Flesh Made Words

Write the opening of a feature profile on yourself in a men's magazine. Now a business magazine. Now write the first sentence of your obituary.

1.  When I first lay eyes on Jenny O in the sun-warmed flesh, all I can think is, Has she always been this short?

2.  Jenny O's  handshake is as firm as her smile is bright.  "They say bitches get shit done," she says, gesturing for me to sit in one of the sleek leather chairs.  "I say efficient bitches get shit done faster.  So let's get started, shall we?"

3.  Jenny O never let the truth get in the way of a good story.*

*yes, the person who writing my obituary will totally riff off the eulogy I wrote for my grandmother.



i've heard tell
of heartstrings
tugged by circumstance

(tugging sounds so polite)

mine were not tugged
but rather plucked
by that so-unexpected hand of fate

violently stirred
into twanging dissonance
that keeps all sleep at bay

it was not strings
but wires
meant to keep you safe
meant to keep you sound

those wires
those wires
your heart against itself

i wait
and wonder
where fate's gentle palm
will come to rest

which will be muted

or wires



It's been a day fraught with emotional upset, but none so great as what happened to me this afternoon.

Once upon a time, when I worked at Borders, Harry Potter books were still being released.  I worked several of the midnight release parties (always super fun!) and during the first one I was the Cafe Manager, and thus dressed up as "Sortia O'Simmer, Syltherin Potions Mistress".  That was my first inkling of my future greatness.

A few years later, Pottermore was released to potential beta users.  I was super lucky, and managed to get in- and was promptly sorted into Slytherin.  I wasn't surprised, exactly- I knew I'd come out either Ravenclaw or Slytherin- but I was a little saddened by the lack of Positive Slytherin Representation in the world.  I vowed to show the world that Slytherins were basically the best of Ravenclaw and Griffindor- we're incredibly clever (some might say "sly") when it comes to getting our way, but we also have deep, powerful bonds loyalty (to those who deserve it).

I've been bleeding green and silver ever since (we even did Neeps's birth announcements with me in Slytherin robes and Nathan in Ravenclaw robes), although I've never been super active on Pottermore.  I'll pop over every once in a while, when JK Rowling updates with something cool.

As she did today.

So of course I wanted to know which of the American houses I'd be sorted in to!  But... I couldn't remember my password.  And they couldn't email it to me, apparently, because I'd originally signed up under the old Pottermore: I'd have to sign up again.

So I did.

And lo!  They told me that if I entered my old username, I could recover all my old stuff- house, wand, etc etc.  Well that was cool- except I couldn't remember my randomly generated username.  I knew I could dig it up if I looked hard enough, but I figured what the heck- I'd just re-sort myself into Slytherin and would be fiiiiiiine.

Except that's not what happened.

The test- a test which was noticeably different from the one I took seven years ago- sorted me into freaking Ravenclaw.  I was aghast.  I may have literally howled, "Nooooo!"

Almost immediately thereafter, I found my old username.  "Okay," I told myself, trying to calm my breathing.  "We can fix this.  I'll just... delete this new account, sign up for a new new one, and use my recently recovered username to grab my old info!"

Except that's not what happened.

I went to go delete my account- and was informed that if I did so, I 'd lose access to all the Harry Potter books I'd purchased several years back.

There was definitely some very vulgar swearing at this point.

And so I've sent Pottermore a letter, laying out my situation and begging for mercy.  We'll see what they say.  I'm sure they can help me out, with the power of friendship and magic...

(But don't think the Slytherin in me isn't shrieking, "I will burn shit to the ground!")


After a second, pleading-intensified missive, they finally took pity on me!  I'm back in the snake's den where I belong.  Thanks, Pottermore!


Right Honorable Order of the Pinto Bear

There tends to be a lot of in-joking during games*, and yesterday's was no exception.  Many references were made to the dreaded "pinto bear", although naturally we never actually encountered one.  At least, not during our little adventure.  Who's to say my character (a scholar by trade) didn't circle back around later to do some in-depth study?


The Pinto Bear
(as thoroughly observed by Ionee)

The mature pinto-bear stands a good seven feet at the shoulder, and weights upwards of 1500 lbs.  As if their massive size were not advantage enough, this curiously speckled species is also equipped with retractable claws, a proto-thumb, and a rather fascinating ability to belch forth noxious gas.  The gas is not typically fatal, but will render an enemy (or prey) unconscious long enough for the pinto-bear to devour it.  If, however, the subject manages to survive being gassed, it appears as though the result is a temporary increase of intelligence.  Further study of potential medical-applications recommended.

Pinto-bears require a great deal of territory to keep themselves fed, and tend to be solitary- except during the spring and summer months, when it's not uncommon to find them living in small family groups, generally consisting of a mated pair and their cubs (2-3 is a typical whelping).  Mothers stay with their cubs for at least two years, and appear to go into season once every decade or so.  No one knows for certain the true lifespan of a pinto-bear, but given how rarely they mate, it seems safe to surmise that they live upwards of three centuries.

Their pelts are highly valued, being of a surprisingly soft texture which repels water and insulates efficiently.  The base color is a warm, almost pink-ish buff, with the spots ranging in color from burnt sienna to a brownish-black.

One last item of note, which this researcher was not able to verify: there are tales of particularly enraged pinto-bears exploding- literally, exploding into flame.  This researcher is not certain what, exactly, the benefit of such an ability would be (except perhaps as a last-ditch effort to protect offspring) nor how anyone would have survived such an event so as to tell about it.  Perhaps it is merely a part of their life cycle?  Again- further study is highly recommended.


*(don't even get me started on the crotch goblins)


A Merry Band

Today was a momentous day in the O household.

Today was the day that I finally, at long last, fully embraced my Destiny as a Second Generation Geek, and played D&D...

...with my mom!

Yes siree, this morning my old friends Adam and SCurry came over, and the four of us (with Adam acting as our long-suffering DM) got our role-play on.


Frennyr Scaleson could hardly be blamed for gawking like an idiot when he first caught sight of the travelers.  Sure, he knew as well as the next villager that the mayor of Glasslake had sent out a call for adventurers to deal with their... little problem... but Frennyr was expecting nothing more exciting than a battle-scarred ex-merc, or perhaps even a mysterious, taciturn ranger if they really lucky.  But nothing so exotic as this trio.

The most pedestrian of the group was the elf: small and slight and dark of skin, with hair that hung about her head like an enraged storm-cloud.  At least, Frennyr thought she was an elf, until he got a better look at the second one- she was tall for a female, with skin so white as to be blue, and so unmistakably an elf that Frennyr suddenly realized that first one must be a half-elf.  But achingly beautiful as she was, with glossy black hair braided intricately back from her face, even the full-blooded elf was rendered unremarkable in comparison to their final companion.  Frennyr could not at first imagine what the creature was: well over six feet tall, broad as a young bull, and covered in shimmering gold scales instead of flesh, it did not match the description of any of the races Frennyr knew.  But then someone else on the dock hissed, "Dragonborn!" and he felt like an idiot.  Of course the creature was dragonborn!  He- she?  It was hard to tell, but something about the delicacy of the fins spoke of the feminine to him.  She was wearing chain-mail and carrying a great battleaxe that looked well-cared-for.  The elf had the lean and deadly air of an individual best avoided after dark- or perhaps just in general.  Frennyr glanced again at the delicately-proportioned half-elf.  No warrior, that one- but, the stained fingertips indicated a scholar of some sort.  And scholars usually knew all sorts of useful magic.  He grunted in satisfaction; surely this lot would have no trouble with whatever it was that had been helping itself to the villager's goods.


Paint the Town Green

Recently Nathan and I have found it a little difficult to remember that we're more than just roommates-raising-a-human together.

When our child is awake (and not at daycare), he's taking up the vast majority our time and attention.  After he's in bed, we're doing what needs to be ready for him to go back to daycare in the morning.  And once those chores are done?  Then we sort of do our own things, and since our primary 'own things' are solitary pursuits- Nathan playing video games, and me writing- we don't spend much time, you know, together.  Sure we might watch some tv, but that's not really quality togetherness (unless you're actually discussing the show, in which case it totally counts).

Tonight, however,  we had a capital-D Date, thanks to my mother informing us we were doing so, and furthermore forbidding us from discussing our offspring whilst on said date.

("It will be hard.  It will be extremely difficult.  But I know you can do it.")

So I got all fancified in my lemon cupcake dress and my true love shoes and even one of my vintage furs*, and I insisted Nathan put product in his hair, and then we hit the town!

Specifically we hit up The Thirsty Sasquatch, a "new" whiskey bar that I'd been meaning to get to since it was actually new, like a year ago.  The intention was to drink whiskey (or more likely bourbon, in my case) and chat like grown-ups, but when we got there we saw they had absinthe on the menu, and since we had just watched a thing about absinthe (causing Nathan to comment that he'd never actually had it) we decided to get fancy and order some.

Fancy, although not as fancy as some places.
So we slowly poured our water over our sugar (the carafes did not lend themselves to slowly dripping), and then enjoyed.  Not quite as much, however, as we enjoyed quietly mocking the other couple down the way from us, who were obviously on the First Date From Hell.  We're talking closed body language, no talking, staring at respective phones... until beer was chugged and they'd manage to talk for about five minutes, maybe even with a smile- but then they'd quickly sink back into staring boredly around them.  It was excruciating and fascinating all at once.

"Maybe they're just trying to get drunk enough to have sex?" I posited.  We agreed heartily that we're glad we never have to date again.  Because for real, if something happens to Nathan?  I'm probably just going to become a hermit.  With a baby.  A Bermit?  Anyway.

The bar started to fill up with loud and drunk people (who had gotten themselves that way on the Couve Cycle, which I really want to do one day) which made it hard to hear the live music we'd been enjoying, and impossible to hear one another, so we paid our tab and slipped out into the (still quite light) night for a stroll down Main Street.  We ended up stopping in to get ice cream as we walked and talked (chocolate for him, strawberry for me), and eventually made our way back to the car.

All in all it was a very good night, and we did manage to avoid discussing Neeps.  I'm feeling quite refreshed about our marriage at the moment, and all those little annoyances that were brewing towards my "roommate" (generally to do with cleaning things) have dissipated for the moment, subsumed by my love and affection for my husband, who is a fiercely intelligent and humorous man that I genuinely enjoy spending time with.

So.  Obviously we need to find an in-town babysitter, because I have plenty more pretty dresses that need wearing.

*("You look very Vancouver," said my mother, approvingly.  "Your outfit is fabulous!" said the older gay gentleman at the ice cream shop.  I'm counting it as a win.)



Neither Animal Nor Mineral

When I first caught a glimpse of this, I honestly thought it was an animal's rib cage.  That's how big it was.  I was maybe a little icked out, but couldn't resist getting close enough to see what kind of animal it was.
Vegetable, suckers!


Jack, Wrangle, and the Star Stuff (Unfinished)

Here is a bit from the next installment of what I've been referring to as my "Books for Mortal Children" series, which started with the Rainbow Bridge story.  This one is being written for my friends who maybe don't want to teach an expectation of an afterlife, because they aren't so sure they themselves believe in it.  To them I say (/literally said): I don't know that I believe in an afterlife.  But I believe in stories."

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack.  Jack had a best friend named Wrangle, and the two of them loved playing together- almost as much as they loved one another, which is to say, quit a bit indeed.

One day Jack said to Wrangle, "What game will be play today, Wrangle?" and Wrangle said, "Today were are going to build things, Jack.”

“Okay, Wrangle!” said Jack.  “Let me get my blocks!”

“Actually, Jack,” said Wrangle.  “I would like to use my blocks today, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all, Wrangle!” said Jack.  “We’ve never built anything with your blocks before.”

“Well,” said Wrangle, “That’s because my blocks are very special. In fact, they’re not shaped like your blocks at all, you see?” and Wrangle held out a box marked “Building Blocks”.  When Jack looked in the blocks he saw that it was true- Wrangle’s blocks were different from his.  In fact, they looked a bit like-

“Stars!” said Jack.  “They glitter just like stars!”

“Yes, they do,” said Wrangle.  “That’s why I call them my star stuff.”

“What can we build with star stuff, Wrangle?” asked Jack.

“Whatever we can dream of, Jack,” said Wrangle.

“Let’s build a castle!” said Jack, and they did.  It was a big, beautiful castle, and Jack was very proud of it, but after a while he said,

“Let’s build something else, Wrangle.”

“Okay, Jack,” said Wrangle.  “Let’s build… a space station!”

“Yes,” said Jack, “I would like to build a space station!”  And he turned to the box marked, “Building Blocks”, but it was empty.  “Oh no, Wrangle!” he said, “There’s no more star stuff!”

“That’s okay, Jack,” said Wrangle.  “We can just take the castle apart, and use the star stuff to build the space station.”

And they did.

In fact, they built many things that day, not just a castle and a space station.  They took the space station apart and used the star stuff to build a mountain.  They took the mountain apart and used the star stuff to build a tree.  They took the tree apart and built a dragon that lived in the deepest part of the ocean.  They built a whole herd of elephants, and a playground, and even a giant pillow big enough for the both of them to rest on.  Sometimes Jack wished they had enough star stuff to keep something and build the next thing, but there just wasn’t- and wishing wouldn’t make it so.

It's not quite done yet, obviously.  I'm still hashing out the last little bit, but I feel like I should have it pretty soon.

("Soon" being a very relative term these days, of course.)


Spiraling On

Describe your first kiss. Describe your most recent kiss. Describe your next kiss.

Once upon a time, if you had asked my to tell you about my first kiss, I'd have described to you a rather under-whelming (but retrospectively humorous!) encounter with an older boy (by a whole year!) on our gifted program retreat to Dauphin Island.

But today, as I sit here writing after putting my son to bed, today when I think of "my first kiss", I realize that moment of mutually-awkward-fumbling was not the one that matters.

No, my first kiss was pressed to my brow just moments after my birth, when my head was tiny and fragile and covered in skin softer than the air newly surrounding it.  I had just become my own separate person, and it was then I received a kiss of love so true I will never have to fear falling into an enchanted slumber.

My most recent kiss was with my husband: the sort of in-passing kiss that becomes so common among people who have been partnered for any significant amount of time.  A brief pressing-of-lips to reaffirm that yes, we are still mates, we still have the right to this small intimacy.  We are tired these days, worn out from discovering our roles as parents in addition to spouses, but we will never not make time for kisses, for touching, for love.

My next kiss will surely be on my son's sleeping head, because now I've sat here contemplating the full range of kisses, the full range of love, and it is the only answer my poetic soul will accepts: a return to the beginning, to keep the spiral slowly spinning onward, forever and ever.


Yellow is for Friendship

I know it's cliched, but I do so love roses.  And there are a lot of lovely ones in the neighborhood where I take my walks on my lunch breaks.
And the smell- glorious!


The Happiest Father's Day In a Long Time

It has been over twenty years since Father's Day wasn't (at best) an annoying contrivance, or (at worst) a fucking painful shit-storm.  Obviously having your father die young makes the holiday pretty terrible.  Miscarrying (for the second time) just days before makes it even worse.  (Especially when some dumb-ass-bitch sees you and your mourning husband and best friend at a restaurant and chirps, "Or are we celebrating father's day?")(No we are trying to get food that we don't have to make or clean up because it's too much effort to live right now, but thanks for your contribution.)  Last year held a bit more hope, but let's face it- I spent my entire pregnancy metaphorically holding my breath, just in case I somehow jinxed things.

But today.

Today was the fucking greatest.

Today I got to hang out with the father of my son, who is everything I could have hoped for in a human-raising-partner, and also with our son, who is the latest manifestation of my own father's genetic legacy.

So yeah.  Today was awesome.


Pre-Funking Father's Day

I've been skirting the edges of Depression, lately, so last night my Very Wise Husband informed me that we'd be going for a hike today.

And we did.
Early on, while it was still sunny and hot.
We had some pretty classic Washington State Summer Weather for the hike, ranging from too-hot-for-what-we-were-wearing to too-cold-for-what-we-were-wearing, with some rain for good measure.  We adapted mostly by slowing down or speeding up accordingly.
The view from the first viewpoint.
The nice thing is that we managed to stay right on the edge of the storm, so Neeps didn't get too wet.  And Nathan got some really nice photos out of it.
That guy.
Look at that rain edge waaaaay back there, right on Beacon Rock.
Needless to say, I am refreshed body and soul (well, slightly sore in body from shlepping a near-20-lb kid on my back for 5+ miles.)(I need to get out more.) and my husband is rightfully Smug.


Where and What(x3)

Where would you choose to be exiled?  What three essentials items would you take with you?

I'm assuming, of course, that I cannot leave wherever it is I've been exiled to.  I'm also assuming that all of my loved ones and essential files get to come with me, or else this game is just boring as hell for a pragmatic person like me.  So now that's out of the way...

No, wait- where am I being exiled from?  The city?  The country?  The universe?  Because that affects it a bit.  If I'm being exiled from the city I'll just head out to the coast.  If I'm being exiled from the country, then I'd say it's Ireland calling my name.  The universe?  Well call me a cheater-pants, but I choose a parallel universe where everything is exactly the same, except I'm ludicrously wealthy.

As for the three essentials that I'm bringing with me from home, that's actually not so hard.  I have an old box of letters that I'd bring, and an old box of photos.  But the third slot... what else won't they have in Ireland, that can only come from my home?  Wait, do I get to bring what I'm wearing?  Or do I  have to leave that behind, as well?  Because if I have to leave what I'm wearing behind, then the third thing is my great-grandmother's bracelet.  But if I get to hop on that flight (or whatever) wearing what I'm wearing, then I guess my third thing would be my guitar.  Because I'll probably have plenty of time to finally really learn to play, once I'm in exile.

...wait, I still have access to my accounts, right?


Fair Witness

One of my all-time favorite books is Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein.  In this book there is the concept of a professional "Fair Witness", a person who is trained to observe events and report exactly- and only- what they actually witness.  For example, at one point in the book a Fair Witness is asked what color a house is, and she replies "It's white on this side." (emphasis mine) It is then explained that she does not make the assumption that the rest of the house is white.  She does not give extrapolation or opinion- only observed fact.

I absolutely fell in love with this concept as a younger person, because it made so much sense to me.  It resonated with me, and with the way my brain works.  I know that I annoy the hell out of most people with my oft-repeated motto, "Precision of language is important!" but it is.  Precision matters.

But most people do not want precision.  They want broad, easy strokes.  And this can make life very awkward for me, indeed.  At times during my childhood it made it downright miserable- other children can be cruel to peers who are different, and using polysyllabic words at a young age certainly marked me as different.  But even more than that, certain adults don't know how to deal with children who are as smart- or smarter- than they are, and some of those adults react by attempting to put said children "in their place".  The world can be terribly lonely when you are surrounded by peers and "superiors" who are all telling you that the way you're acting- the way you are- is showing off and mean and wrong.

But that's another blog entry entirely.

The point is, I have a history of saying things that alienate people, all because I tend to forget that the average person doesn't care about precision in their day-to-day interactions.  They only care that you hit the proper steps of social ritual.  And although I've gotten better about it, I still occasionally fail to switch out of logical-Vulcan mode.

I failed today.

A friend of mine asked me,

"Am I a good person?"

And instead of responding like a normal person would, by saying, "Of course you're a good person!" and thereby giving them the reassurance they were searching for, I said, thoughtfully,

"Well, I  don't know."  I went on to explain that I wasn't sure anyone could ever know whether or not another person was good, that the most I could do was comment on the behaviors I'd observed, and that they seemed like the person in question was probably a good person.  But I couldn't know.  And while I'm saying these things, my mind is whirling with thoughts like, "What is good?  I don't even know that I'm a good person- I'm more likely a neutral person who occasionally does good things," (any time I take those, "What's your Alignment?" quizzes I get "true neutral", if that tells you anything).

And then, suddenly, I realize that my friend is looking at me.  Looking at me in that, "You just failed a test of basic social niceties" way.  And then they sort of try to brush the whole thing off, but can tell that actually I've really hurt their feelings.  And I feel awful, because I absolutely didn't mean to hurt their feelings, and if they had phrased the question just slightly differently, ("Do you think I'm a good person?" or "Am I a bad person?") I could have answered appropriately, but oh no- whatever part of my psyche that cannot let go of literal-ism is flailing around screaming that if I don't know what the definition of something is, I cannot categorize things using said "something".

But then?  Then I start to feel angry.  Because why the hell do people have to take things personally when they aren't personal?  Why do people have to be so sloppy with language?  And why can't people just ask for what they actually want, rather than making me have to guess at their stupid normal emotions and react "appropriately"?

But then I realize that I'm just going into defensive mode, myself, getting angry to mask the discomfort of having unintentionally hurt my friend.  So I shake it off, apologize, and try to explain myself- but the brusque way they're speaking indicates that they don't really get it.  In fact I'm pretty sure they're still thinking that I think they're a jerk.


Oh well.  Tomorrow is another day.

(In all fairness, sometimes I'm just plain self-centered/oblivious.  It's a pretty major personal failing, and I'm working on it.  I've been working on it for over a decade.  Theoretically someday I'll get better about it.  Hopefully.)


Proy G. Biv

Holy stars, I'm back to being Ahead on Neeps's monthly portrait cards.  Woo!
Rainbow Dragons!
I will tell you a secret, if you'd like: see those two little dragons, down in the right hand corner? They are babies, which you can tell by the way their horns aren't as developed.

Next up?  Drawing nine cats, because obviously.


Climbing the Violet Stair to Heaven

Our clematis is going crazier than ever, and it's making me really happy.
Jack WISHES his vine has been so lovely
It's been really sunny lately, so the interesting thing is that the newest blooms are a much darker purple than the ones that have been open for a day or two.  Behold the intensity:


The Fox's Inner Fire

I have some wonderful friends who own a wonderful bookstore, and every once in a while they provide me with wonderful things for Neeps, because apparently I did something really good in a past life since stars know I haven't done anything to earn it in this one.

Today I came home to a hefty package that contained lots of fun books, and also the most perfect nightlight ever for a rainbow nebula fox nursery!
So perfect.
Granted it is currently in the bathroom, because I need to do a little rearranging to fit it into his room, but soon...


Doodling a Dane

Trying to figure out how to draw a Great Dane:
Little girls are much easier.

(you know, just in case I need to maybe illustrate a children's book...)


Eight for a Wish

I've been making little drawings for Neeps's monthly portraits, and in light of recent activities, it shouldn't be super surprising which animal I've chosen for the swiftly-approaching Eight Month Mark:
I miss having a functioning scanner.
I'm thinking of making them a veritable rainbow of colors...


Severan Reinvented

So when I was having a casual chat with my DM about my reworked character the other evening, and mentioned that I'd changed her into a Tiefling that was abandoned on temple steps as a baby, he replied, "I think that happens to them a lot.  Both Tiefling characters I created had that happen to them."

To which I replied, "Parents are like, 'Aw hell no I ain't potty-training no devil baby with a devil baby tail.  Give 'em to the gods.'  And the gods be like, 'Lolz we'll use this one to shake people up!'."  And then I added, "You know that kind of makes me want to rewrite her as raised by loving parents.... hmmm."

And so  I did.  Sort of.  Anyway this is what I sent my DM.

Okay look, I know I have too much backstory.  But I’m not even sorry because it’s fun, and I know you’re as much of a diseased world-builder as I am.  So I’m just going to give you all of it, and you can decide what’s relevant to our campaign.

Name: Severan (short for Perseverance)
    Race: Tiefling
    Class: Paladin
    Height: 5’9” (6’3” including horns)
    Weight/Build: 175 lbs muscular
    Skin: bright scarlet
    Hair: wavy black
    Eyes: completely white-silver
    Age: 20
    Distinguishing features: horns (tall, black, loosely spiraled); facial starburst scar; tail; fangs
    In Brief: will sacrifice her life to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  Terrified of turning out like her mother.

Daughter of-

Name: Eurig Tenderheart
    Race: Half-elf
    Class: Fighter (Mercenary)
    Height: 6’2”
    Weight/Build: 195 lbs lean
    Skin: dark tan
    Hair: wavy, black
    Eyes: elfin silver
    Age: 60-ish
    Distinguishing features: full beard
    In Brief: classic merc-with-a-heart-of-gold.  World’s best dad.

Name: Nix
    Race: Tiefling
    Class: Rogue (Assassin)
    Height: 5’8” (horns do not add to her height)
    Weight/Build: 145 lbs slight
    Skin: maroon
    Hair: straight, dark purple
    Eyes: indigo
    Age: 45-ish
    Distinguishing features: horns (small, russet, cow-like); tail; fangs
    In Brief: damn good at her job and actually pretty infamous.  Tried to go straight for love, but couldn’t make it stick.

Eurig and Nix meet when he rescues her from a situation she doesn’t actually need rescuing from- but she is fascinated that he would try to protect a Tiefling.  They fall in love quickly, and she tries her damnedest to be the good he sees in her- the first time she has ever felt like she isn’t necessarily just evil-by-nature.  Nix gives birth to their daughter, Perseverance, within the first year, and the child is deeply loved and much doted on.  Eventually, however, Nix begins to sink once more into old habits.  Rather than “pollute” the man and child she loves, she abandons them when Severan is 8.

Eurig raises Severan alone- well, not quite alone, as the rest of his merc company takes a hand in raising her, as well, so she grows up learning the arts of war.  She is particularly drawn to the medics, who teach her battlefield medicine.  When Severan is nine, she comes across a gang of older children torturing a halfling child- she jumps to protect the halfling by beating the other children with a stick, driving them away.  Later, one of their older siblings retaliates, hitting her hard enough to split her face open.  It leaves a scar that is vaguely shaped like a tailed-star, which just so happens to be the symbol of Sh’lan, her father’s patron goddess (a protection deity).  Eurig tells Severan she has been marked by Sh’lan for her valour in protecting the halfling child, to show Sh’lan has chosen her to act as Her sword and shield on the material plane, defending those who cannot defend themselves.  From this point onward, Severan is a devoted follower of Sh’lan, and believes that her goddess speaks to her through signs and portents- even if she doesn’t always understand them.

When she is 17, Severan realizes she cannot in good conscience be a mercenary- she must use her strength for the greater good, or else not at all, and so she leaves to search out her destiny, following Sh’lan’s will.  Eurig is still alive, still with the merc company, and incredibly proud of his daughter.  They have a loving relationship, and she even gets along tolerably well with his new (human) wife, whom he married after she left.  She sends letters home when she can, and tries to see him at least once a year.  Eurig never speaks of Nix if he can avoid it, but Severan has but it together that Nix her mother-who-left is the same person as Nix-the-renowned-assassin. Although her father has spent her entire life telling Severan that she can choose her own path, and that Tieflings are no more prone to evil than any other race, she is still absolutely terrified of turning out like her mother.  This is why she is so strict with herself on matters of discipline and abiding by the letter of the law in addition to the spirit (ie her Lawful Good status).

Severan is very good at turning the other cheek- her father taught her to be aware of the fact that her visage frightens people (“unworldly people”), and that frightened people are rarely at their best.  Moreover, she feels she is far more likely to hurt others than they are to hurt her if it comes to a physical altercation, so she avoids fights when she can.  That being said, if she is in a fight, her goal is to end it as quickly and efficiently as possible.  She does not hesitate to kill those who threaten others, but she generally tries not to kill people who are simply afraid of her.  She does tend to be judgemental of those who are not using their gifts for good in the way she feels they should be using them (she would phrase it as being “disappointed in them”) but she judges herself more harshly still.


(The whole "signs and portents" thing is how I've solved the problem of getting my Hall Monitor character to hang out with a bunch of Shenanigan Masters, by the way.  Useful, that.)


Doing It However

My mom's back in town (hooray!) and tonight we had a ladies' bonding night with my aunt.  And what did we choose to do?  Drink wine and paint stuff, naturally!

I've been to a variety of these "sip and stroke"/"paint and pour"/"drink and dab" things over the years, and although I do have some issues with them, by and large I enjoy the hell out of them (even if it takes all of my willpower not to break my canvas over the "instructor's" head) (okay that was only once)(but seriously: willpower.).  Obviously I have the unfair advantage of having already been trained in the fine art of painting (hah!) but I would say my advantage lies not so much in skill as in attitude- I'm not afraid of "doing it wrong", because I know that you literally cannot "do it wrong" as long as you like what you do.  And you have a better chance of liking what you do when you let go of the whole "doing it right" thing.

I say that somewhat flippantly, but I do recognize it's not as easy as deciding not to care.  Which is why the wine helps.  I feel like maybe they should put more emphasis on the drinking, well before the class actually starts.  If I was ever going to run one of these, I'd probably do it with hard liquor... "bourbon and brushes"!
The sad remnants of our cheese plate.

Literally my favorite part of my painting. (I was maybe driving the instructor a little crazy with my extremely liberal application of paint and general lack of caring about the lines she'd drawn)

My finished product!  Transparent petals be damned!

We want more wine.  And ice cream.  Please and thank you.



I doodled my character:

Horns inspired by the kudu



(This was my first attempt at changing an old character into a new one.  But I don't think I'm satisfied, yet.)

The warrior clerics of my Temple usually take children for training at age four, but it is not uncommon for foundlings to be left on their steps.  What is uncommon, however, is for that foundling to be a Tiefling.

I can guess why my parents abandoned me- my scarlet skin and tail gave me a demonic appearance long before spiraling black horns broke the flesh of my brow- but it is harder to discern why they left me to the Temple.  My master says they were compelled to by the gods themselves, to ensure that I would have the training I would need to act as sword and shield.  But perhaps they thought holy men and women would know best how to handle a descendant of evil.

The clerics named me in the tradition of their faith; a threefold name to encompass the virtues of my past, present, and future.  Thus was I christened “Innocence Hope Perseverance”, and began a life dedicated to protecting the weak.  My fellow acolytes shortened my name to “Severan”, and I have gone by that ever since.

My master took special care with my education- he warned me of what I would face in the world as a Tiefling, and I encountered it for myself, the first of many times, when I was only five.  The man who gave me this scar did not survive the retribution of my master, who used it as a teaching moment in protecting the helpless from the brutal.

I know that my kind are drawn to the darkness of our ancestry, and the constant suspicion of others weighs heavily on a soul, until one is tempted to become what one is believed to be: it is why I consciously strive to stay on the path of righteousness at all times, no matter the abuse I may endure.


Vera, Delilah, and the Rainbow Bridge

(for my son, so that when the day comes, he will maybe understand just a little)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Vera.  Vera had a best friend named Delilah, and the two of them loved to go on adventures together- almost as much as they loved one another, which is to say, quit a bit indeed.

One day Vera said to Delilah, "What sort of adventure are we going to have today, Delilah?" and Delilah said, "I do not feel like adventuring today, Vera."

"What do you feel today, Delilah?" asked Vera.

"I feel very tired, Vera.  And of course I feel love that I love you."

"That's okay, Delilah," said Vera.  "We can just sit quietly together, because I feel that I love you, too, and that's enough adventure for me."

The next day, Vera said to Delilah, "What sort of adventure are we going to have today, Delilah?" and Delilah said, "I'm afraid I am still very tired, Vera.  I think I am sick."

Vera threw her arms around Delilah and said, "That's okay, Delilah.  We will sit quietly together for as long as it takes for you to get better."

And that's what they did for a long time, but Delilah never seemed to feel any better.  Then the day came when Delilah said, "Vera, I think I am ready for another adventure, but I need your help."

"Oh Delilah!" said Vera.  "You know I will help you any way I can.  That's what best friends are for!  What sort of adventure are we going to have?"

"We must find the Rainbow Bridge," said Delilah, "and I must cross over it."

"What's on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge?" asked Vera, for she thought it sounded like a magical adventure, indeed.

"New adventures," said Delilah, "and old friends, and many other wonderful things.  And most importantly, once I cross the Rainbow Bridge, I won't be sick anymore."

"Well that sounds like the perfect adventure for today, Delilah.  Here, lean on me and we'll get started."

Delilah did lean on Vera, and although Delilah was very heavy, Vera never once complained- although she did have to take breaks to rest.  This is because although she loved Delilah very, very much, she was only a little girl, and no one- not even the strongest grownup- can be leaned on all the time.  But eventually the two of them found their way to the foot of the Rainbow Bridge.

"Oh my!" said Vera.  "It's even more beautiful than I imagined- but it's so very long that I can't see the other side!  How long will it take us to cross it, Delilah?"

"You cannot cross it, Vera," said Delilah, "Because it's not your time yet.  But I will cross it very swiftly indeed, once I am on it."

"What?" said Vera.  "What do you mean it's not my time?  How will you cross if you do not have me to lean on?  How will you get back?"

"That is the magic of the Rainbow Bridge," said Delilah.  "Once it is your time, the Bridge itself will give you the strength you need to cross over.  But Vera, you must understand- once I have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I cannot cross back.  I will be on the other side forever."

"Oh no!" said Vera, "I don't want you to go, Delilah!  What good are adventures without you?" and she began to cry.

"Don't cry, Vera.  I love you so much that I will stay if you really want me to," said Delilah, but her voice was sad, and Vera could see how tired she still was.  And Vera remembered what Delilah had told her, about how she would not be sick once she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and Vera knew she could not ask her friend to stay.

"You said there are old friends on the other side?" Vera asked, wiping her eyes.

"Oh yes," said Delilah.  "Friends I have not seen in many years.  I have missed them since they crossed the Rainbow Bridge, just as you will miss me."

"But they're waiting for you?" asked Vera.

"Oh yes," said Delilah, "Just as I will wait for you."

"And you'll have new adventures together?"

"Oh yes," said Delilah.  "And I will tell them stories about the adventures I had with you, and they will like that."

"And, and will you tell me stories about the adventures you have with them, once it is my time?" asked Vera.

"Oh yes," said Delilah.  "But you must have new adventures so that you can tell me stories, too."

"I will!" said Vera.  "I will have as many wonderful adventures as I can, so that I can tell you many, many wonderful stories once it's my time!"

"I will like that," said Delilah, and gave her friend a kiss.  "I love you very much, Vera."

"I love you very much, Delilah," said Vera, and threw her arms around her best friend one last time.  Then she kissed Delilah on her brow, and stood back to watch as Delilah stepped onto the Rainbow Bridge.

Vera kept right on watching as Delilah stood up straighter than she had for a very long time, and began to walk with a lighter step.  And soon Delilah was running joyfully, faster and faster towards the unseen end, and Vera suddenly realized how much her friend must have been hurting, and she knew she had been right to let her go.

Soon Delilah was out of sight, and Vera had herself a good cry, because even tho' she knew Delilah crossing the Rainbow Bridge had been the right thing, it still hurt to say goodbye to her friend.  And once she was done crying, she splashed some cold water on her face, and turned for home, because she knew her mother and father would be worried if she stayed gone too long.  And she also knew she must get a good night's rest, for tomorrow would bring a new adventure, and she must be ready for it.



Soggy Bottom Boy

We went to a very special Going Away party today, which featured a kiddie pool for the half-dozen (plus!) kiddies rolling around.  I was so excited for Neeps's first experience with that- he's recently discovered the joy of splashing, and bath time is super awesome fun for both of us.  Needless to say, I was certain he'd be delighted by the novelty of being outside in the water via the kiddie pool.

Oh it is to laugh.

I plopped him down in his little cotton diaper in the pool, and he immediately let out an indignant squawk, followed by a bit of grousing.  I was stunned- this is my little aquatic dragon: he loves the water!  What was the problem?  I scooped a little up in one of the tiny cups and poured it on him, and he continued his protesting.  So I splashed his little hands in it, and suddenly realized-

Holy crap, this water is cold.  And he has literally never been in cold water before.  Not even luke-warm.  No wonder he's objecting!

He did eventually adapt, however, and was happily engaged swishing things back and forth until I removed him due to incipient pruney-ness.  Then we just hung out on a towel while I drank cider and chatted with grownups, and he ate grass and played with cups, which made me realize... we need some bath cups.
Boy stole my hat.


Character Building Experience

A buddy of mine had a little D&D "character creation" party tonight, so Neeps got to spend some quality time with Daddy while I remembered what it's like to be out of the house past 8pm.

I went in not really knowing what I was going to do, which is a bit unusual for me.  But the truth of the matter is that I hadn't had much spare time/mental energy to devote to it, so I figured I'd just stat out one the characters from a past story.  After all, it's always a fun mind puzzle to make your ideas fit within someone else's rules.  I had a vague notion that I might like to create a paladin, based on a conversation I'd had earlier in the week with my mother, and it just so happens that one of my old stories is about a bunch of (essentially) paladins.  Perfect.

In the end I think I did a fairly decent job of it- the only problem was that she pretty much 100% was not going to work with the more rogue-like characters the others created.  Not that I don't have faith in my DM to come up with a scenario in which she feasibly be hanging out with them, but... not without it running too incredibly counter to her personal story.  Which, obviously, is the problem with coming to the table with an out-of-world character.


The more I thought about it on the drive home, the more I realized that I was just going to have to redo the whole thing.  Same basic premise, but without any of the backstory baggage- and with a few tweaks to make it more likely for my lawful good paladin to hook up with a bunch of mischevious hooligans (interesting side note: I've never actually plated lawful good before- it should be interesting, if no one kills my character for being too pedantic first).

I may very well type up her backstory for a future blog entry... after I've gotten her new stats worked out, of course.


Dragonlove 08

C’Len did, indeed, have a few thoughts on who might be best for his twin.

“Well it rather depends on what you’re looking for,” he said, “but off the top of my head, I’d say you wouldn’t regret a dalliance with D’ski, Z’Rey, or T’zel- they’re fellow brown-riders.  Oh, and W’tarran, who rides bronze Korvath, is very funny and quite laid back: you might enjoy spending time with him.

“Hmm,” said C’Fra.  “It’s a starting point, I suppose.  None of them have issues with a female riding a fighting dragon?”

C’Len looked insulted.  “I should hope you don’t honestly believe I would recommend you take time with anyone who did!”  He heaved a sigh.  “Look, C’Fra, I won’t lie- of course there are those in the wings who have ridiculously old-fashioned notions about women on anything other than a gold-”

“The irony, of course, being that in the truly olden-days, only women rode greens,” C’Fra said with some acidity.  It was, perhaps, the most personally-satisfying bit of recovered information to come out of all the record-salvaging going on down in Landing.

“Yes, well, just because you can Impress a dragon doesn’t mean you can’t also be an idiot,” C’Len shook his head. “Ancients know we’ve had enough proof of that down through the ages.  But that particular kind of idiot is getting rarer and rarer, sister-mine, so don’t worry too much about it, okay?”

“I don’t, mostly.  I just… wouldn’t want to be in a situation where one of those prejudiced idiots…” she trailed off, and gave a shudder.  C’Len’s eyes flashed dangerously.

“Anith would never permit herself to be caught by a dragon with such a rider.”

Of course not, Anith said.  I would do nothing to cause you distress.

“That’s very sweet, my darling love, but from what I understand, you won’t be focusing on much beyond your own needs, in that particular moment.”

Well what I need is for my rider to be happy.  C’Fra recognized the echo of her own acid tone in her dragon’s voice, and C’Len gave a hearty laugh.

“What a pair you are!” he said, shaking his head.  “I shall miss you both when we’ve gone.”

“Do you really have to go?  Can’t you just absent yourself whenever Anith rises?”

C’Len shook his head again, this time in regret.  “My wingleader thinks it best, and honestly I agree with him.  Greens rise multiple times each Turn- it wouldn’t be good for my wing to have me absent so frequently, and so erratically. Besides which, the chance to spend time at Southern is not exactly unappealing.”

C’Fra sighed.  “No, I suppose not.”

I still do not understand why Tadith may not fly me, Anith complained.  He is really a most excellent brown.

“We’ve been over this, Anith,” C’Fra said, exasperated.  C’Len was stifling laughter, no doubt remembering the time she’d abandoned him to explain human breeding mores to his dragon.  “It is not good when humans mate too close to their own bloodline.”

It is unfortunate, I think, said Anith.  Look at how well close breeding worked for the dragons of Benden Weyr!

“Now love, what is good for dragons is often no good at all for humans.  Imagine if I tried chewing firestone!”

Do not do that!  Anith’s eyes whirled in agitation.  You would break your teeth.  And you do not have the second stomach to process it, so you would not be able to flame even if you were able to swallow any.

“Precisely.  So although I am certain you and Tadith would have a most excellent mating flight, for you are the two most excellent dragons in all of Pern, it would not be so good for C’Len and I.”

I suppose…

C’Len left the following week, and C’Fra lost no time in getting to know the four riders he had mentioned.  Mindful of his statement that it depended on what she was “looking for”, she tried to evaluate them as dispassionately as possible.  Given that all of them were of better-than-average looks, this was not a particularly easy task.  When asked if she had a preference between any of their dragons, Anith replied that her preference was the one who could catch her.

“Anyway why would you want to be dispassionate about a thing like sex?” asked Kivah, the young woman who had ended up Impressing gold Lyzith out of the same clutch C’Fra had Impressed Anith.  Lyzith was still not fully mature, but Kivah was weyr-bred and had the typically casual weyr-attitude about sex.  “Pick whichever one makes your toes curl and proposition him.  None of them are likely to say no!”

C’Fra rolled her eyes at her friend.  “Kivah, who did you lose your virginity to?”

“Lose nothing.  I gave it away!”

“Okay, fine.  To whom did you give your virginity to?”

Kivah thought for a moment, then shrugged.  “I’m not really sure.  That was a while ago.  And it doesn’t really matter- whoever he was, we were just kids, figuring things out together.  No need to make a big deal out of it.”

“Well it’s a slightly bigger deal to me,” C’Fra said.  “I’m not expecting to become weyrmates with whomever I choose to lay down with- I don’t want a weyrmate at this point!  And I don’t even require that we love one another, because obviously there’s no time for that, not if I want to get rid of maidenhead before Anith rises.  But I’d like for there to be mutual respect- perhaps even affection!  I’d like to remember his name, and for him to remember mine.”

“So judgmental!”  Kivah laughed to show she didn’t mean it, then wrapped her arm around C’Fra’s shoulders.  “Look, I happen to know that both T’zel and W’Tarran are exceptionally considerate lovers.  You could do worst for your first time.  Z’Rey is… well, that’s an intense experience, and one you might very well like to save for when Anith rises.”

“And D’Ski?”

“I haven’t managed to trip him, yet, so your guess is as good as mine.”