Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Things

No doubt about it, I've had a bad week, as you might have guessed from my last few blog posts.

But I did some thinking.  Did some crying.  Did some writing.  Tried to get a lot of bad juju out of my system--some of which had been lurking there for quite some time.  I don't like to linger in unhappiness.  I have too much to be grateful for, thankful for, ecstatic about, that I refuse to dwell in the darkness.

Yet we all have weeks like this, weeks when everything just seems dumped on us at once and it's harder to remember all the things that make us happy.  So--at the risk of sounding like one of Oprah's "favorite things" episodes--I'm writing a few of them down to remind myself.

10.  Pizza.  I love pizza.  It's my comfort food, bringing me back to a simpler childhood time.  I could probably eat pizza every day and not get sick of it.  I like good, gourmet pizza, and I like crappy fast food pizza.  So long as it's got cheese and a crust, I'll give it a shot.  But my favorite pizza, I must confess, is Pizza Hut--specifically, a pan crust with extra cheese, especially when I'm on the road traveling.  When I was a kid, my family used to drive from St. Louis to Pittsburgh to visit family.  On one of these trips, when I was about 9 or 10, we stopped at a Pizza Hut in Indiana somewhere and got a pan crust pizza.  It was cooked to perfection, with a golden crispy crust and plenty of cheese.  I don't think any Pizza Hut experience since then has come close--but I'm still trying.  To this day, if I'm driving long-distance, I'll go out of my way to stop at a Pizza Hut.

9.  Before Sunrise/Before SunsetThe 1995 film Before Sunrise featured two twentysomethings: a French woman (Julie Delphy) and an American man (Ethan Hawke) who meet on a train, get off in Vienna, and spend a magical night together before the young man has to catch a plane back to the states the following morning.  The movie is sweet and beautiful and magical.  The whole thing seems enchanted somehow, like a fairy tale, and as night turns into dawn you can actually feel the mood changing.  It's beautiful, bittersweet, and a little bit heartbreaking.

Before Sunset reunites the lovers nine years later.  If Before Sunset is a fairy tale, Before Sunset is the harsh glare of reality.  The idealistic twentysomethings have become somewhat jaded thirtysomethings, each a little broken by the memory of "the one that got away."  It's set almost entirely in real time, and, once again, a plane ride threatens to separate them.  (Hawke's character has less than an hour before he's due to leave for the airport.)  In a way, it's more heartbreaking than the first film...but also more hopeful, depending on how you look at it.  It's one of my favorite all-time endings in film.  The first time I watched it, it drove me nuts, but when I saw it again, and take out of it exactly what you want to take out of it.  It's ambiguous and awesome.

8.  The song "Drops of Jupiter" by TrainYeah, I know: I'm about 10 years late to this party.  But despite the fact that I must have heard this song about eleventy bajillion times on pop radio when it came out in 2001, I recently downloaded it onto my iPhone and realized that I still love it, that I could listen to it eleventy bajillion times more and not get sick of it.  There's something so evocative about those lyrics.  As a girl who spends much of her time with her head in the clouds, much to the consternation of many of my friends and family members, it makes me feel...hopeful.  It makes me want to dance naked on the moon.  It makes me long for something I haven't found yet, but someone wrote those lyrics so I know it's out there.

7.  I am a linguaphile.  I read words, and I absorb them.  I got made fun of all throughout my school years because I used words that the other kids didn't know.  But I'm not so good with spelling or pronunciation.  Take the last paragraph.  The word I wanted was "consternation," but all I could come up with was "constanteration," which is neither the right spelling nor the right pronuncation.  But a few quick searches on, and I found the word I wanted.  Plus, I could hit the audio button and hear someone say it for me.  WAY easier than trying to figure out those pronunciation keys.

6.  My cat.  If you had asked me a year ago, I would have sworn up and down and all around that I would never adopt a cat.  I was terrified of cats.  Several years ago, I was attacked--in the bathroom, as I was getting ready for a shower--by two Siamese cats.  I screamed, blood ran down the drain.  It was very Hitchcockian.  I've had people insinunate since then that maybe they were just playing, but I know the difference.  These cats were attacking.  And it scared the shit out of me.

But I wanted a pet, and I don't like being ruled by my fears.  Given that I work full time, and I live in a studio apartment, a dog just wouldn't be convnient for me.  So I adopted a cat from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.  She had been a stray.  At the shelter, they were calling her Annabelle.  Being the macabre type that I am, I changed her name to Annabel Lee.  (And kudos to you if you get the reference.)

My awesome!  Anyone who says cats are not as affectionate as dogs has never met my cat.  She's sweet, and she's cuddly, and she likes to sleep on my chest.  She's easy to love.  With her, it's all very simple and uncomplicated.  You can never say that about people.

5.  My Kindle.  I could compose an ode to my Kindle...but I won't.  Escapist reading has saved me from some bleak moments, both in the past and recently.  My Kindle has made obtaining, reading, and storing this escapist material infinitely easier.  It is awesome.

4.  Revisions.  After getting off to a rocky start with the revisions to my novel, I finally feel like I'm getting...somewhere.  I'm not sure if that somewhere is any good, but at least it's something.  I've decided to try and tackle my revisions chronologically, as much as I can; I handle drafting much the same way.  Tackling things in a logical sequence like that seems to keep my linear left brain happy, prevent frustration.  I had a rough time with chapter 1; I ended up cutting the beginning scene altogether.  I think, for now, that I made the right decision.  Tomorrow I may change my mind.

3.  Sex scenes.  Dirty confession time: I love sex scenes in books.  This is a recent development.  Two years ago you wouldn't have caught me dead reading an explicit sex scene, or picking up anything out of the romance section.  Now, I hear bondage and ménage a trois and think, "bring it on," with a little quiver of excitement.  Oh, yes, sex scenes are awesome.

2.  My loved ones.  My mom is the awesomest person in the world.  She is honest, can read people like a book, and there's no bullshit to her.  My brother is...well, my brother can be a pain in the butt, but I've mostly earned it, and I know he'd be there for me no matter what--as would I, for him.  I've got great friends who genuinely care about and support me.  Two of them volunteered to be beta readers for my novel, and I've gotten great feedback from them.  My crush/penpal/lust object has been asking about it and wanting to read it for months now.  However complicated our un-relationship may be, at times, he genuinely believes in me and encourages me to do the things I want to do.  That, in my experience with the world of dating, is pretty rare.

1.  New books!  I just finished the newly released Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh--after re-reading the other books in the Guild Hunter series.  I had almost forgotten how much I loved those books.  I love the way Singh refuses to humanize her hero.  Raphael is a 1500-year-old archangel; he shouldn't act human.  The feelings he has for Elena are considered a weakness by his fellow immortals.  Yet he can still be--by human standards--cold, cruel, and calculated.  I also love how they're still figuring out their relationship.  Trust doesn't come easily to either of them, and there's such a huge imbalance of power between them.  Raphael could control Elena, crush her ability to resist, which would make her safer--yet to do so would kill everything he loves about her.  And Elena, a strong, independent Guild Hunter, has to struggle in a world where she's the weakest one around.  I love their dynamic, and the way Singh has stayed so true to her characters.

And in less than a month...This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost will be out!  Frost's Night Huntress series was one of the first urban fantasies I read, and it's no wonder I got hooked on the genre.  Cat is a tough, resourceful heroine, awesome enough to win the love of a 250-year-old sex-crazed vampire, and Bones is...well, Bones is just sigh-worthy.  I remember reading Halfway to the Grave and thinking he was one scary SOB--and he can be, which is what makes his feelings for Cat all that much more amazing.  Four books later, their relationship is still one of the hottest in urban fantasy.  Bones is the ultimate female fantasy.  If I had to pick a fictional character that I would bring to life and let seduce me, he'd be high on that list.

First Drop of Crimson and Eternal Kiss of Darkness, the stand-alone romances that Frost released last year set in the Night Huntress world, were great.  But Cat and Bones have always been first in my heart.  So after over a year of waiting (I first read the series in late 2009), a new Cat and Bones adventure is almost here, and I can't wait!

So these are my happy things.  Of course, these aren't really in order: my loved ones are way more important to me than new books.  Except on release days.  Then all bets are off.

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