All posts filed under: Strange Thoughts

Three Genres to Read if You’re Burned Out This Summer

I have been bemoaning my lack of reading for months. No matter what novel I leave on my nightstand, it seems that between my full time office job and writing for this blog, I’m too tired to focus. So I’ve gone back to my bookshelves for books that are easier reading, and came up with three genres to read if your brain is a little burned out this summer. Graphic Novels The illustrations of a graphic novel make them easier reads when you’re tired, but that doesn’t keep them from touching on complex or darker themes. V for Vendetta and The Watchmen are both great reads if you need an easier read that still has adult storylines. Through the Woods is a beautifully illustrated anthology with darker stories. Photography/Art Books Books that center around a specific artist/photographer, magazine, or museum are great, because you get a lot of beautiful images and a little background on each one of them. I just picked up Elephant House, a photography book dedicated to the home of Edward Gorey, …

Plot Twist (Update)

I’ve finally gotten everything squared away with my insurance company after my accident last week. Unfortunately my car was deemed a total loss, but they are giving me a much bigger payout than expected! I was able to pick up the check and buy a new car today, and will be back to my regular writing schedule this week. ********* Unfortunately I was rear ended last night and will be sorting things out for a few days. Hope to be back with good news soon! Luckily the other driver and I are both ok.

How Haunted Houses Prepared Me For Emergancies

Every time I visit a haunted house, one thing inevitable occurs. No matter how big the group I walk through with is, I always wind up taking the lead at some point.  Usually this occurs during the dreaded pitch black room/maze/hallway that most haunted houses feature. Everyone freezes, as I slowly edge forward and feel for the wall. This is undesirable to most, since each dark room has the possibility of a hidden ghoul waiting to pop out. Some of the really sly houses leave it empty, and let the anticipation heighten exponentially as you move further in. Occasionally the floor has been altered and sinks, or fishing wire is hung from the ceiling (to simulate spider webs). The sudden surface changes and sensations are very disorienting. But I love pushing ahead to see what hidden scares are in the dark rooms. Until 10:30 am on Friday, June 8th, this was not a skill that had real life applications. That morning, I was kneeling in front of a filing cabinet in a storage closet searching …

The Butcherbird

There are a few zoos and parks in the Charlotte area that I visit repeatedly, and every time I go back to one I tell myself the same thing. I am not taking pictures this time. But I do anyways, unable to ignore the compulsion to document every place that I visit with a photo essay. My last visit to the Carolina Raptor Center was no different. I promised myself that I wouldn’t leave with 40 pictures of birds I have already seen multiple times, and a few hours later there I was, angling for the best shots of my favorite vultures. At one point I realized I had been left behind by my husband and sister, and hurried around a corner to catch up. I found them in front of a new display housing a new bird, no larger then a sparrow, hopping around on a thin branch. “Who’s this cute little guy?” I asked. “It’s not cute”, my husband solemnly intoned. “Read the sign.” “Fun Fact” the sign chirped. “We impale our prey!” It turns out the …

Exotic Invaders

Ever since my husband and I bought our house five years ago I have fallen in love with the delicate honeysuckle vines growing in our backyard and the neighborhood nature trail. I always thought of them as quintessentially southern, tied up with associations of hot summers, wide porches, and sweet tea. Except these flowers are not native southern belles. Honeysuckle native to the US have scarlet flowers, and mine are white and yellow. It turns out my honeysuckle is considered to be an invasive species from eastern Asia. Able to slink up to 33 feet up a tree, it chokes out native plants while leaving an intoxicating vanilla scent in its wake. They might lean more towards being femme fatales then southern ladies, but I think that has endeared them to me even more. I won’t be pulling them out of my yard anytime soon.  

Introducing Bram Stoker

This past weekend I loaded up on new reading at my favorite local bookstore at their buy five, get five free book sale. Out of the ten I walked out of, one of my choices was a complete accident. While searching  for a final book to round out my ten, I had  noticed a few copies of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and grabbed one to finish my stack. When I got home, I realized that had in fact bought a collection of Bram Stoker’s short stories called Dracula’s Guest & Other Tales of Horror, instead of the novel Dracula. I was intrigued. I had been previously unaware, like many people, that Bram Stoker had written anything other then Dracula. It turns out, he’s written eleven novels in addition to the numerous short stories in the collection I stumbled upon. The introduction to the collection gives some interesting details of Stoker’s childhood, during which he was sickly and bedridden. His mother entertained him with Irish folklore and stories of the cholera outbreak that occurred in 1832, which …

Would You Quit Your Day Job?

My day job requires a high degree of pretense, in a sense. Employees are expected to maintain a neutral personality, heightened by our professional dress code and office standards in order to serve our clients. No discussions of the news, religion, or anything else that could be deemed controversial or disruptive. I’ve become pretty skilled at avoiding any topic that could fall into those categories. I can smile my way through all kinds of conversations involving things I don’t agree with, sometimes pretending I don’t watch the news to avoid topics that might get me fired. The only time my façade cracks is when the conversation starts to feel too personal. Recently a male client asked me, out of the blue, “Why do women feel the need to wear make-up every time they leave the house?” Without hesitating I dryly pointed out that he hadn’t seen me wear make up in two years. He was mortified, and didn’t speak to me for a week. I’ve been grilled on multiple occasions about my choice not to have children, my choice to …

Smoke and Ashes

The first month my husband and I lived in our current neighborhood, we watched a house across road from us burn to the ground. The scent of smoke began to pervade the street around 8pm, and at first, could have been mistaken for a campfire or barbeque. Soon the air became hazier and it was obvious something was wrong. Neighbors and volunteer firefighters walked up and down the street looking for the source of the smoke for a half an hour before visible flames began to shoot out from the house across the road and three houses down from ours. Within another 10- 15 minutes the house was engulfed in flames. I had never met the owners of the house or been inside their home, but I knew they had lived a lifetime in it. I could tell by their back yard. It faced a stretch of the walking trail my husband and I walk every evening. We were  just learning how hard it is to maintain a green lawn, and theirs was thick and …

Star Wars at the Symphony

This past weekend I attended a screening of Star Wars; A New Hope hosted by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Just like a previous showing I attended last November of Home Alone,  the orchestra performed the soundtrack live. Once again, it was a fantastic experience. Every time I see John Williams’s music performed live, I really appreciate how intricate the music is, and how difficult it is to perform live. Seeing the score to Star Wars performed live was also very nostalgic, since I was introduced to the movies by my grandparents as a child. I have a lot of fond memories of watching and re-watching all three films while staying with them for visits. I would highly recommend seeing a movie screening with the score performed live if you ever have the chance. I’m looking forward to seeing the Empire Strikes back in 2020! Give Back: Dress for Success is a national organization that distributes suits and business attire to women across the country. Each client gets a suit, shoes, and accessories to wear on …

Creating a Writing Soundtrack

I’ve always found it difficult to write in silence. Even as far back as high school, if I was writing an essay or report, I needed music in the background or my mind would wander. Now, when I’m working on poetry and short stories, I like to listen to classical music written or featured in soundtracks for movies and TV shows. I’ve been compiling a playlist with a mix of pieces from soundtracks that stand out to me when I first hear them. I keep adding to and rearranging the songs, but I can still remember the scenes in which I heard them. Below is my writing playlist in its current form, let me know if you have any suggestions to add! Give Back: Random Acts of Flowers mission is two fold, to deliver flowers to patients, and to prevent waste by recycling elements of flower arrangements.  Consider donating funds, or volunteering at a local branch. Read:  If your a fan of spoken word poetry, read this comparison of Ann Sexton’s two performances of Music …