Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stay Here Forever

So, it's kind of important that you check out this video that some kids made after seeing That's Weird Grandma. It's kind of amazing.

I'm just saying.

Go watch it. Scroll past the picture of Luke and Levy buying my favorite snacks at Costco. Watch the video.

And then come to Grandma and see the story that inspired them. The story inspired us. We inspired some children. There's this whole inspirational circle of life happening here, and it never has to end.

Like the song.

Like this post.

Just watch it.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Edgar Allan Poe Grave Marker (P1010664)Image by orayzio via Flickr

Last night I dreamed about the undead. In two very different dreams.

Totes appropes since I recently found out I'm going to be working on the Neo-Futurist show Fear, which is being described as "a thinking man's haunted house." It's going to be inspired by lots of Edgar Allan Poe, who is all about buried things coming back to life.

I've also been researching/writing about zombies lately, so it only makes sense. The first dream may have been inspired by this BBC article about a theoretical study projecting how quickly a zombie virus would spread.

Very quickly, is the answer. Even if we were dealing with classic slow-moving zombies, and the zombies in my dream were extra fast and preternaturally strong. They were more like a cross between vamps and zombies really -- they're undead status spread like a virus, but they had sentience, not to mention panache. Being in the dream was a bit like being in an action movie with a full, epic plot -- and it actually scared me, rare for me when dealing with a dream that's not a full-on night terror.

People were living under ground in zombie-free zones. A human could leave the zone but wouldn't be allowed to return, and going above-ground was equated with death. Of course the zombies got in, ravaged us. They could only be killed by a sequence of cuts -- three shallow cuts right, left, right, across the neck and then a stab.

Later, the zombie plague had supposedly been suppressed, but it broke out again, with a vengeance. This time I played dead, and acted like one of them. It worked. I even got a romance going with the Zombie Boss, even though he must have noticed how I avoided feeding on humans. In mutual denial, we went happily along until a jealous zombie chick started messing with my story and got a zombie gang together to hunt me down. When a group of human survivors decided to rebel and fight the zombies, I had to choose allegiances.

A classic tale, I know, but they say there are only so many stories, and this one was remarkably well-structured for a dream.

In the second dream, I visited a room in an old house very much like a house my family used to own. One room could only be accessed from a door on the roof, and in that room lay the body of my late grandmother, eerily preserved. I spoke to her ghost, which was interesting since she was incapable of speech during my childhood.

The overall feeling of this second dream was very loving, but I wish I could remember what she had to say.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I got away last weekend.

Open space for dogs to run. Lots of trees.

Cooperative cooking. Games. Lazing around on the beach.

Now I'm back to getting things done, and after that delicious break it feels pretty good.

Among other chores, today I finally bought a planner. Staples brand. I wanted to link to it for other planner-obsessive types, but I can't even find it listed on their website. It may be a phantom planner -- perfect and unattainable. It's 8.5"x11", weekly/monthly, 18 month, horizontal writing space with no annoying appointment breakdowns, and space for notes on every facing page!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Delayed reaction

I think I'm having a delayed reaction to the downside of graduating, or rather, it's sneaking up on me a teensy bit at a time.

EXHIBIT A: My obsession with day planners, online organizing tools, and the like.

The last time I spent this much time researching planners, I was working in a crazy Hollywood job that I hated but couldn't figure out how to leave. I think my brain convinced my brain that if I could find the perfect planner, I would somehow find better, more perfect things to plan in it. Right now, I do have some idea of what needs planning, and I'm excited about a lot of those things. So no need for the stress, right? Right?

I did discover a couple of positive things. I've started tracking what I eat at The Daily Plate. And I'm going to start budgeting with Quicken. I cannot afford a life coach, so the internet will have to do.

EXHIBIT B: The library.

During my trip to the library today, I saw the children's section upon entry and felt a sharp, unanticipated pang at not needing to go over to the picture book section and grab a stack to read for my monthly bibliography. I compensated by immediately booking it to the young adult section where I checked out Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Phew!

EXHIBIT C: Barriers to writing.

Real or imagined, these are coming fast and furious. They range from the mundane . . .

"Clearly, I cannot write in an apartment this messy."

. . . to the absurd . . .

Writing would be much more productive, energizing, and healthier if I set up a treadmill desk for myself, like Arthur Slade's. Don't get me wrong, when I say absurd, I don't mean the desk is absurd. I WANT THE DESK! But the idea that I can't write without one is utterly absurd.

My writing process seems to be on a seesaw, dependent on whether I can trick myself into keeping my school routine going. Remember that promise I made last post to write in the afternoon -- broke it.

Yesterday was a GREAT writing day.

Today was not.

One thing I'm fighting is this sense that it's summer, school's out, I deserve a break from the constant pressure of packets. I do. But not for long, because writing makes me happy. Writing lots makes me happy. I'm going out of town for what will be a relaxing, writing-free weekend, and then I'm going to do some serious scheduling in my serious (yet-to-be-bought) planner and hold myself accountable.

Cynsations led me to the treadmill writer. She also led me to . . .

EXHIBIT D: Oh so much longing at seeing pics of the graduation celebration Austinites threw for a couple of my classmates. It's so sweet! I know and like so many of the people in those pictures! I want to be there!

I want a giant children's writing community in Chicago!

Sigh. I guess this means I will have to make an effort to stay active on the VCFA forum, get to know Chicago's SCBWI, form a writers' group, etc., etc., all those pesky community things that I haven't exactly lost by graduating, but which I now have to work harder to keep going.

And, you know, maybe I should throw myself a party.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More. Better. Now.

I've got to do better, people. It's 11:30 AM. I've written less than 500 words -- and not even story words, exploratory words.

Right now I'm off to babysit. The baby and I are going to have a serious talk about life goals and stick-to-itiveness. Then I'll have a window of time to write before That's Weird, Grandma.

I promise to spend at least an hour of that time writing and NOT thinking about my latest money-making scheme. I've been thinking a lot lately (yes, this morning, while I should have been writing) about artists and money and day jobs. Makes sense. I just finished grad school with its built-in excuse to not work full-time. And I can't let being out of school and the pressure to earn more money take priority away from the writing. If I figure anything out I will let you know.

My "day job" of choice post-college has been work as a teaching artist. I just took a survey for the Teaching Artists Research Project for a study at the University of Chicago. If you're a teaching artist, you should take it too! Tell them how hard it is to get health insurance among other things. I'll be keeping an eye on this study, and I'm really curious to see what kind of stats they get.

Enough. The baby awaits. Come see me play a Disco Girl in Grandma tonight if you're around! It's a sweet line-up right now.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Want to hear me sing about a dead eel?

Now you can.

"Sammy the Eel" Barrel of Monkeys podcast. "He was a friend and a good person."

The End.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Rockabilly rocked it. The people dressed up right. They danced fast to thirteen bands.

Also, a giant man who sang hilariously dirty things came up to me and said, "You ain't looking nothing but cute in that scarf." If the Big "C" Jamboree channels the fifties, he was channeling the juking party at the roadhouse where the bad kids hang.

The scarf was my grandmother's, all flowery silk and girly, given to me by my mom when I was home after graduation. I like to think my grandmother was smiling down on me, going, "yeah, that's right. Go, girl."

Probably she was not. Probably if she was looking down she was horrified. But that's okay too. It's cute when the ghosts get mad.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Knowing is Half the Battle

I'm going out to see rockabilly tonight at the Big "C" Jamboree, and I cannot wait.

It's my first week back in Chicago post-grad, and the party has yet to stop. I got in town just in time to see my rockstar friends play with The Jenn Rhoads Project. Sooo good. Then I spent all weekend rehearsing That's Weird, Grandma! and did a very fun, very sweaty show on Monday night. The last two nights I met up with friends I hadn't seen in a month or more. And all this week I've been sitting on a new baby, an adorable little goober with a giant smile who is not yet seven months old.

Some writing is taking place -- we're not back up to packet levels, but people, the writing is happening. Right now I'm working on something new-ish while I let the novel formerly known as Touch rest. I haven't decided how much to give away in the title, so for now, I'll call the new baby Greta. It's somewhat fantastical, set in Chicago, and seems to be aiming towards upper middle grade or young YA.

It's interesting to me that while Greta is a very interesting character, she is not the point of view character. This tells me something. Not that I need to make her the point of view character, but that my point of view character isn't as strong as Greta. This is mostly because I still need to figure out what my point of view character wants. I have more of an outline for this book than I had starting out with Touch, but I've managed to outline a plot that doesn't make it clear what the main character wants. Have I learned nothing?

Not to worry, because sometimes the hardest thing to learn is what you don't know. And I know I don't know. I'm aware that at some point I need to figure out what Damian wants. It took me forever to get that through my head with Touch. Even after I logically knew it, I still didn't get it, so it's nice that I now take it as a given. We'll get there.

Also, how did abandoned fridges get to be so evil in the 80's? It just goes to show if you neglect something and fail to show it love, even a fridge, it will turn on you!