Sunday, March 31, 2013

Romiko and Captain Julien

Two households, unalike in dignity,
In fuedal Japan, where we lay our scene,
 From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where pirate blood makes ninja hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of starrrr-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death... sadly absolutely nothing because ninjas and pirates will fight forever.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

International Table Top Day

Today is International Table-Top Day and I'd be quite remiss if I didn't blog about it just a little.

Remember the 80's when Dungeons and Dragons was being called out by nearly every Christian group as devil worshiping and witch craft? Remember the hilarious Jack Chick comic (side note, be careful of the general crazy oozing off that site)?

Admittedly, this was all going on before I was really old enough to get into the Dungeons and Dragon's scene but the controversy was still kinda resonating with my folks when I was in jr. high/high school. So while other kids snuck out to go drink or create trouble with their buddies... I snuck out to roll some D20s.

I know. I know. I'm hardcore.

Except I rolled terribly so my characters often didn't last too long.

In college, a friend of mine introduced me to Big Eyes, Small Mouth (D20 system centered around anime tropes) and it became a kind of tradition for a while between my friends Lyz, Mike and Morgan. Thank god for that ridiculously silly escapism, probably kept me sane. Lyz is my self-adopted big sister and Mike, her husband, is my self-adopted brother (brother-in-law, I guess). I will have to tell you all about them one of these days, because they were also a huge contribution to how I made it through college.

Post college, I returned to my D&D roots (varying editions) and was also introduced to Shadowrun and Pathfinder.

I freaking love table top gaming. I love the role play, I love that your fate is literally a matter of the luck of the roll and the kindness of your GM.  Thanks to table top, I've been everything from a cat-girl super hacker to a sociopathic mafia brat assassin to a spoony bard. The joy of acting with interactive storytelling, there's nothing quite like it.

I'll be participating in a circus themed one-shot tonight--do you have plans for today?

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Lara Project - Good Snacks

The annoying thing about getting into shape is that, if you're like me, it usually means taking good long look at your food intake, not just how much (like making sure you don't skip meals) but the quality of that food. Busting your butt at the gym can only do so much.

When I say this, I have to stress, do not go to the extreme. I love food. Food is seriously a great joy in life, from the amazing tastes out there to the way it brings people together. So when I talk about shifting your diet, I in no way am telling you to deprive yourself. Food is meant to be enjoyed.

But you can try to eat smarter and know your body a bit more when it comes to what you're craving. It's okay to give into those cravings now and then, just be careful about going into a binge.

Sweets/Fruity (ex. Starburst, sour patch kids, fruit roll ups):This one feels like kinda a no-brainer: Fruit is awesome. It really is. I love sour/tart so for me snacking on fresh raspberries, strawberries, even lemon wedges is awesome. I have a bizarre love for fruit roll ups, which frankly aren't that terrible for you but they do have a lot of sugar. However a lot of them are flavored with pear juice and I've found those little fruit cups (in fruit juice, avoid syrup if you can) frankly do the trick.

Sweets/Baked Goods (ex. Cupcakes, cookies):
Baked goods are my Kryptonite in more ways than one. For one thing, I love the smell of a good cupcake and frosted cookies are almost impossible to say no to--so I end up eating way more than I intend to. For another, I'm also gluten intolerant so this craving comes with some serious intestinal stabbity downsides. However I have found that baked sweet potatoes with just a tiny bit of butter (substitute for me), satisfies that craving fantastically. Some people will even add a little brown sugar for some extra sweetness.  Just make sure you keep the skins on--that's where a lot of the good stuff is. 
Salty Goodness (ex Potato chips, french fries):
I've found lightly salted air-popped popcorn (sans the butter of course) actually helps this out a lot. I have a hard time having something like chips in the house because, especially when sitting down for a movie, I will end up eating the whole bag without realizing it. Eep. Pretzels are also a better alternative and still give you that great crunch.

Snacks that I've found I enjoy:

  • Rice cakes and applesauce: Yep, it sounds really weird but bear with me. You take a lightly salted rice cake (Believe their about 35 calories) and spread a layer of applesauce (no sugar added, preferably "organic", no preservatives etc) and just nom away. The carby crunch of the rice cakes and the smooth applesauce has weirdly replaced my cookie cravings. You can also dip the cakes into a small bowl of applesauce or spread some good no sugar added peanut butter on the top instead of applesauce. (Side note, the apple cinnamon rice cakes, are only 50 cal and are delicious on their own.)
  • Fresh Snap Peas: My mother is jumping for joy somewhere. I used to hate peas when I was growing up, but there's something about a crisp fresh pod that is really fun to munch on during your favorite show. 
  • Grapes: They're mostly water but they've got a great tart (or sweet, depending if you have green or red grapes) kick that you can fill up on rather than something that is going to make you feel overly stuffed after consuming.
  • Dried Apricots: These are high in potassium (which, along with protein are awesome for helping ease muscle soreness) and make a great candy-esque snack.
  • Raw, Unsalted Almonds: Because seriously, we don't get enough protein during the day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"I love you."

"I love you" is such an odd phrase. Sometimes we say it because we simply mean it, others because we need to hear it echoed back.

You'll Always Be My Best Friend

Everyone gets a soul mate. I got lucky: mine ended up being my best friend. Regardless what happens in life, the person who gets me better than anyone will be around as my sister from another mister.

Melanie, like myself, is an absolute goof. We can live miles apart and still manage to pick up exactly where we left off the last time we were together. We've stuck together through personal tragedy to celebrating each others' great achievements. I think if you can find one person, just one, who loves you regardless of your mess ups, your flukes and neurosis, then you'll be set despite whatever else life throws at you.

She's one of my most trusted confidants, my partner-in-crime, she's the first person I pitch story ideas to.

"That's just money out of the pocket I don't have."

I met Melanie at a housing seminar when we were both Theater freshman at Cornish. We clicked instantly but didn't have a chance to hang out until our sophomore year. Thank. God. For. Melanie. I was about at my breaking point with my schoolwork and classmates. I had no real friends at school, I'd just gone through a horrible split with a good friend from high school and I was living alone for the first time. I would not be where I am today if it were not for her friendship, I would not have made it through the emotional and physical hell that was college if it was not for her, I would not still be writing.

(After I'd started losing weight through working out)
Mel: Kiri... don't get to thin.
Kiri: Melanie... I've had three pieces of cake today.

 I realize I'm having a total love-fest on this girl right now, but I cannot stress how much having just one extremely supportive person in my life has kept me in the light. So if you have that person in your life, whether they're your spouse, your SO, your friend, your sister, your brother--hold onto that person. Tell them you love them today.

Yesterday was the first time we'd really had a chance to hang out and be ridiculous since after we road-tripped to Spokane for my brother's funeral and frankly, it was the exact therapy I needed. Breakfast at Portage Bay because they do week-day breakfast AND cater to our crappy dietary restrictions (Mel also can't have dairy or gluten among a few other allergies), walked around Greenlake (it's puppy and baby palooza during the day, we got to pet so many adorable dogs), worked out with the kinect and then curled up with Thai food, some gluten free cookies and watched some ridiculously mindless tv. 

Some people do well in group therapy, some people make progress with a psychologist, but me? I need a day free from responsibility with my best friend. That's what keeps me going. That's what makes even the worst days bearable.

Mel: I think you're awesome... IYF.
Kiri: You mean FYI?

Melanie, thank you for putting up with my crazy. For knowing when I need to talk even when I don't say it. Thank you for being my best friend.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lessons of Childhood Acting: Drama Isn't Just On The Stage

I know what you're thinking... "Kiri, omg, shut up about your childhood."

...Last one this week, I promise.

So I'd mentioned that by 7th grade I'd come to accept that I was a misfit, I believe, yes? And this was an awesome thing for me except, oddly (and I suspect this is due to the fact that I grew up in Aberdeen, Washington, the puddle where Kurt Cobain did spring from) being a misfit didn't work out that great for me even when it came to theater.

See drama is all well and good but they never tell you that even if you're watching Hamlet, the drama you see on stage is usually a watered down version of what's going on behind the curtain. Not always, mind you, thank Shakespeare, but often. Even when you're only 12 years old.

7th Street Kids Theater was--is a children's theater group in Hoquiam, Washington. If you're a football fan, I want you to imagine the feud between Huskies and Cougars and then pretend that they were two high schools in two towns that were so close together you could have one foot in each at the same time. Capulets and Montagues, Aberdeen and Hoquiam.


Anyway, you get an idea of the geography and really the relationship between the two towns, other than distance, is really irrelevant in this story. You just need to know I didn't have to go too far to get to this theater.

So I had heard about this theater through a girl who I went to church with named Sidney. Sidney was gorgeous and talented and her mother was the audio-visual guru of I swear the whole city, so on top of her looks and talent she had connections and to make matters worse, the girl was ridiculously nice.

I know, right? With that much on her side, part of you would almost wish she was secretly an absolute witch. Ah well.

Though sadly we were friendly and not friends--and the reason I say this is sad is because I was kind of on my own when it came to auditions. She helped sign me in (she was a year or two my senior) and then rejoined with her own friends.

This wasn't a problem, I made a friend almost instantly. She was sitting on her own and in my head if you're alone and I'm alone, clearly we can fix both problems by talking and being friends.

Her name was Ty Lynn. Or rather that was her first and middle name but she liked how when spoken together, it sounded almost Chinese. This girl was about as freckled and white as I was because... ethnicity variation in Aberdeen is almost non-existent.

The brilliant movie cast
However it was oddly fitting (in the vein of, "that's kind of inappropriate") considering we were auditioning to be in a rendition of 'The Wiz'. Not 'The Wizard of Oz', mind you, no. We were doing 'The Wiz', which was a fantastic yet very steeped in late 70's African American culture. It starred both Diana Ross AND Michael Jackson and was both a celebration of the original story and the 1970's era.

At the time I was a little too young to quite understand the full weight of why this was messed up, but some part of me did feel something was off. Looking back at it now? Wow. My first reservation with this is that it was definitely not a children's show, looking back on it. I mean, our oldest actor was 17, and the youngest was probably about... 6? And while I do enjoy the movie, it is infused with some 70's drug references and the "Poppy Girls" are even described as prostitutes. These same "Poppies" were cuted up as they were played by young children and all drug references were... less than gracefully glossed over.

The second reservation I have with this is that it was made to be a celebration of a particular culture and ethnicity and yet Aberdeen is... I think there was one little black girl (she was playing a poppy, that's how young she was) in the entire cast. To be fair, the entire area is pretty damn white-washed so they kinda had to work with whatever kids were available but it still seemed pretty disrespectful--especially since all of the characters in turn just became awkward white kids. I mean maybe if they'd tried to teach us about the era and what influenced what it'd be different..?

BTW Twilight fans? Forks is also painfully white-washed. I've been to Forks. I actually applaud the Twilight movie for having so much diversity--if only those piss-poor towns could be that awesomely diverse. Were that the case, maybe they wouldn't be breeding so many ignorant people who can't understand that there's a difference between Japanese or Korean and that Muslim is a religion, not an ethnicity, but I'm getting off subject again.

Wow, that's a road, I didn't mean to go down and would be best for a different blog post. Pardon my rage.

Anyway, Ty and I met up with a friend of mine from junior high named Kristen, we ended up all getting chorus parts and we Charlie Angled it up as 3 lovely misfits who didn't much care if we fit in with everyone else.

...and then it all went down hill.

The Poppy Girls from the movie
There was a particular boy, and I cannot stress the word boy enough in this story because I have high hopes that eventually he grew up into a man and stopped using others as a means of making himself feel important. But this particular boy--who amusingly enough was the same boy who sang through his nose in my last story (he still sung through his nose, btw and one time during jazz choir at school, I even informed him of it.) Admittedly this was during the 90's where this kind of singing wasn't too frowned on because half of the pop stars were employing it (IE Earthy Britney Spears).

But he was a boy who (whiny nasal pop sound aside) could carry a tune well and could dance. In my opinion, he was a far better dancer than singer or actor combined. So naturally he acquired quite a few parts, especially in Musical Theater. And he thought he was just the shit.

And unfortunately, so did Ty.

Poor girl had it bad for this kid. Biggest damn crush ever.

And this kid, this bratty Regina George-runner up (I mean it, this boy wasn't mean, he was catty) found out--mainly because Ty didn't go to much trouble to hide it--and proceeded to absolutely torment her.




He and his group of soon-to-be plastics, chattering away, pointing fingers, making snide comments as we passed.

Jerk made her cry. And they continued. For no other damn reason other than they could.

And then because we hung out with Ty, for some reason that meant that Kristen and I must have been his fan girls... because that's the kind of ego this kid had on him.

Now admittedly, I imagine that Ty's crush probably dissipated not too long after he showed his asshattery but it was the start of the run and there was no turning back. For about two and a half months of my summer, these people tried to just rip us apart. Admittedly they didn't really succeed because their attempts were pretty laughable and frankly, they just weren't that smart but it's the intent that matters right now.

I love actors but some of them love drama. They love creating it, they love being in it, and they'll pull you into it even if you did nothing to provoke it. But hey, if you love theater, don't let that be what deters you. Because unfortunately? Those self-loving, catty bastards? They're everywhere.

Ty didn't come back to 7th Street the following summer. I can't say I blame her. Course jerk-boy had the nerve to ask me where Ty was...

And I kind of lost it. Don't get me wrong, he completely deserved what I said to him and I surprisingly managed to be caustic but calm--possibly because I knew I was going to move before next school year and I had nothing to lose. Regardless, that was a turning point. I realized I loved theater and not even this asshole, or any of his little cronies, were going to keep me away from that.

That, dear children, is the day I started to grow a real spine.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lessons of Childhood Acting: Favoritism and Casting

You know what? I really miss that bright red hair, that hair was fun. Radioactive, can see me coming a mile away (which is a total ninja fail but I accepted long ago that I'm more of a pirate anyway) and little girls would whisper things like, "Mom, it's Ariel" as they walked passed...

...Sorry, I was having hairstolgia, where was I?

Right, acting, tiny Kiri, artist journey blah blah blah...

Okay, so my first taste of performance was in first grade where we put on a production of "The Littlest Christmas Tree". This was also my first taste of favoritism and that casting isn't always fair. If you haven't had much experience with acting, I cannot stress that fact enough. It's pretty basic info, but I feel it needs to be said.

In grade school we had music time, I want to say... once a week? And there were two music teachers who would come in and teach us singing basics. I think at one point they tried to explain how to read music and even a little music theory, but good luck getting a class of wily first graders to focus on what the hell a treble clef is and why it's important.

Damn it, tiny-Kiri, if only you'd paid attention back then, it would have made later music lessons a lot easier.

Ah well.

So these two teachers. The first was Mrs. Nicesinger--and no, I'm not kidding, that was seriously her name. Nice singer. She may have changed it to be that, but that was honestly her last name. Even as a kid, I remember thinking, "Bitch, you serious?"

...Only without the cussing because I didn't actually know any curse words until I was like... ten? I grew up in a very sheltered house in a teeny tiny town. It's really not that surprising when you consider all of the factors.

At least she was aptly named, she did have a very lovely voice and was generally a fairly nice woman as far as anal retentive music teachers go.

The other music teacher was named... Oh crap, what was her name? You'd think I'd remember it considering how much the rest of her is burned into my memory. She was tall, had this kind of beaky nose and her voice was unusually loud and nasally and kinda grated on the ears. Let's call her Mrs. Not-So-Nice-Singer.

Mrs. Not-So-Nice-Singer was grumpy, quick tempered and was very bad at pretending that she liked children. She was like a less extreme version of a Roald Dahl villain, come to think of it. While I seriously doubt she could or even would throw a girl over the fence by her pigtails, I would wager she had  at some point uttered something like, "I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. I think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me." (The Trunchbull, Matilda, Roald Dahl)

And while Mrs. Not-So-Nice-Singer's distaste for children in general was often apparent, her distaste for me was even more so. 

I'm not entirely sure why this was the case. I made friends easily as a child, I loved singing and I had a very sunny disposition despite my distrust of sunlight. My mother has often informed me if I had been the first child, I would have been the only child.

I like to think this is because I'm just so darn stellar that my parents felt they could do no better... 

...But the reality is I was a bit of a handful. I had never been really shy as a child, in fact I was rather outspoken and independent. The word 'no' meant 'do it yourself' and I, much like one of my favorite childhood protagonists (Matilda, you see a theme here?), became more or less self-sufficient by the time I could walk. This is a trait, I've learned, some well into their 30's and 40's have yet to master.

Yet while this is an extremely useful trait and one I'm sure my parents appreciated as I got older and needed to be self-sufficient, I will admit this likely made me very hard to parent. It probably also made me a little irritating to teach if you were of the 'children should be seen and not heard' mindset. Though I imagine teaching singing to children who you feel should be seen and not heard would be irritating in general.

So as we approached the Christmas season, we were informed we would be doing a Christmas pageant/short play called "The Littlest Christmas Tree". I'm not sure if it was an actual play or something this woman concocted but I do recall the plot being very suspiciously similar to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Yup, we were talking trees picking on a tinier tree. I can't remember what The Littlest Christmas tree's virtue was that made Santa go, "Hey this tree is awesome!" Maybe Santa is secretly Charlie Brown after he grows up and gets over his Shultzian disillusionment with the world, I don't know, that's not the point.

The point is the day she announced this pageant, she also announced casting. Now when my mother informed me that actors were people paid to play pretend for an audience, I did as much research as one can as a young child in the early 90's... I went to the library. And I learned about casting and auditions and auditors and monologues and 16 bars of audition music (though I wasn't sure how music could be a bar at that time).

And I recalled no auditions for this pageant. Probably because there was no audition for this pageant. I'd like to assure you that she'd decided based on class participation/talent that she'd seen over the previous 3-months but I'd be lying as one of the students she chose for a leading role not only sang through his nose but another was almost completely tone deaf.

I get it, we were kids, when we're off key it was considered cute, but I would have thought a music teacher would have cared about this. 

I did notice that the group of children she had chosen were considered 'the popular crowd'. Yes, even in first grade, we had a popular crowd. Actually, my grade-school to jr. high experience was a lot more like the high school experience that teen movies project far more than high school ever was. I was all conflicted about popularity (not understanding it said nothing about the quality of friends you'd have) and fitting in and frankly it was just miserable. I was an early bloomer, I guess. At least this meant I was okay with being an absolute misfit by junior high...

I'm getting carried away again, aren't I? Sorry about that.

I was understandably grumpy about this development. I knew I could sing, I had done it every Sunday since I was old enough to know how to sit (relatively still). Yet I was assigned chorus and that seemed unfair. I will admit, I wanted some of that limelight even as a child but I was more frustrated by the complete lack of sense in regards to casting. If someone had been better at something, that would be one thing, I've always been my biggest critic. But as they were rehearsing solos, it became clearer and clearer that some of these kids simply couldn't sing. They couldn't hear the difference between notes, they were flat or sharp or not even singing the same melody. 

So this wasn't a deterrent per say but it was an interesting eye-opener as a child. Thankfully it would be years before I learned what a 'casting-couch' was.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Owe My Artistic Career to The Little Mermaid

Say what you will about Disney, how it's poisoning the minds of our children or what not--which if you ask me is ridiculous because I grew up on Disney and it didn't stop me from wearing pants or rescuing myself or whatever else people complain about. I could vent about not letting movies parent your kids, but that's an entirely different post and since I never plan on spawning, it seems really hypocritical of me to lecture anyone on how to raise their offspring.

I digress.

Anyway, Disney was in its prime of 2D animated features, they were thriving and becoming more and more detailed and absolutely breathtaking in their artwork. This is the world I was born into.

I pity the foo' who entered this world with only SpongeBob.

In 1989, The Little Mermaid hit the theaters and became my instant favorite.

Because mermaids.

Of course I was like two so... that didn't really mean much. But because my mother is extremely musical and I was raised to go to church where we sang hymns for 3 hours, I sang the songs to the best of my ability all day long. Which really was just me singing the "Aah-ah-ah" part from when Ariel is giving up her voice because my memorization skills were not as honed as they are now.

It's okay, you can giggle at that mental image. It's kind of adorable.

Anyway my love for this movie endured enough that I had Little Mermaid bed sheets and comforter and curtains (That I think stayed on my window well into JR High) and she was my favorite Disney Princess ever. Though Jasmine was a strong contender because I thought she was the most gorgeously drawn character ever, but in the end Ariel won out. My mom made me an Ariel costume and long after Halloween, I was still sneaking into the costume box so I could wear it around the house.

Again, because Mermaids.

And one day I was watching this movie after school (morning kindergarten rocked) and my mother was sewing just a few feet away in the family room and I remember turning to her and informing her that I wanted to be Ariel when I grew up. I may have said mermaid, I was 4 or 5 so give me some credit for remembering this at all considering I can never remember where I put my keys five minutes ago.

And my mother probably doesn't remember this because for her it was an average day before her two older kids got home and she was focusing on her sewing but for me the next words that came out of her mouth were absolutely monumentally life changing. Because the next few words out of my mother's mouth was explaining what an actor was and that someone in fact DID grow up to be Ariel. And that she likely had been other people as well.

My mother informed me more or less as an actor... you could grow up to be whatever the hell you wanted to be. And it could change day by day. One day you're a firefighter, the next you're a princess... and not only was it possible, in the world of theater and acting, this was considered NORMAL.

And I was ruined.

From that day onward I was completely ruined for any real kind of profession. I would never be a doctor, or a teacher or a scientist, I would be a pretender. And through my pretending I would adopt amazing identities and tell great stories...

Huh... I guess in a way, Disney did ruin my life. Just not in a way that I will ever regret or consider detrimental.

Except perhaps to this whole "be rich and successful" idea but I'm an artist, who needs that, am I right?


Anyway, that's how this all began. It set me down the twisty artsy fartsy path that is my life and is why I keep going back to bright red hair...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why I Will Never Be A Jedi

Also why I will never be an artist but that's actually not what this comic is about, so pardon the scribbles.

Click comic to enlarge. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Very Hairy Matter of Being Comfortable In My Own Skin

I have always been a connoisseur of color when it comes to my hair. In my childhood I was obsessed with wigs and colored hair spray--anything that could add a little pizzazz or blast of color.

Since my Freshman year of college, I haven't (naturally) had my actual hair color and jumped from green to purple, to orange... I was changing it so often there are some colors I don't even have documentation of because their time with me was so brief.

I'm a brunette, by the way. Not that it's relevant or that you specifically care but I figure it must be something people occasionally wonder about judging by the tone they employ when they ask, "What *IS* your natural hair color?"

If you know what you're looking for, you can tell a lot about me from how I wear my hair. You know how some people wear their heart on their sleeve? I wear mine on my head. During the time of fire-engine red I was rediscovering my dreams and really going for what I wanted in life so I wanted to be bold and daring. When it temporarily switched to ginger, I was feeling like I stuck out too much--then I went back because I realized I didn't care if I stuck out too much.

But that hasn't always been the case.

In my awkward days of college (that is to say,when I was in college, because I'm still pretty awkward), my hair was a shield. It was ever changing because I was extremely dissatisfied with things I could not control or felt I couldn't control and my hair became my outlet for expressing that. I bleached it, chopped it, colored and cropped it. Back then, it was a distraction, both for myself and everyone else.

For me it distracted from the fact that I didn't like how I looked, how I felt, or that I was dealing with a general sense of inadequacy in everything from my school work to my love life. It was a deterrent for my own self-loathing (because most artists at least at some point in their life go through a period of extreme self-loathing) and deluded me into thinking I had control in the chaos.

For everyone else it distracted from the absolute mess hiding behind it. If you're too busy looking at this bright thing on my head, you won't be looking at me--or you'll be fooled into thinking that I don't care what you have to say because I'm "breaking social norms"... with hair dye.

It's just hair dye, past-Kiri.

But you can only play the Clementine Kruczynski card for so long before you have to go over some serious self-evaluation. Which meant an uncomfortable confrontation with all of those fantastic little reasons of why I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.

And I'd like to tell you from that moment on I went on to be happy with every facet of myself.

But that's not how life works. But I was able to at least identify those issues I'd been ignoring so I could try to work on them daily. Some were easy. I had acne, so I read up, I limited greasier food, I put together a regimen of cleansers and creams and eventually that cleared up. I had trouble keeping up in one of my physical technique classes so I started going for walks/runs on my days off. I was lonely so I started to get to know some of my classmates better or (which ended up being the smarter of the two choices) made friends outside of both my department and my school.

Others were not so easy. Others were made with years of insecurities and...frankly I'm still working on them. Because we're kinda just a mess like that and that's okay. Frankly, I would like to celebrate the absolute chaos that we are as adults. It's crazy, when you think about it. Figuring out how to stop carrying emotional baggage, learning from your mistakes but not being crippled by them.

Whenever someone says they're going away for a while to "find themselves", I have to laugh a little--and I don't mean that cruelly. It's just... we're always looking for ourselves. Much like my hair, we change every day. Who you are now will not be the same person you were a week ago. Similar... but not the same.

I still have to remind myself I have talents, or that I'm a good person and admittedly most days I know these things... but every now and then, once in a blue moon, I really need that reminder.

We have a weird way of getting lost a lot as human beings.

And now my hair is a point of pride. Regardless how I'm feeling about myself that day, there is one unalienable fact I've come to realize by shifting through the shades: I am a freaking chameleon. Somehow in my pale freckled Irish genes was the ability to pull off nearly any hair color and I have exploited that fact like crazy. I feel like Sidney Bristo, causing serious double-takes when I walk by friends who don't recognize me off the bat.

I love that. It's a weird gift, but it's one I truly do love and one I really can't argue with even in my darkest hours of self doubt. And having that? Seriously has helped me more than you'd think.

Everyone's got one. Find yours.



Friday, March 22, 2013

The Lara Project - The Music

I'm not going to lie to you--getting into the habit of daily exercise is hard. That's about 1 1/2 - 2 hours I have to set aside where if I'm not prepared, my  brain is constantly thinking about how much time I have left. It's awful.

Music tends to be the usual go-to for curing this and getting you in the right mindset to knuckle down and kick some butt. So I've been over time compiling an "Action Hero" playlist. Which really isn't always something you'd hear playing while said action hero is doing their thing, but they all have something about them that make me feel awesome. I've listed them, for your convenience, by artist.

Note: What you listen to is your cup of tea, but personally, I can't stand censored versions of songs--I feel like it interrupts the flow. So keep that in mind if you go looking for some of these.

It's a Long Way to The Top

The-All American Rejects:
Dirty Little Secret
Gives You Hell
Move Along

Time Served

Fall Out Boy:
Chicago is so Two Years Ago
I Don't Care
Sugar We're Goin' Down
Thnks fr th Mmrs (Thanks for the Memories)

Flogging Molly:
Tobacco Island

Good Charlotte:
Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous
The Young and the Hopeless

Miss Amani:
B4 I Get 2 One


Drink and Fight

Panic! At the Disco:
I Constantly Thank God For Esteban
Let's Kill Tonight
The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage
There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered, Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of it Yet

Are We All We Are
Get The Party Started
Raise Your Glass
So What
U + Ur Hand

Simple Plan:
God Must Hate Me
You Suck At Love

The White Stripes:
Seven Nation Army

I'll be adding more to this list as they get added to the playlist but I don't want to just bombard ya with an endless list (at least not in one go). Share some of your music of badassery in the comments!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dear Aspiring Authors....

In the grand scheme of things, I'm still a n00b in the author world, so really the fact that you're bothering to read my opinion/thoughts is down right flattering.

So I'm going to let that flattery inflate my ego for a moment and pretend I'm an expert because that's what the internet is all about, right? My opinion is law. Trust me, I'm a blogger.

But seriously, I would like to speak to something that I've been seeing a lot of and I feel its important we put a stop to.

Photo from
Stop calling yourself an "Aspiring Author/Writer".

In fact, for the love of all that's tasty, stop using the word 'aspiring' in order to describe yourself. You're a writer or you aren't. You either wake up with that twitch, that impulse, that ever present narration that you couldn't shut up if you wanted or you don't.

Regardless your credentials, if nothing brings you happiness like the increasingly frustrating nature of stringing words into story, then guess what? You've arrived, you're a writer.

What you do to make a living does not define you. If that was the case we'd barely have any authors. I have a mountain of student loan debt. No, seriously, it makes Olympus blush.. Unless I make out like JK Rowling, I am likely going to always have to have a day job, whether it's relevant to my talents or not. And there is no way, absolutely NO WAY I am going to let my financial situation be what defines me.

So go, write, or whatever it is that makes you joyful (unless it's murdering people, then you should probably just get help, or be like Dexter--but don't quote me on that it's okay to be Dexter) and stop talking down who you are with words like 'aspiring'.

It's what you are.

Own it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Lara Project - The Why

So I've had a girl-crush on Lara Croft since 1996 when the original Tomb Raider hit the shelves. She's a female Indiana Jones with Bruce Wayne's cash flow (or at least it seemed that way considering her considerable budget for her trips and the manor) and Dick Grayson's acrobatic skill. You can say what you want about her sexualized appearance over the years, but I have always loved her. She was confident, daring and athletic. 

I want to be Lara Croft when I grow up.

...but I haven't grown an inch since 6th grade so it's become clear to me if I want to be that much of a badass, the time to start is now. Which is why I'm starting a personal goal called "The Lara Project" which is really just my geeky way of saying, "I'm working out/eating better and using the internet to help hold me accountable."

I've been trying to do this for a while but I'll fall back into old habits and lose focus.

I'm mainly writing this because I want to clear up a few stigmas that I seem to run into whenever I tell them I'm changing my habits in regards to diet.

First, let's agree that it's hard to eat well. It just is. Especially if you don't have a lot of time to cook. The crap that gets put into preserved or frozen food is just crazy and I can't even pronounce half of them and I figure if *I* don't have a clue what something is, chances are, my body won't either.

Put dietary restrictions (gluten/lactose intolerance) on top of that? It's an effort, let me tell you. Here are a few miscommunications I'd like to clear up:

When I say, "I want to eat better."

People hear: "I am going to be a stickler about dessert and am judging your eating habits."

But what I mean is, "I have two very large dietary restrictions that I have been ignoring frequently and as a result have been in a state of almost constant discomfort. I also have a problem with binge snacking and while I do not want to cut out tasty treats, I do need to be careful about moderation or I will engage in unhealthy eating habits and I would love your support so I stay healthy. This is an issue specific to me and my body and I do not expect you to adopt my same habits when around me."

When I say, "I'm watching what I eat."

People hear, "I'm starving myself."

But what I mean is, "I tend to like my life crazy busy but by doing this, I forget to eat or I eat things that end up making me feel awful because it's readily available. I need to plan what I eat and pay close attention so I make sure I eat enough food and that it's food that's actually going to help keep up my energy rather than put me in a little ball of pain. Because running on nothing but stress isn't unusual for me and when that happens I get shakey and tired and dizzy and it's a world of not good."

Also when I eat food with less chemicals etc, I notice my stomach has a tendency to handle dairy or gluten better... so I'm more likely to be able to cheat a little on those  intolerance.

When I say, "I need to work out more."

People hear, "I think I'm fat."

But what I mean is, "I want to be able to be able to do more athletic things with ease, ie marathons, climbing, dance, etc"

What this means for you:

Nothing, really. Absolutely nothing. My change in the kind of food I eat or my physical fitness has absolutely nothing to do with you. I want to rock climb (despite my fear of falling from heights), I want to hike and maybe learn how to do some crazy acrobatic parkour because it's oddly important to me. This does not mean I expect you to live this lifestyle. This does not mean I think less of you for not living this lifestyle. You are awesome, I adore you, I wouldn't have you any other way than you being comfortable with you.

What this means for this blog:

I'll be occasionally updating on progress and discoveries, things I've found, things I love, things that have failed etc etc. etc.

/King of Siam

...yeah, I just made a "The King and I" joke.

You guys are awesome. Stay that way.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Don't Panic"

I remember when I was first introduced to Douglas Adams--and by that, I of course mean introduced to his work because my life is not THAT awesome.

Also, I was 14 when he passed away, so... I would have had to been amazingly lucky.

Not the point.

I was in 8th grade and poking through the library at school when I first came across the book. Someone had left it sitting on a shelf for the librarian to put back. And as I passed that book, the Cosmic Cutie that Adams hated so much, caught my eye. I wasn't sure what it was but this impish green thing was sticking its tongue out at me and being slightly impish myself, naturally it had my attention.

I may have stuck my tongue back out at it.

However, the Cutie isn't what got me to open the book. My parents had just made the decision that we were going to move across the state which seemed rather from my little home town of Aberdeen, Washington (which is not a remarkable place but when you've been somewhere for 10 years, it's hard to not get attached) and I was feeling rather conflicted. And here was this odd little book emblazoned with the words "Don't Panic".

It's stupid that all of my parental reassurances, the promises of friends that relocation would 'be okay' and nothing would change were rather ineffectual but these simple words got through my impossibly stubborn skull.

And it was enough to get me to pick it up and read it.

In less than five minutes I discovered that Arthur Dent's struggle wasn't really relevant to my 8th grade moving woes but I did laugh out loud.

And then I got some looks from the few students there to study and I remembered libraries were supposed to be quiet.

If I owned a library, I think I'd encourage discussion and laughter. That much knowledge in one place shouldn't be silent. That just seems silly. If a book makes you laugh out loud  you should feel free to do it wherever you're reading it.

Regardless, it made me check the book out.

I remember the librarian smiling and whispering that it was one of her favorites and she hoped I enjoyed it.

This series completely altered my outlook of what a narrator could and couldn't do--admittedly I'd already been exposed to the whimsical narration of Lewis Carroll (who seemed a character of his own as the narrator of the Alice books) but this was entirely different. This narrator practically had conversations with the reader as if commenting on the story he was telling as he told it.





I was surprised to discover that it started as a radio play and that Douglas was, at best, a reluctant novelist. Though it did explain why even narration would somehow feel like dialogue.

I've often found a preference to writing scripts simply because you got to skip the narrative exposition.

If you have never (for some reason) picked up this book series, just do it. Get the audio books, listen to the original radio play, whichever appeals to you the most, it's a kind of story telling everyone should experience once.

Douglas Adams would have been 61 today. He passed away over 10 years ago at age 59 from a heart-attack and that... is baffling to me. Too young, in my opinion... but if I had my way, we'd all live to be a hundred.

Take care of yourselves out there. Inside and out. Remember "Don't Panic", and don't forget your towel.

"What the strag* will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."
--Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

*Strag: Non-Hitch Hiker

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vlog / Alys Soundtrack

As mentioned in this video:

The following are some tracks from my Alys Soundtrack (in no particular order)

  1. Her Name Is Alice - Shinedown
  2. Asleep - Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)
  3. Damaged - Plumb
  4. Requiem For a Tower - London Music Works
  5. Nothing Hurts Now - Magnet
  6. Only If For A Night - Florence + The Machine
  7. Imaginary - Evanescence
  8. Painting Flowers - All Time Low
  9. Through Glass - Stone Sour
  10. White Rabbit - Emiliana Torrini
  11. Little Talks - Of Monsters And Men
  12. Hide And Seek - Imogen Heap
  13. What Have You Done - Within Temptation
  14. Bother - Stone Sour
  15. Ordinary World - Duran Duran
  16. Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds To Mars

5 Confessions

FIVE random facts about myself

  1. I cannot hear Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a Changin'" without crying.
  2. Frosted sugar cookies are my kryptonite. 
  3. They are also my perfume. (No, really, I smell like vanilla frosting)
  4. I make a soundtrack for all of my writing. It helps me work.
  5. I can sing the Buffy Musical straight through.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I'll tell ya what I want, what I really, really want...

Yes, that was a Spice Girl's reference.

Yes, I am ashamed.

There is a strangely universal truth that I think most of us are afraid to admit or consider because we fear it's too pessimistic. This truth being that everyone you encounter/who persists in your life, wants something from you. It's what motivates us/moves us through space.

From your boss, to your mother, to the person you kiss before bed, every single person is always wanting something from you. The real trick is knowing what that is and if you're all right with giving it.

For instance, you go to work and your boss wants you to do your job (at least hopefully that is all he/she wants). It may be something far more scandalous and your boss may want something of a more salacious nature in order to acknowledge that you do your job, etc etc, but regardless if it is the innocent/professional desires or those you expect to only see on day-time tv, they are desires that require something from you.

I may ask my best friend what she wants from me, and she will pleasantly reply with something like "Nothing but your company" (she's bizarrely well-spoken and overly polite like that, seriously, I don't understand why she's friends with someone like me). Now this is a very sweet and friend-like response. You may be like, "Kiri, this person doesn't want anything from you at all" and I would answer, "I suppose that depends how you value your time and that person."

For example, I enjoy being with this person, we're both very independent but we get along extremely well, so hanging out is mutually beneficial.

But let's consider that phrase, "Nothing but your company". Let's say this friend was not so overly polite and lovely, let's say what she wanted was a complete monopoly of my company, then that would certainly change things, wouldn't it?

You look at charity work--giving toys to children. You give because you want these children to be happy; to have as normal of a childhood as possible and we do this so they will grow up to be hopefully adjusted adults.

Even this blog! What do I want from you? Your readership. I want your hits on my counter because it means more people see it, and the more people see it, the more this message is spread. Knowledge is power, so they say. I may even want your input (always) or a discussion which is wanting even more because then I'm expecting you to actively engage with me which is even more time and energy.

I'm not saying these are bad things to want, I'm not saying I feel our actions are selfish, but they are self-motivated. Even if I just want you to be happy--I'm doing something because I want it--and for all I know (for some reason) you may not want to be happy. Regardless, we're still motivated because we want things from other people.

And that's okay. But accepting that and knowing that everyone you encounter wants something may end up helping you in the long run. Because if you aren't willing to give them what they want from you... maybe they shouldn't be in your life.

The past few months have been about re-evaluating toxic influences on my life... and this little thought has oddly been helpful.

So I thought I'd share.