Friday, March 30, 2007

Emerging from Obscurity

Go Quakes

No Flickr Fiction today (probably Monday) but a quick post with a few things I've been meaning to put up for days. I got behind, unfortunately, due to being sick AGAIN--third time in the past two months. Or it could be a relapse of the sinus thing I had earlier; hard to say.

Earthquakes cheering section

Anyway, no sooner was I able to move about than I was out all day Wednesday at a Mexico vs. Ecuador soccer game (click link for more pics). Notable quote of the game: "No tire la cerveza!!" i.e., "Dude, don't fling beer!!" (Said by the guy behind us as our friend Carlos got overexcited and flung droplets of Corona over a three-row radius.) Then I spent most of yesterday and today cleaning the house because my mom and stepdad are going to be staying with us this weekend. My mom is allergic to cats, so...extra cleaning is required.

This was punctuated by a brief lull on Thursday, during which I finished and posted a new cartoon on our writing blog.

One other thing I've been meaning to post: Remember back when I was complaining about how I couldn't find an RSS feed aggregator that would gather updated posts from all the blogs I wanted to read and send them to me in a daily digest? Well, I FOUND a service that does that, and so far it's everything I hoped for. It's called Blogarithm, and it sends a daily e-mail digest with the first couple of lines of each updated post and a link to the full posting. The e-mail is nice and clean-looking, you can sort your feeds into categories that appear in the e-mail, and you can even use it as a blogroll (though I'm not that fancy). I'm so happy! Yay. That's why I've been better at commenting on people's blogs the past couple of weeks, incidentally. I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Flickr Fiction: Tunnel Vision

"Okay," Ian called from behind the peeling paint of the old wooden door. "It's ready."

I opened the door and walked into a tunnel, a structure of dried yellow bamboo stalks and corn husks threaded together with fine cotton fibers like spiderwebs. I closed the door behind me. It was dim inside; the sunlight that streamed through the windows I knew were somewhere out there filtered ethereally through the lacework of layers. The floor and rounded walls were speckled with dots and narrow streamers of light. When I walked forward tentatively, more cornhusks rustled underneath my sandals and poked my toes.

"You made this?" I asked Ian. His voice came back somewhat muffled; all I could tell was he was standing somewhere ahead and to my right.

"Took me five months," he said, a barely perceptible note of pride in his voice.

"So this is where you've been hiding." I kept walking, slowly; turned a corner. The sun bored its way in a little more brightly here, and it was almost as if I could feel it like little warm spots freckling the skin of my face and arms.

"Not hiding. Working." The pride gave way to tension, and I could imagine him standing there with his arms crossed, his hands rubbing up and down his biceps. "This show could lead to a major commission. Some City Council bigwigs are going to be at the opening."

"And your father?" I asked softly.

The pause was almost excruciatingly long, and all I could hear was the shuffling of my feet through the cornhusks. I walked a little faster. Dangling fibers snagged against my hair, feeling like gentle fingers. The skin of my scalp crawled. After another turn in the opposite direction I walked through a curtain of cornsilk and emerged into the almost painful brightness of the room. I let out a breath; relief, or frustration, I wasn't sure. Ian was standing in front of the window, staring out with a blank expression. For a minute I was afraid that he was going into one of his moods, that I wouldn't be able to reach him and I would have to leave again not knowing how to fix things.

He turned around, looked right at me and smiled brightly. The glare of the sun didn't let me see his eyes.

"Champagne," he said. "They're shelling out for champagne. Can you believe it?"

***

This week's piece was inspired by Corn by Flickr user tomdebiec. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, Valsha, and Mari.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

aquafunkatron

Swear to God, that was the subject line of a spam e-mail message I got yesterday. So I've decided I am now officially "aquafunkatron."

Anyway, I'm sort of freaked out--but excited--by the fact that my 30th birthday is on Saturday. I've officially disturbed three people this month by being much older than they thought I was, which means there shall be much amusement in the future when I actually turn 30. Even a girl bagging my groceries at the store--a girl who said she was 16 years old--said she thought I was more like 18. I guess that means I have teen street cred. Not a bad thing if I'm writing young adult novels. Not a great thing if I'm trying to buy booze.

However, I did feel every single bit of my age (and, in fact, am still feeling it) after Rob's and my first night of the indoor soccer class we decided to take at the J.C. I'm quite proud of myself for A) not completely sucking, and B) managing to play a full 90-minute game of soccer and not having to lie down on the floor and die. I even made a couple of killer blocks. One of them involved the ball being kicked directly at my thigh, which resulted in me having a nice red mark with clearly defined soccer-ball seams for about the next day. No major bruise, though, amazingly enough. I tried to take a picture of the symmetrical tripartite red mark, but it didn't come out--sorry. No photographic evidence.

The problem, though, with running around a gym with a bunch of 20-year-olds for 90 minutes is that, if you're 30 (or 31, in Rob's case), and you're not actually a soccer player per se (and in my case, haven't played soccer in any formal setting since about junior high), you WILL feel it in the morning. And the entire next day. And the day after that, apparently, as well, since I'm still having bizarre aches in muscles I never knew existed and which I don't have the slightest idea how to stretch. Which means...more Aspercreme. And perhaps a trip to the gym tomorrow just to soak in the hot tub. I should recover by the time next Tuesday rolls around... By then I'll be ready to buy a cane and some reading glasses, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cartoon Alert

While I have not been doing a lot of blogging here on aquafortis, I have started to get caught up on some blogging I was behind on for Finding Wonderland, the YA writing blog I contribute to. I had an interesting experience at a conference I went to a couple of weeks ago, which I'm too lazy to retype here but you can read about it on this post--basically, I took a gamble that if I submitted a chapter for critique (which you can sometimes do at writing conferences for an additional fee), it would be "good enough" to be chosen as part of the select group of 10 or 15 that would be looked at by one of the editors or agents speaking at the conference. And guess what--I won my gamble. It was everything I'd hoped, except for the pipe-dream part where the editor kneels and humbly asks me if they can publish my novel.

Another thing I've been doing, again associated with Finding Wonderland, is drawing cartoons again. Some of you might remember when I drew cartoons for the Berkeley campus humor magazine. Well, I stopped drawing cartoons for a while because I'm just not the joke-a-day kind of person (despite all the IGN columns), and because I'm really not a great cartoonist, despite being able to draw realistically. But I decided that our writing blog needed some more humor, and after reading this piece on how to become a B-list blogger, I thought to myself, our blog needs cartoons! So I started Toon Thursday. Check out the first and second ones here, complete with computer-added color in subtle shades of neutral. Yay!

I've also been stressing about not having enough time to redesign Rob's and my website. You can see the new idea I'm playing around with there, but I'm not sold on it yet. I want something cleaner and easier to navigate, and I sorely need to update my art samples. Plus I'm experimenting with Adobe GoLive, which is kind of fun. Aside from that, two of my friends are getting married this spring/summer, one in May and one in June. I'll be doing calligraphy and some other stuff (including sewing--yikes), so that's keeping me busy, too. And of course I really want to revise my YA novel now, but I'm good at finding ways of not actually sitting down to revise. As Cajun Man might put it--procrastinaSHON.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Flickr Fiction: Anachronism

Williams decided he hated Australia. There had been nothing but hours upon hours of the sun climbing into the sky and the sweat falling into their eyes, soaking past hats and sweatbands; hours of lugging packs and, once they reached the site, setting up tents and marking off the area with rope and pulling out tools. Trowels, chisels, tiny picks, brushes.

The small pickup with the equipment was already there when they arrived. Anthony was sitting in the cab with the door open, legs hanging out, chugging from a water bottle and grinning that annoying, eager-beaver grad student grin of his. Karina looked asleep, leaned back in the driver's seat. Williams didn't blame her. The heat was like a blanket, soporific and heavy.

It was like working under a blanket, too. Except for the occasional buzzing of flies and the faraway tink-tink of their tools carefully chipping away at the layers of packed dirt, it was quiet. Nobody seemed to want to talk. There was something about this place; a feeling of ancientness, of dead things under the earth.

The sun was dipping down toward the horizon when Anthony let out a whoop. Williams looked up; Anthony was carefully prising something out of his area of the dig. Probably nothing; probably an animal bone or, if they were extra unlucky, a rock. He looked back down at his own square of the grid. Dirt, pebbles, and what might be a human tooth but would need further examination.

Suddenly Anthony gave a strange sort of grunt. "Take a look at this," he said, faintly, his voice rough. Williams eased himself, somewhat painfully, out of the cramped squat he'd been in for the past half-hour or so and picked his way carefully to where Anthony was working. Karina had already gotten there; Mason and Bell didn't bother.

"See?" Anthony gave Williams a sort of shell-shocked look, and Williams got a creepy feeling in his gut.

Williams picked it up. "Definitely looks Neolithic period, if I'm not mistaken. Look at the wear on the teeth. Not bad for your first dig," he told Anthony grudgingly.

"Okay, but look," Anthony persisted. Williams turned the skull around in his hands, the rough, worn bone shedding grains of dirt that were thousands upon thousands of years old. And...there was something else.

"It looks like a bullet," Karina blurted out.

"More like a musket ball." Anthony scratched at the sunburn on his neck.

"I can see that," Williams said, irritably, the strange feeling in his innards growing more intense by the second. "But this guy lived about 20,000 years too early."

***

This week's piece was inspired by The Gallipoli Campaign by Flickr user paşanın yeri. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, Valsha, and Mari.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Post Exertion Exhaustion Disorder

Hee hee. That has a funny acronym. I have a little writing-related news to report, but other than that, I've just been really busy and feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the amount of work I've failed to say no to (same old story...). Even sleep is apparently not safe--the other night I dreamed I was graining a lithography stone with a levigator (not as big a stone as in the picture, thank god), which I haven't done since taking a litho class at the Art Institute from a horrid old geezer who is finally listed as emeritus faculty. He has the dubious honor of being the only professor from whom I have actually un-learned information. Seriously.

Anyway, dreaming about graining a stone is not a lot of fun. In the dream I was working as a sort of apprentice or student to an Asian man who was the master printer and didn't speak any English. In real life, graining a stone takes a couple of hours at least, and that part of the dream lasted a little while. Then I had shoulder and neck aches the next day, which is unsurprising, I guess.

Don't get me wrong, I really like the look of stone lithography. You can get beautiful pencil-like or wash-like effects. But I'll take etching any day. A copper plate weighs WAY less, requires a lot less polishing, and does not involve finicky chemical processes about which irrational, semi-proven superstitions abound.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Flickr Fiction: The Meaning of Dreams

A tree whose roots reach down, down; far underground until they open into a cavern, open into branches again, and twigs, and leaves. And the branches descend into the floor of the cavern, and go farther down, but I don't know where.

And there are more of these trees. A dozen, an underground copse. A forest full.

I walk through. To my left, a wood grows downward; to my right, another. It disturbs me that I don't know how far it goes.

"You don't think it means anything, do you?" he says, and chuckles warmly, taking another measured sip of his martini.

I throw my head back and laugh. I like to think my laugh sparkles, shimmers into the hazy darkness. But I know the truth. It shatters into a million pieces and disappears.

And again, the next night. I'm walking in the wood that grows the wrong way. It descends with such lightness, yet it is so solid. Each branch is a slender trunk, each twig a rod as strong as steel. I run my fingers gently along the wood, stretching my arms out to either side.

I should probably talk about this with someone. Not with him, but a licensed professional. Someone with authority to interpret, to diagnose, to judge, to believe. What he does is assume. What he does is drink, and laugh, and look through me.

I've never walked so far before. The trees reach downward all around me. Soon I can no longer see the path. It is as though I have always been here, a part of this place, a place that stretches on forever.

Then suddenly the endless sameness is broken. It stands in a clearing—the tree. A tree that is more than a tree. Things…grow out of it, and into it. I walk closer, touch the leather of an ancient tome, the brittle gossamer of a pair of dragonfly wings. And I know that this is where I was meant to come.

***

This week's piece was inspired by Booktree by Flickr user Ulle.b. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, and Valsha. And maybe Dermot and Mari--URLs to come one day soon.