Monday, May 27, 2013

The east in a nutshell.


I have returned home to Santa Fe, New Mexico...and it feels wonderful. It feels great to be back home to the mountains, to the crisp, clean air, and most importantly, to my heart that is Shadow. I expected him to be upset with us for having been gone for as long as we have, but I didn't expect to get the change that we came home to. Slowly but surely since Mom and I walked into the house last night, we are getting my original golden-eyed prince back. He's lying on top of my feet as I'm writing this, napping away with this half-grin that just warms the soul. Anyone who is a dog parent would know the feeling...it's the greatest one in the world.

I wrote in my blog last week that when I set foot in NY, I felt out of place. That feeling was still strong throughout the trip. No matter how many good things went on during my trip, there was something that happened each day and reminded me why I made the right decision in leaving. No matter how much I love my family and friends back east, there is nothing left for me there. New Mexico is my home...and I love it.

Since a lot of people have been asking, this blog entry will be focused mainly on recapping my trip.

Monday was a throw-away day, so there's nothing to tell there...except for the fact that I finally got bagels and I was trying to survive the sudden bursts of extra oxygen and the harsh humidity. I get really bad allergies sometimes, especially because of my asthma, and when I moved out to the west, the air really helped me. During my trip, I was suffering.

Tuesday, I went to Hoboken with Mom. She was working, and I had the intent of working as well, but the circumstances did not allow me to print out Mistress of Blackwen. I guess the guardians thought I needed to really take a break. I got to go to my old lunch spot, Ubu, a Japanese restaurant a couple blocks away from Wiley. The food changed a bit, but it was still as great as I remember. After that, I walked around my "second" hometown of my tween/teen years, and upon seeing all the changes and the extra buildings made in an already crowded town, I felt out of place again. I thought to find something that was familiar to me, and I returned to my first writing spot. There was still some magic there, and I got a lot of stuff down for book 3, which is tentatively named Champion of Blackwen. After that, I went to my high school and managed to catch most of my mentors that I wanted to see. I haven't visited the high school since that one time during my freshman year of college, and I felt it was time to return. It turned out to be the best decision I made that day, and nothing was more heart-warming than to catch up with my teachers who believed in me from day one. I finished the night by having a drink with Mom and a friend, and I went to the Hoboken Beer Garden with one of my GMC bros Kenny, and his brother. That was the only time I was carded on this trip, fyi. I may look like an 18 year old with make-up instead of my actual 23, but that was a much needed ego boost! ;)

Wednesday, Mom and I scored tickets to the Mets vs. Reds game. In Santa Fe, we are lucky to catch Yankee games when we can. Ironically enough, they have played more Mets games than Yankee games here. Mom and I are also the rare baseball fans that we like BOTH the Yankees and the Mets (Yankees will always be my first love though...that was ingrained in me since I could crawl). The Mets games we caught on tv here, tended to be the ones where the newly dubbed "Gotham's Dark Knight" Matt Harvey pitched. Yes, I was ensnared then. I've always liked David Wright too (hence the newly acquired t-shirt with his name on the back), but yeah, Harvey is someone I definitely had no problems watching for numerous reasons. Mom and I actually thought, why not go check out a Mets game at Citi Field? I heard all the talk of how beautiful it was, so we asked my aunt who works for the Yes Network if we could snag some tickets. Surely enough, we got tickets (and laughed about how the Yankees weren't even in town for us). We were TEN rows behind the Mets dugout (I'm sure we were on tv several times, but I don't even care about that). The other best part? We somehow picked THE game where Matt Harvey was pitching. Even though the boys lost, it was still the best time ever. For anyone who saw Major League 2...if you remember Randy Quaid's character...his double existed several rows behind us...voice and all. He was heckling Ike Davis...and he had a right to be, with the way he blew the game for us. Every time I see Davis now, I hear that guy yell, "You like them shoe tops, Ike!" and "You owe me eighty bucks, Ike! Triple A! Triple A!". And ladies and gentlemen...Citi Field is absolutely beautiful. It is perfect for this year's All-Star event, and I have to say it...it's way nicer than the new Yankee Stadium. My heart will always belong to the old one...the one WITH the soul. Love my Yanks no matter what...but my preference for a venue now lies with Citi Field. Also...it's now the time for the Subway Series (grrr!!). Again, I choose my boys in pinstripes...but I'm not going to deny that I will support Harvey and Wright either. Just sayin'.

I should also mention that when I returned home from the game with my Wright shirt, my aunt shook her head and said, "You're a disgrace to the Yankee Nation". She was joking though, do not worry.

Thursday, I went to see my grandmother on my father's side in the Bronx. Not many people actually believe this, but I was born in the Bronx. I was raised in Queens, then I ended up in Hoboken. Moving around is more or less a second nature, so I have a lot of "homes". I hung out with her (around the time where I would not run into my father), and when the allergies were getting the best of me, I left. I got caught in the torrential downpour while waiting for the bus, and never did I want to be back home as much as I had at that moment. I at least got my wish of pizza for dinner. Mom was right about the pizza from her previous visit...it's just not the same. Good enough...but not what I dreamed of.

Friday, I got a GMC reunion in Seaport. I saw my bro and best friend, Evan, his girlfriend and former lax teammate, Bree, and one of my lax buddies and now resident goalie of the men's team, Luke. I remember commenting to Mom that it figures I would see more of my college buddies than anyone else in the east. Unfortunately, it ended up being the coldest and wettest day of the week. We still had a good time though (I got some books too, yay!). Even got to have a beer with them (since I didn't like beer until last summer). It hurt to cut out when we had to, for Mom and I had a dinner with my cousins. It was great to see them as well, and dinner was nice.

Saturday was the reason for the trip to New York and New Jersey - my Christopher got married. No matter what your beliefs are...had you been there, you would have believed in love. I actually cried. Yes, the ice queen that I once was actually cried during the ceremony. Santa Fe gave me emotions, heh. And yes, I packed away my Syracuse shirt in my purse. The best part? I wasn't the only one at the table who was interested in the tourney results (huzzah!). Yes, I'm currently watching the Syracuse vs. Duke championship match (go Cuse!!!!!). But I know, you want me to get back to the wedding. I can say that the cocktail hour and the dinner itself was a dream for every meatatarian in the world (which is what I am). And pesto infused mashed potatoes? Sold. The other greatest moment besides the actual marriage of Chris and Mark was that Mom and I finally got to meet Chris' family from Hawaii. It was pretty heart-warming when they embraced us like we were family (since Chris was pretty much my family in Hoboken). During the speech Chris' father made, Mom and I were acknowledged for coming as far as we had for the celebration (though he froze in the attempt to pronounce Mom's last name...hilarious). Also, to be reunited with people from my childhood/tween years...that was amazing as well. Such a beautiful wedding...even with the whacked weather and the trek Mom and I had to do since neither of us drive.

Sunday was airport day. My cousin, Kasia, hung out with us before dropping us off, and everything was going smoothly...until departure time came. We were stuck on the runway for a good hour before we could take off. Naturally, Mom and I freaked out, because we were already going to cut it close with the shuttle and Shadow was already home by himself. But all went well, thank the gods. Since it was JetBlue, I was spending the flight in between the Mets game and the women's D1 NCAA lacrosse championship match (I went for UNC...congrats ladies!).

Now, I enjoy the beauty of DVR, watch the men's lax championship match, and de-New York-ify myself. I will print out book 2 for editing sometime this week, and it'll be back to work for me from that point on. I also have to prep for the next two weeks...I apparently have a mystery visitor coming to my end of the world. Exciting.

On a final note, what's a recap without some snapshots, eh? Enjoy.

 
I used this spot as an underground tunnel for an urban fantasy storyline once.
 
 
 My first writing spot ever.
 
 
My first Mets game! Thank you again, Agnes!
 
 
In a way, this statement is true: I came all the way from New Mexico to see Matt Harvey and David Wright.
 
 
 
 
A GMC Eagles reunion! <3
 
 
Congrats Mark and Chris!

Monday, May 20, 2013

"I sense a presence in the East...the Raven Queen has returned!"

...says Evan. Sorry bro, that was too good of a quote NOT to use! :)

But yes, I have returned to state of my birth, to my hometown of Woodhaven, NY. The moment I lifted that window shade in the plane, I thought of the day I left NY two years ago...it was as if nothing had changed. Gloomy, misty, and humid...yup, that's NY. The time that I've been here so far has felt so strange...like I don't fit here anymore. It was strange to walk the old routes that I used religiously in my childhood, to buying bagels at this shop I practically lived in...everything is just so different. I miss Santa Fe already.

The red-eye flight is not something I'd love to do again (even though we will have another one when we return to Santa Fe). We boarded late, and while the seats would have been comfortable normally, it was not comfortable for those trying to sleep for the whole night. My 13+ hour bus rides from the volleyball and lacrosse days proved to be more comfortable sleeping wise than the airplane seat. The fact that I will be doing this again on Sunday does not excite me.

The bright side of leaving as late as we did was of course, being able to watch the quarterfinals of the NCAA men's lacrosse tourney. Syracuse nearly gave me a heart-attack, until they snagged the win in the last 13 seconds of the game. Denver had done the same the day after, and now they're to play one another in the semi-finals...during my friend's wedding. I apologize now for the people who will be sitting with my mother and I during the wedding...there's only so much of the sports Mel I can curb during such an awesome match-up. I'm also depressed about the Notre Dame and Duke game...enjoy it now Duke fans, because Cornell is going to take those boys down. Syracuse and Cornell for the championship match...end of story.

I also miss Shadow. He's doing well with our friend, we've been getting updates via phone, e-mail, and pictures. Leaving him was hard...I missed his usual sneaking into my room ploy, where if I even twitched, he would jump on my bed and demand some "love me" time. *sighs* I miss him.

I should also mention that my grandmother was horrified the moment she found the Kitsune "dream" tattoo on my wrist. It had been a year since I last saw her, and while she was excited to see me, the difference with my hair included, the horrified expression when she saw my 2nd tattoo was probably the most hilarious thing ever. She's not a fan of tattoos, and well, myself and all of her daughters are marked in some way. Her mutterings in Polish still brings a smile to my face.

I'm just going to mention again that because my trip here is so short, I will not be able to catch many of you. I did my best to get in touch with people, some did not respond...so obviously, nothing there will happen. It's just the way things work, ladies and gents. Book it, or lose it.

So onto the more exciting news. I finished the first draft of Mistress of Blackwen! I produced a total of 6,951 words last week, and for the month of May, I wrote a total of 20,184 words. Book 2 is about 6,000 more words than the first one. We'll see how the totals will change once I start my revisions. The plan is to have it printed out when I head into Hoboken tomorrow (I'm going with my mom to Wiley in the morning), and then if it's not so ugly tomorrow as it is today, I can maybe spend some time editing in the pier. We'll see.

Yes, I'm not ashamed to work during my "vacation". This was never considered a vacation in the first place...so yes, all the more reason to get some work done! ;)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Musings.

So Mistress of Blackwen had acquired 6,720 more words after last week. I actually expected it to be lower; the "finishing" of the book is just as hard as the "starting" of one. Slowly but surely, I am getting there. I remembered writing the "end" the very first time I worked on this storyline, and again, the 13 year-old Mel is cringing at the way things are going now. It would be an understatement if I said that the ending is vastly different now than in the original story. 13 year-old Mel is cringing in general at a lot of the changes I've made, but at least she's understanding that with time, the characters too, have grown. Once I am done with book 2, I need to start on some research for book 3...I need to look up/create some names for the new characters that will be in it.

In other news, Chez Agie/Mel has gotten more attention this past weekend! I believe I described it as Operation "Make it look like we actually live here". We've gotten to really work on the house more than we've had in the past, and it's really coming along (yes, we had been living in this current place since November...sue us for taking our time with things *cough cough*). At the time, my room was the only real complete part of the house...but now, it definitely looks as if we live here. We started sprucing up the living room, the hallway, the bathroom, and the most important part of this tale, the basement! When we first looked at the place, I had an idea to convert the basement into a lounge area (the "Wolf's Den" I joked, since in our first place, my loft was called the "Raven's Nest"), but then we hit a snag when we didn't find any outlets down there. We figured out an alternative, and now there is an outlet source down there. After that, we decided to keep the lounge idea, but in the way of a guestroom. Once we get Shadow his bed, we'll be moving the futon down there. So at the moment, we've got a bed down there, pretty curtains, little Japanese lanterns, and a couple of my wall-scrolls and a tapestry. It's not completely done, but it's good enough for now concerning the idea of people sleeping over/being comfortable. It's very exciting.

The weekend was also spent being glued to ESPNU and the Food Network (I'm a Chopped and Iron Chef America addict...team Michael Symon for the Iron Chef America tournament of champions!). I was cheering on my Syracuse Orange men's lacrosse team in the Big East Conference (congrats boys!), and I was scoping out the NCAA tourney bracket (to which we earned the number 1 seed, yay!). My heart kinda dropped though, when I saw that Denver was on the same side of the bracket as Syracuse; there went my Syracuse vs. Denver championship match vision. For anyone who follows the NCAA men's lacrosse tourney, these are my first round predictions (and preferred wins): Syracuse, Penn State, Denver, Lehigh, Ohio State, Cornell, Loyola Maryland, and Notre Dame. I will be able to see the quarterfinals this weekend thankfully, but I won't be able to see the semifinals though, because they will be televised on the same day as my friend's wedding in NJ. I will most likely bug the crap out of Mom for scores then since she's the one with the smartphone (sorry, Mom). We'll be back in Santa Fe though by the time they televise the championship match *sigh of relief*. And speaking of the NCAA tourney, we got to catch the men's volleyball championship match (to which I say, about time ESPNU...you didn't even bother to televise ANY men's volleyball matches this year). I went for UC Irvine (my friend, the one who is getting married, is an alum/played volleyball for them) and I congratulate them for the win. I will give my props to BYU, though I can't quite let down the fact that they had set point for three straight plays. Either way, both teams played great and it was a crazy exciting match. For those who don't know, my usual allegiance in men's collegiate volleyball goes to both Penn State (I first started loving them during the Matt Anderson days) and Stanford. For women's, it's Penn State, Stanford, and Nebraska. That being said, I miss playing competitively tremendously. I've accepted the fact that I will not be able to play in a league here...I've tried everything and it was to no avail. I'm only 23 though...my volleyball days are far from over! :)

I should also mention that May 16th will mark my two years of living in Santa Fe. To this day, I still get questioned as to why I came out here (mostly by relatives). I did what I've always done, which was to follow my heart. At first, I questioned the idea of moving out here, but when I came during my spring break senior year...everything changed. Many of you know that I am not a religious person - I describe myself as spiritual. Of course, I believe in God and angels, and so forth...but my faith runs more towards spirits (particularly that of animals), guardians, dream visions, etc. I listen more to my intuition than anything else. So, a couple of months before spring break, I kept having dreams of my being in Market Street and being scolded by "friends" because I kept "forgetting" them. It turned out that there is indeed a Market Street here in Santa Fe (by the railyard), and when I came to visit at the time, we walked it. Huge ravens were hanging around us the entire time (if you haven't guessed by now, the raven is one of my animals. I have actually been called "Raven" by people out here, as well as the "Raven Queen" and "Raven Nerd"). After a time, I wanted to get close to one...and one ended up flying to the tree closest to me. He let me take some pictures of him, and when I started to walk away, he started to croak at me. When I looked back, he started biting at some of the branches by his feet, and when I actually picked one up, he stopped and just watched me. At the moment, I didn't understand why, but I suddenly said, "Thank you. I promise to never forget again." He croaked once before he flew off, and to this day, I still have the branch that raven bit off for me. That was the defining moment for me, and I knew I needed to be out here. I actually told that story to Saginaw Grant and his manager while I was purchasing a bone choker he made (whom I met when I still worked at the Inn and Spa at Loretto) - he is a Native American actor who will be in the new adaptation of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp. They both smiled at me and said that I was being given a gift, and that I should make a medicine pouch (to which I have in my purse for whenever I do go outside). For a spiritual person, this is like a huge sign saying that you're on the right path - not everyone will understand, but as long as you do, then that's the only validation one needs. I've never been happier since I've moved out here and done the one thing that I love, which is to write. The fact that Mom has been my biggest supporter makes it all the more worthwhile...and it was awesome to see just how many people out there feel the same as she. So in that, I thank you all. <3