Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Night Before Camp

I went to a summer camp once when I was a kid. Once. It did not go... well. I did not like being away from home, I did not like having no one or nothing familiar and comfortable to get me through day by day, and I did not do well with the whole 'make friends with everybody!' set-up that is the primary reason for camp. I was never a skilled friend-maker and after many years of practice I am not much better at it. When left to my own devices, more often than not, I will still hide away in the corner and gravitate away from new people like an opposing magnet.

So, entering into this metaphorical camp which is based on the same ideas of adventure and getting rid of old comforts in order to explore new territory with new people is giving me a bit of anxiety. I am nervous about trying to make friends with other participants (get this- I’m going to be put in a cabin!). I am nervous about throwing caution to the wind and trying to be adventurous. I am nervous, most of all, about trying to reach the word count everyday. Especially given my struggle just to get a post up here everyday.

But, I am nothing if not interested in change and regardless of what fears or concerns I may have you can't let that stop you from making change, right? After all, they tell you right up front that this whole thing is "smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life". So it should be, accordingly, crazy. So, without further ado, let the insanity begin!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Wish For My Friends

It's strange to have confidence in something that's supposed to last forever when so much of existence is impermanent. But from what I’ve seen, from what I've been a part of, I have as much confidence as one can reasonably get. Rarely have I seen two people who balance each other out so well, who work so well as a system rather than two parts, who push each other forward through life's struggles and who offer so much hope for accomplishing more.

They say that intention is what matters and that that's the energy you put out which affects change beyond your individual actions. Well, all my intention, all my energy is for you to be joyful most often, excited second most, content third and for you to always, always feel loved.

Congratulations to my dear friends on their wedding day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The End of the Tour

The meeting droned on just the way she anticipated with her marketing exec citing statistics and data points from focus groups about the kind of artist they wanted to see. There had been so many changes to her wardrobe, dance sequences, lighting, song writers and lyrics over the course of the tour that the only way she could keep up was with a mic in her ear leading her through each performance step by step. She was exhausted, too exhausted to care about this stuff. Her thoughts seemed to be coming slower to her.

“Look, I don’t want to ruin your whole presentation or anything, but do I really I need to be here for this? I mean- can’t the choreographers just teach me the new steps without you explain it to me, does it really matter if I’m here?” she asked, letting the irritation and sheer exhaustion show in her voice.

The man whom she disliked intensely for no other reason than that he had small, squinty eyes which unsettled her gave her a look. It was coupled with a smile but it worried her. “You’re tired, huh?” he asked her. There was no sound of concern for her well being in his voice but a fierce practicality which troubled her further. He shot a look at the other people in the room and then nodded. “Well, you’ve had a good run- we didn’t expect you to make it the whole tour,” he said, organizing his papers and powering down the monitor.

“Wha- what are you… talking about?” she said. She looked around at the people in the room as they started packing up their things. No one made eye contact with her.

The squinty eyed-man pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and hit a button. “Yeah, we’re gonna need the next one ready for the eight o’clock show. Yeah, I know you would’ve liked more time but whose fault is that? Maybe if you had told us that it wouldn’t make it through the end of the week you would have had more time and maybe next time you’ll pay attention to your damned job long enough to make more accurate projections so we wouldn’t have to keep dealing with your incompetent bullshit!” he
yelled into the phone. “Make it happen!” he concluded and angrily hit the phone again, slamming it back into his pocket.

“Will somebody tell me what the hell is going on?” she screamed. The squinty eyed man stopped, calmly placed the papers back down on the table and looked at her as if she were a bug.

“Your run is over. We appreciate your service but we’re going to retire you now.” He looked at her, calm and cold.

Her heart sped up and she found it impossible to breathe.

Just then the door opened up behind her and a small, frazzled looking man with thick glasses and a sweat ring on his color walked in holding a hard drive.

“Took you long enough!” the squinty-eyed man yelled at him. “Switch it out. And you think there’s anyway you could try to program one that lasts longer than a month?”

“She’s designed to do what she’s programmed to do, not to learn. You want a learning model it’ll cost a lot more. You want a singing, dancing model then make a show that can last a full tour run and she’ll last the run, too,” he said, fiddling with some external attachment with a pair of pliers. He came up to her and gave her kind, sad eyes. “Don’t worry, sweetie- you did a good job,” he said, putting a hand to the back of her neck.

She felt pressure as if a switch was being compressed and then her vision went dark.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Worst Day of Your Life

“Oh my God, this is the worst day of my life!”

“You found out the tumor is malignant?”

“Huh? No!”

“Your house get foreclosed?”

“No.”

“Your husband leave you?”

“No!”

“Get laid off? Walk in on your kid having sex? Find naked pictures of your significant other on the internet?”

“Ok, ok I get it- my day isn’t that bad, right? I should just grin and bare it.”

“No, I’m just trying to get a handle on your situation.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rookie Speech

“You rookies come in here, brand new badge flashing away on your lapel, thinking that you’re hot because you’re young you got the edge on us seniors. Well, kid- you got nothing. Nothing more than a boat load of adrenaline and a jumpy trigger finger. That’ll calm down real quick, just you wait.

“Me? I been around too long and seen too much to be trying so damned hard. And I learned a long time again to keep my head down, mouth shut, and ears open. You, buddy, are gonna learn. You won’t be so desperate to catch a bust and flash your pride around here when get down to the real business of homicide.

“You look at me and you think I’m old. Well I’ve seen more than you can even dream of your misguided little brain. I saw my first body when I was 12 years old- can you say that? That’s right, 12. It was the summer of ’72.

“Back then, kids left their bikes sittin’ out on the lawn. People left their doors open to catch the cross breeze. Nobody had a fenced-in yard or security systems or any of the rest of it. We played baseball and ate ice cream from the local dairy. We hung out at the damn swimming when it got real hot. We went fishin’. And that’s where old Mr. Baker first saw us.

“Tommy was the first one to go missin’. Everybody thought he fell into the damn at night, maybe tripped up while running down the path. We formed a search part after the second day cause nobody believed he’d run away- we didn’t have trouble youth back then. If you were trouble your dad put the fear a’ God into you and you worked off your troubles in somebody’s yard pulling weed or pushing a mower. No, Tommy didn’t run away.

“We even dredged the dam, see. Went right down to the bottom. Never found him. Not till three weeks later. His body was sitting all arraigned in the playground at school. The killer had scooped out his organs, replaced them with potting soil grew a nice sunflower in there.

“Oh, now you’re paying attention- now you know what I’m talkin’ about. That’s right, my friend Tommy was the very first victim of the Sunflower killer. That’s when Foulkrod went on the map, when we got our very own serial killer. You know the rest of the story, I assume. They found a total of nine bodies before they finally figured out Mr. Baker from the bait shop was tracking down the boys from the dam. Well, I was there from the start.

“I saw this town go from the laid back, blind community where everyone was safe to the place is now. Now everybody’s got a security system or a gated yard. Everybody keeps guard dogs and double locks. You never see kids running around cause all the families that could afford to moved away and the playgrounds turned into apartment complexes and factories.

“Now we got ourselves a real hot bed of crime that leaves rookies like you chompin’ at the bit for their first big bust. Well, you’ll loose that cocky attitude real quick round here. When you get used to the smell of blood after it’s been sitting in the hot sun for a couple of hours, or a decomposing body that somebody just dug up- then you can talk to me about pride. Pride is what you get for keeping your lunch down at your first crime scene. Until then just shut up and stay the hell out of my face.”

*That was the speech Capt. Shaw used to give to all the new detectives back when he was still investigating. It's a good thing he got promoted cause by that time Wikipedia had invented and all the rookies had already looked up the Sunflower Killer and been disappointed to find out he was famous in Foulkrod, IN- not Foulkrod, IL.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Square One

"Ha! It's back to square one for you!" the girl squealed at her, her pig tails bouncing happily.

Head hung low, lips pressed in a frown, Addie made her way back to the top of the hopscotch board.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Night

Lily couldn’t sleep. The nightlight illuminated her space with star-shaped shafts of light and allowed a dim glow to cover the corners where things might be hiding. But the closet door was ajar. Its darkness seemed to seep into the room and block the cheer her sleepy-time turtle was supposed to bring. Something had moved in there, she was sure if it. She imagined it to be something slimy with many long, sharp teeth and a tail that whipped around like a kite in strong wind. She’d had her eyes focused on the same spot for what seemed like hours, watching and waiting for more movement, her stuffed panda pulled up to her nose for protection. She watched and waited, her eyes teetering on the edge of closing, her mind getting dull and blank.

Brian was in his room trying to will himself into actually doing his math homework. He’d set off on the quest for the perfect study music three hours ago and ended up with a small collection of much needed MP3s, none of which were by Beethoven. He updated his Facebook profile to let everyone know that he was finally about to, very begrudgingly, begin. It was then that the high-pitched scream of a very small, very terrified girl hit his ears.

By the time Marney had arrived at her daughter’s bedroom, toothbrush still in mouth, to find out what had caused her daughter to scream and her heart to skip a beat the damage had already been done. Her son, in attempts to rid the closet of whatever monster her little girl had imagined in there, had done several very showy karate kicks in various directions. These kicks had seemingly scared the monster away because her daughter now had a giant grin on her tear stained face. But they had also knocked over several of her toys and broken a recently purchased sunflower lamp. She gave her son a sigh and he simply shrugged his shoulders and grinned at her.

As Marney tucked her daughter back in to bed she reassured her that whatever had been in that closet had been frightened away by her brother’s awe-inspiring jump-spinning back kick and would surely not be stupid enough to return to a closet that was so well guarded. Placated, Lily snuggled back in with Mr. Pouchy, her panda, and smiled the smile of contentedly sleepy little girl. Glancing back at the room to check that she’d gotten all the pieces of the lamp Marney found herself contemplating how much it would cost to replace and instantly concluded it was a small price to pay for a comfortably sleeping daughter who trusted her big brother to keep the monsters away.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Movie Review: HP & The Deathly Hallows P2

Let me preface this by saying that I am NOT an unber fan. Yes, I have read the whole series and yes I loved every damned word of it but I don’t have the memory for the minor characters and plot points that tend to drive people crazy in the transition from page to screen so I can’t comment on that.

Knowing that, it will probably not surprise anyone to know that I thought it was pretty damned loyal to the way things played out in the book. From what I remember, there were only a couple of small changes and they weren’t significant enough to make me think “that’s not how it happened!” or anything like that.
It picks up right where the last movie left off, showing you Voldemort obtaining the elder wand via grave robbery just in case you forgot. And then it dives right into setting the scene at Hogwarts where everything looks appropriately bleak and terrifying in comparison to the cheer the place used to represent.

Willow (or, you know- the actor who played Willow) makes a spot-on Griphook and leads them into the first trap as underhandedly as you would hope for. The ride through the vaults is one of the few moments where you really notice the 3d effects and I personally like it whis way- to have every other moment pop up with a 3d gimmick would pretty much ruin the seriousness of the movie and make you have no desire to watch it again unless you had 3d tv at home which I personally don’t feel the need to purchase.

Other notable performances by supporting characters include Aberforth and Neville who are pitch perfect to their characters from the book. So far as Harry goes, and I assume that everyone was as eager to see his performace as I was, I think he carried it as well as could be hoped for. With that sort of material at hand there is a severe danger of overacting (say, like Michael Gambon did when he took over for Richard Harris) and I’m incredinbly grateful to say that Mr. Radcliff does not try to oversell that whole ‘i’m about to die' thing. If anything, he underplays it which leaves you thinking about the greater repurcussions of how it feels to be, as Snape put it, a pig being raised to slaughter.

And Mr. Rickman does a decent job of the biggest character turnaround of the whole series. His speech patterns- the emphasis he puts on his dictation- do seem a bit out of place when talking about how destroyed he feels regarding the death of the unrequited love of his life. But at the same time I can see how, after making that part of the character, he couldn't exactly mumble when giving those lines either. All in all it's enough to make you love Snape as he is meant to be loved.

My one big complaint was how fast the attack on Hogwarts went. I know it is, despite more characters being killed off left and right than a lot of war movies, at heart still a children’s or at least young adult series. I get why they wouldn’t want to focus too much on the deaths of characters we grew attached to back in books 1, 3 and 5. But to get no more than a five second screen shot of “oh yeah- Fred, Remus and Tonks are dead” seemed… I don’t know, too quick.

Another more minor thing was the little screen time Malfoy got. That whole relationship of Malfoy and Harry was such a huge thing throughout the books and him being torn between trying to save his parents by being a good little death eater and not actually being, you know, evil, was really fascinating. I don’t think you get any sense of it in the movie. Granted, I’m not really sure how you could given the important action sequences and overall plot (plus the fact that most of the motivations and stuggles are thoughts that can’t be explained via any another method but a voiceover which would not have worked at all) but I felt disappointed to see the Malfoy family just run off before the final showdown without another word. (Again, that is what happened action wise and I don't see how they could have done it any other way. It just... left me wanting something more.)

Overall it was a good moive. With so much pressure built up by such an unimaginably large fan base and a movie franchise that started ten years ago there was a whole lot of pressure on these guys to finish up the series with a bang. And I personally think they did. Though, and I know this is silly, but I am sad that, as all the posters warned “It all ends”. I will miss these movies coming out every summer. But, at least I have the books to re-read many times over- which I intend to.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Statistics

It was like falling in love, only backwards. The same sudden, impulsive reactions occurred. Except that now the things he had originally had an abrupt, strange attraction to inspired an oddly strong sense of revulsion in him.

The way she tapped her fingernail on her front teeth as she sat with a bemused expression now annoyed him beyond any reason. The way she hummed under her breath when she was making her coffee in the morning inspired a nearly overwhelming urge to snap out a warning to shut up. Even the light snore which he once thought adorable and endearing now sounded like nails on a chalk board.

It made no sense to him and the more deeply he thought about it the more irrational it became. He loved her, he was smitten with her, he was devoted to her. And yet as time passed he felt the feeling grow.

He tried talking himself out it but logic didn’t work on irrational impulses. He tried hating himself since it was obviously his fault. But that solution didn’t fit as it made him withdraw from her even further. He tried planned romance but found it nearly impossible to enjoy himself. And in the end he had yet another failed marriage under his belt.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Playground Politics

She would never admit it to anyone, but Elaine got a thrill out of being the playground monitor. She saw herself, in quiet moments, as the overlord of an intricate web of social connections and hierarchies. She surveyed the landscape as children fought for dominance in the sandbox, determined who could ride the swings first, pushed their way ahead in line for the slide. Every moment another child would make his claim to a piece of playground equipment and have to prove his dominance over the child in charge. Fierce battles would erupt and she would be the one to determine the victor.

Now, in terms of her job, she should have punished the dominant child- the one who pushed hardest or hit. The rules led that child to time out and a stern redirection. But from time to time, she had to reward those who showed signs of leadership capacity.
That’s what most people didn’t understand. It was less like the African Sahara where male lions would fight over the spoils and more like primitive forms of government.

Some children even showed Machiavellian policies. They would kidnap dolls brought in for show and tell and hold them hostage in order to secure their time on the swing set. They would lie to another child that someone else had called them a name and then steal their spot on line for the slide when they went to tell her. One child, by sheer intimidation, had scared the other children into making offerings of candy, brightly colored stationary or toys in order to take their turn on the slide. He sat at the top watching as the scared children made their way up to him, eyes cast downward, their hands trembling slightly as they held out their meager offerings and hoped he would be pleased. All that was missing from the scene was a paper crown atop his head signifying his space.

She let him do this for longer than was right, she knew. But she was too fascinated to call it off before she could observe the rules trickle down through whispers and frightened asides. And she was too amused by the rare moment to cut short the young king’s rule before he’d a had a chance to enjoy it.

When she called him over to her to confront him she didn’t bother to ask if he knew why she’d pulled him aside- his satisfied smile told her he already knew. She simply held out her hand and raised an eyebrow. She would relish the memory of his smile wilting and fading as he handed over the prizes for years to come.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wisdom without understanding

The older I get the more I realize I don't know.
The more I recognize I don't know the more humble and open minded I become.
The more open minded I become the more able I am to learn from others.
The more I learn from others the less my internal observations make sense to me and the more I recognize I don't know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Box

There was a box sitting on her desk in home room looking so unassuming it made her stomach clench. She'd had boxes on her desk before. She'd learned not to open them. Without even bothering to peek inside the lid she shoved the thing off her desk with her books, being careful not to touch it with her hand, and sat down to await the teacher.

Really, what amateurs, she thought to herself. As if she'd never opened up a box to see something horrible before. As if the curiosity to see what was inside would be enough to make her endure another stupid prank. She couldn't help but shove her nose just slightly upward throughout the rest of the class. She didn't bother to look for someone acting suspiciously culprit- like.

As she sat in the library later on remembering how nonchalantly she'd responded to such a childish game she was startled by a needlessly perky "Hi!"

"Huh? Oh, hey Cybil. What's up?" she asked, unable to keep the irked tone out of her voice.

"Did you get my cookies?" Cybil asked, her bouncy hair doing its characteristic move as she spoke.

"Cookies?

"Yeah. I left them on your desk in home room. Didn't you get them?"

"Damn it!"

She decided to open her boxes from then on.

Not more than a month later there was another box sitting on her desk when she walked into first period. Inside was a dead cricket.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bad Day

There was a battle going on. Pain, confusion, and external stimuli were fighting to gain ground in his consciousness. Excruciating pain in the back of his scull fought for control with the stinging in his eyes as they struggled to open. A fuzzy, indistinguishable sound faded in and out around the edges of his perception. His senses struggled to take in all the information. In the end the pain won out and dominated everything else, making it impossible for him to open his eyes.

His mind raced through the events of the day, images flashing through his head. There’d been traffic on the way to the meeting, a veiled threat taken as an insult, a promise for further action if amends were not made. He’d been thinking through the stupidity of his mistake in the parking lot of the warehouse and something had happened. And then, like an explosion, it all came back.

His eyes shot open and it was then that he realized the sting had been caused by blood. His head hurt the way it would from a tire iron to the back of the scull. His arms were bound behind him as he slumped on the dusty, concrete floor. And that weird fuzzy sound came into awareness of the buzzing of the florescent light overhead, fading on and off and the bulb slowly puttered its last light.

He looked around and saw the pair of shoes in front of him. They were polished to a sheen and he could tell from the look of the leather that they were custom made. At least they weren’t leaving him to the grunt workers, he consoled himself.
He painfully struggled to turn his head to see the face of his assailant. He hated himself for being surprised, he’d known that snake was gunning for his run since he took from Johnny that short while ago. Mac’s slimy smile insulted the injury that dominated the scene and he grimaced in spite of himself.

“So this is it, huh? No second chances, no discussions- just a little piss ant like come to get rid of me, eh?”

Mac gave him a conceited, toothy grin as he aimed the muzzle at his head.

“Figures,” he said.

The gun shot echoed off the walls.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Movie Review: The Town

So, I wanted to do a review of the new (and last) Harry Potter movie after seeing it but thanks to the worst migraine I’ve had in longer than I can remember that didn’t happen. But I did watch a movie I’ve been wanting to see for some time so I’m gonna write about that.

This movie was ‘The Town’ which got very good reviews upon initial opening, led to a nomination for best supporting actor in the Oscars and overall looked like something I wanted to see cause I’m generally into heist movies.

And as heist movies go, it wasn’t half bad. It starts off with a heist which displays the skill level of the main protagonists and makes you root for them despite the fact that they’re bad guys in terms of robbing banks, assault and kidnapping. And then it does a good job of setting up the main antagonist: Don Draper (who is actually Jon Hamm but will always be Don Draper to me) comes in as the FBI agent assigned to these types of cases and you can tell from the start that he is seriously committed to his job and will inevitably be a problem for these guys.

Thanks to his information you get a pretty good sense of the neighborhood these guys come from, a little section of Boston known as Charlestown, which he states focuses more bank robbers per capita than just about anywhere (which apparently was accurate for a breif time in the mid 90’s). He tells the story of grandfathers and fathers passing it down to sons and grandsons the same way you’d learn skilled labor. And the characters (primarily the guy nominated for best supporting actor) do give you a good feel for this neighborhood not giving a guy many other options.

The plot overall flowed pretty smoothly, the robberies are pretty satisfying, and Mr. Draper is great as the FBI agent who will do anything- including going after the best friend’s sister- to get his man.

But overall, I couldn’t help but compare it to another heist movie that is just epically more awesome and wishing it was that. That movie is, of course, Heat. I know it’s not fair to compare Ben Affleck to Bobby and Al but it seemed like it was trying pretty hard to set up the same type of scene- the robber trying to pull off one more big job before he leaves town for good with his new girlfriend, the crew following him to end of the world, the cop chasing him with everything he’s got. There were just too many similarities not to look to Heat and Heat was too good of a movie not to make this one pale in comparison.

So, my final recommendation is, if you’re a heist movie aficionado you should definitely see it but keep your expectations low. And if you’re just in the mood for some cops and robbers shooting at each other it’s definitely a good way to spend your evening.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Value of a Moment

Ever since she was a little girl she’d always been searching for something. Some message, some meaning more significant than what the moment actually contained. She’d always been told it was her greatest downfall.

All the days that didn’t live up to the hype she’d built up in her mind. All the moments that were overanalyzed in desperate search for something deeper. All the conversations where her flair for drama made the emotions contained disproportionate to the discussion. All the little, inconsequential pauses in her life that she had to probe for something more. It kept her from living in the moment most of the time and cut short her enjoyment of what should have been life’s simple pleasures.

She’d known all this about herself for quite some time and had been trying very hard not to continue the pattern. But she couldn’t help but feel, as the nurse handed the tiny swaddled bundle to her, that this was a significant moment in her life.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Attached

She stared into the hazel-speckled green eyes in front of her, the ones she’s been staring at for years, and waited for the familiar sensations to take over. The festering sense of nausea in her stomach, the sickening kick of her heart as it sped up, the flushed sensation on her skin, the reflexive strain of her muscles as they tightened involuntarily. She felt nothing. That, more than anything else, let her know that it was really over this time.

So many times she’d stood in this spot, looking into those eyes, trying to will herself to end it. There was just no room in her life for this, there hadn’t been for a long time. But she’d been unable to let it go, unable to move on. Stuck with the image of who she’d been and not wanting to let it go, no matter how much it didn’t match who she was.

There had still been love there in those eyes looking back at her. And a reminder of everything that had gone on. So many years of her life looking back at her- both good and bad, but so familiar and so comforting. For years she’d been paralyzed with fear whenever she even thought of letting it go. Fear and revulsion.

But she didn’t see herself in her life when she looked now. She didn’t see her new house, her great new job, her studio where she would let her passion go without having to cram into a small space it didn’t belong in. And she didn’t see him, the man who come into her life and promised so much more than what she saw in front of her now. She didn’t see any of that now, and she wanted to.

She let out a breath and watched her shoulders sink, concluding that this was finally it. It was ending. And it was good.

“Ok, we can toss it,” she said.

“Finally!” he exclaimed, walking right past her to take hold of the heavy, faded wood. “I have been begging for you to get rid of this thing for years! This is- do you realize this takes up like a third of this space? We’ll have so much more room now!”

“Look, this isn’t easy for me- could you be a little less excited?”

“Sweetie, it’s a mirror. I know you’re attached to it for sentimental value or whatever but when it comes down to it it’s an old, ugly mirror- I don’t even think an antique shop would take this thing! Look, it’s good- I’m proud of you. Now, if we could just get you to let go of that matching armoire we’d be in really good shape….”

“Don’t even think about it!” she snapped, the familiar kick of her heart speeding up her words.

“Ok, ok- one thing at time, progress is progress… maybe next weekend you’ll be able to look at that one…” he said, grunting as he dragged the heavy oval mirror out the back door.

She watched it go and couldn’t help the tear pooling in the corner of her eye.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Anime Moment

"Why are your eyes vibrating?"

"I'm not sure. You've either said something shocking or endearing or really upsetting."

"Ok, I'm gonna toss my head and laugh, indicating that I didn't notice your reaction."

"Ok, i'm gonna let out a big puff of air and develop a sweat droplet right… there! There you go.”

“Good call. Now I’m gonna say something really callous and hurtful.”

“Ok, and I’ll go giant eyes and there they go vibrating again and now let’s add a touch of sparkly tears pooling in the bottoms…”

“Nicely done. I’m gonna stand here with a fixed look on my face and wait for you to say something defiant. Wait! Where are you going?”

“I have to go running through a faded background while I do a flashback montage of everything you’ve said to me this season. And if you see big sparkly bubbles trailing behind me, those are my tears.”

“Alright then, see you tomorrow!”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Outsider

She is not of this world.

She should be. She was born through basic biological functions of the human body, her organs perform the same operations, her senses input information for processing and reaction. But she is, inexplicably, an outsider.

She wanted to belong, because she knew she was supposed to want to. She just didn't. But she played the role they assigned her well and got by. She started to think that’s there all there was to any of it- getting by.

When the attacks started and the world cowered and panicked, she just watched in curiosity. She felt nothing, she never had. But there was a spark of the potential to feel something. To know something. To understand something, maybe something she’d always understood underneath all the lines she had to recite.

The news reports screamed of Armageddon. The religious zealots committed mass suicide in preparation for deliverance. The rest of humanity scurried around like insects, hurriedly picking up anything they could carry. She just watched and waited.

When they finally arrived, to capture her along with the rest, she knew. What she’d wondered in a way that logical thought couldn’t describe, what she’d hoped for in a way that humans don’t hope, what she’d been sensing underneath everything her whole existence.

She wasn’t an outsider. She was just waiting for her family to come home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Buddy

Six months ago today the world's cutest puppy (seriously. Guinness hasn't confirmed it yet but they so would if I called them) was born. And he is here. The overwhelming joy that is the world's cutest puppy is sitting here at my feet as I write this, licking my toe. And I couldn't be more grateful.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Camp NaNoWriMo 2011

Well, it's official. The Camp NaNoWriMo site is up and running, I have created my user profile and most importantly I have made the commitment to do this thing come August. Now, I was a bit confused when I logged on because apparently you have the option of writing your novel in either July or August and some peeps have already started their crazy journey. Me? I had originally thought it started in August so I hadn't prepared for July. (Plus, some of the site's features won't be up and running until August so it works out.)

At any rate, since I now have less than a month to prepare for this frenzy of crazed typing and obsessing over my word count I will need some prep work to get ready. Last year, in prep for NaNo I did a month of dictionary words of the day and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

Not wanting to limit myself too much i'm not going to promise a month of words right now. I will, however, promise a post everyday from here until August. Both because I need to prep for camp and because I am massively behind on my post count for my 211 in 2011 challenge. Because I am not an endless source of fantastic ideas for stories many of these posts for the next month will be words of the day. But hopefully some of them will be worthwhile stories or fiction-y things. And maybe, just maybe, a very small few will actually be *gasp!* good. But i'm not making any promises.

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Goat

Dogel was worried. But if you didn’t know him, you wouldn’t know he was worried. He had the face of an old, weathered statue. The giant bushy brow was permanently fixed, the scowl glued on. He might be experiencing overwhelming joy and you’d never know it. What he called his “professional attire.”

But Andriel knew him, and she knew he was worried. She was worried too.

This king was dead and all the royal families were in an uproar over who would take the throne. Something about the heir possibly being a bastard. They’d been civil about it so far, having heated arguments under the guise of “discussions”. But everyone knew it was just a matter of time before someone said something that lead the “discussion” outside of the castle and onto the battlefield. Troops were secretly gathering and there’d been an increase in soldiers at the brothel.

In this way, political unrest wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It brought in new business, and warriors and mercenaries usually had simple appetites. But political unrest also brought in those who fed off such environments. Those who specialized in underhanded tasks and thrived in chaos. Those who knew when the powers that be were too preoccupied to worry about what was happening in the city and therefore would not be handing out consequences for breaking the laws of the land. Those whose appetites were not easily satisfied.

It was those that Dogel was worried about. Those that he’d been keeping an eye out for with such vigilance that his left eye had developed an involuntary twitch every time the door opened. Those that he feared whenever a new stranger walked in.

He wasn’t concerned for the safety for his whores because of the overwhelming fondness he had for them, at least not that he would admit to. No, it was a practical concern- a dead whore meant less customers, more work for the remaining girls. He couldn’t run a business when his supplies ran low.

But Andriel knew that it was more than that. She knew he had a soft spot for his girls, regardless of what he said. He’d kept her around long after her expiration date- she wasn’t getting the business she used to. Her breasts were too saggy, her ass had lost its tightness. She was good at her trade and therefore still had some loyal customers. But she couldn’t attract new business anymore, not when everything was based on appearance. Dogel could have gotten rid of her long ago, shut her out on the street, left her to fend for herself. But he hadn’t. And that wasn’t terribly practical.

“What’s on your mind, old man?” she asked, sidling up to the bar in that way she’d perfected after so many years of practice.

“Huh?” he said without looking at her.

“You want to take a look at this rash for me? It really itches,” she said, making to hike up her skirt.

“What rash?” he jumped, nearly dropping the glass he’d been drying.

“Just making sure you were listening to me,” she grinned at him.

“Not funny” he growled and went back to his glasses.

“You know it’ll be ok- someone will kill someone else and we’ll have a new, fat king drinking himself silly by the end of the year.”

“Yeah, and a new head of the royal guard and he’ll probably want more bribes than the last idiot and we’ll have to move to the back alleys again,” he grumbled.

“Ah, is that what you’re worried about? The rent?”

“I don’t worry, I plan.”

“Well, is that what you’re planning about, then?”

He glared at her and she just grinned back with a blank look. “Shouldn’t you be washing up? They’ll start shuffling in for supper and a throw soon.”

“I’ve already prepared, thank you very much.”

The door creaked open and Dogel’s eye shot to stare down the man coming in. He looked him up and down like a mule that you didn’t trust not to kick you if you walked near it. The man took a glance around and wandered back to the edge of the bar. Dogel waited for him to speak, or make eye contact, his distrust growing with each second the man delayed in this.

“Ale,” the man growled without looking up.

Dogel poured him the drink without taking his eyes off him, the scowl on his brow growing the tiniest bit deeper. Andriel went to take the mug from him to deliver it the potential customer and Dogel grabbed her hand, giving a single firm glance warning her not to. She let go and let him take the mug over to the opposite end of the bar.

She watched as Dogel slammed the mug down in front of the man and saw the man jump. A muted conversation followed and Andriel strained to listen but couldn’t make out any distinct sound which might lead her to detect the topic of discussion. She made a small ‘humph’ to herself and sat back on the stool folding her arms under her chest in the way that had come from years of work.

Dogel walked back to her in a decidedly less rushed manner and calmly picked up the glass he’d been drying.

“SO?” she asked impatiently.

“So, what?” Dogel replied, again not bothering to look up at her.

She sighed at him, knowing he wouldn’t tell her and hating him for it. "You are such a goat!” she chided.

“Ba-aa-a-a!” he grinned at her.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What a wonderful idea!

So there’s a new idea bouncing around in my head that I am terribly fond of. Like, I want to start a long-term relationship with this idea. I want to buy this idea a fancy, candlelit dinner, impress it with my wit and charm so it’ll want to stick around for a while, sweep it off it’s feet and settle down with it.

The idea is that everything I will ever need in order to be a fully realized and/or enlightened individual is already in my possession and always has been. Furthermore, it is the concept that maybe all of my neuroses and self flagellation and my guilt reflex the size of Antarctica are not only part of who I am but that they are there by design. That this struggle is my pre-designed path.

A friend of mine pointed out that the characters that we tend to connect most with, that we root for the most fervently, are the ones with the greatest arc. That the more crap they have to go through, the more obstacles placed in their path from point A to point B, the more that they are forced to change, the more we love them. On the same token, perhaps my growing self love and capacity for growth not yet realized is due to all of these issues rather than in spite of them.

Now, this isn’t a new idea by any means- I’ve heard it before. But over and over again life makes the point that timing is everything. In order to be receptive, to really get it, it has to be the right time. I really hope this is the right time for this idea and me to start something.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

As I struggle (stumble? fumble?) forwards in my quest at growth I come upon an aporia.

On the one hand is the theory that in order to love one’s self one must accept one’s own limitations. I.E. I accept that my writing is what it is without beating myself up for my perceived lack of talent, actual lack of discipline or failure to deliver the rather grandiose idea I had in my head. I try to focus on this quest for self acceptance by accepting my limitations without punishing myself.

On the other hand is the theory that one cannot determine one’s own limitations without pushing oneself beyond one’s perceived limitations. This is an idea I know about first hand. Having been through two black belt tests I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can do much more than I think I can.

In karate, at least, this is a relatively easy concept. You feel a variety of highly unpleasant physical sensations and from that you draw the conscious thought of “I’m gonna puke” or “I’m gonna pass out”. The push comes in when, instead of sitting down or tapping out, you just keep going until that perceived inevitably comes (i.e. until you actually puke or pass out.) As I said, having been through this a few times, I can now definitively say that my body is capable of far more than I think it is because despite having those thoughts on many occasions I have yet to puke or pass out during a test.

Now, that is a concrete, time-limited example and doesn’t really apply to the long haul I face with life growth. However, in theory, I can most certainly see the application.

The idea of self love and acceptance is a little more diffuse because there are little moments here and there where you do well or fall back, but there’s no real end. The end of growth is death, at least within the realm of understanding we have in our life span. So until I take my last breath I should, in theory, be getting better.

I’ve been seeking and getting feedback from a lot of people on this recently. What I’ve been told is that the only answer to this conundrum is to trust one’s gut. My gut, they tell me, knows what’s right. Without logic or reasoning or philosophical debate my gut should be able to tell me whether or not I’m on the right path.

The problem I’ve been discovering is that by being so caught up in my head I’ve not only lost touch with my heart but my gut as well. I try to listen to that voice inside me that knows what to do and I find love, but not action. Yes, my heart loves me, can heal me, can help me accept myself. But often I only get that by standing still. Not doing anything. I focus on the being part of it but lose the doing.

The problem with that, obviously enough, is that part of being is doing. I can’t be a 2nd Dan without doing 2nd Dan level techniques and forms on a regular basis. And I certainly can’t say I’m writer if I don’t write. (I don’t even like to call myself a writer now even though I have a whole blog for it and a challenge to produce a certain amount of new material towards that end.)

The true solution, if there is such a thing when it comes to a dilemma like this, has yet to come to me. At the moment, all I’ve got is the intent to keep writing, keep producing and inching (at a snail’s pace) closer to that large goal of 211 posts while trying to put as little pressure (and, more relevantly, guilt) on myself as possible. I would like, in an ideal world, to write not out of guilt for having not written but rather out of desire to get an idea or a story or something written down for *gasp!* fun. What a concept, huh?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

She sat on the hood of the car watching the night sky explode into color and felt like something was missing. She had the radio on with the Academy Band’s Medley blaring out the open windows, the flannel blanket was tucked underneath her as she rested against the windshield, her box of sparklers was close at hand for her to light up at the finale. But somehow, still, something was missing.

She went over the checklist in her mind, ticking off each item she’d specifically packed. She realized the cheap bottle of fruity wine she’d purchased was still sitting on the passenger’s side seat. She groaned to herself, slipped off the side of the hood and felt the blanket slide off with her. She walked around to the window, leaned in to grab the bottle, and saw it.

Just for a split-second, before her conscious mind could invalidate the vision, she saw his hand sitting there on the gear shift where it’d always been, as if waiting for her to get in and drive. It was so real, so clear of a vision that she bolted upright and hit her head on the ceiling before pulling out.

“What the-“ She stopped, blinked a few times, then jumped up to look again.

He wasn’t there, but she knew that already. He hadn’t been there before, of course. The seat was empty except for the bottle which she grabbed angrily, cursing herself for what she perceived as actual psychosis in response to her out of control emotions.

She stood there, looking at the now empty seat, reminding herself that she was not, in fact, insane. And then she remembered. That’s all it was- a memory. From the thousands of times that he’d sat next to her, shifting the gear in response to the engine’s effort, sensing the need for change. She’d always loved that. Such a simple exercise transformed into such a symbiant exchange.

But then she hadn’t thought about the fact that she would need to drive herself again, that their life together would end and all the activities they’d done together would now have to be done alone. She laughed at the analogy and how painfully appropriate it was now.

She jumped back on the hood, ripped the aluminum wrapping off the wine, twisted the cap off and took a swig. It tasted like cheap, fermented fruit punch. She took another swig and smiled.

This was, of course, what everyone had told her to do. That’s how it works, after all. Make new traditions out of the old ones. Come to the same places, engage in the same activities that you enjoyed, but put a new spin on it. This was her new spin, the “girly” wine he had called it, instead of the “real” beer he preferred. It was a simple change, but she’d hoped it would hold a greater meaning.

Her friends had invited her out of course, to a group excursion to the field below. But this place had always been their secret and she didn’t want to give it up. He couldn’t take that from her as well, she wouldn’t let him. So she sat there on the hood of her now single-driver car, without the weight of him evening out the dip in the hood and sipped her cheap wine. She told herself this was hers, her celebration, happy on it’s own, without him.

She wondered if she would have been better off going with her friends. But she’d wanted so much to make a statement to herself. She was strong, she was independent, this show of light and fire was for her. She listened to each boom following the flashes and told herself it was the breakdown of the wall she’d built out of him. The wall which had separated her from her life. She told herself she would do all the things he’d never wanted to do. She would be selfish, she would be free, she would be herself without the restraint she’d imposed on herself in order to fit his preferences. She would be, unapologetically, her.

So she sat, watching the lights in the sky and willed herself to feel everything this holiday had once represented. At least in theory. As the booms grew louder and more rapid signaling the finale she pulled out a sparkler and lit the tip, waving it around to the rhythm of the music coming from the car. She waved her sparkler high into the air, as if she could touch the brighter colors exploding in front of her and celebrated her independence.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Word Play

Hope and pray had been friends for as long as either one of them could remember, having joined the same wildly popular phrase when they were both very young. Wish and dream had become very fond of one another after pairing up to perform a children's song which became one of the most recognizable ever performed. An extra boost from pop psychology discussing how similar they were secured the union. But Desire, poor desire. It tried teaming up with wish, it's synonym, but that didn't seem to stick. It paired up with heart which it was very fond of but which fell out of popular use. After several attempts at staying with something wholesome and family friendly it eventually gave up and resigned itself to live in the sexual realm of internet porn, adult-only resorts and 900 numbers. The other words didn't seem to notice.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Work

“Eh, I tell ya- this is the life.”

“Oh yeah, working out in the blistering sun in 90 degree heat shoveling manure all day- what could be better?”

“Ok, dude- first off, it’s compost- not manure. We’re ‘green’ now. Second, would you sooner be stuck in some office with some pencil-dick brown-noser looking over your shoulder every two seconds?”

“At least then there’d be air conditioning. Wouldn’t be out here sweatin’ like Springstein.”

“Sure, air conditioning and status meetings and neck ties and more managers than you could shake your shovel at. Plus, there’d be no cold beer at lunch time, no good ‘ol shoulder-to-the-grindstone work pride and no tan on your brow. I’m tellin’ ya, dude- this is the work men were meant to do. This is what we’ve been doin’ throughout human history!”

“What, standing in some yuppie family’s yard landscaping a lawn? I don’t think that’s the kind of work pride you’re thinking of.”

“No, dude- it’s the same damned thing. Buildin’ shit, plantin’ shit, makin’ shit work- it’s all labor. Good, hard, honest labor. No business politics or financial crap. You know what’s happenin’ to all your friends in their air conditioned offices? They’re losin’ their jobs and their big, fancy houses because their pickle-assed managers and CEOs blew billions of dollars on some stupidly confusing ponzi scheme.”

“I think your understanding of the current economic crisis is a little off…”

“But not us, dude. We ain’t never gonna be out of work”

“Yeah, until the winter.”

“So you take a couple months off, even teachers get a summer vacation. I’m telling ya, since the dawn of time people have been doin’ this work and no matter what happens with the banks and wall street bozos there’ll always be people who need labor. Hell, if the apocalypse came right now and all technology shut down the only important jobs would be crap like this. Every crazy movie that comes out where the planet’s bein’ blown up by aliens or robots or whatever there are people doing shit like this when they go to rebuild. We’re the backbone, dude. We keep shit workin’.”

“I still don’t see how landscaping qualifies as a “backbone of civilization” sort-of job.”

“See, that’s your problem- thinkin’. You think too much.”

“I think too much?”

“Yeah, you’re always philosophizin’ and questioning shit and whatever you do up in that crazy head a yours. You gotta shut all that stuff up and just work, man. Just work the muscles, get a good sweat goin’, enjoy the sunlight and all that shit and just work, man.”

“Like zen and the art of landscape maintenance, huh?”

“There ya go, philosophizing again.”

“Well, what would you call it?”

“Work, dude. That’s it. Just good, honest work. No business or cheatin’ or any of that crap, just workin’ a good day, comin’ home, drinking a beer and watching the game. That’s how my old man did it, and he died at the ripe ol’ age of 92, happy as a clam. Didn’t say much, didn’t think much, just did simple, honest work. That’s the life.”

“Well, I guess it’s better than kissing some manger’s ass all day.”

“Yeah, man- hell yeah! That’s the spirit. Now keep shovelin!”