Monday, November 29, 2010

Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.


Or: not everyone will always like you.

As some of you might know, in addition to all my other spread-myself-too-thin hobbies, I am constantly writing and submitting my work for publishing.

Usually, I get a standard form rejection letter that looks a little bit like this:

Alison, Thank you for your fiction submission to [magazine title]. Regretfully, we must pass but all the best with it.

Today, I got my very first personal rejection letter. At first, I was excited. Personal letters are rare, but valuable.

But then I saw what they had to say:

The first sentence doesn't need to be there. Make sure the message is stated without actually stating it.

Okay, that's fine. I actually had debated that myself and decided to leave it in. In the future, I'll remove it. Easy.

I'm afraid this piece came off entirely too preachy. There really isn't any character progression or personal change. Nothing that happens with the characters affects any change in any form. The only change or progress is a single blade of grass that the characters have nothing to do with bringing about.

Hmm. I didn't intend for there to be any character progression or personal change, so...I guess that's okay. But the blade of grass is a sign that even in the bleakest of times, things can get better. I need to work on getting that point across I suppose.

I'm all for environmental care and stories that encourage responsibility in our world, but this one is not well done. It is more of a diatribe than a story.

Eeek, "not well done". And I'll admit I had to look up "diatribe", but here it is:

di·a·tribe/ˈdīəˌtrīb/

Noun: A forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something.

Err...okay, so maybe I came off kind of strong? I guess?

But here's the worst:

The story is a heavy lecture of the evils of our cancer-causing world. No attempt to even veil the message. Granny dies of cancer from our dirty world and wanton, wasteful ways. Sentimental, preachy, awful.

Awful! Really? Awful?

I'm too close to this, maybe. My grandmother DID die of cancer, so I may be rightfully sentimental...but who knows what really caused it? I'm making assumptions here that we're killing our planet. And no, I didn't make any attempt to veil the message...because the message was the point.

Argh. To be fair, I wrote this piece in 2000, and haven't really given it much of a second look since then. My creative writing teacher at the time suggested that I submit it, and ten years later I remembered that and tried to submit it.

I'm not dismissing what they had to say by any means...but I have a feeling that maybe these people aren't very green!

I'm not sure if I can save this story, but I'll try, I suppose. It's a little disturbing that I can write and re-read a story so many times, but not even realize I'm being preachy and bitter. I think I may need an editor!

(image credit)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Productivity, begin!

It's only midnight (so technically it's day one of my 5 day weekend) and I've already successfully emptied my clogged inbox and read everything that had backed up in my google reader.

Off to an awesome start, if I do say so myself! Hopefully I can keep it up! :)

*RealLove*


1. I was really excited to see the new Dr. Who-as-John Lennon TV movie...but then I read this article and suddenly had no desire to see it anymore. But still. I love John, and unlike most people I'm pretty sure I love Yoko too. She was a self-made woman long before it was proper for a woman to be such--and instead of being recognized for it, she was put through hell for "breaking up the Beatles", simply because she wasn't afraid to use her voice. And if you love John, but hate Yoko...I mean, John loved the shit out of that woman. You really have to at least respect that. (photo from theexaminer.com)
2. I LOVE this super cool Tim Burton-ish umbrella. The curvy shape is just too cute and feminine. If I went to the beach a lot (think Sweeney Todd) I would take this with me pretty much every time.
3. Serena Williams wristlet. I was originally in love with this in a pretty mustard color (it might sound weird, but it worked. I'm obsessed with mustard fabrics lately!) but it sold out. I guess I wasn't the only one who appreciated it! I've learned to sew rosettes so hopefully I can make one of my own soon.
4. Staring at Stars Paperbag Skirt. I love that this skirt walks a fine line between looking cool and looking like a gross old couch. It's definitely falling on the cool side, but it had better watch itself. Paired with the wrong cardigan and it's all downhill from there!5. HAWKS by Geren Ford Lace Tux Dress. I love both the color and the bib front on this dress. (Bibs are the next thing I need to learn how to sew, but I've had zero luck finding a tutorial that isn't for an *infant* bib.)

I've been drooling over just about everything at urbanoutfitters.com for days now. I could show you everything I really liked but we'd be here all day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When censoring goes too far.


Everyone, meet Alan Cumming. He's an actor. Quite talented, in my opinion. Odds are, you've probably seen him in something. He keeps very busy and has a large body of work!

Now, since I am a huge fan of Victor Garber (seriously, get a load of this smile and tell me he doesn't look like he's the nicest guy in the world! Love him!)......about a year ago I purchased Disney's Annie...even though I much prefer the original. Today, I tried to sell the DVD on eBay...and here's what I ran into while posting the auction:They CENSORED Alan's last name! And sure, I realize that in a different context it's a "dirty" word, but come on now! I really wonder if Alan knows about this and if it's negatively affected his career.

I just tried searching for any items with his name in them on eBay and proper auctions DID come up with his name uncensored, so now I'm a little confused. But still thought it was worth mentioning.

(image credit imdb and my own eBay screencap, respectively.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I can see the weekend from here!

But what I'm really most excited about is next week!

Somehow, it's worked out that I'm only working on Monday and Tuesday--leaving me with a five day (paid, thank you very much!) weekend!

I hope I can manage to get more done this extended weekend than I did during the last. Without a doubt, I really need to finish getting the bathroom painted. (My paint brushes were compromised this weekend, so I was only able to paint a big uneven splotch. Bah!)

I'll post photos once it's done and (hopefully) beautiful.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My first article :)

I just published my first article on Associated Content. I get paid based on how many people view the article, so if you could please give it a quick read and forward it, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6022642/bring_back_my_childhood.html?cat=7

It's about discontinued toys/foods/etc from my childhood :)

My take on this TSA mess...

(I don't usually take a stand on things like this. I don't like saying things that may make people angry, but THIS really makes me mad and I feel it needs to be said.)


I read a really lengthy blog post about someone who was (for lack of a better term) frisked during a TSA search and felt extremely violated.

I want to write that I understand, but I cannot. I want to be supportive and sympathetic, but I can't do even that.

Sure, you may be a white anglo-saxon female and look (and be) totally innocent. And hey, you may have even been traveling with children who were frisked in the same way. Your blood may be boiling that someone dared to touch your child 'there'.

Well, guess what? Consider yourself lucky. As far as being sexually violated goes, you got off pretty damn easy. Would you feel the need to be so soap-boxy if it was a family of Muslims who were subject to a cavity search? Because guess what? That's not exactly fair either--but it is done!

We can't assume that all terrorists are of ethnic decent. We can't assume all terrorists are of a certain age, gender, etc. Do you really think a terrorist wouldn't think to use a child (or an old woman, for that matter) to get a bomb aboard a plane? I am quite certain that they would.

This "frisking" is not a sexual crime. It's not being committed by power hungry, leering perverts. These are people in the service industry doing their job to assure security. YOUR security, and the security of your family. I understand that because you are innocent, this probably feels like nothing more than a pointless violation. But think for a second what would happen if they decided to slack on their job at the wrong moment--even if 'just once', they decide to let the innocent, hobbling old granny through.

And she's packed to the brim with explosives?

You should be thanking your TSA agents. I'm sure they don't want to be touching crotches any more than others want their crotches touched. They are doing this for everyone's safety.

Love and stuff, with things attached.

Okay.

So here we are, what, five days later? And Jay and I are back together. Love is hard work, people. It's not always perfect, and sometimes it's easy to lose sight of things. But in the long run, we love each other (I personally got a wake up call of a reminder about that one!) and we're sticking things out.

(On a side note, we need to learn to discuss and quarrel like a normal couple, and not just stew, let things blow up, break up and then regroup in 24 hours. The breaking up is exhausting and I feel very much like a high schooler sometimes.)

While I'm on the topic of love, I absolutely have to share with you this amazing dress!
It's from Cache and can be found here and while I absolutely cannot afford it (I saw it while browsing the mall with my mother a few weeks ago--she nearly fainted at the price tag), I am lusting over it in the worst way. I am hoping that my some Christmas miracle, the price is both reduced and I somehow come into a large sum of money.

Last Christmas, my mother surprised me with a cashmere argyle sweater that I had momentarily lusted over, and then put out of my mind completely. Apparently she had gone right back out to Macy's and picked it up for me. It was such a sweet gesture but I felt silly owning a $200 sweater. I knew that I'd be too afraid to mess it up, so I'd never wear it...so I exchanged it (with her blessing, of course) for a great multitude of clearance dresses. I felt that was a much better use of the money.

THIS? This dress I would not mind one bit if she surprised me with it. She won't, as she has decided that we're not exchanging gifts this year due to the economy. BUT, if she did, I would not even bat an eyelash and not even consider returning it for a second!

(Um, so, I'm a size medium as far as that dress goes...in case you were wondering.) ;)

Friday, November 12, 2010

25 random things

I was tagged in this note on Facebook, and since I don't feel much like blogging, I'll be lazy and do this here.


25 Random Things...


1. I was born three months premature and my parents weren't sure I would make it.

2. I was home schooled for years. My mother pulled me out of Kindergarten halfway through after some trouble (a girl kept threatening to stab me, a boy kept breaking all my rings and throwing them in the trash, and I also got very ill) and I didn't rejoin the public school system until 4th grade.

3. I was a little socially awkward and did stupid things, like kissing a boy and assuming the girl who sat down beside me would automatically be my best friend. (This had happened in a book I had read. She hated me at first but eventually caved and we WERE best friends for years.)

4. I am allergic to cats, yet I have a kitten. Never underestimate my stubbornness.

5. It's rare for a day to go by without me doing any writing, whether it's blogging, poetry or work on stories.

6. My life would be infinitely better if I was out of debt. I am tremendously held back.

7. I am very, very hard on myself.

8. I've lost a lot of weight over the years, but still feel huge and hate my body. I'm much healthier now, but ideally I'd like to get down to a size 8 or 6, maybe somewhere around 140 pounds. (At my largest, I was a size 22, weighing upwards of 220 pounds.)

9. Spelling errors really bother me, and finding out that I've made one that has slipped by unnoticed really embarrasses me.

10. I love the building where I live, but wish it was closer to my job/a major city so I could get rid of my car and ride a bike everywhere.

11. I'd do just about anything to get a MacBook.

12. As a little kid, I never fantasized about a big wedding like most little girls. But really, I want nothing more than to get married and have a family. (That's not entirely true, I do want a career as well.)

13. I miss my red hair, but I got sick of dying it. It was bad for my health, my hair and the environment. I feel pretty gross as a brunette, but I know my hair is at it's best.

14. I also really miss manicures and pedicures. While the chemicals are still bad, I've given up on these only because I can't afford them.

15. No matter how bad my day gets, a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks always makes me feel better. Or sushi, that works too.

16. I would love to have a wardrobe consultant.

17. I like making lists and I do so daily.

18. I really wish I could afford to get my wisdom teeth removed. They don't hurt, but they are negatively affecting my life.

19. Tina Fey is my hero. If I'm even half as awesome/successful as her one day, that's good enough for me.

20. I am on the search for the perfect winter coat, but I can never find one that is feminine yet warm.

21. The stupidest crap ever makes me happy, and I love little details that many wouldn't notice.

22. I was engaged once. It didn't work out, but that's probably for the best.

23. The first short story I ever published was in Boink Magazine. They ripped me off and never paid me what they owed me.

24. I have two tattoos, one large, one small. I have at least four more planned out in my head.

25. I love Polaroid photos and the iPhone "hipstamatic" photos.

TWLOHA


Happy To Write Love On Her Arms day, everyone.

I apologize for the crappy cell phone photo. But I hope you all celebrated in your own way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh, boy.

Well, I am going to begin by telling you what I don't want to hear.

I don't want to hear that you are sorry. That it will get easier, that things will get better, that I'm better off. I don't want to hear that there are more fish in the sea, that you did or did not see this one coming. I don't want to hear any of that. Not really.

Jay and I broke up today after three years. It was kind of my doing, but it's still so fresh that I'm not sure that I want it.

I'm also not sure that I don't want it.

I'm all kinds of confused, but I do know that we have entirely different personalities, interests and life agendas. We tried for a long time, but in the long run we weren't very good for each other. We tried to make the other happy but it only resulted in everyone being miserable. And no matter how each person would explain 'this is all it takes to keep me happy', the other person just couldn't get it. Neither of us could.

I do believe that love is hard work, and relationships can be tricky. But when you're really unhappy and every time you try to see the "silver lining", a big old hole gets punched right through it...well, something has to be done.

I think we're okay. There's no hurt feelings it seems, and we somehow managed to do this entire thing without either one of us screaming or crying. A first.

I'm not sure what happens now. We're going to stay living together for the time being, as it's the best thing financially, and since we've been existing as friends/roommates for some time now. It shouldn't be such a big change.

This is not what I meant to happen when I came home. In a way, it's a relief, but in a way I also feel like I made a mistake. It's hard to just walk away from someone after three years.

Only time will tell, I guess.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hello, Daylight Savings Time.

I had thought this extra hour of sleep would refresh me, but I'm still pretty worn out. I haven't put any work into NaNoWriMo in a couple days and I feel super guilty about it.

Luckily, I have a four day weekend ahead of me (it's okay to be jealous). I hope I can get some rest, finish painting the bathroom, have a mini-photoshoot with Mary (and maybe Theo and Major Tom, too) and catch up on my writing.

Not to mention, now I have some transcripts to get into the *great* college in Vermont, and an essay to finish. I'm super excited about that.

But right now? Right now, I am exhausted. I want to go to sleep until I am so refreshed I wake up looking like this:

(Yes, that's me at around 4 or 5 years old. Please excuse my bangs. You know how kids like to be sneaky and cut their own/their friends/siblings hair sometimes? Yeah...that's the butcher job I did on myself after I was finished with my Barbie dolls.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday!

I'm in the middle of a transcription file right now and after that I have to go right to bed and wake up hella early because I am going here...

Oh, yeah :) I have been looking forward to this for a few months now. Kinda excited for a road trip (it's been way, way too long).

Unfortunately this means I won't get any NaNo work done tomorrow OR tonight, so I'll have to really bust my ass on Sunday. I am SO behind. I'm writing consistently every day, but I can't keep up. I'm so busy! This may not have been one of my better ideas!

I leave you with me, and Major Tom :)


He is a little bit camera shy, but he says hello.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

(Vermont image credit)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

...and here we are!

Thanks to the help of my super-helpful friend Craig, we have arrived at alisonleeds.com!

Yay!

How cute is this?


(Photo credit)
(Bag available at City Lights Books.)

(Okay, so it's not really cute, it's a little plain. But I love it for obvious reasons!)

Working from home makes me TIRED.

(I work 10 hour days and then sometimes am given some freelance transcription work through another agency. Today is one of those days. I also had a writing group meeting that lasted 2 hours AND a commute that totaled 2 hours. LONG.ASS.DAY.)

Freelance work isn't bad in general, but I'm behind on a deadline (not my fault, the supervisor thought she had assigned me a file that she hadn't! So I got started on it about three days too late.) and rushing to get this file in. I'm just about halfway through, which means I'll probably be crawling into bed at about 2 or 3:00 AM. YUCK! Thank goodness tomorrow is a day off.

Taking a small break right now to post this awesome vintage find from the thrift store the other day. I don't know what era it's from (my mother says tie fronts were very popular in the 60s, and it feels like a 60s dress to me) but it's super comfortable, well-made and so cute! This, in case you're wondering, was my third (and final) Halloween costume. If I'd have had some white go-go boots to wear with it, it would have been perfect.

(But it's okay, since I wore it to Six Flags under my coat and not a single person saw it, anyway!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Revisiting the past year

I know the year isn't quite over yet, but I stumbled across my "New Years Resolutions" that I had posted online last year, and thought I'd take a look at how I had measured up.

-Quitting smoking: Done it, cold turkey! I had a point where I kept an "emergency pack" to smoke when I was having a particularly rough day, but that didn't last too long. It definitely helps tremendously that Jay has quit smoking as well. No one to bum smokes off of! Sometimes, when things get really bad (rare), I really wish I had a smoke--but I refuse to buy them now. That helps.

-Becoming a vegetarian*: Did it as of November 2009, actually. It's been pretty difficult finding foods that are okay to eat (everything has "surprise" meat in it! Most soups--even "vegetable" are made with meat stock! Not to mention gelatin in yogurt!) but I feel so much better and more healthy because of it! (And only really feel deprived when I smell bacon.) The thought of ingesting all the hormones and everything makes me ill. (In a related note, I also gave up milk for the most part. But not cheese. Never cheese.)

-Joining the gym: I joined the gym in December '09. Went religiously for a while and felt pretty damn good...but then I started my new job and my free time became non-existent. I kept it up for a while, but eventually got sick and took a week off. After that, I kept telling myself I'd go back...but then we got a kitten, and I simply couldn't work a 10 hour day with a 2 hour commute AND go to the gym. Twelve hours with no kitten chow is just too long!

-Keeping the apartment tidy: Er. So, we have a new apartment now and have reduced our belongings down by more than half. But, the new apartment doesn't have ANY closet or storage space. So...yeah. It's still a work in progress. But at least we have less stuff.

-Downsize my belongings: Ah ha! See last question. I've done pretty well with this. Got rid of all of my books (except for the autographed ones) and most of my DVDs. Now when I get a new DVD I throw out the case and keep it in a multi-case. Barely takes up any room!

-Paying off my debt: As I mentioned previously, I've managed to bring my credit score up from "very poor" to "poor". It's not a huge difference, but it's a process. I only have one creditor calling me currently, which is a nice change from the 4-7 I had calling last year.

-Reading more: Hmm. Nope. I started out very strong at the beginning of the year, but I cannot remember the last book I read. It's been a long time.

-Finishing school: Nope.

-Finding a good college for 2011: Well, I got accepted at SVA. It's up in the air at the moment due to being prohibitively expensive. I am investigating another much more frugal and responsible option next weekend. (Although it breaks my heart to be even considering something that isn't New York!)

-Getting published: My poem, P.S., was published and won Honorable Mention ($75 for me! woo hoo!) in Freshwater Poetry Festival. So far nothing else has been accepted anywhere else, but I keep trying. I have six pieces out at the moment, and I have a good feeling. Something's gotta stick, it's about time.

Wow. All in all, I seem to have done really well (and all without referring back to this list--ever--so I guess these were things I had drilled into my head pretty solidly!).

I'll have to sit down and figure out what I want 2012 to bring for me. More of the same, of course, but I know there are some specific other areas I can improve upon.

How'd you do with your New Years resolutions?

(Image from case.edu)

(* when I say "vegetarian", I really mean pescatarian. I never use that term, even though that's what I am. I know a lot of people probably don't know what it means, and I don't want to confuse/alienate anyone, nor do I want to have to explain myself countless times)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Apologies.

Please accept this photo of me dressed as a bunny. (Yes, I had three Halloween costumes this year.)

I am in the middle of trying to move my blog from here to my domain at alisonleeds.com (don't worry, you don't have to change your links if you don't want to. As far as I know everything should forward.)

Things are a bit messy at the moment, though. You may not have been able to access my blog for most of today. I fixed it now so it can still be accessed from the old link. (AlisonLeeds.com is not quite ready yet, I guess.)

I apologize! I'm still here.

I began NaNoWriMo today and reached my daily quota. (Surpassed it by a little, which is great since I know there will be days when I am super busy and maybe can't bang out the full 1,667 that are required!)

Please enjoy the regularly scheduled posts. (I had one auto-post today, but due to technical difficulties, those of you using blog readers might not have seen it. But don't fear, it's there now!)

Who's the face/heart/soul of your music?

Heart:
I was driving home the other day listening to Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. While they aren't awful, they are nothing to me compared to Bright Eyes. Conor just doesn't do it for me when he becomes all poppy. Maybe the lyrics are there, but the feeling is gone.

(I was going to post some Bright Eyes lyrics here, but I just can't find anything that does him/them justice. Go listen to Waste of Paint. Or, Lover I Don't Have to Love. They are beautiful. I will wait.)
Bright Eyes is most definitely the heart of my music.

Soul:
It's hard to draw the line between heart and soul, as far as Tom Waits goes, though. This man is incredible, with a distinct voice to match. I could overhear him ordering a sub from Subway and just the sound of his voice would make me think I was in a dark, smoky bar in a bad part of town. I could smell the whiskey he'd be leaning over and see the blonde hooker who had refused to sit with him...or whatever. You get the idea.

I've always said that Tom Waits sings (and I'm now realizing, talks!) the way poetry should be read.His lyrics are incredible, too. I intend on getting some of the text of 9th and Hennepin done on my arm as my next tattoo. If you want to check out my favorite Tom Waits, I recommend the album Rain Dogs. I don't own it (yet!) but 9th and Hennepin, Gun Street Girl and Jockey Full of Bourbon are all on it, and they're awesome.

Face:
This is not to say that he's "no more than a pretty face", but I'm not entirely sure that I've ever really sat down and thought to myself, "No one [sings/writes/etc] like David Bowie does."
I mean, I love him. He is my favorite, and has been for, what, at least nine years now. And while sometimes a line will strike me, I'm not often wowed or moved by his lyrics. I've seen him in concert twice and loved every second of it, but I think he appeals to a less deep part of me. Maybe a part that's a little more concerned with looks and mannerisms. (And he was all about mannerisms! Watching his music videos is like a little timeline of "Oh, and right now David is obsessed with smearing lipstick. And now he likes this little dance move. And now he likes to pretend he's chewing." (Don't believe me? Watch the videos for Fashion, China Girl, Boys, Dancing in the Street and (maybe?) Time Will Crawl. I love the Till Will Crawl video. You should watch it regardless. This group of dancers literally throw David around like a rag doll the entire time.)

Also, the fact that he's British definitely helps.

As far as his music goes, my current favorite song is Seven Years in Tibet...probably because it has a darker sound. I want to make a music video out of it.


Well, there you have it! The heart, the soul and the face of my music. Probably my three favorite performers/writers ever, and a constant source of inspiration to me.

Who are yours?



(all photos yanked from Google images)