Let’s practice writing scenery!
- Get a better job.
- Dress for the job I want, not the job I have.
- Write daily.
- Blog post weekly.
- Declutter my life (starting with my bedroom).
- Create healthier eating habits for myself (eat only when I’m hungry and learn to cook/make home-cooked meals).
- Be more active (go to the gym at least 4 times per week).
- Drink at least 64oz of water per day.
- Fit comfortably into a size 6 dress/pants (a size 4 if I’m ambitious).
- Keep in touch with friends/reconnect with old friends.
- Make less excuses for myself.
- Travel to Seattle.
- Take a minute to picture a situation from someone else’s perspective, especially when angry or irritated.
- Talk less/listen more.
- You have a dream journal, use it.
- Find a reason to smile every day (and actually smile every day)!
So, I’m going to be setting an alarm on my phone for my posting schedule so I can actually remember to do this, because apparently life and video games are very distracting for me.
Anyhow, among other fun and drama-filled trips I took this year, one of the more recent ones (and one of the most anticipated for me) would be the trip I took to New York City with my mom (October 27th to November 1st). Let me start by saying that I’ve wanted to visit NYC since I was a kid (maybe 7 years old?), since my family would tell me I had a Brooklyn accent. Born in raised in Orange County, California, nobody understood why I sounded like a miniature New Yorker.
So, the first thing I noticed about the city, was that inside of the JFK airport, there is a mall that is fully equipped with everything you don’t need from a Victoria Secret store to a Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift Shop.
My New York to-do list was pretty short (for a one week visit):
- See the Statue of Liberty.
- See at least one Broadway play or musical.
- Take pictures of tall buildings from a street view where the tall buildings frame the shot with cars going by.
- Touch the ocean.
- Go to the Bowery Poetry Club and listen to Spoke Word poets.
- Visit the New York Library.
- Eat New York style pizza (something my mom added to my list).
So, I was able to achieve everything except for #4 and #5… I didn’t know where the ocean was because so much of the water around Manhattan (where I was staying) was a Bay/Harbor or a river. I couldn’t do #5 because the poetry readings happened on Monday and my plane landed that Tuesday, so that was a bummer.
I was surprised at how incredibly nice everyone that I talked to was. I’m not sure if it was because I was in a touristy area or what, but everyone was incredibly helpful and pleasant to be around. I’ve heard a lot of talk about how tough people from New York are, but the people in Los Angeles are much more abrasive from what I’ve noticed, unless you’re driving. I will never drive in New York City. I think there is some shop out there that makes bank rewiring people’s cars to sound their horn when they tap their brakes… I wish I took a video of it.
What I did:
Took a tour bus around Downtown Manhattan and Harlem/Upper Manhattan.
- Saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
- Got rained on! Rain is still a thing outside of California, who knew!?
- Went to a park called the High Line.
- Visited the New York Library.
- Saw the Halloween Parade.
- Rode on the Subway.
- Saw 2 Musicals and 1 Play on Broadway.
- Had New York pizza.
- Had a New York hot dog from a street food stand (damn was it expensive at $5, but it was pretty delicious).
- Stayed in a shoebox of a hotel.
- Was mistaken for a local at numerous restaurants.
- Had New York Cheesecake in New York!
- Wore a snazzy coat and was still pretty cold even though the locals were saying the weather was warm.
- Got lost.
- Saw Time Square in the day and the night.
- Took over 700 pictures of buildings.
- Decided I will move somewhere in New York for something between 3 and 5 years before I am 35. New York is expensive though, so I’ll have to start saving up.
All of the shows I saw were fantastic. I saw Hand to God, which is not a show for everyone, but if you li
This show probably had the best musical score I’ve heard in a while. I got the album and have been listening to it for the past few days on loop and it still hasn’t gotten old… yet.
Oh my goodness, the food here! New York pizza kicks California Pizza in the face, and I love CPK (California Pizza Kitchen)! Note: I am not promoting any sort of face kicking here, this was just amazing food. Their cheesecake was something to be savored, like I don’t think cheesecake factory can even compete to that taste! If you like pastrami sandwiches, get one on rye (just ask around for a good sandwich shop, or if you’re human-phobic use yelp) and you won’t regret it… probably.
Another amazing thing I got to do was go to something called the starlight diner. I had a salmon bagel, delicious! But the coolest thing about this diner is that the wait staff sings and dances around the diner when they’re not serving. I know what you’re probably thinking, but these are people who are aspiring Broadway actors and they all had to audition for their jobs as servers. This will be a must for every visit I have to the time square area going forward. It was so much fun. Expect to pay a bit more, but it’s food and a show!
I could go on forever, really, not even exaggerating, this is a beautiful and amazing city! I can’t wait to go back, even though I saw a rat crawl into the subway grates in my first half hour in the city.
I’ll always be a California girl, but I can’t wait to live in New York (and hopefully work at one of the many publishing houses, even as an invisible cog).
I was making salsa. The kitchen was older and cramped, especially with all of us crowded around the counter. I’m not sure how many of us there were, but I remember using some left over salsa in the salsa I was making. I didn’t think it was weird at the time to put beans into my salsa too, but the people around me complained about it. I really didn’t think it was a big deal, so I grabbed a plate for my salsa, my bowl of finished salsa, and a martini then left.
I don’t remember walking to my car, but I do remember that once I was in it, my martini glass was full and placed in my cup holder. As I drove it didn’t slosh around or spill, although I was worried it might. I had chips and salsa on my front passenger seat that I ate as I drove, swerving noticeably as I was paying more attention to the food than I was to the road, but it didn’t seem to matter. The sun had already set and I was the only car on the road. The whole time, however, I was worried that I would get pulled over for drinking and driving, since the martini glass was completely out in the open. I sipped on it as I drove, and I seemed to be going for hours, although I wasn’t exactly sure of where I was heading.
Finally I came to a street called ‘Ambrosia.’ I put the salsa plate in the back seat of my car and downed the rest of my drink just in time for a motorcycle cop to pull up beside me at the Ambrosia intersection. I dropped my glass and the officer didn’t seem to notice, because when the light turned green, he drove off and I turned left and parked my car on the side of the road. I walked over to the other side of the sidewalk and followed it down the street.
As I continued down the street, which looked fairly unfamiliar to me, I had a memory of a woman that claimed she got powers of premonition or some other magic at one of the abandoned shops. I peered in through the glass and the place was barren. I wasn’t sure how old the memory was, but it was clear that nobody had occupied the store for a long time.
Suddenly, the woman from the memory was beside me. She warned me not to go into the empty shop front. That there was something evil lurking behind the glass doors, but I couldn’t feel any presence. It was finally apparent to me that I was some sort of exorcist or medium. I followed a feeling of an evil presence down the street. I was guessing the woman had been mistaken and this was where she really meant her powers came from.
I came to a stop at the end of the block. There was a very dark presence in a small L shaped hallway lined with cabinets and other large objects. It appeared the entire store was a simple L shaped hallway with 2 entrances and what appeared to be some sort of storage center in the corner keeping the room from being a simple square. The presence grew stronger as I entered the room, and I saw mouths form on the walls and objects that lined the shelves and cabinets. They began to speak while people appeared out of nowhere to chant along with them, mimicking every word they said.
Eventually the mob grew too large to fit in the small L shaped room and began flooding the streets. I had no idea where the mob had come from or if they were even human, but I stood there at one of the shop entrances and watched as the crowd, in unison, obeyed each command the disembodied voices gave.
Sorry for my tardiness on this post… without further ado, my review!
Disclaimer: I try not to include any spoilers in my review, however, it’s possible that I give parts of it away by describing my outlook on it. Please understand that these are my opinions on the book and I do not expect everyone to share my thoughts.
What is it?
This Sci-Fi/Dystopian book takes place in the near future of 2044, where there is a global energy crisis, overpopulation, and in general, less than satisfactory living conditions. The book, however, does not dwell much on this veering it away from dystopian and into the world of science fiction. The majority of the book takes great lengths to describe a virtual world, where most of the world’s population tends to spend the majority of their days.
As an avid gamer and full-time all around nerd, I thoroughly appreciate all of the thought and research that had to be done in order to create the near-future world of Ready Player One. Although I am not terribly familiar with 80s pop culture, Cline accurately described many of the games, music, and movies I do know, without giving too much detail as to pull me from the created world. Likewise, he was able to put just enough description into his writings of references I was less, or even reading about for the first time, to allow me to picture them vividly.
The style that the book was written made the fast-paced action scenes both easy to visualize and decently suspenseful, the book was immersive and enjoyable for anyone’s inner nerd/geek/enthusiast. I was also pleased when I heard the Wil Wheaten audio book version of this book. It was very well read and I was pleasantly surprised, as I typically am not as captivated by books on tape as I am sitting down with their printed counterparts.
The Not-So Good
Although the majority of the book was filled with suspense and page-turning action, there was a thin love-interest plot blanketed over the main story. There were also many parts of the story that I now refer to as “filler” where they really didn’t do anything to drive the main part of the story or build character and just seemed to be used as a “cool-down” or “calm part” between battle scenes. Another disappointing point to the book was that the main character seemed to always have luck on his side, which ruined a lot of the believability of the story for me.
I would recommend this book. Even if you are not a die-hard nerd, you will have no trouble following along. This book is an easy read with a story that’s different than anything I’ve seen out there.
Writing Prompt #2
Think about an event that happened today. Who was around you? Pick one of the people in the room or area and try to imagine what it was like to be them during this event. Write out the event from what you would imagine their perspective would be. For an extra challenge, try to pick someone who is the opposite gender as you. This should be written in the first person.
What this will accomplish: This will help you to understand how something that may have happened directly to you could have been seen by another person. This will allow you to create more realistic character responses when an action happens to a side character (or how to better write your main character when something happens that does not directly affect them). Furthermore, this will allow you to better empathize with not only your main character, but with your side characters when creating a believable scene.
Writing Prompt #1 Response
Personality #1: Jenny
Jenny’s work days were always just a little too long with never enough to occupy the 8 hours she sat cramped in her cubicle. The pay was decent, but she knew this wasn’t what she really wanted to do. After all, who really wants to be an underwriting assistant for a life insurance company? By the time the clock struck 5:00 PM, her computer was already powered down and she was pretending to rearrange the pens and paper on her desk.
She joined her co-workers in their mad dash to the elevators, where they crammed in as closely as they dared for such a professional place. Her black ’09 Honda Accord waited for her in the parking structure, ready for her to tuck herself into it and make the commute back home. She sighed as she realized that her high school sweetheart of a boyfriend, Dave, would still be at work, as he was asked to stay late every other Friday.
Connecting her phone to her car’s Bluetooth, she listened to her driving mix as she let her mind wander through the haze of red and green traffic lights. She wondered if she would ever make her way back to a city. She had gone to college in Los Angeles, but had to move back to Phoenix after graduation. Sure it was a city, but it wasn’t LA. She sighed as she dreamed of working anywhere artistic, with a huge desk and a corner office. But her heart grew heavy as she knew Dave would never go. He used to visit her in school telling her stories about how drivers tried to run him off the road on the way there, and how bad he felt for the homeless people who stood on the freeway off-ramps.
She pulled up to a brown house with red accents. The clock on her dashboard blinked 5:45 PM and let her know that she was listening to Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” She let the song finish playing before she realized that she had accidentally driven herself to Dave’s house, instead of her own. Damn autopilot, she thought to herself before spotting Dave’s car in the driveway.
Maybe they didn’t make him work overtime today? She said to herself as she grabbed her purse and locked her car before checking her reflection in her car’s back window. She quickly fixed her hair and hurried to the front door.
He answered the door with his shirt half tucked in and his hair flattened on one side. His pants were unbuttoned and his hand sat at the waistband to hold them up. His smile dropped when he saw his girlfriend’s face staring at him with a look of horror and disbelief.
“Do you need cash for the tip?” called a female from down the hall.
An awkward silence hung between the two of them before Jenny decided to speak. “I don’t recall you mentioning changing your career. Maybe if you do a good job, your boss in there will offer to pay for the whole delivery next time.”
With that, Jenny turned on her heels and began the agonizing walk to her car. She clutched her stomach as she heard the creek of the front door, but didn’t break stride. Tears burned at the corners of her eyes as she heard him fumbling around for the right words to say. She couldn’t explain it, but she was actually happy. Her life was unfurling at the seams, but at least she would finally allow herself to move to a real city.
She made it to her car and heard her engine roar to life. She didn’t even glance over her shoulder, she wouldn’t grant him the satisfaction. On her way out, she passed a car with a Pizza Hut cone lit up and fixed to the roof.
Personality #2: Teresa
Teresa’s work days seemed to fly by. She never really had too much to do and it was happy to take her time to make sure everything was filed flawlessly. The pay wasn’t bad either. Enough for her to have her own apartment, a 401K and a savings account that she often referred to as her “dream home bank account.” Though most people might see her job as boring, she knew she was making a difference in people’s life with what she did as an underwriting assistant.
It was 5:00 PM and she watched her co-workers race to the time clock as she began saving her files and powering down her computer. When the crowd cleared she walked down the 4 flights of stairs with her headphones in and mouthed the words to “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. She sighed as she realized that her high school sweetheart of a boyfriend, Charles, would still be at work, as he was asked to stay late every other Friday.
Connecting her iPod to her car’s Bluetooth, she sang along loudly and a bit off key to her bubblegum pop driving mix. Through the haze of red and green traffic lights, she began daydreaming about how she wanted her house to be, 4 bedrooms at least. One for her and her future husband, one for each of her two kids, and an office, in case she ever had to work from home if her kids were ever sick.
She pulled up to a brown house with red accents. The clock on her dashboard blinked 5:55 PM and let her know that she was listening to Toybox’s “Best Friend.” She finished singing along to the song before realizing that she had accidentally driven herself to Charles’s house, instead of her own. Oops! Autopilot! she thought to herself before spotting Charles’s car in the driveway.
Yay he’s home! Guess they didn’t need him to stay late today! She said to herself, flipping down the visor’s mirror and touching up her mascara then pulling a few stubborn hairs back under her bobby pins. She bounced out of her car, locking the door behind her and skipping up to the door while humming “Doctor Jones,” the next song on her playlist.
Charles answered the door with his shirt half tucked in and his hair flattened on one side. His pants were unbuttoned and his hand sat at the waistband to hold them up. His smile dropped when he saw his girlfriend’s face staring at him with a look of shock and horror.
“Do you need cash for the tip?” called a female from down the hall.
An awkward silence hung between the two of them before Teresa decided to speak. “Who was that?” was all she could think to say.
“Nobody,” replied Charles, stepping out of the doorway and closing the door most of the way behind him, stopping the screen from falling and making too much of a racket.
“But you… have you been seeing her every time you told me you were working late?” She asked, voice cracking as her tears smeared her freshly applied eyeliner down her cheeks.
“No Teresa, of course not, I mean, it’s not like that!”
“No? Then what is it like?”
“Well I’m not the one trying to keep tabs! I mean you shouldn’t even be here! You thought I was working!”
“Oh so it’s my fault!?” Screamed Teresa.
“Who is that?” called the female’s voice from down the hall.
“Nobody!” yelled Charles, I’ll be in there in just a minute sweetie!”
“Oh, so that’s who I am? Nobody?”
“No, baby, you know what I mean.”
“No Charles, I don’t.” said Teresa wiping the tears from her face and successfully smudging her make-up into darker black streaks. She pushed past Charles and into the house. “Put your clothes on and stop fucking my boyfriend you home-wrecking whore!” Teresa shouted as she stomped down the hall.
“Teresa!” yelled Charles tripping over his pants as he chased after her. “Please don’t do this!”
“No? Why? Give me one good reason. I’m with you for the better half of 11 years and this is what I get? Fine! You can have her! And you in there!” she yelled down the hall, “maybe you should think before you drop your pants! Did you really think that giant pink stuffed teddy bear in the room was his? Are you seriously that dumb? Or are you just that desperate?” She shoved Charles out of the way, making him trip over his pants and fall in the hallway. When she opened the door to leave, there stood a woman in a Pizza Hut uniform, a heater bag in one hand and a bill in another.
“Hi miss, that will be $38.95 will you be paying with cash or card today?”
“Ask him, maybe if you smile pretty, he’ll drop his pants for you too.” Teresa ducked around the delivery girl and began walking to her car, being sure to stomp on each plant she had bought and placed in Charles’s garden.
I started off as an observer, like a camera person, or an audience member magically looking in onto another’s life. I did not know who the girl in her early 20’s was, but I had a strange connection with her, understanding her thoughts, but distanced enough to be unable to affect them.
She had been pacing her room since before I’d arrived, wondering how to gain the attention and affection of a boy she’d just started crushing on. This irritated me immensely, as I somehow knew she also had a boyfriend. She kept telling herself that if she only had another room that she could use, she would be able to convince her crush to date her, and that would solve all of her problems. Her room was a pastel pink. Like something you would expect a young girl to live in, ruffles everywhere. I rolled my eyes as she made her way to the windowsill, one of the ones that had a sitting area under the window that popped out just a bit, typically seen in a Victorian styled house.
She stared at the carcass of the abandoned house that sat outside her window. It was a small, two bedroom home that was a dark wooden brown color, possibly because the entire thing was made of an unpolished, unfinished wood. The entire house sat atop stilts that held it up 2 or 3 stories in the air. It had a long single 45 degree staircase that was a straight shot from the ground to the front door. The house was abandoned long ago, and to me it looked structurally unsound, especially with how skinny the pillars it sat on were.
It was immediately apparent that she did not share my fears about this house, as she grabbed her backpack and raced up the rickety old stairs, which didn’t have a handrail, and up to the door of the tiny house. It wasn’t until she opened the door and stepped into the living room, that I realized the entire house was smaller than my first apartment. The living room was about 10 feet by 15 feet and seemed to also include the kitchen. The room was very dimly lit though, so I really couldn’t tell. Straight forward, about 10 feet from the front door, there was a small bathroom, and to the right of the room, in the center of that wall, maybe 7 feet from where the girl stood, was a door to a bedroom.
I followed the girl through the door and into a small dusty bedroom. Carefully, she placed a pearl necklace on the bed and took out her laptop to video chat with her crush. I had a very uneasy feeling about all of this, like I was not supposed to be there, like I was somehow invading someone else’s space, but another glance at the bed reassured me that nobody had been here for a while. Even though the house wasn’t lived in, and the bed was made and fairly clean, but everything else seemed to be dusty, the way a movie would portray an old abandoned room or house.
Around the time I finally relaxed about the trespassing thing, I heard the front door open and close quickly followed by the girl telling her crush that she had to go and that she’d talk to him later. All of her panic and worry flooded into me as soon as her laptop snapped shut. It mixed and stewed with mine as we both heard two distinct sets of footprints flood the tiny wooden living room.
Before either of us had time to reach the door and peek out at whomever just entered this supposedly abandoned property, we heard a deafening gunshot. Without thinking, I cracked open the large wooden door of the room we were in and saw a balding man in his mid 50’s. He was standing over a woman in her late 70’s who was writhing in a pool of her own blood on the hard wood floor. The man had his back turned to the doorway that I was staring from, but I could clearly see the handle of a pistol sticking out of the back of his pants. The man stepped around the woman and grabbed her arms, dragging her to the bathroom while her body twisted in pain trying to resist him.
I must gasped or made some sort of noise to alert him of my presence, which shocked me, as I wasn’t really aware I could be seen, or heard. I mean it made sense that I could be seen, but up until this point, nobody had paid any mind to me, especially the girl I had been following. He held his finger up to his lip in a shushing manner and told me in a deep, calm voice that I would die too if I so much as hinted to what I’d seen. I nodded, promising that I wouldn’t speak, fear creeping through my entire being as I saw the woman twitch on the floor. I closed the door and sunk to the hard wood paneling that seemed to spread through the entire house, unsure what to do.
I pulled out my phone to dial 9-1-1, but I wasn’t sure if that would just make things worse. I didn’t know if they could get worse, but I sat there, imagining the police trying to storm the place, but getting shot one by one as they entered the small shanty on stilts with only one narrow entrance. Besides, I thought, after he killed them, I knew this girl and I would be the next targets, with no hope of escape.
I decided to tell the girl who was with me what I had seen. We were both hiding behind the bed, knowing that it would block anyone’s view of us if they were to open the door. Apparently, she could see me too. Her eyes grew wide and wild when I told her what I had seen, and what the man said to me. We decided to run, to bolt for the front door at the same time and hope we could make it down the stairs with our lives. I pulled the door open a crack. I didn’t see the man, but the bathroom door was closed. I could still see the puddle of blood in the middle of the living room floor. It was at this point that I noticed the other bedroom of the house, on the right hand side of the wall opposite the room we were in, had at least a dozen people huddled in it.
A sad state of knowing loomed above me and I wholeheartedly regretted not calling for help. There wasn’t much I could do about it now though. I followed the girl out the front door and we raced down the old steps of the house. There was a lush green lawn that lay between the abandoned shanty on stilts and her home. We had somehow made it all the way to her house without any more shots being fired, locked the door behind us, and took a deep breath of relief. Once safe in her kitchen before I told her what I had seen in the other bedroom.
Her face dropped, she was horrified. She told me that we couldn’t go back, and that if we called the police, they would all be dead as soon as the man heard the sirens, and that we might all be. I hadn’t realized it, but in the kitchen with us was a larger man in his mid twenties. He had been listening to our whole conversation, I think he was the girl’s cousin, or brother, but I really didn’t know for sure. He told us that we were being ridiculous and that the old house on stilts had been abandoned for years, and he would prove it. We told him not to and tried to stop him, but he was much stronger than the two of us combined and simply shrugged us off before beginning his trip to the house.
By this time, the girl’s entire family had gathered around the kitchen’s screen door, which had a direct view of the front door to the house on stilts. I told them to close the door and get away, but they all just stood there and watching the young man climb the steps to the house and disappear behind its front door. I could feel my voice crack as I yelled to them to run, to leave this house to flee to safety, but my cries went unnoticed, or just ignored. I stood about 5 or 6 feet back from the crowd, still able to see the grass between the houses.
By the time I had heard the family’s gasp of horror, it was too late. The young man was sprinting across the lawn yelling for his family to run when I heard the gunshot, watched as his shirt turned crimson and saw him slump to the ground. The man from the abandoned house was behind him barreling towards the door. I yelled for the family to run, to lock the door, to flee, but none of them moved. It was like they were stuck there, frozen in time. By the time the man had reached the front door, I knew I needed to leave.
As I was inching toward the door on the opposite side of the house, I looked over my shoulder and saw the man had produced a large knife from somewhere and the floor near the kitchen door was splattered red. I threw open the screen on the opposite side of the house and began running. I wished I had been wearing shoes as I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and dialed 9-1-1. I cursed myself for not doing this sooner, when I was in the house on stilts, and couldn’t help but feel responsible for the slaughter that was probably still going on at the girls house, the girl who was my age.
When the operator picked up I whaled at her that I needed help immediately. Screaming that there was a crazy man murdering people and that I was running for my life, but he had a gun and I didn’t know if there was anywhere I would be safe. The woman calmly asked where I was and I screamed something about my cell phone having GPS and that she should use it to find me. I then realized I knew the address of the house I was running from, and told the lady on the phone where to go. I also told her the name of the gas station that I was approaching, that I planned to hide in.
When I got to the gas station the clerk looked at me in horror. I didn’t blame him though, I frantically explained to him the situation, as he stared at the bloody footprints I was leaving in his store, apparently the ground was in worse condition than I thought. The clerk had a shotgun and a handgun, the later of which he handed to me, and let me hide behind the desk, knowing my footprints would be a giveaway. I told the clerk to be careful, and that it might be best just to hide. He heeded my warning, ducking behind the counter-top on the other side of the station.
The cops were taking too long to get to me. I heard the door open and the armed man enter. I knew he was trying to eliminate all of the witnesses, and that he wouldn’t rest until I was gone. I crawled out of my hiding place behind the desk when I saw him approaching the clerk’s hiding place. He shot at me, and somehow missed. Instinctively, I shot back, aiming for his hand. He dropped his gun, but had another in his other hand that I hadn’t noticed. He shot at me again, I thought he missed, but I couldn’t be certain, too much adrenaline was coursing through my veins to pay enough attention to if I had been injured. I shot at his other hand and his knee. He dropped to the floor of the store and I, still crouched down, leaning against the counter, heard the sirens of the oncoming police. I squeezed my eyes shut, the nightmare had ended, and I was finally awake.