Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Tribute to Texas

So... today is my final day in Texas. Am I ready to leave? Ehhh... the heat yes, friends no, but that is to be expected. I'm taking a break from the hot heat to make one last post before I lose my internet connection, which I suppose could be any second. So... adios Tejas, you've been pretty good to me!

Goodbye 100+ heat. Goodbye tasty Mexican food. Goodbye authentic cowboys. Hello New Hampshire.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dwindling Time

Wow... I have six days left!

I can't believe how quickly time has flown by. This past week and next have been continuously busy, which can be overwhelming at times. I'm very grateful for friends willing to help me take trash to the dumpster. Big shout out to my friend A! You rock my socks, little Hare. :)

Random Bits:
  • Getting my hair done tonight. Hopefully it won't cost me an arm and a leg. Sometimes I just want to shave myself bald and wear wigs.

  • Saturday evening I'm going to a dumpling party. The benefit of having a diverse graduate program way back when: Friends who can make authentic Chinese dumplings.

  • I'm still a little worried that all of my belongings won't fit into my car. This weekend will be about downsizing yet again. I hope someone buys my TV.

  • I just applied for another job at UNH. So far no one is interested in me. I'm "no longer under consideration" for several positions that I applied for. Scary. Oh well, I'll find something.

  • CNN's Black in America last night was pretty interesting. I only watched the first hour before falling asleep (not from boredom, it was midnight) and taped the rest. Everyone, no matter their race, should probably watch it. Learn something about someone different from you -- that is my challenge for today. Here's an interesting article: Is Marriage Really for White People? I've been single for a while. I will not be single forever. Nor will I settle. So maybe I will be single forever. Hmm. Here's another interesting article that I feel a little closer to as I am biracial (second blog article). It's not so much an issue though, but my sister and I talk about it all the time. Anyway -- it's an interesting special. I sometimes can't believe that there are prejudices and stereotypes still working in our society. This saddens me to no end. You'd think after nearly 50 years (since the civil rights movement) people would get their heads on right, but they haven't. I would consider gay rights as the newest fight in our society. Why should anyone dictate who can have rights and who can't? We are all human first. Why does our race or orientation come first in some people's eyes. We may never live in complete harmony with one another, not in my lifetime. I lament this. I do love CNN. Great reporting across the board. Don't watch FOX news. It's a joke people. CNN is replaying Black in America all weekend, so look for airings in your local listings and watch. Let's communicate!

  • I actually feel important in my job this week. Possibly because I'm doing my job? HAHA.

  • I'm very excited to see the new X-Files movie. X-files was my first favorite television series, after that it was West Wing. I don't have one now. I have lots of little things that I watch, but nothing compares to these two programs yet. Heroes is close, but not there yet considering I didn't watch all of last season.

  • Had another great story idea (not related to my own personal life). I hope that I can start writing it soon. Very soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Non-Fic Wonders

So, last night I finished this book that I'd ordered on Amazon called "Passing for Thin: Losing Half of my Weight and Finding Myself" by Frances Kuffel (excerpt). Besides the fact that it was a look into my possible future, I was really struck by the writing and it got me thinking about my own life and ideas that I had for short stories. Most of the snippets that pump through my mind are actually non-fiction things. Stories inspired by scenes from my past. Of course I could turn them into fiction if I wanted to, it wouldn't be hard, but my question is: Is it good to be inspired by reality? Takes me back to a few posts by Speak Coffee and Margosita in regard to how much reality is in fiction. I didn't comment on their posts because I really wasn't sure. I know that I put a lot of myself in my lead heroines. Not all, but they're definitely inspired by things that I've gone through or things I wish I were/was/did. What's that old adage? Write what you know? Well... I know me (for the most part) so it's easier to make my ladies seem real if I pull from within.

I don't know... I suppose I'm wondering if I should look into a non-fiction class or two -- maybe a course on memoirs. I haven't decided what track to take while in school. Do I want to be a teacher, a publisher, an editor, an agent? I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I just want to publish novels and be successful at it (who doesn't, right?).

Anyway, I highly recommend Frances Kuffel's book. If you've ever had a weight problem, were curious about people with weight problems, or just want to read well-written non-fic, check this one out. As I was reading it felt like Kuffel had somehow cracked into my brain and stolen my stories, thoughts, and fears and wrote about them. It was a hard memoir to read because I could relate so much. It's sorta eerie reading something that you're so connected to. Kuffel and I are very similar. It was like getting a sneak peek into my possible future, which is a scary place should I wait another 20 years to get to my goal. There's also something strange about finding someone who has gone through many of the same things you have -- someone who has felt what you feel. There is some truth to those who say "you are not alone." We're not alone, it just feels like it most of the time. It's even stranger to realize that this person has already written your story. Sure, it's not going to be exactly my story, but it's similar. So what do you do when you're story's been done? I suppose you just do it better.

Anyway, I'm working out a lot of different scenes from my past and thinking about how to turn them into short stories. Too bad I can't get my pencil moving -- I have too much stuff in my head at present. I'm pretty overwhelmed. That and it's hot. I just can't function when I'm hot.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Whoa Dolly!

So... it's 99-degrees here where I live. My computer widget says 101 right now and early my car read 102. Sorry, but that's just too damn hot. This is not walking weather. This is weather that I loath. This is weather that irritates me. And because I like torturing myself, I decided to check out Dover's forecast for the day: 71 degrees. It just doesn't seem fair, does it. Good thing I'll be up there in 10 days. I don't think I can take much more of this heat.

In other news, Tropical Storm Dolly is looking to become a hurricane soon, within the next day or two they say. It's path? Straight toward my parents house and condo near Brownsville, Texas. The only good thing about this storm is that it'll drop tons of rain, which my parents really need. Hopefully rain is all it will drop. My mom's heading out to South Padre Island, where their condo is, tomorrow to get a hurricane sticker. What's that? I guess it's a sticker that they give residents so they're allowed to return to the island after big storms (should there be any damage); the stickers will keep the nosey on-lookers away. My mom will keep me updated on the path of the storm, I'm sure. The Valley's been pretty fortunate in the past few years as far as hurricanes are concerned, but that doesn't mean anything.
Nature can be an angry, unrelenting beast sometimes.

Nature vs. Man

So, I spent the weekend in Houston with my college friends. It was our first "official" reunion. We've decided to get together once a year. Eventually we'll plan these vacations with our families, but right now we're just a bunch of singles. And, unless something drastic happens, we'll have a lot of fun July 1-5, 2009, when we hit up NYC. Perhaps we won't be single in a year's time. I'm guessing that I will be though.

Anyway... we did a lot this weekend. Saw an Astros vs. Cubs game at Minute Maid Park downtown. Astros won. Boo. I was going for the Cubs in honor of my oldest brother--I got funny looks for cheering for them. Oh well. I can't always conform to others now can I? The game was fun. We sat behind some well-to-do Texas debutantes. These women had big Texas hair, rich husbands, and held many discussions about boob jobs and tummy tucks. It was like the Housewives of Houston Texas. (That show will happen, I promise. Just give Bravo time.) Anyway, it was quite amusing sitting behind them eavesdropping on their conversation. I know all about Becky Lou's combination breast lift and tummy tuck. It's sad, but they're presence around me (including the big, loud, drunk guy in a Hawaiian-like shirt) made me want to speed up my exit from the South. Overall the game was pleasant. I spilled mustard on myself. That wasn't pleasant. But... good company in regard to my friends -- lots of laughter and mocking.

Anyway, the purpose of my post was simply to put up a few pictures from my trip. Pictures that I believe highlight the amazing ability of nature to create beauty when left alone and man's incredible building talent. Sometimes humans amaze me. How we operate, how we communicate, and how we build monstrous things that can be amazingly beautiful or violently destructive. I chose to display a beautiful and massive skyscraper in downtown Houston. Sometimes it amazes me that humans (possible derivatives of monkeys, depending on what you believe) can create such enormous structures when we're as tiny as ants in comparison.

Pictures: (Top): We visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science and saw a special exhibit called Geopalooza. It was full of beautiful amethyst crystal formations, meteorites, and fossils. These amethyst geodes were HUGE people, about the size of a person. This is only a section of one. It was probably about 4.5 feet tall. (Middle): Building downtown. My friend J works here. He makes a lot of money. I am slightly jealous. :)
(Bottom): A cross section of a sequoia tree (it's petrified and looks like a crystal). This was taller than me -- about six feet in diameter, maybe more. It was so amazing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Random Bits

So, I haven't blogged in a while and thought I'd share some random things with you--just to keep this blog habitually updated:
  1. Car was towed from campus last night -- cost me $120 to get it back. I hope to be reimbursed because technically it wasn't my fault. We'll see.

  2. Have new glasses -- pimpin' some JLo frames from Wally World.

  3. Still haven't written anything. It's been over a month. Not writing makes me somewhat sad and incomplete feeling. I blame the feeling of being overwhelmed with my move.

  4. I no longer have furniture in my apartment. I've been sleeping on a foam mattress in the living room. I sort of like it.

  5. I took my car to the shop to get that rust chip fixed. Found a place that will do it for $275. Hopefully it won't be returned to me without a patch-work quilt look. I have to get rides from people for a couple days. This is weird for me because I don't like to be inconvenient to people. I like to be independent.

  6. I found out that I will be receiving a FULL paycheck on Aug 1. YAY! I wasn't expecting this, but of course it makes sense that I wouldn't be paid for a job before actually doing it. So, excellent news there. Even better, I'll get a second check to pay me for my unused vacation days.

  7. I will be going to D.C. in August. First time. I'm very excited to see where my sister now lives. She'll give me a tour of the White House (a nice perk of her kick-ass job). She says the people there talk down to her and my Bro-in-law. I am interested to see if this is true and how I will respond to said patronizers.

  8. Fifteen days remain in Texas.

  9. There was a second sewage leak in my office building. The leak spread as far as my office this time. They sucked up the pee water but didn't shampoo my carpets. It's very likely that I am now surrounded by fumes of hepatitis (possible? probably not). I'm disgusted at the thought and the smell. Will escape to shred papers soon.

Image: A picture that I found after googling "random".

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Wow, so on a whim I decided to look up my first -- and best -- elementary school. Montclair Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. I looked it up to see if I could find my first and favorite teacher's name. I don't think she's there anymore, but it was worth a shot.

Guess what? As a tiny Montessori kid, I was a Wildcat, and now, as I venture off to UNH, I will become a Wildcat again!

Destiny? Fate? Odd coincidence? Totally awesome!

I was on a team that won a contest to create lyrics for the school song, based off of the melody of "It's a small world". I wonder if they still use it. I still remember some of the words:

It's a cool school where recess is fun
and the sun will smile on everyone
there's so much that we do
that it's time that you knew
it's a cool school after all!

It's a cool school after all
It's a cool school after all
It's a cool school after all

It's a cool, cool school!

Oh wow! Cute little Tanya (another nostalgic moment). I think I came up with most of it. I will take credit until someone corrects me otherwise.

One down... billions to go

I finished reading King's "On Writing" Tuesday night. Overall, I thought it was a great book. It definitely held my interest and I feel like there were a few pearls of wisdom in there. I'm not a Stephen King reader, but his memoir almost makes me want to go pick up one of his novels. I'm a wimp when it comes to scary things though--the last thing I'd want are nightmares. But we'll see. A few quotes that stood out to me from the last 80 pages:
"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. It's about enriching the lives of those who read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy."

"The rest of [this book] -- and perhaps the best of it -- is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up."
I think my writing lapse the past few weeks is from feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by my move and the pressure that I've put on myself to be some great writer. I'm hoping that it'll go away once I finish a task on my ever growing list. We'll see. Like Margosita pointed out, soon I won't have any choice and I'll have to write. Hopefully it won't be crap. One big thing that I did learn from King's book -- and pretty much knew already -- is that I need to be a better reader. I need to make better choices and I need to challenge myself. Now's the time and grad school will definitely force me to do that.

On to movie news:

Saw Hancock. I give it a C+ to B-. I didn't find it totally horrible as some critics made it out to be. However, it could have been a lot better and some of the camera work annoyed me, but other than that it was entertaining. Not as good as Iron Man, not at all. Probably falls in line after the new Incredible Hulk movie, which I'll give a B.

I love summer movies. Next up: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Dark Knight, X-Files, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Warrior, and possibly Meet Dave (if I feel like watching a possibly very stupid Eddy Murphy movie) and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I'll probably see most of these solo since E isn't into any except for the new Batman. That's cool though. I wonder if I should revamp my movie choices as I will my reading choices. Probably not--one sacrifice at a time. I'm not giving up my movies just yet.

I'm glad that "Dirty Dover" has a movie theatre: Spinelli-Strand Theatre. Hopefully it's a good one--I'll be frequenting it a lot, I'm sure.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"On Writing"

First off... happy belated birthday America!

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. I didn't do a lot really, just sorta lounged around and mixed in a few periodic cleaning bouts. While cleaning, I learned that I still have too much stuff to fit into my Rav-4. I could use another yard sale, probably. It'll work out in the end, I'm sure. Too bad I'm a pack rat. Getting rid of little things is like slicing up my skin sometimes.

Anyway, I spent most of Sunday reading Stephen King's memoir On Writing. I have about 80 pages left, I suppose. I've had this book sitting on my shelves for about 3-4 years now and I never opened it. The pages are even yellowing and it smells delicious. Library like. Love it. I'm sorta shocked that I never really got into it before this weekend. Sure I probably started paragraph one a few times in the past, but I never really sat down and just read and absorbed like I did yesterday. I picked it up after finishing one of those light-fluffy novels that I purchased last week. I was going to start on the second but really wasn't feeling it. So I went into my bedroom and opened the box of packed books--King's was on top so I pulled it out in hope that maybe it would give me a nugget of inspiration, motivation, and desire. Or perhaps pull me out of this self-inflicted funk.

Not sure that it's enticed my desire to create, but I did underline a few things that hit home. I will share them here:

"I was ashamed. I have spent a good many years since--too many, I think--being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all."

"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affection. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as 'good' and others sorts as 'bad,' is fearful behavior."

"What would be very wrong, I think, is to turn away from what you know and like (or love, the way I loved those old ECs and black-and-white horror flicks) in favor of things you believe will impress your friends, relatives, and writing-circle colleagues."
I think in a way each of these quotes explains my writer's block (aka: fear). It's all built up on anxiety for September 2 (when school starts). That may be the day that I either realize I'm making a smart choice in going to school for my MFA in fiction, or I've used school as an excuse to escape the hell I've willingly put myself in for the past several years and nothing more. I'm praying for the former, but part of me really believes in the latter. I ask myself: Tanya, if you hadn't gotten into school, would you have really tried to find a new job? Answer: I really don't know! Probably not. Complacency is easier sometimes.

Anyway, random bits:

  • My lovely sister starts her new job in Washington D.C. today. She kicks ass.
  • I really don't want to sell my TV and buy a new one (at around $500+ for a nice one). King writes about TV watching in his memoir. Basically, he says to get rid of it. Eeek! Maybe it's okay though, TV doesn't distract me too much when I'm writing.
  • I've had a ding in my car door for the past year or so that's now rusted. Estimate to fix it: $400. Lesson learned: QUIT PUTTING THINGS OFF FOR TOMORROW!! Will get new estimates before making any kind of decision (that could be good new TV money!).
  • I've been at work for 45 minutes already. It'll be a slow death today.
  • 24 days in Texas left.
  • Today's goal: write something. . . anything. . . just write.

Update: Wrote about 175 words. I guess it's a start.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm seriously wondering if I'm depressed or something. I have a new idea, but no motivation to start working on that new idea. No motivation to work on old ideas. No motivation to sit and think of new ideas. No motivation at all.

I have turned to Chick-fil-A mints for comfort. I only brought two (of the two dozen I stole last night) with me to work. I just realized that there are little quotes on the back of the wrappers. I suppose I've been gobbling them down too fast to see the fine details.

First mint quote: "No goal is too high if you climb with care and confidence." (S. Truett Cathy)

Second mint quote: "Courtesy is cheap to provide, and it pays great dividends." (S. Truett Cathy)

Two quotes by this Cathy fellow. I suppose I should have realized that the guy founded the restaurant, but I had to Google him learn that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Movies in Review: "Wanted"

So, saw the new Jolie/McAvoy movie "Wanted" tonight with E.

Not sure that a second of the flick passed without someone's brains being shot out, but that's beside the point of this post. The movie is high adrenaline, high action, explosive CGI stunts and sequences, interesting (and some predictable) twists, and a sorta corny ending line. (Perhaps it was the delivery? I don't know, McAvoy could say damn near anything and be perfect in my eyes. It just seemed a little unnecessary.)


As I left the theatre, wondering how many heads were shot up (or through), I realized that I was able to connect to a part of the movie on a personal level. It was McAvoy's monologue toward the beginning. Between the images of his cramped cubicle, data-entry life; his girlfriend's affair (BTW, Ang, Sex and the City was FAR more graphic); and his fat, loud, donut-and-cake eating boss, which was another very stereotypical Hollywood portrayal of obese people (was it even necessary to show her to such an extreme?!?), McAvoy's character talks about his mundane and pointless life. Basically it was about how mind-numbing, unimportant, and uninspiring his job is.

I felt his pain.

I even leaned toward E to tell her that. She laughed. I hope she realizes that I was serious. 'Cause I was. I really felt his pain. And then he started killing people left and right. I don't think I'll go that far -- I'll just move to New Hampshire and hopefully start a new chapter of my life and not recycle an old one.

Then there was the underlying question: "Who am I?" I also related to that a bit.

Side note: Speaking of "killing people right and left" read the following article about this guy in Houston who shot and killed two burglars who were taking things from his neighbor's house in 2007: Joe Horn. The guy got off this week and won't be charged with the murders. We had a discussion about this at lunch. An interesting, eye-opening discussion. I won't post it here, but I'm curious about what any of you think. Right decision... or wrong? Personally, I feel it's wrong (wrong to get off with a slap on the hand, for killing people that weren't even stealing your things), but then things are pretty backwards here in Texas in regard to guns. [Read the article that started the great lunch debate: here. Or CNN's Roland Martin's commentary here. For the record, I agree with everything he said.]

Back to the movie: The beginning monologue (if you can technically call it that) was about all that was realistic to me. The rest was a bloody -- and fantastically intense -- display of angst.

I give the movie a B- maybe a C+.

I'll probably buy it for my DVD collection. You know... for times when I just feel like killing something. [Not sure that I've ever been pushed that far, but we all have our breaking moments, I'm sure.]

I don't think the movie had any negative effects on me as far as violence is concerned. Although . . . I did sorta speed home after dropping E off. "Weaving" in and out of traffic as I jammed out to my new Shinedown CD. Track one has a nice "killer" -- although somewhat repetitive -- vibe.

:) Fun times.


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