Friday, December 19, 2008

Have I ever mentioned I'm pyrophobic?

So our apartment complex was on the news. Just as I was going to bed I noticed lots and lots of lights outside my bedroom window. I went to look and saw more fire trucks than I had ever seen in my life congregated at our apartment complex. I put my sneakers on in record time, grabbed one of my roommates from her room, and went downstairs where I discovered that the apartment building across the parking lot from us was on fire. It was one of the scariest things I had ever seen in my whole entire life.

We just stood there with our neighbors watching this fire consume this apartment, and then the roof just completely disappeared. It took about an hour for the fire department to find a source of water and finally put the thing out. The entire time I was scared that the fire would jump to the trees (our complex has a TON of trees) and then over to our building, but luckily this did not happen. All in all, six families were left homeless and they determined the cause to be a cigarette that hadn't been properly extinguished. Unbelievable.

So all of my holiday shopping is done, which is very exciting. Especially since over the course of the month I became one of the many staggering economic statistics that you see on the news. Yes, I am now part of the unemployed. Our company laid off about three hundred employees in three days, so I got to pack my things up, say good-bye to the people I had worked with for so long, and start a new life. I'm not sure what this new life is supposed to entail quite yet, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

For now, I'm using all of this precious time off to work on a young adult novel that I got inspired to write out of the blue. It's going really well. I've also been invited to a writer's conference in February. My awesome friend, who's a Creative Writing MFA student at UCF, was asked to read a paper she wrote at a writer's conference in Chicago and she asked me to tag along. I told her that I would love to. I've never been to a writer's conference before so I'm really looking forward to it. Maybe I'll get even more inspiration!

Another thing this time off has afforded me is the time to actually send out holiday cards. I always have the intention of sending cards out, but then I get so caught up with everything else that they get put on the backburner. Not this year though. They're all enveloped, addressed, stamped, and ready to go. I just have to remember to actually drop them off at the post office.

January 1st I plan on starting my job search. With the way things are right now in the country I'm setting my sights low, so wish me luck. In the mean time, have a Happy Holidays!

ETA: I almost forgot to mention this. I entered a photo into one of the JPG Magazine themes, so if you like it go vote for it. And if you don't like it, go vote for some of the other ones. A lot of these photographs are amazing. Just click below.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today was a day of new

Today I did something that I've never done before. I bought a suit. Isn't it crazy? I'm growing up. It looks awesome on me and I feel so professional in it. It really is true that clothes can change your mood and attitude. It's pretty unbelievable. I always tell myself that every month I'm going to buy myself a new article of clothing or a new outfit, but I never get around to it. Maybe this suit will spark that clothes buying motivation that I always seem to lack.

I came across the coolest site ever the other day. http://jpgmag.com/ It's the site for a photography magazine and you can submit photos to their different themes. Naturally, I quickly made an account, but I've only uploaded one picture so far. It was a picture I took in Charleston, South Carolina of the windowsill of a bar that we had walked by. But I really recommend everyone check it out. These pictures are amazing. Photography, without a doubt, is my favorite visual art form and looking through these people's pictures remind me of why.

I miss fan fiction. I know that's random, but I came across one of my stories online and I had so much fun rereading it. The problem with fan fiction is that when fandoms die it's hard to keep the muse. Oddly, I've serendipitously stumbled upon a new fandom and it's sparked a plot bunny in my mind. I'm not telling which fandom it is though because I bought a suit, and that means I'm a grown up now, and this fandom would undermine my suit and my grown-up-ness, so there.

Last month, or I guess it's two months now, Maika and I took a trip up to New York City to visit Evelisse for her birthday. While there we met Tom Cruise and Daniel Radcliffe. No really. Well pretty much anyway. Tom Cruise was really nice and he smiled at us and waved as he walked by. I had my camera in my hand, but somehow the brain function that alerts me to take a photo malfunctioned at that moment. Luckily, it worked again when Daniel Radcliffe came out to sign autographs, which is what we were waiting for in the first place when Tom just passed on by. See that? I'm already on a first name basis with him.

So the reason we were waiting for Daniel Radcliffe was because he's performing in Equus, and I highly recommend that everyone see it if they get a chance. It was phenomenal. As a pleasant surprise, it turns out that Captain Janeway is in it as well. And also, I have to pimp this every chance I get, if you go to New York City and want to see the best off-Broadway musical ever, then go see Altar Boyz. Why? Because I said so. I saw it twice while it was touring, and this was my first chance to see it up in New York where it all started. What's funny is that our Abraham was the understudy who happened to also be the same exact Abraham understudy that we got when we saw it in Sarasota.

The holidays are here. I had a great Thanksgiving and I'm looking forward to a pretty great Christmas as well. I've got 3/4 of my Christmas/Hannukah/Holiday shopping done. I think I deserve a cookie for that. Tomorrow I'm going to see Avenue Q!!! I can't wait. It's going to be a lot of fun, and now that I think I've rambled enough, I'm going to go play on jpgmag.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Apopka means big potato, or something like that

Why does it take so long to cook potatoes? I have a fairly simple meal I'm trying to make, but I have to wait an hour for the potatoes. This makes no sense.

I suppose I can use this time to update, since I should be updating more frequently anyway. I had thought of updating several times, like about my trip to Phoenix, my trip to LA, my department being disbanded and me getting moved to a new department with a new position that I'm not so sure about, and of course, I was going to update about all my attempts at domestication including how I make it a point to cook now, and how I even clean up after myself when I'm done cooking.

But as you can see, I updated about none of this.

Sunday night I wrote another chapter of the 2nd East Water novel. Well, more like a part of the chapter. Maika read through it and made some excellent points, so I will be revising it and probably adding more to that chapter before moving on to the next one. Book 2 is coming out a lot more organic and fast-paced than the first one, but I'm not surprised since the first book was really an elaborate set up.

Lately I've been getting the advice to send it straight to a publisher, which is the exact opposite advice that I was getting before about sending it to an agent first. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try the publisher angle either. A lot has been brought up about self-publishing, but my whole point is that I shouldn't have to pay for people to read my story. If that's going to be the case, then I'd rather throw it up on the Internet for free and let everyone have at it. I don't write to make money, so I most certainly do not write to spend money either.

My trip to Seattle is coming up! I'm pretty excited. An and I are going to hit the town, and we're going to get to see The Stereophonics in the process. The last time I saw them perform was in Atlanta during their acoustic tour to promote J.E.E.P. That was a very long time ago. I still had my zine back then, and I reviewed the show for it. It's kind of amusing to read it after all this time, but since I found it, I'll go ahead and post it here. Enjoy.

Stereophonics
review and photo by Lina Rivera

The Cotton Club (Atlanta, Georgia)
February 5, 2001

After kidnapping my dear friend, Marleen, and transporting her across state lines, I finally filled her in on my little secret. We were going to Atlanta! We were going to see Stereophonics! "Who?" Marleen wondered as she laughed at my insanity. I explained to her everything she needed to know: V98, V99, Kelly, Stuart, Richard, and a little more about Kelly. She was informed but she couldn't have been prepared.

It took us 8 hours to get to Atlanta, at which point I became utterly confused. Downtown Atlanta is not so easy to navigate, and they have hills, too. After doing two loops around Luckie Street, Marleen convinced me to bother looking behind me instead of in front of me which is when I saw the sign for "The Cotton Club" on the side of a gorgeous building called "Tabernacle" which at some point really was a tabernacle (stained glass windows and all), but is now a music venue with a great sound system (or so I heard). We parked in the parking lot directly at The Cotton Club's entrance, and discovered that it was in the basement of this impressive building.

When we were let in, we were treated to the sight of chairs set up in front of the stage. What a wonderful idea! It was an acoustic set after all. On every chair was a little Stereophonics pamphlet, a nice little souvenir for all who attended. Marleen and I sat down in the back row but had an absolutely perfect view of the stage. It is a small club, but there was space to work with, so you didn't feel completely like you were in a hole in the wall club (it had two full bars, a fairly wide stage, stairs leading to the restrooms).

Now onto the show. The Stereophonics came out with their new members, but without drummer Stuart Cable. As Kelly later explained, Stuart was at home with his new baby. They began the show with "I Stopped To Fill My Car Up" which wasn't much of a stretch for them in this acoustic setting. And they followed it with "Hurry Up And Wait" which also lends itself to the acoustic environment. The entire crowd sat silent through the two openers, acknowledging their pleasure of the band's choice to start with two songs they were already familiar with. A smart move considering the band's purpose for this acoustic tour is to showcase the new songs off their new album J.E.E.P. After the two opening songs, Kelly went on to announce that they would be playing a new song, and that the new song would be coming off their new album J.E.E.P. In a funny moment, he explained that they couldn't name their album Jeep, like they had wanted to because the Chrysler Corporation told them that they couldn't, "So instead we named it Just Enough Education to Perform with a capital J, a capital E, capital E, and a capital P." The way he said it was quite adorable and the whole crowd laughed.

The next three songs were all new and they were all wonderful. I'm really quite anxious to hear the new album. The ones that stood out were "Mr. Writer" and "Step On These Size Nines" (I'm not sure about either title honestly). I was quite mezmerized, but what really made these songs was Kelly's passionate voice. He was singing with so much emotion that every song came off as beautiful. I don't think I've ever heard him sing like this before and he was showcasing all kinds of vocal ranges, even (at the end of the show) a very nice falsetto.

The band went on to do three covers, the first was a Rod Stewart cover which made sense with Kelly's raspy voice. Wonderfully done. Then at the end they ended with a Beatles cover, but for the life of me I can't remember which song it was. But the one that will always stand out in my head, the one that I want a bootleg copy of, the one that has fortified Kelly Jones into my book of all time favorites, actually came at the end of one of their own songs. As they were doing a new song, Kelly intertwined it into a soulful, despair driven version of "House of The Rising Sun" by The Animals. Dear God! It was amazing! I literally had chills.

I'm not sure what it is about the acoustic setting that drew out all this emotion in Kelly, but it was something that didn't really come out before when they had played plugged. Vice versa, Kelly seemed a little shy and intimidated playing an acoustic show, but that really only came across when he wasn't actually singing. He just didn't seem to know what to do when he had stopped singing, so he looked down a lot or got ready with his guitar. Priceless.

I haven't mentioned the other members, partially because I was so awed by Kelly's performance, but Richard was all the way to the audience's right, playing his bass mostly with his head down the whole time. The new guitarist, Scott, seemed to be more concerned about playing the songs right then into actually performing them, and the keyboardist did well accentuating the songs with extra melody. But when it comes down to it, it was Kelly's show.

My favorite song (other than the Animals cover), was "Local Boy In The Photograph", partially because it's still one of my favorite Stereophonics songs, and partially because any song that goes from rockin' loud to being calmed down for an acoustic show just sounds great. Strangely, they didn't do some of their hits like "Pick A Part That's New" and "I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio", the second song being prime material for an acoustic show. About the only other songs they did do from their first two albums were "Traffic", "Just Looking", and "Word Gets Around". But the fact that the show was completely enjoyable is probably a testament to how great the new songs sounded.

As for the audience, they were quite attentive, and the girls had fun screaming out whenever Kelly removed an article of clothing. The crowd yelled out some songs for the and to play, one girl yelled out "Traffic" which Kelly did go on to play, while another guy yelled out, "Who'll Stop The Rain" which Kelly yelled back "Fuck No" too and then laughed. The audiences strong energy for the encore and their standing ovation at the end for the band, showed how solid this acoustic show was. Stepping back out into the beautiful Atlanta skyline made me realize that the 8 hour drive had been well worth it, and when I asked Marleen what she thought of the show, she couldn't stop raving about it. That speaks for itself.


Wow, my concert reviewing skills seriously sucked. I apparently was a bit obsessed with the word "wonderful." Weird.

Well my dinner is done (fried shrimp and baked fries, yum!) and it's time for me to get back to that pesky chapter and work on it.

See you in the next one, have a good time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life Pre-Dark Knight

So how's this for random? After buying Puerto Rican bread at Publix the other day, I went online to see what, in fact, is the difference between Puerto Rican bread and Cuban bread. While I couldn't really find a suitable answer, I did find this: What Puerto Ricans Eat

It's an article from The Baltimore Sun written in 1898 about the cuisine found in Puerto Rico. It's so fascinating. I think my favorite part is that they called an avocado an "agnacate" instead of an "aguacate." I'm not sure if it's a typo or a general evolution in terminology, but either way, I was amused. Speaking of yummy Puerto Rican food, I have some alcapurrias sitting in the freezer that I plan on frying up sometime this week. Alcapurrias are one of my favorite things ever.

So as some of you may know, E3 is currently in process. And you guys know me, just give me the Final Fantasy news and be done with it, but I don't know you guys. The preview for FFXIII reminds me too much of FFXII (which I have been playing since the Ice Ages). The reason I haven't finished FFXII is because I don't ever want to finish the game until the new one is out. I hate finishing the game, so I look for side quests and other fun things to do that don't involve me going past the point of no return. It's strange, I know, and there's always replaying it, but it's just not the same.

Back to the point, FFXII is alright, but I wanted something different in the new game. That opening sequence of the preview reminded me of Star Wars all over again, just like the FFXII one did. I'm going to ignore this for now though because you guys know that I'll be playing it regardless!

My sister got our tickets for the midnight showing of Dark Knight! Suh-weet!

Maika, Tasha, and I headed to Naples last weekend for a little R&R. It was the first time any of us had really been there, so we got a hotel and started exploring the scenic town. The beaches were goregeous, but the weather didn't like us much so we didn't get to spend too much time out there before the rain and thunder found us. We drove around Port Royal and saw the gorgeous homes, and for a split second I thought I saw my dream home. Awhile ago I had found my dream home in an architectural magazine, and I swear this was it. It looked just like it from the facade, but since I was driving I couldn't get a more solid look. I guess we'll have to go back sometime to make sure. Darn.

Other than that, not much else has really been going on. I posted some pictures on my photos page, and added a short story to my writerscafe.org page. It's a story I wrote a long, long time ago, in a state far, far away. I found it on my hard drive and decided to throw it up for people to read.

I'll leave you with the Final Fantasy XIII preview.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This One and That One

It's really funny, but I've actually been keeping an online journal for many years now. I think I created this one to be a bit more professional about the whole thing, but today I realized, "Who am I kidding?" Professional is definitely not the word that one would attribute to me. I'm too light-hearted and cynical for that. And yes, you can be both. So after writing an awesome update in my personal journal, and trying to think of what provocative thing I could write here, I realized that I really needed to stop having split personalities.

I am me. I worry about putting too much about myself out there for the cyber world, but let's be real, does anonymity really exist in this modern, Internet-driven, global world? So I decided that I would just copy and paste it here for you guys to read. Enjoy!

----

I suppose it didn't help that I woke up in an ugh state of mind. I blame this on many things. First the itunes project.

So as I mentioned last time, I bought an external hard drive and have been in the process of moving all my music to it so that it can be the default library for my itunes. In the meantime, I have also been converting all my m4p files into mp3 files so that Maika can access my music library and start to rebuild hers which she lost completely after her computer died.

This has been a time consuming process. What's made it worse is that my laptop has been shutting off for no reason in the middle of these conversions. After removing spyware, trying different electrical outlets, and disconnecting my external hard drive, I've come to the conclusion that my laptop just isn't equipped to handle such hard work. I think it was overheating and turning itself off, so now I leave it off the entire day while I'm at work and then when I get home I use it to it's max potential and then shut it off for the night. I'm on Day 2 of seeing if this works. It seemed to work last night. My Paint Shop Pro program on the other hand ...

The second thing is I haven't had a chance to write. This is my fault, but as you can see from above, my laptop has been preoccupied. It's amazing how depressed I can get when I'm not writing something. Considering the amount of plot bunnies running around my head, I've realized that I won't have enough time in my life to write everything I want to. This depressed me.

The third thing causing me to be ugh is my job. Current economic and social trends dictate that I should just feel lucky that I have a job, and I am lucky. I know this. But it doesn't change the fact that I cannot be motivated to roll out of bed to come here every day. On the bright side, with summer hours I get every other Friday off, and this is a very good thing.

The final ugh came with the news that George Carlin died. What's amazing is that I never realized how old he actually was when I was younger. He's one of those people that I just assumed would always be there, and I don't like the idea that he's not around anymore. He was famous for his seven words that you couldn't say, but the routine that always stuck out in my mind was this one. Why are we here? Plastic!



Well enough of the ughs, now it's time for the yays! I'm going to Phoenix in August to visit my lovely and wonderful friend, Keren. The last time I traveled to Phoenix, it was in October and so hot I couldn't breathe. Obviously why I chose to go in AUGUST. I'm pretty excited about this and I'm going to try and pull off a road trip from Phoenix to LA to see Sommer in a play. I'm pretty excited to see her act again. She's amazing!

Another yay is music related, but in a positive not itunes related way. As many of you know, I'm a bit of a music junkie. I have a lot of favorite bands. A LOT. Well one of my favorite bands is a band from Northern Ireland called Ash. While listening to my iPod the other day, their song "Sometimes" came on and I realized that it was probably one of my favorite songs of theirs. So I went on YouTube to try and find a live performance. Not only did they have a live performance, but it turned out there was a video for it as well! I didn't even know it had been released as a single. So I sat at work falling in love with the song all over again. The video is pretty awesome, and I think it fits the song really well. Check it out.



Coming across this video reminded me of how music is always my biggest muse for stories. I have so many short stories that I wrote that were inspired by songs. In a perfect world, I would publish them with a mix CD that included all the songs. Wouldn't that be cool? Maybe I'll do an online version of that. Ha!

Last but not least, last night was the BET Awards, and Usher killed it! He's so awesome and I love watching him dance. Chris Brown was cool too, but when Ciara came out to dance with him, that performance became that much fiercer. I miss great dancing and great performances. Alicia Keys brought SWV, En Vogue, and TLC out to sing with her which had me on the floor in shock. Stellar! And Al Green received the lifetime achievement award. My roomies and I were singing along to "Let's Stay Together" just as loud as everyone in the audience. I loved it!

So that's the end of this entry, brought to you by the words ugh and yay. Huzzah!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Putting It All In Perspective

There were three news stories recently that sent my head into a dizzy spin of thought. You know how sometimes you learn about something that just makes you stop and really think about your life and what happens in it, and then it makes you compare it to what happens around it?

Well the first story was about an Austrian man who kept his daughter locked in a basement for twenty-four years. During that time he raped her and fathered seven children, three of which had been raised in this basement. They were never allowed out, never educated, and had never seen sunlight. WTF?

The second story was about a lost tribe in Brazil who had been photographed for the first time ever. Never having contact with the world outside of their tribe, the shocking and almost comical picture of the painted men with their bows stretched and ready to shoot at the plane was instantly iconic. WTF? squared.

The third and final story was about a woman in Tennessee who had spent her entire life living in an iron lung. WTF? cubed!

All of these things are just mind boggling. Here we are waking up every day, complaining about how we look, what to wear, who to impress, and taking part of the same fast paced, technological, sensory overload of our day-to-day lives; and yet there are people in the world who live lives never even exposed to something as basic as sunlight.

And that lost Brazilian tribe? These people go through their lives without iPods, without fashion concerns, without cell phones, without knowledge of what happens here, or in Baghdad, or in Timbuktu!

And the lady in the iron lung? She knew about the outside world, but she never got to truly experience it, and still she says she lived a long and happy life when she never even got to enjoy something as simple as a stroll on a cool fall day.

I imagine that the human mind has a way of adapting to one's conditions, but hearing stories like these does make you stop and wonder what the heck you're complaining about. Maybe the next time I'm late to work and my boss complains about it I can say, "Well just be happy you're not captive in a basement, or stuck in an iron lung." I'll leave out the tribe because being lost in the Amazon and away from the pressures of the 9 to 5 may be exactly the reprive my boss is looking for.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Street of Dreams

Ever since I was a very young child, I've been obsessed with houses. It wasn't enough to just drive by a house and admire it. I collected house plans and architectural articles and would spend hours studying them and imagining what it would be like to live in a mansion or luxury home.

So what better way could I have spent my three-day Memorial Day Weekend then by attending the annual Street of Dreams event. They do this every year, and the one and only year I had attended before was pretty impressive. That one had been in Windermere. This year it was in Heathrow.

A couple of friends of mine and I paid the $15 entrance fee to take a tour of three gigantic homes that imposed themselves on the quaint and tree-lined street that they faced. The first home was just jaw-dropping. You walked in and you felt like you had walked into a cathedral with its multi arched entrance and extravagant interior decor. This was the house with a closet big enough to be its own apartment, a shower that would hold ten people comfortably, and a master bedroom with a breathtaking view of the outdoor pool which was a tropical splendor complete with a waterfall, river, grotto, and bridge. The price for all this? Just a mere 9 million bucks.

The second house wasn't as impressive off bat, but it definitely had some of the strongest architectural elements out of the three houses. It also had the coolest home theater ever, and we all took a moment to sit and relax while watching Transformers on the big screen. That movie rocked!

The third house was tacky on so many levels, mostly because the main inspiration for the decor was the University of Florida. The owner of the house, as alumni and staunch Gators supporter, had blue and orange everywhere, but the mangum opus was the bowling alley with a, yep you guessed it, gator painted across the top welcoming you to the Gator Lanes. It was amusing.

I took more pictures than necessary and will post some of the best shots up on my photo blog soon. Needless to say, if you get the chance to tour 9 million dollar homes, I strongly suggest you do just that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The latest and greatest project (and there always is one, mind you)

I tend to have inclinations towards projects that require me to test my powers of discipline (challenging since discipline and I are not friends) or use Excel (because I have an unhealthy obsession with creating spreadsheets). I recently wrapped up my Project 365 which proved that yes I can force myself to take a picture every day for a year. Granted mine turned into a 366. Curse you, leap year, curse you! But the point is I pulled it off.

So then I realized that I wanted to do the same thing again, except this time with writing. Every day for a year I want to write something. Whether it be another chapter in my novel, another short story to be sent out to the literary magazine automatic rejection pool, another scene that may or may never have a whole story attached to it, another script that will sit on my hard drive for all eternity, or a blog entry where I just talk about my thoughts of the day, I wanted to write every single day for a whole year.

So I created this blog, and along with my website, I plan on doing just that. Mostly I'll post observations and musings for the day. Occasionally I'll post short stories or ideas and see what people think. When it's all said and done, I hope to look back at my year's worth of writings and then laugh in discipline's face. Silly, discipline.