Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ode to Small Towns

This past weekend, Tyler and I escaped the concrete jungle and hopped on an Amtrak train to visit his relatives in Chester, CT. As I relaxed next to the woodburning stove that heated his Aunt and Uncle's entire home, made home-made rosemary potato bread, chopped wood and rode a tractor for the first time, all the while, partaking in delicious homemade meals with organic vegetables and herbs from their garden, I found myself completely at ease in this small town. There was simply, not much to do, and I immediately felt right at home not doing it. It got me to thinking about small towns in general. And, perhaps, an unfulfilled desire to live in one. It occurred to me that my novel takes place in a small town that is so vivid and real to me, I've nearly forgotten that I've never actually lived there. And it also reminded me how amazed I had always been driving up to Ithaca, NY revelling in the small town of Lisle on Rt. 79 which is completely run down with it's dilapidated, abandoned buildings on its tiny main street. And despite the vacant, grey vibe that town always gave me, I found it simply beautiful. It was fascinating that it could be so intimate and yet spacious and empty all at the same time.

So, this is my ode to small towns. The small town I never grew up in. The small town I don't currently live in. And the small town I may end up in.

Oh. And P.S.: I attended a tractor parade.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Roastin' in CT

Little preview of tomorrow's post (I'm feeling too sleepy to write anymore tonight). Yes. That's a pig all right! And, uh, yup, it's being pulled by a tractor.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

133rd Westminster Kennel Club Show!!

Yesterday was one of the best days of the year. The dog show came to town! A Sussex Spaniel named Stump won best in show! He was the oldest dog ever to win the show(10 years old) and I loved him. A lot. The crowd went wild for him. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of him.
I did, however, get a lot of pics in the benching area before the big event. All of the handlers, owners, and pups hang out here while they are waiting to show. They get groomed here, they rest here, they get interviewed by the press here and there is a ton of commotion. The best part is that you walk in and you can see any breed of dog you want. Their owners love to talk about them and they love to be pet and get their picture taken. They are the most well behaved dogs you could ever imagine and I loved every one of them.
I managed to get a shot of lovable Uno, last year's winner. He was getting a little blowdry.
And he looks very mischievous and skeptical of me.

I also saw this big guy. His jowls are amazing and I love him.

This pic is one of my favorites because this man is so proud of his little Pomeranian. It brought a tear to my eye.

I determined that chihuahua owners were sporting some of the best fashions at the show.

They also dressed their pups up very nicely.
This Rotweiller also looked like it was having a swell time.

And there's a lot of love here:
And don't worry. If you do not have your own dog, you can purchase a shockingly life-like portrait of one. So, ya know, chill out.

So next year, if the Superbowl doesn't do it for you, I hope you will consider attending the Westminster Dog Show. Because it is, hands down, one of the best experiences ever. And you get to pet dogs.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Holy Dog Show

This evening I will be attending the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Check back tomorrow for updates.
But here's a sneak peak from last year's show. This Italian Greyhound and I have a lot in common :-)

Take special note of the owner's golden sequin top with matching track suit. The fashion at dog shows is tremendously wonderful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spring Is In the Air: i.e. Melissa thinks she saw the sun

It's about that time of year again. The time when the frost clears up a little and the temperature starts to rise. A brief respite from winter that allows me to exit my home looking sickly pale from being holed up inside my wacked out apartment with its wild steam heater, now capturing all that Vitamin E from the freshly blazing sun. A time when all of my hopes and dreams come flooding back and I start thinking about sundresses and flip flops and riding my bicycle and skipping. Yes, there are visions of skipping...frolicking through fields of grass I've never seen before, sun glistening on the golden hair I don't have, baby calves being born in the barn I don't own. It's all very romantic. Now I realize that March is going to cruise in and sh*#tstorm on us with some arctic hail and what not. But, the point is, today, February 9th, rocking the 45 degree weather, I'm hopeful. Optimistic. WARM (-er).

And the New York Times was kind enough to bring me its travel show. If there's any hope for new beginnings, I think it starts with a trip. Hopping over that ocean and having a new experience in a foreign land. Ok, in this economy, any land, foreign or not. Heck, I'll hop over the Hudson River to Westchester to see something new. I'm itching to finish out this decade and get out there. So. You heard it here first: Japan '10. Who is coming with?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Parrots, Battles, and Burial Grounds

Yesterday, Tyler and I decided to take a trip to the historical Greenwood Cemetery. I took this spooky pic from my phone while trying to get a shot of the wild parrots of Brooklyn (if you look carefully, you may be able to see them).
It seems morbid to visit a cemetery, never mind dedicate a blog post to it, but I have to tell you, I found some real inspiration there. The cemetery is a final resting place for roughly 600,000 people including Horace Greely, "Boss" Tweed, and Leonard Bernstein, just to name a few. Wandering around the beautiful grounds, learning about the little known Battle of Brooklyn Heights (the first battle fought in the revolutionary war), reaching the tallest point in Brooklyn to see the statue of liberty, and entering the lovely little chapel designed by the architect of Grand Central Station was fascinating.
As a writer, I found these burial grounds truly inspiring. There are technically countless stories in that cemetery and I am inspired to tell at least a few of them in the course of my lifetime. And I know there are plenty of name generators online to help writers name their characters, but every headstone had a unique name carved in and, more importantly, represented a life. A life that has a story.
By this time, you probably think I'm a bit morbid for finding inspiration in a cemetery but people's lives are interesting. That's why we read books and watch television and movies, and even obsess over who the next Bachelor is going to pick. Maybe we're all mistaken when we think of cemeteries as a symbol of death rather than life. Food for thought...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pink Slip

After my employer announced it's 4th quarter results it will come as no surprise to anyone that I dreamt I lost my job. It was a rather silly dream. I was given a fluorescent pink slip and told to leave with roughly half of my co-workers who walked single file out the door holding their own little slips of paper. My reaction was very simple. I tried to dial Tyler and then my mother, both of whom did not answer, and I said, "No big deal. I'll just have more time to write my novel." I woke up, thinking that this dream was not all that bad.

Now, don't get me wrong, and I can not emphasize it enough, I am very grateful to have a job in this tough economy and I don't wish to lose it at this point in time. But if I were to lose it, maybe I would be doing something I love to do. I woke up feeling hopeful. With the knowledge that my job does not define me. And that losing it will have no bearing on whether or not I fulfill a life-long goal. I felt lucky that I had a goal at all. Otherwise, what else would I do?

This dream made me more passionate than ever to accomplish it. Especially because I have a job. And that makes things harder. When you have a back-up, it's easy to let your priorities slide. But, not this time, no sir-ee. Job or no job, I've got a job to do.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Life Outside the Pages

I've been thinking a little bit about characters who live outside of their own world. Writing content for toys is a prime example. I see how characters live in their worlds on television. Then I translate who they are and what they say into a fuzzy toy that comes alive in a child's living room.
And I recently learned that a writing colleague of mine has started a blog. Not a surprise. But he started a blog from the POV of one of his secondary characters, a very humorous and endearing character, who is crucial to his story and now has a voice in the real world.
I was at Carnegie Hall on the infamous evening that JK Rowling announced that a beloved character in her wizarding world, Albus Dumbledore, is gay. And, in response to her rabid, obsessive fans, she relayed where she thought all of her characters may have ended up some 15 years later. None of this explained in her books and existing well beyond the 6,000 or so pages of her amazingly successful series.
And one of my favorite characters of all time, Mary Richards (of the Mary Tyler Moore Show), has her own Wikipedia page!
It got me to thinking about how important it is for me to understand who the characters in my novel are beyond just the pages I am writing. What they did right before the first word was written and where they might be twenty years after they live and breathe in the last word I write. How crucial it all is the writing process.
So, what can we do to extend our characters' lives beyond the page and share it with others? It's very exciting to be able to bring them to life in creative ways. Not just with merchandise (movies, toys, clothes, costumes, and websites) but how else? Just something to think about...because some characters we just shouldn't let die.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Want to Believe...

"The truth is out there Mulder! But so are lies...'
-Special Agent Dana Scully circa 1993

Words to live by, Scully. Words to live by. (I'm slightly obsessed...)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Harry Potter does Equus

My friend Jess and I decided to see Harry Potter in Equus this weekend. And by see him, I mean all of him. And despite the fact that he tried to free himself of the Harry Potter role, he will always be known as Harry Potter to me. Harry Potter with a lightening scar and wire framed glasses. Even if he runs around having unhealthy relationships with horses as his wee wee flaps all over the place.

That being said, you should see it! Not just because people get naked but because it was one of the most flawless productions I've seen in a while. I really couldn't find much fault with it, except for a particular casting decision. But I'm not about defaming people on this site. Cause it gets so much traffic, it could ruin careers (please note sarcasm). So, see it for yourself. And then you can tell people that you saw Harry Potter naked. Because he's not Daniel Radcliffe. He's Harry. Harry Potter. Foreva.

And in other news guess who got an invitation to the Potter movie set!? If you guessed those Obama kids you'd be right...