Saturday, September 28, 2013

351. September 28, 2013

Happy people don't make art.
Nor do the depressed
or the merely content.

Dissatisfied people make art.
Angry people bursting at the seams,
people who are trapped inside themselves
like caged animals
pacing and waiting for an opportunity
to escape.

Art comes from a burning unrest;
it is a demon to be wrestled,
a need for movement -

Not the glow of sunlight
through an open bedroom window
on a Saturday morning.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

350. The Vacation That Wasn't

Pitchfork did not happen.

Or at least, it happened, but I wasn't there to witness it. On Wednesday (the 17th) Frank the dog began vomiting around noon. He hadn't been outside, except for on the balcony to soak in some sun. He had been fine that morning, and ate his breakfast as usual. By the time I came home, just before 7pm, he was still vomiting, and he had diarrhea. Badly. By 10pm, he was still trying to vomit every 20 minutes or so, but there was nothing left in him to expel. If he tried to drink water, it came back up within 5 minutes.

Franklin has a habit of becoming mysteriously ill at the most inopportune times. Usually, he's just swallowed a piece of bone, but bones aren't in his diet these days. There have been other causes; a coffee bean, large quantities of Halloween candy. It's pretty easy to tell what he's gotten into because the remnants are scattered about the apartment as evidence. This time was not like that. There was no evidence. The Wizard had been home the entire time. Nothing was out of place. I had a sinking suspicion that we would not be attending Pitchfork.

At 11pm, we arrived at the 24 animal hospital. I thought this was an actual emergency hospital, but instead, it was just a regular vet's office which had round the clock hours for late night appointments. Strange. Frank looked terrible. His tail was down, he was sluggish and appeared exhausted. The receptionist was unsympathetic, and treated him as a walk-in. I had to ask for paper towels to wipe up pools of vomit at least 5 times before she curtly pointed me to the sanitation station in the corner. The vet, though friendlier, was also unconcerned by his lackluster demeanor and my insistence that this was not normal. X-rays found nothing. Fluids were given by subcutaneous injection along with something to help his nausea, and we were sent home. I was told to offer him water in small quantities the following morning, and if he hadn't improved by the following evening, to bring him back.

We returned home, but the shot didn't seem to help. Frank continued to vomit (or at least try to) until 5am. After that, he sat, eyes half closed, drooling continuously. He looked so terrible, I became increasingly concerned. At 7am, I called in to work and made an appointment for 10am with our usual vet.

By 10am, Frank had not improved, and I was exhausted from patchy sleep. While waiting to be taken to a room, he dozed on the floor of the reception area, oblivious to everything around us. This would never happen under normal circumstances. According to the scale, he'd lost almost a full pound since midnight. The vet looked him over and decided he should be hospitalized to receive fluids and do some blood work. I was told to call around 4pm to check on him.

Having no reason to stay at home, I went to work. At 4pm, I called, and was asked to leave him until 7, when they closed. Had Frank been in good health, I would have been dropping him off at my parents' house, where he was to stay and eat a lot of cookies over the weekend. Instead, I went back to the vet to pick him up, and although he seemed substantially better, I was asked to transfer him to the real emergency hospital to continue receiving fluids for the rest of the night.

The emergency hospital door is always locked. You have to ring the doorbell and wait to be let in. I don't really know why this is, considering they're open 24 hours a day, but I guess they're extra cautious. Or else they worry the animals may use their opposable thumbs to open the door and see themselves out. Frank was taken to the back immediately, but it was another hour before I was able to sign all of the waivers and pay the minimum balance required. They asked me to leave him for another 24 hours to receive more fluids and intravenous antibiotics. I drove home crying to the Wizard over the phone, half about my dog, and half about our now ruined vacation. That night, I listed my Pitchfork tickets on Stubhub and Craigslist, and went to bed.

Friday, the morning of my 32nd birthday, the tickets sold on Stubhub, but only after I dropped the price to $85 a piece. Minus the service fee, I received $144, which is about $120 less than what I paid for them originally. Over breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, I called the hospital to check on Frank. He was cleared to go home, and we went to pick him up. 3 veterinary hospitals, x-rays, bloodwork, fluids, and antibiotics came to a grand total of $775. I should really buy some pet insurance...

The rest of the weekend was nice. The Wizard took me to the Contemporary Art Museum, out for drinks, and later we met up with friends for some bowling (which the Wizard would never agree to were it not my birthday). The next day were more adventures and more drinks, which ended in dancing. Not a bad way to ring in my 32nd year. Best of all, I've still got this guy:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

349. Let's Runaway to Chicago

Only 3 more days until Pitchfork!

Bjork is performing on my birthday. I have never seen Bjork live, which is silly because she is one of my longest lasting musical loves. That alone was reason to buy a ticket, but then Belle & Sebastian are playing on Saturday! Another of my longtime loves! Plus The Breeders, which is kind of neat in the sense that I got to see Frank Black play on my birthday two years ago. So I am slowly accumulating The Pixies piece by piece. Someday I hope to have a full set in the same room together, but that seems doubtful. Sunday will then close with a blast of M.I.A., who I have also held a torch for forever.

There are plenty of other great bands who will be playing that I haven't mentioned, but I'm probably just going to focus on these four. Though I hear that Savages put on an intense show, and Toro y Moi is sort of my headphone companion lately, I want this weekend to be fun and easy going. I have never done a three day festival, so I'm pretty happy that the most important points for me are all in the evening after the risk of too much sun exposure has passed. That also leaves the days open for other pursuits, like visiting the lake for a swim, and discovering new restaurants.

This is also the home stretch for my summer class, which was probably the easiest four credits I could have ever earned in a six week period. Only three classes remain until I have my Associate's. Seems that a trip out of town is certainly due. Some friends have invited us to stay at a cabin in Arkansas with them in August, and I'm really looking forward to it. The Wizard and I have been camping a total of once, ONCE, together, and that was at least two summers ago. While a cabin is by no means camping, it does mean an escape to the wilderness and unplugging from the modern world, at least a little bit.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

348. Holy...


I won...

First place in the national League for Innovation category for literary fiction. Apparently me and one other person tied, I don't know the full details. I won. I don't care.

It is, I'm not joking, the most surreal thing that has ever happened to me...ever.

Leda & the Swan is going to be published in a literary magazine that I have been assured I will receive *at least* 5 copies of, and I won $500.


Yeah, so um, stuff. I sincerely feel like I just ripped off a convenience store for a largish sum of money. Like I snagged whatever was in the till and just took off running down the street. No blood, sweat, or tears. Nothing truly earned, I just won.

I can't wrap my head around it. These sorts of things do not just happen. Not to people like me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

347. Freak Out

Just as I was feeling much more relaxed about life financially, I decided to talk to the transfer counselor at UMSL on Monday. Apparently, should I choose to double major as I intended, it will take me four years to complete my bachelor's on top of the work I'll have already done on my Associate's, and that's if I go full time. If I try to work and go part time, I will pretty much never graduate.

I sat down and tried to do a little math to figure out how much money I would need to live on annually, should I go to school full time and either not work, or work very minimally. It's about $16,000 a year with bills/rent/food/etc. Tack that onto whatever tuition I'm paying, minus any scholarships I might qualify for, and I think that four years of full time school without a job may run up a student loan debt close to $80-100 grand.


Panicking right now.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

346. AHHHHH!!!


After 6 months of waiting on the bank, the refinance is done. I checked my bank account this morning, and the mortgage is gone! I'm freeeee!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

345. In Which the Sun Cooks Everything.

It was hot for like a day, and already the catnip and most of the fennel are dead. Still! I will not be discouraged. The tomato and eggplant actually seem to be enjoying themselves. The peas were moved back inside until I can transfer them to a permanent window box position, and everything else seems ok so far. Something has to come of my efforts eventually, right?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

344. Saturday, Sweetly Sweetly

It's gorgeous outside. After a perfect omeletty breakfast and coffee with the Wizard, I've spent the morning gardening on our balcony. Mostly repotting and making adjustments, but with a new addition as well. We now have fennel, a tomato plant, an eggplant, green onions, English peas, spinach, a blackberry bush (which currently resembles a stick with leaves), and some jalapenos. Most of these are still in the very early stages of growth and don't look like much yet, but I'm hopeful. The peas, tomato, and eggplant are the largest, but the mint is filling in quickly.

So now that the balcony is beautiful, I suppose I need to go buy some wine to drink on it. I'll leave you with my current soundtrack...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

343. It's Here!


Tonight was my Figure Drawing critique, and last class of the semester. I'm burnt out, and exhausted, and proud of myself, and so relieved it's over. There was never any question I took on too much at once, but I think I managed to get straight A's. I know for certain I have two out of three, and I'm feeling pretty confident about the third.

 Unfortunately, it looks like I have exactly a week and a half before my summer class starts. Sigh. On the brightside, it's entirely online, and there's only one of them. Also, we have travel plans for July. We had planned to go on a float trip with a little camping, and I still hope we can, but we kind of impulse bought tickets to Pitchfork last night. The lineup was too good to pass up, and I'd had just enough tequila to throw fiscal responsibility to the wind.

I'm not usually a festival person, but it's Bjork, MIA, BELLE & SEBASTIAN, The Breeders, Joanna Newsom, Yo La Tengo, Glass Candy...probably some others I'm missing. I would have done it for Belle & Sebastian alone, but Bjork is something I never thought would happen in a million years. This nearly makes up for the fact that I have not, and will probably never get the chance, to see Tom Waits. And it's my birthday weekend! In Chicago! [scream]

Sunday, May 5, 2013

342. Video Sunday

A few tracks that have been on obsessive rotation for the past several months...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

341. Thank Fuck.

Thus completes the last night of Figure Drawing I. I still have one large drawing and about 12 hands/feet to draw this weekend before my critique on Tuesday, and then that's it! We're done! Weee!!!

Fiction Writing is over. We have one last class to pick up our portfolios and chat, but no further assignments. I finished up my Anthropology Powerpoint Presentation today, which just leaves the final for Monday.

Major life decisions were made this week, and I feel that they deserve a post-mention. The Wizard and I have been stressing over money, deciding where to go to school, how to orchestrate move/jobs/residency to go with it, etc, etc, etc. It was eating at us, even though it's still more than a year away. I've been saving like crazy while paying off my credit card in order to get us the funds we needed, but it was making me really nervous, and I'm certain the Wizard was tired of thinking about it.

This all came to a head in the parking lot of Aldis this past Saturday. We had just pulled in after discussing what to do the entire way there, when we both sort of turned to one another and said, "Do you just wanna stay here?" And then we both saw the look on each other's face, and we both started grinning, and suddenly we were very relieved, and the world got really shiny and glowy.

We love our apartment, and our neighborhood, and I like being in a band, and things are going really well for us for once. Ever. We'd still like to move away someday, when it's time to really do something. I can't see myself having a career in this city, even if I do love a lot of things about it. But for now, while we're just college students, this feels comfortable and manageable. So we're staying for at least a few more years.

To reward ourselves for making such a grown-up decision, we decided to buy something we've wanted forever, but were hesitant to buy.
A set of new dining room chairs  to replace the set we got for free, and hate.
Not just any chairs, either! While these are not actually the Eames molded plastic side chair with Eiffel base, they're pretty incredibly close to identical, for about a quarter of the price.
They'll be here Tuesday! (Scream!)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

340. This Work is Copyrighted

Originally, I had posted the fully revised text of one of my stories, but since then I've thought better of it and chosen to delete it. I also went back and removed the first draft versions of the two stories which I had originally posted. It's not really a big deal I guess, but I had this nagging feeling that I should protect my unpublished work, rather than giving it away on the internet for free. "Leda & the Swan' is currently competing in a national competition, and "Behind the Lines" has been submitted to my college literary magazine for possible publication. It isn't very practical to watermark a work of fiction, and neither story makes a lot of sense if I only post an excerpt.

It's weird, actually. This is the first time in my life I've ever written anything that I felt I should protect, unless we're talking private journal entries. Even now, I don't think they were truly good stories. But having invested hours upon hours in them, lost sleep over them, and revised them until I couldn't stand the sight of them anymore, I feel compelled to defend my rights to them.

In other writing related news, I got a response from the school newspaper today. The editor in chief wants to meet me and said I sound like a perfect fit. I'd make an ok Lois Lane, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

339. Burn-Out

Finish line is in sight, but I'm exhausted. I spent the last two days revising "Behind the Lines", which I intended to post for you, but then left it on my desktop at work. No rush, I suppose.
This morning I got up at 5:30 for my last Soliya session. I'm going to miss those kids, but I won't miss them too much when I'm getting an extra hour of sleep on Wednesdays. I managed to find most of them on Facebook, and a couple on Instagram, so at least we can keep in touch.
Last weekend I finished what I think is the hardest of the two drawings I had to do, because I was supposed to copy Da Vinci's style. I am no Renaissance master, and even though I understood the technique, the Wizard's portrait came out having its eyes too close together and vaguely resembling Harrison Ford. Not that it's ever a bad thing to resemble Harrison Ford.
The next one I'll be working on this weekend lets me draw in my own style, but asks that I incorporate some of that Da Vinci technique too. I don't dread it so much, which seems promising, but I also haven't decided what I want to do. Overall, I have begun to feel like the novelty of assigned drawings is wearing thin, but next semester I'll be moving onto Graphic Design, and this won't be an issue again for a while. 
In the next week or so I still have a lot of hands to draw, an essay to write, a Powerpoint presentation to put together, a chapter for Anthropology and the final exam for it too. So what did I do with my evening? Stuffed Chinese food in my face and practiced "Yesterday" on piano for about an hour and a half.
Thankfully, I have time to work on a lot of this while I'm at work, leaving me with a three day weekend free to work on the big drawing and relax a bit. The Wizard and I are planning to grill some tasty food and make margaritas for a couple of friends on Saturday, which might be the most mundanely charming afternoon I've been able to look forward to in some time.
On that note, I'll leave you with a little Cinematic Orchestra...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

338. EEK!

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from my fiction writing professor while I was at work. The head of the English department had reminded her that he needed student submissions for The League for Innovation Literary Competition, and he needed it by the following morning. She was calling to find out if it would be possible for me to finish my revision of my first story, Leda & the Swan, in time. I cannot seem to say no to this woman, so I left Figure Drawing a little early that night and sat up until midnight making changes to the story based on the suggestions I received from my professor and students in my class during my workshop. Though still not completely satisfied with it, I felt much better about the overall pace, character development, and ending. I sent it off to her by email and completely forgot about the competition until last night.

I arrived to class about 5 minutes late because my brain wandered off somewhere while driving and I found myself taking the wrong highway to school, resulting in detour that added about 10-15 minutes to my trip. My professor was just finishing up an explanation of our final portfolio review guidelines, and I took my usual seat in the back of the room. Once she'd finished explaining the handouts, a couple of people began handing out their stories to the class, for their workshop date next week. Story handouts are always a little hectic because half the class seems to be standing up trying to make sure they get everything they're supposed to have, and getting in one another's way.

Everyone was settling back into their seats and I was busy organizing the sudden influx of paper on my desk, when I half-heard the words "League for Innovation". I glanced up from what I was doing just as my professor announced that I had won our district, and that my story is going on to the national competition. I was so shocked, the first thing I blurted out was, "What?!"

I don't expect to win the national competition of course, this is the first story I've ever written. But after class, when I was asked to stay and discuss my second story with my professor, she commented that she'd wished she could have sent that one instead because she liked it even more. I don't know what to think. I've never pursued any sort of writing major or career path because it seemed impossible in the same way that being recognized for any kind of art feels impossible. It still doesn't feel easy by any means, but it doesn't seem completely out of reach anymore, either.

Graduation is spiraling toward me at an alarming rate, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. I have five classes left, and only one is an elective. The more classes I take, the more I want to explore different avenues and possibilities. There isn't enough time to try everything I'm curious about before I have to choose my area of concentration. And I'm so scattered I can't even seem to narrow down the school I plan to attend next, though I hope to have at least that much figured out this fall. Everything is just moving too quickly. I feel like I'm in one of those cheesy cop movies where the detective handcuffs his weaselly informant to the rear-view mirror, and they have to run alongside the car in order to keep from falling down and being crushed under the tires.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

337. Writing Exercise

The Elephant stood at attention, watching the parade pass by him from his position on the honorary platform. His chest swelled as the band reached the peak of God Save the Queen, causing his back to arch until his shoulder blades nearly touched. His gnarled hands lay one across the other on top of his cane, which had been a gift from a Maharaja in India. It was made from calamander and fitted with an ivory handle, which had been carved to resemble a small elephant from the tusk of one of the Maharaja’s own military stock, collected upon its passing at the glorious age of seventy-three. In a pinch, the handle could be twisted 45 degrees anticlockwise to unsheathe a slender sword from inside. The Elephant had made good use of this feature on several occasions, though none in recent years.
On this day, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, the Elephant would retire from his service to Her Majesty, the Queen. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander to the days ahead, when his time would be his, to do with as he pleased. He was sitting near the pond down the lane from his cottage, whiling away a summer afternoon. A fishing pole was propped securely against a rock, the line creating small ripples in the water. Sighing heavily, he leaned against a tree and began to doze off. Just then, the report of a cannon signaled the ceremony was to begin.  The Elephant glanced down as his hands, which had suddenly become clammy. Wiping them on the front of his trousers, he turned and stiffly strode toward the podium, the cane making a hollow tapping sound each time it struck the wooden floorboards.

Monday, March 4, 2013

336. Realization

Canned corn is better than frozen corn for one very important reason. Canned corn doesn't get freezer burn.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

335. Heyho

Hey blogosphere.
I wish I could spend more time with you. Lately all I do is homework, real work, and mix cds for people who I owe mailings to. If you haven't gotten a mix yet, you're probably due, and I'll be getting to you sooner or later. It might take six months, sorry.

Today looked sort of like this...

The second photo is my mid-term assignment for Figure Drawing. I'm further along than this, but I spent about 5 hours on it I think...could've been more. It's due Thursday.

This leads me to my fiction post for today; Leda & the Swan. I wrote my first short story ever, and for a grade. The inspiration was this painting by Peter Paul Reubens, only I didn't know the story behind it when I selected it. My figure professor asked us to reproduce a Renaissance masterpiece, and I fell for this one. The name and image were engaging, and I found myself basing my first fiction assignment on it. It was only later that I bothered to research what the painting was about.
Leda & the Swan is a Greek myth, in which Zeus takes the form of a swan, and either rapes or seduces Leda.

Correct... That woman is procreating with a swan.

I spent some time freaking out about this realization. Not because I dislike mythology or because I'm not ok with the's just that the myth isn't representative of my plot, and I had to consider altering the concept in light of this. The gist of it is that my story has an absent father-figure, and the swan is a catalyst that serves to bring the family together again in the father's absence. It's not the same, but I felt the two were inextricably linked somehow. Additionally, I became attached to the character of Leda, and I couldn't force her to be something she wasn't at that point, because my story would have imploded.

**Revision, 4/25/13** I've decided to remove the text of my story from the internet, because it is currently competing in a national competition, and whether it is any good or not, I want to protect my full works.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

334. Is Productive/Is Not Productive

Sundays are usually the best day for getting caught up on homework, but I'm not finding that to be the case this week. On the other hand, it hasn't been entirely unproductive. I started the morning taking Frank-dog on a nice walk after this morning's thunderstorms, did dishes, practiced piano a little, and finally got around to packing up my request for a copy of my divorce decree.

This is my second attempt to obtain a copy from the fine people at the Superior Court Clerk's Office at 3000 Rockefeller Ave, (Mailstop 605) Everett, Washington. They rejected my last request because I sent a personal check. Because I guess personal checks don't deposit into bank accounts just as easily as any other form of money? Right. Anyway, if all goes well, I'll have completed step 1 to getting my real last name back. I don't know how much it matters, a name is a name is a name. But it seems silly to keep one that was given to you by someone you no longer have any sort of connection with. I almost look forward to having to explain and then slowly spell out my surname for people again. Mostly, I just want my name, not his, printed on my associate's degree next May.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

333. The Fugitives

This week's exercise for fiction writing - write a scene (not a story) in which a character makes a bad decision...

The Fugitives
The fire doors burst outward as the two exploded from the stadium, running like they’d stolen something. Their helmets hit the pavement before their eyes had even had time to adjust to the blinding sunlight. The sound of slamming metal echoed down the alley after them, but faded away when it realized it couldn’t keep up.
“What were you thinking?!”
“I don’t know! I just had to!”
“Well you’ve done it now; they think I did it!”
Moments before, Derek and Jessie had stood at box level, overlooking the crowds of people milling around below. The pair leaned against the railing, bored with waiting to perform. Their polyester band uniforms were uncomfortable and making them itchy. 
“You know they say that if you dropped a penny from the top of the Empire State Building, it could kill a person,” Derek said. “Like a bullet shot out of the sky.”
“Yeah? What do you think it would do from the third story?”
“I don’t know, probably nothing. I haven’t got one to try.”
They contemplated the idea in silence. The sound of tubas drifted down the hall, mingling with the low din of a thousand indistinguishable conversations. Rainbows of plumed helmets ebbed and flowed around the bottom of the escalators as bands gathered in preparation to take the field.   
Suddenly, a wet, ripping sound emanated from Jessie’s throat. Derek’s eyes snapped upward to meet her face. 
Jessie grinned…and spit.
The gigantic wad of phlegm arced through the air, executing a swan dive that would make Greg Louganis weep. The very fibers of time slowed and stretched in order to better witness the voyage in all its glory. At its zenith, stadium lights splintered as they passed through its amoebic body, transforming it into a sloppy, glittering prism suspended weightlessly in space.
The glob landed with a splat on the epaulette of a drummer that had to be in his sixth year of high school. Derek and Jessie stood frozen in place, watching as comprehension slowly crept across the drummer’s face. With a roar, he turned his gaze upward, locking onto Derek, whose eyes were growing wider by the second. Jessie reached down and squeezed Derek’s hand, hard.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

332. Fictional Realism

Deadline for my first short story is in 3 weeks. Required length 5-7 pages.
I'm doing my best to start now so I'm not panicking at the last minute, but I'm stuck. I got up this morning, ate a wholesome and nutritious breakfast of cinnamon raisin oatmeal. Paced a little, loaded the dishwasher. Brewed some coffee and sat down to write. After only a few minutes, I settled in and started jotting down a scene that I was pretty happy with. I don't know where it was going yet, there was no plot. It was a start, though.

Realized I forgot about my french press of coffee and went to pour a cup. Researched some details I felt the story needed for historical accuracy. Things were going well until it occurred to me that I was writing historical fiction. The assignment specifically states no genre writing.

Scrapped. Back to the drawing board.
Literally...I went and blind contour sketched my cat.

Here's a film short I just finished. I filmed this without sound on Tuesday night at Black Thorn, and then mixed the audio tracks just now to create an ambient bar sound with rain and traffic in the background.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

331. Today

Today I learned a lesson that may have been inspired by terror. I love music, and I love playing music. But piano players are gods. I can never do what they do, and I know this in my core.
Every time I have ever touched an instrument, I have felt intimidated, but confident in my abilities.When I picked up my viola for the first time, I knew it was right. I knew deep inside, there was a viola prodigy lurking, and all I had to do was train her.
The piano does not feel like that. The piano watches, but makes no judgment. She hopes that you will sort it out yourself. But you don't. The chord charts and suggestions of guitarists mean nothing to you. You show up to every practice as though it were your first.
You are not a pianist. You already know that you speak another language.
Those strings wrap you up, pull you in.
Garage bands do not want for viola sounds. If they did, you would be taking viola lessons and not bumbling over a piano, wouldn't you?
Still, piano is something amazing, and you will try.
Why not?

Friday, January 18, 2013

330. Writing Exercise #1

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is a fiction writing workshop. It is also my most terrifying class, and probably the most surreal as well. If I counted correctly, there are 26 students in my class. 6 are women, and the other 20, based on the first evening's observations, could be the same person. They're practically Cylons. Except...real.

I've always been aware of this particular demographic, but I've never found myself surrounded in so many of them at once. I'm not sure what to call them, exactly. Twenty-something, awkward, painfully nerdy boys who desperately want to the world to know how intelligent they are. They fling themselves at the professor, a charming and somewhat witty woman, slightly older than me, and who reminds me of a friend of mine. They make the sort of jokes that should fall flat in any other circumstance, but because these fellows all seem to share a brain, they actually chuckle at one another.

In my Anthropology class, we were asked to state what local sub-culture we thought we'd like to study if the opportunity presented itself. I had initially answered graffiti artists, but now I find myself fascinated by these gents. They make me feel like I'm at a Star Trek convention, except worse.
Don't get me wrong, I adore Star Trek...but these are the writer's workshop equivalent of fanboys

Having said all of that, I am deeply intimidated. Overall, I feel that I've made great advances in getting over my stage fright. I can sing karaoke in front of people, play keyboard with the volume turned full blast so that my band mates can actually hear me, and I can even give fearless presentations in front of a classroom of my peers. But there's something about reading a story that I wrote in front of these people that fills me with terror. I couldn't bring myself to raise my hand to volunteer. Although I can't say this with certainty, I have a feeling that I would be more comfortable posing nude for my figure drawing class than I am reading something that I wrote in front of these people. Posting it anonymously online, however...totally cool.

This was our first exercise. Go sit somewhere, observe people, write a short scene based on what you saw. I didn't have time to physically go anywhere and observe, so I just imagined where I would have gone if I had the time, and made something up.

And yeah...expect more of these. It's going to be a long semester.
Lance was waist-deep in one of his rambling stories again. Patrice sighed to herself in resignation and cast a bored look out the window. An unusually large crow stood on the sidewalk, wrestling a steak fry between its beak and one of its feet.  

This one gets better every time he tells it, she thought. 

The brim of Lance’s hat wagged back and forth as he talked. Over his right shoulder, Patrice caught the eye of a blond, curly-haired baby who had been busily decorating itself in his breakfast. The baby paused as the two of them locked eyes, and its mouth peeled open to reveal an enormous, pumpkin-toothed grin. It squealed with laughter and bounced in its high chair.  

“Isn’t that amazing?” Lance’s voice intruded.

“Yeah, it’s pretty unbelievable,” she replied, still watching the baby.

Seemingly delighted to have an audience, the monster had redoubled its efforts to entertain. Its face was now caked in Cheerios and dripping with a syrup of liquefying banana. Flecks of milk spurted from the end of a small plastic sippy cup clutched in its left hand. Patrice sat transfixed, unable to tear her eyes from the creature as it smooshed more banana across its eyebrows. Another wild arm movement and the remaining molested fruit plummeted to the floor. The baby’s mother, clearly exasperated, rose to collect it along with the assortment of silverware, napkins, and loose Cheerios surrounding it. 

Slowly returning to her senses, Patrice turned her gaze back to Lance. He was watching her quietly, apparently having realized that she hadn’t been paying attention to him at all. She cleared her throat with a light cough, and stared down at the small mound of untouched scrambled eggs on her plate. 

“Is everything ok?” he asked.

“Sorry,” she replied, running her fingers through the ends of her hair. “I just…I need to tell you something.”

Monday, January 7, 2013

329. Castles Made of Sand

Alright, I made out with at least five that made me smile, and that's more than I expected. I'm not sure, but I might have a couple more that could be worth salvaging out of the roll, I just don't know yet. I think it's safe to say these were the strongest ones.

I'm grateful to have gotten the opportunity to roam around and photograph such a surreal place, and I can't wait to go back when my brother comes to visit again.

328. A New Year Already?

Just like that, I let a month go by without a post. December was oh so lovely, though not at all relaxing. It was much more like a whirlwind of gatherings. Our Christmas party was a great success, and generated a trunk-load of donations for the food pantry. I liked this idea for a holiday party very much, and may have to do it again and again. We ended up with far more alcohol than we started with somehow...and I definitely purchased too much food. But the spread was diverse and delicious, and we managed to eat nearly all of the leftovers before leaving town.

Christmas was relatively quiet, and spent with our families. The Wizard surprised me with the best and most unexpected gift of all, my very own Olloclip! If you haven't seen one before, it fits over the iPhone's built in camera, and includes a macro, fish eye and wide angle lens. The macro is by far my favorite at the present moment. Here are a couple of examples...the first is a tiny branch encased in ice, and the second are tiny dried roots.

The following Saturday we drove to Chicago to ring in the new year with friends. I had the most horrible cold, which made the first day pretty arduous, but by Sunday, I was feeling substantially better. 

Our friend is a member of The Hypocrites, who are currently running a Gilbert & Sullivan double feature of Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. We saw both in one day with an oyster dinner in between. I can't recommend these shows highly enough. They were witty, engaging, cleverly staged, and riotously fun. You would have a difficult time finding a troupe so inclusive of its audience. The performance space literally surrounds and permeates the crowd, swirling in and around them in constant motion. If you can't see, you can move. If your leg starts to fall asleep because you're sitting on the floor, you can be sure the show will be parading through your seat and forcing you to jump up any moment. It was a wonderful time. 

The rest of the trip was equally fun - two NYE parties, a bright pink dress that I managed to spill wine on, too much food, even more drinks, generous hosts, and a sampling of an amazing $300 stinky sheep's milk cheese from Corsica. I wish I knew what it was called...

The final highlight of my vacation was Friday, after we returned home. My brother and new wife were in town, and they took me to see Cementland, which is currently managed by a friend of his. The park is unfinished, with no timeframe for completion, and is not open to the public. Since the creator, Bob Cassilly (of The City Museum) died in a construction-related accident a year and a half ago, progress has ground to a halt. What currently exists is a massive, surreal landscape that is part abandoned cement plant, part dreamscape. You can read more about it in this The New York Times article.

The three of us spent the better part of the afternoon exploring and photographing. The combination of sunlight and icy conditions made for challenging conditions, but I managed to get a few that I'm happy with. We hope to go back for another round the next time they're in town, because there was so much that we didn't see (and so much I want to do over). I'm in the process of editing the shots I have though, and hope to finish up tonight. Stay tuned for a photo post, coming soon!