Back to Reality

[Does anybody else get that Soul II Soul song running through their brains when they see that phrase? I don’t know why that happens. All I know is Soul II Soul seems to have found a home deep in my soul and they’re not leaving.]

So. It’s been a while. A looooong while. A long, eventful while. I’ve been running about and adventuring and breaking shoes and making music and also avoiding bloggery at first due to business and a bit of ye olde writers’ block, and then due to crippling shame at the state of my poor abandoned blog. It’s really become quite a hovel of a blog lately. An empty hovel. Tragic.

[I have to interject here that I just realized that “business” is a word that can signify something other than busy-ness. I really was just busy. The plans to become a worldwide corporate kingpin are in the works, though.]

But the great thing about these creative Internet pursuits is that no matter how long you leave ’em or how far you drift away, they’ll always be waiting for you when you return, ready for you to get back on that creative pony (one-trick or otherwise). No hard feelings. I love it. Whenever you’re ready to start storytelling again, at your own pace, you’ve got this open forum for it, with no deadlines in sight to scare you away. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anyway, since it has been such a long, eventful, while, I’ve got a regulation-sized-dump-truck-load of tales to spin from the summer months, and maybe even some new, exciting current tales of daring and foolhardiness (mostly the latter on my part, heh).  So, let this be the official kick-off to the What I Did On My Summer Break series! It’s like those school reports you had to do every year, only I actually did them this time!

Next up:

Summer Break #1 : The Time I Met the Mayor 

(In a house. At a concert. That I didn’t attend. This one’s a keeper, promise.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB54dZkzZOY

Mediocre Guitar Playing Controls the Weather!

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s story time, ladies and gents! Our last storytime featured a heartwarming tale of strangers on the bus. And now, to follow up, a riveting history of a not-good guitar player and the secrets of apocalyptic weather control.

It’s a dull grey afternoon. The kind of afternoon where time is both sluggish and flying by far too fast to make any kind of use of it, where the world is sleepily quiet and everything feels vaguely like it’s submerged underwater. Slow.

You are unproductive. You are lazy. You are booooored. And, suddenly, you want to play the guitar.

You’re not very good at the guitar, though. You’ve been practicing for a little while, and progress is being made, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t sound a little bit like the solo-guitarist equivalent of an elementary school concert band. Jangly and out-of-tune and a weird mix of OVERCONFIDENT LOUD and easily confused quiet. You are the full sonic experience.

But hey, it beats trying to blow smoke rings with tea steam. So you pick up the guitar, rattle through some warm-up type things, and then decide you’re going to attempt a song. Something easy that isn’t Hot Cross Buns….hmmm….

And the merciful Google gods through you a bone. “Bad Moon Rising”. A song you legitimately enjoy! And it only has three chords! AND they’re chords you can roughly approximate! Newly enthused, you squint at your chord chart for a little, jumble your way through the song once or thrice six times at largo speed, and then – sooner than you dared to dream – you’re actually playing the song. It sounds right. You’re a god. You’ve just gotten into a real guitar-jam mode when

THE SKIES OPEN UP

RAINS LIKE THERE HAVE NEVER BEEN BEFORE

WIND LIKE THE END OF DAYS

A STORMPOCALYPSE

You’re distracted by your happy jangling at first, but after a few minutes you become slightly concerned and put down the guitar (after finishing this round of “Bad Moon Rising”, of course). And, as soon as you’ve stopped half-singing, half-strumming about portents of doom, the weather calms itself right down and toddles off somewhere else. We’re right back to the same old sleepy-aquarium day. You’re left with only one conclusion.

Your guitar-playing controls the weather.

Makes you wonder, what sort of havoc could you wreak if you could legitimately play guitar?

Classic Rock Revolution

I read a newspaper article this morning that mentioned the fact that the modern world is apparently experiencing a classic rock revival. The old becomes new, and the new…conveniently goes away so that we can have more Led Zeppelin and less LMFAO using Led Zeppelin puns.

HALLELUJAH

I experienced my own classic rock revival last summer, around the era of the Great Classic Vehicle Longing of 2012. So the news is good news for me, I’m all about old-school badassery (and crochet. Heh). But, in truth, I’m not seeing this so-called comeback too much in my daily putterings (you know, badass putterings). Despite the elated author of that article claiming that her grandchildren have the same musical tastes as her, I have yet to see much in the way of classic rock infiltrating my peer group. There’s a sub-group of young adults, of course, but it seems to me the ever-present Top 40-type jams are still the reigning deity in the Church of the Ear-bud. To each their own, of course, but I can’t help but think that modern music could be vastly improved if we could take at least a few leaves out of the classics book. I like my healthy portions of dramatic background harmonies, freakishly difficult keyboard solos, and generally ridiculous musicality to round out my iPod.

And less “Led in our Zeppelin”. Okay.

Stream-Of-Consciousness Blogging

I’ve always dreamed of becoming a published writer someday, and lately I’ve decided to try to get a little bunny-jump on someday by sending in some of my longer writing (despite my perfunctory blogging, I’m actually quite fond of five-pages-and-up-type stuff) to a few of the local literary journals, to see what we can see. I tried this once before in the twelfth grade and it ended up being rather more successful than planned. 

No, I didn’t get published. But I did get some very nice compliments and some very useful critiques from the editors who received my very tentative forays, and that’s a pretty big deal for a first-timer. Not to mention really quite helpful. Tips and tricks everywhere! 

The one thing with writing these longer storylines- actually, any storyline- is that I tend to encounter a minor crisis somewhere in the middle of each one where I realize that oh dear Lord I’m not smart enough to finish this plot. It’s got a very promising intro, I’ll set up all the characters, have the tension bubbling…but I can find the cleverness to spin out a really nice dramatic plot arc. And then, for a little, the whole thing inevitably falls into awful, half-desperate-attempt-half-critical-sarcasm pseudowriting. Like stream-of-consciousness brainstorming. A short story with an added panicky inner monologue. Niiiiice. 

Usually I manage to pull the poor bedraggled story out of the bayou and back into a reasonable plotline, but of course there remain a few of my would-be works that run a little bit like, “The smoke cleared, realization dawning upon holy crap where is this going I don’t have a plot here ohmygodwhatisgoingonandwhythehelldidInamethatmaincharacterLorettagaddangitnononoooo-“

This is why the sending-writing-to-people becomes a long process. And this is why, even in my little bitty paragraph-blogs, I must edit. Because stream-of-consciousness a la Blangert is a leeeeeeetle bit iffy.

Ich bin der Liebster?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHIdon’tspeakGermanatallllllllllllllllll

But anyway. I do believe my dear friend Emily (who I know in my real life, and who I have definitely seen before, and totally held conversations with, and do not simply associate with through casual creeping, no sirree do people still say sirree?…) has nominated the Blangert for a blogward! Oh, that’s not as nice a word as it should have been. The Liebster Award, as I have surmised from my personal friend Google, is an award for bloggers with under 200 followers, and has an interesting focus on the number 11 that may speak to some sort of hidden psychological trauma. And it’s participatory!

Firstly, all my thanks to the lovely Emily for the nomination (seriously. Go read her blog. You could be getting cultured and you’re reading a blog with a soliloquy about overripe carrots on the front page. Shame). I’m really, really touched, love. And I promise I’ll use this as a motivator to keep at it.

And now, on to the fun part! ELEVENSES

-ELEVEN NOMINATIONS:

1. Robin’s Wanderings

2. I Believe in Later

3. Grammarsaurus Rex

4. Whirling Words

5. Hirsh and Oh Trees!

6. The Ramblings of Another

7. Pertaining to the Present

8. Stockholmthedj

9. Remain a Girl

10. Imagery Tales

11. Black Star Rujabes

[Some of you I know personally. Some I’ve been following for some time, and some I’ve been creeping upon for some time and only followed this afternoon *I’msorry*. But still. MUCH APPRECIATION TO BE HAD]

-ELEVEN ANSWERS:

1. The last time you did a cartwheel? I only found out how to do cartwheels last summer, and I clearly remember the last time I did one. It was August 2012. It was scary, and I hurt my wrists a bit, and I wasn’t quite sure where my legs were going, so I decided to just put a hold on my cartwheels for a bit. Although I’ve recently discovered how to do headstands and I just did one about half an hour ago, thankyouverymuch.

2. Your secret passion? NONE OF MY PASSIONS ARE SECRET, I LET IT ALLLLL OUT! No, seriously, though…besides my pretty public fine-artsy type passions…I suppose one that’s a bit more secretive is my passion for ghost shows. Because it’s a bit shameful and I don’t share that one with casual acquaintances. But yes. Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, Most Haunted…I watch them all with glee.

3. Something special that someone gave to you? A complete Sherlock Holmes anthology found in a second-hand bookstore in Ladner, Delta, BC (Canada, North America, The World, etc), purchased for four dollars, and given to me by my parents. It’s old and weird and has an ugly jacket and I love it.

4. Favourite smell? I have a real problem with choosing favourites because I’m indecisive I’m not sure what my favourites are yet. What are my horizons? Maybe I haven’t even smelled my favourite smell yet, or heard my favourite song, or seen my favourite shade. Maybe I won’t until I’m very, very old, or maybe I already have and the realization will hit me any minute…Anyway, I typically end up with tons and tons of “favourite” everythings, and can’t narrow anything down. Among my favourite smells, though, are Indian or Malay food, sandalwood incense, Christmas trees, and sea air.

5. Top three artists (music, art, writing, whatever)? OH LORD MORE FAVOURITE-PICKING GAHHH! Okay, I’ll give you my current-frame-of-mind picks. Music : Katzenjammer, Caravan Palace, Led Zeppelin. Art (I’m going to pick webcomics, yeeeees!): Questionable Content, Twitter the Comic, Hark! A Vagrant. Writing: Victor Hugo (old skoooool), Jorge Luis Borges (Magic Realism, you freaky), Fumiko Enchi (I’m enrolled in a World Literature course, yes).

6. The last time you partied like a rock star? Erm….New Years? I tell you when I’m next going to party like a rock star, though – March 16th, when I’ll be dancing myself into a nice set of charlie-horses at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom to the stylings of Spirit of the West and their openers the very folk-stompey Good for Grapes. PAAAAAARTAAAAAY

7. When was the classiest you’ve ever felt? Every day of my liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife

8. One weird habit? I fill in my journal back-to-front. It’s neurotic.

9. One thing that always makes you laugh? That brilliant 20th Century Fox theme cover (I posted it here.) I cry every time.

10. Favourite article of clothing? Mmmmmm…..my one and only sari, I think. I wore it to my cousin’s wedding this fall, and it is probably the classiest piece of clothing I own, not to mention the most spangly-Bollywood at the same time. I even managed to dance passably in it. Class.

11. Signature dance move? The Bollywood-lip-synch-and-choreographed-routine-that-I-memorized-from-the-movie.

-ELEVEN FACTS

1. I can touch my nose with my tongue. LEGIT

2. I’m left handed. Coincidentally, every other first-born child of my generation in my family is also left handed, and we’re all female. *Twilight zone theme*

3. I’m a little bit psychic. Okay, maybe not, but yesterday I was talking to a friend and I happened to use the phrase “Just don’t blink” and AT THE EXACT SAME TIME another friend of mine got a text from somebody I don’t know saying THE EXACT SAME THING wooooh freaky

4. I can read Tarot. Sort of. I’m accurate if you want me to be.

5. The greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten was back in high school from a friend who I was just getting to know then, and who has been one of my very closest buds for quite some time now, loooooove all around. Anyway, she mentioned to me once, “You talk like a character in a book”. I absolutely love that, it’s such a wonderful thing to me to play with words and tell stories, and if it’s something that people notice about me I’m beyond delighted. Such a good compliment. Ahhhhh

6. I watch Coronation Street. I’m watching it right now. Heehee.

7. I played the trombone for the first time yesterday. A blue one. HEEHEE

8. I really want to join the circus. Really badly. I’ve wanted to learn how to perform on the aerial silks for yeeeeeears.

9. I have *let me see* seven piercings and two (really dinky) tattoos. On hiatus from body modifications currently. But I love what I have.

10. I looooooove TV and movies. Lately I’ve been on a Bollywood kick, but just today I discovered the show Sons of Anarchy and I am fully addicted already. I do that whole burn-through-all-the-things obsessiveness thing, and when I find a new show/movie, I get so excited and enthusiastic that I can barely contain myself. IT’S REAL GOOD GUYS

11. I looooooooooooooooove soundtracks. It’s one of the major things I notice about a new movie or show – a well-orchestrated backing track is just amazing. My iPod is full of soundtracks.

-ELEVEN QUESTIONS:

1. When was your last haircut?

2. What inspired you to start blogging?

3. How do you keep yourself motivated (in whatever situation)?

4. Coffee, tea or booze?

5. If you could be fluent in any language, which would it be (and why)?

6. If your life was a feature film, what would it be titled?

7. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever mis-heard?

8. Beatles or Rolling Stones?

9. If you could invent a holiday, what would it be and when?

10. A world record you’d like to break?

11. What was the last song you listened to?

SO MANY ELEVENSES

General Block

[OH DEAR GOD I JUST FOUND OUT THAT REALLY OVERRIPE CARROTS FEEL HORRIFYINGLY LIKE REFRIGERATED FINGERS AND OF COURSE I HAD TO FIND THAT OUT THE HARD WAY, BY ALL THE GODS IN THE PANTHEON THAT WAS SO DISTURBING AND CHILLED AND SOFT AND BENDY EURGH]

Helloooooo!

As previously mentioned, I’ve been shying away from my dashboard lately due to a crippling attack of creative-block. Not just ye-olde-and-beloved writers’ block, but a full-on viral attack of suddenly-can’t-summon-any-creativity(itis?). We’re talking musical failures, crafty failures…and yes, failure to blog. But I’ve found that the attrition method is not a cure-all for this sort of thing. And so I’m determined to return to my creative hemispheres by hell or high water, and continue posting/musicking away, despite my own devastating self-critiques. You all know the feeling. It’s not impossible to overcome by any means. It just becomes difficult, especially after letting the block build up over time, and getting in the habit of avoiding your favourite things, etc etc, and before you know it you’ve spawned an Anti-Productivity Monster. And it’s freaking teething. 

Anyway, thanks for hanging on, followers. I love you all. Sometimes I gaze longingly at my followers list to the soothing atmospheric soundtrack of Michael Bolton covering Christmas carols. Promise I’ll be good from now on. 

Ish. (Jeebs, I’m like a horribly-behaved pet that keeps running away and leaving cryptic clues as to my existence in the form of YouTube clips, and then returning two weeks later all contrite and such, only to keep doing it. Somebody get me a cat-door with a lock or something.)

Can’t Rap

I really, really can’t. And I’m not quite sure why.

It’s not like talking at speed is a problem for me. I can talk fast. Like, incomprehensibly fast. Hell, I could probably chitter faster than an outraged chipmunk with the proper motivation. My word-speed is right up there. So that’s not the problem.

Rhyming? I can rhyme. I can free-associate rhymes. I can rhyme all the time. See that? That there? That rhymed. I so don’t need any tips on freestyle rhyming, what with the amount of involuntary rhyming I do in my head on a daily basis. If you say so much as “Pass me that plate” to me, you can bet all of your dollars that I will mentally be going “freight, spate, weight, crate, po-tate” waaaaay after we’re done communicating. Keep that in mind. Everyone who talks to me is getting rhymed. Always.

Rhythm? I do believe I got rhythm. Or at least a working knowledge of various time signatures. Eric Whitacre I am not. But then I don’t think he raps much.

So what am I missing? What is the key ingredient in the can-rap smoothie?

I have a sinking suspicion that it might just be general coolness. Like, swag. Like, flow? I don’t even know what that cool thing that rappers have is called. But I don’t think I have it. Unless you can buy it at the same places where you buy yarn, because then I might have it.

 

I just want to rap in my daily liiiiiiiife…

Human Kindness

It’s story-time! I’ve got a really great story to share, of an moment I experienced in a creepy third-person public-transit way. All creeping aside, it was completely heartwarming, one of those little acts of kindness that give you a shake and show you the world the way you should be seeing it. It’s all too easy to fall into a cycle of cynicism, to go through life vaguely pissed off at life for waking you up too early and throwing awkward dilemmas at you and basically being a jerk – but then little things like this pop up all over the place once you start noticing them and then, suddenly, you’re smiling. You just can’t stay mad at life, anyway, it’s so dang pervasive.

Anyway, story: It’s a rainy afternoon and I’m hustling my way over from an overflowing Skytrain station (obligatory WOO SKYTRAINS!) to my homeward bus, which is making threatening I’m-going-to-leave-you-forever noises. Spludging my way over and scrambling up the steps past the same bus driver who picked me up at my stop this morning, I do the awkward bus-shuffle and finally come to rest on a seat near the front of the bus, with a determinedly sleeping old man in a toque beside me and an also determinedly sleeping, extremely intimidating man in front of me. My bus is often full of a variety of eccentric characters, most of them in various stages of their sleep cycle for most of the ride home. I scramble around for my iPod – it’s dead – and, oh whatever, resign myself to peeking out of bus windows at random intervals. Side, front left, front right, other side. 

There’s a girl sitting across from Intimidating Sleeping Man, dressed society-consciously in pink TNA hoodie, leggings, and very large boots. A girl on a trip, judging from the matching pink luggage shoved into the bus storage area. She settles in her seat, rummages through backpack and purse, stares impatiently out of her window. She looks a few million notches below impressed. She looks pissed. Between her, Scary Sleeping Dude, and the old toque guy beside me, there’s not a lot of eye contact to be made where I’m sitting. I look out the window over her head. Awkwardly.

The bus trundles along and people dribble off and the traveling girl continues rummaging through her bags, looking more and more strained as she scrambles. Finally, as stressed as can be, she pulls the chain and asks the driver to pull over as soon as he can – she’s going to have to go back to the Skytrain station. He nods, she sits back, trying to hide what must be immense frustration behind a stony face. Silence on the bus, except for her now halfhearted shuffling of papers and personal effects. And then a voice, asking if she’s okay.

It’s the intimidating man, who apparently has only been feigning sleep this whole time. Unhappily, the girl chokes out that she’s lost her  money for the ferry ticket she needs. (A ticket is about fourteen dollars. Not a fortune, but enough to be a loss to those without a steady source of money.) And this is where the magic starts.

Without another word, without so much as a question, the man pulls out a twenty-dollar bill and reaches it across the aisle to her. She hesitates for a long while, unsure, but he doesn’t pull back and finally she takes the cash. Thank you, she says, thank you, and as she looks over at the man, it’s like her entire face is transformed by wonder and gratitude. Suddenly, instead of a poker-faced stranger, she has become a real person, with a story and a past and a new appreciation of the generosity of strangers.

They don’t speak again. The man returns to his sleep (although now nobody is really sure what he’s doing), and she to her bags. But every few moments she glances back at him with that same wondering, grateful expression, as if trying to think of a way to repay him.

The story doesn’t end here, most likely. But my stop was reached, and I had to awkward-scramble off the bus and leave it behind. It hasn’t left me, though – that simple show of generosity to a stranger was enough to give me a smile and something to share. So if you, wherever and however you are, find yourself in need of a little piece of optimism, I hope this story of mine helps you remember the good things, and the good people. They’re everywhere, just waiting for you to notice them.