Posts Tagged 'World'

Beauty is the the Eye of the Beholder

Autumn just past the NY-VT border.

I am doing a Photo-of-the-Day project that I started mid-May. Some days, I’m lazy, and just snap a shot to be sure I have something.  Other days, I look for something artful.  Today, I was driving home and I noticed the rays of the sun absolutely bleeding down between the clouds.  It was almost supernatural.  I pulled into the first parking lot I found and pulled out my camera, thinking I found a prize.  When I looked at the playback of the picture, the rays weren’t visible at all; just a plain old sky.  I’ve come across this frustration a lot – as an artist, a writer, and as an actress.

The world around us is a fantastic and wonderful place.  Every day is different, and no person can be completely recreated.  The things that we see and original in every sense, and sometimes, even humans, the top-of-the-food-chain-we-are-powerful-hear-us-roar, we can’t reproduce that.

I hope that I never find the day when I’ve forgotten the sound of children’s laughter, the smell of springtime, the taste of strawberries, the feel of an autumn wind, and the sight of a sunset.  There are some things in the world that cannot be replaced, recreated, or forgotten.

The World Around Us

As a writer, I am terrible (terrible) at setting.  I know in my head what I want, and I see it all very clearly, but I often forget to actually relay it to my readers through the written word.  For example, in ‘Tweens, Timothy has a recurring dream where he starts standing at the top of a spiral staircase that descends deep into the earth.  I know for a fact that I have relayed that the staircase is wooden, rickety, and painted white.  The white paint is chipping and peeling off, and it leaves little flakes like dandruff on the creaky steps.  That’s what I tell the reader.  But there is so much to setting that I don’t tell.

I don’t tell that there are pine trees and elm trees in the distance, and the sky is a dull, grayed twilight.  There is a gentle wind, but barely enough to move the stagnant air.  The air itself is warm and heavy with humidity, but the breeze, when it does come by, is cool and refreshing.  The abyss itself is an anomaly.  It’s a hole in the earth with crumbling dirt walls that harden to rock the deeper into the earth one travels.  The air smells like rotting meat and honey from a buzzing bee-nest that is buried in the ground a few feet away from the hole.  The land all around the hole, until it stretches out of the trees and to the distant mountains, is grassy plains.  In some places, there are dandelions, and in some areas the grass is much taller.

All those things are beautiful and they paint the image in my own head.  Where, in writing setting, should we draw the line?  I’ve learned through photography that no matter how good the camera, how good the photographer, we cannot grasp the true image as our eyes see it.  What is enough?  What is too much?  Great writers, such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien spent pages devoted to the setting.  How much does it take for The Modern Reader to get bored?  That, in the end, is where the line is.  If The Lord of the Rings had been written in 2010 exactly the way it was when Tolkien first published it, I don’t think it would get the same response, because The Modern Reader doesn’t have the same patience as he used to.  Two pages into the twelve (twenty?  fifty?) at the Council of Elrond would be enough to make the reader put the book down.

How much time do you spend devoted to setting?  How important is setting to your work(s)-in-progress?  How many details are too many details?

It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

Oil-covered sea-turtle

“Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the reverent in the right – right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.” ~ from It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M.

I’ve noticed a not-so-surprising correlation in my statistics here on WordPress.  The less I post, the fewer views I get.  Remedy?  Post more.

I actually didn’t know what I was going to post until I wrote in the title.  The title inspires me to write about two things – the oil spill, and Facebook.  Two such different, unrelated things.  And they are going to stay different and unrelated (I have no conspiracy theories about how Facebook may have been an indirect cause of the oil spill in the Gulf).

Oil in one of the waves.The first- the oil spill.  Wow.  Everyone’s been talking about it.  Of course they have been- it’s big news!  It has even come up in our improv group (in a light-hearted, respectful manner).  Serious news almost never comes up there, unless it’s directly related to our lives.  Since it’s a group of teenagers in New England who aren’t going to the Carribbean or anywhere else adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico any time soon… you know that it’s pretty big news.  But what do we do?  Do we boycott BP, do we just scold them?  In the end, was it really their fault or was it a disaster waiting to happen?  I think everyone has to make their own decisions on the matter.  It’s a question of environmentalism, of ethics, and of rationality.  In the end, nobody will truly have a correct answer.  I think the real answer to the question of the oil spill isn’t finding a place to point fingers (Obama, BP, none of this is productive).  I think it is in finding a solution.

Everybody and their mom is mad at someone for this tragedy.  In the end, it’s hard not to be.  We’re human beings- we need to find someone to point fingers at because once we have someone to blame, we can lift the responsibility off our shoulders and on to theirs.  If we need someone to blame, there’s no one person we should be blaming- it is all of us.  Why are we drilling so much oil anyway?  Because the public demands it.  We use oil in plastic, and we use plastic in, well, everything.  So if you’re concerned about the oil spill, why are still getting plastic bags when you’re shopping?  In Washing ashore in Louisianathe end, that’s made of oil.  BP and other companies wouldn’t be drilling it if they didn’t think they could make money off of it.  Food for thought.

But anyways.  I mentioned a solution.  Every since attempt to completely stop the flow of oil has failed.  I think a lot of the pictures I’m using speak for themselves as to the tragedy of this event.  All the pictures of the spill, by the way, are from Huffington Post, and there are hundreds of them, just in Louisiana.  If you feel like getting your heart broken, go take a peek at them.  I digress (again).  I’ve found that a lot of people out there who are enraged at the oil spill have no idea about Kevin Costner.  Pshaw, Kevin Costner, he’s that actor, right?  Who did Dances with Wolves?  Yeah, that guy.  And I didn’t like that movie, but I do appreciate what he has been doing to help out with the oil spill.  Yeah, so he’s profiting from it, but the point is, he’s doing something.

What is he doing?  Excellent question!  There are news articles all over the web to this effect, from NY Daily News to this CNN video to, of all things, StumbleUpon.com!  In short, if you’re too lazy to click those links, Kevin Costner has been working on a machine for upwards of Oil-covered birdsfifteen years that will separate oil from water.  He was inspired by the last huge oil spill, and this time, his machine may be essential to saving our environment.  As you can see from the pictures embedded into this entry (and elsewhere on the web), the oil is devastating the ecosystem in and around the Gulf of Mexico.  BP has purchased 32 machines from Costner and is planning to use them to remove the oil from the Gulf and all surrounding areas.  It’s not going to be an overnight process, that is for certain, but it’s a start, and that’s better than nothing.  Now we can see why we idolise movie stars!  Every once and awhile, we find one who’s a real hero.

For those who live in areas that are currently being affected by the oil spill, or close enough to get to them… stop pointing fingers at Obama and BP and find out what you can do to help clean up this mess!  We can point fingers later.  Since I live in New Hampshire, a good while away from where the spill is (for now; we’ll see what hurricane season brings) and I have no means to travel to Florida and Louisiana, my goal is to stop buying plastic products and to absolutely stop using plastic bags.  I know that I’m only one person, but heck, if a quarter of the United States started doing it, maybe it will catch on.

And now, on a completely different subject- Facebook.  It is entirely irrelevant, but it makes me a little worried about Judgment Day, for those Facebookwho have had the (mis)fortune of being acquainted with the Terminator series.  Facebook has this kind of evil voodoo that attracts every computer saavy and some not person with an internet connection in the entire world to it.  I am such a victim.  Chances are, you are too.

I think almost everybody knows about the privacy issues that have been going around on Facebook.  While Facebook itself may not actually be snagging users information to use it in the great big wide world of spam, it allows other things to do so.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that does mean that when you buy Island Cash on Treasure Isle, you’re not only allowing Zynga Games to know your information and spam your email account, you’re also giving them the 16-digits to steal your soul.

And yet… not a lot of people are acting up, despite all the claims.  I’m one of those guilty people.  See, I don’t think I give Facebook enough information to steal my soul (i.e. I do not spend real money on that social networking site, kthx).  Only, despite my self-assurance, I probably do.  See, I have over fifty photo albums, and it’s hooked up to three email addresses (one doesn’t even exist anymore) and I regularly play Bejewled Blitz and Treasure Isle and FrontierVille and use the Bumper Stickers application.  All these things learn a little bit about me as a human being.  Ever since I “liked” Disney/Pixar, I’ve been getting offers from advertisements to go see Toy Story 3.  Um, more information than you need, A.I.!

Treasure Isle Loading ScreenBut the information that Facebook gets from me isn’t all I feel I need to be concerned about.  I feel like I have a pretty good feeling of what does and does not need to appear online.  There are things that you do not tell people face-to-face and they don’t want to know about it online, either.  Things like stalking and oh-my-gosh cyberbullying have become huge, huge issues, thanks to Facebook.  The internet creates a place where there are no boundaries and you don’t have to be yourself.  Inhibitions?  Totally gone.  Not always a good thing.

Annother huge issue I have with Facebook is a similar issue that comes up with blogging, or with chatrooms, or with LiveJournal or any other online system- there is no more personal contact.  You see your friend in real life and they go to tell you a story, but BAM!  Not so much, I read your Facebook status.  Oop, fail.  Suddenly you don’t need real friends, because you have Facebook friends, and being plugged in is so much more interesting than real life, because you can chat with your friends and play Farmville at the same time.

Yikes.  What is this world coming to?

Keep Moving Forward

Sammy, Eric, and Eddie walking downtown.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long.  We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney.

Many of my friends are juniors and seniors in college.  Those who aren’t in college are juniors and seniors in high school.  There are some others who are already out of college and I am finding that we’re all at a loss right now.  Some of us have loose assurances:   I have a job, I’m going to college, I’m getting married.  We lean on the cornerstones in our life and depend on them to hold us through all the rest.  But we don’t have a lot going for us, my generation.  Those cornerstones aren’t going to last forever.

It’s a terrible thing to do, but I purposefully keep myself ignorant of the things going on in the world; especially things going on in the United States.  Okay, I read up on the earthquake in Haiti a few months ago, and I’ve been keeping an eye on the Icelandic volcanoes, but other than that?  I rarely check the news.  I do it on purpose, because I know that the economy is faltering.  It never goes up… it drops, stabilizes a little, and then drops again.  That means I’m going to have a heck of a time making a living.  Getting married.  All of that will be nearly impossible.  If nothing else, it’s going to be really hard.

I’m not supposed to think about those things, though.  It makes me depressed, and then I talk to others about it, and it discourages them, and in the end, nobody is happy.  I’m trying to think more positively.  I keep telling myself that all those things I want?  Guess what?  Want isn’t need.  I don’t need them.  And if I don’t buy them, I will have more money for things that I do, in fact, need.  Lately, that hasn’t kept me from buying them.  I’m absolutely incorrigible like that.  But I think I can do better, and in fact, I have to.  How many pairs of pants does a person need, after all?  That sort of thing.

There really are a million ways to cut corners financially.  But I am one of the lucky ones.  You see, I actually have a job.  It’s got no promises attached, but it’s a job, and that’s more than a lot of people can say.  I have a friend who’s getting married in a year, and he doesn’t have a job.  I don’t want to tell him this, but chances are he’s not going to find one.  And if he does, it won’t be a stable job.  He’s a really nice guy, sweet, a hard-worker… but it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and the only people hiring don’t want nice.  Nice is an accessory.  They’re looking for vicious.  I’m not vicious.  I’m lucky I got a job before they started looking for that as a trait.

As a junior in college, I don’t know where I’m going next.  I’ll keep working my job, I suppose.  Start paying off my college loans (yeah, those will be fun).  Even with college loans, I’m lucky.  I don’t even begin to have loans in the quantities that some people have, so I’ll be struggling a little less.  I’ll almost definitely get a second job.  I’d love to go to grad school and get a Masters, but who could afford that?  Besides, I’m looking at Brown University.  It’s an Ivy League school- talk about expensive!  So I’ll have to deal.  Especially since what I want to get my Masters in is entertainment-related.  Uses for a Masters in Creative Arts and Writing isn’t particularly helpful, and Brown is in Rhode Island, so I’d have to live over there.

But you know what?  Despite the worries of the world, I’m going to keep moving forward.  I am an artist, and nobody can stop that.  Nobody can change that in me.  I take photographs, because I want to remember what that moment looked like, not because I’m trying to sell them.  I paint so I can see what my emotions look like on canvas.  I write because I have so many stories to tell.  I act because I know so many characters, I want to give them all justice.  I smile because I am happy, and I smile because it makes me happy.  And nobody and nothing can take that away from me.

Come Fly With Me

Sean at ActingOut, wearing Eddie's fedora.

“Fly me to the moon, let me sit among the stars.  Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.” ~ Frank Sinatra

So, I’m crazy excited.  I was wasting my life, cruising on Facebook, and I spotted an advertisement on the side for a new musical that’s playing at the Majestic all summer.  It’s called “Come Fly Away” and it’s a musical using the music of Frank Sinatra.  I know nothing about the musical itself, but I do know that it’s got Sinatra’s music, and between that and New York City, that’s all I care about.  Bryan and I have decided we’re going on July 10th.  Oh yeah.  That’s a Saturday.  Yikes!  First experience in New York City ever on a Saturday?  I may just be vying for suicide.  That, and I’m thinking my huge purse may not be the best of all ideas.  I’ll talk to people who have been there and figure out what I should do.  Besides, of course, wear my Chucks.  Gotta have comfortable shoes for a long day of walking.

The day will be incredibly long.  What I’ve got figured, we’ll have to catch the 5:30am bus out from Concord and then we’ll get to the Big Apple around 11:30am.  Show starts at 2:00pm, so that gives us about two and a half hours to figure out where the Majestic is.  According to the website, Come Fly Away is supposed to be about a two-hour show.  There are two possible buses out that leave after 4pm, but one of them leaves at 4:30pm, and I don’t want to chance that, so I think we’re going to take the 6:15pm one out.  Get this.  That one doesn’t hit back in Concord until 1:00am.  A seven-hour bus ride.  Bah.  I forgot how frustrating that is.  I’m really bad about long car rides.  Buses are cramped, too.  Seven hours?  That’s like… the entire ride to Houghton.  Round trip, the things going to cost about $120/each.  I guess that’s not too-too bad, but it’s still a lot of money to be tortured.

I kinda wish Bryan wasn’t so set on going with just me.  Otherwise, I bet Sean would drive to the city.  And I bet he knows his way around, too.  Not to mention he’d love the musical.  But he wants this to be a just us thing.  It feels so dumb to do it that way, though.  We’ve never been there before.  We’re both going to get shanked.  So yeah, needless to say, I’m excited, but terrified, and I’m totally open to other options of transportation how to get there.  I really think that Sean and girlfriend-of-the-moment would like it, though.  I’d have more fun going to a show with more people.

But whatever, I guess.  I don’t want to be a bother about it, not to mention it’s going to be an expensive day and it’s not fair to ask people to spend that much money. I mean, just between Bryan and myself, it’s going to be about $500.  That $250/each, and I think I’m being generous about it all, since we’ve not said anything about Subway passes or food.  I don’t think I could ask Sean to do that (and I certainly couldn’t pay for him).  I’m one of the fortunate few of my friends who does have a steady job.  And to be honest, I don’t think a lot of them care for Sinatra.  Which is really a shame.  He’s not original, but he’s got a great sound.  A lot better than the electricity and screamo of what’s popular today.

Edit: I just had someone suggest we drive to Stamford, CT and take the train into NYC.  It takes you right to Grand Central Station.  It would be about half the price, and the timing is sure better!  So, that’s an improvement already.  I’m crazy excited, not going to lie.

A Day Like Today.

Lovely pink flowers growing outside my house.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.”  ~  James Dean.

Nature does so many peculiar things.

While I love and appreciate the beauty that is the world around me, I maintain there are three kinds of days.  There are perfect days, “day” days, and not-so-days.  Today is not a perfect day.  The wind is stagnant and warm.  It sits on the ground, lying on its lazy belly, yawning under the sun.  Clouds half-heartedly shake tiny teardrops over the land and the plant drink up the gifts of the sky before reclining back into the ground, curling up together and napping.

It’s that kind of August-afternoon-sitting-on-my-porch-thinking-about-the-world-but-not-too-hard kind of day.  When the bumblebees busy themselves in he flowers and families sit out in lawn chair, sipping sweet lemonade.  Only, the flowers have hardly woken and the bumblebees haven’t left their hives yet.

You can tell the world is changing when in the month of April, you see snow and relentless, hot sunshine.  Ranging from the coldest of colds to the warmest of warms, I’m worried that some parts of the world will hibernate all summer for fear of being nipped by Jack Frost.  This late in the month, the flowers should be stretching their petals and smiling up at the stunning azure sky.  But they aren’t, not yet.

Once Upon an April Afternoon.

White Flower in Ashuelot Park

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ John Muir

A place to breathe.  Breathing is the most important thing.  I’ve been reminded of that so often lately.  It is my junior year of college and all the world’s a mess.  But it won’t be that way forever, or even for long, I can only hope.  At the moment, my universe is spinning.  There are things I want to say, and feel.  Things I wonder between the lines of working and school and the theatre group I work with (more about them another time- they are utmost on my mind as of late).

For the moment, I am breathing.  Breathing deep and full.  I’m listening to Dracula:  Dead and Loving It blasting from the other room, and watching my troublesome parrot fluff his beautiful feathers.  Listening to the boys giggle like little girls at the movie.  Cody’s never seen it, and Eddie is doing what I do- seeing if he’ll laugh at all the right places.  They’re about to start Rock Band, so we’ll see where it goes from there.  That’s what they’re doing.  What I’m doing, as I type this, is procrastinating on a paper for my Sociology class about Globalization in South Africa.  It’s a five page paper, and I already have two pages written.  I’m not too worried about it.  It will be fine.  I’m pushing through the third page as I type this.

It’s a beautiful day out.  I am constantly amazed by the beauty of this universe, and I am so blessed to be living in a place where I can fully appreciate it, even when I can’t enjoy it personally.  The beautiful lemon-drop sunshine is melting through the windows and leaving the fresh aromas of fresh grass and summertime in my kitchen.  It makes me happy just to know it’s there, and I am grateful for it.

I live in a land of trees and mountains.  I’ve lived here all my life.  I moved to New Hampshire when I was less than a year old, and I’ve been living in Chesterfield itself since I was six.  That’s fourteen years.  When I lived in New York for a year, I cannot begin to say how much I missed the mountains.  I thought because I was going to be in rural New York, the transition would be easy (and welcome- every seventeen-year-old is ready to break away from the confines of parental rule).  But every walk I took, I felt so vulnerable.  I never realised how much those beautiful mountains are like walls, keeping us in, and keeping us safe.  Some people want to escape them, but I need them.  They wrap around my hometown the same way that familiar blanket wraps around you on the coldest of winter nights.

The land here is beautiful.  It is fitting that today is Earth Day:  the world is so alive today.  Birds are chittering, clouds are dancing.  It’s like the land itself knows that today is a day in celebration of it.  I can’t wait to go out and enjoy it.


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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