Happy Halloween!

I am going to keep this post a bit short today. Today not only marks the most bewitched (haha, no pun intended) holiday of the year, but also a day that is special to me in another way. It is my boyfriend’s birthday, and he is turning 23 today. It’s amazing to me how time flies because when I first “officially” met him (that’s a long story I will go into later), he was 16. I remember that year he was dating one of my good friends, and she and her other friends threw a birthday party for him. I was so jealous, I wanted to go too. However, there were tensions between Troy (that’s his name) and I. Anyway, I just wanted to brag to my readers that the most important person in my life has the world revolved around him today (at least in his mind, haha!)

Troy, if you’re reading, I hope you have a wonderful birthday! You don’t know how much you mean to me.

Tomorrow also marks a couple of things to me as well. First and most importantly, my mother’s birthday is tomorrow! I’m going to spend all day with her tomorrow, she deserves so much. Secondly, NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!! I am still in the research process, but I think I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to write about. Wish me luck, guys!

I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween as well, and please stay safe. For now, I will let you enjoy photos of this year’s most creative idea for a Halloween costume.

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What does the fox say!

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My best-friend Nikiya! The cat says, ‘meow.’

Audrey

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National Novel Writing Month: A Literary Life-Saver

So I have just recently became infatuated with writing down my thoughts and feelings. This is a wonderful experience for me, as I can relay things that are troubling my heart to those who will listen, or read.

I have been on ‘writer’s block’ for about four years now, due to the fact that at the time I was in the process of writing two different “novels” (how was I to know what the finished product was going to become?) One unfortunate day, my computer decided to retard to the blue screen of death, which ultimately led to the demise of those said works of literature. Needless to say, I felt very foolish for not backing my content up, and I felt even more uninspired. Although I remember what I was writing, I couldn’t for the life of me repeat the heart and emotion I felt while writing the individual sentences that entrailed my so-called novels. I just gave up, if you will. I haven’t felt compelled to write on any of my blogs, and I haven’t been keeping up with my life in my personal journal either. I tried several different ideas to jot my mind down on paper: a fashion/style journal, a dream diary, a medical research and information journal, a few notebooks to write down preparation for another novel I was thinking of two years ago. None of them helped me to be more inspired. I threw down my pencil, and I said, “The heck with it! It will come to me one day, and when it does, the wait will have been worth it.” I still felt like a failure though, and that I wasn’t getting anything done with my life.

Now, I’m back in the swing of things, and not only have I been inspired to contribute regularly on this blog, I have been writing in my diary/art book, and I have been thinking of a couple of ideas for a children’s book and a fantasy novel. November is National Novel Writing Month, and this is the basis for today’s topic. Also known as NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel (of your choosing, of course) by midnight November 30th. The challenge starts this Friday, November 1st (also my mother’s birthday!!) You don’t have to write a novel: You can write a series, a fan-fiction, a long poem if you want! The main outcome is to get your creative juices flowing. I am very much inspired to start this challenge, and if you would like to as well, you can sign-up here. If you want to find out more about National Novel Writing Month, you can also go here.

Image rights to National Novel Writing Month

Image rights to National Novel Writing Month

Anyway, I have one idea that has been popping up in my mind constantly. I am not going to say exactly what it is yet, as I want to surprise you! I still need to organize my thoughts about it though. All I’m going to say is that it is going to be a mix of historical fiction and fantasy, inspired by works like Harry Potter, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice In Wonderland, and The Lord of the Rings. I’m so excited! Please wish me luck!

Audrey

Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.” – Natalie Goldberg

Random Thought of the Day:

I want to wear a pea coat and go to a warm little bookstore during a rainy autumn day.

I want a cute little mint bicycle with a tiny basket in the front and pedal my way through Paris and sketch the wonderful architecture.

I want to wear lacy, silky lingerie to bed, and sip wine and listen to sensual music. 

I want to crowd over a mahogany desk, writing down furiously my dreams, my thoughts and my feelings in a wonderful leather notebook.

I want to lay in bed and read books about everything and anything, and keep a pad of paper nearby just in case I come upon an extraordinary idea that will change the world.

In short: I want my life to be fulfilling, sensually and intellectually. I want to indulge in the most worldly, most cultural opportunities that life has to offer. 

Daydreaming: The White Rose

For those of you who don’t know, I love to read about things. I call myself an avid researcher, and when asked to put down my list of hobbies, reading and research comes to mind. Most people will probably question: Research? Isn’t that the same thing as reading? To some, yes. To me, no, not really. Reading (to me) is reading one book about a topic, or reading a fiction novel with non-fiction elements and being done with it. Researching is taking that information, becoming fascinated with it, and trying to learn everything imaginable about that said topic. I guess you could say I become “obsessed” with things. I have always been this way, even as a child. This is besides my main point of my post today, so long story short, I am currently very much interested in a certain topic right now, and have been for about a year-and-a-half. I will discuss my earlier obsessions in later posts, perhaps.

In my previous post, I mentioned how I have been “researching” about Nazi Germany on all kinds of different topics: From Adolf Hitler himself, to the composition and ideals behind the concentration camps, to the most horrible medical crimes in human history, and to the resistance groups against the Nazi Regime. Currently I have been particularly interested (or infatuated, perhaps?) with one resistance group in particular: the White Rose. The White Rose (Die Weisse Rose) was a group composed of many young college students and one of their professors who spoke out against the immoral and contradictory practices of National Socialism (but really just Nazis in general…) With a mind of non-violence, the group conducted a number of rebellious acts such as distributing informational, but questioning (toward the German people) leaflets around many parts of the country and even going as far as graffiti work on the walls of buildings and bridges, “Down With Hitler,” “Freiheit.”  For those who have read about the White Rose, it is well-known that the two “main members” of the group were Hans and Sophie Scholl.  Besides the siblings, other very important members were Christoph Probst, Willi Graf, Kurt Huber (a philosophy professor), Traute Lafrenz, and Alexander Schmorell.

Anyway, with background facts aside, I will now relay to you the constant daydreams that I have involving the White Rose. As much as I shouldn’t, I tend to go into my own little fantasy world as I am driving to and from my classes everyday. It is a bit of a drive, so I like to take that time to think deeply about things as I have the windows rolled down. This morning, I started to consider what kind of person I would be if I were living in 1940s Nazi Germany. Would I be as strong as the White Rose, and take a stand against what I honestly felt was wrong? Would I be idealistic to the notion that Hitler would save my country from the broken past of economical crisis and post-war humiliation? Or would I just sit on the fence and try to weave my ideals around so that no one would criticize or disagree with me, even if I didn’t believe I was being completely honest with myself? I would like to say that I would take a stand against the evils of the Regime, but how do I really know that? How would I know my exact thoughts and feelings if I were placed in a different time period, in a different country, with totally different ideals? How strong would I be in the presence of something seemingly powerful but also with my faith and what I know about God? I am not completely sure, but those are things I constantly think about.

In my dreams, I put myself as a worker in the Reichsarbeitdeinst in the same sector as Sophie Scholl. I imagine myself being in the same room with her as she is ridiculed for her constant reading and perceived unfriendliness by the other young women. As shy as I am myself, I would probably put myself in a similar situation as Sophie did herself. I would probably be even too shy to speak to Sophie herself, and sit in my corner and watch the others as they went about their gossip. However, given that I am not much of a gaggling-gossiper of current events, men, sex, or trivial observations myself, I would want to stand up for Sophie, and say something like, “Well at least she is reading something of substance unlike your nonsensical gabbering of gossip and men!” As a non-biased reader, I appreciate the fact that she was reading the Confessions of St. Augustine (a book I have bought for myself, but I haven’t the chance to read yet.) I would break out of my shyness and ask her questions regarding the book. Maybe we would become friends, and that would be pretty great seeing as she had a pretty lonely and miserable time working in the Reichsarbeitdienst. I would hope our friendship would blossom so that we felt that we had each other in a world so anti-intellectual, hypocritical, and immoral. That is a feeling I have a lot, even in 2013. I feel like I do not have many people to talk to intellectually, and that they would rather put their time reading about celebrity gossip or “little-town” drama.

Then, further on into the summer of 1942, I am working in the same factory where Sophie Scholl first met Gisela Schertling. I stalkishly place myself working right next to Gisela, so I have a two-way shot of both she and Sophie (my visual of this scene comes from 1982′s Die Weisse Rose starring Lena Stolze.) As you can probably tell, I feel a strong connection towards Sophie (not that I don’t feel a connection towards the other members as well, because I very much do) for a number of reasons. I will talk about that in a different entry though. I like to think of myself looking over at the both of them and kind of secretly “joke” with them about things that we find utterly ridiculous about the whole experience. It is always good to surround yourself with friends in situations so demanding and exhausting. It would drive me crazy if I didn’t!

I go into the future and put myself at the train station on July 24th, 1942, before the male members of the White Rose departed to go to Russia. In this situation, I have two daydreams: One where I am another member of the White Rose, and another where I am just an onlooker. In the daydream in which I am a member, I would have a sketchbook with me, so I could draw the faces around me. In the next daydream as an onlooker, I would observe the emotions and actions of the group, smile and laugh to myself when necessary or actually consider with seriousness what each of the members had to hold as an individual person. I know that sounds terribly stange, but I am somewhat of a people-watcher anyway. I like to take in the psychological presence one has to offer, even when they aren’t speaking.

There are other instances in each member’s of the White Rose’s life that I imagine myself in as well: Working with Hans, Christoph, and Alex as they are tending to their practice of medicine to military wounds; drinking, singling, and having a good time with the guys; being the the Ulm division of the Bund Deutscher Madel with Sophie; going to art museums, theater shows, and all kinds of other art-related events with Sophie; or even going to Mass with Willi Graf. If I were to type each daydream out, I would have pages and pages for my wonderful readers to feel bombarded with, so I will spare you guys the pain. In fact, my friend Baylee actually helped proof-read this entry, and she gave me the idea to go further with these daydreams and create them into a story. I feel that it is a wonderful idea! I may dedicate a section of each entry to these White Rose narratives. Do you like this idea too? What do you suggest?

Audrey

Isn’t it a riddle . . . and awe-inspiring, that everything is so beautiful? Despite the horror. Lately I’ve noticed something grand and mysterious peering through my sheer joy in all that is beautiful, a sense of its creator . . . Only man can be truly ugly, because he has the free will to estrange himself from this song of praise. It often seems that he’ll manage to drown out this hymn with his cannon thunder, curses and blasphemy. But during this past spring it has dawned upon me that he won’t be able to do this. And so I want to try and throw myself on the side of the victor.” – Sophie Scholl

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My Fall Favorites

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Image credit to myself, AudreyColleenPhotography via Tumblr

I was inspired by one of my online friends to create a list of things about my life right now or that I favor about fall in general. I actually love creating lists because it helps me keep in order the things that inspire me and that are important to me. Let’s start, shall we?

1. Anything and everything pumpkin-flavored. From the infamous Pumpkin-Spice Lattes from Starbucks to trying out interesting recipes such as Pumpkin soup, I am all about the festive, fall-spicy taste of pumpkin and pumpkin-spice. To me, products coming out that have a hint of pumpkin to them are a trademark of the autumn season. One of my favorite treats are the pumpkin-flavored Pop Tarts you can find usually at Wal-Mart or Publix. I haven’t tried to find them yet this year, but I definitely will try to once I get the chance.

2. The sound of a football game from the television. I am not much interested in football as much as I am for the marching band, but it is still a staple of the fall-ish atmosphere to be sitting at the table doing homework and being able to hear the sportscaster’s voice naming off the different plays chosen by the football team. The cheering of the crowd, and the tinkling of the marching band’s fight song also is a wonderful thing to listen to. Going along with the subject of football, I also enjoy being able to go to them football games to support my boyfriend (who is in the marching band where he goes to school) playing his trombone in the stands or across the field. Other than that, I would say I don’t care too much for football. I kind of get a sense of glee to hear that the football team I have grown up with to love wins a game, but I wouldn’t get upset if they didn’t win either.

3. Halloween. Other than Christmas, I would say my favorite holiday of the year would be Halloween, due to many reasons. I absolutely love Halloween decorations! I am actually an avid fan of bats, and so any decoration that has to do with the flying little animals will be on my wall in a split-second. Oh, and I also love black cats too! I enjoy all of the usual October/Halloween traditions that come around this time of year: Pumpkin carving, haunted house exploring, hayrides, bonfires, ghost stories, horror movies, you name it. It has been a tradition for my dad and I to go to a scary corn-maze and then retrieve to the movies to watch the current Paranormal Activity movie, but unfortunately since there is going to be a delay on the fifth one, we may have to substitute it for a horror movie night. It still sounds fun though! Also, I might add, it doesn’t help that my boyfriend’s birthday is Halloween!

4. The wonderful woodsy scent of the outdoors. You know that smell. It smells like a mixture of pine, fire, and a little hint of cinnamon from the nearby houses that burn their autumn candles during the fall. This smell always makes me want to put on my hiking boots and go tread through a nearby nature park or run barefoot through the woods near my home. It makes me want to rake up all of the colorful, sensitive leaves and jump in them. Or, just simply, it makes me want to relax in the backyard and read a book.

5. The beginning of cold, dark days. It’s not that I don’t like sunny days, because I really do. I love cold, yet sunny, windless (or at least a little breeze) days just as much as I love cold, gray and dark days too. I don’t know what it is, but it feels more in tune to the season than a dark, dreary day in the spring or summer. I love going out on a dark day bundled up in my leggings, blue-jeans, undershirt, flannel pull-over, two pairs of socks, my Converse shoes, and a scarf and go outside to do early Christmas shopping or what-not. I also like going out in just leggings, a huge comfy sweater and boots or rain-boots as well. I just love the potential comfiness of a cold day! These are also days that are wonderful to have apple-cider or hot chocolate and sit somewhere warm and comfy to read a book.

6. The feeling of being able to start over. Every semester of school, I love the refreshing feeling of being able to start all over again from scratch. I can start the semester off clean and organized, and this is also the point where I make the best grades. The overwhelming feeling I sometimes get at the middle of the semester is where I always wished I took the time to buy all of the supplies I needed and read the organization tips I found via Pinterest.

7. Big cozy sweaters. Yes, when I say big cozy sweaters, I mean the monstrous, 80s-print, wool-made sweaters that you can stick your knees under and still be covered comfortably. I wear them no matter the circumstance, whether I’m going to the store, going to the movies (with leggings of course), or lounging around the house…yes…reading a book! My favorite sweaters are always the floral-print ones. If you don’t know me, I am a big floral-print person. They just scream vintage to me. The only thing I don’t care about big cozy sweaters is that when you take them out of the dryer, they tend to zap you with their evil electrical powers.

8. Oktoberfest! Being interested in German culture, specifically Bavarian culture, I like to expose myself to as much German traditions as I can. When it comes Christmas time, it is always so fun to put up a Christmas tree knowing that many (if not most) of the well-known Christmas traditions originated in Germany. With September and October being here, Oktoberfest is that part of the year in which I can celebrate another tradition! I actually went to an Oktoberfest celebration in a small town near my home with my boyfriend last Saturday. It was a lot of fun, and I plan on going back again next year, only with a little more wisdom on my shoulders. We met up with a friend the latter part of the night, and I was afraid that I had scared her off!

9. Owls, owls, owls. Whoo-whoo! Other than bats, I would have to say my second-favorite animal are owls. They are all over the place, no matter where you go, but I can’t help but smile every time I see a little decoration or a shirt with one of those big-eyed, hooting birds.

10. My favorite fall semester class: Nazi Germany. Ever since I was about fifteen, I have been very much interested in the time period between the 1920s-1940s. What also came about from this interest was my fascination with World War II, but most specifically the role of Nazi Germany. If you refer to a previous post, I stated that I was interested in Japan’s role of World War II when I was nine-years-old, but seven years later, I came upon the notion to just start reading about Adolf Hitler. I delved into the subject a lot more over the span from my sophomore year in high-school to the present: concentration and extermination camps, Aktion T4, the components of the SS (Schutzstaffel), Anne Frank and her family, Josef Mengele, the Hitler Youth and BDM (Bund Deutscher Madel), and resistance groups such as the White Rose and Claus von Stauffenberg to name a few topics. I decided to take the class so I could get a more detailed, in-class perspective on the politics and culture of the Nazi era. So far, the class has proved to be pretty impressive. My professor goes into great detail on all topics of National Socialism, and why it came to be. He is also a very particular grader, which a lot of students do not like, but I have come to appreciate the concern for proper writing. I am very interested in what we are talking about now at the moment (Hitler’s rise to power, the purge of the SA (Sturmabeitlung), the use of propaganda to obtain power), and I will be so much more excited when we get to the resistance of the Nazis. Mind you, I have no positive opinions toward the Nazis, but it is a part of history that fascinates me, historically and psychologically. I have to ask a lot of “why” questions to myself when reading about it.

Those are my fall favorites at the moment! What are your favorite aspects about fall? What is going on in your life that makes you super intrigued or excited? Feel free to share!

Audrey

People have harsh words for these days of autumn, but, reader, they are dear to me, I love their unassuming light, their quiet beauty. Autumn attracts me like a neglected girl among her sisters. And, to be quite honest, she is the only one that warms my heart. She has her good points; whimsically dreaming and free from vanity, I find her charms appealing.” – Alexander Pushkin, from “Autumn,” translated by Peter France.

Yearn To Travel

I’m not going to lie, I become insanely and irrationally jealous when I read or hear about someone traveling. Maybe jealousy isn’t the best way to put it, because I definitely do not feel any negativity towards the person traveling. Why should I? If they’re having a great time, I am happy for them! I guess it’s just being able to travel in general that makes me green with envy. I am so passionate about traveling to other countries and basking in the culture and festivities of each one, that I try to read as much literature about the country in question until I can taste it.

I want to hike the Alps of Switzerland and feel the coldness wrap around my bones and breathe in the fresh cold air. I want to tread through the Black Forest in Germany and smell all of the flowers and feel the bark of the trees beneath my fingertips. I yearn to walk the streets of Tokyo and observe the people in their everyday lives, and just be able to sit and stare at Mount Fuji for as long as I desire. I want to go to Spain and learn to Flamenco dance and sketch the beautiful Gothic spires of the Sagrada Familia. I want to ride the merging rivers of Malaysia and visit the capital, Kuala Lumpur. I want to roam through thousands of worn, withered books in tiny little bookshops throughout France and Italy. I wish to meditate in India, to ride bicycles with the one that I love in Paris, and to actually see a Panda bear in China – among many other things.

Every single culture is so fascinating and beautiful to me, and it inspires me so much to just get on a plane and go wherever it takes me. Each country holds its own unique and powerful adventure, waiting to be read with the feet and fingers of mankind. Referring to my previous entry, however; I feel chained because money is one of the many factors that keeps me from pursuing my fantasies.

My love for traveling started when I was about nine years old when I was reading about Japan in World War II. This was many years before I found out about atrocities such as Unit 731 and the Rape of Nanking.  My love for history and culture didn’t blossom fully until honestly after September 11th happened. That in itself is a strange story in that I became fascinated with New York City skyscrapers and architecture, which in turn led me to read about other skyscrapers and architecture types in countries around the world. It started out with the 1970’s block-style architecture of the World Trade Center, then on to the 1729-foot Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower), the Art-Decoes: Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the infamous Eiffel Tower, it’s red doppelganger, the Tokyo Tower, and many others. Whichever skyscraper I was interested in at the time, I wanted to learn the culture of the country in which it resided. Then, I would become majorly obsessed with consuming everything I could about that particular country.  If I was into a particular country, everyone around me knew it. Anyone who knew even a tad bit of information that I didn’t would be hawked by me, asking them question after question. Some of my friends grew tired of my fiasco, understandably, but others didn’t. Others contributed to my obsession, which I appreciated a great deal. One of my guy friends from my fifth-grade class actually gave to me a tiny gold Eiffel Tower key chain because he knew I would appreciate it so much. I still have that key chain, and I smile and think about that day every time I look at it.  From the time I was eleven, I was fascinated by French culture. I looked everywhere I could to find a classic black beret, and my heart leaped every instance I heard anything about France. I have a huge poster of the night-skied Eiffel Tower on the back of my door as a way to put those nostalgic feelings back in my heart. Over the years I have been completely infatuated with the countries of France, Japan, Malaysia, Spain, Russia, and Germany. Recently, I have also become very interested in Poland.

This little ditty of my life is what has caused me to consider becoming an architect or a linguist. I have loved all kinds of architecture from the majestic skyscrapers of today’s modern world, to the elegant, Second Empire Victorians, to the stately Kirkbride mental institutions planted in the hills of carefully chosen towns, and to the wonderfully powerful image of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague. The interest that I have for different cultures has also inspired me to learn more than my native English. I am so far teaching myself German, but I know several little phrases and such from other languages as well. It’s just all so fascinating, and it gives me a reason to get up in the morning!

What countries interest you? Can you speak a different language?

Audrey

Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.” – Andrew Zimmern

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Image credit to ERiN SiTT via Flickr

Denglish 86: My German Wife Warns Me About the Mythological Beast in Our Bathtub

This story is too cute! I want to learn German so bad.

Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Has your spouse ever shrieked about a spider running across the living room floor? Has he or she called to you for help because a big, disgusting moth came in the window? What about larger problems, like birds or bats trapped in the house? And heaven forbid a true monster ever claws its way into your precious domicile; something which absolutely cannot be subdued with a wad of squeamishly-handled tissue paper or a phone book wielded with a grossly unnecessary amount of killing power.

No, a real beast would make anyone freak right the hell out, so imagine the terror I experienced when my German wife entered our bathroom and cried out to me:

THE WIFE: “There is a thousand-feet worm in the bathtub!”*

*It was a centipede, or “Tausendfüßler.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Random Thought of the Day:

I feel that it is such a shame that we are in the most passionate parts of our lives, yet we are also in the poorest. Why is it that at such a young and inquisitive age, we are held back from nurturing our minds because of the lack of money? Even those in college are struggling because in order to get an education – how wonderful! – they have to pay so much in order to obtain it. After college, we will be in debt up to our eyeballs, and we still won’t have enough money to do all of the wonderful things our world has to offer. Why?! Why has that become a rule, and not an exception?