“They are full of nostalgia for the days when spirit and material were obviously married.” — Molly Nesbit’s What Was An Author?

The following is a creative non-fiction essay. It’s a rare departure from my normal ramblings, but still…enjoy!

(Formatting required linking to the document.)

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“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.” — Mark Twain

(Good thing I’m a writer. And insane. Well, just a little bit.)

I know, I know! I’ve not written in ages!! Days! Weeks! Months! maybe not months. Actually, I’m not sure how long it’s been. So I’ll try to make this one count.

What have I been doing? Do I even know? A lot of school work, which is why I’m here so that’s all well and good.

I just had my first assessments due. Which is basically like midterms, but a different word, because, of course. Can’t use the same words as those crazy Americans. Or the same grading scale. (Why? What is D1-5, P1-5, F1-5 First of all, why do you need to number the Failing grades. I think just failing is pretty much all you need there. And then whats passing versus distinction. WHY IS THAT A THING???? What happened to percentages……..’cause seriously I think the distinctions start at 77%….That’s a C. A high C, but a C.) I don’t know what grade I got yet. Or, ever, because I don’t understand the grading obviously. We’ll find out soon I guess. It’s only 30% of the total grade. But still. Meh.

One of them was a research plan for a novel. Maybe that’ll get written at some point. Maybe not. I might get my feedback, and all it’ll say is, no. Don’t. Naaaaah. Hopefully it doesn’t. But at least that book has a plot.

The book I’m developing for Creative and Editorial Development……..doesn’t have a plot yet. BUT! I know what to do to get a plot. It’s a near-future speculative science fiction. I’ve spent a lot of time looking into viruses. Which is a form of procrastination. I don’t have a plot though. Had no idea what one of the characters wanted. But now I think I might. Maybe. She’ll get there. Whatever. I’ll work on it. Part of my grade in that class relies on figuring out a plot. Oh! And my mentor thinks it should be around 80000 words. I just looked at her….like okay. Sure. And I’ll invent a new math at the same time. I don’t have to start writing it yet. But if I want to use it as my major project for the summer, I shouldn’t start writing it yet. Otherwise, my mentor will tell me to start a new project. Because as helpful and motivating as she is, she’s also a little bit…..over enthusiastic; and mean. Not mean mean. But you get it.

That’s been my life though. Look up science stuff. Pretend I have a plot. Figure out plague statistics. Cry a bit (not really. not yet. I have not yet hit the wall….which I think is a good thing). Then look up more stuff. Ask people in my flat about science stuff. Because they’re scientists. It’s a lot of research. Ugh.

Then there was the research plan for the other book which was, funnily enough, also a lot of research. So many books that I should be reading. Or articles. Or movies. Whatever. I’ll get around to it. I’ve got a pile sitting here from the library, and then like four from home. I’ll get it done. But it was my birthday recently! So you know, I had to celebrate!

I mean, seriously. It was a good birthday. Nothing got too crazy. I had fun. The people I’ve met that celebrated with me are amazing. They’re gorgeous people. My flatmates decorated the kitchen with balloons for me! It was great. I did tear up a bit at that. And now we get to escalate from there for everyone else’s birthdays. There’s a couple more weeks before the next one, but I think we’ve already got a plan. It involves balloons and Saran wrap. (Which again, isn’t called Saran wrap….I don’t even know what it is called; cling film?)

Oh and then my mentor offers editing services for short story contest entries and there just happens to be a scifi contest coming up, due date in January, so we’ve decided (I mean, yeah, I know I need to do this) that I can use the contest as a minor character/world-building development exercise. MORE WRITING. What did I expect though? It’s a Creative Writing MA……

Oh, we started doing this psychogeography thing….I don’t get it and I don’t like it. So my plans for tomorrow are to go get lost in Edinburgh, pretending I can walk routes from Cleveland here. Which obvi I can’t. But that is apparently what part of this psychogeography thing is? Who knows. That’s what we’ll find out next week. I’ll try not to get arrested.

What else? Not much. Making plans to do things over breaks. Like driving…? to the Isle of Skye in summer.(OMG OMG I CAN RENT CARS NOW!) I super want to come home for Christmas, but monies….. it’s just so expensive. I’m gonna keep looking for tickets though. More procrastination!

I can’t remember if I’ve done anything else….is that bad? I haven’t really been anywhere outside of the city. And even that is usually within walking distance. I’ve had the remnants of a cold for the better part of October. It’s just a cough. But it’s annoying. And I want it to go away.

But I’m having fun. I really like it here. If you’re planning on visiting, let me know. I only have classes on Thursdays and Fridays, so I have time to hang out. I mean I have homework. But it’s what it is. I do like it here. I dunno why. It’s cold and gray; so is Cleveland. I can’t understand some people still. People can’t understand me. I ordered a latte the other day and got a cappuccino. That can’t just be me though. Oh, and NO ON UNDERSTANDS WHAT I’M SAYING WHEN I SAY MY NAME!!!!!! So I guess I’m Siam now; Nice to meet you. It cannot be that hard, can it?

If you wanna know something specific, you should ask me. I’m often distracted by the two novels I’m supposed to be writing. ❤ ❤ ❤ Love you guys!

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein PART TWO

Subtitle: Buses and Blizzards

Today, dear friends, we return to the exciting adventure of our hero, Samara. When last we saw our intrepid adventurer, she was waiting to board the flying machine that would take her to the frozen north, Hokkaido. Has she arrived? Did she accomplish her quest to ski? And, if so, how did she do it? I will keep you in suspense no longer! Thank you! you will exclaim. Thank you! I’ve been worried sick over all of it! 

And to this I say, calm down and we will begin!!

Indeed, our hero did arrive in Hokkaido safely. The flight, though delayed a few minutes, was soon up in the air. It was a short flight, and the adventurers next to our hero shared their gum with her.

She was most grateful for such an alliance, and began the second leg of her quest in high spirits.

The airport in Hokkaido was nothing, easily explored. But, unknowingly, she walked straight into the second test.

THE BUS!

Our hero was smart about planning her adventure, even if her packing was a little..last minute. She had been assured passage from the airport to the quest location lodgings. However, the second test was not to be so easily conquered. She would need to discover the place of departure for the bus. The first step: procure a map of the location. Quickly done, our hero had a map of the location of the map.

If she had a map, you interject, how hard could this test be? And your questions are not unfounded. Our hero too, took the test lightly, proceeding to catch some lunch and lazing about by the cars for hire.

In fact, this test was not one of difficulty or intelligence. This test was one of group thinking. Our hero, having understood the directions she was given, proceeded to the location of the bus, only to find out that this was, in truth, not the true location. She’d been duped!

If only, instead of trusting the counter dwellers she had negotiated with for the map; if ONLY she had read the map, she would have realized a second step to obtaining the true map. For indeed, she only had a map of where to find the map of the bus!

If she had followed the other lost looking foreign adventurers, she would have known. Eventually though, after asking help from a herder, she found her bus.

At last! you think. She is truly on her way now.

And so she was. The trip was a long and not particularly dangerous one. Over hills and around harbors they traveled, the outside world obscured through a veil of snow.

How is that not a concern! you interrupt, again. And if you had let me continue, I would have describes this veil, thus: It was a threadbare veil. The majority of the cloth holes.

You sigh, and slump back into your chair relieved.

Truly the only point of interest at the place in our narrative is that somehow our hero had picked up an unknown sidekick. A small ladybug rode with our hero part of the way, until it landed on her face. And since our hero had no knowledge of this companion, swatted it away to search for a more welcoming party.

The sun set, and our coach finally reached the lodgings out hero had secured. It was quite nice lodgings: warm with central heating, which is all out hero could really ask. She quickly was shown to her room, and without a moment to lose, set off to truly begin her quest. She sought out, the dreaded rental cave!!!

The lodgings, catering to daredevils such as her, had its own questing site, complete with lift and storage for the various items one needed to equip for a large range of quests. Or hero need not delay from her quest, though the sun had set.

In fact, her lodgings were well equipped for NIGHT QUESTING. 

Ah-ha! Night questing! Could it be so easy?!  you ask, curiosity running over and around your tongue, tripping it up. So much so, that your exclamation sounds something similar to: Ah-ha! Nigh guesting! Cout ib eezo izzy?!  But I understand you dear listener, I do. My answer to your question is INDEED IT WAS! Within the hour, our hero had been equipped with weapons for defeating the downhill slope, and set off to do just that! And in the process, she conquered another mini-quest.

Another?! Could it be? Did she really?

But don’t forget, dear listeners, this is Samara, hero and adventure! Of course she managed such a feat!

The mini-quest: gain secret intelligence. Our hero: easily completed this task, while looting for the perfect equipment to slay the mountain dragon! The rental cave denizens, suspecting our hero to be just another traveler, happily chatted away in front of her. It was not until she was leaving that they discovered her understanding, and amid smiles and laughter all around she set off to ski!

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein PART ONE

Subtitle: Adventures in Airports

Once upon a time, a specific time in fact, there was a girl. This girl’s name was Samara. And one day she woke up. Well, she woke up almost everyday, In fact, it was so close to being every day that we might as well just say she woke up every day. But there was one day in particular upon which she awoke that we are talking about. It was a Sunday, and it was early.

Earlier than usual, but there was a very good reason for this. It was after all the day she set out on an adventure. An adventure?! you may be thinking. And the answer, as I just said, is yes. An ADVENTURE!

To where? would be your immediate response, quickly followed by, For what purpose?

To the frozen north! I would respond, and then for further clarification, Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan. If this still did not satisfy your curiosity for knowledge of exactly where this adventure was to take place, I can only suggest you look it up on a map. I mean really.

But why? you’d scream, the need for knowledge tearing at your very being until tears fall from your eyes. Why would she go there?! What is the adventure? WHAT IS IT!

A little taken aback at this show of emotion, I would first: clear my throat, second: hand you a tissue, and third: say the following,

TO SKI!

in a very loud and kind of important announcement like voice.

For to ski was she going. Downhill or across country would she ski. She would ski in the morning and then again in the afternoon. At least, she planned on doing so.

But we are ahead of ourselves in the story and need to backtrack. It was Sunday, she awoke early, for an adventure. She gathered her bags and (after turning off the lights, heater, and checking that everything in general would be alright, locked the door and) set off. She walked and for meters and meters to the train station, and then took a train minutes upon minutes to a bus stop! From there she bought passage on a bus bound for the airport!

This was however her first trip within (domestically, by air) a country to which she was foreign, and she was not sure of the correct procedures. Not wishing to offend, and perhaps delay her trip, she was cautious.

Why was she cautious? you ask. Was there a dragon or giant troll to defeat? A magic spell to break? 

Again, I would clear my throat, this time a little irritated at the intrusion on my narrative! And say, with a stern look in my eyes:

It was still early. In fact it was…three and a half hours early. Having grown up in  country where air travel had become a complicated dance of government issued paperwork, large sums of money to exchange as a bribe for more official papers and the need to wear easily removable outer layers and shoes, she was prepared. She had forgone the easily removed shoes in favor of sturdy walking boots, but she was prepared to remove them when necessary to prove her worth to the guardians of the flying machines.

However, upon entering the airport, she found that she was TOO early.

The shock upon your faces says it all. Indeed, she was two hours too early. Still, she check in her more cumbersome baggage, and set off on a mini quest! To find a warm cup of coffee!

Have succeeded, quite easily and quickly, in finding coffee she sat and waited, ten, twenty, thirty minutes. Still here flight number had not appeared. She began to worry.

All she had was a piece of paper that said, in a script that was new to her, e-ticket. What this strange ticket was, she was not sure. There was not seat number, no gate information. She asked, but was assured that she would be granted passage, at the appropriate time. So she returned to the seat to wait. Another fifteen minutes passed.

We are skipping a lot of time here… you mutter. And yes we are, I agree. But unless you would like every detail of the pinteresting (I’m sorry I had to!) way in which she distracted herself, it is not that important to the adventure!

Soon, she saw the flight number appear on the announcement board. She join the queue to enter into the belly of the beast, so to speak. As we have covered there is no beast here, just a metal flying machine weighing thousands and thousands of pounds and consuming the long-dead liquefied remains of actual monsters.

Slowly, she moved closer and closer to the guardians of the flying machines. And was surprised to find that not only were shoes left on, but so were coats and scarves. She grew wary. Her ticket, this lax guardianship, would it be alright?

She approached the first guard and handed him her ticket. He took it, scanned it, and gave her the information she had been missing! A seat number! A gate! Huzzah for the first guard!

She slid her remaining baggage along the metal chute, removing all electronics from her carry on belongings and prepared to be asked to remove her coat as well. Instead the second guard waved her through, and when the sensors did not beep, let her pass. She felt relief and moved ahead, to await the arrival of her backpack.

However, she could not get away as smooth as this! It was an adventure after all. Something must happen to give our hero a fight!

As so, the third guard approached. Her baggage had been sabotaged?!

WHAT?! you exclaim. The horror of such action against our hero bringing rage and fear into your eyes. When!?

But I will not keep you in suspense. The third guard took her bag and again ran it through the metal scanner. The adventurer behind her had passed a bottle of water through the same scanner and had proceeded easily. What could be causing such an exertion with her bag? Had she not complied with their unreasonable decrees. That no liquid above 3.4 ounces be obtained, and that no fragile or explosive or dangerous items be included with her belongings?

She was sure she had! But wait! She had packed carelessly the night before, scoffing at the seriousness of her adventure in favor of the pursuit of making pancakes! What if in her hurry to cook dinner she had indeed included something she had best left at home?!

The backpack returned along with the third guard. She asked permission to open the bags and look, in person, at the objects within.

The small bottles of liquid and creams that our hero had fretted over were passed by. What could it have been? What could be in her belongings that would cause her to be delayed from her adventure?

Her pen case was taken.

It was scanned a third time, and the third guard returned.

Her pen case! Of course! in her absent-minded packing she had left her pen case in her bag. The scissors, collapsible as they were, were still inside. Would they be taken? If that was all that was wrong, she would gladly give them up.

The third guard took them, and pulled out a measuring stick. She examined the scissors carefully, and pronounced them acceptable.

What! Our hero thought. She was allowed to keep her scissors? Could it be?

But the third guard waved her on, and she hurried away.

Oh! you say, relaxing back into your seat. The muscles you hadn’t known you were tensing relaxed at the easy resolution of this first test of our hero. Good, I’m glad. 

And so you should be. For, to be sure, this stage of the adventure is not over, and our hero only awaits being called to the gate. Unless some heretofore unforeseen  foe should appear, all will be well.

But this is not the end of our hero’s adventure! This, friends, is only the beginning.

What will happen? Will she ever complete the quest? What kind of skiing with she be able to accomplish? What awaits our hero in the frozen northern lands? Stay tuned, friend. Stay tuned.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I did not love to read. One does not love breathing.” — Harper Lee

I know that it’s been a while. And I have been told to update. I thought I mentioned that it was going to be NaNoWriMo, but that is no excuse. So as it is Thanksgiving for me now, I will put up as many posts as I can. Even though A and B are not mutually exclusive, but I have three hours of sitting and waiting to get through.

I heard it snowed stateside! I wish it would snow here, not just for the obvious and eternal ‘maybe-I-don’t-have-to-go-to-school’ reason, but also because then it wouldn’t be cold enough to rain. It’s not fun trying to decide what to wear in 40 degree rain. Nor is it fun to wake up and walk to school at 7 in 40 degree rain. Nothing is fun in 40 degree rain, except sitting inside under a blanket and pretending you’re asleep.

And on my four-day weekend this week, I did just that. On Saturday, because I could, and what else does one do with their Saturday morning? Stuff, Errands, Chores? No. I should have been writing. I always should be writing, or finishing applications, but you don’t need to tell me that. I know! I know! It’s getting done. Slowly, surely, it’s getting done.

What else is new? I have hiccoughs right now and it’s driving me crazy. And I know it’s because both my brain and my body agree that I should take a nap, but somehow I don’t think the school would appreciate that. Plus it’s like they’ve never heard of insulation. The walls are so thin, or made mostly of glass, and the BOE announced this week that the heaters should not be turned on until December. Because it’s not like there’s the flu going around or anything, and I know that’s not how germs work, but I’m sticking to it.

On the plus side, you can find every size and type of hand warmer you could dream up in seven-eleven. Like small or large, or stick on or for your toes. So if it gets too bad I’ll just layer those on under my suit. Well this has been fun and rant-y.

I wish you could find turkey here. Or anything other than fried chicken or ham. That’s what I really want right now is turkey and stuffing. And just thinking of all the pies and cookies and mashed potatoes and green beans. Man, I miss thanksgiving food. I don’t miss the food-coma that come after it, or black Friday adds. And cyber Monday. I can’t think of anything dumber.

But that means it’s Christmas time! Officially. There is nothing in between that you can throw at me and say: “it’s too early! What about __________?!” After tomorrow, Christmas songs will no longer lurk among the random radio stations and muted shopping store music. They will be blasted unapologetically from rooftops and anything that could remotely hid a speaker. TV stations will begin pushing their Countdown to Christmas events like crack cocaine and no one can stop it! Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Rudolph, and three ghosts of Christmas will gang up and take over, like some sort of evil Christmas affiliated Avengers team. Elevators will play the Nutcracker suite, and candy canes will sprout like weeds everywhere you go! It’ll be weeks until you can even hope to get the scent of evergreen out of your nostrils. And the increasingly popular measurement that we all live our lives by, the Starbucks peppermint latte, needs no longer hid behind the red and white snowflake cups! It’ll be everywhere; you thought the pumpkin spice latte needed to take a break? The pumpkin spice latte is the peppermint lattes unpopular kid brother! I love Christmas.

Unfortunately, Christmas in Japan means a bucket of KFC and some vaguely log shaped cake. Blech. I don’t know how that came about, but it makes me very sad. And the Starbucks here? They’ve been taking liberties with their menu. First – they didn’t even have the pumpkin spice, and now? They’ve replaced the peppermint latte with the snow maple toffee latte. Which, I will admit isn’t that bad, and hashtag-first-world-problems all you want, I still want some peppermint latte on the few occasions I can make it out to a Starbucks around here. (Though seriously if you hashtag at me, we won’t be friends anymore, because outside of twitter, it’s dumb, and even on twitter, it’s still dumb. Twitter is dumb.)

Back to Christmas in Japan…KFC is gross. I think everyone can agree with me one that. It’s just not good. But you have to order like weeks in advance to get a bucket of chicken on Christmas here. It’s so weird. So weird. And Santa? He doesn’t come in through the chimney, mostly because they don’t have chimneys here, but he also doesn’t leave presents under the tree. Though they do have those little fake, plastic-y, sad-looking trees in the stores here. So I guess Santa breaks in through the window and flies around on stolen tooth-fairy wings (which is another thing they probably don’t do here. I dunno) and then magically sneaks a present into your bed. I’m not sure, and I’ve in no way checked anything I just wrote, but I think that’s probably what it is. Definitely, maybe. (Which is a pretty good movie, also.)

And snowmen! Snowmen here are only two snowballs! Two! I drew one on the board the other day, and everyone laughed because there were three sections. Personally, a snowman with only two sections looks a little ridiculous to me, but that’s probably cultural. Most likely. I wish I knew why that was though. Like, who decided how snowmen would look?

If you’re interested in some new Christmas songs to listen too, instead of the same old versions of the same songs, I’ve come upon some really good ones recently. Straight No Chaser, an a capella group has some pretty funny versions of songs. There’s the 12 Days of Christmas version of their, that I’ve probably made you listen to. It’s along the lines of other 12 Days of Christmas-like songs. But it mixes in different carols and popular Christmas music – it’s good, let’s just say that. Then there is the Christmas Can-can song, which is hilarious and awesome. And the Nutcracker song, equally hilarious. Check out all three. But then realize that there is nothing wrong with Alvin and the chipmunks, and listen to that album too. Do we still have it on a record, like a vinyl record? I think we might…do that instead. That’s better, somehow.

Then go caroling and get a peppermint latte because I am STILL NOT OVER THAT!

Then send me a picture, so I can show it to a barista here while crying and maybe they’ll make me one out of pity.

Just kidding about the picture part. But really, Happy Thanksgiving to all! And to all a good night!

Oh and then totally check out the Thrilling Adventure Hour, especially the episode in which they rewrite T’was The Night Before Christmas poem for their (dark knight) batman/aquaman character – Phillip Fathom. Because (1) TAH in general is hilarious, (2) it’s written by two guys named Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, seriously, like really, that’s their names, and (3) the best way to pull through a food coma is to laugh all those calories off! Remember the average American will gain 7 pounds this holiday season! Do you seriously need any more of a reason? Ooo. Rhymes.  

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” — Paul Brandt

Thank you Aunt Sue for bringing this quote to my attention. I love it! It’s wonderful, and sarcastic (or is that just me) and true, and fabulous, all in one awe-maze-tastic package. Love it, love it, love it. Of course to some extent I do this for every quote I find that perfectly fits the topic of the day, but sometimes you know, these things sneak up on you, and you just have to share how magnificent it is. Magnificent might be a little strong here…delightful? Delightful!

But back to today’s post. So there wasn’t a prompt for today, again. This blogging 101 challenge wants me to like, snaz (snazz?) up my blog, and like personalize the features and stuff. How dare they, right? And the Daily Prompt just didn’t strike my fancy. Which left me a little lost and drifting in the infinite sea of internet daily prompt websites.

I abandoned that path, and decided to write about something that did interest me. Which then meant my brain decided to forget absolutely everything that I found interesting. It acted like it had woken me up this morning, and as punishment for not immediately giving it caffeine decided to get rid of some files and make more room for storing lyrics of songs from the late-nineties.

‘Oh, you don’t need these files labeled interests did you? And hobbies? No one has those anymore. DELETE!’

‘Oh, look, words? You like being able to form sentences…hahaha. Not today!’

‘What’s this? It’s labeled important…hmm, whatever it is, it must not be necessary. BURN EVERYTHING!’

This went on until I gave in and drowned it in a latte. Thankfully, my brain had not emptied the trash folder, and I could just restore everything. So finally I had a topic for today’s post! Although it might be one unfamiliar to a lot of you. NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a fun word to say. Try it, it’s pretty effing entertaining. But in case you want more information, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Get it? NaNoWriMo. Hee. Fun.

Anywho, it starts on November 1st – a mere 22 days from now. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but have you tried it? I tried it for the first time last year, and it is intimidating. Very much so. The goal is to have a novel by December 1st, at least 50,000 words. That means, with a little math, you need to write on average 1666.67 words a day. That is a lot of words. So far this post is only 446 words long. So like just under four of these a day, about the same thing, so that by the end of it you have a semi-understandable story.

Let’s just say that last year did not go well for me. I got so behind that it became impossible to catch up. This year that will not happen. Unless you know I start to hate what I’m writing and decide to switch topics again, like last year. Hopefully it won’t. That was just a terrible decision last year.

If you try to do it this year, don’t make that mistake. I don’t care if you wake up on November 20th and realize you are writing about a heard of cats fending off invading ferrets riding turtles with blueberries and peanut butter. Stick with Mittens and Spot and their crew for another ten days, you’ve almost made it. Plus, who doesn’t want to read that book. You can totally do that if you want, I have a different idea in mind. It doesn’t involve cats, or turtles, or peanut butter…I think.

And still here I am at only 627 words! There are over a thousand more to get to the daily requirement for NaNoWriMo. A thousand! I suppose I could go into a very detail description of the turtles and the cats and exactly how the peanut butter and blueberries are being used as weapons, but I prefer to leave something to the readers’ imagination. If I have to spell everything out, it loses the magic, doesn’t it?

On second thought, don’t take my idea. I may need that.

(P.S. I think my Word program had forgotten the difference between it’s and its. And it’s making me question my grasp of the English language….)