Thursday, July 29, 2010

He was on to something...

Peter Pan along with the rest of his indignant lost boys' high pitch squealing of "Never wanting to grow up" has been ringing through my head all day. Granted, I'm only a 21-year-old individual. But lately, I have felt much older. Especially when these arrive to my house.

It's quite deceptive, ya know, this whole mail thing.
I skip down my slope driveway of my beautiful new house to see what delights the mailman has left for me. My eyes widen as I see the plethora of lovely envelopes all waiting to be
opened.My heart quickens. Then realization strikes its deadly right hook, and suddenly, the mail isn't so pretty anymore.

I sigh. A big, long, can-I-stick-this-back-in-and-pretend-I-didn't-get-it kind of sigh.It used to be that when something arrived in the mail marked "Jena M. Carper," it was a letter from a friend, a brochure to some school I need to attend, maybe a magazine or two.
Now, it's bills.

I think Peter Pan might have thought one day that growing up was a good thing, maybe even a great thing. He probably had some crazy awesome ambitions, places he wanted to see, careers he wanted to pursue. And then he saw what OG&E charges for an electricity deposit,
and well, the rest is NeverLand history.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Really Reality?

Movies and I have a love/hate relationship.
I guess you could say that I'm picky or hard to please, but that's not exactly the way I choose to see it. I prefer to think of myself as an optimist, a firm believer in the grand possibilities of film which apparently very few [and I mean verrrrry few] directors have been able to grasp [Marc Webb, don't worry, you're not included in this.]

However, this past weekend I went and saw Inception merely because it was all over the Internet as "the movie" to see. I wasn't fazed by the craze. I don't usually agree with most movie critiques [otherwise I'd be nominating Eclipse as movie of the year], however, I insisted that Grahm and I pay the $9 fee [well actually he paid] to see what all the fuss was about [and well, let's face it, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in it. An automatic win.]

I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't exactly enthralled either.

Regardless of my feelings, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion afterward.I had so many questions when Grahm and I were walking out of Hollywood Theaters. My head was throbbing so hard, I thought my brain might fall out of my butt from over thinking.

Questions, questions, questions flooded my mind. How do I know this world is real? Am I merely someone else's projection? How do ideas pop into our heads, anyway? Can inspiration always be traced back to another source, the inception of another?

And of course, this posed the much larger, deeper question:
Is reality, really, what we think it is?

The most interesting part [in my grand opinion] from this crazy, bizarrely over-complicated movie was all the men who came together every day to dream. They had become addicted to the escape, so much so that dreaming had become their only reality.
"They come here to wake up."

So I'm wondering, do we all have it backwards? Did those men have it right? Is dreaming our reality, and living simply the stage in between?

After all, everything in our dreams is better, bigger, more real than, well, real life. The colors are more vivid, the danger more intense, the memories more tangible. No wonder these men chose to live their lives in "escape" mode, fleeing from the boundaries of this world and boldly singing "I Dreamed a Dream" with as much vibrato as Susan Boyle.

Folks, what if we lived the way we dream? What if we weren't afraid of the consequences, unswayed by the possibility of failure? In essence, that's what I enjoyed most about this movie. Not only are the dreamers allowed to conjure up fantastical worlds, they were also able to do the impossible, what the rest of the world can only "dream" about.

And that, dear friends, is a pretty excellent way to live.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Deal or no Deal?

I haven't felt like reading the past few days. Bad sign?
I went through three novels last week, and now my brain is saying, "Whoooaa Nelly!"
This is a bummer for many reasons. I started an excellent book that already has me
captivated and I'm only on page sixty. [Only 724 more pages to go.] This doesn't
happen to me very often; I don't get attached this easily.

You see the first fifty pages are the clencher. Making the decision to turn to page fifty-one, I always feel as though I can see Howie Mandel's shiny bald head peering over my shoulder; he's yelling, "Deal or no deal?" at the top of his annoying lungs.

But he poses an interesting question: should I keep reading?

I used to have the philosophy that life is far too short to read bad books. Now that I want to be an editor, this reasoning has weakened just a tad. After all, I'm going to have to know how to transform bad books into something somewhat enjoyable... so I can't simply gloss over the "Ehh" reads.

The point is, we all know what we like, and it doesn't take us too long to figure out if the
bound pages sitting in our lap will fit our qualifications for a "better than great" read.
It's usually about fifty pages, right?

Authors who start off slow aren't doing anyone any favors, least of all themselves.
Dive right in, people. No body [really] cares about the description of the pretty
carnations outside the ornate mansion in which your main character is dwelling.
Or maybe we do, but not twenty pages worth right at the beginning.
Herman Melville, take note.

Our job is to make readers care. No one likes to recommend a book that you
have to preface with: "Just get to the eighth chapter and it's sooo great!"
How come it can't be great from page one, line one?

If you think the carnation description is absolutely vital,
save it for later. Your readers need to be interested first. That's they key. Otherwise, they're going to succumb to Howie's tempting offer to close your book and head for the hills.

Have you ever read a book that seemed to drag on forever at the beginning?
Why did/didn't you decide to keep reading?

Monday, July 19, 2010


I think I may be cursed.
Did someone pluck a brown hair from my unsuspecting head and create a creepy doll-like version of me? Surely, this all can't be plain bad luck.

Four days ago, Dink was burglarized. [Note the proper word usage.]
My pretty Toyota Yaris was unwillingly opened, his contents rummaged.
My license was taken. Oh, and did I mention four hundred dollars?
I'm a poor poor poor [emphasis on the poor] college student, who happens to be housesitting for a professor this summer. Being poor and all, I don't usually carry that kind of cash with me. However, this was the "emergency fund" they left me [in a sealed envelope] just in case the dog needed something.

So, now it has to come out of my shallow pockets. They get home tomorrow from South Africa. Because of the time difference, I haven't been able to get ahold of them to break the bad news. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to that delightfully awkward conversation.
"There was an emergency with the emergency fund..."

It's an eery feeling knowing someone else, a stranger, was poking his unwelcome nose into my car. I can't help but feel a tinsy bit violated.

To add a cherry on top of my sundae-esque week, I was involved in a hit-and-run accident this morning. Turning into my new neighborhood, I was especially chipper today. I had
just been to Wal-Mart, and I was on my way back to finish some painting when...
Out of nowhere a red pickup truck nails me from behind.
Little Dink was thrown into oncoming traffic. Much to my chagrin, I looked
behind me just in time to see my offender speeding off in the opposite direction.
I sat, stunned. Did that really just happen?
I frantically called 911.
The poor lady asked me the same questions about four times. She couldn't
understand my words through the sobs.

If I didn't fully believe in the total depravity of man last week, I sure do now.
The ten minutes I sat in my car waiting for the police officer to arrive, I
couldn't help but be ridiculously pissed off.
There's no better word to describe my emotions at that moment.
Hot tears ran down my face as I contemplated the wickedness of the human race.
How EVIL does someone have to be to speed away, not owning up
to his actions? I would have been nice. I wouldn't have bitten you.

Alas, I'm not so different from the man driving the red truck.
I sin, and I run away from it. I don't want to be found out. Instead,
I flee from the Lord and hide in my filth, my iniquity.
And I do this every day.

My dad reminded me that everything happens for a reason. God is good
and He protected me this morning. I actually have a lot to be thankful for,
because it could have been a lot worse [especially since I was thrust into oncoming traffic].
I could be sitting in a hospital garb, having my mom type this depressing blogpost for me.
But God be praised, I am in one piece and so is Dink. We're just
a little shaken up. So maybe I'm not cursed, maybe there isn't
some crazy girl working Vodoo on a small version of me.

I'm really just blessed, with a God who protects and provides.

So... the moral of the story is never ever ever leave money in your car.
And always always always get the license plate number.
Oh and be grateful because it could have been worse.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Happens When You Clean Out Your Computer

Yesterday, I was cleaning out my computer [yes, you can do that] when I discovered several old documents. Ancient things I had written long ago. It's strange to read your own words and not even recognize yourself in them. It was another time, another place, another you.

You played me like a violin
So sweet, so gentle.
Your hands softly caressed my skin
As you saw into my very mind.
Beautiful melodies grew from our unexpected bond
Such exquisite harmony I had not heard, nor even known before.
Every minute spent with you only increased my fond affections
Each second seemed to bequeath me, enamored
Never wanting our symphony to end.
Silently, you picked up the bow,
Slowly beginning to play.
Stroking my strings with tender perfection,
Your confidence ringing true.
Within moments, our song had begun,
Stirring joy in the hearts of all who heard.
Simple, beams of sun gleamed upon our faces.
Yes, we were meant to craft such bliss.
Never once did I doubt your lovely intentions,
Always having faith in the music we shared.
Soon, however, your true colors called
for the abandonment of my fragile heart.
Lifeless, you left me on a small black stand,
No melodies left to play.
Cold, I miss the touch of your skillful hands
And the sweet music of that day.
Our union was harmonious, even from the start.
Yet, I shall never forget that mesmerizing night,
When you played me like a violin; your opus, my heart.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Life, it's nothing like the game

It's raining. The dark clouds have been glooming over Norman
just a tad too long. The thick droplets freckle the windows.
Thunder claps the sky. I enjoy listening to the gentle pitter-patter, especially
when I have a good book to read.
But an entire week of it ... I start getting antsy.
My mood is entirely too dependent on the weather.

Because of the unpleasant wet slush outside, Evan and I have been forced indoors.
This means lots of sock baseball, puzzles, and board game marathons.
We played Life this morning, my first time in years.
I was quickly reminded that I'm not a fan, not at all.

Have you ever noticed the "Write a bestseller. Receive $80,000" space?
I hadn't either, until today when my yellow, plastic car landed on it.
A smile surfaced upon my face.
If only it were that easy, I thought.

Maybe that's what I don't like most about this game. It's too neat, too straight forward.
Go to college. Stop. Get married. Stop. Get children. Stop. Buy a house.

All the exciting hallmarks of life are nicely highlighted for you by the bright colorful spaces.
No one is a loser. Everyone wins. We all graduate, get married, and live successful
happy lives with a nice paycheck awaiting us every couple of spaces.
Just spin the wheel and see what luck is in store for you.

Life, my friends, is not like this. [Duh] No, but really.
I think this game is actually killing the very premise of life.

Life [and I'm sure I don't have to tell you this] is messy, it's unpredictable, it's hard.
Like Forrest's mamma says, "Life is like a box of chocolates.
You never know what you're going to get."

The unpredictability of life is what makes it sweet.
We don't know if we're going to succeed. We don't know if it's going to work out
with so-n-so. We don't know where we'll end up, or who will be there with us.
We just don't know what the journey of our lives will entail.

But we can hope. We can pray. We can work hard.
And we can rest in the fact that we have a sovereign God, who knows all the
"spaces" we are going to land on in life.
[Fingers crossed to the orange bestseller box]

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

silence speaks


The silence of the house is eery to me. After all, it's just me and the dog. The only sound that resonates in the large two story house is the soft humming of the fan overhead, or the grunts of Buddy as I put him in his kennel. It's strange to be caught in such a quiet habitat. I'm used to roommates, people to constantly talk to.

Often with the kids, they can't stand the quiet. The calm, the complete lack of noise. They blast a radio or turn the TV on just for the background clamor. The songs fill the room, draining the silence out. Usually, I'm not a fan of the quiet either. I like to listen to the radio and scream sing along just as much as the next person. Lately, however, I have been wondering why I do this. Why am I so uncomfortable with the quiet?

Silence speaks.
Am I simply afraid of what it might say? What it might reveal?

Carlos Fuentes once said, "Writing is a struggle against the silence."
It's our voice. Our weapon against the world's apathy, their disinterest.

The past few weeks, I feel as though my life is filled with "background noise."
Nothing of real importance. Just noise, obnoxious clamor.
I'm not trying to speak out against anything. Instead of struggling against the silence, I flee
from it. If I continue to let my voice fall into sync with the rest of the world, and it will
no longer be my voice, but a dispassionate drone. A constant, pointless racket that isn't
doing anyone any good, especially me.

I don't want to simply add to the noise.

Silence speaks.
But are we listening?

"Be still and know that I am God."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cardboard box? Or Spaceship?

It's come to my attention that I am a 21-year-old individual,
and I have [for the most part] lost the ability to imagine.

I'm the nanny of a little boy, who pulls fantastical worlds from his buns and I find myself [more often than not] at a loss as to how to add to the imagination fun.

E: "Look, Jena!
The dragon is coming after us! Runnnn awaaaaay!"
Me: "... Oh... no..."

I can be a pretty obnoxiously good time with my kids [bring on the jokes, board games, and scream singing] but when it comes to the imagination game, this party bus comes to a screeching halt.

This is Cohen, a four-year-old who lives across the street from the kids I nanny. Here is a picture of the four kids hiding in a box.
Excuse me, spaceship.
They are surrounded by their stuffed animals [fellow Martians] and blankets [protective forcefields]. The camera I whipped out was an oncoming UFO, which they clearly had to run away from. I was fortunate enough to capture this little Martian's face just in time.

This intense space game with the box went on for sometime. [I had been regrettably zapped by a green, poisonous gas thus causing me to go into a vegetative existence losing all my bodily functions. This was necessary to prevent me from stealing the Martians and returning to my home planet. Obviously.]

In my vegetable state, I found myself becoming jealous.
Their game came so second-nature.
They didn't pause to deliberate amongst themselves.
They never questioned the overall premise of their story.
They just knew. Their enthusiasm for imagination got me to thinking.

Writers have to be childlike. We have to throw caution to the wind and imagine
with the same fervor and excitement as these little Martians do.
After all, we are the story tellers. We are the ones creating the worlds, the situations,
and the people that our readers will want to follow. In a sense, we are playing the imagination game for them, inviting readers to come along. I don't know about you, but that's one of the biggest draws to reading for me. The chance to escape. To experience someone else's life, another's adventures.

If we can't imagine, how do we expect to write?
I need to work on my imagination skills. Maybe Evan can teach me his ways.