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A Return to Written Roots

28 Nov

It has been many years since I last dusted off this old blog. In that time, I’ve loved and lost, found love again, tried on many different job titles and landed myself a job as an editor for a local small business. (Nothing fancy, but it pays the bills.)

Some things haven’t changed though; my desire to write being the first, and foremost. Most recently, writing for my very own Dungeons and Dragons campaign has rekindled my creative passions. Often, my creative flow has taken a back seat for high pressure work situations and the exhaustion that being in my 30’s brings. I see that I actually still have a few lonely adventurers following this, and I hope I can continue to bring you the critiques and reviews you enjoy. In addition, I plan to bring my creative thinking cap to the table in the form of short stories (both fiction and nonfiction), poetry (don’t groan!) and dungeons and dragons chatter. So, my fellow nerds and adventurers–hang on tight. This story has only just begun.

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Poland, Boston, and the Human Spirit

23 Apr

Poland was mainly a blur of food, sleep deprivation, drinks, people, and brightly colored buildings.  Krakow is called the Magic City for a reason. There is something to it that as a tourist, I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The city at night, I would compare to even the bright lights of Paris.  Tourists and locals alike strolled the city into the pink hours of the morning, laughing and filling the air with vibrancy. The life there seems to have actual quality. But I found myself most impressed with the people I met on this journey.

The people of Poland have a hospitality all their own. People genuinely wanted to meet you, speak with you, and like their European cousins–feed you.  The people I met while in Krakow, returned my ability to communicate face-to-face. For so long, I’ve been attached to the computer screen or my cell phone and in the States it is not uncommon to sit across from someone while you’re out to dinner and have nearly no conversation. Instead, there is a wall of cellphones between you both as you take turns surfing the web on your smartphones and exchanging minimal conversation. In Krakow, I felt a sense of intelligence return to me that I had thought I had lost completely. As it turns out, it had never left–but had simply gone into hibernation and  needed to be woken up.  Conversation ranged from music, to politics, to sports (which I know nearly nothing about) to the more complex issue of languages and how they may or may not translate. I was alive. Krakow revived me.

In five days, I experienced more powerful moments in my life than I had in months. This was even more amplified by my visit to the concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau on my last day in Poland. Though most people will flinch away from a difficult trip like this: I sought it out. More than ever, I feel that keeping the horrors of history alive so they are not repeated and so the lives lost in such an awful way are given their proper respect and recognition.

The camps were  overwhelming. A sense of feeling watched or hunted pervaded Auschwitz. My friend who had joined me looked faint much of the time, if not downright sick to her stomach. Openly, she wept for the loss of life while I stoically paid my respects to the lives lost. The place gets under your skin in a way I’ve never experienced before. It felt alive.

Birkenau felt more sad than alive. Abandoned bunks lay in places that had been built to house horses and instead housed starving, sick and dying human beings. The remains of the destroyed crematoriums sat like craters in the landscape that may have been otherwise beautiful. Our guide pointed out a family of deer that grazed nearby as if to prove this point and stated, “See how life must go on?” There is a large stone memorial here which is littered with tiny stones as a sign of respect. I left these places with a whole new perspective on the problems in my life. My problems were nothing. I was not starving. I was not being torn from my family, or watching loved ones be gassed, shot or beaten to death. I was not wondering if I would see another day, or live beyond barbed wire fence. I was alive. And I would embrace that blessing with all that I had. I left the camp with a need to celebrate my being alive–if for nothing more than to live in the place of those who had never had the chance. And for the ones who survived and still managed to live (almost) normal lives. These places reflect not only the power of humanity’s cruelty–but of their spirit and will to survive.

The stranger part of visiting the camps was what it coincided with here in the states. I didn’t know it yet, but my city was under attack at the very moment I was touring these Death Camps. The Boston Marathon Bombings have been plastered on every news channel here in Massachusetts ever since it happened. I found out what happened in Boston, a day after it happened. In a panic I found myself reaching out to loved ones for assurance that they were alright.  The city of Boston came together as one in a way that makes me proud. Here, in today’s history I witnessed the power of the human spirit that I had sought out at the historical sites.  It is something that I never imagined would happen. Only this time, when terror struck we charged it head on. Stories continue to come out about every day people who became not-so-everyday Heroes. A dancer who lost her foot, continues to hope to dance again, a man who lost both sons to war–saved others who would have been lost in much the same way. I am alive again–and grateful, and amazed by the ever powerful presence in the past and now in the present of the strength of the human spirit. Just as when I exited the camps in Poland, I find myself constantly humming the tune from Fiddler on the Roof, “To life…to life…L’Chaim…”

Boston Strong

Poland Strong

2012 in Review and Thanks

5 Jan

Hi Everypony and Crimestoppers!

 

I know it’s been some time since I last made a post, as the end of the year has been chaos for me. But I would like to take a moment to thank all of my readers (loyal and not so loyal) for taking the time to read this blog.  My new years resolution consists this year of having more posts, more adventures and more snarky comments to fill this page with! I hope you join me for my upcoming adventures in the new year!

 

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Australians at the Omni Parker

9 Oct

The funny thing about plans, as cliche as it sounds, is that they never go the way they’re supposed to. Yet, what I love most about making plans often times is breaking from them and deviating to a path that I may have never otherwise taken.

Last night, I had  originally planned a time out on the town with one of my girlfriends who is visiting from Europe.  I decided that once I left Baltimare at 5, I would meet her at” the place”, Max and Dylan’s for dinner, and once we were full (and probably a bit tipsy) we would stake out together on one of the many ghost tours that skulk around Boston this time of year. It was a good plan. A solid plan. And I had always wanted to go on a ghost tour. So, I booked the non-refundable tickets, eager for the night to arrive.

I didn’t expect Baltimare to be so overloaded and hold me up until 5:30, or the trains to lock one side of the station due to a holiday that I didn’t have off so I would have to take an extra 20 minutes to get to the platform–but most of all I didn’t expect my girlfriend to find herself deliriously ill and cancel on me last minute either. There I was, staring miserably at her mess of missed text messages that I hadn’t seen until hours after she had sent them, feeling my night was ruined. Without her–there would be no dinner, no drinks, and most disappointing of all: no ghost tour. I was beside myself–until I decided to embrace this alternate path.

My fingers flew across the tiny keys of my phone as I dialed up another friend in hopes that he could make plans with me last minute. Somehow–he was free. I felt myself lifted from my disheartened state as if I were tied to a Zeppelin. So the adventure was back in business.

Our tour group met at the mouth of the Central Cometary across from the Colonial theater and my friend met me at Boyleston Street Station. I felt giddy that I had managed to get a hold of someone on such short notice. Our guide was a stocky man of a regular build, and glasses dressed all in black with a battery lit lantern to guide us to him. A message bag was slung over his shoulder like so many other Bostonians, giving him an oddly immature appearance. He spoke in a light Boston accent, and to our great relief , he was interactive, expressive and captivating. As our guide led us around the commons, to the site of the “Great Oak” where people were hung for crimes, to the library that houses a book bound in human skin–he constantly kept us as well as the rest of the group enthralled in his stories. I was fascinated by the stories he came up with–mainly in that I had never heard them before. As best put by my friend during the tour, “Even if it’s all B.S. they’re interesting stories.”

Our tour concluded at the most haunted hotel in Boston, The Omni Parker House Hotel. Built in 1855 and located at 60 school Street, just down the street from Park Street Station, this hotel (though old) still speaks volumes of its rich and luxurious past. I have walked by this hotel more times than I can count over the years but I had never taken the time to go inside. Crown molding like I had never seen up close before lines the vestibule all the way to the concierge desk in the back. Heavy, dark wood paneling covered the walls and floral somewhat antique-looking furniture was placed against the walls and around small tables in a welcoming fashion as you pushed your way from the cold into the lobby. A smell of liquor greeted our noses as we entered, as we walked past the hotel bar and restaurant, “The Last Hurrah”. This hotel seemed to give off a slightly masculine scent of sweet cigars smoked over many years (but not in an unpleasantly overpowering way) mixed with brandy aged to perfection. I found myself more fascinated by the hotel itself than our previously enchanting guide. Here, we were told of the many haunts the hotel boasted, as well as being the inventor of the Boston Cream Pie.

Evan and I eagerly wandered into The Last Hurrah after tipping our guide, and after some finagling, managed to get ourselves a table. Here, the molding seemed more modern, but the feel was still of a gentleman’s lounge. I could imagine men in three-piece-suites, brown in color, smoking cigars in the high-backed armchairs having once sat here among friends, and possibly women, for some reason in my imaginings to be in flapper dresses and pearls. This was a place of masculine beauty and great comfort; and I immediately liked it.

We found ourselves seated beside a couple, possibly in their 50’s, with twanging Australian accents and smiling eyes. They were married, on vacation from home to visit their daughter who was going to medical school at Harvard. The man wore a bright yellow sweater and had striking blue eyes that seemed to be constantly twinkling with mirth beneath the surface. His hands were large and rough, wrapped around his half-empty glass as he jokingly complained about a woman who had “a big fat head” at the bar who was blocking his view of the baseball game.  His wife was a fair-haired, petite woman with laugh lines around her mouth and eyes that made me hope I would look that pleasant and warm as I get older. I liked the woman at once, and wish that I wasn’t so horrible at remembering names that I could recall theirs. She had once been a nurse, I learned, and was now happily retired with her husband. She and I struck up a conversation and somehow it turned to literature and books that we loved, the love of physical books, and our dislike of the modern “Kindles” and “Nooks” available. When I told her of my hopes to one day be known as a great young adult novelist–she wanted my name at once and I gave her my card with an autograph at her request.

“For when you make it big one day–I can say I met you on Holiday.” She told me warmly. They were beautiful people. Warm and vibrant. And over an irish coffee and a piece of the Omni’s wonderful Boston Cream Pie, I felt myself feel suddenly very alive and connected to the world again. Though I stumbled home a tad later than I had planned–I couldn’t help but think how wonderful the unplanned moments in life can sometimes be for the littlest reasons. I smiled, knowing that if my plans hadn’t gone so wrong that the evening wouldn’t have felt so perfect.

The Omni Parker House

Ghost Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Brave movie review and JulNoWriMo

2 Jul

So, I know I had mentioned wanted to review Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter the movie–but I haven’t gotten around to see it yet. Instead, my boyfriend was patient enough to sit through Pixar’s latest movie, Brave, with me.

Mainly, I think he was attracted to the fact that it was a Pixar film, because generally, they do not disappoint: but in this case I probably should have waited for it to come out on dvd.

Brave focuses on the Highland princess, Merida, and her thirst for the freedom to be who she is. Little does she know it, but her mother the queen is grooming her for her betrothal to one of the three clans eldest boys who then show up to try and “win” her hand with an archery tournament. Merida, determined to change her mother’s mind, seeks out a witch in the forest who gives her “a spell to change her fate” and “change her mother.” so she doesn’t want to force Merida to marry anymore. However, this crazy witch’s spell backfires, and literally changes her mother into a Bear.

Now, when I saw the trailers for this movie–I had no idea this was the direction this movie would take. And I’m rather disappointed. Though I loved the movie, and it’s message of mother-daughter bond rekindled, I was upset by how generally not creative this concept all was. I mean, all I could think of was another Disney movie called, Brother Bear. Made in 2003, Brother bear focused on the Native American folklore of “Spirit Animals” and involved a boy who kills a mother bear in vengence of his bother, who is then himself transformed into a bear in order to care for the slain mother bear’s son, Koda. The boys bond in bear form, much in the way that Merida bonds with her mother while her mother is in the form of a large black bear.

Overall, the film Brave is  beautifully animated, the details especially on the animals are amazing–but the plot itself leaves something to be desired.

To address that odd title of JulNoWriMo, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this: it stands for July Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating. The goal: 50.000 words by month’s end. I will be using the plot for the novel I’ve been planning. I’m rather excited, but also already tired. Wish me luck–and sorry if due to the novel I do not post as much here.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith A Novel Review

11 Jun

Four score and a few months ago, while awaiting the showing of The Hunger Games–I discovered what film I wanted next to see. While my girlfriends gawked excitedly at the preview for Titanic in 3D (and I grimaced, recognizing my old foe that caused my still deeply ingrained fear of sailing…) I found myself instead in awe of the trailer that followed it: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I felt my nerdiness rise to the surface to gasp asthmatically. No, that, was a movie worth seeing. Something old–made new. Not just with 3D slapped into it! An entirely unique concept.

It was later to my great joy that I was told that this movie that looked both absurd and would feed my inner nerd, was also a book. So that’s when I found myself tumbling toward the book store, eager to get my hands on a copy. It did not disappoint.

Created by the author who is known for, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this dark fact-ion kept my pouring through the pages. I couldn’t put it down. Which was a pleasant surprise.

When I started reading the novel, I at first worried that it would be too factual to be interesting–but I was so wrong. This novel’s beauty lies in its well-researched narration of the life of one of our nation’s most infamous presidents, Abe Lincoln. What feels like common knowledge about this man: that he started off in a poor family, that his life was riddled with loss and passion, and that he stood as a symbol of freedom for all men regardless of color is painted in a close, very personal way that makes (a usually dull subject for me) history interesting.Where do the vampires come in–you ask? Well, where it makes sense of course.

Abe and our readers are introduced to the concept of those blood-sucking demons, vampires, from the very beginning. As history tells, a strange unidentified illness takes Abe’s mother from him when he is very young. Grahame-Smith is clever enough to take advantage of the plot holes that history has left him, and plugged in the only “logical” answer–vampires. A vampire gives Abe’s mother a “fool’s dose” of vampire blood, killing her painfully as vengeance for his father’s unpaid debt. Abe never seems able to forgive his father for this. Nor vampires of course. And thus begins our story.

The reader is guided through Abe’s difficult life in a very factual way, making some of the fiction difficult to separate from the fact. (Sometimes it’s not–and it’s just plain hilarious.) We encounter Abe’s view of Slavery throughout his life (and mind you, he is never fond of it.) But upon discovering that the slave trade is literally feeding the vampire population, Abe’s resolve to end slavery (and by extension vampires) is solidified.

I absolutely recommend picking this up if you like fact-ion. (And non sparkly-vampires.)

Look forward to seeing my review of the movie which premiers June 22nd!

“I must endure. I must be more than I am. I must not fail. I must not fail her.”

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan Book Review

1 May

After having been burnt out on editorial and work-related reading–I haven’t been picking up as many novels as I usually do. Slammed under the pressure of a deadline, the Office having suddenly picked up from a grazing in the pasture pace to a canter down the track, and digging into the small crevices of my brain for my own novel has kept me fairly preoccupied. So, I even surprised myself where somewhere amongst all the chaos I managed to pick up Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid.

Mr Riordan’s name may sound familiar–mainly because of his last series that included The Lightning Thief, and followed the story of a young man who discovers himself to be a demi-God. Of course, the main character is not just any demi-god–he is son of Poseidon, the great god of the sea according to Greek mythology. That series kept with the Greek Gods and I found it to be a quick and decently satisfying read.

Rick Riordan's First Book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympian's series

You may also remember the title from Disney’s adaption of the book, also dubbed the Lightning Thief. But the movie, in my opinion, threw the whimsey and wonder that was contained within the pages of the novel–and threw them in the toilet in hopes of attracting an older age bracket to the film. (But that’s an entirely different review all together.)

His newest series, dubbed The Kane Chronicles, now features a whole new set of characters and a whole new range of mythology: Egyptian Gods.  The story is narrated by siblings, Sadie and Carter Kane, as if it has been translated from a tape recorder that they take turns with. The story opens with the reader being introduced to the elder brother, Carter and his father. The children’s father is an Egyptologist that travels around the world to further his studies–though his living habits seem more than a bit…odd. Carter describes his father as having being extra cautious throughout their travels together. The children’s mother, however, has passed away–for reasons you are told later. Sadie, the younger sister, is introduced secondly in the city of London. An odd arrangement between their father and grandparents has made it so Sadie can only see her father twice a year–once in the summer and once in the winter. Sadie has been essentially raised by her grandparents and she and Carter couldn’t possibly be more opposite. Sadie–blonde, blue-eyed and fair-skinned with a british accent rocking the punky look, and Carter the dark-skinned, dark-haired dressed to his best do not exactly mesh. And they’re very aware of it.

Their whole world gets turned upside down on this Christmas eve when their father takes them on a trip to the British museum. Suddenly, it seems their father is about to rob the museum. He enlists his children to stalk the curator (who has been nice enough to give them a private viewing of the ancient Egyptian artifact, the Rosetta stone.) and lock him in his office with a bike chain–which they do. But upon returning back to where their father is causing mischief (which they were expressly told not to do of course.) they discover it’s far more than a robbery. This story is woven with the careful pen of a magician–because it’s simply coated in magic and Egyptian fun facts. They quickly discover that their Father is actually an ancient Egyptian Magician, just in time to witness him trapped in a coffin by a demon-headed God, escaped from the now blown to smithereens, Rosetta stone. (Along with his four sibling Gods.)

Skipping ahead, the kids soon discover that their world isn’t as ordinary as it first seems. Magic is real–and so are the Ancient Egyptian Gods. In fact, one of them is their pet cat, Muffin. The kids embark on a journey to save their now entombed Father from the evil god, Set. Meanwhile, Set sends all sorts of baddies to stop them. And if that wasn’t enough, other magicians want to beat them up too. Why? Well, because they’re hosting ancient Gods of course!  Now if you’re saying, whoa, back up–it’s because this story can get a little kooky on the literary rules. Not just one baddie–multiple! Not just one god–Many! So, to sum it up–the Magicians in this story–or as they call themselves, The House of Life–think that the Gods are evil. As such, hosting them, would also be bad. So naturally, even though the kids didn’t exactly invite the Gods inside, so to speak–the only option must be to kill the kids.(right?)

Carter finds the god Horus has attached to him, while Sadie meets her inner Isis. Due to their extra strong pharaoh’s bloodline, the kids are literally tiny powerhouses for the Host-hungry Gods. Meanwhile, they are starting to follow an all too familiar pattern (for the Gods that is) as they go on the hunt for a way to stop Set from destroying the world as they know it. I’ll spare you the entire story–in the hopes that you may go out and (-gaspita!-) read  it. But I will assume you know that good things must happen, as book two of the Kane Chronicles is already out.

All and all, this was a quick read–and despite having been written for younger minds, it is anything but easy. The plot is complex (though if you have read his Percy Jackson series, it’s not too unpredictable.) the characters are lovable and humorous and the research is well done. I was actually impressed with the amount of knowledge about the Egyptian mythology this novel must have taken to write. So many Gods, so many rules, and all jam-packed into one page-turning adventure.

(Post script: I am not ashamed to admit that I have already started Book two of the Kane Chronicles, and within the week will probably have yet another review. 🙂 )

Until next time my lovely literates!

A must read for those who love their Mummies! XD