Archive | August 2012

She’s a Girl Rising From a Shell: A Memoir Chapter

So today, I’m giving you a full chapter from my memoir Moonchild. Now, this is actually up on this site but almost no one has found it, so I’m just pulling it out of hiding. Link is at the bottom of the post.

Another interesting tidbit: Seven years ago, I did a full-length spoken word performance show thingy-dingy and this was the first piece I read at the show. The other day, while on a rampage looking for the earliest version of my manuscript, I came across the recordings from that show. So I am toying with the idea of putting the audio up with the chapter. I don’t know. It has people’s real names. And whenever I hear my recorded voice, I sound like a twelve-year-old with a cold. But I’ll let you decide, should I include audio or no?

All the chapter titles from this book are lyrics from songs. This one comes from the song “Ribbons Undone” by Tori Amos, on her 2005 CD, The Beekeeper. I wrote this piece during that spring, with that album infusing into every corner of my life. At the time, I was about to leave Camp Orkila, where I had lived and worked for more than two years, and my brother was about to graduate college and my sister was about to graduate high school. The theme of graduation kept playing through my mind and it just felt like I was coming to the end of a journey that had started when I first left for college, which is what this chapter is about.

It was one of those things where you look back at the beginning of something and ask yourself, if you had ANY clue where it all would lead, would you do it over again? I was looking back at a time of innocence, of blissfully not knowing what that journey would entail, so this song, where Tori looks at her young daughter starting out on life journeys, just completely resonated with me at the time I was writing and the time I was writing about. It’s a really sweet song and if I’m feeling especially sentimental, it will totally make me cry. I’m a sap like that.

Another cool tidbit: About a year after I wrote the piece, I woke up one morning, way too early, to the sound of my ringing phone. Who the f was calling me at 6 in the morning? It was Tori Amos’ dad, calling from Maryland (where this story mostly takes place) to give me permission to use the lyrics. He also told me I should change the name of my book (which I did, back then it was called Learning to Swim, which is now a tattoo rather than a book title). Anyway, I always thought that was kinda cool.


She’s A Girl Rising From a Shell

I decided to go with the audio addition, so here it is:

Now I’m going to go back to editing this same book manuscript, and listening to Rihanna. For real yo. Cannot even believe I’m fessing up to that but yeah, I kinda can’t get enough of a certain song. Have a good weekend everyone!

~Emilia J

Breaking Bad Episode 507 “Say My Name”

Wow. Can’t believe there’s only one more to go. What will I do without my weekly fix?

This episode left us with some burning thoughts and questions. First, would you rather eat bacon banana cookies or cake pops? And would you dare to dip either in some Franch?

Okay, that’s just gross, but seriously that shit looked pretty tasty in this episode. Is it me or has there been more focus on food this season than most? The dressings at Madrigal, the bacon in 501 and 504, the whole thing about green beans and frozen scabby lasagna, Hank’s thing about Miracle Whip, Skyler’s whipped potatoes and double chocolate cake, and now Dan’s treats for the bank lady.

Also, what’s up with Saul’s outfits in the last two eps not being as awesomely colorful and eye-catching as usual? I mean really, give him a psychedelic tie next time or I’m out yo.

Okay, okay, for real now.

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Josie – Sunshower Chapter One

Josie 1images “Josie, I’m sorry,” he said for the thousandth time. “Things just aren’t working out.”

My heart was being broken and I was reading a book. While he rattled off all the reasons why we couldn’t be together, I sat there with one ear on the phone, and my eyes on the pages of a book I had found in the basement of my house.

It was actually more like a diary than a novel. It was written by Janet Andrioli, who had apparently lived in my house almost two hundred years before I was born, way back near the turn of the 21st century. I was reading about her teenage years. Things were so different back then. Humanity had not traveled past the moon. Computers had required laborious typing to function; that seems so mediocre compared to the ones we have today, where you can give them voice commands. And people couldn’t interact with their televisions; I couldn’t live like that!

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Breaking Bad Episode 506 “Buyout”

Only two more to go this season. Time flies.

Speaking of time, the last week was real light on posts–I had an out of town guest for several days–but will now resume the regular schedule. Lots of catching up to do with comments and with adding links.

In other news, I’m taking on writing spec scripts for existing TV series and of course I’m doing Breaking Bad so my head is all full of episode ideas (as of now, planning to do one that would fit between episodes 3 and 4 of this season) and thoughts on the most recent ep.

What a powerful teaser. Wow, that was so well done. It set up the perfect emotional impact by being very understated. They start with the bike, dismantling it with such surgical precision, putting it, piece by piece, into the barrel. There’s something slow and sad and beautiful about that sequence, and the music that went with it. And the lack of dialogue. It doesn’t let up, the bike seems to have endless parts to be disassembled. Jesse’s absence is so present. Then Todd uncovers just the kid’s hand in the dirt and you see they’ve readied another barrel. It’s enough to let the viewers know exactly what’s going to happen to the kid’s body, even though it’s never shown, which is just so, so powerful. Difficult to watch, but that speaks to its power.

And then the first line of the episode is Todd to Jesse, “You guys didn’t tell me the stuff (hydrofluoric acid) smells like cat piss.” You can read everything on Jesse’s face. Todd can’t. “Shit happens, huh?” And then Jesse hauls off and punches him in the face. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found that really satisfying as a viewer.

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A Star is Born: A Complete Short Story

A Star is Born

A Star is Born

Sryall had once been a beautiful land, adorned with blooming trees offering many leaves. Serene waters were plenty. The sky above was a tranquil blue by day and a quiet navy blanket by night. Birds sang and animals frolicked in the grass. Humans lived, loved and laughed, generally enjoying the beauties and pleasures that life offered. The Sun rose high, not each day, but frequently, giving many great joy. The moon and stars gave comfort at night. Death was a sad event, for which were shed many tears, but it was often at the time of birth, to carry on the Eternal Cycle.

Life was simple then. People were free to express themselves how they wished. It was a period of great creativity. Much art, music, dance and writing were accomplished throughout the land. Imagination was encouraged. Dreams were seen as the gateway to unlocking the mysteries of the soul, something they truly believed to exist.

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Decided to do something a little different here.

I can’t post too much current material (a lot of times, writing posted on a blog is considered “previously published,” which disqualifies it for lots of places I might want to submit my writing pieces to) that I’m sending out (sporadically) and trying to get published. But I want to keep giving a writing sample every Friday.

So, what I’m doing is pulling up some of my early work and posting it here. Even though it’s mostly terrible and makes me cringe (like in a whole body shuddering, totally embarrassed cringe sort of way) to read it. I wrote a LOT while in high school, sometimes without deadlines or prompts. They were prolific years and there’s lots to mine. I feel like (hope?) my writing is really different now. A lot of the old stuff is sorta sci-fi-ish and not at all the kind of stuff I write now, but in the interest of posting something on a consistent basis, I’m going to embarrass myself publicly.

I wrote this one during my senior year of high school,  and it won first place in my school’s short story contest that year. Fun fact: Winning the short story contest, as well as an essay contest, was how I paid for some prom-related expenses.

Check out other (incl. some more current) Samples, as well as Published and Older Works for more writing samples.

~Emilia J

Breaking Bad Episode 505 “Dead Freight”

And why I’m worried about Jesse. But that will come later.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this episode made me really, really, really want a Breaking Bad movie. More than I ever have before. It’s been said so many times how cinematic this show is, but this week’s episode just took that to a new level. That opening scene with the boy riding his dirt bike through the desert, all those shots of the train and from the train–it all felt like a movie to me and made me want to write some sort of open letter to Vince Gilligan asking him to please seriously consider making a movie. It was just a gorgeous episode, breathtakingly so. And what an amazing use of color. If last week’s episode was blue, this week’s was orange and red.

Another comment about the episode overall: It was a little hard to calm down afterwards. It was such an adrenaline rush followed by such a chilling ending that it left me all riled up. I’m also having a much harder time than ever resisting spoilers. Usually I don’t even watch the previews because I don’t want to know anything and they’re often misleading, but these last two days, I’ve been seeking them out.

So, where to even start?

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Albino – Seeing and Not Seeing 2

When I was maybe five years old, my mom was convinced I couldn’t smile right. I studied her mouth as intently as I could, then stretched my own into the same shape. But one lip or the other was always too high up, too pulled down, turned too far in or out. I tried to work these corrections into my face muscles but I could never see my mom’s smile in enough detail to craft my own to look like everyone else’s.

Crystal Structures of Tyrosinase

I have albinism, a recessive genetic condition that results in skin, hair and eyes that are paler than pale, and legal blindness. An enzyme called tyrosinase that converts the amino acid tyrosine into melanin pigment is inactive in albinism and this leads to the whiteness and blindness. The visual impairment of albinism, though steady and consistent, is murky territory—I’m too blind to drive or read any of the letters on a standard eye chart except that top “E” but not so blind that the world isn’t intensely, sensually, visual. In the blind community, I am what they call a “high partial.”

Around the same time as smile training, my blindness was a dull but ever-present emotional ache. On the playground, kids ran up to me and called out “whitey” and “snowball” and “ghost,” waved their hands in the air and asked me how many fingers they were holding up, mimicked my ambling eyes. As I got older, the teasing involved spitballs, a kid who jumped out in front of me in the hallways and yelled, “Watch out, brick wall!” and the boys in eighth grade who stole books out of my locker and set them on fire.

Sometimes, in my room, away from the teasing by my peers but alone with the scenes replaying in my head, the ache would erupt into a scalding, white-hot rage. It was so unfair that out of all the people I knew in my family, in school and around town, I was the one who ended up albino. No one saw anything beyond my albinism. I felt like a ghost.


Another sample from my essay “Seeing and Not Seeing.” Here’s the previous excerpt from the same essay. I have to say, this piece above is the very beginning. The essay doesn’t end in this same place or mindset.

~Emilia J

A Blog Award, Facts, Questions and Blogs to Follow

I just got nominated for my first blog award :)

Thank you Andrew Toynbee! I’m psyched to play along.

What is the Liebster Award?

“The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The Meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

The rules that come with the Award:

1.      If you are tagged/nominated, you have to post 11 facts about yourself.

2.      Then you should answer the 11 questions the tagger has set for you & generate 11 new questions for the people you subsequently tag.

3.      Tag 11 more Bloggers.

4.      Tell the people you tagged that you did.

5.      No tagging back.

6.      The person you tag must have less than 200 followers.

Firstly, 11 facts about myself

1.   I went for years without TV. This may be surprising since I write so much about it now, but TV was basically absent from my early 20s. The first show that I got hooked on coming out of that phase was House. I didn’t know TV could be so smart, or have such a sarcastic, hilarious, disabled genius as a main character. It opened up my TV-watching world. I still remember the first episode I saw, and what monologue of House’s got me hooked (for House fans, the episode was “Lines in the Sand” (304) and it was House’s “circle queen” speech).

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Breaking Bad Episode 504 “Fifty-One”

This was one of my favorite episodes this season. It was one of those slower episodes where the emotional drama takes center stage and things bubble to the surface. Really excellent writing, with lots of little details to dig into.

I don’t know if anyone else felt this, but I had a sense of the end being near. Of course there’s that ticking watch at the end, but more than that, I got this feeling when Skyler was looking at the pool. When all you see is the bright blue water taking up the whole screen, and that eerie music plays, it just felt ominous. It felt like, if I didn’t already know this was the last season, it would’ve been clear in that moment. I just really felt that this story and normal life for these people can’t last much longer.

This was a very blue episode, with the pool, Skyler’s dress and the watch at the end. From the beginning, blue was Skyler’s color (look at just about anything she wears in Season 1) and in this episode, we got to see a lot more dimensions of Skyler, and of the relationship between her and Walt.

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Writing Lessons from Breaking Bad: An Overview

As I mentioned in my first post, Foraging Into the Blogosphere, I’m partially justifying my obsession with the TV show Breaking Bad because it offers so much insight on good writing, insight that I think writers of all different types of stories–fiction, non-fiction, screen, prose–can apply towards their work. Most of my posts have been about either Breaking Bad or Writing, and I’m hoping these posts can merge the two topics, and will be applicable whether or not you watch or like the show.

Not long after getting into Breaking Bad, I was typing up some of my old writing from longhand into Word. It was memoir material I had written while still way too close to the subject matter, and had never edited, just raw “shitty first draft” material. And it was terrible! I couldn’t believe how repetitive, self-indulgent, and just plain MESSY it was. It was confusing even to me, and I had written it and lived it. What was I trying to get at? I couldn’t tell. And I was not in control of the writing as an author should be.

My first thought was along of the lines of, “Writing quality wise, this is equivalent to Private Practice, and I want to strive for Breaking Bad.” Now, there are two things I want to clarify here. One is that I don’t really think I’ll reach BrBa level, but it’s nice to have a goal like that, one that will push you beyond your usual limits, your current perception of your abilities. And it may not be BrBa for every writer, but I think it’s important to find that thing, whether it is a book, a poem, a TV show, a movie, a song, something that inspires you with its genius and is so brilliantly written that it provides a new, high standard to strive for.

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