Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yeah. I miss it.

I feel like a few of the skeletons in my closet have been stalking me.

See, I recently moved off campus, to tackle my final year of college in a much more adult-friendly atmosphere. It's not too far away from campus, but I am now situated in such a place that I have to pass the local music conservatory at least twice a day. If I leave the house, that is.

It shouldn't mean that much, passing a conservatory. It shouldn't make me want to walk inside. It shouldn't remind me of the way I could have been living my life right now. It shouldn't hurt. It shouldn't, but it does.

See, I used to be a serious musician. My dad's played classical guitar for forty years now, and on my tenth birthday I tried to follow in his footsteps. It was a lame attempt, granted, but in my senior year of high school, when I was convinced that music was my life, I started taking private lessons. This was all under the assumption, of course, that Northwestern would want me for both my journalistic insight and my musical skills.

Starting private lessons changed my life. That's not an understatement, but it's probably not as epic as you're imagining. I made weekly trips to one of the most beautiful buildings in downtown Milwaukee. I practiced guitar about an hour (ok, a half an hour) a day, serenading myself and my neighbors with estudios and scales galore. I worked with a talented guitarist and performed with my peers in numerous recitals.

And I got into the school of music at Northwestern, but not the school of journalism.

Knowing what I know now, I count my lucky stars for not getting into journalism. For starters, I'm not a journalist. The rigorous, unforgiving program creates drop outs monthly. It might have been the academic kiss of death for me, trying to survive a program like that while going through my musical identity crisis.

On the first day, I realized that music wasn't for me. Not that I didn't love bringing out my guitar and learning something new, or better yet, playing something I already knew until my soul sang with the melody. But I didn't have the passion that everyone else did. It was so obvious how much they bled music, and how much I didn't. On top of that, I wasn't writing. At all. No time, in between not practicing, guilty lessons, and accelerated music theory (no, I wasn't accelerated, I had scheduling issues).

I told myself that it was just nerves, but my guitar became the enemy, along with anything remotely associated with it. By winter break I decided to switch majors, or as I've phrased it so many times, I quit. I quit music, and a small part of me has hated myself ever since.

The truth is I didn't practice enough to keep up, and I'm not sure if "I didn't want to" is a good enough excuse. I know I've written bits of this story on this blog before. I've written personal essays justifying my choice. I've compared it to writing to prove my own passion, but in the end, I feel just as guilty as the day I filled in my change of major papers.

I still have my guitar. I strum chords and sing alternative music. I even wrote a song or two. But I forgot most of the classical music and scales I learned in high school. My fingers don't move as fast, and I can't read music like I used to. Where does this leave me? Not completely lost, but not completely found, either. Caught in my usual bout of indecisiveness, more like. I love words, but I love music more than I care to admit.

And I'm not sure how to deal with it, because pulling out my guitar and half-assing a song I could play at 17 isn't enough. I feel like I gave up on a part of myself, and a simple "sorry" just won't do it.

I have to pass the conservatory after I post this. I wish I could pretend that it's just another building, but it's not. It's a guitar-shaped skeleton in my closet, and it's stalking me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My last first writing date of the year

Today I'm going to my first writing date of the year. I'm really excited, but a little nervous as well. All the projects I've started have just kind of fallen apart, and now I feel like I'm floating around, clinging to my werewolves with all my might. I guess we'll just see how it goes, shall we?

What kind of commitment do you commit to a new writing idea, and how far do you pursue it before letting go of it for a new project? Are there any demands you make on that idea (a certain amount of passion or spark from it)?

I'm asking these questions, mostly because I don't know my personal answers to them. I should be able to answer them by now in theory, because I've pursued ideas to the last word and then some, and I've abandoned ideas in the first breath.

Right now I feel like the lamest writer in the world, right next to-- oh. I'm not going to bash authors online. Not even dead ones, or legitimately bad ones. Bad karma, and all that jazz. Oh, and it's not very nice at all. Consider THAT the lesson of today, because it's all I've got.

Listening to: "Parachute" by Ingrid Michaelson (amazing song! Go download it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wake me up when September ends

Green Day aside, I can't wait till October shows its beautiful masked face! It just so happens that October is my favorite month of the year. Fall is my favorite season, and Halloween is my favorite holiday!

Any other autumn lovers out there? Can I get a woot woot?

I wish I had something cool to say about my writing, but I've got nothing except a recommendation that you've probably heard before: Read Stephen King's ON WRITING. If you want to be a writer, it's an amazing book. That's not to say that you can't write without it, but it's kind of like a tic tac. Can you breathe without it? Yeah. But I wouldn't recommend it.

Honestly though, the book is a treasure trove of advice, good habits to create, and stories about his own trials and triumphs as a writer. I'm not done with it yet, but it's a great read so far.

I'm all moved in (but not all unpacked) in my shiny new apartment, and school starts next week. So I'm trying to get all my reading/writing on a roll before my life turns into studystudystudyworkworkwork. We all know that life goes downhill from there. Ok, not really, but it'll get stressful.

I finished Mockingjay a week or so back, and I still don't know what to think about it. Part of me truly loved it, in a way that almost compares to Harry Potter. I cried, I laughed, I cheered for Gale and Peeta. In the end, though, I'm not sure how I felt about it. A small part of me hated it, but not in a way that made me regret reading it. I highly recommend the Hunger Games series to anyone who likes reading (even those who don't. I got my book-hating roommate to read it. SCORE).

Then I read Paranormalcy a few hours ago. That one, I can more safely say, that I liked. I'm not sure about love. It was a cool take on supernatural creatures, and it makes sense. It felt a little like Artemis Fowl meets Vampire Academy. There was a lot of cool mythology built in with some great attitude. I'm excited to get my hands on the second and third installations.

Next on my to-read list is "Firelight" which is sitting on my desk thanks to a wonderful blog contest by Katie Flanagan. Go check out her blog here. I'm quite excited to read Firelight, since dragons aren't as "saturated" as vampires/werewolves, so it's bound to be a fresh new experience. Not that I hate vampires or werewolves. Clearly.

I have a pretty long reading list: American Gods, Stardust, Song For Night, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. That's only what I have waiting for me on my desk. Part of me loves it when I have this many good books waiting to be opened, but part of me mourns the fact that I can't read all of them at once. I love the worlds, the characters, the stories. They're so addictive, and I'm always ready for another.

As for my own stories, well, that's not going quite as swimmingly. I'm still daydreaming about Rachel and her werewolf friends, so it's hard to give Danny and Co. a fair shot. They may be bad ass humans, but I think I need a solid "villain," because right now it's just the system. Very stickittotheman of me, I think. We'll see how this pans out, because I don't want to turn into thatgirlwhowroteabookonceithink to all my friends and family. I want to turn into thatgirlwhokeptwritinguntilshewroteanawesomebook. That would be killer.

Speaking of Killer, go see Kick Ass if you haven't already. It's an amazing movie, and if you don't mind a little gore, the story makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I solemnly swear I am up to no good

Note: I know. I know this is WAY overdue, but here it is. The post on Harry Potter World!

I was lucky enough to stay with my awesome friend Jillian at her house in Orlando, and one beautiful (albeit cloudy) Saturday, we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Alright, so before I go completely fangirl, I'm going to say this: If you're planning on going to this park, WAIT. It's not that it's not worth it, but people are flying from all over just to see HP world. That means that even when the rest of the park is abandoned, HP world will be FULL of people. There are lines for rides, lines for stores, and lines for eating. It's all worth it, but if you're claustrophobic, just wait till next summer. It'll still be crowded, but probably not as much as the opening summer has been.

My trip to heaven:

1) We got to the park at about eleven, and parking wasn't too bad, despite the weekend. Apparently the rain deterred many people from going, which was fine with me. It rains in England, so I think it only added to the atmosphere.

2) It was a long walk from the garage to the actual park itself. THEN we had to walk through city walk. THEN we had to go through Marvel land, Toon Town, Seuss land, and Jurassic Park to get to Harry Potter World.

3) We made it to Harry Potter World.

4) I seriously could have spent the day staring around. Yeah, the shops were cool. Yeah, the rides were fun, but OMG I'm in Diagon Ally/Hogsmeade! Look at all the shiny stuff!

5) I said it once, I'll say it again. It was CROWDED.

6) We got butterbeer! It wasn't amazing, but it was cold, and I think it was 90 degrees outside. Also, they had a lot of people from England working this section of the park. I wonder why?

7) The line for the main ride seemed long, so we decided to bring our drinks with us. Then we bumped into one of Jillian's friends who happened to work there, and she put us through the express lane! It was so awesome! We didn't even have time to finish our drinks.

8) The ride was beyond awesome. Like, SO awesome. It was a combination of a projected movie thing and actual props jumping out at you. I don't want to ruin it, so I'll just put a brief warning that if you're afraid of spiders you should ask someone when to close your eyes, or just avoid the ride entirely (depending on the severity of your phobia) because it gets quite intense. But speaking as someone who is a complete wimp when it comes to spiders, it's worth the temporary fear. I promise.

9) After the ride, we decided it would be a good time to go to Ollivanders. It was one of two shops you can enter, and it's kind of a combination of several shops. Ollivanders was really Ollivanders + Flourish and Blotts + Owl Post. Honeydukes is Honeydukes + Zonko's. There is a line to get into Ollivanders (there's a line to get into ANYTHING in HP world, including the bathroom and restaurants), so we just looked around. There is so much cool stuff there that you could legitimately just sit around and absorb it all. For example...

10) They had Hermione and Harry's dress robes on display:

But back to Ollivanders, because there was so much cool stuff in there. Like the monster book of monsters (it moved every so often to growl at random people):

Also, it had a model of the solar system, which of course means you never have to take another astronomy class at Hogwarts:

And check out the BROOMS! They moved, and I had to fight every urge to get on them:

11) We then went into Honeydukes/Zonko's. It was a madhouse, and I didn't buy anything (because I just wanted chocolate, and Florida+Chocolate=hot mess), but it was so much fun to see all of the candy from the book.

In the Zonko's side of the store, they did not play around with the HP toys:

Fanged Flyers!

Pygmy Puffs!

Cool, right?

12) For lunch we went to the Three Broomsticks (DUH), and there was yet another line. Again, it was worth it. The inside of this place looks EXACTLY like it does in the movie, and I seriously think my heart skipped a beat.

13) I should mention now that it was raining on and off for most of the day, so the other cool coaster, The Dragon's Challenge, was also on and off for most of the day. After lunch, we decided to wait in the line of people waiting to get in line. Twenty minutes later, the uncomfortable and awkward location of the line (smack in the middle of the park) paid off, and we pretty much waltzed up to the coaster.

The downside of this, is not having sufficient time to soak in the atmosphere. Let me explain, because I feel like I need a DAMN good reason to complain about a line moving too quickly. See, the good people at Universal put a lot of effort to make HP world look genuine. I highly suspect that actual props from the movie were used. Here are the decorations JUST for the Dragon's Challenge:

Hagrid's Hut:

Ford Anglia (flying car from year 2):

Champion's Tent:

Goblet of Fire:

Triwizard Trophy:

Golden Eggs:

Do you get it now? Waiting is part of the experience. Sitting in the champions' tent after seeing dozens of posters rooting for the different Triwizard champions, it gave me goosebumps. So no, I'm not really complaining about the lack of lines, I'm just saying that if you go to the park, don't worry about waiting in lines.

14) Once we got off The Dragon's Challenge (which is an awesome coaster in its own right), we caught a dancing show! It's one of two that take place every thirty or so minutes. The other one is an a capella group with frog puppets. I didn't get a chance to see that one, but the dancing one was pretty fun!

Here are some pics:

Aaand a video:

Cool, right? As the girl in Hogwarts robes said, it's all in the name of international magical relations.

15) We browsed around the stores a bit more, and ducked into a few of the other parks (much to my dismay... I really could spend like, a week in HP world without blinking an eyelash), and then returned for another round on the main HP ride. This time, we got a LOT more pictures:

16) "The time has come," the Walrus said... It was high time to leave the park, so with one last picture (with the beloved Hogwarts Express), we headed back to the car for a lovely Italian dinner with Jillian's family.

It was perfect, and I would recommend any Harry Potter fan to get thee to HP world!

One last gem (Sorry for the picture overload!!!):