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Archive for December, 2011

The Editing Process or “Hey look whats on TV!”

I can come up with ideas easily. Oftentimes I have more ideas than I can deal with and they all rush through my head as I race to write them down before I forget them. I can write a story, but I’ve never been an editor. That’s probably readily apparent in the blog posts I’ve written so far. I just don’t have the patience for it and I don’t really care. This was disturbingly common among the English majors I knew. We were all supposed to have this grasp of the language, yet we couldn’t find anyone who really liked grammar or editing to help us with our own papers.

I’m in the editing phase now. So naturally I’m writing a blog about the editing process rather than go through the editing process myself. I’ve been at a standstill since yesterday. But I’m determined to do it so instead of not just getting this finalized, I also haven’t accomplished anything else because I’m adamant about getting somewhere on this first.

There’s a local competition for women screenwriters with a small fee and I’m entering just for the hell of it. It makes me feel accomplished; I want to start entering contests and feeling like I’m making some sort of progress even if the only thing I’ll have to show for myself is rejection letters.

Because the editing process is hard enough for me, my computer has decided to add to the difficulty. It does this thing where it thinks it’s at a rave and the screen flashes black and white a lot before it freezes. Then I have to wiggle the screen back and forth until the picture becomes clear again. It’s kind of like an etch a sketch where I clear away the picture until it reverts to normal.  I need to send it in while it’s still under warranty because it needs a new battery too. I haven’t had it that long but it was bought solely because it was cheap so it probably not a high tech model.

I wanted to finish editing on a different computer in case mine permanently spazzes out. The software I wrote the short on is not compatible with anything else. Not even with itself. I tried just downloading the software on another computer and opening the document but it won’t accept its own product.

I watch a lot of TV but I don’t just randomly turn it on unless there’s a show I like. But whenever I’m procrastinating, everything on TV is suddenly fascinating. Today I was sidetracked by the One Hit Wonders of the 90’s on VH1. I told myself this was productive because maybe I’d remember some songs I loved and add them to my music collection. But Lou Bega or Billy Ray Cyrus probably won’t be on my playlist anytime soon. Who knows though, I did love Mambo Number 5.

Basically, I’m now at the ‘fuck it’ point where my piece seems good to me, or at least good enough and I just want to be done it. But I’m writing this post and then I’m going to go back and try to tackle it. Again.

T’was The Night Before Christmas

And I was sprawled on the couch. I was at my grandmother’s house for my dad’s side of the holiday festivities. I didn’t feel well. They dined on the usual turkey sandwiches and roasted fruit while ate sparingly and rested, the same white blanket draped over me that always is at these things. My uncle looked over and gently said “just so you know, Nicole, we’ll be over there to open presents in a few minutes so don’t get too comfortable.” Okay, even when I am well I can’t keep up with these people. I’m not like my mom who drifts off to the TV around eight, but their conversations will span into the early hours while I retire to the couch or back bedroom to sleep until it’s time to leave. So they know my routine. Plus, I love my grandma but the only thing I can eat at her house is chips and dip. They’ve given up understanding what a vegetarian is. “You still eat chicken though right?” No, I don’t. “Oh well at least you can eat fish.” No. So my options over there are always limited.  Oh wait, I eat cherries too. But not the rest of the roasted fruit, because I’ve never gotten used to it. Why roast fruit?

I wanted to be lively though. One because it was Christmas and two because the last time we all gathered I wasn’t very lively, and that was all my fault. I had been looking forward to my grandparents anniversary dinner a few months ago, but I’d been looking forward to one of my best friends weddings for two years. This was the night before the anniversary. So the day the anniversary party arrived I literally found myself sneaking into the bathroom just so I could lay on the floor in peace for a few minutes. My mom got huge glee out of telling everyone I had a little too much to drink the night before and my grandma just said “my how’s shes grown up” and gave me a hug. The few minutes I spent with her and my grandfather when they weren’t socializing with everyone who came a long way were great even in my hung over state.

I just wish I could have been a little more festive this time. I was wondering if they were all secretly speculating what I’d gotten into the night before to make me appear so tired now. But, towards the end, I got to snuggle up next to my grandma and just be with her. She takes the party planning and hostessing very seriously but I got to sit with her while she was relaxing. And that was worth it.

At one point I had various pieces of Mary Oliver’s poems written up on my mirror. The marker washed off, but my mother hadn’t been pleased with it anyway. I don’t get to see her words everyday when I look in the mirror but I love rereading her poems. There’s a  lot of poetry I can’t get into, but I feel something every time I read one of her poems.

I think this is the first poem of hers I discovered, Lead.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

My Favorite Christmas Movie

I was in the mood for my favorite Christmas movie the other day. I don’t know if Hook is technically a Christmas movie, but there’s snow in it and they always seem to show it around this time. After watching Neverland, I especially wanted to see it.

I love Robin Williams. When other girls were developing obsessions with the Backstreet Boys or Ben Affleck, it was all about Robin Williams for me. Okay, I started liking him when I was around five so the Backstreet Boys weren’t around, so New Kids? I don’t even know. I can’t recall what started my affinity for him, probably Hook or Mrs. Doubtfire. I do remember bringing Mrs. Doubtfire into daycare for us all to watch, but it got turned off within the first five minutes because it was inappropriate.

Hook is wonderful. I love each and every lost boy and I chant Rufio every time. It’s one of my favorite movies. Also, it has Tinkerbell. I used to get called Tinkerbell a lot. One year in college we thought about being Disney Princesses for Halloween. She’s not actually a  princess but everyone automatically picked me to be Tinkerbell. She’s tiny and feisty and I like green. I was also her for Halloween a few times when I was younger. That year though, we picked the Spice Girls and I experienced my first slutty girl costume for Halloween. In my defense, I didn’t see how it was possible to not reveal a little skin as Posh Spice.

When I watched Hook recently, I realized there was another character whose description I fit. I used to be Tinkerbell and now I’m Captain Hook. When the ticking of Jack’s watch started on Hook’s boat I thought ‘wow that would be annoying’ just as Hook started going crazy because of the sound. He can’t stand the ticking noise, and okay that’s related to how he lost a hand but otherwise we’re pretty similar. I took joy in them going into a clock store and breaking all the clocks.

I can’t stand ticking clocks. If they’re in a room, I notice them. And if I notice them, I can’t stop noticing them. I can’t sleep if they’re in the same room as me, I can’t concentrate. I used to study in our suites common room in college and later someone would go in there and say “Nicole where is the clock?” because I always hid it somewhere I wouldn’t have to hear it, usually under the couch cousins. I think people only sat on it a few times.

So, that’s my bit of perspective for the day. I used to be a fairy princess and now I’m a pirate. Actually, as long as I can keep my hand then I can handle that.

A Bad Habit

Is it too early to start a New Year’s resolution?  I’ve probably tried to use this one atleast five times in the past and I’m never serious about them anyway. It’s like how Lent used to be, I’d think of something to give up so I’d have that response when people asked but I never really did it. I’d say I was giving up pop, or chocolate, or pepperoni but really those three things were some of my main food groups when I was a kid. Plus, Sundays didn’t count so things went downhill then. I’d try for a few weeks then give up, and I cared even less about New Year’s resolutions. So while I’m not going to make it an official resolution I do aspire to stop biting my nails. I say this every few weeks, then my nails start growing out and I can’t help it. I bite them if I’m stressed, or when I’m not paying attention, or when I’m not doing anything else.

I remember in high school a girl said she could stop biting her nails when she had a role in the plays because her characters didn’t bite their nails. I had one role in senior year, Corrine. I knew Corrine was an alcoholic lesbian but nowhere in the script did it say anything about her nails. Who knows, maybe she was an alcoholic lesbian nail biter. It seemed just as likely as anything else. I tried the approach that ‘no my character didn’t do that’ but by opening night she definitely did. I’m a tiny, unassuming, generally quiet girl who usually worked backstage during shows. I came out in a short skirt, with a butterfly drawn on my chest as a tattoo, holding martini glasses. All I did was make sarcastic remarks and hit on another girl. At one point I was stroking her hair. My friends thought my performance was going to get our drama teacher fired. My grandmother said it was like no catholic school play she had seen before.  No one was paying attention to my nails.

So, I don’t know how well my attempt is going to work this time. I was even biting my nails as I wrote most of this since it was on my mind. But, I’m going to try again.

Haaaave you met Ted?

I met a guy at work named Ted tonight and I instantly liked him because of the character in How I Met Your Mother. I watch a ton of TV. If I hadn’t just gotten off work I’m sure there’s some clever way I could phrase that but I’ll just say: it’s a freaking lot. So probably I should be liking or hating everyone based on the name they share with a TV character but this is the first time it happened.

The last few seasons of HIMYM haven’t been my favorite but I keep watching anyway. When I first started the show, Josh Radnor and Colbie Smulders were the only two I was unfamiliar with. I instantly loved scotch drinking, gun toting Robin but Ted took more time. Though I love some of the other characters better, there’s moments with Ted that have been my favorite. Basically anytime he talks about the mother, or the scene where he envisions hugging everyone that led him to a crucial point in time that brings him one step closer to the mother. His character just has such a genuine heart sometimes. When I think of Ted I smile because of how sweet and hopeful he can be.

There’s an episode of the show where Ted can’t wait to be old, he wants to sit on his porch and play games with his friends. The moral of that story is that the journey is important too, you can’t just skip to the end. That’s what I need to be remembering these days. It’s hard to enjoy life now sometimes because I think about everything I want to be doing. I wonder why I’m not in LA now, I want to be working there immediately as an actress, and I know it doesn’t happen like that. I know it takes time. I know I need money. There are many logical reasons as to why I’m still here but when it gets cold, or I feel like I don’t get to do enough writing or acting here, or my mom is playing every Christmas movie on the Lifetime channel, I can start to wonder why I’m not somewhere else.

But there are good things about being here. I have tons of supportive friends and family, I found an acting class I really like, my dogs are here, and I’m incredibly cheap so having a free place to live is wonderful. There’s moments about being here I like each day, I just have to enjoy them instead of wanting to leap forward. I’m just at the start of my journey.

Safety Seals

Today three generations of Mexican women, well two Mexican women and one half Mexican technically, sat in a living room and tried to say dificil, meaning difficult. And it was. My mom sometimes pretends to be a patient for a local hospital and this time they asked her to do a role in Spanish. She’s unsure of her ability, though to me she is fluent. Anytime I ask her what something means she can tell me and she can just start speaking in full Spanish sentences with ease, something I wish I could do. I can stumble through simple phrases though I usually butcher conjugation and put everything into the order it would be in English, not Spanish. I’m also awkward about speaking it because my mom says my accent is always off.  She was worried about her pronunciation too so she went to her aunt, my great aunts house to make sure she could say things correctly. I tagged along because I try to visit once a week but I’d been falling behind.

My aunt is in her eighties, she’s the sweetest person I’ve ever known, forgets stuff often, smiles a lot, is a  breast cancer survivor and always remarks how long its been since I’ve seen her, even if I saw her yesterday. She always tells me to forgive her because her house is a mess, it never is, and tells me to eat anything I can find. I used to go over to her house in the summers and they’d fill up a tiny pool for me and I’d use their swing set and play nintendo. She always forgets that I haven’t drank pop or eaten meat for years but then when I remind her she remembers they bought veggie burgers for anytime I stop by. We’re always happy to see each other. Basically, she’s my favorite person in the world, tied with my grandmother.

We visited with her and then my mom started going over what she had to say. My aunt grew up speaking Spanish whereas me and my mom didn’t but she says she’s forgotten a lot of it because she has no one to speak it to. Her and my uncle don’t have conversations with each other in Spanish anymore. But as he laughed at the three of us trying to figure out sixty and seventy, which was sesentna and which was setenta, I figured he still recalled a lot, he just never talks much and it was probably more entertaining to watch us stumble through it.

I wish I could speak Spanish. I know what I’ve learned in class. I can understand a little when people talk and I can usually pick up the gist of things if I’m reading. My aunt used to speak to me a little in Spanish as I grew up,  she’d say the names of objects and sing in Spanish, and there was some phrase she always said about going to a dance, but she had four children who were not interested  in learning it so she didn’t teach it to me or any of the grandkids. One of her grandchildren is majoring in it and he’s like in Spanish 23 or something ridiculous and is supposed to be fluent but no one in our family has actually heard him speak it. But I like trying to talk to her in Spanish, she gets so excited whenever I get anything right and then she gets into it and starts rattling off Spanish and I try to figure  it out, and then she gets excited again whenever I do.  

Today we were doing alright. Then my mom got to dificil and she couldn’t say it . She was determined and we must have spent close to at least twenty or thirty minutes on it. She kept trying but it’s like a lot of words in English.  The most memorable one is cinnamon apples, but there are lots of them. Integrated is another. She just can’t get them right. The only way she can say words like those is if she breaks them up and slowly goes over each part. So she could say de fi sil but all together it came out defyiseal. I’d get it right half the time and butcher it the rest and then my aunt would say listen to Nicole and I’d do it wrong and my mom would copy that. Then my aunt would hear us say it so many times that she got confused and would have to pause before she could say it right. We stopped for a minute then my mom tried again and aunt looked at her and said, “Safety seal?” We stopped being productive around this time. We just kept saying the word, then trying to move on but coming back to it. Saying it over and over and confusing each other and laughing all the way through it. Somewhere along the line my uncle fell asleep but we just carried on, cackling over pronunciation and laughing over the words we couldn’t figure out.

My aunt grew up speaking Spanish but got c’s in her classes. She says the sheet my mom had to study, like her class was thought of by white people, or those trying to teach American Spanish. She just kept saying everything how she was raised to. That’s a stubborn side of her I’ve never really seen though I’ve heard the story several times.

As I was leaving and we hugged she told me as she always does to be a good girl. And she also watches as I walk out the door and she stays at the window just like she did when I was little, watching until I drive away, I used to make faces and she’d wave and make them back.

So I’m not sure I improved any at Spanish today but I could translate most of the page and it was one of the most entertaining lessons I had.

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