Friday, December 30, 2011 | By: Brianna

Little Things that Make Me Happy

So (SPOILERS!) I'm making a bulletin board for February on Random Acts of Kindness.  I'm doing a lot of looking into things that make people happy and little bits of kindness and all that jazz, and I found a list of lists of things that make people happy.  Little things.  So I thought I'd follow suit and write up my own list of little things that make me happy.  In no particular order...

  • Folded over potato chips
  • Burnt popcorn
  • Hugs
  • Warm socks
  • Cuddly old man sweaters
  • Cuddling in general
  • The smell of books
  • Writing with a new pen in a new notebook
  • Shopping for school supplies, even if I'm not actually purchasing anything
  • Wind farms
  • Black and white photographs
  • Ruffles (not the potato chips)
  • Getting in the car and turning on the radio to a song I know
  • Dancing in the aisles at the grocery store
  • Wax seals
  • Stamps
  • Finding change on the ground
  • Walking in the fire lane
  • Sitting at a campfire when it's just cold enough that the side of me facing away from the fire gets cold
  • A good hair day
  • Sudoku
  • Baby animals
  • When someone recognizes one of my references
  • Opening the door before someone knocks on it
  • Clean laundry smell
  • E-mails or messages from a friend I was just thinking about
  • Sunrises
  • Being able to read the French on random labels
  • Snail mail
  • Riding a bike down the gigantic hill on the bike trail through the forest preserve
  • Typewriters (the romantic old kind)
  • Those bells that you can ring on the front counter of certain stores
  • Fortune cookies
Sunday, December 25, 2011 | By: Brianna

Things I've Learned About Family

This holiday season I've gotten a chance to learn about my family and family in general.  I mean, the holidays means that you spend a lot of time with your family, so it only follows that I'll learn some little tidbits.  So here are just a few things I've learned so far this break and holiday season:

  • "I got this already!" is only a cute reaction when it comes from a 5 year old.  You will find this irritating regardless of how old the kid is.
  • Small children and dogs are similar in the sense that they know that you don't want to have anything to do with them...and they will attach themselves to you.
  • Always read the author's note.  If you don't, your book group will spend the majority of your group time talking about it.  Because no one read the book itself.
  • "Going on an adventure" includes disputing the distance to the library, driving there and making circles around the parking lot, searching for a movie, and then losing the car in the parking garage leading to a walk around the parking garage accompanied by whines of "Where's my caaaaaarrrrrr?!"
  • Seeing your cousins three days before Christmas means you get a ton of ideas for riddle tags.
  • "I don't know if I should eat mac and cheese."  "Then don't."  "But I kinda want some."  "Then eat it."  "But I..."
  • Cousin: The highest note I can hit on the trumpet is a high C.  Me: I can hit that with my voice... Cousin: Do it!  Me: *cough* I'm not warmed up...
  • Someone thought it was a good idea to stick their branding iron into dough and then into boiling oil and then my mother thought it was a good idea to replicate.
  • Make the protein powder optional.
  • Hanukkah pajamas are better than regular pajamas.  You don't celebrate Hanukkah.
  • Dish rags are better than paper towels.  This is a family dispute.
  • "At least it wasn't Snuggies this year."
  • Your uncle and your grandmother care about your feelings.  They too were scandalized by the questions you were asked at Thanksgiving.
  • Angel food cake = glorious
  • You will wake up when your parents start talking about how you're "out."
  • Your brother cares about you and your student debt.  He also knows you better than you think he does.
  • Your grandma is better at the "giving fire engine ornament gifts" game than your uncle is.
  • No, Grandpa, you can't have the angel food cake.
  • Your uncle gives the best book marks...
  • You're in college, but Santa will give you an inflatable lightsaber.
Saturday, December 24, 2011 | By: Brianna

We Need a Little Christmas

Yesterday I went to my friend Molly's house to help her make a buche de Noel.  Which for those of you (like me) who didn't know, is a Yule Log.  And when I say "help," I mean that in the loosest sense of the word because I did a lot of quality control.  And chocolate chip eating.  Though I did separate eggs.  Which was pretty cool.

Anyway, while making this baked magical goodness, the question of "why a log?" came to me.  So I'm going to attempt to explain three Christmas traditions before Googling them all and bringing back what I learn off the Internet.  Fun, right?  Heeeeere we go!

1. The Yule Log
A Yule Log is a delicious rolled up sponge cake frosted to look like a log.  It's usually decorated with sprigs of holly or pine needles and sometimes powdered sugar snow.  Part of the challenge of making a Yule Log is to make it look as realistic as possible.  You can even add mushrooms made out of meringue, but we didn't do that because it took too much effort and time.

Now, why a log?  Well.  In the olden days in Europe, there was a time when everything was scarce.  Food, water, sugar...dirt... The only thing that was plentiful was wood from the nearby forests.  So every year during Christmastime, families would go out into the forest and cut down a small bit of wood off a tree and bring it home.  There they had the option of either roasting it up and slicing it for a dessert after their scant dinner, or they could roll the log into the fireplace and have a single evening of warmth for the holiday.  Nowadays since everything is significantly more plentiful and heaters have been invented, the people of Europe remember their difficult times and make a Yule Log in remembrance of their predecessors' struggles during a time of need.  Plus cake is much tastier than tree.

Wikipedia informs me that the original Yule Log was part of an ancient fire festival to celebrate the winter solstice.  It also says that in some countries an entire tree was cut down to provide maximum warmth and endurance and that the thickest part of the tree was put into the fire first while the rest of the tree hung out into the house.  The connection between Yule Log and cake is unclear, just that the cake exists and it's meant to look like the log ready for fire.

2. Mistletoe
Well.  Mistletoe, if you didn't know, is poisonous.  So they actually hung mistletoe from the ceiling to prevent the nargles (J.K. Rowling knows...) from infesting Christmas parties around the world.  Unfortunately, those who knew about the poisonous properties of mistletoe were unaware that mistletoe actually attracted nargles. This meant that there were little buzzing creatures hanging out in households of ordinary and magical people alike.  The plant was hung in doorways to discourage nargles from entering the house, but when the host was seeing their guests off after the party they would kiss each person in turn.  It was then discovered that when kissing beneath the mistletoe, the nargles were lulled into a state of calm which ceased the buzzing.

Not only is mistletoe poisonous, but I've also learned (from Wikipedia) that some forms of it are parasitic.  Excuse me, they're "hemi-parasites" though they have some medicinal qualities.  Further, I had to look up kissing traditions to figure out why kissing under the mistletoe was a big deal.  References to kissing under the mistletoe didn't occur until the 18th century, and that was explaining that young men had the privilege of kissing a young lady if he met her under the mistletoe.  He would then pluck one of the berries from the sprig, and once all the berries were gone, that privilege ceased.  Otherwise it would be bad luck.  Although there's also a theory that the tradition hails from Norse mythology.

3. Reindeer
Reindeer are a thing because they live near the northern parts of the world.  So naturally when the legend-writers were looking for a steed for His Jollyness, the reindeer was the obvious choice.  A tribunal of reindeer has gathered every year since that time in an attempt to find a different steed for Santa Claus or at least to increase the rights of reindeer workers at the North Pole (they don't have the same rights as elves or anything).  Dasher and Dancer acknowledge the image of a flying reindeer is important to the winter holiday, but Comet maintains that they should just go underground and forget about the whole flying thing.  The fairies who provide the fairy dust and happy thoughts for the reindeer to use while flying agree that their resources are dwindling in this tough economy and that reindeer should be allowed a break too.

According to Wikipedia, the reindeer thing came from the poem "The Night Before Christmas," and we're all familiar with that.

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."
- W.T. Ellis
Friday, December 23, 2011 | By: Brianna

Poetry Friday -- A Spiral Notebook

Today's Friday, which means...Brianna's reading and analyzing poetry!  Excuse the video quality, or the lack of alignment of video and audio...I blame Youtube.

This Friday I read a poem by Ted Kooser called "A Spiral Notebook" which I found in Good Poems for Hard Times.  If truth be told, the reason I picked this book up was because the spine was yellow and it said "Good Poems," I didn't see the "hard times" until after I got it from the library.  Sometimes I play into blonde stereotypes...

The biggest thing that I noticed in this poem is essentially a gigantic description.  It opens on a simile comparing the spiral wire roll to a "porpoise / in and out of the calm blue sea / of the cover..." which is a good integration of the animal comparison and the physical attributes of the notebook.  It seems to me that the poem could have been taken in the direction of going crazy with the porpoise image or stayed along the lines (ha ha, notebook, lines...) of physical descriptions, leading me to believe that the speaker leaned toward the latter.  The wire is also compared to a "sleeper / twisting in and out of his dreams" with another simile.  So lots of simile going on here.

The poem also discusses the function of the notebook.  " could hold a record of dreams / if you wanted to buy it for that, / though it seems to be meant for / more serious work," perhaps recording serious thoughts.  Here the speaker seems to directly address the reader by acknowledging a "you" which carries through the end of the poem.

The announcement of the "5 SUBJECT NOTEBOOK" is in the center of the poem in all capital letters, drawing attention to itself.  This poem is also made up of only two sentences, and this line ends the first sentence.  This is where the poem turns, talking more about the subject of growing old and (consequently) growing up.  The comparisons become a little more abstract in that they're broader, comparing the uses of notebooks by the young and uses by the old.  Or older.  It touches on the anxiety a person might feel while clutching a single subject notebook, alluding to the idea that the shopper would have chosen and committed to a single subject.  All the while "passing / your fingers over its surfaces / as if it were some kind of wonder."

So "analysis" was optimistic here.  I'm feeling rusty.  I'm going to blame Winter Break.  We'll go with that.

1. Think about the possible uses for an object or a notebook.  Enumerate them poetically.
2. How detailed a description can you write of one simple thing?  Can you romanticize a clothespin?  A bookmark?
3. Write about something that children use and how adults use or view it differently.  I'm talking about how do kids use red pens differently than adults?  Or highlighters?
4. What would you stand in a drugstore and buy?  Talk about a Walgreens/CVS shopping trip.

"...but instead to stand in a drugstore
and hang on to one subject
a little too long, like this notebook
you weigh in your hands..."
- Ted Kooser in "A Spiral Notebook"

Itunes Shuffle Poem

I know today is Poetry Friday.  And the fact that I remembered this on actual Friday is a miracle.  But I'm going to provide this "original poem" (yay for creative punctuation!) and hopefully read and "analyze" a poem here later today.  Fingers crossed.  It's ambitious, but I think we can do it.  Ready...GO!

1. Open up iTunes or the equivalent (or if you prefer, use your MP3 player)
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Play 21 songs.
4. If you come across an instrumental song, skip it and play another song instead. Otherwise, no skipping!
5. Write down the first line of each of the first twenty songs. This is your poem. You can't change the line order, but you can group the stanzas however you like.
6. The first line of the twenty-first song is your poem's title.

Tell me where our time went
by: Brianna

We all know the girls 
that I am talking about,
this concrete road 
used to just be dirt.
I touch the fire 
and it freezes me midnight
bottle take me 
calmly through my memories.

There is no future 
there is no past.
Might fall in love 
but it's dead tonight.

"Think of me."

Maria Elena, 
you're an answer to a prayer
You left me.

What's left of me is in this room
(Coach said to fake right, 
break left.)
Are you going to live your life 
wondering, "Blackbird singing"
in the dead of night?
Just play a riff 
on my heartstrings.

I can think of younger days 
when living for my life...
my life is a series of 
actors changing places.
I'm lying here 
on the floor 
where you left me
So far away 
from knowing 
where I'm going.
What you forget?
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | By: Brianna

Sleepy Time

Q: What time's your bed time?

A: How do you know I have a bed time, hmm...?

Q: don't know!

A: Well it's pretty rude of you just to assume that I have a bed time, I mean, I'm over 20 years old.  I don't know very many 20 year olds who have bed times.

Q: Well...I...uh...

A: I usually fall asleep around midnight.  When I'm at school doing my homework, midnight hits and I cease being productive.  By that point, my bed starts calling my name and I just can't help but answer its call by brushing my teeth and leaping towards my pillow.  Which (if you've seen how my room at school is set up) is quite a comical image because I would have to leap and fly a little to get up onto my bed...which is lofted.  I've learned this midnight deadline through my repeated attempts at pulling all-nighters to finish my Senior Seminar paper last semester.  I would convince myself that I could take a nap and that I would wake up again, and then all of a sudden I would be asleep until morning.  Which was bad.

When I'm hanging out with friends (usually at school), midnight is the time at which I turn into a pumpkin.  Because I'm the carriage, not Cinderella.  (I have only just now realized this implication, and I find it hilarious.)  Anyway...I truly tell people, "I'm going to turn into a pumpkin soon, so I should take off."  Part of me wonders if my friends think I'm strange because of this, and the other part of me assures the first part that they already think I'm strange, remarks about pumpkins aren't likely to change that.

When I'm at home, it's a completely different story.  The house gets all dark around 10 PM because my dad's gone off to work and my mom's getting ready for bed it's weird.  Wandering around in the dark house just seems odd to me.  And it's really weird being one of the only two people awake (I say this because it's obvious my brother's still awake when I can hear him playing video games in the front one) so sometimes I end up passing out around 10 PM and waking up at whatever daylight hour I usually wake up at.  Which is usually 7 AM.  And then there are other times when I don't find the quiet strange.  When I actually want to stay up curled under a blanket with a good book and read under the horrible light until I'm sleepier or until it's at least a little closer to Pumpkin Time.  Or like last night I'll decide it's a good idea to read in bed until my pillow screams that I should sleep and so I rudely pass out while texting my boyfriend.  I'm so nice.

And I usually dream.  The last time I dreamt (Chrome, you know that's a word, so shut up), I dreamed that I was eating banana bread and talking to another RA about why he was quitting.  And that was the most normal dream I've ever had.  I've dreamed about training a person like a dog, I've dreamed about being lost in multiple schools, being chased by Teletubbies, killing kidnappers to save my family members, being in "CATS" again and not knowing the lines, directing a goes on.  And on.  In one series of dreams (this went on over the course of a couple nights) I was dancing.  Like ballroom dancing.  With random people.  Beauty and the Beast style.  It was awesome.

"Sleep is the best meditation."
- Dalai Lama
Sunday, December 18, 2011 | By: Brianna

The Rainmaker

It always sounded like thunder whenever anyone walked down this particular hallway.  Other meteorological beings liked to joke that the thunder was the sound made when the angels went bowling up in heaven, but all the children knew where the thunder actually came from.  And it was mostly because Reyes had butterfingers.

Reyes was the only one who worked in the Rain Lab, which was a good thing because chances were that no one would be able to work with him as he rushed from station to station in the small gray-painted room.  There was one window, and that was a false one made by Reyes' niece.  It was made out of paper cut and glued together and covered in glitter, showing the world as it would have been outside.  A rolling hill and a bright yellow sun which contrasted Reyes' usual frantic demeanor.

The Rain Lab was a curious place.  Three out of the four walls were covered from floor to ceiling with strange and complicated looking machinery made up of brightly colored knobs and buttons and cranks and switches. The fourth wall was a large shelving unit.  Each shelf was packed with boxes of varying sizes.  Shoeboxes, little jewelry boxes, and some the same size as a small person, and each box had a little yellow tag hanging off of them with printed descriptions of the contents.  One larger box was labelled "monsoon" and nothing else.  In the center of the room there was a hexagon-shaped console of sorts with a periscope attached to the outer bars of the console.  This periscope was lowered rather than raised so the Rainmaker could see the results of his work.  And I say "his" because the Rainmaker position had run in the male line of Reyes' family for about six generations now, so it was almost always assumed that the Rainmaker would be a man.  Anyway...

Today Reyes was in the process of making a snow storm for the Midwest region of the United States.  After turning a couple knobs and blowing a whistle or two, it seemed as if everything was going smoothly.  Reyes ran a hand through his sandy brown hair, ruffling it absentmindedly as he puzzled out what to do next.  He'd been perfecting this snowstorm for about a week now, and he wanted to have it ready for the Christmas holiday, but it just wasn't looking too great at the moment.  Reyes' stormy gray eyes found the piece of loose leaf paper sitting on the center console, a letter from a little girl in Chicago asking for a White Christmas.  And not just the Bing Crosby movie.  Picking it up, Reyes skimmed the scrawly writing again in search of some clue that would help him finish up this picturesque snow storm.

"And it would be really great if the snow would sparkle in the moonlight.  Okay, thanks!"

Sparkle.  Reyes leaned up against the center console and stared off at the window his niece had made for him.  The carefully cut rays of the sun, the crayon smudges that made up the hills and the glitter everywhere.  Glitter.  Reyes leapt to his feet (don't give me that, Google Chrome, you know "leapt" is a word...) as if something had bit him and he tore the handmade window off the wall, scraping some of the glitter into his palm.

"This should do the trick!" he announced to no one in particular as he scrambled across the room to a suction pipe under which he held his glitter speckled palm.  The pipe sucked up the glitter and the machine swallowed the little specks, making a satisfying clunking sound as it churned out a quality snowstorm into a milkcrate sized box.  Reyes grinned and packaged up the storm, labeling it for Christmas Eve before settling down to enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate after a hard day's work.

"I wonder what it's like to be the rainmaker.
I wonder what it's like to know that I make the rain.
I'd store it in boxes with little yellow tags on every one.
And you can come see them when I'm...done..."
- Matchbox 20 "Real World"
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | By: Brianna

A Letter to Hospitals

Dear Hospitals,

I am writing to inquire as to whether you are intentionally uncomfortable or not.  I only ask because upon visiting a hospital today, I realized that hospitals make me nervous.  Number one, because my dad and I got lost because the hallways are inconceivably complicated.  For no good reason.  Number two, because it's a hospital.

Being in Resurrection Hospital in the same season that marks the birth of Jesus made me giggle internally, and then I remembered that that was probably offensive, and I laughed a little more.  All in my head.  This was only because I noticed the Jesus statue near the entrance of the hospital.  And the chapel.  And the prayer room.  I had no idea that there were so many places for religion to live in a hospital.

That brings me to my other concern.  Hospitals generally hold people who are ill.  Sick.  And sometimes on their deathbeds.  That's what you think of when you think of a hospital, right?  The dead and slowly dying.  But it occurred to me while we were wandering the hallways today that people are born in hospitals as well.  A place where death and life mingle, get together and have lunch, is bound to make someone nervous.  Especially the superstitious, which I am not.  Not too much.  Just thinking about a nurse tending to a newborn baby and then going to aid someone who's a strange thought.  Although I realize that there are different nurses for different departments (or whatever they're called in hospitals), the same idea holds.  Just a little unnerving.

The rows of closed doors.  The wheezing.  The groans.  The people rushing from place to place with purpose.  I swear my dad and I were the only two people in the entire building who had no idea where we were going, wandering aimlessly as we tried to find the door.  The machinery.  Heart monitors, oxygen tanks, gurneys...

Hospitals, I would recommend adding some color to your decor.  The nameless paintings on your walls do not, in fact, add to the homeyness of your halls.  I promise that the pattern of your carpet does not make me feel like I could stay there forever.  And the white?  So sterile, and it makes me want to turn around and walk out immediately.

That is, if I can find the door.

A Concerned Visitor
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | By: Brianna

Favorite Lines

Q:  So what's your favorite movie quote?

A:  Um.  My favorite?  Of all time?  Do I have to pick one?

Q:  You mean you have more than one?  How do you know more than one movie quote?

A:  I watch a lot of movies...?

Q:  Fine...write a list...

A:  Awesome!  In no particular order...

1.  "I love this plan!  I'm excited to be a part of it!" - Dr. Venkman (Ghostbusters)
A big reason I love this quote is because it's so applicable to my real life.  I use it all the time.  It's always really great to see who gets the reference.  Luckily my boyfriend gets this one every time.  I get the feeling it's because we've seen Ghostbusters far too many times.

2. "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
This is a really good sign off for a yearbook.  I know this because I spent a good four years signing yearbooks with this quote.  Mostly because it's one of my favorite movies of all time, and also because it's insightful yet simple.  Besides, my uncle looks like Matthew Broderick.  Something I'll explain at a later date.

3. "But you know the thing about romance is people only get together right at the very end." - Love Actually
So this isn't one of my favorite quotes because I use it like the first two quotes, but I do quite enjoy this quote because it's so true.  It's said by the eleven year old adorableness who learns how to play the drums so the girl he loves will know he exists.  I adore that character and so there's really no reason not to like this quote...

4. "Inconceivable!" - Vizzini (The Princess Bride)
Classic.  This one shows up in casual conversation for me all the time, as do other quotes from this movie, but I couldn't quite bring myself to write "The Princess Bride in its entirety" as one of my favorite quotes.  This is my favorite movie of all time, and I can definitely quote it.  LOVE so much.

5. "She's safe just like I promised.  And she's all set to marry Norrington just like SHE promised, and you get to die for her just like YOU promised.  So we're all men of our word, really, except for Elizabeth who is, in fact, a woman." - Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl)
I love this quote.  I love this character.  So much.  So I have a friend named Elizabeth, and I was just dying for someone to ask me where she was so I could answer with this quote.  One day in Best Buy, someone finally asked me, and I may have made a scene as I was replying with this quote.  Elizabeth's reaction was also priceless.

6. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." - Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind)
I really wish this would come up in casual conversation more often, because then I would be as cool as Rhett Butler who really had a lot on his plate when it came to Scarlet.  Scarlette?  However you spell her name.  Yeah.  Famous line, really wish I could use it more often.  I think I may have used it properly once.  Hm.

7. "She doesn't even go here!" and "Four for you, Glenn Coco!  You go, Glenn Coco!" - Mean Girls
This movie is so quotable, which I never would have thought going in to watch it in the theatre back in the day.  But no, this movie is a lot more awesome than I thought it was back then, and these are definitely the two quotes I hear used/use myself the most often.  Or variations of these.

8. "It's just a flesh wound!" - The Black Knight (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
Love.  So much love.  There's really nothing to explain here.

9. "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses." "Hit it." - The Blues Brothers
This is one of the few movies that my father will watch with me and my brother, so by default I love it.  I also frequently use this quote regardless of how far from Chicago I am.  Yup.  Used all the time.

10. "You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking Nerf herder!" - Princess Leia (Empire Strikes Back)
I couldn't resist.  I can't say that I use this quote, but I love it.  It's a fantastic insult, up there with the insults from The Princess Bride insults at the end of the movie, and if I ever get the chance to use this insult, I may do a happy dance.
Sunday, December 11, 2011 | By: Brianna

Fairy Tale

Let's just start off by saying I love fairy tales.  So when Sunday Scribblings provided me with the prompt: Fairy Tale it was really easy to take things I had already written.  The first piece (the poem) is a little something I wrote for my Poem-a-Day project.  So it's really recent.  The second piece (the prose) is from my freshman year of college.  It's from a longer short story (that sounds weird...) so it's really just an excerpt, but you'll get an idea of what the rest of it's about.  I really love fairy tales.  A lot.  Enjoy!


October 3, 2011

Once upon a time
Snow White was allergic
to apples and
Sleeping Beauty had
Cinderella prefers flats
to heels.
Rapunzel’s afraid of heights
so she stays away
from the window.
This irritates the witch.

None of them ever met
          Prince Charming
for some reason.

Snow White fell
for her allergist
and Sleeping Beauty spent
the night with
the beast.
Cinderella…she didn’t go
She became a hermit
and bashed men with
her godmother.
Until they fell in love.
Then they moved out.
Rapunzel couldn’t take it.
She jumped and tried
to fly.
Her little heart stopped
before her body did.
Happily ever after.


“It’s rude to gape, you know.”
            Will spun around, the trees blurring together as he searched for the source of the voice.
            “You’re not very observant, are you?” noted the voice dryly.  It was then that Will looked down and saw what could be simply described as a frog sitting calmly in the grass, looking casually up at him.  Will felt as if his thoughts had been instantly wiped clean like deleting a file off a computer.  He took a couple moments to gather his wits about him until he regained the ability to at least stutter.
            “I…” the frog prompted.
            “You’re a frog!” Will spat out.
            “I’m a frog,” the frog said, clearly unimpressed by this conclusion.  “Why yes I am.  Thank you for stating the painfully obvious.”
            Will’s frown deepened as his frustration with the situation increased.  It was improbable enough that a frog was speaking to him at all, never mind mocking him.
            “But you can speak,” Will clarified, forcing himself to remain calm by biting the inside of his cheek.  “Frogs don’t have the right vocal chords to speak.  It’s impossible.”
            “Nothing’s impossible,” the frog said wearily, massaging his temples.  “Things aren’t always exactly the way you assume they’ll be. 
A frog’s giving me advice?  Will thought, raising his eyebrows skeptically.
            “Thanks for the advice, but I just want to get out of here,” he said aloud.  “Wherever ‘here’ is.”
            “That may be true, but you can’t.”
             “I can’t?” Will repeated.  He was reluctant to believe anything the little fly-eater said, but seeing no immediate solution to his problem, it looked like the frog was right.
            “No.  You can’t.  Not unless you stop irritating me,” the frog said, crossing his little arms over his little chest.
            Will pursed his lips and nodded once before setting off into the forest to find his own way out of this delusion.  The frog’s reaction was late, giving Will a ten step head start before he called after him, “Where are you going?  You can’t just waltz off, you don’t belong here!”
            “I’ll say,” Will muttered.
            Ignoring the frog’s jabbering complaints following him through the trees, Will continued on through the brush.  With his eyes glued to the ground, he would have smacked headlong into the tower had he not heard the chattering voice above.
            “Belle, he’s been completely beastly to you.  Rose or no, I say you have to get out of there.”
            Will raised his eyebrows and tilted his head back to get a better view of the tower-dweller.  She was a young lady with auburn hair, sitting at the window seat of a circular tower with no visible doors.  She was holding a handheld mirror before her face and speaking (it seemed) to her own reflection.  But the girl in the mirror was a brunette.
            “Hold on a sec, I think my pizza’s here,” the tower-dweller told the face in the mirror.  She then set it aside and hung out the window, squinting directly at Will.  “Hello?  Are you here to deliver a pizza?”
            “A pizza?”
            “Yes, I’m starved!”
            “Um.  Actually, no.”
            “Did you see a guy with a pizza anywhere?  It’s Hawaiian.”  The tower-dweller craned her neck and squinted her eyes, hanging so far out the tower’s window, it looked as if she would tumble to the ground.
            “Uh, no, I didn’t see anyone,” Will said, almost apologetically.  “I’m just trying to get out of here.”
            “You and me both,” the tower-dweller rolled her eyes and retreated to a safer position on her window seat.
            The frog, having finally caught up with Will, hopped to a halt at the teenager’s feet, positively fuming.  He sat silent, glaring up at Will.
            “But could you tell me where I am?” Will called up to the tower-dweller.  She was reaching for her mirror again, but let her hand drop when she heard Will’s question.
            “Regnum Nymphae est umbra terra peregrina, jacens prorsus ultra agrum intelligerimus,” she replied, as if quoting the words from memory.   The strange words sent a shock of recognition through Will.  His sister’s book.
            “What?  What does that mean?” he asked her, but she had already returned to her mirror.  Instead, Will turned to the frog.  “What does she mean?”
            The frog scowled bitterly at being reduced to a translator for Will’s convenience.  If he had had it his way, he would have let Will get eaten by a dragon, and then everyone’s problems would be over. 
The Realm of Fairy is a strange shadow land, lying just beyond the fields we know.”
The Realm of Fairy?  Will thought.  Now that the mysterious words had been given a meaning he understood, he felt somewhat cheated.  “That’s it?  I’m in fairy land?”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” the frog said, his obvious lack of sincerity showing in his wicked smile.  “But if you want—“ The frog cut himself off and looked past Will into the trees.  Whatever he saw caused his little amphibian eyes to widen.  Will’s face contorted with confusion.
“What wrong with you?” he asked.  But he received no response.  Instead, the frog turned around hopped off, each hop accompanied by a low croak.  Will smirked before another voice detained him.
            “You there, grim fellow!” called a voice that sounded like shards of glass being ground together.
            “Who, me?” Will asked, turning around and pointing at himself.
            An old crone (crone being a term that is used interchangeably with the word “hag” to describe ridiculously old women) was taking great pains to pick her way out of the brush that bordered the clearing.  She looked like she would shatter into a million pieces if she fell.
            “Yes, you, mud pie!” the crone replied, leaning heavily on her cane as she hobbled nearer.
            Mud pie?  Will thought, then decided it would be wise to remain silent.  Her yellowed and cracked talons looked as if they could tear anyone’s vocal cords to shreds and he didn’t want his to be next.
            “I have a task for you, flap-dragon.”
            Adding “flap-dragon,” to the list of terms to ignore, Will asked, “What’s in it for me?”
            The crone seemed to consider this for a moment, and then a wicked smile distorted her features.  “I won’t kill you where you stand.”
            If anything convinced Will of the sincerity of the crone’s threat, it was that smile.  The few teeth she had were jagged and looked as if they had never seen a glass of milk, much less a toothbrush.  And factoring in the bloodthirsty glint in her beady eyes, Will came to the conclusion that she was quite serious.
            “You’ve got a deal!” Will rushed to say, laughing nervously.  “What kind of task?”
            “I need you to deliver this to a girl with skin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony, and lips as red as blood.  She answers to the name Snow White,” the crone explained, pulling an apple from beneath her cloak.
            “Why aren’t you doing this yourself?” Will asked, narrowing his eyes.
            “I have an Antagonists Anonymous meeting, and this can’t wait until tomorrow.”
            “Can’t argue with that,” Will shrugged.  He took the apple from the crone’s skeletal fingers without really looking at it.  Now, 99% of people in the world would have been able to make the connection between an apple and a girl named Snow White.  And 100% of that 99% could name all seven of the seven dwarves and even hum the Disney tune that was widely associated with the little men.  But Will Grimm was a member of that 1% of people who were drawn to cult classics rather than pop culture and avoided Disney like the plague.  And fairy tales?  Those were his sister’s thing.  “Where can I find her?”
            “Just north of this clearing, follow the bluebells.” The crone nodded toward an opening in the trees and Will followed her gaze, noting the snatches of blue.  As he left the clearing, he could hear the crone bidding the girl in the tower to let down her hair or something.  Shaking his head, Will set off to follow the bluebells.

            He wandered for what felt like forever but was probably only fifteen minutes in reality.  Sweat poured off his brow.  His breath came quick and labored.  All the trees looked exactly the same, moss creeping up their trunks and green leaves.  And there were bluebells everywhere.
            Will scowled, looking every which way for a path, or (more importantly) for something to eat.
            “’Follow the bluebells,’ she says,” Will muttered under his breath.  “I’ll end up starving here surrounded by bluebells.”
Unbidden, Will’s eyes found the apple clutched in his right hand, and it looked absolutely tantalizing.  It seemed to be speaking his name in a pitifully tiny voice.  He brought it to eye level and stared at it.  What light there was glanced off its surface, giving it a surreal sheen.  It was absolutely irresistible and his hunger prevailed.  So Will took a bite of the apple and fell down dead.

"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
- G.K. Chesterton
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | By: Brianna

World's End

Today's Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is "world's end."  Really.  I thought that would have been considered two separate words, but fun's not!  How cool!

There are two separate definitions of the word which won't really surprise you when I paraphrase them:
1) The end of the world.  As in The Day of Judgement.  Apocalypse (fun fact, I had to spell "apocalypse" backwards for a game once, or maybe that was "hippopotamus"...)
2) The end of the world.  As in the furthest reaches of the world.  Where the sidewalk ends, as it were.

Thanks, Google!
This is really intriguing to me because "world's end" reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.  So this word of the day is really timely because my building's staff and others are planning on watching all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on Friday.  Which is going to be super intense, but I've done it before, and it's just one extra movie, so is it really that bad?  Besides, people watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy in one sitting all the time.  And there's nothing stopping me from falling asleep mid-sentence uttered by Captain Beckett.  Or just taking a walk.

As a rule At World's End isn't my favorite Pirates movie, but it's in second place to the first one because Dead Man's Chest is too much of a cliffhanger to hold my attention for long enough.  I resent that I went to see the second movie so many times in the theatre because all it was was a gigantic cliffhanger.  I don't meant to spoil it for anyone, but nothing resolves at the end of that movie.  It's a huge set-up for number three.

Bright side, number four wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I was worried about paying for a movie ticket, but luckily it was worth it.  Even though I don't really like the female lead with Johnny Depp...not enough chemistry if you ask me.

Anyway....I'm going to go take a final.  Two, actually, so we'll see how this goes.  Ta!

Barbossa: The world used to be a bigger place.
Sparrow: World's still the same.  There's just less in it.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Tuesday, December 6, 2011 | By: Brianna

Novel in a Month?

So this morning in my half-awake, half-asleep state, I started thinking about the possibility of my writing a "novel" or something of that magnitude over winter break.  Probably because Finals start today which means that I'm going to be spending a good amount of time pretending that it's not actually happening.

Denial is fun.

With this novel idea (ha ha...) what I'm trying to do is write it in the same way that NaNoWriMo works, but because it's going to be in December leaking into January (because that's when winter break is for Brianna...) I can't really call it NaNoWriMo.  But the idea is write a certain amount of words each day and end up with 50000 words at the end of the month, abracadabra, alakazam, you've got a novel!

My thoughts are that I need to practice my fiction.  I've been spending a lot of time on my poetry (as evidenced by Brianna's Poem-a-Day project), and I feel disgustingly uneven.  Plus if I'm going to take a fiction class next semester I should probably practice some over the break or I'll be just as rusty with my fiction as I was last spring, and then I'll run into the "let the Real Brianna write" dilemma all over again, and that would just be a nightmare.  And really depressing.  Point being, practice is needed.

My only concern is that I'm not going to come up with an idea that's remotely close to novel-worthy.  Not that I don't think that my idea would be worth writing a novel about, I'm talking bout the length.  What if my idea stops and resolves itself before I can get anywhere near a sufficient word count?  Bright side, I will have finished something and that would be new in and of itself.  (I don't finish things.  Writing things.)  Because let's face it, I'm not really worried about people not wanting to read it mostly because I probably won't try sharing it with people.  And that's mostly because it would be a rough draft and take me about an eternity to re-write and re-work the material.

I'm not even concerned about the time I would be investing, because I plan on continuing my Poem-a-Day project over the break (even though I won't have a Poem Keeper this month due to break) and I also plan on reading just about every piece of literature in sight, preferably the kind that has absolutely zero literary merit and if I try to analyze it that it falls apart in my hands.  That would be so nice.

I should make a book list.  Like now.

And then I remember Finals.  Oh right.  I have two tomorrow.  My book list can be made on Thursday.  Maybe.


On a slightly different note, in my Poem-a-Day project I've had people requesting that I write poems for them.  Which is flattering and nerve-wracking all at the same time.  Because once I've given someone a poem, I have to acknowledge that that version of it is done.  I can't revise it after I've given it as a gift.  Well, I can't revise that specifically printed and sent version.

Also, I'm never sure what to write.  Do they want a poem written about them?  Because that's a lot more difficult for me than one might assume...mostly because I find it difficult to write about people I know.  I always write them too perfect and then they're not really themselves but just a paper cut out version of themselves, and that's just silly.  And defeats the point of writing about them because it's not exactly a faithful representation.

So sure, I'll write a poem for you if you request it, but it may or may not send me into a bout of apprehensions based on the "roughness" of the draft or the fact that I'm writing about something that I know entirely too well.  What I'm saying is, if you're interested in getting a poem from me...topics are helpful!

"Writing is like prostitution.  First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money."
- Moliere
Sunday, December 4, 2011 | By: Brianna

P.A.D. November -- 11/18/2011

I'm procrastinating a little.  But this is a rough draft of one of the poems resulting from Poem-a-Day November.

November 18, 2011

The poet rolls
on the tile,
shouting in anguish.
She sweeps the floor
with every thrash
and gesture.

The poet stares
at Post-Its,
observing the fold and curve.
She sets them alight
in her imagination.

The poet wears
her notebook
on her head
and claims it helps
her think.

The poet twirls
her Bic pen
between knuckles.
The pen flips and soars
across the room.

The poet scribbles
on newspaper corners
after midnight
under blue cell phone

The poet plays
with the vegetables
on her plate.
She stacks greenbeans,
and smashes carrots
into an orange paste.

The poet learns
The poet

(Please don't steal my poem, this is an original work and it's all I have.)