Monday, August 19, 2013

I still love my job! Yes, you did read that correctly.


Who knew word  clouds could be so useful?

I actually tried one for Ava. I didn't finish it, but that's not because the idea isn't brilliant, and what I did finish was surprisingly illuminating.

You're going to need to share the plot exercises because my quirk book (still untitled) is in desperate need. It may be codding as I write this, but I'm out of ideas on how to save it. It's mostly the middle. The idea is there I just can't keep it going long enough to evolve into a cohesive work. I'll get there though! That's what optimism (and best friends who go to Goddard) are for!

How's the course work coming? Any books I need to read? Any fun work stories? Any fun garden stories? I want to hear it all :)

Life in Providence is lovely. And I really do love my job - it wasn't just a yay, not Oneonta fluke!

I had a Disney teaching moment which was beyond wonderful. We (me and two other AmeriCorps) went to our off-site placement three times a week. Two days for teaching and one to help chaperone field trips. A few weeks ago we were doing Egypt curriculum. Tuesday we talked about triangles being stronger then other shapes (i.e. squares) and then we built a pyramid out of dowels and rubber bands and each kid made an artifact out of loose parts (cardboard, pipe-cleaners, uncooked pasta - you get the idea) of the item they'd most want to take with them to the afterlife. Then we took the objects back to the museum, covered them in clay, and they became artifacts. The next day the pyramid where they had placed their objects was replaced with a sand (actually oatmeal) pit where the artifacts were placed. We explained that 100 years had passed and that the kids had to excavate artifacts and figure out what they were. We even has clipboards so they could take 'field notes.' One of our too cool for school kids was really enjoying the activity, but he was getting frustrated because he couldn't figure out what the object he'd uncovered was. So I asked him if he had seen the Little Mermaid and he looked at me like I was crazy, but I was like really, have you? He said yes and I said well you know how Ariel finds things from the surface, but she doesn't really know what they're called and so she makes up names and purposed for them - like the fork as a hairbrush? He nods. I said this is exactly like this. We don't know what was here 100 years ago so what do you think it was for? And he totally had a light bulb moment and was like so this could be whatever I want it to be? And was so excited! Thank you Disney :) 

I love teaching. It's all the things I wanted to do in the most direct way of doing it. Working with children? Check. Being creative daily? Check. Making a difference. Check.

I'm looking into whether I'd like to stay in informal education or move on to elementary education. I can't really decide, but I figure I have a bit of time before I have to make permanent decisions.The idea process right now is that it would be great to get initially certified  in teaching and then be a classroom teacher for a year or so to decide if I liked teaching in or out of the classroom better. I'm actually so excited about it that I have three plans of action! The first is Teach for America. That's super competitive though so I'm not putting all my hopes on it.  The second is to just go through the certification process (I have a liberal arts education so I don't need to go back to school right away, I do have to take a bunch of tests though - boo!) and try to find a job. The third is to find a GA position somewhere and work to earn a masters in elementary ed. Fingers crossed for TFA!

So to make an already lengthy blog post shorter - I'm really glad I was lucky enough to get this position!

On a completely different note. I'm going to try to come home for a long weekend the beginning of September and we should get together and have a writing/catch up day! Or plan a NYC day. Something! Cause we need a girlie day :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Writing Exercises

Dear Ashley,

I promised you a blog post about Goddard as soon as I returned, and I'm sorry I'm only just getting around to it. I've been busy- but I bought a car! I get to pick it up on Monday, and now when you're home visiting I don't have to work around Ben's schedule too to come and see you!

Anyway, Goddard.
I had so much fun- it was really great. I was nervous going in, but I got there and everyone in my G1 group (G1 because we're first semester Graduate students) was super friendly and awesome, and all of the staff and other students were as well. Everything was really nice- for a group of writers that was the only adjective that we could come up with to describe everything about Goddard- it's nice.

Jane Wohl is my adviser, and she's great. She's mostly a poet, but she also writes fiction, which is good because I'll never be a poet. She made us do poetry exercises at one of our group advising sessions, and mine were horrific. Here's an example of a lune (3 words, 5 words, 3 words) that I wrote:

Planted in egg
Cartons, like you're supposed to.
Dead tomatoes again.

or this one, (gardening was the theme I picked because I was worrying about my tomatoes. They are, in fact, dead.)

Forgot to spray
soap before we planted seeds.
Strawberry bugs, forever.

The workshops that I got the most out of were Reiko's. She's awesome, and I really want her to be my second adviser. I'd like to keep Jane for the first year, and develop a first draft of the novel, and then have Reiko rip it apart and make it better.

Her character exercise is like, the best thing in the world.

Pick a character. Do a whole page word cloud of things that describe them, without really thinking about it. Just write down everything. Oh, and leave enough space around your words.

Now, put a square around things that could change. Example: Insecure
Put a circle around things that are/could be a secret. My example: Dyslexic
Put a triangle around their strengths. Ex: Loyal
Put a squiggly cloud around their fears: Ex: Uneducated

So really, what your character wants is to overcome their fears and change. It was super helpful to me to write it all out, because I realized that my plot was in fears that I didn't necessarily know that my characters had.

What makes it even easier to plot it all out is to break the word cloud down into four questions.

1)What are their fears?
2) What are the qualities that create each fear?
3)What is the action each fear prompts?
4)Why is it important to the plot?

Another exercise that she gave us in that workshop was to take your character, and put them in an emotionally charged situation.
Then put them in a place where things will change.
Have them notice something that only that character would notice (you can learn a lot about your character doing this)
And put something in their hand (physically or metaphorically and ideally something that will work against them achieving what they want to in this scene)

Then free write and see where it goes.

I haven't tried this one yet, but it seems like it will be a good one.

I have to get ready to go to work now, but in my next post I'll write out the plot exercises that we did in Reiko's workshop called The Scene Doctor. I totally figured out what was wrong with my opening scene. Now I just have to find time to write the thing again and make it better.

Off to serve people drinks now.


PS- You should totally get a kitten. I vote yes. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wing it?


I wish we could have Saturday morning writing sessions at the Huntington every week and lead gloriously exciting lives away from Oneonta for the rest of the week! But alas we'll have to blog it instead...

I agree with Ben - there will be a few people who have it planed down to the week but most people will be like I want to be a writer this is what I'm supposed to do, right? I think that you should go with the piece they accepted you on and take a sampling of other stuff. Just grab it and go. You might use it, you might not, but at least you can say this is where I'm coming from and it's a pretty good chance that it's got at least a thread of where you're headed.

Use your adviser! Tell him/her right up front that you're considering the mystery route but you love literature and is there a more meta-literature road you can take or should you pick a genre. That's what they're there for - to help guide you - plus it's your first session broad ideas are expected. If it was this time next year and you were still like ummm, well maybe, then you'd have a problem. Until then don't put undue pressure on yourself. You're gonna rock it!

I'm also thinking about recycling for the quirk challenge. Finding Alice is a non traditional story with a dark twist and reading their published novels list that seems to be the road to take. I also thought maybe Pan would work here, but I wanted to ask you if you'd care if I took the idea back? I know we never actually worked on it, but I did throw it out there as a trilogy idea and if you still want to work on it together that's totally ok!

I'm here if you want to pro/con sample lists!


P.S. You are not an old lady! I totally want a garden :) Also I'm thinking about adopting a cat. Thoughts? 

No Purpose. No Porpoises Either.


Greetings from the library! I came into town with Ben today so that I could run errands, and now I'm sitting in our room at the library writing this post. It would be more fun if you were sitting across from me and we were going to see a movie after, but it's okay. I wasn't trying to guilt you.

I'm glad you like Providence, and I'm glad you love your job! Mine is still fun, too, but I wouldn't say I love it. I can't wait to have a job someday that I can say that about. I'd love to come visit sometime- I've been to Newport, but never to Providence, and you know how I love theater.

Your reading nook looks awesome! I don't have any pictures today, but mine will probably either be of the garden, or of the socks that I'm knitting. I'm such an old lady.

Thanks for the breathing exercises in the last post. I definitely need to remind myself to do that occasionally. I'm leaving in a week and a half, and I have no car yet (working on it, fingers crossed the loan app goes through this time) no idea what I'm going to study, and no idea what writing samples to bring.

Actually, that last one is a slight exaggeration. I feel like I should probably bring the one that got me in to the program. They say to bring samples to read, since there are opportunities to do that if you want. I don't want to read, but I feel like I should have a few things anyway so that I can start planning my two years with my first advisor.

As far as what to study though, I'm at a loss. I've thought about tracking the evolution of the mystery (because I like those) from Poe, to the split between hard-boiled detective fiction and cozy mysteries, up through the thrillers of today like Dan Brown's new one. Which reminds me...what are the odds that book is on the new fiction shelf downstairs? Probably pretty slim, but I'll look on my way out.

I have such a varied taste in books that I'm having a hard time nailing down a topic. Ben assures me that I won't be the only one who isn't sure what to study, and he's probably right, but if he's not, I don't want to look like an idiot. I mean, it is grad school- I feel like I should have SOME idea of my purpose going in.

I am so stoked for the Quirk Books competition too! I think I'm going to go sort of classic as well, and try my hand at adapting the screenplay that I've rewritten like four times into a novel. I love the characters, and they're there, but something isn't clicking. Maybe it needs to be a novel first. I think that will be my Camp NaNo project for July. Can you believe it's time for Camp 2.0 already?

Anyway, I'm going to end this now, and go see about Inferno downstairs before I go pick up Ben and then drop him off so I can turn around and go to work. My next post will be full of baseball people stories, I'm sure.


PS- I love your glasses, they look super cute!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Greetings From Prividence!


I just went through three years worth of facebook messages trying to find the password for the blog email! We've had some pretty good ideas - guess how many we actually finished?!


One week in and I'm quite enjoying Providence. I love my job which I don't think I've ever been able to say before and I'm really glad that I got the opportunity to travel the museum road. I think that I had been spending so much time trying to fit into these pre-constructed pathways for a career that I was continually striking out. And I was so frustrated! Because as we've already discussed I felt like I had already done all the 'right' things. I don't really know what my future looks like job wise, but the museum looks like a promising journey and the best of both worlds - both creative and academic. I'm certainly excited to see where it leads.

That being said, the end goal is still to be a Broadway actress or a enormously successful novelist :)

I haven't has a lot of exploring time yet. What I have seen seems to be vibrant and full of energy. Though I really do need to learn Spanish! I feel like more people are speaking a foreign language than English and I feel so far behind the times only knowing one language! I do know that there is quite a bit of theater so you'll have to come and visit and we can judge people together :)

Here is a picture of my reading nook.

Beautiful, yes?

I have a pretty big apartment and the nook is in my little office. All in all it is a great first place. The living room is plenty big enough if I decide to have company. The bedroom has three great big windows (no view, but great natural light). The kitchen isn't huge, but there is a lot of storage and the walls are a lovely peach color which is super cheerful. I only have two complaints. 1) The only bathroom is off of my bedroom which means that I have to keep it clean (the bedroom not the bathroom that needs to stay clean obviously) and that people have to journey through 'my' space. 2) The landlord let people make holes in the wall to hang there things. In itself not a bad thing, but now there are little holes or nails or screws sticking out of all the walls and it's driving me nuts to look at them! Oh, I also need to buy curtains but they are far to expensive for panels of fabric and I do have pull down shades so they can wait a few weeks. And by weeks I mean paychecks.

In other news - I got glasses!

I went in thinking they'd be like see you in a year and was instead told that I am super nearsighted and have an astigmatism. They did the whole this is your life with/without glasses dialogue and I was like wow I can see so much better! Overall I like them, though seeing the frames out of the corner of my eye is still a bit frustrating.

Now onto important things - writing!

I love this challenge. They just dared me to write a love story. IN! I have no idea what I'm going to write about. I'm thinking I want to keep it simple. I think everybody will go crazy with the paranormal and I'd like it to be a classic story. Maybe do a Before Sunrise thing and have it all take place in 24 hours... I'm going to think on it a little bit more and then have you play devil's advocate.

More importantly still. You start grad school in 2 weeks!

(insert me calming your panic here - now breathe)

Tell me what kind of samples you need? Also give me an overview of what the first session will be like! I want to know if I can steal any ideas without having to pay for the price of the course :p

Let me know what your thinking about for your quirk book!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Fair Warning: This post is for ranting and not much else

The worst place to reside is inside of your own head and yet here I am again -at least its rent free.

I have three choices for the next year.

1. I have been accepted to the Wright Institute in Berkley California. I could attend. Get my doctorate. Be a psychologist. Hope that the thousands of dollars I spend don't end up being a whim and that I enjoy psychology as much as a career than as a topic of conversation.

2. I could do AmeriCorps. I have a few opportunities, a few interviews. Nothing set in stone yet as far as acceptance, but its a reasonable option. Pro's it looks great on a resume, I generally enjoy service and being I had to put peace corps on hold its a great option in my own back yard. Cons - its another new place for one year with no ties, no support system, and no guaranteed plan in formation once I finish it up. 

3. I could stay in Oneonta, work at bassett, act at Orpheus, volunteer at the Fenimore (or any number of other local museums) and apply to the museum education programs for the fall of 2014. Obvious con - Oneonta.

I'm so freaking confused. Didn't we check all the boxs? Didn't we go to college, work menial jobs, pay our dues? Why isn't there really a fairy godmother who can come wave her wand around and point us in the right direction?

Also writing day soon? I have no idea what 50,000 words April should hold?

Thanks for listening (or reading) as always!! Your turn?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Of MFAs and Twilight Zone Marathons

Dear Ashley,

Guess who's going to be living upstate again in a week?

Oh, that'd be me.

Ben got the job at Oneonta, so we're frantically packing up (actually, not frantically, yet, but next week I'm sure it will be, simply because it's not now. I'm stressed about it, but at the same time, I need stuff in the next week and it can't all be in boxes. So, there will be frantic packing in my near future.) and we're going to be moving up the end of next week.

As I believe I've already said on facebook: Holy Fuck.

We're moving into his parents house and rooming with his sister while his parents are gone for the winter. I really like Jen, but after two years of just us in an apartment, I'm reluctant to move in with someone else. Even if she's totally grateful, because she admits she's scared in the house by herself, and it's too much for one person to maintain all through the winter.

I'm really really really hoping to get the Co-Manager job at Damascene Book Cellar. Seriously. I had an interview with Dan Birnbaum, who owns it, and he knows Dave and Kelly (the same Dave who got me and Ben together) so hopefully I have a chance. Because it would be the PERFECT job for me. Basically doing what I'm doing now, except with books, and not a neurotic asshole for a boss AND more money plus benefits.
BENEFITS!! It's been like five years since I've had health insurance. I'm dying for it. Pun intended.

I had a Skype interview with him Tuesday night, and I think it went well, so I'm hoping to hear back from him today or tomorrow at the latest about coming in next week while we're home for a second interview. Keep your fingers crossed, because this would take sooooo much stress out of my life it isn't even funny.

In other news, I did promise to tell you more about MFAs in Creative Writing.
I think I'm going to go for it.
I feel like if I could get on the wait list for super-selective NYU, then I have a decent chance of getting into Bennington College, which is currently my top choice school. They have a low-residency MFA too. It'd be great- I could hold a full time job and still get my Masters. Also, something that I just learned, was that MFA is a terminal degree. Meaning, it's the highest level degree that is possible in that given field. And thus, I could teach Creative Writing at a University level with one.

I still want a PhD, mostly just to flaunt it, but also because I still think a PhD in CompLit would be great, and allow me to teach whatever the hell I wanted, once I'd been doing it long enough. But right now, I'm not totally sure what I'd want it in, specifically, and I don't think I have a good enough resume to get into someplace like Cornell (top choice for PhD). And, I sort of just want the MFA. I think it's all the thinking that we've been doing lately about how we took all the right steps, and did everything we were supposed to, but we still can't get where we want to go. So it's time to do what I want.

I'm going to be in debt for the rest of my life anyway.
The odds of me writing the next Twilight and becoming independently wealthy are sort of slim.
The economy has gone to shit and there's no such thing as a good stable job anymore, so why not go for the things that were too risky before (like writing, and theater).
Because really, being a cashier at a grocery store is a risky job these days.

So that's my thought process.
I'm going to need regular writing days complete with coffee and possibly a movie to preserve my sanity once we're back.

Speaking of movies... want to go see Les Mis on New Year's Eve? I think that's the first free day I'll have with no moving and I'll need a break from unpacking. Also, I don't know what our plans are for New Year's yet, but I've been hoarding a bottle of Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio for the occasion. If it's anything like what we usually do (pick an ethnicity and make a bunch of food to eat while we watch the Twilight Zone marathon that is invariably on television) I will let you know and invite you over for the night :)

See you soon!