles of research on various subjects, pictures I’ve hung in my bedroom or my previous dorms, tweets I wrote down during the Summer Olympics of 2012, and a letter I received from my RA sophomore year. Everyone on his floor got one since he was about to graduate; while it talked about nostalgia and Hunter S. Thompson, he gave an advice about college.

Enjoy your life and time here. Don’t be timid. Be bold in your actions and in your statements of how you are and who you want to be.

I remember saying in an older post that new years resolutions are pointless. My brother has made a case to disagree with me (as he so often does) and argued with me about it like it was a serious debate. I do think we put too much pressure on these types of goals yet he makes a fair point that another year does something for people in general. Another set of twelve months to celebrate birthdays and holidays, another year to make things differently or the same way you’ve always done your business. It’s the fresh start, another beginning, more time, that does something for people, it inspires them. For me, it took a week until it sunk in, not to mention a cleansing session: Going through my notes. Other than my English and creative writing classes, I cannot say I have written much substantial over the past three years. I never truly stopped, but I don’t have much to show for it.

One successful writer (whom I won’t name since I won’t risk misquoting him and getting my head smashed over it), who was a guest speaker in my class, once advised us to be organized; that’s important for a writer, both in their fiscal aspects, their contracts and their notes. Keep everything you write down. I’m so glad I understood that a lot earlier, because I’ve discovered little puzzle pieces that I can use now, little things I scribbled a long time ago and that I’ve completely forgotten about. Another piece of advice he gave us was “make time for your writing, because there will always be distractions around to pull you away.” True to every syllable. I hate to admit being a bit wrong, but the new year has brought me a new wave of motivation and inspiration. The snow helped, too. I know what I want to write, which stories I want to tell, I know when and how, and I feel like 2014 looks like a promising year. I no longer carry that same attitude that stares everything down like “oh-well-the-wheel-keeps-turning,” but I now have another state of mind bursting with ideas.

A Distraction

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“Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did, I wouldn’t be one of them.” ~Sherlock Holmes, “The Great Game” (Season 1, Episode 3)

violin

Playing video games is the modern way of playing cowboys and bandits according to my dad. I think we all can agree. The same can be said about TV shows, movie franchises, and book series. Whatever fandom we choose to dive into — or whatever we are sucked into by accident, for that matter — that fantasy world replaces our reality.That is, in those cases where a person goes beyond just liking something and places such heavy importance on their new obsession. Once that has occurred, we live carelessly through our favorite characters, and so often, that becomes a distraction from our ordinary lives.

I’m guilty of this crime myself. It began with none other than Harry Potter. Years and years of collecting toys, cards, board-/video/computer games, magazines, candy and notebooks affiliated with the entire series. Not too hot on the last five movies, seriously, but I loved how Joanne Rowling grew as a writer book by book, still do. She is the very one who kicked off my striving desire to become a published author. Then there are other obsessions that have followed. Whenever I talk about “Gilmore girls,” my roommate likes to point out how sad and frightening it is that I know so much about it. I am equally drawn to the Marvel universe, my favorite superheroes being Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk. Plus, Batman, but he’s from DC. Then my favorite villain is Loki, of course.  Power-hungry and vicious, but boy, that man has a good sense of style.

heroes drinking

My most recent affection has been directed towards the BBC produced detective show Sherlock. It’s gotten obnoxious, really. I saw the show for the first time barely two weeks ago and I’ve seen both seasons twice already, gone on several websites to read about it, looked at pictures and gifs on Tumblr, printed some images from the show and taped them on my wall, and I can’t stop thinking of several great lines.

“Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring.” ~Sherlock Holmes to Chief Inspector Lestrade and his crew of police officers

“Anderson, don’t talk out loud. You lower the IO of the entire street.” ~SH

“We can’t giggle. It’s a crime scene.” ~John Watson to SH

“My brother has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher, yet he elects to be a detective. What might we deduce about his heart?” ~Mycroft Holmes to JW

“Oh, oh, can we please not do that this time? You being all mysterious with your cheekbones and turning your coat collar up so you look cool.” ~JW to SH

“Honey, you should see me in a crown.” ~Jim Moriarty to SH

“Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I’m one of them.” ~SH to Jim Moriarty

I am hooked on Sherlock like it’s a fucking drug. I’m also so glad that I didn’t get into it until now, because apparently the final episode of season two played in January 2012 and the third season premieres next month. Can you imagine being a fan and you got to wait TWO YEARS for a show like that to pick back up? A friend of mine told me that the next season wasn’t even announced until the fall this year. That’s a tremendous larger torture on top of the waiting, not being sure whether it’s over. Gosh.

Dan here can certainly tell you a thing or two about fandoms:

I do realize that once school starts again, it won’t be long until Sherlock waltzes into my life as well. I will have grave issues. Lucky that I don’t have as much on my plate this semester so perhaps I can afford being distracted once in a while.

I guess I should tell you why I love the show so much. Aside from it being so well written, I think it’s beautifully performed by the actors and the producers, not to mention how the setting is downright perfect yet appearing so natural and taken directly out of daily life in London. And as someone who in fact has read one book and some of the short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and who wrote about Sherlock Holmes in an essay for school, I love seeing little pieces of the original Holmes poking through the television screen. There are quotes that were written by Doyle tucked into each episode, like when Sherlock says in ‘The Hound of Baskerville,’ “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” They also have characters, however small, in the show as well, like the graffiti artist in “The Blind Banker,” who I think represents the little boy who would sometimes help Holmes track down information without attracting any attention.

Very cleverly done. I love it when something original, creative and intellectually challenging comes along.

Yesterday they put a teaser of the first episode of season three online. Surely a tease, surely is.

New ‘Sherlock’ Mini-Episode Teases Detective’s Return

[I hope someone gets the title of this entry. Turns out it fit after all. With me discussing bored Sherlock after all...]

**UPDATE ON 12.27.13**

You gotta appreciate the passion.

I wish you a merry, merry… What?

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**Entry 6 out of the ten day marathon**

What is Christmas actually about? I believe it all began many, many, many years ago in a place far, far away where there was a lot of dust, sand houses and people riding camels, and telling each other stories around the fire. If I got it right, Christmas was fundamentally a Christian celebration to welcome the birth of baby Jesus. Do you ever wonder how we arrive here? Who decided that red and green are the appropriate colors?

It’s so strange. I mean, I learned the history of Christmas back in third grade, but that was in Sweden and they told us only the Swedish version. This might not happen to most people; in my old school, though, we had a Christmas festival every year and one of the activities we got to do had to have a teaching purpose. One time, they spent about an hour teaching us the origins of Christmas and how it has been celebrated in Sweden, going all the way back to, I don’t know, middle ages. Not that it was boring, not at all. The teachers had small skits here and there to demonstrate. There was a time when people were allowed to be very mean apparently. You took a chopped block of wood you’d usually use to light a fire in the furnace, common piece of household equipment around that time, then you wrote whatever you’d wanted to tell this particular person the entire year, but couldn’t say, of course, because Jesus and God would frown upon your rudeness. Christmas gave you this one day to have it out. Then you took this block of wood with your rude, angry remarks, knocked on the person’s door, threw it inside and made a run for it. I believe that’s very similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s Festivus. And yeah, while the teacher was telling us this, suddenly she was interrupted by her colleague who busted through the door and threw a block of wood on the ground. She then yelled something along the lines, “You’re so stupid!” and ran out of the classroom.

christmas

Point is, Christmas is different for every single country… and then different for every single county, city, neighborhood, family and so on. There are so many traditions and twisted editions of the original plot of Jesus, Saint Nick and the other magical creatures of the white Winter Wonderland. Some things confuse me, for instance… We cherish the image of a fat, white-bearded man who breaks into our house and eat our cookies. Yes, I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was like ten, somewhere around there. And then the adults tell their kids to sit in this strange man’s lap at the mall. I really hope they do a background check on these guys. Sorry, my mind isn’t just in the gutter anymore; it IS the gutter.

Additionally, I don’t understand this whole shopping frenzy. Half of us almost kill ourselves, or try to kill other people, or get into accidents on the way to the store. We cry, we get angry, we squander so many hours, sometimes days, and then money on finding the right gifts for people we love… In some cases, people force themselves to buy gifts for folks they’re not so fond of. Last night I sold two pairs of shoes to a lady who was buying for some relatives and she actually told me, “Oh, just give me a size nine of those two. Who cares if they fit. I wanna get outta here.”

The process of preparing for that one big day is painful, slow, expensive… In the meantime, I try to save myself enough energy to do well at my temporary job at Macy’s and to prepare for the spring semester. This year, I’ve had trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. Seriously, the first two weeks of December, I was busy studying, working, doing interviews over the phone and writing for Midland Daily News. Then everyone gets on my case for not having started with my shopping. It’s like they’re thinking life stops for this one holiday. My best friend Rose reminded me a few days ago that all the hard work I put into this festivity would be worth it in the end. It isn’t the work that really bothers me: It has only occurred to me that many people seem to miss the point with Christmas.

For some, it’s about the religious aspects to it. That’s all good. Others see Christmas Day as this reserved day of family, friends and love where everyone drops everything they’re doing to spend time with each other. Also all good. I’m for the latter, along with the ginormous mountain of food, candy and wine, and the good excuse to receive presents. And I’d be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy getting my friends and family gifts. Somehow that has become proof that I appreciate them. I guess it kind of is in a way, but I try not to put too much thought or stress on the shopping. That’s where many seem to make a lot mistakes.

I find it scary how 80% of people’s attention are turned to the commercials, the sales, the prices, the I-have-to-just-have-to-get-this-for-so-and-so-or-they-won’t-love-me obsession, and this facade stores and companies display, trying to tell us that this product will make our holiday merrier, warmer, and it will stop us from having a mental breakdown. Don’t get me wrong, folks. I like Christmas. I’m only saying that Christmas isn’t here until we’ve actually arrived on that holi-DAY. Please don’t be rough on people who haven’t caught the spirit during those first 23 days. Please try to relax about whatever you’re stressing yourself about. Whatever happens during this time of the year won’t define your character. Santa won’t but coal in your sock. Jesus won’t scold you. Simply enjoy the aspects that you like about Christmas and try to be calmer, and kinder, and help out as well as you can.

To me, Christmas is about love and cherishing what we have. Not another stupid occasion that pushes more work and stress onto us. We should at least attempt to not make it all about the work. Or those annoying commercials.

Well then.

Merry Christmas, everyone. We survived.

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