December 31, 2012

Casting Back at 2012

I like naming things: while nothing is ever easily categorized, I like to think in terms of titles. For me, 2012 has been the Year of Unexpected Opportunities. There were so many changes and challenges, but all of them pushed me to grow and to appreciate what I've learned and discovered.

Me and my soulmate ladyfriend in downtown D.C. (love you, Lynds!)

I spent quality time with people I love, and spent more time with family than I have since I left for Australia in 2007.

Me and my partner in crime in Savannah.
I started a new job teaching high school, essentially for the first time. I've had the chance to make vocab  crowns, to have fervent discussions about literature, and to make speeches about adventure.
Oh Romeo, Romeo...who is he again?

Inspiration comes in many forms...

I started shopping a novel around to agents for the first time, and continue to be amazed and challenged by that experience. I finished a novel I'm really excited to revise and get ready to send out into the world.

Where I wrote a lot of Novel #3. 

I travelled to places I'd been before with people who mean the world to me, and loved them all over again. I travelled to new places, and fell in love with them, too. 

It's been an interesting year full of surprises. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2013 might hold!

December 26, 2012

Warm Bodies Trailer (aka Thing That Excites Me Greatly)

It's coming in February! That's not very far away! I just hope they've done this book (one of my favorites from 2011), some kind of justice.

December 24, 2012

Best Music of 2012

I love writing 'best of' posts; they really bring home to me how much value my year's soundtrack brings into my writing life, and life in general. It seems as if my year has been filled with a really high proportion of folksy male crooners, and not as much Australian stuff as I would like. However, writing Novel #3, hanging out with hipster friends, and watching bad teen dramas have brought an awesome collection of new artists into my life. So. Much. Angst!

My Favorite Music from 2012 

The Lumineers - (Self-titled Album)

This group provided a handy anthem for my summer. Although they seem like they've become a pretty big deal in the industry, they weren't that well known when I saw them at Wolf Trap in June. It was amazing to see how excited they were to be playing for such a big audience. I embarrassed my friends by singing 'Stubborn Love' at the top of my lungs when no one around us knew the words. Other favorites: 'Classy Girls', and 'Submarines'.

Bon Iver - (Self-titled Album)

I don't need to explain the reason for my deep-seated love for Bon Iver, do I? I love everything about him...even when I don't know exactly what he's saying. Favorites include: 'Michicant', 'Calgary', and 'Wash.'.

The Civil Wars - 'Barton Hollow'

I love this duo so much: using their voices and very little else, they create such beautiful harmonies that soar together as easily as birds. Please write some more music! Favorites include: 'Goodbye Girl', and 'Barton Hollow'.

Daughter - 'His Young Heart'

If I had to pick one artist that shaped Novel #3 more than any other, it would be Daughter. Found for me by my super-hip mother, I couldn't imagine my current writing life without the beautiful sounds of this album playing through my headphones. My Favorites: 'Landfill', and 'The Woods'. 

 The Tallest Man on Earth - 'The Wild Hunt'

A great combination of bluegrass and folk: Bob Dylanesque, with the same knack for great storytelling, but with a style I enjoy infinitely more.
 The Oh Hello's - (Self-titled Album)

Folksy (just for something a little different?) and full of soul. My anthem this year: 'Hello My Old Heart'. I just bought their first full-length album and can't wait to listen to it.

James Vincent McMorrow - Early In The Morning

I spent a lot of time this Spring writing my novel, listening to this album with my toes in the sand and a notebook in hand, pacing the beach by Mom's house for inspiration. Favorites: 'We Don't Eat' and 'From The Woods!!'

Of Monsters And Men - 'Into The Woods' (I seem to really like my music woods-themed)

Another fun, folksy, feel-good group that makes me think of summertime. Favorites: 'Dirty Paws'.

There are many others on my playlist: some A Capella music, Imagine Dragons, and some angsty alternative stuff (Mikky Ekko, especially). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

December 2, 2012

Cold Weather Comforts

There's something incredibly comforting about homemade meals, familiar woods, and family. Having gone without my family for so long, it still strikes me sometimes how nice it is to be able to jump in a car and just go home. Of course, that home isn't the one I grew up in - but it is still the place that holds my old journals, my high school albums, and the detritus of the many lives I've already lived. Here's some of what I've been doing this weekend:

First, I've made unhealthy and glorious things.

Preparations for mac 'n cheese: (1) cut up insane amounts of cheese. 

(2) Create a cream-based sauce, and add more cheese to it.
(3) Forget that you're about to eat eight pounds' worth of cheese.
Holiday balls made from pages from Dante's Inferno. Surely it's okay to mix a fiery epic about the circles of hell with N'Sync's "Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday"?

Second, I've finally gone running and communed with some woods. I've had the opportunity, lately, to teach the work of some of my favorite tree huggers: specifically Emerson and Thoreau. As I ran through these woods by the Chesapeake, I kept hearing these words:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." 
- Thoreau (= awesome)

I've also been watching the 2010 movie version of Macbeth (again) and trying to figure out how to make the play more fun and intelligible. This is what happened when I broke out my felt tip:

Those are some high quality stick men in tartan.

I'm Writing To: "Lay Me Down", by The Oh Hello's