Monday, January 31, 2011

Nicknames

First off, Happy Birthday to my nephew, Goose. I think he has a new Internet handle suitable to his advanced years, but I’ll just use his kid nickname.

Don’t ask me how that became his parent’s nickname for him. I remember thinking it was kind of cruel of my brother to give him the same call sign as Tom Cruise’s doomed co-pilot in Top Gun, given his tragic end and all. But apparently that’s not the origin. Or so my brother tells me.

My nickname growing up was “Missy.” I am telling you this because recently someone who has known me from my childhood church parish came to a book event and outed me on this. It was just the cutesy name my parents called me, and “Rosemary” was such a grown up name for a little knock-kneed waif of a girl that it sort of stuck. I started using Rosemary when started high school, confusing people who’d assumed my name was Melissa, and suffering accusations of pretension (which is probably why I avoided using my full name until then).

The problem with nicknames--names in general--is that there IS no name safe from teasing or mangling or corruption into something unpleasant. I liked “Rose” but inevitably when I tried to go by that, it turned into “Rosie” which is not at ALL acceptable. Or “Ro” which was (and is) not me at all. Maybe I’m just not a single syllable kind of gal.

Which is ironic, because after reading Little Women in the third grade, I swore I was going to change my name to Josephine and go by “Jo.” How this is different from being Rosemary and going by “Ro” I don’t know, except that Jo March is made of awesome and prickly-pear rainbows. (Seriously. My favorite thing about her, as well as Meg Murray, is that they were so grumpy, but so soft inside. I could relate to that.)

Recently, I came across a British Rosemary (the name doesn’t have the same nerd stigma across the pond, and I met more Rosemarys in my two weeks in England than I have my who life in Texas) who went by “Romy.” I find this utterly charming, and if I was thirteen again (Not that I would want to be *shudder*), I would adopt it in a heartbeat.

That is a luxury of being young-- and I think this is why I love writing for the young adult age group. You have the opportunity to reinvent yourself as you step from one stage of life to another. I did that several times, not just by changing my nickname, but going from shy nerd to drama geek, to honors student nerd, to Star Wars nerd, back to drama nerd...

Though really, I was always the same person inside. The name changes, the clothes or image may change. You may alter what part of the cafeteria you sit in, but always stay the same inside. I think that as you grow older, you stop worrying about what people call you,and stop picking and choosing which “you” people see.

That’s the luxury of growing up. We become confident enough to let our outsides match our insides.

No matter what name we go by.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bookanistas Book Review: Matched

Matched, by Ally Condie, came out in November, so this review is maybe not the most timely. The book, the first in a dystopian YA trilogy, had been on my 'yeah, I want to get around to reading that' list, but not a priority. Then my friend Jenny the Librarian put a copy in my hands and said: Read this.
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So I open the book on Sunday afternoon, just to read a few pages while I wait for my tea to steep. Two a.m., I'm closing the cover on the book, my head stuffed with imagery and beautiful snatches of language, and really worried for these kids...

The writing in Matched is so smooth and beautiful that I was 30 pages in before I realized it was in present tense. (I am really hard to win over to present tense, for reasons that are... arbitrary and not important here.) It reminded me a little of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, even though the stories were nothing alike, except for the theme of technology and the secrets the adults keep from the youth. Thematically, it's a little bit The Giver, a little bit Brave New World... but there's a delicious dose of Twilight's romanticism that may bring readers who wouldn't ordinarily pick up a dystopian novel.

The narrator, Cassia, is intelligent and likable, an interesting mix of sense and sensibility. She's a little dreamy and undefined in this novel, but she's a product of her Society, which plans every moment of a citizen's life based on probability and parameters. Everyone is sorted, compartmentalized, and optimized, based on statistical models of an individual's personality--the Society knows what will make you happy. Everyone is matched with their life/child-rearing partners when they are seventeen, and everyone dies when they are eighty.

But then Cassia falls in love with someone with whom she is not matched--someone, in fact, completely ineligible. Like Twilight the love story was intense and consuming and in a lot of ways, the engine that drove the story. Well, that applies to a lot of paranormal YA: girl on the inside of convention, falling in love with the boy who is an Outsider, who opens her eyes to a different world.

Cassia has the seeds of rebellion inside her. They take root when her Grandfather, on his deathbed, gives her a secret, forbidden poem. But she's not brave enough to keep it until she falls in love--a rebellion in itself. I hope that we get to see that blossom in the next book.

As the falseness of Society's utopia unfolds, the revelations kept me reading. What's the red pill for? What's beyond the Provinces, what happened to Ky's family? What secrets do the Officials keep?

The ending is not an ending, it's the beginning of the next book, and that's okay. Is it action packed? No. This is a leisurely unfolding of story, not a rocket-fueled plot. (It's not Uglies--no hoverboards here. Society is sedate, and so is the pace of this plot.) But that's okay. This is a journey with time to take in all the well crafted details.


But wait! New to this blog! I’ve networks with the Bookanistas, a bunch of fabulous YA authors/bloggers, who post YA book reviews on Thursdays. Today’s awesome?
Thanks to the Bookanistas for welcoming me. And I know you guys are going to enjoy their reviews, so click away!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Movie Monday Melting Pot

I’m trying to think of all the movies I’ve seen since I last posted a movie Monday! Since I’ve been spending so much time at home with my sick dog/mom/self, there were a lot, but some of them were viewed during a cold-medicine induced semi-coma, so I don’t particularly remember details.

Oh! I just remembered one.

The A-Team. Mom and I watched this on Christmas Eve, because I was too sick with my cold/flu/plague to go to church. I remember the day because I remarked to Mom that Santa Claus’s trip around the world in one night broke less laws of physics than this movie.

Seriously. Helicopters cannot do loop-de-loops. That’s why they’re helicopters, and not airplanes.

Was it fun? Eh, yeah. But not fun like Ghostrider or Independence Day. Not quite cheesy enough.

Inception. This movie. Was awesome. I missed it in the theatre, and from what I gathered from my friends, you either fell in the love it or hate it category. I am in the first. Incredibly intricate but still so exciting to watch. The girl at Blockbuster was right, though. You cannot be doing anything else while you watch. You have to keep your eye on the screen at all times.

Shutter Island. An example of a really well crafted movie that I never want to watch again. Unfortunately, I watched this the day after Lizzie died, so I was already REALLY down, and this incredible downer of a movie absolutely did not help. I had to watch The Fifth Element twice, back to back, to get the taste of it out of my head.

However, it was a REALLY well made movie. I can’t believe I used to find Leonardo DiCaprio so annoying, thanks to Titanic. I think after he grew too old to play floppy haired teenagers, his real acting chops have shone through. His choice of roles have been brilliant in reinforcing that.

I can think of a number of really well made movies and even TV episodes that I thought were brilliant, but I never want to watch them again. How about you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Princess Lizzie

This is a hard post to write. Some of you who have been following the blog might know, my dog Lizzie has been sick for quite some time. It’s been a roller coaster, with chronic sinusitis, then expensive tests, then dire predictions, then a little hope that she’ll at least be comfortable, with good days and bad days. I could deal with a snuffly dog, as long as she wasn’t suffering.

Last week, it was clear she was getting worse, and her good days had dwindled to good hours, to good minutes. It was so hard, but I wanted to say goodbye to her before she was in horrible pain all the time. It’s something that, as her person, I could give to her, since we couldn’t make her better.

Lizzie was only four. In a few weeks, I’d have had her four years exactly. From puppyhood, she was with me all the time, curled up in my lap when I worked, traveling with me to booksignings, coffee shops, Christmastime with the family. She was a very special dog, and we had the sort of person/dog bond that people write about in books. (In fact, I did. Lizzie is the basis for Gigi in The Splendor Falls.)

I’m a mess, but I know those of you with pets (and even without them) understand why I haven’t been blogging much. I’ll be getting back into a routine, though, and the bright side is that my Lizziebelle is at peace with my Dad and my pet family that has gone before her. They’re probably swapping stories about what a nut I am to live with, but at least I’ve always loved my pack.

Here are some pictures of Lizzie. I hope you don’t mind my sharing them.

Baby pictures!

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Her favorite toy.​

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On the road. (She has beautiful feathers by now.)

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See? (This was my spot at the cabin we rented.)

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Lizzie and me.

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Thanks for letting me share. Back to normal life soon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Splendor Falls

I guess it's not much of a teaser when the book is already out. But the paperback is new, and that means new people who are discovering Sylvie and the mysteries of Bluestone Hill.

So, from The Splendor Falls...



        "That came out all wrong this afternoon." My tone was half confession, half apology. "I don't care about money." I smoothed my hand absently over Dad's book, the picture of the garden and the rock, and the ghost of this thoughts on the page. "All I want in the world is to be able to dance again."

        I felt a small shock at the words. I never spoke them aloud. It was to foolish to wish for, too selfish and ungrateful, when I was lucky to be able to walk. But the wish was always there, the seed of all my mystery. Blurting it out was like pulling the ugly white roots of my anger into the light for this guy, who should be a stranger but didn't feel like one, to see.

        "It's late," I said, even though it wasn't really. Unable to look at Rhys, I slid out of the chair and went to pick up Gigi, who made a drowsy protest.

        "Sylvie." His voice, pitched low, caught me as I turned toward the door. I paused as he straightened from the desk, crossing the small distance. After the slightest hesitation, he touched my arm, and I forced my gaze up to his, just so I wouldn't have to call myself a coward.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Non-year resolutions

It's that time of year again. The TV is full of lose weight/stop smoking ads. The blogs are full of New Years Resolutions.

The new year is, of course, a natural time to start fresh. But sadly, I find myself trying to start over much more often. Like, every month. Sometimes every week! This month I'm going to exercise more, whine less, get out of the house at least twice a week... Heck, get dressed in real clothes more than once a week.

I have a lot I need to resolve this year. Unfortunately the number one thing I would change about 2011 ("Less family health stress") is something over which I have no control. Yes, I'd love for everyone at Chez Clement-Moore to be healthy and happy in 2011, but unfortunately my omnipotence is on the fritz.

When so much of your life (by which I mean my life) is out of your control, I've discovered (but have not mastered) that when it comes to resolutions, it's not so much about changing the externals as how you respond to them.

So here are a few of my resolutions for 2011.

  1. Exercise more.
  2. Whine less.

And also:

  1. Smile more.
  2. Get out of the house to do one non-obligatory thing a week, even if it's just take the dogs for a walk. Runs to Starbucks and Chipotle don't count.
  3. Get dressed in real clothes more than twice a week. "Real Clothes" constitutes something that does not involve a drawstring and may actually involve buttons and zippers. These do not count.
  4. Send thank you notes. More importantly, be the type of person who sends thank you notes. (Birthday cards are beyond me, I think. I can't even get Christmas cards out.)
  5. Answer fan mail promptly, so I don't lose letters and then find them an embarrassing amount of time later.
  6. Go to mass more often, so I remember what's really important.
  7. Give money or time to charity, so I remember what's really important, and how lucky I am.
  8. Believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

What about you guys?