Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zoom

Self portrait.  Even the words bothered him.  Why the hell would a self portrait be required of a photographer?  The entire point was to be behind the camera.  He didn't have even a vague idea as to how to do a self portrait that didn't strip him of the sense of control he got from having the camera in hand.

It was because of this that he'd been procrastinating.  For weeks.  He left the notice he'd gotten from the gallery sitting on his kitchen counter hoping that its presence would push him.  All it did was make him angry.  And now coffee stained, crumbled and printed with a date only a day away he was no closer to inspiration or a solution and seeing it only made him more angry.

He placed the package on top of the notice on the counter and felt a vague sense of impending triumph.  This was the key that would lead him to the answer he needed.  This would be his muse.  As he careful slid the knife along the edges of the tapes box he allowed himself to daydream a little.  It was his first gallery showing, after all.  It was supposed to be a good thing.

He threw back the box top and reached inside, carefully pulling out the bubble wrapped device.  He unraveled it from its bulky packaging and felt immediately better as soon as he held it bare in his hand.  He marveled at the weight it, or rather the weightlessness.  The first manual zoom he'd ever used had been a hand-me-down from his father and the thing had weighed at least five pounds. all by itself.  This, though no larger, was like holding a cone of air encased inside a thin metal frame.  He'd purchased it for its ability to handle humidity and temperature change without warping but he had to admit the weight decrease was a nice bonus.

He screwed it on to his camera and hoisted it up in from him.  It felt like an extension of his arm, like it wasn't even there.  But one twist and his world came into focus.  He felt an immediate sense of comfort as he viewed his world through the new lens system.  Now he was ready to shoot.

He looked around his apartment and started shooting off simple shots.  Just to get a feel for the mechanism.  It transitioned smoothly, responding to his touch as if it were made for him, and his shots became more rapid and varied.  One of the first lessons he’d ever learned about this art form was the fact that there is no perfect lens, it’s just a matter of learning what you wanted to sacrifice.  But this zoom handled adjustments so easily and felt so comfortable to him that even the blurred shots had depth and at least one sharp line to attract the eye.  He was getting giddy playing his new toy and completely forgot about the cursed assignment he had to do.

Until he turned and saw himself reflected in the mirror hanging on the back of the open closet door.  It was angled to catch the light from outside behind him and it made him look like something more than what he was.  He zoomed in, blurring out himself behind the camera and focusing in on his new zoom.  His finger pressed down on the shutter and he froze.  Snap.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yard

Source: Edible Yards

It was just what they were looking for- the neighborhood close to the train station without being too urban.  Two bedrooms, two and a half baths, and sunlight streaming into the kitchen through the sliding glass doors.  He knew it by the time he’d finished the tour of the second floor: this was the one.

“Chelsea?” he called, bounding down the stairs with excitement.  He wanted to talk it over with her, make sure they were on the same page.  Then they could put on their games faces and talk shop with the realtor.

“Chels?” he called again as he rounded the corner of the staircase.  The living room was empty save for the hideous furniture the current occupants had crowded it with.  He was already making mental notes of how to better utilize the space.  And the kitchen- ick.  Who in their right mind would squeeze an island into a kitchen this size?

He glanced out the sliding doors as he turned to continue his search and that’s when he spotted her- standing out on the tiny patio, her arms folded around herself.  He could tell immediately she was crying.  He never knew what to do when she cried. It scared the hell out of him, every time, and the fear caused him to hesitate.  But then he took a breath, and forced himself to slide open the door.

He hugged her from behind and gave her a kiss on her wet cheek.  He tried the practical approach.

“I know it’s small but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a lot with it.  I see it all the time on those DIY shows,” he said, looking around the small space and trying to come up with possibilities.

“I mean, like right here,” he said, walking over the patch of grass and referencing spaces with waves of his hands.  “It looks like they’ve already got it outlined for a garden or something- we could grow vegetables or flowers.”
He cautioned a glance at her and saw her smiling as she looked down and it spur red him on.  “And- hey!  Over here we could put like a little fountain and it could be like a little zen garden or something- we could learn to meditate!”

He came back to her, put an around her and pulled her in.  “There’s a lot of life back here, you know?  Quality, not quantity.”

“No,” she said, wiping her face and laughing, “No, I know.  That’s not why I’m crying.”

“Why are you crying, Chels?” he asked, fearing her response.

“It’s just,” she laughed again, embarrassed with herself, “I’ve never had a yard before.” 

And she smiled at him, her eyes lit up with it.  He grinned back at her and grabbed her for a tight hug.  They were home.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Next Up

So, lets just ignore the fact that there's all of two days left in April and I just finished my March read and pretend that I'm on schedule for the challenge.  I know I'm not, but just pretend.

One of the biggest reasons for me doing this challenge- in addition to concluding that I'd be smarter, a better writer, and better spoken if I read more- is the fact that I have boxes worth of unread books lining my bookshelves and waiting to be read.  It's hard to justify buying more books, and there are so many more I want to buy, until I've read the ones I have.  So towards that end, I took a look at my bookshelf this morning and zoned in on the ones I haven't read. 

A lot of them are somewhat recent additions- Christmas presents and birthday gifts of novels by authors I already know and love.  The next in the series, another Amazon recommendation, something related to my interests and activities.  But some, like this one, I obtained so long ago that I can't even remember where or when I got them.  I tend to do a lot of impulse buys in used bookstores- they're like crack to me and I can't resist the need to get more.  I think this might have been one of those purchases.  All I know is, I haven't read it yet.

I'm kind-of excited, it's been a while since I read a short story collection.  And this one's got a lot of impressive recommendations on the back.  Plus Amy Bloom is a brand-new author to me and that's always an exciting prospect. 

So, no- there's no way I'm going to read through this whole thing in two days.  But May is 31 days long so I'm hopeful I can finish this and another one before the month is out.  So stay tuned for my review of this.

Oh!  And if you've read Amy Bloom or enjoyed her yourself please leave a comment and let me know.  I love learning about fantastic writers from the people who love them!

Book Review: Naked Heat

For those of you just coming in, an explanation: there is a fantastic TV show on ABC called Castle in which Nathan Fillion (squee!!) plays a crime novelist named Richard Castle who gets inspiration for his books by working with the homicide detectives of NYC's 14th precinct.  In the show, Castle gets the bulk of his inspiration from his muse Kate Becektt (Stana Katic) and creates his new MC Nikki Heat in her image.  Like his previous MC Derek Storm Nikki is to be featured in a series of books, the first titled Heat Wave (check out my review of that here) with this being the second in the series.  If you're still confused, go here.

At any rate, as I said Naked Heat is the second in the series so the novelty has sort-of worn off by now.  While the first book had me giddy with references to the show every other page now it's just par for the course.  Which isn't to say that it isn't still immensely fun for any fan of the show to catch so many familiar characteristics of the beloved characters, their quips and their mannerisms but simply to say that there's going to have to be something else to keep you invested.

Naked Heat uses the same tools in that endeavor as the show uses.  The plot is never as straight forward as you expect and even the twists aren't really predictable.  By season five my friends and I have taken to guessing who the killer will be "I still say it's the bellhop" or "I bet you anything it'll end up being the chef" but the show still manages to throw us.  The book does an even better job of that because it has a lot more time and text with which to play with you.

This story is made more interesting by the fact that one of the main sources of clues- the body- is stolen armed robbery style on route to the medical examiner so the characters have to spend the first quarter of the book retrieving it before they can really get down to the investigation.  Once they do the reader gets thrown head-first into the world of shady gossip intrigue and the dark side of fame with a super creepy contract killer thrown in for fun.

What I loved about this book is the same as what I love about the series.  They're ghost written by one of the staff writers of the show so it's no surprise that it feels so familiar (and therefore loveable) in book format.  My only real complaint last time was that in the book they actually show the sex scenes (whereas in the show it all happens off screen) and the language is straight out of a harlequin romance novel.  I'm happy to report that the sex in this novel is less overt and subsequently didn't bother me as much.  Plus they reveal something about Rook that sort-of pokes fun at the whole genre and makes it just another characteristic to love about the character rather than an "ick" inducing departure from crime and cop banter.

All in all I'm left with the same conclusion that I made about the first book: if you love the series, you'll love the books.  They're not going to change your life and they're not what I would consider great literature.  But just because they're fun doesn't mean they're dumb- all the wit that makes one loves the series is clear on each page so you can enjoy it without feeling guilty.  

Needless to say, I'll be reading the next one, Heat Rises, soon.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xerox Box

I wasn't paying attention,  If I had been paying attention, I would've left it where it was.  But I was talking to you, rambling like an idiot, and I got distracted.

"Spring cleaning is such a lovely concept and such a shitty actual practice," I complained.

"Yeah well, a lot of things are great in theory," you said.

"Like this- what the hell is this, even?  What would possess me to shove a random office box in the back of my closet with no label that might give me even the slightest clue as to what's inside?" I said, pulling it out without even thinking.

"Well, if you can't remember what you were thinking, I certainly can't," you laughed.

Then I opened up the box and the world stopped.

"I uh... I gotta go," I told you, my brain struggling to form the words.

"You ok?" you asked.  You could hear it in my voice.  You must have.

"Yeah, yeah- I just uh.... this is a two-handed operation, you know?" I lied.  

"Ok, well don't work too hard," you said.  I could hear the concern in your voice, the warning.  But I was already gone.

I gave you a superficial farewell and hung up.  I heard my phone clatter to the floor, I didn't even put it down.  My hands were in the box puling out memories before I could think better of it.

After so many years of keeping her hidden, there she was.  Our entire time together in a box in the back of my closet, just waiting for me to open it and fall apart.

A picture of her smiling as she rode me piggy back, the light still bright in her eyes at that point.  Her and Sam and Chris and me all doing bunny rabbit ears to each other as we stood on the sidewalk in the fair.  That stupid elephant I won for her that night cause Sam was a shitty throw.  The necklace we got in that stupid novelty store- the FF of the BFF heart halves she said we had to get because it would be a novel thing to do.  Her favorite hoodie- still torn up and stained with her blood.

I sank back and looked over the contents of the box.  That stupid box that I'd shoved everything into after the accident so there wouldn't be any remnants of her to weaken me.  Cause I had to be strong.  Cause you weren't.

I should've gone through it.  Waiting all these years hadn't made it any easier to see, and waiting another decade wasn't going to help.  But I'd been keeping it together all this time on an idea.  The idea that I was the strong one, I was the rock.  And rocks don't crumble over old photographs and junk.

So I shoved the lid back on and pushed it back into the corner of the closet and closed the door.  Let the dust have it, I figured.  I've got cleaning to do.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things For April 26

The Brainchild of Viklit

A quick note for anyone who doesn't know what this is: every week you post something(s) for which you're grateful.  Usually small/non life-changing events because they're the ones we tend to take for granted.  If you need more gratitude in your life (which, let's face it, who doesn't?) click on the link above and join us!

W...  Only three more posts to write for the A to Z challenge, can you believe it?  And my fourth straight week of daily writing!  This challenge has been so amazingly great for me I can't even describe it.  (Though I'm going to have to for that reflections post, aren't I?  Well, at least I have until the 3rd to figure out how to sum up this fantastic experience!)

...which is for Weather  It has been absolutely gorgeous the past few days.  The sun has been shining bright and the baby leaves on the trees are practically glowing with their overwhelming green-ness.  It's been cool enough to really enjoy being outside and everywhere you go there's a constant serenade of birds chirping.  I even held one of my groups outside and everybody really enjoyed it.  It's been so good for my mental health, especially since I've had some bad news on both the home and health fronts, this weather has kept me looking forward to the day when I might otherwise have really struggled.  Thank you spring!

And now I invite you to keep the celebration going by hopping along!

This is a Blog Hop!


W is for Whispers

"Will...?  Will, wake up," she whispered, nudging him gently as she crawled over to his side of the bed.

She could hear his breath- deep and even- warning her of his continued slumber.   She reached her arm across his chest and gently set it down, then settled her head on his shoulder.

"Will," she whispered more intently, giving him a push with her knee.

"Wha?" he mumbled, then took a sharp intake of breath as his hand grasped hers.  "What happened?  You ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine," she said softly, rubbing his chest to soothe him.  "I just had a nightmare."

"Oh, no- no nightmares," he said, pushing his arm behind her and pulling her in for an embrace.

She wrapped herself around him and breathed in his scent.  His warmth on her cheek and his body under hers was reassuring and she felt more real from it.  He let his head rest on hers as he held her.

"What happened?" he sighed.

"Well, it was weird.  You were there but... you weren't really you, you know?  I mean, you were my husband, but you weren't you, if that makes any sense."

"Sure," he said, still groggy.

"And you were... you were mad at me for some reason."  She tried to remember the details of the dream but the past few minutes in the comfort of her own bedroom had chased the tenuous images away and now the harder she tried to concentrate on them the more vague and amorphous they became.

"I was mad at you?" he asked, snuggling in further as he fully awakened.

"Yeah, but I... I can't remember.  I just- I didn't like that you were mad at me.  Don't be mad at me," she said, and buried her face in his chest.

"No, sweetie- no.  I'm not mad at you," he rubbed her back as he held her and whispered "It's ok."

She wanted to explain to him how disturbing it had been but the dream had evaporated into the ether and left only the residue of strong emotion without origin.  She settled into him and let the emotion fade away.  As they lay there she sank into him and let her eyes close again.

"It's ok, sweetie, it's ok," he whispered. 

She mumbled something into his shirt about him being the best pillow and before long they both began to drift back to sleep.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Voice

"I used to think that, too.  But the thing you have to realize is there's no such thing as perfect.  And on any given day, you might not perform it the same.   So if you go out there and you make a mistake, it isn't that you screwed up or that you ruined it- that's just you.  There is no one else on the planet who can do it like you.  This is your opportunity to express yourself- your unique, one-of-a-kind expression of yourself.  This is your voice.  So speak up."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Undercurrent

You said you were fine.
Told me "Really, I'm ok."
Trying to play it off like you'd been hardened beyond hurt
the last time.

But in the space between your words
there is an ocean of pain.
And it drowns out everything you say.

I can hear it in your voice-
the long pauses,
the hesitations.
And I can picture your eyes
You sound so lost
and it all comes flooding back to me.

My frustration, my rage
my agony over watching you go through this
and not being able
to save you.

But in the end
all I can really say
is I love you.

And I'm sorry.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tower

Source: Me, taken at The CN Tower in Toronto

She exhaled, looked down, and froze.  She’d been dismissive standing in the queue downstairs.  Even disdainful, laughing at his attempt to cheer her.  Like seeing a view would fix things.  But standing there over a thousand feet above the ground, she couldn’t help but feel a little better.

“You know, I gotta hand it to you,” she said, folding her arms, “this is something.”

“Hey, at the very least you got outside today, right?” he said, putting an arm around her.

“Doesn’t fix anything, though.”

“I know” he said, pulling in her a little bit closer and sliding his other arm around her to enclose her in a sideways hug.  “But it helps.”

“Why is that?’ she wondered aloud, letting herself lean into him as she stood there staring down the endless expanse to the tower’s base.

He was quiet for minute and she looked over to see his mouth making that bemused expression that always reminded her of a little boy stomping his feet.  She smiled in spite of her mood, she couldn’t help it.

“I don’t know,” he finally said.  “Perspective, I guess.”

“Perspective, huh?”  She looked down again and let that feeling swallow her.  The one she got when moments like this happened.  Like so much more was possible than she could foresee from this point in her life.  And even though life was down there waiting for her with all of its problems and impassable barriers, she was meant for more.

“Feel better?” he asked, giving her a squeeze.

“Yeah,” she said, smiling.  “Thanks.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Snooze

Source: ABC News

 She heard the alarm go off and her hand shot out at it reflexively, hitting the snooze alarm before she had fully awoken.  She rolled over and forced her eyes open, looking at the display through a haze of sleep residue.  She had to get up, she knew.  Lying there wasn't going to make it any easier.

She peeled the covers back slowly, letting her arms test the air before forcing herself out of the warm cocoon of the bed.  But the cold air bit at her skin and sent her retreating into the safety and comfort of the blankets.

"Just get up" she chided herself, willing herself to throw off the covers and get on with the morning.

But then a strong arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her into a backwards embrace.  Her body immediately curled into the shape of his.  His breath was warm on her skin and her legs sank backwards as if trying to cover every inch of his.  

Immediately she justified the decision with the logic that ten minutes more would not make her late to work, then drifted back to sleep in the cradle of him.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for the Road

She looked over the map and pondered her next move.  North would take her up into the hills and likely some spectacular views.  South would bring her down to the the river front and the tranquility of the water's surface.  She glanced a view both ways and marveled at her good luck on the day.

She couldn't have chosen a more beautiful scene if she was painting it herself.  And this was just the beginning.

She opened the door to her busted old cadillac with the rusty bottom and it squeaked at her in protest.  The plastic seats had long tears in them, the carpet had darkened several shades from the gold it had been when he father first purchased it and there was a smell akin to barbecued skunk faintly wafting up from the back seat.  It was a dumpy vision if ever there was one.  But it ran.  And it would take her down the road to an endless list of places she'd only ever imagined visiting.

She slid the key into the ignition, patted the dash as she willed the old motor to turn over and sat back contentedly when it purred to life.  She had her car.  She had the road.  And, for the first time, she had the ability to determine her own path, all by herself.  It was all she needed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrate The Small Things for April 19th

Thanks to VikLit for Creating this!

Every Single Day:  So this is a repeat from last week, but no less of a big deal.  Thanks to the A to Z challenge (We're on Q already, can you believe it?) I have been-consistently- writing every single day!  For some writers, writing every single day is as natural as breathing in that if they're alive, they're doing it.  That's never been me.  This practice has been phenomenal for me and I'm so thrilled at my progress this month.

Connecting:  40 followers!  WOOT!~ more people have followed me this month through the A to Z Challenge than have in the entire existence of this blog.  Seriously.  And what's more, they're all really awesome writers with their own amazing posts for the A to Z challenge.  While I'm overdue to catch up on commenting on all the new, amazing people I've followed this month I am thrilled that they're reading my stories and (amazingly enough) actually seem to like them!  And this weekend I plan to be up to date with all of my comments, which means there's lots of good writing in my future!

Open House for the new OS at work:  Yesterday was the "Open House" for the new clinical documentation program at work.  They opened up the conference room, plugged in some workstations to show us the screen layouts and how to click around to find everything and it definitely looks way more advanced than the system we're currently using. I'm a little dubious since the last system they tried to switch the hospital to failed epically so I'm waiting till it actually goes live to be really excited about it.  BUT, they brought a really nice spread of food to the open house so I got a free lunch!  Is hard to top free lunch.

And now I invite you to once again hop along and celebrate with all the other awesome writers.  Happy Friday!

This is a Blog Hop!