Wednesday, July 31, 2013

News-flash:  I love narrative!

Seriously - the past year, being out of school, has made me fall more in love with narrative than ever before.  I still can't articulate how awed I am by the power God gave us when He decided, "they will be story-tellers." 

I recently read an article on Relevant called "Why Christian's should Read more Fiction."  Excellent article! A few favorite bits:
I’d like to make a case for the imagined stories, the ones that can throttle our hearts and challenge our biases, and for the fictional characters who, if we get close enough, can become real...
The writer takes the chaos of what he sees, and does his best to weave a unified story that is somehow reflective of that experience. And it’s not necessarily his message or theme that is his offering of what is beautiful. The story itself is the offering. The story is the prayer...
We shouldn’t overlook the power of stories, both real and imagined, to move us, break down our walls and send us out wanting to love more...
I get all "jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-excited" when reading this article.  Over the weekend, I was with extended family, all of whom were asking, "What's next for you?" or "Still thinking of grad school?"  And yes, yes it's still a thought.  But it challenges me to think, what comes after the summer?  What comes after this particular season of my life?

Then, today, my boss took me out to lunch and we spent most of the time comparing notes on books.  "Count of Monte Cristo - one of the best endings ever!" "Oh The Road was good, but terribly depressing..."  "Oh, you should get the goodreads app - it'll track your books and lists for you!"  "Julian Barne's, Sense of an Ending - now there's a brilliant take on memory and fiction..."   And there I am.  Coming alive, again, when immersed in a conversation about narrative. 

I have few specifics on what "career" I should pursue (I think I'm a bit too stir-crazy / "artistic" / hippy for a traditional "career"), but I know I need to be surrounded by and immersed in narrative. 

Basically, I need to find a job where people will pay me to read and discuss good books!  Does that position exist?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fireworks - White

Pretty much since the album came out,  Mumford & Son's "I Will Wait" has been the theme song of my season.  Parts of the late fall and winter were extremely difficult - like being caught in a tight space - and my anthem became "I will wait..." [I think I gave that away here and here and even here].  The words spoke hope to me, that someday I would "know my ground."

Well, part of that process has been the desire and the need to discover and create my own place.  I can't quite explain the feeling.  Not just a sense of "it would be great if _______ [I had my own room, more bookshelves, etc.],"  but an urge that this year I must discover who Christ is through me - and that it would require a wider space to cultivate and become.

There's been a process.  There's been a search.  Waiting has become a disposition in the last 8 months - quite a difference between a temporary hold and a distant call. I had been in that tight space, knowing there was a wide open one waiting for me, like I had been waiting for it.

Then, just before Memorial Day Weekend, word came that just that place may exsist.  In between the chorus and the bridge at Mumford Live that weekend, my good friend Cami leaned forward and said, "I think this is the closing of a chapter..."  It was true (for both of us). 

[I will wait...]
 And thus began the summer of becoming. The summer of fireworks [I do apologize for the cryptic posts... but I couldn't talk about this yet].

Now, after hearing and waiting and becoming - it's here and it's real.

This weekend, my best friend and I are moving to a lovely little space near the lake.  She's been in a similar process, and, honestly, this place is more than we could have hoped for.  It's a new beginning.  A white canvas, if you will.

[This isn't a firework (duh), it's just a sparkler... but it's white - and I took the picture :]

I can't wait to share more with you (yes, there will be pictures).  But I'm grateful I could finally tell you about this particularyly bold and shimmering firework.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Samara's travel musings

Traveling this weekend. This usually causes all sorts of interesting ponderings on my part. (My iPhone tells me that "ponderings" isn't a word. iPhone? Haven't you realized I'm a writer by now? That means I get to make words up!)

Enjoy some of my disjointed travel musings: 

So we should start with packing. 
I suck at it. I really should just make a couple of standard lists - overnight, 2 nights, and that real vacation I take every few years - but where would the fun be in actually planning ahead? So yah, packing normally goes something like: 
[Get home from work]
Samara, you were supposed to do your laundry! Get the laundry started before you do anything else. 
But... I'm sleepy. 5:30 is a great time for a nap, no? 
Do not even think about taking a nap. Off your bed! Off--
[an hour later]
I have to do laundry!
Yes I told you that. 
Ooh... Facebook? 
Facebooook :)
Not the phone--ah! I give up on you. 
[almost another hour later] 
Samara!! Laundry. Dinner. Packing!
Yes! [schitzo stare-down]  ...Fine! If you do all the things on the list before bed-time, you can read your book :) [ 87% of the time]
Ok. Deal. 
[Then begins the distracted, mad scramble to "pack ALL the things!"]
What's the point, I'm going to forget something anyway? 
More packing. Less complaining. 
[Trying to run through my routine with myself] 
Ok, next : figure out how to pack face wash so the TSA doesn't condemn you to soap & water. 
Oh. [Heads to the bathroom] I need to grab that sweater too [about-face, back to the bedroom. Throws sweater on pile in suitcase] Ok. Where was I? 
And so it goes. ALL night. 
Last night I kicked into high-power, sheer-panic mode earlier than expected, so I was actually able to do some semblance of a mani-pedi at 11. Then I read my book [yay! Bribery]. I read till midnight - waiting for my nails to dry. When I woke up, they were smudged. :/ I'll never be good enough. 
So anyway... that's what packing fun looks like. 

When traveling, I feel like I'm playing a game with myself. It's called "You can't really be elegant when you travel, but have fun trying." I mean, every choice & movement comes down to: Elegant or Practical? It's like playing chicken with your own dignity. 
Flying is by far the highest stakes game. It goes like this - Oh you wanted to look cute? Well, the plane is going to either be stifling or frigid. And those darling shoes? You're gonna have to take them off while everyone in line behind you is waiting -and they're all watching you, dearie. So it's a good thing that while you were scrambling around to pack all the things you need minus all the things we won't let you take you had time to paint your toes. Once you're done half-undressing (and if you don't get hauled aside to be frisked by Helga) have fun shoving all your things back into that cute purse before everyone behind you - same group who saw that lovely self-pedicure - get grumpy. Now you get to wait for 3 hours. But don't worry, we have exorbitantly extorted food stuffs for your purchase. You get sick on planes? Oh that's too bad. Well, water bottles only cost $4. 
And I could go on. Lets just say - we don't all get to look like Victoria Beckham when we waltz out of the airport. 

Today's journey had the bonus component of taking a bus to the airport. That was a first. And let me tell you a little secret about me & buses. I have, on my own, mastered 4 separate metro transit systems - and one of them was in French. But to this day, I still get anxious about taking a new bus route in my home city. I mean, I research it before, try & leave plenty of time to catch the bus, and then play it as cool as possible. I'm pretty sure I fail miserably at this. For starters, I get butterflies & an elevated heart-rate. I find a place to sit or stand so I can see the bus coming. I check the sign multiple times. I'm all jumpy when anything resembling a bus (semi, ambulance, blasted greyhounds) passes. All the while I'm trying to be all nonchalant about it, but I know the truth: I look like a totally pathetic newbie. I can hear the thoughts of the route's veterans going something along the lines of "Chill out, crazy girl!" But no, there is no chilling out over the paranoia of missing your bus. So then, the bus is like 2 minutes late and by that time I'm having a full-on panic attack. I'm just certain I missed the bus. It must have come like, 22 minutes ahead of schedule. And, yes, I have an app that tells me the bus's progress - but those have been wrong before, you know? So then I'm pretty much on par with the quail from Bambi. Usually its about this point I'm thinking to myself, "Ok if I take this other bus, transfer 3 times & walk a mile, then---" annnnnd my bus rolls up. 
So yah, totally chill. 

Pretty much, when I say I love "traveling," I usually mean "being someplace unfamiliar" - not the actual process of motion sickness in a plane or sleeping  awkwardly on a train. 

Though, they do make for great stories :)

When I was a little girl, I would put on my best dress up clothes and grab the oldest-looking book I could find on the bookshelves (later found out it was a biography on William Penn - random!) and tell my mom that I was off to Prince Charming's ball to learn how to read.  And to fall in love with the Prince, of course.  (But reading first ;)

Somehow I think 4 year-old Samara knew me better than I do now.

Then someone sent me Kelly Clarkson's engagement photo (see below)  Super cheesy?  Eh, maybe.  But it looks the stuff of my childhood dreams.

And those dreams are still whispering to me from old-looking books.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday

Today you get a random post from Samara :)

I've tried to join the awesome "Friday Haps" gig that my friend Ashley started... But am I a disciplined writer? Ha! Nope.

So anyway..... you get some fun finds and random thoughts today.

* Yesterday, twitter brought me great joy when I came across the trend #BooksWithOneLetterMissing. Basically, you take a title remove 1 letter and explain the changed meaning of the work.  Examples:
I could go on and on... nerdvana :)

* Ok... This couple did the most darling Moonrise Kingdom engagement shoot EVER!! And they actually look like grown up versions of Sam + Suzy!

Aren't they just perfect!! Nailed it with the costumes, suitcase, old books, and that meadow looks like it's straight from the film!

* If you haven't read it yet... This is a fascinating post on how and, perhaps, why the Pixar films are more interrelated than we ever dreamed.  "The Pixar Theory" by Jon Negroni.

* Also check out his post on Inception.  Pixar and Nolan - this guy knows what's important. (At least, imporant to me :)

* I'm unbelievably excited about Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge and thrilled for his parents!  Both Will and Kate are so genuine and I'm wishing all the very best for this little guy :)

* Is it weird that I'm a strong fan of people whose work I haven't experienced yet?  Let me explain.  I love Emma Watson.  I think she's darling!  She's smart and sweet and still strong.  [Alliteration, much?]  She won me over years ago when she stepped out in that fantastic pixie cut! 
Confession:  I have yet to see a single film she's in.  Yep, you read that right.  I've never seen a HP film, I haven't even seen My Week With Marylin or Perks of being a Wallflower. [Don't worry - they're on the list!]
But seriously... whether it be Emma Watson or Neil Gaiman (haven't even seen one of his DW episodes yet... but I did buy Stardust on my last Powell's trip - so there's a thing) or some other artists, I find that once I know about them I'm immediately drawn.  I guess I just admire their personality.  Following them on twitter must suffice until I actually get around to their experiencing performances or pieces of art. 

* What's keeping me from reading / watching all those wonderful things?  Well, currently, it's a ginormous, contemporary, fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss.  I just finished the first book, Name of the Wind.  It was pretty good.  I picked up the second book yesterday and it's a whopping 1,000 pages!  I haven't read something that long in over a year - and I'm giddy with excitement.  I think it will make a wonderful travel companion this weekend as I am off to...

* Napa!  I'm flying down this Friday for a 2 night trip.  My cousin is getting married at a vineyard down there and I'm just stoked to be going.  I had to think about it and I haven't been to California in 3 years.  Haven't been on a plane in 2.  What the heck, people?  Needless to say... It'll be so good to travel further than Portland :)  Also... super excited because I bought a genuine vintage tilt-hat for the occasion.  I'll post pictures when I get back.

* I still need to blog about my Mumford Memorial Day Weekend.  It's been a crazy two months.  I apologize.  I'll try and make it fantastic.

Ok... I should get back to "productive stuff."  Let me know if you check out any of the links or if you have thoughts about the rest. 

Happy Thursday :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fireworks: Remember to breathe before the Finale

The one thing about fireworks is that they can be scary and overwhelming.  I knew that when I saw all these "fireworks" just up ahead.  But now they seem to be exploding in every corner of the sky.

I was venting to my dear friend earlier today:
I guess I just always knew that I would hit the "I'm in the middle of a bunch of fireworks going and it's absolutely craaazy!!!" 
She responded with the sweetest encouragement:
In the midst, yes, it sucks and we feel pathetic, and we really would like the show to be over already... but it will be ok, and we'll think, that was the best part of the show, when all the fireworks go off at once. 

[I'm definitely experiencing that "wild" bit]

Oh heavens... it's true! It seems like chaos in the moment, but the finale is the most beautiful and thrilling part.

So today I'm pausing for my breath before the finale.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Many Happy Returns!!

Well, today we celebrate an absolute favorite of mine!  Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch turns 37 today!

My faithful readers already know that I like him and many reasons why.  If you're new or have been living on a desert island and haven't heard of Mr. C or his merits, start with my post for his birthday last year or check out his tag on my blog.  Or read my favorite interview with him to-date (thank you, Caitlin Moran!)

But yes, there is no denying I'm rather fond of the man and his work.  Even were I to try to deny it... the evidence suggests otherwise.
[to be fair... all but one of those was  a gift!]

Yep, I think he's pretty amazing. "Absolutely amazing!  Brilliant!"

[Benedict at 4 days old with parents Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, July 1976]

[Benedict at Star Trek premiere, May 2013]
36 has been a busy and breakthrough year for him!  The year began (literally on his birthday) with his first Emmy nomination (Sherlock, Season 2); it ended yesterday with another Emmy nomination (Parade's End).  As far as TV goes, he had the aforementioned release of Parade's End, a guest role on The Simpson's, and had a bit of fun just the other week on Top Gear.  He also appeared on several late-night shows including David Letterman's, Jimmy Fallon's, and (my personal favorite) Graham Norton's.  His radio work this year included Season 4 of Cabin Pressure as well as a star-studded production of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (which will be available later this year - and Gaiman has hopes to make a film version with the same cast ;).  He's been slightly too busy to pursue any serious stage-work this year.  But, of course, the big event of the year was Star Trek: Into Darkness.  It served as a lot of people's introduction to him and he got rather better reviews than the film did.  As a personal aside, I thought he did quite fine - but it wasn't even near his top works.  However, it is just wonderful that he got into his first leading role in a blockbuster.

The past few weeks have served as a fantastic set-up for his 37th year as the final 2 trailers for his 2013 films were released.  This fall, 4 films in which Cumberbatch stars will be hitting the big screen.  A brief rundown:

October 18 - 12 Years a Slave

October 18 - The Fifth Estate

December 13 - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

[221B convention]
And, on Christmas Day - August: Osage County

Hopefully we'll also be viewing Sherlock Season 3 before the end of the year (or at least by January 2014).  He did help play a little joke on the Comic-Con panel yesterday - explaining how Sherlock survived the fall:

Ah... cheeky!

As busy and successful and brilliant as he is... my wish for his 37th is actually that he'd be able to take a breather and settle down.  Here's hoping he finds "the right one" - and that this would become a reality:

[Benedict with a friend's newborn... and one of my favorite pics of him ever!]

I'll keep hoping for that.  But in all his ventures and doings I do wish him luck and many happy returns!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Creatives: Photography as Perspective, Part II

So here is photography as perspective part II, (see part I here).  Another photo-shop genius:  boy_wonder, flickr name for Joel Robison.

Personally, I was very impressed by the way he imagine's the reader's process:

[Becoming Real]

He captures the imagination well in these shots as well:


[E is for Exploring the Earth]

These are just a hand-full, but a fair introduction to his style and vision.

If you're interested, you should also check out his Wonderland photo shoot.  I absolutely loved it - no surprise there :)

Hope you're having a happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nostalgic for Now

The Summer of Becoming... it means abundant weekends and long to-do lists and beautiful memories and tired eyes and sunkissed skin.  Weather-wise, we're having one of those summers in Seattle we only get once every 5 years or so.  It's the summer of #latergram - live through the moment rather than the memory.  I can't tell you how many friends' blogs I follow who just returned from a month-long, unplanned hiatus.  It's a seasoon of both the beautiful and the sublime.

[We are in the good old days, y'all.]

I love Kati's exposition of just one weekend can look like!  This weekend was magic!  I'll have some "professional" photos to post later.  But I thought I'd share some now:

[Rugged floral... styled by Cami]

[View of Mt. Rainier from our ferry]

[I love being on the water!]

[This poster in a bookshop brought me right back to childhood]

[bicycle hunt]

[Boats on Bainbridge!]

[How darling is this little Church?  I totally wanted to sneak up to the steeple!]

[We got to share 30 hours and multiple adventures this weekend... we both agreed it wasn't enough]

[And I got to see this lovely gal and former roommate.  We were wearing matching sweaters + sunnies. Ha!]

Such a fun weekend!

This isn't to say everything's perfect. No, there's time when I think my room, my schedule and my soul are all too crammed. There are times when I feel impatient or like I'm going crazy. My morning alarm reminds me "You can sleep when you're dead." But... even with all the crazy - I'm so aware what this summer embodies. If you find yourself enjoying sunsets or you're busy chasing dreams, if (like me) you're trying to strike the balance between amazing fun with friends and the desire to go on a reading binge, if you are "too hot," "too busy," or "too tired" - remember that this season is unique. For many I've talked too, it's a season like we've never had and probably never will have again. It's one of intense growth and, quite literally, enough memories to last a lifetime.

Our lives are enviable - let's be "nostalgic" for the now.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fireworks - Green, Pt II

Welcome back to part II.  That Friday afternoon held the highlight of my LeakyCon:  the autograph session. 

Oh, and here's the poster I started with (brilliant design!).  It's from DFTBA [not related, but I was reeeeally tempted to get this one too :D ]

[These two...what is else is there really to say?]

First up, Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh.  Lizzie and Darcy.  They were both really grateful and sweet!  Daniel said, "I like your Darcy costume."  I asked him to sign "Verisimilitude."  He goes, "I hope I didn't spell that wrong."  Sorry, Daniel, you did.  But he was sick, so we'll give him a pass.

These two win "sweetest couple award."  At Netherfield, doesn't Lizzie say something about them having a "nice off"?  They would in real life!  Laura Spencer is just darling and Christopher Sean took the time to read name-badges and leave a note.  Very cool.

[I mean...]

[I can't get over how cute they are!]

[This pair of pics is actually for laughs... the longer I look the funnier Wes's faces become hehe]

[Wes Aderhold... puttin' those selfie practices to good use]

[such a favorite!]
Hold the phone - I got to meet MK Wiles!  I can't tell you how much I appreciate what MK brought to the role of Lydia.  And finding out she's a fellow sentamentalist, English (and Theatre double) major, and LotR nerd... well, it was so huge to meet her and thank her in person for her work.  

[Collins and Collins]
Maxwell Glick has this really awesome t-shirt:  it's the Bag End door and says "Second Breakfast Diner."  I told him we should start a restaurant with that name - who wouldn't want to breakfast there?

[Hank and the Hanklerfish]
Representing 1/2 of the Green brothers, here is Hank in all is awesome.  And the Hanklerfish.  Don't forget the Hanklerfish.
Hank made my day when he not only told me he liked my costume, he thought I was "the best LBD cosplayer" he had seen at LeakyCon.  +500 nerd points :)

[Bernie Su]
When I got to Bernie, he looked at me and said, "Samara, thank you for watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries."  He was so sincere, so genuinely grateful.  All I could say was a sincere, "Thank you for creating them!"
[The Bennet Sisters]
Sorry they're blurry... I was a bit overwhelmed by the awesome :D

[So, so grateful for this panel and these people]
I've seen an encouragement online that goes something like this:  "Dear Starving Artist, remember that what you're starving for is worth it."  Sadly,  I know many have to give up on those dreams.  But to see these people not only make it long enough to create something wonderful, but also be appreciated for it - that's just fantastic!

[I'm pretty sure these tweets didn't make it to fb...]
Yah... I was a bit overwhelmed after meeting all those creative people.  I get excited - what can I say?  

Other fun LBD-related LeakyCon moments:  gifsmore gifs, Maxwell's bts, or the "leaked" blooper real (that's 1 of 5 on the DVD).

So, the rest of the afternoon, I snuck in and out of sessions and took time for food and journaling and social media.  I also took a few pics of costumes. Tried, I should say.  I tried to take pictures of them.  None of them turned out very well, except for:  Severus Snape!  This guy was rocking it!  His hair was real!  Dyed, but not a wig.  And the costume was fantastic with buttons and all.  Ah, I just love costumes :)

[Severus Snape!!]

[LeakyCon dance party]
The day's festivities were followed by the Wrock Concert (Wizard Rock...yah).  Anyway, there was one group that did a cover of "Dog Days are Over" and after the bridge, a whole bunch of other musicians and special guests went out there and danced around like crazy - it was awesome!  I mean, Hank Green and "Foxface" were both up there and the whole place was going wild.  Such fun!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Well, LeakyCon - being my first convention and all - was a brilliant experience.  There were so many moments when i thought, "These are my type of people.  I'm not too much for them... [That's rare!]."  But more than that, it's an incredible way for creators and fans and creative fans to "touch" and appreciate one another in a very unique way.  And that was worth the trip.  It's not about "famous people" or fandoms.  The thing that unites us is story, narrative.  A beautiful and powerful thing.  I introduced friends, I wrote blog posts, I backed their kick-starter - but to be able to look those people in the eye, people I had been on a journey with for almost a year, that was a great treat. 

I'll leave you with some thoughts from MK Wiles on the subject:
LeakyCon is a bright beacon of hope and fun and encouragement and love for things we love. It is a wonderful thing to be celebrating—the stories that make us feel. I got into this career because A Story made me feel. It’s incredibly humbling to be a part of something that did that for someone else.

My life, and any actor’s life, can be hard, just like I’m sure many of your lives have their own difficulties. It’s experiences like this weekend that remind me, and remind us, that there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for. In fact, I think there’s quite a bit of good, and I see it in each of your faces. Thank you for letting me fight with you.
- MK Wiles, On LeakyCon

[Thank you, LeakyCon!]