As we are about to get very poor, my book budget is going to take a serious dive. However, upon review of my bookshelves, I have at least a year's worth of reading to do just in books that I have bought and forgotten, mostly because I get distracted by something else and forget to read. With this list of books, I sort of wonder where all the room is for the books that I have read.. but.. they're there too. I'm thinking of sorting these into their own bookshelf in my writing room and then slowly emptying these out.

Anyways, here is my list

Self-Esteem - McKay/Fanning
Words in Air -correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
Succulent Wild Woman- SARK
Spunk and Bite
SARK's new creative companion
The Right to Write- Cameron
Erotic Myths and Legends
A Year of Ritual
You can be a Super Quilter
The Teaching of Buddha
Burning down the House- Charles Baxter
Zuckerman Unbound- Philip Roth
Elements of Style- Strunk and White
The Jungle- Upton Sinclair
Peony in Love- Lisa Sec
Mythology- Edith Hamilton
Inferno- Dante
Odyssey- Homer
Haunted - Chuck Palahnuik
Lost Horizon- Hilton
For Whom the Bell Tolls- Hemingway
Life of Pi- Martel
Because They Wanted To- Mary Gaitskill
The Woman Warrior- Hong Kingston
Demonic Mnemonics- Suid
Mere Christianity- CS Lewis
The curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Blithe Spirit/Hay Fever/ Private Lives- Noel Coward
Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
Ulysses - James Joyce (oddly, I just bought this, thinking I didn't have it, but I did!)
Walden- Thoreau (one more try and then I'm chucking it)
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
The Best American Erotica of 2004
Love in the Time of Cholera - Marquez
The Oedipus Cycle
Stories by Katherine Mansfield
Middlesex -Eugenides
Sophie's World
The Sot-Weed Factor
Possession: A Romance - Byatt
Best American Short Stories of 2007
Measure of a Man - Portier
Dawn- Wiesel
The Accident - Wiesel
The Bluest Eye -Morrison
Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
Everyman - Philip Roth
Paradise Lost
The Dark Tower Series - King
Best American Short Stories 2009
Light in August - Faulkner
The Mammary Plays - Vogel
Tom Sawyer- Twain
Mrs. Dalloway - Woolf
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Stowe
Moby Dick - Melville
Plays and Poetry by Yeats
Bodacious Book of Succulence by SARK
Tales of Beedle the Bard - Rowling
History of Love - Krauss
Confederates - Thomas Keneally
A Room with a View/ Howards End / Maurice - Forster
Revolutionary Road / Easter Parade - Yates
Dear John - Nicholas Sparks

I'm currently nearing the end of A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. Good book. Once that's done.. I'll start making a dent in all of these. Whatever powers there are.. please help me. :)


The Lithium triplets and a bag of pyrite

This is, I fear, going to be a fairly whiny post. You can stop now, if you want. I don't mind. I'm writing this mostly for myself.

I'm sitting here eating what may possibly be the last chinese dinner I eat ever in my life (sweet and sour pork, chow mein and beijing beef, in case you were wondering). As I slowly masticate, I wonder about, I guess, the meaning of life, writing, dieting, and medication... we'll start with the last and go backwards.

A friend confided in me today that he thinks I am insane. I'm afraid he may be right. I stare now at three very small white pills, lined up on a box from a pen I got recently (Red Pelikano Jr, which is in my pocket with Passion Red ink in it - good for grading). They sit there, taunting me, each with the tiny numbered faces talking to me, telling me that I'm just too insane to love. The Lithium triplets, ladies and gentleman, whisper to me in their small, salty voices (I hate the taste of these pills), in the voices of my father, my sister...and sometimes my mother... and they tell me that I'm not good enough, I'm not smart enough. That I have to depend on them, or I will be nothing. I hate these pills. I want to crush them beneath the heel of my birkenstocks, which, I might point out, aren't really all that made for crushing. My only recourse is to swallow them with my Beijing Beef, and hope that they drown in the stomach acid. It makes me feel a little better.

Dieting next, right? (as I munch on my high sodium and high calorie chinese food, the repast of a dying stomach).

I decided to start the sign up process for weight loss surgery. To say I'm frightened is an understatement. My whole.. everything.. is frightened. There are a few reasons I'm afraid. First, is the extra skin. I realize this is incredibly vain of me, but I want to be beautiful. This goes back to the whole "not loved" thing. I want to be so beautiful that men will stop to look at me... that men will notice me and maybe even wonder who I am. I am invisible as I am, or worse, the subject of ridicule and derision. Because I look like this, people sneer and don't even bother to get to know my mind... and not more than once, when they have gotten to know my mind first, through some internet experience, perhaps, once they do see me, who I really am... they back off, or back away and tell me they want to slow down.... or I never hear from them again. So, when I worry that I may look like a sharpei after the surgery because my skin's elasticity has been affected, this is a major fear of mine.

I guess the other concerns would be minor to that, though major to some. Not being able to eat the foods I like, gaining back the weight despite the surgery, having to buy all new clothes, the risk of infection or possible death (a .02% chance). However weighing all of those options against a longer life span, and maybe the ability to move freely again without very serious pain... even my vanity loses out. I have to do something. My willpower won't let me. Maybe surgery will.

Writing... I'm getting to a place where I'm at the "what's the point" of writing. I'm not very good at it. I definitely know I could be better, but when I sit down to write, typing or otherwise, nothing spectacular comes out. Funnily enough, when I pick up a fountain pen, the first thing I scrawl isn't a poem, or a bit of prose, but my signature - every time I put pen to paper. I love my fountain pens, they are gorgeous, and fun to play with, but.. well.. a wise man once told me that the pen in my hand is merely a fetish. I believe that it can cause magic because of of what it is. I believe a nice fountain pen can make a better writer, but.. it can't. Nothing really can. I write how I write. I can edit, which I hate doing, as I don't feel that it's creation. I have been negative about my writing for over a year now, tying it into a heartbreak that should have never occurred in the first place. I tied my writing life into that relationship and because of that, once the relationship ended, my writing became stunted. It wasn't his fault; it was mine for tying it to anybody else in the first place.

If I want to be a writer, I have to write for myself, and not worry about whether or not it's crap at first, but be happy that I am at least writing something. If my writing group tells me it's crap.. I just won't think about publishing it and put it in the "nice try" pile. When you're mining for gold in a river full of iron pyrite, you're bound, once in a while, to find a nugget of something good there. (and I've seen a lot of iron pyrite published too!)

So.. life will sort itself out. I'm done whining now. The Lithium triplets are safely tucked away for the evening... and I have about 5000 words to write to catch up to my fellow Nanoers.



Review: Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro

I had high hopes for this book when I bought it. I had read a review in the New York Times, thought it sounded at least amusing, and so I decided to get it for my Sony Reader. It was convenient, and I thought it would be a quick funny read. The Times assured me so. There were parts where I found myself laughing out loud as I read, things that made me giggle, but I didn't really enjoy this book. The author comes off as a paranoid hypochondriac, someone I would sit with and talk to a while if I were stuck next to them at a really boring sports game, but I wouldn't want to hang out with on a regular basis. I almost put this book down and didn't finish it, but then decided that I was better than that and needed to finish what I had started. I found a few redeeming qualities, but not enough to make me pick up another Notaro book any time soon.


Review of March by Geraldine Brooks

One of the best written historical novels that I have ever read. Historical fiction has never really been my forte, but a recent interest in the Civil War has caught my attention, and this book was recommended during a short story discussion, so I thought to pick it up on my Reader and take a look. Lately, I haven't been reading very quickly (a vampire romance novel goes fast, but anything else creeps), however this novel went quickly for me. The pace and the story had me up at night wanting to know what happened to Mr. March next. The story takes one of the classic books written by a superb American writer, Louisa May Alcott, and pulls an absent character, the father, out into a fully realized person, who comes with his own guilt, his own background, and his own moral and mental wounds. Definitely a wonderful book and highly recommended! I know why it won the Pulitzer. It is great.


The value of a journal

I wonder if having a more expensive notebook is better for me in the long run...

I used to own a Moleskine softcover Extra Large notebook. I actually have several of these, but I would use the one at a time. They cost about $20 and the soft oilskin cover felt really good in my hand, making me think of someone finding it, years later, and it's bent back corners and a few modifications I make to my notebooks. (one is to put a wax seal on a finished one with the dates on the inside cover of when the notebook was used. It's easier for cataloguing and finding older journals. A vague index may sometimes be made in the back). But these notebooks would hold everything.

Recently, I switched to the cheaper, but just as well made, Piccadilly Notebooks. They have the same oilskin cover, though so far.. only in hardbound.. they recently came out with softcovers, but I haven't found them yet. I may order offline... but then again.. I may not. So the purchase ratio from Moleskine to Piccadilly is about 1 Moleskine for every 3 Piccadilly's. I thought.. great! I can buy my journals cheaper.

I actually now have 4 Piccadilly notebooks floating around. Contents of these notebooks: one is used for notes on teaching; one is used for notes on the Civil War novel I'm writing; one is used for the Foster Care novel I recently abandoned; and the last one was just general scribblings that is currently defunct. I think that is all, but who knows where the others are. I currently cannot find the one with my Civil War novel in it, once again proving that if I have too many of one thing.. I tend to misplace them.

With the more expensive (and thus more precious) Moleskine, all of thse novel notes and writings and school notes would be kept in once place. True, it would run out faster, but then I would start a new journal. I have one short story that spans 3 different journals, in dribs and drabs and edits and notes. Most of what I write (other than SL poetry) starts out written by hand in these journals. Even if I moved on to a new journal, I could always go back and find the other journal that I used and glean the (mostly chronological and somewhat indexed) information from the hand numbered pages.

So does having a more expensive notebook make me keep things in a more orderly fashion. It's possible.. and in fact it is probable. I miss keeping all of my notes and novel picking, short story ideas and dribs and drabs of poetry in a single edition that continues. Since college, I have used many notebooks in my quest to find the perfect journal. I wonder if I will ever find the right one.. or if I already have.

(Also posted to my blog: the WW ning http://writtenword.ning.com)


Researching to Write

Overwhelmingly enough, I have decided to start writing a Civil War novel... so I am eyeball deep in artillery and armies decked out in blue and grey and.. butternut? I am learning all sorts of new things lately.

Anyway.. here is a new poem that I wrote for the Blue Angel.

Love Song to Autumn
by ToryLynn

The first tinge of gold
At the edges of the willow tree
Bring the idea of autumn
And the crisp apples
Blush, dropping from the tree
Languishing for the harvest.

The autumn of life
Is the best season
The fruit so ripe and willing;
Knowledge dripping
Off the vine

Truth lives in this golden time
When lies are no longer necessary
Free to love what lives
Looking towards death.

Sitting back, sipping the cool tea
Commenting on the winter
we bathe in life.

And don't look towards
The death

That is coming.


Which Art?

I took this picture while camping with Kevin last month. It was a peaceful Tuesday morning, and the sun came through the trees just right. This is from our own campsite, so what you see there is my neighbors for the three days we were camping.

Posting this picture today comes from a conversation with my best friend, where he and I were discussing art. His favorite artist is Edward Hopper because he likes the stillness of the paintings. I don't really have a favorite artist, probably because I don't know much about art or photography.

We were sitting there, discussing the work of Edward Hopper. He immediately begins to think of stories of the characters or the places. These paintings speak to him of a quiteness, or a loss (my favorite being "NY Movie"..that one speaks to me a story), but what I noticed first wasn't the story in the picture, but the composition. I noticed the colors, and how they blended, and how, especially in "NY Movie", there is a barrier between the focal point of a young usherette, and the rest of the movie goers. I notice the primary colors around her, and in her uniform. I notice the color tension and flow, but the first thing I see isn't the story. As a writer, shouldn't that be what I see?

As a writer, I feel I should automatically look at these pictures and wonder what these people are thinking, or what could have gone on here. Just as I am walking around a field, I should be able to see the Native American encampments that were there 200 years ago. I don't though. I see the waving of the tall grasses, and how the grasses begin to brown, feathering on top of the shaft. I notice how they bend in the wind, creating a brilliant ripple effect which reminisces of the ocean, and I rejoice in the ocean of the field.

I do not have any "artistic" talent, as far as drawing or painting goes. I took a class once, produced two paintings, and never really painted again, except for paint by number. Photography or cinematography may be my strong suit (as I may point out in the picture above, my favorite from the camping trip... so far.. I have to fiddle with some of the others). I took Photography in high school. I used to know how to create black and white photos with an old 35mm camera and process the film and develop the paintings.

I have been a poet and a fiction writer for as long as I can remember. I have been telling stories, albeit simplistic, since I was four, and my grandmother transcribed my very first story (about a black unicorn living in a white unicorn world). I write poetry quickly, but I don't think I'm superb at it, and most of mine could use some polish.

Photography speaks to me as a beautiful art, because the composition is there.

So, which art do I choose? I still don't know. I'll keep plugging away at my novels, dashing off my poetry... and admiring nature and life in my photography.
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Living beyond

Living beyond.
Written at the Blue Angel, Windermere

Sylvia, why do you speak to me
Forever 31, while I am 33.
Is it that plane where

we live, together,
you and I
In sisterhood?

What becomes of me
Because you left,

Of what life was
Or what life had become?
We never lived

together, for you
were 13 years
In Mother earth

before my tender feet
hit terra firma
But our kindred

ship is close
And I reach out
Through time

And grasp your hand
Wishing you had
Dared to live.

I feel I would be
If you were alive

As a guide
To this illness
And though the

napkin is removed
we still see the

That was your words.
And now Nick
joins you,

Not escaping your
genetic generosity.
No longer chasing

Dreams of a place
Where we find



Sometimes, it's like a wave
Where the highs are up and the tide breaks
And you can see the water nourishing
All of the little landscape around
But try to ignore
The life it is drowning beneath.

And when the tide goes down,
you see things differently
And have time to look and feel
But ignore the bloody footprints
Where the rocks cut your feet.


An Apology to my friends...

As I grow and learn, I find that my attention wanes from people. I have lost many friends due to this waning, though I am sure that I could walk back into their midst (and I have several times) and feel welcomed. However, no matter how many times I do that, I have noticed that I can never go back to these people and exist in the same capacity that I have previously. I find often that we have all moved on, that our lives are not the same, or I feel out of place. I hate the thought that comes that says that perhaps I have outgrown them, or the usefulness of that time and place has been spent. It makes me feel that I have used these people, but like a reunion, these people are strangers who you learn to make small talk with. It is unfortunate.

Many times, especially in my life, these friends have been summarily dropped as I chased after a boy. This happened many times in high school, in college, and even in my Second Life. I would make friends with a group of people, and as soon as one was singled out as "soul mate" material, the rest would become background noise as I focus in on the one voice, the one note that burns my heart.. until it is cast aside, as it inevitably is (and was). Then I look at my old friends and realize that they don't fit anymore because they were "his" friends.

I regret this deeply.

So, I have decided not to do that anymore. I can't begin to make up to my old friends who I have neglected in yet another chase after someone who I thought would be my soul mate again (who ended up being a really good friend instead, so at least I have that). However, I can start looking at myself and figuring out what I need to do to make sure that I maintain stability.

First, I need to not talk about "the boy" constantly. A really great friend said that this made me one dimensional, and I don't want to be one dimensional. I am the most important person in my life, and my friends are important too. I need to learn about them again and take pride in their works.

Second, I need to start taking pride in my own work and my own world! I've started taking classes at NCI to learn things, and I am actually learning! I've learned how to make jewelry and a flag... I'm thinking I may start raising some money... or at least designing some kick ass jewelry.

Third, my life has to be about more than Second Life. I don't live there (though, God, I wish I could sometimes. My house is gorgeous!) I have lesson plans, students, a wonderful, incredibly doting husband and a great many things to do that I can do in my real life. It's time I start focusing there once in a while (not that I'm gonna be there all the time. SL is wonderful!)

Ok.. so.. a few steps... I miss my friends and I want them back badly. It's time for me to become, at least two dimensional. There is life out there, and I'm going to grab it. I hope I get the golden ring.