Announcements.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Obviously, I’m not updating on anything like a regular schedule here. I’m not going to apologize for it this time either; I realize I’ve been making the conscious choice to focus my energies elsewhere, and I stand by it. I only have so much time and energy. I need to be picky about what I invest it in.

So, the time has come (the walrus said) to move on yet again! The secret collaborative project I mentioned in my previous post has been unveiled for over a month now, and I’m going to be spending a lot more time and effort over there instead of over here. It’s called The Octopus Society of Evil Authors. There’s a lot of ways to find us, which I’ll also list at the bottom of this post. Please come join in the fun! We focus on various aspects of writing, of course, but we’re very entertaining about it and quite a few things we discuss can be applied to non-writers as well (including an informative and helpful introduction to creating a secure and private internet, which is a very timely subject…).

As for this blog, I’ll be leaving it up and may even post something new now and again, but for the most part I’m considering it on indefinite hiatus. It’s so far on the back burner it’s not even on the stove anymore.

Because honestly, there’s a lot of moving parts to keep track of in my life right now. Quite a few of them are voluntary undertakings, but they feel important and even essential in other ways beyond the strictly literal. This blog just isn’t one of them anymore, at least not without completely overwhelming myself with commitments and having something else — something less deliberate — falling by the wayside instead. I’m on the constant edge of being stressed out, and doing everything I can not to tip over. The only way I can keep all the other things going is if I can give myself a little breathing room every once in awhile; caring about my personal blog is one of the things I’m sacrificing to do that. It might be the wrong choice, but at least it’s my choice. I can change it later if I so decide, and meanwhile it means I’m not losing my grip on something else.

Besides the O.S.E.A. project, I’m still writing fiction, still trying not to spend too much of my money on cool new habits like fountain pens, and still working my seasonal job. There’s a bunch of other things going on too — like trying to maintain friendships; needing to travel more; taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally; needing to find a less stressful living environment and trying to decide if that means a new line of work and what that line of work might be; trying to figure out how to live my life and find a job more in line with my values of greener and more sustainable living, with a gentler and more healing touch on the earth; and on, and on, and on… And, of course, trying to decide what turning 30 in about two months means to me (if anything).

While I could use this blog to try and figure out these things “out loud” so to speak, I’d rather just focus on the time and energy I’d spend writing posts on actually doing something about all this instead. Don’t get me wrong: writing it out in the blog has been beneficial in the past. It’s just not the approach I’m using this time. Time to give something else a try, you know? See if I get different results, and all that.

So thank you, my lovely cyber-friends, for sticking with me this far. Please do join us over at The Octopus Society of Evil Authors, and if something huge happens in my life I’ll serenely try to post about it here. In the meantime, be well, take care of yourselves, and make deliberate choices.

Love,

GeGi.

PS: here’s a list of the O.S.E.A. links –

WordPress: octopussocietyofevilauthorsblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @OctopusSEA

Tumblr: octopussocietyofevilauthors.tumblr

Email: OctopusSocietyofEvilAuthors @ gmail

Tattoo Update.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I have been very remiss in my blogger life; no posts the entire month of February!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen glimpses of my life between blog posts. If not, then here at last are the photos of the finished arm tattoo, as promised:

tat1 tat2

As you can see, it’s not quite what I had talked about before the artist finished his design, but each change was okay’d by me along the way. It took two sittings to finish — these photos are from a couple days after the second sitting, so the upper part is still a little raw and healing here. That was about three weeks ago. The whole thing is healed up now, and looks AMAZING. I’m totally in love with this artwork I’m permanently wearing, proud to show it off, and so happy that the meaning I have for the imagery is still just as present, if a bit more unified and subtle now (both good things, actually).

In other news, I only have three weeks of work left here at the Montana ranch. When the season ends, I’ll be taking off for new adventures! I’m deep in planning mode right now on my weekends; my first stop will be Tacoma, then on to Grants Pass to visit my brother (first time I’ll be seeing him in about seven years, I think), across New Mexico and into Utah to explore the Canyonlands and Arches, down to Fort Worth (via Billy The Kid’s grave — my sister is EXTREMELY jealous) to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival with a friend, and then finally back up to Colorado to the ranch I spent last summer working at, for my second season there. The road trip be about 3.5k miles total, so I’m quite happy that my car gets pretty great gas mileage, and that I won’t be paying Hawaii prices to fill up.

I have also been working on my sci-fi novel in fits and starts, making decent progress and compelling (I hope) plot tweaks. I’ve been recovering from a reoccurring bout of depression, etc, and am slowly getting back to being stable (as stable as I ever am, anyway). I’m surviving roomie/co-worker dramas (mostly by counting down the days until I never have to see them again). I’ve been consuming vast amounts of various media forms — books, TV shows, movies, music, websites. I’ve been as slack about cross-country skiing as I have been about blogging. I’ve had things I wanted to say here, but lacked the energy/time/space (partly due to said depression and dramas) to actually write about any of it. I’ve mourned the death of Sir Terry Pratchett; privately, with my family, and on Twitter. I may write about him here later, I may not. It’s hard to talk about, but so very meaningful. We’ll see.

So, yeah, that’s pretty much it. I just wanted to drop in, show off the tat, catch you all up a little on what’s been happening… I don’t have anything particular to say right now beyond that. My eloquence has been compromised by the hours I just invested in research for the trip prior to attempting to write this. I’ll sign off now and do something that requires less brainpower for a while.

Take care of yourselves and each other.

Love,

GeGi.

The Tattoo.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I have this tattoo. I have several, actually, but there’s this one in particular.

before

It was my second time going in to get tattooed. The first time, I had finished designs ready. The second time, I had what apparently looked like a finished design. It was a rough draft actually, but I went to the same artist as before, and he assumed it was finished like the others, and I was too shy and scared and intimidated by, basically, the world, and not in a good head-space for sticking up for myself at the time due to lots of screwed up things that had been happening in my life, and basically, well, I got the tattoo anyway, even though it wasn’t right.

Of course, this not-quite-right tattoo is the one everyone sees all the time; out of five tattoos, this one is the biggest and in the most visible location. People always comment on it, and every time they do, and every time I see it out of the corner of my eye or in the mirror, I’m reminded of that time, and how it isn’t what I wanted, and how I didn’t speak up about something so permanent and important. It’s a reminder of who I never want to be again.

In one week exactly, that tattoo is getting modified and expanded into something I do want. I’ve spent about five years (give or take a year) waiting for this moment — that’s how long it’s been since I got it in the first place, if I’m remembering correctly. I’ve spent all that time thinking about exactly what it was I wanted in the first place, and what I want now, and finding images and writing plans over and over so that I can get exactly the right thing this time.

Today I stopped by the tattoo shop with the best reviews, and talked to an artist there. We talked over the ideas I had, he sketched a few things out and took notes and pictures, and we kept discussing it until we both felt sure we were talking about the same thing and both getting excited about the concept. He has a week to design something beautiful, and will send me pictures to approve before my appointment.

That is the experience I should have had five (or so) years ago. That is the experience I wasn’t capable of having five years ago. The fact that I can do it now — even, especially, when I’ve been feeling depressed and anxious and lost and burnt out — proves how much I can and HAVE changed and grown. Even when I feel like I’ve gone backwards in my growth and stability, I’ve proved it’s not as far back as I think.

This new version of the tattoo will be a reminder of this lesson, a constant beautiful image that strength and growth can’t be taken away, even by ourselves. It will be a reminder that something amazing can come out of something unfortunate. It will be a reminder that mistakes don’t have to be forever, and they don’t have to define us.

Stay strong, even when it doesn’t feel like strength. Some day, it will.

Love,

GeGi.

Staying Positive.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I need to figure out the next step. Right now, this past year, I’ve been probably the best I’ve ever been since reaching a somewhat-adult-like status in the world. I can handle myself, I can deal with the mood swings and with other people, I’ve been getting jobs and even traveling. I even own a car now. I’ve been maintaining a blog (somewhat), writing (somewhat), and even have a social life (mostly online, but that totally counts). True, the jobs are all pretty much on the low-paying mindless going-nowhere end of employment, but they come with great benefits, like housing and awesome new locations.

Some of my amorphous goals have been met with this life I’ve developed, but I get the feeling that things have plateaued now. The jobs aren’t going to get better. There will be new places to go, but the same drama and issues will continue at each of them, because that’s just what people at the age of my typical co-workers/roomies are like. The jobs will be uninspiring, because they’re not my passion. None of that isn’t going to change, unless I figure out the next step.

I didn’t have any idea I could actually do this seasonal worker thing so successfully until it practically fell into my lap, and then it felt like it was exactly what I had been looking for. Now I’m looking for the next evolution, the next thing that will get me even closer to that dream-life. I don’t know yet what it is, but I’m fairly sure it exists because the last time I thought I’d never find a thing, it turned out to be pretty easy to do once I stumbled onto it.

So now I have to figure out what exactly this new thing I want is, and how to get it. I think it will be something creative, something that involves people I respect and can learn from, and who want to learn from me. It should still involve travel, but perhaps in a different form. It will be something that fills me with excitement and energy, that I look forward to doing, yet still leaves me with time to do other projects and explorations that I’m passionate about.

If you know what that thing is, please tell me, because I don’t have any idea yet.

Love,

GeGi.

Travel Log Update: Seattle To Montana.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I have left Seattle, and am now settling into my winter job in Montana. New job means I probably won’t be online as much as I was during my off-season. My new roommates and I are already talking about how we want to hike all the trails and learn to ski/snowboard during our time here. I’m so insanely happy to be back among snow-covered pine trees again, and am already looking forward to having a white Christmas like it almost always was when I grew up. We’ll see how I feel by the end of my four months, of course, but for now I’m remembering all the reasons why winter was one of my favorite seasons.

LMR day one

The months I spent in the city went by so very quickly. Despite having all that extra time as compared to past vacations, I still felt I barely got to see most of my old friends. That, combined with the fact that one of my favorite people there is getting married in the middle of next summer, makes me tempted to go back sooner than I’d planned. For now, though, the only thing I know for certain are where I’m spending my winter, and that I’ll be road-tripping in April. Beyond that, I’ll need to start job hunting again.

The drive from Seattle to here was a good test run for those future road-trips. For example, I discovered that when driving long distance by myself, the only thing that really helps with the drowsiness of freeway monotony is singing along to music, preferably musicals soundtracks. Being the kind of obsessive and fickle fangirl I am, I indulged in the chance to listen/sing to the newest musical to cross my path — the four songs from the 200th episode of Supernatural. I have no idea how many times I listened to it on repeat, but I’m sure anyone else in the car would have been ready to kill me over it. I, on the other hand, now know all the words, and still get a case of feels listening to it.

I broke up the trip into two days, and I spent the night — Thanksgiving — with a family I met through Airbnb. I arrived around 6pm, fully expecting to get shown my room and left alone while they celebrated the holiday together. I was utterly wrong, and couldn’t be more delighted about it. They immediately welcomed me in, invited me to eat with them, and to join them in making music and playing games for half the night. Conversation flowed easily, and I felt like I was part of the family, or that they were a long-lost branch of mine. The welcome lasted into the next morning, where I joined them for breakfast, got invited to see the restaurant they were remodeling, and asked to come back anytime.

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to travel. Friendship can spring up at any time, in any place. There are so many amazing people out there, so many chances to be welcomed into a new and awesome family simply because you happen to be passing through at just the right time. If you don’t get out there into the world, you’ll miss so many adventures and experiences, so much laughter and joy, so many peaceful quiet shared moments, so much pleasure and new inside jokes. There’s endless possibilities out there. Some days, I just want to dive headfirst into all of it.

Love,

GeGi.

A Brief Rant about Film Noir.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today’s topic is not so much a review, as it is a rant. Please allow me to indulge as I strive to vent all my thoughts on the matter.

For those not familiar with classic Film Noir, here’s a quick primer:

tumblr_lnxjqqvvuw1qzehxco1_500

That’s a good basic overview of what elements go into creating the unique atmosphere and themes of classic Film Noir. And of course, there is the obvious cross-over into the Hard-Boiled Detective, but for the sake of this rant, let us set that aside as an overlapping but separate subcategory.

I just finished watching a movie that described itself as “neo-Noir”. Now, I’m not sure exactly what it is they’re trying to do with that genre, but one thing I CAN tell you: It Was Not Noir.

I went through a phase in my teenage years where I was deeply captivated by the imagery and emotions which could be evoked with skillfully mastered black-and-white film. I (briefly, off and on) wanted to be a cinematographer almost solely due to classic Film Noir imagery. It was powerful, each frame deliberate, full of symbolism and art. It showed care and skill not seen in modern Hollywood — not often, anyway.

Those filmmakers didn’t have a lot of resources around with which to tell the story. But what they had, they used to great effect. Every shadow and interplay was a reflection of morality and emotion, the inner world of the character playing out around them with parallels and mirroring. The silences and pauses, the beats between words and scenes, were laden with tension and meaning.

In contrast, this “neo-Noir” film held NONE of that. Yes, it had a lot of silent scenes, but they added nothing to the ambiance. They lacked a feeling of deliberate meaning. They were instead like empty space without significant edges to define it. The characters were disconnected, flat, and their moral ambiguity was neither sympathetic nor tense. There was no meaning in the locations, no interplay at work to enrich the story, no journey into a dark night of the soul to give weight and credence to the protagonist’s struggle. Every aspect felt boring and familiar; a story we’ve already seen, with nothing new to add.

This is not unique to the film I just watched. This is problem I’ve been seeing again and again in various subcategories of the supposed “action/thriller” genre, as it’s been trying to reinvent itself in recent years. This “neo-Noir” sub-genre in particular seems to go hand-in-hand with the Hollywood tradition of remaking successful foreign films; I’ve found the trend especially prevalent with stories originating from Sweden, Finland, etc.

The problem then becomes cultural translation. I’m not an expert, just a geek, but I have noticed a lot of meaningful silent imagery in a lot of Scandinavian films. It works there, at least for me, because it’s part of the culture and part of the dialogue between filmmaker and audience. It works in the same way classic Film Noir does, because in both cases the filmmakers know what they’re doing, and are using a silent visual language as part of their storytelling.

Some contemporary American filmmakers can do this, but for the most part it seems a skill that we’ve lost over the years as films became more focused on other aspects. Tastes change, and that’s fine. People experiment, and that’s fine, too. People remake things they admire, and that’s a great way to learn to be more, sometimes.

But sometimes, you need to take a step back and really consider what it is you’re trying to say, and what it is you’re trying to emulate. It is really a lack of dialogue between characters and a lot of scenery shots that you’re after, or is there maybe suppose to be a deeper meaning in those pauses and landscapes? Are you actually telling the story you want to tell, and evoking the atmosphere you want to evoke? Or are you just making a not-so-hot mess of everything?

Let’s return to the subject of the Hard-Boiled Detective again. It, too, has had several remakes and reinventions in modern Hollywood — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Brick both spring to mind right away — as well as on TV — Veronica Mars, anyone? These examples all show a far more successful pilfering of the past for inspiration. And it’s not just because of the snappy dialogue, either, although it certain helps.

These films (and TV show) all have successful use of theme and reoccurring imagery throughout. Watch repeatedly, and you catch more hints and clues to the outcomes, more reflections and parallels to the inner landscapes and moral turmoils. Watch with a friend, and they catch even more that you missed.

This, then, is a key to what creates the genre. And this creates even more possibilities as to films that might actually qualify. Think about Fight Club, and go look at the Film Noir list again up at the top of this post. How many of those boxes does it check off? Heck, even The Boondock Saints had water imagery when the boys receive their divine inspiration to go kill everyone evil! (Yes, that was a slight spoiler; but honestly, it doesn’t ruin the film or anything. If you haven’t seen it yet, go do so after you finish reading this post. I promise it will be just as good.)

Obviously, we have some talented filmmakers still capable of creating good Noir films with a modern twist. I completely love that. But I also really wish the ones who aren’t — the ones who don’t understand the language of visual symbolism, who can’t paint with light and shadow, who think silence is the same as a lack of dialogue, who think landscape and set dressing only exists as scenery rather than part of the story, who fail to grasp the importance and role of foreshadowing, who had never even heard of what makes classic Film Noir worth watching — I wish those people would leave the genre alone.

What are you thoughts on the matter? Seen other movies that fit the genre, or ones that sucked? Interested in hearing my opinion on other genres? Leave a message in the comments below! And please, always remember to play nice with the other geeks.

Love,

GeGi.

On Blogging.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

First off, please allow me to apologize for being such a bad blogger over the summer and autumn. I’ve barely posted anything, and so much has been going on that I wanted to share with you all. Unfortunately that’s just what happens sometimes, for various reasons, and I’m sure any other blogger will say the same.

When I started blogging, it was for the Project 365 Photo Blogging. I made a commitment to myself, a challenge to see if I could stick with this one goal for a whole year, with no other incentive to finish other than my own desire to complete it. As anyone who knew me growing up could tell you, I’m not always the best at long-term projects — I tend to be really excited about it at first, and then end up wandering off to the next exciting thing before it’s through, when I get bored or too frustrated. But I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of seeing something through to completion, and I can be awfully stubborn when I put my mind to it.

So photo blogging was a top priority for a whole year. It was the thing I would make sure to do even when I wanted to do something else, the thing I’d feel guilty over putting off when other things got in the way. I finished the year, with more than 365 photos and descriptions, so despite set-backs and mix-ups along the way, I called it a win and felt good about it. During that year, I also discovered I really liked blogging for itself — big surprise, since I love talking about stuff and feel awkward doing it in person — and was looking forward to continuing my blogging with a looser schedule and more subjects.

The thing is, without the self-imposed pressure of committing to an expectation no one cared about except me, other priorities started creeping up the list to displace blogging from the top. For a while I could juggle it, but when I started a new job in a new state over the summer — without my laptop and without a reliable internet connection — I dropped the ball on blogging. And it’s totally understandable; I was focused on starting a new career in seasonal work, on exploring a new state I’d never seen before, on meeting new people and making a good impression, on feeling the happiest and most content I’d felt in years because I knew this was what I’d been looking for in my life. Compared to all that, it’s easy to see the lack of appeal in trying to type and upload blog posts via my phone with an internet connection that was equally likely to lose the post as to save it.

Now I’m back in Seattle with my laptop and a fast connection, with seemingly nothing but time while I wait for my winter job as housekeeper at a ski resort in Montana to start, and in theory I should be catching up on blogging again. But the thing is, there’s still other things pushing it down the list of priorities; things like looking for a first-ever car to buy so I can do lots of road trips next year to meet in person for the first time many of my close friends from the internet — which, honestly, trying to buy a car and knowing what feels like absolutely nothing about it is terrifying and overwhelming (but knowing the awesomeness of meeting these people in the future totally makes it worth it). Things like sorting through my stuff in the storage unit that I haven’t seen for almost three years, trying to decide what I need out and what can be packed away again. Things like having major breakthroughs in world-building, plot, and characters with my future novel. Things like spending time with friends here who I’ve known for years and don’t know when I’ll see again. Things like trying to process how much I’ve changed and grown up in just one summer (although I really should be blogging more to do that, now I think about it…). Plus the usual blogger distractions, like the entire internet.

So blogging has ended up somewhere in the top of the middle of my priorities list (which doesn’t actually exist in the physical world, in case you were wondering, but perhaps it should). It’s not intentional, it’s just how life works out sometimes. And I feel badly about letting it slip down so far for so long, because blogging is actually quite important to me. I enjoy writing posts, and it truly does help me get a little clarity on my thoughts sometimes. Plus, it’s fun to feel like an active part of world-wide community once in a while!

I’m not going to make any promises for the future with this blog, and I’m not going to make an official schedule. The last thing I need right now is more reasons to make myself feel pressured about a commitment or guilty about broken promises. But I am going to try harder to remember about how much this means to me, and blog a little more often than I was over the summer.

Talk to you soon, I hope.

Love,

GeGi.

SavedPicture-20131221215515.jpg