Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, June 27, 2008

Today, on the Reem show...

For those of you who are aware of my mini Facebook boycott, which I blogged about recently, I'm happy to report that I made it to a week totally Facebook-free! YEY! I signed on for the first time this morning and I'm happy to report that I spent very little time on there, and then jumped right back into the routine I had made up for myself this past week.

My routine since forever has been to get up, have breakfast, and then get on the computer to check email, and do everything else I do to waste my time when I'm not writing or doing anything else I deem productive. Much of the same routine is still in place, except it's a little more organized, and been whittled down to mostly productive, and only a little time-wasting.

It took a lot of wading through links I'd saved as my favorites without rhyme or reason years ago to get the job done, but I finally have a very organized favorites list I just need to click the way down in order to follow it daily to a "T". I now have my writing blogs organized in one folder, my freelance job boards in another, and so on and so forth-- you get the idea. I spend so much time going through that stuff in the morning, I can only think of writing when I'm finished. Games or anything similar are not even a temptation for me when I keep myself this busy with nothing but reading and writing.

I'm feeling good about, and happy with my routine. I hope it will continue to help me focus, and make me the writer I plan to be.

So, stay tuned. (I had to say that because of the title of this post.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

A 'Big Fat Greek' Festival

There are festivals going on everywhere I turn, and it's up to me to pick the ones I think are worth attending. Without too much thought, me and my sister both agreed that the Greek Festival was a good one to give a try. So, on Saturday, we headed over to the Greek Orthodox church grounds in Glendale and paid the $1 admission.

It was just like any festival, only a lot more interesting. There was Greek music, Greek singing and Greek dancing. The smell of delicious Greek food permeated the air and the lines of hungry festival goers were long, yet fast-moving. I believe this was the festival's 40-something year, and I must say that the years have at least bred efficiency, because standing in line was a breeze.

There was jewelry along with art for sale. One stand was overrun with those blue evil eyes so prominent in the Middle East, and apparently Greece, too (pictured above). We spent entirely too much in that stall, but we ended up with some really cool blue evil eyes... everything from wall hanging nick-knacks to magnets. We ate some great food and heard Greek music. The dancing was beautiful and was performed by adults and children alike. Nobody broke any dishes during the dancing, which was a little disappointing, but I suppose that's just the cliche Greek celebratory thing. One could break three dishes for $3 in a carnivalish kind of game, where you try to break plastic dishes from a distance with a baseball. Meh.

One thing I found especially interesting about this festival was the way people were dressed. Though most people were dressed in festival gear (shorts, tanks and flip flops, or sundresses) there was a large population of female festival goers who were dressed formally. I'm talking slinky evening dresses with dressy sandals that are entirely too high to walk in. It was an intersting sight to behold that made people-watching that much more fun as we ate our gyros on the curb. My only guess is that the evening segment of the festival was a little more adult in atmosphere (the festival was running until 11 PM), or perhaps they are churchgoers who want to be dressed up anytime they are near their place of worship... I don't know. It was interesting, though.

People were also not too bad as they usually are at festivals. I limit my festival going, because I don't like being pushed and shoved by people. At this festival, there was very little of that, which was very pleasantly surprising. In fact, looking back, I don't think a single person even bumped into me other than one lady who apologized and was polite about the oopsie. Anyway, I digress, because there was one incident that was less than pleasant, and it happened at the end of our stay. In order to purchase food, you must purchase coins first. We had $3 in coins left over, which we decided to just turn in before leaving. As we were standing in line, a lady came up to us carrying a toddler and asked us to buy her coins. We said sure, thinking she would just stand by and wait, but she said that we could just find her in the chicken line. Oooookay. So, I go up and I buy her a bag of coins and head over to the chicken line, she grabs the bag when I hand it to her, and she mumbles a thank you and turns away, like I work for her or something. First of all, when you ask someone to do something for you, which is basically letting you butt in line, you stay right where you are, so that the person already going out of their way doesn't have to go even further out of their way. Second of all, a modicum of gratitude is in order, and not some half-assed, mumbled thank you. It never ceases to amaze me just how rude and inconsiderate people can be. And festivals tend to bring out the worst in people for some reason, though I don't understand why. If it's too hot, or you can't stand in line because your kid is having a fuss, maybe it's time for you to go home. Geez.

All in all, the Greek Festival was a lot of fun. If you haven't gone, you should consider going, because there is nothing cooler than seeing what different cultures have to offer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Never judge a movie by its opening

I watched Music and Lyrics last night. Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore star in this absolute stink fest that tried to be so many things-- funny, deep and clever-- but failed miserably.

In an effort to express my feelings about this movie, I came up with quite the one-liner that made me chuckle in the midst of my non-stop yawning.
It had the depth of a kiddie pool.

There is one thing that I did enjoy in this movie, and that is the mock 80s music video in the opening. That was pretty funny and made me doubt my feeling that this was going to be a bad movie. Turned out my feeling was right, but I at least got a good laugh out of confusing Hugh Grant with Tom Cruise at one point in the mock video. That is if Tom Cruise was wearing an Austin Powers getup.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Step away from the Facebook!

There are so many distractions one can find while sitting at the computer. The internet makes it so easy to pass hours you could be utilizing to do a lot more for yourself, and I know this. Between instant messaging on MSN and AOL, the numerous forwards I receive from friends, which I in turn forward to other friends, the Scrabulous and Chess games I've got going on Facebook, and my latest obssession with another Facebook game, Crazy Taxi... I'm surprised I get anything done away from the computer, little else actual work on the computer itself! And to think Facebook is constantly adding new games and applications built to suck time!

Beginning today, I am making efforts to take back the chunks of time I have been wasting on the computer doing useless things. I can't go cold turkey with the computer, because it's where I do my writing, so I am going to limit my visits to certain websites that distract me and suck huge chunks of my time.

Facebook is the hugest culprit. Though I don't have much going on in the socializing realm of Facebook, it does have Scrabulous, Chess, and Crazy Taxi. Those games keep me on Facebook for hours at a time. Sure, I log off and try to get work done, but then I get an alert from Facebook telling me that some stranger wants to be my friend, and my curiousity takes me back to Facebook where again, I am sucked back into the games and other endless distractions. I do the same when I have been writing and need a break... so instead of doing something like go for a walk, or go outside for some air, I stay at the computer wasting a perfectly good day on Facebook.

I'm done sabotaging my days this way. So, I am beginning a boycott of Facebook, starting today. How long is this boycott gonna last? I don't know, but I hope to make it to a whole week of absolutely no Facebook. Total cold turkey. No status updates, no Scrabulous, no Crazy Taxi, no nothing.

Of course, I will always waste time. If it's not Facebook, it's something else for me, but right now I can pinpoint the time sucker, and it's Facebook.

If you want to join me in this effort to wean yourself away from the evils of Facebook, please do. We might not be able to remember what life was like before cellphones, but I can totally remember what life was like before Facebook... it was a lot more productive.

Good luck to me!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Epiphanies & inspirations

I mentioned in my last post that though I'm going through a blah patch, I have been rummaging through some past writings of mine to have something to work with and move forward. I looked through stuff I wrote in the way of fiction, and came up with very little other than an epiphany. Fact is, my fiction writing stinks. I'm simply not that good at fiction. At least not yet, and I plan on polishing that somehow. How that will happen is something I need to figure out. Classes, writing groups, soliciting feedback from some pros I know. I will talk more about that later on when it's clearer.

In the meantime, I've been inspired to write on despite being fictionally challenged, thanks to Joelle, a librarian at my local library. I don't know Joelle and have never talked to her, but her choice book to be displayed on the staff picks shelf was not only a great read, but a great and inspiring spring board for something I started last year, but never finished. Surprise surprise, I know. I am one of those people who starts a lot of things, but finishes only a handful of them. I'm not gonna say that this latest writing inspiration is gonna be one of the handful, but I'm pretty confident in my strong desire to make it one of the handful.

I choose not to share what the book that brought on this writing boost is, nor what I'm working on, because I feel that sometimes talking about something automatically puts it in the unfinished pile. I don't know. Maybe it's psychological. Maybe I'm just plain crazy, but nonetheless, I'm trying a new approach and hope I can come on here and tell you great news one of these days. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A blah patch

I'm going through a blah patch of sorts.

Writing is difficult, interest is dwindling in most of my regular activities, and I am just generally bored with almost everything. What is the solution? I'm not entirely sure, but I expect that this patch will be shortlived as every feeling I ever have is. I at least hope that's the case.

I recently finished a good book, Harry, Revised by Mark Sarvas. I hadn't read anything for a while before this one, and I got lucky with a good, wholesome story with quite a bit of humor, though at times leaning toward the dark side. If you recall I had attempted to read The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but abandoned it after some time, because it was just too intense. Didn't have that problem with Harry, Revised, as it was a pretty lightweight story about a good guy doing bad, self-serving things that are hilarious in the end. Harry, the main character, struck me as a cross between John Cusack and Robert Downey, Jr., having the same awkward air as most of the characters that these two actors tend to play.

Also, I've been trying to go through some short stories I had started in the past, but never finished. My attempt is to find some kind of springboard to help me get back on the creative writing path. This is proving difficult, as most of these stories are either badly written in my opinion, or lacking any kind of direction... they're simply creative writing-type sentences that don't amount to much of a story. I'm finding that in order to have a springboard, I must do a whole lot of editing and rewriting, in which case, I am basically back at square one and must strain to find a story I want to tell. I'm not through all the stories I have yet, but so far, I'm not feeling too good about my stockpile of fiction.

Fiction is so difficult and intimidating to me. Many writers prefer fiction to non-fiction. It requires less accuracy, they say. For me, I feel that with non-fiction, i.e., columns, or articles, there is a trail I only need to pave. With fiction I must start from scratch and make way for the trail myself, and pave it as well. One of these days I imagine that fiction will become less intimidating to me, but right now I feel it is an insurmountable challenge I must struggle to overcome in order to become the writer I would like to be. But like they say: Practice makes perfect. Practice is all I can do to advance my skills in this area.

Physical activity has also become on the boring, stagnant side. I've been wanting for quite some time to take up some kind of light sport (aside from golf) that doesn't require too much athleticism. Tennis has been a sport I've wanted to get into for the last couple of years, but I was always too late for the session of classes offered in my area. Perhaps with the demand, tennis instructors are offering more sessions and making the sport more accessible in my area, which is great. I've been looking into it and I think I might be able to get the basics of tennis down for a few Saturdays in July at a very reasonable price. Yes, tennis requires a little more athleticism than say, golf, but I do have some experience with tennis and like it enough to give it a try as a form of exercise. I feel comfortable with tennis, mainly because it's an independent sport. You only need to be as competitive as you'd like to be, and it's all up to you. I don't do well in teams where my teammates are competitive and think winning is everything. Gym class made that very clear to me.

I'm not watching many movies, as you can tell. My movie reviews have taken a rest for a while, and the few movies I have watched, or do watch are usually ones I've already seen, or ones that I don't feel too inspired to write about. I did watch Clueless recently and enjoyed the walk down memory lane from my teenagehood. The music, the clothes, the jokes... it all brought back so many pleasant memories.

This blah patch will go away soon, I hope. In the meantime, I hope I can get back on track with my creative writing and improve it to my satisfaction and move a whole lot forward.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sometimes the snow comes down in June. Really.

Indeed, sometimes the snow does come down in June. And you don't have to be south of the equator to experience such a thing! You just have to go up about 9,000 ft. into the Rocky Mountains to experience such a phenomenon north of the equator.

Today was proof of that as I rode up with a friend to Gunnison, a small college town in western Colorado. The drive was four hours long each way, and we encountered everything from drizzle, to rain mixed with snow, to pure snow, to high (and very scary) wind conditions. Though it wasn't snowing in Gunnison itself, it was a cold and wet day in the town where Western State College is located. Despite the rough conditions we faced along Monarch Pass, an incredibly narrow and high mountain road, however, it was hard to ignore the spectacular scenery.

Above, you're looking at my view on the way down Monarch Pass to get back to Denver. The snow on the way up was just making things wet, but by the time we began our journey back the snow was beginning to accumulate and make the drive down the winding narrow road terrifying for both driver and passenger because of slush. Did I mention that I'm deathly afraid of heights? Yikes!

The nature of this mini road trip was errand-y. I was snapping random pics as the car was moving along, and mostly snapping pics of things I knew nothing about. I just recognized beauty everywhere I turned. This is a patch of the Gunnison River that I thought looked especially beautiful. There are many rafting trip providers along the way to Gunnison in case you feel like going.

Also on the way up, we spotted a statue of what looked like a Madonna of colossal proportions on a mountaintop. There was writing on the side of the mountain that read Santa Maria. I was not able to get the camera in time to snap a pic of the statue on the mountain, but just a few feet up, we found a YMCA, and at its entrance was the above statue. I planned on taking a pic on the way back, but unfortunately, the battery on the camera died and I wasn't able to get a picture of Santa Maria on the mountain. If it makes you feel any better, it wasn't much different from this one, only three times bigger and free standing without any structure holding it.

Notice the big white W on the mountain? That's W for Western State College, the only other moneymaker for this tiny town. Tourism is the only other moneymaker for Gunnison.

And now, just random shots of the scenery along the way. Again, due to the nature of the trip, I was not able to get tourist-y types of pics with people in them, etc. But the scenery is so beautiful, it doesn't matter.

I guess now I know a place to visit in the summer that I haven't visited before that is absolutely beautiful.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Passport photos

Pretty self-explanatory, but I got my passport photos today. Tomorrow I will turn them in with my passport request form. I actually look presentable!

And it's a picture that will be included in an official identification document! I guess it's now official that I'm one good-lookin' citizen.

Now for future reference to those planning on applying for a passport in the near future, Walgreens does passport photos for $7.99. Getting them onsite where you apply for a passport is almost double that! Just saying!