From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Known and Unknown of 2013

As we get ready to go into the new year, I feel a bit like I'm standing in a forest with five or six gates surrounding me, waiting to see which one will open first. Like I've rolled the dice and am waiting to see where it lands.

I could, miraculously, get accepted into one of the 10 graduate schools I've applied to. That means that this year could take me to Texas or Louisiana or Florida or Michigan or Wyoming.

I am looking seriously into applying to Teach for America, as an alternative to graduate school at least for a year. That means I could end up in San Francisco or Las Vegas or New Orleans.

It is quite possible, in fact probable, that neither of those paths will pan out. I've done and will do my utmost to make them work, and I pray that they will. But its also wise to be prepared with alternatives, and who knows what will actually happen?

If neither grad school or Teach for America works out, then everything becomes an option. Do I stay in Virginia? Do I find friends to go with me on an adventure? Where? What do I do about job?

What if I get an agent and a book contract and a book tour in Europe and never have to work again? We can dream, right?

So, anyway. Lots of options. I'm learning to cope with the uncertainty, and trying to prepare for every scenario. There are some decisions that I will just have to make as they come, and that will be okay. It will work out.

It will work out, because there are a few things that are the priority, the dream, the goal, in any of these scenarios. There are a few things that I need to work on every day and if I do then good things will happen, even if its completely unexpected.

Write. Every day. I need to do better at that this coming year. I would love to have another novel and a screenplay at the end of it. Maybe a short story collection. I've been pretty okay about keeping up on submission rotations, but I could be even more aggressive. Another important thing is keeping up here in the cyberverse, learning from smart people, keeping up to date on the latest in the book industry, navigating, marketing, friending.

Whether you're path is pretty secure for the next year, or whether you have no idea what its going to bring, do the important things and I think we'll all be okay. I think this is gonna be a big year.

Here we go!


p.s. So what do y'all think of the new layout? I had fun :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why Les Miserables will win and why I won't be buying it.

Okay. Hmmm, ahh. Okay.

Do you ever come out of a movie with an analytical essay forming in your head?

First of all, I should say that it was absolutely incredible, stunning, and I loved it. There were moments that I can't even...Anne Hathaway who are you...?

But thoughts.

A few things bothered me. Why a new song? Cute, but unnecessary. I ADORE Helena Bonham Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen but I wanted the Thenardiers to be sillier. They were still hilarious though. And how can you NOT do the Castle on a Cloud reprise with Jean Valjean and little Cozette? Out of all the little musical tweaks (though there weren't many, bless them) that one bothered me most.

My mom had a really hard time with Russell Crow. In the moment he didn't actually bother me, but the more I think about it the more he does. (Though to be fair my opinions are very malleable to my mothers). I don't think he was terrible like my mom does, but looking back the character of Javert doesn't stand out at all and becomes sort of a non-entity, when that is the opposite of how it should be, and how it is in the book. In fact he and Jean Valjean are my two favorite characters in the book, so basically I think they missed out on a lot of potential from bad casting, at least as far as Javert is concerned.

Amanda Seyfried as Cozette was another non-entity for me, but that one doesn't bother me as much because Cozette is a non-entity in the book too. She's just not that interesting, so whatever. However, this is the first time I've liked Marius. In the book I very nearly hated him because he basically just ruins Jean Valjean's life and in the play he's just a weenie. But in this movie? Adorable.

I am not going to be buying the sound recording anytime soon, but that wasn't a big deal to me. I went in not expecting the singing to be Broadway quality but the acting to be tear-your-heart-out, and that was about accurate. Actually the best voice belonged to the Officer who warns the rebellion before they are obliterated. ("Give up! You have no chance.")

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. I...they just prove that divine (yes divine) talent and art is the most gloriously painful experience, painful precisely because it is so beyond normal human experience. Doing Fantine's entire song in one long shot, only one extremely close-up frame? Genius, and very nearly too much to take.

That is why Les Miserables will win, and why I won't probably won't be buying it, at least for a while. It is genius and beautifully directed and filmed and Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman will win ALL THE THINGS. But it's not one I could watch again soon, because it is that hard to take. I wouldn't pull it off the shelf for a fun movie night type movie. But every once in a while you want to be stabbed by something so glorious, so gut-wrenching. Maybe then I'll buy it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Not With a Bang: Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest

Chuck of Apocalypse Now has a question.

How do you think it will end?

I subscribe to the quiet end of the Apocalypse spectrum. Eerie in the vein of Twilight Zone or Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

It starts with a soft rumble, maybe a flash of light, though not a blinding one. You are in your basement when it happens. For a second you feel a bit dazed and lose track of yourself, but you shake it off and are fine.

Wondering what happened, you walk up the stairs. Your mother, who was in the kitchen, is not there. The oven is burning the lasagna she was making.

Then you walk outside. For as long as you can see there is nothing but flat, unbroken ground, white with what looks like salt. There is nothing, not a tree or hill or mountain, to break the horizon. Your neighbors houses, the playground across the street, the bell-tower of the church half a block away, even your mailbox, is gone.

You don't know how long you stand there. The urge to call out for someone comes in waves, and maybe you do it once, but half-heartedly, because you know there is no one there.

At the farthest edges of the horizon, towards the north, there may or may not be a spot of black shadow, a something, something different than the blank white. You stand there for another unknown length of time, watching, and the black something doesn't move but it doesn't go away.

Now you face a decision. Do you wait here to see if something happens, or move towards the black shadow?

It will make all the difference.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Then I know its Christmas

We may be in a new place this year, but there are still certain signs.

Increase in the number of quotes from The Grinch per day, although we do quote it year round. Of course when I say we I mean you.

Back ache, greasy table, dough under my fingernails from the Russian Teacake making assembly.

My brothers complaining about listening to The Osmonds.

Albert Finney in Scrooge. He is kind of a genius. (The Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge would be my favorite Christmas characters. *facepalm*)

All of us trying to guess who each other has for 12 days of Christmas. Trying and usually failing to keep your person a secret.

Watching all the old 50's Christmas specials with Mickey Rooney and remembering how unintentionally creepy they are. When you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you pay.

Still to come: chili bread bowls for Christmas Eve dinner, opening new Christmas pajamas, and my favorite part, all of us waking up ridiculously early and waiting in someones bedroom until we can go wake up my parents at 8:00. Maybe that all sounds like I'm 5, but I don't care.

It's Christmas.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Why do we even need other people?

I'm not very good at the socializing thing.

Surprise surprise, right? I know you guys understand. We writers generally aren't known for being the party scene type people. 

As I'm sure you know, it makes moving away from your home town...interesting. I haven't felt this type of self-consciousness about making friends since seventh grade. I mean, its different, obviously, but I guess its just that I haven't had to try at all for a long time. I graduated from high school in a class of 21 students. Everybody was friends with everybody, there wasn't really any other option. And in college the perfectness of perfect kinda fell into my lap slash my dorm roommates. I never had new roommates after that, really.

Until now. Now my close close friends and close-ish friends and even the random acquaintances I've had pretty much my whole life up till now are gone. I have my immediate family, which I think is why I'm not in a mental institution at this point, but its been different. Imagine me saying all this in an analytical voice, not a whiny emotional voice, because that's how I feel right now. So anyway. 

I definitely see how this has been...well, I hesitate to say "good for me" because I can't tell if I am a better person because of this move, but a learning experience, as any experience is really a "learning experience." And I have thought a lot while I've been here and I think have learned things about myself and my weaknesses and what I want and hopefully that will translate into me becoming a better person in the future. So maybe in that sense, yes, it has been good for me.

Obviously I believe we need other people. Desperately, in fact. Other people are The Point Of Life, in my mind. We need them to help us learn. I read/heard somewhere recently the expression that you will never meet someone who doesn't know something you don't know. I love that. We need people to take us out of ourselves and give us perspective. We need people to help us. And to give us a chance to help them. I think we should try to be the best part of other peoples day.

But like I said, I'm not good at this socializing thing. I don't think I'm being wussy on this, because even when I put forth a serious effort, its not like I'm terribly awkward or anything (I hope?) and I mostly enjoy chatting with people, but I really just don't have the making-friends-wherever-you-go skill like my mom and sisters and a lot of other people. I am becoming okay with this, but I have a question and a worry.

My question is this: what is the correct amount of pretending? I think at the superficial/beginning levels of socialization, 99% percent of the population is pretending to be comfortable and happy, and the remaining 1% have a capital G Gift. I definitely don't think avoiding something only because its uncomfortable is the right answer, but I also don't think that the close friendships and relationships that we look for necessarily come from forcing yourself at every situation, if that makes sense. Basically, how far does "trying" actually get those special friendships, or do they always just happen how they're going to happen, regardless of any planning or conscious effort on our part?

And my worry. I did kind of follow my family to the east coast. I'm living in my own apartment and like I said, there have been some great learning things for me personally. But now I'm applying to grad schools. I know most people have probably lived far far away from family by this point in their lives, and I'm trying not to feel ashamed. I love living near my family, and I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with that, but I'm also trying really hard to not let terror restrict me. Like I said, grad school. Its not like they're going to come to Texas or Nashville or Baton Rouge with me. (According to my grad school applications I really want to experience the South.) I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't worth it, but the first bit is going to be the most miserable 2-4 weeks of my life and that is not an easy prospect. Worth it. I'm figuring out how I'm going to survive, that I will survive, and that I might even be okay. But still, terrifying.

Because really, there are people wherever you go. And that is a terrifying, wonderful, lonely, comforting thing.
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