29 November 2011


for now, at least. After 29 days of writing day and night (actually it was mostly day except for the time I wrote 10,000 words long hand on an airplane), I am now the proud owner of a 59,998 word monstrosity.

National Novel Editor's Month, here I come. Though, maybe after my finals.

17 November 2011


The moon shone down on the clearing in front of me, illuminating the guards on border duty. They paced up and down the boundary, bodies relaxed but eyes watching for the next enemy attack. My feet crushed the long, wet grass at the border's corner, releasing a sweet smell into the chill night air. I shivered as I surveyed my responsibility, wondering where my enemy would come from. As I crouched, leaning in towards the border, I hoped that she wouldn't come near me. The raid had been entirely unexpected, and I'd had no time to prepare for my duties.

An indistinct shape detached itself from the gloom across the clearing and slowly moved my way. I could hear it -- no, her -- breathing quietly as it crept ever closer to my border. Her furtive movements were betrayed by a rustle of clothes. I tensed, sinews tightening below my skin in an altogether pleasant manner, ready to spring into movement at the slightest provocation. Above all, I could not allow her to endanger our center of operations, the priceless item we had been charged to protect. 

The moon cast indistinct shadows across the wet ground, obscuring the terrain so that when my enemy finally darted towards the border,  I paused momentarily to ensure I wasn't running after a mere shadow. Our feet pounded moistly as I pursued her across the clearing, and my heart began beating a fanciful cadence at the sudden motion. Yard by yard, we grew closer to her objective, and I could hear the cries of my comrades as they fought their own enemies. I had no back-up, no support should she capture our prize.

My feet began slipping on the dewy leaves - there was not much time before I would lose control of my momentum. She was getting dangerously close to my responsibility, and I quickened my step, hoping to outrun the inevitable. There were ten yards, five yards, and I felt my feet sliding from under me. With one last burst of energy and speed, I threw myself into the air. The wind rushed past my face, whipping bits of my hair at my eyes with a vengeance. I could no longer see her, but just as I thought I had missed her in the dark, my hands made contact with her back. My entire body careened at hers, and we both crashed to the ground, sliding several more feet to stop at the foot of the flag.

It's the simple things in life that matter;
like tackling Gray during a night game of capture the flag.

15 November 2011

Whirling Dervish

This weekend was so jammed with awesome that I can barely think coherently as I try to type this post out. On Friday, I went to the Christian Musician's Summit, and had a Big Idea about hypocrisy and joy. On Saturday, I judged a noviceling debate tournament, and flew to California to chill with Milan and SirSarcasm. During the flight, I had a big idea about perspective and about weighting values. Then, on Sunday and through Monday, I found the words to express a Third Big Idea that has been in the works for a couple months now.

Normally, when I have a Big Idea, I will write a blog post about it. But as it is, I have far too much swirling through my head. Caffeine, sleeping aid (because I didn't actually go to bed until sometime this morning), three Big Ideas, and some worries about class. So I think I"ll just shamble off with my coffee and try not to fall asleep in class. However, expect some more Ideas to be up soon.

10 November 2011

"Just Friends" part 2

A quick caveat: this post contains some content slightly more mature than my usual fare. I know that I have younger followers, and I don't want to catch you unaware. You have been warned.

Last year, during my final year as a competitive speaker (and debater), I went out on a limb and asked Calvin to do a duo interpretation with me. If done well, duos are the most amazing thing ever. Two people act out a piece of literature without the aid of costumes, eye contact, or physical contact between the two.

Calvin is a pretty incredible person. He is funny, creative, musical, and I guess people would say that he's good looking. I don't really remember registering that because I don't buy into normal ideals concerning beauty/attractiveness. You could say he fits into the iconic "tall, dark, and handsome" category. Least you get too positive impression, he does have his faults: Coca-Cola may well be his Achilles' heel. I don't think I've ever seen him turn a bottle of it down, and have memories of him carrying a two-liter around with him at tournaments.

Overall, he's a pretty neat guy. As duo partners, we ended up spending quite a bit of time around each other - both at coop and sometimes on the weekends. I remember joking once that "you know your social life is messed up when you invite your duo partner over more than your close friends." Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed hanging with Calvin, and did indeed consider him a good friend, but the fact remains. I saw him more than pretty much any of my friends.

I never directly experienced this next detail of my introduction, but Wrath, Calvin's younger brother (also a friend of mine) would recount to me how multiple people had asked him (Wrath) if he(Calvin) and I were dating. Why? Because every week at school we'd cloister ourselves in a staircase to work on the speech. No more, no less. It is at this point that I should mention the gratuitous endearments in our piece: "Sweetie-lambkin," "Darling," "Angel" and "Precious" all make frequent appearances in the piece.

I found these reports, and the funny looks from girls (who felt who-knows-what about these disappearances) rather funny. While Calvin wasn't in a relationship at the time, the mere idea that two such people as ourselves would ever be "compatible" was laughable to the extreme.

But let me add on final element to this introduction, and it shall be complete. There is a long-standing tradition (or at the very, least, a firmly established predilection) that duo partners of the opposite sex and entirely unrelated to each other tend to: a. be seeing each other and/or b. will eventually get married.

And homeschooling mothers doing what they do best (A wedding?! When? Who? You don't say! How exciting!), both Calvin and I inevitably had to face certain ... pointed inqueries from parents in the league. To this day, I am left wondering what they thought of a match between a tall-dark-and-handsome guy and a short-blond-and-not girl...

My usual response was something along the lines of this: "Calvin? Oh no, we're just friends. I mean, come on, we'd kill each other within a week."

I hated having to say "we're just friends." But let me put any skewed interpretations to rest. I wasn't pining away in a corner, hoping that one day he'd look my way or whatever mindless drivel you think I meant by that statement.

We're just friends.

As if there is something dishonorable, diminishing about that fact. As if, the worth of relationship would suddenly increase if you add a little snogging to the mix. 

"Just Friends" implies a certain contempt for purely platonic, unadulterated (in the most literal way possible) friendship between chaps and chapesses. I mean, we already get a great level of brainwashing in regards to any young woman'sworth.

If you pay attention to the pressure of mainstream society, women (ie, teenagers and twenty-somethings because they're they only women that matter and count anyways) are only good if the fulfill these criteria: 

They're well-endowed (perhaps artificially), promiscuous creatures who go through boyfriends faster than I can tear a hole in my nylons. Their worth is found in seducing brutish men with animal like instincts (seriously,  men, you can take *a little* time on your personal appearance and not come off like a sissy). They finally conquer "the system" by living with a boyfriend who acts more like a boy than a grown man. They're not afraid to show off their bodies to the best possible advantage, by which I mean altering the appearance of their faces with heavy cosmetics, squeezing themselves into uncomfortably tight clothing and practically starving themselves all for the sake of a few passionate nights before they hit the mundanity of middle age.

If a girl like myself chooses she doesn't want to date around and enjoy this amazing utopia of youth, and instead wishes to enjoy honest friendships with quality young men, she is regulated to the dust bin of the "just friends." How demeaning is that?

Oh, you're not good enough for that guy? You're only friends with him. Must have left the push-up bra at home when you met him. Just not girlfriend material, I'm afraid. Too bad. We'll have to do better with the next one. Learn from our mistakes - always be prepared in case of an emergency.

How can friendship be despised like this? Why is a relationship, not based on sex, so -- well, threatening, in a way - that  people must belittle those who don't bring seduction into their equation?

Since when is a coarse twice-over a good substitute for a genuine smile?

Why is a random, five minute flirtation with a mildly good-looking stranger more valuable than a good hour spent with an ugly friend?

Why should a relationship be measured by the depth of a french-kiss than the depth of the conversation?

And since when do I, as a young woman, need to demean myself and my body to a group of lascivious, lecherous, lewd, and carnal punks in order to gain any sort of self-fulfillment?

The people in my generation must be incredibly prosaic if they feel they have no other basis for a relationship other than the biological fact that one is a boy and the other, a girl. Can we really find no other common ground, no starting spot for friendship, than biology?

Friendship is more than a mere placeholder until a more salacious relationship. I have major issues with the phrase "we're just friends," because, as an idealist, I strongly and firmly believe that a friendship is innately beautiful, in and of itself; that the worth of a relationship is measured in how much I can encourage and support my friends; and that the worth of a friend is found in their being, not their body.

09 November 2011

Ex Machina

Have I mentioned that I'm super excited about my NaNovel? Well, I'm pretty sure I've posted this excerpt on my blog before. However, I repurposed it for my book, and since I'm currently stuck on a point in my writing, I figured I'd take a break and re-post part of the prologue from my book. A brief caveat: if you have a problem with gore/disgusting stuff, stop reading now.


It was a room of broken glass. Two partially decayed cadavers in now grey lab coats were slumped by the door. One was twisted, hands grasping for purchase on the smooth wall. Decaying skin and tendons fell away from moldering bones. In some areas, the clothing was falling apart, and a light coat of dust had settled on it.
The cadaver’s companion was in no better condition. It sat slumped in a chair nest to a desk, a little way away from the door. A small hole in its skull was visible on the left temple, and the right ear and side of the face were obliterated. A spray of gore lay dried on the table and floor. A hand gun, dropped from the hand of the scientist, now rested on the ground. In the blood left from his suicide, a bullet mingled, half obscured by a fragment of bone. Beyond the dead scientists, pedestals three feet in diameter were arranged in a grid. Shards of glass were scattered across the floor, lying where they had fallen when they had broken. On some pedestals, remnants of glass tubes still stood, wires and drips dangling over puddles of crystallized fluid.
A few corpses or parts of corpses were held aloft by more firmly attached life support systems. They dangled like broken marionettes over a thick carpet of decaying bodies. Here or there an arm, still attached to the wires, rose from this putrid sea.

She saw it all, and wondered. A faint pulsing came to her attention. She moved over the glass, liquid, and contorted bodies toward the vibration. It came from a far side of the room.
In a corner, blue-green fluorescent lighting replaced the sterile white of the room. On last pedestal stood alone, away from the ordered chaos of the grid. Liquid still filled part of the unbroken tube, but did not reach the top. Another rotting corpse in a grey lab coat rested thigh deep in fluid, held upright by wires and medical tubes. The throbbing came from inside the pedestal, apparently powering the useless life support system.
She drifted closer. As she moved, the knowledge of her surroundings changed. She felt something. Experienced something in the way she hadn’t for a long time. She was startled. She hadn’t felt anything since she became what she was.
It was startled too. No, not an ‘it’. He. He was startled as well.

08 November 2011


I am writing this post on the bus in one of my many surplus journals. You might wonder why I have so many: I certain do. I usually blame it on a group of friends who give me them faster than I can use them up. This post will be transferred to the web sometime this evening, and if I'm feeling terribly obnoxious, I'll upload this prelude as well just to mess with you.


For the past few weeks, I have been conducting an informal survey of my friends and acquaintances concerning the recent death of Libya's Colonel Moammar Gaddafi. More specifically, I have been straw polling them on their opinions about the transitionary government's handling of Gaddafi's old government and supporters. For information, follow these links to the BBC.

The reason behind this line of questioning was two-fold. First, I needed to remind myself with whom it was safe to discuss politics (or entertaining, as an alternative), and to prepare for this post. If I didn't ask you and you feel terribly left out, just jump down to the comments and raise your voice - don't forget to leave your opinion. Do you see what I just did there? If you did, comment.

Here are the facts, as I understand them. Many officials within the late Colonel Gaddafi's government, including his son Mutassim and defense secretary Abu Bakr Younes died under murky circumstances, often connected with capture by the rebels. Gaddafi himself was seen, living, in a viral video taken just after his capture, but was reported deceased later that day. Since August, sites filled with the remains of mass murders against Gaddafi supporters have been found throughout the country. The provisional government currently has one of his ministers and his personal driver in custody, awaiting trial.

When conversing with these friends, I got a wide display of reactions. There were a few "They totally got what they paid for! It's freaking awesome that they're dead;" quite a lot of "that's really for the Libyans to decide;" a few "It wasn't ideal but they deserved it;" and one "should I know that name?"

Far and away the most interesting answer was from a new friend from school. This friend, who, in my notes was given the blog name River because it amused me at the time and he was important enough to this post to deserve a name, said something along the lines of this.

"It wasn't ideal, but then again, I"m not sure what else they could have done. It doesn't really set a good foundation for their government, especially if they want to claim to be a democracy."

I found this sentiment interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that he put into words something that I'd been unable to vocalize for a while.

I am going to totally ignore the fact that the Libyan militia is not disbanding for fear that politicians will disappoint yet again. While tangentially related to this topic, I'm not here to talk about keeping politicians honest. As an American, I am hardly one to talk.

The way the provisional Libyan government handled the transfer of power had bothered me ever since I learned of Gaddafi's demise. I'm going to make a logical leap here that you might not follow at first.

At the end of World War Two (observe how very carefully I avoid the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy) , the Allies ended up capturing a bunch of senior Nazi officials who needed to be held responsible for the atrocities that some of them helped commit. I say "some of them" because not all of them were responsible for the Final Solution and it's rather detrimental effects.

The Allies selected the US attorney General, and later Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson to draw a code governing the trial that would ensure all accused men really received justice, not revenge. How this man managed to draw a code that avoided both the trap of post facto law and stopped the Nazis from merely hiding behind "I followed orders and nothing more" is a really heroic story, but one for another time. My point in bringing this up is to point to an historical example where people were out for blood but still managed to do the right thing -- namely, extend justice to oppressors.

Do you see the link?

Now, especially considering my debate case from last year (self-determination ring a bell, anyone?), I will firmly uphold the Libyan provisional government's right to deal with law breakers under and through the law. However, what bothered me was a lack of trial for Gaddafi and his leaders. Yes, they may have deserved to die, but they also deserved to have charges formally brought against them and the opportunity to defend themselves from those charges.

Is it really such a good foundation for a democracy to rest upon the murdered (note: not executed) bones of the previous government? I would say that no, no it is not. I think my friend really got it, but I don't know what else they could have done. In this instance, I merely point an accusatory finger and offer no solution.

There was another aspect of these past few weeks that disturbed me greatly. It was the opinions of my peers regarding this particular subject. To quote one of the first people I asked and who shall go unnamed because I agree with Thumper: "Good riddance. He and they were all evil men and the earth is better off without them. They knew what they were doing, so I applaud the fighters for doing away with them. Sic Semper Tyrannus."

Friends, this statement should make you cringe inside. America has long held a light of sorts regarding the importance of criminal trials and the idea of "innocent until proven guilty." While in practice, we have been known to fall short, the fact remains that these are our ideals, and unlike Groucho Marx, we have no others. We should be sticking to the values we hold dear.

I was deeply, deeply disturbed to hear so many of my friends express themselves in support of a regime that does not even bother with a kangaroo court and simply skips to the bit about executions.

What does it say of Americans if we are so willing to abandon the ideals of justice and support mere, base revenge? And please don't give me the real politik answer and tell me that it's in America's best long term interests to prostitute her ideals for a little support in Northern Africa. We did nothing to stop this from happening.

While there is a valid argument to be made that United States forces and weaponry should not have been deployed in Libya in the first place, the fact remains that NATO was there. NATO was originally founded to protect Western Europe and its values, and last time I checked, these values included the right to a fair trial.

Why do we love stories about Robin Hood? He was a thief who stole from people. He was no mere thief, though, because he did the right thing. While he stole from wealthy people, he returned the money to the people who originally possessed it.

The people of Libya, especially Eastern Libya, rebelled because their government was not upholding justice. Gaddafi executed his political opponents en masse, and other basic freedoms were denied to the people. Be this as it may, the way the rebels dealt with the government, once overthrown, was no better than the previous administration. A democracy built upon that foundation cannot stand for long, nor will one whose citizens so openly approve of state-sponsored revenge.

There you have it: my rant for the week. I'd love to hear any and all feedback on this. 

04 November 2011

NaNo Update

I've decided to do something a little different with NaNo this year. Because Tuesdays and Thursdays are obscenely busy days for me - I have a spare hour in the middle of the day, which isn't enough for me to plink out 1,667 words in - I've decided to take an alternate track to writing SubRosa. By the way, I've decided to change the novel name. Why? Because SubRosa doesn't adequately foreshadow the problem. From now on, my NaNovel will be called Ex Machina, which, if you are one of the nonexistent lucky people to read it, will make considerably more sense.

Ahem. As I was saying, I'm taking an alternate track to writing Ex Machina. I plan on writing 2,381 words on every day but Tuesdays and Thursdays. And based on that solution, I am actually ahead of schedule. I have written (notice the number on the handy sidebar) 5593 words in two days of writing, while I only needed to have written 4,762. You can imagine the great sense of accomplishment I feel.

My chapters are turning out to be shorter than expected, with more telling and not enough showing, but I plan on coming back and elaborating on that once I have the story outlined in a draft.

03 November 2011

In Defense of Facts

I have the sinking suspicion that, were I to die tomorrow, the thing most of my friends and acquaintances could agree on is that I know a lot of trivia. It makes me terribly self-concious.

02 November 2011


"If a Wrimo is a measurement of literary quality, how good is a NaNoWriMo?"

I fancy myself an author, from time to time. The past few years, I have, unsuccessfully, competed in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writers Month. For the very few of you who may not know what this is, during NaNoWriMo, writers from around the world attempt to write 50,000 or more word novels in the course of 30 days.

I completed it, once. It was a great piece of avant-garde fiction. It made little to no sense, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

I had no plans to compete this year. My horror/supernatural novel from last year, Sub Rosa, petered out right around day 10, when I realized that I had made my Eldritch Abomination so powerful and so sneaky that: 1. My active hero had no way of discovering what the problem was, and 2. had no way of solving the problem.

And that, folks, is a huge problem when it comes to writing novels. If you can't unveil the conflict, let alone solve it, you're in for a really bad book. Not, of course, that this year's book will be any better.

But I have an exciting announcement to make. Last night, I had a case of reverse Fridge Brilliance. If you don't know what that is, go to tvtropes.org and look it up. Anyways, last night, I had a flash of inspiration. Yes, you've got it, friends. I figured out how to defeat the Abomination.

Don't mention the fact that I have no names for the characters in my story. Don't mention the fact that I just lost a valuable NaNo day by not writing. No. I am going to give this story my best shot. And for the record, my word count is now 2,169.

I'm on a roll.

01 November 2011

Excruciating Apathy

I like the cold. There is something peculiar about it that seems to wake me up, gasping for air. Just walking outside on a day like today makes things seem ... vibrant; colorful; alive. The cold breaks my illusions of apathy.

Did I say apathy? It's excruciating. Everyone gets grey days once in a while: days when everyday tasks lose all sense of meaning and when the only thing worthwhile is sleeping in a warm, dark room. Or watching reruns of Dr. Who. But this apathy isn't a mere grey day. It's misty - the way the Cascades get in late autumn when the leaves are drifting off the trees like flakes of rust. When trees and cars and ladies walking their dogs loom out of a slight haze along a deserted road. Those days it's possible to believe that unicorns exist, that chivalry never died, and that distressing damsels may hike along the path enjoying the peaceful death of summer and suddenly find themselves swept up in an adventure.

I feel like one of those damsels right now, and have for a while. The things that, by all accounts, I should be concerning myself with simply hold no sway over me. College applications? Yeah, I should start thinking about those. Take the SAT again? That too. Scholarship essays or competitions? They'd be good to prepare for. Oh, and a job. I should get a regular job.

I simply can't stop stargazing to worry about the insects.

If life is an adventure, then the teenage years must be like climbing a mountain to get to the valley of middle age. I have nothing against the valley. It must be pleasant, or else so many people wouldn't be heading down into it. I can even see some stray adventures lurking behind copses and below bridges.

But I'm enjoying the difficulty of my climb. I just want to keep climbing, until I reach the top, and then the stars, and then universe. Some people, when they've gotten this far, bound up the final rise to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain. Not me. I enjoy the trees and the rock piles more.

I feel like something's wrong with me. There are certain people in my life who are trying to pull me ever on to the path, but the open mountainside is calling me: I want to climb. Get out of my way, I'm going up.

There's nothing wrong with going to college, getting a "real" job, getting married, joining the PTA. Except, I don't have the practical dreams that will adequately prepare me for a future filled with jobs, marriage, the obligatory minivan.

It's fine if you have those dreams. There's a reason we have that tradition. But I want to live in the cold. I want to live in the frigid, breath-stealing, vital, exuberant cold of life. 

And so, these certain people, many of whom I respect immensely, do me a great disservice. The path is comfort, the path is warmth, the path is complacency and decay and the surrendering of the undisclosed desires in my heart.

I have this excruciating apathy about the things that should matter to me. Increasingly, I've come to the realisation that I will never be content in the warmth of the expected. Yesterday on the bus, a man noticed my violin case. He asked if I ever played on the street for money.

"Why play for money when you could play for joy?"

I want the tingling, burning, pleasant touch of frost upon my face. I want to join my dreams in the stars, not content to summit the next rise, but to summit my own Everest. I want to live in the cold for the rest of my life.