Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Startled By Digital Loss

I like the safety that comes with everything I snap a picture of or type in a document being automatically backed up to some Cloud somewhere.  It's not like I'm taking nude pictures or writing embarrassing erotica.

I mean, just last week, my sister was one of the victims of that cyberattack in which the aggressor left her a digital ransom note that said basically "give us $1400 in Bitcoins or all your files are gone." So just like that, she lost a lot of her documents and pictures.

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The real American Horror Story.

Thankfully, if this happened to me, I don't think I would lose much because of my consistent auto-backup settings across media.

But sometimes... sometimes symbolism kicks in.

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"But you see, searching for symbolism within your reality is a sign of--"
"I spent 6 years getting 2 writing degrees.. Let me have this."

Cut to last winter...

Many of my friendships were dissolving out from under me and I was reaching boiling point. As a lyricist, I decided to channel this emotion into a lyric that I would never, ever show anybody, on account of the extremely specific and personal details I included. I wrote a simple AABA song in a Tim Hortons in, hm, 30 minutes? And then reread it and edited it for the better part of an hour or so. Writing well-crafted lyrics usually takes longer, but this came from such a raw place - and the structure of the lines felt so natural - that it just spouted out of me and became one of the best lyrics I'd ever written.

Which I would still never show to anyone.

Well, maybe Sondheim or Bobby Lopez, should they insist on setting any of my material.


And it was therapeutic. I could have deleted it - cast my worries off to sea, so to speak - but I realized that it encompassed all my emotions in one concise page, and I knew that I would want to have it onhand to calm me down later. (Just 'cause you say, "Hey look! A storm!" doesn't mean the storm is suddenly over.)

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I'm basically a meteorologist.

So I saved it in a private place on my tablet: my Documents folder. Not my OneDrive Documents, just plain ol' Documents. It wouldn't be accidentally read there. This wasn't a big concern, but still... my devices were always around my classmates, and I felt like the more places I had this Diary-Entry-With-Scansion, the more likely it was to pop up.

Meanwhile, in the land of WHYYYY...

The keyboard of my (relatively new) laptop had decided to stop working. Apparently since my computer is an ASUS, which "never breaks," getting a new keyboard would put it out of commission for a month. This is around the time I got a tablet, because I needed something to write my thesis on, and I'd been thinking about investing in a smaller portable device anyway.

Image result for stone tablet
And stone tablets are so last season.

Guess what also broke.

Thankfully, Tablet Dearest held out until school ended. But then the power button got jacked up (it was punched in, but even removing it didn't help) and suddenly I couldn't turn my tablet on.

I took it back to Best Buy. After what happened with my computer, I had bought the warranty, so I was expecting an easy repair. They told me they'd have to send it out, but it was probably going to be fine. I asked if I should have backed everything up - unsure if there was even a way to do that with the tablet unable to turn on. The guy said it would probably be fine but yeah. maybe I should have. I thought about it. Didn't I always save everything to OneDrive? Yeah, except that short story I wanted to start over anyway. No problem. Taker her away, folks!

Can you see these storylines converging yet?

3 Weeks Later...

I received a comically-muffled phone call and all I could make out was my name, something about the tablet, and... yeah, that's it. So I just went back to Best Buy to find out for myself.

Oh, hey. Turns out they couldn't repair my tablet. And they kept it. Like, it's still wherever they sent it. Never to return to my hands.

I know this because I asked.

Because I wondered if there was something I was forgetting.

Tonight I remembered what that thing was.

And it's weird, because the particular subject of the lyric is something that I have recently realized I've made peace with. I still have some anxiety and anger about the situation but most of that is gone, especially the sadness. I don't think I have that sadness anymore.

But still. It was a dang good lyric.

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What? I'm not just saying that because you literally cannot read it now.

And it was a relic of that state of mind I was in. It was honest and strong in the way that something powerful and raw is. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time just conjuring that up. It was an emotional photograph, if that's not being too cheesy.

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It is. It definitely is.

Tonight, I opened up a new document (YES I SAVED IT TO ONEDRIVE THIS TIME) and hammered out everything I could remember from it. I can still feel the rhythm of the rhyme scheme so I know where I'm missing words. And I'm missing a lot of them. It's crazy... I read that thing so many times over. It came so easily to me when I wrote it. How come I can't even remember the gist of some lines? Don't they all lead into each other?

I've preserved nearly all of the first A, but only some of the rest of them.

I keep hoping it'll turn up in a Recycle Bin somewhere, or maybe an email I sent to myself. Dropbox? Open Office? Word's Recent Documents option?



It's gone. I think it's gone.

Could be in my plushy memory somewhere. I hope I'm buying pickles at the store when I remember a line, getting change for the dryer when I remember another. Maybe I'll end up in this kind of situation again and suddenly the sentiments will rush back. Slowly I'll fill in this crazy MadLibs/CrosswordPuzzle hybrid.

But... I mean, it kind of sucks if I have to put myself in that mental and emotional place again to remember those lines. Is it worth revisiting all that for a lyric? That I will still never show anyone (probably)?

I guess so. Because retyping what I do remember didn't put me in a funk. Besides the general regret of not backing up my tablet. RIP Tablet.

And hey... even while writing this post, I remembered another line. There are so many rhymes in this thing that every line is a clue to another one.

Now tell me, what rhymes with "insane"?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Have Graduated Into a Disney Princess

Well, I'm no longer a student.

Achievement Unlocked: MFA.

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What does that mean? Well, for one, my triumphant and desperate return to social media.

I just spent two years studying the technique of writing musical theatre. This might surprise some of you who mostly know me as a prose writer and reviewer, but I have a lot of irons in the fire. But the thing is, you can be a great musical theatre writer (still working on it...) and yet so much -- nearly everything -- comes down to who you know.

Well, I will never know people if people don't know me.

Time to start using my real name on things! Update social media often! Self-promo like mad! Apply to everything!

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alright alright alright alright alright alright al-

And in the meantime, how do I make money? Yeah. Survival job.

I work in a tea shop. As far as survival jobs go, it's pretty great. I get to drink as much tea as I want and the people I work with are people I consider friends.

Sometimes, crazy things happen.

Last week, I was outside giving out samples when a customer says, "There's a bird in your store." I look inside and sure enough, a house sparrow is zooming around like a Toys R Us demo helicopter.

"One second," I tell the customer.

Inside, the bird hits the window, and people are freaking out. The bird is fine, just dazed, and still flapping at the glass. My assistant manager herds it from one side of the window to the other, where I'm standing. I reach down and pick up the bird. (I have a ringneck dove at home, so I knew how to hold it.) It turns its little neck around and chomps down on my finger. Which is kind of cute because it can't break skin and its little angry face looks so sure of itself.

Image result for images house sparrow
"Om nom nom."

"Don't bite me," I scold.

I walk out to the street and realize that I don't know how to let it go safely.

But then I remembered: I've seen this in the movies.

The Disney movies.

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There will be a test.

So I toss out my arms, releasing my grip as I do, like I'm creating momentum for the sparrow. Sure enough, he flies from my fingers and nyooms his way down the street.

That's how I became a legend, I guess. My coworkers often like recounting the "rescue" story.

Would you believe this isn't the first time this has happened to me?

When I was about 4, I was in the reptile house at the zoo. Kids were screaming in delight and running around. A mouse was loose. It ran along the wall. I made a little bowl with my hands and knelt down. The mouse hopped right into my palms. I let it go outside in a bush.

All the cells have been replaced in my body 3 times over since that  happened. But I guess some things never change.

-- Sarah JF --

Saturday, January 18, 2014

*bursts from ground like a zombie* Disappearances, Cheesy Lines, and 2014!

PART I: Mysterious Disappearances...?


Happy 2014! This is the first time I've felt like the year sounded really futuristic. Well, besides 2000. And 2001.

Point being, flying cars: where are they?

This is my first blog post in 8 months. There's a perfectly reasonable correlation for this: grad school.

Last summer, I got my summer reading list for a grad program I would start that August. So basically, I waved a tear-soaked handkerchief at Fun Reading, though you could argue that the stuff on the list was Fun Reading, considering it was my dream graduate program.

Segue into: mysterious disappearance from the blogosphere.

For privacy's sake, I'd better not say what I'm studying. It's a really unique program, so you could find out pretty much everything about me in about 3 seconds without even having to contact the NSA for the password to PRISM.

I always picture their headquarters like that pyramid outside the Louvre because of this.

It has to do with writing, though. We were told during orientation that we cannot discuss the program over social media because professors will Google their names and find out everything students have been "privately" saying about each other, the professors, guest artists, etc. In a year past, a girl ran a tell-all blog where she replaced everyone's names, but it was still obvious.

Also the plot of a popular Disney Channel Original movie.

PART II: Audience interaction!

Since I've been on winter break, I decided the best way to Not Have to Do Work was to Do All of the Work. I slapped a WiP in the face until the characters were more cohesive and took out a great deal of whining. Good feelings.

I even deleted was a line that kept bothering me ever since I wrote it. But a voice in my head kept saying, "No! It's poetic! It's literary!"

Pictured: voice.

Here's the line: 

“I have a feeling much will be bearable, though, when we are traveling through a beautiful next, and experiencing something entirely new.”

Might sound kind of pretty, but what's it really mean? Exactly what it says, which kind of defeats the point of being poetic, huh?

Have you ever had lines that frolicked across the line from Beautiful to Cheesy? Or have you written/read something that made fun of this trope? Let me know in the comments!


PS- I plan on starting up my bi-weekly reviews again! I do have a few books I want to discuss already, but if you have suggestions, please let me know! Especially anything that is just coming out. You know. So I can be all... hip... an' stuff.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Post a Line From Your NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo happened long enough ago that we can look back on our works and say "Oh those crazy kids." So I challenge you to select your strangest, funniest, most raw, or favorite line (or two, or heckit, a whole a paragraph) from your slapdash NaNo-Novel and post it in the comments.

I'll start off the festivities from some pretty nutty lines from my NaNo (attempts) past:

2007: I could tell by their pained expressions that they wanted to start an argument about how illogical the situation was, but no one asked the obvious question: why did Mr. Bow have a can of copper paint perched precariously on a door that would have to be moved?

[I honestly cannot remember why Mr. Bow had a can of copper paint perched precariously above that door. And this was back when my NaNoWriMos had a coherent if recklessly-executed plot.]

2008: The last line was the most chilling of all: “You have great friends who will always be there for you no matter what else happens.”

[This is kind of hilarious out of context because normally, that would be a very sweet thing to say.]

2009: For some reason, this person was the one I wanted to ask about the Gushers. I couldn’t explain it. He was called away, though, so when I turned around, I found myself absent-mindedly wandering the aisles until I finally found the Gushers. After I found them I had about three different kinds to choose from. I chose one that advertised a mystery flavor. I thought, “Just what I need, another mystery,” at first, but then I picked it up when I realized that at least this one I might be able to solve. (The answer is always Blue Raspberry. Always.)

[It really is.]

2010: “We can’t have you losing your head,” he said with a sigh.
            “I—I won’t,” Marla responded. “I’m not. I didn’t.”
            “I’m cut out for this,” Phil said. A statement.
            “I know,” said Marla.

[Haha, what was that 'statement,' Phil? Way to make this heart-to-heart about you. Awkward.]

2012: Byanca is cursing brightly because the whole thing with the pie was that it was supposed “TO BE A SUH- PRIIIIIIISE” but I’m still wondering how on earth I managed to make a situation so awkward so fast.

[That's actually one of the most sane lines in the whole thing. This novel is basically a blur to me. I can't really imagine letting anyone read it because it would be hard to convince them that no, I have never done drugs, honest.]

Alright, I've put mine out in the open - let's hear yours!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE by Sara Shepard

WHY I PICKED IT UP: This is the third in Shepard's The Lying Games series. (I read the last two last summer - and apparently I didn't review them, though I'm not sure because I didn't start labeling my posts until now because I'm a dork.) While mysterious elements are resolved in each novel, the over-arching premise -- Who killed Emma's twin sister Sutton Mercer? -- keeps me coming back for more.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The series focuses on former-foster-kid Emma, who is solving her estranged twin sister's murder by pretending to be her, because no one else knows Sutton Mercer is dead. This installment focuses on Thayer Vega, soccer star, brother to Sutton's best friend Madeline, Sutton's secret tryst buddy, and runaway. After he breaks into the Mercers' home, he gets tossed in jail. But as the clues pile up against him as Sutton's real killer, the threat of Thayer getting free becomes stronger.


*I have been waiting since the first book to find out what the deal with Thayer is, and the whole book is about Thayer. Finally, he gets the attention he's been owed since The Lying Game.

*As usual, Shepard makes the book feel contemporary and relevant through specific details such as brand names (Banana Republic, Abercrombie) and current culture references ("a Bruno Mars song," techno songs, housing foreclosures).

*The holes set up in the Thayer story were filled in, leaving plausible explanations for mysterious happenings


*It felt like I was waiting for something to happen this whole book, with most of the story being Emma mulling over the same set of possibilities in her head.

*The luster of the first two novels, especially The Lying Game, has dimmed significantly. The fun of the pranks was only sprinkled in there a little bit, and the character interactions were often dull and two-dimensional.

OVERALL: With only three novels left in the series, I definitely plan on finishing it up. But getting through this installment felt like more of a chore (and a disappointment, given my initial excitement at the topic) than the last two, so I certainly hope the pacing gets better or I might have some skimming in store for the future.

But I'm sure I'll update you as I make my way through the series. :]


The pacing was off.
But still, I have to admit:
I just have to know.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Find Your Spirit State

Ha. "Spirit State" sounds like a deep transcendental experience that involves floral oils and lots of loom-woven rubs. But no...

So, I didn't do my bi-weekly review as scheduled because I moved! Well, moved back. I've been living in the New York City area for 3/4 of a year, and now I'm back in Ohio.

"Oh, I'm sorry."

But you know, I love Ohio. And if any of my career prospects were centralized here, I'd consider looking for a permanent job in this state. In fact, in many ways, I feel like Ohio is the state I'd be if I were a bordered geographical mass within a nation because:

-It has a pretty pleasant disposition but is also kinda weird and bizarre if you know it well enough
-I'm politically moderate (and Ohio is a swing state)
-And... something about its dual industrialization and rural landscapes? Um... I guess I don't have an analogy for that yet.

Okay, so perhaps my idea of your "Spirit State" needs to be worked out a little, but maybe you can help! Have you ever been somewhere that feels like it's you? Was it where you were born? Where you went to school? A vacation spot?

I'd love to hear it!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Developing Sideways in a Linear Timeline

You remember that show "Lost"? Remember when they started doing "Flash-sideways" instead of "Flashbacks"? I don't. I stopped watching it by then. But I heard it was pretty cool.

Facebook just changed their layout A.GAIN. Suddenly, Notes came back. You know - those things that you were always tagged in if you had Facebook[-obsessed-friends] 5 years ago.

I kinda thought they went away, or were buried in the internet's gaping blackhole belly, retrievable only via virtual-bungee-cord-apparatus, and it just wasn't worth the effort to find out what "My Life in Beatles Songs" was at age 19.

Then suddenly, BAM! There are my old Notes, hanging out on my sidebar. And my first one up there is from 2 years ago. It's one of those questionnaires, those "100 Truths" things that you copy-paste and then answer, tagging all your friends whose answers you want to see (and who are about to see yours).

I just reread my answers. It's weird. But not because I've changed in the way I might have expected. If I filled it out today, 95+ answers would be the same, or along the same lines. But would I say it the same way?

There's something self-awarely-clever about some of the answers, like I'm totally relaxed, despite having (apparently) just spent the night in a hotel after a canceled flight. A flippancy that now feels foreign and makes me feel exhausted by contrast.

Here are my honest-to-goodness copy-and-pasted answers for 95-100. Ladies and Gentlemen, 2010 Me:

94. Had more than 1 girlfriend/boyfriend at a time: Noooo

95. Did you sing today: Yeah… well I was singing 20 Dollar Nosebleed and I thought it was New Perspective.

96. Do you miss anyone: Yeah but it’s always lower when I know I’ll see people I miss really soon, and a lot of them I will.

97. If you could go back in time, how far would you go: Depends when I would be able to do this, and if I’d change anything.

98. The moment you would choose to re-live: Hm something indescribable so I can describe it.

99. Are you afraid of falling in love: Not too much…I’m not afraid of something I doubt will happen anytime soon.

100. Are you afraid of posting this as 100 truths: NO! I’M THRILLED I’M DONE WITH THIS! 

I mean, yeah. That sounds like me. It sounds like me when I'm at my best during the summer, when I don't have to think about anything for months. It sounds like me joking around with my best friends (many of whom I have not seen in a year now).

I guess I just have a lot more to worry about now.

And the truth is, the difference between then and now is this: Then, I would fill out one of these questionnaires. Now, I wouldn't.


I guess it's hard to say for sure. Maybe I would fill one out if all my friends were doing it, and maybe I would be snarky as ever. Anyone want to ask me 100 poorly-written "questions"? :P

How about you? Did you fill out these things? Have you rediscovered some old "notes" or things you've written that you thought were buried far away?