Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

All Hallow's Eve... One of my favorite days of the year-- the chill in the air, the cool breeze, the smell...

I LOVE the smell of Halloween.  I don't even know how to put it into words to accurately describe it, but there is something so personal about it for me--the smell of Halloween just lingering in the air tugs at my heartstrings.

I have always been fascinated by how scent is so very much tied to our memories.  I'm sure I'll write a post about it in the future, in fact.  But, for Halloween especially, scent is tied to my memory.  I don't know if it's the smell of fire in the air as it mingles with the dampness that is usually present in the evenings on Halloween in California, but it just makes me feel happy--and very, very nostalgic.

From a very early age I remember loving Halloween.  I would get so excited for days in advance--perhaps even weeks (months? Mom, help me out?).  Then, the day would finally (finally!) arrive.  The family would come over, my mom would make chili (which as The World's Pickiest Eater I would not eat, but no matter), and cornbread (which I would eat) and my cousin and I would go trick-or-treating after we took pictures in front of the fireplace showcasing our adorableness-- (see below evidence of cousin Chad as a baseball player, and me as a bunny).  I just remember being... happy.  So happy that everyone was together, that we would all walk around the neighborhood, and I'd get free candy, and people would tell me what a cute bunny or bumblebee I was.

Cousin Chad and Little Me circa 1989(?)

It was just happy-- so much so that thinking about it now makes me sort of sad.  I guess I feel sad in the way that only nostalgia can make us sad. In a way that makes me want to go back to those days, when everything was simpler and the problems I faced were so small, the heartbreaks so little ("I got Smarties again?! I HATE Smarties!")

It's funny how often some of our memories do that-- take the good, and leave the bad.  I know my family fought sometimes on Halloween, but I don't remember that--not really.  I just remember the smell of fall in the air, fireplaces burning, and holding my Mom's hand as we walked from house to house.

Fast forward to Halloween 2013.  I still love Halloween, for different reasons--for the memories I have of all those years as a child.  I asked for day shift, went in as early as this night shifter could bear, and have the chili warming in the crockpot, cornbread in the oven (carrying on the tradition from my Mom--after all, I'll eat it now), and a bowl of candy waiting by the door (no Smarties).  And I will wait for the trick-or-treaters to come, and I will tell them what a wonderful cowgirl, witch, ballerina, sheriff they make--and maybe in some of their faces I'll be able to see my cousin--and in some, maybe I will see myself, and for a moment I'll regain all that feels so much like loss.

I know (I hope) someday I will hold the hand of my own little ones, gathering candy and smiles;  until then, I take solace and comfort in warmth of the memories that make me realize how much I had, how lucky I was, and how very much I was loved.

Happy All Hallow's Eve from Natalie and Cash:
Cash & Natalie 2013

Hot Dog, I hope you had a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


NaNoWriMo is nearly upon us.

Or, the almost easier way to type it: National Novel Writing Month! That's right, it's November.  

You may or may not know that I have signed up for this for the past two years.  For those unfamiliar (though, it's kind of a fad/trend, so you may all be familiar), it's where you sign up to write a novel during the month of November.  50,000 words.  You don't have to edit, proofread, etc. (all that comes after), you just write.  Which sounds easy.  But which is not.

The first year I entered, 2011, I was on track!  The first week, I was ahead of my goal with something like 12,000 words.  And then, I hit a wall.  A wall that I never got through, over, or around. Those 12,000 words were it for me.  Recently I came across them, and I still couldn't see a way out of the hole into which I'd written myself.  Oh well.  Failed attempt #1.

The second year was 2012, and I was motivated in October.  This was going to be the year.  THE YEAR, my friends.  And... I didn't even start.  Not one word flowed from my fingers to the virtual paper.  Oh well.  Failed attempt #2.

This year, 2013 is my third attempt.  And I'm excited-- I'm fully planning on at least starting something.  I already have ideas in my head (you can't start work on the actual novel until November 1st).  I'm not saying it's definitely going to happen this year, but they have always said that the third time is the charm.

I've got a story in mind that includes ghosts, paranormal investigators, a dog, a young woman, a young man, and romance.  So.  We'll see how that all goes.  If you see me around in November ask me how the novel is coming!  But, don't push it if I shoot you an evil look, it means I'm not doing well.  And don't be offended if I don't want to tell you about it-- a true writer, I hate talking about my own work! ;)

If you're attempting NaNoWriMo, leave me a comment and let me know!  Maybe we can be writing buddies.

Anyway, NaNoWriMo (that really IS annoying/difficult to type), I'm [hopefully] coming for you!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Theron Julius Brison

"You know anything can happen anywhere at any time, right?"

These words were said to me by an African American man, hitching a U-Haul trailer to the back of my SUV.  It was in response to my comment that the trailer likely wouldn't get tagged with graffiti (for which I would be liable) since it was in Burbank.

The beads of sweat glistened on his forehead, as he looked up at me, knelt down on the asphalt, his denim clad knee bearing his burly weight, keeping his flesh protected from the tiny bits of rocks and gravel-- "You know anything can happen anywhere at anytime, right?"

The words were simple, concise, and he was friendly but stern as he said them.

"Yes," I agreed, rather stunned, as his words were quite unexpected, "I know that."

And, I do.  But, sometimes, I forget.  Not for long, but still. Sometimes I feel safe-- but, underneath, deep down, I know that I'm never really safe.

I've known that for 2 years now. [I can scarcely believe it's been 2 years]

2 years ago, I was like most people--or, how I imagine most people are, anyway.  I was vaguely aware of true evil in the world, of bad and violent things occurring on a daily basis.  I would see them on the news, or hear them on the radio and think, "Oh, how sad.  How absolutely tragic."  And I meant it.  These things WERE sad, they WERE tragic-- but, they were also happening to someone else.  So, I was aware of it, but only in the periphery; I like to think I was genuinely upset about these things--as upset as someone on the outside looking in could be, anyway,

Until October 14th, 2011.  When a very close family friend was murdered.  It was the first time I felt actually touched by violence--when "Oh, how sad.  How absolutely tragic," was screamed and cried into my pillow in fits of rage and despair, instead of with a slight shake of the head and a somber expression as it had been all those times before.  I was beside myself with grief.  I felt hate for the first time in my entire life--true and utter hate, like I could flip the switch on those who had done this to him myself.

As time has gone on, the pain has lessened-- but the memory of that day still haunts me.  And a beautiful light--one of the brightest I've ever known, truly-- in this world was extinguished forever.

Over 700 people came to his funeral to say goodbye, to reminisce about how much he meant to them, or how he had helped change their lives, how he was responsible for their recovery, for their living instead of dying.  I was just one of them, but he was very important to me.  I'd known him for basically my entire life, and I would sometimes call him 'uncle.'  He was one of the kindest, gentlest, funniest people I've ever known--and I'm not just saying that because of the ways in which death sometimes makes us forget a person's true self; I'm saying it because it's true.  It's absolutely true.  I miss his smile, his amazingly contagious laughter, and the way he always called me "Master Natalie," after I got my degree. I miss his music--he was a bass player for Bootsy Collins, and I made everyone listen to his band's CD to and from my birthday party in the 7th grade.  Mostly, I miss him, and the incredible positivity he brought into this world. Theron "Thee-Ram Jam" Brison, you will forever be loved and missed more than words can ever possibly say.

And I hope, more than anything, for justice to be served.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Crawling Back to Apple

Alright, so... first things first.  There has been a blog name change!  I am horrible at naming things (except pets and electronic devices), so I'm not even really in love with this one, but meh.  A rose by any other name, and all that.

How the name came about is that I kept thinking of things I could write a blog about-- like, Cash (my dog), but noooo, no one would want to read that.  I should start running! And make a blog about that!  But no one would read that either.  Or a cooking blog... or a blog about books, or... you get the picture.  Basically, with each topic, I concluded that no one would want to read it.  So, here we have the new title.  Because, honestly, no one's going to read it anyway, so I might as well write about whatever my mind is drawn to.

Recently, I switched from an iPhone 4 to a shiny new Galaxy S4.  And at the beginning, I loved it!  I really, really loved not having to squint to look at my phone!  As someone who's worn glasses since the 1st grade (see pictorial proof below), and needed them since she was a baby, I'm all for things that are easy on my eyes, since my eyesight isn't the greatest.  I really loved that about the Galaxy S4!  It was so pretty, and big, and my eyes weren't strained... ever.

Little Natalie gets her first pair of glasses, circa 1992.

But, as the 2 week trial period began to near (I could return my phone through Verizon for only a $35 restocking fee for 2 weeks, after that, I was stuck with it for 2 years!), I began to miss my iPhone.  Terribly. When I got the Galaxy, I was excited!  I have been a mac based person since grad school, when I got my first mac book.  Prior to that, let me say that I was for SURE one of those people who would sit around and talk about how there was absolutely no difference between a mac and a PC... until I got a mac, and realized how wrong I had been.

Anyway, since then, I've been into Apple.  And since the OS is pretty similar across all devices (computer, iPad, iPhone, what have you), I was super excited to get into the Galaxy and give it a try-- a NEW gadget!  Yay!  However, I quickly became lost-- there was SO much going on.  SO MUCH.  And I felt lost half the time I was using my phone.  Save the pretty screen and the ease with which I adjusted to using SWYPE, I was missing the simplicity of my iPhone like nobody's business.

So, eventually I decided to switch back.  I went back to Verizon and turned in my Galaxy S4 with my tail between my legs (I did it on iPhone 5s launch weekend, too, so I had to wait over an hour to do it), got my refund (less $35), and went home and ordered my shiny new iPhone 5s (in gold, you judgmental bastards), and it's set to arrive from China next Wednesday.  I'm super excited!

I will miss the screen size immensely--and SWYPE.  I still sometimes try to SWYPE on my iPhone 4, and get incredibly frustrated when I realize it won't work.  But, in the end, simplicity, and knowing what the hell I'm doing won out.  Everyone kept saying that there was a learning curve--I'd get used to it, etc.  But, truth be told, it wasn't a $200 and some odd dollar chance I'd be willing to take.

Another thing I came across when trying to figure out my new phone (and another thing which led me back into the comforting Apple embrace) was a ton of people saying "There's an app for that."  Which... is awesome, I guess!  But, I'm not used to needing an app for everything.  I'm used to my phone just doing nearly everything it needs to do.  So, iPhone it is.

Through this process, I've learned that there IS a major difference between Android users and iPhone users. For years now, I've heard tons of Android users complain about iPhone users-- how they are all condescending, etc.  But, this hasn't been my experience.  Being the avid indecisive person that I am, I did research-- a LOT of research before turning my S4 in.  And this research led me to various Android blogs, and just blogs in general (people really blog a lot, huh?), and personal experiences when I'd ask for advice on my social media, and I came to the conclusion that Android users are usually very aggressively Android.



iPhone users are like this: ZOMG I LOVE MY IPHONE IT IS SO COOL.  But, yeah, I totally understand why some people would like Android better, and there is a lot you can do with those phones, it's just honestly a matter of personal preference.

And like this, when new Android features are released: Oh, man, that's pretty cool.  I would love it if the iPhone did something similar to that... maybe it will someday.  Still lovin' my phone, though.

Capslock intentional, by the way.

Anyway, I can't WAIT for my phone to get here-- I'm excited for something moderately new, and functional, and right for me.

To all my Android users, I still love ya! (I'm an iPhone user, after all. ;) )