Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ack! Who ate my brain!?

If any of you have seen the fabu B-movie Bad Taste, you might know how I feel.  For those of you who aren't squeamish or adversely affected by bad movie effects, you can find an image here that will better help you understand.

Someone ate my brain.  I'm sure of it!  I mean, otherwise where is it?  It's not under my bed; I already looked.

I think some of it might have been poured out over these past two weeks of working.  I've actually been ALMOST keeping up with all of my commitments at work, while even pounding out THREE NEW CHAPTERS on the WIP.

You can tell I'm EXCITED because of the EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPSLOCK.

Okay, sorry, I'll stop.  See, I told you I was braindead!

So, without further ado, I'm going to redirect you to a blog post of someone who is decidedly not brain-missing.  One of my excellent crit partners directed me to this site, where you too can find amazing partners of crit!  It even tells you about the different kinds of critiques you can get/give.

So, go!  read!  I promise, when you come back I will have found my brain again.

...unless someone really did eat it.  That would totally suck.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amanda Moves the Furniture

I think I've discussed my commitment phobia in some detail before on this blog.  There are a lot of negative things about being a commitment-phobic, like spending 45 minutes deciding what to order at the restaurant, or buying a new duvet-cover every week to match your mood.

But, there's a lot of great things about it too!  For example, when I get edits back from my critique partners, I rub my hands together and think "sweet!  Let's get down to it!"  This isn't to say that I hack away at my story with great abandon (not all the time anyway), or that I don't keep the chapters I cut.  What I mean is, I like change.  I like moving paragraphs around, adding new stuff, and taking out other stuff.  It makes things look fresher and cleaner with each change!

And now, because I love pictures and I love  how easy it is to upload them from my fancy google phone, here is a visual example of what I mean.

Once upon a time, Amanda had an office.  It was a good office.  She painted and put furniture in it to make it just the way she liked it at that time.

Now, Amanda has had the office for a year.  One morning, she arrived at work and thought to herself, "No no no...something isn't right."  So, instead of doing the work she was meant to do that day, she set about moving her furniture this way and that.  


But, after the dust settled, Amanda sat back in her desk chair in its new position and thought, "This is good."

Maybe next time, she'll get it perfect. :)
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Unexpected erotic moments with sex-switching mutants...umm?

David the Movie Snob has done it again.  He has watched a movie!

Momentous, I know.

Okay, actually it's not that momentous.  We've watched a great many movies since the last DMS review, and that snob David has commented on all of them.  Unfortunately, Madameduck (I speak of myself in the third person here because I dislike accepting blame) has not written about any of them.

But, now I'm in this Starbucks attached to the Chapters, wondering what to do to take my mind off the disgustingly weak coffee and the grating experimental jazz.  I came up with an answer.  Blog, of course.

So, behold, a DMS review of SPLICE!  (warning, there's a few mini-spoilers in here.  I just couldn't help myself)

I had been looking forward to this movie way back when it came out, but for some reason, I hadn't watched it till now.  (I feel like I say that about a lot of movies...)  Anyway, the premise is thus: irreverent hipster scientists Clive and Elsa decide (selfishly) that they want to stretch the moral and legal boundaries of their practices and splice human DNA with a variety of animal DNA.  Apparently, according to headstrong and completely fucked-up Elsa, it's for the good of humanity.  See, if they can do this splicing, they'll be able to save all of the poor saps dying of cancer.  Somehow.  Her pansy-ass boy-toy, Clive, sees nothing a whole lot wrong with this plan, but goes along with it anyway.  Maybe she'll put out if he gives her her mutant baby, right?

Well, actually, he was right.  After tucking in their now adolescent (apparently splicing=accelerated growth) creation one night, things get steamy.  Because, really, if I'd just broken a shitload of laws and created some kind of violent human/animal thing, that'd get my hormones raging too.

The hormones apparently don't stop raging, mutant hormones included, as things spiral quickly, if not predictably, out of control.

What did I think of the film?

Surprise!  I loved this movie.  This kind of disturbo-freak-fest is right up my alley.  I cringed through a lot of the scenes and hated all of the characters (even Adrien Brody's character, despite the fact that he's my celebrity crush!), but for me, that's a sign of a good flick.  I knew right from the moment the flowery Gaumont logo flashed on the screen that this would not be the typical sci-fi that I thought it would be.  French people know how to get twisted.

As soon as the movie ended, I exclaimed, "Eeeee!  I hated it!  Turn it off!" and then I made a bunch of unintelligible sounds as I writhed on the floor.  But then, 2 hours later when I still hadn't fallen asleep, I realized that Splice was one of the best films I'd seen in awhile.  It was haunting, thought provoking, and ....line-crossing.  :)  The tension and disturbiness in this film were along the lines of Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke: not in your face gruesome, but more like something itching underneath your skin.  Like "igh."

What did David the Movie Snob think?

He liked it too.  Sorry, no snarky comments this time. :)

my rating: 7/10
DMS rating: 6/10.  Ever the snob.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Worst thing about Middle School? Chompers.

There has been a lot of talk about bullying lately, in the news media and elsewhere.  It's a big issue, and one that is close to my heart.  I've thought about writing down one of my bully stories as a "blast from the past" entry before, but figured it would be a bit too personal.  However, after reading this post by a great blogger, I decided that writing what you're afraid of isn't such a bad idea.  The writing below isn't great, fyi (a lot of showing instead of telling - it's a memory, after all), but if you feel like reading a bully story, read on!

Not much in life is more difficult than being thirteen.  I mean fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen were pretty bad, but thirteen really stands out to me as one of my worst years.  It was the year I was offically Defriended.

When I was younger, my mum had this book about workplace politics.  I think it was from the seventies or something, because the cover had that swirly seventies font on it and the colours were all faded and retro.  The book simplified workplace politics by using shapes.  It said that each person was a circle of energy.  We all start out the same size, but as we go on, some circles can shrink or grow.  The most common way for circles to grow was to take bites out of other circles.  But, then, where does that leave the circle that was bitten?  Smaller, of course.  And, apparently smaller circles are easier to nibble on, so the smaller someone’s circle gets, the more of a target she becomes.  It went on to talk about more positive ways to grow and yadda yadda, but the main thing that stuck with me was this image of a person’s energy just taking a chomp out of another’s for their own gain.

For me, that’s what being thirteen was all about.  Middleschoolers are chompers.  I’m not going to delve into the why, because there are plenty of people out there now talking about that.  I’m just going to give one example of how, my own.

I moved to North Carolina after grade six.  Most kids in the little town where I went to school had been living there since they were in diapers.  Their mum’s smoked pot together.  They knew each other’s secrets.  They’d dated each other’s brothers.  This was something I just couldn’t relate to, having moved around so much in my younger years.

It was really difficult to break in.

But, by grade 8, I thought I had.  I mean, I’d encountered a chomper here or there through the semesters, but I always felt like I had a relatively close core group of friends that I could turn to.  I’d even landed a boyfriend at one point (even though I dumped him two weeks later because I didn’t like the blue plaid vest he wore to the school dance).  

I was part of the alternative crowd, the kind of grungy artistic misfits.  There was a girl in this group who, I’ll admit, I admired.  We’ll call her Raven, because that (tacky as it is) kind of suits her.  Raven was a no-nonsense kind of chick who always had the greatest school photo because she stared down the camera with a death glare.  Despite all that, her personality was magnetic.  People were drawn to her been-there-done-that confidence.  She was frank, honest, and really good at soccer. :)

Raven and I were both in the drama club in grade eight, when the high school handed us this amazing opportunity.  A select few from our club could go up and be extras in their production of Alice in Wonderland.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven because, in my mind, I was destined for the stage.

During rehearsals, there was a lot of down time.  We were extras, after all.  I still remember the banana coloured tiles that lined the hallway outside the theater in the high school.  We all sat in on the floor, resting our heads on our flannel shirts and listening to the Grateful Dead on our walkmans. (walkmen? lol)

People huddled in pairs or threes, chatting about weekend plans or their latest Alice in Chains cd.  This is when I started to notice the pattern.  The pattern that I was left out of.  I was never in one of those huddles, unless I forced my way in.

I still remember the day I really realized something was off.  There had been hints here and there that I was being excluded - concerts that people “forgot” to invite me to, rides that never showed up, giggles behind my back.  I always managed to explain them away somehow.  My friends wouldn’t exclude me on purpose, would they?  

But this one day, I returned from the bathroom to our little squat on the hallway floor to a series of hushes.  Like a director had been there to orchestrate it, the open spot in the circle was swallowed up and all I was met with were backs.  Chompers, I like I told you.

The feeling defies words.  Your cheeks sting, like someone’s burning the skin from behind.  Then, the needles hit your eyeballs and you have to blink because you know you might cry, even though that’s the last thing you want to do.  A sort of lump rises in your throat.  No, it’s not like that.  It’s more like everything above your abdomen seizes up and twists together into a giant knot.  You can’t breathe, you can’t swallow, your heart is pounding.

The worst part is, in your mind, you just keep playing all of the stupid things you’ve done.  Awkward comments you’ve made, ridiculous questions you’ve asked.  They all hit you like slaps while your brain tells you, “Of course they don’t like you.  Look at yourself.”

I can’t tell you how alone I felt.  I mean, these were my friends.  These were the people I went to when other people chomped on me.  I didn’t realize that your own friends could chomp you too.
I went, with my book, to find another corner in the banana hallway.  Whatever, if they didn’t like me, I didn’t need them anyway.

But I did, of course.  When I got home, the tears came.  My poor mom, always a bit too connected to my emotions, frantically tried to figure out a way to make it right.  Sidenote to the Moms out there: let me just tell you, it’s beyond your control.  Anything you do can make things worse.  She listened, and didn’t call their mums to bitch them out, thank god.

I wanted to know why, though.  I couldn’t just let sleeping dogs lie.  So, the next day, with shaking hands, I picked up the phone and called one of my “friends.”


“Hey M, it’s Amanda.”


“What’s up?”

“Um.  Nothing.”

Deep breath.  “Okay, so I’m just going to jump right in.  I noticed that you guys, well - everyone, has been ignoring me lately.  Um...is it my imagination?”  My voice seemed to raise two octaves over those three sentences.

Silence.  Finally, “No...."

“No what?”

“No, it’s not your imagination.  We just...decided not to be your friend anymore.”  Pause.  “I’m really sorry.”

My mouth fell open.  “WHAT!?”  People do that!?  They just decide to de-friend someone, as a GROUP!?  Apparently they do.

“Yeah.  Well, after spring break when you came back with the same haircut as Raven, she called you a poser.  And...well, we all agreed.  So...”

“I got that haircut over Spring Break!  I hadn’t even seen Raven!  How could that make me a poser!?”  

Actually, scratch that.  I didn’t say that.  At the time, I had no spine.  Instead, I said, “Oh.  Okay.  Well, thanks for being my friend till now.”

And then I hung up.

Time to find new friends I guess.

WHEW!  I feel like I just vomited into my blog.  Sorry, guys.  Anyway, do any of you have stories of being bullied?  Come on, share with me your war-tales from the battlefields of junior high.

Monday, October 11, 2010


This past weekend was a long weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving. A lot of things didn't go as planned. I did a lot - not much of what I'd set out to do, and I learned a lot. Here's a story about one of the unexpected things I did this thanksgiving weekend.

I learned that I have courage, and I don't back down when given a challenge. In fact, if I'm challenged, my courage goes up. Here's what happened:

This Friday, David and I drove up after work to the little town I visit sometimes for my job. My friend (who is the most amazing musician you have evah evah seen) was playing at an open mic up there, and we pretty much just wanted to hang out. Well, after a couple glasses of wine and a couple hours of watching artists get up on stage and do their thing, two ladies from my office who know I'm writing a book added my name to the performance list.

I only found out because the two of them were giggling and pointing so I saw my name up on the whiteboard. Confused (and, I'll admit, a little annoyed), I was like "Um...what would you like me to do?" They said I should read an excerpt or something to promote my book.

"You're an artist! Be artistic!" they said when I told them that I didn't have any of my work with me.

Briefly, I considered erasing my name. But then, it occured to me that I was an artist. So, why the hell not!? I had just registered for the SCBWI conference and critique day, so I figured I'd have to start practicing explaining my book to people at some point. And why not in front of a half empty room of drunk artists. I couldn't have picked a more supportive environment if I'd tried. :)

After waiting through a few more acts, I stepped onto the stage. I couldn't see anyone. The audience was hidden behind the spotlights. I swallowed, organized my thoughts, and adjusted the microphone to buy some time.

"I'm not a performer," I finally said, making eye contact with the faceless shadows. "But, I am an artist."

Everyone cheered. It pushed me to continue.

"How many of you are under twenty?"

A group of about 10 kids in the front row all whooped and clapped. Most of them were boys.

"Alright, alright. Be honest here. How many of you are under twenty and read novels."

The front row was up clapping and cheering again. "Tell us about your book!" they yelled.

By this time, I thought I could stay on stage all day. "Alright, I'll tell you a bit about my book, then I'm gonna tell you a funny story, and then I'll clear off the stage so the real performers can do their thing."

More cheers. Seriously! They were cheering for me!

So, I told a brief synopsis about my book. It probably could have been better, but hell, it was my first time. And then I told this story about when I went to yoga - something the over-twenties could relate to also. And then, as promised, I cleared off the stage...to a full-bodied round of applause. Even people I'd never met came up to me after to say how awesome I did on stage.

And I thought, what an amazing experience to have thrust upon me. I always sit at these open mics and think "Someday people will see my art too." I never thought that I could also get on stage. And I am so thankful that I could confront this arbitrary fear about presenting my book to strangers, to standing on stage and talking about it. After this experience, I feel really confident (if not totally prepared...) to go to the conference in January.

I am an artist. And I can do anything.

Have you guys had to muster up some courage? Tell me about it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dangerous Double DDs

I haven't done one of my alphabet lists in a LONG time!  So, here's a new one for the letter D!

Things I hate that begin with D:

  • Dumb drivers (oo look, that one has TWO d's!)
  • Damp towels
  • Dogs that bark constantly
Things I love that begin with D"
  • Discmans!!
  • Deep water
  • Dolmathes
Wow, it was much easier to come up with the D things that I like. :)  I guess that's a good thing!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bean Curd and Yoga, a winning combination

In an effort to be healthier (and shed this super tense spot between my shoulder blades), I've taken up yoga again.  I did Bikram's for awhile a couple years ago, but since then I haven't really entered into a yoga studio.  Having the instructor yell at me that if it wasn't hurting I was doing it wrong kind of put a bad taste in my mouth for the whole practice.

So...yeah. :)  Anyway, I went to my first class last week (hatha this time, not crazy Bikram), and it was perfect for a returning beginner.  The instructor (Road Tripp, I kid you not) looked like Keith Richards with a mohawk and a bodyful of tattoos.  But he explained everything very well and made me feel super comfortable twisting up like a pretzel.  So, I bought a pass.

This past weekend, I decided to drag David with me.  It wasn't Mr. Tripp teaching this time, but I figured, it's open level Hatha Yoga.  How different could it be?

Well, by halfway through the class, when we still hadn't gotten off of our backs and the instructor said "I only know one asana in yoga and we will do that next," I realized just how different it could be.

I mean, I have nothing against meditation or spirituality (even though I'm not particularly spiritual), but maybe the label on that class should have been Meditation instead of Yoga?  Before you start throwing yoga blocks at me and yelling that I'm an idiot, let me tell you that I know Yoga is more than just postures and a good workout.  But, this is Vancouver, and I think a lot of people here (ME!!!) attend yoga for a little sweat, not to "dedicate our meditations to the suffering people of Lebanon," while we roll around on our backs and chant "Om."

Seriously, half the time this teacher just sat in the front of the class and told us about inspirational movies she's seen or about how engaging our abdominals will activate our fire chakra and help us release the darkness that lies deep within all of us.  I wanted to scream, "oh yeah, lady, you're releasing my darkness, and it's coming for you!"

Generally, I leave yoga feeling refreshed and positive, but something about all of this lady's postulating and chanting just left me with so much negative energy.  David came out and said "well that was a nice nap," while I came out fuming.  "What the frig was that!?" I asked him as soon as we were on the street.

He laughed at me...of course. :)

Fortunately, we went to another class last night by yet another instructor, and I liked that one much better.  Although, I did go dangerously soon after eating a spicy tofu curry.  :)  No major catastrophes though.  David, in all of his wisdom, explained away my fears, "Don't worry.  Lots of yogis are vegetarians.  I'm sure they're used to farts."  mmm. So pleasant.

All in all, week one of the healthy kick is going strong.  I didn't even drink coffee today!  Wonder how long I can keep this up.  I'm sure at least until my coffee break tomorrow! :)

How about you guys?  Do any of you do yoga?  Did you ever have any ridiculous instructors?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Location location location Blogfest!

Thank goodness for people like Serena who provide me with ideas of what to write in the blog!  Otherwise, it'd be another day without an entry.  Also thanks to Jennifer at Unedited for helping me find Serena's awesome blogfest!

In this blogfest, you pick a location from Serena's list and describe it however you want.  You can even draw a picture if that floats your boat. :)

I chose WOODSVILLE.  Here goes:

With a name like Woodsville, you might think my town is nestled into a quiet forest.  And maybe it used to be, back before they came and chopped down all the trees.

But now, Woodsville is nothing but a graveyard.

It's a graveyard of trees, a graveyard of nature, and a graveyard of dreams.  There's only one street in this town, and most of the shops on it are boarded up.  Have been for years.  The rusty marquis on the old movie theater still has enough letters stuck onto it to read "Stanley Kubric's 2001 Space Odyssey OPENING NIGHT!"  There's one cafe, Mama's, but no one goes in there unless they like rubbing elbows with the Hell's Angels who run the place.

Outside of town, the grass stretches brown for as far as the eye can see.  It's not a peaceful flowing carpet, though, like you're thinking.  See, here and there it's dotted with a gravestone.  No, wait, if you'll let your eyes adjust, you'll see that those are stumps from the trees that used to give Woodsville its name.

It's hard to escape this town.  I've been trying for years.  See, there's no jobs here to get any money.  But even if I could get money, how would I get away.  There aren't even any buses that run through this place.  Whoever's here stays here.  Whoever's not here stays the hell away.


There you have it!  and now, for the real Woodsville!  (No relation to my description!  I hope I don't offend anyone from Woodsville!)

So, skip on over to Serena's blog and have a go!