Thursday, March 22, 2012

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Scorpio Sea and Back

Oh, Puerto Rico! (sung to the tune of Oh, Yoko) I love you so!

So much I almost didn't want to come back, especially sunburnt and peeling and having to go to work. :( The weather was beautiful, the people nice, but it was the sea (okay, it was the ocean) that made me want to stay forever.

I filled up my whole memory card with pictures of white-capped waves and breakers and sand and sun. The sound of waves filled our whole little beach house. Every night at high tide it would grow so loud I thought the waves would knock the place down, so relentlessly did they bash against the ocean-side wall. Leaving nothing in the morning to show for it but sand.


Hours would pass by where I did nothing but stare at the water, not thinking, barely breathing, just... being. My time belonged to no one but myself, so for once I didn't feel like it was a waste of time just watching the water and being.

Nature is full of destructive beauty, and nothing expresses that truth more effortlessly than the sea.

Many houses near our rental looked as if they hadn't been occupied in years, maybe even decades. With such neglect as that, some of them have begun to be swallowed up by the insatiable appetite of the Atlantic. 

Here's the thing about the destructive nature of beauty; it can attack when you least expect it, despite the warnings. Exhibit A: The Scorpio Races

I started to read Stiefvater's fourth novel while sitting on the back porch, staring at the waves, so it didn't take long to be transported to the island of Thisby in late October despite the balmy temps of Puerto Rico. I had no idea that this book would be as powerful and destructive as the sea, and as beautiful to boot. Powerful and beautiful are sentiments about a book I'm sure you can understand, but destructive? Only to my self-esteem, I assure you. ;)

Reading the book was only destructive because I let it damage me. I convinced myself I could never write this well, could never add this much intensity and urgency to my own writing. Could never make readers care as much about my own novels as I did for this one.

And then, like the tide receding into the sea, the feeling disappeared. Maybe it had something to do with the amazing rejuvenating powers of the ocean, or maybe just that I couldn't allow myself to wallow on my long overdue vacation, but I kicked myself out of the funk I was in and let the book I was reading inspire me, instead. That's when I saw them in the water...

The capaill uisce. Can't you see them, right there? The water-horses of legend. Or are they Peter S. Beagle's unicorns? Or Poseidon's sea-horses? Maybe there really are mermaids, selkies, and sea-monsters. The world is three-quarters water, after all. The undiscovered country, so to speak. There very well could be a whole race of Atlantean beings who know better than to show themselves to us humans.

Why not? It's big enough? In fact, it's that sheer might, that dauntless energy that helped me put things into perspective on my vacation. 

How about you? Do you see the capaill uisce? Or is there something else swimming around in the ocean of your imagination?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Long Overdue...

No, not library books. I mean my long overdue vacation is almost here! YAY!

I think it was 2010 that my hubby and I went to Austin with some friends, but before that, our last vacation (sans family members) was our honeymoon waaaay back in 2002 (which didn't count because we just got a hotel room in the resort town where I went to high school. NOT a vacation.)

But by this time on Friday, I will be on a plane bound for Puerto Rico for a whole week! We've rented a cute little beach house and will (hopefully) be picking up a car we reserved at the airport, so we'll be able to drive all over the island once we're sick of just lying in the sun and swimming all day. ;) I'm so excited!

I'm still trying to decide what I need to bring with me: my trusty notebook, of course, my laptop for the plane, my nook for reading in direct sunlight, lol... Oh, and my phone charger since I always seem to forget to pack that stupid thing. I even bought new beach towels!

I'm sure I'll forget something, though. Like the time I went to see my mom in upstate New York and forgot to pack socks. D'oh!

What's the most important thing you ever forgot to pack? Any funny vacation stories you'd like to share?

Don't worry, I won't forget my towel! *

*obscure Hitchhiker reference made slightly less obscure after a stellar performance by Mos Def as Ford Prefect. People saw that movie, right?    

Friday, March 2, 2012

Connecting with Characters

So last night I'm watching this new show called AWAKE, which had an awesomely amazing premise, and I was super excited about it. There will be no spoilers here since I only watched the first few minutes. Any guesses as to why I stopped watching? (hint: refer to post title, please :P)

You guessed it! I couldn't connect with the main character. Let me tell you why:

From the commercials leading up to the air of the pilot, I had a few preconceived notions as to how the show's premise would be delivered, the plot being that after a car accident, a man has lost a member of his family, and his brain has made up a realistic dreamworld in which his other family member (wife or son?) is still alive. But he has no idea which reality is REAL. Sounds compelling, non?

Well, silly me, I THOUGHT that the story in the pilot would unfold in a linear manner, that we the viewer would be with the main character as he discovers that he doesn't know which reality is real, whether it's his wife or his son that's dead. Instead, we see the car accident, his son's funeral with his wife, and when he wakes up the next morning, the wife is gone, yet the son is still alive. And the main character HAS NO REACTION TO THIS CRAZINESS! We are to believe he's been through this before, that he's been living with it since the accident. Wah-WAH.

Now, I understand that this is the pilot episode and that they probably wanted to get right to the action, but I think the writers missed out on a lot of character development and intimacy by not showing the actual moment the mc realizes what's going on. That he's living two lives, but only one of them is real (Although I swear to God if the guy wakes up from a coma at the end of the series and discovers his wife and kid are BOTH alive, I'll scream!).

We weren't allowed a chance to grieve with the main character, or to see how he reacts to such a frustrating situation, we're just thrust into this dual-reality, with two therapists (both of whom assure the mc that he's awake in their sessions, of course) and two partners at work.

And then it turns into a police procedural with a slight twist.

But that "slight twist" wasn't enough to compel me to keep watching, not on its own merit. Now, if I'd sympathized more with the mc, been in his shoes when he was devastated, shocked, feeling any kind of emotion other that the numbness of grief, I probably would have kept watching even though cop shows aren't my cuppa.

What do you all think? Did anyone else watch? Can you think of a better way to introduce the premise rather than the straight up "telling" the show used?

I'd love to hear it!