katernater: (house • (meaning))
It's been a couple of weeks since I've updated, and there's really been no down time in that two weeks. The end of any term is chaotic, this one made even more so by the fact that I had to helm a complete mock trial for my CS 5 class in a little less than a week (which we performed yesterday and which could not have gone any better) and that I've been more active on the weekends than my usual, sedentary schedule is used to. Last weekend I went back to Muncie to see Tim and to attend a friend's wedding. Tim and I continue to enjoy one another's company immensely. In fact, I'm heading back tomorrow for an overnight before I head back to my parents' place for the break week. Tim and I are going to go apple picking in the afternoon, then we're building a fire and camping out in his backyard overnight. I am still trying to figure out when my life turned into a Nora Ephron screenplay.

In other news, I've been completely slacking on my novel project lately. I said I was going to spend all of September outlining, but that never happened. My cork board is pretty barren. I hope to be able to develop some more ideas over the break. I'll lie in bed at night before falling asleep and I'll have these random ideas; sometimes entire scenes will play themselves out in my head, complete with dialogue. I haven't really been active with any other kind of writing lately, so I suppose my creative drive is pooling its resources into the novel concept. If I don't write for a while I start to get irritable. I'll be glad for the upcoming break, as it will give me an opportunity to kick start the creative process. (Which, for me, involves many cups of tea and an all-out staring contest with a blinking cursor.)

I feel like taking a bath. Gonna' put on some David Gray and pile on the bubbles.
katernater: (actor • (fame))
I'm in such a good mood today. I feel like I made good progress on my NaNo project last night and I woke up this morning (at 11:15, which is really late for me) feeling really good. I spent some time by the pool this afternoon, watched an episode of Luther and then went out to pick up a couple of pies for my boss's birthday. While I was out I also got some Chinese food from this little place everyone at work's been recommending. For $8 I got, like, ten pounds of food. That's insane. And it was good, too. I don't eat out very often these days and when I do I'm pretty much looking for economy: how much is it, and how much of it can I keep for lunch tomorrow? I ate until I was stuffed and put the rest in the fridge. I didn't even touch the hot and sour soup I ordered. Maybe I'll go back for a snack later on.

I'm going to hang around here until it gets a little cooler outside, then I'll go out for a walk. I usually run in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays, but I missed my window this morning because I slept in. I don't feel much like running with a stomach full of sesame chicken, either, so the walk will be nice. Tomorrow we're having a half-day workshop at the office, which should be interesting. It's mostly for the new teachers (we've hired on two new ones who are set to start this next term) and, since I still consider myself something of a newbie, it'll be good for me, too. After the workshop I'll run back to the apartment to pick up my stuff so I can go back to Fort Wayne for a few days. Wednesday is the Muse concert, so I'll drive down to Indianapolis sometime that afternoon, rendezvous with my brother and his girlfriend, and get my symphonic rock on. The new Preston-Child book comes out on Tuesday, too! Gah. This week is going to be amazing.

On Friday night, I was invited to a dinner and reception for the Rose-Hulman students. This last Thursday was my last day with them. Overall, the experience was very positive. There were a few things that I would have changed -- the lines of communication definitely needed to be clearer, and I would have liked more time to spend with them each week -- but I am very satisfied with the project. I hope that I will be able to revisit Rose-Hulman next year, with a new batch of students. Anyway, on Friday all of the Korean students got together at the coordinating professor's house and made an authentic Korean meal for everyone. I have never seen so much food, my god. The dining room table was jammed with plates, bowls and piles of steamed white rice. I had kim chi that just about took the roof of my mouth off. But it was so good. And it just kept coming: as soon as one dish was depleted, some mindful student swooped in with a fresh helping. And they really took care of me: they saw that I was being a bit indecisive about what to put on my plate and took it upon themselves to intervene, piling my plate with a bit of everything on the table. The professor whose house we were occupying is originally from Manchester, England, and he told us about growing up overseas (especially his time in Uganda, where he constantly had to look over his shoulder to avoid Idi Amin and his men) and the things he's learned in his travels. It was really neat to listen to him. I soak that kind of thing up like a sponge. A little while later the Koreans were doing shots of red wine around the dining room table. They would fill their red plastic cups, clink them together while saying something in Korean, and neck them back like champions. Everyone was feeling pretty loose at this point and the house was full of that rare kind of camaraderie that makes you feel good about being a part of something much bigger than yourself. A couple of Koreans slung their arms around my shoulder and guided me to the tableside, putting a red cup in my hand. Another student sloshed an inch and a half of wine into my cup and we all raised our drinks. "This drink is for Ms. Katherine. We love you, Ms. Katherine!" they said, while I blushed like a maniac. It turned out to be a terrific evening. I left feeling very happy. I am grateful that I am in a place -- and in a time in my life -- where I can experience nights like that. Taking this job has changed my life in so many good ways. I could not imagine being anywhere else right now.

All right. Time for that walk. Then I'm coming back, putting in some Castle and sitting down with a little light reading.
katernater: (misc • (books))

200 years into the future, medical science has progressed to the point where dreams are no longer necessary for healthy human brain activity. Sleep cycles have been reduced to three or four hours a night, with no perceivable adverse effect. For the nostalgic, however, the escape of dreams is something that can be achieved -- for a price. The ultra-rich may purchase "dream furloughs" -- periods of intense REM sleep that may last between twenty-four hours and six months -- that give them an opportunity to act out their wildest, deepest fantasies and desires, all without fear of consequences. When they awaken, they return to their normal lives.

The Dreamers are looked after by Cogzants: members of the working class who, themselves, have no hope of ever dreaming. Dreams are big business and it is the responsibility of the Cogzants to safeguard the minds and bodies of their Dreamers while they slumber. For Elliot, a young Cogzant working in the heart of the metropolis, things are not so simple. He has fallen in love with his Dreamer and has found a way to share her dreams. As their subconscious relationship deepens, Elliot discovers that his actions may have far-reaching consequences beyond the world of the dream. In a desperate race to evade capture and save the woman he loves, Elliot will plunge into the heart of a nightmare that could change the very definition of human consciousness.

So, there it is. My novel idea. This is what I will be working on for the next few months, until the writing start date in November. I'm really excited about this. I've already started to assemble a cast list in my head (Cillian Murphy is an early frontrunner for the role of Elliot) and I'm having a great deal of fun looking into the history of dream research. The (tentative) title comes from the Zhuangzi, a Taoist work from the 8th century:

'Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.'

Because if I'm not hitting you over the head with symbolism, I'm not doing my job as an author.

I'm not sure where I am going to post updates about my NaNo project. I would post them here, of course, but given LJ's track record lately I'm reluctant to start storing things and then have to deal with the fallout of losing them when the site crashes. I've got my bulletin board and in all likelihood I'll probably just throw everything onto a flash drive and make sure that I know where that flash drive is at all times.

Whew. It feels really good getting that synopsis up there. That might have been the hardest part of the process so far.
katernater: (doctor who • (tardis))
I had horrible insomnia last night. Which is weird, because at seven o'clock I was leaning on my arm while typing up student evaluations, literally a minute or two away from faceplanting into my laptop. I went to bed around ten thirty but couldn't fall asleep. I eventually got up and tried sleeping on the couch, like a change of venue was the problem. It wasn't. (FYI: If any of you ever get up here to visit me I'm not making you sleep on that couch; it's like a topographical map with a slipcover.) I went back to my bedroom and toughed it out and I guess I fell asleep around two or two thirty. The good thing about the whole thing was that the sleeplessness gave me a chance to think and I essentially reworked my whole NaNo concept for this year. I mean, to the point where I've scrapped my original idea entirely and gone in a wholly different direction -- right down to characters, setting, plot and time period. I decided that, to do justice to my original idea, I'd have to build a time machine out of used dishwasher parts, travel back to 1970s Britain and make friends with glam rockers. It's hard to explain. I could do it, but I feel like I actually need to live over in the U.K. before I start aping their slang and mannerisms, you know? So I'm putting that idea on the back burner and working to develop another project I've been kicking around in my head. It's kind of Philip K. Dick meets Inception meets the general tone of any Pink Floyd album. I'm going to start all over with the outlining process and, fingers crossed, I'll be ready to start writing at the beginning of November.

Work has been kind of stressful this week but it's the last week of the term and that's to be expected. I've been cheered up by my co-workers, though, and it's really great to have that kind of support system at the ready. It's also great to be around people who come from so many different backgrounds and levels of experience but who, at the same time, are a lot like me. My boss found out that I was a Doctor Who fan today and we spent, like, twenty minutes talking about which Doctor from the "classic" series was the best. My boss grew up with Four. I told him that I liked Two. We both agreed that Ten was awesome. I finally feel like I'm becoming part of that group. At the beginning it was a little hard for me to acclimate to my new job. I mean, everyone was terrific and very helpful, but there was still that stigma, like, "You're still a newbie and we're not completely comfortable with you yet." I feel like I'm starting to really make a place and an identity for myself. I feel more comfortable joking around and offering my honest opinion about things; generally when I'm new I like to keep my head down until I've earned the right to say something. After almost eight months I think I'm at the point where I can show a little bit more of my personality and weigh in on things.

I am really lucky to be where I am. It's stressful at times and I'm still not completely sure what I'm doing (and probably won't be completely sure for a long time), but I feel happy here. And, my gosh, you know when prospective teachers give you that line, like, "If I can help just one student learn something, that will be enough."? That's mostly bull. Teaching is a numbers game. A lot of the time, if students are just meeting the benchmark you're happy. If they get the concept and can prove that they can follow through with it, hallelujah. If more than half of the class can string a sentence together without too much trouble? You're doing pretty damn well. But I had one student in my writing class this term who struggled and really had to work on her skills. I worked with her one-on-one, got her additional help outside of class, and her skills really improved. She turned in an awesome research paper to me today. It was worlds better than her writing at the beginning of the term. I almost got choked up reading it. Seeing her succeed made my entire term. It was as close as I've come in my life to knowing what being a parent is like -- if being a parent involves long explanations about punctuation and subject-verb agreement.

It's still hot outside but I'm going to try to run anyway. I didn't run last night and that might have been part of the reason I couldn't sleep. Apparently I just need to exhaust myself to the point of collapsing if I want to get a decent eight hours.
katernater: (misc • (writer))
So, after living here for seven months I finally discovered that the apartment complex had a pool. (I really should have been tipped off earlier: seeing people wandering the cul-de-sacs with pool towels around their necks was clearly not just a sign that terrycloth was en vogue this summer.) I tracked it down and spent some time there this afternoon. I also discovered that, despite the best intentions of all the sunscreen in the world, a pale white girl of Anglo-Irish descent will still get a sunburn if she stays outside for more than an hour. (Warning: wince-inducing sunburn picture at the link.) It doesn't feel all that bad now, but I've stocked up on aloe for the foreseeable future. My legs, actually, feel the crankiest. They have had very limited sun exposure yet this summer and they are always prone to pinkening whenever I go out into the sun. Of course, the first burn of the summer is usually the worst. I tend to get one which, with repeated exposure to the elements, eventually evens out into a relatively pleasant-looking tan for the rest of the season.

I went out yesterday afternoon and bought a huge corkboard to use to start storyboarding my novel. As you can see, there's not much there yet:


I've got this very ambitious, color-coded index card system going on in my head. Yellow cards are for character names and details, pink cards are for plot timeline, and green and orange cards (of which there are none) are for two other very important categories which I haven't thought of yet. I took a notepad and a pen to bed with me last night and actually woke up this morning with some things scribbled in it that I don't remember writing. Apparently my creativity can run on autopilot while the rest of me sleeps. It's like Skynet in here or something.


katernater: (Default)

December 2011

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