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Friday, December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

*pops up from nowhere*

Happy holidays everybody! Today is Christmas Eve, and I'm really happy and excited. Especially with treading through the bumpy months lately. Christmas is like the one holiday every year where no matter what you went through or who're mad at - it's all good. Unless, of course, you're Harry Potter - and Voldemort tries to kill you on Christmas Eve (seriously, Voldemort's such a Grinch).

I don't know about you folks, but me and the fam's big day is usually Christmas Eve. It's pretty fun because the Kelchlin clan is a BIG family, and like all BIG families - we're everywhere. So Christmas Eve is like the one time where mostly everybody is together. My favorite part is the secret santa/white elephant game that originated a couple years ago. And I'm the one that relishes in the stealing part of it. (*insert comic book villain laugh here*)

I didn't ask much for Christmas, just my two front teeth and a hippo. Just kidding. After the death of my 14 year old puppy, Pepper, I REALLY wanted a puppy for Christmas. See, I'm one of those people who absolutely love looking up dog videos on youtube, find doggy sweaters adorable, and basically treat dogs on the same level as babies. And I got a puppy! Her name is Daisy, and we rescued her. She is the sweetest thing ever. When I take better pictures, I'll post them up here. To add to the Christmas miracle, our good friends adopted her brother--Duke!

Well, merry Christmas everybody! And to all a good night.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Things I Realized During My (Somewhat) Long Hiatus From Blogging

1. You don't realize how much you bit off, until you begin to choke. Then, you just learn to deal.
2. Cleaning is not a tedious hell, as long as you have good music blasting in the background to sing and dance to. Like Eye of the Tiger. Or any classic Disney songs.
3. You know you've been watching too much HGTV when, out of the blue, you decide to completely re-do your room. And it takes a week to do it. And you feel the urge to replace your torn Buffy and slightly dated and crinkled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the book) posters with new ones...particularly with Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Breakfast Club.
4. A nice 'n' tidy bedroom a) actually makes you want to stay in there and b) keeps stress down. But, there's the side-effect of turning on neat-freak tendencies.
5. And in the process of cleaning, you find stuff you never expect. Like $50 hoarded away in between books, bookshelves, dresser drawers. I guess it pays to clean!
6. If being a senior in high school was awesome - college is way better.
7. Probably because no one sticks out like an elephant in a pack of zebras.
8. Oh, and there's the heavenly haven that is known as Starbucks. Particularly, Double Chocolaty Chip Frappucinos.
9. Not to mention, there is way more eye-candy in the boys department.
10. Two weeks throwing up, curled up in that kitty blanket that's been around since you were eight-years-old, and bones throbbing - gives you very little will to do anything.
11. But watching those old classic movies on TCM helps.
12. It's funny how It Happened One Night (1934) makes me laugh more than most brainless Judd Apatow movies.
13. Juno was quirkier and cuter than I remembered.
14. Waterloo Bridge (1940) is one of the most beautiful, and most tragic movies I ever seen.



15. No matter how many sequels they might spew out, the novel Gone With the Wind stands on its own.
16. And commercial success certainly does not = quality. Pillars of the Earth is a tedious, disturbing book with clumsy writing. The mini-series is interesting though.
17. You can come across jewels in the oddest of places.
18. Lydia who writes a great blog, Writerquake, is such a good-hearted person. She gave me my first blog award! Yay!!
19. The best thing you can do for someone is to put a smile on their face.
20. Like Kate, who found my blog, and told my sister how much she loved it. My ear-to-ear grin probably didn't slip away until the next morning.
21. There is poetry in everything you do.
22. There's nothing like the smell of coffee in the morning. I'm sure if they created a cologne of coffee, girls would go nutty.
23. Ben and Jerry = two men who know what women want.
24. I love that feeling when I get home, and I can kick off my shoes.
25. I hate that feeling when the clock ticks and ticks away at the time - and it's a Sunday.
26. Doctor Who is awesome. David Tennant makes it awesome.



27. Indulge in your nerdiness! It's fun :D
28. Listening to epic trailer music makes me want to write a spellbinding novel.
29. My penchant for all things British has gone beyond the ordinary.
30. I love blogging. I need to blog more often.

Hey, guys! I'm back! I was practically bedridden (okay, more like couch-ridden) with a horrible case of the flu/bronchitis, and I ended up missing two whole weeks of college. So, I have ALOT of makeup work to do...but I'll do my best to post on a regular basis.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where In The World Is Kristen?

Yeah, my name may not be as catchy as Carmen Sandiego's; I may not dress in red and white striped shirts and kooky hats like Waldo (but I do wear glasses;) but I am still alive! I've just been so busy these past few months - it's like I was put on some crazy, untamed roller coaster.

I guess that's Life for you.

But never fear - this blog is by no means abandoned (even if it did collect internet dust for a bit.) Just thought I'd let you all know.

Expect to hear from me soon!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

5 Ways To Enthrall Your Readers

Ah, the beginning of May. May, when the grass grows back its emerald bloom from the days and weeks buried in its white coffin of snow, from the goopy mud that swamps the earth and when the worms come out to play. May, when the air, hinted with the fragrance of fresh rain and lilacs that only Spring can bring, clings to your skin; when sneakers and sweatshirts are traded in for sandals and sundresses.

And if you’re like me, May is when you’re shut into a stuffy room, armed with pens and pencils, taking an AP (Advanced Placement) exam, with a clock ticking down the time. Only a mere few hours to impress strangers with your words—strangers who have to sift through hundreds of papers and stamp them with a grade.

I don’t claim to be perfect, I’m not asking you to take my words as holy commandments, but I figured that I could share my tips on how to give your piece that extra oomf, that extra edge that makes it stand out over the sea of other works.
Everybody wants to come away from writing something—whether it be an essay for an AP exam, a poem for your Mom on Mother's Day, something to post to your blog, a story to get published—feeling good. So here are 5 tidbits of advice that I've come to realize through my journey as a writer.

1. Confidence Is Key

Okay. Before your heart starts skipping like a jumping bean, take a deep breath. If you have a deadline to make, you won't go anywhere if the stress seeps into your bones and clouds your mind—especially if your insecurities are steering your thoughts. You only have so much time, and that time will pass—use it to do something towards your goal; do not pass the time stealing peaks at the clock, drumming nervous fingers against your desk. And if you don't have a deadline—don't lose it, because then you have more of a chance to get writer's block. Writer's block is far from fun; it's easy to get into, hard to get out of. And when you get bit by the writer's block bug, inspiration is that much harder to grab when you write. So take a few deep breaths.

Think of this!




Or whatever else makes you happy.

Be confident with your words. Eradicate your mind of those insecurities as a writer, those pesky parasites that poison your mind. Instead of thinking, "Um...I think this is what they're looking for...hopefully this all works out for the best!" or "I don't know if anybody will like this, I should change it," think, "Okay. I know I'm a good writer. I can do this! They will like it! I am worth it!" If you're confident with your writing, people can tell that you know exactly what you're doing, that you have credibility as an author, and they will trust you for that.

2. Quality NOT Quantity

I know, I know, it's such an elementary point—but it's a valid point. When people study for their AP exams and see the tiny, cramped handwriting of past students who took the exam, they think that they need to reach a minimum of two pages. You see it with writing stories too. People think the bigger, the better, the more impressive. This could not be further from the truth.

Substance, substance, substance. You're always bound to be received better by educated audiences if you write something that isn't quite as long as Gone With the Wind, but is a feast of knowledge, instead of pages and pages of absolute vapidity. Like Twilight. So don't fret about length! Say what you need to say; let your knowledge glow off the page; let your story be told.

3. Be Yourself; Be Sincere

As a writer, you have an innate voice to your written work. A distinct style. Don't be afraid of people and lose that natural stamp that makes your work yours! They're not monsters. They're not the creepy-crawlies that lurk in the shadows beneath your bed. They're just people, like you and me. So write as you would write anything else. And mean it. Don't pretend to be something you're not.

4. Set the Scene


You're drawing your readers in, letting them hang on to each and every word; you want to get them hooked from the start. Make it intriguing. Make it mysterious. Make it a treat for readers to read through, leaving them thirsting for more. Whether you use anaphora, rhetorical questions, or any other literary techniques, you want to lure your readers in, and once you get into the thick of your piece, you'll have them ensnared. Razzle dazzle them!

5. Make it Clear; Make it Flow


When you write, you have to make sure that what you say is crystal clear. There's nothing more jarring than getting caught up in writing, and the next thing you realize, those sentences have turned into coiled snakes that people have to stop and read through again to get the picture. The reader's experience should be all smooth sailing
, sentences light like air—not clunky and heavy as bricks.

So perhaps this month of May won't be so stressful with these tips. And when you finish that last word, you'll sit back, gaze at the clock, and smile.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

September 11, 2001: A Memoir (Part IV)

This story continues from Part III. Please be respectful, and any comments at all would be quite lovely. Enjoy! And thank you to my family for the support; without them, I would have never thought to put this up.

~*~*~*~

8:36

Beep. Beep.

I stretched my legs. I moved my arms.

Beep. Beep.

I tapped my tapered fingers against my thigh.

Beep. Beep

And we waited.

~*~*~*~

8:34

"Nobody move please, we are going back to the airport, don't try to make any stupid moves," comes an exasperated voice from above. It isn’t God, but it might as well be.

Everyone knows this is a lie. Everyone accepts their fate. Everyone begins to pull out their cell phones. Everyone wants to say goodbye.

Alice’s mother dials a number with heavy fingers. She has to push the buttons twice to get the number right.

Alice can hear the crackling ring. And it rings. And it rings.

“Hey, this is Paul Bennet. I’m not here right now, but if you leave a message, I’ll get back to you a-sap.” Beep.

Alice’s mother catches her breath for a moment. She wants to save it for the right words. The last words.

“Paul. It’s-It’s Diane,” her voice is hoarse. “I’m sorry for ever leaving you; if I could take all of it back, I would. I never meant to hurt you, I swear. I-we don’t have a lot of time, but I just need, want, to say I love you.”

She drags the phone away from her ear. “Alice, honey,” she says, her brown eyes shining, “talk to Daddy; it’s time to say goodbye.”

~*~*~*~

8:38

Beep. Beep.

I peered at the pages of my sister’s book over her shoulder.

Beep. Beep.

I eavesdropped on my parents’ conversation of where they wanted to eat when I was being cut apart.

Beep. Beep.

And we waited.

~*~*~*~

8:39

The plane rocks back and forth, side to side, like an out of control rollercoaster. The abandoned cart crashes into the wall, its contents spilling all over. People scramble for their masks that dangle in front of them. People hug each other, squeeze hands. They know the end comes upon them.

The plane dives down into the heart of New York, quick as a bullet. Alice feels her stomach and her heart rise into her throat. She clasps her mother’s hand and strangles Patches with her other.

A large tower rises to meet the plane, growing bigger and bigger. The shadow of the plane soon devours the building in its ravenous darkness.

A hot, garish, orange light consumes and blinds Alice. And Alice touches the face of God.

~*~*~*~

8:41

We waited and then somebody came. It was a nurse; her head was shaved and she wore the same taffy scrubs. The nurse’s face was slack, as if shock itself had slapped her. She walked softly, like in a daydream, and leaned over the nurse’s counter.

Whispers were exchanged. The Asian lady with the plump features raised a horrified hand to her lips. It couldn’t be true!

She stood on tiptoe as she stabbed each television on to CNN. A chain of ruffled black smoke rose from the grey building. They were calling it a tragic flight accident. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t care. I thought the kind nurse had rushed to put on the latest Bruce Willis movie.

It wasn’t until later did I realize what I was seeing with my own eyes. It wasn’t until later did I register the frightening silence, the fake smiles for children who wanted to play with toys in the waiting room but couldn’t because of history unfolding. In a room across the hall, I could hear the jolly tones of Elmo and Big Bird.

The sterile stench of Hospital assaulted my nostrils.

I was dressed in the sickly white dotted patient robe, a tag branding my wrist, when the anesthesiologist, a man with glasses whose face was concealed by a bright blue dentist mask, asked me what flavor of anesthesia I wanted.

I couldn’t decide. Regular or strawberry? Strawberry or regular?

That’s when Dr. Armstrong walked up to us. He was a tall, lanky man with a full beard, and hair peppered with white.

“Mr. and Mrs. Schmid, I’m afraid we’re gonna have to postpone Kristen’s surgery. We’re very sorry for keeping you waiting, but we have to send blood down to New York.”

We left the hospital at 9:40, not knowing how much our lives would change.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

September 11, 2001: A Memoir (Part III)

You can find Part II here. Please be respectful. Any comments would be greatly appreciated, and enjoy! The fourth and final part will be posted in the morning.

~*~*~*~

7:35

The airport buzzes with the chirps and laughter of people waiting to board planes, and those exiting. They are like the waves of the sea, rushing in and out slowly, steadily. Alice hangs on to her mother’s hand as they stand in line to board their flight. Alice’s stuffed, patched up teddy bear—the one she always takes to bed with every night, hugs when thunderclaps bang against her eardrums—is pressed against her chest with her free arm. The fear of losing her teddy on the scuffed tiled floor scares her.

Slowly and slowly the line looms further and further into the plane, after a very pretty woman checks each person’s ticket with a toothy, lipsticked smile and an, “Enjoy your flight. You’re always welcome here at American Airlines.”

When the pair make their way inside the plane, trying to find their own royal blue cushioned seats, Alice snags her foot on the corner of the aisle, crashing to the ground. The teddy bear somersaults in the air, out of her reach.

“Patches!” Alice squeals among the hubbub that envelops her.

Her mother, always with grace, pulls Alice to her feet. “Oh, you’re alright, Alice,” she says with a mother’s reassurance, wiping off imaginary dirt off her daughter’s small shoulders. But a voice interrupts her.

He clears his throat. Alice stares up at him. He has black hair, black brows, and darkened skin. Alice imagines him as a character from Aladdin.

“Ma’am, I think your daughter dropped this,” he says in a thick accent, holding Patches in his hands.

“Thank you, you were very kind to do that,” Alice’s mother smiles graciously at the man. The man hands off the teddy to a speechless Alice. “Alice, say thank you to the nice man,” her mother urges her daughter.

“Thank you,” she squeaks. He leaves without a word, lacing up the aisle in between men and women shoving their suitcases in their compartments.

~*~*~*~

8:30

The waiting room was crowded, everybody slouched in their seats, either making small talk with the person next door or burying their head in one of the trashy tabloids lying about. The TVs were blackened, and the clacking of fingers on computer keys rang in with the beeping of distant machines. I didn’t see a clock, so the constant beeps ticked away the minutes until I’d be knocked out stone cold dead on one of those metal slabs.

Beep.

Beep.

“Dr. Harrison, please report to the nurses’ station. Dr. Harrison, please report to the nurses’ station,” came a cool female voice over the intercom.

Beep.

All four of us walked up to the desk. I was lounging in my wheel chair, fidgeting my legs and arms so the blood could run its course. I hated sitting around for too long. An Asian lady greeted us with a smile, her hair draping over her taffy colored nurse’s scrubs.

“Hello; what’s going on here today?”

My mom piped up. “My daughter is having leg surgery. Kristen Schmid.”

I noticed the nurse’s eyes flit to me. A coarse noise of shuffling papers. “And who is her surgeon?”

“Dr. Armstrong.”

“Okay. If you could just have a seat, we’ll be with you shortly.” Except it wouldn’t be shortly.

We sat in the coffee colored chairs directly in front of the row of televisions that saluted us. We waited. We waited, and beeping counted down the time, like a bomb.

~*~*~*~

8:20

Alice gazes out her window at the morning clouds, marveled at how tiny the houses of Massachusetts look like little toy dollhouses. She presses her button nose against the windowpane. It feels cold, and it numbs the flesh.

Two sharp screams join in a cacophonous chorus behind the navy curtain. It’s not like one of those scary movies Alice always spied her dad watching late in the dark of night. They’re shrill. Jarring. It sends chills to seep and cradle your bones.

“Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!,” comes a high pitched shriek, rung with horror. With every breath, the faceless woman’s voice grew higher and higher until the only sounds that are heard are the wrenching sobs and two pairs of muffled, panicked footsteps.

The curtain rips open. A flight attendant, whose dirty blonde bun hangs in messy wisps, makeup melting down her pale face, and blood dripping scarlet from her hands and down her disheveled front, nearly runs up the aisle to the abandoned cart. The cart has towels, crisp and new and undefiled.

The man who had saved Patches appears. His face contorts into a demonic snarl, hungry for blood, for destruction. He charges after the flight attendant, who looks as struck as a deer about to be smashed to pieces by a semi-truck.

The man claws at her with his knife. “You shut up, you—” Alice hears something serpentine spat at the woman as he kicks her hard in the stomach. Alice knows the pure, undiluted loathing and filth the meaning of that foreign word possesses. It is acid to her ears.

People begin to screech and clutch each other out of fear. Alice and her mother are mute. Alice can feel the salty tears burn her eyes and scald her cheeks, and yet she cannot make a sound. She leans into her mother’s arm, the only safety she knows. Through the blur of her tears she gazes up at her mother in reverent idolatry. Her mother stares into nothingness, her face ashen, her breathing quiet, her heart jumping.

Go to Part IV.

September 11, 2001: A Memoir (Part II)

This is a continuation from Part I. Any plagiarism will not be tolerated. Please be respectful. With that being said, I hope you like this! Part III will be posted later today, or at the latest, tomorrow morning.

~*~*~*~

Rar! Rar! Rar! Rar!

My alarm clock nagged at me to get out of bed. I slapped it off, my eyes still heavy with sleep. Blackness, stained with only a thin ray of blue light from the lamppost, leaked through my window. I rolled over in the sea of jade coverlet, glaring murderously at the scarlet numbers on the clock. It told me it was 4:05.

Today would be the day that would change my life. And all I wanted to do was sleep, and eat, and drink. But I couldn’t do any of these things, for today at 9:00, doctors would take their scalpels and cut my legs open. They would make me better. All I cared about, like any nine-year-old girl, was being pampered like a princess in the months afterward.

Across the hall, I could hear my parents’ stir, the dog whining impatiently, the crack of the bedsprings. Soon I would hear my mother’s joints snap as she shuffled into my room, singing, “Get up, my sleepyhead, it’s time to get out bed, it’s time to go to the hospital. Today’s the day!” That was worse than the alarm clock because then my bed always seemed even more soft and squishy and warm.

I threw the covers off, walked blindly with my hands grasping for guidance into the bathroom, and let the stream of hot water crash and flood the tub.

5:00

Boston, Massachusetts

“Alice, honey, time to get up. You don’t want to miss your daddy, do you?”

“Mm-mm,” the little girl mumbles. Her eyes flutter open and she sees her mother’s willowy figure leaning against the doorframe. She could hear the pounding current of the bathwater a long ways away. Her cotton candy pink Disney Princess suitcase stands against the wall, empty and unzipped. It waits for her to slide out of bed, to get on a plane to Los Angeles at 7:40 A.M.

Her mother glides to her bed, tousles the young girl’s auburn hair. “C’mon, Sleeping Beauty, I want to leave this apartment in an hour.”

6:00

Buffalo, New York

Little pinpricks of light from corporate towers danced happily on the water and down below in crowded houses. All four of us—me, Megan, Mom, and Dad were packed into my mom’s 1999 white, mud splattered Kia minivan, crossing over the Skyway. The morning dawn over Buffalo was quite beautiful, a watercolor of deep blue and black, stained with hazy purples and streaks of pink. Smoke from Mom’s cigarette billowed out into the crisp air. Its stifling reek seeped into the van. I kept stuffing my nose in my shirt, or inhaling the brisk wind hungrily from Dad’s side of the vehicle—kind of like a dog.

In the harbor below, a big broad ship towered into the dark sky, its mast studded with bright yellow lights.

“What’s that?” Megan asked, looking up from her book on Anastasia and the Romanovs.

“That, Megan, is the USS The Sullivans,” my dad informed us.

“It’s kind of a funny name,” I said.

“Well, there’s a story behind it. The Sullivans were five brothers who joined up with the US Navy during World War II. And all of them died in the war. And there was this one family, I think they were from Tonawanda, who also went through something similar as the Sullivans. That’s why it’s here in Buffalo,” Dad said, pointing to the darkened boat.

And then it zoomed out of sight.


Go to Part III.

Monday, May 3, 2010

September 11, 2001: A Memoir (Part I)

At the request of my aunts, I have decided to post my story on my blog. It should be known that this is part memoir, part fiction. The parts that are autobiographical are the ones that deal with the surgery. Everything you do not recognize is all part of my imagination. Moreover, please be aware that any seemingly discriminatory remarks are to enhance the character. I, personally, am not racist and do not judge anyone on their skin, gender, culture, religion, sexuality, etc. I think it's wrong and hurtful. As a warning, there will be sensitive issues in this story. Lastly, please be respectful and do not, by any means, plagiarize. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this! Part II will be posted tomorrow.

September 11, 2001

Imagine this. A taxi driver sits in his car and smokes a cigarette, staring at a photo of his ex-wife and daughter. They are happy, the autumn wind playing with their long blonde hair, tugging at their matching pea coats. He wishes he could go back in time, fix the things he had broken. Maybe then he could hug and kiss his wife, make her laugh that laugh he loved that sounded as symphonic as a bell. Maybe then he would see his little girl scamper through the front door of the apartment when she came home from school instead of seeing her every other weekend and Easter. But he knows these are just wishes, and he takes another drag of his cigarette, the smoke drifting into the soft glow of early morning. The green numbers on the clock say it is only 6:30. Jesus.

Then three Pakis walk up, tap on his window. One of them, the one that looks like a hairy ape, holds up some money. Damn good for nothin' Arabs the driver thinks; he gets the ugly urge to spit in their faces, to slam the gas pedal and leave them hanging in the dust. But they have money, and money is money. He lets them in.

The man hands the driver the bills.

The driver snuffs out his cigarette. “Where are you going?”

“Logan International. Don’t ask questions.”

There is a somber, almost holy silence about the three men that disturbs the driver. Memories of fighting in the Persian Gulf resurface, of how he saw his war friends get blown to bloody bits by children and women and old men with bombs strapped to them. He shakes his head of the nightmare and returns to reality. These Arabs have beady black rat eyes and obviously devoted to their so-called Allah, but they are young and have yet to be hardened by the gore of war.

The driver pulls up, and the three men get out. His thoughts wander back to the broken fragments of his life, wishing he could save his buried war buddies, could hug and kiss his wife and make her laugh that laugh he loved, and see his daughter scamper happily through the door when she came home from school instead of seeing her every other weekend and Easter. These wishes blind him, and he does not see another Arab man linger by the payphone, and place a call to a friend; he does not see the knowing, curt nods of the three men to the one on the phone, as if they are partners in a cathartic crime. It is 6:52 A.M. And he pulls away.


Imagine this. A woman working in the airport is about to go on break. She craves a cigarette, her muscles tingling in anticipation. Her blue eyes become electric as the hands on the clock inch closer and closer to her release. A co-worker walks up behind her, her black hair cascading down to her shoulders as she pulls her ponytail out.

“Hey,” the co-worker greets her. “I’ve come to take over the fort while you’re out,” she laughs.

“Oh, thanks Veronica. You’re a lifesaver. Do you mind if I cut out a couple minutes early?”

“Nah, I’ll be able to handle it. Just be back before Mike comes over here; you know he’ll fire your ass if he sees that you went on break before you were supposed to again.”

When the woman returns, she finds Veronica sneaking peeks at the month’s edition of Cosmo beneath the desk. Amongst the crowds of moving people she sees five Arab men moving past security and boarding their planes. It is 7:40 A.M.

It is too late.


Go to Part II.

Friday, April 30, 2010

"Rebecca Has Won:" A Review on Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca"

What would you do if you fell in love with someone—someone with a past shrouded in the ominous blackness of mystery, a past of haunted hell? What would you do if everywhere you roamed, everything you touched, everyone you knew were marked with the memory of someone so vivacious, beautiful, and vivid, it would be as if the ravenous bay waters never swallowed them up, the fishes devouring their bloated, rotting body?

These are questions our young, interestingly nameless, narrator must face as she returns to the famed estate of Manderley as the second Mrs. de Winter. She is “nothing like Rebecca,” as so many people note: this meek, na├»ve twenty-one year old with a wild imagination riddled with thoughts of what people would think of her, but most importantly—Rebecca. Even in death, Rebecca steals the spotlight.

Rebecca always comes back.

I thought it to be a riveting and suspenseful psychological thriller with the idea of Misconception being at the heart of it. Du Maurier’s words captivate and cast their spell on you from its opening phrase, “I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” until the final page. And it keeps you thinking. Unlike most stories of today (there are some exceptions,) you are not fed the answers like a little toddler squealing and battering their fists for spoonfuls of food; you are expected to read between the lines, the conventions of 1938 Cornwall, England.

The characters themselves breathe with life, from the narrator herself to the sinister Mrs. Danvers, with hands as cold as death and a face like a skull, to the brooding Maxim de Winter to the rather despicable pig of a man, Jack Favell.

I recommend this classic to anybody. I urge you to walk up the large gravel drive, the small stones crunching beneath your feet. I urge you to smell the bluebells and the scarlet, giant rhododendrons that perfume the air. Maybe you’ll wander down to the Happy Valley through the winding and dark woods, where there are crowds of azaleas and rhododendrons of pink, gold, and snow white, that pepper the ground and fill the air with their sweet scent. Or perhaps you’ll go down to the bay and hear the waves crash against the rocks that are sharp as nails, the sea gulls crying, swooping over the glass surface as if to mourn something.

Welcome to Manderley.

4 out of 4 inkblots.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

James Dean Said It First: "Going For It" 2010

“Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die today.”James Dean

Dreams; what are they? They come in different shapes and forms for everybody in this world. They wait in the wings, eager ghosts, hoping to gain our notice and then be molded into reality. It is up to us, and us alone, to realize their presence before they become whispers of the wind, and from want of tender affection, die.

For some, dreams come through the blank, naked white canvases—canvases to be dressed in the splashes of popping colors. For others, they form through sweat slipping down skin, muscles burning in anticipation as they make a triumphant push across the Olympic finish line. For me, it’s different.

For me, my dreams take shape through the art of writing.

I started to get in the thick of writing when I was eleven. I wrote this terribly melodramatic novella about this poor young girl whose only friends were a horse and a little kitten, and her entire family died by its finish. Seeing as it was my first creative piece, I thought it was pretty good—even if it had me rolling on the floor laughing (quite literally) when I found the crumpled journal a few years later while cleaning out my closet.

Then I was introduced to Harry Potter fanfiction. I know, it must sound lame—writing stories around a story already created instead of just writing your own—but in my opinion, without writing fanfiction in a world as diverse and colorful as Harry Potter, I doubt my writing caliber would be the same. Hearing different people’s feedback germinated my writer’s spirit; it made it grow, expand until I was steady enough to delve into original fiction and poetry once more.

My love of film mixed with my passion for writing led to my desire to write screenplays along with novels and poetry. You know how people have those traditions ever year, like watching The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston? Well, my tradition is watching The Oscars. My goal is to get an Oscar for a screenplay of mine, and like Kate Winslet, I often practiced my Oscar acceptance speeches. Except I used Aquafresh toothpaste, not a shampoo bottle.

I love everything about writing, from the clickedy-clack of keys on a keyboard to stringing words together in a river of ink. I love how when you crack open a book, the writer’s words enthrall you, and each word floats like a cloud on your tongue. I love how writing can transport you into another world, another time, another place. You are the magician to make everything dance and sing on the page. You can be anywhere from beneath the sunsets of Calcutta to the peace and quiet of the English countryside to write. You can change lives with words.

That is the beauty of writing.

I’ve always been The Dreamer, ever since I was a little girl. My vivid imagination jumped here, there, and everywhere with wild abandon. To me, nothing seemed impossible or out of my reach—even when people threw obstacles in my way.

You see, when I was nine-months-old, I was blessed with a mild form of cerebral palsy. Please do not feel sorry for me; it may play a part in how I live my life, but walking with a limp and a forearm crutch certainly does not define Me. Nor does it hinder me where it matters most. Some people did not believe that. When I was nine, my doctor—a nervous, straw-haired fellow with a smile that could rival any car salesman—told my father and I, as blunt and as grave as someone ordered to deliver the death of a loved one, that I would be caged in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

I proved him wrong. Yes, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to notice the now-and-then sickly-sweet voices, the plastic smiles, the pitying eyes—but I don’t let these stop me. I’ve shown with my intellect and talents that having mild CP is just another quirk in Kristen.

But writing professionally isn’t my only dream. I strongly believe that helping people is one of the best ways to give back to the world. I want to be a college professor in English literature, particularly Georgian and Victorian literature. English is a subject that is very close to my heart; I can’t get enough of it. I’m such an English nerd that I specifically designed my senior year to focus on six of the seven English courses offered. I want to show people how English is such an enlightening subject, that it is not a course filled to the brim with dull readings that people find a chore to read and only dive so far into a story as SparkNotes. I want to help them see, truly see, the wonderful side of English.

Not only is going into teaching a dream of mine, but it would also help me financially. Has your ideal job ever had a rough market, whether it is the lack of job opportunities or just being tangled in the jungle of competition? Yeah. The world of writing is competitive, especially if you’re gunning to be somewhat successful. How many times have we seen mediocre, or even god awful writers, rise to the top while there are brilliant authors with only a small fan-base and little recognition? I know I’ve seen a few. But I’d wholeheartedly rather a small but loyal fan-base for a work I know to be of quality than be monstrously popular and sickeningly rich for something that may be over-hyped and milked by publishers and produces little literary merit.

Now, why the quote by James Dean? How many people do we know that can honestly claim that they lived their life to the fullest; that when they leave this world, they are happy with what they accomplished—no shouldas and wouldas and couldas? The ones that I think of off-the-bat are the Christopher McCandless/Alexander Supertramp types—the ones that follow their dreams no matter if it costs them the breath in their bodies.

But I don’t think you have to rush to the extremes to chase your dreams.

You don’t have to climb Mount Everest.

You don’t need to win a Tour de France.

You just need to believe. Because anything is possible if you have that thirsting tenacity to get what you want. It can be as tiny as being inducted into an Honors Program or as giant as living in the quaint countryside of England and writing when the juices are flowing.

It’s up to you.

It’s up to you to follow your future. You’re only here once. Make it count.