Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mexican Border Rocks

While digging through the volumes of binders in my closet this morning, I came across an old writing assignment from college. I was supposed to listen to a random conversation and then add a story to it. I picked a conversation with a friend and wrote something that has stuck with me all these years.

I've always felt like it had the best story potential, but I could never get it right on paper. Seeing it made me happy, so I decided to share it. It has a beauty to it that I find difficult to explain. The truth isn't camouflaged very well, so I hope that if he ever sees this, he isn't too mad.



We’re at Denny's. Michael stares into his cup of coffee and strands of his curly hair fall into his eyes. He pushes it back in a slow, non-thinking gesture. He left five months before, in January, on a cross-country trip to Oregon. He packed a small U-Haul with his few possessions and started a new life.

He shows me postcards and pictures from the road. He has a jar with the melted water of the first snow he ever touched and pictures of the view out of the window of his new apartment. With a red-faced grin, he pushes a picture toward me. It is a photo of him leaning against a wall at the Alamo in a cowboy hat.

"Where did you get the hat?" I ask.

"I bought it at a rest stop in Texas."

We laugh. He looks back down at his coffee and stirs it with his spoon.

"Do anything else in Texas?"

"I threw a rock into Mexico."

I can imagine him in the sweaty Texas air. It is not quite dark and the sunset shades the desert in purple and dark blue. He pulls his truck with the U-Haul off the side of the desert highway. He picks up the cowboy hat off of the seat beside him and gets out of the truck. The ground is littered with rocks, so he kicks around some of the dirt, searching for the perfect rock, the rock that has his name interwoven into its deep grooves. Cars rush by on the highway with their lights on. The sons and daughters of the drivers press their faces to the glass. They watch the city boy in the ripped jeans and faded music school tee shirt. He crouches down and the cowboy hate sits awkwardly on his head. When he finds a rock, he holds it in his hand, studying it in case he ever decides he wants it back, and then chucks it as far over the border as he can. He watches it land, and when he decides that it is safely on the other side, he returns to his car, puts the hat back beside him on the seat and drives on.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"May you always walk in sunshine..."

One of the best things about my job is that I get to work with the other literary nerds. I use the term nerds with complete, loving affection. Just the other day we were discussing our favorite Yeats poems. They slowed down my day in a happy way.

He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

- W.B. Yeats


And now for the one that I love. It is courtesy of that "commie beatnik Michael Fitzsimmons."

When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

- W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door...

As if you needed another reason to love The Killers (ahem, especially Brandon Flowers), I thought I would just randomly post these lyrics in hopes that I can finally get them out of my head.
pay my respects to grace and virtue
send my condolences to good
give my regards to soul and romance
they always did the best they could
and so long to devotion,
you taught me everything I know
wave good bye, wish me well

It's not going to work. Those lyrics are never going to leave my brain until I go back and listen to Don't Dance Rattlesnake by the Films. Sadly all that will do will make me sing Beltloops ("She's like a devil in a dark shade of lipstick, an unassuming sort of x-rated misfit..."). Aie. I blame the Killers for writing beautiful lyrics and great music that feels like home in my brain.

And you're very welcome for the weirdo post on this fine Wednesday evening. And in case anyone was wondering, I was just watching Bones and there's no way that guy from Roswell would ever pass as any sort of genetic equivalent to David Boreanaz. Just saying.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life, Writing, HS Flashbacks, Vampy Fun, and more Writing

It's been awhile since I've written. I get that, but such is life.

The Artist' Way has really changed me. I didn't believe it could make a different, but it is true. It's ironic that the way for me to find some peace was to just listen to myself and write. Morning journaling, morning pages in the book, are the best way to start the day. It's a healthy dose of honesty. It grounds me and allows me to get all of my gripes with the world out before I ever lay eyes on anyone else.

When I need to gripe publicly, I turn to Twitter. I am such a Twitteraholic these days. It's like things don't happen until I make a statement about it to my followers. I love getting glimpses into people's lives. Limiting to 120 characters seems to drop inhibitions and allow people to really put themselves out there.

I’ve been stuck in a flashback to my high school days. It could be the just passed high school reunion, the fact that we dressed as high school stereotypes for Halloween at work (goth for me), or the rumination of this quarter life existential crisis that I've been going through for the past few years. I've gotten back in touch with some friends and reminded myself that I know and have known some pretty awesome people in my days. It's also kicked up a lot of memories of good books, movies, and music. I've picked my top 3 movies from my high school years: Dazed and Confused (Slaterson!), Empire Records (always such a Corey and not in the drugged out, reality show on A&E way), and Mallrats (Jason Lee, hot as ever).

I've been working on a new story. It's the first one that I've been this dedicated to in quite some time. Writing makes me feel powerful and happy. I'm not sure how I forgot that, but it's really nice to have it back.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Rock On!

I had the fantastic opportunity to listen to Hillary Clinton speak at the Rally for Change in Tampa tonight. I’ve never understood the impact a speech can make until I was in that room tonight, hearing someone address the problems that are at the forefront of my mind. I felt so patriotic saying the Pledge of Allegiance in harmony with a gymnasium full of people. 

I also learned a couple of things:
  • When I'm excited, I take shaky, crappy photos. In the future, avoid trying to take too many photos when excited. 
  • When taking videos, never yell in agreement at statements. I keep telling myself that the microphone was super close to my mouth, but damn, I am loud! I thought that I was only that loud when drinking and rock stars came on stage. 
  • Arriving early means more than 10 minutes before the doors open. My crappy crowd placement is largely due to the fact that I was one of the last people there. 
My photos aren't too great, but they are still the event through my eyes. Hopefully, I'll learn and get some better photos for the next one.

http://picasaweb.google.com/aw.dylanis/RallyForChangeHillaryClintonInTampa#


“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” - Robert Kennedy




Saturday, September 6, 2008

Checking In...

Well, of all the things I've learned in life, the one that I should know the best is that it's not a good idea to go around professing the perfect and happy state of life that you are living because something not quite so perfect or happy is bound to happen. Long story short, the last couple months have been a little crazy for me (tore a muscle in my back, had to quit ballet, Zander got really sick, etc.), but I have definitely come out better on the other side of it all.

Lots of fun and exciting things have been going on, and next week is kind of the jumping off place for things to go into motion.

First, I had a realization that I've always been very apprehensive about sharing my political beliefs, and while I'm still trying to be careful about what I say to certain people, I am finding a confidence in my beliefs. I've been doing volunteer work for the local Democrats and have a ticket to see Hillary Clinton speak on Monday night. I mean, politics aside, it's pretty amazing that I'm get to listen to her speak. She's an amazing, intelligent woman, and it's a great opportunity. When I was first going college, my initial goal was to become a political speech writer (weird that I had issues sharing my beliefs, I know), so it's been exciting listening to all the speeches and seeing how they really do affect people. I am really, really hoping that I'll also be able to see Barack Obama the next time he comes to the Tampa area.

Then on Tuesday, I'm starting my first class in a Photography certification course. When I was in high school, I was so into working in my darkroom, but when I got to college I lost it when I got so engrossed in writing and workshopping. It's wonderful to be thinking about it again. I even splurged and bought myself a shiny, fancy Mac Book Pro.

I also just finished my first week of The Artist Way, which is a guidebook for finding your creative spirit. I cheated a bit and extended the first week into two because my vacation fell in the middle. Waking up early for the morning pages has been a little hellish, but I understand why they are important. Nothing too creative has come about yet, but I should make it past the first week before I make too many judgments.

Later in the week, I have tickets to see Chris Isaak and Lisa Loeb. Seeing Isaak is one of my favorite annual events. I went to the 80's Regeneration tour last week, which was lots of fun. I about dropped from exhaustion while dancing to A Flock of Seagulls.

It’s not too far until Halloween , which means costumes, candy corn, and pumpkins. This is my absolute favorite time of the year.

To top it all off, I figured out how to rip Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes to my iPod. Now, I can carry hours of amusement and Xanderisms in my pocket.

I do not babble. I occasionally run on, every now and then I yammer.
-Xander

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Happs

I've been pretty busy lately. There have been so many things that I've wanted to write about, but doing all these things have left me with little time and an even smaller amount of sleep. I've been having a blast with things, and I'm really happy. I am always respectful of difficult times because I feel like I learn the most from them, but with the last couple of years, this is one gift for which I am truly thankful.

A few weeks ago, I started talking ballet classes. I was so excited and intrigued by taking the class, but I was also complete terrified that I was going to make an idiot out of myself. Now that I've started, I've realized a few things. I probably do look a little dumb and am not naturally great at it, but it's so much fun to be learning and doing something new. I found out that I have special feet. Sometimes it's great to not be good at something and be able to look forward to getting better. More importantly, I've learned that my time in there takes me away from everything else in life. It's a refuges. I concentrate so hard on what I’m learning, I forget to worry about everything else in the world.

Also, I’m researching my family tree. There is something so happy and comforting to see a long line of relatives. I love to look at old photographs and see glimpses of myself and feel that connection.

I signed up for a group on Last.FM where I am paired each month with another user and we create "mixtapes" for each other. I love to make music mixes. My first tape is my life's soundtrack.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Ringo!

At the Ringo Starr concert on Wednesday night, he came from back stage at one point and announced that he had just heard something really cool. One of the news shows asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and he said more peace and love. I don't think that any of us could really argue with that.

Happy Birthday Ringo! Peace and love.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Joss and the Friendly Skies

"Dear Buddha: please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket."

I rounded out my Firefly marathon by watching Serenity . It was such a fantastic series with great actors filling fantastic roles, interesting, exciting storylines, and an intriguing setting. I guess that I should have known that I would love it because it’s a Joss Whedon creation. I’m an unabashed devotee of Buffy, Angel, and now Mal.

Whedon has such a love for his stories. He builds fairytale worlds that are so real that you feel like you’ve been sucked inside, and then he adds characters that are so honest that you can’t help but care for them. Each character is presently with their flaws and virtues. Their struggles, while far-fetched, are grounded in true human emotions. Whedon is a storyteller, a master craftsmen, that unites the scoobies and the browncoats of the world. I respect that and realize that it is not an easy feat. He is successful because he’s not afraid to write and create the things that matter to him, and in doing this, he leads others in this craft and creates great art.

I mean who else could turn Nathan Fillion (what a honey and a half) from evil, scary baddie Caleb (he maimed Xander!) in Buffy to Mal the guy I can’t help but yell at the TV to root for.

Anyway, I read the other day that Whedon is working with Eliza Dushku on a new series called Dollhouse that starts in January. I know that I’ll be there every week to watch.

"Oh my god. What can it be? We're all doomed! Who's flying this thing!?" Oh right, that would be me. Back to work."

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

George Carlin died over the weekend. He was a spokesman for common sense and a funny, funny man. I was lucky enough to see him live a few times, and they were just great experiences. I respect that he was never afraid to say what he thought or push the limits. Maybe we all need to push the limits a little more often and just say "Really?" He'll definitely be missed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mopey Manchester Brilliance

I recently watched Control, which details the rise and eventual suicide of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis. The movie was sad, yet oddly engrossing. When it was over, it haunted me for days afterwards.

While watching it, I was mad and irritated with Curtis because he was so self-centered and indulgent. I don't know that I really feel any differently now. I spent a lot of time listening to his music and realized how talented he was. It was a moving film that gave me a little snapshot into a world that otherwise I would not know.

I also watched 24 Hour Party People, which is the odd fluttering story of Tony Wilson and the Manchester music scene. I was really glad to have some knowledge of the scene because if I hadn't, I would have been really lost. It was an odd sort of movie, but was interesting for learning more about Tony Wilson and seeing the The Ha├žienda in action. Speaking of which, when I was reading up after the film, I found the following clip of the Smith performing at The Ha├žienda:


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Canadian Cross-dressing Crazies



I can’t believe that I have waited this long to rave about getting to see Kids in the Hall (Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson) live! In May, they came to Ruth Eckerd Hall and performed a set of sketches that, much like their show, had me doubled over in my seat laughin. They performed old sketches (Buddy Cole, Chicken Lady, and Head Crusher to name a few) and brought along new sketches that were just as funny, if not more. I particularly liked the high school dances and Foley’s time machine:




I sat a few rows back from the stage, and I could see them react when people were really laughing at things. After watching them for so long on tv, it was weird to have them turn and look at you when you’re hysterical over something. I also saw them (especially Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley) absolutely cracking each other up in the middle of sketches. It was so amazing to see them having such a good time while performing.

I’m still a little heartbroken that I didn’t get my head crushed.

After the show, I was completely addicted to watching the old series again and bought The Kids in the Hall Megaset. If you're a fan, this set includes everything and is completely awesome and classic.
And here's one of my favorite classics:

The what?

I saw M. Night Shyamalan latest movie, The Happening, this weekend.

First of all, I am so sick of people mentioning the “dead people” move every time they talk about one of M.Night’s movies. I can don’t understand why people want to keep watching the same thing.

With that said, I have really enjoyed all of his movies. I am always happy to know when watching his films that the story will be original and character driven.

I thought that The Happening was well cast (loved Marky Mark and Zooey) and had an interesting premise. It really scared me. I feign to tell you that premise because I think it’s better to go in with an open mine. However, I won’t watch it again because it was entirely too graphic. People commit suicide in lots of different ways, and it feels WAY too real for me. There are some things in life that I am much happier to not think about. I still thought it was a well done movie and was happy to spend the time watching it. I would strongly suggest against allowing kids (there were a ton in the theatre!) or anyone even slightly prone to nightmares (me! Just look at my puffy eyes and ask me about my lawn mower dream.) to watch this.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Moonlight Drive... I'll be, the Irish loud...

I’ve been more than a little reminiscent lately. Tonight, I was looking for a letter that a friend wrote me and came across journals that I had to write for a class in high school. I always thought that my teacher was so amazing because he respected everyone’s thoughts and opinions and worshipped Jim Morrison. I even remember him doing his Jim Morrison impersonation in class to make everyone laugh. I loved that an adult treated me that way and was interested in finding out the things that I cared about. For instance, I loved Oasis at the time (Forgive me; I was only 15.), so he let me bring in a CD and we listened to it in class. It’s funny to think about it now because I thought of him as an adult but he was probably only like 22 at the time.
While reading over my old journals, I saw one where I asked him if I was a Beatle which one would I be. He answered John Lennon. I don’t know why, but that really just struck me and made me happy. I see it as an amazing compliment.

It’s interesting to read things like that. I feel like such a different person now. I thought that I was so grown up then, but I was so hyper and silly. But then again, I do feel like exactly the same person. I love old mementos. I love to reminisce and be reminded of things long forgotten.

And from one of my favorite books (The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison - man did I ever include some interesting writing in the margins) from the time period:


"As I look back
over my life
I am struck by post
cards
Ruined Snap shots
faded posters
Of a time, I can't recall..."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

JDs in Hot Rods

I watched American Graffiti tonight and really enjoyed it. I remember watching it when I was younger and not thinking much about it. It was too soon for me. Part of the joy in watching it is how it makes you feel a nostalgic for your childhood. It doesn't make as much sense to watch it when you're still a child. I love the radio station playing throughout everything; it was so authentic and gave the movie a second layer that helped to develop a rich sense of place. Although it has been said many times before, thank you to George Lucas for preserving a fantastically ideal slice of Americana.

And whoa baby, if John (Paul LeMat) in that car isn't just the epitome of hunky masculinity, I don't know what is. I guess it probably all goes back to my middle class, Midwestern upbringing. All the men in my family fixed things and weren’t afraid of being greasy under the hood of a car. It's sort of old fashioned, but we're shaped by what is around us. I'm happy to cling to it and will keep on loving Paul Newman, Soda Pop Curtis, and Billy Idol.

Anyway, it gives me another reason to use my beloved "two bit hoods with hearts of gold" label.
Idealists...foolish enough to throw caution to the winds...have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.” – Emma Goldman


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Subtle Juvenile Humor

I found this photo back in my old baseball photos. I promise you that this sign was real and it stayed this way for well over a month. This joke just keeps getting better with time:

Happy Mother's Day

For Mother's Day, I went shopping with my mom in Orlando, and then we went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cafe Tu Tu Tango. If you like art and love fantastic tapas, then I suggest that you check it out. There was even a Friendly's across the street! I guess for most people that wouldn't be too exciting, but I grew up with one across the street from my house, and I still dream about those Reese Pieces sundaes.

Anyway, it was a great day, so I thought that I would share some photos:

At Cafe Tu Tu Tango:



And from a few years ago:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Apparently Sappy

I watched Bella earlier this week. It really struck me because it showed just how good people can be. Most days, we only hear about how horrible people are or how tragedy ruined someone, but this movie gave it quite the spin. It was emotional, but honestly emotional. I hate to give too much away, so I would just suggest checking it out.

Have I ever mentioned how much I value honesty?

I also rewatched P.S. I Love You last night. It's the same way in that it was honest and emotional. I don't think that someone you love has to die to feel that kind of sadness from their loss. Anyway, I was happy because I got to go to bed with Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jr., James Marsters, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the brain. Hilary Swank, you were one lucky lady.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I already know I'm lazy...

I every intention to write when things are happening, but I don't. Oh well. Last week, I saw both Sheryl Crow and B.B. King in concert; it was quite the week.

First of all, Crow's new album is fun and thoughtful. It’s a very nice combination and great for a concert . She absolutely rocked live. I love it when an artist isn't afraid to play all of their hits. However, the drums were turned up so loud that you could barely hear her talking. I noticed that she has some weird fans. For example, I got stuck sitting next to a guy who I can only describe as smelling like a dirty hamster cage. He spent the majority of the evening mindlessly staring with no reaction to the concert. I have a feeling that he writes a lot of letters.

Seeing B.B. King was also quite the experience. Just hearing him play guitar gave me goose bumps. He was emotional and so full of life. He has some of the best fans that I've seen. One of my favorite things was watching him tell a story; when he said something anywhere near naughty, he'd laugh and bury his face in his hands.

BK Jackson opened for King. He was an energetic, talented sax player. He put on the best show.

And after recent conversations at work about band instruments, I have learned that the sax is the coolest of cool instruments. Although no one can beat Rob Lowe's sax playing in St. Elmo's Fire:


That clip even includes the most annoying line ever delivered in a movie - "Oh Billy!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hometown Indie

Last week was great for new indie rentals. I watched both Juno and Lars and the Real Girl . Based on my last few rentals and my general distaste for public opinion, I went in with low expectations but an open-minded optimism. This may be my key to a happy life.

Juno was a fun, quirky movie with true heart and depth. Characterization is key to me, and by the end of this movie, I felt like I knew and cared for all the characters. It also had a ton of smarmy wise assed jokes, which is always a quick sell for me. Double score because the soundtrack was so awesome. Honestly, the soundtrack almost went against the movie because I kept wanting to turn it off and go listen to some tunes. All in all, I really enjoyed this and look forward to watching it again; I fear that I missed a lot of jokes. This is one of those movies that gets better the more you watch it.

Lars and the Real Girl again made me think about emotions and what loneliness could do to a person. At times it was a little preachy, but the story knew when to reign itself back in. I love that indies tend to be in quirky small towns and have more realistic characters. People are good and happy without botox and penhouse apartments in NYC. I want to believe in that kind of world because the opposite scares me. Ryan Gosling was as stunning as ever, but while watching some of the extras. I did wonder just how far his quirkiness might go.

I've officially fulfilled my quota for using the word quirky. I'm out with a quote that I should probably work harder to remember:
"He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away." - Raymond Hull

Monday, April 14, 2008

No Jazz Before the Rumble

Recently, I read S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders for the first time. From the first pages, I was completely engrossed in the book. It reminded me of Holden Caufield (The Catcher in the Rye), but with more raw emotion and less snarky, self-defensive humor. I read it in an evening and am working my way through her other novels. I finished Rumble Fish the other night with the same enthusiasm and am impatiently awaiting the other books from Amazon.

Growing up, the Francis Ford Coppola's movie of the book had always been one of my favorites.  So, you can probably imagine how excited I was when I found an extended cut on Netflix ( The Outsiders: The Complete Novel). A lot of reviewers complained that they had replaced the original score with a 50's soundtrack and ruined it, but I'm starting to believe that there are too many people in the world resistant to change.

For me, the extra 22 minutes of footage was pure bliss. While reading the book, I was astonished that so many fantastic scenes were missing from the movie. I missed the relationship between Ponyboy and Sodapop. Also, the new music felt more authentic to the book. It made me feel like I was living in the characters' world. The extended cut included crucial information in forming the characters and helped to fill in all of the missing pieces from the book. Sodapop and Two Bit are my favorite characters in the book, so it was really nice because so many fantastic scenes that were added included a lot about their characters. It also helped to fuel my new bizarre crush on Rob Lowe.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Creativity Hibernation

Unfortunately it has been a hectic few months and writing, or at least the kind I don't get paid for, has not fit very well into my schedule. I have been busy attending all sorts of events at Ruth Eckerd Hall (Movin' Out being my favorite), watching lots of movies, listening to hours of music, and reading piles of fantastic fiction. With the move to the hazy, lazy days of summer, my efforts are centered on improving my meditations and using my new found serenity to budget more time doing the thing that I love the most... writing.

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”
- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta