Sunday, July 26, 2009

Borrowed Homework #1

My friend, Lisa, has been kind enough to share assignments from her online fictional writing course with me. Assignment #1 guidelines posted below, followed by my three submissions. :)

Think of something you would never do. For example: dive off a cliff, cheat on a partner, steal from a department store, etc. Then write a passage about a character similar to yourself who does do that thing you would never do. Reach for that person who is like you, but not exactly you. Keep it short, preferably under 500 words.

#1 - Downtown

Ohhhh... I'm staring at the light again. And I love it, in a weird, slightly masochistic, sense-retarding way. Just for a couple minutes, so that lingering retinal-burn orb creeps across most of my vision like some kind of reverse tunnel vision. Now I walk down the hall.
Keep your hands to your sides, I tell myself. Grasping for doorways is likely to draw attention.
In the kitchen.
The refrigerator is stocked with butter balls in big tubs, half and half creamer cartons, and juices in cans and bottles: orange, apple, cranberry, grapefruit. All the way in the back is my orange juice. Nobody notices it in the back. My own special blend.
And I only need a sip!
A sip will send you reeling. A sip will shove the back of your brain into the front of your skull, and don't try it too far from the kitchen sink, either. I've turned my stomach practically inside-out with too large of a gulp.


Squeeze your fists. Squeeze your fists. Purse those lips shut and clench those teeth. The wall will hold your back.
Now slide down.
You're sinking
Your ship is sinking
Touch down on the sea floor.
Grounded like so many behemoths of the past, waiting to be discovered. I am the Nuestra Senora del Populo and my hull stinks of dead rodents and foul concoctions: tart juices and stale, bitter almonds. You can never tell how long you'll be submerged, but this time the slap of rubber echoes through the ocean current and music is playing an old refrain:

'...Downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown, waiting for you tonight
Downtown, you're gonna be alright now...'

And here I am, sitting alone in this aluminum box. I know I'm not moving but I'm pretty sure I'm getting shipped somewhere. Beat all you want on the walls with your sleeping pad, it doesn't make a sound.
But he forgot about my watch!
Scrape at my reflection--
--Crashing through my fingers out my ears, boiling my eyeballs like a burst of lightning straight to the brain!

So I sing that beautiful song in my head. I sing it out loud, so loud that it doesn't sound like music anymore and I'm shouting at the top of my lungs:

'...So go downtown! Things'll be great when you're
Downtown! Don't wait a minute for
Downtown! Everything's waiting for you!
Downtown! Downtown! Downtown! DOWNTOWN!...'

#2 - Decaf

Fuck caffeine, fuck creamer, and fuck artificial sweeteners, Sugar In The Raw, and doses of Bailey's Irish Cream. And fuck Starbucks too.

The words are such a mantra to Charity Carlisle's being, it's a surprise they're not tattooed somewhere on his body. Who knows, maybe they are. Charity Carlisle is like that, or at least he might be. And Charity Carlisle is all about the decaf. Straight up, no additions, fresh from the spout of the Mobil gas station dispenser, topping off that god-knows-how-old Nalgene bottle with a smug grin and a small pin affixed to the white collar of his Neiman Marcus dress shirt. In small, block print, the pin reads 'Free Trade My Ass, I Get My Coffee Where I Get My GAS!', a Charity Carlisle Original.

But today, Charity's trying something new. Charity's got his own special blend he's been laboring over in spot number three of his three-car garage-turned grow room. Used grounds from the dumpster behind the Mobil station make the perfect five to one ratio of mixed soil for his budding coffee bean garden. Why else would they be called 'grounds'!? And once this crop is harvested, Charity's gonna capitalize, capitalize, capitalize! The Mobil gets busy as all hell in the summer and leaving packets stashed around the aisles is his foot in the door. Pretty soon the manager will be knockin' on Charity's door, just begging for a Charity Bulk Coffee Account, unbeknownst that the key ingredient is sitting in heaps behind the station.

Napoleon said that in a revolution, there are only two sorts of men, those who cause them and those who profit by them. But Charity's pretty sure Napoleon never met Charity Carlisle. Yeah, he's pretty sure he'd remember him.

#3 - Knitwit

The World Championship Speed Knitting Competition is tomorrow, but today, in the steely grip of my easy chair, is when the real battle is fought and won. Any speed knitter will tell you that the day before a competition is all about mastering technique to transform a muddled mess of yarn and sticks into a fluid motion, pumping out scarves and socks, tea cozies and blankets. The needles become dancers in a tango of maddening tempo, their fancy footwork leaving by-products of warm winter sweaters and glove-mitten hybrids emblazoned with argyle patterns.

Know your enemies to defeat them. Meet the contenders:

Betty Rosenfield, a.k.a. The Spider
5 foot 4, 68 years old, her fingerwork is so nimble and smooth that they liken her to a spider spinning her web. That's partly how she got her nickname. And she doesn't slow down, so if you can't keep up, you're just another fly on the wall and now she's got you. Her signature piece: the reversible fly-fisherman's sweater vest.

Karen Crosby, a.k.a. The Human Loom
At a staggering 6 foot 11, 51 years old, Karen Crosby knits so fast that she's been drug-tested three times in a single competition. She pumps out patterns of pixies and ponies so prolifically that she earned her namesake, The Human Loom, after her first national competition. Her signature piece: the pocketed, quintuplet baby shawl.

Cybil Yeo, a.k.a. Mad Cackler
4 foot 9 and 83 years old, Cybil is the oldest competitor but those extra years of experience are why she holds a five year winning streak when she puts her knitting sticks together. Her speed ebbs and flows as she maneuvers through intricate designs and weaves foot after foot of feat after feat. What may look like a mess of random swatches will transform in minutes into a zoo of knit work, each piece punctuated by a shrieking cackle of laughter upon completion. Nobody knows exactly why she does it, but it never fails to send shivers through opponents' needles. Her signature piece: knitted stuffed animals on a knitted stuffed train.

As you can see, the pressure is on today. But ol' Maddie McFee's got a trick up her sleeve this go around. See, The Spider keeps the pace, but she's not the fastest of the pack and The Human Loom might be fast, but every competition her designs are a little sloppy, and when you're vying for World Champion, that counts too. The Mad Cackler eeks them out with good, speedy knitting, and avante garde pieces that push the envelope of where knitting is headed into the 21st century. But there's a reason they call me 'The Rabid Moose', and maybe it's that I'm unpredictable and drop spittle as I feverishly hammer out my knittings, but this year they'll start calling me The Rapid Moose. I've been prepping eleven months straight and I'm fast and I'm technical and nobody's gonna expect my creation: the far-too-tightly-knit competitor cozy.

Thanks, Lisa!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Happenings and Beyond

A lot has happened since my last blog post (par for the course, these days), which if you don't count random video clips, includes hiking a valley,

building a suspended, wooden platform, biking a 24 mile trail,

losing a suspended, wooden platform to vandals, hiking a backyard mountain,

hiking another backyard mountain,

moving into a pre-existing house in the woods,

backpacking another backyard trail for three days,

and squatting in a tent outside a shed-turned-cabin.

Forest Fair, treasure maps in progress, and dog-sitting at various houses throughout Girdwood also fit the bill of 'Ye Olde Summer Events'.

Oh yeah, and the heading picture for this post is from the Waikiki Beach Camp-out 2009 in Cooper Landing!

Not that I'm trying to pass buck or anything, but there are a plethora of photos covering these events on my facebook page, or you can visit the individual photo albums without a facebook account by clicking these links:

Upper Winner Creek Hike
Biking Johnson Pass
Hiking Max's Mountain
Hiking Crow Pass, Part 1
Hiking Crow Pass, Part 2 (backpacking trip)
Hiking Crow Pass, Part 2 (10 minute backpacking video)

And for those of you who've been following these events via facebook and questioning whether this post is just a rehash of previous events and not worth reading, you'll be glad to know that getting this far in the post warrants a prize and a warning all wrapped up into one tasty tamale-of-a-heads-up:

Krikkit anyone?

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." ~Lao Tzu

I'm collecting quotes for a project I'll be working on over the next few weeks. Quotes I'm looking for should be on the subject of nature, solitude, and treasure hunts. If anyone feels compelled to add to my compilation, please note the quote and who uttered the words of wisdom. I've got a healthy 15-20 right now, but I'm welcoming more as space allows.

"Look closely at Central America, and try to imagine what would happen if this vital region were to fall into Communist hands. What would happen is a lot of Communists would be stung repeatedly by vivious(sic) tropical insects the size of mature hamsters." ~Dave Berry

Planning continues for a vacation in the heart of America, and by that I mean Central America. The current itinerary is as follows:

October 29th -> Fly from Anchorage to Seattle to visit Emily, Toby, Tiny Toby, Michelle, and Michael.
November 3rd -> Fly from Seattle to Cancun to begin the journey from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico into Guatemala (and beyond?).
Tentatively, January 15th -> Fly from Cancun to Anchorage to embrace the Alaskan winter once more and collect money as work allows until the next summer. Possibly considering Cancun -> Medford, Oregon in lieu of Anchorage.

This all depends on how much money I can collect in the next couple months. :)

As always, apologies abound for the delay between posts and thank you for reading.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Indoor Waterfall

Here's a waterfall for all you inside at your computers. Cheers! :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Girdwood is a Rainforest

Girdwood is a rainforest with bears and lots of mud.
So, we are building a suspended wooden platform to keep us out of the muck! I've thrown this mini-movie together for a brief look at what we're up to out there. :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A snippet from Seattle

Here's a short video or "mini movie" of my sisters, Michelle and Niki, playing cards in Seattle. A good friend of mine, Paul W., has been posting mini movies to the web and I love the idea and plan to contribute my own bits as well. Cheers! :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bad Poetry

A morning breakfast, eat.
Cup of coffee, remind me:
Gone are the nights of Thai food gas
And a million sensations
of beer-soaked imaginations
Flying cards and towers of glass
Camraderie between relations
Man the stations, our creations
Frozen images show us patience
A river has divided then and now

Now there's a mirror and a comb
A million tiny hairs returning home
And thick, grey clouds on the fly
an ocean-blown breeze across a clear blue sky.
Ducks on water and boats on glass
Tadpoles swam just beyond our grasp.
Here's a Singer sewer and Tom Waits
and two days from our departure gates.

And books
so many books
a piano
a gazebo
bad poetry and
a speeding clock

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Visiting Seattle

I'm in Seattle. It is raining.

Niki and I are currently in Seattle to visit our littlest sister, Michelle, and her boyfriend Michael. I'm also here to check out the city and get some first impressions. And I'm also here to visit Bellingham and produce pictures of it for Emily and Toby, who will be moving there within a month's time.
I've been taking pictures and there will be more comprehensive Seattle posts soon to come (or maybe just one post with a bunch of pictures) but for now, it's an hour after midnight and I've been spending a lot of time walking around the downtown area. Good night.
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