Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's an addiction

I love books. I'm reading the book "Inkheart" right now, and the main characters love books as much as I do. Every time the author goes into a description of why they love books, it's like I'm reading my own thoughts. It's the idea that there are so many stories out there to be told, and in a book, you get to be a part of them for a while. In a book, you can travel the world and beyond, you can fight dragons and fly with fairies. You can escape to a world beyond your own for a little while. What I love so much about books is that the characters, the people, come alive in my head however I want them to. Reading is an exercise in creativity, something that is sorely lacking in other areas of life.

I will read books about just about anything. I enjoy mysteries, trying to solve them along with the characters. I enjoy fantasy, where worlds are spun from words that create new perceptions and expectations. I love stories about love, all kinds of love, friendships, romance, family love. I love stories written in first person, where the reader is privvy to every thought in the main character's mind, and ones where the point of view hops from person to person, making the reader feel like some omniscient being watching from above as the story plays out. Books bring out crazy emotions in me, I cry along with the characters, feel anger and frustration, and even fall in love a little with each book I read. I love going into libraries and old bookstores. The smell of books is intoxicating. If they made a perfume called "Old Book," I would definitly buy it, just to spray on my new books ;)

I have watched several movies based on books lately. "Inkheart," of course. Also "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," and the first two "Twilight" movies. (The third comes out tonight at midnight! I'm going tomorrow night, and I'm super excited!) It's fun to see your favorite characters on the screen, to see beloved stories come to life. There are several problems though. I mean, what happens when the characters are a far cry from how you picture them? I don't mind Robert Pattinson, but he is definitely not how I pictured Edward from Twilight. And if you only see the movies and don't read the books, you miss out on so much! Since you can't have a five hour movie (at least not one people would sit through), it's necessary to cut characters and plot from the book. There are all these layers that are missing, and much of the richness and creativity are lost. Another problem is the need for movies to add so much action. I remember being super upset with the fourth Harry Potter movie, when they cut an entire important storyline and put in a five minute dragon chase sequence. But I suppose that's what people want. Which is why I'm glad I can always go back to my books.

I will read books several times over. I have read the Twilight and Harry Potter series (I don't know how to make that plural) several times each. I am planning to read the Percy Jackson series again soon. Each time I discover something new about the characters. Some people think it's weird that I read books over, especially so many times, since I clearly know what is going to happen. But for me it's like going to visit old friends. I miss them. Weird, I know, but true.

I could care less if a book is considered "literary." It drives me nuts when people write these depressing books with big words and are given higher praise than those who write in a more relateable way. In my creative writing course in college, most of the stories turned in were depressing and dark. The first one I turned in wasn't. I write for teens/young adults. I got the most ridiculous comments because of it. Stephenie Meyer is often ridiculed for not being "literary" enough, and for having a poor writing style. Guess what. She has several best sellers and a movie series based on her books. I don't think she cares!

I have started working on my novel again. Hopefully I can finish it out, and who knows, maybe I will get lucky and get published someday. It would be my dream to be able to write for a living. I know it probably won't happen, but it's fun to dream. There are so many stories in my head just waiting to be told. They won't be "literary." I write like I talk pretty much. I want my books to be something people can read and really get into the story, rather than stumbling over difficult words and odd phrasing. It may not always be grammatically correct. I often end sentences with prepositions. And I giggle every time ;)

So. The point is, nothing can compare to books. I am completely addicted to them. If I'm in the middle of a good book, I will go on very little sleep in order to read just one more chapter (or five). If I had to choose between only reading or only watching TV and movies, reading would win. Every time. No contest. Gosh I'm a nerd.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Defining moments - Not a funny one, guys

Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking about who I am. I have spent years, well, my whole life really, figuring out who I am, what makes me tick. What are those defining moments that changed the course of my life? Who would I be without them? We always joked in my family that people probably thought my siblings and I were adopted. My brother, Ben, is a redhead. My sister, Emily, is a blonde. And then there's me, the brunette. We all have vastly different personalities as well. My parents raised us all the same way, we had the same rules (mostly...things may have been a little different for my brother because he was more of a "wild child," as wild as we ever got anyway), and all still adhere to the same morals and values. My brother is adventurous and busy. He spent several summers working at day camps in other countries, and still takes many trips to go backpacking, kayaking, anything outside. He has a million hobbies and is always doing something. My sister is happiest sticking close to home. She spends most of her time with her husband and kids, and likes it that way. I'm not sure even one of her hobbies and my brother's intersect. I fall somewhere in the middle, which is sort of the way it's always been. I would love to travel more, and a good chunk of my weekends are spent visiting friends in other cities/states, but I also enjoy my weekends at home. I tend to be happy doing whatever someone else suggests.

So how did we end up so different? How did they end up going to school for education, which my parents both did as well, while I ended up going to school to figure out what makes people tick, and to help those who cannot help themselves? I think I really would have enjoyed teaching as well, but something pulled me into the social services field. As I considered this, I thought about those defining moments. One stuck out in my head. I'm sure it's not the only one, but it was certainly a moment I will never forget. And not in a good way.

I didn't have a very good middle school career. I know, I know. Everyone says middle school sucked, things were horrible, it's that awkward stage, blah blah blah. But seriously, it was terrible. I was the fat girl. I got made fun of a lot. My nickname was "Rena the Rhinoceros." Kids can be incredibly cruel, especially in a small school where you don't fit in. In seventh grade, I was in a year-long feud with my best friend. I read an old journal I kept during that time and in it I wrote that I could write an entire book about my year in seventh grade. I wouldn't necessarily go that far, but there are surely several short stories that could be told.

During this year, I became friends with a girl named Karla. She was more popular, and I felt special to be included in her world. She had a crush on my brother, though he was six years older, and I wonder sometimes if that is why we became friends. I guess it doesn't really matter. I thought she was my best friend. My new best friend, since the old one was going around telling things about me she swore to never tell. (To be fair, I wasn't being much nicer to her. Like I said, kids can be cruel.) During one of our study halls, a group of girls would get together and go to the counselor's office just to hang out and chat or whatever. It was a super cool thing to get to do, and we made a pact that anything that was said in there would not be repeated to anyone not in the room. One day, we went, and Karla got up to go to the bathroom or get a drink or something, and the other girls launched into all these things about her that bugged them. Before she got back, they reminded me that I wasn't to say anything since she hadn't been in the room at the time. I kept my mouth shut, though I was torn between sharing with my friend and the sacred confidentiality of the group.

But Karla knew. She knew things had been said, and she got angry. After PE one day, she started yelling at the other girls, telling them that I told her everything they said. I hadn't, so I was shocked that she said so. I approached her and quietly said, "Karla, I told you I couldn't tell you..." And she went off. "You are so pathetic!" she screamed. "People call my house and ask why I'm friends with you. I'm tired of it! Leave me alone, we are NOT friends!" And she slammed out of the locker room, leaving me standing there, stunned. I was frozen for a few seconds, and then made my own escape to the bathroom down the hall. I cried harder than I ever had, more than when the boys made fun of me and told me I was going to break the playground equipment, more than when my siblings were mean to me, more than I did even when my former best friend let her friend yell at me about how fat I was.

Band was next. With puffy eyes, I entered the band room, and could feel the eyes on me. Karla sat across the row, studiously ignoring me. Halfway through putting my instrument together, I broke down again and asked to be excused to use the restroom. The band instructor took one look at me and let me go. I stayed there the rest of the time. I sat through that period and through choir. I don't remember much after that. Only the really strong memories stay with you, I think. I think Karla tried to apologize, and I refused it. I can't be sure if that's a real memory or not though, because I often retreated to my head when I was upset and came up with scenarios of what I would do in different situations.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to share this painful memory. I guess to illustrate my point. I wish I could go back and tell that little girl that it's okay, that things will get better, that not all people are like that. But at the same time, I still have parts of that little girl in me. The parts that tell me I'm pathetic some days. The parts that make it hard for me to trust people, and easy to believe that they are just using me. It's why I get offended very easily, and am a little paranoid at times. It's the reason I use humor to cover up the worst parts of me, to take the focus off the parts of myself I am ashamed of.

That moment, and the many others like it, have helped to make me who I am. Though I call it a defining moment, I refuse to let it define me. Without times like that, I'm not sure I would be as compassionate as I am. I can relate to my clients on a different level, to be in the moment with those who have been hurt, and to help those who are doing the hurting to relate to their victims. Is it difficult at times? Absolutely. I see so much of myself in some of my clients it's almost scary. But I think it makes me better at my job, and better able to handle adversity in life. A little part of me will always be "Rena the Rhinoceros." But what I'm learning is to embrace that part of me as much as any other part, to learn from it instead of running from it.

Life is an adventure. Life is a lesson. Life is living. So live.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I get no sympathy! But my friends are very patient.

I mentioned at the end of my post yesterday that my walk resulted in several blisters on one of my feet. Really annoying. So I went to my dear friend Phyllis looking for sympathy because I was in pain. Did I get any? You be the judge...

me: my toe hurts

andrea: lance it

me: no

andrea: it'll feel better

me: or it'll fall off!!!

andrea: it won't fall off good grief

me: how do you know?

andrea: well for one I am assuming the bone is still attached. . .and two, it's a blister which means it's only skin deep. . .you are probably gonna have to do a lot more damage before your toe falls off

me: what if i try to lance it and i slip and CUT IT OFF???

andrea: well then you are lancing it wrong. . .you should be using a needle to lance it. . .if you cut your toe off with that then I don't know that anyone can help you

me: i don't have a needle so i was going to use a butcher knife

andrea: cause you have nothing between a needle and a butcher knife

me: well i only want to have to poke it once

andrea: you only have to poke it once with a needle

me: what if it goes through to the bone?

andrea: were talking about a needle here rena. . .you really can't do much damage with the needle

me: have we met?

andrea: I still contend it's a needle. . .I don't think even you could do much damage with that

me: you come do it and bring a needle cuz i don't have one

andrea: I will do it for you at work tomorrow

me: but i might scream

andrea: I'll bring a piece of leather for you to chew on ya wuss. . .have you really never lanced anything before, you can't feel it

me: i don't believe you. what if you slip and paralyze me

andrea: it's ur pinky toe. . .are you this paranoid about everything

me: i'm not paranoid. who told you i was paranoid? was it nicole?

andrea: I don't know why I even attempt logic with you most days. . .it usually ends up making me crazy

She went on to blame me for her craziness. But I guess she kinda has a point. I do at times make it a point to do things that will make her think she's crazy. It's fun. And I get bored easily. Is it wrong to mess with people's minds like that? If it is, then I don't wanna be right...

Oh yeah, and I did end up lancing my blisters. With a fingernail clipper. Don't worry, it was sanitary. And I used bandaids.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A day in the life

My TV quit turning on the other day. Quite annoying, actually, because I have the urge to watch movies lately, which doesn't happen that often, and now I'm stuck watching them on my old computer. It's okay though. I'm not missing much on TV. So I was thinking, gosh, with no TV to suck me in and distract me, what a wonderful time to work on the novel I started last November! I really do want to finish it, but for some reason, motivation has been severely lacking lately. Somehow yesterday I managed to avoid it all day. I finished my book, messed around with the TV, wrote an email to Samsung (they are NOT helpful), went to see The Karate Kid (definitely worth seeing!), and then wasted many hours reading through my old entries and on http://www.hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/. If you like my sense of humor and don't have too much of an aversion to some swearing, go read it. It's hilarious. I sit and giggle to myself when I read it, which probably makes me look crazy, but nobody can see me (I think), so I'm not too worried. ANYWAY, so about 1:00am I'm like, oh crap, I didn't even look at my novel. Oh well, bedtime!

Today I was SURE I was gonna do it. Positive. I need to sit down and read the dang thing again first, and then I'll be golden. Not hard, right? Wrong. This is sort of what my day has looked like thus far:

- Get up. Wander around a bit. Decide it is too early to be up. Go back to bed.

- Wake up again, wondering about dreams that include the author of hyperboleandahalf.com (weird, maybe need to slow down with the reading) and people I knew in middle school. Think maybe I should friend them all on facebook and reconnect.

- Upon further consideration, decide not to friend people on facebook I haven't talked to in over 10 years because they might find it creepy to find a message from me saying "I had a dream about you last night..."

- Decide it's high time I curl my hair, which I haven't done in two years. Spend extra time making ringlets. Sing into the end of the curling iron when appropriate.

- Go to check my email. And Facebook. And http://www.cakewrecks.com/. And http://www.postsecret.com/. See if anyone has commented on my blog today (they haven't). Go back to Facebook and look through albums my friends have been tagged in.

- Decide to make mac n cheese for lunch. Fill pot with water and set on stove.

- Remember it's Father's Day and I should call my dad. Talk to him for a long time while playing Solitaire.

- Remember that I was making mac n cheese and wonder why the water isn't boiling. Turn on stove.

- Get out box of mac n cheese.

- Try to plug TV in and push button until water boils.

- Look for box of mac n cheese. Find it on the couch.

- Ponder ways to use my non-working TV. Come up with following ideas:
~ Giant paperweight
~ First exhibit in my new sculpture garden dedicated to broken technology
~ Open it up and play with the parts inside (after unplugging)
~ Invite people over for a movie and stare at the TV, laughing every once in a while as if there is actually a movie playing
~ Bedazzle it
~ Draw a face on it and have a conversation
~ That's all I got for now

- Fix mac n cheese. Enjoy.

- Decide to take a walk even though it might rain. Consider all the ways to blog about walking in the rain

- Stop to examine nature on the walk. Go around the park an extra time to burn off the extra mac n cheese calories. (Giggle about the fact that sometimes I type "man and cheese")

- Come home and collapse

- Get a drink of water. Get another drink of water. Notice an old napkin on the refrigerator where my dear friend Masako (she is Japanese, super cute!) wrote all the requirements for my husband on 11/2/06. Signed and dated. They are as follows (quoted directly from napkin, numbers are list of most important attributes, others are negotiable):
Renata Husband Must:
~ Be Brit or Aussie, or accent with Italian, Irish, or Scottish
~ (1) Christian - non denominational
~ (4)Musical - sing, guitar, and/or piano, no dancing necessary (but certainly welcomed!)
~ Taller than 6 feet
~ Teddybear huggable *picture of bear* No skinny boys need to apply. No bodybuilder please.
~ (5) Love kids
~ Not a pastor nor a hitman
~ No older than 2-3 years older. No younger than a year.
~ Small town boy living in a city, not in Sioux Falls forever
~ (assumed) Good kisser and hugger and cuddler
~ (assumed) In LOVE with Renata
~ (2) Outgoing, sense of humour, bizarre one like Renata's
~ Likes Jill and friends
~ (3) Respects family of his and Renata's
~ Respect Renata's personal time and space
~11/2/06, (signed) Masako Izumi

- Giggle about the list and think about possible exceptions. Try to remember who came up with most of them, me or Masako.

- Check facebook again. Write on walls. Check other websites.

- Decide it's high time for another blog.

- Write incredibly long post. Wonder how to make it longer without people quitting halfway through. Figure they probably already quit. Cry.

Phew. And that brings us to now. I suppose unless I put a DVD in my computer, I haven't much else to keep me occupied, so I should go work on the novel. I really do want to finish this book. But...my room does need to be cleaned...

Update: Since finishing this blog, I went and returned my redbox DVD (Nine, don't see it, I didn't even finish it), had dinner, and now I'm watching Golden Girls on my computer, playing Solitaire, and chatting with Phyllis. Clearly I don't have nearly enough time to work on my novel. AND I have four blisters on my right foot from my walk, including one that is bulging out of the top of my little toe and may possibly be a miniature pod person who is going to pop out and eat my brain. Or clean my house.

Update #2: I was talking with Phyllis and said this: "I just had a panic attack cuz my phone vibrated but i couldn't find it and i threw my blanket and shook it out and looked in the couch cushions and it was on the kitchen counter." Phyllis told me that she giggled more picturing me doing that than finding my box of mac n cheese on the couch. This led me to wonder if I'm funnier when I don't mean to be, or if Phyllis is just twisted and easily entertained. Probably a little of both.

Update #3: Apparently I update a lot when I don't have TV. I really need a life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The technology monster

Technology is great. Don't you think? I mean, we save so much time with technology. Everything is automated, so we don't have to talk to real people unless we really want to. Cooking is a breeze as long as you are good at pushing buttons. Even cars are getting to the point where you can start them with just the push of a button. Because turning that darn key can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, ya know. It's hard work. And we already work hard enough, right?

So what happens when good technology goes bad? I used to use my phone as an alarm clock. I did for years up until just a couple weeks ago. See, sometimes my "phone" (I use that term loosely, since making calls is only a minor feature on phones these days) decides it's too tired to actually make noise when it goes off. Oh, it still vibrates, but if you have two fans running and the window open then the blinds clicking in the wind, vibration doesn't really stand out as a "wake you up" sort of sound. Of course, it chose to play this game on a day when I actually had to be at the office at a specific time for supervision. I woke up 30 minutes before I was supposed to be at work, and it takes me 15 minutes to get there. I rushed around my apartment, leaving a trail of destruction in my path. (Where is the technology that gets you ready for the day while you're eating breakfast??) I finally reached the office, only five minutes late, and once again my power locks on my car refused to work. And it's not like I can just leave three doors locked and lock the driver's door manually. This "convenient" feature unlocks all the car doors when the car is put in park. Yeah...not so convenient when you have to contort yourself into weird positions to lock all the doors or run around the car and lock them individually. Not cool, dude. Of course, I couldn't call my supervisor to tell her I was running late, because my "smart phone" decided to boycott that silly "making a call" feature and I didn't have time to sit and wait for it to restart.

Sometimes it seems like technology causes more problems than it fixes. Seriously. Yet we have become so dependent on it, we can't imagine doing some of those things for ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I lusted after a dishwasher for two years, and I am completely infatuated with the one I have now. I hate washing dishes. I would never want to go back to washing clothes by hand. I enjoy being able to check my email and facebook on my phone as I'm sitting in random parking lots between therapy sessions. I think the internet is fabulous. I'm glad that medical procedures are a lot less invasive than they used to be. All this technology is grand.

But I also sometimes wonder what damage we're doing. Does so much time on computers make our eyesight worse? I have no idea, but it can't be good for it. There are all sorts of "stimulating" and "educational" shows out there for kids. But doesn't that just keep them from using their own creativity and imagination? No wonder we have so many kids diagnosed with ADHD. They need the constant stimulation they're used to in order to keep their focus. Sometimes I think we're headed in a very scary direction.

Okay, that got a little serious. I could go on, but I won't, since most of you reading this probably have ADHD as well and would rather see something sparkly.

Ooo, pretty.

In conclusion, technology good. But sometimes technology bad. The end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Further proof that I am, in fact, crazy

I find it amazing that people put up with me sometimes. I can be as cool as a cucumber, or as hyperactive as a kid on Christmas morning who got up early and ate all the candy out of her stocking and drank Red Bull and syrup before jumping on her parents' bed to announce the arrival of morning and opening presents time.

Case in point. I had this conversation with Phyllis tonight:

*Note: Capitalization and punctuation are rare in our conversations. As are correct spellings.*

andrea: I hear clanging and one of the cats is missing. . .that can't be good

me: oh dear i bet you now have a zombie ca t

andrea: I'm sure that is what's happening better make sure I am not a zombie when I get to work in the morning

me: he probably got bitten by the rabid unicorn

andrea: Oh I hope they didn't get of their cage, I was trying to keep him contained until he got better

me: well tell the elves to mind the locks or you'll replace them with ogres. who will eat them

andrea: that seems a little harsh don't you think

me: it'll make sure they're doing their job

andrea: I know but I try to avoid threatening death on a first warning. . .one of the elves is Dobie's cousin and he's a little jumpy sometimes

me: oh dear. well the ogres won't really eat them, they're vegetarians

andrea: good to know

me: yeah, so dobby's cousin will be okay, no worries. unless the unicorn bites him. zombie elves are nothing to mess around with

andrea: it's true we can't have that

me: sometimes they shoot rainbows out of their eyes

andrea: why would they shoot rainbows out of their eyes. that seems rude

me: i told you you don't want to mess around with them

andrea: so how exactly did I end up with one in the basement

me: well you don't have one yet unless the rabid unicorn bit him. sheesh, keep up

andrea: wait a minute who shoots rainbows out of their eyes, the unicorn or the zombie elves

me: the zombie elves

andrea: Oh I thought you were talking about unicorns

me: no unicorns are great unless they are rabid, then they turn any mythical creature they bite into a zombie

andrea: so can the mythical creatures turn non mythical creatures into zombies or should I just let them play in the basement

me: no, if they bite you, you will fall into an enchanted sleep until the zombie prince kisses you and then he will turn back into a normal prince

andrea: and where per se is this zombie prince. . .in case I need him of course

me: probably roaming around going "mauuggghhhpppphhhlleett" or something like that. you can have the elves send for him by pterodactyl mail. or just use your cell phone

andrea: I can't believe I am having this conversation. . .do you have the princes phone number

me: no, but once you fall into the enchanted sleep, you will speak it in your sleep, so you better make sure at least one of your elves is not a zombie elf because zombie elves are terrible at using the phone and the pterodactyls don't like them

*Insert random conversation about Star Trek here, because we are just that cool, and I want to have a holodeck installed. Maybe where the dishwasher is.*

andrea: oh okay just wondering anyway continue with zombie elves and princes and unicorns

me: what else do you want to know? i am very knowledgable

andrea: I don't know but I am thinking i need to check the basement before I go to sleep tonigth

me: oh you don't want to do that right now they might not even know you're there but if you show yourself to them, they might lurk while you're sleeping. nothing worse that lurking zombie elves

andrea: speaking from personal experience or what

me: no i don't have a basement

andrea: I meant about you showing yourself and them lurking in your apartment

me: oh they don't lurk here they know better

andrea: so you have had personal experience with them

me: which they'll not soon forget

andrea: I bet you went all ninja on their asses didn't you

me: i cannot reveal my secrets. however i am nodding sagely. just picture it in your head

andrea: most of the time when I picture things you tell me to I just giggle

me: that's why i added the word "sagely." "wisely" would work as well. otherwise you would just picture me as a bobble head, and ninjas never look like bobble heads

andrea: okay even with wisely thrown in there i am still giggling

me: so let me get this straight you are sitting in your house.at 12:40 am. giggling to yourself. the zombies are sooo gonna get you

andrea: eh well didn't really want to go to work tomorrow anyway

me: oh they'll make you go to work. they will just be controlling you from your basement. they'll probably make you jump up and do the macarena and the YMCA. probably every 10 minutes

andrea: oh you think so huh. maybe they will make me stare at you all day and scream bazinga in your ear every 10 minutes

me: well i know they will be watching me. waiting for me to make a mistake. i won't

andrea: tomorrow's looking to be an interesting day at this point

me: oh goody! I'VE GOT IT!

andrea: you've got what

me: if we don't have anyone to staff, I will use team meeting time to teach you all how to defend against zombies and protect your unicorns from rabies!

andrea: oooooh maaaaaan I miss all the fun stuff

Soooo. Yeah. Uhhhmmm...ahem...

Why on earth do I post these things? Seriously.

Andre...uhh....Phyllis gets like ten million points for not only putting up with me but playing along. Seriously. That's friendship right there. Or maybe she's just as crazy as me. I'm leaning toward that one.

If it makes anyone feel better, we do occassionaly have serious conversations. But mostly they're like this one. Now EVERYONE is going to want to chat with us. And who can blame them, really?

It's late. My bed calls. And I'm sure I'll regret this in the morning...