Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Living a Slow Life

On occasion, I consider where I'm "at" in life. I think about what I've accomplished and what I wish I had already completed at this point. When I get really negative about stuff my brain tries to say that my life is "bad" but I logically know that's incorrect. The more I've been pondering this idea of what a "bad" life is the more I understand that my life isn't "bad" (for a multitude of reasons) but it feels bad sometimes because frankly, it's slow.

I haven't achieved nearly any of the things I thought I would by this point. As a kid I thought by now I'd be married, I'd own my own home, I'd have a profitable career as a writer, and I'd have multiple books published. I seriously thought those things would be easy and doable by 30.

Clearly, I didn't have the life experience, nor did I know myself well enough to understand my own limitations to ultimately make a better prediction of when and how my life goals would be reached. Also, those goals have shifted a bit over the years from the ones I had as a child which clearly child me could not have accounted for.

Adult me should be disappointed that child me wasn't the greatest predictor of adult me's successes and failures. 

But some days I really am disappointed. So I try to remind myself that being behind on some sort of life plan doesn't make my life "bad," waiting a few more years to achieve goals doesn't make my life "bad," being a different person than who I expected to be still doesn't make my life "bad."

My path is a slow path, I live a slow life. I will eventually get the things I'm aiming for but it will be a lot slower than I expected and I have to accept that or go crazy trying.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cat Sweaters and Captain America Hoodies

Sometimes you buy or are gifted a piece of clothing that you can only wear occasionally, like Halloween sweaters, Christmas sweaters, or even cat sweaters (because if you wore cat sweaters every day you'd morph into a cat). 
 Some people are ballsy, they will wear whatever whenever. I'm a bit more shy with some of my clothing choices and therefore limit myself to wearing costumes at only costume appropriate events like Halloween, Dragoncon, Wild Rumpus, and the occasional trivia night where costumes are welcomed.

So last Tuesday was one such night. I was invited to trivia and I heard I could get a percentage off of my meal if I wore a costume. Being the cheap...er cost conscious person I am, I decided to wear a costume. So the Captain America hoodie I've only been able to wear to a couple of "appropriate" events (mind you I have worn it occasionally just to look cool), was able to be dusted off and brought out for a "special" occasion.
(This photo is terribly creepy but it's better than any picture I could have taken of my own hoodie.)
So I busted out my hoodie and my handmade shield. Yeah, I spent way too long making a backpack that slightly resembles the design of Cap's shield.

Only three other people that night wore a costume, and I was surprised and a little embarrassed to find out that there was going to be a competition between costumes. I don't mind sitting in a dark booth in my costume but being front and center is a little wearisome. But as luck would have it, the "person that never wins anything" (don't so many of us say that about ourselves?) won the best costume contest. Unfortunately the prize wasn't more money off my bill. :/ At the end of the day I do love Captain America, but I love saving money more. :p

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's The Little Things

Sometimes we get so caught up in what we don't have, what we have yet to achieve, what big goals are still waiting for us in the distance... Many spiritual beliefs tell us to be in the moment, to live day to day, to not worry of the future or regret the past but it's hard to look at the little things. We think happiness arrives in the form of a romantic relationship, a career achieved, loads of money, etc. But every small smile, every short second of kindness, every quick laugh, those things compile into a lifetime of happiness - we just have to be looking for them.

A few years ago I got a small beanie baby unicorn from a store called Five Below. I got the unicorn because it's cute and I love unicorns. Recently, I found out that a certain fast food chain was carrying several tiny beanie babies, one of which was a pink unicorn. I went to one and they did not have it and I promptly forgot about it. Last night though, while in the drive-thru of this fast food chain I remembered and my sister asked the woman working the speaker system if they had the unicorns in stock. She assured us that they did and so we asked for one. When we received our food we found that instead of a unicorn there was a dumb video game toy in our bag.

As much as I love unicorns I really don't like confrontations so I was willing to resign myself to going home without a new unicorn (because really who needs more crap anyways?) but my sister decided she would march into the restaurant and tell them that "her daughter (yes she told them daughter because we were asking for a kid's toy) loves unicorns and she specifically requested the unicorn" to which the counter person responded that they did not have any unicorns but she was free to look through what they did have. Upon a quick glance of the beanies that were there, she easily spotted the pink unicorn (which looks a bit more like a horse but whatever).

So in the end I got my unicorn and it's little things like that which really make a person happy in life. Yes, it's awesome to make lots of money and to achieve your career dreams, and to have kids, and a marriage, and a beautiful home and all the other things people dream about, but it's the little things that sustain you when those bigger things are far off, or didn't work out as you planned. Little things like a tiny unicorn buddy for your already tiny unicorn, and a sister going out of her way to make sure that your unicorn has a new friend. :)

Tiny Unicorn.

Tiny Unicorn and Big Sister Unicorn.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2014 in Movies (So Far)

There are few things in life that I get excited about. For whatever reason, movies are one of them. But the list of movies I'm really excited about is pretty small (I guess I'm quite persnickety). This year there have been several films I've been excited to see and recently I got to watch two of them.

"The Rover" starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson looked exactly like something I need to see (since I'm always interested in the artistic portrayals of post apocalyptic societies). Set in a world after an economic collapse, it explores what's really important when you've lost so much. It also touches on how we lose our humanity and what things can bring it back (or destroy any trace of it). The film is slow and very much a character study (not so much an action film as the trailer might suggest), but interesting none-the-less.

"Snowpiercer" starring Chris Evans and Song Kang-ho also depicts a world after the society we know collapses. While more action based than The Rover, this film explores personal freedom, the decision to be a hero or not, and the strange concepts our society holds about the haves and the have-nots. This film is quite graphic at times, but the ideas it presents are interesting to discuss and mull over.

Neither film was exactly what I was expecting, but neither was a complete let down so I walked away satisfied. The acting was wonderful in each, and the questions they both bring up about our society and human struggles are very insightful and leave you thinking long after the credits roll. If you don't mind violence, and like movies that make you think (not just entertain) then you might want to check these two out.

Other films I'm looking forward to this year? Well there's too many to mention but a few highlights that stand out include:

"The Retrieval" starring Tishuan Scott:

"The Congress" starring Robin Wright:

"Birdman" starring Michael Keaton:

"The Zero Theorem" starring Christoph Waltz:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


If you're not familiar with Pinterest, you need to get familiar! j/k I think Pinterest can be a great tool for writers who are visually inspired and who like to organize their work visually (at least on occasion). Pinterest allows you to share and store images along with text that you can come back to again and again even if those images have been removed from the internet. The site allows you to make several boards for different interests or, for writers, different projects. 

I currently have a board for several of my books. I like being able to explore what the characters, scenery, and specific objects in the book look like. I also like sharing quotes that relate to the content of the book when possible. For my "No Rest" board [http://www.pinterest.com/innesjen/no-rest/]I have several images for each character, I have a lot of images for the scenery in the book and I've shared lots of quotes that set the mood of the world these characters live in. 

I'm also able to use Pinterest to drop hints about the story with seemingly random images such as the one below from my "No Rest" board:

Pinterest also gives you the opportunity to save images for books you haven't written yet but are in the back of your mind and you want to remember key things about. Or to potentially even explore the story through images prior to setting a specific plot. I have a few boards for books that I intend to write and I use the boards to keep myself excited about the project.

Pinterest is also a great way to engage with readers. By sharing your Pinterest boards with readers you can help them get excited about your books, the world they are set in and the characters that you've created. Below I've attached an image from my board for my book "Two Heads Are Better Than One" that represents a key object from the story. [http://www.pinterest.com/innesjen/two-heads-are-better-than-one/]

There is an added feature of creating hidden boards. These boards can be used for images you want to be able to see but you don't want others to see on your site. These boards can help you get excited about a project before sharing it with everyone else. They also can be used to only allow a select few people to see the images you've saved there. 

Lastly, Pinterest also allows you to explore your brand online and to share things that associate with your online persona, or at least to share some of your other interests with the public at large. For me, that means lots of cat photos [http://www.pinterest.com/innesjen/gabby-and-chewie/]:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Those Books Are For Kids!

After going through an old box of CDs, I pulled out a few and gave them a listen. Revisiting music I loved when I was between the ages of 10 and 15 brought back a lot of memories. I also came to the realization that, as a kid, I did not have the worldly experience that I would need to be able understand most of the lyrics. Clearly, I understand English and so I know what words mean, but I didn't understand the feelings behind them. I didn't have comparative experiences to what the singers were singing about and with adult ears, these lyrics and this music took on new meaning for me. Revisiting this music gave me a kind of "Ah-ha!" moment.

(Back in the day when I was listening to music it would take me years to truly understand.)
(I'm the one with the aversion to sunlight.)

At work I had to go through some lists of summer reading suggestions from area schools. Reading the titles of many of these books reminded me of ones I had read as a child or ones I never had the chance to read. Just like the music that had new meaning when revisiting it as an adult, I think the same can be said for children's literature. I'm not talking about the Adventures of Captain Underpants series, I mean classics like Tuck Everlasting, and The Diary of Anne Frank. Books that I read as a kid but had no context in which to put them in; books that left my memory almost as soon as I finished reading them because I didn't have personal experiences which allowed me to connect with the events in the stories on a more emotional level; books that were easily wasted on my youthful self.

As a student of literature, I've spent the last several years honing my ability to dig through a book and see the deeper meanings within a text. As a child I never had this ability - another way these books were wasted on me. But now I can fix that. I can go back and read those books again, take an afternoon and see what they were really about, compare them to my life now, make a connection to the deeper intentions of the story, find what makes these books classics and what makes them the kind of literature that schools want kids to read even if kids can't truly comprehend them or even remember them past childhood.

So that's what I'm going to try to do this summer. I'm cultivating a list and I'm planning on sitting down and really giving these books the focus they deserve and that my childhood self couldn't provide. And who knows, maybe by the end of this summer I'll have learned a few new things about writing that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

So on Monday I went and saw the new X-men film and I think it's probably my favorite film of the year so far (yes, I liked it better than Captain America BUT there are a few contenders that might give it a run for its money like Rover starring Guy Pearce). This is saying a lot because I don't tend to walk into a film excited about it and walk out satisfied with it. Typically my expectations ruin films, or rather when films don't meet my expectations I'm disappointed and don't enjoy the movie. But Days of Future Past did not disappoint (at least it didn't disappoint me). And I'm pretty geeked about seeing it a second time in theaters (which, if you know me, is a rare occurrence indeed). Why did I like it so much? Let me tell you...

WARNING: There be spoilers ahead!

After X-Men: The Last Stand, I walked out of the theater angry and I said the only way to fix this crap is to send Bishop back in time to change it. I repeated that to anyone that would listen and a few who wouldn't. Mind you, I'm not terribly familiar with the comics (only read a few) but I'm familiar with the 90s TV show, so I was aware of the story line where Bishop travels through time. So I just figured he'd have to do it. I didn't mind that it was Wolverine instead. I like Wolverine (he's maybe my favorite X-men character), and I didn't care that it followed a comic book story line that originally featured Shadowcat in the time traveler role. I'm just glad someone went back and fixed the crap that happened in Last Stand. Even if we want to get all science-y and discuss the fact that the world Logan wakes up in at the end of the film is probably an alternate universe where the events of Last Stand didn't occur but the universe where they did still exists, and the universe where the Sentinels are destroying all the mutants we love still exists, and Logan is just one lucky S.O.B., or is he because maybe the new universe/timeline he's found himself in is the one where Apocalypse exists, and if he had stayed in one of the other timelines/universes he would have avoided Apocalypse and the death and destruction he will bring altogether...Anyways, I'm still happy with the ending of this film and I can finally let my anger about Last Stand go. Good times.

It's also awesome that Bishop did make it into the film, even if he only had a small role.

Another reason I enjoyed the film because it gave you several scenes of intense drama but also scenes of humor that made characters more endearing. Like most people, I felt like one of the best scenes of the film is when Quicksilver goes around the kitchen and cleans up the mess, so-to-speak. That scene alone is worth seeing the film twice just so you can catch every aspect of what he's doing. It's so well thought out, but happens surprisingly fast. ;) Another humorous bit that made me laugh out loud is when Magneto gets angry and the plane starts to fall out of the sky and stuff is falling everywhere and everyone is worried that they're all going to die in this tin can. Then Magneto controls himself, the plane rights itself, and Wolverine looks at the dishes and crap that now are all over the floor and says to Magneto, "Are you going to pick that crap up?" Classic Wolverine - pretending he's not scared by being a wise guy.

One more reason I liked the film was because Wolverine wasn't really the main character. While I love me some Hugh Jackman, and was glad he was in this film, I was even more glad that he was kind of sidelined and let other characters shine. I can't explain it well, I guess, but the fact that he was present but wasn't the focus of the film made it better. He could be there with his side comments and his support but it was about other characters getting their crap together and their challenges which gave the film its emotional depth and meaningful conclusion. Wolverine was just along for the ride and that suited me fine.

A final reason I thought the film was so so so so good, was because of how layered it was (also why I think it deserves a second viewing). I've been so disheartened by superhero movies lately, the ones that are so basic you don't need to think while watching you just applaud explosions and whatnot. I really didn't know what to expect from this film and I didn't give it the preparation it deserved. Yes, this movie deserves some forethought before sitting down and watching it. You should watch X-Men First Class again, before viewing because so many elements from that film come to play. Little details you'd miss if you didn't have that film in the forefront of your memory when sitting down in the theater. Details that I wanted to know but had to rack my brain to remember since I had seen the film so long ago. So I definitely want to see First Class ASAP before I head back to the theater. I think the film is made that much better by being able to spot the slight nods to the previous film and by understanding maybe a little clearer the relationships between characters (or rather being reminded of their intensity).

So yes, I really, really, really liked this movie. In case you were wondering.