Saturday, April 30, 2011


I must confess, I am a serial eavesdropper.  Most writers are, I think.  After all what better character fodder is there than the conversation of strangers?  Of course, I don't go out of my way to hear what is obviously intended to be secret, but if people discuss things loudly in public places, they must take the consequences.  I like catching bits and pieces rather than whole conversations, and yes, I am quite easily amused.  Sometimes I jot the best things down, and today I went back through some of my old notebooks and unearthed these gems:

At the coffeehouse:

       "The secret to long life is to keep moving.  They can't bury you if you keep moving."

At the Campbell House, where I used to volunteer... always a goldmine:

       "People used to fall down stairs and die all the time.  It was really common back         then." (Speaking of the early Twentieth Century)

       "That was a 'picture box'.  It's how they watched movies." (Looking at a music box from the same period)

        "But it's a maid, and it's making food!" (A little boy, after seeing me in the kitchen, when his mother called him back upstairs)

        "The chest was made from wood from the Black Forest, from Sherwood Forest!" (This woman clearly thought they were the same place.  Completely aside from this geographical inconsistency, the chest, to the best of my knowledge, is not related to either forest.)
        "Did you hear that babies can't digest pickles all the way?"

And the latest, overheard yesterday when I was at lunch:

        "Now tell me, why would you want to sit diagonally?"

I will always regret that for that last I was sitting with my back to the people involved.

I purchased new pointe shoes yesterday, just in time to get them properly broken in before the show.  I love the smell of new pointe shoes.  It's strangely reminiscent of a saddle shop.  Also took myself to see the new Jane Eyre as a special treat to break up the errands.  Definitely the best version I've seen.  It's something that's been done so often you'd think there'd be nothing new there, but I feel it did the best job of capturing the spirit of the book.  Always there is the difficulty of making the Jane/Rochester relationship not too creepy.  In the book you're in her head.  You understand it.  But it's hard, I think, to transfer that to the screen.  It always seems to end in a compromise, either making Mr. Rochester younger, or getting an older actress to play the eighteen-year-old Jane.  Mia Wasikowska is the first Jane I've seen who is actually the right age, and Michael Fassbender is the perfect Rochester.  Of course, it's always good to see Judi Dench, and I've liked Jamie Bell ever since I saw him first as Smike in Nicholas Nickleby.  They also keep the eerie feel of the book, which seems to be missing from any of the film versions I've seen.  Altogether, they've managed to escape the trend of turning it into just another "period British drama".  I'll stop now, but it's definitely worth seeing, even for people who are not usually fans of period British film.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Adventures in Walmart

First of all let me state that I do not like Walmart.  I really don't.  It seems to stand for everything that is wrong with America: rampant consumerism, general chintziness, sweat-suits, the elevation of mayonnaise as its own food group, etc...  That said, I do go there sometimes, generally out of necessity, since there isn't much else (especially when it comes to costume-making supplies) any nearer than Spokane.

So I went there this morning, with the brilliant notion of making a quick trip (one-stop shopping, as advertised) to take care of my costuming needs, as well as getting some Fontina and White Truffle Oil for the fondue tonight, and some picnic items, so that I could kidnap Aaron on his lunch break and whisk him away to consume said picnic items in a sunny patch at the Colville Park.  

One-stop shopping indeed!  For one thing, they make it impossible to get anything you want in under an hour, bringing me to the conclusion that my sister's old theory about the energy-sucking machine at the heart of Walmart might not be far off the mark.  Then, the cooking oil section which contained nothing but olive oil and PAM.  Not even Sesame Oil.  I went against my tradition of not asking for help and enquired of an employee whether they had any White Truffle Oil.  The look she gave me, along with her, "What is that?" were priceless.  But I'm sounding like a terrible snob.  The thing is, I don't make a regular habit out of buying things like White Truffle Oil (who can afford to?) but one likes to have them available for special occasions.  I mean, few people drink Champagne every day, but every grocery store has at least a few bottles of Cook's.  They also didn't have any Fontina.

I also enjoyed the various reactions of the Walmartites to the outfit I was wearing.  Admittedly, it was a little strange, consisting in part of a polka-dot street tutu, striped knee socks, and lace-up striped fingerless gloves.  But I like wearing interesting things when I don't have to worry about work-wear or anything.  Anyway, it brought on an assortment of different looks, the most prominent of which were the grins of the old ladies who clearly appreciated that I was having a good time, and the double-takes of the old men who seemed to think I must be a recent escapee from Planet Crazy.

However, I was able to make make my purchases and escape (I think Walmart is Planet Crazy) just in time to race into Safeway for the White Truffle Oil and Fontina and still make it to the bank in time for the scheduled kidnapping.  And the sunny park was lovely. All in all a productive and satisfying morning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today has been more productive, and as a result I feel rather ashamed of my purposeless fit of yesterday.  I finished the little girls' canary costumes (photo below) and am convinced that they will look positively adorable.  Not a difficult prediction, as they nearly always do.  Now all I need to do is fix the length on our costumes, finish off the tutu for Megan's solo, and create five headpieces.  Oh, and figure out a headpiece for my solo.  Actually that sounds like a lot.  But not really considering what it was before.

Monday, April 18, 2011


It's been a strange, melancholy sort of day, one of those where your mind meanders in all directions while your body goes about on its own, until late in the day you look around and notice where you are and wonder how you got there.

I feel continually on the edge of something these days, as if I were only steps away from a wider world, but I lack something that would allow me to take them... courage perhaps?  Confidence?  Determination?  Talent?

The vain part of me, the writer part (for really what is more arrogant than assuming that of all the books written in the world, people will want to read yours?) wants something bigger. Not fame exactly, but something meaningful, something lasting.  I suppose it's what everyone wants.  We want to know our lives have touched the lives of others.  It makes us feel less alone.  It lets us know where we fit.  We all strive for self-sufficiancy, but we long for other people to depend on us.  I enjoy my days alone, the opportunity for thought and silence, but it is the thought of Aaron coming home at night that gives me purpose.  I write for the love of it, for the imaginative process, for the cathartic release, but to write for people who wanted to read what I'd written would give my imagination purpose.  As it is I can't help feeling a sting of guilt whenever I spend time on the novels that I could have spent doing something more profitable.  I still do it, of course, but to write with freedom of time and singleness of mind is still a far-off dream.

I had planned to post something witty and humorous today instead of this doleful thing, but wit and humor deserted me and shall have to wait for a later date.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Second Glances

My friend Taylor stars in this short film.  Enjoy!

Second Glances: An artistic loner struggles to make the connection with a mysterious guitar playing woman. David (Taylor Brandt) is an artistic loner, stuck in an unfulfilling job, an abusive boss (Matt Socia), and unappreciated by his co-workers. He notices a second glance by a woman (Tamara Voss) playing her guitar in the park. David becomes inspired to risk everything to find her again and take that second chance for happiness. If you've been around You+Dallas for a while, you'll notice a lot of familiar names in connection with this 168 Hour Film Project submission. Chris Wiegand, Josh Spake, Matt Socia, Brandon Carmichael, Laura Stillo and many others filmed and produced this short story in only a week. Out of 89 other submissions, "Second Glances" recieved two awards: Best Editting and Best Sound Design. Congratulations everyone! 

Bits and Pieces

So I spent the larger part of the last two (beautiful and sunny) days taking an online course to get my alcohol server's permit for my job at the golf course this summer.  Finishing the last module this morning, and of course now it's rather overcast and threatening rain.  However, it's not actually raining yet, so I might have to go for a walk when I'm finished anyway.  More on the golf course once work actually begins.

Said goodbye to my sister yesterday, as she's leaving for Flight Attendant Training in Salt Lake City.  I'm happy for her, but it's sad to see her go.  It's been great having her close by the last two years.  We really haven't spent so much time together since she was in college. Still, fun to see her off on another adventure.

I feel due for a new adventure myself, and I mean larger in scale than a new job at the golf course, though that might tide me over.  I'm thinking something big, like sailing around the world or ballooning to New Zealand, or something enlightening, like a pilgrimage to Byzantium or a trek across Tibet.

On the writing front, I've been thinking more about self-publishing again, mostly thanks to my friend Kathy, who's been considering it herself and has therefore been sending me information and links to a bunch of different sites.  Not to give up on regular publishing by any means, but it does seem like self-publishing is getting to be more respected.  I'm still querying agents, but I'm also considering my options.  I'm confident enough about my manuscript, after passing it around to a number of people (including a local book group) that I feel I could at least break even on whatever I put into it fairly easily, and then go from there.  After all, it shouldn't hurt my chances of getting a traditional publishing deal later if something came along.  In any case, I'm still doing my research.  I hear tipsy golfers generally tip fairly well, so perhaps by the end of the summer I'll have enough saved to float a mad scheme.  More on that later.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Joys of Costume Fittings

Had a costume fitting today.  I've really been enjoying fitting the girls, creating something and spending time with each of them.  They come to my house an hour or two before class, and stand in my living room while I drape them in fabric and sew things and we sip tea or coffee and watch watch Cirque du Soleil dvds.  They are such wonderful girls, all of them, and don't seem to mind me sewing things onto their bodies.  Photos of the costumes hopefully coming soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

An Ode to Secondhand Bookshops.

So, I thought it was high time I dedicated a post to the haven of all literature and history lovers: the secondhand bookshop.  Is there one of us who can walk into a room full of dusty old tomes, ripped comic books, and back issues of Good Housekeeping without feeling that little thrill run through our innards?  Personally I skim over the comic books and Good Housekeeping, but I do know others who are as thrilled by them as I am by the dusty tomes.

Chewelah has, as do most small towns, its own particular gem in this area, made up of a deli in front and a wilderness of old (sometimes soiled or moldy and always dusty) literature behind.  I can never eat at the deli, because the old book smell permeates even the dining area and the atmosphere resembles a cross between a bad school lunch-room and your grandmother's closet.  However, I often go through to the back and spend a considerable length of time riffling through the clutter... for it's one of those delightful places with very little order and a goodly number of cardboard boxes.  I've found some of the best treasures in said cardboard boxes, particularly the ones under the "25 cent" shelf.  There I discovered copies of Thomas Costain's The Darkness and the Dawn and Elizabeth Goudge's Gentian Hill, among others.  Semi-forgotten authors, but none the worse for that.  It was through this place as well that I became familiar with the work of Anthony Trollope, and when you can buy Plato's Republic for a dollar it really seems a shame not to read it.  So you see, a great deal of credit for my post-high-school education is owed to the dusty back room of a deli.