All boundaries are conventions. (A ‘Cloud Atlas’ 2012 Review)

A coworker was arguing at me a few days ago about The Avengers being better than Cloud Atlas. (Please note that he has not seen Cloud Atlas, but just likes forcing his opinion on others. I am a neutral person so I’m usually the target of his arguments.) I loved both movies but, as I told him, I found it impossible to compare the greatness of both movies because they are very different from each other. They each affected me in completely different ways. The Avengers movie thrilled and excited me in a way that only a long-time continuity could; Cloud Atlas moved and inspired me in such a way that I had no idea what my feelings were doing.

I went to see Cloud Atlas opening night and then went again the next night. I can say with complete honesty that it blew my mind. I was simultaneously impassioned, motivated and inspired. There was also some despair and lighthearted happiness thrown in there somewhere. By the end of the film I had no clue what emotion I was actually feeling; they were all over the map and my brain decided that the best self defense against the onslaught of feelings was for me to sob uncontrollably. This was the first time I had ever been so emotionally invested in a movie.

Cloud Atlas is essentially six separate stories being told to you at once. In the beginning you have little idea as to how they’re related and then mid-way through the movie everything starts to interconnect beautifully; everything suddenly makes sense. Revelations are made and connections are discovered and you’re left reeling from the force of it. I’m limiting what I tell you because I’m hoping that everyone will go see it in theaters and I don’t want to spoil anyone who hasn’t seen it yet… or read it.

Currently on top of my ‘to read’ pile.

I discovered right before going to see Cloud Atlas in theaters that it was based on a book. Usually I’m a bit more aware of these things and I’m a firm believer of books being better than their movies. Since the movie effected me so much, I can only imagine what the book will do to me and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted. Needless to say I’ve bought the book and I’m hesitating to read it this close to the start of NaNoWriMo, but I don’t think I’ll be able to hold off much longer. I’m craving to see the movie a third time and the book is sitting conveniently beside me. I’ve never been good at resisting temptation.

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November is just around the corner.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t know what that is, please click on the above image because The Office of Letters and Light will do a better job of explaining it to you than me. During the month of November I do my best to write 50,000 words in thirty days. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at novel-writing November is the perfect month to start because you’ll have 300,000 other people there to motivate you and encourage you and help you leap over plot holes.

I could tell you that it’s easy and that 50,000 words is not a lot, but that would be a giant fib and I’m not going to lie to you. I will tell you that winning feels AMAZING and you get a sense of  accomplishment even if you know that your novel is going to require some serious editing later. There will be late nights and early mornings and getting eight hours of sleep at least one night a week will seem like an impossibility. Caffeine will become the newest love of your life for the duration of the month and you will get enormous dark circles under your eyes but after a while you’ll stop caring about your appearance because it takes away from your writing time. You will make new friends and have an intelligent support network (via the NaNo forums)  at your beck and call at any time you need them, because you can’t afford to get lost on Wikipedia.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: I can’t write a novel in a month! I have no idea what to write about and I don’t have a plot. BUT YOU CAN and it will be brilliant. I had a general idea that I wanted to do something with Fairy Tales and Dinosaurs for this years NaNo and it took me maybe thirty minutes to think up a plot to combine those two radically different things. Your mind can and will surprise you with the sheer amount of imagination, creativity and ideas that it can produce.

Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words by November 30th you’ll STILL be a winner because you’ll have given it your best shot and you will probably write more than you ever have before. Yes, you will be rocking some serious sleep deprivation and be more over-caffeinated than you’ve ever been in your life, but it’s WORTH it. Your family will think you’re strange and some of your co-workers will avoid you when you’re writing in the break room, BUT IT’S WORTH IT. I promise.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel I highly encourage you to give National Novel Writing Month a chance, and if you haven’t, well, I can tell you that you’ll be missing out on a grand amount of fun.

Warning: there is much friendship sap ahead.

You know when you’re a kid and you make that ONE great friend who likes all the same things you do and then you end up keeping them for the rest of your life despite them moving across the country and not seeing them face to face very often? Yeah, well I wrote a sappy poem-song about mine. Clearly I’m just trying to embarrass myself, but it’s absolutely worth it. Also – I am not a poet so this is most likely rubbish.

This is an accurate depiction of how our friendship started and still is. If anyone can pick out which books are referenced in the poem-song I’ll give them virtual brownies! ( I promise it’s probably not that hard to figure out – brownies for EVERYONE).

The Heart of an Open Book

Rainy day; school library
Eleven years old.
Stuck inside, but I don’t mind.
This story untold.
You sat down right beside
Me on the floor.
Nose in a book, I took a look
I’ve read that before.

Now we’re wrapped up in conversation
One that took us by surprise
Magic and swords, knighthood and wars
A squire girl with violet eyes
Finding common ground with fantasy
Made our friendship start to bloom
When the bell for class rang at last
I didn’t want to leave the room

Sunny day; school library
Seventeen years old
Time passed and up we grew
Our friendship no longer new
Still reading side by side
Our minds out with the tide
From the pages our eyes rarely stray
Until one of us has something to say

Suddenly a whirlwind conversation
That no longer takes us by surprise
Magic and charms, lightening bolt scars
A wizard boy with bright green eyes
Our love of books brought us together
And made our great friendship last
Best friends through the good and bad
Who knew time could fly so fast?

Now we’re twenty-five
With our own lives
There are provinces between us
And the distance made us wise
Now too many things take up our time
And books have taken the backseat
But now and then the phone will ring
And on the other end –

An enthusiastic conversation
That makes us pleasantly surprised
Dragon tattoos and family feuds
A girl who played with fire
Books keep us glued together
Even when we’re far apart
Friends like us will last forever
We know it in our hearts.

PS — It’s Banned Book Week and this is an awesome thing! Everyone should read a banned book at least once in their lives and this is the perfect time to do it! Go out there and fight censorship, WITH READING! How amazing is that?!

PPS — Did anyone else meet their best friend in a library? Or was it just us? We’re a bit weird so if it WAS just us then it wouldn’t surprise me.

PPPS — Happy October! Halloween is on the way and Autumn is here and that means that I can drink all the pumpkin spice latte’s that I want without getting strange looks!

Even if the skies get rough.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the feeling of being unleashed. Like, being set loose after a long time in confinement. The need to write and create. The feeling of the keys beneath my fingertips typing out every little thing that pops into my head. Every word, every descriptive paragraph and every scene. In a way, writing makes me feel alive. It gives me a reason to get through the day, so I can come home and type out two measly paragraphs. That might not seem like such an accomplishment, but after a long and exhausting day at work, I’m lucky to even make it past my couch to get to the computer chair. It’s an effort that I’m willing to make, at least, when I’m not partially unconscious.

The feeling of a pen in my hand, the slide of ink on paper, and the easy relaxation that comes from jotting down disjointed thoughts in the margins of notebooks. I can type faster than I can write, but one thing I’ve learned is that some things are better written out by hand. Letters to friends a few provinces over (even though I talk to them regularly over the phone) and little notes that I leave on my mothers fridge when I visit (they make her smile and I know she keeps them all).

Writing, whether by hand or by computer, helps me relax and unclog my mind. It’s the calm in my storm and I love it unconditionally. I’m sure everyone has something they cherish like I do writing. I also think that everyone should take the opportunity to acknowledge that ‘thing’ and hold onto it with all their might. It’s the thing that you do everyday because it keeps you sane. It’s the thing that you think about doing while you’re at work or stuck in traffic. It’s the thing that you gladly give all of your attention to without a second thought. For me… that thing is writing.

What’s yours?

There’s never a dull moment here in my heart.

I promise that I’m still alive and kicking, although ‘twitching’ might be marginally more accurate. Life has succeeded in chasing me up a tree (again), but it won’t keep me there. No sir. Not while there’s awesome music happening!

I’ve been a busy bee lately and this brilliant week is no exception. If you have no idea what I’m talking about please click the above picture and educate your-fantastic-selves.

I’ll be giving a full, and proper, update sometime after the weekend. Actually, it might just end up being a post full of pictures because I’ll be partially dead due to exhaustion and lack of actual food (strawberry flavored vodka counts as fruit right?).

And on that note – have some amazing music:

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Lets talk about health.

I have an average body with a few extra pounds; I am not overweight but I’m not healthy. I don’t shy away from physical activity but I don’t exactly push myself either. I have a passionate relationship with junk food and crave take-out like a crack addict craves a hit. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is: I’ve decided to make a lifestyle change.

Last Monday I was talking to my mother and I can’t exactly remember how the conversation came up, but I found out that there are a lot of bad things running in my family genetics; cancer, diabetes and lung disease, to name a few. I won’t say that it scared me, but it did put a few things into perspective for me. If I were to change and become a healthier person; thirty years from now, if I develop a dangerous disease, I would have much better chances of fighting it off than I would if I stayed the same as I am now.

Changing my eating habits was the hard part. I cut junk food (ie: candy, ice cream, chips, pop, desserts, etc) out of my system. I will admit it was like overcoming a drug addiction for a while there. I also stopped eating after 8pm. These are apparently two very good steps towards living healthier, so I was happy to be heading in the right direction.

The next step was digging my (slightly old) exercise bike out of the closet, cleaning it off, and setting it up in my living room. Once that was done, I managed fifteen minutes of cardio before I felt like my legs were going to fall off, and then did ten minutes of muscle-building. I survived my first work-out and did it all inside the comfort of my own home. I’m also going to say that I’ve only been at this for a week and I can now do thirty minutes of heavy cardio and twenty minutes of muscle-building. Improvements are important and they’re going to be super small at first, I know, but they’re so nice to see.

Food is important. I love food, so I made a list of healthy things that I like and some healthy things that I should try. I found out that I DO like caesar salad, despite hating it for years, and that hard-boiled eggs are actually quite good. My fridge is now full of fruits and some veggies, as well as some soy milk that I haven’t tried yet.

Working out is something that’s coming easier to me than I thought it would. I feel really good after a work out, despite my aching muscles; I suppose that’s the endorphins talking. It’s the ‘not eating junk food’ bit that’s pushing my self-control, however, every time I get a craving for something sweet I eat an apple or drink a glass of water. It seems to be working very well so far.

Winning the little battles feels good. Like, turning down the cookie a co-worker offered me despite the fact that I was staring at it with open lust, and pushing myself to pedal that bike as hard and fast as I can for the last five minutes of my cardio despite the ache and heavy breathing. I may just be starting to change my life style and it’s sometimes so very difficult, but those little accomplishments keep me going because they mean I’m improving. That little voice in my head that says I can’t do this, is a liar.

Let’s talk about libraries.

I have always loved books. My earliest memory is of my father reading me Dr. Seuss before bedtime and I distinctly remember begging him to read me ‘just one more’. I also remember my first time in a library. My hometown has a wonderful public library and I spent the majority of my summer holidays curled up in there with all the books. During my first visit, I was with my babysitter Aunty Barb, a kindly old woman, with arms the size of tree trunks, whom I drove partially mad and quite frankly she had a very strong heart for the amount of times I almost gave her a heart attack. I was an awful kid, but I always behaved myself in a library.

I was enchanted. There was a lot of people, but everyone was quiet; talking in whispers, and it was as if the whole building was sacred. I remember being amazed at all of the books; I’d previously had no idea that so many books could exist in one place before. Aunty Barb was holding her breath and watching me like a hawk, waiting for the trouble to start but none did. I just stood there and stared with my jaw somewhere near the floor. Aunty Barb returned her books and picked up some new ones, all the while staring at me like I had grown a second head. For the first time in the four years of my short existence I was behaving myself.

The atmosphere of a library is singularly unique and I’ve never encountered anything quite like it. I’ve seen a library turn the most rowdiest kids into well-behaved darlings the minute they walk through the door; I was one of them. In my childhood it was the ‘magical book place’ and now it’s a safe haven, a quiet place to think and write and research. It’s a place of right answers and facts. It’s a place of sanctuary. My best friend became my best friend in a library. My grandfather met my grandmother in a library and they fell in love there. Libraries are capable of bringing communities together and contain more knowledge than most people will read about in their lifetime. Libraries can open doorways to different worlds and places; they can help you expand your imagination and they will always welcome you with open arms – much like the books they house.

Disney ruined relationship prospects for me, or rather, they raised the bar of my expectations with ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In the middle of the movie The Beast gives Belle a library. HE GIVES HER A LIBRARY. My seven-year old self couldn’t understand why she didn’t propose to him on the spot. If a person gives you a library, you marry them. I still stand by that ridiculous piece of logic today and if I had been Belle the situation would have gone differently:

“Marry me?”

“But I’m a monstrous beast!”

“Honey, you just gave me a library, your excuse is invalid. Now go see if the candelabra knows someone who will marry us.”

Clearly I should just go to rural France and find myself a cursed prince to love so I can get my own library.

I’m sure you could tell but this still needs saying: I love libraries. It’s an unwavering and fierce love, the kind that never truly fades away. I hope that everyone reading this visits their library today because they deserve more love than they are getting. If you’re open-hearted and love your library it will love you back a thousand times stronger.