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Archive for January, 2009

hmmm….

When you call our the office where I work you now get immediately to our voice mail message (that I recoreded) which says:

“Thank you for calling FM Construction. We have re-located to our head office in Edinburgh.  Please now contact 0131-226-xxxx for all enquiries.”

But no one has come to speak to me about our office getting shut down.

It’s very interesting.

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exactly what I was waiting for

I meant to tape the Inaugural Celebration yesterday but Sky+ failed on me, so I missed it.  I arrived at work early this morning to watch it on CNN, though.  I only watched the Inaugural Address, but that was enough. 

How inspiring.  How uplifting.  How appropriate.  How memorable.

While reading one of the blogs I subscribe to I found exactly the situation I was hoping to hear about.

Chris from Mele Cotte, who is a school teacher, experienced this situation and, thankfully, shared it with her readers:

I don’t know what caused the lump in my throat, the significance of the historical moment I was witnessing from the back row of desk where I sat, or the reactions of the three young African American boys who sat in the desks in front of me – forgetting I was there. While two boys sat up straight, alert, and focused, the young man who thanked me was the same who voiced (positive) commentary as he reacted to what he saw. He recited the Our Fatheralong with Rev. Rick Warren during the invocation, sat up straight while Obama spoke, offered his conjecture on how Joseph Lowry was feeling as he delivered the benediction, and as he exited the classroom at the conclusion of the ceremony, quietly nodded his head and whispered, “Yes he did…and now I can.” I wanted to cry. The same kids, who outsiders looking in say are “failing”, are the same ones who are looking, listening, and now believing. It was a touching moment I will remember for a long time.

So, thank you Chris, for sharing this touching moment.  It really was exactly what I was waiting for.

xo

A

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Obama Inauguration Celebration…

 

Goodbye & good riddance Bush, you old bastard.

Today is a very exciting day.  And to celebrate Obama’s Inauguration, I made cupcakes.  Devils Food, of course, with buttercream frosting.

And I decorated them to show my (finally renewed) sense of pride in being an American.  See?:

Congratulations President Obama!

Congratulations President Obama!

 And before you ask, no there are not exactly 50 stars.  My lovely husband enquired whether there were (at that point there were only 9 per cupcake and 9×4=36) and when I said no he laughed.  So then I had to make sure there WERE the correct amount of stars.  Except I stopped paying attention and went WAY overboard so there are actually 67 stars. 

Know any territories that would like to be made into US states?

In other news we got our new dining room table, chairs, stools and side table.  S actually saw them in a discount furniture store a week or so ago and we went this past Saturday to take a look.  Well, I followed S and fell immediately in love with this set.  It’s amazing.  It got delivered yesterday and S and I spent the night assembling chairs.  Want to see a picture?  OK!!

our new solid wood dining table  
our new solid wood dining table

And another shot, showing more chairs and the side table:

see the side table in the background?
see the side table in the background?

It’s a bit dark, but you get the idea.  The block of wood in the front of the picture is one of the stools – meant to be the chairs for the table, but we thought they might be a tad uncomfortable so we bought actual chairs as well as some stools.  The two dark squares on top of the table are the tops of the “legs” which are two solid square blocks of wood.

 
We’re buying a matching coffee table as well, but that has yet to be ordered. 
 
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.  I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we LOVE it!!!
 
xo
A

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on writing

“Writing is an unpredictable act, for with each new word that is placed on paper, the author moves father away from the original vision… Ultimately, each writer must learn to trust the instinctive direction of the work, but it is not an easy choice, for it often evokes a barrage of inner critical voices.  Fortunately these… can be countered by those muse-like angles who reside within…” – Mark Waldman, The Spirit of Writing 

 

I am re-reading The Spirit of Writing because I have decided that 2009 is going to be my year. I want to lock myself away in solitary confinement and get some writing done, finally. I have 6 or 7 ideas milling about inside my head and fear there won’t be room for many more until I bleed the system, pardon the radiator metaphor but I’m still preoccupied with DIY.

 

So where do I start?  I need my own space, for one.  We decided when we moved into the house that I could turn the smallest bedroom into a sort of writer’s paradise, because S wants me to write more than I do.  Right now the kittens inhabit that space so first I must evict them (they’re going to the vet this month to get the snip) and then I must make the room my own.

 

I have already chosen the paint color (Jane Austen Blue, I like to call it) and my brain is teeming with ideas which will make the room perfect.  I have it all planned out, now all I need is time and the £s to get it done.  Sadly, I do not have excesses of either. 

 

Why do I need my own space?  Because when I am writing I need to concentrate 150% of my brain on what I am accomplishing at that very instant.  I can not have any distractions or interruptions.  I must be comfortable and surrounded by whatever I happen to find inspirational, which may change by the hour or by the day.  When I wrote my final submission for my thesis for the MLitt, I listened to Snow Patrol non-stop for four days. 

 

“Writing is an adventure.  To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement.  Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant.  The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” – Winston Churchill

 

When I studied at The University of London I was taking a class on myths and legends.  I think it was a literary study but I can’t quite remember.  The reason I can’t quite remember?  I was totally preoccupied.  There was a girl in my class, whose name I don’t think I ever knew, who was heart-stoppingly beautiful.  She had the most amazing hair, it was perfectly curled into pencil-width corkscrews.  And so I started writing. 

 

I have no idea how my brain made the leap from the girl with the perfect hair to beginning to write Mersey, but it did and that was the beginning.  She morphed into Treasure, one of the characters in the story.  Someday I will finish Mersey, but not before re-writing it completely.  At first my characters were in high school, I suppose because I was 19 when I started writing it and that was all I could comment competently on, but when I began the MLitt course and revised and re-wrote Mersey for that course, I changed everything and forced my characters to grow up; something that, in retrospect, did not suit them.  So I can only see two options: I am either going to have to send them all through the reality filter or I am going to have to send them back down to high school which, at nearly 45,000 words, may take a while.

 

But I will never abandon her.  There is far too much of me in the piece for me to ever cast it aside and forget about it.  I am not sure I am prepared to begin the arduous revision task just yet, but trust me it will get done.

 

“When I am writing I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.” – Maya Angelou  

 

The inspiration for what I consider my new ideas is a mystery to me.  Sometimes I dream complete scenes from my future works in glorious Technicolor and Surround Sound and when I wake I must, must, must get them down on paper before they evaporate the way dreams do.  Often my ideas come to me in whole – the plot of an entire novel from beginning to end.  The characters of these particular tales are, as yet, unknown to me but the plot outline is complete.  At other times it is the characters that come to me as complete individuals; I know their names, appearances, charms and faults as though they are real people, perhaps simply close friends that I have know from birth.  Whatever comes to me first, scenes, plots or people, the fleshing out is my favorite part, combining all the loose threads into the single, tightly-woven fabric of a story.  How exhilarating. 

 

So now I must dredge up these new ideas, which is completely and utterly terrifying.  My past work, at least, has some recommendation.  I have a (very expensive) framed degree on my wall that says just that.  This new stuff, though, who is to say that it will be up to scratch?  Is it all 100% truly original?  Is any writing these days 100% truly original?  Will someone jump the gun and somehow publish my ideas before me?  Will anyone like what I have to say?  Do I have the right to assume and impose my thoughts upon the world?

 

What will I do when the first negative review comes in?

 

Unfortunately I do not have the answers to these questions.  Mostly because they are rhetorical, but in the long run, I don’t know the answers because thus far I have been too cowardly to find them out.

 

“In many ways, writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind.  It’s an aggressive, even hostile act.  You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctive, with ellipses and evasions – with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating – but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.” – Joan Didion

 

I have decided, however, that the time has come.  I am going to brush up on my vocabulary and my grammar (no 8th grade reading level here, thank you very much) and I am going to knuckle down and see where the path takes me. 

 

I will try my best to write only what I know.

I will try my best to be believable.

I will try my best not to impose too wholly upon the mind of my readers.

I will try my best.

 

Then it is your turn.  You must then try your best.  Try your best to accept my work as professional and not simply your daughter’s/friend’s/wife’s attempts at being a professional.  Try to be completely honest without being completely devastating.  Try to be supportive without being patronizing.  Try to put up with my severely decreased social life as I lock myself away into solitary confinement. 

 

While I am asking for things, I have one further request: please try to catch all of my comma-splices; they are, without a doubt, my most favorite grammatical mistake.

 

And so we go from darkness onwards into darkness.

 

xo

A

 

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2008/2009

2008 was a very good, very busy year. 

In 2008 I became an aunt, got engaged, got married, bought and moved into a new house and adopted 2 kittens.  Not to mention the 2 week holiday to the East Coast of America where I met my brand-new niece for the first time!  And the mountains of DIY we’ve undertaken at the new house.

We’ve gutted and re-decorated all three bedrooms, the kitchen and all three bathrooms.  Actually, the third bathroom is still waiting to be finished, but as it is only hanging of towel rails, mirrors and the like, I think we can call the ensuite finished.  Finally.

So what will 2009 have in store for me?  Hopefully not quite as much as 2008 because I don’t think I could do all  that again!!

I hate the word resolution and I don’t think you should have to wait until January to make goals in your life, but it is a rather convenient time to join the goal-setting bandwagon.  So here I go.

  • I will read a book a week.  Or, rather, an average of a book a week.  52 books in 2009 and I am sticking to it.  I’m already behind. (shh!)
  • I will make more of an effort to complete the list of 100 Snapshots listed here.  I miss my camera and I miss taking photographs.  Not just pictures, mind, but actual, thought-through photographs.  So I am going to try harder.
  • I will bake more of the recipes I see on the hundred or so food blogs I read religiously.  I may even post about some of them.  So far this year I’ve made  Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread from the recipe posted by Deb of  Smitten Kitchen which has to be my favorite blog.  Wonderful recipes, beautiful pictures and a handful of humour thrown in for good measure.  Go and visit her site, she is amazing. (And the gingerbread?  So very lovely…)
  • I will call my far-away family and friends more often.  I may be 3,444 miles from them but that is no excuse.
  • I will go see something at the theatre.
  • I will spend more time writing.  Writing, writing, writing…  One of these days I will finish the novels that I have started (yes, plural) and I’m not going to let any more half-as-talented-and-twice-as-annoying-as-me “writers” beat me to the punch, and the millions. 

My favorites from 2008?

Website – Cake Wrecks (The Cookie Monster cake still makes me laugh until I cry.)

Book – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Read it right now.  Seriously.)

Poem – i carry your heart with me by e e cummings (A late entry, but utterly perfect.  Thanks, Kate.)

Song, New – Revelry by Kings of Leon

Song, Old – An Olive Grove Facing the Sea by Snow Patrol is still my favorite.

Album – Only By the Night, Kings of Leon

Movie, New – The only film I saw in cinemas this year was Twilight and it certainly does not rate as a favorite.  It wasn’t very good. actually.  I’m looking forward to seeing Australia, if that counts.  If you want a movie I saw this year for the first time and loved, loved, loved then I’d go with Stardust (Thanks again, Kate).

Movie, Old – Pride & Prejudice (Not the BBC adaptation)

TV Show – Toss up between Pushing Daisies and The Big Bang Theory

And what am I looking forward to in 2009?  Going on honeymoon.  Finishing the last of the huge DIY projects.  Finding a new job (fingers crossed).  Watching my niece grow and grow and grow.  Getting my hair cut short.  Hopefully making it back to the States at some point to see people and finally box up all my books to ship over here.  The first year of married life.

That is it, I think.  Stay tuned for updates on the honeymoon, which has been booked, and my first of the 52 books of the year.

Happy 2009.

xo

A

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