Apr 24, 2013

Good Feeling

I love spring time! I love that it's light outside in the morning when I go to work, and I love the blue sky, and the flowers on the tree outside my apartment. I love that it's getting warmer.

Today on my way home from work, I was listening to my music and thinking. I was thinking about London and my time there, then I started thinking about my upcoming vacation to Prince Edward Island, and all of a sudden, I thought "I'm going to PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND!!" A smile appeared on my face and for that one moment, I was excited. Just excited. No anxieties or nervousness about the trip. Excited! Which is a huge deal for me. Especially since a few nights ago I had a dream about everything that could go wrong on the way to PEI, and that made me not very excited about it at all.

I'm so glad I got to have that moment of pure excitement, because I am excited to go, but my nervousness about it sometimes drowns that out. I'm going on an adventure! That's so cool!

Apr 22, 2013

Adventures in Writing: The Letter Game

I first heard of the letter game when I read the great Regency fantasy, Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. At the back of that book, Wrede and Stevermer talk about how they started writing the book and the process they went through. For them, it just started out as something fun between friends, but near the middle of it, they came to realize that it was more than just for fun and when they finished their story, they went back through the letters again and revised and it got published! Followed by two sequels (though neither are as good as the first).

I read that book when I was about 16, and I loved the idea of the letter game. I desperately wanted to do it, but I couldn't think of anyone to do it with. I thought about my brother, but our writing styles are so different. So, nine years have gone by, and I kind of forgot about the game.

Then maybe about a month, I reconnected with someone that was in my study abroad program when I went to London (which, tangent, was almost FIVE years ago! FIVE! That's amazing to me that such a long amount of time has passed since then.). Anyway, this girl (her name is Becky and she's fabulous. You can check out her blog here) and I started chatting on facebook (actually, commenting on a status update, meaning that the rest of facebook was inundated with our craziness) about period movies, and how we are both romantics, and the books we were writing and how hard it is to keep writing sometimes. And then there was a mention about us writing a story about Rye, the town were nothing happens. Then it was time for me to go to bed, but just like that, there was a spark in my brain, and I couldn't seem to shake it.

I remembered the letter game, and I thought, this is a perfect opportunity. I contacted Becky again and she seemed up for it, and it's been going great! It's completely no pressure, so if things start getting busy in our lives, it doesn't matter. It's just been this amazing experience for me, at least.

Here's a quick overview of what the letter game is: both people create characters, and a reason for them to be writing letters to each other. I have an idea of where I want my character's story to be, and Becky is the same with her character. And then, you just write!

I would definitely recommend this to any writer. It has definitely gotten me into the habit of writing again, after a long time of not doing it. And it's great on letting yourself let go of control over the story. If you've ever taken an acting class (and with my one acting class, I feel like I can say this now, because I totally an expert), you probably know a little bit about improv. The first rule to improv is you always say "yes." No matter what you thought you wanted to do, you always go along with what your improv partner says. This is exactly like what the letter game is: I may introduce a character or a situation, and then Becky gives some sort of information (like maybe that character is a cousin, for example), and I just go "Oh, cool, okay. Let's go with that." It's also great to have another person to go off of, it keeps my writing juices going, instead of just sitting in front of a blank screen trying to decide where the story is going to go next. I even decided to let go of one of my characters and pass him over to Becky (it was strange, it was like I pictured him walking off my page and onto hers.) That takes a lot of trust in someone, but in the past few weeks, I've come to trust Becky's writing. In fact, she makes me want to be a better writer, because she's so good at it. Her humor is amazing, and I'm also so excited to read her letters, because I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.

That was all kind of disjointed, but the conclusion is, this is a wonderful writing exercise. And it's been a great way to reconnect and get to know someone better. I really didn't know that Becky and I had so much in common, which is really sad. And now that I'm writing again with someone, I feel like I can start writing again in my own novel, because I'm getting in the habit. It's given me something more productive to do after work, which is good. Again, I got off of where I was going: if you have someone you can do it with, and you love writing, I would say, try out the writing game. There.

Apr 16, 2013

New Period Movies/Shows

A couple of weeks ago, I had a desire to watch a romance. Not just any romance, but a period romance. A movie with beautiful dresses, witty women, and handsome men in top hats. I wanted a declaration of love followed by an amazing kiss and a happily ever after. And I knew many movies that fit this description, but I wanted something new. Something that would surprise me. So I asked around and looked at my trusted period channels on YouTube. I came up with some hits, and some misses.

So, for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure), here are the new period movies (and one TV show) I discovered.

Lorna Doone (2000)
I had seen this on one of my YouTube channels, and had heard friends mention it, but I really didn't know anything about it. After two friends told me it was great, I decided to watch it. I was very pleasantly surprised! It was lovely, with just about everything that I wanted. But at the same time, it made me want to eat Lorna Doone cookies. . . . 

The gist is this. The time period is the 17th century. John is intent on avenging the death of his father, who was killed by the Doone clan. Then he meets Lorna, who happens to be the "queen" of the Doones. They fall in love, and must fight for what they most want--marriage to each other--but things keep getting in their way. There is a Doone who wants to marry Lorna and will have her or no one else can. There is the mystery of Lorna's mother. And of course, John's vengeful heart against the Doones. It was described to me as "like a Scottish version of Romeo and Juliet, but without the suicides."

The Buccaneers (1995)
This is not recommended. So, just keep that in mind if you decide to go watch it. The story follows for American girls as they go to England in the mid to late Victorian era to find rich and/or titled husbands. The story focuses mainly on the youngest girl, Nan. This is not a happy way to spend 5 hours. Only one of the girls ends up in a happy marriage, and we barely see her. One ends up unhappy in her marriage and cheats on her husband. One ends up in a loveless marriage with a man who only married her for her money and keeps a mistress. And Nan ends up married to a brute who rapes her, abuses her, and is also a homosexual (keep in mind, homosexuality was illegal at this time). I think the ending was supposed to be happy, but since it involved infidelity, I had a hard time thinking it was. If Nan had chosen love over a title and money, she would have been happy in the second hour and I would have been happier too. (Be aware that there is one scene of non graphic rape, and one scene of attempted rape. Though you shouldn't watch this movie anyway, so this warning is unnecessary.)

Barbara Cartland adaptions:
Barbara Cartland was a writer of historical romances during the 20th century. I have never read her novels, but I have heard that they are better than the movies. Keep in mind, that I am judging these based on the fact that they were made in the late 80s/early 90s, and as such, contain a bit of cheese. (And floppy haircuts for the men, and anachronistic makeup and hair for the women.)
A Hazard of Hearts (1987)
This was the best of the three adaptations I watched. It has a young Helena Bonham Carter as Serena. It's Regency time period. Serena's father is a gambler, and in a game of dice loses not only his money, but his house and his daughter to the evil Lord Wrotham. Lord Justin Vulcan wins back the house and Serena, but not before Sir Giles kills himself. Lord Vulcan then takes Serena to his home, which is rumored to be haunted.

I like that there is romance, as well as a bit of swashbuckling in these movies. The romance in this one is probably the strongest of the three, though the kiss is cut short. (Also, there is an attempted rape, but it's not graphic, just some struggling.)

A Ghost in Monte Carlo (1990)
A young girl and her aunt go to Monte Carlo incognito in the late Victorian era. The aunt seems intent on her niece marrying royalty, though the girl falls in love with English Lord Robert Stanford (played by Marcus Gilbert, who also played Lord Vulcan in A Hazard of Hearts). The beautiful niece has also caught the eye of a Rajah. Again, there's some swash buckling, and men riding to the rescue.

Duel of Hearts (1991)
Probably my least favorite of all the Cartland movies. Possible because Marcus Gilbert wasn't in it. . . .

Anyway, Lady Faye is intent on proving that Lord Brecon did not commit a murder that he is suspected of, so she says she is Miss Frye and gets a job as his mother's companion. This movie is a bit like Jane Eyre, with the mysteries of the house, etc.

"Garrow's Law" (2009-2011)
This was a three season TV show, and I loved it! If you liked Amazing Grace (2006), I think you'll like "Garrow's Law". They are similar not only in time period (late 18th century), but also in that they both tell the story of a man intent on making changes. William Garrow was an English barrister who, among other things, invented the phrase "Innocent until proven Guilty." The TV show isn't very accurate, historically, when is comes to the life and cases of Garrow, but instead, it uses Garrow as a character to show real cases that came to the Old Bailey court at the time Garrow was practicing. I loved seeing someone fight for what he thought was right. And there is a bit of romance, too.

Bert & Dickie (2012)
This is the story of the English skulling team that won gold in the 1948 London Olympics. They were placed together five weeks before the Olympics and had to learn how to be a team, put aside their differences, and learn to trust each other. It's one of those feel good, triumphant, sports movies, and it did have me tearing up a bit in the end. The hard thing about this is that Matt Smith played Bert Bushnell, and I just couldn't get past thinking of this as the Doctor. It's the way he talks! He just talked like the Doctor. I've never had that problem with any of the other actors that have played the Doctor. In fact, at one point he asks some for change so he can use the "phone box" and I kind of giggled a little to myself at that. But it was an interesting story. Even more interesting is that the Olympics used to have art competitions.

So, there you go. Three good movies, one good TV show, two so-so movies, and one movie that is not recommended.

Apr 15, 2013

A Quarter of a Century

Last Saturday was my 25 birthday! This means several things: 1) I have now lived more than 1/4 of my life; 2) I can rent a car! and 3) I am no longer grouped in with the 18 year olds when I take surveys (Seriously, I have been waiting for this day for two years).

Not only was it my birthday, but the first year anniversary of me receiving my temple endowment. Because of this, I wanted to make sure that I visited the temple on my birthday and did a session. I was talking to Roommate M about what I wanted to do for my birthday about a month or so ago and mentioned this. Then I mentioned that I wanted to go to a temple I had never been to before. She recommended going to St. George and staying in her parents' condo for the weekend and going to the St. George temple. Which was an amazing idea, especially once I remembered that I was a grown up and could take off to St. George for the weekend if I wanted to. haha So, Friday afternoon after work we drove down to St. George. We were both so excited to get to 80 degree weather!

That night we just watched some "Veronica Mars" (we are now on the third season with only two disks to go!). The next morning we went to the temple, which was amazing, and then Roommate M treated me to lunch at Camille's Sidewalk Cafe, where they have really good smoothies. That afternoon we sat by the pool and read, took naps, and (in my case) got a little bit sunburned! An amazing way to spend an April afternoon!

Oh, if all afternoons could be spent this way!

We watched more "Veronica Mars" that night, as well as Quantum of Solace, and Despicable Me (most of which I slept through, because I'm such an old woman now). We went to sacrament meeting the next day and came home.

I think that that little break away from life, though it wasn't majorly exciting, was exactly what I needed. I didn't have my computer, or internet access. I hadn't been feeling well the last part of that week, and it was so nice to just go somewhere where I could relax, with no expectations.

When I got home, I went to my parents' house for a birthday dinner (baby back ribs, shrimp pasta salad, fruit, and asparagus), and opened presents! Then I had cheesecake for my birthday cake.

Here I am! 25 years old! Thanks for everyone who had been a part of my life somehow or another, it's been an amazing ride.

Apr 9, 2013

Spring Time Blues and Tender Mercies

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but it seems that every year around this time, I have a little bit of a break down. It's so weird, the littlest thing can set me off. When I was in school, I thought it was because it was the end of semester and I was just mentally exhausted. But thinking it over, I think it's more that after going through the long winter, you have a week or two of Mother Nature teasing warm weather and sunshine before she takes it all away and it's back to snow and cloudy skies.

Anyway, it sucks. It kind of makes me feel like I'm going crazy. I'm up and down, crying over every little thing--or nothing. My thoughts become irrational, every insecurity comes up, and I can't fight them off. I feel like I need to stay away from people so they don't get frustrated at my bad mood, but really a lot of times it's being around someone that I need that helps. Not a lot of people, but just one other person.

Last week, I went into my closet to cry (in order to prevent roommate M from hearing me) and I was thinking about all those stories you read about in church magazines, and hear in testimony meeting about how someone was having a bad day or they were sick and there was a knock on the door. When they open the door, standing there is someone from their ward, who just "had a feeling" that they needed to stop by. And I just couldn't help thinking, "Why doesn't God ever send someone for me? Why doesn't anyone ever feel like they need to see how I'm doing?" After I got myself under control and had gotten ready for bed, M comes in to say hi (she'd been late coming home and had been on the phone). She asks how my day was, and, since I can't really hide my feelings (hence that not wanting to be around people), she could tell it hadn't been very good. We have a little chat about what had happened, and as she's leaving, she just said, in passing, "I'm glad I felt like I should come say hi." She doesn't even know what that meant to me.

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and couldn't get back to sleep. All those thoughts of worthlessness were invading my head. And even though I had just spent five days with family, and my mom was telling me she didn't want me to leave, I just couldn't believe that anyone loved me. I felt friendless and about three inches tall. There had been a quick visit to the closet, but I just couldn't bring myself under control. I laid in bed crying, whispering "stop it, stop it, stop it." I just wanted to stop thinking those things, because I knew they weren't true. Eventually I either tired myself out enough, or Someone was able to calm my mind, but I fell asleep. This morning, I still just wasn't feeling great--partly because I was exhausted. As I was doing my hair and make-up this morning, I get a text from M (who had already left for school): "I heated up some water for you. ... I love your face! Have a good day!" Which is exactly what I needed. Someone to do something nice for me (heat up water for my lemon-honey tea I drink in the morning), and to tell me that they loved me and cared how I was. As far as I know, M has no idea about my tumultuous night.

And work helped. Work always helps, which is amazing to me. Sometimes working fulltime can be tough and frustrating and I just think about all the things I'd rather be doing. But the thing I've noticed about work, is how much it actually helps me. I stay busy and focused on the tasks I need to complete, so I don't have time to worry too much about me.

So, maybe my stories aren't Ensign worthy. It wasn't one of those stories where it's just a completely random person received revelation that I needed them. God knew that I probably wouldn't have taken advantage of it, even if I felt like I wanted it, because I don't share things with close friends, let alone strangers. But the thing is, there was someone in my life who did something she thought was completely normal, but meant so much to me. Hopefully I've cried myself out and cleansed all my emotions (who am I kidding, I still feel a bit weepy). The weather is supposed to get warmer, and M and I are heading to St. George this weekend for my birthday, so that should help to. I think I just need to get away and clear my head.

I'm not sharing this because I'm looking for validation or pity. But, I appreciate reading the blogs of my friends who are honest about things--things that aren't perfect in their lives. And I think that the five of you who read this know that I'm not perfect. (Which, you probably already know.) And to just share in the fact that we all have hard times that we have to work though, even if they are irrational and caused by the weather.

Dear Baby E: You Are Uncooperative

It took three days of my following your mommy around trying to feel you kick until you finally gave in and did it. (I literally followed your mommy around--hands on stomach at all times.) I seriously thought that I would go the whole weekend without ever feeling you kick, no matter how I cajoled or talked to you. Then I tried the whole ambushing thing by jumping on mommy's stomach, hands outstretched, thinking that maybe if I caught you off guard, you'd be too surprised to hold back your kicks. I just wanted to see how strong you are, and you refused! Stubborn little girl. May I remind you that I am your favorite aunt? I really wanted to feel you kick because I'd never felt a baby kick before and this would be my last chance until your mommy has another baby, which, at the rate they're going, could be another EIGHT years!

Anyway, Sunday afternoon you apparently started feeling bad for me and you gave me a couple of really good kicks. So, thank you. And then Monday night, right when I put my hand on mommy's stomach, you kicked! That was nice of you. :)

You seem to have grown in the five days your mommy has been in town. You just keep on keeping on, little one. We want you big and strong when you finally come out and meet us. I won't see you again until you are born, so be good to your mommy! I can't wait to see you as a real person, not just some strange idea of a person feeding off of my sister.

Apr 1, 2013

March Book of the Month

There is something about a book that makes you laugh and cry, and laugh while you cry, and cry while you laugh. Those are the books that I find myself recommending the most because if a book can make me feel so much, the author must have done something right.

Which is why my book of the month for March is a reread for me, and something I've mentioned previously in my blog: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

This book has become kind of a big deal since it was released in January 2012. I first read it that summer and this month I read it again in one night while my roommate was off on her spring break adventures. I cried just as hard (or harder) the second time around.

The story is narrated by Hazel, a sixteen year old girl with terminal cancer--kept alive by a miracle drug. She meets Augustus Waters at a support group for cancer kids. Augustus lost his leg to cancer and is in remission now. Green has a clever way of writing, with fast-paved dialogue and quirky characters. I love the details he includes--for example, Augustus's parents have what they call "encouragements" (ie, "families are forever" and "we wouldn't know happiness without sadness"), which are so much like the kitsch found in Mormon households that it made me laugh (and wonder if John Green had perchance known a Mormon . . .).

Anyway, this is a book that I recommend to everyone who wants a good book. It's funny, clever, and, yes, desperately sad.