Like many people in my generation, I’m sure, I get really fixated on this song at the end of every year — ever since 1996 when I was in 8th grade and it came out.
Fun fact! Adam Duritz, the lead singer for the Counting Crows, dated Courteney Cox in the mid 90s (before she found David Arquette on the set of Scream). The letters that she’s reading in this video are actual letters that Adam Duritz wrote to her.
So anyway, the end of every year kind of feels like such a precipice, doesn’t it? You make it through something and you think, “Okay. Time for some changes!”
Tonight, when faced with the option to stay in or go to a Steelers bar with a group of friends to watch the pre-season game, I opted to stay home. I wasn’t feeling the bar scene, and I’m not a Steelers (or Giants) fan. Ultimately, after sitting in my room for an hour, I decided to take myself on a date to Barnes & Noble.
If you’ve ever read Truman Capote’s iconic novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (or if you’ve seen the toned down, Mancini-infused film adaptation), you know that when Holly Golightly has a case of “the mean reds” (translation: unlike having the blues, it’s when you’re feeling down but you don’t really know why), she heads to Tiffany’s to window shop. She doesn’t believe anything bad could ever happen to you there. I had a case of the mean reds tonight, and Barnes & Noble is my Tiffany’s.
When I got there, I browsed around the new fiction and nonfiction. I looked at the best sellers and the summer suggestions. I picked up and put back down a number of classics. My normal BN method is to roam up and down the fiction aisles for an extended period of time before moving on to other areas of the store. That didn’t work out for me tonight. After checking out the tables of books (does anyone else feel compelled to touch them sometimes? I could never use a Nook or a Kindle because I just love the feel of a book too much), I found myself looking at the magazine racks. In particular, I was looking for literary journals. There were too many people, and the magnet in the reference section was especially strong tonight. A few minutes later, after a brief stop to see if there were any new books on the Kennedys that might interest me, I found myself standing in front of shelves of books about writing, how to generate ideas, how to write effectively, how to find work writing, etc. Towards the bottom, I saw the magnet. It was the Writer’s Market 2011 book. If it had hands, they would have been all sassy and akimbo. It would have been raising its eyebrows at me. “You’ll never do it,” it would say. “Remember?” Continue reading →
When I crossed the 50,000 word mark to become a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2009 winner in November, I estimated that I would need somewhere around another 10,000 words to finish my novel. As of last night (I haven’t worked on it yet tonight), my word count was just shy of 67,800 words. Obviously, I grossly underestimated what it would take me to finish. I am, however, happy to report that I have the pieces coming together. This is good because virtually nobody knows anything about this novel. Literally, I think I’ve given only two people details, and even those were rather skimpy. Knowing that I struggle with endings, I’ve been very tight-lipped about it because I wasn’t entirely sure where it was going. Or rather, I didn’t know if it would work. Perhaps in the next few months I will get to a point where some of those who have expressed interest in reading it will be able to take a look at some of it. Continue reading →
As I write this, I’m sitting in the classroom where I first read about Romeo and Juliet and Miss Havisham: my 9th grade English classroom. A new teacher came into this room the next year, and while the teacher’s desk is now in the back corner as opposed to the front center, while the desks are now facing the back of the room as opposed to the front, and the blackboard has since been replaced by a white board, this room is still familiar. The same sickly green paint typically reserved for hospital rooms covers the walls, and the view out the window hasn’t changed (aside from the house across the street that burned to the ground and was rebuilt). I can quite acurately walk to the spot in this room where I sat and read Great Expectations. I can see the spot where the new girl was sitting in study hall when I wrote her a note welcoming her so that she would feel more comfortable here. She looked nervous. Where I sit right now is very near the area where I would rest my head against the side board during 9th period and wait for the day to be over.
I wasn’t a stellar student in 9th grade. I could have had amazing grades if I had just tried a little bit, but I didn’t really care. My attitude toward academics would change in a few months, but I was a much different person in 1997-98. Once the fog lifted off of 7th and 8th grade, arguably the worst two consecutive years of my life, I was actually relatively happy. In truth, I had just as much of a love-hate relationship with myself in 9th grade as I did 10 years later with the 9th graders I was teaching. But in my mind, it is always springtime when I think about 9th grade. Everything seemed just on the verge of happening: softball season would be starting, school would be over soon, summer league would start up, I would finally be done struggling my way through biology with a teacher who seemed to hate me for reasons unknown. Junior high would be over and high school would be starting. More importantly, I was making new friends, coming out of my shell a bit. New friendships are fabulous because there’s always that sense of, well, newness. Continue reading →