Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wedding Plans & My Thoughts On Feminazism

Exercise #137 : "Wedding Plans"

Betty's mom, who has big ideas, meets with the wedding planner. Write the scene with (all or mostly) dialogue. Keep in mind that the best dialogue usually shows character, mood, relationship, and/or conflict.

Why is Betty's mom and not Betty meeting with the wedding planner?? Call me crazy, but if I were getting married, I'd definitely want my mom involved, but - and I love my mom - I tend to disagree with her style choices. I must make sense of this, though, before I begin.

Betty is multitasking. While she is meeting with her hairdresser, she has sent her mother to meet with the wedding planner. They already have a feel of what she wants her wedding to look like, so her mother can't make any drastic changes.

Yeah... Let's go with that, shall we?

1,2,3, GO!!!!

Donna, the Wedding Planner: Hi, Mrs. Davis! It's lovely to see you! How are you?

Mother of the Bride: Hello, Donna. I'm well. And yourself?

D: I'm doing wonderfully, thank you. (She pulls out her files) Alright, was there anything you wanted to address specifically today?

MoB: Yes, actually. I know that my daughter expressed an interest in having lilies in her bouquet, and I wanted to alter that slightly.

D: Ok. What would you like to change?

MoB: I want to take the lilies out of the bouquet.

D: Did you speak with Betty about this?

MoB: Yes, I did.

D: (hesitantly) And she was ok with this?

MoB: No, she wasn't, but I am paying for this wedding. Elizabeth understands that.

D: Did you find a compromise with her that you both agreed on?

MoB: We decided that it would be best to keep everything else the same. Just no lilies.

D: (writing notes furiously in her notebook) Anything else?

MoB: The color palette is all wrong.

D: How so?

MoB: Elizabeth doesn't realize that pink washes her out. Not only that, but it's one of those colors that reeks of submission.

D: I'm sorry?

MoB: Submission. Having pink in her wedding is sending the message to her future husband that she is fine with being an obedient housewife. You understand, surely.

D: I can't say that I do.

MoB: Either way. The pink must go.

D: I don't feel that -

MoB: Am I paying for this, or aren't I?


Oooh, what a meanie! In my opinion, though, weddings are overrated. Let's just head to the Justice of the Peace, have a quick wedding, and then have a big-ass party later on! :) I'd be all ofr that!

Enough of that business. Weddings make me nervous... that is, unless it involves Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez. Honestly, if The Wedding Planner involved Matthew McConaughey all by his onesies, I'd still watch it. The man is scrumptious, even if his arms are alarmingly short. I think it's the accent. Yummy. There really is nothing better than a well-mannered southern gentleman. Seriously, they get me going. Bigtime. There need to be more of them in the world.

Of course, it's the raging feminazis that are slowly extinguishing this breed of wonderful male.

"No!" the woman in the power suit yells as she approaches the door that has been graciously opened by the man in front of her. "I can open the door myself, thank you!" She sneers as she waits for the man to close the door, a bewildered look on his face. Once it has finally shut, she approaches the door and opens the door herself and enters.

I saw this a shocking amount of times while I lived in New York, and each time it boggled my mind. What would this woman have done if a woman had held open the door for her? I hold doors open for people behind me, and I'm a woman. It's an issue of common courtesy, not of gender. Of course, if a guy holds a door open for me, he tends to get extra kudo points from yours truly, and I have a friend who has called me an enabler for that. I like it when a guy holds open doors for me, and I'm an enabler?? If I'm enabling genteel behavior, then yes! I admit it! I am an enabler!

Don't get me wrong. I am all for women's rights. We should get paid the same amount for doing the same job as a man, and when a woman decides that her place is not in the kitchen, more power to her. On that same note, if a woman decides that she wants to be a stay-at-home Mom, then good for her, too!

I hate that men are getting such a bad rap. Sure, they can be awful, but so can women. It's a double-edged sword, and I think that the raging feminazis have lost sight of that.

Well, that was a nice little rant, wasn't it? What do you guys think?


P.S. I'm going to see Shutter Island tonight. I'll fill you in on my thoughts later.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Successful Weekend

So, as I stated in my last post, I went out of town this weekend to participate in the National Association for Teachers of Singing Competition in Cleveland, TN at Lee University.

Well, guess what? I got third place in my division! Woot! There were more divisions than I can count on my fingers and toes, but I feel really good about it. My group - Junior Women - started with approximately 50 young ladies, and they narrowed it down to 20 or so. After that, they narrowed it down to 3, and, to my surprise, I was included in that final three!! I was so proud of myself.

Anyways, the final performance didn't go as well as I had hoped, which ended up leaving me in 3rd, but I still feel really good about it. Go Stefers!

Just in case you were wondering, normal posting will resume tomorrow. Yay!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Competition Time!!

So I'm going to disappear until Monday. I'm going to Lee University for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and competing for moolah, etc.


Anyways, that's why there haven't been any blog posts as of late.

At any rate, I will be returning on Monday.

Much happiness to you all! I'll be back soon!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Talking to Arnold Spirit on My Faux Talk Show

This is yet another writing class assignment that I turned in a week or so ago. I got it back, and... duhn, dah, DAHHH!! I got an A! Woohoo!

Anyway, it's a creative response to the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is a story about an Indian boy named Arnold Spirit who gets out of the Spokane Indian reservation in Washington instead of being stuck there for the rest of his life.

And without further ado...

The overhead lights burned hotly into my forehead as I shuffled calmly through the papers in my hand. The studio was set up like an elegant living room, a place where not only I could feel comfortable, but where my interviewees and audience could relax as well. A beautiful, ornate Persian rug graced the wood laminate floor below me, making the cream-colored armchairs - on one of which I was sitting - pop out to the observing eye. A false wall was standing several feet behind me, painted a warm, hunter green and sporting a few classy black and white photos of the city of New York. It wasn't home, but it was close enough.

“Ok,” said the camera man, “We’re on in five, four, three, two…” He mouthed one as he counted down with his fingers and then pointed at me, and I smiled brightly at the lens. The red light at the top of the camera turned on, and I inhaled. Just another day at the office.

“Welcome back, everybody,” I said cheerfully. “Before our commercial break, I mentioned that we had a special guest on the show today. Well, I’d like you to join me in welcoming our guest and my very good friend, author of the new breakout novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Arnold Spirit!”

As the studio audience erupted in cued applause, I stood up and extended my hand to the young man who was entering from offstage right. He walked toward me with strength and purpose with his head held high, but his eyes looked uneasy behind his thick, black glasses, unused to the large crowd that sat in front of him. His thick, dark hair was slicked back against his head, and he was wearing a freshly pressed, three-piece pinstripe suit with shining black shoes. As he walked forward, I couldn't help but notice the slight stiffness in his step, as if he was unaccustomed to such elegant clothing.

I shook his hand, and we sat down. He smiled faintly as I began the interview.

“Thank you so much for joining us today,” I said as Arnold situated himself on the oversized armchair designated specifically for my guests. He looked somewhat stiff trying to find a comfortable spot, but after a moment he relaxed.

“Sure,” he said, his smile brightening ever-so slightly. “Thanks for having me.”

“Now, from what I’ve been hearing, you’ve had some pretty serious success in the last year or so.”

“Yeah, I have. It’s amazing, really.”

“Well, tell me about it.” I leaned in slightly, propping my chin on my hand and focusing my eyes on his. Perhaps the eye contact would distract him from the crowd sitting just feet away from us. “Start with the comics.”

“I’ve drawn comics for as long as I can remember. It was…” he paused to collect his thoughts, “my way to communicate with the world, if that makes sense.”

“Of course.”

“Anyway, I started this comic book when I was in college, and I sent it in to a few places. The initial storyline was picked up, and it took off. Now it’s a multivolume franchise.”

“And it’s been picked up for a movie.”

Arnold’s face brightened. “Yeah, that’s the real trippy part.”

“You're not only a comic book artist, though. I recently finished reading your novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and I must say that it was an enthralling read.” I held up a copy of the novel, making sure that the entire audience was able to see it.

“Thank you. Really." Arnold's shoulders relaxed slightly.

“You go into detail about your family life and the struggles there, and the way you put everything is just so moving. I feel as if I lived it with you." Turning to the audience, I said, "Arnold was born and raised on the Spokane reservation in Washington, and his book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is all about his life there. His life, his family, trials, and tribulations. Really and truly and excellent read."

“Thank you,” he blushed but maintained eye contact with me, “I wrote it as if I had written it when I was 14, and putting myself back into that place in my life actually helped me to sort through a lot of that baggage.”

“So it was a healing process for you?”

“Oh, most definitely.” Arnold shifted in his seat, inadvertently raising his left pant leg to reveal a blue argyle sock. “I had to confront those demons from my past in order to move forward with my life.”

“When you say ‘demons,’” I said, “are you referring to anything in particular?”

“Yes and no. My parents came from poor people who came from poor people who came from poor people, all the way back to the very first poor people.” The crowd chuckled lightly. “But it wasn’t just my parents. It was pretty much everyone on the reservation. The people that I grew up with didn’t really encourage branching out and bettering oneself in order to succeed in life. It’s really hard to overcome that.”

“And yet here you are,” I said. “What would you have to say about the education system in Wellpinit while you were growing up?”

“It was awful. I remember one day that I opened up one of my school books, and my mom’s name was written on the inside cover, meaning that the book had been used at my school for twenty plus years. I got so mad that I chucked the book at my teacher.” The crowd laughed again, more heartily this time, and Arnold continued, a grin plastered on his face. “That was actually the teacher that first encouraged me to get out of the reservation. It was because of him that I applied to Rearden High.”

“That must have been so frustrating, knowing that your educational system was that far behind the curve."

"It was, hence throwing the book." More scattered chortles.

"Tell us about Reardan.
That was a predominantly white school back then,” I said. “Was it difficult going to school as the only American Indian?”

“It was hard, but it got better after a little while.”

“Frequently in your book, you talk about how your father was absentee quite a bit and how his alcoholism affected you. Do you have any ill will toward your father?”

Arnold furrowed his brow and shook his head. “No. He’s my dad, you know? Every parent does something to screw up their kid, even if they’re the best parent out there. My dad may have been a drunk, but he did the best he could with what he was given, and he wasn’t given a lot. In the end, part of me is kind of proud of him.”

"What do you mean?" I asked. Pride was not what I had been expecting, not after everything his father put him through.

"I'm both successful and happy now," he said. "He must have done something right, right?"

"But wouldn't you say that's because of you and your efforts? As I was reading, it seemed to me that your growth was only hindered by your father's alcoholism."

"Parts of it were, but Dad wanted me to get out of the rez. He knew I would get stuck there and end up just like him if I stayed, so he was as supportive as he could have been."

"You wrote that there were times where you would have to walk the twenty-two mile trek home by yourself because your father forgot to pick you up or didn't have the money to buy gas because he spent it all on alcohol."

"Yes," he said, "and that did happen, but it's in the past, you know? This was one of the demons I was talking about earlier. I had to deal with the fact that I had some emotional scarring due to my father's alcoholism, and writing my story really helped me along."

"I don't want to spoil too much of the story for our audience, but let's talk a bit about your sister, Mary Runs Away. In the book, she does end up leaving the reservation, but I can't quite make up my mind whether that was a good thing or not."

"Oh, it was a great thing. She escaped just like I did. It may not have turned out as she originally planned, but she left. She left, and she started writing her own novel. It was extremely brave of her." Upon speaking of his sister, Arnold's eyes lit up, but they contained a freckle of sadness, of loss.

"At the end of the day, would you change anything about your life? Your sister, your parents, anything?"

"Not a damn thing." Arnold paused, embarrassed. "Can I say that on live television?"

The audience laughed along with me. "I don't think it matters now."

Standing up, I extended my hand to Arnold who also stood. "Thank you again, Arnold, for joining us. I can't even begin to explain how much your story means to me and how strongly your voice spoke through its pages." I turned to the audience and raised the memoir once again. "If you haven't read this book, go to your library, your local book store - anywhere - and read it. In fact, studio audience, if you look down below your chairs, you'll all see that you all have a free copy of Arnold's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, waiting for you to take home and read!"

Thunderous applause and cheering exploded from the seats, causing the entire studio to vibrate with excitement. They always loved getting free stuff.

"When we come back, I'll show you a new way to recycle your old newspapers!" The camera panned back, and I walked off the set with Arnold.


And there we have it! This one was a bit long, so I'll make this short and sweet.

If you made it all the way to the end, you rock.


Monday, March 22, 2010

The Character's Car: Inside & Out

Exercise #138 : "The Character's Car: Inside & Out"

Take 1 or 2 of the following characters and describe in specific detail what their car would look like, inside and out. Try to avoid stereotypes. The trick is to create a deep sense of character by describing only their car.
an unsuccessful painter
a rock musician who will soon get famous
a high school senior about to flunk out
a gym teacher with an attitude
a Christian fundamentalist who works at a Walmart
a nun
a businessman with a serious drug addiction
a gay but closeted construction worker
a yo-yo dieter
a paranoid schizophrenic
a cleaning woman who just won the lottery
a former Enron executive who has just been sentenced to hard time
1,2,3, GO!!

a rock musician who will soon get famous
This rock musician - let's call him... Clyde -owns a 1982 Buick LeSabre with faded, cherry-red paint. It used to be a nice-looking car - albeit a bit boxy - with chrome trimmings and fresh color, but over the years lack of money has made maintenance on the vehicle nearly impossible. The worn tires have a faded, white line encircling the bare circle where hubcaps used to be. Inside, the leather seats have been stitched and patched within an inch of their lives, but it's generally cleanly. A bag or two from fast food restaurants lay on the floorboard of the passenger seat, and a medium McDonald's cup rests in the cup holder with severely watered-down coke inside it.

The dashboard holds a picture of his family. They appear to be a close-knit group from the photo; everyone is smiling with their genetically similar teeth and cheeks. It is the picture that boasts tried and true American dream: a mother, a father, 1 son, and 1 daughter. Not only that, but they even have a dog.

In the backseat is a Marshall Mini-Amp which, unlike everything else in his car, looks to be in pristine condition. Other than that, however, the back seat is empty.

His trunk holds his guitar when he's not using it (which is rare) and a box of demo cds. It also contains notebooks upon notebooks of song lyrics - penned by himself.

Well, that's that. I was planning on doing a second one, but the soon-to-be-famous rocker took a lot more time than I had thought it would. It also doesn't help that my roommate is playing Batman: Arkham Asylum (see my review HERE) in the same room, and I kept getting distracted. But I guess that's my own fault for sitting on the couch and attempting to write something poignant and so on...

To those of you who gave me advice on yesterday's post, I thank you. I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do about it, but I think the best course of action at this point in time is to sit back and enjoy having fun with someone without making it all awkward by overthinking and analyzing. It's a fault of mine that I'm learning needs to be addressed, and I think I'm doing ok with it. Of course, if you were to go look at my journal, you might think that I have obsessed over the matter, but ah, well... At least I'm not obsessing inwardly about it and holding all of that tension inside!

At any rate, thank you.


Sunday, March 21, 2010


This is going to be a super short post, but I'm going to ask for you guys' advice. I am not sure what to do, and my neurotic little brain is going crazy thinking myself in circles.

So there's this guy friend I have, right? We've been friends for a long time (as in since high school), but lately I've been getting these... vibes from him. Weird, I-may-be-interested-in-you vibes. Now, I've gotten these vibes from him before, and they tend to disappate, but here's the kicker...

I don't hate it.

[insert girly squeal here]

I'm not normally a giddy person...

Ah, hell... Who am I kidding? I'm totally a giddy person. I'm a big lover of romantic comedies, and nothing makes me happier than a good love story. I mean, I get my rocks off giving people relationship advice, because it helps me live vicariously through these people.

Hello, my name is Stefanie, and I am a giddiness junkie.

But that's not the point... The point is this guy. As I said, we've been friends for a long time, and I even had a super huge crush on him in high school. All in all, he's just a great guy... definitely my type. Well, we've started hanging out again now that he's back in Nashville, and I've been getting those vibes I was talking about.

What I'm thinking is that my old feelings of high school crush-dom have invaded my subconscious, making my vibe-reading skills either wonky or hyper-sensitive. I talked to my Mom about it, and all she could say was "Well, you know, the best relationships are formed out of good friendships." Gahhh... Not what I was wanting to hear. Or was it? Good gravy, I don't know!!! I'm just confused, and I don't like being confused. I like knowing answers and feeling comfortable with things.

So my question is this: What would you guys do? Because I honestly have no clue whatsoever. I'm terrified to go into anything because he's such a good, close friend. I would be really upset if things were to end badly, leaving me 1 less friend like him. Blargh. Help?


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Animal Husbandry: A Review

2 posts ago, I told you guys that I was reading a book called Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman.

Well, I finished it.

In a total of 2 days.


I had planned on taking a bit more time with it, but I found myself reading scads of pages each time I sat down to read it. The strange part is that I can't really pinpoint what it was that made me read it so voraciously. It was an interesting idea. I'll give it that. But other than that, it wasn't as amazing as I had hoped it would be. Cute, yes, but completely mind-altering? No. But I guess that's what you get with chick lit, and I'm ok with that.

The story picks up just as Jane Goodall (not to be confused with the monkey scientist; pictured right) has been dumped by her boyfriend for no apparent reason. She begins explaining that she has concocted a theory - The Old-Cow-New-Cow Theory - which explains men's behaviors while in a relationship. The basic idea is this:

Bull meets New Cow.
Bull and New Cow mate.
New Cow becomes Old Cow.
Bull leaves Old Cow for a New Cow.
Rinse and repeat.

It's a humorous and seemingly appropriate idea (even though we all know that it doesn't work quite like that... at least not in all cases), and Laura Zigman honestly writes well, giving just the right amount of detail to let her readers know what's going on - but not enough to turn into a Dickensian word frenzy. For the rest of the book, Jane tells her story from start to "finish," and the reader gets a real feeling for her pain and suffering.

In the end, I'd put this book under the Beach Reading category. Good book, but not amazing. If you want a light read that doesn't require a lot of thought, go for it. In fact, I'd recommend it for that purpose.

Alright. That's that.

I also said that I was going to read If Singleness is a Gift, What's the Return Policy? but I simply cannot continue. I'm not usually one for not finishing a book (unless you count the last installment of the Twilight series), but this book was simply... awful. I bought it back when I was a super Jesus-y heathen-hater, and I'm a completely different person now. I'm all for connecting life issues with God and such, but this book takes that idea and runs with it. When I bought the book, I was looking for them to give me some tips on dealing with single-dom, and all I got was a bunch of Bible verses. Ugh.

So what I'm saying is that I will not be finishing this book. Not only that, but I think I'm going to put it in my box of books that I'm going to take to my local used book store and hand it over, never to be bothered by it again.

Ok. Enough of this.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tough Grandma

Exercise #136 : "Tough Grandma"

This is an exercise to help make a character more vivid. In what ways is "Grandma" tough? Make a list; be as specific as you can. Then, once you have finished, go back and circle the three best items on the list.

I've had a picture collecting virtual dust on my computer's hard drive for I don't even know how long (I thought it was humorous), and I have finally realized that I have kept it (unwittingly) for the purpose of this very post. Now, it might be a bit crude for some of you, but I guess I'm willing to run that risk.

Ah, classic. I love it. There's nothing better and more hilarious than a bad-ass Grandma.

Anyways, here goes.

1,2,3, GO!
  • She uses the finger liberally.
  • She goes out and does extreme sports like snowboarding surfing, and she does it well. She can out-surf and out-snowboard even the locals.
  • She was once almost mugged, but she scared him away by simply giving him an evil glare (and making use of the middle finger, of course).
  • She knows people in the mafia, and they're afraid of her.
  • She eats steak for breakfast. Rare.
  • She was in the army and led an entire company by herself to control a complete area that was previously controlled by the opposing forces.
  • She has 3 tattoos: 1) a skull and crossbones, naturally; 2) the letters P, A, I, & N across her right knuckes; and 3) a dragon that runs up and down the left side of her ribcage.
  • She says what is on her mind at all times and rarely holds back, even if it means hurting the person with whom she is speaking.
I kept thinking of Chuck Norris Facts throughout this entire list. hah I mean, he is the epitome of "tough," right? His tears do cure cancer... You know, it is really too bad that he never cries. heh

In other news, I finished Animal Husbandry more quickly than I had planned. Expect a review in the next few days.

Next up on the book list? If Singleness Is a Gift, What's the Return Policy? I've had this book for at least 4-5 years but have never read it. Ridiculous, says I. I don't know what my deal is with these singleness-based books lately, but I guess it's helping... Maybe?

Over the past few weeks or so, I have noticed that I've become a raging cynic. 2 weekends ago, my world was completely engulfed by joyous couples. On the Saturday of that weekend, there were 2 weddings. 2 separate weddings. On the same day, there were 3 different engagement announcements. Then, the next day there was another engagement announcement. SERIOUSLY??? It's possibly because I'm still bitter about my breakup (c'mon, Stef, just move on, already...), but I am having an extremely difficult time dealing with it. It's not that I want to be with B. anymore. I understand that the ship has passed, and honestly, it was for the best. It's the fact that every time I listen to the radio there's some jewelry ad playing and reminding me that I was there once. There was a time when I would hear these ads and smile, thinking that I was going to be getting an engagement ring soon, but I'm no longer in that place. Not only that, but I'm just not sure I'll be there again.

Sure, it may sound like I have a defeatist attitude, but I'm thinking in terms of my career here. I'm planning on singing opera professionally, and it is a career that requires a large amount of travel over great distances for lengthy time frames. Marriage is hard enough as it is; adding that element would be marital suicide. So what's the point, really?

The fact that I'm thinking in accordance with my career doesn't make hurt any less, though. I was really excited about entering into a new part of my life, a part that I would be sharing with someone else and to know that this person would always be there for me. But I'm just not certain that it's going to happen for me anymore.

Ok, enough of this emo, sad-sack talk. It's time to head off here. Positive thinking makes it happen!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Animal Husbandry

You know how you sometimes buy books with the full intention of reading them but never actually get to them?

I'm notorious for this.

I have a personal library of a few hundred books, and I have decided that I will not buy a single book until I have read all of the books in my possession. That being said, I won't be buying new books in a very, very long time. :( Sigh... BUT! It means that I won't be running out of things to read for a very, very long time! There's nothing bad about that! Right?

Anywho, I have started this excursion with a book that I have had for several years. I got it back when I saw the movie Someone Like You (I actually like this movie a lot.) starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. I had just begun my mild obsession with Mr. Jackman and wanted to watch every single movie he had ever been in, and so it was only natural that the movie ended up on my list.

I found out, though, that the movie was based on a book by Laura Zigman called Animal Husbandry. When I discovered this information, I simply had to get my hands on this book, so I did. And then it sat. It sat and collec
ted dust on my bookshelf. Oh, what a sad bibliophile I am. So I'm going to read it! In fact, I am reading it. Good for me.

It's not the best read ever, but it's definitely entertaining. The story picks up right after a woman, Jane Goodall, has been dumped by a man with whom she was making arrangements to live. It details her grief process, how she copes with the breakup, and also the forming of a cockamamie theory that men are like cows, breeding with 1 woman and then moving on to the next one simply because they've grown tired of her. While the theory may, in fact, be cockamamie, one cannot help but to think that it rings true somehow, especially if you've been dumped. I figured that, since I am now officially over my relationship (the one that ended so devastatingly in August), I can read a book like this, and it's a
ctually helping a little. I mean, I'm no longer crying myself to sleep, but whenever I think about him, while I have no desire to reunite with him romantically, there's a certain sadness I can't quite put my finger on. This book, while entirely fictional and frivolous, is helping me to laugh through this sadness and acknowledge that being dumped is ok. If I had read it any earlier, I probably would have taken the content to heart, believing that men were, in fact, douchebag bulls who were out only to spread their seed, fulfilling their copulatory imperative. Thankfully, I have moved on enough to realize that's not entirely true, although men do act like animals from time to time.

I haven't finished it yet, but I'll definitely let you guys know what I think of it when I finish.

What's on you guys' current reading list? Do you recomme
nd what you're reading?



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bread - No, Not the Band, Unfortunately...

Exercise #135 - "Bread"

Make a list of all the breads you can think of (i.e. Wonderbread, bagels, pita bread, etc, etc, etc). Then, next to each one note the color, texture, flavor, and smell.


I must first state that I LOVE bread. It may sound a bit strange, but there is something so wonderful about walking into a kitchen that has just produced some fresh, heavenly bread. You might say it's a passion of mine... But anyways, on with the list!
  1. sourdough - With a honey-colored, hard crust, sourdough bread has dense inside. True to it's name, the bread both smells and tastes sour in comparison to most breads, but it's quite delectable.
  2. croissant - This bread has a flaky outer crust that, once bitten, reveals a slightly less flaky interior that is spongy to chew. It tastes like heaven.
  3. rolls (specifically those O'Charley's ones... mmmmm) - A light golden brown, unsliceable crust is only the beginning of this magnificent roll. Inside is the fluffiest of breads that practically melts in your mouth. It smells strongly of butter.
  4. Amish friendship bread - This bread takes a LONG time to make, but it's totally worth it in the end. There are different recipes that require different times, but my favorite is the 30-day recipe. It's so good. Seriously. The consistency of the finished product is almost cake-like (kind of like a quick bread), but the flavor is richer. It's sweet and uber yummy.
  5. biscotti - Biscotti is a loaf of bread that is cut up into small, long sections and then baked for crispness. When eaten with a topping such as diced tomatos or something of the like, it turns into a scrumptious little snack.
  6. cornbread - A southern favorite, cornbread comes in both sweet and unsweetened flavors. It is a type of quick bread and has a yellow color, thanks to the corn ingredient. The texture is a bit grainy, and is a wonderful addition to any southern meal.
  7. pumpkin bread (my personal favorite) - There is nothing bad about pumpkin bread. It is an absolute good. Seriously. Not even kidding a little bit here. I put cloves and other things in my special recipe (see it at the end of this post), so mine tends to come out a little darker than most, but I love the taste of the cloves. The pumpkin taste is also pretty lovely. It's super duper moist and, like the O'Charley's rolls, melts in your mouth. Catch it when it's right out of the oven, and you can slap some butter on it, making the xperience of eating it all the more heavenly.
  8. naan - I had naan when I went to a local Persian restaurant, and, while I didn't really like the rest of the food, I loved the bread. It's a pita-style bread with a very similar consistency, but it's lighter with larger pockets of air. It has a light brown color, almost cream-colored and goes really well with garlic.
UGH. Now I'm hungry!!!!!

Before I run away to shove my face full of carbohydrates, here is my special holiday pumpkin bread recipe as mentioned earlier. Yummmmmm...

  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7 x 3 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix oil, sugar, and eggs together in a large bowl. Mix in pumpkin puree and water. Stir together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add to the pumpkin mixture, and mix until just combined. Stir in nuts and raisins. Divide batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on wire racks.
Make some. For realz, yo. It's ballin'.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Barrel, Mirror, Telephone & Into the Wild

Exercise #134 : "Barrel, Mirror, Telephone"

In three sentences or less, describe the barrel.
In three sentences or less, describe the mirror.
Where is the telephone?
Describe what happens.


Barrel - It's round - of course - and wooden, but it looks as if it has weathered decades of wear and tear. It is held together by iron hoops and bolts, but it doesn't appear to hold anything despite its obvious sturdiness.

Mirror - It's not a typical fairytale mirror with a gilded frame or a translucent face hovering in the glass. Instead, it is a worn panel of glass without a frame. Scratches cover the surface.

The telephone is at the far end of the room, next to the doorway that leads into the kitchen.

Yvonne impatiently paced up and down the length of the living room. It was wrong, and she was going to be held accountable. What do I do? she thought. She took a moment to stop and look at the barrel standing ominously in the corner of the room. Its simple existence implicated her, but she couldn't just get rid of it. That was impossible.

Suddenly, an idea hit her, and she practically ran to the phone and dialed frantically.

"Hello?" someone answered.

"Yes, it's Yvonne Hastings," she said. "I need the Master."

The person on the other end of the line paused. "The Master?"

"Yes, it's extremely important."

"Hold on one second, please." The line clicked over to a track of calming classical music, but seconds later the operator returned.

"I'm sorry, Miss - Hastings, was it?"

"Yes. Yvonne Hastings."

"Well, Miss Hastings, it seems that the Master is out right now, but if you -"

"I know for a fact that he's not out," Yvonne yelled, clutching the phone. "Did you tell him my name? He'd talk to me if you said my name. Yvonne Hastings."

With a sigh, the operator said, "Hold on for a second." More classical music played over the earpiece.

After a few moments of waiting, the phone clicked over again. "Yvonne?" It was the Master.

"Yes, Sir."

"What's wrong?"

"Carl put it in a barrel, and it's just sitting in my living room. I can't handle it."

"Yvonne," he said calmly, "relax. Just take a minute to take a deep breath."

"I can't take a minute. I have to get it out of my house."

5 minutes up.

What on Earth did I just write? Not only that, but I completely left out the mirror. Ah, well. I guess that's what you get when you only give yourself 5 minutes to write an entire story arch.

I'll make myself feel better if I add an obligatory mirror picture.

There. I feel better now. Crisis averted.

In other news, school started back today, but not really. 2 of my classes were canceled because my professor for both of those classes missed his flight back to Nashville from New York. It was pretty lovely.

Additionally, I have started to read Into the Wild by Jack Kerouac. I've read it before, but I have to read it once again for my English class, and I'm not exactly happy about it. I don't dislike the book. Truly. It's written excellently. I just get annoyed, though, because, while Chris McCandless's ideal is admirable. But the problem is that he seemed - to me, at least - to be entirely unprepared for what he planned to do in the Alaskan wilderness. He came off to me to be a little rich kid who was throwing a tantrum. I'm sure that's blasphemy to some of you, but the book did little more than annoy me.

Have any of you read Into the Wild? What did you think?

Well, it's time I headed off here. I hope you've all had a lovely Monday!


P.S. Work on the work-in-progress is dismal. I took a couple weeks off from it because I had reached a point where I just needed to remove myself, but now that I've returned to it... well, it's like I said: dismal. I'm just having a really hard time getting back into the swing of things. Hopefully if I just persevere through it I'll be able to push past this little sticky spot. What do you guys do to get momentum while writing?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Looks, Schmooks

I was reading through my current work in progress, and, as I was reading, I realized that, while I went into great detail describing the people and places that my main character was coming across, but not once did I talk about my main character's looks. Oy. How did I let that happen?? I guess part of it was because I have such a clear image of my main character in my head that I have never thought to describe her. How silly of me.

So instead of a writing exercise today, we're going to do a little character development prompt.

What does your main character look like? What are his or her distinguishing features? Does he / she have any tattoos or piercings? Scars? Is he / she tall? Overweight? Etc. Be as specific as possible. If you must, be as precise as his or her pore size. Leave nothing to the imagination.


Natalie Rose Hansley is a 24 year old woman with red hair, green eyes, and a round face. She has a light dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and the freckles continue sparsely along the rest of her body. Every once in a while, her skin is marked by a noticeably darker freckle than the rest. When she was young, she called these her "polka dots." Her mother still refers to them as such. Other than these dots, she has no scars, piercings, or tattoos.

She is tall for a female at just under six feet, and she carries herself well. She was taught from a very young age to stand straight, and years of ballet lessons trained her back to be as straight as an arrow. She walks with a certain gracefulness, but from time to time this self-taught poise is undermined by a natural awkardness, tripping over absolutely nothing at all or dropping something that she had been holding quite steadily a moment before.

She has an hourglass figure, and the curves are emphasized by her slightly overweight frame. Her body is only sightly pudgy from a life of luxury (around 15-20 pounds over), but after taking a single look at her one would see that she is not doughy. Indeed, she is stocky and full of strength.

Her hair falls to her mid-back in thick, fine waves, and her trademark red locks are an inheritance from her mother. Her eyes, a vivid green, are also from her mother's side of the gene pool. In fact, the only thing that Natalie got from her father was her height and her strong jawline.


I'm probably going to go back and add to this later on, but for now this is it. I think it's a good start.

So what about you guys? What does your main character look like? What about your other characters? Do you have any bizarre-looking people? Maybe one of your characters looks like this??Fill me in! I'd love to meet your characters. :)


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jacket Lust

Exercise #133 : "Jacket Lust"

Our clothing serves as a kind of mirror that shows us who we are. It also serves as a potential signal to others about status and values. Write a brief scene using dialogue using this prompt:

In the shopping mall, Diane sees the jacket of her dreams; Frankie is repulsed.

Frankie sounds like a jerk to me. Either that, or Diane has terrible fashion sense. I can't imagine that a jacket can be that bad.

After some preliminary research, the internet has once again proved me wrong, and I have found an awful jacket to inspire my writing. Here it is in all it's glory:

Now, I'm sorry if any of you think that this jacket is cute - and I will admit that it does have a certain potential - but the pink / camouflage combo is just wrong. It's like their saying "Women can hunt! See? We put pink next to camo! That makes it feminine!! SEE?!?!"

No, thank you. I do believe this is a racing jacket, though, which explains the #5... but the camo? Why on earth does a person feel like they need to be able to blend in with their surroundings in their racing vehicle?? It just doesn't make sense. For this exercise, though, we're going to pretend that this lovely little jacket is going to be on display over at a retail store, and it has caught Diane's eye.

1,2,3, GO!

I'm just going to do a dialogue series. Hope you like it!

Frank: Oh, God. Diane, no. Just no. Walk away from the jacket.

Diane: What? It's cute!

F: No. It's the antithesis of cute. In fact, it's cute's evil doppelgänger.

D: What? You're crazy.

F: I just have sense is all.

D: Look at it, though! It's all pink with that little camo accent. So cute!

F: If you buy it, I'm breaking up with you.

D: Oh, you're just being mean.

F: I may be mean, but I have sense enough to know that jacket is a travesty and an eye sore. What is it supposed to be, anyway? A racing jacket? Or a hunting jacket?

D: Maybe... maybe it's both?

F: See? Even you can't tell. There are better jackets. Trust me.

D: But I like this one.

F: Apparently that jacket is more important to you than our relationship.

D: Jerk.

F: I pride myself on my honesty, thanks.

D: You really don't like it?

F: I hate it.

D: Maybe if I put it on...

F: That will accomplish nothing. Other than make you look like a hunting racer, which, I might add, you are not.

D: (as she puts it on) Oh, it feels so nice. Feel the inside.

F: I'm sure it's made of nice fabric, honey, but it looks god-awful.

D: I'm sure Joanne would think this was adorable.

F: Yes, she would, but have you seen Joanne's wardrobe? She's not exactly the most chic of dressers.

D: I think she has great style.

F: I am completely shocked that you - or anyone for that matter - would think that.

D: Oh, come on. She always looks put together.

F: Sure.

D: I reiterate my "jerk" comment.


I didn't get to finish this one because of time constraints, but I had fun with it. I like Frank's repartee throughout all of it. He's very tongue-in-cheek, but he still makes a good point.

Well, that's all for today's exercise. I hope you're all having a wonderful week thus far!


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Humbuggin' Dry Leaves

Ah, it feels good to be back on the radar of the blogosphere. It's been too long, too long... I've missed you all!!!

In the spirit of returning to the schedule, here's a writing exercise!

Exercise #132 : "Humbuggin' Dry Leaves"

Write something - anything - that includes dry leaves and the word "humbug."


Ernest sat alone on his porch in his hand-made rocking chair and surveyed his lawn. It was completely covered by the dried leaves that had fallen from the ancient oak that was rooted stubbornly in his front lawn. He had tried to have it removed several times, but each time an activist of some sort did something drastic such as chain themselves to the trunk in hopes of "saving such a beautiful testament to nature."

He scoffed at the leaves.

"If that damn tree weren't there," he said aloud, "then I wouldn't have to deal with these damn leaves."

With a decided hmph, Ernest stood up from his rocking chair, the armrests creaking in protest as he used them to support his weight. He walked to his back yard and into the storage shed and came back out with his rake, muttering something about how he was going to "show them leaves who's boss."

His arthritis-ridden hands enclosed around the handle of the rake, and he began to push the copious amount of leaves into piles on his lawn. After he completed to piles, he took a break and sat back in his rocking chair.

A few moments later, little Billy Joelson rode by on his bicycle.

"Hey, Mister Plonsky!" he called, waving energetically at the old man on the porch.

Ernest nodded his head jerkily at the boy and then looked forlornly at his lawn. Slowing, Billy drove his bike up Ernest's walkway.

"Hey, Mister Plonsky," he said, "would you like some help with those leaves? I'd do your whole lawn for a dollar."

"Humbug!" exclaimed Ernest. "What if I like my leaves?"

"Well, you wouldn't be raking them up would you?" Billy said, referring to the unfinished piles.

Ernest sneered at the boy, but he nodded his head toward the rake. "Well, get started then."

Billy's face lit up as he leaned his bike against the old man's porch and grabbed the rake.

"I'll be done really quick, Mister Plonsky! Promise!" he said and began raking.


Oh, Ernest. Why must you be so crotchety? And why must I love you for your crotchetiness??? I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those angry old men who complained about anything and everything. Maybe that's partially because my own Grandfather is a little like that. I mean, he's very self-sufficient and so on, but he frequently says things that honestly shock me.

Do any of you have people like that in your life?


Saturday, March 06, 2010

My First Try at a Screenplay

This screenplay was for an assignment for my English class. We were supposed to study aspects of flight - it's inception, wing walking, barnstorming, etc - and writing something on it. It could be a normal 5-paragraph essay, but my teacher didn't encourage that. She wanted us to be creative, to think outside the box. So think outside the box I did.

One of the topics to study was Bessie Coleman, an African American pilot. I thought her story was interesting, so this is what I came up with. The format is not going to be correct because I can't really format a screenplay on here, but I'll do my best. :)


The front room of the barbershop is empty, save a lone man in his Sunday best who is leaning backward in one of the pristine, black barber chairs, his face covered with a white towel.


CHARLES SMITH emerges from the back of the shop holding a stack of envelopes. He is a tall, lean man with a nicely cropped moustache and hair that is slickly combed backward to reveal a stick-straight part on his left temple. He wears a barber’s apron, but underneath that is a sharp outfit with a crisp white button up shirt with the arms rolled up above his elbows, and a navy blue bow tie and slacks. He has a smudge of shaving cream on his shiny, black shoes.

Bessie, where are ya?

Down here! I’ll be up in a minute!

CHARLES walks further into the shop ad lays down the envelopes, putting one in his back pocket. Moments later, BESSIE comes thundering up the stairway. She comes into view but is shielded by a large cardboard box filled with clean, white towels.

Where do you want these?

Under the counter. Over by Mr.
Abbott. How are you doing, Mr.

MR. ABBOTT mumbles from underneath the towel. BESSIE walks over to him and places the box where directed. She is a beautiful young woman - around her mid-20s - of short stature and lean frame. Her kinky curly hair is pulled back into a tight bun at the back of her head, and she is wearing a brightly colored summer dress.

You’ve got some mail.

Who from?

CHARLES pulls the envelope from his back pocket and reads.

The Wright Bros. Flying School.

BESSIE freezes at the counter.


You heard me.

Give it, give it!

BESSIE runs over to CHARLES and takes the envelope, ripping it open with shaking fingers.

Oh, please, Lord...

A moment of silence ensues as BESSIE reads the letter, but it is clear that she has once again been rejected by yet another flight school when she crumples the letter into a ball.


You know, just once I’d like
someone not to judge me. Is that
too much to ask?

You’ll get ‘em next time.

CHARLES leaves BESSIE at the counter to attend to MR. ABBOT. He takes off the white cloth and begins to lather the shaving cream.

Did I hear correctly that someone
is applying to flight schools?

Yes, Sir. Our very own Bessie over
there is going to be a world
renowned pilot one of these days.

Well, she’s going about it entirely
the wrong way.

Excuse me, Sir, but I don’t believe
anyone asked you for --


What? It’s true! He’s here to get a
shave, and that’s all --

MR. ABBOTT sits up in the chair, and BESSIE immediately falls silent, realizing that he is ROBERT ABBOTT, editor and publisher of the Chicago Defender newspaper.

I’m sorry, Sir. I didn’t realize.

No need to be, Bessie. You’re
right. No one asked me.

BESSIE hangs her head in shame.

You know what I like about you?
You’ve got spirit.

Sometimes a little too much.

So what did you mean?


What did you mean, saying that I
was going about it the wrong way?



ROBERT and BESSIE sit across a table from one another. Several other tables are filled with African American families and couples.

Why are you working there, anyway?

Well, I’ve got to make money

And you chose a barbershop?

They were the only ones hiring.

Well, have you looked around


Do it! Not tomorrow. Today. I think
that chili parlor is hiring for a
manager position. I’m sure you’re
not making beans working at that
barbershop compared to what you
could be making as a chili parlor

You think?

I know!

BESSIE considers this for a moment, but she is not convinced.

I don’t know. No amount of money in
the world could get me into a
flight school.

Not true.

Sure it is. Not only am I a woman,
but I’m black, too. I haven’t got a
chance in the world.

Maybe not in the States...

So where? France?


You’ve got to be kidding me. My
brother always said that all the
women flew over there, but I never
believed him.

Well, I wouldn’t believe him about
that, but you’d have a much better
chance of getting into a flight
school over there than you do here.

I wouldn’t even know where to

Taking French classes would be a
good start.

Je m’appelle Bessie. I learned that
from my brother.

See? You’re halfway there!

ROBERT reaches into his coat pocket for his stenographer’s pad and a pen and begins to write. When he finishes, he tears out the page and hands it to BESSIE.

Here. Go to this address and speak
to Irene Dunworth. She’ll be able
to get you into some night classes.

BESSIE holds onto the paper like it’s an ancient artifact, penned by Jesus himself.

Thank you.



BESSIE stands resolutely in front of the school’s large, wooden door, ROBERT’s paper clutched tightly in her hand.

Je m’appelle Bessie.



“Bessie Coleman became a licensed pilot
in 1921. She was not only the first
African American to become a licensed
airplane pilot but also the first of any
race or gender to hold an international
pilot license which she received in

“Bessie died on April 30th, 1926 in
Jacksonville, Florida when the
controls of her plane jammed and
she was thrown from the cockpit.”

“’Because of Bessie Coleman, we
have overcome that which was worse
than racial barriers. We have
overcome the barriers within
ourselves and dared to dream.’ -
Lieutenant William J. Powell, Black

So that's that. I did a lot better than I thought I would with it, and I actually got an A for it. Woohoo. I hope you all had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

Do any of you guys write screen plays? I've heard that a lot of people (George Lucas being one of them) write extremely truncated versions of the story in paragraph form (i.e. the book forms of the Star Wars movies) and then transfer that information to a screenplay format. What are your methods? What are the plots about?


Friday, March 05, 2010

Welcome Back!


I'm finally back! It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm sorry for my absence, but I had to deal with dumb ol' midterms. All of that is over and done with, however, and I am now on Spring Break. It's a lovely feeling, not having any homework due on Monday. No papers, no tests, no nothing. Of course, this feeling will be short-lived and will disappear once school starts back up again next Monday, but I'm not going to think about that. I'm going to sleep in, relax, read, and veg out all week long. It's going to be epic. Epic and wonderful.

Let me just tell you about last week, though. It was AWFUL. Really and truly awful. And that's big coming from me, because I try to make sure that I have at least one positive thing to say about stuff like this. But there was nothing. Not a single thing went right.

First off: I ordered a dress for a recital I have coming up in April and for a competition in late March, and when it got here I tried it on. It's around 3 sizes too big. I mean, that's not a big deal, because I can always get it altered, but added on to everything else that went on this past week, it was just annoying.

Secondly: I got sick. I had a really bad head cold that started on Saturday and has lasted until today. I'm much better now, but there was a point where I literally could not breath out of my nose for a couple of days even with the use of a decongestant. It was gross.

Thirdly: One week from today, Friday, I was on my way home from having lunch with a friend in Bellevue, when I looked in my rear window and saw a cop on a bike with his lights on. Craaaaaap. I looked down at my speedometer. 42mph. Huh? I was driving in a 45mph limit zone. Why the hell was this dude pulling me over? I parked in a nearby neighborhood, and the cop came up to me and asked for my driver's license and proof of insurance. I handed him both.

"What was I doing?" I asked incredulously.

"Well, Ma'am," he said snottily, "I clocked you as going 66 mph in a 45 mph zone."

"I'm sorry, what??"

He didn't even pay attention to my obvious disbelief. He instead walked back to his little motorcycle and pulled out his ticket pad and wrote me a ticket. When he tried to hand me the ticket, I was the epitome of polite.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but I was absolutely not driving 66 mph. When you pulled me over, I was going just under 45."

"My scanner said differently, Ma'am." He emphasized Ma'am with a little sneer. I couldn't believe it. Who acts like that?

"Well, I'm not signing that." I may have had a little attitude here.

"That's fine. Just fill out the information, and you can take me to court." Seriously? What a douche.

So I took the ticket. When he left, I called my Mom and cried over the phone. I'm not a big crier, but the best way to get a tear from me is to frustrate me. When I cry, it's because I can think of nothing else to do. So I'm crying on the phone to my Mom, because there's no way I can take him to court. I mean, they're not going to take my word - a 23 year old college student - over a police officer's that I wasn't going 66 mph. And he's a Bellevue cop and has nothing better to do than make my life a living hell, so it's not like he wouldn't show up for a court date.

In the end, I decided to just pay the ticket, but I'm going to go to traffic school so my insurance doesn't jump up. Dumb cop. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

We're not done, yet.

Fourthly: For those of you who don't know, I work at a pet sitting company in East Nashville, and that's what I do on the weekends. We make runs three times a day to houses and let dogs out, feed them, etc while their owners are on vacation or having a long day at work. It might sound like a lot, but I love my job. :)

Well, on Thursday night, I went to one of these houses, and when I walked in, I sensed immediately that something was wrong. I've been to this house several times before this instance, so I know my way around and can tell if something is hugely different. I start walking around, and I quickly realize that this house has been robbed. The tv has been pulled away from the outlet, but it's still there. In the bedroom, all of the owner's drawers have been pulled out, their contents strewn all over the floor. The closet has been gone through as well. All of the kitchen cabinets have been thrown wide open, but nothing seems to be missing. That's the thing. The house is a total mess, but nothing is gone. Not that I can tell, anyway. The owner's credit cards, id, and social security card are sitting out in the open in his bedroom, but they're not gone. It's bizarre. Not only that, but there are no signs of forced entry. Both the front and back door are locked, so I'm totally confused.

I call my boss, and she calls the owner while I call the police who take at least 45 minutes to get there. When he gets there, he's nice but completely useless. Since there is no sign of a break in (other than the carnage held within the house's walls) he can't file a report until the owner gets home and can figure out what's missing.

The policeman leaves, but I'm not done there, yet. I have to wait for a friend of the owner's to show up and survey the damage. They get there around 30 minutes later, and we discover that whoever is there has pilfered his Wii, but that's the only thing we can find that's missing. We also found out that they entered into the house by way of the bedroom window.

I got home that night around 1am. Blargh. It's crap like this that makes me lose all faith in humanity.

BUT! That was last week. This week is much better. Better by leaps and bounds, actually. As I said, it's Spring Break, and all of my midterms are done and over with. Whew. Time for some MAJOR relaxation.


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