Thursday, June 16, 2016

A story, part three.

Neither island seemed to be inhabited.

Dejected, the girl returned to her boat.

Well, she thought, if I can't find mountain-climbing shoes on those islands, maybe I should find a new way to climb the hill?  

She tried different routes.

She tried running up the hill.

She tried climbing at different times of day.

She found other hikers on the hill, and hiked with them.

Every day, she clambered up the hill.  Every night, she returned to her little boat, a little stronger and a lot more tired.  By the time the scorpion had chased the giant into the sunset, the girl had discovered several favorite routes and even more favorite trees and rocks and vistas.

One day, as she sat on the hill and watched the sunset, a fellow hiker approached her.

"You seem to be serious about climbing the hill," he said.

"Oh yes," replied the girl.  "I'd like to climb mountains, but I haven't got any shoes, and the mountains are too craggy to climb barefoot.  My feet aren't that tough."

"Tough feet come from climbing," said the hiker.  "What's more important is the desire to climb, and the willingness to endure the blisters.  You learn new routes quickly, you climb every day, and you don't seem to mind a stubbed toe here and there."

The girl got quiet.  "I'm happiest when I'm climbing."

The hiker peered at the girl.  "Some mountains have difficult routes."

"Oh, I know.  Mountains are like the sea- sometimes it's calm, sometimes it's rough.  I learned that a long time ago."

"Some mountains can't be climbed every day.  Sometimes you can only climb a few days here or there."

"Well, on the off days I could climb the hill, or study maps, or learn new birdcalls, or stretch my feet.  There are lots of ways to fill my days.  I could even swim around the island, if I had to.  I'm not worried.  Some climbing is better than no climbing.  I can't live in the boat forever."

The hiker nodded.  He reached into his pack and took out a map.   

"There are more islands with more mountains around than you realize."

To be continued.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A story, part two

The girl stared at the picture of the mountain.

She wept.

How could she have been so foolish?  The mountains were her heart and her bones.  Mountains can shake, this is true, but to abandon one's heart and bones due to some shaking?  To spend a life at sea?  With the constant bobbing and heaving?  Boats shake.  Islands shake.  Mountains shake.  She could survive shaking.

The girl threw herself overboard, clung to the gunwale, and began kicking.  She didn't know which way the mountains were, but she figured it was better to kick her way towards something than drift towards nothing.

The sun dipped below the horizon and the scorpion climbed out of the eastern sea.

I will find land before the giant chases the scorpion into the sunrise, she thought.  




The sea lion and the otter rode in the boat, gleefully barking and yelping as she propelled the small boat towards a faint memory.

The sun rose and fell.  The giant chased the scorpion towards the sun.

One day, after a rather tiring day of kicking, the girl and the sea lion and the otter saw a speck on the horizon.  

An island.  With a small hill.

She kicked furiously.  The sea lion barked.

The shore was craggy and rocky, with no place to drag her boat ashore.  She swam about in the shallows, yanking on kelp fronds until she found one firmly anchored to the seafloor, and wrapped it around her tiny, battered boat.  The otter chewed on a sea urchin attached to the kelp blades.

The girl swam ashore.

Slowly, tentatively, she stood up.  It had been years since she had stood on land, and she didn't quite know how to proceed.  But a hill is like a mountain, only smaller, and she could see the top, so she took a few wobbly steps.  She remembered running on her mountain, and climbing trees, but her legs were atrophied from her years crouching in the boat.  

Every day, she wobbled a little way up the hill.  Every night, she returned to the boat and the sea lion and the otter, sore and bruised from the day's walking practice.  Every day, she awoke a little stronger than the day before.  

By the time the giant had chased the scorpion to the sunrise, the girl found herself standing on top of the hill.  From her new vantage point, she could see other islands in the distance.

Two of them had mountains.  One was close, but it looked like the path was very steep.  One was a bit farther away, and the path to the summit seemed very craggy.  From the top of the hill, the girl couldn't tell which mountain might be better to climb.  She wondered if she had the strength to climb either of them.  Hills are like mountains, but the hill was low and the path smooth and soft. 

Climbing the mountains would require hiking boots.  She hadn't worn shoes in years.  She didn't even know what size she wore anymore.  

She returned to her boat and the sea lion and the otter.  She rocked in the waves.  She stared at her pruny toes.  She thought about how wonderful it had been to stand on the top of the hill.  

Perhaps I should go talk to the people on each island, and see if anyone can tell me where to get shoes, she thought.  

To be continued.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A story

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived on a mountain.

She adored her mountain.  She sang with the chickadees, and climbed trees with the squirrels, and made snow angels in the winter.  She knew every rock, every trail, every grumpy bluejay.

She did not know that her beloved mountain, like many mountains, was a volcano.  One day, it began to rumble and shake, as volcanos often do.  Terrified, the girl from the mountain ran as quickly as she could towards the sea.  She had visited the seaside once, and she didn't remember it ever shaking.

For many years, the girl wandered around on the shore.  She dug holes, and built sandcastles, and splashed a bit in the water.  She never looked back towards her mountain.  Too dangerous, she thought.  This beach is safe and never shakes, she thought.  She learned the names of all the shorebirds.

One day, a dinghy appeared on the shore.  Anchored just offshore was a small sailing ship.  The girl was intrigued.  She'd always wondered what life was like at sea.  She clambered into the dinghy, rowed through the waves, and climbed aboard.  How exciting!  A life at sea!

The girl sailed for several years.  She learned to swab the decks and furl the sails.  She sailed through storms.  Oh, how the ship pitched and rolled in those stormy seas!  It was as bad as the shaking mountain!

She yearned for stability.  She was tired of the rolling.

One day, in the distance, she spied an island.  Yes, this is the thing, she thought.  An island!  Islands are not ships or mountains.  Islands do not shake and roll.  This was exactly what she was looking for.

The girl rowed her dinghy away from the ship and dragged it ashore on the island.  It was small, and not very exciting, but it wasn't moving.  Her ship, unmoored and unanchored, drifted away.

One morning, three weeks after coming ashore, the island sank.  It was not an island, in fact, but a whale that had been taking a nap in the sun.  Panicked, the girl clung to her dinghy.  Land was nowhere in sight.

For days and weeks and months, she pulled at her oars, sometimes making progress but mostly going in circles.  She watched the sun rise and fall.  She learned about all the sea birds and the names of the constellations.  She swabbed what little deck she had.  She sang at the porpoises.  Sometimes they sang back.  Her fingers and toes stayed perpetually pruny from the constant salty dampness.

After a few years, the oars rotted away.  Seaweed and barnacles grew on the bottom of the dinghy.  The ocean pitched and roiled.  The girl learned to stay low in the boat so that it wouldn't overturn.

She forgot what it was like to be dry.  She forgot how to walk.  She forgot what stillness was.

She was joined in the dinghy by a one-eyed sea lion.  It kept her warm and gave her someone to talk to, even though it never talked back.  It snored when it slept, but it was good company.  The girl and the sea lion loved each other.

A few years later, a slippery otter came aboard.  It was quick and silly and kept the sea lion company when the girl didn't feel like talking.  The otter loved the girl and the sea lion.  It also loved fish.  The dinghy was crowded, but less boring.

The sun rose and set.  The ocean pitched and rolled.  The girl and the sea lion and the otter drifted in the dinghy.

And then, one day, as she was staring out at the water (as she often did), the girl noticed a bottle.

A bottle?  Floating way out here?  She hadn't seen a bottle in years.  Decades, maybe.  She scooped it from the sea and uncorked it.

Inside the bottle was a photograph of a mountain.

To be continued.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It hurts enough now

I finally made an appointment with an allergist.  I am afraid.

I am afraid of what he will tell me.

I am afraid that it's going to be dogs and cats and rats and rabbits and mold and dust and pollen and the six things I can be bothered to eat.

I am afraid that my only recourse will be to not be around those things.

I can get rid of the wretched carpet and probably encase my bed in one of those dust-mite bags, but I sleep with a dirty Swiffer that I call Trixie.  I don't know how I'd get her out of my bedroom without utterly destroying her emotionally.  She already has a hard time during the 8 hours a day I'm at work. She is physically in contact with me most of the time I am home.  She's clingy.

Zip is less filthy, but still filthy.  Fortunately, he is only on me for an hour or so a day.

My entire workplace is an allergen.

Maybe I can get the shots?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I'm a pretty hardcore skin picker.

My skin is not terrible.  It was once, and I took Accutane to deal with it, but now my skin issues are mostly in my head.  Intellectually, I know that the slight darkness of a pore is just a sebaceous filament, and that they belong there, and that going after them with fingernails and implements will only make a hole in my face....

The satisfaction of seeing that little seed thingy pop out of the pore is REALLY soothing.  Even though it makes me bleed and scab and scar.  I'm sure there's some deep psychological reason I find that pleasant.

I finally hid my blackhead extractor in a drawer far from my bathroom.  I didn't throw it away, because sometimes that's the only way to get a furious zit that's in a funny spot, but I now have to walk to another room to retrieve it.  I have to acknowledge that yes, I am about to do damage to myself to unearth something nobody else can see, much less care about.

I haven't dug at my skin for three days.

I wonder how long it takes for all the wounds to heal?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Midsummer Nights and dreaming

In order to pass my lighting class, I have to work a certain number of lab hours doing lighting related things.  My instructor is also the lighting director for the first faculty-directed show this season, so I've been racking up my hours hanging lights and running the light board for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

For those of you who have never done theatrical stuff, running a light board is not very exciting.  It consists of sitting in front of a large panel with many buttons and switches, one of which is labeled GO.  You peer down on the stage from the booth, in the company of the sound guy and the stage manager, who is wearing a headset and peering at the script.  When the stage manager says "lighting cue XYZ, standby," you hover your finger over the GO button.  When she says "lighting cue XYZ, go," you hit the button.  That's about it.  I push that button like a champion.

In order to stay awake, I pay attention to the show.  I've always liked this particular play, and know a lot of it off the top of my head because it was the focus of a theater class I took when I was 11 or so (let's not talk about how it's an incredibly filthy play and not for children).  This particular production is set in the Wild West, which is sort of interesting.  "Duke" Theseus owns the local tavern, Lysander's got a sort of ranch-hand thing going on in contrast to city-boy Demetrius,  the Rude Mechanicals meet at the old mine to rehearse their crappy play, and the Fairies have a Native spirits sort of vibe- "Wakinyan" and "Ptesanwi" battle over the changeling boy while "Maca Coyote" enchants the Foolish Mortals and generally makes a mess of things.  

I'm all for making interesting changes to old standards.  Watching the show over and over, I started thinking..... if I was in charge, what weird tweaks might I personally find interesting?  Hmmm....

Short fat Hermia, tall skinny Helena.  Their height difference is canon, but they're usually both slender.  Two dudes fighting over the love of a short fat chick?  You don't see that very often on stage.  I'm not talking stocky, either.  I'm talking fat.  Beautiful.  Desirable.  Spherical.  Or fat Lysander.  Let's see something other than taut lovers.  It's getting boring.

Genderswap Oberon and Titania.  A fairy king who won't give up the baby?  A fairy queen casting spells to make her lover fall in love with a monster?  A fairy king fawning all over with a man who has a donkey's head?  The donkey-man being into it?  Go for it.  Might be interesting.  See what happens.

Genderswap Bottom.  Let a woman chew the scenery and ham it up.  Makes the interactions with Titania less routine, and gives Flute even more reason to complain about being cast as Thisbe.

Scary fairies.  No flitting, no floaty hands.  Sharp pointy teeth.  Claws.  Guttural noises.  When Bottom wakes up to find Titania groping him, he's not smitten.  He's afraid he'll get eaten if he doesn't go along with it.  Let's add a little darkness.  Puck's doing some deeply unsettling things anyway.

Non-white people.  Shakespeare can get a little.... monochromatic.  Let's get the full human spectrum in there.  Black Titania.  Latino Theseus.  Vietnamese Egeus and Hermia.  Pakistani Puck.  Cast a whole show without white people.  Why not?  

Play it as the unending dick joke that it is.  The whole thing is thinly veiled smut.  Shakespeare's audience might have understood the puns, but unless someone adds some nudge-nudge-wink-wink-say-no-more, the modern audience thinks it's just a sweet silly play about love and fairies.  

Let John Waters direct it.  You know you would have paid good money to see Divine play Titania.  Gone too soon, gone too soon.  RIP Divine.

What's your favorite Shakespeare play?  What's your favorite weird casting choice?  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dispatch from the Tunnel

Ai yai yai!  Between the madness of summer camp (late June-late August) and the madness of school program season (October-late June), there is a brief lull at work where I can take a moment and gaze in horror at the chaos around me.  Eye of the storm.

One of my jobs is to sort of keep track of 45 years of photos documenting all sorts of goings-on at work.  Trouble is, most of them are utterly unlabeled, and the people who were around in the beginning are rapidly aging.  So I've started yanking out boxes of photos and trying to put them into some sort of chronological order, at least.  Mind you, this is only actual physical photos.  I do not have the digital photo library, which might be scarier.  Once I write dates and names on the back of the photos, it's pretty much done.  It's not going to glitch.

I also signed up for the stage lighting class at the local community college, as it was on Thursday afternoons and I figured I can sneak away from work for a few hours once a week.  Of course, there are "lab hours" that I have to do outside class time, and they they tend to be (you guessed it) during regular business hours.  I'm getting creative with my scheduling.  I'm enjoying it, though.  I look forward to Thursday afternoons, and not just because the drama lab is air conditioned.

Bunnyman died suddenly in August.  No warning.  Just came in to the rabbitat on a Monday morning and he was dead.  Geraldine is very lonely and very eager to hang out.  Coworker SW (whose programs are the reason we got all these mammals in the first place) is going off to get us new young rabbits.  Part of me is glad for Geraldine to maybe have company, and the other part of me is not looking forward to having to care for two new creatures who I will undoubtedly grow attached to.  I'm also back to feeding the reptiles and amphibians and invertebrates on Fridays, since Coworker SW is now only working 4 days a week.  I am grimly accepting my fate.  There are worse people to carry this burden.

Speaking of burdens.  Coworker HM plucked a stray tomcat out of a tree at work, and he is now living in my house.  I'm calling him Charlie.  Charlie's not fond of Trix or Zip, but is slowly growing to accept that the price of a perpetually-full food dish is being an indoor cat with no testicles and furry weird roommates.  Charlie's a pretty nice dude, and has mellowed out since having been neutered on Saturday.  The yowling has decreased, anyway.

My car window has managed to die, and the window is now stuck in the down position.  I have one day off this week, and it looks like I get to spend it having that fixed.  Irritating.  I hope this is not symptoms of my car trying to die- it's a 2008, but I only have 50K miles on it!  Nooooooo, little green Toaster, you cannot get sick!

I'm getting some sort of repetitive stress thing in my arm from smartphones and trackpads and labeling photos and embroidering and 900 other small unnatural motions I make every day.  I think I just need a month off to do nothing but sleep.  No communication, no fine motor skills.... yes, vacation sounds good.  Maybe I can have a vacation in 2016.  I'm not optimistic (what else is new?).