HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Halloween Leaf

Sorry the photo’s not more festive. I should really get a pumpkin…

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Repurposed World

A Fence Somewhere Else

Repurposed World

We start over, building the world again

Taking blocks and
pressing sand
to powders

So that they can all be used once again

All that was old has been taken apart

Repurposed
so it loses its old face

But keeps a new name—
new time—
new purpose

We can build towers,
and ships,
if we want

Scale the highest heights
sail the ocean blue

If we rid ourselves of the shackles first,

And try to build them up again—
anew

Turning Pages, Making Apologies & Eating Cookies

Oo Lala Cookie from the Three Girls Bakery in Seattle

Is it really already May? 26? It can’t be! That means I haven’t posted anything in over a month. A month! Well, I guess the apology’s coming first: sorry I’ve been gone for so long! Stuff’s just been stacking up and before I knew it, a month had come and gone.

But I’m back! And I’m going to be back on schedule with the posts soon, especially because school’s going to be out.

Speaking of school being out– here comes the “turning pages” portion of the post. I’ll be graduating high school soon and moving onto college in the fall. I’ll be going to the University of Washington up in Seattle, and I’m super excited. ( But I’ll still be posting, don’t worry!) At the same time, though, it’s kind of weird. I’m moving onto a new phase in my life, and I can feel the winds of change a blowin’. For the better, I think. Well mostly.

I can also feel the change in my writing– it’s getting better, feeling healthier, kind of less like I’m trying to shove it into a box and more like I’m wrapping it in a pretty gift wrap… if that makes any sense. I know I probably say this a lot, but I think that this is the year I finally finish that novel. Finger’s crossed!

I also changed the banner, finally. I like this one a lot better. Let’s hope that this is the one!

And finally, my family and I went up to Seattle for the weekend, and I had an Oo Lala shortbread cookie from the Three Girls Bakery at the Pike Market. I love shortbread and pistachios, and this cookie was the epitome of shortbread-pistachio awesomeness. If you’re ever in Seattle, I highly recommend this place. Just had to mention it (and get a picture of a cookie in there).

I’ll probably be writing a less-fluffy, more substantial post in the near future. Emphasis on near. But for now, this will have to do.

I wish you all cookies and pleasant pages.

 

Happy Belated Birthday, Little Atmospheres

Assortment of Rainbow Macarons from Granville Island, Canada.Happy Birthday, Little Atmospheres!

In all the hustle and bustle of the week, it seems that I have forgotten something rather important. As of yesterday, my blog has officially turned one year old–my first post was put up one year ago yesterday.

I think this deserves some confetti, doesn’t it?

*throws confetti everywhere in a pretty, sparkly rain*

Had I a picture of some confetti, I’d put it *here*.

So this post comes at an interesting time in my other-world career; I say other-world career because I like to think of my own personal world as split up into different “spheres of influence,” so to speak. There is the world where I create. Where I study. Where I have my friends and family. Would they be better off if they weren’t so separate? Perhaps. But for now, this is how they are. A juggling of worlds, an ever-onward show kept up by a sole performer.

And right now, all these objects are at their height, aligning somewhat. Strange. But a juggler only has two hands, and can’t catch all his wards at the same time.

This blog lies in the realm of the dreamer; the shimmering ball, one that isn’t as carefully handled as the others. Often times it is dropped. Forgotten. Set aside when the others become to much to balance. But it is here that I’ve made my home, and it is without a doubt my favorite world of all, for now.

Even resting here, the blog isn’t exactly a magnum opus. I still have no idea what it’s supposed to be. Heck, I don’t even remember what I’d wanted it to be in the first place. I think it was originally a test of my own ability. Can you keep this up for longer than your other projects? Can you still write at the end of the day? Can you remember to catch the dream-ball, even if the others are already becoming too much to handle?

The answer: I still don’t know.

I know what I wanted–still want– this blog to feel like, but not what it actually is.

I’d hoped that a year in, I’d know what Little Atmospheres was supposed to be. That the blog would find its niche in the world, and that it would fall into place like the final piece of a puzzle.

But… that’s not exactly right. It turns out that this was not the last piece, but the first. And now, I have to figure out everything else around it– and it’s harder than I’d imagined.

And yet, there is something very special about Little Atmospheres that I can’t quite describe. I suppose there’s a reason I haven’t quit on it yet. It is something that I started for myself, one year ago– a promise to remember never to stop, a promise to live from the head to the heart, and a reminder that not everything has to be perfect. Because perfection is not what a world is supposed to be made of.

So no, I don’t have a picture of confetti. I don’t have a cake or even a candle, and I haven’t yet changed the banner that I keep promising I will change. Today isn’t even the correct day, for crying out loud. But that doesn’t matter, not entirely. Not compared to all this blog has become, all that it is. All of its imperfect, here-then-there tidbits and diamonds in the rough and half-kept promises and more.

And while I don’t have any cupcakes (a real tragedy, that), I do have an invisible cup of something sparkly. And so I raise my figurative glass to you, dear audience of mine, however small or large you may be. Thank you, everyone who’s stuck with me this far. It means a lot– especially because I know this blog doesn’t have a lot to give, not compared to all those who know who they are and what they should be.

Happy birthday, Little Atmospheres. Thank you for a fantastic year, and here’s to many more.

-Jackie

P.S. Still no cupcakes (WHERE’S THE HUMANITY?!?!), but I did have a picture of some rainbow macarons from the market in Granville Island in Canada. Didn’t actually eat any, but the photo had a birthday mood about it, so I decided to put it here.

P.P.S. I’ve just been alerted by WordPress that I now have 99 followers. Yay! 9 is my lucky number, so… happy birthday to you, blog!

P.P.P.S. Last one, I promise– I changed the banner today. Does the photo look familiar? *points upwards*

Light and Airy: Mostly Art and Random Stuff

Hi all! I’ve been avoiding you again, haven’t I? Sorry about that!

Anyways, there’s a pretty cool photographer that I found on flickr named Cuba Gallery, who takes absolutely breathtaking photos. I can’t get enough– they’re just so amazing! I highly encourage you to check them out. They’re one of my go-to writing inspirations when my words just aren’t coming out like they should. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Los Angeles Santa Monica by Cuba Gallery

Summer by Cuba Gallery

Garden Grass Texture by Cuba Gallery

Gorgeous, right?

I’ve also stumbled upon the person who made the cover for Owl City’s Midsummer Station. It’s actually by an artist named Gediminas Pranckevicius, whose other works can be found on his website here. I really want to learn how to do this. Seriously.

My Little Friend by Gediminas Pranckevicius

Time by Gediminas Pranckevicius

Speaking of Owl City, I’m really loving the song Aligator Sky, minus the rap. Owl City is good music to paint to, I’ve found– just saying.

And finally, last bit of randomness– I recently went on a retreat to lead eighth graders, which was actually pretty fun. Here’s my stuff before I left:

retreat stuffIt was a nice, refreshing place to clear my head. But I really only wanted to share this picture because I couldn’t find a bag for my sleeping bag, so I decided to tie it up with a belt, making it look something like a wizard, ha ha ha.

*sleeping bag zaps you with awesome wizard powers*

Caramel and Salt and Pepper and Things

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but I love autumn. Where I live, the sunlight in autumn is the prettiest thing you’ll ever see. In summer it’s too harsh, in winter it’s almost nonexistent, but in the autumn it looks just right. In fact, the photograph of the sunset on my home page was taken during the fall. The sky doesn’t turn that kind of color during any other season.

I know it’s a little late to be talking about autumn– November’s almost over. But I thought that this post would go well with Thanksgiving, sort of. A little.

Autumn and winter are really a feast for the senses, I think. It’s a bright cold day and a variety of skies and crunchy-colored leaves and whistling winds and fuzzy sweaters. And, most importantly, it’s the taste and smell of caramel.

Yes. Caramel.

Caramel is very autumn-y to me. And do you know what caramel goes well with? Salt. And do you know what salt goes well with? Pepper. And do you know what pepper goes well with?

Well, it doesn’t go very well with caramel, but that’s okay. Here are some of my favorite salt and pepper and caramel things, just for autumn…

Sometime in September we went to Bath and Bodyworks and bought this candle labeled Pumpkin Caramel Latte:

Candles from Bath and Body Works

(We also bought a cranberry candle, which I decided to include in the picture so it wouldn’t feel left out)

Let me just say, it smells like heaven. I’m tempted to say it smells better than a real latte would, but I won’t. :)

Next item is a salted caramel hot chocolate. If you’ve never tried one, you have to go get one, RIGHT NOW. While you’re at it, go buy a warm, soft pretzel with those giant grains of salt. And then buy some caramel dipping sauce because salted pretzel + caramel is just delicious.

I have also recently become a fan of Salt & Straw in Portland, which is more or less an ice cream parlor with very creative flavors (for Thanksgiving they have flavors like Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey, and Pumpkin Custard and Spiced Chevre). Here are some pictures my sister took with her phone:

Salt & Straw 2

Salt & Straw 1

And no, it’s not too cold for ice cream! My favorite right now just happens to be Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache. I would’ve taken a picture but I was already 3/4 of the way through before I remembered. But here’s a flavor menu:

Salt and Straw Menu 1

And, lastly, popcorn. Orville Redenbacher’s Natural Buttery Salt & Cracked Pepper popcorn, to be exact. Man, that stuff is good. Unfortunately I’ve just recently learned that they don’t actually make it anymore. That just makes me really sad, more sad than you can imagine. I am desperately searching for a good substitute for the popcorn. But at least I got some photos.

Pepper Popcorn 1

Pepper Popcorn 2
And so, this is how I remember autumn. Caramel and salt and pepper and things.

Hooray! I Finally Did It! Library Contest Results: Plain Sugar Drops

I took this photo of a bunch of random stuff of mine last year year for my photography class:

A picture of some ribbons and things tinted pink

It kind of fits. Kind of.

It actually is a picture of mine that goes well with the story at the bottom of this post. And so, without further ado, the actual post:

I’m on cloud nine today. After all this time, I’ve finally done it: 3rd place at my local library’s writing contest.

*dances while throwing confetti and eating sprinke-covered cupcakes*

This has been a goal of mine ever since I’d heard about it a few years ago. Imagined Ink Teen Writing Contest, 1000 words, about anything. And this was going to be my last chance too, since the contest is only open to teens I’m not going to be in high school anymore next year (although I will still be a teen, I suppose… weird.)

But now I finally done it and just in time, too. I was beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t the writer I thought I was, but I guess I am her… If that made no sense, I’m sorry. I’m still dizzy from the smiling and the happy-cloud around my head.

I’m very proud of my third-place finish. The other entries were really, really good, and deserved what they got. I’m perfectly happy.

I might be repeating the word “happy” too much. Apologies!

I wasn’t able to make the event the library put together to present awards, sadly. Author Kenneth Oppel was there, and I would’ve loved to have gone but my schedule was being particularly malicious that day. I was this close to meeting an awesome published author. Sad face: :(

I did end up getting some pretty cool stuff though, including a signed copy of Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, which I am entirely thrilled to have. I love signed books! They’re living proof that books were written by real people.

Stuff I got as a prize from the library. Thank you!

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel signed by him

And Cheez-Its! I was really hungry when I got this stuff and so the Cheez-Its were a life saver.

I’ve entered this contest once before (which I might have mentioned in this post). And let me be honest, I might have been doubting myself as a writer a little. But this was exactly the motivator I needed. I can write!

If there’s anything that you end up taking away from this post, let it be this: if you feel like you were meant to be a writer but your words aren’t as writer-like as you thought they would be and you don’t feel like you’re a writer at all, don’t give up. Please don’t. Writing, whether it’s in the back of a notebook or at the top of a bookshelf, is a gift. Don’t give that gift up.

And I’m writing that little piece of advice for myself too, because I’m almost 100% sure that in the near future, I will be that person who doesn’t feel she can be a writer at all.

Thank you for listening. You can read my entry, as well as the first and second place entries here (which I highly recommend because they’re beyond amazing). They’ll probably be up there until next year’s contest. I’ve also posted my entry down below.

Note: Yes, my first name really is Jacqueline. Jackie=Jacqueline. Just so nobody’s confused or anything…

• • •

Plain Sugar Drops

ŸŸŸ            The candy drops at Bellissa’s Confectionary are now $3.00. Last Tuesday they were only $2.75.

I hand over three bills in exchange for the package. A white, crisp paper bag tied off with a black ribbon that has been cut with more precision than necessary.

The man at the counter does not even have to ask me what I want. In fact, I don’t think we’ve spoken in years.

(That streak was broken today. Mr.—I can’t even remember his name—stated that the price of drops has gone up to three dollars. I just nodded.)

Every Tuesday afternoon around this time I walk into Bellissa’s and buy exactly one bag of candy drops.

I do not marvel at the pink-and-orange-striped walls. I do not stop to ponder anything else in the store, though it is somewhat tempting.

I do not watch the blown-sugar Ferris wheel as it spins in the front window. I do not deposit any coins in the glass cotton candy machine. I do not gaze longingly at the bouquet of cupcakes in the display case.

Every Tuesday, I walk in and head straight for the blossom-colored counter. I hand Mr. Man-Behind-The-Counter exactly $2.75 (now $3.00). He gives me the bag of drops, along with my receipt.

BELLISSA’S CONFECTIONERY

NAME: LAINIE FALLOWAY

PLAIN DROPS…………………… $3.00

TOTAL…………………………….. $3.00

THANK YOU, PLEASE COME AGAIN

Now, the man behind the counter and I both know that I am not Lainie Falloway, but he does not dare point it out.

I look like Lainie. I walk like Lainie. I dress like Lainie. I even smell like Lainie. And for all intents and purposes, I am Lainie Falloway.

As long as neither of us says anything about how I am not Lainie, for all anyone knows, Lainie Falloway is here inside the sugar-blown world of Bellissa’s Confectionary, just like she is every Tuesday.

I walk away with my package of colored drops.

This is the part where I begin to walk towards 73rd Street. By the time I’ve reached 68th I will have opened the bag of drops.

The pristine black ribbon will remain pristine, being tucked into my coat pocket.

I will look through the bag of similarly shaped discs, through the assortment of artificial sugar-shine colors, until I find a red one.

I always eat a red one first.

By 70th, I will become bored with sucking on the drop and will begin chewing it, crushing it between my teeth like ice.

I hate these drops. The candies themselves come in five colors (there is no blue) but only one flavor, which is plain sugar. They are boring. They do not taste like fruit. Or chocolate. Or cinnamon.

They taste like nothing.

They are pretty, reflecting light like gemstones held up in the sunlight. But underneath their beautiful exterior is an utterly boring, pointless existence, devoid of flavor and interest.

But I eat the drops. Always.

By the time I reach 73rd Street I will have crunched up about eight or nine drops, depending on my mood.

On 73rd street sits Coldwater Cemetery, a large, stone-laden landscape wrapped around with iron fencing, much like a cake piped with icing along the edges. This is where I am every Tuesday, right after I visit Bellissa’s, easily trading a sea of sugar for a sea of stones.

I enter the cemetery methodically. Sixteen graves back, four to the right. Don’t trip over the shovel.

This headstone is my sister’s. Very plain, I think. It should’ve been one of those statue graves, one with an angel standing watch over the plot. But no, it is a simple stone, smoothed and rounded over much like a candy disc.

“I bought the drops.”

I toss a few onto the grave spot, hitting the stone with a couple of dull clicks. It’s the only answer I ever receive. I narrowly miss the date of birth with my candy.

The death date may not be mine, but the birth date is. We were twins, born four minutes and thirty-two seconds apart. It’s very creepy, seeing my own birthday etched into a gravestone, but I have to remember that it’s not really mine. Not just mine, anyways.

The infamous Falloway Twins used to always go into Bellissa’s and buy candy. Sara Falloway would always get something different or unusual—sour lemon drops, cinnamon spikes, fruit chews, anything.

Lainie would always walk right up to the front counter and would purchase a package of plain, colored sugar drops, and proceed to eat them in rainbow-order.

The candy store was ours. We watched the Ferris wheel spin for hours, constructed entirely of sugar. We bought cotton candy from the glass machine in the corner. Tried to guess the flavors of the cupcakes in the case.

We always shared our spoils, although we didn’t enjoy each other’s candy as much as our own. Nonetheless, we were two sisters of spun sugar, of Ferris wheels and frosting and candy.

And every Tuesday, we’d walk all the way home, throwing candy at each other and laughing and looking utterly inseparable.

Inseparable. We were inseparable, weren’t we? I toss another piece of candy at the grave. I can’t live without my sister. She was me, and I was she, and how was I supposed to live without myself?

Without her?

So every Tuesday I come back to this spot with my bag full of plain sugar candies and I pretend that my sister is still here, still alive, still eating candies and occasionally throwing them at me.

“They raised the price, can you believe it?”

More drops fall onto the silent grave.

One last thing to do before I leave. I pull the perfect black ribbon out of my pocket and place it on the ground.

“Miss you, Lainie. See you next Tuesday.”

I leave her then, pelting the words with drops one last time before I go:

In Loving Memory

LAINIE M. FALLOWAY

BELOVED DAUGHTER AND SISTER

June 18th, 1997-November 7th, 2010

Something School-like This Way Comes

One week left until school.

ONE WEEK LEFT UNTIL SCHOOL.

Oh, if only you could hear my internal screaming. It sounds like this: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

While my level of emotional preparedness isn’t exactly anywhere near “prepared,” I do happen to be prepared in a different sort of way.

I have new stuff. Yay!

At least there’s one good thing about going back to school, and that is that I actually have a legitimate reason to waste my money on notebooks and pens and things. Finally!

Waste. Ha, that’s funny. Buying notebooks and pens is never a waste!

The past few weeks have been spent collecting items for school.

This is my new planner. Personally I liked the one I had last year better, but unfortunately it doesn’t have any 2014 pages in it, so I can’t use it anymore. *sob* Usually what I like to do is buy plain, blank notebooks and such (which are often times cheaper–See? No wasting!) and then decorate them.

Black Planner with Silver Clouds Drawn on Top

Black Planner with Silver Clouds Drawn on Top 3

Silver Sharpie on top of black is one of my favorites.

Black Planner with Silver Clouds Drawn on Top 2

I also have these super adorable eight-pocket folders that I got at this store called the Art Box when I was up in Canada. I absolutely love them. Eight-pocket, semi-transparent love.

Folders from Canada

This is my best friend, my orange backpack. My backpack isn’t new (in fact, many would venture to call it old), but I still think it’s awesome. It’s much more  bright orange in person.

My Backpack

I also get a chance to wear these pretties. My old grey boots had turned different colors, one being a muddy green and the other being a cloudy shade of blue. But not these! They’re the same color. See?

Grey Boots

Good luck to all of you going back to school. I hope you’re ready– I sure am not.

And also, bunny-shaped cookies in perfectly portable packages:

Bunny Cookies