10.31.2010

Derailed, Cont.

It turned out the figment’s name was actually She-Who-Moves-Swiftly, although she preferred the less-formal Swift. When Adam gave his name in turn, she gave him another funny look.

“That’s… not a very auspicious name,” she said. Adam glared at her. He was beginning to find this manifestation of his subconscious to be slightly obnoxious. Who was it to be so judgmental?

“Sorry it doesn’t meet your approval,” he said dryly. “But it’s always worked just fine for me.”

“Huhn,” she said in a tone that said she didn’t quite believe him. “Well maybe you do names differently where you come from.”

“Maybe we do.”

“Still. You’d think… never mind. I’m sure Eyes knows what she’s doing.”

“Who?”

“Eyes. My older sister.”

“She knows what she’s-“

“Ugh, this is taking forever. Can you ride a horse?”

“Can I- what? Maybe?” Adam, taken aback by the quick subject change, fumbled for the right answer. “It’s not really- I don’t do it all the time. I mean, I have ridden horses, if that’s what you mean.”

“Good enough. Get on: I’m tired of this slow pace.”

And that was how Adam found himself jostling up and down, clinging uncomfortably to Swift as her horse raced across the plain. Stupid dream with its stupid realistic physics: now would definitely be a good time for the flying to kick in.

“I thought you said you could ride!” she yelled over her shoulder. He thought she might be grinning.

“Am I falling off?”

“No…”

“Then shut up!”

***

It was probably only an hour or two before they reached the campsite, but it seemed like an eternity to his more delicate regions. Swift hopped down gracefully, pretending not to notice as Adam clung to the horse after his own descent. He wasn’t 100% certain his legs were up to the task of supporting him. Stupid, stupid dream.

He distracted himself from the throbbing in his body by taking a look around. It wasn’t really what he’d had in mind when Swift had said “campsite”- that being a little campfire with some bedrolls. No, this was more like… “camp-village”. There were at least six large tents big enough for several families, as well as a scattering of medium-sized tents, and a few smaller tents obviously meant for only one or two people. (Elves.) (Whatever.) There was also a large herd of horses grazing peacefully, and a whole lot of elves staring at him with obvious interest. Their skin was all variations of the reddish-ochre Swift possessed- some a little darker, some a little paler- and their down/hair color all seemed to fall within the same family, as well. Swift was, however, one of the tallest amongst her people. Adam, who was short by human male standards, suddenly started to feel like a giant. It was not entirely unpleasant.

“C’mon,” his guide said, and grabbed him by the sleeve. She dragged him toward one of the medium-sized tents, and he let her without protest. Who was he to protest what his subconscious wanted him to see? Especially now that it has stopped torturing him via horseback riding…

The interior of the tent held a single female elf- this one with skin the exact shade of Swift’s, but with down/hair the color soft cream. It was a shocking contrast, made even more pronounced when she captured Adam’s gaze with her own: her eyes were a vivid cat-green. It was a little creepy.

“You were right, Eyes,” said Swift, flopping down unceremoniously next to the green-eyed elf. He was exactly where you said he'd be. And he says his name is A Dammed River, of all things.”

“That’s not-“ Adam began to protest, but Swift kept talking right over him.

“I mean really- A Dammed River? What kind of a name is that for a hero? Sister, I think you may have called the wrong one.”

A hero? Adam’s mouth hung open. For all its boring start, this dream was getting a lot more promising.

“We shall see whether or not I’ve called whom I meant to call,” said Eyes. “But in the meantime, little sister, you are being rude. A Dammed River, my name is Eyes That See Beyond. I am shaman for our tribe, and it is I who have summoned you to our aide.”

“My name isn’t-“ Adam protested weakly, but Swift broke in again.

“He goes by A Dam. Which, if you ask me, is even worse.”

“Well no one asked you!” said Adam, forgetting that he was defending a moniker he didn’t actually use. Damn his subconscious was annoying. Eyes hid a smile behind her hand while Swift glared.

“Perhaps, sister, you should leave us alone. I’m sure A Dam has many questions.” Swift rolled her eyes, but got to her feet and left the tent. Eyes gestured to Adam to sit, then offered him a small cup, which he took without thinking.

“I hope you like our tea,” she said. “I asked the gods to send us someone from a world as similar to ours as possible, but you never know what will and will not translate.” She held a hand up to the tip of her pointed ear and gave him a little grin. Adam could not help but smile back, and took a small sip. He found the taste similar to chamomile, but with a touch of spice. Pleasant.

“It’s nice,” he said. “The gods, huh?”

“Yes. You have to be… fairly specific with what you ask for. Their sense of humor is… well, one might say a bit twisted, so if you aren’t very careful about what you request…”

“You end up with a strangely pale, round-eared giant with an inauspicious name?”

“Something like that,” she took a sip herself, but he could see her eyes crinkling with delight over the edge of the cup. He decided they were nice eyes. Not creepy at all.

10.30.2010

My Husband Is Awesome

If you know me at all, you know that I am a Person Who Loves Halloween. Specifically, I love dressing up. Costume parties are just... they are just fabulous. I start planning for Halloween sometime in June. Seriously. My annual costume budget is like $200 (that's not to say I always spend that much, but it's there if I need it). So yeah- Halloween? Kind of a Big Deal.

If you know my husband at all, you know that he is at the opposite end of the Enjoying Social Events spectrum from me. He definitely does not particularly care about Halloween (they didn't celebrate it growing up) and dressing up isn't really his thing.

All that having been said, my husband very gamely let me dress him up in a complimentary costume (fisherman to my mermaid) and then drove me out to a party with a bunch of people he doesn't even know (friends from my second job). I told him we only had to stay for an hour, but do you know what that man did? He stayed for three-and-a-half hours, and made conversation, and was all in all an incredibly good sport. So I was feeling pretty good about all of this, but then I came upon a cluster of my girl friends who were all there without their husbands, and one of them declared that Nathan is just "too good", because all of their husbands had (individually) ditched them and made them come alone. When you stop to consider the fact that their husbands at least know one another (whereas Nathan knew only me)- well.

My husband is awesome.

I think it says a lot about our marriage that Nathan is willing to go outside of his comfort zone for something he knows is really important to me. He's a damn good friend, and I think that translates accordingly to "spouse".

Now it's time for photos! Wheee!

Some have called me the Deadliest Catch!

aaaand from the back

10.29.2010

Derailed

Adam Rivers liked trains. Not in the little-boy-wonderment sense, and definitely not in the Freudian-slip sense. In fact, it wasn’t even the trains he liked so much as the travel via train. He liked that once you got on a train, you weren’t going to get lost. You sat in your seat (or wandered the cars) and you did whatever suited you- you read, you ate, you drank (sometimes you drank a lot), you chatted up strangers (at least, he saw others doing as much), whatever. The point is that you didn’t have to put any thought into getting where you were going, because you were going to get there. You might arrive early, you might arrive late, you might go there directly or make a bunch of stops on the way- but as long as you stayed on the train that was staying on the tracks, you weren’t going anywhere but where you were going. Adam found it soothing to know he could rely on at least one part of his day going according to plan.

He was thinking as much to himself as he settled down for the ride from Portland up to Seattle. The rest of his day had definitely not gone as planned. For starters, he was supposed to have company on this late-night journey. The seat next to him should have contained his girlfriend, and the two across from him should have held his brother and soon-to-be-sister-in-law, respectively. But those seats were empty, thanks to one work/personal/family crisis after another. They had encouraged him to go on without them- they would meet up with him tomorrow and anyway someone had to check into the hotel, etc. etc… whatever. Adam didn’t mind the solitude, and he was used to being The Responsible One, so pretty much par for the course, right? Right. Anyway he had a manuscript he needed to work on, and the three-and-a-half hours of uninterrupted quiet beckoned invitingly. He glanced around the car and found he was its only occupant. Yep, he ought to have plenty of peace for his writing.

But first a nightcap.

Adam reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a silver flask decorated with intricate knot-work. He took a smooth swallow of bourbon and couldn’t help but grin: between the story bubbling in his head and the liquor warming up his belly, it ought to be a fine night, indeed.

***

Bright. Way, way too bright.

“Hon- c’n turnna light off?” he groaned, and rolled to bury his face in the pillow.

Except there was no pillow. And he couldn’t roll over, anyway, because he was sitting up. Adam opened his eyes, feeling severely disoriented.

“Whuzza-“

Shit. He was still on the train, and the landscape flying by was lit by sun, not moon. Shit shit shit. He didn’t even remember falling asleep- and he’d bet a million dollars he was now traveling away from Seattle. Why hadn’t the damn ticket-taker come by? Or had he? Shit, how much had he drank? Adam shook his flask doubtfully. It was heavy in his hand, and sloshed in such a way that told him he’d never gone past that first sip.

What the hell?

He rubbed his face, feeling weary and resigned: he was never going to live this one down. Obviously he needed to cut back on the gym, if it was leaving him so exhausted he was sleeping like a coma-victim. He sighed and stood up, determined to figure out what leg of the journey he was on. If he was close to Portland he’d just ride it out and try to get on whatever train his girlfriend was on. If he was closer to Seattle maybe he’d just hop off at the next station.

The first door he tried was locked. Of course. He sighed again and moved to the other end of the car. Also locked.

What the hell?

Okay, so maybe they were… running an exercise? That required locked doors? Adam peered back out the window. He’d done this trip often enough that he figured there was a pretty good chance he’d recognize some landmark or another, and then at least he’d know which way he was headed.

“Uhhh…” he shook his head and looked again, but the view did not change. Rather than the familiar mountains, hills, and lakes of Washington State (or even Oregon, for that matter) he was staring out across a prairie. A flat, endless gold prairie beneath an equally flat and endless blue sky. Maybe it was his imagination, but he was pretty sure he saw a herd of buffalo in the distance.

Imagination! Of course it was his imagination- the whole thing was his imagination, because obviously he was asleep. Obviously. Damn vivid dreams. He hadn’t slept through anything, because he was still asleep.

“But now that I know I’m asleep,” he said aloud, “I can wake up.”

Nothing.

“Okay fine. Then I can fly.”

Still nothing.

“Fantastic. My girlfriend gets to dream about fighting epic battles as a salamander, and I’m stuck in the world’s most boringly realistic dream. And I can’t wake up.”

He gave himself a half-hearted pinch, but couldn’t remember if being pinched was supposed to wake you up, or tell you whether or not you were dreaming. Since it didn’t seem to do either one, he sighed again and sat back down and stared out the window for a while. The landscape didn’t change, but he began to feel more confident that the dark mass he’d glimpsed early had, in fact, been buffalo.

Part of him was tempted to pull out his laptop and get back to work on his story. But another part of him resented the idea of pouring a lot of time and effort into writing something that wouldn’t even be there when he woke up. He was debating whether or not his conscious mind would be able to access something written by his subconscious when he felt the train begin to slow.

Interesting.

The slowing soon became an actual stop, and both doors slid open.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” he muttered, and stood up. Dream or not, he gathered up his coat and backpack and made his way to the end of his carriage, and then out the train. There was no platform, no station- as far as he could tell the train had just paused in the middle of the grass. A prairie dog was watching him warily from about ten feet away: Adam nodded to it, wondering what it was supposed to represent.

“What, are you like the Kansas welcome committee? Should I call you Toto?” But the creature just disappeared down its hole.

Okay then.

The too-bright sunlight felt warm on his bared forearms, but the wind was sharp as a knife and slipped right through his sweater. He tugged his sleeves down, pulled his coat back on, and started walking up the length of the train. He’d almost reached the engine when it disappeared.

Not just the engine- the entire train. Gone. Poof. And the rails with it.

“Oh come on,” he said, but then checked himself. At least the dream was getting semi-interesting.

“Come on what?” asked a voice from behind him, and Adam whirled. There in front of him stood- well, she seemed to have the requisite girl parts in the chest region, but girl was probably not the right word for her. Not human girl, anyway. Her skin was a sort of reddish-ochre he’d never seen on a human, and her eyes were a bright yellow that reminded him of a bird of prey. Her ears were… well, they were pointed. And, unless he was much mistaken, so were her teeth.

“Elf,” he said. The dream was definitely getting more interesting.

“Self?” she said. “Come on self? That makes no sense. Have you injured your head?”

But Adam didn’t answer, because he was still taking in the sight of her. She was shorter than him by at least half a head, and wearing a dusty leather get-up that, to be frank, disappointed him with its practical cut. He was pretty sure he could have come up with a sexier outfit than that for a dream-elf. Her hair seemed to consist of a blending of black and reddish-brown feathers, of all things (or maybe they were called down when they were soft and fluffly like that?). One of her hands was resting lightly on the neck of what seemed to be a perfectly normal horse- but the hand had only four digits, and resembled a bird’s claw more than a human hand. He glanced down at her feet- but they were covered in sensible boots.

“Well?” she demanded.

“Sorry- what?”

“Are you injured?”

“Oh! Uh, no. I don’t think so, anyway.” She gave him a funny look, and then let her eyes travel up and down his body with a clearly unimpressed expression. Adam wasn’t sure how he felt about his a manifestation of his id judging him, but since he’d just done the same…

“I must say, you aren’t really what I was expecting.”

“Excuse me?”

“Come along. My sister will want to meet you, oddly shaped or not.”

Excuse me?” But the elf-girl did not answer- merely swung herself up onto her horse and began walking it away from him.

“Coming?” she called back over her shoulder.

“Why the hell not,” he muttered, and started following his subconscious into the unknown.



***


(On a completely unrelated note, you The Reader definitely need to see our totally awesome rat-o-latern.)

10.28.2010

Workshopping

So I guess this is where you really get to see some of my Process. I'm not allowed to start officially writing on my NaNoWriMo story until 11/01, but it's totally within the rules to work on outlines, character development, etc. So that's what I was doing with my spare time today, which means that is what I am submitting for tonight's entry, which means you basically get a hodge-podge of what is the equivalent of doodling-with-words, brief sketches of ideas and concepts that may or may not make it to the final cut. If you're wary of spoilers, there are lots here. Probably. I mean basically this is my story in a nutshell (unless I change my mind). So, you know... you've been warned.

To start things off I laid out a rough outline. I tend to do my outlines in time-line form, because I'm anal retentive that way. And because it keeps me on-track and helps me avoid temporal inconsistencies- although that shouldn't be such a problem with this book, since, as I discovered, the main story is apparently not going to cover more than about six years, four of which won't even be on the page (see! Outlining is important because you learn things you didn't even know about your story...). I'll refine and expand this as I get further into it, but this is how things stand for now:


Backstory

Dramen beloved by people and Court, crows revered

-22 Dramen and Magician become lovers

-20 Dramen breaks M’s heart

-20 M curses Dramen (to be broken by true love), crows become despised

Dramen mopes. Like, a lot. No mortal will have anything to do with him: curse looks hopeless.

00 Serenity (Sera) born

08 Sera finds wounded crow, nurses it back to health

09 Crows begin to follow her around without D’s knowledge

15 D notices Sera’s affinity for his people, decides she will be the one to break the curse

Novel Begins

16 Sera leaves home

16 D courts Sera (roses)

16 Sera discovers D’s true identity, returns his affections

16 Sera goes to Court, meets Sivon and the Phoenixes, etc

16 It is revealed that D and Sera are not actually in love: just infatuation. Curse remains.

16 Sera, horrified at herself, goes back out into the world for some soul-searching

Part Two

20 D attempts more romances, finds them unsatisfying- goes to Sera to bitch

20 They become actual friends

21 They fall in love without knowing it

22 Some sort of crisis reveals it

22 Curse broken, crows restored.

Happily Ever After. Hooray!


So there's that. Now, the second thing I worked on today was the beginnings of my character sketches. To be fair it's not really the beginnings, since these are characters that have been drifting around in my brain in one form or another for ten years. But for the purposes of this incarnation, I needed to get something written down, that I could come back to and reference. Just like with the outline, these will become refined and expanded as the mood strikes- but for the time being, this is what I'm working with:

Dramen- Crow King. Once beloved by the Court and the world at large. His people were revered, and he was devastatingly charming and clever. Thoughtlessly self-absorbed, regularly broke hearts. After he was cursed by the Nightingale Queen he fell completely from grace: mortals turned from him and his people, their reactions ranging from annoyance to loathing. Dramen became depressed and prone to brooding as he realized people were no longer dazzled by him. Takes himself way too seriously when at the beginning of the book.

The curse has layers. The first is that he’s stuck in crow form any time he visits the mortal realm. The second is that it turned mortal hearts (in general) against crows, while at the same time robbing Dramen of much of his natural charm/dazzle. It can only be broken by true love.

Sera (Serenity)- mortal girl that loves crows. She, too, is amazingly charming and thoughtlessly self-absorbed. People are naturally attracted to her, and as such are more tolerant of the crows when she’s around. She is sweet and fun and not very serious at the beginning of the book- although prone to drama and bursts of temper. When it is revealed that their “true love” is merely infatuation (along with a display of her past behavior regarding people’s hearts) she sobers considerably and goes out to find a higher purpose.

Sivon- Raven Queen, older sister to Dramen. She is the possessor of True Vision, which combined with her long life makes her very wise. She has little patience for her brother’s dramatics, and is herself very good-natured and practical. Her husband is a true raven.

______- Nightingale Queen, former lover of Dramen. Very beautiful and powerful (but highly temperamental) mage. Curses him when he thoughtlessly breaks her heart.

______- Phoenix Emperor and Empress- they rule over the Welkin Court (/Feathered Court)


So there you have some of the main players, and a few of the supporting. There will be others, doubtless, but I haven't met them yet, and thus have not had to figure out anything about them.

Finally, I worked on writing blurbs, because the NaNoWriMo asks for a brief synopsis of your novel. I am going to save a tiny smidge of my dignity by only showing you the one I ended up using. The others... well, let's just say I will probably not be able to write book blurbs for a living. Especially not for books I haven't actually entirely figured out yet...

Everyone loves Sera- whether she wants them to or not. Animal or human, young or old, male or female- everyone finds her charming, delightful, and all but impossible to say ‘no’ to. The people of her village even indulge her strange affection for those filthy birds of ill-omen, crows. As she grows older, Sera begins to capture the romantic interest of boys and men at an alarming rate: even, it seems, that of the cursed Crow King himself.

Reading that gives you a little further insight into what I will be doing with the character of Sera- which I didn't actually realize at the beginning of this day. And of course there is loads more still locked in my brain- stuff that I may never write down, but that it's important for me to know to write this story. Because I, unlike Tolkien, don't think you actually want to hear about ever single political intrigue that has ever arisen in the Welkin Court (or the Empyrean Court, for that matter- what's that? What is the Empyrean Court? Never you mind! Because it's not friggin' pertinent!). And if you do care about that sort of thing... then get lots of people to buy my book, so that I'll be compelled to write a sequel. You know, when I publish it. Someday.

::cough::

EDIT: I did a quick word-count on this, and it came out to about 1150. In order to meet my goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, I will need to average 1667 words per day. So about half again as much as I threw down for this.

Oh boy.

10.27.2010

Five

I. Bright black sky, hard and glittering. Silver stars, diamond snow, iridescent swirls of light framing a pewter moon. Winter here is like living in a frost giant's jewelry box. She adores it: adores the gleaming ice that covers everything, adores the pain of the cold in her lungs, adores the blue-and-green carved drifts that guide her passage. Winter may be king in this land, but she is it's queen.

II. How can this be called winter? It's all wrong- the endless gray rains, the relentlessly green trees... isn't anything in this state the way it should be? He stares out the window, listless. Why had he come here? For her? She's gone now- took the sunlight with her, left him in this soggy, sodden mess. It doesn't even have the decency to be cold. At least if it were cold he could wrap himself in protective layers, something to help him keep it out... keep everything out...

III. They love this time of year- love the way the snow makes everything so soft, like a powdery white hug. Love the way their faces get red, love the way the blood tingles when they come back inside to sit in front of a fire. Love the excuse to make pots and pots of hot cocoa, laced with dozens of fluffy white marshmallows that only serve to remind them they should go back outside and sled some more...

IV. Shimmering air heavy in his lungs- this is what he has longed for. Christmas with a cactus. Rolling dunes of gold instead of white. Never ever again was he going north: his bones would someday bleach in the sun and his soul would rest easy, suffused with warm at last.

V. A starving animal clawing at her cabin- she knows it is cliched, but she cannot help but think it. This time of year has teeth, sharp and penetrating, devouring everything in a futile attempt to ease the ache in its hollow belly. She understands this time of year, understands the pain and anguish of having been left, bereft and unfulfilled- but understanding does not bring love, or even tolerance. She hates the animal, and will resist it with all her being. She would kill it, if she could- grind it beneath the heel of her boot, making way for it's gentler sisters. But no mortal can face it down, and so she hides, instead, and prays it will pass on.

10.26.2010

Digging Myself Deeper

Well Ladies and Gents, here we are again, home in Birmingham. You might notice that as of the writing of this particular entry, I have not yet updated the "travelogue". And to be frank, it's just not going to happen until tomorrow (sorry, Mom). I'd planned to do it this evening after my flight landed, but then we ended up heading out to celebrate a family birthday, and now I'm full of headache and a desire to sleep in my own bed.

But I figure now is as good a time as any to let you guys in on my latest Queen Sized Endeavor (QSE being reference to the time I decided to learn how to quilt, and rather than start with a nice sampler or baby quilt I jumped right in with a- you guessed it- queen sized quilt. I have a habit of doing this with my creative projects... all or nothing, that's me...): I (along with a handful of similarly insane friends) will be participating in National Write a Novel Month, better known as NaNoWriMo (even better known as NANOMO! in my brain, because it sounds more hilarious). If you don't feel like going and reading all about it, here is the Need to Know part: I will be writing a 50,000 word novel from scratch in the month of November.

The "from scratch" part means that I can't use anything I've already written, which rules out quite a bit (::coughcoughPahlain::). As such, I'm diving back into my past to revive a story that puttered around in my brain for a long time but never really came to much. The tentative working title is The Fall of the Crow King, and it hearkens all the way back to my freshman year at college (that would be over ten years ago, now. Oi.) So we shall see how that goes. In the meantime, Nathan took a lovely image of me today that I thought would work really well as a mock novel cover (cart, then horse- heck yeah). If you want to follow my progress on this ridiculous project, here's my official page. Not that you'll be able to read what I'm churning out, but you'll at least be able to see the word count. Never fear, however- if you really want to read it, chances are quite good that more than a bit of it will end up on here anyway (completely unedited, so be kind) since in order to make the goal of 50k words in a month I'll need to be averaging about 1700 words a day- and I don't know that I'll always feel like doing that on top of my regular posts.

Again I say oi. November is going to be a jam-packed month.

10.25.2010

Officially, 100% Giving Up on Chinese Food (Forever)

David has to work today, so he is not around to entertain me. I had originally thought I’d just go out walking around the base and make new friends (because I am good at making new friends when the occasion arises), but it is a bit too cold for such activities. Or, to put it another way, I do not have the right clothes for making friends in the windy, rainy 41° weather that is going on right now. Nope, hat and fleece just aren’t cutting it, which I proved in my valiant two-block trek to Burger King. At least on the way back the wind was at my back. Brr! At any rate, since I do know enough not to needlessly expose myself to hypothermia, I’ve elected to hang out in the hotel room and do things like write this blog entry.

Of course, having done not much more than gotten up, worked out, and gotten food means I don’t really have that much to write about yet. So maybe I’ll just come back to this later.

Aaaaand it's later. I eventually ended up watching some programs on TLC, which has the effect of making me feel like a vastly superior human being (and considering how superior I feel myself to be without any prompting, that's pretty damn vast). I came to the conclusion that not having cable is in no way hindering my Life Experience. David came home just in time to be horrified by how much some people will spend on a dress they'll wear once (I'd like to point out that I've worn my $100 dress at least twice now...) and then we headed out for food.

Initially he had a craving for IHOP, but on our way there he spied a Panda Express, and asked if I wanted to eat that, instead. I said something to the effect of, "Errr..." and he said, "Of course you want Panda Express!" so in we went.

Now the reason I said, "Errr..." is because I don't exactly have the best track record with Chinese: it just makes me feel really ill. I try to avoid it when I can, and when I can't I stick to the vegetables and usually don't suffer too much. And I figured that Panda Express, being a chain, would probably be totally fine.

Oh I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I had chow mein, mixed vegetables, and cream cheese ragoons- should be safe enough, right? Um, again I say wrong. I won't go any further into it, except to say you'd think I'd been struck down with food-poison. Yeah. So today is the day I Officially, 100% Give Up on Chinese Food Forever. I don't care which family member (are you listening, various in-laws and grandparents?) want to go- I will politely bow the hell out. Because I just won't go through that again.

Still, it makes me sad. I have such fond memories of spending Saturdays in college stuffed with Safeway Chinese and anime. ::sigh:: Ah well...

10.24.2010

The (Hyperactive) Boss of Anyone and Everyone

It should come as a surprise to exactly none of you that I kind of like bossing people around. Like, a lot. So as far as I’m concerned, today was just about as good a day as it gets.

The morning was devoted to getting decorations over to and up at the wedding/reception sites (a quick aside- this location was gorgeous). I did some bossing here, but mostly in my capacity as a former merchandising expert. Really it was more doing than bossing, when it came to the decorations. I also did brainstorming regarding backup plans and even frontup plans. And then I discovered the “desired wedding photographs” list and got to work on a few of those.

Now, here is a moment wherein I must pause in epic appreciation of my husband. When my about-to-be-married friend told me he’d be handing me a camera at some point to take a few photos, I thought he had a point-and-click. Because ladies and gentlemen, that is my camera-level. Point. Click. Oh, it’s true that I can frame some pretty decent shots, or set them up for someone else, or pose people (especially myself) in the manner most flattering to them. I can also look at a scene and tell you whether the light is good or bad, that sort of thing. But people- I can’t do a damn thing with this information, because I’m the wife/assistant/muse of a photographer: not a photographer. And that’s on purpose (believe me when I say it’s damn hard work glazing over every time he tries to teach me something!) So when my friend handed me a camera with lenses that change out, I almost swallowed my tongue. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to know just enough to know how damn ignorant you are? (Hint: very frustrating.) Also, I wanted a macro lens so badly I could taste it (pretty hard to get good ring shots without it) which was uncomfortable to me because again- not a photographer. I should not have photographer cravings! Plus the whole pressure of, you know, someone’s wedding. By the time the cousin-with-some-experience showed up to take the camera from me, I was ready to cry with relief. But more on my interaction with that fellow in a bit.

When things really heated up in terms of Jenny O Getting to Boss People was when the officiant showed up. It just so happens that said officiant is an old and dear friend of mine, so first there had to be huggings and joy. But then there was lots of Jenny O barking out Rehersal Orders. Great great fun. And then it was one hour ‘til and there was lots of Jenny O barking out who goes where to do what and getting dressed orders, as well as filling in the elected dj on the music-cues. And then there was Jenny O barking at the guests to get where they belonged, barking at the wedding party to get in place (actually driving part of the wedding party into place), and doing a lot of significant glaring and chin-jerking to get things rolling.

And then there was lots of Jenny O smiling like a great big dumb idiot as the bride walked up the aisle and being just so happy because I do so love it when people find each other and get to spend forever together (and then a little more with the hand-signals for the dj) and then cutting the rings out of my bouquet to hand over to my friend and his bride, and more smiling and laughing when the bubbles proved impossible for the guests to get into, and then the recessional when all of a sudden we were a bit frozen because the bride and groom weren’t coming back up the aisle as discussed during the rehearsal so the officiant just took me on one art and the matron of honor on the other and we giggled our way down the aisle and it was joy joy joy!

And then more Jenny O barking at guests to get over to the lodge and warm up for heaven’s sake! because the wedding party had to do photos. By this time I think the guests who hadn’t already met me were beginning to feel like I was an old (and obnoxiously perky) friend because my barking was tending to lead to laughter.

So. Back to the wedding party. I gathered up all the family and herded them over to where the bride had wanted to do photos, and then the barking frenzy really started as I moved groups in, out, and around while the photographer snapped away (he was relieved: he really had no idea what sorts of photos needed to be taken). And then I dismissed those not needed and ran the bride and groom through some various poses. And then, shivering with the kind of cold you can expect from a girl wearing a sleeveless black dress in October in Washington State, I punted the photographer back into the lodge, announced the bride and groom, got them set up for the receiving line, and started herding folks toward them (what is it with people being so damn shy about a receiving line?).

Then we signed the legal documents while I nibbled some fruit, and then I nudged the bride and groom to get their dinner so that a)they would and b)other people would feel okay about getting theirs. About half an hour into that I nudged the kitchen people into bringing out the champagne flutes and bubbly, and then it was time for toasts! Both the fathers did theirs, and then it was time for me to stand up and do mine. Well, as I explained to the crowd, I had not written a toast- I had written a speech. This made them laugh, as did the rest of my speech, and the ending had my friend tearing up so I’d say I did okay with that. Man I can work a crowd. Go me.

And then there was cake cutting and me sneaking out because it was already dark and I had a long long way to drive to get back to my brother. But I felt good- I felt I’d actually made a difference in my friend’s wedding day, made it run more smoothly and be less stressful for the two of them. Plus, you know- I got to boss people around all freaking day- and then they thanked me for it! I could totally do this for a living…

10.23.2010

Grey Gone Gold

Popped awake around 0530 again- but this time I didn’t indulge in going back to sleep quite so many times. Instead I set about re-packing my bag, and then cheerfully bounced my brother awake a little before 0900. After all, we had to be checked out by 1100, and really I wanted to be on the road before noon, anyway.

After the typical morning-grunting, we gathered up the rest of our stuff and headed back out for Spokane with the sole purpose of breaking our fast. Originally David had suggested Satellite Diner, but on our way there we saw a little place called Rocket Bakery, and it intrigued us enough that, being the gastronomically adventurous folk we are, we found parking and checked it out.

Stepping in was like a huge shot (hah!) of nostalgia washing over me- it very much had that college-feel to it, and I have to say that I’m far enough removed from my job as a barista that the smell of coffee is once again comforting (as opposed to stress-inducing) to me. We sat at the bar and carb-loaded and people-watched and discussed the fact that on the whole we prefer smaller, “unimportant” cities like Spokane, if for no other reason than they are highly unlikely to be the target of any sort of major bombing. Plus it just reminds me of Tacoma (where I went to University) which is both good and bad and good. You know.

(One negative: I got up to order a hot cocoa and as I waited for the barista’s attention I watched her make lattes for the people ahead of me. I was so grossed out by her poor bar-hygeine [wiping the steam-wand isn't really an optional thing, in my opinion] that I changed my mind and went cocoa-free…)

Once we finished up there David drove me out to the airport so I could pick up my rental car. The guy at the desk was so charming that he talked me into an upgrade, which is how I found myself driving across Eastern Washington in a Kia Soul (ie, the “rapping hamsters car”). I actually rather like it, uber-tiny little SUV that it is. It handled itself well in the rain, which was the main selling point of Mr. Up-Sell, so I figure it was worth the extra five bucks.

And then came about three and a half, maybe four hours of driving through some lovely countryside. I do so love the skies out here- they seem to stretch on and on, their vastness only punctuated by the mountains on the horizon. I contemplated the sea of gold fields contrasting with the silver-gray of the skies, and wondered if I could make it work as a decorative theme. I also listened to Blue Bloods, by de la Cruz. I like her twist on vampirism, yes I do.

So now here I am in lovely Zillah, hanging out in my Comfort Inn room, wondering what sounds better- reading or a nap. Maybe I’ll just lay down with a book and see which wins out.

10.22.2010

Organized Nostalgia

I’m definitely so on Central time it’s not even funny. I popped awake around 0530, and had to make myself go back to sleep. And then again about once an hour for the next three hours. I probably would have just gone ahead and gotten up, but my brother had very sweetly let me have the bed, which meant he was sleeping out on the couch, and I didn’t want to wake him by wandering around the suite.

Once he woke up he had to go run a few errands, so I took the opportunity to get some BodyFlow in, which I most certainly needed, in light of yesterday’s extended airplane time. My left hamstring was particularly sulky. I was finishing up about the same time he got back, so we were able to take off on our adventures soon thereafter.

We drove around Fairchild for a while, with him pointing out pertinent areas. I will say that it’s really nice to be on base again- there’s just a certain feel to it that you just don’t get in the civilian world. For me it’s a very nostalgic, childhood feel. What’s more, everything is clearly labeled, and let me tell you I wish they’d get on board with that in the civilian world, I really do. But I guess the rest of the world is not use to its population turning over every three years. ::sigh:: Sometimes I really regret not going into the military…

After that we were starving, so David took me out to the one actually authentic Mexican restaurant in the area (you have to understand that authentic Mexican is perplexingly difficult to come by in the PNW), where we proceeded to stuff our bellies and groan with satisfaction. The drive out there took a while, and as we went I found myself thinking wistfully that it might not be such a bad thing to be settled down in a semi-rural area like this one, with family nearby. This comes hard on the heels of my recent borderline obsessive desire to throw a dinner-party. I don’t know: the moon must be hitting my Domestic Phase, or something. I wish I could do both- a little apartment in the city and a nice house out in a national park. That would be ideal. And friends and family nearby both.

Anyway.

We went back into Spokane to go to the movies, specifically to see Hereafter. I don’t particularly recommend it, which is a shame. I like Damon, and Eastwood is a fine director, but the movie… well, David and I both agreed that it just felt pointless. And it was far, far too long to get away with feeling pointless. Plus the little British kids were just frigging off-putting.

We came back on base and did some bowling. Well, David did some bowling, and I did some throwing-a-ball-at-some-pins. I didn’t break 100 even once, which was kind of below-average for me (although not by much). Then again, I hadn’t bowled in so long that I couldn’t remember the last time, so I don’t feel too poorly about it. Of course, I never feel bad about the way I bowl- I’ve long ago accepted that I’m just no good at it, no matter how my Mom (or in this instance, brother) try to fix me. It’s not even like darts, where at least I can increase my skill in proportion to my BAC.

After three games we just sort of sat around finishing up our beers (he knows me well enough that he got a pitcher of nice amber ale that I actually enjoyed drinking) and talking about our dreams for/theories on the future. It reminded me of how much I miss just sitting in a bar, shooting the shit with friends.

We came back to the hotel and watched Hot Tub Time Machine, which I do recommend to those of you who enjoy a good raucous comedy, and now I’m writing this entry. Tomorrow I’ll hit the road for Yakima, and he’ll start packing for Alaska. Adventures galore.

10.21.2010

Jenny O Meets (and Likes!) Spokane

The day dawned (as so many of my traveling days do) before dawn actually cracked the horizon. Nathan had me to the airport a little after 0500, and this round of adventures began.

Fairly tame adventures, all things considered. Really the only thing that stands out was my number of layovers (two) and my bitter, bitter outrage at the price-gouging for food. When I saw they expected me to pay $8 for a sandwich I decided I’d rather be overcharged for something smaller, and ended up having chips, cashews, and a candy bar for my meal. And honestly, I wouldn’t even have had that much, except that by that point in the day I hadn’t eaten in about seven and a half hours, and I was a little afraid of passing out (one of the risks of my otherwise lovely low blood pressure).

I got into the Spokane airport around 1230, was freaked out by my brother’s doppelganger, and then delighted by my actual brother. So very good to see him again! I don’t know what your relationship with your siblings is like, gentle reader (if you even have any) but my brother and I are the sort of friends who can spend hours talking, or hours just sitting next to one another reading or whatever (“whatever” being typing, in my case). It’s pretty fantastic. I tell you this so that when I say we spent the next several hours not really doing all that much, I mean it in a good way. He took me over to Spokane proper so I could see the nifty park, and we walked for a while, and then sat for a while, and then walked for a while more. Then we went to go buy a movie he’d been hankering to re-watch (Tropic Thunder), picked up some food for a “heritage meal” (bratwurst, German-style potato salad, and sauerkraut, along with some fresh strawberries to represent Dad’s side of things) and then came back to the hotel to watch said movie. After that we headed over to the dorm room he’s moving out of and I helped him clean it. I know, I know- that sounds like not the most fun thing in the world. But you must understand, gentle readers- it’s the company you keep more than the activities you engage in. Not to mention it tickled the hell out of me to see the various reactions from the other dorm residents when they spied me. “Holy shit!” was, perhaps, my most favorite outburst. Well, that and the girl who did a sort of passive-aggressive thing (have I ever mentioned that my brother and I don’t actually look much like siblings? Especially with my hair red…)

I have to say that Spokane is not at all what I was envisioning. It’s a terrible thing, but the people of western Washington have a certain smugness regarding the superiority of their half of the state, and I’d always just sort of taken that for truth. But now that I’ve been out here, I have to say it’s actually quite lovely. And entirely different sort of loveliness- there is more openness, for starters, and more in the way of deciduous trees- but lovely nonetheless. And the city of Spokane itself seems to have plenty to offer by way of entertainment. So that’s pretty good: it always warms my heart to discover more good places in the world.

10.20.2010

New Toy!

Er, I mean, new tool.

But also totally new toy!

After a very long time of wanting and saving and putting-it-off-due-to-unexpected-financial-needs and still more wanting and saving, we finally ordered our Cintiq- and today it finally arrived! Woo!

It's so glorious. So utterly, utterly glorious. I played with it for a while today (as evidenced by Nathan's cleverly titled photo, Tableaux) and it's almost enough to make me sad that I'm leaving in the morning and will not be able to play with it again until next Tuesday...

Almost, but not quite. Because the reason I'm leaving tomorrow is to fly up to the glorious PNW, where I shall spend several days with my broseph, and then participate in a wedding, and then spend another day with my broseph. And hanging out with him is definitely worth giving up a week of tablet-time.

At any rate, here is your typical "I'll be traveling" disclaimer: not sure what the internet access will be, but I'm hauling the netbook along, so daily entries will get written, if not posted until later. I'm sure there will be adventures galore for the cataloging! ^_^

You may recall me making a big deal out of my Osprey bag last spring. It was the main bag I took to the UK (the other being my hand-decorated purse) and I stuffed it with enough clothes to last two people two weeks. And toiletries, to boot. So you'd think it would be more than big enough to handle the stuff one person needs for a five day trip to the PNW- but readers, it was a close thing. And why? Because of the afore-mentioned wedding. It's nigh-on impossible to Pack Light when one has to pack for an Event. Specifically an Event involving Special Shoes. But I did it, by golly. Behold the (approximate) glory of what I have put into my bag for this journey:

1 netbook (duh)
1 hardback book (playing delivery service from Mom to bro)
1 gps (for driving the rental car from Spokane to Yakima)
1 fleece (because it be cold out in Eastern Washington, yo)
1 knit hat (ditto)
1 fancy black dress (to fulfill my role as Best Lady)
1 sheer black cardigan (see above re: cold)
1 garter belt (I'm old school that way)
1 pair of stockings (ditto)
1 pair of fancy high-heeled shoes (because somehow the hiking shoes clashed)
1 pair of boxers (to use as jammies, since I'll be sharing a room with my bro)
1 pair of glasses (for driving the rental car at night)
2 audio books (for that seven-hour round-trip drive)
2 t-shirts (to avoid nudity in day-to-day interactions)
2 pairs of socks (to prevent blisters and stank)
3 pairs of underwear (...in case I get in a wreck?)
3 small baggies of various toiletries (ready to be whipped out to prove they are not in fact bomb-making-materials)
a billion various chargers (for netbook, phone, etc) (also not for bomb-making)

Plus a handful of other little things not worth detailing (except for my hand-made faux bowtie necklace, which is totally worth mentioning!) All in all, I'm feeling pretty pleased with my packing prowess. Alliteration!

But back to the tablet. I can't wait to sit down and really get to know it. I'm especially looking forward to what I can do with comics. It's going to be glorious...

10.19.2010

Gruff

Once upon a time there was a tiny baby billy goat named Trevor who lived in a valley meadow with his mother, his father, and the rest of their herd. Trevor was much smaller than the other kids, and did not seem to grow even half so quickly. His parents were much concerned that he would sicken and die in the coming winter, so they took him to the wisest old nanny goat in the herd for a consultation.

“He’s been cursed,” she said in her no-nonsense tone. “He’s been cursed, and the only cure is for him to eat frostspun leaf. And he must go alone to find it, or it won’t do him any good.” Now Trevor’s parents were distraught to hear this, for frostspun grew only at the highest altitudes- and the only way to get to the highest altitudes was by crossing through troll territory.

It may be when I say “troll” you think of a small plastic doll with shiny naked buttocks and entirely too much rainbow hair sprouting from its inanely-smiling head. You must put this thought from your mind, because that is not what I mean when I say troll. Not in this instance. When I say troll, what I mean is something as big as a truck, with impenetrable skin the color of granite, and a mouthful of teeth both sharp for tearing and flat for crushing. I mean something with a wretched temperament, an insatiable appetite, and a special appreciation for goat meat. In fact, trolls were the reason that Trevor’s herd lived in the valley, rather than up on the slopes like good mountain goats should. They had lived there in the past, but once the trolls moved in to the neighborhood, the goats found it behooved them to just stick to the lowlands. It wasn’t the best grazing land, but at least they didn’t have to live in constant fear of being devoured.

So now Trevor’s parents were in a quandary. If they sent Trevor alone to get his cure, the trolls would probably eat him. But if they did not send him, he would probably die when winter came, anyway. Can you imagine what a horrible thing this was for them to decide? Which death would be better- becoming a quick snack, or a lingering illness? They did not know, and they stayed up late into the night, arguing about it. But Trevor, who figured it wasn’t their decision to make anyway, decided he’d just make it for himself and crept off into the night.

Trevor knew that his parents would come looking for him, and moreover he figured they’d figure he’d take the easiest, least-dangerous (although still not safe) path to the mountaintop. As such, he decided he’d go the more dangerous route- the route that would take him directly over a bridge that was a known troll-shelter. They’ll never think to look for me that way, he told himself, and anyway I’m so tiny and light the troll probably won’t even notice my crossing.

So that is the way Trevor went, with frequent breaks to catch his breath. He reached the bridge just after the sun rose, and stood staring at it a long time. He didn’t see any movement, and he didn’t hear any movement, and he didn’t smell- well, okay he did smell troll, but he’d been smelling troll for the past few miles, and there was nothing he could do about it. So Trevor took a deep breath, thought weightless thoughts, and began to cross the bridge.

Tippity-tippity-tip, went his tiny hooves on the stone. Trevor thought they sounded like little pebbles shifting. Tippity-tippity-tip. Perfectly ordinary noises! But then-

“Who’s that tippity-tipping over my bridge? I’m going to eat him up!” The voice of the troll was like the roar of an avalanche, and we cannot blame Trevor if his tiny legs began to shake in fear. In fact he was so frightened he couldn’t speak a word, so he just kept moving across the bridge, tippity-tippity-tip.

“Nothing to say for yourself?” yelled the troll. “No? Pesky wind, always knocking pebbles onto my bridge…” its yell deteriorated into a mutter, and Trevor felt certain the troll was settling itself back down to sleep. The moment his hooves hit the soft grass on the other side, Trevor took off at a much faster run than he’d ever accomplished before. Adrenaline will do that for a person, even if that person is a sickly little kid.

The rest of his journey was without incident, and he did eventually find a little patch of frostspun. As soon as Trevor began to nibble on the leaves he felt stronger, and by the time he finished the plant he suddenly knew what it was to feel normal. He spent the next few hours frolicking on the mountain-side, as a young goat is meant to, before settling down for a long, long sleep. It had been a long day, and even with his new energy he was exhausted.

The next morning he set back off down the mountain, until once more he was facing the bridge. He sucked in a deep breath and began to cross it with the same light footsteps as before.

Tippity-tippity-tap. Tippity-tippity-tap.

“Alright now, that does it! I know it’s not pebbles this time!” and with that the troll surged up from beneath its bridge to glare at whatever was disturbing its peace. It stopped short when it saw Trevor.

“Goat?” it said in confusion. “When did goats get so small? Oh well, it hardly matters- I’m going to eat you up regardless!”

“Oh!” squeaked Trevor, “You shouldn’t do that!”

“Whyever not? It’s been a long time since I’ve had goat. They don’t seem to come around much, anymore.”

“Oh, um, well, you see-“ Trevor’s mind was working overtime, “If you eat me, there won’t be any more, ever!”

“What? That’s ridiculous. How dumb do you think I am?”

“No, no, it’s true! See, my people miss the mountain- they think they’re growing too fat and delicious in the meadow, and they want to come back to their ancestral home, but they’re afraid the trolls are still around. So they sent me, the littlest kid, to go check. They said it won’t be much of a loss if I don’t come back, and if I don’t then they’ll know that the trolls are still around and there’s no point in returning to the mountain.”

“Hmm,” said the troll, sitting back on its haunches. “That does make sense. You’re so puny- who would miss you?” (Trolls are not known for their parenting instincts.) “Hah! I’ve had an excellent idea! Goat-baby, I will not eat you on one condition!”

“Anything, mister troll!”

“I will let you live, but you can’t tell anyone you saw me. Can you promise that?”

“Oh yes sir, I surely can!”

“Okay then. Get going. You wouldn’t even have been a full mouthful, anyway.” So saying the troll lumbered back down beneath its bridge, oblivious to the wake of drool it was leaving.

Trevor dearly wanted to faint with relief, but he made himself carry on back toward home.

***

It may surprise you to discover that Trevor kept his promise- he did not tell anyone about his interaction with the troll, or really much of anything about his journey. They were so relieved to have him back that they did not press, and his parents were utterly delighted when they realized he was starting to grow again. Soon he looked like any other healthy young adult goat, and no one feared for his untimely demise.

But then one day he grew listless again, so his parents took him back to the wise old nanny goat.

“The curse was not broken,” she told them, “only delayed a little. He must go again to eat the frostspun leaf. His destiny depends upon it.”

Trevor’s parents did not bother arguing with one another this time, for they knew that Trevor would make up his own mind. Sure enough, Trevor left at dawn, taking the same path as before. This time he reached the stone bridge when the sun was at its highest.

I’m still not that big, he thought. Perhaps the troll won’t notice my footfalls. And he began to cross.

Trippity-trippity-trap went his hooves. Trevor thought they sounded a bit like rocks rolling around. Trippity-trippity-trap.

“Who’s that trippity-trapping over my bridge? I’m going to eat him up!” But Trevor, who had realized the troll had a lazy streak, said nothing and continued on. Trippity-trippity-trap.

“I know you’re up there! You’d better… you’d better… aw, darn rockslide,” muttered the troll.

Soon Trevor’s hooves were again on soft grass, and he moved swiftly up the mountainside. This time he had to climb further to find any frostspun, but once again it immediately restored him. He ate twice as much as he had before, and this time when he finished he did not frisk about, but instead assessed his surroundings with seriousness.

It was a good place for goats. He could see why his people had lived there, and it was a shame they were exiled by the stupid, greedy trolls. With this thought in mind Trevor settled down to sleep, and had strange and wonderful dreams he couldn’t quite remember.

The next day he came once again to the stone bridge, and began to make his way across.

Trippity-trippity-trap.

“Ah-hah!” yelled the troll as it emerged from beneath its bridge. “Another tasty goat! I’m going to eat you up!” Then it paused and added, “You’re not as big as I’d been lead to believe. That little one said you were all fat and delicious now.”

Trevor thought fast.

“Oh, the other goats are all much fatter than me. I’m a runt where I come from- only the size of our mountain-dwelling ancestors. When the littlest kid came back and said there were no trolls between us and the mountainside anymore, our elders figured that maybe he was just too small to interest a troll. So they sent me, since I’m more what trolls are used to, and anyway if I don’t come back who’s going to miss a runt?”

“Runt, huh?” The troll eyed him speculatively. “Hmmm. So you’re saying that if you don’t come back, the other goats will know it’s not safe to come around?”

“Yep.”

“And they’re all fatter than you?”

Much fatter.”

“Hmmm.” The troll and the goat stared at one another for a while, until the troll finally sighed.

“Alright, goat, I’m going to let you go. But only on the condition you don’t tell anyone about me.”

“Fair enough, sir.”

“In fact, I want you to tell those other goats how beautiful the mountainside is, and that they’d all better hurry up and move out there before the weather turns.” The troll nodded at his own cleverness. “Yes, tell them that. Emphasize the hurry part.”

“Absolutely, sir.”

And so Trevor returned to his people’s valley, and all was well. In fact it was better than well, for over the winter Trevor hit a growth spurt, until he became the largest, heaviest, strongest goat the herd had ever heard of, let alone seen. His muscles were hard and his hair was glossy, and two deadly-sharp horns curled down from his brow. Truly he was the most magnificent specimen of goat known to the world. And every night, he dreamed of the joy and peace to be found on the mountainside.

One day Trevor woke from his dream and went to go see the wise old nanny-goat. She smiled at his approach.

“Ah, little troll-tricker. How may I help you?”

“How did you know about that?”

“Kid, if you don’t think I know things I shouldn’t then why are you coming to me with such a serious look on your face?”

“I need advice about my destiny.”

“No you don’t,” she snapped, and butted him in the flank with her head. “You just need to go live it.”

***

And so Trevor found himself standing at the edge of the stone bridge yet again. The sun was low in the sky, and he knew it would be evening soon. Evening, followed by night, when trolls were at their most alert and dangerous. Trevor had no illusions about what his hooves would sound like this time, but he was no longer afraid.

Trampity-trampity-TROMP!

“Who’s that trampity-tromping over my bridge? I’m going to eat them up!”

“Somehow I doubt that, troll!”

There was silence from under the bridge, and then a furious squawk.

What did you say?!” and the troll appeared.

Now, a troll at its ease is bad enough (Remember the size? The teeth?) but a troll in a rage is something else entirely. Any sensible creature would have turned and fled- but Trevor was not necessarily sensible, and he had come on a specific mission.

“Well well well,” said the troll when he saw Trevor. “Finally a goat of a decent size. Took you long enough. But where are your brethren? I’d hoped to make a right feast of you all.”

“Troll, you’re not going to be able to handle the one you’ve got!” and Trevor sprang at him with his curling horns.

In later re-tellings of the story Trevor’s descendents would confuse a few details. Perhaps the most important thing that was forgotten was that the troll did not go down easily: Trevor had to fight for his life. And in that fight the troll did manage to do some damage. In fact, at one point he managed to get a hand around Trevor’s throat, crushing it beyond repair. But Trevor slashed at him with his heavy hooves, and the troll was forced to let go. And while the troll was distracted by that pain, Trevor slashed again, this time with his horns, and blinded the troll. From that point forward the fight was more balanced, and in the end Trevor was triumphant. As he stood trembling over the troll’s crushed head, he heard a branch snap. He looked up and to his horror saw that he had an audience- at least twenty other trolls had been drawn from their lairs by the sound of the struggle.

“Come on then,” Trevor yelled- or tried to yell. His poor throat had been so mangled that his voice came out a hoarse rasp. He compensated by glaring as fiercely as he could; he knew he was about to die, but he did not intend to go out easily.

But the trolls did not move. They were whispering amongst themselves, and every once in a while Trevor thought he caught a phrase or two.

“…he’s alone… must be another runt…”

“…ven if he isn’t a runt… whole herd of goats even that size…”

“…just one… whole herd could do…”

“…whole herd…”

“…herd!”

Finally an even larger than average troll stepped forward.

“Goat, we have no quarrel with you or your people. We’ve decided to move on. Better eatings elsewhere, we’re sure. Just, uh… just move back on up the mountain and stay there. Definitely, definitely stay there. You and all your people. In one place. Where we don’t have to worry about accidently running into any more of your runts.”

And the trolls left.

Trevor, exhausted, hurt, and in a mild form of shock, began to limp his way up the mountainside to where the frostspun grew. He stayed there many days, recovering, until he felt well enough to make his way back to the valley.

When he reached the stone bridge he didn’t even pause.

Trampity-trampity-TROMP went his hooves over the bones of his fallen enemy. Not a single trollish soul was left to complain of the noise.

***

When Trevor found his parents they were being visited by the wise old nanny goat (who had a knack for being present at strange events). His parents were shocked and overjoyed to see him- he’d been gone for so long they’d all but given up hope. The elder, on the other hand, just looked smug.

“Mother, father, wise nanny” Trevor said in his now-roughened tones, “I’ve come to lead you and the herd back home.” And he told them all of his adventures. Before long others in the herd noticed his presence, and they ran up to greet him, demanding to know all that had happened. But the old nanny goat, seeing how much it pained Trevor to speak, cut them off.

“Come now, his voice is too grim and gruff for such a happy tale! We shall tell it for him.”

And they did.

10.18.2010

The Bittersweet Viewing of a Naked Posterior

Not mine, mind you (I know- shocking, right?). Nor even a small child's, which is most often the case in these instances. No, the denuded posterior to which I refer is that of my car's. Let me explain...

I got a call around 1530 that my car would be ready for pick-up by 1600. So I took the lovely little silver-blue VW Beetle back to Enterprise, and they drove me over to the collision center. I did my little paperwork thing, then headed out to find my baby. And there she was, all fixed up and clean (they even scrubbed her insides- how's that for customer service?). And, sadly... missing her stickers.

Now it's not like I had a plethora of adhesives on there. I had three, and I fully expected to lose at least two of them (since they were so near the bumper). Those being my subtle Gorge Performance G, and my equally subtle little "Why do people with closed minds always open their mouths?" rectangle (thanks Adam!). I was a little down about losing them, but hey... life happens. What I did not expect to lose was the crowning glory of my gas-tank door: my fairy frog prince. I have had that sticker since I got my car, almost ten years ago. It was given to me by my college friend Laurie May (now Laurie Coyle) as part of a housewarming gift when I moved into my first solo-apartment, and I loved it. I always got compliments on it, and it helped me pick my car out of a lineup (an important trait when one is driving a Civic). But when I rounded the corner and saw my car- gone. I felt a little tightness in my throat, then went back into the office.

"Excuse me," I said softly, not fully trusting myself. "I know it's a long shot, but... I don't suppose you kept the door to my gas tank? With my sticker?"

The young gentleman who had the lead on my car went out to to check in the shop. He came back and explained that actually it was my little door- but because they'd had to paint it they'd had to remove the sticker first.

"Oh. That's okay. Thanks anyway."

I used to joke that the fairy frog prince was my hope- that he represented the One waiting for me amidst all the mundane frogs. So I guess it's appropriate, now that I've married my One, that he should have gone on to his next incarnation. But I'm still going to miss him.

10.17.2010

In Which I Talk About Things Both Excellent and Great

We just finished watching The Secret of Kells, and oh my goodness it is so excellent that you need to go watch it right now. Why are you still reading this? Go watch! Go!! And then get back to me and we can be all excited together over how excellent that movie is. Beautiful animation, wonderful story, superb voice-acting: just well-done all around.

In other news, my mom and I labored over my Halloween costume this weekend, and it's looking pretty awesome. There are no pictures yet (and won't be until closer to Halloween) so you'll just have to take my word for it. But trust me- my word is pretty reliable. Which you know if you went and watched The Secret of Kells like I told you to.

In other other news, do you know what's great? Sure you do- autumn. Autumn is just great. The temperature is great, the air quality is great, the colors are especially great. And here is a photo from Nathan to help demonstrate just how great:

(Hanging)

10.16.2010

Adrenaline

"Carnivals are never like what they're supposed to be like."

"What are they supposed to be like?"

"Well, you know- not this. Think about it- shouldn't there be... freaks?"

"Aside from us, you mean?"

"Right. Aside from us. Aren't carnivals supposed to have... I don't know. An air of mystery? Maybe even danger?"

"You're saying you're feeling too safe? Things a little too predictable for you? Mundane?"

"Ugh, I don't know. When you say it like that I sound... ugh."

"I think I know what you need."

"And what is that, oh wise one?"

"You need to get your heart racing."

"And just how do you suggest we get that to happen, here in this freakless carnival?"

"You keep forgetting to count us."

"Right. This freakless-except-for-us carnival."

"You see that ride over there?"

"The ferris wheel? What am I, four? You honestly expect a ferris wheel to make my heart race?"

"Nah. But I was kind of hoping kissing you at the top might."

(Carnival)

10.15.2010

Abandoned

i waited all day
but i guess your flight got canceled...

...and they forgot to update the computers.

i waited all night
but i guess you missed the next flight...

...because you got mugged, and your assailant stole your phone.

and threw it out.

and also hit you so hard on the head
you forgot my number
and maybe me.

in fact, you're probably in a coma
a mysterious Jane Doe
(because the mugger stole your wallet
with your driver's license)
so no one know who you are
or that i should be notified.

and i'd come looking for you
but with my luck you'd wake up while i was in the air
and you'd remember all about me
and you'd catch the very next flight
and tragically we'd pass one another in the sky
all unaware
and you'd get here
and i'd be gone
and you'd think i'd given up on you
and you'd feel so sad
and so

abandoned...

i could never do that to you.

so i'll just keep waiting.


(Abandoned)

10.14.2010

This Will Possibly Bore the Crap Out of You

Here is a Thing you may not know about me: I love perfume.

Oh yes, it's true. Miser that I typically am (who really needs new clothes every year? or even three?) I am willing to spend a decent sum on perfume (although I do not believe perfume must be expensive to be good). It is one of my luxuries. I try to change my perfume on a semi-regular basis (about once a year) because I purposefully use it to create scent-triggered memories. In other words, I deliberately tie different scents to different seasons in my life. Would you like some examples? Sure you would.

Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers: freshman year of high school

Bonne Bell's Flirty (un-linkable, because it's been out of production for years): partying in college

Escada's Sexy Grafitti: Adam and Tacoma in the summertime

DKNY's Be Delicious: Katie's first visit to Portland

Demeter Fragrance's Gin and Tonic: Karaoke with JoeSeph

Este Lauder's Pleasures Delight: my "year and a day" experiment with Nathan

There have been many others, of course, but that's a nice overview of the past fifteen years. And now we come to the most recent scent, Este Lauder's Bronze Goddess, which I have been wearing since the day of my wedding, and am now ready to put into semi-retirement so that in the future when I smell it, it will take me back to my newlywed days (I suspect it will take me specifically back to my honeymoon, but we'll have to see...). Anyway, the point is that it is past time for a new perfume, so I've begun the arduous job of hunting for it.

On the one hand I know enough about my likes to help narrow it down- I basically do not do musk, period. Florals (unless light) don't particularly do it for me, nor do grassy scents. Orientals are generally a good bet, and citrus notes practically guarantee a winner. I seem to be particularly drawn to bergamont, for some reason... But on the other hand, I also like the quirky and unexpected (helloooo gin-and-tonic); it's a safe bet that if it smells too "perfume-y" I will be repelled.

So where does that leave us? Well, still hunting. So the other day I did something semi-dangerous that I've wanted to do for a long time: ordered perfume from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Why dangerous? Because over the internet, no one can hear you scr- no, wait, that's not it. Oh, right- no one can smell you. And you can't smell them. So basically I was purchasing perfume on faith in the (admittedly well-written) descriptions. Now, lest you think me entirely fool-hardy, let me rush to reassure you that I didn't order a whole bottle's worth of anything; I ordered a handful of tiny samples.

Said samples arrived today:

O
(The scent of sexual obsession, slavery to sensual pleasure, and the undercurrent of innocence defiled utterly. Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla.)

Lolita (Bright, sweet and youthful, but swelling with a poisonous sexuality. Glittering heliotrope, honeysuckle, orange blossom and lemon verbena.)

Schrodinger's Cat (A paradoxical scent experiment! - tangerine, sugared lime, pink grapefruit, oakmoss, lavender, zdravetz, and chocolate peppermint.)

Shanghai (The crisp, clean scent of green tea touched with lemon verbena and honeysuckle.)

Undertow (The Dark Side of Water: clean and purifying, yet menacing -- lotus and juniper with a hint of mint. A scent dragged up from the depths to the Stygian shore )

Wolf's Heart (Grants courage under extreme conditions, helps overcome fear of death, and strengthens the fortitude of artists and businessmen, enabling them to further their goals.).

Plus two more that I didn't order but that they were sweet enough to throw in for free:

Black Lotus (Born in the shadows of a Temple to Set, this corrupted Egyptian scent evokes images of black pyramids, river demons, and bleak, deadly desert sands. Black lotus flower, amber, myrrh and sandalwood.)

Tombstone (A celebration of one of the first commercially produced perfumes of America's Old West. A rugged, warm blend of vanilla, balsam and sassafras layered over Virginia cedar.).

Now, as you may or may not know, you can't just sniff a perfume and decide yay or nay. Perfume reacts differently to everyone's skin, so you must put it on your own skin to see how it reacts (for instance- my mother also wears the afore-mentioned Pleasures Delight, but it smells totally different on her). And not only do you have to put it on your own skin, but you also have to wait a few hours, sniffing periodically, because the scent will change as your skin warms it and the base notes begin to come out. Which is why I know that although smelling Undertow directly from the vial almost made me gag, the longer it was on my skin the more intoxicating it became. And yet Lolita, which I initially loved, enamored me less and less as the day passed.

The jury is still out on whether or not I'll actually purchase a full-sized bottle of any of these. To tell the truth I think they are all too strong for me, which means that even if I do I'll need to cut it with alcohol. But we shall see... and anyway, I guess I could always order more samples...