Monday, March 30, 2015

Somebody told me

I've been working on a young adult novel in my head for many years. Why young adult? Because I was in high school when I came up with the concept. Which is why this scene was a little awkward to write.  See the book exists in my head in a jumble of scenes that were once little daydreams for me. I have very elaborate daydreams so a whole story exists. The point is these scenes were originally all from "my" point of view. Or rather the point of view of a sort of Mary Sue-ish character that happened to look like me. As I got older the characters didn't and I started revisiting the fantasies but with the focus on the male protagonist. The problem is this was one of my most vivid scenes and I never really thought of it from his point of view.  This scene actually had almost no dialog in it in my head. It in fact was originally a crowded Matrix style club scene that took place to the tune of "Somebody Told Me" by The Killers.  Hence it is odd that the first piece of my novel that gets written is the part that had no words and was told from the wrong perspective in my head. It is the most played out scene I have though next to the scene that will probably be the next one I write and almost got merged into this one.  Anyway there is my little author rant. Please let me know what you think of this chapter to a story you don't know. the chapter is tentatively titled Somebody Told Me. 

Jason watched as Rebeka walked in the door.  He had never seen someone look so much in her element.  She closed her eyes and he could tell she was beginning to feed off the crowd.  He had always imagined her in a place like this like a starving person at an all you could eat buffet.  It wasn't like that it was more like a fish falling into water.  Like for the first time in hours she was able to breathe but no gasping. She just flowed into the crowd as if it was her natural place.

It wasn't Jason's place, or at least not right now.  He preferred smaller crowds where he could talk with a few people. The party was loud, especially out here in the main room. Close conversation was held with mouths to ears. Anything less intimate was not conveyed through speech. He could feel the music pulse around him. He looked down at the Coke in his hand, he had all but forgotten it.  He set it on one of the nearby tables and walked to find a quieter room.

Tara popped up at his elbow. "Are you still going to tell her?" She nearly shouted to be heard. Jason shook his head, not in negation but to show he didn't want to have this conversation here. Tara nodded and they walked to what appeared to be someone's home office.

"I still can't believe I'm here." He said as they walked into the room.  "I don't do keggers."

Tara gave him one of her looks. "You didn't answer my question. Are you going to tell Rebeka what you told me?" She sat down on an expensive looking leather chair. "I know you want to tell Rebeka that you want to go out with her. I can feel the anxiety pooling off of you, it tastes a little sour. So why not just ask her and get it over with."

Jason looked at Tara a little exasperated. "If you are so perceptive of my feelings, why can't you tell me what she will say." He was once again growing a little tired of psychics. He was tired of a lot of things. Tired of keeping secrets, tired of watching over his back and especially tired of people telling him what he was feeling.

Tara screwed up her mouth and narrowed her eyes. Her bright green glasses made the look especially pointed. "Beka is the strongest pathovore and the one with the most to hide.  She sleeps with a shield on her thoughts. Besides" she had to add in the last bit "even if I could tell you what would you learn if you don't take the risk?"

Jason sighed and leaned on the desk. He could feel the thump of the bass from the next room. Tara loved to think in terms of social lessons without thinking in terms of social outcomes.  What a risk he would be taking.  What if he offended Rebeka?  They were working together to find out their own origin stories. If things got awkward it would cause a rift in the group that could make them weak and could make them easier to find.  Besides, Jason didn't want to lose her.  He hadn't admitted it until now but as long as he didn't say anything to her there was always the potential she would go out with him. If he just asked that potential would be dashed. He couldn't bear the thought of losing that hope.

"No, I'm not going to tell her tonight." He felt the weight that had been on his chest ease a bit. It didn't have to be over tonight.  With that easing he realized everything holding him at this party was gone. "I'm not feeling well, and this isn't my scene. I think I'll just find her, say hi and let her know I'm going home."

Tara rolled her eyes and scooted off the chair. "Whatever, it's your choice. I'm going to go get something to eat." She walked over to the door and just before opening it said. "I don't know how you can be as strong as you are physically and have absolutely no balls."  She walked out the door.

Jason simply rolled his eyes and walked back across the room. He sighed and opened the door stepping out into the music and chaos. Someone immediately went past him nearly knocking him down. He heard a mumbled "sorry man."  Looking around he wondered where to start looking.  The living room had filled even more since he had gone into the den. The "dance floor" was absolutely packed. He thought he spotted Rebeka over near the speakers and started heading that way.

He began to work his way through the party. A girl started trying to dance with him and then seemed to get huffy when he wasn't interested. As he got to the speakers he realized the girl he had seen was someone else. He leaned over and and shouted "Have you seen Beka?" The girl didn't stop dancing but nodded and pointed towards the makeshift bar.  He nodded and began walking that way.

Near the keg were all guys, he should have known. Beka wouldn't be drinking she would be getting high enough off the crowd.  He decided to start moving towards the middle of the crowd but was stopped.

"Hey, Jason." it was Ben. He was in the advanced French class with Jason. "Have you seen the new guy?"

Jason looked at Ben, impatient. "New guy? Its a party. I don't know half the people here." He began to go but then caught what Ben was saying.

"No man, no one knows him. He just sort of showed up. I heard he was askin' 'bout Beka." That stopped him. Someone asking about Rebeka. Who no one knew. The party would be the perfect place to gather intelligence on any of them. But if anyone from the organization was looking for them they wouldn't fit in at a high school party. Still...

"What do you mean he was asking about Rebeka?" Jason looked at his classmate. Ben was obviously not holding his first beer. He could be wrong.

"I just heard him asking who the girl with the starry top was. I know Beka was wearing that black starscape shirt." Ben took another drink "I just thought you might want to know I know she's like a sister to you or something"

Jason rolled his eyes "Thanks, I guess." He started moving into the crowd again.  Beka would be losing herself in the middle of the crowd. She never gave most guys a second look.  Closing herself off from flirting was one of her ways of keeping up her mental shield.

As he made his way through the crowd, carefully avoiding touching other people more than was necessary, the music slowed a bit. He started hearing some of the conversations around him.

"I don't know who he is but he looks like he could be in college." "He's so hot those boots just make his outfit." "Did you see his hair, there is no gel in it it looks like it fell that way."

Whoever this new guy was he was getting a lot of attention from the other girls.  Well enough, Jason was sure one of them would draw whoever it was away from Rebeka. He leaned over and asked one of the gossiping girls where Beka was. The girl giggled and pointed over to the speakers.  He looked over and saw.

There was Beka dancing. Not by herself but with a handsome, tall boy. A guy with perfectly tousled black hair who looked like he could be in college. A guy who Jason had never seen before in his life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hide and Seek

I recently was listening to NPR, as the good liberal I am tends to do. There was an article about the LGBT community being in the closet at work.  The thing was how much of this article spoke to me.  I am not a lesbian nor bisexual or transgender though I count myself as a fervent ally. No what reminded me of the situation was that at my last two places of employment (and some before that) I have been in a different kind of closet.
In the Pagan community we call it the "broom closet".  I have never been especially in the broom closet. I have always let my friends know that I was Pagan and been more than willing to inform people about what that meant to me and in general.  But when it comes to the people who control my paycheck I have been more reticent.  But it goes beyond that there is a certain closeness I have had with coworkers when I was working as a lifeguard so even if I did not announce myself to the upper management I would still share my beliefs with coworkers often.
At my last two jobs even with the closeness I felt with my coworkers at the daycare I was working at I never felt I could tell them. Why does this matter? Well as the article I was listening to pointed out, when you are in any type of closet you are by definition hiding from someone. There is a barrier between you and the rest of the world. This makes a difference when you are not in the majority because people tend to assume the majority. For me this means people often think I believe in something that I don't. My religion is in fact an important part of me and to have someone make assumptions about it that are wrong is uncomfortable to me at the least.
When I was working as a telemarketer recently I had two instances of people making assumptions about how I lived my religious life on the phone. Both left me feeling a little hollow because I know if I had not let them assume that I was Christian I would not have made the sale. Having to lie about something so basic in order to do my job is icky at the least and actually kept me up a couple of nights.
Now at the daycare this was not the same issue but I am always afraid of parents finding out my religious leanings. It may be just the bad stories young pagans hear when they are first exploring their faith but I fear a parent jumping into a satanic panic upon hearing that I worship something other than an Abrahamic deity. This means when I am around kids I don't want to let anything slip which means I never tell anyone anything about my religious orientation.  This isn't as big of a deal I don't feel so much that I'm living a lie though anytime that really indoctrinated kid comes to talk about Jesus with me always gives me pause.
My thoughts continue on this line. If I have decided to be in education for the rest of my life have I put this as my default setting. And this makes me think of those who are trying to work in the education field who are part of other minorities that are considered by some to be "morally questionable." Is society doomed to keep people silent. At what point does religious and moral oppression end. and what do we do about it?
Right now my only answer is to know I have friends to confide in and continue to pursue my dreams of teaching. I stand in solidarity with those who are also working in silence and say only I don't know your specific situation but I understand.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The adventures of Bill the Butterfly and Mr. Manman's hat

So yeah. All my friends in real life will know that I have been making a comic for years and I finally got a drawing tablet to try to actually put it up on the web. It will probably be a little while before I have any idea how to use proper programs so for now enjoy this little joke at my own expense.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fitness Friday #5

Today my weight is 185.5 that is 2 lbs from the last time I weighed myself and I think a pound and a half since last week.

I've been having trouble sleeping lately but that isn't a big issue right now. I did bike 6 out of 7 days in the last week but my bike route time has gotten shorter but more work.

This week I've been thinking a lot about biking and what it was like learning to ride a multispeed bike. When I was I think 12 I got my first ten speed bike.  I remember my dad explaining how to switch gears and when to do what.  I asked him how to go faster and he looked perplexed and then told me "if you want to go faster pedal harder."

I've been thinking about that a lot since I started cycling every day. There is a lot of truth to this statement. Yes higher gears can make you go faster but you have to work harder for the length of the trip. Also its harder to start up from a higher gear. However a higher gear is good. I've been using 3rd gear as resistance training. And it seems to be working.

As usual my goal for next week is 184.5 lets keep it up.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


This is just an update for anyone who actually checks this regularly. I have hit a wall, a teensy bit of writers block so other than fitness friday updates I'm going to be taking a break to get a bit of a buffer.  If you have any interest in seeing more updates please donate if you can.  I would love to get a drawing tablet. If I had a tablet I would be able to draw the comics I've been wanting to start.  Money also would probably take a load off my mind so that would always help.  Thanks for your patience.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Fitness friday 4

Today my weight was 186 lbs so it is going down. I did eat pizza last night so that is probably part of why it actually bounced up from earlier in the week (on Tuesday I weighed in at 185.)

I'm still biking  5 days out of the week and it is making a difference.  I have been having some trouble maintaining a normal sleep schedule and was not feeling well on Thursday but I think I am doing better in many departments. I don't really have much more to say on the subject this week. stay tuned.

Next week's goal 185 on Friday.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

D20 versus 2nd ed.

     "Lis I have a problem with my players." My brother mentions on the phone while talking with me to fill the silence between my work and my apartment.  "They're all Munchkins*."  I roll my eyes a little at this only a little jealous that my younger brother has been running a campaign in Dungeons and Dragons and I have yet to run something in anything.  But he did have an older sister to guide him into geekdom.
     "Well that's what you get when you play 3.5." I put in my normal jibe at his choice of game. To which he replies, exasperated "that's what they said."

     It should be noted I don't play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 or D20 system (both copyright Wizards of The Coast.)  I have played one extensive D20 Star Wars campaign and I once, long ago, played one 3.5 campaign that I dropped out of.  My overall impression of the system is blandness.  Not that they don't have good points.  The GM's and groups I was playing with were fun.  The Star Wars game was where the weird intergame intragroup trope of me playing small fuzzy things came from.  Yet overall I just don't have a lot of love for the system.
     Some good aspects of 3.5: its adaptability. There are many D20 system books out there for almost anything you are a fan of and they can be effectively combined. Want to play a game where a Stargate team goes to a planet where Darth Vader is currently pitching a battle against Cthulu? All you need is those three D20 books (all of which exist). If you are looking for more firm rules in your role playing experience D20 gives you what you need.
    Mostly I play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd ed.  There is the fact that this is what the people around me run (or run slight alterations of).  I still have to agree with my friends' reasoning for running this system. One of the first is you can make choices as you go. Now I know there are 3.5 players who will say that you can definitely change your mind about a character as it evolves but so many skills have such weird prerequisites that you need to plan everything perfectly in advance half the time.  With 2nd ed there are no feats to get prerequisite feats in. The skill system is very simple.
    Another problem with D20 is topending.  In 2nd ed most rolling for skills is dependent on rolling under your stat. So the higher your skill the more likely you are to roll under it.  In D20 all skills have a skill check that you have to get by adding your skill to a d20 die roll.  There are examples of why this doesn't work too well. The first example is that it is very easy to just make an unpassable check.  A DM can simply set a check so high that a player can't possibly make it.  The other end of the scale I like to use a personal story to tell people about.  In the starwars game I played I was a tech specialist.  All of my skills were maxed to mechanic repair, astrogating, piloting and computer use.  At one point we were doing something that involved breaking into a computerized lock. I made a roll of like a 4 and had enough skill points that when I said what my final roll was (I honestly can't remember it was somewhere in the 30s I think) the GM just said there was basically no way I could fail this roll as the challenge ratings were all below my skill numbers. I couldn't shoot worth a damn (all combat skills were hard to get with my class I wasn't trying to minmax but it just happens) in combat my best bet was hiding which I sucked at. But if we had to fly somewhere or hack something there wasn't even a brief moment of "oh maybe she won't make this" tension. I just automatically did it, rolling was a pointless action that I took to make it feel like I as a player had some contribution.
    The third and final problem I have with D20 is it is hard to take what you want and make the game you want to play (aside from setting information.) Original Dungeons and Dragons was made to be modular. A GM could take rules that he or she felt made a good game and expand on them as they wished.  With D20 if you take something out there is always a fear that the tower will go tumbling down.
     I prefer to play my games with a certain amount of give and you-can-mess-up-ness.  I like to get to a point where I can go. You know what my character is changing or hey we are in a different environment and I need this new skill.  So for me 2nd ed is the better choice for Dungeons and Dragons.  I really don't have a lot of fun with D20 systems.

*Munchkins are a term for players who try to make the "best" character in a competitive manner. Usually this involves downgrading certain traits to make others better (known as minmaxing). Many of these players think that one type of character is superior to others and are interested in "winning" a game that at its very core is a cooperative game.