Update – 24 January 2019

I’ve slowly been working on the novel, still as yet untitled. One day I wrote five pages in half an hour, and the next I wrote a half a page in an hour. But I am doing it. I am writing.

I’ve changed my main character’s name again. Cora didn’t quite fit. She’s Sofia now, and it feels right. Anyone who’s written may understand the struggle of a difficult character. Still, I love her for it, and I love her lots. She already feels like a friend.

I’ve written a lot in the past two weeks. I’m not sure I’m going to keep all of what I’ve written. I may condense it. The scene I’m thinking of specifically is nonessential to the story. It is, however, essential to the characters and their relationships, and leads to smaller conflicts between characters. So, in a way, I guess it is essential. Plus, there’s the fact that I don’t plan on going as in-depth as I have on the building of this relationship throughout the rest of the story.

I think the action I’m going to take regarding this is no action at all. I’ll keep what I’ve written, for now, and just keep writing. If I feel the need to add or edit, I’ll do it later. God knows I have a problem with going back to what I’ve written and editing or adding to it, so there’s no need to worry that the scene in question will be forgotten, because it most definitely won’t be.

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

(DISCLAIMER: Spoilers!)

I recently saw the sequel to Mamma Mia! And boy, do I have a lot of feelings about it. Some are positive, some are negative.

Let us begin with the title of the movie: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. At first glance, this is simply a clever way to name a sequel besides putting a number at the end of the original title. But, as any ABBA fan knows, it is a lyric from the song “Mamma Mia.”

Some of the songs in the sequel were the same as those used in the first musical, but there were many others, mostly lesser-known, used as well. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is more music-heavy than the original, whose songs were clearly picked from ABBA’s greatest hits.

I fell in love with Donna in this movie, which was not helped by the fact that she was played by my very favorite actress, Lily James. James is not only a good actress, singer, and dancer, she is also gorgeous and one of the few non-natural blondes who can pull off blonde hair. Donna played by James in this prequel/sequel was utterly charming. She was sweet, reckless, romantic, adventurous, and ambitious – a devastating mixture. No wonder she had three men fall completely in love with her over a period of a week or two. Frankly, I’m quite surprised it wasn’t more.

But. There were a few issues I had with the movie in relation to its original. Firstly, in the original Mamma Mia! movie it is mentioned that Donna’s mother instills “Catholic guilt” in her. This seems unlikely, as it is revealed in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that Donna’s mother is largely absent, performing in Las Vegas to adoring crowds. Not to make assumptions, but if Donna’s mother was constantly playing Vegas, she was most likely not a regular church-goer, because of her schedule. More likely and more defensible is the fact that if Donna’s mother was constantly performing and jetting off all over the world, she wasn’t with Donna enough to instill an innate sense of guilt based on Catholicism within her daughter.

Then there was my biggest issue: the timeline. The original stage musical took place in the nineties, which made sense, as Donna was supposed to have had Sophie very young in the late seventies/early eighties. This time period was the one during which ABBA was most popular. Sophie in the original movie is twenty years old, placing the original around the turn of the twenty-first century. In the sequel, Donna graduates college, then goes on to have Sophie soon after. So, assuming Donna is twenty-two or twenty-three when she has Sophie, when Sophie is getting married at twenty Donna should only be in her early forties. This is confusing, because she was played by the then-fifty-nine-year-old Meryl Streep (though I will admit I really love and admire her immense talent). Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again supposedly takes place five years after Mamma Mia!, but the technology is quite advanced, with many of the characters using some of the latest iPhones. Amanda Seyfried, who plays Sophie in both movies, while beautiful and still rather young, does not look ten years after the original movie like she is a twenty-five-year-old – mainly because she is not a twenty-five-year-old. All in all the timeline and casting were so messed up and confusing that the combination truly upset me, which distracted me from enjoying the movie a little bit.

Another, much smaller issue, was the fact that playboy Bill mentioned an elderly aunt on the island, and in the first movie it is explained that Donna inherited the inn she runs from an elderly woman she cared for on the island for the beginning of Sophie’s life. This elderly aunt never appears but in passing mention in the second movie, and Donna is given the inn by a kind middle-aged local woman.

In the end, the music was excellent, the visuals were stunning, the acting was good, the dancing great, the story incredibly touching. I definitely found myself stifling sobs in the theater during the end of the movie, something that has only happened once before during The Fault in Our Stars (but that was an open sobbing).

I would recommend this movie a million times over. It was fun and pretty and good. And, if it had major flaws, these flaws did not prevent enjoyment of the movie too much. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a movie that I am glad I saw in theaters, whose soundtrack I listen to ad nauseum, and a DVD I will ask for for Christmas. That is my recommendation.

Did you see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again? Did you like it? Did you find any of the flaws or more than I found?

Unintelligible

Unintelligible

Since I got to UNCG, I’ve intended to submit some writing or photography to the Coraddi, the on-campus student-run literary and art magazine. I picked one up at the festival on Tate street this past weekend, and just sat down and raced my way through it. But now that I’ve consumed the whole thing, I’m rethinking the submission.

Almost all the art in the magazine was excellent, whether copies of student-made paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, or what-have-you. Much of the writing chosen to publish was in the form of poems. Note that I used that phrase, rather than the loaded word “poetry.” I don’t wish for anyone to mistake my meaning.

Now, let me preface this by saying there is some fine work in the magazine I just finished perusing. There is a story depicting dementia that is touching without being cheesy, interesting without being exploitative, and accurate, as accurate as is possible. My favorite writer who was featured in the magazine, whom I cannot locate online but to whom I would like to give a shoutout, had two pieces in this fall 2016 edition. Because I do not have this person’s permission to use their name, I will just name the titles of the pieces: “Young American Dragons,” and “Young Women Grow like Weeds.” They were sparse in the amount of words, but each word was clearly carefully chosen. The imagery was gorgeous, the subjects appropriate for a college student writer beginning to think not more deeply about things, but to take ownership of these deeper themes and ingratiate them into the self.

However, these three instances were outliers, as I was not impressed with most of the written work in this edition. As I said before, the vast majority of the published written submissions were poems, but this does not mean they were poetry. Now, before you accuse me of being a purist, an old-fashioned English major snob, let me inform you that some of my favorite poetry in the world is free-verse, or at least does not rhyme. Much of the poetry in the first issue of the 119th volume of the Coraddi was free verse, but this was not the problem. The problem was that it was mostly composed of phrases, completely unrelated not only to each other, but also from descriptor to object. This is fine when done well, and/or for a purpose. But it seemed in the majority of these cases that these poems were attempts to seem artistic or brilliant or innovative, when they were, truly, none of the above. They were chaotic and unintelligible.

Of course, there were simple grammatical and spelling errors, easily found and easy to fix. I can’t imagine why any existed, as the magazine is published only twice a year. It would seem to me that would be plenty of time to correct grammatical and spelling errors, especially when it comes to the names of the authors or artists. Hopefully this is now much less of an issue, as the Coraddi is no longer published in print, but rather is entirely online.

What do you think? Should I submit to the on-campus literary and art magazine? Would it help me professionally? Leave a comment down below!

 

My Writing – Again

I don’t know what to write. I want to write – I always want to write. What is it about putting words on paper that I love so deeply? What is it, exactly? Is it the baring of my soul in the form of a story or just an essay? Is it the representation of life, as it could be and as it is? Is it the fact that I can bring beauty, or truth, through the writing?

Maybe it’s all those things. Maybe it’s none of them. Maybe I’m talented; maybe I’m not. I’m not sure, myself. I’d like to think I have a little gift, but then again, I’d also love to be a great, and I don’t know that that is in the cards for me, as a writer. I guess it’s as much in the cards for me as anything else I’m good at doing. I’m good at a lot of things, but because I’ve had natural ability, I haven’t worked hard on anything, really, in my life. I didn’t work hard at singing, or piano, or science, or math, or drawing. I have always skated on by on my natural affinity for those things, and I know I can do so no longer if I want to go any further.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’ve realized that I can’t just skate by on talent and bullsh*t anymore. I could, but I probably wouldn’t go very far, and I’d certainly like to. I’ve also gotten to a point where I am very open to and interested in constructive criticism and good feedback, and the current tendency to tell me simply that something is “good” is not doing it for me. I know I’ll never be great if I don’t practice, which I do, constantly; but, I also know I’ll never be great without someone to shake up my world and my art with a fresh perspective, or even just to tweak it to make it something more interesting, more beautiful, more meaningful, more true – any or all of the above.

I don’t know what to write. But something is in me. There is a story – or stories – to be told. I have to finish the ones I’ve started, though. Even if they’re never published, even if they’re absolute trash, at least I’ll have finished them. At least I’ll have practiced.

 

Fall Essentials

Hello, fellow basic white girls. Our favorite season is upon us; smell it, see it, most importantly, feel it. Fall, glorious fall!

These are my must-haves for this wonderful season. They involve clothing and beauty products, as well as a few miscellaneous items. I hope you enjoy!

 

CLOTHING and ACCESSORIES

Scarves

Scarves are a great way to add not only color to an outfit, but texture. It adds dimension and interest. Plus, with cooler weather, protecting your neck is important.

Cardigans

Cardigans are another way to add color and dimension to an outfit. But the reason I really love them so much is that they’re a great way to turn summer pieces into fall pieces. Suddenly that sundress is more appropriate with a cozy colored cardigan over it. Versatility is important – especially for your wallet!

Boots

I love boots. I have loved boots for a long time, especially riding boots. The best thing about boots is that no matter what you’re wearing, whether it’s a T-shirt and jeans or leggings and a sweatshirt, you’ll always look a million times more put-together when you’re wearing boots. I don’t know why this is, but I enjoy and utilize it immensely.

Statement earrings

Because the weather is getting colder, more skin is covered during autumn than in summer. This means scarves covering throats, and sleeves covering wrists. I believe because of this that the best way to make a statement with and show off jewelry is with earrings. Whether your hair is down or up, a glimpse of sparkle is always delightful.

Floppy wool hat

I may be biased here, because I’m told I look very good in floppy hats. I don’t like wearing them during the summer, but in the fall they’re great. Floppy wool hats, like boots, make your clothing more fall-appropriate, and help you look more put together. Plus, during those misty fall days when it’s not quite raining, they’re a great umbrella substitute!

 

BEAUTY PRODUCTS

(Tinted) Lip balm

With the cooler temperatures, the air becomes less humid, and your lips can dry out. Lip balm is a great remedy, and tinted lip balm gives you that effortless flush.

Cleanser and moisturizer

Fall is a funny time. Some days it’s still summer-hot, and other days it’s almost cold. That’s why I believe that a good cleanser and moisturizer are essential; cleanser gets rid of all the oils and sweat on the face, and moisturizer replaces the needed moisture on the face.

Rosy mauve lipstick

Summer is the time for bright and bold lips, like my favorite orange-red. Winter is for those sultry cranberry shades. Fall, though, because of the natural flush of the cheeks due to falling temperatures, is somewhere between the two. I think a more natural color is the way to go, in a matte-satin shade, like my favorite lipstick with its fall-themed name, “Touch of Spice” by Maybelline.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Tissue packs

Many of us, though we love fall, have seasonal allergies. There are also those who suffer from asthma, which can be aggravated by the mold in the air. Tissue packs are important whether you suffer from these things or you’re just prepared for someone else to need them.

Favorite fall- or Halloween-themed movie

There’s nothing like a movie with those gorgeous autumn leaf colors to get you in a good mood. One of my favorite movies of all time is Hocus Pocus! I look forward to watching it every year, and you can bet I watch it from September-Christmas.

Books, books, books!

Books are great for those days that you just want to curl up inside your room and have a quiet time. There’s an almost enchantment about fall that can help you become completely immersed in a book.

Cute Yeti

Yetis are great. They keep things hot or cold for a very long time. Whether you’re a tea, water, or coffee person, no matter how you take it, a Yeti is a good investment.

Cozy blanket

When there’s a chill in the air and you’re adjusting to it, there’s nothing like a soft, warm blanket to curl up in with a book or for a Netflix binge-session. Plus, they make great decor!

 

Grace of Gray Gables

Grace of Gray Gables

My dream house would most likely be a light gray gabled one, perhaps with a dormer or two. I also like Tudors, Victorians, and Colonials. It would have white trim and a bright yellow door, and windows that let in natural light at almost every hour of the day. There would be a porch, either on the front of the house or the side of it, and it would have a bench swing.

The house would be on a big lot, one surrounded by trees, young and old. Maybe there would even be a small orchard, most likely of apple trees. I’d grow roses and tulips and peonies and hydrangea and anemone and daisies and cosmos and lilac, though in order to do that I’ll have to take a few lessons from my green-thumbed father.

The backyard would have a treehouse and a swing and a deck and plenty of green, flat space to play. Ideally there would be a creek at the back of the lot that bubbled cheerfully. Perhaps there’d even be a pool, for the heat of the summer.

Inside, on the first floor, a big white kitchen, a library/office, the master suite, a living room, and a formal dining room, and maybe even a family room with high ceilings. Upstairs, three bedrooms and a bathroom would take up the space. The living room, library, and den would each have a fireplace.

And there would be books, books everywhere, and flowers from the garden. There’d be art by lesser-known artists and prints by the greats. Toys would be kept in the finished basement with the laundry room. The walls would comprise a rainbow. The dining room would be pale orange, the living room light steely blue, the kitchen a light sage green, the den snowy white. The master would be sky blue, the girls’ room peach, the boys’ room green, and the guest room a bright, cheerful yellow. (The only thing missing is red.)

And, to complete the picture, a loving husband, three pairs of small feet, and a dog. And happiness, contentment, peace, fun, laughter, tears, and even sadness. Friends of ours and the kids’ in and out. A home. That’s my dream.

 

Sunday Night Coffee

Sunday Night Coffee

I’m sitting in Tate Street Coffee House with a friend. We’re in my favorite spot, the table in the window at the front. There’s a step to get up to it. I kind of like being on display like this; it adds accountability for me. If one is going to be on display, one should probably be doing something productive. It would be a little shameful to just be on Facebook or Pinterest, at least for me. Though I’ll admit it looks more romantic to be typing in a document or writing in a notebook than it does to be working on a spreadsheet.

There’s a certain kind of energy to a coffee shop at night, especially when it’s one in an area that looks like or is a downtown of some kind. The neon lights from the “open” sign in the window and similar ones shining from the surrounding businesses add a different vibration than when those lights are much less visible in the light of day. There’s an increased energy. In the middle of the day, when sunlight is streaming through the windows, there’s almost a sleepiness to a place like this. It’s relaxed, full of people quietly working or friends gathered together. In a coffeeshop in the middle of the day on the edge of a college campus, one is either killing time in between classes or quickly grabbing coffee before something important. At night, there’s a sense of urgency underlying the relaxation, almost overwhelming it. Only those with something to accomplish put caffeine in their bodies this late, especially on a Sunday night.

I’ve ordered unsweetened iced green tea. (I’m turning into my mother.) But here whatever tea they use is fragrant, and so much so that it’s almost sweet on its own. I can’t drink hot drinks; they do not quench my thirst, only increase it. I wish I did enjoy hot drinks, because it would be much more pleasant to walk around with a hot coffee in my hand than an iced one in the dead of winter. Idiosyncrasies are fun, aren’t they? Mine sometimes annoy me, but I try to accept them.

Tate Street Coffee House is nearly empty. It’s understandable, at half-past nine on a Sunday night. Classes don’t begin until Tuesday, so there’s not much reason for my kind of crowd to be in here yet. Soon the place will be buzzing to various degrees at all times of day. But not tonight. Tonight it’s quiet.