A Nook with a Tilted Lamp

September 29, 2010

Black Tie Beach Adventure

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 11:41 pm

At long last, I was finally able to participate in an Improv Everywhere mission! It is like accomplishing a dream. (I did do No Pants Subway Ride, but technically…I was a member of another group, Pro Pants.)Shells lined up in spirals at the beach

Check out the proper mission goodies, like the video and the reports here: http://improveverywhere.com/2010/08/31/black-tie-beach/

I managed to misread the directions, which meant that I thought the train ride should take thirty minutes. (Reality = more like an hour.) I knew all hope was not lost once a fellow in a tuxedo boarded. We arrived around fifteen minutes late, but we managed not to miss a thing. Instructions were given. Cheers were shouted. Strangers gaped. The ice cream trunk interrupted the spiel once.

And then we were off! Scattering along the beach, an elegantly dressed horde bubbling with excitement and prepared for the good times ahead.

Anyway, attired in my fancy dress (score one for Ebay), I set to work finding something to do during my beach trip. A mollusk shell cut the bottom of my left foot.  (It burned with the rage of sea water and sand.) So I set about taming the elements to my will!

I also learned that my parents hadn’t lied. If you feed the seagulls…they will poop on you. And it so isn’t lucky like pigeon. (Seagulls never fail to impress me with their intelligence though, so I forgive ’em. Way back when I was a small lass, a seagull unzipped my father’s duffel bag and grabbed the doughnut he had stored inside of a paper bag. Dad was thoroughly pissed and held it against all seagulls. I was awed.)

Right, so, black tie and shells. People were pleased with my bizarre art project, which in turn transformed me into a smiling dope. (Aha, see, mollusk, you might have injured me, but the lasting delight of happy beachgoers defeats you!) A sweet Asian couple insisted on taking pictures of the shells, and the woman even borrowed my camera to take of picture of me with the shells.

Oh, while the spirals began randomly, it quickly spiraled (no pun intended) into an artistic display for a friend, Ariel, and the traumatizing manga she once shared with me, Uzumaki by Junji Ito. Basically, spirals are nightmare fuel. Clowns, vampires, and monsters have nothing on spirals. Yeerks still trump spirals for fear factor though. (Seriously, one of the most terrifying things I have ever read. If you like horror and finding the terrifying images scarred into your mind for all time, then you should check it out!)

Another angle of the shells from above.

Crab claw

Close up of mollusks.

Portrait of me with the shells.

September 18, 2010

Wavering Bridge

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 11:06 pm

This business of a juggling a job and an internship has had the bad habit of leaving me worn out and wincing at the prospect of looking at a computer screen. (I have learned the hard way that I get killer headaches if I stare at computers for too long. Twenty hours straight for my job. Some hours at the internship. Plus a ton more hours when I read manuscripts and partials for the internship during my spare time.)

Luckily, my job ends next week. I probably shouldn’t be greeting the prospect of unemployment with giddy relief, but while the paycheck is nice…I can’t imagine spending much more time data-mining. I have been putting some thought into what I will do in my upcoming spare time. Read. Draw. Write. Possibly look into another part-time job, preferably education-related. My old grade school has an afterschool program that I have been eyeing. Working with kids without being expected to go anywhere near a computer? Ho’baby, count me in. At a place full of nostaglic memories? A school that I know that I love and still has teachers that I adored?

I am a little worried that they’ll reject me. (THE HORROR.) But I suppose it’s worth a try. Heck, I even have prior experience working in their program, though it wasn’t official or anything. My father did not want me attending afterschool, which would’ve be fine, y’know, if he wasn’t miserably late every time he to pick me up. I spent afternoons hiding in the hallway. Eventually folks caught on, and I was offered a position as an art assistant for the art program. This allowed me to attend afterschool without paying, and had the bonus factor of meaning I got to help teach. It was what first clued me into how I really enjoyed working with kids. (This is me wavering between career paths. Books? Kids? Maybe I should look into wild life rehab. OR WHO KNOWS.)

But yeah, I am tired. Beset with headaches. And will work on updating on a better schedule once I am merrily unemployed.

September 2, 2010

The Ghosts of Queries Rejected

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 10:13 pm

My first day at my internship was yesterday. After managing to successfully arrive several minutes early, I was kindly directed to the slush pile until the agent arrived to provide with further instructions. Oh, the slush pile. Compared to data-mining, it is so refreshing and wonderful. On the other hand, I facepalm at some of the mistakes authors make. (Now the constant blog posts by agents begging writers to PLEASE FOLLOW THEIR INSTRUCTIONS and, y’know, make sure that the agent actually covers the type of work, are pretty understandable, if this is what they have to trudge through on a daily basis.)

Man, I should really make up my mind if I’m revealing names and the agency. Wariness goes here. Um. Until I ask permission, I’ll stick to this mysterious business.

I was given a nifty packet of information, instructions, and samples, which will be my Ten Commandments until further notice. Questions were encouraged and answered quite well! And I was privy to listening to conversations of much excellence and humor. (Not that I contributed myself. Being a shy thing. At times. I will settle eventually.)

Anyway, I spent last night haunted by a couple of the queries that I passed on. (WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.) I find myself questioning my decisions, but…they were made relatively early on. When I was fresh! And reading at my best. I think it’s just that the more I read, the quality of the ones that followed made the earlier pair seem that much better? For one, I adored the idea, but I couldn’t get into the voice. It didn’t seem to grasp the character’s situation. The other didn’t exactly fall into the works covered by the agency, but the prose was pretty good, and I was kind of intrigued.

Maybe it’s the guilt about turning away writers who went through so much effort to write their books and pursue their dreams coming to weigh upon my consciousness. …Although, now that I am reading manuscripts, I am beginning to feel reaffirmed in my decisions.

I suppose this will become easier with time.

In other news, Tom attempted to gouge out my left eye. He mainly got a chunk of eyelid, but, um, it hurts to blink. This is definitely the best condition to be in when I have four manuscripts to read.

August 29, 2010

In Which I Land an Internship and Reminisce

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 10:03 pm

I am finally an intern once again! Best yet, it’s kind of a dream internship come true. I spent every moment since my interview on Friday fretting and obsessively checking my e-mail as I assured myself that I probably wouldn’t get it, and that would be fine. (I would probably cry and feel rejected and be discouraged, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Entirely.) Monday morning was a challenge. There was work to be done! Data to be mined! BUT OH GOD, LET JUST CHECK GMAIL ONE MORE TIME, JUST IN CASE. NO NOTHING NEW. … MAYBE NOW.

And then I was accepted. I might have promptly burst into tears. (Would you believe I am not actually big on crying. And I never do it in public places.) So I hunched over in my cubicle, wiped at my eyes, and grinned like an absolute moron.

–And then I was distracted and finished Mockingjay. Face is a little frozen going D: and I am filled with the urge to read something light-hearted and happy and dear god, I’ve never had so many favorite characters die. I can’t actually imagine reading this when  I was younger. Pretty sure it would have left me a broken shell of myself.–

Right. Internship! So exciting.

I nearly had an internship at a literary agency at the start of summer. I was all sorts of shocked because two places wanted me! (After several summers where I applied and was never able to obtain a coveted internship, it was pretty astonishing to be on demand.) One did online and print guides for families and schools. Better yet, they would pay! Just a little, but way more than nothing. Oh, but the other was a literary agency.  How could I resist? I had only gotten the offer from the guide one, and held back on responding for a day since I had the interview at the literary agency. (If there had been more of a gap, I would’ve replied explaining how there was one other option.) Anyway, I ended up horribly late for the interview.  The agent had neglected to give me the building number, and I hadn’t realized and taken the initiative to find it. Add on to that the fact that I managed to add the wrong number into my phone (her’s was incredibly similar to my home number, so I automatically had entered a single digit incorrectly). No one that I could contact by phone was able to go online and find the number for me. Eventually, I convinced my sad, little phone to do it, and ta-dah, interview! And she offered me an internship! All was happiness and glitter and a polite, regretful rejection to the guide folks.

And then the agent never e-mailed me again. She had told me that she would e-mail me in three days to let know her start date (dependent on her vacation), and she never did. I contacted her after a week or two, inquiring into how she was. No response. I had sacrificed my paid internship opportunity for this. Luckily, Cambridge called around a week later, informing me that I had qualified for a position in their summer internship program, otherwise, I would have been in a bust.

Hugely disappointing, that experience was. (See how it brings out the inner Yoda in me?)

ANYWAY, I officially have a real internship at a literary agency. And the agent actually e-mails me back! Let’s not even go into how the people at this agency are marvelous and hilarious and intelligent, and how exactly did I luck out? I’m leaning towards a fluke. Or maybe this is a prolonged dream, and go OH NO, I ONLY LANDED THE INTERNSHIP IN MY DREAM. I do that sometimes. Well, mainly I think I have gotten this awesome book or something. Last night, I dreamed that I had crushed my glasses. Huge relief that was not reality.

Of course, now that I was accepted, I find myself filled with new woes and concerns. Mainly I fret about failing them. Pleasing people is kind of one of my big motivators. In school, I always did my work and participated in class and whatnot, in some part because I wanted to make my professors proud. They put this effort into teaching us and were nearly always so brilliant (I only ever disliked two professors, and one only taught 1/6th of the class, so..it’s more like 1 and 1/6th professor…s).

My fears ranked according level of horror:

1. I will miserably fail the literary agency by turning out to be incompetent and proving unable to meet their expectations.

2. I toss out the NEXT BIG THING.

3. I crush the dreams of writers.

4. I catch an awful cold and miss days.

5. I arrive late.

Totally manageable. Well, except for the first two since they reflect poorly on my character and..uh..make me feel like an especially terrible person.

August 28, 2010

Appreciation Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 11:07 pm

I like saying thank you, especially when I mean it. (Not like, oh, thank you for this gift that I did not actually want or already own. That’s a special awkward level of Hell.) But I prefer getting across my appreciation, and sadly, I do not settle for thank you cards. What are people going to do with cards? (I mean, I hold onto cards forever and treasure them always. But my brother and mom are much more normal and are all about tossing them out.)

When my externship ended at a public school where I had helped out in the 2nd grade classroom for two weeks, I went the route handy gifts they could use. Aha, no pesky allergies or anxious parents with this path! My final day I picked up some SHINY pencils and some fuzzy ones. Pencils! Second graders need pencils.  My plan was flawless. I also got cards, but pffft, cards. I wrote each child a thank you note, stuffed the note and pencil into an envelope, and the envelopes were handed out at dismissal.

How was I to know that fuzzy pencils outrank shiny pencils exponentially? That’s right. Distressed eight-year-olds frantically tried to haggle with their peers. Very few trades were made, unless the shiny!pencil offerer happened to possessed the fuzzy!pencil owner’s favorite color.

Talk about ending the experience on the wrong note. (Oh, and there was how I was horribly sick for the next two months or so. One lovely second grader had bestowed his or her pneumonia upon me.)

These days I have refined my gift-giving-thank-you skills. I still aim for small, simple, and useful. For example, I gave my fellow Cambridge intern a wee monkey keychain. This had the bonus of being adorable.

But what did I deem suitable for my final farewell to all of Cambridge? Hmm.

Cupcakes.

Delicious sugarness generally makes people feel appreciated. Better yet, it is not a cluttering gift, but still comes with lasting memory of YUM. None of this should suggest that I am actually good at baking. I might claim decent, veering on acceptable. At the very least, I have yet to make anyone a) ill or b) politely spit into a napkin.

Time to note that my brother and I were strictly forbidden from cooking while growing up. We weren’t even allowed to touch the dishes, much less the dishwasher. My mom was only permitted to cook on holidays and birthdays. My dad insisted we ordered out every single day. (Btw, this entailed the same food every single week. Sandwiches on Monday, Chinese on Tuesday, repeat forever.)

I like tossing in variety when I bake. I had: yellow cupcakes, marble swirl cupcakes, vanilla frosting, chocolate frosting, chocolate chips, vanilla chocolate chips, and green food dye. (One of our bigger books is Thomas Barlett’s Ireland. It seemed a good idea at the time. And it so was, except for that cupcake where the dye poured in because the cap was broken. That was a ticking time bomb of a cupcake. It might have turned Cindy’s mouth and fingers green. LIKE A REPTAR BAR.)

Another intern, the baby of the program (she’s entering her senior year of high school now), had baked mini red velvet cupcakes with real cream cheese frosting for the final day as well, so many Cambridge employees were filled with sweets. Cindy ate seven cupcakes all on her own. It was all sorts of impressive.

Score for using the oven powers for good!

Cindy's might pile of foils.

August 25, 2010

Coping with the not-so-golden path

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 3:47 am

I’ll be the first to admit that I was not entirely thrilled to graduate. Change and Becky do not cope well together. Of course, I eventually manage. That week at tennis sleep away camp the summer before high school left me hiding in the hallway so I could ease my sleepless nights by reading (my roommate, who never conversed with me, logically prefered our room’s lights off while she slept). But I survived.

Eventually, I learned in high school that hiding away in the library was not the fast track to making friends (…well, the librarians adored me), I ventured out and eventually slipped into the “Hallway Gang.”

I spent the weeks before college began making myself sick with anxiety. What if my roommate did not like me? What if she didn’t understand that I need light to sleep? (I actually had to start using a nightlight in college. It’s so not my fault. You see, my bedroom at home is located adjacent to the kitchen. The kitchen light is never turned off in our household. The need to have my room visible whilst I sleep has been engrained into my system!) Luckily, I ended up with the very best roomie ever.  Seriously.  Megan wound up one of my closest friends. That would be a post entirely unto itself.

Right. Graduation. This leaves me in the muddle of what comes next. Terrifying. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Can I skip that assignment, please? Oh wait, that doesn’t work now. I do have a better idea of what I’d like to do now. I was lucky enough to land a summer internship in the right industry, albeit, not exactly in the right department, which proved educational and full of unpaid labor. It was worth it. Except now that it has ended, I’m left in the muddle of applications that is what follows. I tentatively apply for jobs and focus mostly on internships, since I obviously need more experience before I go busting through any doors. The amount of work you have to do just to earn the right to do free labor for folks is kind of astounding. First, you write your cover letter and refine your resume. Then there are various tests. And interviews. And you are desperately trying to prove that you can do this. You are the qualified person they want to share this wealth of knowledge with.

Most of the time, it doesn’t work out in your favor. (Well, my favor. Maybe you’re having more luck.) It’s tiring and frustrating. You take what you can from each failure, building up your experience and gradually learning how to better prepare and present yourself with the hope that next time will be the acceptance.

And, in my case, you blast your “Will Make Me Feel Better” playlist. Most likely in the shower. Working those air guitar and brush!microphone skills.  And to be honest, it does make me feel loads better. These are songs that reboot my system.

Without further ado: Becky’s Will Make Me Feel Better playlist! (Not guaranteed to work for anyone else. This sort of thing has to be personalized to the listener’s tastes.)

1. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

“This ain’t a song for the brokenhearted. No silent prayer for the faith departed. And I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd. You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud.”

How can this /not/ pump you up? What’s that world? You think I suck? Well, IT’S MY LIFE, and I’m going to shout it and not be depressed and keep on going no matter what.

2. I Kissed a Boy – Cobra Starship

“Yo, check it out I’ve got a plan, here’s my intention. The frat boys in the club are lame, let’s start an altercation.”

…Um. A spinoff of “I Kissed a Girl,” this song offers a wonderful dick of a guy. It helps to vent your inner unpleasant person.

3. Until the Day I Die – Story of the Year

“As years go by I race the clock with you, but if you died right now, you know that I’d die too.”

This is totally a pairing song. I listen to it, and the lyrics triggers books. Today, it actually brought to mind The Hunger Games.  Probably makes sense since I basically plowed through the books in a single week.

4. A Girl Worth Fighting For – Mulan

“In our thundering herd we feel a lot like cattle. Like the pounding beat, our aching feet aren’t easy to ignore. Hey, think of instead a girl worth fighting for.”

Disney! Disney always makes me feel better. I’m going to pretend that I’m worth fighting for, crossdress, and join the Chinese army.

5. Spare Me the Details – Offspring

“My girlfriend, my dumb doughnut went out to a party just the other night. But three hours later and seven shots of jäger, she was in the bedroom with another guy.”

This one’s pure rage and frustration with a sprinkling of humor. Plus I get a kick out of how my last name is mentioned.

6. Pyramus and Thisbe – Zelda Williams & Parker Croft

“If we offend, we’ve got good will. If we are crude, our measure’s plain. Our true intent is your delight. It’s merry, tragical, and brief.”

Tragedian Shakespeare meets rock. Bring it. (I later learned that Zelda is Robin William’s daughter. She clearly inherited the talented genes.)

7. Predictable – Good Charlotte

“I’m doing everything I should of, and now I’m making a change. I’m living today.”

Channels my teenaged angst. Y’know, before life really got hard. Man, if young me only had a clue.

8. The Wizard and I – Wicked

“Once I’m with the Wizard my whole life will change ‘cuz once you’re with the Wizard no one thinks you’re strange!
No father is not proud of you, no sister acts ashamed, and all of Oz has to love you.”

Appreciation for your talents! Making your family proud! It could happen, right?

9. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic – Sting

“Every little thing she does is magic. Everything she does just turns me on. Even though my life before was tragic now I know my love for her goes on.”

Cue me pretending that I’m chock-full of magic and awesome.

Thus ends my playlist for now. It evolves with every new hurdle.

August 22, 2010

The Influence of Felines

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 4:55 pm

So, I have turned into one those people.

Back story: We adopted a pair of kittens last summer who were abandoned along with their mother and two other siblings at a wildlife sanctuary. They’re basically gray tuxedos (classy mutts). The brother, dubbed Tom by my brother for Tom and Jerry, is a chicken to his core.  Through mad image Googling skills to do some breed research, we’ve decided that he has a Russian Blue face. Oh yes, that glower matches that line pretty darn well. His sister is itty, bitty and adventurous to boot. (Through the some Googling and the fact that her mother was distinctly a Tabby, we’ve upgraded her nickname from mouse!face to Tabby!face.) She’s earned her title of Indi (short for Indiana Jones). Why yes, our cat is named after a man who named himself after the dog.

Anyway. I gave in. I bought a leash and harness designed for a tiny dog off of Ebay. It seemed a good idea at the time. They’re restricted to brief roof visits though. We dare not take them outside into the world, especially since Indi has managed to back herself out of the harness on occasion.

By the way, it might be against the building’s rules to take pets on the roof. I’m going to pretend that this does not apply to cats. Surely they mean dogs. I mean, dogs might bark and be all noisy and could even use the roof as a bathroom. Cats? Not doing any of the above.

Tom proved fairly courageous and demanded to investigate the hose. Additionally, he would have liked to be allowed on the other side of the fence, but that was so not happening on my watch. Just to note, the building you see behind Tom actually houses Cambridge University Press (and a bunch of other things, like ATT and Z100), but CUP is where I temporarily work. Their summer internship program is amazing, btw, and definitely worth checking out. (And yes, I am a terrible person for living across the street. Best commute ever?)

Can we go home now?

Indi was much less thrilled about the trip. I think the fact that the first time I went up there with her there was a party going on (hello beer pong on my roof?) and many rowdy, loud young folks left a poor impression on her. She was pretty eager to get on board the elevator to head back down.

As of now, they are still sharing the same leash and harness set, but we are looking into invest in another harness. Um, we already have another leash that belongs to the bird harness that I insisted we get my cockatiel, Willy, as a child. SO MAYBE I WAS ALWAYS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. YIKES. Willy, btw, is named after my Great Aunt Lillian who passed away around the time we got him. My dad was less than thrilled with the name choice. Currently, he is a cranky, old bird (holy cow, he is around fifteen years old) with a penchant for biting and tending to the seashell that he is convinced is an egg.

It's a little known fact that my bird is a superhero.

Ta-dah. My pets. I love ’em so.

January 8, 2010

A History of Lamps

Filed under: Uncategorized — by justatiltedlamp @ 6:55 am

Lamps and me, we just don’t get along. Oh, we try, but something always goes wrong. Maybe it has to do with my relationship with lighting in general. The light switch for the light in my room is located just outside my door. Do you have any idea how frustrating that is when you want to hide away from the world, and click, the world’s gone dark, and you can’t read? The whole business gets old rather quickly when you happen to have a younger brother who adores maiming your eyes with flash lightning storms.

Right, lamps. It’s been that way since freshmen year of college when my parents and I frantically snagged a lamp from the nearby Staples so I’d have a well-lit room to inhabit. Unfortunately, it had a tendency to…melt. That is the only feasible explanation that I can come up with as to why the area would smell of burning plastic within a few minutes. (And yes, the bulb was the right wattage.) Rather than risking burning down the dorm I simply avoided my lamp.

I went sophomore year without lamp. (Thank goodness for plenty of sunlight and a fine overhead light.) Junior year, I decided to try once again. My mom and I grabbed a black one at Staples. Either it was simply difficult to assemble, or something was wrong with the parts. In the end, it worked, but the top tended to droop. Light aimed the desk was a step up from the fragrance of smoldering plastic.

This year, my final year at college, my friends decided to take it upon themselves to locate a decent a lamp for myself. While on a trip to IKEA, they found a match and brought it back with them. One particularly handy friend set it up (as she also did my bookshelves) and ta-dah, I had a well-illuminated room. It’s lovely. Even if it tilts.

Welcome to my nook; a place where I’ll hopefully write a little at times.

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