Shopping Rant

Let me start by saying that I’m not pleased with Cyber Monday deals as compared to Black Friday. I waited to purchase some items I thought might go on sale or stay on sale and then nothing that I was looking at was on sale.

That’s part one. Part two is gift giving in general. I am one of those people who spends massive amounts of time, hours a day until the 25th (or until the day I actually go shopping) trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone on my list. I factor in key highlights of what the gift is ideally supposed to do; 1) impress the receiver when opened, 2) make hem want to immediately open it up and use it, and 3) become and stay useful. So basically, I would am looking for something practical and fun. Hard to find.

Anyways, I spend all this time trying to figure out what to get for people (and within my budget) that I leave little time for actually shopping. By then, the stores are jammed (and I’m not known for patience in a packed store) or picked over and it has pasted the last available shipping date without paying an arm, leg and other appendages for online purchases.

This year, hopefully I do ok. I’ve made my list, I’m checking it way more than Santa ever does. Trust me, if its the thought that counts, I’m already thinking about you, but you’ll probably still get a gift that resembles coal, perhaps a DVD (something I love to receive).

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Language Evolution

All languages constantly evolve. We, everyone who speaks the language, help shape and develop it. Simple evolutions like the addition of new words based off a necessity to supply meaning to new concepts or products are common, especially given our constant development in technology and how fast we are moving.

Take the word “google” for example. It began as the name of a search engine, a product. When it started, we would explain its use by how you can search for things on the Internet using a website called “Google.” “Search” was the verb, while “Google” was the noun. However, we have evolved the term “google” to have a verb definition as well: to search the Internet. So now we can simply say something like, “I googled the restaurant,” instead of “I searched the Internet for the restaurant,” or, “I used Google to search for the restaurant.”

Changes like these occur for several reasons, the most common being to simplify or condense the language. If you notice, the evolved sentence using “google” is much simpler than either of the other examples.

-Tangent-
The evolution of a language is complicated and includes other factors including society and status, economy, world events like war and the change of leadership, all the way to accent involvement, misunderstandings between languages and the learned way our mouth moves. This subject is one of my small passions. I get very enthusiastic about it 🙂 which leads to me trying to relay how interesting the subject is -i.e. this tangent.

-Back to workshop –

Other than Shakespeare’s contribution to the literature world through plays and poetry, he is well known for making up words to suit his purpose. He is credited with evolving more than 1700 words, which are now common in the English language.

Part of being a writer is having the ability to find the perfect words to give our most accurate prescriptive description, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes we need to use our writing power to evolve the language to what we want.

There is a specific quote I wanted to add here, but I can not think of it. The jist is “Not to use a word that fits, but to use the only word that fits.”

Sometimes that requires making it up. I love making up words. I make them up to satisfy a rhyme, or to create a meaning to simplify a sentence.

Today, make up a word and use it.

I made up “treckle.” It is taken from “trek” (to journey long and rigorously)
and “trickle” (liquid flowing slowly or in droplets) and its meaning is liquid flowing slowly and laboriously, as if burdened or held back by something.

My use was to describe a nearly empty stream where the water treckles through the pebbles. The water is not simply trickling, unburdened by the emptiness of the stream or the rocks that it has to travel over. It is treckling.

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Bringing Up Books: Crank

When I picked this book up, I thought I would be in for a treat. I was excited about the format, and for some reason the short, thick dimensions were (unexpectedly) interesting in a good way. Ellen Hopkins decided to tell the story using free verse poetry, so of course I would like it. I love those odd, unique choices. I had read Zombie Haiku which is similar -using the little harmonic 3 lined poems to develop the apocalyptic struggle- short, but extremely successful, so I figured this would be just another verse-full joy. It was not.

Crank tells the story of a young girl, Kristina, who, on a 3 week vacation to see her father, becomes enamored with Adam, who then enables her to try Meth. Upon trying the drug, she falls into its addictive grip. Back from her vacation with her father, her struggle through her addiction becomes even more complicated when she is raped.

Hopkins’ novels are widely respected and simultaneously the center of controversy. She deals with hard subjects; drugs, sex, rape, and suicide and receives droves of criticism as a result. As a voice for these issues, she stands as a roughly real writer and people seem to either condemn her works or give exceptional praise for them. I find myself wanting to do neither.

Initially, I thought that because I have never done drugs there was a lack of connection to the character. Maybe that’s true, but I have not been completely shielded from drugs either. I know people , friends and family, who have suffered from such addictions, some people facing extremely similar situations and consequences. I think the feeling of a lack of connection was from something else. I think that Kristina’s sense of character is lost, which is sad because poetry is the medium in which the particulars a writer chooses to highlight in the story shows the audience the character and the scenes in such a vibrant, precise way. When you choose to write a book in only poetry, you need to allow that format to contribute those minute yet distinct details. It’s a challenge, a real, very difficult challenge that takes more than just knowing poetry and just knowing novels. You need to have a firm grasp of storytelling and movement, rhythm, syllabic importance -even if it is free verse, but above everything you need to be able to allow alterations to the story you have to tell and to the poetry in order to make the best work from them both. It’s a give and take when trying to make two things work together. In some cases what you have set in mind needs to be changed to make it work well. It’s tricky, especially when you are talking about taking a novel (wordy, descriptive in such a way that gives you the most amount of detail) and formatting it in poetry (precise, descriptive in the way that gives you only the most important details).

This novel has all the elements to a compelling story, it has characters that can be interesting, it even has a unique form and delivery, but for me it lacks. I understand it, I know there is pain, I hear the poetry, I can see why people love it and I can see why others hate it, but, for me, it still just lacks. Maybe it’s the sense of a lost connection. Maybe it’s simply that the reputation hyped it up and then it fell short by comparison. Or maybe it’s the choices Hopkins made while writing.

A teacher from high school once told me that the hardest part about writing is picking and choosing what to keep and what to scrap. It is completely true. All of those details you choose to give or cut really decides how well the work comes out. And with poetry it is even more important due to the brevity of the form. It makes me think that in Hopkins’ (undoubted) countless edits, amidst the trash and crumples, there lies pieces, fragments of the story, those little details that would have made a stronger connection and a very successful marriage of novel and free verse.

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Thanksgiving Gripe

Today is Thanksgiving, the day to be thankful and take a moment to appreciate the things you usually take for granted. Today is also Thursday, my rant day of the week. So, although I have a lot to be thankful for I do have a gripe.

My dad was going to come to Las Vegas and spend Thanksgiving at my place, but he ended up having to work. Now, he doesn’t work for any of those places that decided to start Black Friday way early, he works for a mining company, but all of it irritates me. I will certainly miss him for this holiday, and hope he gets some tasty turkey, just like all the people who will miss their family working the holiday.

Now, I’m not against places being open and having people work. I know several people who enjoy working the holiday, either for extra pay or because they do not care for celebrating the holiday. If they want to work that’s a good thing, but when companies decide to open their Black Friday hours on Thanksgiving or even before and require their employees to be away from their families kinda sucks.

Anyway your celebrating, or whenever, I hope your turkey day is enjoyable.

Writing, It Makes Scents

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. We all will be stuffing our faces with turkey, rolls, potatoes and of course, stuffing, but before our families sit together, before you take a single bite of that sweet potato mash, even before the food is set out on the table, there is one thing that makes the holidays feel like the holidays. Oh, the decorations add the sparkle and the warm clothes set the mood, but I think what really makes the holidays feel like the wintry warmth known only in November and December are the aromas; the sweet and spicy scent of nutmeg and pumpkin, the fullness of thyme, rosemary and sage, the tantalizing scent of rising bread, or tart berries, and finally the cinnamon apple cider wafting in the air. All of these make you want to just close your eyes and breathe in the holiday.

As writers, we learn to keep our eyes open, to observe everything we can and later offer a different, unique perspective. But our eyes are not our only observatory device. Learning to use all of the senses offers us to observe even more and sometimes, cutting off one sense to enhance another offers a different experience. It does not have to be Thanksgiving to smell inspiring scents, but this holiday offers a collective harmony of sweet spice that may just get that pen moving.

Plus, names of spices and seasonings are often interesting on the tongue. In A Sense of Light or Darkness, I have a poem called “Winter Savory”. In this poem I use words like tarragon and chicory -words that bring up very specific scents, and also, individual memories. These words have that same unique power the thought of bread or cookies have: that just by thinking of them, they nearly materialize, and you can almost smell their scent. It’s a powerful tool for a writer to be able to develop a whole, complete world -a world with not just amazing sights, but sounds, texture and scents. So, close your eyes and observe.

P.S. If you are not familiar with seasonings, (or you know the scent but can’t place the name) read through a cookbook, or online recipes to get to know more uncommon seasonings or food. Or, take a trip to your grocery (or pantry) and head to the seasoning isle.

Fall Fashion

I am really loving these color combinations lately. My signature black and brown is full on for the fall/winter season. Black and red are great, Christmassy without the overwhelming green and red combination. I also love orange, I think I’m bounding off of Halloween still and am throwing that rustic look on it so I can still justify wearing it. Another combination I’m enjoying is purple and black, pairing it with heavy black eyeshadow makes it even darker.

I used brown lipstick the other day, not a color I usually wear on my lips, but I thought it looked good. I wore really light tan eyeshadow on my lids and a dark brown in the crease and at the outside corner. Loved that look!

Also scarfs! My roommate has got me on a scarf frenzy. I own about 7 but hardly think to wear them. She wears scarfs a lot and they always look fabulous. So now I’m scarfing.