Monday, March 18, 2013

Goodbye

You might have noticed that I've been a little MIA here on the blog as of late. I've been struggling to write on it. For one reason or another, even though I've been writing a lot, I've had very little desire to publish anything here. 

I've had to finally come to terms with the fact that I have exhausted the purpose of this blog. I created it nearly 2 1/2 years ago to share my writing as I was taking my first college writing classes, and whatever else I felt like. And that was great. But things have changed a lot since then. As I've gone over the first posts to this blog with fondness, I remember how devoted I was to it and how free and easy it felt to write here. But now I feel like the blog is laced with my own expectations. I know that most of the people who read it know me personally, and I'm afraid to share things that are too personal, or not interesting enough, or too serious, or too lighthearted, or too ridiculous. I just don't even know what belongs here anymore. I don't even know if I belong here anymore. 

So that's why I'm leaving. I've created a new blog for my writing, to replace this one. I just need a place where I can be free again. 

But this blog has been great. I want to thank you all, those few of you who might be reading this, for reading Pass the Chocolate over the past couple years. It's helped me move forward with my writing and with myself. Thank you so much for being supportive of me and helping me to discover myself as I writer. (Although I wouldn't say I've quite discovered myself as a writer yet, and I may well spend the rest of the my life trying to.) So adios, amigos, and thanks for everything! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow-Flavored Burgers

There are two guys outside my window...barbecuing.

And no, in case you were wondering, I do not live in California anymore. I live in Utah, and currently it is the dead of winter. Not just the dead of winter, but it has been snowing almost all day with no sign of letting up.

But there they are, under a rather sparse tree, bundled up in their jackets and boots, flipping burgers on a grill.

Personally, I am quite obsessed with the seasons. I like to do things that are seasonal. During fall, I made something with pumpkin once a week. During winter, I’ve been drinking hot chocolate and making cookies more often than I probably should. In spring, I like to take detours around campus in the places with the most flowers. In summer, I like to go hiking and do “outdoorsy” things (even though I’m not a particularly outdoorsy person). The seasons are there for a reason, you know. It’s long been my belief that it doesn’t make any sense to wish it were any other time than now.

Unlike everyone else around here who is sick of the snow, I still throw open the blinds whenever there’s a snowstorm and plunk myself down in front of the window for hours so I can watch the snow fall while I write or read or cook. I’m making soup every other night and still searching for new recipes. I keep the heat lower than is comfortable so I can bundle up in blankets and drink hot cocoa. I have cookies in the oven right this minute, in fact. Needless to say, I love winter, and I won’t mind if it sticks around for a while longer.

So whenever anybody sighs and wishes for sunshine and flowers, I resolutely remember how much I love winter. (Rather smugly, perhaps.) And I secretly feel sorry for them for wishing things were any different.

But seeing these two guys, barbecuing as the snow falls into their burgers and hot dogs... Even as I chuckle, I have a sort of admiration for them.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Writing, and insanity.

For some of the great writers, it seems that writing was in their soul. Keats, for example. He died very young, but had produced more poetry than most famous writers who lived much longer. Keats had it in his soul, man. It's like his beautiful lines just poured out of him, like water out of a grecian urn.

(Get it?)

But you get what I'm saying. For some of them, they just let it flow out.

Well, for me, it's the exact opposite.

Don't get me wrong--I love to write. But writing is far from easy. It's like trying to safely pull teeth out of a rabid dog (pardon me, but the original expression is both overused and not quite accurate). My mind insists to me that there are a million things that I would rather do. "Why not make cookies instead?" it eagerly suggests. "Or how about you finish that book you're in the middle of? Or check the mail...or make the bed! And you really need to clean the bathroom, you know. And the kitchen." And all too often, I listen.

You can see how one thing leads to another and before I know it, I have spent a year doing useful things and have hardly written a word.

So unlike many greats, like Keats, who write because they just can't help beautiful language pouring out of them, I write because I am insane.

I am insane because unlike normal people (actually, that needs air quotes--"normal people"), I actually think that writing is of far more value to me than doing useful things.

Yes, that's right. I think a day with no cookies, an unfinished book, no mail, a messy bed, a dirty bathroom, and a disaster of a kitchen is better than a day without writing.

Even though I have to sit and stare at a blank page for 15 minutes (or more) before I can begin. Even though it's a constant battle just to stay focused enough to form a coherent thought. Even though books, cookies, and even chores are calling my name--so loudly I can hardly hear that little inner voice giving me the words I need to write.

I still do it, I still love it, and I still care about it more than almost anything else.

Why?

Well, I'm no grecian urn, but I guess you could say that writing is in my soul.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Amateur Sonnets

Recently I've been sort of into writing sonnets. I'm not a particularly poetic person, but in the past few months I've been reading more poetry than I ever have before and I've been learning a lot about it.

When I first started learning to write serious poetry (aka not the silly rhymes we all wrote in grade school), sonnets were my favorite. Despite my love for writing and creative things, I'm really more of a left-brained person. I like things to be organized and logical. And sonnets are very organized and make a lot of sense. I never really liked how poetry was considered so "free," etc. etc. I felt like that just meant that we ended up with a lot of stupid poetry.

Sonnets, though, are a challenge to write no matter what. No complete amateur could write a sonnet. (Although of course, there are plenty of stupid sonnets out there. But that's not the point.) Even after I've written a dumb sonnet, I feel pretty good that my meter and my rhymes are right on.

So here are my amateur sonnets. You will probably see more of these as time goes on and I try to really learn the art of the sonneteer.

This was a sonnet I wrote in the Petrarchan form, about the Petrarchan form.


So, Petrarch, I hope you're happy now?
Now rookies, pros alike have used and torn
apart your form, a tiny lamb now shorn.
Without its wool, does sheep become a cow?
The last I heard, the word ABBA, you know,
referred to an eighties band, not a rhyme form.
I think, Petrarch, it might be time to mourn
the painful death of your sonnet. But how
could we, just maybe, save its loveliness?
Convince the world it's not worn out and sick?
That there's still more to say about that girl
with eyes like flowers, skin like snow, and tresses--
No, now the world is fixed on politics.
Petrarch, your sonnet's for a better world.

Get the irony? ...Eh? Eh? Okay, moving on.

This is one that's rather more corny, but I'm pretty attached to it. It's in the Shakespearean form.


Photo by Felix Neiss on Flickr

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bookish Horizons

One or two of you may have already noticed something...I created a new blog.

Here's the deal. As you can probably tell, I love books and I read all the time. Since I've starting learning to speed read, I can read faster than I've ever been able to before, which means I've been reading more books.

So lately, with my new-found speed-reading super power, I've been drawn once again to the enticing possibility of joining The Classics Club. I learned about the Club a few months ago, and ever since I've wished I could join. But there are too many other things to worry about in life, I decided. Things like school and having a social life. I couldn't possibly decide to read 50 books outside of school--I already do enough reading in school!

Well, I've been having a lot of epiphanies lately about life, my life in particular. I'm not doing myself any favors by allowing school to take over my life, especially as I'm about to get married. Eventually school is going to be over, and then what? Will I be a shell of a human being? Yes, I love school, but what I really love is learning. If I allow school to get in the way of my learning, then I'm totally missing the point. Whether I got an A or a B isn't going to matter in 50 years; what I learned and internalized from the class, and how I applied it to other things in my life, is going to matter.

And now that I've learned to speed read, I'm even more ready to take my learning to a whole new level. I know there are so many classics I haven't read and always wanted to. And not just classics, but thousands of other books that could potentially change me as a person.

Photo by Rodrigo Galindez
And of course, what's better than joining a community of people that are all trying to do the same thing I am? I have the chance to motivate myself to read great books, respond to them, and join in a community of discussion with hundreds of other people who are reading the same or similar books.

But I realized something...the Classics Club is for bloggers. To join, you need to review the books on a blog. But my blog? It's not a book blog. I've written about books on here before, but book reviews just don't seem to have much of a place here. Pass the Chocolate is a writing blog, not a reading blog. As dear as it is to me, it can't fit that purpose.

I used to see blogging as a one-blog thing. A true blogger has one blog where they write whatever they want to write. And that's it. But I've learned from other bloggers that it only makes sense to have different blogs for different purposes. And once they outlive their purpose, it's time to move on to a different blog.

So, has Pass the Chocolate outlived its purpose?! ...No! Of course not! I enjoy the randominity of this blog. And I also enjoy the coziness. I welcome new readers, of course, but I enjoy having only a few, most of which know me personally. I like not feeling like I have to impress everyone. This blog is here to stay.

But if you want to check out my new blog (including my list of more than 50 classics I'm going to read over the next five years), here's the link: http://classicsandbeyond.blogspot.com/. I'm sort of falling in love with it. Join me in my book blogging journey!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Literary Halloween

Okay, I'm going to be honest. Normally, Halloween isn't my favorite holiday. But this Halloween is different! Special! Exciting! Frightening! Bloody! Gory! Ghastly! Ghostly! Ghouly! Literary!

Literary?

As any writer, reader, or English major knows, the best way to improve a holiday is to literar-ize it. I mean, look at Christmas. You have Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Look at Valentine's Day. You have stupid rhymes written on hearts posing as gifts. Look at Thanksgiving. Those lame paragraphs about a fantasy land of pilgrims and Indians loving each other (aka great fiction) that you had to read in grade school.

And out of all these wonderfully literarized holidays, you get Halloween, which, if you can believe it, is exponentially more literary.

Dracula. Frankenstein. Edgar Allen Poe. Wuthering Heights. Twilight.

(What? No--Twilight isn't on there because it's about vampires. It's on there because it's frightening how rich Stephenie Meyer is for such horrific writing.)

(Har, har. English major joke. If you like Twilight, no offense was meant.)

Anyway, I decided to "literarize" my Halloween by reading Frankenstein! I've heard so many great things about it, and I'm excited to read this classic piece of literature for the first time.

Also, even more fun, I have written two zombie haiku. Here they are, for your reading pleasure, so you can literarize your Halloween!

The invitation
said "Please bring finger foods." Guess
what the zombies brought. 

This one is dedicated to my fiance:

He likes me for my 
Brains, not my body. I knew
he was a zombie!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A New Direction

So, for once in my life I am actually going to write a post that I told you I was going to write. Like I wrote in my last post, I am thinking of going a different way with my writing.

Disclaimer: I haven't actually decided on this idea. It's sort of like breaking up. Yes, maybe you think a certain other person is attractive, but you're not actually leaving your boyfriend/girlfriend for that other person. You're breaking up because the relationship itself isn't working out, not because you fell in love with someone else.

Photo by hashmil on Flickr
I'm not sure that analogy made sense, but basically, I'm not "leaving" travel writing because I'm infatuated with another genre. I'm leaving it because it's not right for me. And now I'm dating around in other genres, and there is one that particularly intrigues me.

Biographies.

If you're a student (or possibly if you're not a student), that one word alone might be enough to make you drowsy. Your immediate reaction? Boring. My immediate reaction to your immediate reaction? Exactly.