All posts filed under: Strange Thoughts

Four genres to read if you’re burned out (plus an update from me)

When I made plans for the two week sabbatical my company awards when an employee reaches their ten year anniversary, I never thought it would coincide with a global pandemic. I expected to be waking up in Florida today, visiting my mother in law along with my husband. Instead I find myself at home, in a city where all bars are closed and restaurants are limited to take out and delivery, and many other businesses are closing, fighting of bouts of anxiety. The prospect of a shelter in place order looms. I make a daily schedule for exercise, blogging, crafting, chores and reading to keep my mind occupied. Since it’s been a little tough focus on anything too dense, the below four genres are the ones I’ll be reaching for while I’m home. Admittedly, there is a part of me that doesn’t mind at all. I’m an introvert by nature, so finding myself at home with two weeks to myself to relax, write, and work on long deferred projects isn’t so bad. I just wish …

Searching for Springtime Scares

I like to align a lot of my writing with the seasons, since I take a lot of inspiration from nature. Spring is usually a challenge for me, as I prefer darker themes and imagery. How do you make sunshine and budding flowers scary? I might be able to take some tips from a hugely successful horror movie that premiered last March. Jordan Peele’s Us featured warm weather, picturesque settings, and children. Peele contrasts these elements with dark tunnels, and a nighttime confrontation between the protagonist’s family and terrifying, murderous versions of themselves. I can also take  literary inspiration from some classic short stories.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is centered around a sunny room. And of course, Shirely Jackson’s famously unsettling The Lottery, detailing the horrifying tradition of a small New England town each June. What’s your favorite spring time scare?

Vulture Culture

Our neighborhood had a new clan move in this winter. A large flock of 30 plus turkey vultures, who have been moving from rooftop to rooftop and roosting in backyard trees. I can occasionally spot them on the branches of a dead pine tree in my backyard, and hear them rustling on my chimney in the morning. Occasionally they take up watch on our main road, two on each rooftop, dark sentinels watching us all drive by. Dispite their imposing presence, they are completely harmless. At least, that’s what the experts on the internet keep telling me every time I google “Do vultures eat pets?” or “Do vultures ever attack? ” I keep checking for one reason. These birds are not scared of people. They are not skittish at all, actually, unlike the red tailed hawks and barred owls that swoop away whenever I get too close during an evening walk. I’m assured that turkey vultures, who comprise the majority of the group, will never attack living animal. However, I’ve noticed a few black vultures …

Spring Anticipation

It’s just getting to the point where the days are getting noticeably longer, and I am eagerly anticipating spring. I love the sparseness of winter, but the short days and cold Carolina rain definitely cut into the time I can spend outside enjoying after work nature walks and weekend hikes. The light greens and pastels of spring may not match my personal aesthetic, but I always enjoy taking them in when visiting nature parks and botanical gardens. I also enjoy trying to spot some of the creepy crawlers lurking among the fresh leaves and fragrant flowers. The brightness of spring also informs my writing. Monsters and villains always seem their most terrifying when they are infiltrating idillic settings, don’t they?

Top 5 Winter Thrillers and Horror Movies

I love horror movies and thrillers set in winter. In some of the best, the winter weather can act as a second antagonist, trapping the hero of the movie. In others, it offers up gorgeous cinematography to serve as a poetic back drop for the story to unfold in. Below are some of my favorites, I’d love to hear about yours. Fargo The Cohen brothers set their thriller/black comedy in Minnesota during the late 80s, and use the expanse of long roads and barren, snowy landscapes in between cities and towns to their advantage. I’ve never seen headlights used as a plot device so well. Insomnia Unlike the rest of the movies on this list, much of Insomnia’s atmosphere relies on the perpetual daylight of summer in Alaska. It haunts Al Pacino’s weary detective relents as he hunts an unsettlingly friendly suspected serial killer. The Shining Based on the classic horror novel by Stephen King, the remote Overlook hotel that provides the setting for the film has an interesting duality. It is both a sanctuary …

My Strangest Source of Writing Inspiration (so far)

When I posted my poem Rites, the reception for it was amazing. “A lovely evocation of the cycle of life, through the rituals that lead us.” wrote one commenter. It’s a solemn piece of writing, and so far, the only poem I have written that touches upon religious themes. Which makes the inspiration for it seem so silly, since I got the idea initial idea from a jar of body scrub. The scent is graveyard, and site I bought it from, witchbabysoap.com, describes it as smelling like, “a freshly dug grave, coffin satin, and carefully arranged funeral flowers on a warm spring afternoon.” It seemed so weird and morbid, I just had to try it. When the scrub arrived in the mail, I noticed the three words, Flowers, Dirt, Coffin Satin, on the label. I decided to play around with them in a repeating poetry form, and settled on a villanelle. It immediately took on a more serious tone as I incorporated the repetitive form and though more about all the times we encounter flowers …

Blood Orange Lemonade

There aren’t many fruits that I look forward to being in season during the winter, but blood oranges are definitely one of them. In season roughly November through May in the US,depending on where they are grown, they usually show up at my grocery store around mid January, but I start keeping an eye out for them in December. One of my favorite things to make with them is a flavored lemonade. It’s a little work, but more then worth it. I top mine with Blavod vodka for an extra kick (and macabre color), but it’s refreshing on its own as well. Blood Orange Lemonade: 1 cup blood orange juice – squeezed from about about four oranges 1 cup lemon juice- squeezed from about ten small lemons 1/4 cup orange juice- squeezed from one orange 3 cups water 3/4 cup simple syrup One blood orange sliced One lemon sliced Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and let sit for at least an hour. Top with vodka for an extra kick.

Australia Burning

When I watch horror movies, I tend the favor supernatural films versus the ultra realistic. Given a choice, I’d rather watch a movie about a haunted house than a home invasion. There is something about the possibility of the plot unfolding in real life that makes them harder to watch. The forest fires in Australia are an example of a real life horror story, and the photo above is the best image I’ve seen that depicts the full scale of the disaster.  The largest blaze, The Gospers Mountain fire, was ignited by a lightning strike in October and burned for three months before being contained. Many other fires are still burning. Over 16 million acres have scorched, much more then the roughly 2 million acres that burned in California in 2018, and the Amazon last year. The smoke plume from the fires has discolored the sky over South America, and traveled all way around the globe back to Australia. This article by the New York Times gives the full picture of the devastation. If you …

Playing Your Bones: Three Versions of One Poem

I often scroll through Pinterest for inspiration while working on my poetry. During one search for new ideas, the above image caught my attention immediately, and the phrase “play your bones like a xylophone” popped into my head. Determined to use it in a poem, I tried it out in a quick senryu: Senryu 55 tonight I will dream about playing your bones like a xylophone I liked it, but it felt a little incomplete. I decided to try it in an elfchen next. Bone Xylophone I’m dreaming about playing your bones like a xylophone tonight feverishly I liked this version better, but since I was having fun experimenting, I wrote a third poem in the form of a triolet. Playing your bones tonight I’m dreaming about playing your bones like a xylophone your vertebrae jingling tonight I’m dreaming diabolically scheming carving your tombstone tonight I’m dreaming about playing your bones like a xylophone So far this version is my favorite, but I’m curious to see how many more I can come up with using …

Winter Songs

I like eggnog, but I can’t drink it as is. I always need to add a little milk, or it’s too rich for me. The same goes for Christmas carols. I need to break them up with some songs that just make me think of winter. Songs about winter, that were used in a movie set during winter, or just played a lot during the winter season get mixed in my Christmas playlist to break up all the Christmas cheer. When the holidays are over, they make a great playlist on their own. Winter Playlist: Winter- Tori Amos This Year’s Love- Davis Gray Daughters- John Mayer Transatlanticism- Death Cab for Cutie If I Ain’t Got You- Alicia Keys Palace- Sam Smith Into the Mystic- Van Morrison Ophelia- The Lumineers Poison and Wine- The Civil Wars The A Team- Ed Sheeran I Put a Spell on You- Brigitte Wickens Winter Song- Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson Winter- Josh Radin Alive- Chris Daughtry This is Me- Keisha Rise Up- Andra Day From Now On- Zac Brown Band …