Just to forewarn anyone who might think this leadup is going to something inspiring or moving or dramatic: this blog entry is going to be about nailpolish.
Here’s a thing about how I handle New Years: I don’t really make resolutions. My basic theory is that if there’s something I want to change, I probably just… will, when I’m ready to, and if I’m not ready to yet, all resolving to do it will do is make me feel like a failure when I don’t do it. But my general goal is to feel like I’ve made some sort of forward motion throughout the year, so that when it comes to late December, I don’t feel like I’ve been stagnant in the last 12 months. Forward motion doesn’t need to mean huge changes, just that I don’t feel like I’ve basically wasted my time. Here are some things I did last year that I think are worth noting, life-wise:
+ Attended to a writing workshop and shared my novel with other people. This was intimidating, but awesome!
+ Spoke on two panels at WisCon – one on love triangles in young adult novels and the other about magical girlhood, ie, fantasy aimed at little girls. These were both awesome. Too bad I never got around to blogging about them. Whoopsie.
+ Was significantly more social than I’ve been since… ever. I am a huge introvert who lives largely inside my own head, and I’m generally comfortable with that; however, I often forget that I actually do like being social as long as I have plenty of time alone to recharge after. Figuring out my limits and boundaries with social interaction: a pretty cool thing.
+ Took a significant and awesome promotion at work.
+ Learned to paint my nails.
Yes, that last one is worth noting, on several levels.
One: I have been a nail-biter for years, and painting them has helped me break that habit. My nails now regularly get long enough that I have to file them.
Two: Nearly all of my hobbies involve being on the computer in some way — writing, blogging, staring mindlessly at my tumblr dash. Plus I work online all day. I wanted to find something to do to occupy my time away from my monitor and the internet. Not that I don’t love the internet. I LOVE THE INTERNET. But I also have wrist pain and my eyes sometimes need a rest. Nail painting takes concentration. Especially because…
Three: I graduated to nail art. Mostly simple nail art, but still! And this is the real reason I’m writing about it, because, as silly as it is, it’s a very big deal for me. I am a perfectionist with zero artistic talent, which means every time I artify my nails I have to take deep breaths and overcome the instinct that tells me THIS IS TERRIBLE, EVERYONE WILL SEE YOUR MEDIOCRE NAILS AND LAUGH AT YOU, TAKE IT ALL OFF NOW BEFORE YOU EMBARRASS YOURSELF.
But it turns out people don’t actually do that. Not even so much because most people are not enormous jerks (though mostly they are not), but because I am my own worst critic and most people’s reactions are closer to hey, cool! than anything else.
Also it turns out that even if you are, like me, not at all artistic, you can get better with practice if you don’t give up just because you started out mediocre. My nursery school class put on a play to that effect, back in 1987. I wasa frog that didn’t know how to ribbit yet. Apparently it just took a really long time for that lesson to start sinking in.
Anyway. Under the cut are some pictures of nail polish. Read this article »
I think I’m going to try to do round-ups instead if individual reviews this year, because on the one hand, if I do individual reviews, I put them off until I’ve forgotten what I thought about what I read; on the other hand, when I don’t write book reviews, I don’t update this blog (which was not meant to be a book review blog, but whatchagonnado? *shrug*).
Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns by Ian Brill, art by James Silvani
I was a latchkey kid in the early 90s, which means I watched The Disney Afternoon pretty much religiously, and Darkwing Duck was absolutely always my favorite. (I can live without TaleSpin or Rescue Rangers, but I own DW on DVD.) When I found out through comics-savvy friends that DW was being reborn as a comic book, I was super psyched, even though comics aren’t particularly my thing. My BFF got me the paperback collection of the opening issues, and let me say, it’s delightful. Heroism! Adventure! Family! Hijinks! Gosalyn yells “Keen gear!” Aside from the nostalgia, it was a great story, and a really fun read.
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
I snapped this up as soon as I saw it in a store (the first non-e book I’ve bought in months) and I really wanted to love it — but I didn’t. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find it satisfying, either. Details at Active Voice.
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
If anything, Bleeding Violet had the opposite problem of Sappique: I read it practically in one sitting and loved it as I turned the pages… But a few minutes after I set it down and paused to catch my breath, I started noticing flaws. Details of that, too, are over at Active Voice.
Arrows of the Queen, Arrows Flight and Arrows Fall by Mercedes Lackey
… Look, I didn’t mean to reread these, but I was sick, and it was snowing, and as I’ve mentioned before, the first book fits squarely into stories of my heart territory. I wanted something warm and friendly and familiar.1 I can spot flaws in this series that I didn’t when I was a kid, but it’s one of the few series where they don’t bother me or take away from my fun.
Unfinished: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Aaaaaaarg. This was the second time I tried to read this. And I really, really did try, for almost a month before I gave up. I just…couldn’t…get through it. I understand why the book is a classic, I understand why it’s important. I understand what it was doing. I just couldn’t slog through it. I feel sort of guilty, both because leaving a book half-finished kind of irks me, and also because, as I said, I do get why the book is important and a classic, but… it just wasn’t gonna happen. (Also, I’m pretty much over anything where all the women are whores.)
So that’s January. Here, have a Disney Afternoon video to go out on:
- Not to mention thematically appropriate — both of the first two books feature blizzards and snow pretty heavily. ↩
So here’s the thing. I love boy bands. This shouldn’t come as an enormous surprise, given there’s a whole category to the right somewhere called “this must be pop.” (Which, aside from being about pop, is also an *NSYNC lyric.) So last year when my awesome BFF Jess suggested we should keep some sort of official look out for up-and-coming boy bands, naturally I was all over that. And thus, the Official Tweenage Wasteland Official Boy Band Watch was born!
Aaaand also not a surprise, if you’ve poked around here before (or spoken to me pretty much at all in the last few months), I adore the Nickelodeon show Big Time Rush, which is, of course, about a boy band named Big Time Rush, who have recently put out an album titled (just to be different)… “BTR.” And naturally, Jess and I had to rate it.
So here it is! OTWOBBW: Big Time Rush. (Bonus, we spruced up Tweenage’s layout a bit, so now the text isn’t squished into such a small column. Check it out!)
I’m sick. I’ve been sick for about five days, though recovering steadily for the last two. This is better for me. It isn’t better for my roommate, for reasons illustrated in this graph:
In short, as I start to feel better, I become insufferably whiney that I’m not all-the-way better yet. At my sickest, I dope up on cold medication and mostly sleep; as I get better, all I do is complain.
Translation: Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Today, it came as a relief that I had enough energy to do things like wash dishes and run laundry. And I hate washing dishes and running laundry.
Oh, and just barely enough energy to (almost) catch up on book reviews.
See, this is how far backed up I am. I reread Catching Fire the weekend before Mockingjay came out, because I’d devoured it so fast the first time I didn’t actually remember anything that happened, or any of the new characters who’d been introduced. So I reread. This time, the book’s few weaknesses bothered me a little bit more, but overall the story and writing are so compelling that I once again devoured it. Luckily, I didn’t have enough time to forget anything, because Mockingjay came out the next week.
(Wait, you wanted an actual review? Last year, at Active Voice. Of course.)
What is there to say about Mockingjay that hasn’t been said? I was at the release party and got to see Suzanne Collins read the first chapter; that was awesome. (BTW, did you know Katniss has an Appalachian accent? I didn’t! But it was cool.) I took the next day off work to read (because the awesome thing about being a grown up is that I can do that), and it took me a long, long time to gather my thoughts on the book. There’s so much there.
I’ll sum it up like this: I wanted to like it more than I did. It does justice to the first two books in the series, for sure. It was fairly well put together, definitely. But getting that isn’t the same as liking it. More on this one, too, is over at AV.
Oh, Bloom County. I grew up reading collections of the strip, over and over, even though I was pretty young when it was canceled. I’ve occasionally joked that everything I know about 80s politics, I learned from Bloom County, but it’s not actually much of an exaggeration. What was really brilliant, though, is that the rhythm and the characters of the strips are so great that even as a kid, not getting about 65% of the jokes, I found it hilarious anyway. So I had not only read a lot of these before, I’d memorized them.
Getting a look at some strips I’d never seen before was great. I also enjoyed Breathed’s commentary. In fact, that was one of the reasons I liked Volume Two better than the first. The first had a lot of annotations about the events of the time, and very little commentary from Breathed; the second had fewer annotations and more commentary. (Don’t get me wrong, having some of the context for stuff that happened when I was a toddler was useful, but a lot of it was also pretty obvious just from reading the strips.)
This book, sigh. I’ve mentioned in a few other reviews that I often have issues with classics, because I’m so accustomed to (and more easily engaged by) modern pacing. This is the sort of book that shows just how much that limits me: it took me awhile to get into it, to pick it back up when I put it down, but it would have been a real shame if I had let the pacing put me off. The book is lovely.
It’s the journal of Cassandra, a young woman in the 1930s, living in an English castle (but also living in complete poverty). Her goal is to be a writer, so she strives to record all of her encounters and emotions honestly — to capture the castle in writing, you see. The story of the book also takes you through Cassandra’s first love (and the first time a boy likes her) and her family relationships, in a way that’s so real it’s almost painful. The prose is beautiful, but above all, it’s the emotions that the book gets right.
(Are those all the books I’ve read? No! But is it time for me to go take some more medicine and whine some more? Yes! So that’s it for now.)
Conversation from work yesterday:
Coworker: And besides, superheroes must have great carbon footprints.
Me: That’s true. When Superman flies home to Kansas to visit his folks, he definitely isn’t taking a plane! Not like Lex Luthor, taking a private jet all over…
Coworker: See, there’s saving the world…and then there’s saving the world.
Today, I’m pretty sure, was the first day of New York’s Deathsport season. Like baseball, Deathsport has a fairly long season, though less predictable: it starts when the weather begins to consistently hit the upper 70s and above, and lasts until the weather no longer does that.
The rules are simple: catch a subway in Manhattan during rush hour. Don’t die. If you make it to your destination alive, you win.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
First, while you might think that what with the giant tunnels and all, subway platforms would get pretty good air circulation, you’d be wrong. They’re stuffy, and when you have the outdoor heat plus bodyheat (and during rush hour, platforms are elbow-to-elbow crowded in a lot of stations), you will find it sweltering. If your train doesn’t come soon (and don’t let the phrase “rush hour” fool you, it won’t), you may well overheat and keel over…and as the hospital is (presumably) not your planned destination, you lose at Deathsport.
Now let’s say that after four local trains go by in a row, your uptown express finally stops. Here is round two of Deathsport: getting on the train. Because it’s the first express to come by in twenty minutes or so, your train will doubtlessly be packed. Assume you can’t get on: repeat round one until you can, or until you die (and thus lose at Deathsport). However, if enough people disembark from the train that there’s room to get on, prepare yourself. First, you have to hold your ground against the relentless waves of people coming off, all of whom will be heading for the staircase directly behind you. If you get run over by a mom with a stroller, you lose at Deathsport. If you get pushed too far back to catch your train, go back to round one. But if you hold your ground, you can now begin to fight it out in the hand-to-hand combat portion of the game, trying to get on to the train before it is too crowded to allow any more passengers, and/or before the conductor closes the doors in your face. If you get blocked out of the train, you lose at Deathsport. If the door closes on your body and you aren’t a highly experienced player, you likely lose at Deathsport. (You also lose an arm.)
If, however, you have the cunning and fortitude to make it on to your train, proceed to round three.
Round three is the endurance round, lasting anywhere from five to seventy city blocks, or roughly between a quarter of a mile and four and a half miles. In this round, you are stuck in your car. On the plus side, many (but not all) subway cars have air conditioning. On the down side, rush hour cars are so crowded that you likely will find yourself longing for the freedom of the platform, where you could move almost six inches in any given direction. That is no longer the case: if you are claustrophobic or don’t deal well with crowds or with strangers pressing against you, you’ll likely end up sobbing or screaming, in which case you lose at Deathsport. Here, your challenge is to stand perfectly still regardless of the teenagers shoving each other next to you, the lawyer who continuously tries to shove his briefcase into your kidney, or the woman dancing to her iPod who doesn’t notice that her super-awesome kick-step involves coming down directly on your foot.* This is also a balance challenge: there are so many people between you and the nearest hand-hold that you have no way to hold yourself up. If you have inner-ear problems, you lose at Deathsport.
Round three presents an additional challenge to those of us who are less than average height: the people around you will likely be holding onto the ceiling-mounted bar, which you can’t reach. However, the bar is at the correct height to leave you nose-to-armpit with your neighbors. If you require fresh air to breathe (or indeed any air at all), you lose at Deathsport.
Round four, the final round, is a reverse round-two. You fight your way back towards a door, in an attempt to get out of the subway car before the crowd on the platform presses their way inside, sealing you in forever. Once you’ve reached the platform, you’re faced with vertical turnstiles and impatient people behind you, and if you can’t jump out of the way in time as you exit, you will be crushed against the exit itself and lose at Deathsport.
If, however, you have successfully navigated your way this far, congratulations! You win at Deathsport! Your prize is fresh city air, which smells rather like rotting garbage and dogshit. Ah, summer in New York.
Other fun New York games: Dodge the Gawking Tourist, Don’t Get Lost in Central Park**, and Wait Three Hours for Dinner in the East Village, among many others.
* Unless, like me, you are that girl. Sorry.
** I lose at this one a lot. I can enter the park on the East side, walk westward in a straight line, and somehow exit the park on the East side again. Seriously.