Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Session 22: Topic for 09/29/09 - 10/05/09

This last week I’ve been writing a paper for a class I like. It’s for a professor I like about a play I like. I like the subject, style, prompt, and everything about it, really. Despite how much I liked it, I couldn’t—for the life of me—make myself read or write anything anything about it. It was one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever had in terms of motivating myself to do it.

What prompted my lack of interest despite my interest? Why is my brain telling me both yes and no?

This paradoxical theme has done more than influence my life lately; it’s been running it. It makes me so happy to miss someone, and at the same time it hurts so much. The more I want to get something done, the less likely I am to do it. I can’t wait for this year to end, but I feel like it’s coming way too quickly.

In short, my life has become paradoxical. It’s confusing and intriguing. At the same time, I wish it upon all of you and none of you.

This week’s topic is Paradox.  Find something that is defies sense, has no answer, or creates a strange loop.  Use it as your theme, thesis, or structure.  Play with it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Exciting News: Raising $ for AIDS Walk!

You'll find my official blog page about this at http://teambatman.blogspot.com

Over the weekend I signed up to participate in the 2009 AIDS Walk, Los Angeles Chapter. Basically, we're walking to raise money for AIDS research/prevention/all-that-good-stuff. The foundation is pretty awesome actually, this is its 25th year at work. We're walking on October 18th. Good stuff.

Now. I foolishly signed up to be a Star Walker. This means I have pledged to raise $1000. That's a thousand dollars, by October 18th. And I actually want all my donations in by the 15th, to account for money transfer. That is cutting it pretty close.

But let's do the math. The minimum online donation amount is $25, and it's much easier to donate online, and to not lose the money. Suppose y'all donated $25 each. That's five coffees, or two movie tickets, maybe one or two really good dinners, or a birthday gift for yours truly (the big day IS a week after the AIDS Walk!). It's a small sacrifice to make for a good cause, and to help out your ol' pal Barbara. If forty of you--only forty, that's slightly more than the size of one classroom of gradeschool kids nowadays--I'll hit my goal without a hitch.

Now, if you were to donate, I would want to thank you for your kind gesture. How would I thank you? One of three ways, my friends. One of three ways.

All images below are not final versions. These are my mock-ups. I'm still cutting out the stencils for the finals!

ONE: Handmade Book

I've written an adaptation of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, set in South Africa, called "The Children's Song." It's all handmade--written by hand, cut and set and bound, and illustrated (though I should note that the illustrations are primarily stencil sprays, like with graffiti). I'm making forty of them, all of which will be numbered in order of completion. The books will also be personalized with the name of the donating recipient on a thank you page. Pen and spray on cardstock, with varying cover colors. 5.5"X6.0"

TWO: AIDS Walk Print

I am making forty of these prints. Again, this is the mock-up, not the final version. THe final version will be made with stencils and spray, not with ink markers. Numbered in order of completion, signed, the whole shebang. Forty available, 5.5X8.5"

THREE: Three-Print Set

This is not one image. It's a set of three individual prints, each one 6X6" and sprayed on cardstock. The backgrounds will not be white--I am spraying onto cardstock of various backgrounds and patterns. Some are metallic, some are flat solid color, some are striped, so on so forth. Once again, this is the mock-up, not the final spray version. I just want you to have a rough idea of what you're in for! :-) Thirty-three sets available.


Donations of $25 will receive one of the above three, your choice, while supplies last.

Donations of $50 will receive two of the above three, again, you choice, while supplies last.

Donations of $75 or more will receive all of the above, while supplies last.

I know these are lean times, and I'm honestly not expecting donations of $50 and $75. But hey, may as well put it out there. Just in case you decide to be the best! donor! ever!


To donate, follow this link to make an online payment. Remember, the minimum donation is $25. Credit/Debit cards and PayPal. Because they designed it that way?


Once you've donated, email me--barbara.bownds(at)gmail.com--and let me know which thank you is the one you'd like to receive. Again, these are not gifts, and they're not for sale. They're strictly meant to express my gratitude for donors who are helping me to reach my goal of $1000. Obviously I'm keeping none of the profits. Everything goes to AIDS Walk LA. Include your mailing address so I can send you your thank you post-haste. Don't worry about postage, I'll be taking care of that.

Remember, you have until OCTOBER 15TH. The deadline is actually the 18th, but I want to have a three-day buffer to account for the transfer of funds.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Session 21: Topic for 09/21 - 09/27

Mostly healthy! Hooray!

I'm a bit up to my ears in writing/artsy projects at the moment, so I'll probably be going off topic this week when I post. No reason to not post a topic though:

There are twenty topics on the site besides this one. Pick one of them--one that you HAVEN'T written for previously--and run with it. I'm interested in seeing which topics people are more drawn to, so that in the future your super duper mods can continue to provide interesting fodder for writing.

While you're at it, if you have time, I highly suggest you look at the work that your peers have been submitting since we started this shindig, and comment on at least one piece. I'm sure everyone's tired of hearing what I think about their work. You all write, and you all think about what you write, and what others write. So let us know!

I've also got some news that I find exciting, and as soon as I have all my materials together, I'll share it with everyone. Probably on Wednesday.

In the meantime, let's go!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This Week MIA

Why hello all. Mod 2 is traveling in Europe, Mod 3 is starting a brand new school year, and Mod 1 has been recovering from illness (yes, for the third week in a row. Apparently diseases think I am easier to ride than the town bicycle). I've just now started recovering from a nasty nasty Sunday, and the rest of the week will be required to suss out the nausea and pain and whatnot. So, we continue next Sunday. Comments will be up by then for Topic 20, and Topic 21 will also go up. Feel free to post whatever you like in the meantime!

Monday, September 14, 2009

mr. bench:

Slightly off-topic, perhaps, but it's a decision and confrontation I'd like to make.

In my recent late night commutes back home, when the 30 or 40 minutes of bright halogen headlights in my eyes has passed, driving through downtown Sierra Madre is completely deserted. Except every now and then, after I drive past Bean Town, there is a man sitting on a public bench on the sidewalk, typing on his laptop. What is he doing? Why 2:30 in the morning? Where is he getting his free wi-fi?

To my fellow bloggers I make my solemn vow: Next time I see this man, I'm going to ask these questions, and I will report back with the results.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rare but wondrous spontaneity

In the big ways, I'm not a very spontaneous person. I researched buying my computer for well over a month before choosing one, and the last time I needed new shoes, I bought and returned several pairs. But on the rare occasions when I make a decision that's sure to create an alternate timeline, Star Trek-style, I've had tremendous success--sometimes without even knowing it.

The most blatant example of a snap decision I made is how I ended up meeting my boyfriend. In a fit of frustration with my single status the October of my senior year in college, I went on an online dating frenzy to find myself a match. The one guy I really liked--who used complete sentences (sexy!), wrote like a sweetheart, and was a total hottie--didn't respond, and my search fizzled out after meeting one guy for coffee a few times.

But six months later, in a last fit of procrastination near finals time, I checked every online account I had ever made. The Yahoo account--the one I had completely forgotten about--had a tremendous surprise for me. The mystery guy I had taken to occasionally wondering about had gallantly paid the $25 for the ability to send a message that wasn't pre-written, and he had sent me an e-mail asking me to call him. Terrified of initiating phone contact, I wrote back with my own number in the vain hope he might be the one to break the ice.

The next day he called and asked if I could meet up that afternoon--off-campus! Leaving the cozy grounds of Vassar was always a big deal for me, and meeting an intriguing townie merely upped the stakes. But I figured, what do I have to lose? So I gave my assent, along with what turned out to be horrible directions, and trotted off to the edge of campus in my too-big t-shirt. (A friend I passed gave me one look and said, "Well, at least you're not misrepresenting yourself.")

Not only did I give him terrible directions, but the cafe that was our destination ended up being closed despite the hours on the door, and on a nice walk I tripped and got my shoes completely covered in mud.

That was over three years ago, and we've been together ever since.

I'd like to say my unintentional brilliance was the result of lessons learned at a young age, but the truth is I don't even remember the first special person I met thanks to a split decision. I met my friend Arpi in fourth grade, when she came to visit my class for the day so she could see if she liked the school. (I got her home phone number by calling our teacher; nowadays we would've probably swapped MySpaces or something horrible.)

The way I remember it, we bonded after I noticed her looking at a manual to the "science" of Star Trek and recognized her as a fellow nerd. But the way she tells it, our eyes locked earlier that morning in some coordinated outdoor activity, during which I randomly threw the ball to her instead of any of the 16 kids in my class I already knew. I honestly don't remember that, but she claims that's the reason we've been friends ever since.

You'd think after snap decisions having such great outcomes, I'd have learned something about the satisfaction that comes from taking the plunge. But my shoes are worn out now, and I plan to buy the exact same kind I have. And when my computer eventually meets its demise, I won't just snap up another one. But perhaps in personal interactions, I have some inner mechanism that just knows when to go for it. Or maybe I'm just extremely lucky.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Session 20: Topic for 09/8/09 - 09/14/09

Yesterday a friend and I were driving home, nothing special going on, just having an easy conversation in the car after finishing a delicious lunch. I casually looked out the passenger side window, and two blocks away was a man, heading in our direction, wearing a Captain Hammer shirt. Brimming with excitement, I shushed my friend, rolled down the window, and enthusiastically praised the Hammer Man Fan. It was a drive-by compliment, and the reaction was worth the impulse: I got back two fervent thumbs up and a grin so wide the Chesire Cat would break his jaw trying it. The whole thing took less than five seconds, if you don't count the time I took after the fact explaining to my friend why I kudos'd a perfect stranger with a hammer on his shirt, but I'm glad it happened, and I hope he is, too.

For all of the time and effort we put into our decisions and daily lives, a good majority of what we think and do is governed by snap decisions. Those decisions may well be informed by our backgrounds and histories, but what matters is that when the times comes, sometimes we just jump right into things, sometimes for the worse, hopefully for the better. Most of these snap decisions won't stay with us for the rest of our lives (where to eat, buying red vs green apples), but we'll look back fondly on our will-'o-the-wisp adventures and the right-time-right-place choices that, while initially impromptu, improved our moods and lives.

Write about an instant, a turning point, a Snap. Decision. Something that happened in five seconds or less that led to something bigger, or something memorable, or both. Real or imagined or both, doesn't matter. In the spirit of the topic, it can be incredibly short. Or not, if you prefer something longer, or medium.

Welcome to September!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

El tiempo de nuestro amor.

Nuestro amor bloomed during Spring and fittingly died in October.

My sentence

"So wait, he broke your arm and claimed he was provoked, and now you're getting suspended?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The anticipation of seeing fire, spinning luxuriously on the end of a string, appearing to not be attached to anything, to be surrounded by these people, sets me to wishing it was already after dark.

a la The Fountain

I am.

Session #19: Topic for 09/03/09 - 09/07/09

Since this topic is late--week's half over!--I'll keep it simple.

Write a sentence. Make it a good one--maybe the whole thing will be a story in and of itself. Maybe it'll be a compelling fragment belonging to a larger conversation/piece. It could be a thoughtful revelation, a meditation on your current state of being, something vulgar, something insipid, anything you want.

This one's so easy that you'll probably need to get tested when you're done with it.

Let's go!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hour of Day Fragment



It was five twenty seven in the morning when it happened. That was two days ago.

Three days ago I was sitting in our home mending his pants. Threading the needle I wondered about The Bad News he had yet to share since I'd missed his call. Every new stitch into the fabric was a reinforcement, everything is fine, everything is fine. I had to stop worrying and trust him, I thought, tying off the knot.

Five days ago I was cleaning our new house. It was our first full week there, the first week of dishes and dirty floors and ironing his shirts (but not the fights, forget about the fights, forget abut crying in the bathroom all night). I packed his travel bag for his weekend trip; he would be visiting his parents. Three shirts, two pants, three pairs of boxers, chargers, toiletries, but why would he need his cologne?

Six, seven, and eight days ago, we were making up and making up and making up again. He said he was sorry (he said it too much). He said he'd never leave me (but he tried to make you leave him). He said he was crazy about me (but he said that it wasn't enough). We made up in our new home, and I believed him.

It was five twenty seven in the morning when he called. The reception was poor in the house, so I walked outside in the morning dark. He was driving back from his weekend trip. He told me everything (and you knew that it was coming).

The day after he left me would have been our anniversary.