Monday, April 29, 2013

i am utterly disgusted with the path you trek

instead of finishing up the last of my semester work over the weekend, i read through the history (or, part of the history) of the early harry potter fandom, and let me just tell you, that was some crazy stuff. i'm not going to get into all of it here because it was really long and had a million characters and if you're really interested (though i think most people have more of a life than i do and don't have time to read about the shenanigans of online harry potter fans in the year 2001) you can find comprehensive biographies written out by people who "don't want the history to disappear." suffice it to say that there was major bullying, stalking, getting people thrown out of colleges, fake harassers, hacking, and lots of threats to sue. what sent me on a semi-educational search for fandom history that happened before i was using the computer for more than playing oregon trail? (like, seriously, this was even before my sisters and i each got fifteen minutes a day on the computer to check email. this was back when yahoo lists were where fans got together.) cassandra clare. remember when i first said i wanted to read the mortal instruments? a friend had told me about clare's fanfiction plagiarism debacle and how the series was pretty much the fanfiction minus the plagiarism. since i finished the fourth book of the series and didn't get the fifth one yet because the world seems very confused about when it came/comes out in paperback (i need to get to a library), i went to read up more about that and try to find her original fanfiction trilogy. (which i downloaded and will start reading as soon as i finish the fifth in the tmi series.)

i am very against fanfiction being published as original fiction. (see all my rants on fifty shades of grey). people have said that although she recycled a couple of scenes and can't seem to write original characters (which is admittedly hard when you've been working with the same set for six years so i'm willing to forgive her a little there), tmi is not the draco trilogy repurposed. i think i need to see for myself, though. (there were quite a few parallels to harry potter that i found in the book.)

regardless of that, what i don't get is clare's choice of name. cassandra clare is a pen name derived from cassandra claire, which was her name in the harry potter fandom. i get that using the same name that made you famous with harry potter and lord of the rings fanfiction is securing you a reader base, but still. the name also connects her with some really bad cyberbullying (which she allegedly still does), plagiarism, and just overall childish pettiness. (she was one of those harry/hermione shippers who was ready to kill fans that thought harry and ginny should end up together around the time of the third book.) personally, i would want to distance myself from all of that, but what do i know? i'm not a new york time's best selling author. 

oh, and also, i find it ironically hilarious that clare's group of friends in the fandom were referred to as the Inner Circle and in her book, the evil death eater equivalents are called the Circle. it makes me chuckle. 

(so the title is a little harsh, but that's the song that came to mind... so yeah.)

in case you, too, want to read about cassandra clare and early hp fandom psychosis, check out the following links (the first and third are super long, with chapters and everything):

the cassandra clare plagiarism debacle (also includes basic fandom pettiness)
cassandra clare is a massive bully this is the other side of the cc trying to kick a girl out of college story, and in this case i'm going to have to side against the girl accusing clare.
cassandra clare, ms scribe, and the sock puppets
the problem with cassandra clare's writing

*Dutch Courage - The Spill Canvas

Saturday, April 27, 2013

here comes the sun, and i say it's all right

there's just something about spring. despite the fact that i am swamped with end of semester work (since i did that independent study in a week, though, i've developed some sense that i am amazing and above schoolwork and can procrastinate everything and still put out work worthy of being posted to the department's site. it's very bad for the productive student that blossomed within me during that time. she has withered and died.), despite the fact that human ignorance makes me sad, despite the fact that i have no idea what to do with my life after this summer and that i do not know how to edit and that i simply cannot lose weight, there's just something about spring.

i went out to wait for the bus earlier than usual yesterday. like, way earlier. like, a had a little over an hour before it would come. and the weather was beautiful. right next to my apartment (and coincidentally where the bus picks me up) is this little... town center? shopping center? community place thing? i dunno what it's called, but it's one of those places that has stores and restaurants and a movie theater and a few offices and places to sit and enjoy life. in the sitting area they have this fountain thing in the ground (i am just all over the explanations today) that works from spring to early autumn (in the winter they put the christmas tree in its spot). anyway, it's meant for kids to play in, and kids are always playing in it (surprise, surprise). some come prepared with swimsuits and towels, others take off their shirts and shoes and run right in, and still others just go in fully dressed. (the other day a mom took off her kid's sneakers but left his socks on. i just did not understand. i mean, not only did it make it more slippery for him to walk in the water, but also, how is he going to wear his sneakers now? and wet socks are so uncomfortable. how could he have any fun?)

it might just be me, but kids are cuter in the spring. my biological clock starts ticking really loud the minute the weather turns nice and kids that are magically well-behaved all the time start surrounding me. maybe it's that spring clothes are adorable. maybe it's that they've been cooped up all winter and are just so happy to be outside that they forget to cry about not getting to eat cookies for lunch or having to wear a sweater. then again, maybe it's something in the fountain water that makes kids share toys with their siblings without being asked as their parents watch on in shock, not wanting to make any loud noises or quick movements in case they interrupt this once in a lifetime moment, and invite random strangers to join their games. i dunno what it is, but springtime is really bad for my decision that i don't want kids yet. always has been. (i've been around kids my entire life, and what with little brothers and nephews and cousins and whatnot i know better than to believe this spring illusion. i do love kids, though, in case i'm coming off as a child hater.)

but back to the point. while i was waiting for the bus i got a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (that and mint chocolate chip are my two favorite flavors) in a sugar cone and sat in the sun listening to kids laughing and reading my book. (i am on book four of the mortal instruments and though i finished the first two in a day each and this one is a lot shorter than those, i'm dragging it out because i haven't gotten a chance to get the fifth one yet. everywhere i see it has it in hardcover, but i want the paperback to match the rest of mine.) and the combination of amazing weather, good ice cream, cute kids, and young adult fiction was just so perfect. no matter how bad things get, a perfect spring day can take your mind off of it.

there's just something about spring.

*Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles

Thursday, April 25, 2013

i started out clean, but i'm jaded

the prevalent belief that arabs and muslims are terrorists stopped being "funny" to me a while ago. i wrote about that on here. (i can't find the post i wanted, but take those three instead.) i had had enough of laughing things off that said that i, an anti-social twenty-something that reads too much young adult fiction and watches nickelodeon shows all day, was a terrorist just because of the language my family speaks and the scarf that i wear on my head. i had had enough of brushing off the times that people pulled their kids away from me with a look of fear or shouted some racist comment or another at me for doing something as outrageous as buying a snickers bar from CVS. because it was becoming clear to me that this was no longer the ignorant thoughts of a few, these were the ignorant thoughts of the many. an ignorance that is so ingrained in who people are, that people i know for years could talk to me every week as a friend and yet still truly believe that the one thing that every terrorist has in common is that they own a copy of the quran. this was no longer rare occurrences and brushes with the minority, this was the undercurrent of a society-wide brainwashing. this was a belief so deeply rooted in these people, that they did not even realize that they were being racist and religionist and ignorant. these were no longer thoughts and opinions. these had become fact. the sky is blue. the sun rises in the east. the muslims are terrorists. case closed.

i've been learning computer forensics for years now. and though writing and books will always be my first love, i genuinely do like it. i find it fascinating. i love the fact that a computer is basically a book of your life, and i am given the tools and authority to read it. there is nothing i like more than stories and characters, and computer forensics is getting into the heads of characters that no one could write as well as themselves. it's like a choose your own adventure story and depending on which path i take, i could end up finding the happy family man, the perverted child pornographer, or the angry terrorist. it gave me a chance to put on a cape and save the world from people who could blend in seamlessly with society, but molest children in the dark privacy of their own home. i could help people, and despite my ramblings about how much i hate the human race, i really wanted to do that. i didn't want to be the computer forensic examiner going after intellectual property theft, i wanted to put the bad guys behind bars.

the general reaction to the boston bombing broke something in me, though. the little bit of hope i had that things would change, the faith that humanity can't really be that narrow-minded, was shattered. and i realized that things won't change. at least not in the foreseeable future. at least not when they'll make any difference to me. sure, not everyone is incurably infected with fear and hatred, but enough people are. too many people are.

and i got to wondering about what i was even doing. i've been blindly grasping onto the assurances given by professors who have spent their whole lives working for the fbi and other government agencies that the law really does protect the innocent, despite the twinges of disbelief that were my mind telling me that i was being deluded. i've looked past the fact that every hypothetical terrorist had an arab name and muslim faith. it didn't matter what the people around me thought, because i was going to help people. i was going to get the bad guys. i was. i can't go after the bad guy, though, when the bad guys are my people. and no i'm not saying that i wouldn't go after a terrorist that was muslim. i'm saying that when every muslim is suddenly a terrorist, when the fear people have of the different poisons their rationality and compassion and humanity, how could i possibly help them? and why would i be trying to get a phd in a field where every wanted poster has my face staring back at me?

i dunno. maybe i just need a break. maybe the summer will refresh me, renew the hope that despite all my efforts has never died out without regenerating before. all i do know is that i'm tired. of this, of everything. a tiredness that cannot be fixed with hours of sleep. a tiredness that is different than the resigned tiredness of depression, the frantic tiredness of exhaustion, the burning tiredness of anger. my soul is tired, and i don't know how to fix that.

*Bent - Matchbox 20

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

well i feel like something's gonna give

i've had occasion-cake in my fridge since early march. it's a little ridiculous, to be honest. what is occasion cake, you may ask. well, cake made for an occasion of course. i made a cupcake rose bouquet for the going away dinner for my neighbors early last month. the cupcakes that did not make it into the bouquet made it into my fridge instead. a couple days after that, and before the cupcakes were finished, i made birthday cupcakes for my husband. a week or so later, with the cupcakes my husband told me to save for him growing stale (because, let's be honest, if it was me those cupcakes would be eaten before they even started to think about getting stale) i made the butterbeer cake for my youngest brother's birthday. with half of my family on a diet, my dad sent half of the leftover cake back home with me and it ended up in my fridge. then my sister got me a birthday cake and leftovers went into the fridge. then my husband got me a birthday cake and most of that went into the fridge. then my other sister sent me chocolate covered strawberries (which aren't technically cake but still count) and half of those went into the fridge. then i made black bean brownies for my younger sister's birthday (side note: she turned twenty-three yesterday and had her party at chuck e cheese's. it was awesome.) and, you guessed it, some of those joined the party in the fridge. i'm slowly working my way through everything (except for the stale cupcakes that are still sitting there looking sad) but oh my goodness is there a lot.


i've been doing a lot of thinking lately about stuff and things. vague, i know, but a lot of it is still just feelings trying to work themselves into thoughts, and i couldn't really express them right now even if i tried. part of it, though, is this expectant feeling that something is going to happen. something good. something big. i'm crossing my fingers that it has to do with writingslashediting (i've been reading things very critically this year, noting what works and what doesn't, what i do well and what i need to improve upon, and i'm hoping that this will prove helpful once this semester is over and i pull my editing hat out from under the piles of dirty laundry i will finally get around to doing) but i'm not so sure. 

(i also kind of think that i've been subconsciously sabotaging my phd attempt. like, i'm doing the bare minimum to scrape by, but not putting in any effort to really move forward. i'm making a show of putting in effort, but i know deep down that if i really wanted to, i could have found myself a committee by now. i have always had a default defense mechanism where, if i'm not 100% sure that i won't fail, i won't give it my all so that i'll have an excuse when failure does come around, but i don't think that's entirely it this time. i think part of me is digging in my proverbial heels because it wants a different future, and until i make up my mind one way or the other i'm not going to be able to do anything. this summer will include some major soul searching (in between movie marathons and reading sprees), because i really need to figure some stuff out already.)

*Push - Matchbox 20

Thursday, April 18, 2013

twenty-five years have come and gone and that story's still unfolding

twenty-five. it feels like a big one. like one of those birthdays that should mean something. a nice, round number that marks that i've been alive for a quarter of a century. how did that even happen? it is also the last year before my lapyear which is kind of really weird.

n. the age at which you become older than your parents were when you were born, which signals that your leg of the relay race has already begun, having coasted in their slipstream as they tackled the mountain stages of life, leaving you strong, energetic and deeply mortified by their loud yellow jerseys. (Dictionary of obscure sorrows)

there's no big compilation of all of the things that happened this year, because honestly, i just did not have the time. but it was a good year for me, even if i did think i was twenty-three for most of it. a year of firsts. my first car, my first bunny, my first book published (and hopefully not the last)...

i had a surprise birthday dinner with friends on monday, was sick with a 24 hour feel like crap with a fever type thing on tuesday (when i made the huge mistake of starting a new book series (remember years ago when i posted on here that i wanted to read the mortal instruments? yeah i finally got started on them. took me long enough.) instead of just finishing persuasion. now i can't get any work done because just one. more. chapter.), did the whole student thing on wednesday, and went out to breakfast with my dad this morning.

birthdays always remind me of the amazing people that i have in my life. i have a tendency to default to depressed hermit, but that doesn't mean that i don't appreciate the fact that i'm surrounded (or at least can be surrounded) by truly awesome people. my social circle has slowly shrunk, like most people's do as they move through life, and i could not be happier with the ones who remain in it. (even if we do go months with no contact sometimes.)

anyway, here's to another year of friends, family, and dreams. and now i have a paper to write. blah.

*Twenty-five Years - Paul Simon

Sunday, April 14, 2013

sometimes you make me sad

so while i was being the poster child for productivity, i was avoiding websites and other distractions that i usually get lost on for hours. this limited the things i was allowed to do and look at to pretty much nothing, because i pride myself on my ability to do the same thing for hours at a time, be it reading a book, watching tv, or getting angry at the stupid things people post online. so i started watching webseries(es?) on youtube and taking three minute facebook breaks. (in order to not get stuck hitting next for youtube or staying on facebook too long, i would also have to exercise while not working. we have one of those pedal things that let you "bicycle" from the comfort of your own couch. when i got sick of pedaling, i had to go back to work.)

one of the series(es?) (how do you say that?) that i was watching was the lizzie bennet diaries. if you've never heard of it, this series set out to try and retell a classic through vlogs. the classic, of course, is pride and prejudice, and the story is told through lizzie's vlogs. it is a modern adaptation of the story, though, meaning that most things in it are just not the same as the book. balls are turned into weddings and birthday parties, london is LA, sisters are changed to cousins and cats, marriage proposals are changed into job offers... there are other changes but i don't want to give too many things away to people who may want to watch it. though the plot devices are modernized, the plot itself stays pretty much the same. (except for lydia who they made into an actual character that i kinda love.) so darcy and lizzie hate each other at first, wickham turns out to be a world class jerk, the bennet mom wants her daughters married, and they all (sort of) get together in the end.

a lot of the people who were watching had read the book. not too surprising. so when lizzie was gushing over wickham, for example, comments were talking about how it sucked that he was so "charming" when he ends up being someone you would like to punch in the face repeatedly. we didn't know exactly how he would suck, but we all knew that he would.  other people, the ones that made me lose faith in humanity and future generations for the umpteenth time, commented with the (i suppose should have been) expected "stop writing spoilers!" looking beyond the fact that the story has been around for two hundred years and is so well known that even people who haven't read it know the main parts of the story, there have been countless movie adaptations that non-readers could have watched. i mean, just a few years ago (longer than it feels) there was an adaptation that was huge at the box office. everyone saw it. it still comes on tv a lot. people still talk about it. spoilers should not have been an issue here.

but they were. and the people defending the ones crying out against the spoilers were just as bad. i read things like, "just because you and i have heard of the book doesn't mean that everyone has. it's a cult classic." um... no. it's just a normal classic. nothing cult about it. like i said before, it's everywhere. "the book isn't known world-wide, but this webseries is." what?! the book is translated into a gajillion languages so that people in every country can read it. i'm pretty sure it's a bit more popular than a webseries that started a year ago, even one that does have a pretty large fan base. "i hate hipsters that are always trying to prove that they knew these obscure things before they were popular by ruining it for the rest of us." like i said before, i think the fact that the book has been out for two centuries and is still being read and adapted into other formats makes it pretty popular. if you were going to be "hipster" about it, you'd have to have been jane austen's neighbor.

anyway, aside from losing faith in humanity, i actually liked the series. i know people who didn't, though. (i think reading fanfiction and seeing stories in ways other than the author intended them lets me have an open mind for adaptations that others (like my sister) may not have.) there's also a kickstarter going on for the dvd and future projects if you're into that sort of thing.

*Pale Blue Eyes - David Gray

Saturday, April 13, 2013

but you should never be embarrassed

this has been kind of a crazy year so far. before you decide to jump on the bandwagon of people who like nothing more than to shout things like "but you have no real job and no kids and no life and no ability to keep your apartment clean and i have all of these things and so my life is crazier than yours and your life is not crazy at all okay?" at me whenever i mention that, let me just say that, i never claimed that my life was crazier than yours and it is possible for two people to have crazy lives at the same time. i swear. (yes, that is kind of a sore subject. thanks for noticing.) anyway, there has been stress and research and pregnancy scares and grandmothers falling down stairs and stress and papers and stress and new jobs and book releases and stress and sick bunnies and shedding bunnies and cousins that need help and stress and editing and... um... you get the point.

in the midst of all that i haven't been able to do much reading. and what i have read has been... well... nothing a normal person would go announcing. i, however, am not a normal person. i love announcing things that other people would be embarrassed by. (remember when i said that i read sweet valley high by choice?)

anyway, in the beginning of the year i set myself a goodreads book goal for 2013. (i had originally set it to fifty, but three days into the year i just knew i wouldn't be very bookwormy and lowered it to thirty-five. i cheated, i know.) and although technically i'm on track (even a little ahead), i'm not sure it really counts. here is what i've read so far this year (in order):

  • intentional dissonance
  • pride and prejudice
  • trash
  • long day's journey into the night
  • the long fall
  • wings of fire: the lost heir
  • perfection
  • the host
  • wake
  • fade
  • gone

i'm not one of those people that reads to look cool. i think we've established that. i love YA books probably more than i should and may put down a book that doesn't hold my interest even if it does make me look smart. i read for the stories, not for what other people think of me. pure and simple. but this list is pretty bad. even for me. 

let me start by pointing out that, out of the eleven books i read this year, about half were rereads (pride and prejudice and then the host onward in case you were wondering). i'm not sure if those should even count. out of the six that were new reads, two had a reading age level of around fifth grade, one was young adult (and really bad), one was a play (super awesome, but still... not as lengthy or time-taking-uppy as a novel), and i'm pretty sure the last two didn't make it very far past three hundred pages. i got weird looks when reading most of them. 

in spite of all that, when i look at the list, i'm pretty okay with it. 

*Laura Laurent - Bright Eyes

Friday, April 12, 2013

and this is how i ask for help, by pulling the fire alarm

remember those days when i would come on here and blog about how i was woken up by phone calls and construction workers? you may not because it hasn't happened in a blissfully long while. but this morning... oh, this morning was worse than anything.

i was torn from sleep way too early by the screaming wails of a banshee, shrill and ear-splitting and way, way too loud. as soon as my brain registered the fact that it was the inside apartments fire alarm and that i would have to leave, i started groping around my floor in the dark for something to put on. (due to religious reasons i could not just walk out in the shorts and t-shirt that i was sleeping in. i mean, i'm sure i could have if i thought my life was i danger, but i was too busy being confused and angry to think about that.) i go to the tower to get darcy, and he's just sitting frozen in his cage. i grab his carrier and unlatch the cage and he goes crazy. running around in circles in his cage out of fear and pummeling through his wooden house and food bowl and getting caught in his water bottle but not even slowing down. being way too early and way too loud, i freak out and think that his only two options are either snapping his neck/breaking a bone/suffering from some other such injury that looked imminent from the way he was running around not letting me touch him or to potentially burn to death in case it was a real fire. my husband saved him from both and got him in his carrier while i stuck a pillow over the fire alarm to muffle the sound a bit to calm him down so he'd be less terrified.

with fugitive bunny in hand (rabbits are technically not allowed in out apartment so we kind of can't let anyone know that he exists) we head outside. the out of apartments alarm is the deep, booming, bone-rattling alarm from shows that reminds me of pulsing read lights and falling ceilings and heroic running and the world ending. but of course you can also hear the banshee shrieks faintly from inside all of the apartments and it is loud enough to make me very angry. i start wishing horrible things on the person who caused all of this. it's not until i'm almost down to the outside world (third story apartment = stairs) that i realize that neither of us thought to bring our keys. aside from a couple with their dog, some guy that couldn't seem to decide which sidewalk he wanted to stand on, and some kids waiting for the bus (though it was super early and the bus that i always see doesn't come until almost nine so i don't know what school they go to), we were the only ones not warm inside of our cars. rather, we stood shivering on the sidewalk in the wind because it figures that the warm weather would decide to leave today.

anyway, after standing outside for what felt like forever (giving myself half a second to say that i hope it's not a real fire, though i kind of doubted that it was due to the lack of smoke and flames before i went back to my angry muttering), the fire trucks finally decide to grace us with their presence. they go into the middle building (the apartments are grouped in buildings of three for maintenance and fire alarms and stuff) and i decide to direct all of my cussing at the residents of that building. after poking around for a while, they come out and check our building, then they go and check the last building. then they wander around for a while outside, looking for a fire. any fire. they don't find one. they check some secret closet thingie to the side of my building, and i hear one say, "i thought it was a prank, but..." they walk around some more. we all wish that they would hurry up and declare it safe or turn off the alarms or both.

eventually, after realizing that we were all ripped unceremoniously out of dream land (or, at least those of us that didn't have kids or jobs or dogs that required us to be awake before the sun, which judging by people's faces and pajamas were most of us) for no good reason, they turned off the alarm and told us all to go home.

so basically, i hope that if a kid pulled the stupid thing or did something to set it off, s/he fails every single test s/he takes for the rest of the year and never gets another good night's sleep for the rest of their life. if it wasn't a kid, then i wish a lifetime of restless nights on whoever caused it.

only good thing: five minutes after we got inside it started pouring rain. i was calmed down enough to feel grateful that we weren't stuck in it.

*Flying Upside Down - Cold War Kids

Thursday, April 11, 2013

it's been a hard day's night, and i've been working like a dog

okay so for the past week or two i have been all about schoolwork. completely devoted student, i'm telling you. this has less to do with me finally deciding to appreciate the wealth of knowledge that i could be getting at this higher education institution that i spend my days at, and much, much more to do with the fact that i had a semester project that i had done nothing on (seriously, the only thing i had done for it was to google twitter and whatsapp and save links to their websites to a google drive document. that was it.) that i was suddenly being told that i should turn in, preliminary research for a government grant that i stupidly said i would do, a quiz, a project, two homework assignments, and forty some papers to grade. and so i took off my procrastinator hat and put on my buckle-down-and-get-stuff-done hat which is less of a hat and more of a cape, and got to work. so far, i've finished the independent study, three quarters of the research, the quiz, the project, and graded twenty-one papers.

because of this awesome burst of productivity, i am now allowed back on my time wasting websites like blogger and stuff. yay. (i had to resort to writing snippets of things in notepad to eventually move over to my blog drafts.)

doing this independent study brought up an internet annoyance of mine: information that is only available via youtube video. i mean, if you are doing some event speech about how your technology works, and you know that the information exists literally nowhere online (at least not on the first twelve pages of google, and let's face it, once you get past the the first few pages you're just being hopeful to a fault.) then post your stupid slides online. or get someone to transcribe the thing and post it somewhere. or give us the sparknotes version on your website. you know, anything. because trying to write all the notes down from a forty minute video when people are clapping and your mic seems to be having an identity crisis and thinks that maybe amplifying sound may not be what he wants to do with his life, when i could have just skimmed a page or two of written text, well, it's annoying. and it also makes copy pasting impossible. and, once again, it's annoying.

anyway, i'm off to be productive again because apparently i know how to do that now. one of these days i will get back into blogging regularly. i promise. even if i'm the only one that reads my posts by then.

(actually, one day, when i'm a famous author and millions of people around the world come to my website to read my words, it'll be the ones who read it back when i was still a nobody complaining about school and editing that i invite out for cheeseburgers and milkshakes. so you know, stick around. it'll pay off eventually.)

*A Hard Day's Night - The Beatles