Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bang, Zoom

On Sunday, I did my laundry, but didn't want to go shopping or head back to my place right away. I drove around a bit and eventually ended up near the "indie" theater in town. Since I was in time to go to their early shows (Friday through Monday they have shows that start at about 10:30 AM, which is great for an early riser, like me), my brain went "What the hell?" and I parked the car and went to see what was playing.

My first thought was Lars and the Real Girl because it looks kind of funny and weird and I wasn't really interested in the others that I were up there.

Then I saw the last title, In the Shadow of the Moon. I read the little blurb about it the surviving members of the Apollo program talking about going to the moon. I knew I had to see this film.

I'm not going to go into detail about the movie. I liked it, a lot. I liked how most of the words spoken were by the former astronauts. I felt excited when Kennedy called for man to walk on the moon before 1970. I held my breath a bit when Apollo 8 came around the moon to film the first seen earthrise. I got chills when they showed the footage of Eagle landing and Armstrong stepping onto the surface. I got more chills when they went through the Apollo 13 mission. And I was a bit giddy when the men talked about being on the surface of the moon, talking about its desert like beauty. It's a really good movie.

On the drive back to my apartment, I got to thinking about landing on the moon and how it must have felt to the people of the time.

To the generation before, the people who lived and fought through WWII, traveling to and landing on the moon must have seemed like fiction. They must have thought it the politicians posturing to convince the world the US wasn't losing the space race to the USSR. They probably didn't believe it would happen.

To the generation who achieved the moon landing, those born in the late thirties and possibly saw some time in Korea, it was a challenge to be met. They may have though failure was possible, but it wasn't an option. The moon was their target, all they needed was the proper weapon to hit that target. And they succeeded. They made it to the moon.

The generation who were kids while men were flying and landing on the moon saw it as normal. It was cool, yeah, but it was something that had been done before and doing it again was no big deal. Still, it opened the universe to them. They dreamed of traveling to Mars, Venus, and Jupiter and maybe even settling there. They eventually send off probe to send back information that we could use when we were ready to travel greater distances.

For my generation and the others, who were born years after the last moon landing in 1972, it's become a story. Sometimes this story is even told in a when-I-was-your-age way by the people who lived through it, like we, who didn't, who couldn't, don't want to have people traveling to the moon or Mars, or Venus, or beyond. It wasn't our choice to stop that sort of mission. We weren't the ones who decided that more weapons were the right way to show up the USSR. (Which, apparently, it was, seeing how the USSR was bankrupt by the time I was 10.) We were stuck with what's been left over for us.

And, unfortunately, as the my generation approaches the age to start taking some control over governments, we're being left with fear of the things that are found on Earth instead of having a sense of wonder about the solar system and what's beyond. When we come completely into power, we'll probably be so stuck in the fear and our eyes will have trouble looking any higher than the horizon, which is horrible.

I doubt humans will walk on the moon in my life time. I hope that it'll happen within the lifetime of my generation's children and grandchildren, but I'm afraid that it won't.

God, I wish the people of this world were more into improving things for everyone instead of worrying about the movements of bit of paper.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"The time has come," the Walrus said, / "To talk of many things..."

To anyone who has observed me at a gathering that contains more than five or six other people, especially other people I don't know, it should be glaringly obvious that I don't handle those situations well. I wander around, settling on the outskirts of groups and listen and laugh. I find a place to sit and pretend to focus on my drink or some coffee table book I've found. Or I wander outside and stare at the sky.

When I go to bookstores or the comic shop and the clerk who's helping me wants to (or pretends to want to) start a conversation, I have trouble stumbling out short, to the point answers that tend to cut off any possible continuation of speaking.

It's not that I don't want to mingle or converse with people. It's that I can't. I can open my mouth and say a little, or nothing, or I can keep my mouth shut.

Not being able to communicate, for lack of a better word, has sort of hurt me since I moved here more than two years ago. Yes, I'm friendly with the people at work, but I'm not friends with them. (I don't even know if I want to be friends with them.) In my time here, I haven't made any friends.

Which is what brought me to yesterday.

Yesterday, I sat down and spoke with a therapist (well, a licensed clinical social worker, to be technical) about my anxiety.

He asked me a little bit about my family. He wanted to know where I grew up and if I had any friends then. I talked about going to school and how thought-free I think my job is. We talked about my lack of drinking and dating. And when he asked me if I had any hobbies, I froze and said I didn't have any, but that I liked reading.

I said I didn't want to start off with doing the drug thing if I didn't have to.

He used the word "shy" a lot. It's a word I don't like. Shy is a toddler being pulled around at a family reunion, shown to relatives he's never met, and this toddler clings to his mother's legs. Shy is an eight-year old being introduced to a very old relative in an old folks home and she can barely bring herself to say "Hello." Shy is not what I feel (paralyzed is more like it), but he used that word quite a bit. It was starting to get on my nerves.

He told me about me meditation and sort of rolled his eyes when I told him I've tried it. He explained to me how it's supposed to work and when I told him that while the big voice in my head is thinking breathe, breathe I've never been able to quiet the little voice in the back of my head chattering away about the processes our body uses to burn the oxygen and create energy, he either didn't believe me, or thought I was nuts. I'm still not sure which.

Then he mentioned a group session for people with social anxiety disorder. I'm still having trouble getting over the oxymoronical (Is that a word?) nature of that statement. I asked him if it's just a bunch of people sitting around, not making eye contact, in an awkward silence. He said that it does a lot of people good. And, without actually saying it, he suggested that if I don't want to take pills right away that this would be the best course.

Sure, he said that I could set up appointments with him and just do that for a while, but my HMO is all about getting things fixed quick and since my anxiety problem has been with me for a long, long time, we wouldn't be able to hit the root of the problem quickly, if ever. (If I was getting anxious because of my boss, or something, he said he'd be better able to help.) He did say he could try to help me find a long term person, but that brought up my trust stuff and he actually admitted that lots of therapists out there are sketchy and shouldn't be trusted as much as they are.

So, next week I go to an orientation for the anxiety group stuff. There may or may not be another one starting soon. It may or may not be from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM during the week, if it hasn't started already. I may or may not have to use up two and a half hours each week of my sick time to do this.

I'm pretty much scared poopless and keep thinking that I should just go by to my hermit ways and never thing about this again.

(PS Comments are off. I don't feel like getting messages that say, "blah blah blah good for you" or "blah blah blah here for you" or "blah blah blah better" or "blah blah blah asshole" or "blah blah blah fucking dumbass" or "blah blah blah abs diet." Thanks for thinking those things, though, if you are.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fiction Friday #17

Character Sketch #2

He said that I look like Donna from The West Wing. I’m not sure how to take that. Sure, she’s on TV and I guess that means she’s pretty, but I’ve always thought that she was a little horse-faced. Like her head is too long. Like her teeth are too big for her mouth. Is my head too long? Are my teeth too big for my mouth?

God, I hate this commute from San Rafael to Sacramento. Christ, there’s almost no movement on 37 until Vallejo and then it’s only like two minutes of smooth sailing until 80 and then... I don’t really think we move at all. Which, of course, is the perfect metaphor for my life.

How long have I been working for this firm? Four years.

How many of those years have I made this weekly trip to San Rafael? Three and a half.

What’s my job? Secretary to the associates.

How much do they get paid? $70,000 a year.

How much do I get paid? $35,000 a year. Plus I get that swell $100 gift certificate to Mervyns each December. Swell.

And who gets sent to San Rafael each week? Me. Why? Because I’m a fool and made a crack, once, about how much I looooove to drive. Of course, I didn’t expect to be sitting in my car from five until almost eight every single Friday night for the rest of my life.

The drive down is fine, though. Leave the office in Sac around ten and 80's totally clear once I'm out of town.

That's the best time to drive. No one's on the road except for you. You can turn on the radio and scream along with the songs you like moving at speeds only know in science fiction.

Except when Grandma is with me. She likes to cruise and talk. At least on the freeway she can't freak out like I'm not going to stop in time at every single light on the road. The way she grabs the arm rest, like it's the only thing that's going to save her life, every time I hit the breaks. She's crazy.

It's been a long time since she made the trip with me and ferried over to the city for a game or to go to the zoo. I guess she's getting old, though. I mean she did sort of insist that I move in with her and then she told me she was changing her will so that I'd get the house if I didn't buy it from her before she died.

Did that old guy just flip me off? For not letting him in? Fuck him. Asshole. I bet if he was in my lane and I was in his he wouldn't let me in either.

Besides, I let the car in front of him in. Isn't that that way it's supposed to work? Each person in my lane lets one car go in front and the next car goes behind.

Fucking redneck, asshole, bastard. Next time I'll just run him off the road.

Shit head should think about someone else for once in his life.

God, I'm tired of this. Tired of driving to a city I don't like from home. Tired of putting up with all the associates. Tired of that bitch who's in charge.

Just want to kick her in the chest sometimes. She hasn't even been there as long as me, but every time I talk to her she treats me like I'm a kindergartener because I'm younger.

And then there's the way she bounces her cleavage around and likes to yell at me in front of any guy who's nearby. Like I'd want any of the guys at work. I know too much about what and who they do, other than their wives, why would I want to be another one of their toys? She can have them, if she want's them.

Still, there was that new junior partner in San Rafael. He said I looked like Donna on The West Wing. That must be good.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One of "Big" Three

I'm currently reading Time Enough For Love. It has not been an easy book to start. I don't know if it's the story or if it's because the last Heinlein I read betrayed me.

I like Heinlein's books. Well, the ones that I've read. The collection of short stories, The Past Through Tomorrow is an excellent collection. Stranger in a Strange Land introduced one of my favorite fictional character, Jubal Harshaw, and was just a great/creepy story. Job: A Comedy of Justice is a wonderful romp that pokes at religion like a bear pokes at a salmon. And Starship Troopers just rules. So, I haven't read a ton of his stuff, but I liked it.

And then came The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. It starts with mystery. A guy walks up to the narrator, tells him someone has to die, and is shot. The narrator meets a woman and they run, while trying to figure out what's going on. And then, halfway or two-thirds of the way, through the book, the main characters get pulled into an alternate dimension to help fight some sort of war through time, or something, against someone. The original plot is dropped. I can't remember if the who of the mystery was ever solved. I liked the mystery part. I liked the escape from the space station and the ballistic transport system on the moon. I wanted more of that and felt betrayed when it all went away for silly, esoteric time travel/quantum reality stuff.

I read The Cat Who Walks Through Walls more than a year ago. I bought Time Enough For Love probably four years ago, the same time I bought Cat.

So far, the books been kind of dull. Here's to hoping it gets better, soon.

Comic Strip!

I'm Onto You, Canuks

For the two who live in Canada, and their families, and as a warning to others.

(The next one has a good Lord of the Rings joke.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


"This life has been a test. If this had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do."
-----Angela Chase, from My So-Called Life

I didn't care for 90210 when it started. Maybe I was too young; I don't know. I just know I didn't like it. Two of my best friends thought it was great and really wanted me to start watching it, too, so we could pick it apart at school (or so we could talk about the girls on the show, I wasn't ever clear on that). I watched a couple of episodes and I tried to like it, I really did. I couldn't, though. I hated the characters and how they each fit this neatly into a little niche in high school. I hated the stories. I didn't buy the friendships. I hated how all the "kids" in the show looked like adults. And I always hoped that one of the "poor" kids would get upset one day and take out the school, but even though an episode like that would have given me some satisfaction, I don't think I would have enjoyed it any more than a normal episode.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, I didn't get the "teen" TV at that time. Sure Saved by the Bell was funny, somtimes, but it wasn't good. It was all really silly, or really soapy, but it never had emotion or drama to it.

And then came My So-Called Life. It wasn't perfect, the best TV shows rarely are, but it could do the silly and the soapy and have emotion behind it driving the drama forward. Sometimes it would veer into the weird or melodramatic, but it always felt real, to me. The characters meandered through their lives just trying to succeed and when they couldn't do that, they just wanted to survive. People who acted like jerks didn't suddenly have a light shine on them with a chorus sining "ahhhhhhhh" and realize they should be nice to everyone; they continued to be jerks and didn't ever to explain themselves. That, to me, was real. How often in life to bullies pause to reflect on why they suck before they beat you to a pulp?

For the most part, the kids in the show looked liked the kids I was in school with. Jordan Catalano looked more grown up than Angela and Brian because he was older. (He was left back, twice.)

Also, there was the fact that I was, or wanted to be, the main characters. I wasn't as moody as Angela (At least I don't think I was. You'd have to ask my parents.), but I was thinking about the same things as she was. I wasn't a drunk like Rayanne, but I wanted her freedom and lust for life. I wasn't gay like Rickie, but I was different, in my own way, and wondered about how being different from so many of the other students meant about me and them. I wasn't as into school activities as Sharon was, but I thought about it and how much easier my life could have been if I was. And I neither as smart nor as stupid as Brian, but that was only because I was too shy to blurt things out like he did.

For the six, or so, months it was on, My So-Called Life was my favorite show. When I found out it wasn't coming back, I was disappointed. When I found out that it was being rerun on MTV (a channel I didn't have) and nearly everyone in my class was watching it, I was a bit upset. I remember talking about it was some people after it looped from the last episode back to the first and them wondering when it was going to start again. I said never, because people like them didn't watch it when it was first on TV. They sort of quit talking to me then. I didn't mind though, it was people like them who let it get canceled.

When I had TV, I saw the My So-Called Life was rerun on some teen channel, but at 2 AM. I wasn't going to stay up until 2 AM every night. So, I traded in my receiver for one with a DVR in it. Every morning, before work, I'd watch an episode and I was just as thrilled with them as I was when they first aired. Part of it was the nostalgia, I'm sure, but most of it was the wonderful writing and acting in the show. Clothes and music may change, but the right themes stay relevant for years. In the last issue of "Entertainment Weekly," it was described as a mood piece, which is exactly right.
Here's where I shift gears, drastically and let everyone know that it's coming out on DVD next week and that I don't have any plans to go out an buy it because (HINT!) it's make a great Christmas present.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Day Before

My thing yesterday went like it was supposed to go:
I went in.
I spoke with the receptionist.
I was handed lots of paperwork.
I filled out papers.
I sat and waited.
I listened to an orientation thing that said exactly what on of the papers said.
I sat and waited.
I spoke with a person.
I set up an appointment (But he called it something else, like it's not a full blow appointment, yet. Evaluation? No, I don't think that's right.) for next Monday afternoon.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I leave here in twenty-five minutes, at eleven. I have an appointment at noon. Well, it's not really an appointment, it's supposed to be more of a screening and after I go through the screening, a written thing and then meeting with a doctor for twenty or thirty minutes, the people there will decide whether or not I can then go on to make an actual appointment.

I think I understand why it's done. They don't want people to abuse the system and therefore cost them more money. It makes sense. And it's a lot easier to just force everyone to be screened than set up some sort of trust based system. Still, I don't want to pay the copay (even though it is pretty damned reasonable) for a screening so I can go back for a regular appointment and pay the copay again.

I guess that's life, though.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fiction Friday #16

World's End: Training Wheels

After The End of the World, the people in Shame just sort of stopped worrying about what day it was. And I don't just mean whether it was the 4th or the 29th, but a lot of them quit saying it was Thursday or Monday.

When people started moving into the gym at Meredith Willson High School, the Rileys, a couple who had retired to Shame a few years ago, started a new calendar. They counted the days since The End happened. (I counted their days, once. Seemed to me that they figure the end came when we lost power. I figure it happened a few days before, but I wasn't the one in charge.) They called it AC and said it stood for After the Coming. No one in the gym argued with them and no one in the gym seemed to use the calendar, but there were a few kids who earned a smack or two for asking who it was that came to town.

At the time, I wasn't really worried about the date. I was more concerned with the rising and the setting of the sun and how much could be done before it got too dark. Although, soon after we left town, I wished that I knew the date. Was it just an ordinary day or was it an important day? I never did check the calendar at my place while I was picking up my hiking boots.

There wasn't much else there that I wanted. I grabbed a couple of long sleeve shirts and more clean underwear and I already had my old pocket knife with me, but nothing else would have helped on the trip.

I shouldered the sack and headed out.

Abbot's Sports was a few streets over and one up from where my apartment was, just like everything else within the city limits. The building had been there for as long as anyone could remember and it showed the way the ivy had spread up one wall and anywhere the brick was showing it was crumbling. The Abbots didn't even run the place anymore. The last one in the county had moved out onto a farm to cash in on Ethanol. I guess that didn't quite work out for him.

The store was sort of a catch all for anything that wasn't food. Everything that was sold there could also be rented. Tents and rafts and bikes and sleeping bags for those folks who wanted to see the river or spend some time on it and pretend they were Huck Finn, without the huge black guy, of course.

Trista and Roy weren't there when I looked throughout the shattered windows, but I knew they'd be along soon enough. I headed in and scouted around for the things I thought we'd need.

First were bikes. They seemed like the best way for us to travel. Smallish and pretty damn light, we could ride around any cars and wouldn't have to worry about gas. If we kept up the basic maintenance, we probably wouldn't get much worse than a popped tire or a broken chain, and those were small enough that we could carry lots of extras, and if something worse happened, there were pretty good odds would could find the right tools and stuff in any town we came across. Best of all were the baby carriage things that people used to drag their little kids around in. I figured those things would be great for dragging around extra food and gear for those days we didn't roll on into town.

By the time Roy and Trista showed up, I had already picked out the three bikes we were going to be using and had just finished bolting on the last baby carriage thing.

"Supposed to be using scooters," said Trista, pulling a wad of gum out of her mouth and throwing it over her shoulder. She always was one to care about her community.

"Why's that?" I asked, standing up and stretching.

"Didn't you never read The Stand, Crete?" she asked, coming in close to me. "That's what they all rode into Vegas. Well, that or motorcycles."

"Stephen King must have lived in a place where the gas fell from the sky and all you needed was a funnel to fill a tank." I poked her in the shoulder.

Roy laughed. If his voice had been deeper, I would have called it booming, but it was more like tapping on a snare drum than pounding on a bass drum. To the best of my knowledge, Roy was the only black man who lived in Shame. There were a couple of colored families who owned farms, but Roy actually lived in the city. How he started teaching here instead of some other place, I didn't know, but here he was. He was also gorgeous. Short cut hair. Solid jaw. Huge shoulders and arms. Dark brown eyes that a person could fall into. It was hard to believe he taught math.

"This is how we're going," I said. "Deal with it."

"Fine," she said, dropping her stuff on the ground. "What do you want us to do?"

"We each need a sleeping bags and tents and stuff," I said.

Roy grabbed my arm as I started to head in. "Go on in, honey," he said to Trista. "I want to talk to Crete for a minute."

"'Kay," she said and headed off.

"What do you want?" I asked Roy.

"Uh," he turned away from me, "I don't know how to ride a bike?"

"Really?" I asked.

"Yeah. Never learned."

"Well," I said, "I'm sure we can find some training wheels in there some where. We just have look."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Perfect Day"

In yesterday's post, I sort of asked for topics and Geewits wrote: "Here's a fun topic for you. Describe a 'perfect day' from the time you wake up until you go to bed. What would your 'perfect day' consist of?"

I'm going to start this with telling everyone that this week may not be the best week for imagining a "perfect day." I sort of had an over thinking weekend which sent me into a period of doubt and loathing that I have yet to slither my way out of. On the plus side, the only "perfect day" I can come up with seems pretty realistic. If I got up and put some real effort into my life, that is.

Perfect Day:

I'd wake up sometime after ten, not because an alarm is going off or there's a noise outside or I have to pee really bad, but because my body just decides that I'm rested enough.
I'd kiss the woman in bed with me, then head off to the bathroom.
From there, to the kitchen for breakfast, something easy -- cereal, yogurt, frozen corn dogs, leftover spaghetti, whatever -- and some book readin' or TV watchin'.
After that a shower and when we're both ready we'd go out we head to a museum or a movie or a matinée at little repertory.
When we're done, we'd go out to an early dinner somewhere out of the way that's a little dingy place with food that's quite delicious.
Back home we'd watch TV and read and talk until we want to go to bed where we'd have that special sort of sex that's full of passion, but is sort of slow, so the temperature within rises and then cool off a little before it rises again, higher than before, and it happens again and again until the pleasure we feel is almost painful, and when la petite mort happens, it really feels that way.
And in each other's arms, we sleep.

There is what today's "perfect day" would be.

One reason I liked Booster Gold #3

They had Skeets ride a horse. HA!

Much thanks to SallyP for posting this image. As soon as I saw it in the comic, I wanted to to share it with the world, but I don't own a scanner.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's 4:48 and I Need a Topic

Is it a cry for help?

I thought I had something to write about earlier, but work got in the way of me starting and then I realized that there wouldn't be enough time for me to put down enough of what I wanted to.

Oh, where is a meme when I need one for the quick post.

Did you know that there is a character who really reminds me of me in the "Song of Ice and Fire" books?
There is. I won't tell you who, though. Feel free to guess, though.
I know that, by the end of the series, he'll have grown in ways that I never expect to grow. That's fiction for you.

Have I ever written about the next Star Trek movie since I outlined what I'd like to see?
I don't think I have. Let's just say I'm really, really uncertain about it, especially since I read that this guy is going to play McCoy. *sigh* Somehow I don't think this McCoy will be nearly as down home crotchety as Deforest Kelly was.
Maybe this movie'll surprise me. I'll be going into it with lower expectations that I did with Nemesis, and I like enough of that movie.
Still TOS wasn't the Trek I grew up with, and maybe that will help me better ignore all the glaring continuity errors. Maybe not.

And now it's 4:55, time to shut down and pack up.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Book Meme

I like books. Stolen from Geewits and Jazz

1. How many books do I own?
Hundreds. I can't say if I've broken the thousand mark, yet. I'm steadily working on it, but right now I'm in one of those phases where I'm trying to read the stuff I own but still haven't gotten to. I'm sure, soon enough, I'll wander through a bookstore a not be able to keep my hands off and my wallet closed.

2. What was the last book read?
A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series. It's a really excellent epic fantasy series. The problem is that, like Robert Jordan's stuff, he doesn't ever really complete the story. If I had a stronger will, I would have waited until he was finished with the books and then read them one after the other to get everything from beginning to end. Still, they're really good.

3. What was the last book I bought?
I bought the set of all four "Song of Ice and Fire" books. I'm working on the fourth one now. I'll be finished with it by Friday, at the latest.

4. Five meaningful books that I've read:
I'm going with and attitude of these books are meaningful to me and if you disagree, it's you're problem, not mine.

A Spell for Chameleon, Piers Anthony
The book just charmed me, and still does. I'd read harder, darker fantasy stuff and enjoyed it a lot, but A Spell for Chameleon was so much fun that after I finished it the first time, I read it again. I like the puns and the idea that everyone has an unique talent. This was the book that taught me that "adult" books can be just as fun as "kids" books.

The Berenstain Bears, Stan and Jan Berenstain
There's not logic to this one. I just love these things. Ever since I was little. The beginner books are all little morality tales that sometimes fit my life. (I know I lived "Trouble at School," without the failing a test part, but other things happened.) The Bear Scouts are adventure stories. The Big Chapter Books let the Berenstains do their own versions of more famous works, like Romeo and Juliet. Every time I take one of the floppy books off the shelf and take five minutes to read it, I finish with a huge smile.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
It's not so much the book as in its introduction of L'Engle to me through it. After I read this book, I moved on to read her other books about the Murry family and then on to stuff about the O'Keefes. Reading her books, I found that writers don't have to be confined to one genre. I was awed at how she could write adventure stories and science stories and love stories and mix and match them and have them all be amazing. Her books are what made me want to be a writer and share lots of different sorts of stories with whoever was interested.

Hey Nostradamus!, Douglas Coupland
It's just a really sad story about how people deal with loss. Also, it was my gateway to other Coupland books. He's a man of many stile and I really wish I could write like he does.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Yes, I am proud to say that I prefer the "Dirk Gently" books, but Hitchhiker's Guide was my introduction to the wonderfully weird wit of Douglas Adams. I still want a babel fish.

Coming up with five different books was hard. I haven't ever read a book that's changed my life. I've never read a book that changed my mind, or blown me so totally away that I ran out and told everyone else to read it. (Also, in my experience when I suggest a book, people tell me "okay" and then don't read it until another person suggests they read it, unless I hand them the book right then and there.)

Monday, October 15, 2007


Once again, I'll attempt to write 50,000 words in a coherent story in just 30 days!
Will I succeed?
I think not, but I'm going to try!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fiction Friday #15

The Machine

"So, the first step was to find a way that could squeeze every moment of time to one point without also pulling all the matter to the same point." The Professor changed the slide to one showing an animation on the universe collapsing in on itself. "That would probably cause a big crunch which would, of course, kill us all, destroy the universe, and quite possibly turning all that existed into one black hole."

"But you found some way around this, right?" asked some guy in a dark suit.

"Yes, of course we did," said The Professor, smiling like he would to a four year-old who was worried he wouldn't get pizza on his birthday. "It all had to do with gravity," he said, switching the slide again, this time to an animation of a guy standing on the earth jumping up and coming back down, "and an incredible discovery my team made."

Jim turned away from the presentation. The truth was it was all bullshit. No one understood how the machine worked, they just knew it did. Thousands of different objects had gone through and come out okay. About ninety different animals had gone through and come back with nothing wrong, that the team could tell. And one human went through and claimed that nothing happened, until she saw the way her puppy had grown in the two months she was gone.

Time travel. It had always been a thing of science fiction, Jim thought. It couldn't really exist. But it did.

He turned a corner heading for the stairs to get down to the machine. He wished that the facility was more like it would have been in the movies--gleaming walls, shining steel equipment, no mice--but the place they were working in was a gutted hospital that was built in the '60s and then abandoned sometime in the '90s and was only halfway cleaned up before The Professor was forced to move his team here.

The stairway smelled like old wet wood; it wasn't a smell that Jim liked, but it was better than the basement. The Machine was kept on the top floor because it seemed to work better away from the ground. Some members of the team said it had to do with being farther away from the closest large source of gravity. Others said it was the Earth's magnetic fields. Others claimed it was none of these things, but some mysterious different force, like dark energy. Jim didn't know and he didn't care. It just seemed to work better a hundred or so feet above the ground than it did on the ground. And that's what pissed so many of the team off. There was just too much they didn't know.

The room that held the machine wasn't built large enough to house all the equipment The Professor wanted to monitor it, so walls had been knocked down to make it larger. It also made it dustier, which Jim's nose didn't like.

He was alone with the machine, a doorway of twisted greenish/orangish metal that made Jim's fillings taste tangy. Everyone else was downstairs with The Professor listening to him lie to the men and women who thought they were funding breakthrough, original research. They weren't, really, though. The Professor was trying to learn how the machine worked, but didn't really care about the whys. He didn't want to know what new technologies could be born from the machine; he just wanted to replicate it.

All Jim wanted to do was to step through into the past. See what it was like. See what could be changed. Jim wanted to find out if time was just one straight shot that no one could change or if there were infinite possible universes that existed out there. Unfortunately, everything they'd send through had only gone into the future, or the present, depending on how you look at it.

There was nothing coming from the machine to show that it was on. No shimmering in the door. No burning smell. No hum. Sometimes some thing would go through and just come out the other side. Other times things would go in and not come out for hours or days or weeks.

Jim thought he'd take a chance and stepped into the machine himself.

I Have To Ask:

I read this post a couple of days ago and when I read this: "[T]he reason women don't date 'nice guys' like you is that we can actually SEE the bitterness and entitlement."

I know it's out of context, but even in context, I don't understand it. I don't like it. And I'm a bit upset by it.

I wondered, why does it upset me?

Today, I got the answer. See, I try to check out Kalinara's blog everyday. She finds some interesting memes that I've copies, she tends to be funny when she writes, and when she turns on her pink flame of righteousness, the posts get that extra crispy goodness to them. One thing she always seems to acknowledge is that she does not represent all feminists or all women, even though she wrote a post called All Women are Me, Damnit, but that she represents herself. So, to read a blanket statement about "nice guys" from her that claims they are bitter toward women because they see many of them dating "jerks" and saying so "smacks of an entitlement and bitterness." Saying that "nice guys" go around "pinning all the bitterness and dissatisfaction of his own life on [the woman's] shoulders," also seems really unfair. (Hell, blanket statements are rarely fair for anyone under the blanket. I imagine feminists know that.)

Maybe, I thought to myself the more I pondered the post, Kalinara meant to keep those statements under the "nice guy" POV for "good guy/bad boy type rivalry" fiction, but "You could be the nicest guy in the world, genuinely, and just incredibly shy, but if we sense that frustration and resentment toward our gender, we're probably not going to date you." made me think, maybe not because in that kind of fiction, the "nice guy" ends up with the girl and they live happily ever after once the jerk gets embarrassed in front of the whole school or the local bar or at work or wherever.

And part of it is that I've always thought of myself as a nice guy, but not in that "he's really a jerk like Anthony from For Better or For Worse" way. I have that shy thing going on, but not always the thoughtful thing because there are many times when my mouth works faster than my brain. When I was junior high age, I figured out why girls and women are attracted to "jerks" so much: it's the confidence. I'm not saying that there aren't confident nice people out there or that there aren't jerks without confidence, but the vast majority of jerks I've met in my life, male and female, were all very confident in themselves and their ideas. Confidence is attractive and confidence that radiates off a person and into others is even more attractive. I know it.

I also know that I don't have it. I don't blame women for that. I blame myself. With effort and the right medications maybe I could be the confident one for once, but I don't put forth the effort and I'm not on the medications and I'm not confident in myself. It's all on me.

Most nice guys and "nice guys" probably aren't like me though. They're probably like everyone else and are looking for someone outside of them to blame. Do most of them blame the girl they're on a date with? I don't think so. Do they feel bitter because she may have dated a "jerk" or two before dating them? I don't know, maybe, no one likes feeling like second or third prize.

The only thing I know for sure is that each nice guy, or "nice guy," is an individual and it's unfair to lump them all into one bitter, resentful, woman blaming, and possibly woman hating group.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Heels called it "Book Game!" and I thought since I don't feel like being creative right now this would be fun.

There are always so many books to be read, aren't there?

Bold those you've read.
Italicize books you have started but couldn't finish.
Add an asterisk* to those you have read more than once.
Underline those on your To Be Read list.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A Novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller's Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods*
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West*
The Canterbury Tales*
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World*
The Fountainhead
Foucault's Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray*
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver's Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay*
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes*
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present
A Confederacy of Dunces*
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity's Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Death and Slavery

Yesterday was Columbus Day. The day a few of us celebrate the first southern Europeans crossing the Atlantic to enslave and kill the people who had been living there already to take trinkets back to a monarch who was hoping for silk and opium, but was okay with what she got.

Of course, most of the people around here choose to forget the death and slavery and focus on the guy who "discovered" an island that was already populated and then go on to "discover" a continent that already had people living there as well as failed European colonies.

Personally, I'm just in it for the day off.

Not that I did anything to celebrate. I boiled the hell out of a chicken carcass so I can make soup tonight, or tomorrow night, whenever I get to it.

Today, I started boxing files, again. I don't mind boxing, really. It gets me away from my desk for most of the day and away from lawyer, too. I get to listen to myPod and sing along to the songs I like, under my breath. (Listened to Queen's "Somebody to Love" three times in a row. It's odd picturing Anne Hathaway sing while hearing Freddie Mercury's voice, though.)

Tomorrow, more boxing. Same for the day after that.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fiction Friday #14

The Balance

Ten years ago, I sit in the darkness, in awe, as I watch the words "Star Wars" scroll up the movie screen. Up to this point in my life, I've only ever seen the words on TV, smaller than me. Today, the words are taller than my dad and he's tall. I watch the action unfold on the screen, action I've seen a thousand times, but never like this. And once again, I dream of being a Jedi, of having the power of the force and feeling the pull of Ben Kenobi and Darth Vadar, of doing the dangerous dance between the dark and the light, trying to be a hero.

I opened my eyes. It was cold, so I pulled the bag up over my head.

Five years ago, I wake, naked, under the Creeping Tree, the oldest tree on campus, my whole body in pain. It's dark and quiet. I can smell the moist dirt and redwood bark around me. I'm cold, but not shivering. Branches rustle. It's just the wind, I tell myself as I curl into a tight ball. I feel a voice, deep and gravely, like rocks grinding together deep in the earth, course through my bones, "You will serve us." Now I shiver. "You will be the Balance," the wind whispers in my ear. Dark flames erupt around my body, pulling what little warmth there was from the air. "You will preserve the choice," I feel the first voice say. The flames rise and cover my body. "You want this," whispers the other voice. Into my body the flames plunge. I scream. The flames burn cold in my body. I scream. When I wake again I find a black staff twisted and gnarled like a branch on the Creeping Tree, but smooth and cold like glass, in my hand. I close my fingers around the staff and close my eyes. I remember that I want this, that I asked for this, that this is my choice.

I kept my eyes closed this time. Still cold and dark. I rolled over and closed my eyes again.

Years from now, or months, or days, or hours, I run through the dark warehouse. As I run, I turn and swing my staff freezing the air and sending it flying toward my enemies, the small black balls that are all teeth and feet. I hear it crash into them and then into the wall far across the warehouse. I don't stop, though, I run. The only thing that matters is the door and getting out. As I near the door, I don't slow; instead I swing the staff and send a wall of solid air crashing into it, ripping it away from its hinges and throwing it across the parking lot. And I run harder, freedom in only steps away. I pass through the hole I made and feel the coolness of the fresh air on my cheeks. A burst of blinding white light flares in front of me. I stumble and stop. It's standing in front of me casting the light. It raises its eagle wings and hundreds of black shadow teeth things charge from behind it. I set me feet, hold my staff in front of me, and brace myself for what's coming.

I woke in the same drainage ditch I curled up in last night. Thank God it's not a rainy time of year. If it was, I'd have to find actual shelter that isn't already being used by bums. For now, though, dry ditches work well enough when the lights are down. I rolled and stuffed my back and then clipped it to my backpack which I tossed out of the ditch. I dropped my pants and squatted down, thinking about how I was peeing in pretty much the place that I had just been sleeping. It's an odd world.

I don't usually focus on my dreams anymore; they haven't changed much since the war started. Before the war my dreams were as random as anyone else’s, just my brain trying to make sense of my day. After the war, though I always dreamed of Star Wars and that night under the tree. I assumed that it was to remind me of the choice I made and the reason I made it, but last night was the first time I dreamed of the future. The first time I'd seen my enemy.

I stood up, pulled my pants up, grabbed my staff, and climbed out. I put the pack over my shoulders, locked it around my waist, and wondered where I was going to find the angel I'd seen in my dream.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Which I Made a Phone Call

Opened my e-mail yesterday morning and found a letter from Geewits there. Basically, she said she was meeting Jazz for dinner and I should give a call because "[t]hat would be funny." She gave me her cell number and the time I should call, too.

Immediately my heart started trying to push it's way out of my chest and my stomach was threatening to feed me my breakfast again. Could I do something like this? Could I call someone I only know through blog posts and then be handed off to someone else who I haven't met? Some weeks I have a huge problem trying to walk into the laundromat even though I know my socks are so hard I could hammer nails with them. I make it through that door, though. Still laundry has nothing to do with actual people.

I wrote back two words: "I'll try." On a bit of paper, I wrote Geewits's number and stuffed it in my pocket.

And then I did my best not to think about it the rest of the day. Didn't work. Every so often I'd see my phone out of the corner of my eye or it'd ring and my heart would try to claw its way into my throat.

I made it through the day. I bought comics and when I got back to my apartment, I started cooking dinner (stuffed bell peppers).

As the time to call approached, my heart beat harder, my stomach flopped over, and my palms started sweating.

At the given time, I picked up the phone and stared at it.

I put the phone down.

I picked it up again and dialed and hoped that no one would pick up and I'd just leave a message.

Someone picked up. It was Geewits. I heard her hand the phone to Jazz telling her it was me.

And we spoke for a few minutes.

I don't remember much of what was said. I remember mostly thinking of what should I say that wouldn't kill the conversation. I tried not to panic during those pauses, which were her taking a sip of wine. I felt like a buffoon.

I did it, though. I called.

And when my peppers started boiling over there was a real reason to let her get on with her merriment.

I wish I had waited for Geewits, though, since this semi-stalking thing was her idea.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why I'd Like My Own Office, With a Door

First GICS told me about how TMSV in the office got an e-mail that said she won £5,000,000 in the British Lottery. I congratulated her and said that was like $10,000,000. She said cool.

Then GICS wanted to talk about exchange rates. He wanted to know how the dollar is holding to th euro. I told him I have no idea. He ignored me though. He went on about the euro and how it's like stealing from the the USA and the Chinese are even worse.

"Aren't they ruining the dollar?" he asked.

I told him what I know, that there was a problem between the US and China because China was using the dollar to help support their money, but that I wasn't an economist and didn't really understand what was going on and if it was helping the dollar to go bust against the rest of the world's money.

Somehow, BBNG moved the conversation into the trade gap between China and the US and how China is using all the money it makes from the US to support the rest of the world while trying to bring down the economy here.

I stopped speaking and started focusing on my computer at that point. Sure, I'm not doing any work, but it makes it so the focus isn't aimed anywhere near my direction.

Of course the next thing brought up, by either BBNG or GICS, was the problems with so much of the merchandise coming from China in recent months: lead paint, poison tooth paste, and dead dogs (WTF?).

That some how segued into how global warming is a total myth. And why does GICS say that global warming is a myth? Because science hasn't been around that long.

Allow me to reiterate that, like he did many times, so it can sink in: Global warming is a myth, it isn't happening, because science hasn't been around very long.

The worst thing was that BBNG was trying to defend global warming but he really didn't know how. He was stunned. He just sort of muttered stuff about carbon and the natural cycle moving faster than it should. To which GICS brought up the Little Ice Age. He didn't use it for any sort of argument that I could hear, he just brought it up and started talking about it.

About that time BBNG left for his break and GICS went quiet.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Technically, I'm supposed to answer these questions in the other person's comments and then post these here for you all to answer them in my comment. I figured I'd just write answer to them to a person I don't know and let you all do whatever the hell you want to do.

1) Can you cook?
Sure. I need ingredients and a recipe and equipment to do it, but sure.

2) What was your dream growing up?
Is this supposed to be like the reoccurring dream I had where my fourth grade class was walking along a high cliff to a castle carved into the mountain that was guarded by giant tin soldiers and nutcrackers?

3) What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could draw/paint in a way that actually lets the things I see in my head exist on paper.

4) If I bought you a drink what would it be?

5) Favorite vegetable?
Is cauliflower a vegetable? I like cauliflower.

6) What was the last book you read?
A Clash of Kings

7) What zodiac sign are you ?
Aries, according to my birth date, but so is my mom and my brothers best friend, and somehow we all lead totally different and unique lives.

8) Any Tattoos and/or Piercings? Where?
Not that I know of, but I can't see my but too easily.

9) Worst Habit?
I don't know. I don't chew my finger nails anymore and that was the only bad habit that I was willing to focus on.

10) If you saw me walking down the street would you offer me a ride?
Did I just drop you off? Do I see your car anywhere nearby? Do I know you? Are you a hooker? If you are a hooker, shouldn't you be offering me a ride?

11) What is your favorite sport?
Is avoiding talking about or hearing talk about sports a sport?
Depending on who's playing, and what their wearing, I can make it through a few minutes of beach volley ball on TV before changing the channel. That's a sport, right? It's in the Olympics.

12) Negative or Optimistic attitude?
I'd say I'm a pessimist who's always disappointed when he's right about the world.

13) What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?
Who are you again?
If I know you, I'd probably talk with you, or try to talk with you. Why do so many people have trouble speaking in an elevator? It's not like we're standing at a urinal.
If I don't know you, I'd pretend I was alone until on of us exited.

14) Worst thing to ever happen to you?
Sixth Grade.

15) Tell me one weird fact about you
I don't know, ask someone else, please.

16) Do you have any pets?

17) What if I showed up at your house unexpectedly?
I'd be surprised.

18) What was your first impression of me?
The "you" I took this from I thought was funny and cute.
The theoretical you I'm writing to, I don't know. Whore?

19) Do you think clowns are cute or scary?
Some clowns are funny, but I have yet to see one that I thought was cute or scary.

20) If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be???
I keep thinking about dying my hair black, but really I'd like to be of average weight.

21) Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?

22) What color eyes do you have?
I think they're greenish, but when I look into the mirror I'm usually watching where I'm shaving and not my eyes.

23) Ever been arrested?
Not that I know of.

24) Bottle or Draft?
I'm not an alcohol drinker, but if I was, I'd rather a draft.

25) If you won $10,000 dollars today, what would you do with it?
Pay off my loans.

26) Would you date me?
Probably not.

27) What's your favorite place to hang at?
A jungle gym?

28) Do you believe in ghosts?
Only the personal kind.

29) Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
There are things I do in my spare time, but I wouldn't consider any of them my favorite.

30) Do you swear a lot?
Not very fucking much.

31) Biggest pet peeve?
Stupid people who revel in their stupidity.

32) In one word, how would you describe yourself?

33) Do you believe/appreciate romance?
Sure, but believing in something or appreciating doesn't mean you'd actually do it.

34) If you could spend 12 hours with me and ask/do anything you like, what would it be?
Christ, it depends on how long I've know you and if that "date" thing worked out.

35) Do you believe in God?
I don't think I do.

36) Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same?
I have no problems reposting it, but seeing as how the person I got this from doesn't know it's over here, I doubt I'll get that person's answers.