Sunday, November 30, 2008

100% Woman

Via Tutaj, the GenderAnalyzer says The Storybook Girl is 100% woman.

That's right.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am too ridiculous to live

Over the last couple of days, I've found lots of reasons to laugh at myself, which can't be a bad thing. I'm in a mood: high-energy, low impulse-control, and abundant optimism.

I had a productive couple of days, in life as well as in work.

I spent quality time on Thanksgiving with a few of my favorite people, and made a wild rice dish that made me feel accomplished.

Apparently, half of my friends were conceived on Valentine's Day -- it has been a month of endless birthdays.

Also, I'm giving myself carpal tunnel, which in a perverse way makes me feel like a real writer. Five days till my deadline.

Just read: The Twits by Roald Dahl

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Remember when . . .

. . . I felt good about writing 1,000 words a day.

I did that today, around 1,100 all new, filling in a gap in my story, plus some tinkering. That should feel good. When I'm actually working I feel really good. The rest of the time, I'm stressing myself out. Pat on the back. I still have six whole days to draft my novel. It doesn't have to be -- WON'T BE -- perfect this go round.

I mean, it won't be perfect ever, but a girl can dream. Or, is it all perfect, because it is exactly what it is at this be-here-now moment, and how could it be otherwise? This is how my brain is working today, so I'm shutting it off for the night.

I'm making wild rice for tomorrow. And catching up on Top Chef while I cook. And after waking up early to write and lesson plan, I took a break this afternoon to see Tim Supple's Indian and Sri Lankan Midsummer Night's Dream at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Pretty.

You know that thing called inspiration that's supposed to be good for a fried brain. This was that.

The actors sang and danced and drummed after their curtain call, inviting the audience to join them, which is how I wish every play could end.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reduce, reuse, recycle

I'm proud of myself. WIth several good breaks, I worked off and on all day and into the night -- sometimes, revising, sometimes writing new stuff, sometimes jotting notes.

There's a groove when things are clicking into place. It didn't happen all day long, but enough of the time that I'm super satisfied, especially with one section of around 2100 words (some new, some carved out from half a dozen scenes from older drafts). Clearer and shorter.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. I have done all three.

I started off the day with Pandora as my soundtrack. I made a station from Gary Jules' cover of "Mad World," so the first song that came up was his "Lucky." Both of these so suit my story. Gary Jules is my new boyfriend.

It's hard for me to divorce "Mad World" from Donnie Darko, which I dearly love, but this video makes it a bit easier to appreciate it in its own right. I had never seen it before, and I find it dreamy.

Currently reading: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Monday, November 24, 2008


To my rockstar roommate at Vermont College, Jessica Leader, who just sold her first book!

NICE AND MEAN, to VC's own Kate Angelella at Simon and Schuster.

In our first residency, everyone in our class got singles. Since then, we've had to share, and I've been lucky to have Jess to chat with late into the night. She is super dedicated, talented, and funny, and I cannot wait to read her debut novel!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shaking my fist at the collective consciousness

I thought of a great new title for my work in progress. The perfect, poetic title that's eluded me.

Googled it.

It is taken.

Somebody else's book by that title is coming out with a major children's publisher in 2009.

Shake it off like water. Write. Write.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On second thought

I was wrong. I can't take it. I'm a baby, and, hilarious as they are, Varian's consequences scared me away from my blog.

I'm half kidding.

A consequence is only serviceable if you're willing to follow through with it. And I'm not willing to inscribe anything about Sarah Palin and beef on my future book or my body. This picture is enough to make me gag. Let's not talk about tattoos.

If I committed to one of those consequences, I might start off motivated, but soon I'd be driven to distraction by the risk that, in spite of my best intentions, I could get stung by a wayward tsetse fly, fall down with sleeping sickness, and fail to meet my deadline. Instead of writing, I'd waste all my time imagining horror scenarios like the above and wind up sabotaging myself.

I wouldn't have a big moral problem with eating a slab of beef, but I also wouldn't be able to digest it, so, gross.

Here's the other thing. I don't have a clear sense of what it will mean to "complete" this draft. My book is currently around 118,000 words long, and there's also this giant folder named, "Extra," and I don't even want to think about what's in there. My book needs to get shorter and clearer, not longer.

I'm confident I'm not yet telling the middle of the story in any coherent way. So that's the goal -- to fill in the gaps, or to at least write the raw material that will lead me there.

Wednesday, I did a bunch of revision and a couple of heavily rewritten pages, getting the first 20 pages of my novel in shape to submit as my workshop piece for the upcoming residency. Thursday was a giant teaching day. Today, I did some hardcore revision and reordering and a little more than 700 new words. By that time I was pretty tired. A hundred of them might be worth keeping.

My real consequence is that I have until December 4 to submit my best work to my advisor, the last advisor I'll have before I'm meant to prepare my creative thesis in my final semester of school. I'm scared of failing this book. That's enough stress for me.

Currently reading: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Words or consequences

4,100 words today. All new. One of my biggest writing days ever. But I'm going to need days like that if I'm going to push through a new draft by December 4.

I did the last 1,500 of that on Write or Die, which seems to work well for me when I'm already tired.

On December 4th, if I get my work done, I will celebrate.

If not, consequences. What should they be?

Be cruel, I can take it. The meanest (legal) suggestion wins.

Now, I'm meeting up with a college student so she can write a profile piece about me for her journalism class. For the next hour, I'm going to be pretend-famous, which is probably way more fun than real-famous.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My ride

I've got a new guy. He's French. Moves fast. Very supportive.

I haven't decided on his name yet, but he and I took our first spin yesterday. 13 miles to Kate's house with Lacy and Tai.

My ride couldn't come inside. He had to wait in the garage. That deflated him. What I thought was just a temporary flat came back, so Lacy and I had to take public transportation home. But while we were riding, I felt strong. I felt warm, in spite of snow flurries, and I felt happy.

I need to get him to the bike doctor so that he and I can continue to outrun the winter blues.

Taking suggestions for my new ride's name in comments . . .

Kick in the pants

Thanks to all the NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writing Month) people who posted about Write or Die.

It's a good kick in the pants for rough draft, thumbtack-on-the-delete-button writing, as my little victory tag shows.


After a six hour rehearsal, an after-school class, and oh, right, that trip to New York, this was just what I needed to get past obsessing and into typing. I have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks as my advisor has challenged me to push through to the end of my new draft of my novel for my last packet of the semester. It's time. The new stuff will be raw, as it should be.

So here it is. Hold me to it. No later than December 4th, I will have a new full draft of my novel. Somebody grab a bucket of water because my fingers are on fire.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


New York pulled me underwater. With the rain, my cold, the early dark, the headiness of being elsewhere. Even my last sunny day, humidity soaked me.

Larissa and I went swimming. She knows how to handle a teacup on the river, and she knows where the fish bite.

Downtown friends surfaced to splash me and tickle my feet. They've learned how to breathe in that city. The show we went to see, Fuerza Bruta, invited us to drown.

I set out with no plans, no agenda, let the current take me, and it did. This place, for example, called out to us in Chinatown.

We saw a bright white sign in the distance, followed it until we got close enough to see slabs of meat in the window. A turn-off. I wanted tofu, and not silken like they do it in Chicago, something firm.

New York would not let me down. The sign had led us to a corner where, down a street sticky with yellow leaves, we saw the China Village. We both agreed it was singing to us. Later, I bought cheap and gorgeous scarves to keep us warm and dry. My wildest Chinatown dreams fulfilled.

To all my friends who've grown gills, thank you. I miss you again.

Abingdon Square

Sometimes, it's not 
    easy to be in the


                                              until later

Friday, November 14, 2008

The New Sublime

Coffee in the shower.

Larissa lives in a teacup -- a beautiful teacup on the river that used to house tuberculosis patients. I have a cold, which is not as bad as tuberculosis, but it's interesting to imagine being quarantined here. There's a shower curtain covered in surfers that catches the light. The tuberculosis patients would not have had such a shower curtain to enjoy, but they might have drunk coffee in the shower.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Travel Lightly

I'll be in New York for a few days, visiting my sublime friend Larissa for her birthday! I've made it a point to treat this trip with as little stress as possible. No agenda. Tiny plans. I will see who and what I see. And I will love it.

As is my nature, I've not yet finished packing, and it's nearly 1 AM.

Posts may be sporadic to nonexistent for the rest of the week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Three things

About 30 hours ago, I turned in my fourth packet out of five for the semester. That means only one more and then I'm in my LAST semester. This is not entirely a good thing. I love my program. I don't want it to end.

After packeting and doing a bunch of brainstorming on a new project, I don't have much left in me, so instead of a full-on post, I offer these three things:

One good -- I learned how to read tablature for ukulele tonight.

One bad -- Prop 8 sickens me. I don't understand how any American can vote for a proposition, any proposition, that begins with the words, "Eliminates the right . . ." I don't understand people who want to legislate morality. Believe whatever you want to believe, but when it comes to other people's rights and other people's PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, mind your beeswax. I've been purposefully avoiding thinking about it in order to enjoy Obama's election, but seriously, California, about 51% of you need to stay after class.

And one silly -- I attended the baptism of five-year-old twins today (the adopted sons of a couple who California wouldn't like to see married by the by, and how's that for family values? But wait, this isn't the bad, sad, angry thing, this is the silly thing. Deep breath). After the baptism of four children, which was touching and lovely, the priest sighed in an all-in-a-day's-work sort of voice and said, "Four less Pagans in the world. Four more Christians."

I didn't realize those were the two options. Now I know.

Currently reading: I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

When Parker asked if she could be Bob Dylan for Halloween . . .

. . . I didn't know how to say no.

Also, Lacy wrote a post about a recent show we did that makes my heart happy. As I recently said, I am not a fan of anxiety-producing phrases like, "live each day like your last," but I do believe in squeezing every possible drop of silliness out of my silly life (see dog with fro, pictured above).

Currently reading: The Boy Book by E. Lockhart, yes, sequel to The Boyfriend List. And yes, believe it or not, this is for school.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grant Park, Election Night, 2008

Feel the love.

This is what it sounded like when CNN called it on the jumbotron . . . The bouncing is me jumping uncontrollably.

For the first time in more than ten years, I trust in my President. He is humble, and that is more of a relief to me than I could ever have anticipated. He says he will be honest, and I actually believe him. He makes me believe we can do better.

In Grant Park, it didn't feel so much like we had elected one man as that we had lifted roughly half of America up from apathy and frustration. I'm not expecting miracles from this one man, but I am expecting that the positive energy he's harnessed will serve us for years to come. I am so proud to be an American today.

I've gotten so used to feeling jaded, powerless, and fearful about my government that last night took me by surprise. I wasn't taking anything for granted. Even after Pennsylvania and Ohio had been called, I felt chest pains waiting in line. But over the course of the night, a huge weight lifted. It feels so good to feel patriotic without cynicism and to take pride in how the rest of the world sees this country.

Gretchen's camera makes it look like we were closer than we actually were. It took a piggyback ride from Jason for me to get an actual glimpse of the man. Still, I would not trade being in that sea of happy people at the moment Obama won for anything.

The vibe on the streets of Chicago after Obama's speech was strangely peaceful -- not subdued, but joyful and content. Cops stood in rows on the sidewalks maintaining a presence, but they were happy too, and their biggest job was smiling for pictures. All the downtown streets were closed, so we walked northwest from the park and crossed the river. Walking in the middle of the streets afforded us a rare view of our beautiful city. People danced on the walls that split Michigan Avenue, and I don't think I've ever felt so much unity among a truly diverse crowd of people.

I walked past the saxophone player who can be heard playing "Hail to the Chief" about 20 seconds into this vid . . .

Monday, November 3, 2008

I only have a little ulcer . . .

. . . and this made it feel a tiny bit better.

Scraps, Shaq, Elections, Edamame, and Me, Rachel

Here ends a rockstar Monkey day. I am tired-ed.

We performed 19 all new stories at the Cleveland School this morning. I am personally most proud of our adaptation of "The Apple Family" in which the Apple Family (apple dogs and all) get devoured by a real dog, Shiloh McRufus. Imagine if you will a cross between puppet theater and The Hills Have Eyes. "Shiloh McRufus ate Scraps! I can see his seeds!"

Also, I played Shaq. See the resemblance?

Later, Joe and our volunteer teacher Caleb and I taught a thrilling after-school class.

Tomorrow night, I'll be going down to Grant Park with Obama with, oh, maybe a million other people. The ticketed area holds about 70,000 people. Those tickets were gone in minutes. I'll be going as someone's guest -- and I feel pretty lucky about that.

But wait, Rachel, where does writing fit into all of this?

Um. I guess my personal meeting with Obama (and one million other people) will have to wait until after I get some writing done tomorrow morning.

Also, I am eating chocolate with edamame in it. Amazing.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An impossible affair

I'm trying to figure out why I'm attracted to Rob Morrow. Or to anyone.

Okay, I'm not really attracted to Rob Morrow. He is quite a lot older than me, acts in a boring show (Numb3rs), and has a daughter named Tu. I just can't get behind that.

I'm attracted to Dr. Joel Fleischman, Rob Morrow circa 1990 or so, and those days will never come again.

Here he is looking all nebbishy and fish out of water.

What is it about him?

He's obnoxious as often as he's charming. Classically intelligent but interpersonally dense. According to Maggie, he's a good kisser, but they can't ever get it together.

Could it be the parka?

Why am I posting at this hour?

Because it's daylight savings time, and that means that until I go to sleep, time has no meaning, right? Right?

Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...


8% Logical, 25% Spatial, 55% Linguistic, 51% Intrapersonal, 27% Interpersonal, 8% Musical, 16% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 51% Naturalistic!

"Verbal-linguistic intelligence has to do with words, spoken or written. People with verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words and dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and via discussion and debate. They are also frequently skilled at explaining, teaching and oration or persuasive speaking. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure.

Careers which suit those with this intelligence include writers, lawyers, philosophers, journalists, politicians and teachers." (Wikipedia)

Take Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test at HelloQuizzy

Via Patrick