30 April 2006

When spheres unexpectedly collide

So I just called a friend of mine who I hadn't spoken to in a few months. She's been living in a remote part of New Mexico taking care of her ailing father for a couple years now, and I wanted to check in. Over the winter, they'd moved to town, so I wasn't even sure if anyone would be at the number I had.

When a guy answered the phone, I thought it might be her brother or her boyfriend. "May I ask who's calling?" he asked.


I heard some talking in the background, and it seemed that I'd just missed her.

The guy said, "Is this Claire -----?"

I was a little thrown that he knew my full name. "Yeah."

"This is Ray ----," he said.

I was floored. It was my old boss. I had met him through the friend I was calling, so I shouldn't have been that surprised, but last I knew he was still in San Francisco. He gave me a brief rundown of what had transpired since his last newsletter and said it was just the tip of the iceberg. As he reeled off all these big changes in his life, I was mostly glad that the conversation didn't turn back to me because I don't have much if anything of consequence to say about my last year and half.

He's even made a book deal for his life's story. Which he said I'd be in a bit. I find this hilarious because just a couple days ago, I was getting the low-down on one's right to write about other people in memoirs--you don't need releases or permission from them-- and never once did I think that I might end up on the flip side of that equation.

He said he'd send me a copy, and I really hope he does. Several of his incredible and unusual stories I already know, but he's the type of person to always have ten things going at once, so if the book gets into his head at all, I'm sure it'll make a compelling read. It probably will be even if it's just more crazy stories.

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29 April 2006

The order of a series

Has anyone ever recommended a book series to you? Maybe they told you what the first book in the series was, but after that you were stuck scanning publishing dates in the library catalog. No more!

Kent District Library has you covered with their What's Next search function. It pretty much rocks. You can search by author, title, or series name, and the results will list the whole series in order. If you just search by author and she's written more than one series, each series will be identified and grouped in order. Enjoy!

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28 April 2006

And another thing or two...

"This genius is about to discover... even math... can't stop a bullet." Really? That's shocking. Is that not the stupidest tagline they could've come up with for tonight's episode of Numb3rs?

While I'm here at the CBS site, let me recommend the latest Tom Selleck movie airing this Sunday at 9 PM: Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise. The first two films, also adapted from books by Robert B. Parker, featuring this character were great, so I'm looking forward to this one.

(Apparently it just takes writing a post about not feeling like writing to remind you of stuff you'd like to post.)

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And before I forget...

Carnival of the Mundane IX is up today, so check out some of the other participants.

I chose Goblets of Beer as my entry this time. Enjoy!

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The beast

When I read Kevin's post today, part of #1 (blogs that disappear into oblivion with no warning) struck a nerve. I haven't been posting as much of late.

For the past couple weeks, I've been more in my head than usual, and such times often make blogging feel like keeping the beast at bay. I felt like I was posting for the sake of posting, so I scaled back in an effort to cut myself some slack. It's a just blog afterall, it should be fun.

The usual big life questions are waxing large yet again, and even I am sick of them despite having no answers. In the meantime, there's only two episodes left of Veronica Mars this season, and most other tv shows are winding down as well, or up to their season finales, if you prefer. I tend to feel more creative during the summer, so this is all to the good. Also, I've started playing my guitar again after a long absence, which is also usually a sign of emerging creative impulses. And I feel like making more vlogs- there are just some unforeseen transfer costs I can't justify right now. So perhaps something new... new is good.

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26 April 2006


The first time I heard the crinkling, I thought it was coming from the kitchen. It was probably just a bag falling over, but uneasiness washed over me because no one was in there. When I heard it a second time, I realized it was coming from across the dinner table, but it was too late: anxiety was settling in.

I looked across at my Dad and requested he stop it.

"Stop what?" he asked.

"Whatever it is you're doing that's making that sound," I replied.

"What sound?"

For the moment, the shuffling had stopped. I sighed heavily. His hearing's not great to begin with, so he probably hadn't heard the sound while it was happening.

The swishing recommenced. "That," I said triumphantly. "Stop rustling your pants' legs."

I recognized the looks I was getting: Dad was baffled, Mom somewhat exasperated.

"You don't understand," I explained, "Every time I hear that sound it's like I'm having a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flashback to when I had rats in my apartment."

"We don't have rats," Dad assured me.

"I know. I didn't say it was a rational reaction. It's just what my brain does when it hears that sound."

"You didn't have rats," Mom commented.

"Well, I never actually saw them," I conceded, "But there was a Tom & Jerry-sized hole behind my water heater."

"Oh," my Dad said appraisingly.

Mom joked, "It was probably just your neighbors."

"No," I scowled. "Neighbors didn't pull trash out my trash cans and spread it around." I stopped and took a breath. I could've gone on, but I really didn't want to relive the experience just to counter a joke. Clearly, they'd never encountered anyone with Post-Rodent Stress Disorder before. I see that now.

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25 April 2006

Oh SciFi, how late you keep me up

Note to self: Tape the second half of the miniseries when they're aired in succession and part one starts at 11 pm. Seriously. Better yet, tape the whole thing, so you don't get so into it you decide to stay up until 3 to watch it all in one sitting. Just go to bed!

Battlestar Galactica's miniseries beginning was really good though. And last week, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, which I took to be the miniseries ending of that series was also quite enjoyable. I must be craving sci-fi.

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23 April 2006


My favorite mittens when I was in elementary school, 3rd or 4th grade, were navy and made of a slick material that made them mostly waterproof and good for playing in the snow. Ample padding made them warm, but it also made them resemble boxing gloves. The latter trait did not pass unnoticed by me and my classmate Hammerhead, who had his own pair in maroon. It was an opportunity too good to pass up.

At recess, we bundled up, put on our mittens, and went outside to box. We stood far enough apart that there was no contact as we threw our slow-motion punches. He'd swing his head to one side as if he'd been hit, and then I would do the same for his return punch. Fists up, jab, roundhouse, stomach punch, uppercut, bob and weave.

I had just started to throw what I think of as a traditional punch, cocking my right elbow back before straightening my arm. In the middle of my slow swing, someone called my name. As I turned my head to the right to see who it was, my fist kept traveling forward (possibly a little faster)... until it stopped with a gentle tap. When I turned back to face Hammerhead, he was falling. He hit the ground, grabbed his nose, and started to cry. Did I mention the crying? Yeah, so I looked around in a slight panic for the teacher who monitored recess. Mrs. N was a ways off with her back to us, so I took off. I felt certain I hadn't hit him that hard, and I knew it was an accident, but with him crying on the asphalt, I knew it didn't look good, and I didn't want to get in trouble.

He either recovered or was too embarrassed because no one ever said anything to me about it. The only way I could've reached far enough to touch him was if he stepped forward or leaned into the punch. Hammerhead may have originated as a variation of his surname, but I was beginning to see how well it really suited him. Years later, his exploits were capped with the "best dressed" honor in the yearbook, a by-product of his many court appearances.

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20 April 2006

And now some quiet time...

I just noticed my last three post titles have exclamation points in them, and I am a little dismayed.

Coming soon in post titles near you:
The day that thing happened!
What Happened Next!!

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Damn you, Fluff!

It's always discouraging when you open the dryer and your clothes are still totally wet, more so if your dryer is actually broken. When it's not, my memory trots out its own grudge: how can you have forgotten to look at the heat setting? AGAIN!?


Take 2.

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19 April 2006


As I approached the roadside farm, I expected to see sheep, the mama-llama that looks after them, maybe a goat, dog, and some chickens, but when I caught that glimpse of pink with some dark mottled spots, I was so psyched. They have pigs too!

Later, after dinner we drove home the back way, or rather, the other back way. Golden streaks and long shadows, a road I'd never traveled or had long forgotten, beautiful cattle, a pony like a rusty oildrum with short legs, ruins, and spectacular new houses: pretty amazing.

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18 April 2006

What are they thinking?!

I'm at a loss. When I first saw the promos, I thought it was a bad joke, but there it is, Saved By the Bell in the adult swim lineup. Who was smoking crack and made that decision?

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Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (4/5)

Sure, I've seen the movie, a few times even if you add up various scenes watched on tv here and there over the years. I watched part of it a couple of weeks ago, but this time I wanted to know how much was true, if there was more, and how much had been altered from the book.

Not surprisingly, events were reworked to include the main character as a participant rather than an observer, to provide turning points, and to give the events a logical progression. Other scenes were added to amp up the drama and fill in some resulting gaps. The changes don't make the movie wrong per se, they just make it a movie.

The book is its own thing: vignettes of hospital life, idleness, imprisonment, mental health care in the late 60s, and the stigma associated with it. She includes pages from her hospital records which reinforce the basic premise:
People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well. I can't answer the real question. All I can tell them is, It's easy.
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17 April 2006

C'mon baby, light my vlog

This wasn't actually what I had in mind for my first vlog, but some technical issues arose which I'm unable to resolve for now. When we were out burning last Monday, I remembered I'd shot footage of last year's burn, so here's a taste of that:

It's good meditation. Burning brush requires attention: to the fire itself, the direction of breezes, the state of the wood you throw on: wet, dry, green, with pine needles attached. If you pile too many large pieces of wood on top, it blocks the air flow and the logs underneath will turn to charcoal instead of ash. Leaves set off a lot of smoke and should be avoided as they will catch fire and take flight if not sufficiently weighed down. Ignoring any one of a myriad of details can lead to injuries or a fire rapidly spreading beyond control, but I still wouldn't pass up a chance to burn.

(n.b.: If you now have the urge to burn, contact your local fire department to make sure it's allowed in your area and that you are in the proper season. If it is, then get a burn permit and call them on the day you plan to burn before you start to make sure it's ok. E.g., If it's extremely windy, they might tell you to wait for a calmer day.)

(Other vlogs of TTaT)

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16 April 2006

Good Friday Meets the Twilight Zone (part 2)

(Part 1)

It was rush hour when we left the museum, so Dad suggested heading over to a nearby mall with a bunch of restaurants for dinner.

"Sounds good," I said. "I was kinda thinking about hitting the Apple Store while we're over here anyway."

"Oh. That's at the Sunnydale mall, not the Smallville one, but we can do that. I think they might even have a Dell store."

When we got to Sunnydale, it was still raining. I didn't feel like carrying my raincoat around the mall, so I suggested we drive around to the part of the parking lot with two levels and try parking underneath. Dad was game, so we started making the big loop. The lot undulated up to the second floor and then back to the first, so I was sure it had to be coming up.

When Dad started expressing doubt, I said, "It's right by Target. We always end up parking on the upper level, the one that rumbles."

"That's at Townsville," Dad said, naming a mall east of home. We had traveled west today.

I sighed, "Oh man. I'm getting them all mixed up."

We parked by Dick's Sporting Goods because we could get a space near the door, and we knew we weren't that far from the restaurants I'd seen down the hill and around the corner.

As we emerged from the sports store into the mall, I pointed and said, "Look, there's the Easter Bunny!" A brown rabbit with big ears wearing overalls turned the corner and slipped from view.

"Now that's what you need your camera for," I told Dad.

"Not me," he said.

"Well, maybe not, but if I had a camera phone, I'd totally follow him to get a picture."

"How do you suppose we get downstairs?"

"Right there," I said, pointing out some stairs nearby. As we walked down, we saw a huge inflatable Easter egg with a couple of 3 feet tall white rabbits holding paint brushes posed as if they were decorating the egg. In front of the egg was a garden setting with a sort of bench/throne for the Easter Bunny so that parents could commemorate their child's E.B. encounter with photos.

After walking what seemed too far, I encouraged Dad to go a bit further to check out the next side hall. Hooters, Bugaboo Creek, and Ruby Tuesdays were all there. The hallway felt very familiar to me, and when we walked into Ruby Tuesdays, the restrooms were exactly where I expected them to be. During dinner I realized, I remembered the layout not from the restaurant we were in, but one at the Townsville mall a few hours away.

As Dad and I discussed the various malls, I lost track of which one we were in. The interior similarities were disorienting.

After playing with several iPods and stereo docks, Dad went off to find a restroom in Macy's before the drive home. The Easter Bunny was back from break, and I watched the photo sessions from the floor above with amusement and interest. The kids were getting some quality time with the bunny because there was only one person shooting the photos, packaging the prints and running the register. Blue eye shadow on the mask made me wonder if the Easter Bunny was female. I looked behind me for Dad but didn't see him, so I zoned out, looking around at the stores.

A family walked up to the rail next to me and two little kids started shouting, "Hey, Easter Bunny!" over and over.

When I looked down, the bunny was, in fact, looking up and waving at us. The kids were waving furiously, and it felt like it would be impolite not to reciprocate, so I smiled and waved to the bunny, feeling a bit goofy. The family moved on, but then I felt really conspicuous standing by the railing alone. You can't really be a hidden observer if the bunny can see you.

I walked over to a kiosk selling sunglasses and started scanning the lenses. A blonde woman in her early forties, with the handles of a few shopping bags threaded over her left arm, approached me with the look people have when they think I work somewhere, and they're about to ask me a question. "Are you the 2.3 million dollar fugitive?" she asked.

My stock answer, 'No, I don't work here,' didn't make the sense it had the moment before, so I ran her question through my mind again to process it and came up with, "No."

"Oh well. I know it's after hours, but I figured it was worth a shot," she explained, commenting, "You fit the description."

"Oh, ok," I said, assuming it must be a contest. I vaguely wondered how I fit the description, but I didn't ask because the exchange had the same surreal character that had been recurring in moments throughout the day.

Back at home, I was asleep in bed. I was dreaming the loudest thunderstorm I'd ever heard when there was a violent, prolonged CRACK! that scared the bejeezus out of me as I opened my eyes. The storm was actually happening, and it was the loudest I'd ever heard. A red 5:00 stared at me from across the room. Lightning flashed through my blinds in quick pairs. In the next six minutes there were at least 20 flashes accompanied by a steady rumble.

Just a few days earlier I'd been thinking that thunderstorms were my favorite sound. I'll have to qualify that in future.

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15 April 2006

Good Friday Meets the Twilight Zone (part 1)

"I read two words," I told Dad with enthusiasm.

Unimpressed, he said, "Yeah, so?"

All of my teenage attitude powers returned in an instant. He was looking at the informational plaques on the museum's walls. I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and huffed with a shrug.

"In Egyptian writing?" he ventured.

Sarcasm burst forth, "No, I was having trouble making out the Roman alphabet..." Is that right, Roman? I wondered to myself briefly before plunging ahead, "...whatever, printed in English on the info plaques." I looked at him sternly. "Yes, in Egyptian."

He looked a bit surprised. It occurred to me that maybe I hadn't mentioned that I was learning to read hieroglyphs. The attitude vanished as quickly as it had arisen.

Dad reached over and gave me a congratulatory pat on the back. "Here, come look," I said, leading him to the back room of the exhibition. I pointed to the cartouche on the relief carving that had once been part of a wall in a temple at Koptos.

When I first saw it, I referred to the xeroxed pages I'd brought with me. (My studies of Egyptology are an intermittent affair, so I haven't memorized all of the basic alphabet yet.) I knew which direction to read the symbols in and that the legs were a determinative with no phonetic value. The transliteration worked out to: i, n, t, f. I ran the letters through my head, "I, n, t, f. I, n, t, f," and then said, "Intef." I leaned over and read the description of the piece: it did indeed refer to King Intef. In excitement, I raised my fists above my head and exclaimed a quiet, but proud "Yes."

Not since I turned 4 and was lying on the big green rug, next to the table with claws, staring at a word on my birthday card until I realized what seemed like "greet" must actually sound like "grate" despite its spelling, have I felt such satisfaction for recognizing a single word.

Once Dad and I finished looking at the Egyptian exhibition, we decided to check out the museum's permanent collection on the next floor. At the front of the building was a room with floor to ceiling windows that spanned the 2nd and 3rd stories. A dual staircase made of marble, one on the left and one on the right, rose up and turned to meet before the final incline to the 3rd floor. The room was empty except for the two of us.

We were looking at some marble sculptures set in the open spaces of the second floor when a young girl appeared at the top of the left staircase. She came down a few steps and leaned over the rail, addressing me, "There are mummies up here if you want to see them."

She wasn't the first to mention mummies. I'd heard several kids and adults ask if there were any while walking through the special exhibition. "Ok," I called up.

"There's even a mummy of a dog," she informed me enthusiastically.

Mummies have never been the source of fascination for me that they clearly are for so many people, but I gamely replied, "We'll check it out, thanks." Dad and I exchanged amused shrugs. When we looked back up, she was gone.

It was surreal, but that was just the beginning...


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13 April 2006

Only when and if the time comes

Twenty years, minimum. That's how much time must pass before people are able to write about the often concealed traumas of their pasts. At least that's true of my reading of late.

Bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, abusive parents, mental illness, addiction: the predominance of tales written about these experiences are finished with a final gloss of "I'm fine now though."

Is it because the writers weren't capable of sharing those stories until they were in some way 'better'? Some would say it's a matter of gaining experience and perspective, the wisdom to explain the tale. That's probably part of it, but mostly I think it's difficult to admit you've been broken when you still are.

If not that, then unresolved struggles are just less marketable. Without the triumphant outcome, how many people would want to buy a book and risk relating to someone flawed, ill, or hurt?

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Most days...

I just want a sink that's high enough so I don't have to bend over when I'm washing my hands.

What standard-sized item or feature would you change if you were designing your ideal living space?

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12 April 2006

Goofy, but fun

While waiting (grr!) for another site to do its thing for my next post, I came across this game at Sara's. Don't let the Japanese instructions throw you. Just mouse over 100 totem heads in the time allotted.

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11 April 2006

10 April 2006

Wherein the gutter gets the best of me

My email shows some one-line advertising but also the "Word of the Day" from Dictionary.com. For some reason, some words will show up more than one day. Every time I see cum, I'm a bit thrown. I feel like words of the day should at least have two syllables.

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09 April 2006

Touch the fire

Tomorrow, we burn.

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I was amused by the 30 songs meme that Kevin put up yesterday or the day before, so here is my unaltered list (despite my temptation to pull a couple titles, or rather non-titles).

To play: Put your music player on shuffle. Press forward for each question. Use the song title as the answer to the question even if it doesn't make sense.

30 Songs:

1. How am I feeling today? "The pain in Spain stays mainly" -Toufic Farroukh, and I thought today was going pretty well.

2. Will I get far in life? "Both hands" -Ani DiFranco

3. What's your current state of mind? "Start the commotion" -Wiseguys featuring Greg Nice

4. How do my friends see me? "Older Chests" -Damien Rice, I choose to ignore that.

5. Where will I get married? "Anticipate" -Ani DiFranco

6. What is your view of marriage? "Hello, I love you" -The Doors, really?

7. What is my best friend's theme song? "Climb on (a back that's strong)" -Shawn Colvin

8. What is the story of my life? "Natural woman" -The Night Owls

9. What is/was high school like? "Boadicea" -Enya

10. How can I get ahead in life? "I don't think so" -Olive, that doesn't sound promising.

11. What is the best thing about me? "Lourdes' lullaby" -Mario Bauza & his Afro-Cuban orchestra

12. What is today going to be like? "At last" -Etta James, that has potential.

13. What is in store for this weekend? "Fairuz track 04" (not its proper name) -Fairuz

14. Describe my parents? "Qui Tolis Extract from Roma" -James Bowman

15. Describe my grandparents? "Superstar" -Tegan & Sara

16. How is my life going? "Pretty" -The Cranberries

17. What song will they play at my funeral? "Mystic's Dream" -Loreena McKennitt

18. How does the world see me? "Fairuz track 14" (also not its proper name) -Fairuz

19. Will I have a happy life? "Love me like you" -The Magic Numbers

20. What do my friends really think of me? "Frozen" -Tegan & Sara

21. Do people secretly lust after me? "Hairshirt" -R.E.M., doesn't sound pleasant if anyone is.

22. How can I make myself happy? "Faith" -Luscious Jackson, that sounds deceptively simple.

23. What should I do with my life? "Rock and roll part 2" -Gary Glitter

24. Will I ever have children? "Need you tonight" -INXS, seriously?

25. What is some good advice for me? "Birdhouse in your soul" -They Might Be Giants, if you say so.

26. How will I be remembered? "From now on (we're one)" -Tuck & Patti

27. What is my signature dancing song? "You've got to hide your love away" -The Beatles, I would've thought it'd be something faster, or heck, from my dance playlist.

28. What is my current theme song? "Voices carry" -'Til Tuesday

29. What do people think my current theme song is? "Mr. Lee" -The Bobettes

30. What type of men/women do you like? "Crazy" -Seal


08 April 2006

An old tropical storm

(Here's another tale from my time in Florida years ago since it's weather appropriate of late.)

The day started out well enough, raining so hard I could barely hear the morning weather forecast that plays moments after my radio alarm goes off. I heard just enough to make out that it was going to pour all day. I got up, walked over to the radio, put my ear to the speaker in anticipation, only to hear the weatherman announce, "No closings at this time."

It had to be wrong. I called the university's "disaster preparedness" number. Last updated at 6:00 AM, school would be open. Mind you, this wasn't just me thinking it'd be nice to have the day off. True, but it was equally true that if I had the choice, I wouldn't drive through heavy tropical storm rains during flash flood and tornado warnings. Knowing that the parking lot and sidewalk to the library floods on regular rainy days didn't help.

I resigned myself to taking a shower hoping a later update would reveal a closing or later opening. No such luck.

While eating my blueberry waffles over the sink, I briefly considered throwing together a pb&j sandwich on italian bread so I wouldn't have to go out for lunch as I usually do. I was short on time though and figured it'd let up some by lunchtime.

As I drove, I took my usual route since it seemed clear. It wasn't until I reached the T-intersection where I needed to turn that I could see that a section of the road was totally flooded. I noticed an SUV behind me but then realized it was just a cop who was leaving me room to turn around. In my rearview I saw him forge on through, but I wasn't convinced my poor low-to-the-ground sedan could take it.

At last I reached the parking lot, parking further up the slope than I might normally to stay on higher ground. As I'd thought, the whole lower portion was flooded. At least my boots are waterproof. The tan, steel-toed footwear might seem overly rugged for desk work, but I didn't care.

I trudged along seeking the highest ground and gently stepping through deep waters so as not to splash when there was no alternative. Sometimes the shallowest parts were 4 inches deep.

At the base of the lot, there's a great deal of dirt since they've been doing construction for a month. There was a section which actually didn't have water running over it, so I went for it. With my second step, I plunged downward like it was quicksand. Fortunately, a few leaps got me back to pavement. One of my coworkers was not so lucky, she lost her shoe to the mud.

Also as per usual, the sidewalk was totally flooded several inches deep for a large span. There is in fact no way to enter the building without passing through a flooded area. My boots served me well though, my feet were dry, and I wasn't too wet.

Then came lunchtime. In the five minutes before I take lunch, it started to pour 20 times harder than it had been earlier. Wind blowing solid sheets of water. I scowled at the windows hoping it would let up, so I could go out for lunch. I waited around a few minutes during which it only rained harder. For once, I exercised some good sense opting not to be soaked the rest of the day.

I went to the lounge to find lunch at the vending machines. While I was standing there having my perfectly crisp dollar bills rejected, the fire alarm went off. As a throwback to my dorm days, I stood there for a minute waiting for it to shut itself off. It didn't.

With several other disgruntled folk, I headed downstairs to the lobby all the while thinking about my raincoat still hanging in the basement.

I was relieved to see that for the moment, people were standing in the lobby and not outdoors. After a while I remembered my emergency poncho in my backpack and felt a little better. As the minutes ticked on, I got hungrier.

On the upside, one of my cohorts had change for a dollar. On the downside, I lost 25 minutes of my 45 minute lunch standing in the lobby while the fire fighters confirmed it was a false alarm.

At least they let the staff back in first, not that there were many patrons; we outnumbered them at least five to one because mostly they'd had the good sense to stay home.

I hightailed it back to the lounge with about 15 minutes left and ate a pseudo pack of Nab's and an apple pie slice. I know, you're thinking, "God, from a vending machine?" but it had the expiration date on it so you could see it before you punched it in. My long continuing sugar crash is probably not helping my mood. Nor the fact that I only now realized I could've heated my apple pie in the microwave.

By mid-afternoon, the city was publishing closed streets on its website and advising people not to drive, but to wait out the storm wherever they were at. Yeah right. The thought of getting stuck at work when we shouldn't have been open in the first place made me feel sick.

With the stroke of five, I signed out, gathered my things, and headed to the main entryway while pulling my raincoat on. Many of my co-workers were standing in the outer lobby, holding umbrellas, looking wistfully at the sky, hoping the rain would let up.

"Goodnight," I said, without breaking stride, shoving the door open to enter the downpour.

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07 April 2006

I smell bacon

I would write more, but the sounds of sizzling and the increasingly strong smell of bacon is completely distracting.


06 April 2006


I've been reading the other entries to Nickerblog's Mystery Hotel Meme, and I'm struck by how self-conscious so many of the bloggers are about their pieces, myself included. If a post is acknowledged fiction, it becomes open to criticism of one's creativity.

For the most part, it seems the critic lives within. I wrote and posted mine before reading the others, so my fear was that it would suck in comparison to what was out there. Several people made comments like that, or tried to lower expectations before their story, or seemed somewhat apologetic for their attempts.

As bloggers, we write and post often, but mostly it falls into the realm of creative non-fiction. It's easier to defend writing when all you have to say is that's how it happened. I think the immediacy of feedback coupled with writing outside my sort of established genre makes me self-conscious about posting fiction. However, I really enjoyed the exercise, so maybe you'll be seeing more.

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05 April 2006

Nickerblog's Mystery Hotel

Shane's Mystery Hotel photo has inspired a creative writing meme. Here's my stab at it.
"Earl, pull your sleeves down, wouldja?"

Earl scowled at Sandy and said, "It's too hot in here."

"Well, you look like a damn fool," Sandy explained while focusing the lens of the camera.

"You shoulda taken this picture in January then," Earl argued.

"Why? You weren't a damn fool back then?" Sandy retorted. He had always had a knack for setting off his older brother. Earl fumed and strode across the room; Sandy retreated behind the camera for protection.

Pops pulled his pipe out of his mouth, looked at his sons, and interrupted Earl's angry mutterings, "Enough! They'll be comin' in any time now." Earl stopped and turned back. "Just take the damn picture, Sandy," Pops ordered.

"I've almost got it, Pops," Sandy assured. He lowered a tripod leg to make the camera level.

"I don't see why we have to take this picture now anyway," Earl grumbled, "I've got work to do."

Sandy looked at him patiently and said, "If we don't do it now, we won't have another chance to record things the way they are."

"It's not how they'll be tomorrow, so there's no point in hanging onto it," Earl countered.

Pops mused, "Just 'cuz we're closing don't mean this place ain't a part of our history. That's worth hanging onto." Sandy looked at his father and nodded appreciatively. Pops resumed, addressing Sandy, "Earl ain't wrong though. You've got to get the rest of those chairs downstairs before the movers come, so let's get this done."

Pops put his pipe back in his mouth, and the room was quiet except for the wood floor creaking beneath Sandy's feet as he got into position and the crackle of the flash.

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04 April 2006

Friends in high places

A couple of months ago, an old friend called to tell me my favorite mystery author had a new book coming out. She left the message with my dad. He scrawled the title on a scrap but then couldn't read his own hand writing. Neither could I. Something like "The Golden Finger" he thought.

Today I got word that Tomb of the Golden Bird is out, and my library connection is going to hook me up with it tomorrow a little *ahem* ahead of everyone else.

Actually it's possible that my mom just ordered a copy for me and I'm in no way jumping the queue, but for now I'll relish in a little mischief.

*UPDATE* Our library hookup forgot to order us a personal copy, so I do have the library's book sitting next to me right now. I better start reading...

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You'd never know...

...by looking outside right now that it'd been snowing most of today. The accumulation has melted, the sun is shining with a few white clouds drifting across the sky blue.



It's official: TTaT is one today. I had lots of musings on this accomplishment last week, but they've faded from memory in the course of recent events. Perhaps they'll come back to me in the PM, or you'll forgive me if I decide to indulge myself some days hence.

My thanks to everyone who's been reading.


03 April 2006

Well, at least my brakes work

Today's just not going well overall. It's chilly, dark, and rainy, the type of day you'd rather not go out, but tomorrow is supposed to be worse with rain and snow.

Sifted through a whole section of cliche-ridden condolence cards covered with birds and flowers until I found one with a bolder design and words that didn't make me cringe. I sat in the parking lot copying out the message I'd composed last night and addressing the envelope. My plan had been to get the card and mail it before my dentist appointment, but time was running short and even if there was no line at the post office, I'd probably be late for the dentist.

Of course, when I got to the dentist my hygienist was running late, and I would've had plenty of time. And then breaking a six year streak, I have two small cavities and have to go back.

Mailed my letter and then picked up a shower liner and some photo album refill pages before heading home. Took the back way in hopes of seeing some pygmy goats.

Then I watched an SUV on a side road approaching mine, and I could just feel that he wasn't going to stop. I was right, mostly. He did stop, but only after he was covering more than half of my lane.

I opted to stop. I just wasn't feeling the adrenaline rush and clarity to whip around him over a double yellow line on a rise I couldn't see over. The hair he had left was thin and grey. He was probably in his late 50s or 60s. He raised his left arm in a sort of shrug gesture that annoyed me. Not a mea culpa, more of a "why didn't you just pull around me?" or "whatever" dismissive gesture. He backed up and I drove past him. He seemed oblivious to the danger; I would've driven straight into him personally if I hadn't been able to stop.

Saw a few ponies, but the goats weren't out.

Felt very much like it was a day that would've been better if I'd been able to stay in. Approached the garage in relief thinking, "At least I made it home," and then cursing myself for thinking it because I wasn't actually in the garage yet with my car off.

Within a few minutes managed to upset my mom while talking about the stupidest of things, the shower liner I'd just bought. I should've started with mentioning the condolence cards as a way to segue and mention Q's father's death, but I felt like warming up, if you will, and had blown the chance before I could get any further. I just wasn't in the mood to explain. I'd already made it clear I was having a bad day with the cavities and near accident, so I'm feeling entitled to some slack I'm not getting.


I have some new things in mind for ttat, but I'm feeling... sidetracked.

And like I want a nap.

02 April 2006

This is no time for faux-pas

One of my dearest friends' father just passed away. It was not without warning, but I find myself feeling acutely unprepared. Q was able to be there which means he's halfway around the world right now. It never occurred to me to ask if his family observes any customs particular to his country after the death of a loved one, if there's anything friends of the family normally do. It's not like there ever would've been a good time to ask such things, I'm just wishing I already knew the answers.

It just clarifies what I don't know about his family, like if his mother reads English or what his other brother's name is (I knew them both once but have forgotten the elder's). These concerns are trivial in the scheme of things, I realize; I just don't want to make things any harder for Q by doing or asking anything inappropriate.

In revising that last phrase, it became ridiculous somehow. I am not so inept and he would understand if there's cultural stuff with which I'm unfamiliar. I just want to be thoughtful and considerate, and I wish I was able to be there more for him.

What I need to do is look up what precisely the obscene time difference is and figure out what to do with the extra numbers in an international phone number.

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