evil clad in silk
the wolf in bloody sheepskin
this is my design
[ I had a nightmare about Hannibal Lecter (NBC’s version) and woke up in the middle of the night to write this haiku. I am so obsessed with Hannibal it’s not even funny. Ohmahgawd. ]
evil clad in silk
the wolf in bloody sheepskin
this is my design
[ I had a nightmare about Hannibal Lecter (NBC’s version) and woke up in the middle of the night to write this haiku. I am so obsessed with Hannibal it’s not even funny. Ohmahgawd. ]
We got the fairy tale wrong. It’s supposed to be Beauty and the Beast. See, Beauty is able to look past the Beast’s gruesome visage, even his frightening manor and actions, and to the goodness inside. Beauty’s love acts like a mirror to show him the man he can be, the prince locked safely inside the heart of a wild thing, and at the end of the tale the Beast is freed of his curse and they live happily ever after. But Tanim and I aren’t like that. We’re not Beauty and the Beast; we’re just two beasts of a different kind. I can see the goodness inside Tanim, beneath the fear and the doubt and the self-loathing, but I’m too tarnished to mirror it back to him. There might be something worthy inside me as well, a flicker of warmth within this cold barrier, but Tanim is too gentle to break the ice apart and set me free. We may be in love but we’re both enablers and so there’s little hope for a transformation from beast to man, monster to saint. Instead, we feed our beasts with excuses, platitudes, comforts. We tell them they are good. We tell them they are beautiful. In our eyes, they are.
We argue too much. “You’re not mad,” you say, and I know you’re not lying because the honesty in your eyes is painful to face. But I am mad, darling, so if you’re not lying then you must be blinded by stubbornness. Your denial is in itself a kind of madness, a compulsion, and I wonder if you’re merely fooling yourself to protect us both. Maybe you, my dear, my love, suffer a madness not so unlike my own, and to deny your own brokenness you must deny mine as well. Does madness love company as much as misery? Is that why we are forever drawn to one another? If so, then it is better to be mad together than alone, and better to be honest in our madness than driven to further depths by self-deceit. We are a simple case of folie à deux, beloved. A madness shared by two.
[ It’s probably not a good thing that watching NBC’s new show Hannibal gives me writing ideas, eh? But it’s so good. ]
readers sample grief
wade ankle deep in longing
hold love in their palm
only the writer succumbs
becomes the other in truth
“I was enjoying my usual immunity while working, my invisibility to Chilton and Graham and the staff, but I was not comfortable in the presence of Dr. Lecter, not sure at all that the doctor could not see me.”
– Thomas Harris, Forward to a Fatal Interview, Red Dragon
I guess there’s a theme in certain romance novels where a supposedly straight man doesn’t realize he’s a lover of men until someone comes into his life who stirs feelings he’s never experienced before. He’s unsure of it at first, maybe even outright denies the whole thing, but it’s a romance novel so you know everything works out in the end and they’re together forever. Lucky bastards.
Our story isn’t like that, though. I mean, the beginning is the same: I was married when Daren and I met, despite the fact that I’d never felt any real desire toward anyone, female or male. It was a marriage of convenience, of status, and I knew Catherine had no more love for me than I her; or, if she loved something, it was my last name and my connections. I tried to do right by her anyway, though, because all I wanted was to be the man my family and society asked me to be. My own happiness, or lack thereof, didn’t really figure in. It’s no wonder Daren’s mere friendship felt like the first spark of light in the years of dreariness that encompassed my life.
Whatever was between us didn’t stay just friendship for long. The more time we spent together, both inside and outside of the office, the more I realized my longing to see him had gone beyond the normal or appropriate. For his part, Daren tried his best to hide his own feelings, but soon neither of us could help the flirtation which quickly moved from harmless to serious. And the serious flirting quickly became… more than flirting. We both knew it was a mistake but I’d never been nearly as happy as when I was in Daren’s arms. I soaked his affection and acceptance up like a desert that had never known rain.
Daren changed everything. For once I felt something more than apathy. Even the burden of secrecy paled before the electrifying wonder of this strange new thing we shared. We never meant for it to become more than an amusement, a dangerous fling, but love doesn’t care if you make other plans. It felt like we were fated, and I would have done anything for Daren, would have sacrificed anything to remain with him. For the first time in my life I wanted something for myself and almost had it in my grasp.
It’s the ending of our story that’s different, because of course we don’t live in a romance novel. I didn’t leave my hellish wife to be with the man I love forever. He didn’t choose to remain my cherished secret out of love and loyalty. No, I woke one morning after a precious, stolen night together to find the bed cold and empty at my side. When I got to the office he’d already given notice and removed every trace of his presence. Empty, too, was his apartment, and his phone rang endlessly without ever reaching voicemail. I don’t know where he went. I don’t know where he is now. All I know is Daren made the decision to cease our illicit liaison and that’s where our story ends. I’d be lying if I said I hope Daren is happy wherever he is; all I hope is that he regrets his choice as much as I regret giving him the chance to make it.
branded by desire
leper, deviant, outcast
why remain condemned?
throw yourself to the wolves
at least our bite you expect
[ Wrote this while listening to The Pit by Silversun Pickups. Not quite sure this is what I meant to write to go along with the song, but I think it fits anyway. ]
[ Guess who has jury duty? ]
ah, jury duty
a true test of my patience
one no doubt I’ll fail
ah, jury duty
no cafeteria here
we eat on our laps
ah, jury duty
these people are too perky
just fuel for my rage
ah, jury duty
“hurry up and wait, bitches
like we give a shit”
ah, jury duty
is this service to my state
[ To be fair, now that I’m on a case it doesn’t bother me so much; it’s the sitting around for hours not even knowing if they’re ever going to call you that’s super frustrating. That being said, having to get up hella early to take the bus to the courthouse is also unpleasant. XD ]
[ Warning: haiku dump. ]
this love/hate relationship
is more hate than love
wind brings clarity
in the distance mountains loom
sharp enough to cut
one cup buys a moment’s warmth
melts away winter
how hipster is this
sitting in a coffee shop
scribbling down haiku
She went mad, you know. The mermaid. They said it was cause of the magic, what it had to do to make her what she became. Her kind weren’t never made to be on land, not for long, and I guess it had to scramble her up inside pretty bad to keep her from wanderin’ back to the sea and gettin’ herself drowned. She didn’t remember bein’ a mermaid, least we were all pretty sure of that, but she didn’t much act like a human either. Batty, she was. It came down to you’d see her in the town square early in the mornin’ before any of the castle folks knew she’d wandered off, staring up at the sky and mutterin’ to herself. If it was clear out she’d be okay but if clouds had gathered overhead she’d start babblin’ about how the raindrops was watchin’ her and wanted to get her. Said the water fountain was tryin’ to tell her secrets, too, but she didn’t know what about and it spoke too loud. Eventually she’d start cryin’ or whatever and one of the ladies from the flower shop would take pity and walk her back up to the castle, and that would be that until the next mornin’. Then one day she just stopped comin’ into town and though everyone said she was prob’ly up in the castle where she was safe and taken care of, we all knew the truth.
“Oi! What’s that?”
“Well, come up here and see! I’m not describing what you should be looking at anyway. They ain’t paying us the big rupees to sit around in the guard house playing cards.”
“Fine, fine. Okay, what am I supposed to be spying?”
“Over by the east wall. Looks like… what, a kid? One of those always running around in town, chasing after stray dogs and getting under your feet?”
“Could be. Why’s he dressed all funny? What’s on his head, a floppy wizard hat?”
“Maybe he’s playing a game, sneakin’ around like that,”
“Not supposed to be playing out here. We ought to—wait, what’s he doing?”
“…Well that… that probably wasn’t very good. Didn’t even know that rock wall was there; got to be some sort of security hazard, I’d think. Climbed it right quick enough, didn’t he?”
“Should we alert the fellows at the castle gate?”
“Nah, I’m sure they’ll catch him when he runs past. Bright lads, they are. Anyway, I doubt they can hear us from here and it’s an awful long walk. Not like he’s gonna get all the way into Hyrule Castle on his own, right?”
[ Is it just me, or does anyone else think if the King of Hyrule had just invested in guards who gave a shit, Ganondorf wouldn’t have been able to take over an entire city? I mean, you can literally walk right behind the dudes and they never even turn around. That seems like a fatal security flaw to me. ]
“You’ve got to listen to me!” the girl howled, fingers white from their death drip on the doorframe. “Please!” She kicked at one of the security guards yanking on her waist, foot landing a solid punch into his midsection. He uttered an ‘oof!’ of surprise and she used his momentary distraction to for the second time yell, “Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler travel the world solving archaeological mysteries!” Her voice raised, rapid and determined, as her fingers began to slip, “Like Indiana Jones, only way fucking cooler! It’ll make millions!” And with that the guard gave one great tug and she disappeared around the door, only the sounds of her struggle and one last “You’ll regret this!” echoing as she was escorted roughly out the studio.
For a moment the assembled employees of Amblin Entertainment stared in dumb silence around the office. They were used to riff-raff pitching terrible sequel ideas, just not by sneaking into the studio and throwing a fit when they were immediately turned away. These days you expected such fanaticism more from fans of box office favorites like Twilight than some movie from the 90s with no male leads under the age of thirty.
A stern cough startled the group and they turned as one like guilty school children. The president himself, who the obnoxious girl had of course insisted upon seeing, stood in the doorway of his office, frowning out as if more irritated by the commotion itself than the security breach. The braver of his junior assistants swallowed and managed to stammer, “S-sorry, sir, we’re not sure how this happened; she managed to get past the front desk and by the time…” He realized the president was paying no attention to his apology, only staring off into the middle distance. “Sir?”
“Grant and Sattler, eh? Archaeological mysteries?” The president rubbed at his chin, eyes flicking back and forth as wheels turned in the consideration of box office comparisons, viewer trends, and merchandise and video game tie-ins. His gaze locked on a cowering writer as he commanded, one finger pointed with all the authority of God Himself, “You: I want a draft script on my desk by Friday. Put a curse in it, too. Audiences love things with curses. And you,” the hand swung, the fierce eyes speared another staff member, “get Neill on the phone and a contract ready to sign by five.”
A profusion of blank, blinking stares met the rapid-fire instructions. The president raised a single eyebrow in a long perfected gesture of confidence and mild intimidation. “What, you didn’t seriously think we were going to go the ‘dinosaurs with lasers’ route, did you?” He clapped once and spun on his heels. “Well, get on it, you idiots! Time is money!”
[ While I didn’t technically dream this particular scene, I did dream I was watching a movie about Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler traveling the world solving archaeological mysteries, sort of like Indiana Jones but better because it’s Dr. Grant (my first love). And if anyone from Universal Studios is reading this, I just want you to know that I would totally watch the fuck out of that movie. ]
“Wisdom, Courage, Power”
child of the forest
in dark times take up your sword
become fate’s right hand
“Heya, darlin’. What’s a pretty little thing like you doin’ all alone in a place like this, dressed like that no less? Ain’t you cold, girl? I can warm you up if you like.”
Once Oro might have glanced up at a comment like that, if only to spear the speaker with her best “fuck off and die” glare. Nowadays, though, no one said things like that to her. Guess a thrice broken nose and a face full of scars puts folks off a bit. Not that she minded being let alone so she could drink her cheap beer in peace, of course. Small pleasures and all of that.
“Fuck off and die; I’m trying to eat here and your face is making me ill.”
Now Oro lifted her eyes with a groan, peering over the rim of her mug. So much for a night of peace. “You sure got a smart mouth, girl,” the man at the bar growled, one hand clenched around the hilt of a long knife. “I know somethin’ you can do with it, too.” The young woman he had a moment ago attempted to seduce with his winning manner and reeking breath stared up at him from her stool with a scowl Oro knew all too well. The lithe young warrior girls all wore that amused, confidant expression of mockery, just like they all dressed in chain mail underwear and not much else. Oro had worn her share of skimpy armor back in the day as well, though those days were long passed, and remembered enjoying just as much as this girl the trouble it caused among the more single-minded menfolk.
Menfolk who never learned. Oro sighed and pushed her chair back against the wall, beer raised safely out of harm’s way, and a second later the man crashed down on top of her table. He slid to the dirt floor with a groan and two of his companions jumped to his aid, blades drawn. The girl only flashed a feral grin and beckoned them on. Oro turned her attention from the ensuing brawl and stared into the fire as she nursed her watered down beer, ignoring the sounds of breaking furniture and clashing steel behind her. What a nuisance.
“Anyone else?” The warrior swung her sword around with a lazy smile, skin glistening with her own sweat and others’ blood. None of the remaining patrons seemed interested in the offer; those who had not run out or been run through cowered against the walls, muttering at the interruption. The tavern keeper himself was just creeping out from behind the bar to set right his fallen furniture. “That’s what I thought.” The girl wiped her sword on the first man’s coat and sauntered out of the tavern, chain mail jingling as her hips swayed back and forth.
Once the tavern door swung shut Oro rolled her eyes and rose on tired feet, stepping over broken chairs and dead bodies on her way toward the stairs and a bed at least somewhat more comfortable than sleeping on the cold ground another night. That girl would tire of the brawls and battles one day just like she had, once her knees cracked a little too much in the mornings and her wrists ached constantly from too many years spent swinging a sword and shooting a bow. Eventually she’d lose her hourglass figure as well and realize chainmail underwear is neither comfortable nor practical, and trade the cold links for soft breaches and a top that offered a little more… support.
A warrior either fell in battle or aged beyond the ability and desire to continue in that line of work. Sinking onto the lumpy pallet passing for a bed in her rented room, Oro thought for not the first time that retirement wasn’t so bad. Ballads about your grand adventures and bloody conquests didn’t do you much good when you were sleeping out in the rain – or under the earth.
I usually don’t keep track of the books I read but since I got a Kindle last Christmas I decided to keep a list this year. Overall I read a total of 84 books in 2012, including 40 sci-fi/fantasy, 19 historical fiction/non-fiction, and 40 with gay main characters. There’s a good spattering of horror and short story collections in there as well. All in all, a very good year. List below:
Whether anything approached behind him in the uneven twilight Tanim wouldn’t know, his ragged breathing and pounding pulse too loud in his ears to catch any other sounds. Even in late evening with the sun already bleeding out beyond the mountain ridges it was hot as hell, and as he pressed on he blinked away stinging sweat from his eyes. Above him the dark anvil of a thunderhead loomed, brief flickers of lightning illuminating the edges as if some unseen god hammered a doomsday weapon into shape on its surface. The air below sat hot and heavy, unmoving, and Tanim wondered if blood would soak the parched ground before rain ever did. Though he had feared the threat of a flash flood just hours before, now he almost prayed a deluge would come and wipe the world clean away, him included. Put at end to this business once and for all. It had worked before, hadn’t it?
Something caught his foot and he tumbled hard, stones and cactus spines scratching at his bruised, sunburned skin. He managed to rise once more but a bolt of pain lanced up his leg as he put weight on the injured ankle. Well, he accepted with a sigh, no place better or worse to make a last stand. Footsteps crunched on dry earth and Tanim spun, fingers sliding by habit to the revolver at his side, but he’d already wasted its bullets back when it’d been fight on his mind, not flight. The weight comforted him, though, so he hadn’t the heart to abandon it to the desert. Dying with an empty gun still seemed better than dying unarmed.
Lightning broke its heavenly confines and cracked across the purplish sky with a concussion of thunder, illuminating the thin silhouette which seemed stuck to Tanim’s shadow no matter how far or how quickly he traveled. As the figure approached, pale hair occasionally lit by the flickering overhead, Tanim settled onto his throbbing ankle. Though he no longer held any delusions over how this moment would end, he refused to face the other like a cowering child. Not after he had fought so hard, fled so long, sweat and bled and suffered to last another day. The least he could do was stare the bastard in the eyes while the deed was done.
“Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to?” Daren inclined his head with a gentle smile and spread his arms. “Don’t worry; the Devil is waiting.”
The blade in his hand gleamed like a sliver of moon brought to earth.
I know your secrets
I know your fears and foibles
I am your Moriarty
and I will burn your heart out
[ A Christmas “gift” to my arch nemesis. Friends are a dime a dozen but a quality nemesis is once in a lifetime. You have to show your appreciation. ]
“But I Was Going to Eat That :(”
hungry flames spring forth
chocolate bubbles and burns
goodnight, sweet Pop Tart
[ Accidentally caught a chocolate chip Pop Tart on fire in our toaster back when I was in high school. I’m still haunted by the delicious smell of its charred crust and oozing innards… ]
“To the Bridge”
sulfur on the breeze
stone trembles – what did they wake?
drums, drums in the deep
[ But here’s the real question… do balrogs have wings? ]
“Amber was the greatest city which had ever existed or would ever exist. Amber had always been and always would be, and every other city, everywhere, every other city that existed was but a reflection of a shadow of some phase of Amber. … Of Shadow I have this to say: there is Shadow and there is Substance, and this is the root of all things. Of Substance, there is only Amber, the real city, upon the real Earth, which contains everything. Of Shadow, there is an infinitude of things. Every possibility exists somewhere as a Shadow of the real.”
- Nine Princes in Amber, The Chronicles of Amber (Roger Zelazny)
There is a way to go “behind the scenes”, so to speak, to reach a disconnected meta-fragment. It does not function like a normal fragment; there is no definite setting, no passage of time, no fixed aspects beyond the unalterable definitions of its inhabitants – the characters, as they may be called. Instead, you might think of this place as a convergence of every other fragment, or perhaps their jumping off point, the original draft or line of code on which every new repetition is based. The nexus lies at the center of everything and from it every other fragment radiates outwards like the shards of a broken mirror, the reflection in each jagged piece altered slightly from its companions. The center is possibility and the fragments are its realization.
Only within this particular fragment does the fourth wall bleed and blur, allowing the scribe crossover in some revenant form, the observer made flesh outside itself. Only here does perception tear and fray, allowing the… muses, if you will, or characters, fictions, spirits… an awareness of their condition. In this place they, like the author, may stand at the center and gaze out over the myriad iterations of their own existence. Here a minor change, there a world so different their forms seem hardly recognizable; and yet still at that base level they and the story remain unchanged. Tragedy and betrayal reflected a thousand times in a thousand ways. It is a mercy, really, that they may only be privy to such knowledge in this one fragment. What must it be like to touch on your endless individual lives and know no matter how they differ, the end will always be of blood and sorrow?
[ P.S The Chronicles of Amber are fucking awesome, just FYI. ]
“Hear No Phone, See No Emails, Do No Work”
three birds watch me work
or at least play on Facebook
they will never tell
[ My computer at work is a ViewSonic and these little fellows are embossed in the upper left-hand corner. Their fat little faces make me happy. And you know I of course only check Facebook on my lunch break, of course. Of course. ]
“Are You Living in the Real World?”
the dead walk in dream
not wholly of either world
searching for the door
[ Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' On Heaven's Door will forever be one of my favorite Halloween movies. ]
“Are you kidding me with this?”
The assembled residents of Pine Creek Estates stared down at their shoes in shameful silence. When no one managed a response the man in the middle of the circle heaved a sigh of disgusted disappointment and shook his head, long hair resettling over his shoulders in wavy locks.
“You guys seriously suck,” He turned his gaze up to the Heavens and called out, “Never mind! We’re done here!” The same beam of white light which had deposited him in the cul-de-sac’s center just moments ago shot down from the overcast sky. It bathed the man in a dazzling brilliance and as abruptly as he had appeared, he vanished once more.
Later that afternoon as Dave sat at his kitchen table watching on TV as similar scenes replayed themselves in thousands of cities across the world, he wondered if the “In Case of Rapture, You Can Have the Car” bumper sticker on his neighbor’s hybrid still applied. The Rapture had come and gone, after all; just, no one had been worthy enough to be taken.
wandering beneath the bled sun dusk with every step heart beats a thunder of a hundred lives lived at once impossibly contained within one set of ribs one mortal structure each step an ocean wave crashing down bearing in its white foam spirits trapped and restless desperate for freedom yet terrified of the great red beast on shore these beings dear as blood close as flesh beating the air and sky and rib-bone prison in ecstatic longing before the land dashes them to pieces and they are scattered back to the sea the way the harsh fluorescent light banishes the shadows the cacophony of impossible existences dulling to the banal beat of a solitary heart willing fingers too slow to capture what fragments the tide sucks greedily away
I am calling, calling now
Spirits rise and falling
[ "Inner Universe" from the anime series Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite songs to play (loudly) when out walking in the evening, especially when I need some writing inspiration. It was also playing on repeat when I wrote this piece. ]
[ Two weeks after the end of my freshman year of college, my father unexpectedly passed away. During the week he spent in the hospital and the months after his death, the rock in my life was my best friend Micah. In real life and over the internet she made me laugh, offered a necessary distraction, and filled my life with light and love when it would otherwise have been only darkness and loss. I don't know what I would have done without her in those first months, or what I would do even now. She remains one of my best friends no matter if we haven't seen each other in person in years.
I wrote this story several years ago but it never made it onto any of my online journals, so I thought I should post it here. It's not a true story, unfortunately. We met in eighth grade, not first. But I like to imagine what it would have been like if we had met years earlier; I know it would have been instant friendship. It's always been our destiny. (And yes, that's a Pokemon theme song reference.)
The title is lyrics taken from Don't Lose Your Way, the Land Before Time theme song. It's one of many songs that remind us of our wonderful, reckless, oftentimes raunchy friendship. ]
“Faith, Hope, and Glory”
Her stomach hurt. Really, really hurt. She wanted to cry but kept a brave face like her mommy and daddy wanted her to. She would be brave. She had to be brave. She could do this…
Still, the first day of school, real school (first grade!) was terrifying for six year old Elyssa. This was a new school and it meant she didn’t know a single soul in the whole place. Her mommy and daddy had kissed her and given her two very big hugs before they left her at the entrance to room 107 with her new school bag (Power Rangers!) and her faithful stuffed calico cat. Now the little girl stood on the threshold of a new, exciting (but very, very scary) adventure. She was a big girl now and she had to act like one.
Taking a deep breath, she hugged her kitty closer and stepped into the classroom. Most of the other students had already arrived and were claiming desks, shoving things into cubbies, and chattering enthusiastically to each other. Many were friends from kindergarten and so already knew each other, but Elyssa had gone to kindergarten somewhere else. She did not know anyone here and her natural shyness kept her from approaching the first person she saw, as her parents had suggested she do. Instead she chickened out and slipped into an empty desk near the back of the room, a good place for the timid girl to blend in.
Sighing nervously, her stomach aflutter, Elyssa began unpacking her brand-new school supplies (Lisa Frank, of course) and concentrated on not feeling out of place. Where were her kindergarten friends when she needed them? Where was Erika to play kitties or Batman with her? How did anyone expect Elyssa to talk to complete strangers? Sure, they were her classmates now, but she didn’t know any of them! What if they wouldn’t like her? What if she had no one to play with at recess or eat with at lunch? What if she never made any friends here and was alone for the rest of her entire life? The thought made her stomach lurch in extremely unpleasant ways. Her parents had said she would be able to make friends, that they believed in her and knew she could do this, but she wasn’t so sure now. Elementary school was so big and frightening compared to kindergarten; so many things could go wrong!
“Um umm umm… excuse me?” A nervous voice broke Elyssa’s pity party. She glanced up in surprise to another young girl who stood in front of the empty desk next to her. She had extremely long blond-brown hair and huge blue eyes and the brightest smile Elyssa had ever seen. The girl clutched a Jurassic Park backpack in her tiny hands and shifted anxiously from foot to foot. Elyssa’s heart raced, the way it always did when someone she didn’t know spoke to her, but that didn’t stop her from noticing the absolutely awesome backpack.
“I love your backpack!” she blurted out without thinking, then immediately blushed. The other girl blushed as well and giggled modestly.
“Thanks! My mommy got it for me. My stupid little brother wanted it but she said I could get it ‘cause it was my very first day of school.” She glanced to the desk next to Elyssa, then took a leap of faith and rushed out her question. “Hey, umm… woulditbeokayifIsatnexttoyou?” Her blush deepened profusely.
“Sure!” Elyssa grinned cheerfully, ecstatic at the idea that this incredibly cool girl (she had a Jurassic Park backpack!) wanted to sit with her. The girl gasped happily, yelled “Ohmygoshthankyou!” in a voice that clearly had no concept of indoor versus outdoor volume, and plopped down into the empty desk. She turned in her seat and wiggled her fingers in a joyful greeting at Elyssa.
“I’m Micah! What’s your name?”
Don’t lose your way
with each passing day.
You’ve come so far
don’t throw it away!
dreams are for weaving!
Wonders are waiting to start.
Live your story
Faith, Hope, and Glory!
Hold to the truth
in your heart.
[ Wrote some haiku while working the Red Cross booth at a health/safety fair because I am a bad-ass multi-tasker. Can you tell I was super excited to be there? (While I do love discussing natural disasters, after the first two or three hundred people my enthusiasm waned a bit…) ]
“Not a Job for an Introvert”
working event booth
false grin frozen on my face
time to go home yet?
“Fine, Take the Candy and Leave”
“How are you? …hello?”
no sign of recognition
they just want freebies
“This is Barely a Pre-Snack”
fifteen tiny cheese crackers
you call this a snack?
“Food, Water, Shelter… and Bullets”
you know what they say:
if you’re prepared for zombies
you can face it all
[ If the CDC has a section on its website for zombie preparedness, shouldn’t we take that as a sign? ]
“The Breaking of the Fellowship”
here I am, foolish
still writing you poetry
long gone though you are
an uncertain waking dream
the first and most painful love
why should I return?
that place is of the past now
I cannot belong
half of an incomplete whole
sun with no earth, earth no moon
to shrink from these wayward thoughts
your ghost my burden
why can you not seek white shores
or haunt the one you’ve become?
So today is my birthday, and as a gift my best friend Micah drew a picture of Daren that I’ve wanted for a really long time (mostly because his shirt makes me giggle – cocksucker is such a fun word to say!). Her happy birthday email also made me giggle, so I included it below.
“Yesterday I made you a drawing in MSPaint. It wasn’t a t-rex though >: Still have to do that. I liked the way your lady had smudgy lines and whatnot, and I was like “I want to try that shit” — but did so in MSPaint because it’s currently the only drawing program I have, and the reaction is: Holy god damn, this is MSPaint and this is a terrible experience.
So I tried my best to make you a pretty drawing for your birthday. I ended up just stopping when I was too fed up with the program. XD
BUT I LOVE YOU and I hope your birthday is FABULOUS.”
Pencil and paper in hand, a much younger and geekier Elyssa sprawls in a maple tree’s cool shade while her fellow summer campers splash in the waves farther down shore. She isn’t much of an artist but is determined to master this “chibi” style popular among her equally geeky friends and so beneath the graphite a stranger is coming to life in hesitant strokes. She draws a line; erases; tries again; satisfied, moves on to the next. Over and over, perfecting, at least to her mediocre talents, her finest portrait yet. Once she deems it complete she holds the picture out to take in her new creation. As she stares at the boy smiling back from the page, a name comes to mind: Tanim.
She flips the paper over and takes pencil in hand again. He needs a friend.
Lounging in the shade that warm summer afternoon, my fourteen year old self could never have imagined that the characters she doodled to pass the time would eventually transform every aspect of her life and become an all-consuming passion. Today I’m proud to say that as of this August I have been writing about my ill-fated lovers, Tanim and Daren, for ten years. Where other creations have come and gone, brief players in momentarily amusing tales, these two have remained steadfast in my life, their vivid voices impossible to ignore. They bullied their way to the forefront of my mind and refuse to yield ground to anyone else now. I can’t say it bothers me, though. I feel honored to work with such complex, challenging characters and to bring their thoughts and experiences to life through my writing.
The most rewarding part of the last ten years has been watching Tanim and Daren change and grow as characters. Looking back, you’d be hard pressed to correlate those original characters with their current versions – and that’s a very good thing. I’ll admit Tanim and Daren’s earliest incarnations were heavily influenced by my love of terrible anime and cheesy fantasy novels. First, they were young; late teens instead of early to mid thirties. Second, their personalities were fairly two dimensional, a flaw I attribute primarily to my inexperience as a writer. Tanim was the happy, outgoing, popular one of the Best-Friends-Forever duo; Daren was quiet, introverted, and tragically unlucky. Third, and most embarrassing to my older self, their story was riddled with every anime cliché possible. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say they would have been right at home in any poorly dubbed Saturday morning anime like Card Captors and Yu-gi-oh. Also, Daren may have had magic powers. (Don’t worry, I cringe looking back on that too. Every writer has to start somewhere, though, right?)
Of course, Tanim and Daren are nothing like those original characters now. They’re older, more realistic and relatable, and blessedly magic free (most of the time). The basics of their personalities remain – Tanim’s kindness and humor, Daren’s cold exterior and troubled past – but they are far more nuanced. Both are burdened by different yet equally complicated issues that have slowly shaped them into the flawed, struggling men they are now. All of these changes have occurred organically over the years, most of them unexpected though always intriguing. I don’t control the story; the characters do. I only sit back and let the narrative unfold and try to keep up with my pen. It was Tanim and Daren, not myself, who chose to take the leap from friends to lovers, a decision which forever altered the very nature of their shared existence. As silly as it might sound, I’m so proud of the men Tanim and Daren have become. They are entirely their own creatures, as imperfect and unique as any of us.
To commemorate this anniversary I commissioned three portraits of Tanim and Daren from Megan Engel, an incredibly talented artist who captured their likenesses and personalities perfectly. The first of the three portraits is below (click for a higher resolution), the others forthcoming because I want to space them out. I’m so delighted with these pictures; no matter how much I write, it’s still nice to have something visual as accompaniment. A picture is, after all, worth a thousand words. Plus, doesn’t Daren look like he could totally fuck you up?
Lastly, I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported my writing over the years. It’s been a rough road and I wouldn’t be at the level I am now without the friends, both in real life and online, who encouraged my passion through a genuine interest in my characters. And by “encouraged” I of course mean allowing me to babble for hours like a proud mother… or perhaps an especially enthusiastic stalker. Writers can’t afford to live in a bubble; we need others to rant at, to commiserate with us, and off whom to bounce ideas both terrible and brilliant. I’m blessed to have friends willing to put up with all three, and everything else Tanim and Daren throw my way.
The past ten years have been one hell of a ride. Today I’m lifting my glass in toast to the next ten. May they bring me as many surprises, joys, sorrows, frustrations, and laughter as their predecessors.