Kinda wish I was back there right now...Sigh. Click here for more pictures--most are public except for a few with people in them. If you want to be part of my contacts list and see the "friends & family" pictures, send me an e-mail...
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
The crust of frozen dirt crunched underneath my boots as I shone my flashlight around in the twilight. This whole area had a layer of liquid nitrogen that extended three feet above the surface of the planet; Sergeant Kaplan called it Lake Inferior. I still had a healthy respect for it. If I didn't, I might not make it back to base camp before the mini-generator in my backpack gave out. Then my EM field suit would slowly begin to break down; the liquid nitrogen molecules would chip away at the mylar, then the insulation, then my Planetoid Exploratory Detail uniform I'd worked so damn hard to get...then, cell by cell, my skin would freeze and flake off.
I did not intend for that to happen. These were expensive boots.
"Martinez," crackled Kaplan's voice in my headset, echoing around the inside of the helmet. I still wasn't used to that, despite the year at basic training. "Report."
"Yup. 50 meters more on lakebed and closing. Estimated arrival time 1308 hours."
"Roger that. Radio base when you reach the edge of Lake Inferior. Repeat, radio when you have successfully left the surface of the lake."
"Yes, sir. Martinez out." This was my first assignment, at Base Lethe on planetoid Tango-15, known informally as Tang HQ. Fifteenth orbiting body in the Tango ring of flying objects. The rings of space junk started just after the last orbiting planet of our solar system, Neptune. First comes that poor rejected stepchild, Pluto, and then a whole series of irregular orbits that have gathered all manner of debris, from NASA garbage that they attempted to launch outside the solar system a hundred years ago to asteroids made of ice or silicon or unknown compounds.
'Course I didn't really expect to be here, out in the frozen, brittle waste of Tango-15. If I hadn't told my parents to screw off when I was fifteen, or if I'd managed to get into that robotics program instead of dicking around at clubs and getting a little too involved in the G scene, selling glitter for a big underground drug-running network...then maybe my life would be different.
Instead, the feds picked me up and tried to get me to spill what I knew about the big boys who were supplying me with G. I didn't know much; all I knew was I needed the money and this gen-mod club dancer named Shine was my hookup. The feds beat me up a little, did the good-cop-bad-cop thing, but I'd been street-smart for four years by then. Unfortunately, I wasn't a minor any more, so once they'd finished with me I was sentenced to five years in the American Defense Force--army boot camp for petty thugs. You got all the shit assignments, all the dangerous work that the government didn't want to risk their "real" soldiers on. The streets were littered with old, ex-ADF vets missing limbs or eyes--cutting-edge medical treatment wasn't a priority for us.
I could see the edge of the lakebed about ten yards ahead. The lights of Tang HQ shone dimly up the bank from there, diffused by the chemical fog generated by Lake Inferior reacting with the atmosphere. And then I felt something, heard a crunch in my boot that wasn't the icy dirt crust underfoot. I looked down.
A two-inch-long piece of the sole was hanging off the side of my right boot. I touched it gingerly with a gloved fingertip. It crumbled to the ground, shattered.
This week's piece was inspired by Northern Solitude by Flickr user NorthLight. Another sci-fi foray. I've been watching too many Star Trek and Futurama re-runs. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, and Valsha. And maybe Dermot.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Just a quick hello from Hawaii's Big Island, sitting here typing on our laptop out on our friends' lanai (patio, veranda), wearing shorts and a tank top in February and listening to a loud tropical bird...I just stood up momentarily and caught a nice glimpse of the ocean off the Kona coast, though there are a few clouds and a little fog (or possibly vog). Also, it's been a little chilly at night. But Friday evening was amazing. We spent the late afternoon at Hapuna beach, about half an hour north of Kailua-Kona, splashing in the water, drinking many beers, keeping our friends' two-year-old son Zach from getting dashed against lava rock by waves, watching the sun set, and seeing whales spout and jump offshore. Ahhhh.
Our friends' son is hilarious. He is very chatty and is good at repeating what you tell him to say, but certain sounds are still difficult for him. This means that if he sees a dumptruck, he will point and say "dumbfuck." A motorcycle is "momofucka." For a while, milk was "milf." He also copies his dad when he says "damn turkeys" (there are wild turkeys in their neighborhood that come into the yard in the morning and eat the passionfruit that falls off their tree). So somebody (probably Uncle Jake, their roommate) figured out that it was quite amusing if you tell Zach to say "motorcycle turkeys."
Anyway, tomorrow we're thinking of either going down to the Volcano national park to hike around, or perhaps taking a boat ride along the coast, if such a thing is possible. The surf is apparently too rough for snorkeling this time of year...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Your eyes do not deceive you... there has indeed been a Jess sighting. Fresh from Mexico via airship to play drums for perhaps the very last time as a member of Jackscrew, "Lorth Samuellson" was briefly seen in San Francisco consuming pork chops.
There are other pictures of the three of our faces where my chin is not missing. However, I didn't post them because not only is my chin not missing, it looks like I have three of them. Seriously. Anyway, we met up with Jess yesterday, had lunch in the Haight at a place called (I swear) The Pork Store, which was much better and less meaty than it sounds, and helped him shop for various items which can't be obtained in the wilds of Mexico, like bluegrass accordion music.
Tomorrow we leave for Hawaii for six days, which will be awesome. There will be minimal working and maximal relaxing. I will take pictures and post them online (someday). Aloha!
Monday, February 12, 2007
All I can say is, first I got sick. Then I was drowning in work, catching up on everything I was behind on due to being sick. Then I got sick again, this time for over a week, with a sinus infection. You can guess what happened next. I'm barely keeping my head above the waves of ridiculous amounts of large and small tasks that seem to come from an interminable, self-renewing list. I don't understand how I get in these situations. Partly, I have "can't say no" disease. Another part is probably lazy procrastination. I'm sure it's also partly due to my inability to fully ditch low-priority items. That is, I refuse to give up on, say, washing the car, though it's been months and plainly it's not going to happen any time soon.
Anyway, I'm now just about recovered (though I'm still getting sinus pressure on one side, unless it's a brain tumor) and I'm trying to get a bunch of work done before we leave for Hawaii on Thursday. Yes, we're finally taking a REAL vacation, one involving lots of loafing, lying around on the beach, drinking beer, and so forth. We're staying with friends in Kailua-Kona for six days--six days of doing absolutely nothing. Ahhhh....
P.S. If you're in the San Francisco area and are looking for something to do tomorrow night, why not go to the Bottom of the Hill and check out Jackscrew? Our friend & former roommate, "Lorth Samuellson" (not his real name), is back in town for ONE NIGHT ONLY as the drummer. I'm not sure if we'll make it to the show, but we're planning to meet up with him during the day in SF. (See how my schedule rapidly fills with random items?) I got a most amusing phone message from him today regarding payment of millions of dollars to publish my writing, so it's only fair that we meet up with him to discuss said millions...
Saturday, February 10, 2007
With a quiet, intimate, almost obscene squelching sound, Ray pulled out his glass eye. I flinched.
"Disgusting," I said, letting the word slip out of my mouth unthinkingly. "Sorry." I'd never seen anyone with a glass eye before. Not to my knowledge, at least. I'd seen people who were blind in one eye, with that strange, not-quite-looking-at-you gaze that was so disconcerting, their two eyes pointing in slightly different directions. That was unnatural enough. I found myself trying to look anywhere but at the empty eye socket, and couldn't look up until he'd put on a black eyepatch, pirate-like. I tried not to watch as he cleaned the glass eye in some kind of sterile solution, his fingers caressing the false iris, the pupil that was solid and would never open or close.
Ray put the now-pristine eye in a small rack like an egg tray, filled with about twelve other glass eyes of the same size but different colors: hazel, mud-brown, icicle-blue, an inhuman violet, cat-green; all with a strange, luminous tiger-eye shimmer. The pupils came in different sizes, from relatively normal to huge and startled-looking. I suppressed an involuntary shudder, then let it out in a full-blown shiver when I felt Ray's hand land lightly on the small of my back. I turned to face him; he left his hand in place.
"No, I'm sorry," he said, finally. "I felt comfortable—I thought it wouldn't be a problem." He raised his eyebrows, contrite; the effect was somewhat spoiled by the presence of the eyepatch.
I reached one hand up, shaking, and ran a finger around the edge of the patch, slowly, feeling the taut, shiny skin there; down his temple and jawline; then reached around to cup the back of his head.
This week's piece was inspired by this photo by Flickr user phantom kitty. I don't actually know what it sounds like when you pull out a glass eye, nor have I ever inspected a glass eye in extensive detail, but that's why it's called "creative writing, eh? Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, and Valsha.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
With our headlamps off, it was darker than I ever thought it would be. The psychological weight of knowing that massive tons of solid rock pressed around, above, and below us gave the damp air itself a feeling of density. There was an occasional but constant drip coming from somewhere behind the huge boulder we were leaning on: the slow but constant melting of the massive ice sheets thousands of feet above, trickling down through corridors of stone and adding molecule-thin sheets of calcified limestone to the ancient layers that had already accumulated.
The air was cold, and I shivered underneath my thin blanket. I could hear Jason a few feet away from me, breathing slowly and evenly, asleep. I was the only conscious human being in this cave, the first (well, the first of two) to ever experience this. I couldn't help thinking about documentaries I'd seen as a little girl, interactives I'd checked out on the library feed and downloaded to the viewer in my room. Were there still strange, blind, translucent cave spiders? Pale, eyeless insects that scuttled around us in the pitch dark? Was there still something below the surface of our earth that we hadn't yet destroyed?
The documentaries had said that the majority of those species had all but disappeared. But the documentaries had also claimed that all the major cave systems had been discovered and explored, opened to tourism like Carlsbad had so long ago. The bats of Bracken Cave had dwindled in numbers, thanks to the translucent hydraulic tubes that had been installed to allow visitors in and out on an almost daily basis. There weren't any bats here, down below the ice sheets.
But it was amazing, knowing that we were the first explorers here. In a way, we have human climatic interference to thank; if the ice sheets hadn't been melting, we would never have found the entrance. We would never have been able to claim that there were still places on earth as yet undiscovered, unexplored.
And Jason and I the first to explore it. Jason stirred, and we both got ready to go again, clipping on our ropes and harnesses and strapping on our packs. We both turned on our headlamps, and flashed the big lantern around the room one last time. Curtains of stalactites descended in huge ropy spikes; columns where stalactites and stalagmites met formed a colonnade as if we were in the palace of some underground king.
As we continued our slow journey into the unknown, into what might be the last untouched space on this planet, I half-expected to see some sluggish river, some skeletal ferryman waiting for us to cross, never again to turn back.
This week's piece was inspired by Valhalla Pit by Flickr user Magadelic Rock, who has a number of awesome pictures. I was a little spacey writing this. The medicine I'm taking for a sinus infection is making me feel...well, I can only describe it as "shroomy." I guess I was also subconsciously thinking about the IPCC report and how Americans are reportedly the "least concerned about climate change" of any country. Anyway. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, and Valsha.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Here is the promised image of the poster I designed for Prospect Theater Project's latest play. You'll have to excuse the hastily added logo in the lower right. When sponsorship calls--in this case a fully sponsored weekend--ya gotta do what ya gotta do. However, I really wish they'd sent me a graphics file instead of embedding the logo in a Word doc.
I'm posting this entry as a sort of reminder to myself that Rob and I really need to drive into Berkeley to see the exhibit of Fernando Botero work on the subject of Abu Ghraib, currently on display at the Doe Library (ah, so many memories of hours and hours studying in the then-newly-renovated stacks...). Anyway, according to an announcement from the Center for Latin American Studies,
these paintings have never been displayed in a public institution in the United States. The exhibit was "proposed to many museums in the U.S," according to the artist, but all declined to show it.
I'm kind of bummed that I'm just now finding out about this (thanks to other magazine's blog), because Monday night there was a conversation between the artist and Robert Hass, former U.S. poet laureate. I hope the promised webcast materializes. At least I have several weeks to check out the show. I find Botero's work to be fascinating--of the works of his that I've seen (in print, etc.), he seems to have an unholy obsession with fat people. (I personally like this one. Hee hee!)