The Reading Corner is a place where books of all genres are examined and reviewed. Comments, questions and disagreement are welcomed. Grab some coffee and a comfy chair and make yourself at home.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Leaves & Flowers -detailed information

Submission Guidelines and Information about Leaves & Flowers

Welcome to the world of literary publication – I am so excited that you’re willing to get involved with my start-up literary journal, Leaves & Flowers. Getting published is a huge opportunity for any writer, no matter how well established they are, and even the first edition of a small, self-published journal or magazine is a good place to begin. It’s my hope that L&F can become a successful enterprise, encouraging writers and artists to explore the various ways in which they can interpret and create excellent work around a single, shared prompt.

For the first publication of Leaves & Flowers, the prompt is this: A journey is more than just moving from point to point. It is also a transformation. Use this idea as the basis for your work.

As far as submissions go, any work will be considered, so long as it can be represented on the printed page. Writing can be prose, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, flash fiction, essays, short stories –anything you can write down, I will consider. Artwork is welcome also well: photography, painting, sculpture, collage –whatever you can create and transmit to me on the page, I will consider. Videos and sound are obviously impossible to put on paper, but whatever still images or other multimedia forms you can incorporate into something I can print, I will consider.

All artwork must be based off of the prompt above; I’m not asking you to rewrite the Odyssey or the Aeneid –what I’m looking for is your interpretation of that prompt. Take it and run with it. Let your imagination be in control, and send me whatever it is you create.

The submission process is simple. I need an e-mail, sent for now to my personal address at with Leaves & Flowers in the subject line. Your piece of work needs to be sent as an attachment to the e-mail. I have a Mac, so if you’re using an older version of Windows, make sure it’s saved in a format that I’ll be able to open (and if it’s not, I’ll get in touch with you so we can work something out). The body of your e-mail should contain a very brief cover letter: your name, a bio of 150 words or fewer, a short description of the piece of work and, if you want, an explanation of how you interpreted the prompt (solely to satisfy my curiosity).

Make sure you tell me exactly what your piece is –if you write a fictional story that seems like it could be true, I won’t know where to place it in the journal; spare me the time and effort of contacting you more than I need to and let me know from the start what sort of work you’re including. Feel free to send multiple pieces and types of artwork.

And that’s all there is to it! Once I have the pieces, I will be working with format and design principles, I may send pieces back to you with revisions or rewrites and in some cases, I may ask two or more authors/creators if I can make their pieces work together on the page (and you can say no to me, don’t worry about that). Although I can’t afford to pay for your time and effort, I can make the journal available for purchase by you, your parents and grandparents and anyone else you think would enjoy your work. Once L&F is published, I will let you know where you can find it, how much it will be and if I can get you any discounts.

P.S. If you know anyone who you think might be interested in submitting, send them my way!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leaves & Flowers

Hee hee

Woo! Sorry for the long absence -can't believe it's almost Wednesday already (my day off. Aka the day I spend writing and drinking too much coffee [just like every other day, I guess, except I don't go to classes]). That was a ridiculous sentence. Back onto my point -long absence, I'm back now, regular updates start TODAY.

Leaves & Flowers is the official (so far) name of the literary magazine I am creating. Tomorrow there will be a whole bunch of information on it available for your perusal. Please please please pass any and all information along to the creative types in your life (whether it's you, your mom or some hobo you meet on the corner wearing one of those apocalyptic sandwich boards). I will be including pretty much everything you need to know except the details of the submissions, which are only available upon contacting me, whether that's with an e-mail, a phone call, a Twitter follow or whatever -get in touch with me, and we'll be buddies.

For the first issue of L&F there will be no rejections. Revisions? You bet your ass I'll be asking for some, or at least permission to do weird things with the text, but I won't reject anything (unless it deserves it). I may someday be creating a website for all of this, too, so stay on board with it and we'll see where it goes. I am incredibly excited to be working on it, and getting other people interested is proving to be really fun.


My awesome boyfriend Jonah let me borrow a copy of Clive Barker's book of three plays, called Incarnations. I am used to Barker's novelizations, and so the play "atmosphere," if you will, is very different -until you start paying close attention. Then you realize it's absolutely true of Clive Barker and his style and his oeuvre -that is to say, this book is rocking my socks off. And I'm only like 45 pages in. I love it.

I'm also reading (well, just finished reading) Frankenstein for the first time. Sad, really, that I'm 20 and have never read it, but I'm also glad that I hadn't read it before -going through it with Van Winkle as my teacher has been an incomparably fun reading experience. It's very hard to capture Dr. Van Winkle in words...he's a brilliant, exuberantly weird man, and being in his class is absurdly fun. I find myself laughing at all of his little comments, even if the rest of the group sort of sits there with a collectively glazed look on their eyes. I think his eccentricity is what makes the class so much fun, whereas a lot of other people are apparently weirded out by him (not that he isn't weird -I just think he happens to be a cool brand of weird).

What's everyone else reading these days?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Me again, with just a quick announcement -if any of you emailed me and have not received a response yet, email me again; I have very high spam filters and it empties itself regularly, so it's possible that your email has been deleted. :(

Send things back to me and I'll be sure to double check my spam folder for anything important!

Skipping Class

This is what my brain does when I get worked up about stuff. Which can be good or awesome, depending on the situation. ;)

You know, generally skipping class is not a good thing to do. It's generally considered kind of scummy to not show up for class -it's sort of disrespectful to the teacher and the subject. But that, of course, assumes the class itself is earning that respect -and the necessity of the student's presence. In the case of the class I'm currently skipping, it just isn't so. All of the notes (I mean ALL of the notes -notes on the notes, annotations, extra links and information) are online. Nothing else is done in class except watch the occasional video, which, we are told "is not going to be on the test."

My question becomes, "Well, what IS?"

The teacher of this class is genuinely nice. But she seems to be more interested in making sure no one is challenged even a little tiny bit by the material than teaching us anything.

So I don't go. I challenge myself in other ways during class time. I'll show up for tests and maybe once a week otherwise and do all my projects and work with people when necessary, but otherwise, I'm not going to be there. I'm getting more out of my class by not being in it.

I am, in fact, seeking out more writing gigs. Kind of. I'm not looking for writing for me to do (well, that's a lie -I'm always looking for writing for me to do); right now I'm trying to find people who will be willing to write for my literary journal. Know anybody? Are you somebody who would like to write (or take pictures or draw or make a sculpture and send me a photo of it)? Because I need you. I want you. (Not in a suggestive way.) I want all of the creativity I can get for this baby. I want to make it happen, and possibly happen long term.

I'm falling in love with publishing, you see, more than I ever had before. I want to make this an integral part of my life. But I need writers, thinkers, artists, etc. to help me get it off the ground.

So if you know anybody/are somebody, send them my way. Right now. Comment on the blog, e-mail me with "Leaves & Flowers" as the subject line (it's the working title of the mag right now) and I will fill you in on the aesthetic I'm looking for and what types of submissions I will accept.

Skipping class is totally valuable. ;)

I probably won't be around to update again today or tomorrow since I'm going to a concert tonight and going home for the weekend after that, but I will check periodically to see if I have comments or e-mails and I will respond promptly, I promise!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Creativity and Hipsters

A game I will flat-out refuse to play. Image blatantly stolen from Google.

All right, here's something that bothers me (and bear with me, because it takes some explanation. I've been thinking about this for like a week, so it's all complicated): oddity for the sake of being odd. It's shammy, scummy, annoying and pointless.

The whole "hipster" scene that has kind of blown up over the past couple of years (see the book Stuff White People Like -first off it's hilarious, second about 1/2 the entries apply to hipsterism) drives me nuts. Now, don't get me wrong -I love quirks. I love people with quirks. I know plenty of very quirky people. But the difference between being quirky and being annoying is that these quirky people don't make their quirks the sole facet of their personality.

If you're turning yourself into a parody of a human being by your ironic fashion sense/opinions/eating habits/"creative" projects, then I want nothing to do with you. Fully developed people (or even developing people) should have more to talk about than how ironic they are, and how everything today is so ersatz compared to 40, 50 years ago and they're just soooo glad they can (ironically) appreciate getting out of the consumerist mainstream.

And hey, that's fine -I'm all for getting out of the mainstream, to an extent. The hipster movement, to me, is no different than being goth/emo/dressing like a pirate every day. All you're doing is rejecting one set of beliefs for another conformist, consumerist, uninteresting set of beliefs. And these people (us vs. them mentality going strong today, just keep coming along with the writing please) insist that they're so "random" and so "different" from everyone else.

All I have to say in response to that is that if I went around campus with a digital camera and took a picture of every hipster here (which would take at least 4 months) and put them all up, you wouldn't be able to pick yourself out from the rest of them.

At what point does that strike anyone as being creative? If your idea of creativity comes from wearing 40 year old overalls with one pant leg rolled up to your knee, not shaving or getting a haircut and brushing your teeth during class, I'm saddened by that. Carrying a Moleskine notebook around doesn't make you look creative. (Disclaimer: I carry a Moleskine notebook around, but I actually happen to be a creative writing major and I use it multiple times a day, so take everything I say with a tiny grain of salt).

My issue here with the whole idea of being a hipster as somehow directly equivalent to being a creative force is that there is no creativity involved in it. There is the creation of a set of quirks and a thematic element of sticking it to the man (which, as we all know, is super duper original and hasn't been going on since the first cave man declared himself an authority over his brothers). That is not a personality or a way of life, that is a fashion trend like any other.

I don't mind weird people. Most of my friends are weird (and I say this as a compliment, friends who read this. I say this with love in my heart for your weirdness). What I mind is people who let a few odd traits become their only traits.

I have, like I said, weird friends. But these are friends with whom I can sit and have a conversation about anything. There's no pretense in talking with these people -there's no sense of needing to maintain some kind of status quo socially. We just get some coffee and hang out. Whenever I see/overhear hipsters talking, or talk to them myself, there's this underlying (or overwhelming) sense that everything has to be super-strange, disconnected, ultra-literary or ironic in some way. I love having literary discussions, but not when they're pretentious and motivated by a desire to be smarter than everybody else/seem smarter than everybody else/show off my knowledge. I want to discuss literature because literature is worth discussing, not because I have an ironic statement to make about it.

Oddities are awesome, but they need to be kept in check. People let their personality quirks take them over and suddenly they're not really a person anymore. Just a caricature of one. That bothers me.

And creativity is damaged by that. A lot of these people seem to think (based on the writing/drawing I see them do) that they can successfully write/draw ironically, all the time. You can't. You have to be living a full life (notice I don't say a good, moral or normal life, but a FULL one) in order to get creativity out there. Hipsters seem, to me, like they just have big circle-jerks all the time over how ironic and nonconformist they are -and there is, initially, good stuff that comes out of being ironic and nonconforming (I won't say anything about what comes out of a circle-jerk, because that's gross and inappropriate)...but when you take it to a point of not doing anything except trying to be a nonconformist, ironic person, you lose everything that made you an interesting writer or creator.

I'm also not saying, in this, that everyone should be more like me or adhere to some ideal of what I find normal/cool/right, whatever. I'm sure there are plenty of hipsters out there who write beautiful prose and poetry that is not always focused on being ironic, just as I'm sure there's some frat boy on campus somewhere who has a secret file on his computer for his stories. You can't judge someone on how they look -I know that. But you can totally judge someone once you've been interacting with them for a while, and the people I'm coming into contact with are every single stereotype you can think of when you think "hipster." It's just bugging me.

This has little to do with reading or writing except incidentally, but a lot to do with the idea of creative expression. I am all about it. If you feel the need to dress solely in vintage clothes as a personal expression, go for it. But unless you have a personality apart from those clothes, I'm not going to remember you in two weeks as anything other than another "quirky" hipster.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You know what's not fun? Colds. I have one. It sucks.

BUT the attendant bad mood that accompanies colds has made me not want to write -and that's a good thing, I've discovered. I burned myself out on writing over the weekend, so I took yesterday off to do whatever I felt like doing.

I felt like drawing with crayons. I spent several hours doodling (an eyeball, two halfway decent pictures of Little Foot from the [original] Land Before Time movie), and it was great! I still don't feel like writing (I'm blaming it on the fact that my nose is so stuffed I think I have snot in my brain), but I do feel like I've found another creative outlet (albeit one I'm not very good at).

I am going to try to write today, though, because it's important (and it's my, you know, job and stuff). I've got plenty of things I can write, I just need to drum up the motivation (aka coherence) to be able to sit myself down in front of this computer screen and actually do it.

Like I said, colds suck. All I really want to do is sit in front of my monitor and watch last night's episode of Castle repeatedly. And I can't even do that, because I still have 4 hours of class I have to attend. I skipped my psych class because we weren't doing anything. That and I reeeeallllly wanted to watch Castle. And I'm sick.

I did read this really cool piece today about never giving up on writing, and I think I'm going to return to that when I come back to my room from classes and am faced with another 9 blank forms that I need to fill with sensible, "actionable" words and information. Obviously I won't be doing all 9 today. Maybe 4. 5 if I'm feeling good once I get going, it's just the going that's the hard part (or is it the getting? Whatever).

I'm going to go make myself some tea.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Anybody read the new Dan Brown book yet? I haven't...I might eventually, but all the build-up hype made me back off. I don't like hype. I read all of the Harry Potter books, actually worked at a midnight release in a bookstore, but I didn't much care for the insanity there, either. I'm not one for mob mentality.

Speaking of books, those are what I'm immersing myself in today. I spent all weekend killing myself over writing articles (it paid off, but it ruined my mood) so I'm giving myself permission to do no "professional" writing today and just enjoy myself. Drink too much coffee (not that I don't do that every day anyway), read some books, do some crosswords. Stuff like that.

I'm going to be reading snippets from the hilariously wonderful book Alphabet Juice, and perhaps some of this bio of Audrey Hepburn that's largely pictures. Picture book for adults = super cool.

That's all I've got for today, kids. I'm sleepy and still recovering from the massive amount of writing I did over the weekend. 18+ articles and rewrites? That's a lot. Break time! See you tomorrow.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Showing a little restraint

I don't like this. This is a "font." Read on to find out why it has earned my derision.

It's morning, and this is the first morning this week in which, not having an early class, I have not almost been walked in on by the maintenance guy while showering. He is very round -at least my impression of him is one of roundness, since I usually go scurrying by, head down and bathrobe wrapped around me in an attempt not to pull (or flop, I guess) a Janet -and comes to clean the bathroom every day at the same time. That means, essentially, that our repeated encounters are really my fault (although I don't understand why, when I announce that I am in fact in the bathroom he just stands outside and waits for me to finish instead of going and cleaning the other one...). So I'm waiting. I can hear him out there and I haven't yet left my room -even for water with which to make coffee.

I've also not written this week about an item of popular terminology that bothers me considerably (nor will I at this juncture). I'll tell you it has to do with weight. That's all.

I've also made an effort to get books that I haven't read before in order to talk about them. That in itself has been a good time. I watched, if you recall, the documentary Helvetica, which is all about that lovely typeface and it's effects on graphic design. People get quite passionate about Helvetica -both for and against -due to the exact same qualities: its streamlined uniformity seems to either make people extremely happy (Modernists) or they despise it as a representation of slick, charming but ultimately misleading consumer commercialism (what I would hesitantly call post-Modernists despite the fact that I loathe the whole postmodern oeuvre as it stands today).

Personally, I like Helvetica -to a point. I wouldn't want it tattooed on my body (I'd prefer having the words Habent sua fata libelli in Monotype Fournier in italics and in white ink on my right wrist instead, as seen in Alberto Manguel's Library at Night. Not that I've been giving that any thought), but I like it. Its simplicity makes it attractive to me, while its versatility makes it practical. The outcry against it, however, is something with which I can also identify. When everyone uses something because of how simple, useful and practical it is, it begins to lose its clarity and its functionality. Original creation is difficult in something that is used everywhere by everyone.

So I checked out some books on typeface from the wonderful library here on campus. The first one was disappointing. Despite my complaints about Helvetica's ubiquity and lack of originality, there is a point at which originality becomes unreadability. If the point of typeface is to make readable, communicative fonts, then what are these jumbled up curlicues trying to tell me? If I can't read it, aesthetic communication is also lost; despite the beauty of an alphabet being that you can make anything with it...if what you're making does not even resemble letters at the most basic level, then you have failed as a designer.

There was also very little explanation of any aesthetic message within the book. It was just a lot of pictures of design -of which many, I will grant, were interesting and piqued my curiosity. However, there were many more which left me wrinkling up my nose in some distaste. On top of the amount of poor design, the lack of any organization (artificially imposed, organic, alphabetical, I don't care -but something needs to have order) was also frustrating.

I'm not saying I want the designs presented in rank and file, army style, but to just scatter designs through a book with obviously no effort at finding commonality or theme smacks of laziness, not creative disorganization. That in itself was enough to detract from the reading experience.

The second one I picked up, however, I only put down because my eyes would no longer stay open. It's fun to read. It's called Letterforms Bawdy, Bad & Beautiful, and it's great. The examples they chose are stylistically relevant and modern enough to be recognizable even to me (the Rent book cover, for instance) and the organization imposed is beautiful. Each (artificial -their word this time) section covers one method or product of a design process. A moderate introduction explains to readers the general track that the section will take, covers why certain types of design were included and encourages readers not only to pay attention to what they chose, but to question it in terms of our own aesthetic tastes.

I've been very impressed. If you have even the most passing of interests in the design and application of fonts, check it out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing, reading, music and coffee

The trouble with not having to go to any classes on Wednesdays (or Mondays, or most of Fridays) is that I hole up in my room like the hermit I am and generally refuse to leave it unless forcibly dragged out with the promise of being fed or caffeinated. Even though I can feed and caffeinate myself perfectly well within the confines of my room -I'm already on my second cup of coffee for today, and I'm starting to run out of my little Keurig cups...time to order some more!

The benefit of not having classes on Wednesdays (etc.) is that it allows me ample time to get all of my homework done. For instance, today: I got up shortly after 8 and showered (and almost got walked in on by the maintenance guy again). It's now 10:30 and I'm done with all of my homework except a bit of reading.

I can now devote the rest of my day to writing, listening to Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys, drinking obscene amounts of coffee and trying to find recipes for all of the wonderful produce my even more wonderful boyfriend brought me on Monday! I'm not much of a cook.

As for books, I'm currently preparing myself to dive into the Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume 2, which I need to start reading for tomorrow. The book is massive, with thin, Bible-like pages and teeny, tiny font (which led me to think about the intellectual assumptions that come with font size; I read a book directed at adults that had font about this big throughout it, and it seemed somehow insulting, as though the author/editor/designer assumed the target audience for the book wasn't smart enough to work through a smaller font).

What's everyone reading right now? For me it's mostly been things for school and research for writing (which, oddly enough, is quite interesting. Right now I'm off to work on writing about craft projects for old guitar strings. As though I know anything about guitar strings. Or crafts, for that matter!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Project

I have previously mentioned my literary editing class and the awesome-tastic final project we're doing. Namely, creating some kind of literary journal/magazine/anthology/thing. I've been having ideas, ideas and more ideas and every time I end up in class I think of more things I want to incorporate into this project.

I'm still trying to decide if I want to do just a print book, but I'm starting to move away from that a little -I want to incorporate the internet into it. I'd like to see if there's a way I can create an e-book that would still be available as a print on demand sort of thing, just without the internet function (obviously. I can't do magic).

As much as I love print journals and books, technology is opening up a lot of formatting avenues for me that I wouldn't be able to have in a more traditional format. Another possibility I'm considering is just creating a print on demand journal that utilizes non-traditional formatting and design. This option seems most realistic to me right now, especially since I only have 8 weeks to work on it.

I'm starting to think that I could make a small amount of money as a result of this though -whether through self publishing or starting my own little publishing company. I don't know. I'll have to look into the legal side of things, especially if I use the work of other people, but it's something I'm going to be thinking about in conjunction with this project.

As for the aesthetic mission of my project, I think I've finally started to formulate the beginning of a workable idea. I still want all the pieces to be focused around a similar concept (namely finding the magic/joy/love in the everyday, even if the "everyday" isn't exactly normal), but what I'm thinking about doing is writing a simple, generic sort of prompt and giving it to all interested writers...and what comes in comes in. Writing from a prompt, I know from experience with Power of the Pen, can lead to amazingly creative stories and ideas. I also want illustrations, photographs and other forms of expression included in the design; I want to represent the aesthetic differences and similarities that can come from a lot of people finding inspiration from the same source.

I think that will be a LOT of fun. I'm going to start trying to find interested writers (etc.) ASAP. If you are a writer (etc.) and you're interested in getting in on this (and helping out a broke, starving, pathetic college student like myself) let me know! I want talented work -that doesn't mean I'm looking for Hemingway. I'm looking for legitimate creativity, that's all. I'll have more information on prompts, the functioning aesthetic of the publication and other bits and pieces as I progress through the class.

It's getting really very exciting for me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Dirty Job

You know that song by The Who? That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Christopher Moore's book A Dirty Job, which is by far my favorite book of his (and I've read most of what he's written).

On top of being hilarious (which I'll get to in a minute), it's incredibly well-researched. Granted, it may not be perfect -I'm not up-to-date on most of my mythology -but the research he did shows in the writing and the characterization; what errors there may be can be chalked up to artistic license, IMHO. From the Morrigan to Tibetan Buddhism, Moore covers a huge amount of mythological ground in dealing with death, and he does it in a highly believable way (given that the book is fiction/fantasy/humor writing -you expect it to be weird).

It helps that it's set in San Francisco. I don't know why -I've never been there -but the way Moore makes the city into a character in many ways pulls the reader to the book even more. To have such a living setting, and one that becomes familiar even just within the story, is an invaluable part of A Dirty Job.

A Dirty Job is a book about Death (and regular little-d death as well). It deals with the idea of a mythological construct called Death who would work with the dying, the ferrying of souls and the question of the afterlife. My religious/spiritual views being what they are, I like that the book doesn't turn into a proselytizing sort of a deal (it's not the point of the book -it doesn't even happen in his book Lamb, which is about Jesus), but what I really like is the direction Moore takes the concepts of death.

He interweaves so many ideas about the afterlife -the concept of a soul, transmutation/metempsychosis (Google it), reincarnation -into our modern, materialistic world and on top of being hopeful and surprisingly logical (within the construction of the story), it's sort of funny.

Moore's humor is warped. That's a big part of the reason I like him, actually; my humor is also warped. A Dirty Job is, quite frankly, one of the funniest books I've ever read. At times it's very, very dirty humor (the type that has me either cackling loudly or pressing my lips together to keep from doing so) and at other times it's a very sympathetic form of humor that just leaves me smiling. Moore treats the idea of death with compassion, but not with fear or loathing -it's a very gentle portrait of death (usually), and it's also very entertaining.

The characters Moore populates his world with in A Dirty Job are fantastic. Most of them seem like caricatures at first glance -too perfect, too strange or too cliched. But that's only at the first, short look. Within a few encounters (or sentences, for that matter), these caricatures quickly settle into exquisitely human (or partly human) roles; these are the sorts of people we all know and love/hate/deal with. Although the characters are all a little more extreme in one aspect or another than most people we know, they are each still real enough that by the end of the book they are unforgettable.

I won't spoil the story by going into too much detail about the plot. It's really a book that deserves to be read, and read more than once. My own copy is battered from having been read around 8 times by myself and lent out to many, many people. The cover glows in the dark. This book satisfies my childishness and my intellectualism and my love of good writing in every way imaginable. Go read it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Cell Phone Story

This is the saga of the cell phone replacement.
This letter will be sent to Asurion.

Brace yourselves.


Dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is not Billy Perkins. Nor is it Haley, Kali or Harry. I am not the child of Jimmy Perkins, nor am I the child of Jim Richardson. My name is Bailey M. Shoemaker Richards, and I am the daughter of James Richards.

All of the above incorrect names are names your employees have called me on numerous occasions between September 7 and September 11, 2009 as I attempted to get my phone replaced.

Some background on my situation: in January of 2009, my Verizon Wireless-provided Blackberry Curve 8330 stopped functioning. To be precise, the trackball and all attendant tiny electronic parts exploded out of the front of the phone for no apparent reason. After a panicky day of attempting to continue using said exploded phone, you, Asurion Insurance Service Inc., kindly replaced it with an identical (but unbroken) model for a modest $50.

Fast forward to September 7 of this same year. I attempted to place a call to my boyfriend, who lives approximately 180 miles away from me, back in my hometown. I am attending college; he is building a house. And all I could hear was static. Not the friendly, “hang on a second I’ve hit a bad spot” static, but the insane roar of a dragon roasting our conversation dead in midair. We could no longer hear one another.

I called him back from another location…same deal. I sent him a text message, assuring him that I’d call him when my phone was working. I attempted to call my mother. Same exact deal, except the conversation was somewhat more strained (she has food poisoning and hates that I’m approximately 168 miles from home).

At this point, it’s clear that something is wrong with my cell phone. This static cling that’s taken over my calls is obviously not me hitting a bad spot in the connection (although Athens, Ohio is admittedly full of them). There is a technical difficulty, Houston. What’s a girl to do but head up to the local Verizon store and see what they can do?

Apparently, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., what they can do is nothing. The man behind the counter, with his loose-fitting polo shirt and distinct odor of Subway sandwiches, informed me that I needed a software update, which could only be done from a computer. I have a Mac. I explained this to the man in the loose-fitting polo shirt, and he informed me that the software should be available for a Mac.

Guess what? It’s not.

I had made the trek of several hot, steaming, college-smelling blocks to Verizon and back to my dorm (which smells of hazelnut coffee, in case you are curious), only to be disappointed by the necessity of another trek of those selfsame blocks. I returned to the Verizon store, distinctly less pleased than I had been, and the man in the loose-fitting polo seemed less excited to see me. He plugged my phone into the store’s computer and informed that I had at least a 40-minute wait on my hands.

Indeed I did. Fortunately, as a writer, I am never without occupation. I set about working on some things and discussed the current cell phone conundrum with my mother via the Internet, blessed thing that it is.

Phone updated, I left, with the intention of visiting a local bookstore-cum-coffee-shop in the hopes of obtaining a job. I called my mother on the way over, rejoicing at the crystal clear tones of our conversation until –oh, tragedy! –but a moment into our speech, the static returned. And so I did not go to the bookstore-cum-coffee-shop, but instead spun on my heel and went back to Verizon.

Are you keeping a score, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.? That is the third time I had gone to Verizon that day, within the space of a few hours. Upon my entrance –this time with all the fire of righteous indignation in my eyes and in my step –the hapless counter jockey merely handed me the number of Verizon’s warranty replacement service.

At last! Perhaps Verizon’s warranty replacement service could get me somewhere. I met a friend of mine at another local coffee-shop (I live on a college campus; there are nearly as many coffee-shops as there are restaurants) to call the number I was given. After being disconnected from seven different calls, one finally stuck, and the woman on the line told me that the phone you sent me, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., was a refurbished phone, and under your warranty until January of 2010. She connected me to a representative on your end, and hung up.

Within twenty seconds of my conversation with the gentleman, he hung up on me. I’m not sure if it was intentional or accidental, but as I had no phone number at which to reach you then, I had to start all over. These several conversations with Verizon each took a different tack, all irrelevant now, but no two methods of dealing with my phone were the same. I could not get a Verizon representative to give me your number for ages.

It would not be until September 8 of this year that I would have a number for you, yourself, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc. But I would only have that number after a total of nine hours on the phone with Verizon’s warranty replacement service. Did you read that right, my friend? Nine hours on the phone and three visits to a local Verizon store with absolutely no resolution –not even an explanation as to what could be causing the problem.

Cue the beginning of my interactions with your staff, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc. Allow me to remind you that on the survey card sent with my (eventual) replacement phone, your slogan says, “Our passion is your peace of mind.” Ostensibly, this is a goal to which your employees would strive. Clearly, someone has missed some memos.

My first conversation lasted for over an hour as a man had me answer my phone when he called it, call him back immediately and repeat this song and dance routine somewhere in the neighborhood of seven times. Despite the fact that I could not hear a single word he said, nor he understand what I said, he resolutely denied being able to detect the static that riddled the airwaves between our ears and mouths.

According to him, nothing could be done, since there seemed to be nothing wrong with the phone. We hung up, after he instructed me to do a soft reset and assuring me that the problem would be fixed. It wasn’t. I called back and a very strange, very incompetent woman answered the phone.

Generally, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., I am a patient customer. My tolerance for poor customer service is very high when dealing with representatives. I am not a mean person. I am a 20-year-old creative writing major who loves books as much as I love some people, but I am not mean. However. However. After almost two full days without my cell phone working, without being able to converse with my mother or my boyfriend (to both of whom I am very close) and without any resolution on the issue, my patience was at its limit.

This woman, whoever she was, was an idiot. I will not sugar coat that fact for you. How she has retained any sort of employment with you or anyone is a mystery. After calling me Billy Perkins, and seeming to willfully ignore my protestations that my name is Bailey Richards, she proceeded to tell me that my phone number ended with 5163 and she could not find it in the system.
“Ma’am,” I insisted. “Ma’am, my name is Bailey Richards and my phone number ends in 5133.” Eventually I got through to her –only to be told that I would need to run some tests on my phone. I refused, albeit politely. I told her I was reaching my tenth hour of dealing with the issue and would simply like to have my obviously defective phone replaced, if that wouldn’t be too much trouble.

She informed me that she’d have to transfer me to technical support, as only they had the power to replace my phone. Personally, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., I don’t believe that. I think she was simply lazy and stupid. I accepted the transfer and was informed in no uncertain terms that replacing my phone was not an option.

I hung up in frustration, after ascertaining that no one on your staff was going to be of any help to me, before again communicating with my mother via the Internet. She called, and was put on hold for no reason, before being informed that to get a replacement, she had to have the phone in front of her.

Imagine my renewed frustration, if you would, when hearing by proxy that although my mother had found someone who would replace the phone, because I am approximately 168 miles away with said phone, nothing would be done. My mother, less patient than I with poor customer service, requested a supervisor.

I will not swear, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., because I don’t wish to taint this letter with curses and unnecessary bile, but the woman with whom my mother spoke next would be best described using the most vile, foul words I can think of. She not only refused to offer my mother a solution, she also refused to find anyone else with whom my mother could speak –she claimed that there was no one higher in authority than herself. When my mother asked if she owned the company, predictably, the woman had no answer except an excuse to hang up.

I had no recourse but to return to Verizon and call your company again from their phone, my access to any phone but my own having been temporarily removed by the fact that I didn’t have classed to attend (due to clever scheduling on my part) and my friends all did. Are you keeping track of the time frame? It is now at this point in the narrative September 9, 2009. I have spent at this point spent approximately 13 hours of my life attempting to replace a phone that quite obviously does not work.

Let me tell you something. I’m a freelance writer. This means that all of my unoccupied time is devoted to writing. I write profitably for four different websites and manage a blog –this in addition to an annual novel-writing competition, 17 hours of advanced classes and cooking all of my own meals due to severe food allergies. I’m a busy young woman. I lost what amounts to $100 over the first three days of attempting to replace my quite obviously broken phone. I do not appreciate this, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc. I do not appreciate it at all.

Additionally, I attempted half-heartedly to do another soft reset of my phone. After this attempt, the phone would no longer even turn on. I took the battery out again –nothing. In desperation, I plugged the phone in –nothing. Enraged, I went to sleep and planned to resolve the issue.

So when I went back into Verizon on Wednesday, I went full force. People were propelled from my path by the sheer force of my anger, and when I flung open the door to the Verizon store, the same man from two days prior, this time in a different loose-fitting polo shirt (but still smelling of Subway), did not look at all pleased to see me. In fact, when I smiled, he looked downright frightened.

“I need your phone,” I told him, and I had seven hundred years of Scottish temper behind the words. Incidentally, should you be interested, I am a descendant of William Wallace’s mother. You know the movie Braveheart? That sort of temper is the temper I have. I was given a phone.

The woman who answered was the first of your representatives who was kind to me. She, unlike those who came before her, apologized for my misfortunes and assured me that she would do everything in her power to help me –except she did not have that power which is necessary to replace a phone. A phone, I feel compelled to add, that you had sent me initially, and which was not new.

She transferred me to a man named Harold. He, like the woman before him, was incredibly nice. Such a change from your other employees, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.! He was curious, friendly and willing to help me, where the others were incompetent, combative and seemed only to want to pass the buck to someone else.

Despite my explanations of my (at that point) 15 hours on phones and in stores, he still insisted that we run through all of the tests through which I had already run. My hackles went up, but I complied. My phone is important to me. Not only do I conduct my personal affairs on it, it’s invaluable for my multiple writing jobs. After forty-five minutes, he finally came to the conclusion that I had reached nearly two full days before him: the phone was shot. Nothing left to do but replace it.

He offered me the same model, kindly pointing out that it was also available in pink. I laughed for the first time in two days: I am not a pink sort of a person. My sheets are blue. My backpack is black and grey. I have posters of Audrey Hepburn and Casablanca on my walls. I requested that the phone I received be identical to the one I had, in simple black and silver.
I gave Harold my address. He read it back to me, incorrectly; I corrected him. He’d had my room number wrong. He read it back to me again, and, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., had I had a gold star to give him, it would have been his. The address was correct, and he assured me that my phone would be delivered sometime on Thursday, September 10, 2009.

I left the Verizon store feeling almost like a new woman! Imagine –a new, working phone. I would be able to hear the voices of my boyfriend and my mother again. I would be able to call my friends on campus to make plans (which is more efficient than text messaging). The joy! The rapture!

But wait, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.! Our story has not yet ended. Thursday came, and Thursday darkened. Evening arrived. The time for UPS deliveries was long since past and my mother and I commiserated irritably on the Internet about my absent phone. Hoarse of voice and emotionally drained, I conferred onto my mother the dubious joy of calling you yet again to ascertain the whereabouts of my truant phone.

The address, she was told, was wrong. I stared, aghast, at that proclamation. How could the address have been wrong? Harold, my savior and champion, had written it down correctly! Where in the process did my information get skewed or lost?

And then, then came the proclamation that spawned a rage that shook the foundations of my earth. The woman with whom my mother spoke informed her, after placing her on an unnecessary hold for over fifteen minutes, that you had already shipped out your quota of replacement phones. Impotent with anger, I could not even type a response to my mother, who appeared to be in a similar state. She vanished for a long, long time while I looked in vain at the screen, hoping for an answer.

Eventually she returned, telling me only, cryptically, that it was taken care of. To what gods did she sacrifice in order to make your pugnacious employees tractable, I wonder? No matter, it seemed, for the phone had been halted in its return delivery to you and was on its way back to me.

Today is Friday, September 11, 2009. I received my phone shortly before noon, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., and for that I thank you. Although the UPS man startled me by knocking on my door as though he had a grudge against it, he nevertheless delivered my phone (and a textbook), and my day was made incomparably better.

Let us take stock, however, of my trials in getting this phone. I spent, and my mother spent, over 16 hours on the phone over the course of four days. 99% of those calls involved accusations of foul play on my end, a distinct unwillingness to help resolve my problem, the brutal butchery of my name and the name of my father, argumentation, unnecessary amounts of time spent on hold or re-explaining my situation to each and every person with whom I spoke and finally, on the cusp of victory, I found that my address had been tampered with in some way. The phone had been within my very building, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., and yet could not make its humble way to me because someone in your system could not write a simple address correctly (and let it be known that I do not believe Harold is at fault for this egregious error).

So, explain it to me, if you wouldn’t mind. How is it that a company whose motto proclaims that my peace of mind is its passion can ridicule, harass, ignore and refuse to aid me in reaching said peace of mind? Indeed, how is it that an insurance company for which my parents pay an absurd amount of money refuse to provide the only service for which they exist –namely, getting me a new phone when my own had failed? And, I might add, a failed “new” phone that was not even new to begin with.

I am very curious, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., as to how such a situation as I have been placed this week was even allowed to exist, given your claims, given the payment my family makes to you so that you will render services unto us when the need arises, given the number of times I explained –patiently –the circumstances under which I was calling.

I suspect you have no answer.

It would not surprise me. In fact, had you an answer, I might not, at this point, even care to hear or acknowledge it. I have taken what amounts to an entire twenty-four hour period out of my life, my writing, my studies, my socialization, in order to replace a piece of electronic equipment that you were contractually bound to replace should it malfunction, which it did. I have lost money. I have lost time. I have lost some measure of my very sanity and faith in the power of human beings as a result of our exchange, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., and this does not please me.

I am asking for no reparations. I don’t expect to be reimbursed for the $100-150 I lost as a result of spending my days on the phones of other people (although I wouldn’t mind getting reimbursed). I don’t even expect a reply.

All I hope is that your company “claws/the red clay walls of hell for what [it] did” –to quote one of my favorite poets, Steve Scafidi.

I hope that when someone calls in with a phone that no longer works, your employees will feel my hot breath on their necks and feel terror.

I hope you have nightmares of me, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., me: a five-foot-four-inch, one hundred and eleven pound woman, clothed only with true Scottish woad (and indignation), pushing you inexorably towards a horrible cliff’s edge, for the rest of your natural lives.

I hope you read this letter and are ashamed of the vile, puling monstrosity you call an insurance company.

And I really hope you do not think you will continue to have my business, or the business of my family.

Sincerely yours,

Bailey M. Shoemaker Richards


I picked up the documentary Helvetica from the library on campus today. I'm planning on watching it today or tomorrow, and I'm suuuuper excited about it. I've heard nothing but really positive stuff about it, and as a writer (and soon to be designer/editor), font is really interesting to me. Graphic design and the way it incorporates text influences every single aspect of our lives on a daily basis, whether we recognize it or not.

It will be interesting to get an in-depth look at that.

I got another one of my textbooks today (turns out I was 3 short when I got to school, thanks to the shitty textbook website not listing everything students need, presumably so they end up in a situation where they need the textbook asap and are forced to buy it from them -fortunately, such is not my situation).

The book I received today is the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition, Volume 2. It's bigger than my head (not saying I have a big head, just giving you a point of reference. It's a big book). And honestly, for all Chegg's promises of quality, well-preserved books, blah blah, I'm not that impressed. Aside from the cover being scuffed and bent, the outside of the pages have writing all over them (Chelle <3s href="">Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples
Simple Halloween Crafts and Decorations
How to Publish Teen Writing
Simple Ways to Decorate a Dorm Room
Choosing the Best Tattoo Design
Taking Effective Notes in Class
How to Proofread an Academic Paper

From Examiner we have:
The Lost Symbol
Richard Wright
Alex Cross's Trial
Stephenie Meyer's New Moon (if I could shake this, I would, it being my moneymaker)
Overcoming writer's block

Also, worst name for a product ever: Cummins Onan Generators. If you get it, you get it. If you don't, I'm so not explaining this one.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


It’s funny not to have internet on a laptop. Sitting in Wendy’s in Athens, you’d think I would. This campus is so connected, so with it, and yet barely 20 yards off, the connection goes caput. I wanted to come to watch people and write a blog, but the blogging bit isn’t going to work, unless I paste this in later. There’s hardly anyone here, which I would ordinarily like, but right now I want to watch people while I work. Looks like I’m heading somewhere else (when I finish my coffee –generally taking coffee from one coffee shop to another is a quick way to get blacklisted there. Unfortunate but true).

In the meantime, I am excited to start brainstorming ideas for my project. I have to create a book. Or a journal, an anthology, whatever –something where I design a book, come up with an aesthetic mission (and a business plan) and solicit writing from people.

I am so excited I can hardly type about it. Although my enthusiasm in class was dampened by the fact that it had been 8 hours since I’d eaten any food, now that I’m fed and caffeinated, I’m practically vibrating with ideas and thoughts (most of them probably worthy only of the trash heap, but they are there nonetheless).

So what that means, dear readers, is you’re coming along for the ride. I’ll be tossing about ideas, brainstorming, rough drafting, venting, soliciting and working via this blog. And, when it’s all done, I’ll be able to sell it to you –if it’s good enough, that is. These things remain to be seen.

Here's what I've been thinking so far: I want to work with writing of all kinds, especially "hybrid" or what most of us would call weird, experimental or obscure writing (please spare me talk of postmodernism, as it only irritates me. I want substance in my obscurity, not confusion for the sake of being confused). That said, I also want the writing to have a common thread, which I have yet to decide on. I want, I know, some focus on the little things. The things that make us who and what we are from a day-to-day basis (although not necessarily perspective). Whether that's a contemplation of a cup of coffee, a photograph of a pile of notebooks or science fiction absolutely doesn't matter.

I want a bit of it all. Poems, prose (fiction and non and anything in the middle), photography, artwork, whatever -as long as it meets the criterion that I will set forth when I actually do start asking for things, I'll consider it.

Otherwise, I haven't thought much about the format. I'm not entirely sold on the idea of making a traditional anthology/journal thing, because that's too simple (and I like my projects stressful and creative). I was thinking about creating an ebook, or some sort of website where those who want access to the writing would have to pay a one-time fee of $x and if they wanted a physical book, I could do a PoD (print on demand) sort of gig. I don't know yet. I think that's workable, but I also have ZERO experience designing, maintaining or working with a website other than stuff like this and Twitter where I fill in the blank spots with my words and that's all that's required of me. I might end up sticking just with a PoD type book or an ebook for the sake of remaining somewhat sane, but we'll see where it goes.

I still haven't even decided on the aesthetic.

I will admit, though, thinking about this project has made me excited about of the writing I do, both for this blog and for my multiple jobs. Despite loving the payment I get for writing, sometimes the spark just isn't there. Today, though, I remembered that I actually love words. I love the way words sound when you put them next to other words and when you read dictionary entries and when creating something or looking at something someone else made. It's amazing. I love it. It's good to remember that.

In book related news, I was actually mentioned by name in the Amazon blog by the author of the book that I wrote a review of -Legacy. YEAH, WHAT? That's so cool! Mom sent me the link and I about fell off my chair from the coolness of that. I feel super special. And stuff. You'll have to click "Read more" to see it, but it's there. I am that awesome.

No new reviews worth reading right now, but I'm going to write stuff as soon as I finish this and I'll be sure and post links later on.

Just payin the billllls:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Somebody is about to feel the fury of my fists

Not that my fists are all that furious. I guess that's not a really good metaphor. I'm furious, so maybe that translates into having fists of fury. Let's hope so, anyway, because my cell phone broke and the guy at Verizon seems to want to frustrate me in every way imaginable.
  1. The phone is static. I mean...the thing has turned into a giant ball of static. It works occasionally and for maybe 2 minutes, after which talking is no longer an option. I don't yell. Clearly this is not a viable situation.
  2. The guy, fully aware that I own a Mac (since I told him) nevertheless sent me back to my dorm to try to download the new software. Which can only be downloaded onto Windows. From Windows Internet Explorer. Neither of which I have, because I have a MAC.
  3. So I trudge back to my dorm (this guy is lucky it's not really a long walk) and discover that -surprise! -I can't get the software. Here I am in Verizon waiting for my phone to get fixed when I wanted to be at the Athens Book Center trying to get a job.
  4. Bastards.

On the plus side, classes are awesome. I'm excited about them. However, I'm also starving to death, so more on that later.

Quick edit: A discussion I had with my mom today has got me all fired up, and I've been writing (unrelated) things for almost 2 straight hours, so I'm a little fried and a lot irritable. Politics right now can only be described as a shitstorm. I can't stand to read a newspaper, half the Tweets I get on Twitter are related to this stuff and it's in the headlines everywhere -I get that there are controversial issues. I respect that. In fact, I think that's awesome.

What I don't think is awesome is the way it's being discussed -by either side as a whole, or even by most individuals.

I am so sick of anyone who disagrees with anything Obama says being labeled a racist/fundamentalist Christian/idiot. If their argument is not based on race, religion or a lack of intelligence and information, those kinds of comments are not only irrelevant, they're insulting to both the person being criticized, and the one making them. People who call the opposition racist, fundamentalist morons when that is not the issue at hand only serve to make themselves look like bigger, more ignorant jackasses.

If you don't agree with the point someone is making on an issue, argue with them about the issue. Don't attack them personally. What does that accomplish, aside from hostility? If someone attacked a point I made during a religious debate using the fact that I'm a creative writing major, I would laugh in their face. That's the same situation. If it's not relevant to the discussion, then leave it the hell out. There's no point stirring up more (unnecessary) controversy over an issue that's already divisive.

As for the other side, comparing Obama to Hitler is never going to get anyone anywhere except pissed off and frustrated. Make your point without getting over dramatic. Stop predicting the damn apocalypse every 30 seconds and actually research the issues once in a while (this is meant to be taken with a grain of salt -I know plenty of people who do their research on the issues at stake and can argue them well while leaving religion out of it. I'm not talking to these people). If your religious views are playing a role in what you think of the issue, and if the only point you can make involves Obama = Hitler/the country is being run into the ground/morals are dead/Obama = commie, but you can't say why, then shut up.

If you can't argue on the issues themselves, then don't argue about the issues by bringing in irrelevant points about the apocalypse and Hitler. It doesn't accomplish anything positive.

For real, productive discussions, people need to do their research, understand the issues at hand and learn to discuss things respectfully with one another. We are not small children on a playground fighting over who gets to pitch first at dodge ball based on which team has the better insults, we're talking about real, serious issues that will have a place in the lives of real people. So get over yourself, grow up and stop acting like babies -ALL of you.

I realize nothing in this post has anything to do with books whatsoever, so here are some links to reviews I've been writing.
South of Broad
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Richard Wright (he had a birthday)
Alex Cross's Trial

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hitting the books

This is me, looking smug/tired next to one of the 2 most important objects in my room: the (itty bitty) bookshelves! The other important object is my coffeemaker, which you can see some other time. Right behind me is my bed and then a wall, and that's all there is to my room. It gives definition to the word "cozy." Although right now it smells like microwaved alfredo, Good Earth tea and French Vanilla candly-stuff.

I figured it was about time for an update (I'm thinking I skipped last Friday, but I'm too lazy to check) even though everyone I know is probably off somewhere celebrating Labor Day. I'm sitting in my pretty new dorm room drinking hazelnut coffee that I made in my pretty new coffeemaker and smelling the scent of my pretty new (flameless) candle. I don't need a $25 fine for bringing the lovely candles Jonah gave me, even though the smells of them were always comforting.

I moved in on Saturday (thanks Family and Jonah for helping!! Miss you), spent yesterday getting acclimated to campus again and don't really know what's on my list of things to do today. I know I need to walk through my schedule at least once (to see how panicky I'll be tomorrow morning trying to make it from RTec to Porter in under 10 minutes. They're about a block+ apart). Fortunately for me, my last 2 classes of the day are not only right next door to one another in the same building, they're almost directly across the street from my dorm. How convenient!

Unfortunately for me, I have class from 8-4 tomorrow, no breaks. 10 minutes between classes. Granted, on the first day of class it usually goes something like this: "Here's your syllabus. Read chapters x-x for next time and e-mail me if you have questions. See you later!" English classes are usually the ones that keep you the whole time -big lectures just want you to get your syllabus and get out. Lucky me, English classes are my favorite, and I'm finishing out my days with English Lit and then Literary Editing. I'm so excited about that class.

That class is going to take up a lot of space in this blog over the next 10 weeks.

I also have the most stellar schedule imaginable, minus the 8-4 with no breaks bit. I have all 4 of my classes in a row on Tuesday/Thursday and then a 1-hour class on Fridays. That's it. That's all she wrote. "Bam!" said the lady.

Regularly scheduled book talk will begin again in a day or so -I still need to get adjusted to being on campus (and having my own room) before I can read comfortably. Writing my little articles has been a challenge enough.

Edit: Speaking of books... I can't stop drooling over this. So. Jealous.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What day is it again?

I keep getting my days mixed up. Ever since my part-time gig at Spectrum ended, I really have no bearing on when it is. The only fixed date I've been able to keep in mind is, of course, this Saturday when I head back to Athens for my junior year as a creative writing major. Woo! But yeah. Today so far (at 11 a.m.) I have thought it was Friday, Tuesday and Monday (not necessarily in that order). I don't know what that says about me as a person, but I'm sure it can't be good.

No matter. I have coffee and Flogging Molly and articles to bullshit.... I mean write. I've already written one so far today (no guarantees on quality -this was done before I had coffee. Bad idea. Very, very bad idea) and my goal is to finish between 2 and 4 more. We'll see. I might be willing to settle for 1, depending on how the day goes.

I love old Disney movies. New ones are pretty decent as well, but it's the old ones -the ones I grew up with -that I just can't get enough of. I am very partial to Beauty and the Beast. The scene with the library? Oooh baby. That's my favorite. That right there would sell me on pretty much any movie. You let me loose in a place that has a library like that one and I will curl up like a kitten and refuse to leave. Probably ever.

Libraries -good libraries -are the bomb. Dark libraries, like OU's, where the lights are at semi-creepy levels of low and the shelves are tall and full and make big shadows... mmm. Yes please. I'd like it better if instead of those laminate-wood chairs and tables they had big oak writing desks and leather armchairs, but let's be real. Most college students cannot be trusted to maintain really nice things, especially over many many years. But still. From an aesthetic standpoint, dark green leather armchairs and oak. Still, it's an amazing library. Seven floors, tons and tons and tons of books, maps, presentations, quiet people (astonishingly enough -the only floor that's ever loud is really the 2nd one, because all of the computers and printers are there. It's also really warm)... definitely one of my favorite libraries.

I need more books to read. I'll be honest. I've still got a couple I'm working on (so, so slowly), and I think once I get back to school I'll have a jump-start on ideas and whatnot, but right now with the preparations for moving and all, I'm just kind of coasting. Which isn't a bad thing.

Where do you like to go to read? Just out of curiosity.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." Einstein knew what he was talking about. Some people never learn, and it's just something that happens. You deal.

I leave for college on Saturday. :) I'm excited and bummed and have totally not started packing (mostly). I've got stuff pulled out of my closet and from a couple of drawers and stuffed into bins, boxes and bags. I also bought a big black bumbershoot today -it looks like it should be a sword cane. Sadly it's not. I have also officially used up my alliteration license for the day. I only need to get food now and I'm pretty much good to go, aside from laundry.

As should be expected, I'm taking far more books than anything else. They're languishing in bins in my room right now, and the guilt is just absolutely crushing me. Books belong on shelves, on display, where they can breathe and are easily accessible. Crushing Jane Austen underneath my copy of "Not Quite What I Was Planning" is just not cool. I don't like it. I want to get to my room and set up my pretty silver shelves (although it'll take me a lot longer than it should, since yours truly is not mechanically inclined -maybe I can talk Jonah into helping me with this) and lovingly place my books out in the open air again.

If I could have floor to ceiling shelves in my dorm, I so totally would. How do you display your books?

In other news, I love Spongebob. And I reviewed another book.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Moon, The White Queen and other nonsense

This picture of my tattoo (which is reversed) relates to CAKE! Read on for more details.

I write about a lot of "other nonsense" -probably because my life is filled with nonsense. Nonsense is not bad. In fact, it's quite wonderful a good deal of the time. It just doesn't fall under the heading of the Reading Corner.

For instance, Jonah baked me a belated birthday cake with my tattoo done in the icing -not only is that awesome, the cake was also chocolate/peanut butter/hazelnut flavored. Is he the best or what? Or, another example, my little sister got a part in a local production of Seussical the Musical (she's a jungle creature).

Other examples include: what I'm wearing (as much as I love my fashion blogs, I do not follow their examples -jeans and tank tops are about all you'll get out of me. I am comfortable this way, and nobody is interested in seeing me get gussied up every day. Well... some people might be, but I don't have time to make myself look like a million bucks every time I walk out my front door. I'm cute enough as is. :P ), what I've eaten (this and drinks can be filled with one word: COFFEE. If I could eat coffee as a meal every day, I would -chocolate covered espresso beans do not a good meal make, sadly), where I've gone (unless it's the bookstore/library) or what I'm watching (unless I can make it work).

Fortunately, I tell you about most of those things anyway! That's why I allow myself room to write "other nonsense." Because I am more than my face in a book. Not much more, perhaps, but it doesn't hurt to know that I have stuff going on outside writing. It reminds me of it, anyway. I have a lot of cool things going on in my life. :)

So! Books.

New Moon the movie, as you well know, is coming out in November. Holy Jesus am I not excited about this occurring. As a backlash against the ever rising tides of Twilight-related hysteria that I'm seeing with the imminent release of the movie (which I'm sure will suck as much as the original), I wrote a review of the book New Moon and analyzed it from the (accurate) Edward-abuses-Bella (who is an idiot)-standpoint. Fun times!

I also reviewed another book I haven't read (and don't care to) called The White Queen. If you're into historical fiction, this is totally going to be your thing. If you don't give a rat's ass about it, it's probably not. I'm not into historical fiction -the reason for me being that if I want to learn about history, I'll read a history book. Rewriting history and fleshing out characters who were actual people with actual lives to make them best-selling fiction is not something that interests or pleases me. I like my history factual. Why the rewriting? Why the fictionalization? Is it just to get people interested? My high school history teachers did a decent job of getting me interested in history. Which is made up of facts.

Perhaps the only fictionalized historical account I've ever enjoyed was Loving Frank. Mostly because a major portion of the book was comprised of actual letters and journal/diary entries, newspaper reports and other, similarly factual pieces of FACT.

I'm slowly edging onto my soapbox about this one. Can anyone defend historical fiction to me? I'm all for fiction writing, creative nonfiction (which includes some liberal amounts of truth-bending, believe you me) and what-have-you but historical fiction is a genre I just do not understand. Why take an actual story that other people lived a really long freaking time ago and add a bunch of fiction to it? Not only is it confusing and misleading, it seems to smack of intellectual laziness to me. If you're going to go to the trouble of researching a time period and specific individuals in order to write about them, why wouldn't you publish a nonfiction account of it? If the story is that super exciting, it shouldn't be much harder to sell copies.

I just don't like it. I'm not expressing it well, but the genre as a whole pisses me off a bit. I need coffee before I "accidentally" kick someone in the face.

In other news, I've been writing about Halloween. Have a significant other? Want to go to a Halloween party with them in a matching costume? This is the article for you. Want to not die while out trick or treating? This is the article for you.

I need to get something productive done. I haven't written yet today and my writer's guilt is kicking in. Or something.