Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Gatsby is a Verb

Gatsby is a Verb

and Fitzgerald was WAY ahead of us…

{You may not understand the phrase, “Dude, you totally just Gatsby’d that.” But don’t worry… you will soon. }

I am in a fantastic book club. We’ve read so many great books this year…The Night Circus, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Casual Vacancy, The Hunger Games Trilogy, and more. This month we decided to read a classic. And since the movie is coming out soon, Book Ends Book Club chose The Great Gatsby to read… and boy, am I glad we did.

Because this book is such a classic, I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone basically knows what happens in the book. {aka, minor spoiler alert!}

Some discussion topics we covered included:

Why was this book called The Great Gatsby?

Is the generation in the 1920’s just like us?

Is marriage ever worth it? Will anyone ever just be faithful?

What was Gatsby’s big downfall and how can we learn from it?

How much of the past should we focus on?

This was one of the most enjoyable book discussions I have ever had a hand in. I honestly wasn’t expecting such a reaction from us gals who read it, but we all had a lot to say.

First things first.

I’d like to point out is that our generation is NOT doing ANYTHING new. We think YOLO  {which I’ll never say again on this blog… I hate it! Just say the words!} and ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN and making the most of the night LIKE WE’RE GONNA DIE YOUNG are new themes? We think that all of us young adults in the year 2012 could possibly have come up with any of this on our own? Let me show you something.

In The Great Gatsby:

When Myrtle (wife of Wilson) first met Tom (husband of Daisy) and he began to flirt with her on the train, at first she felt as if she should brush it off. They were both married, after all. This might not be a “do the right thing” kind of feeling… she just wasn’t sure how to respond. But then…

“…I was so excited that when I got into a taxi with him I didn’t hardly know I wasn’t getting into a subway train. All I kept thinking about, over and over, was ‘You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever.’”

See? In her time of cheating and excitement she thought “you can’t live forever.” She had a “You only live once” moment. This was written in the year 1925. They wanted to live it up, too.

Another interesting point I’d like to discuss is this quote, said by the narrator {and who I’d like to call “hidden or behind the scenes main character”} :

“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”

So when we’re 25 we can lie and call it honor? I’m 23, so looks like I have two more fun years ahead. Just kidding! But this quote is one that I underlined because it really had me thinking. More than once, the age of thirty is mentioned in The Great Gatsby, and Fitzgerald has a way of making it sound, well, old.

Which is quite the opposite of how I’ve been feeling lately. There are too many people thirty and above in my life who seem younger than ever. They don’t seem like that mystical age of “thirty” that people fear. They’re living life, getting into shape, making thirty look so good, that I am no longer afraid to age. So at least our generation is breaking that mold, especially if the twenty-somethings of the 1920’s (or perhaps just Fitzgerald) couldn’t quite cope with aging.

WE CAN. We are. We are going to live like we’re young forever, just like all the songs say :)

Next came the big topic— Gatsby himself.

Gatsby spent five years pining away over the memory of a lost love. He loved Daisy, lost her while he was away for the military, and never quite got past it. It’s that old tale… she married someone else. But his memory of her escalated to almost silly heights. She was perfect, the one he wanted, and Gatsby went to amazing lengths to see her again.

Only to pretty much have it go horribly wrong. She wasn’t as great as he remembered. She didn’t really love him as much as he had hoped, and they didn’t end up together. (oh, yeah, and three people, Gatsby included, died because of all the mess…) They probably never should have been together. And since he is The Great Gatsby… I think that his actions are strong enough to cause Gatsby to now be a verb.

If you GATSBY something, you give it too much credit. You “the grass is greener on the other side” the heck out of something.

Examples:

An ex-boyfriend. If you Gatsby this person, you only remember the good things. You forget all the times he made you cry or paid more attention to another girl. You remember the one time he called when he said he would or told you that you were beautiful. You want him back. You think he’s just as good looking as way back when.

A life you wish you had. Attention! Single people- not all married people are what they seem. Married people- not all single people are living the high life.

Something that looks glamorous… like smoking. Some of you may think I’m crazy for adding this here. But seriously. I know I’m not alone in thinking, every once in a while, that certain people make smoking look cool. I’ve smoked two cigarettes in my life. One was in seventh grade with Meredith in the backyard. The second was this week. I Gatsby’d the whole thing. I thought, “I’m stressed, this will relax me. My lungs are healthy. They can take it. Also, I dressed great tonight and I might even look okay doing it.” Result? I didn’t feel relaxed, but I also didn’t get sick like my friend thought I might. I just didn’t feel anything at all. I certainly didn’t feel cool. I’ll leave the looking-good-smoking thing up to my girl crush, Melanie Laurent. (google her!)

Or people may be Gatsby-ing you. While we were at book club, discussing the new Gatsby theory, one member received a text message from an ex boyfriend from more than seven years ago. It said something along the lines of, “Hey. Thinking of you and that one time we first hung out…” blah blah blah. Yeah. I know. It was freaking meant to be or something. The moment could not have been more perfect. She admitted that he was certainly Gatsby-ing her lately.

Just like another post I had concerning marriage, this book leads us to the inevitable question:

Does marriage ever really work as perfectly as we think? Is the dream of marriage a reality for anyone?

Three of us who were there at book club were married. One was not. The one who wasn’t said, “Okay, I’m going to say something that you guys probably won’t agree with… but this book makes me think that no one should get married.”

She expected us to all shout out that she was very wrong and that we were offended, but we all took a look around, thought about it, and muttered “yeah… kind of.”

According to the book, anyway. There are so many reasons why I would agree with her statement. People change. People grow out of love. People do things that are reckless and stupid and selfish. People who should stay together get divorced. People who should get divorced stay together. The past holds too much importance for some people and not enough for others.

NONE OF IT MAKES SENSE. Except for when you wake up in the  morning and have a reason to smile. Then, and only then, does life make sense. Whether it’s because your cat has just snuggled up to you (which I will never understand…) or because you husband is there with his arms around you… if there is at least one little reason, then yes… life begins to make sense. Even though we are all imperfect, Gatsby-ing, crazies who are floating along this thing we call life, we are doing it, at least.

This book actually inspired me to live a little. It made me realize that people are human and that (just like for Daisy and Tom at the end, who disappear after basically messing everything up…) life will always go on. That’s the thing about it. We wake up, live another day, and hopefully we can smile and enjoy it. Just make sure you don’t Gatsby anything. Or if you do, make it a good one.

<3

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Thankful for Holidays… they’re just beginning

Halloween is over (thank goodness).

We’ve had 1 Friendsgiving. Two more to go.

(Friendsgiving: a Thanksgiving dinner with friends, usually celebrated a week or two before real Thanksgiving… which is usually celebrated with blood relatives. This allows for a different experience, some creative food ideas, and more excuses to eat a ton and have fun… wait, did we need an excuse? Also- I like thinking that How I Met Your Mother is a great show to get ideas from, and they start this tradition because of Lily.)

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Some of our best friends sitting around our table… does life get any better?

Christmas is almost here.

The only music we play in our home is the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. Honestly- it’s the number one played thing on our iPods. Give it a try!(oh, and Taylor Swift’s Red, because I haven’t overplayed it quite enough to be sick of it yet… and I’m addicted to three of the songs)

Is it too soon to listen to Christmas music? I want everyone to chant with me… a big resounding NO. NEVER. I know. I, too, HATE when the Christmas decorations are all over the stores so far in advance, but the music is a different story. I’ve been known to put on Nat King Cole’s I’m The Happiest Christmas Tree in the summer. It’s just so damn fun, that song. (I’m the happiest Christmas tree, ho ho ho, he he he, someone came and they found me and took me home with them. SO cute.)

The reason why we get so into the holidays is because of the festivities that come along with it. I know we are not alone in this. And since it’s just so dang appropriate, I’m going to make a short list of things I’m thankful for. Not just because Thanksgiving is the closest holiday… but because life is that good.

1. Smoked Turkey 

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Smoked Turk

Each year Greg spends a huge amount of time to make this smoked turkey. It’s always worth the wait. Come over some time. You have to try it!!

2. Friends

I’m not trying to brag- but I’m really proud of all my friends. They are all amazing… nice, kind, funny, adventurous and talented. Also, this is on the list because, well, a few years ago I felt very differently. I was turning OLD, I think, and I was sad because I was pretty much lacking in the friend department. Then all of a sudden- life got FUN. We started calling up friends and doing dinner (Courtney and Drew, I think this started with you two!). I realized that life wasn’t over at 8 PM… that sometimes you can join your friends on their back porch to drink wine starting at 10 PM. What a concept! I realized that I’m younger than ever… I feel younger than ever. It’s mostly because of the friends I’ve made.

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Outside by the warm (and cracked…) chiminea <3

3. Hosting

I never thought I’d be much of a host. In fact, I still don’t do the best job (I often forget that anyone needs to be offered a drink, or introduced to others, or that people might not know where the spoons are…) but I try my hardest. We finally have a house, which has made hosting much easier. It’s nice to look back on the week and realize that our house is filled with new memories… friends sitting around eating, playing music, laughing and enjoying life. I think I’m addicted. I just might invite you over soon.

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Eating on our living room floor after pumpkin carving.

4. Wine

I’ve never been much of a wine drinker and then all of a sudden… I can’t get enough wine. Is there a better time to drink than the holidays? No, probably not. I think I started my alcohol drinking at a great time (ahem… whiskey…) because I just started to freeze whenever I step outside…

5. Music

Mostly thanks to Alex “fingersmith” McMahon of Wildewood, our home is now filled with some of the best music this world has to offer. Jeffrey Foucault, John Prine, The Everybody Fields, Joe Pug, Whiskeytown, Justin Townes Earle {my favorite} and more. And because of many local musicians here in Albuquerque, my holidays have been filled with shows, jams at different homes, and even my own first week playing the guitar (which I never thought would happen! But I am working on those three famous chords… G, D and C…)

6. Family

I’ve always been close to my family, but this year has been the best one yet. I run and go get wine with my older sister Emily. (She’s like a motivational fitness coach… she doesn’t let me slack off on a run!!)

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Becca, Me, Emily, and Jayme (the photographer!!) Girls night out <3

I spend tons of time with my twin, Meredith.

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Just one of the fun things Meredith and I have done this year!! The concert was awesome.

I chat with Jessica, who lives in Minnesota, and we share thoughts and ideas all the time.

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throwback… Jessica and me way back when!! I think I’m 14 in this pic!!

My parents are just so cool, too. They make the holidays for me- every tradition I try to keep is something they did (like leaves on the Thanksgiving table… toasting to the moment… ahhh)

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I know- I have the coolest parents in the world. I love them!

7. Books 

Along with cold weather, I also read a whole lot more when it’s chilly out. I love making tea and sitting down with a book. I am currently reading The Great Gatsby (for book club!), The Marriage Plot, The Hour I First Believed and Cannary Row (I could read Steinbeck all day long). I have never been such a spaz about reading, but lately I am shifting from my “one book at a time” way of life and diving into many. I like this.

8. Strawberry Green Chili Jam from the Grower’s Market

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YUM YUM YUM and so sad, I’m almost out.

This had to go on this list because I’ve been eating it all week. I got it from a super cute lady who does her own jams and spreads and man… is it good!!!! I am the kind of person who loves green chile in anything. Greg is skeptical sometimes, like with this strawberry jam- but that’s okay. More for me.

9. Making Mistakes {aka Not Everything Is As Easy As Black and White}

I didn’t think I’d be adding this to a “thankful for” list, but I am. Life has been made extra interesting lately by the mistakes I’ve made. A good mistake can make you feel alive, did you know that? Even if it’s guilt surging through you… that’s a real live emotion that gets blood pumping. The mistakes can be small or big. Some mistakes I’ve made lately include:

-playing guitar for my friends and being so nervous that I fumble through the song that I practiced all day long

-drinking too much wine and having a headache the next day

-letting certain things stress me out and taking it out on Greg (poor guy!)

-other things that I won’t mention on a blog (ha)

-not writing enough (at the end of the week I think… I could have so much more written by now if only I’d put in a few more hours…)

10. Colorful Eggs from the Farmer’s Market 

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So pretty!! and yummy!!!

It’s the small things in life. I saw these sitting on a table at the market and I went, “They’re so pretty! I have to have these!!” It’s amazing. I am currently obsessed with eggs, and these hit the spot. The shell is tougher than any conventional egg you can find. The taste is better… they even cook differently.

11. Being an Aunt to THESE TWO!!! 

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Carson and Landon <3

Emily’s two little boys, Carson and Landon, are amazing. They’ve showed me so much about life, from how to laugh at the little things in life, how to care about what is truly important, and realizing that family is number one. I was there for both births and have known them their entire lives… which (being the youngest sister)  is the first time I’ve been able to say that about anyone. From the day their were born they’ve had their own little personalities (did I say little? try BIG personalities) and they are so different, yet are the best brothers ever. They care for one another, give each other kisses, give me AUNTIE KISSES and hug and say I love you. What more could I hope for? I love these boys forever.

12. The Tone It Up Girls

I feel healthier than I ever have before, and it’s due almost entirely to the inspiring Karina and Katrina of Tone It Up. They’re hot, funny, cute, and very motivating. I love their (free!!) workout videos on YouTube. I love Booty Calls, too. ha ha

13. The Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Doesn’t get much more inspiring than this…

Yes, this movie gets its own number. It’s so good. The entire movie just screams Thanksgiving to me… the warm colors and the theme of family and friends. The theme of mistakes, and then turning them around. The way we can conquer our fears and accept the wolves in our lives… just watch it. It might change your life. The movie inspires something in me. It makes me feel good about being different.

<3

There are so many things to be thankful for, it’s almost overwhelming. Mostly, it’s the smiles and laughter of people I love.

What makes the holidays for you? What’s your favorite thing about them? What are you thankful for? I’d love to know!! <3


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Drop Everything & Follow Your Dreams

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My second fav thing (after writing, of course)… reading

Here’s my advice:

Drop Everything and Follow Your Dreams

because…

YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO DO THIS!!!

One. Uno. And it could end at any moment.

Therefore…

Do what James Dean said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

It sounds very cliché. I know this. But I can say that I am living proof that sometimes it is the way to go. Take my story:

I was an English major with no real goal in mind as to what I would do someday. As a little kid I never had a concrete answer. The kids around me spouted out “veterinarian!” “doctor!” “lawyer!” “fireman!” and I sat there and thought… hmm…. I have no freaking idea.

It wasn’t until I decided that a degree in Secondary Education in English would be a little bit easier to justify to myself than plain old English that I made my way toward what my life is today.

I got into the College of Ed, took a ton of classes, and along the way took one very life changing class called Books for Young Adults, taught by the amazing Elaine Daniels. In said class we had many great assignments, but the very last one, due May 9 of 2011, was the one that would change my life as I knew it.

The assignment was this:

Write a first chapter of a YA book. It must be at least 8 pages long.

So I wrote my “first” chapter and titled it “The Zooks Ruined My College Plans.”

(I wrote it in the middle of the night… the night before it was due. Somehow, that always worked for me.)

No joke. The first fiction I EVER WRITE and the word “Zook” is in the title. Zooks, by the way, are aliens. Who I later called Troiqas. And the “first chapter” I wrote is now the beginning of Part 2 in a manuscript called Liberty (which I’ll post at the end of this blog… just a sample), which is 131,000+ words long. (too long for any agent to trust, sadly! Also… a first book usually isn’t the best book a writer comes up with ;) thank goodness )

VERY INSPIRING CLASS.

I showed this eight page assignment to my sister, Emily, and my husband, Greg. Emily encouraged me to keep writing. She said I had something good going. Those were amazing words to hear.

Greg, however, said, “Man, it just got too serious. You should make the Zooks turn people pink or something.” I was not about to make the Zooks turn people pink. But he did say that it was good and encouraged me.

If it weren’t for the college of Education I never would have started writing. And I hated student teaching. Hated, hated, hated it.

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My teaching outfit, which I ONLY ever use for Halloween nowadays…

As it turns out, LOVING to read does not directly correlate into the classroom. I may have dived right into Lord of the Flies (again!!!), but my sophomore English class did not. I am so glad that there are people who are meant to teach. I am not one of them. I was nervous as hell and I never quite got my point across, no matter what I tried. Again- so glad that there are awesome teachers out there!! My bad experience wasn’t all bad, though. I tried to look at the bright side in the end.

I take things like that as signs. I feel miserable student teaching, therefore I must not be destined for a long and happy career teaching. However, I have this book I’m writing and a ton of other ideas as well…. yes, that felt meant to be. It still does.

So I went with writing. I graduated with a degree in Education without certification (which might be even less useful than an English degree) and decided that I would be a writer. In the meantime I also became an assistant chocolatier at a local truffle company, Cocopotamus.

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at good ol’ Cocopotamus!

I am a chocolatier and writer. I’m making money from the first, hoping to someday make a career out of the second, and life has never been better.

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2+ years ago…writing “Liberty” (which took me an entire year to finish!)

Moral of the story? Even if something seems like a disaster, something good might come out of it. I don’t necessarily believe that everything is meant to be, but I think that we can turn a bad situation around. I definitely shifted gears and took a chance in doing it, but I’m so happy I did.

Share your dream with me! Tell an inspiring tale of your own… what did you opt out of in search of something greater? Or have you known since day one you would be ___ and you are ___ today. I want to know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT FROM LIBERTY:

 

 

Part II: Present Day (150 T.A.)

My life was perfect. I had no sob story to speak of here on Trajectory. Sure, I had experienced some rough times, but I had good friends, and one best friend, to get me through and a typical older brother who caused me neither grief nor great joy. Everything was normal, mediocre, but to me…perfect. That all changed the day the Troiqas came.

Chapter I
‘There are many mysteries.’ -Mrs. Stillwater
The panic all began while I was sitting in my first class, on the first day of school. I was seventeen and just starting my 15th term. Most kids my age were at that point in their schooling. It was a fairly new system and set up by terms that lasted sixty Lights. This was supposed to be the time of my life, considering I was going to move to Objectify in the fall in order to finish out my upper school requirements. Objectify wasn’t really where I wanted to go but I had no other choice. The moment we were informed of the attack, I knew that was all just a dream which would never come true.
Mr. Pine, the most boring teacher on the face of Trajectory, was teaching our small class the history of our town and making quite a snore of his lesson. His voice was high pitched in a nasally way and his head was always tilted slightly back as if he were peering out at us along the end of his nose.
“Nnn-now class,” he began as usual, “today we are going to learn about the Shuttle Life and the Landers that are our ancestors.”
The lesson might have had a chance at being interesting if we all hadn’t known the complete history our whole lives already. Each one of us had been told the stories since we were old enough to understand words. They’d been around since life began on Trajectory.
“Nnn-now, you may have noticed the shuttle in the middle of town.” Only every time we walk outside, Mr. Pine. It was a massive object, sleek and dark blue. I imagined it had been much shinier when it landed, but now it just looked old.
“It is the one and only shuttle that made it here as planned.” He looked around at us, as if sniffing out who he should target. We were all seated in rows. There weren‘t many students in the class but apparently there were enough of us in order for it to take a lifetime to look at us all.
“Who can tell me the name of the other two shuttles?” Nobody leaned back or averted their eyes in order not to be called on. It just didn’t matter. Only two girls raised their hands. Everyone else was far too offended at being asked such a stupid question and stared back at the teacher with a dull silence. Someone yawned. Continue reading