Saturday, April 30, 2011

First Useless Update

"Our roles have reversed."

I have officially trained myself to work all afternoon, stay up all night, and sleep for about 4 hours in the morning. I give myself at least a week more of this before I crack and start wondering around Wal-Mart in my sweat pants and flip flops, muttering to myself about the price of poster board before paying for it in dimes.


Yeah, rolling straight out of bed and into society makes me feel like a champion. But I came home and made roasted salmon, rice pilaf and garlic mashed potatoes and steamed veggies while watching Rent, so I think that moderate amount of sophistication makes up for it and boosts my street cred. Maybe not the Rent part. 

But then again, I'm sure the ALL AMMRRKA food feast we had in the wee hours of Friday morning cancels out that swanky meal. Chicken nuggets, french fries, mashed potatoes, spicy gravy, and ranch-sriracha sauce. Oh and cheap Bourbon chasers. Win forever.

In other news, I stayed up all night in order to watch the Royal Wedding, a fact of which I'm only mildly ashamed. But I was drunk from the Starch and Bourbon Fest, so that ups my street cred. Oh, and I was really judgey toward the dresses (lame) and hats (amazing), so that, uh. Takes away from my street cred. Damn. 

In writerly news, I'm taking the weekend to finish to my outline, which means I can begin writing-in-proper on Monday. /exciting

Yeah. Wish I could be sleeping. 

ramble ramble mumble squeak

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First Taco Week (and outline struggles)

"You've been doing it for a week! How are you at the "I'm wasting my life" point already?"

"I'm not. I'm at the 'irrationally panicking about wasting my life after a week' point already."

Writing can be hard. And sad. 

I'm about half-way through with my outline. For those of you keeping track, this is the same outline which was finished in December, but thanks to collaboration, I've decided to go in a new, more innovative direction with my story. And that means a whole new outline, because hey, crossing horses mid-stream (or in my case, crossing story lines after 2 detailed outlines, 5 completed chapters, and 17 semi-usable segments) is the most logical, efficient way to go about things.

right? right. 

Over the past 3 days, Addie and I have had great, solid brainstorming and peer review sessions to come up with ideas on how to redefine genres, as re-defining the genre we're writing in is a primary goal for both of us. Our talks have helped me to see my story line's flaws or cliches, so I'm confident that the changes I'm making are really making my work stronger and innovative. But... even though I don't hate what I'm working on, (it's been a brain child of mine for at least 2 years) I'm still looking at my pile of ideas and thinking... when did Lifetime TV for Women have a poseur baby with Bret Easton Ellis and pin it to my white board?

The big issue here is that I'm pulling myself out of my old writing habits. Actually, it's more like pulling myself out of my old mentality, which was just writing and letting the story take me where I want to go--the whole "screw outlines! who needs outlines!" (the mentality that destroyed 2 potential NaNoWriMo wins, and moreso, hindered me through out all stages of academia.) I'm used to writing short stories, where writing wild and blind isn't a bad way to go. But for a novel, with 3 "acts" and lots of "characters" who are supposed to be "dynamic" and have "depth"... I decided it might be easier to fly with a co-pilot; i.e. outline.

Also, there's this John Irving quote, which is simultaneously right/inspiring/embarrasing 

Know the story before you fall in love with your first sentence. If you don’t know the story before you begin the story, what kind of a storyteller are you? Just an ordinary kind, just a mediocre kind – making it up as you go along, like a common liar. 
So I'm trying not to be a common liar, and actually build my story before I start writing it. And it's a little frustrating, mostly because I'm not used to working this way, but really, because I don't have a wall made entirely out of white board. And while I seemed to outline Act I in record time on day 3, Day 4 (yesterday) I spent what seemed like 8 hours staring at a single chapter summary with this expression

It literally took all day to get half of Act II laid out. The day ended up with 2 AM grilled cheese sandwiches and brain drain. And today when I sat down with new resolve to just GET TO WORK, DAMNIT THE SOONER THE OUTLINE IS DONE, THE SOONER YOU CAN START WRITING, I got nothing. Brain drain.

Hence, why today I've done nothing but watch The Shield and eat taco's.  

But it'll get better. I just have to 

oh, and Addie made damn fantastic taco's tonight, with enough taco meat and fixin's to last all week. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Victories

"Oh, sorry, wouldn't want to compromise your blog-tegrity."

We declared multiple VICTORIES on the basement this weekend!  

DESPITE the 80* weather in April. 
DESPITE my lack of carpentry "skills."

but most importantly,

DESPITE the tsunami of uninvited hormones that tried to make me into a weepy hot mess. 

First Victory*: Scream 4 killed the Scream movies for Addie

still not scary.
We had passes to the Scream 4 premiere on Friday, and since it's Addie's favorite childhood franchise, we both played Media Black Out for all the publicity and trailers that were released. We both assumed, that with a "New Decade, New Rules" tagline, that the movie wouldn't end in some explosion of exposition, revealing an over-worked plot riddled with terrible dialogue and predictable killers, giving enough time for insufferable Sydney to think of a lame one-liner and even more lame way to dispatch the villain (always twice, because they always come back after you kill them).


Not only did it happen during the "big reveal," but then it happened AGAIN in the completely unnecessary SECOND ending. 

It was just... yeah. A sloppy attempt to re-invent a one-time innovative slasher series. However, now Addie is freed from the bonds of fandom. Huzzah!

*Addie wanted me to note that he does not consider this a victory. "If PS3 would let me edit the blu-ray so that I could cut out the second ending, it'd be a good movie, and the series wouldn't be dead to me." As it is, I suggested we go out and bury his original special edition box set of the first 3 movies.

Second Victory: Kitchen Organization

We FINALLY conquered our kitchen. And by that, I mean, Addie put up our peg board, so we could hang everything, Julia Child style. 

Now, everything is at my finger tips when I pretend to cook!

woo, organization!      

Third Victory: Closet, re-claimed from Demons!

I attempted to finish the closet on my own, but frustration and a lack of carpentry knowledge led me to watch Black Swan for the 800th time while Addie fixed the mistakes I made. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to use a POWER DRILL to put a SHARP SCREW into a WOOD PLANK? 
It's apparently super hard. I tried for 40 minutes and didn't get anything accomplished. I don't get physics. Or DIY home repair. Or Bob Vila. 


REGARDLESS. I now have a high functioning, Demon-free closet.

on the left, PRETTY CLOTHES. on the right, angry bee tube/dryer vent. also, storage boxes.   

Fourth Victory: Indian food!

I made tika masala, jasmine rice, punjabi vegetables, lentils and naan for dinner tonight! 

No, nothing was made from scratch. But I did have to make the masala from a sauce packet. And I had to be careful not to burn the naan. Or over cook the mircrowaveable stuff.

But damn. it was still all kinds of delicious. 

Be jealous of our classy dishware.

I'd like to one day learn how to actually make an Indian dinner, but for now, I'll take this cost-effective, 15 minute awesomeness.

Fifth Victory: Sam's Club memberships

Fuck yeah. BULK BUYING HERE WE COME AMERICA. We definitely spent an hour walking around, eating free samples and making lists of ridiculous bulk items we could buy.

"Gallon cans of sausage gravy?"
"Serta Queen size mattresses?"
"3 gallon tub of salted popcorn butter sauce?"
"17 lbs of dehydrated salmon puree?"
"36 CUPCAKES FOR $12???"

It'll be fun. and trouble.

Alas. It's 11:33 on Wednesday and I'm pretty much ready for bed. Probably because I OD'd on Indian food earlier and my food coma still hasn't worn off. It's been a struggle to finish this blog. This is me, basically:

dedicated blogger.

Tomorrow, Addie and I start our WE CAME HERE TO WRITE shut-in mode. 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

First Scare

"I don't want to freak you out, but..." --addie

I don't care who you are, where you're living, or what time of day it is. 

When you come out of the bathroom and find your boyfriend standing at the entrance to your large, un-lit and un-finished closet, with a look of un-easy caution on his face, you'll get weirded out. And when he turns around, wide-eyed, and says "I don't want to freak you out, but..." the shudders will start. 

But what will really get your scurrrred paranoia going is when you hear the "scritch-scritch-eeehhhh--scritch-scritch" of something--something--that's caught in one of the many cardboard boxes filling the closet. Or in the walls. OR SOMEWHERE ELSE.  

Oh, and to establish proper atmosfear, this is what the inside of the closet looks like, during the day, when we have all the lights in the basement lit, except for the closet light (which is really a 60watt bulb behind a patterned lantern shade):

totally inviting.
What was causing that really sick noise? 



Usually, they look like this:
d'aww, can't you can imagine his nose twitching

Usually, there's nothing scary about that. And usually, I'm a pretty stead-fast, not easily scared by woodland creatures kinda person. And when mice are outdoors, or in a cage somewhere, they're always totally cute, and pretty harmless. I mean, LOOK AT THAT FACE COME ON.


When they're in my house, scurrying through my things, they always. ALWAYS.* look like this:


Some scary, deformed, rat-man with fangs and raptor claws, who'll shoot out tape worms and HIV while clawing and eating its way up my legs. 

Needless to say, I danced around, skittish like, waiting for the Minotaur of Mice to surface, as Addie pulled out each box, looking for the trapped mouse. He handed me a broom, and said to chase the mouse back into the closet if it happened to run out. Right. Like I'd be able to do anything but screech and run to the highest point in the basement if it came running out. So I added holding the broom like some brain-dead, terrified Samurai warrior to my dance of Mouse Fear.


We Addie looked through each box, and found nothing. No mice, No Rat Man. And yet, the chewing and scurrying sound persisted, sounding angrier and closer with every box we he moved or scooted across the ground. We looked at each other, confused.

"where the hell is it?"
"Um... I think it's in the dryer vent tube."
"But a mouse would be heavy enough that the tube would be jumping around like crazy as it scurried through."
"And how did it survive all the dryer blasts this morning?"


Thanks to The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, The Haunting in Connecticut, Poltergeist, and any other possesion-oriented film I can think of, I know that soul hungry demons lie in wait in the basements and attics across America, especially in houses in the woods, waiting for unsuspecting new couples or families to move in and attempt to live a happy existence. 
We live in the basement. In a house in the woods. We are a newly moved in couple, trying to live a happy life.


I'm pretty sure it would look like this:

satanic infant demon mitosis. look it up.

or this

don't act like this isn't unsettling.

or even this.

there are no words.

I presented to facts to Addie, who was quick to assure me our basement isn't haunted. Sure, we might have glow in the dark symbols (money and stars and twirly things) that appear on our pillar when we turn out the lights, and there are a lot of crossed out names, dates and phone numbers on our bathroom closet door, but we probably don't have any lingering ghosts of teenage North Carolina gang members rooming with us.


With no mice, no ghosts, and still lots of angry sounds, we had to dig around for another theory. Which, in retrospect, was the easiest.


Yep, bees:
the link to this, by the way, includes the phrase "killer bees"
my bad. BEES.

Not the Seinfeld variety

Out of nowhere, it occurred to us that it might just be a bee, caught in the dryer tube that runs from the dryer in the garage, through our closet, and up outside. So we approached the next few steps in as much of a scientific matter as we could.

first, we listened closer, each of us at different ends of the tube, and determined that sound was, in fact, coming from the tube, and that the tube was moving ever so slightly, without us touching it.

second, we took turns tapping the tube with broom handle, noticing that the scritching sound got louder whenever the tube was hit. Then we took turns poking the tube where the sound was loudest, and sure enough, the sound got louder. 
Then we took turns just hitting the tube for fun. 

We went outside and walked around the house, to where the end of the dryer vent met the outside world. And sure enough, there was an opening, and even more sure enough, there were bees flying around the yard and the dryer vent entrance.

I looked at Addie, and we gave each other the "eh, good enough." shrug. 


it was a bee caught in the dryer tube. No, we did not have a confirmed sighting of the trapped bee, but, as they say, it's close enough for government work.
A little under-whelming, to be honest, but also, completely relieving. And yes, Addie was quick to dismiss the DEMON theory. But I'm still on the look out for signs of possession. After all, I'm more Giles than Buffy, and the chances of me surviving a demon fight might be are pretty slim.
!! Not lieing, I just heard some shuffling and a weird voice on the other side of the basement. Like a basket being pushed across the floor, and a low, yet falsetto voice saying something I couldn't figure out. 

When I got up to check on it (I know, I know, that's the first step in getting me killed/possessed), I saw it was Addie, rolling over and sleep-talking to Dog. Now I'm just too adorabled-out to be freaked out right now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Four Days

"Shit. You do realize, we moved in together."--me

Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, resorting to applying at McDonald's: it's never occurred to me to panic over these aspects of the starving artist life. I worried more about having ample closet space for the loads of clothes and boots that I can't live without; or what would happen if I showed up with an arsenal of kitchen supplies, only to find a fully stocked kitchen; or what if we don't get cable and I can't watch the upcoming season of 16 & Pregnant
Whatever Critically Acclaimed TV Show That Won't Shame Me.
Basically, I've lived with roommates all my life, but I've never had to share a home with someone. You can't exactly draw a line down the middle of a basement apartment when you're both sharing 100% of the space. And, for that matter, you can't bring two lives full of stuff into that 100% shared space without some crowding--or innocent casualties. So I worried constantly about the impending mesh. Which brings us to..

The First Sort
On Saturday night, we dropped my parents off at their bed and breakfast, and headed back to our place to start what would become 8 hours of unpacking and bourbon drinking. And more unpacking, and more bourbon. Then the sorting began. Lots more bourbon.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the big differences between men and women. In addition to the myriad television shows and movies and books I've read where a move-in-together situation has occurred, as well as watching my friends and family do move ins, I thought I knew what to expect. And I also never really thought of myself as an over-accessorized girly-girl.

But then I moved in with someone. And yeah. Not much can prepare you for when your boyfriend, standing in front of his 1 gym bag of clothing, 1 bag of books, and 1 box of blu-rays, 1 blanket and one pillow, and looks at your 4 boxes of books, 2 tubs of office gear, 2 rubber maid trunks full of clothes and shoes, your dresser--also full of clothes--and your blankets and pillows and says, "really? you think you'll need all that?"

Yes. Yes I will need all that.

And I do need to hold my q-tips in a pretty container, not just the open plastic container it came in. And I need old liquor posters put up. And yes, 64 pairs of vaguely similar dangly earrings. So yeah. Not much more could make me feel like the over-privileged girl-child that I apparently I am.

It was a relatively agonizing process for both of us, with Really? being thrown with equal abandon from both sides. But importantly, it ended peacefully, with such un-notable casualties as Addie's $.50 coffee mugs covered with primary colored triangles, my magnetic poetry set, one of Addie's more aged skillets, and my awesome string of paper lanterns, and boxes of still packed nick-nacks. By 7 AM, we had all but the obvious "these will stay packed and stored in the closet" boxes done away with.

4 days later,
and we're getting better at this adjustment and compromise thing... for example, Addie won't be aghast at me using more than one cup per day, as long as I don't use his favorite cups. And we basically have the place how we want it, with only a few small things left to tweak, like putting up wall shelves for Addie's blu-ray collection (lest they be on the bookshelf with the common DVDs).

Speaking of blu-rays...
The First Blu-Ray
I'm not very tech or game savvy. The newest console I have is a Super Nintendo. I just got a flat screen TV, like last year, and it's essentially a CRT with good speakers in a flatscreen (oops...) . So needless to say, I don't have a blu-ray player. I'm not nearly equipped for it. But Addie does--in his magic PS3 machine.

Now, I've walked through the Best Buy aisles with Addie countless times looking for on-sale blu-ray's. I never buy the ones I'd like to own, because I don't have any where to play them. This did change, however, on Monday. There, sitting on the shelf, on sale for $9.99, was
2001: A Space Odyessy. Aka, the most over-inflated, beautiful work of space-fiction ever filmed. It's been one of my favorites since I was kid, mostly because it scares the shit out of me. Addie convinced me to get it, because after all, I have access to a blu-ray player now. I didn't buy it then. But I definitely went back the next day and picked it up. And in a great display of consideration, Addie left me alone* for 2 hours so I could watch it in all its high-def glory.

*more like, quietly set up his desk on the other side of the basement and indulged my rants and raves on how the movie was made and how it differed from the book. I'm a huge Kubrick fan, bordering on obnoxiousness.

He's a great guy. :)

Speaking of which...
The First Dinners

I've known Addie for four years, so I know he's a good cook. He's confident, adventurous and has great instincts in the kitchen--the exact opposite of me. So when he told me he'd make his famous Chicken Devan for our first dinner, I was well, stoked, because he's never made it for me--he's just bragged about it constantly.

I expected a sort of chicken casserole with broccoli, served over rice.

What I got was a tender chicken chunks in a creamy, yellow sauce, combined with steamed broccoli and melted cheeses. The sauce, whose ingredients I know, but have been sworn to secrecy, was sweet and hardy at the same time, like cheesy masala, with hints of curry and paprika. It was a perfect combination of flavors and textures. I was literally expecting hamburger helper and instead, got gourmet Indian. Basically, game changing.

Not bad at all.

So, to re-pay the favor, (and because I'm not fending just for myself anymore) I offered to make a homemade pizza for dinner. Then, I quickly realized I'd never made a homemade pizza (beyond removing one from a box and inserting it into the oven). So we had a discussion on edible toppings (he's of the pineapple and ham crowd; I'm of the sausage and green peppers crowd), came to some mutual agreements, and off I went to the store.

I quickly realized that "Make Your Own Pizza!" definitely is one of those ideas that sounds better than in theory than it does in practical application.

First, I couldn't afford to buy all the ingredients for pizza dough, so I looked for it fresh. I was unsuccessful. Disappointingly, I picked up a pre-made crust.

I brought home the crust and opened the bag. I should've known by the putrid cloud of stink that let out that something was wrong. The crust was entirely moldy. Something I didn't notice because the label on the bag covered it entirely. Ewww.

Then, the frozen dough that Addie found when we returned the mold-crust needed to be thawed out over night. I thought "I'll just dunk it in a bowl of warm water, that'll work." Except for the bag the dough came in had a miniscule hole in it, and the dough became super wet and spongy, and once thawed, would not keep a shape without shrinking. It took 20 minutes of rolling out with a rolling pin (and a large glass of wine) before I maintained some sort of Picasso-like, abstract circle. Ewww.

Then I added too much garlic to the canned pizza sauce and spilled half of it all over the counter. And the spinach turned out more like wet leaves than moist spinach. And cheese got all over the bottom of the oven. And it came out over-baked on one side, over-cheesed the other. And the crust came out rock hard.

Overall, it was a valiant attempt, and edible, but pretty disastrous looking--more diseased single cell organism than chicken bacon spinach pizza. Addie assured me that it was tasty... but I think I'll leave the majority of the cooking to him.

Unless he wants a badass bowl of spicy ramen (paired with kettle chips for dipping) made at 3 AM after a drinking binge.

So, four days in, and a lot of firsts covered. And tomorrow, we have our first visit from in-laws. Ohhhh yeah. But for now, Addie is downloading European Gay Dance Club music... and I need to go enjoy that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Blog

"Your blog? Oh, I'm sure it's good."--Addie, the boyfriend

About a year ago, I received a soul-crushing rejection from my dream grad-school program. Considering I had spent the better part of 18 months planning for a future that no longer existed, I was in a "what the hell do I do now?" funk. After a consoling dinner of spaghetti casserole and a marathon of Battlestar Galactica, Addie suggested I move to North Carolina with him after he was done hiking the Appalachian Trail, so we could take a year off to concentrate on writing. I laughed, thinking, "I'm a city kid; I don't really *do* mountains. Or the South." I thought, I'll just figure it out later.

But then, slowly but surely, reality set in.

First, I lost my job as an office manager three months earlier than expected. Then, creative jobs in the DC area were few and far between, and quickly snatched up by the illustrious MFA crowd. Further, I wasn't qualified (monetarily) for the overseas teaching jobs I wanted to pursue. All I wanted to do was write, but I was without a means to support myself. Everything seemed dismal, and frankly, full of fail. Oh, and the "temporary move back in with my parents to save money" was approaching the 18 month mark. Dismal, and full of fail.

But then, Addie came home from the trail, and he convinced me to give more thought to moving in with him. Over Thanksgiving, we visited his sister Shelby (whose basement apartment he was planning on renting), and I basically fell in love with the scenery, the historic town, and the idea that you don't have to leave the house 45 minutes early to drive 15 miles away (traffic in the DC/NoVA area is awful 24/7). And thus, with no job prospects, and not nearly enough savings to survive unemployment in DC, I decided to move in with Addie. Oh, also, I love the guy and want to start a life with him, etc.

So, 3 days ago, I moved from the tree lined, rush hour traffic haven of Northern Virginia to the mountain-strewn, sleeping beauty of North Carolina. It's definitely a year full of firsts. For example: it's my first time disappointing my parents from 2 states away, instead of from 2 stair cases away. My parents hate my place, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I moved 8 hours away, and less to do the fact that I'm unemployed and living in a basement with a guy who's not only unemployed, but who also smokes cigarettes (gasp!).

As much as they might disagree [never to face, of course, my parents are really encouraging :)] Addie and I both writers, and we're taking this opportunity to pursue our "dream" with a crazy amount of force. We met during our senior year of college, and have been through our share of amazing ups and bottoming out downs, break ups and make ups, but now, we're fantastic. Some couples need more time to grow up before they realize they are made for each other. Addie and I are that kinda couple. He's encouraging, inspiring, and hilarious; but above all, he keeps me and my neuroses in check. And the fact that he's also experiencing all these firsts at the same time as me has a lot of comfort and adventure to it :)

Considering all this newness and adultiness, I decided to start blogging, full power. This will be a chronicle of us newbies treading the waters of simultaneous co-habitation and dream pursuing. All I know is, it's been 3 days, and already I've been happier and more satisfied than I have been in as long as I can remember.
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