Category Archives: Non-Fiction
As you probably all have guessed by now, I wasn’t the kind of little girl that liked doilies and gluing little sparkly things on to other little sparkly things. In fact, I distinctly recall strategically distracting party goers at my childhood best friend’s birthday party with a little stand up comedy routine, just to avoid participating in the upcoming crafting activity.
But, alas, my distractions were more jealousy than anything else. I’ve always admired DIY practitioners, and often wished I were one of them.
Enter Krysten Brown, a designer friend of mine here in Austin. When I was asked to write an article on last minute Halloween DIY decorations, she stepped up to the plate, guiding me through a series of spooktacular Halloween designs until we had just about the coolest DIY house the undead world has ever seen. Afterwards I sat down with my laptop, pulled a mic to my mouth and did a little routine.
Check out the results at the article below, and DIY your own home in the most spooktacular of ways.
Last Minute DIY Guide to Halloween Decorations…of Awesomeness.
The other night, I stopped at the gas station after a long, hard day. As I was waiting for the tank to fill, I stared up at the moon, so sharp and bright in the cloudless sky, and I tried to appreciate the beauty of the world. My eyes fell to a lamp post, where kamikaze bugs slammed against the plastic, fell toward the ground, turned around, and tried their luck again. So eager and determined in their futility.
I tried to write a poem in my mind, to feel the world like I used to when life was slower. Find pleasure at least in words if not in the dry, cracked ground, in the sweat staining continents into my t-shirt. I tried to see the Seattle green in the wrinkled leaves, to see the mountains thrusting jagged snow-capped peaks into the gray sky. The cool of the lake against my skin. Quietude beyond rain-smeared panes.
The gas pumped on, and I began to feel at one with the earth.
And then a MASSIVE cricket the length of my finger and as thick as an OTHERWORLDLY BEAST dropped hard onto my neck and chirped triumphantly.
I dropped the pump, shouted “HOLY CRAP!” and flailed from one end of my car to the other.
And that was the end of that.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was riding the crest of a creativity wave. Which, by the way, is a lot better than a perm wave.
As I finished my quest to blackmail myself into completing the first draft of my very first book, ideas were popping up everywhere. Inside the world of my book, I was writing flash fiction, diaries, poetry, songs. Showing off to myself…for myself.
And then, once the deadline passed, I collapsed. Which is kind of something I do…
For the length of my academic career, I’d push myself to the max only to return home during breaks, put on a hoody, sleep for twelve hours a day and communicate in grunts. Except, ever since I’ve come out of graduate school and worked both freelance and on my own businesses, that’s not really something I can do. Because, even though the robots will one day be able to write better than me (thanks for the heart attack, Wired senior writer and not my boyfriend, Steven Levy) they can’t do it yet, and I can’t afford the robots that will do my accounting and marketing.
And so, my hibernation this time around has been work, work and more work. I hid from my book:
But, no matter what form my creative, deep-thinking hibernation takes, it’s only a matter of a month or so before my brain reawakens. Kicking. Screaming.
FEED ME SEYMOUR. FEED ME ALL NIGHT LONG.
It starts as a tingle in my fingers and lips. My muscles need to move, stretch, show off what they can do.
Then there comes the inevitable neural clawing. My neurons are fingers, squeezing any bit of stimulus or complex information that made the mistake of waltzing into my hungry mind when it only meant to go for a morning stroll. I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t take some complex scientific or philosophical problem and piece together all the scattered bits into one discernible whole.
And then there come the dreams. When I’m in the middle of a creative flow, my dreams are dead, white space; there’s just no energy left for anything complex. But when I’m craving creativity, my dreams are Hollywood blockbusters. In high school and college, they were torturous, dramatic movies with complex narratives that ran an entire arc. It’s all going wrong, there’s a tornado on the horizon, there are spies and intrigue. The world is saturated with impossible feats and colors. Something is after me, and it’s not far behind.
These days, they’re just as vibrant but less dramatic. Absurd, in most cases. Playing PRISON TELEPHONE at the PRISON.
A dramatic plea from the Real Mr. Ed to set the record straight about the sanitary habits of buffaloes.
And let’s not forget this gem from 2006: Not Without My Spleen: One Director’s Look Into Power, Bureaucracy and Body Parts. I’d say more, but I used it as the basis for a story and I’m still looking for a publisher.
Sure enough, after month’s of placid sleeps, last night I had a very involved dream about a woman named Yaddis who was trying her best to be respected in a male-dominated workplace. It was a musical, and the men performed a catchy if misogynistic song and dance number about not wanting to sit next to Yaddis in the lunchroom. I believe it went something like:
Yaddis, Yaddis. Ain’t gonna sit next to ya Yaddis, Yaddis.
Yaddis: she smells!
Whether or not this was a dream about feminism or about the perils of being named Yaddis, I’ll never know.
What I do know is this. I can feel the pressure building behind the dam – ever more so as a rare rain falls from the Austin skies (well, not so rare that it couldn’t toy with Ira Glass last week). That moody, writerly feeling is descending. I can see my characters, sitting in the dark, dank hallway. Shivering. Cold.
Come to me, my pretties. It’s time for us to remember what adventure is all about.
So we’re at the awesome This American Life live show. We’re doing fun things, we’re getting sucked into stories, our lives are changing, we’re getting to see Damian Kulash and OK Go be Damian Kulash and OK Go and Mike Birbigs be Mike Birbigs and Tig Nataro be Tig Nataro and then, in the middle of David Rackoff being David Rackoff, this happens.
Yes, Andy Dufrain finally manages to escape from prison. And there was great rejoicing across the land!
Also, Texas, which is in a historic drought, decides now is the time to get all biblical on Ira. Then this happens.
Twenty minutes we wait for the feed to return so we can learn how to grate cheese one handed (INSIDE TAL LIVE FEED JOKE). And then! Movement on the screen! Little bars! Dish network’s logo displayed prominently at what, for the company, is a less than ideal marketing moment! And the screen flickers! And we see something! Yes, we see something! The live feed is back!
There can be only one conclusion: Mother f-ing nature has it out for Ira Glass. But don’t worry, Ira. If I have to take sides, I’ll always choose tried and true public radio over weather hot flashes.
As much as I fantasize about being a STAR, dahlink, I really hate seeing myself on camera. Nonetheless, for the curious, here is the video for my BIG REVEAL, as well as a reading of the first chapter for, The School for the Intolerably Strange.
Thanks again to Write By Night and to all who came!
Thanks to all who came out tonight and all who sent support from afar! Tonight was the perfect celebration for a very sweaty, panicked month that packed BIG RESULTS. It was great to see everyone and I can’t wait to see all of your projects on Accountabillibuddy!
And major kudos to Write By Night for hosting, Brian Nicolet for being an awesome writing coach, Adam David for some excellent shear work, my family for listening to me read all 29 first drafts of my first chapter, and STEPHEN LEVY for being the most wonderful, supportive boyfriend a girl could ask for.
And now for my next feat: revising the entire thing!
What will we reveal? Literary gold?
Or a train wreck?
Stop by Write By Night headquarters (1305 E. 6th St., Suite 4) tonight at 7 or check back here for updates. I know I sure will.
If weeks 2 & 3 were all about procrastination, week 4 was all about what happens when a procrastinator realizes they’re completely screwed. Creation out of fear. Specifically, the fear of looking like a bald old man:
And so, to avoid devolving into a grumpy old man* with no family, friends, or rebellious teens looking for a father figure to love him, a fire was lit under my butt.
*Man this automatic keyword thing is a stitch, just go ahead and click on that grumpy old man link and see what the machines have decided is the most relevant page.
A massive, somewhat life threatening fire, kind of like the one they set on Sesame Street when I was a kid because apparently torching Big Bird‘s nest was supposed to teach us some sort of a life lesson.
And you know what? It worked. No, not the fire safety episode of Sesame Street. All that managed to do was send me into my parents’ bed for the next five years. I mean the impending deadline of head shave DOOM. My entire attitude changed. I went from this:
And you know what? The world as I knew it didn’t end. Yes, I wrote a lot of crap. In fact, I believe the crap to gold ratio was a solid 10 : 1.
But some of it was gold. Some of it was so funny, I thought of quitting everything and moving to New York to be a comedy writer. No! A song writer! No! THE BEST WRITER. My usual delusions of grandeur upgraded from something manageable into something dangerous.
Still, a week wasn’t very much time at all, and as March 29th crept closer and closer, I became acutely aware of my fingers’ limitations.
Despite all of my efforts to make time stand still, March 29th came and left. I worked all through the day, and then: 12:01AM, March 30th. I stared at my computer screen. I stared and I stared. I closed my laptop and began to cry.
Join us at 7PM tomorrow, April 19th at Write By Night headquarters (1305 E. 6th Ste 4, Austin, TX) to see either:
- My head get shaved (thus the crying)
- My finished first draft (thus the crying)
And for those of you who don’t live in Austin, I’ll be posting an update on this blog, so keep checking back. Until tomorrow! When I can sing “Tonight” and mean it!