Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Today was my last day at Kurosaki Elementary School. I had a feeling that it would be good. The staff at this school has always been amazing. But I had no idea HOW incredible they were going to make my last day.

I arrive and all the teachers are in a meeting. So I sit down quietly. Then some guy knocks on the door and peeks in, and the principal and vice-principal immediately freak out and run to the door frantically closing it behind them. It's hilarious.

Next, Harima-sensei, who helps with English, gives me my schedule. EVERY PERIOD IS FULL. First-grade class, Tanabata party, 2 periods with 5th grade, lunch, 2 periods with 6th grade. So next thing I know, I'm running off to a class full of first graders, which is always adorable. Next, we have the Tanabata Party.

Tanabata is a Japanese festival, though I think it might be celebrated in China in some form as well. It occurs on the seventh day of the seventh month and is supposed to correspond with the yearly meeting of two particular stars in the sky. The story goes that there was once a princess who wove beautiful cloth, but then she fell in love with a cow-herder, they married, and after that neither of them worked any longer. The girl's father was very angry, so he separated them. She was so unhappy, she begged that they could meet again, so her father allowed them to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month. However, if it's cloudy they can't meet. People in Japan celebrate it by writing wishes on paper and hanging the paper from bamboo trees.

In our case, the trees were drawn on paper in the school gym :) It's my first time celebrating because I was clueless and missed it last year. After we hang our wishes, we play a card-exchange game with cut-out stars. Super fun. Then we sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with a fancy new verse that possibly only exists in Japan :P

So the party's winding down, and then they give me this enormous bouquet of flowers, and then my 5th graders make a bilingual speech! And then all the students line up in two rows and sing "Goodbye to you" to the tune of "Happy Birthday" as I walk along between them. *sigh* The tears come. But the truth is, I'm too happy to actually cry. It's too wonderful and perfect to cry.

Alright, I'm sick of using present tense to explain this. So, back to normal narrative... ;)

My incredible Interac JTE coordinated with Harima-sensei to do a cooking lesson on my last day. So I already knew I would be spending two periods with 5th grade making lemonade and 2 periods with 6th grade in the afternoon doing the same thing. We had worked out the recipe ahead of time and my JTE got all the ingredients together. And they told the students that today was English-only, so between hand motions and English, I explained to them what to do. You may ask, how is lemonade difficult? Super easy, right? Well, it is super easy, but we put the extra work into it to do it right. I had them boil some water and dissolve the sugar ahead of time, and then each one of them got to tackle the lemon juicing process.

Then I showed them how to cut the lemons into slices and stick them on the side of the cup. Such a great lesson! And so delicious! They loved it.

The most hilarious part of the day though? Watching my 6th grade students peer-pressure each other into giving me really, really awkward hugs and then cheering each other afterwards. It was incredible. I was laughing/smiling so hard that my skull started hurting! Japan! You're so crazy!!!!!

Ah. It was lovely and wonderful. Such a good day. They even had Hagen Dazs ice cream in the staff freezer. :) And last of all, I took a pretty funny photo with the staff. They insisted that I sit in a chair in front and hold my flowers. lol.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The beginning of the end

Changes are never easy. I always find them especially difficult. I hate the uncertainly. I am happy that change often acts as a catalyst for growth. This is why I embrace it, but I usually don't enjoy it. I love growth. I love seeing where I am now compared to where I was before. What is your life if you're not changing and growing for the better (hopefully!)?

I'm moving into my last five weeks in Japan. I plan on departing August 5. On August 5, I will leave Japan, possibly forever (who knows), and on August 5, I will step onto the continent of N. America for the first time in 19 months. I will move back in time 16 hours.

This last month has been a haze of activity. Last week, I had something going on 5 out of 7 nights. It was a bit much, and it just continues. I had friends over twice, I went to an Okinawan restaurant, I sang karaoke, I went to an enkai with a bunch of JETs and Japanese people. Last night was the Sayonara Party. Today, I went to church, then came home and watched, "Wit," the HBO adaptation of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer-Prize-winning play. It's fantastic. I barely have to say that. It makes me cry. So good. I challenge people who believe exclusively in science to watch it or read it.

I'm tired though. I really, really am. There is too much going on right now. But I don't think it will stop. Sometimes, don't you just want rest? or something? From defending yourself? From being strong all the time? Sometimes I get really sick of being nice to everyone and not trying to inconvenience anyone. I hate bothering people. I hate causing problems, so I usually just walk away. I'm speaking in broad generalities now - probably because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Sometimes I'm just too tired to smile and nod and retreat. That's my general rule. Aggression, I find, is almost always pointless. Usually I don't find it that hard to ward it all off, but when I'm tired, and emotionally compromised (you try living in a country for two years and then leaving), I do. I don't want to defend my actions to anyone. And I don't want to be unnecessarily criticized for my beliefs, my actions, or my personal decisions. At times like this, I feel like snapping, but I don't. Why? Because I know it's a passing feeling, and I know my snapping would mean more trouble than snapping is worth. As cool as it looks in the movies, it rarely works out so well in real life. Yes, this is a rant. Yes, it's somewhat veiled. Thank you for reading anyway.

I guess it's superfluous to say that I've been moody lately. I find myself drawn to extreme states of being. One day euphoric, the next utterly depressed. It's annoying. It's weird to go up and down like this. I can feel the weight of the buckets of tears that will be wrung from my body in the next five weeks. When I think about this, I don't want to go to school anymore, and I don't want to say goodbye to one more person. I've barely even started. I don't want to begin. "Parting is such sweet sorrow..." isn't really so true is it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yourself, Herself, Himself, Oneself, Myself

About a week ago, I decided that I had been living in intellectual no-mans-land for too long and went on a quest to smarten myself up. This quest led me to download many, many iTunes U resources. I started with a course on the Romantics by Timothy Morton from UC Davis. So far the podcasts are very interesting (and only made better by the fact that Morton is English), but one thing in particular has struck me, and I can't get it out of my head. I'll paraphrase it like this:

A consumerist defines who they are by their choice of product.

Dr. Morton pointed out that the romantic era saw the introduction of many "isms" - consumerism being one of them. But people had always been consuming. The difference was that now people were aware of consumption. A consumerist therefore, is not just one who consumes, but one who's aware that he's consuming and one who's aware of what he's consuming.

I like coffee. I like the way it tastes and I like the way it helps me start my day. I also like coffee-culture. I'm from the NW. We like coffee there. I also like fun sunglasses. I also like volvos and literature and tea and cheese and board games and theatre and grammar.

In each of these cases, there are two things at work: actual preference for these things and an awareness that I'm the type of person who likes coffee, theatre, literature, Volvos, and fun sunglasses. But it's all a lie. We are more than the sum of our preferences. In fact, we are even more than the sum of our talents. I am not defined by the choice I made to listen to these podcasts any more than I am defined by my "love" of coffee and Volvos.

I think that these days, (at least in the West) individuals are at a loss to be recognized and identified as just that - individuals. And so we buy things. We consume things in the hope that we'll express who we are. As Tom Hanks' character says in, "You've Got Mail, "So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self..." But it's a shallow type of definition, and the fact that we find more and more ways to consume just serves as evidence to the hollowness of the system.

However, perhaps the very desire to "define" oneself is misguided. I read an article today about how internet search engines "customize" searches for you based on prior search history. Part of the author's concern related to how this customization can perpetuate the limits of one's intellectual bubble. Some of you commented on that article, noting that our own bubble (outside-of/beyond the internet) is often self-induced. We limit ourselves through our choices. And sometimes we consciously limit ourselves. "After all, I'm not a video game type of person." I can't tell you how many times I've thought that - as though playing or not playing a game will affect who I am as a person. Definition is limitation.

Jane Austen would say that most people don't actually want to be someone else. One might envy others. One might envy their specific talents or virtues, but in the end, one would never want to completely trade places with them - not if that meant giving up one's own self-hood. I think this is generally true. I can't put my finger on it, but there is a part of me that I feel is inscrutably different from anyone else - a self. And that cannot be defined.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Possibilities - short story

James Wilson walked along a downtown Portland sidewalk. Wearing a corduroy blazer and a wool scarf, he barely felt the cold, but he took notice that for once it wasn’t raining on a February evening. As he turned a corner, he saw a teenage boy sitting on the forlorn steps of an old bank building. With his guitar case laying open before him, he played a self-composed ballad to the mostly oblivious passers-by. James stopped, opened his wallet and took out a couple of twenties. It was cold, after all. Then he crossed the street and entered a pub on the corner.
Soft jazz greeted him as he stepped inside. He sat down at the bar and took off his hat. He was just going to check his cell phone for messages when a woman tapped him on the shoulder and sat down in the adjacent seat. The bartender took their orders and then hurried off. James turned to his companion.
“Long time no see, Kat. You’ve been rather busy lately, I’m guessing? What with all your patients coming off the holiday stress?”
She adjusted her pencil skirt and set her purse under the bar. “Yeah, you know how it goes.”
“Mother-in-laws.” He smiled. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m simply training my students to be proxies for ‘the good-listener-friend’ that no one has anymore.”
“It seems that way at times.” She glanced down the bar. The bartender was just finishing.
“But you seem distracted. You acted like there was something particular you wanted to discuss. Is it Jarrod again?”
Kat cast him a short glance and then took her drink from the bartender. “No, fortunately, he’s decided to give me a respite from domestic drama.” She stirred her drink. “It’s work.” She smirked. “I know I promised to stop bothering you with advice long ago… But it seems I keep coming back to professor.”
He smiled. “It’s nice to be needed.”
“That’s a condition you know.”
“Only when someone diagnoses it.”
“Good thing I hate labels, then.” She smiled and took a drink. “It’s a girl – college-aged. She has…prescience.”
“Sometimes. Sometimes just inklings.”
“Of what nature?”
“Positive results – of her actions.”
He took off his blazer and loosened the laces on his brown leather shoes. Motioning to the drinks, “Think we’re going to need more of these?”
“Definitely.” Kat took off her jacket and slipped off her heels. She took a long sip of her drink and then leaned back in her seat.
“She first came into my office about six months ago – right at the beginning of the school year. I have a contract with her university, you see.” She sighed. “One of the perks of being young and hip, I guess. Students find me an appealing therapist. Anyway, she was shy, a little reluctant at first. Fortunately, she had written “visions” in the comment box on her sheet, so I had some idea. But, you know, visions can mean anything from weird dreams to schizophrenia. So I asked her why she wrote that. She told me she didn’t know what else to call them. I asked her,
‘How do these visions come to you?’
‘Umm, sometimes pictures, sometimes scenes, and sometimes they’re not visions at all – just ideas.’
‘And what are they like?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘What emotion do you feel from them?’
‘Oh. They’re always very good visions. Very happy, wonderful things.’ She smiled.
‘What else can you tell me about them?’
‘They’re visions about other people. In them, I see what will happen to others if I do something for them.’
‘How long has this been happening?’ I asked.
‘About a year – off and on. I think maybe it has been happening longer than that, only, I didn’t recognize them before.’
‘Can you explain to me a situation in which one of these visions occurs?’
‘The first time, I mean the first time I realized, was about a year ago. It was very simple. Umm. I was taking an American history class. There was this boy; he always sat in the back; he didn’t have any friends in the class. I could tell he was having some difficulty. We were preparing for a final, so we were making study groups. He didn’t have one. I thought maybe I should invite him to my group. And then it happened – the vision, I guess.’ She stopped.
‘Go on.’
‘I saw his exam – in my mind, and in big scrawling red pen, there was a 90 written at the top. It was a vision about his success.’
‘So what did you do then?’
‘I invited him to join our group, and he said no. But I gave him my phone-number and told him that if he changed his mind we were meeting in the library on Tuesday and Thursday at three. So then he came, and we studied and then we took the test. I didn’t think anything about it, until the next week when he brought me his exam and showed it to me. It was the same.’
‘The same…?’
‘As the one in the vision. Same big scrawling letters, red pen, ninety.’
‘So then what did you do?’
‘I was shocked and I tried to put it out of my mind. I thought I was just being fanciful, you know? I mean, I didn’t think that people actually have visions. So I ignored it, but then it happened again. The next time it was at work. I work at a retail store. I’m a department assistant manager, and they told me to hire a part-timer. There were three people. Two of them were very qualified and the other one – she had never had a job before. You could tell she was from a bad background. But after I interviewed them, I was thinking it over and I thought about her and about what getting this job would mean to her. I could see her with confidence – getting hope. So I hired her.’
‘Did she accept?’
‘Yes, and she succeeded. She was promoted to full-time within two months and everyone loves her. She started taking night classes this fall. I think it changed her life.’
‘That was the second time?’
‘Yeah, so then I thought, well, that was just lucky. It wasn’t really a vision. I saw no picture that time. I just had faith and she didn’t let me down. That was in January. I still didn’t think much of it. Only after that, the visions got stronger, more lucid. Lucid, right? That’s the right word?’
‘Like realistic?’
‘Yeah. Strangers. Men on the sidewalk asking for money. And it wasn’t just the visions. If it were just visions, then I would only believe that I have a lot of hope for people. But I see them come true. I’ll meet the homeless man again, with new shoes.
‘Last March, when we had that freak snowstorm – the city buses were cancelled. I was driving from work back to my dorm. And I saw a woman at the bus stop. I felt bad – she obviously didn’t know about the cancellations. And then, suddenly, I saw her meeting a man in a blue sweater, and they started laughing and later he asked her to go to dinner with him. So I picked her up. She said she was going to a friend’s birthday party at a restaurant near my school. I dropped her off at the restaurant, but as I was pulling away, I saw the group she was meeting, and then she was shaking someone’s hand, like she was being introduced.’ She stopped. She looked up at me and her eyes were almost glowing with excitement. ‘It was the same man, that I had seen before – in a blue sweater. After that, I really started to believe that – maybe I really was seeing visions – that I didn’t just have an overactive imagination because he was the same – exactly the same. He had dark curly hair, a reddish complexion, stubble.’ She shook her head in wonder.”
Kat straightened up in her chair. “I have to admit, I was a little stumped, and since we were coming to the end of our time, I asked her why she had signed up for therapy. She shrugged.
‘Well, I guess I was just kind of concerned. I mean, like I said, normal people don’t really have visions. I guess, I’m kind of worried about myself, even though, I don’t know why I should be. I’m perfectly fine. If anything, my life is more exciting and…well…joyful now.’
‘Does it help to talk about it?’
‘Yes! Yes, it does. I’ve been afraid to tell anyone about it.’
‘Well, that’s what I’m here for.’
“I told her she could sign up for a follow-up appointment and after that she started seeing me regularly. The stories were all rather similar. I found it very interesting. I never had a client like that before, and I wasn’t sure how to approach her situation, but mostly we just talked.”
James broke in, “Did she show any signs of emotional instability?”
“Well, no, that was the problem. She had no personal or family history of mental illness, and occasionally when we talked about other things, school, work, her friends, she seemed perfectly healthy.”
“Well, that was for the first three or four months. In December, I noticed a change. She had missed our last appointment and so it had been a while. When she came in, I saw immediately that there was something on her mind. She glanced around the room awkwardly and when I asked her to sit down, she just kept standing.
‘Do you remember the story I told you about the woman I picked up in the snow storm?’ she asked.
‘Yes of course.’
‘Well, I saw her again.’
‘She’s engaged. To that man. The same man. The guy with the blue sweater.’
“I stared at her a minute. For the first time since I’d known her, she looked tired.”
James shifted in his seat. “What happened after that?”
“I tried to talk to her like normal, but she wasn’t listening to me. And then, she didn’t come back for over a month. She kept making appointments and then cancelling at the last minute. Finally, last week, she kept her appointment. She looked so different, it was distracting. She wore a baggy sweatshirt didn’t have any makeup on. She looked as though, at any moment, she would burst into tears. She just sat before me, wringing her hands and looking back and forth between her lap and her feet. Finally, she stood up,
‘I can’t keep going on like this.’ She burst out. ‘I did it again! Just today! Again, I denied someone. They needed my help and I refused.’
‘Please sit down,’ I said. She did so. ‘Now tell me what happened.’
‘There was an old man ahead of me in the checkout at the grocery store. When his total came up, he looked in his wallet and he didn’t have enough money. I think he had only five dollars. He looked rather disheveled, his pants were old and his sweater had moth-holes in it. I saw a picture of him going home to a tiny little apartment and making dinner for a little woman in a wheelchair. They were happy together.’ She started crying. ‘But I only have fifty dollars left till my next payday, and his bill was nearly thirty. So I—’ her voice dropped to a whisper, ‘did – nothing.’
‘Then what happened?’
“She looked up at me, her eyes full, ‘He picked a couple of small things out of all his groceries and bought those only. The teller put the rest in a basket and slipped it under the counter.’ She wiped her eyes but the tears kept flowing. ‘I didn’t know what to do. I’m so selfish. I could have gotten along with only twenty-five dollars. I have a meal plan and the school covers my medical. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to pay for his groceries. I shouldn’t have to help everyone I meet. And now I feel like – the most horrible person. I feel miserable.’
‘Has this happened before?’
She sighed. ‘Yes. In December. That’s when I stopped feeling happy about the visions. That’s when I realized they weren’t always good, because…I’m not always good.’”
Kat took a sip of her drink and leaned her head on her hand.
“Was that the end?”
“Pretty much. I tried talking to her about personal responsibility, about taking control of your own life. But she would have none of it. She told me she couldn’t forgive herself for having the power to help others and refusing to use it.”
James stared at her for a minute. “Kat, she has a condition.”
“Oh undoubtedly. Though I have no idea what, yet.”
“Well, it’s only the beginning.”
“True.” She slowly swirled the ice in her empty glass.
“Kat why do I get the feeling that there’s something else that you’re not telling me?”
She glanced at him and bit her lip. “It is interesting, isn’t it? I mean, James, can you imagine what it would be like to live in that head?”
“That’s probably the one thing you shouldn’t do.” He motioned to the bartender for refills.
She turned her gaze away and stared at the glittering bottles before her. “Yeah, I guess so. It’s philosophical though.”
“So are schizophrenics.”
She nodded.
“They – they think too much,” he continued. “They think about the things that would make normal people go crazy. You don’t actually believe that she has visions, do you?”
She turned back to him. “No,” she said. “No, I don’t.”
He sighed. “It sounds like guilt, but honestly, it could be anything.” He watched her for a moment and then reached over and touched her arm. “Are you okay?”
She hesitated. His grip on her arm tightened slightly. “Yeah,” she shook her head. “Yeah, I’m fine. I guess it’s just a difficult case during a difficult time. You know everyone else, is, like you said, bickering about their in-laws and relating long histories of past Christmas tragedies, and this girl seems so…transcendent in comparison. Truthfully, she makes me uncomfortable.”
“Do what you know how to do, and she’ll get better. You’re a good therapist. You can help her.”
She nodded.
He looked at his watch. “Well, I have to get going. Class prep: it never ends.” He smiled. “Let’s catch up more often.”
She stood and shook his hand. “Let’s. I’ll see you.”
He picked his hat off the bar, took his wallet out and put a few bills down, and waved goodbye.
Kat sat at the bar for another few minutes. Then she finished her drink, gathered her things, and walked out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quote for the Day: From Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"

The main point here, however, is that this idea of a fundamental alteration in the standard is one of the things that make thought about the past or future simply impossible. The theory of a complete change of standards in human history does not merely deprive us the pleasure of honouring our fathers; it deprives us even of the more modern and aristocratic pleasure of despising them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Food Excursions: Greek sandwiches with Tzatziki Sauce

When I moved away to college, I started trying new international foods. Being from a large family, our cuisine rarely ventured out of the confines of casseroles and stir-fries at home and Mexican, Chinese and Italian when we went out. But in Seattle, I started eating more Indian and Thai food. And it was in college that I experienced the glories of hummus and pita bread. The first time I had gyros, I was seventeen and in France. One girl in my group had taken French in high school and was trying desperately to communicate with the rather annoyed shop-attendants. Later on that same summer I had them a second time in California at a chain restaurant called Daphne's; I think there were lots of baaaaaa's throughout that meal with my teenage friends, but it was delicious. The next significant time was on the day I moved away from home and into my dorm-room, junior year. Mom and I found this tiny Greek cafe in Kirkland, Washington and had gyros and Greek fries. And senior year, ReBekha and I visited this hole-in-the-wall place near Taproot Theatre in Seattle's Greenwood district. I think that was the day that we skipped Literature of American Diversity to see a play. :) We both thought the flirtatious guys behind the counter were ridiculously hot. It was that very same class that Rick made Tzatziki sauce and someone bought pitas from the local cafe for one of our culture-themed lunches. Ever since then I've wanted to make the famous cucumber-yogurt sauce. Needless to say, international food is a bit hard to come by in Japan, although I've had a gyro/kabob sandwich on the rare occasions I make it to Tokyo.

So anyway, I have very fond memories of the meal. Now let's move on to cooking.

Gyros pose a problem since the meat is made in a rather difficult manner. They skewer it with spices and fat and then cook it through. Then they shave off the meat into sandwiches or onto salad.

This poses a problem to anyone who doesn't have this equipment and although I did find recipes to make the meat in a meat-loaf style, I didn't want to go to that much work. However, I thought that perhaps with some spices and marinating, one could capture the flavor of the meat, if not the texture. So I did a little research, and tried to figure out what spices to use. In the end, I decided on garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and paprika if I could pick any up. Alas I could not. I ended up eventually adding cumin and that seemed to spice it up in an appropriate manner. I mixed these with extra virgin olive oil. The meat I chose was a kind of fatty steak. I cut it up in about 1 inch strips and poured the olive oil mixture over the top. Then I rubbed the mixture into the meat and let it sit while I worked on the sauce.

I found a recipe online for Tzatziki sauce that sounded good. I like to use to get different ideas about how to make things. I generally find the comments on said recipes as helpful as the recipes themselves, since helpful members will post their own alterations. I used 1 part sour cream, 2 parts yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil for my sauce. I threw the cucumber in the food processor and then poured it into a cheese-cloth and squeezed out the extra liquid.

In all actuality, I don't think the sour cream is really necessary. If the sauce was too tart, more olive oil would have done the trick I think. As it was, I only used a tiny bit of olive oil, adding a little at a time, stirring it in and tasting it. Also, I only used a little squeeze of lemon as well. The finished sauce tasted incredible.

Then I chopped up red onion and tomatoes.

At this point, I had done everything I could do and since I was hungry, I wanted to cook the meat immediately. It probably would have been best to marinate it longer, but as it was, it turned out flavorful and delicious. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of fat (partially from the olive oil) but I drained off what I could.

I bought the pita bread at Costco in Kobe and it's been in my freezer for a few months now. But it held up just fine. I took out one piece before I went to the grocery store, so it had about 2 hours to defrost. I stuffed it with meat and veggies and dabbed the sauce on top.

It was amazing! Soooo delicious. I had of course tasted the meat to make sure it was good and tasted everything separately, but together it was incredible. And best of all, it wasn't all that difficult either.

I'm looking forward to making these again in the future and making them for other people to try as well. Unfortunately, it was just me home tonight. But I was accompanied by wonderful food, and that helps quite a bit. ;)


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writing adventures

One of my goals while in Japan was to read and write more. I figured I would have a lot of extra time on my hands that I could devote to these things that I had neglected in college. The reading has slowly been coming along. The writing has been a bit more difficult. Although I completed Nanowrimo (writing 50,000 words in the month of November) last year, the content I was working with was a story line I had been dreaming up for years and years. Frankly, I'm sick of it. As I've gotten older and imposed limits on my once absurdly limitless imagination (one cannot live in a dream world ALL THE TIME), I've had difficulty coming up with new material.

However, it seems as though I might be finally conquering this obstacle, or at least climbing up it a bit. I wrote my first short story in over a year last week (please see previous post). Also, I started work on co-writing our AJET production for this winter, our very own 'Treasure Island.' It's not an original piece, but there will be a lot of original thought going into it. We'll be adapting it to Japan in a way, with Japanese characters, locales, and jokes. I'm super excited. It's going to be a ton of fun.

I'm hoping to be almost finished with the first draft by November. Hopefully, I'll still have time to participate in Nanowrimo this year, which brings me to my third point. I think I may have found a group of characters to write about in November. I've already realized that plot is not my strong point. I have to start out with a group of characters and situations and find the plot from there. I suppose this weakness probably has something to do with the fact that my favorite part about writing is the dialogue NOT the narrative. However, I've realized that some novels aren't necessarily dominated by an over-arching plot, but rather are just about people with relatively interesting lives. All this to say, I can't wait for November. I have a little over a month to work out some ideas and then I could start on my third novel attempt! I'm quite excited for this.

One last thing I've been thinking about: when I've approached writing in the past, it has often been as a perfectionist. I read my work with disgust sometimes because it didn't meet some standard I had set. I've realized this is the last attitude I should have about my writing. I'm an amateur. I'm probably even less worth-while than an amateur. I should write, not because I expect myself to write the next NY Times bestseller but because I want more practice and because it's fun. I enjoy writing. I like creating. If I'm lucky, my mom and my boyfriend will read it, and that will be it, and that will be okay.

So, here's to someday writing something pretty cool, but for now, being okay with less than mediocre :)