November 29th, 2012
I just won my first NaNoWriMo! *victory dance* A day early, no less. after STARTING a day late. So I just wrote 50k+ in 28 days.
Final count with the story by itself: 50,117. With appendix: 52,677.
When I started this, I never imagined I’d actually finish. Especially with school, and tutoring, and client projects, and falling behind a couple of times with all the other things I’m doing. And I especially didn’t think I’d get anywhere coherent with it, since I NEVER had in mind to write science fiction (let alone futuristic and speculative), and I had previously never been able to write anything past chapter 2.
But then the muse bit me, and the story started writing itself, all based around a silly idea I had with a friend some years ago. Characters started showing up, things started happening, and a whole ‘future history’ and timeline presented itself to set up the ‘current day’ behaviors and technology. I began to see it play out in my head, and simply wrote down what I saw. By the time I realized what was happening, I was getting farther than I’d ever thought I would.
And best of all, the story makes SENSE. Things fit together in very eerie ways, personalities are coming out, and I’m learning things about my places, themes, and characters as this goes on. It’s almost like I’m reading someone else’s story. Plus I started with zero planning or outline, and I STILL don’t know how it’s going to end, so I get to find out what happens at the same time as I write it. It’s pretty amazing.
So yeah, I just wanted to gush a bit, because I’m genuinely impressed that I’ve taken it to the level that I have. And it’s nowhere near finished, plot-wise. I plan to keep going with it until it’s a full-fledged book. I already have ideas for a sequel and prequel, too. I’ll get a start on those for the next two NaNos. But for this one, once it’s done hopefully I’ll find a good editor and get it published. We’ll see if I can stand to keep up with it for that long.
In short: go me! ^_^
August 3rd, 2012
Rambling Story Time! An Introspective Moment with your friendly neighborhood Ariela:
So. I accidentally stepped on someone’s toe in Zumba tonight. In response she shot me the EYEBALL OF DEATH (after stepping aside, rubbing her foot pointedly, and sending “you are scum of the earth” vibes at me – an attitude that she kept up for the rest of the class). Some women can really be terrifying. Especially perpetually-angry Russian ones.
This is why I don’t normally talk to anyone in that class. Ever. Many of the women, regardless of age, have this aloof & scary demeanor (possibly cultural) that makes me feel like I’m 2-ft tall. I’d be afraid to overstep any kind of invisible line, as if anything except for exchanging shallowly-enthusiastic pleasantries might be a grave offense to them. Most seem to just ignore me – which is usually fine, except when it comes to the rare routines that require a partner. Unless a friend is nearby, I’ve always got to find another lone soul (or dance alone), because everyone else picks anyone but me. Feels like grade school again!
That said, I’m always amazed when one of the women does say hi to me first, or knows my name, when I haven’t the slightest idea who the heck they are. Part of that problem is I’m always in the front. They see me, but I don’t see them. Kind of ironic in context. I wonder if they think *I’m* the scary one. I don’t know which is more depressing.
It really is amazing what people will infer when you say nothing. I already learned that once in high school for similar reasons, when I found out that quite a few people took my quiet and aloof bookish demeanor to mean I was this super religious zealot that wouldn’t talk to anyone out of some strange brand of piety. The reality was quite the opposite – I was one of the least religious in my whole class (privately at least), even daring to wear *gasp* pants on my own time (I could have gotten suspended for that at one point), and I was terrified of everyone else because they spoke Hebrew at home and knew more about how to be a “proper” Jew than I did.
Lessons (re)learned today:
1. Angry Russian ladies can shrivel the testicles of people who don’t even own testicles.
2. Not being picked for things as an adult sucks just as much as it did in el-hi.
3. Keeping to yourself is a double-edged sword that can conceivably lead people to assume you are the very thing you’re trying to avoid or NOT be.
I don’t know if the Zumba ladies actually think I’m mean or scary or anything, but based on the way I’m sometimes treated (or not treated, as it may be), I kinda wonder. Even though I’ve given no mean looks, no condescending tones, nothing to infer “meanness” from, and I’m always smiling and being pleasant to people if I do end up in conversations, for some reason people give me a wide berth in class, even to the point of nobody standing next to me in an otherwise full class. Maybe it’s just that I’m one of the only ones with the balls (so to speak) to be in the front row? Many ladies hug the back of the room, I assume out of embarrassment or something. I try not to think about it too much, which is another reason why I like the front row. I can pretend nobody is behind me and just focus on the moves and exercise.
Maybe I’m just over-thinking this whole thing. Except for getting the hairy eyeball from that one Russian lady for daring to infringe on her personal space, maybe nobody gives a rat’s ass about what I’m like. In all likelihood they’re probably too focused on themselves to think anything of me other than “there’s that girl who’s always in the front row”. Maybe I did have my imaginary testicles shrunken by the look she gave me, at least enough to make me question my entire social position in the class. That’s quite a powerful look, lemme tell you. If you’ve ever received the Eyeball of Death from a furious and condescending foreign (or otherwise socially-haughty) woman, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t…well, you’ll know it when you see it. Either way, it’s probably not worth losing hairs over, at least until someone actually decides to take issue with me verbally. Till then I’ll just assume everyone’s behavior is innocuous (except for Madam Vasectomy), and continue as I have been. Go, get my Zumba on, leave. Not all that complicated until I start injecting insecurities into the matter.
Stop being stupid.
February 12th, 2012
Because I’m continually awed at how fast technology has progressed in the last 20+ years (and I’m apparently masochistic about the fact that I’m nearing 30), I thought it might be fun to post a list of things that didn’t exist yet, or weren’t around in my life, when I was ~10 and under. You know, the techy stuff I somehow managed to live without.
- DVDs and players. It was cassettes and VHS tapes for us. Man, those took up a lot of room. CDs were already out, but they were still pretty “futuristic” to me. I played around with cassettes a lot.
- Flash and thumb drives. We had floppy disks. They were the smaller 5.25″ and 3.5″ ones, but they were still what we had to use for any computer class work.
- MP3 players. Hell, mp3s. Those weren’t even standardized until the 1990s.
- Laptops. At least ones that were affordable. Computers were around in general, but they were a luxury item, or something you would only use for word processing or very basic games.
- Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, ME, NT, XP, Vista, and 7. And while I’m on operating and computer software, I should include all versions of Photoshop, Macromedia, and PDFs.
- The entire Sims franchise. Kind of surreal to think about. Also on the topic of video games, there are lots of other popular games that didn’t come into existence until the mid 90s. Also “new” at the time were Blizzard Entertainment (Warcraft, Diablo, etc), Sony Entertainment (PlayStation), and of course the original Game Boy.
- Graphic accelerator cards. You know, the technology that allows computers to utilize separate video cards in AGP, PCI, or PCI Express motherboard slots, which makes many of the above games possible.
- The World Wide Web, HTTP, and HTML. Oh how far the Internet has come. And once we did get the Internet, we had no high speed or wireless. It was a snail’s pace connection through an existing phone line. Email was a really cool new thing, and if you had your own personal email address, you were WAY ahead of the times.
- Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs). Flat screen technology was just one of those “future” things.
- Digital cameras. We still had to use film, and actually wait for things to get developed. There was no instant checking to see if your photo came out alright (see previous point), and no “internal storage” to take as many similar shots as you liked. You got one shot (maybe more if you wanted to waste more of your 24 or 36 limited shots, which nobody wanted to do on trips), and you just had to hope it came out okay.
- Digital cable TV. For most of my early childhood, we only got channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13. When we adjusted the bunny-eared antenna, we could maybe get channels 21 or 25. We also had to turn knobs on the set itself. There were no “remotes” to speak of. And forget about DVR and TiVo!
- Camcorders. ”Portable” video cameras were the giant shoulder sets they used on news networks. Pocket video cameras and personal camcorders didn’t really become mainstream until the early 90s.
- Inkjet printers. They technically existed, but they were thousands of dollars and definitely not for home use. We were stuck with dot matrix and those reams of green/white lined paper with the hole-punched sides. :p They were pretty awesome at the time, though.
- Touch screen anything. The first hugely popular LCD item I remember was the Palm Pilot. If you had one of those as a kid in grade school, you were the COOLEST EVER.
- Cell phones. You actually had to memorize your friends’ home phone numbers back when I was a kid. Either that or keep a real physical address book (or Rolodex). I remember when my mom first got her giant brick of a Nokia, though. That was majorly techy at the time.
- Instant messaging, SMS and text-speak. ”Texting” wasn’t even a word. If you wanted to send a quick message without speaking, you had to pass notes in class. Abbreviating unnecessarily also got you strictly corrected. We had very specific dictionary-endorsed abbreviations to stick to, and simply leaving out random letters for brevity was a ridiculous idea.
- Social Media. Any of it. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Social networks of my childhood involved calling friends (from the house phone) to come over or arrange sleepovers.
- Wikipedia. Our research was done in these big heavy things called books. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases. “Bookmarking” something involved either dog-earing corners or placing a piece of paper between the pages you wanted to come back to later.
- YouTube. No, I didn’t grow up with any cat videos. I turned out fine.
- Verizon. Back then we had Bell Atlantic and NYNEX.
- “Adult language” on TV shows. I remember being fascinated/appalled year after year as one “bad” word after another managed to become accepted by the censors.
- 24-hour news. After the Gulf War, the networks decided to depress us 24/7. How thoughtful of them.
- Graphing calculators. We just had those clunky boring ones that everyone typed 5318008 on and thought they were so cool.
- GPS. People got lost a lot, and had to do icky social things like ask for directions.
- Cloning and stem cell research. Scientists made a lot of cool breakthroughs in the 90s, like DNA identification in court trials, genetically engineered crops, discovering other planets, dark matter, etc. They’re still building on those discoveries too, which is also really cool.
That about covers it. I feel old now. Which is strange, because I still feel like 1990 was 10 years ago.
February 5th, 2012
Well, Internet, it’s been a little over a month. One whole month without taking a picture every day for Project 365 and blogging it to the world. As I predicted, I don’t miss it. It was a nice way to push myself to keep my blog active, but it turned more into a stressful chore toward the end when I realized how many days I had to take a “boring” picture just to make quota. I was only spurred on by the desire to finish what I started, both out of stubbornness and because it was such an involved project – not the kind of thing you can just pick up and continue if you drop it for a couple of days. Well, you can if you don’t care about the rigidity of the rules, but I did care. I cared, so I trudged through to the end. And don’t get me wrong; it was definitely worth finishing. Being able to look at that contact sheet gives me a real sense of satisfaction, plus it’s a great timeline for memories.
It also made me realize something about myself that I never really thought about before…
I have a kickass amount of self-discipline.
It never occurred to me to think about my resolve that way, but looking back at 2011 I realize that I:
- saw a year-long and sometimes annoying daily project to its end without missing a single day.
- started a weightloss/exercise plan and continued it, right down to this very day, losing almost 30 lbs in the process.
- logged every single thing I’ve eaten over the last 3 and a half months through MyFitnessPal‘s food diary app, and have been making better food choices because of it.
That may only be 3 things to prove my point, but goddamn those are a pretty big 3 things. They’re 3 things that require a LOT of internal discipline to not simply give up on. That’s pretty cool, and it gave me a nice ego boost. I also realized that “self-discipline” is so much more uplifting a label to use for stuff I already do well, like saving money or budgeting. It’s funny – I used to worry that my frugal habits fit some kind of “miser” label (even though they don’t at all, and that’s a silly thing to worry about), but now that I know it lumps under self-discipline, I feel so much better about it. It also makes me want to use my “new-found” power to approach other areas of my life where my resolve hasn’t always been the best.
So. With my new Self-Discipline unofficial Girt Scout badge (it goes alongside my Always Has What’s Needed In Her Purse badge), I’m actually looking forward to tackling more projects this year. A few potentials that I’m itching to get going:
- Going through my (and my mom’s) closet and getting rid of anything I (and she) haven’t touched in a year,
- Finally getting back into some kind of crafting, thanks to my new Pinterest obsession (more on that in a future post),
- Getting a better grasp on my social circle, deciding who I want more in my life, and ultimately making better friends,
- Losing 30 more lbs,
- And of course the rest of my 101 Things list.
The biggest project of all however, is not really a project. I’m starting grad school this month (woo!), and I’m taking a new approach to a new opportunity. The way I see it, I never really had the chance to “rise above” in grade/high school and college, for various reasons. In yeshiva, I was held back by the religious double curriculum. I’m completely convinced that had I gone to a public school, I would have taken the valedictorian title and ran with it. That wasn’t really an option for me when I wasn’t great in Hebrew subjects, which pulled down my ENTIRE GPA for those years. In college, my initial launch into awesomeness came to a screeching halt thanks to clinical depression. THAT wasn’t a fun ride, even though I was already distinguished in an honors program and all. I just couldn’t compete with my peers, who didn’t have their brain chemistry sabotaging their studies. I still graduated with honors, but it wasn’t the honor I was seeking. I wanted to stand out, and I didn’t. At least not in my head.
NOW, however, is a different story. No Hebrew/religious curriculum in sight, and I’ve been med- and depression-free for over a year now. I feel great. So much is lined up right for me with this Master’s program. It’s in a field I enjoy, know a ton about already, and am already IN, and all the classes will be skills I WANT to learn or improve. I am fully primed to ace the shit out of every single class they throw at me, and my name’s going to be the first out of the faculty’s mouths for job recommendations. It’s not even a question. This will be a fact. So let it be written, so it shall be done.
And you know what? I’m not even worried if I do have to ask for help in some capacity. Hell, that’s what school is all about, isn’t it? I’ve never felt shame in asking for clarification. I know enough to know (and admit) that I don’t know enough, and I’m willing to do all I can to keep increasing that knowledge. I suppose that takes self-discipline too, doesn’t it? Damn, I’m on a roll.
Well, time to self-discipline myself to bed, I guess. Until next time.
January 1st, 2012
It’s done. 100%. Complete. A full 365 days photographed and documented. If you haven’t been reading my accompanying blog posts and/or just want to get a good look at the contact sheet of photos all at once, you can see that in its glorious entirety on Flickr. I’ve included excerpts of some blog bits along with the Flickr photos, but it’s not quite the same for the shots that went with longer rants. Still, seeing it all in one place is very neat. It’s also a bit surreal to realize I just spent an entire literal year on a project, but the result is worth it. It really is an accomplishment too, considering how many people just give up midway and never finish it. And I haven’t missed a single day. Go me.
I’ve was thinking about whether or not I want to continue the project, and ultimately decided against it. A whole year of taking photos has clogged up my “Sort These” folder, and I have a huge backlog of files to organize that I haven’t had the time to go through. Piling another year on top of that would probably drive me insane. So I’m saying a relieved goodbye to Project 365 now, to give me some breathing room to sort all 2011′s photos without adding yet another bunch every day. It was fun, but it took up more focus than I had expected. Now I can spend my time to catch up a bit on 100 Snapshots and other stuff on my 101 Things list.
Looking back, my life has undergone some big changes this year for the better. Way better. To sum up, since January I’ve:
- Lost 25 lbs. (Hopefully 2012 will see another 25.)
- Gotten into an awesome frequent workout routine (Zumba mainly), and am the most fit I’ve been in years.
- Been eating WAY healthier thanks to the MyFitnessPal app (12 of the 25 lbs were lost since using the app).
- Gotten back in touch with two old friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while.
- Finally visited/met family in Oregon and Washington.
- Decided to go to grad school, and got accepted into the program I wanted (I start in February).
- Been a lot more confident about myself (partly thanks to the weight loss).
The year hasn’t been entirely sweet, due to some illnesses in the family and other things, but overall on my end of the spectrum I’d say there are far more positives than negatives. Definitely some things still need to be improved (being more socially active, for example), but I have a whole new year to work on them now.
So would I call 2011 a good year? Minus individual incidents and things, yeah, I guess I would. But I plan to make 2012 even better.
December 31st, 2011
2011 (and Project 365) comes to an end for me at a friend’s New Years party. Fun times were had, including a spontaneous pillow fight that began with cushions flying across the room and ended in a full-on pillow beating.
I had an all-around great time, minus a drunk guy spilling a bottle of diet soda down my leg later on in the night. But hey, at least it was just soda, and not vomit. I took my cue to leave shortly after that though. The party got a bit too drunken for my comfort level. I’m still glad I went though. Made a bunch of new friends, got a surprise massage, unexpectedly ironed out a point of awkwardness/contention with someone I hadn’t seen in a while (and didn’t think I’d even see there), and got called the “coolest girl I ever met” by someone – along with a bunch of other really nice compliments from various folks. I’m hoping to charge into 2012 keeping that trend going, of making positive impressions on people I meet.
That said, Happy New Year!
December 30th, 2011
I like picking out accidental design and pictures here and there, like this gem at a Coney Island bus stop. The crinkled and dirty pattern of the insert paper reflected in the glass looks like a very creepy and old face with eyes peering out. I imagine it’s wearing a turban, or something like Link’s hat from the Zelda games. Definitely the kind of thing that can’t be ‘unseen’ once you notice it. I wonder what sorta of shenanigans it sees. Or…well, on second thought, it’s in Coney Island. Maybe I don’t want to know.
One day left to finish Project 365! I’ll probably work on an actual substantive blog post as well, to sum up 2011 and other stuff. Stay tuned.
December 29th, 2011
Minor cowlicks aside, there’s something to be said for having hair that can do this:
I just wish it stayed like that in the face of humidity and wind.
December 28th, 2011
Not really *my* job, but the next renovation target. Say hello to the fright that is my decades-old windowsill.
It wasn’t always that scary-looking. It’s had cracks and stuff in the past, which is understandable for a wooden sill as old as the house itself, but after all the recent water damage last and this year, it’s started to pucker and crackle and gather mold at an alarming rate. Now it’s in serious need of a sledgehammer. My walls are developing bigger cracks too. I dunno when it will all get attended to, but I hope it’s reasonably soon. Any longer than necessary and that mess is gonna sprout legs and eat me in my sleep.
December 27th, 2011
I hate when I forget to tuck a curl behind my ear and only notice it afterward. I thought about editing it out, but that would be too much of a hassle for a silly snapshot.
Most comfortable sleep shirt EVER, btw.