Monday, November 19, 2012

Conversations with Mom

A short time ago, my sister and I visited my mom. While we were there, I decided to introduce them to The Vampire Diaries. It was really more for my sister, who I was sure would love the show every bit as much as I do. She did. But the surprise was that my mom did also. After I left, she continued to catch up through the end of season two. She missed season three entirely and one day, this happened.

(Note - all conversations with my mother improve if you imagine that she speaks like a Southern Belle.)

(Second note - she doesn't actually look like Katherine Pierce, but I don't have a handy picture of her in hoops.)

MOM: You remember that vampire show? The one you showed me?
ME: The Vampire Diaries?
MOM: Yeah. That one. Well. I turned on the TV the other day and there it was -
ME: Oh, no. You mean you caught the season 4 premiere?
MOM: Well, yeah. I guess. I just thought I'd be able to fill in the gaps on my own.
ME: *cringing* ....and?
MOM: And I'll be damned if Elena didn't turn into a vampire!

And then yesterday, we were chatting about nothing related to vampires when this happened.

MOM: Have you seen Lincoln, yet?
ME: No. I promise you I'll see Breaking Dawn 2 before I see anything else.
MOM: Oh! I hadn't done any of the Twilight things until just the other day when they showed the first two movies on TV. I watched them.
ME: ....and?
MOM: You know what I've decided? I've decided that the next time I get a pet, I'm going to get a werewolf.
ME: .....
MOM: Because I miss my cat, but I don't have a lot of time and if I got busy, my werewolf could just take care of itself. They're very self-sufficient and I think they're pretty. Don't you think they're pretty?
ME: .....I have to go internet you now.

So there you go. Some people post conversations with their children. I, apparently, post conversations with my mother.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On Attacking Baristas and Xylophones

I'm very protective of the music I use for writing. I search long and hard for the perfect collection of songs that can suffuse my brain with the tone I want to create in my novels. Every revision requires at least one new song to represent the shift, the new sense of climate I'm aiming to add to the story.

There's a small handful of people I'm willing to share my songs with. I can count them on one hand. It's not that I don't want to share my music, but I'm sort of afraid that if I give my story songs away, I'll dilute the power they hold over my subconscious. Somehow, I'm convinced that giving away the musical kernel of the novel is to give away the kernel of the story itself.

Irrational. I know. But it means that when I'm sitting in my coffeeshop, sipping my cappuccino on a Tuesday morning, and one of my hard-discovered songs comes over the speakers, I immediately leap to my feet and attack the mild-mannered, music-literate, cappuccino-making genius behind the counter with what I'm sure is a terrifying "WHY MY MUSIC, YOU THIEF????"

Don't fret. The encounter ended with mutual respect, one more cappuccino, and an exchange of music recommendations.

The point is, I'm as emotionally invested in my music as I am in my own novels. There's something really amazing about finding a song that perfectly captures a piece of my own imagination - the spark of a character, the first image of the story, the core of its emotion. It reminds me that I'm participating in a much larger tapestry of creative thought, adding to a conversation that's been going for hundreds of years in every medium storytellers can get their fingers on.

Which is my long-winded way of saying music is important to me, yo. (And I'm a little crazy about it).

As a way to further establish how crazy I am (and entertain you with my follies), I'll offer this final example.

About a week ago, M (one of the four people I share music with), sent me a song with the explanation, "you should listen to this because it's weird."

And it was. Weird. But oddly appealing. I filed the recommendation away for further thought and countered with a piece that was equally as odd, but far less appealing with attack xylophones. The point is we had a decent exchange about this piece of music.

Fast forward a week to two days ago when I encounter a song I think M will like. I send it and the following happens:

Me: Have you heard of this band? I like them so I think you will, too.
M: .....I have. Didn't I send you one of their weird songs last week?
Me: Um. You did? Did I like it?
M: You did. There's a problem with your brain.

I'm on the prowl again. Searching for the music that will pattern my brain for the foreseeable future. Send your recs if you've got 'em!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Overdue / How I was defeated by a sink

Well. October happened.

But before October, there was September and that month was filled with travel and adventure.

Sometime over the summer, Tessa and I decided we'd be joining a few other YA writers on a retreat in the wilds of the French countryside. However, we seem incapable of hopping the pond without also stopping in the UK, so the trip quickly morphed into a two-week, two-country extravaganza. And it was brilliant.

In England alone, we met editors, agents, writers, bloggers, and family members. We rode the London Eye (after multiple trips to England, it was high time we knocked that one off our list), visited the Rosetta stone, got gouged by the Tube, walked miles and miles and miles, had a pint at The Anchor (which boasts many a debaucherous night with Charles Dickens), happened upon Douglas Adams' grave (as well as many cats), and more.

But it's the hotel room I really want to talk about. The sink inside it, to be more precise.

You see, I'm convinced it was a practical joke. It was not meant to be used by anyone sporting a head.

It's worth noting that Tessa and I have traveled together a lot. Not to and from Mississippi to visit my family, but all over Japan, Bali, and Europe. We backpacked through eight countries when we were sophomores in college. We're practiced travelers. We've managed crises in countries where neither of us spoke the language and returned with all our limbs in tact.

And England defeated us with a sink.

The bathroom in this establishment had clearly been a closet once upon a time, but as space is at a premium in London, it was converted into a bathroom with a toilet crammed in one end and a shower stall in the other. In the middle was a sink no wider than a loaf of bread and no longer than the same. It was petite. Adorable even, and smart given the restraints of the room.

Clever, I thought, to make a sink small enough that the door can still close!

I was so charmed by it's size, that it didn't occur to me that the shelf above the sink, of approximately the same dimensions, would be a problem.

Until I brushed my teeth and leaning down to spit found only the shelf and not the sink staring back at me.

I stopped. Considered. Bent my knees to see if it would be possible to hit the sink from a shorter height. (It is not). Then, I tried to squish my head between the shelf and the sink and be very careful with my aim. This....was only partly successful.

The floor got messy. I got messy. Tessa giggled. I giggled. I looked for some explanation. Some clue that I was doing it wrong, that in my travels, I'd forgotten how to sink. But no. This was THE sink. There was no way to push the shelf out of the way, flip it up or down. Clearly, I was supposed to be capable of using this travesty of a sink.


I eventually gave up. A shower works just as well as a sink and one of our precious towels had already been sacrificed to this great international practical joke.

And every single time I or Tessa went to use the sink, we had to relive the humiliation ALL OVER AGAIN. Half of the time, we knocked our heads against the shelf before remembering. Then there was the half-blind swivel between the sink and shower as we tried to wash our faces - that was an entirely different sort of crazy. Four days we were there and we left feeling relieved and confused.

Thankfully, our apartment in Paris greeted us with not one, but TWO unchallenging sinks.

I still don't understand how that happened. It was more a gesture at a sink than a sink. I wish I had a picture to share. Alas, I was laughing too hard to snap one.

Well played, England. Well played.