Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Blog Challenge: Special Day

Now Playing: Crazy Town - Butterfly (Instrumental)

I forgot to mention my brother actually paid us a visit last weekend. We played Halo 3 and Reach campaign, wondered about Halo 5, talked about his Japanese class and chemistry lab (as well as his major), and had Chinese food. He's wayyy skinnier than when he left and he got taller! Now, at 5'9'', he's officially the tallest in the house >:( Damn kid. Needs to quit growing.

I've missed him all week. I can't wait to see him again Thanksgiving.

Week 25: What Made Your Day Special?

Ah, speaking of family. . . .

This is for yesterday, October 29th. What made it special? I made three people cry. Made four of them upset. I'm counting myself in both of those.

First was a boy. That same boy I was rambling about on that post from last weekend. Our quick meeting yesterday didn't end that well--he fled, I fumed, and hours later on the phone, I lost it a little bit. He admitted to some fault but also tried to use it as an excuse--if that makes any sense. And I spent a lot of time being really disappointed in us. Him for making this same mistake once more. Me for knowing better and yet acting against my better judgement. Both of us for being pushy on a certain issue. We didn't resolve all that much, but we ended the phone call in slightly better spirits. He understood why I was upset and promised it wouldn't happen again. And I'm grateful for that.

Then, about twenty minutes after me and this guy hung up, I got into a fight with my parents. Same fight as always, just tweaked around a bit. I don't really get what happened all that much. They were mad at how I'd been acting the last few days. I finally told them I regret going to college and regret that they sent me there in the first place and they got really angry and said I'm blowing things out of proportion and being miserable and distant and that I have it better than most people. And that's probably all true. Doesn't erase that regret.

The confusing thing was, when we finally calmed down a bit, my father kept saying, "but you need to be patient."

Which I find strange. If anything, they don't seem all that patient with this situation. Less so than me.

It wasn't a very good day, to be honest. And it's weird to be forced to work with the word "special" when it has so many positive connotations. But that's what happened. That's how the day went down and that's how I have to look at it.

But on the upside. . .one terrible day probably means the rest of the weekend is gonna be better, right?

Wait, okay. There's a better way to look at it. Two ways.

1) After both of those, I got another phone call from the boy. He made me realize I was partially at fault for what happened. And he made me realize that without ever accusing me of anything. It just took some introspection and a clear head to come to that, but I'm glad I did. And just overall he made me feel better.

2) At the end of the day, sleep-deprived, puffy-eyed, looping really depressing music into my ears, I sat down to keep revising. It's still going. I'm still writing. That's a victory.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Imps and Familiars and Witches

Now Playing: Dario Marianelli - Wandering Jane (Jane Eyre OST)


I haven't featured Stephen King on here yet, which is odd but good, because it means I get to showcase something of his during the week of Halloween! He's been called the king of horror by countless people, and I admire just how prolific and dedicated he is. I think some of his harsher critics say he's better at ideas that he is at execution, but I disagree. I really love his prose; it works even if not all of his stories succeed.

On Writing is my favorite Stephen King book, but the first one I ever read was this one. I think it saddens me more than it scares me, but it's because I care about Carrie and am horrified at her situation that the more frightening moments are all the more powerful.

She closed her eyes again and rocked. Physical functions began to revert to the norm; her respiration speeded until she was nearly panting. The rocker had a slight squeak. Wasn't annoying, though. Was soothing. Rock, rock. Clear your mind.

"Carrie?" Her mother's voice, slightly disturbed, floated up.

(she's getting interference like the radio when you turn on the blender good good)

"Have you said your prayers, Carrie?"

"I'm saying them," she called back.

Yes. She was saying them, all right.

She looked at her small studio bed.


Tremendous weight. Huge. Unbearable.

The bed trembled and then the end came up perhaps three inches.

It dropped with a crash. She waited, a small smile playing about her lips, for Momma to call upstairs angrily. She didn't. So Carrie got up, went to her bed, and slid between the cool sheets. Her head ached and she felt giddy, as she always did after these exercise sessions. Her heart was pounding in a fierce, scary way.

She reached over, turned off the light, and lay back. No pillow. Momma didn't allow her a pillow.

She thought of imps and familiars and witches

(am i a witch momma the devil's whore)

riding through the night, souring milk, overturning butter churns, blighting crops while They huddled inside their houses with hex signs scrawled on Their doors.

She closed her eyes, slept, and dreamed of huge, living stones crashing through the night, seeking out Momma, seeking out Them. They were trying to run, trying to hide. But the rock would not hide them; the dead tree gave no shelter.
- Carrie by Stephen King

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Now Playing: The Smiths - Asleep and Well I Wonder

"I'd want to go to Seattle. I like grey skies and rainy days more than I like sunny ones. I love the rain."

"Yeah, I agree. I get energized by the mist and the rain."

"Ah! Me too!" I could hear myself--energetic little girl, throwing her hands over her mouth, stopping short of a squeal.

"Then you know what that means, right?" She leaned in and grinned. "We're secretly witches."

I don't remember the entire conversation that well. I don't really even remember those words all that well--their order, the turn of the phrase--but I remember the witches part. I thought it was the sweetest thing I'd ever heard.

Silly thing, but my outfit probably indoctrinated me: I was wearing a black lace dress, a black-and-blue striped blazer, black tights, and pretty belted flats. With me I had a black leather journal and a fountain pen. Briefly I'd wished I'd had some kind of moon necklace or dark make-up on. Even without the proper accessories, it felt like a stealth witch costume as summer came to an official end. The outfit, the grey sky, the smell of coffee grounds--it was a little too much for me.

Some background. Well over a month ago, I sat in a cafe talking to a woman who told me I should go to New York while I was still young. Who told me to travel there in autumn and winter, for the cold and the snow. Who told me to do it because she'd first seen snow at age eighteen, and she'd loved it. Who was happy to hear that, despite my day job, I identified and still wished to be known as a writer. Who wondered about my blog and asked if I ever tried out poetry because that was the kind of thing she wrote. Who found it amusing when I stole her brother's cigarette pack and joked about caffeine addictions.

I keep wanting to write "girl" here despite the fact that she's--as she has reminded me twice now--a thirty-two year old woman. I thought she was a tad younger when I saw her for the first time through the little receptionist window. I'd guessed twenty-eight or twenty-six.

When her brother came up to talk to me, she smiled at me briefly--this short girl with long hair and really pretty brown eyes. She stood behind her brother, watching the doors for a familiar face. My first thought when I saw her was simple: she's pretty. I got a better look and proper introduction in the elevator ride. All three of us ended up in the same cafe.

Now technically, I was interested in her younger brother and he was interested in me. I'd met him earlier than I'd met her. By this point, we'd already exchanged phone numbers. But at the end of that afternoon, it felt vaguely like I'd had a twenty-five minute first date with this lady. Probably because her brother went outside to smoke a cigarette while she and I sipped coffee and talked.

I figured she'd liked me well enough, though I couldn't yet decipher my opinion of her. I'd just met her. All these pre-judgments were running through my head and I tried my best to keep them contained. Okay, so, she hovered over her brother and tried to chaperon him despite the fact that he's a legal adult--older than me even. But maybe he needs it. He seems more boy than man at times, in those brief exchanges we've had. She drove him around, at one point asked if I needed a ride somewhere, bought him coffee, reminded him to drink fluids and stay inside because he was sick, told him to remember to borrow cab money for his upcoming trip to New York, and told me to please eat something, I can't just run on coffee all afternoon.

Motherly is the word that sprung to mind, but not necessarily in a wholly positive way. I thought it was sweet, but also briefly confusing. After all, I knew she was a sister to this boy, not a mother. I briefly imagined chaperoning my seventeen year old brother to an appointment or scolding him for not taking better care of himself, and it felt wrong. Like if I even tried to put on a motherly act around him, Mateo would stare at me blankly and then tell me to piss off. Especially now that we're older. I took care of him when I was twelve and he was ten. Now--soon to be twenty, soon to be eighteen--we're more equals. One shouldn't take care of the other, but if it's needed, we should take care of each other. There's only so much I can do for him as a big sister. Only so much I should do, especially as he nears adulthood.

But Mateo and I are different people, therefore our siblinghood is different than anyone else's. We're closer in age. We haven't had troubled lives or a family possibly struggling from within. Maybe it's not comparable.

My impressions went in a list: she's pretty. At least that's more objective fact than subjective impression. The rest were all the latter. She seems sweet. A little overbearing. Overprotective? Or just motherly? Interesting. Mature, of course. Amusing. I need to use that witch line for something. I don't know why I find it so cute.

First impressions are tricky. They linger or are quickly discarded. They get turned on their head, more often than not. When we guess a person's character off an early glance or interaction, we'll inevitably be wrong.

Those first impressions feel stretched out sometimes. A first impression isn't just that first second you see someone. It isn't just that first conversation you have with them.

The way it worked for me was like this: I saw her. I watched her for a bit. I spoke with her. A day later, on the phone with her brother, I heard her in the background. White noise until her words became clear. Angry and elevated. Throughout the week, I heard little things about her in passing, things her brother told me--the way she was acting, the things she was saying, her angry, disapproving glare. "I don't know what her problem is," he said, "I think she thinks I'm leading you on." And then one day she grabbed the phone from him to speak to me. And that first impression kept warping. My opinion of her kept warping. It was all in a week. A week solidified a picture and yet it blurred that opinion all the more.

When I saw her, I thought she was pretty. At the coffee shop, I thought she was sweet. When she fought with her brother while he held a phone to his ear, I thought she was a little frightening. By the time he admitted she'd warned him to be careful with me and maybe grow a little distant, I thought she was acting a touch too domineering. When she took the phone from him, said, "Rebeca, I need to talk to you," and then spent five minutes listing all the ways I and her brother were in the wrong, messing up, acting like petulant children, my opinions disappeared. I couldn't explain it. Mostly, I was confused.

I remember bits and pieces of that phone call. I didn't really speak--I said two sentences, maybe, and she didn't hear me all that well. Mostly, I just let her go on. She said she knew better, after all, she's "a thirty-two year old woman," and we were being immature, this isn't going to go anywhere, we can't be together, he's not in a good place, I need to be more mature and leave him alone. "I know you're sweet, I can tell you're sweet, but you're doing him more harm than good. You need to back off."

When he finally got the phone back, he sounded upset. Maybe she's right, he said. Maybe we wouldn't be good for each other. I told him to calm down. That in the end, it was up to us and only us. If we crash and burn, then, well, it happened. We'll move past it.

When we finally hung up, I felt a little annoyed. Where had that come from? Who grabs their brother's phone and spends five minutes straight yelling at a girl?

Somehow, he and I kept talking. We're not dating, per say, but not strictly platonic either. It's a safezone greyzone--everything without the silly label of a romance and brand of exclusivity. We're friends. For complicated reasons, it's all we'll ever be. And so far, we're okay with it. But at times it feels like we're the only ones who are.

Now all I hear is the negative. That's the peculiar thing about this boy--he lives far enough that we spend most of our time together on the phone.It takes hours on bus rides to see each other, so the rest of the time, we have to use that phone.

And he keeps me on the phone even as he runs into neighbors, as he bikes down a hill, as fights erupt in his household. So I hear his sister screaming, and his mother, and sometimes his father. His youngest brother talks very quietly, but I've heard him once or twice too.

And because his sister's voice is the loudest, I try and remember how she looks like. When she argued with him and kicked him out of a car in the middle of the night, I remembered how she looked when she asked me what I wanted to do, how old I was, what I thought about our city. When I hear her tell her parents she hates them, when she throws a "fuck you!" their way, I think of her Mature Woman Voice when she reminded me her age mid-scolding.

But by far the most confusing thing enveloped during one quiet afternoon at Bayfront Park. It happened the day before she grabbed the phone from him to talk to me.

Downtown is our in-between. I bus there, he buses there, we don't go anywhere too nice because we're both broke, and we just hang out. In that afternoon, in view of the ocean, I sat on his lap, my head on his shoulder. I was tracing patterns on his chest, moving up, when I saw scratch marks on his neck. Little scars that would fade away eventually, but which were deep enough to carry a short lifespan over his skin. He said his sister did that to him.

Like an idiot I asked him why. Why would she do that to you?

"I don't know. I don't know why she does anything."

All the while, I kept thinking, what happened between you two? What's happening now?

Two days before, she'd taken him out to karaoke. The week after, to a movie. She cares about him, wants him to get better.

But she screams at him. She kicks him out of a car in the middle of the night. She tells him who to see, who to be friends with, even tries to threaten a 19-year-old girl through a phone that isn't hers. And she scratched him hard enough to mark him, but not enough to have it be a big deal in most people's eyes.

I don't know now what I think of her. That initial impression keeps coming back to me. She tried to grab the phone again so she could talk to me and he didn't let her. Now, whenever he calls and she's home, he goes outside or into his room. Better to put some distance. But her voice carries. And I'm still listening to her, even if I doubt she'll ever hear my voice again.

P.S: Whilst writing this post, he called me just to talk. Halfway through our conversation, I admitted I was writing about his sister. He replied with this: "Only mean things, right?"

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Blog Challenge: Goals for Next Month

Now Playing: The Cure - The Big Hand

Week 24: Goals For Next Month





Actually, we're still like a week away, but pretenddd. Especially since that odd repetition meant I ended up being a week ahead >.>

It is almost Halloween of course. Mid-October is the true start of the holiday season, plus the time honored tradition that most writers know about and sometimes even partake it despite their better judgement: NaNoWriMo.

Now the question, as always, is, will I be joining? And if I won't be, what will I be doing this glorious November, my first November out of school. . . ?

I said a while ago that I wouldn't do it. But come on. I love to torture myself when it comes to writing. Millennium Girl is still my priority of course. It will always be my priority until the sweet thing either gets rejected by every agent out there or manages to snag me a publishing contract.

But I've liked what I've seen of Death so far. She's sweet in ways I wasn't expecting and utterly spoiled in ways I find too amusing to ever think of ignoring. This is still a side project. Death Awakens has no outline, no research behind it, no giant wall of sticky notes to guide me. But my goal is to write as much as possible for as long as it's fun without sacrificing my other projects and goals. (Mainly involving employment and my urban fantasy novel).

So these are my goals for next month:
  • Continue looking into Child Care work
  • Continue revising Millennium Girl--get at least halfway done.
  • Plunge into NaNoWriMo with Death Awakens
Pretty simple, right? Here's hoping I make it out alive.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Might-Have-Been

Now Playing: Marius Furche - Mad World (cover in Sense8 soundtrack)


Because we're getting closer to Halloween, I figured these next Monday Excerpts should come from frightening books. Or at least, dark books.

I'm not really sure what I think about Gillian Flynn yet. She has some really interesting set-ups but people seem to be a bit divided when it comes to the second half of her stories. I was split with this particular book, unsure if it had taken a clever turn or one that asked me to suspend my disbelief way too much. There's some problematic shit in both this and Gone Girl (mostly involving her handling of rape accusations and the somewhat disgusting misinterpretations involving them), but there's also some admirable things in her books. From what I've seen so far, Flynn has very brutal, very realistic prose, and all her characters have distinct voices so her dialogue tends to be pretty good. That's mostly what I'm showcasing here.

Some spoilers here. This takes place a little after the halfway point of the book.

I had one of my awful visions. A might-have-been vision. Us, if everyone had lived, at home in Kinnakee. There's Michelle in the living room, still fiddling with her oversized glasses, bossing around a bundle of kids who roll their eyes at her but do what they're told. Debby, chubby and chattery with a big, blond farmer-husband and a special room in her own farmhouse for crafts, packed with sewing ribbons and quilting patches and glue guns. My mom, ripe-fifties and sunbaggy, her hair mostly white, still bickering pleasantly with Diane. And into the room comes Ben's kid, a daughter, a redhead, a girl in her twenties, thin and assured, bangly bracelets on delicate wrists, a college graduate who doesn't take any of us seriously. A Day girl. 
I choked on my own spit, started coughing, my windpipe shut down. The visitor two booths down from me leaned out to look and then, deciding I wasn't going to die, went back to her son. 
"What happened that night, Ben? I need to know. I just need to know." 
"Libby, you can't win this game. I tell you I'm innocent, that means you're guilty, you ruined my life. I tell you I'm guilty...I don't think that makes you feel much better, does it?" 
He was right. It was one reason I'd stayed immobile for so many years. I threw something else out: "And what about Trey Teepano?" 
"Trey Teepano." 
"I know he was a bookie, and that he was into Devil shit, and that he was a friend of yours, and he was with you that night. With Diondra. That all seems pretty fucked up." 
"Where'd you get all that?" Ben looked me in the eye, then raised his gaze up, gave a long stare at my red roots that were to my ears now. 
"Dad told me. He said he owed Trey Teepano money and-" 
"Dad? He's Dad now?" 
"Runner said-" 
"Runner said fuck-all. You need to grow up, Libby. You need to pick a side. You can spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what happened, trying to reason. Or you can just trust yourself. Pick a side. Be on mine. It's better."
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Blog Challenge: Memorable Vacation

Now Playing: Julie Fowlis - Touch the Sky (Brave OST)

Sorry for posting this so late! It's been a surprisingly busy week. And I was, err, distracted yesterday. I will talk about that one day. Maybe soon. Maybe not.

For now, this is the blog challenge.

Week 23: Most Memorable Vacation
My family and I don't take that many vacations, actually, and I've gone on a few trips here and there with friends but they've been fairly short and close to home.

For some reason, the first one that popped into my head was that one time my parents, little brother, and I bused to Orlando to spend six hours at Disney and then bused back. All. On. The. Same. Day.

We got up at some ungodly hour to go there on. . .honestly, I don't even remember which bus we took (I don't think it was Greyhound, it looked a bit nicer). If I'm going off the dates on the picture files (all taken by my dad, by the way), this all happened December 28, 2007. So I was twelve years old and my brother was nine years old. Which, by the way, is reason enough to avoid posting pictures with us in them. That's right smack in the middle of our awkward years--you don't need to see my embarrassingly ugly hair and wardrobe and brother'll kill me if any friends or girlfriends stumble into his cute chubby-cheeks-and-long-hair era images  >.>

I actually don't remember all of it, maybe because we did the usual things one does at Disney--go on rides. We were either being kinda cheap or just plain old didn't have the money for a hotel and a lengthy stay (probably the latter), hence the One Day Trip to Disney. Yet instead of waiting a few years to have enough money to go, my parents decided to take us while we were both still technically kids who would enjoy it. And it was the right choice--I do remember having fun when I went.

I remember the Haunted Mansion--which was awesome. I remember being mildly annoyed that we couldn't stay at the park for the fireworks. I remember. . .Splash mountain, was it? And some part of the park where you pretend you're on a spaceship?

. . .is this failing the memorable part of this prompt?

I also remember that there were all these tiny shops, theaters, and restaurants in the shape of village houses that my parents didn't let us go into. Partially because they figured the food might be too expensive for us but mostly because we were on a time crunch. So sadly we didn't get to eat anywhere. I think we bought stuff at a concession stand really quickly and then we mostly just ate whenever the bus stopped at a plaza.

But I liked how the park looked. I liked the people that smiled all the time and I loved seeing the castle just hanging out in the distance. I liked that it looked like a storybook village in some places. I don't remember seeing any characters in costumes or anything, all I remember are the streets. (Although photographic evidence says we ran into Cinderella's evil step-family. Who knew?)

I think I'd want to go back. Like, not for the rides, but just to sit somewhere, eat and drink something, and write or read with the castle in view. I wouldn't even want to go in any of the rides. I'd be happy people watching. I'm not even that big a fan of Disney stuff in general but I'd want to see the park again. (Or I could always go to the Harry Potter one. I'd still just sit and write somewhere).

I'm definitely getting a hotel room first, though. The drive from Miami to Orlando is sooo boringgggg.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Looking Into Infinity

Now Playing: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori - Halo: Combat Evolved Opening Theme


My last two Monday Excerpts have been gigantic, so I decided to bring it back down this week with one of my favorite scenes in all of sci-fi. It's so influential; I'll always be thankful for this book. Science fiction wouldn't be the same without it. And., of course, we wouldn't have Halo without it~

It stretched long miles across the white sand. In the distance, beyond where that gouge ended, another began. The ship had bounced, not once, but many times. The gouge of the Liar's landing went on and on, narrowing to no more than a dotted line, a trace. . .Louis let his eyes follow that trace, and he found himself looking into infinity. 
The Ringworld had no horizon. There was no line where the land curved away from the sky. Rather, earth and sky seemed to merge in a region where details the size of continents would have been mere points, where all colors blended gradually into the blue of sky. The vanishing point held his eyes fixed. When he blinked, as he finally did, it was with deliberate effort.
Like the void mist of Mount Linkitthat, seen decades ago and light-centuries away. . .like the undistorted deeps of space, as seen by a Belt miner in a singleship . . .the Ringworld's horizon could grip the eye and the mind of a man before he was aware of the danger. 
- Ringworld by Larry Niven

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Blog Challenge: Something You've Never Done

Now Playing: The Cure - Lullaby 

Real quick--everyone heard about the Twilight special edition, 10th year anniversary thingy that features a rewrite of the first book with the genders reversed? Because I am so hyped to read it. Silvia, Ren, and I are storming Barnes and Noble this weekend and are gonna try and read as much of it as possible. I read the Amazon sample (first two chapters) and it was such a nostalgia trip. It was through criticism and discussion of Twilight in forums that I learned sooo much about writing and feminist critique. Ahhhhh. It's my childhood all over again. The awkward word choice is still there. The flowery prose is still there. It's still offensive to men and women--in all new ways through totally recycled content! Woo! I'm reading friend's updates on Goodreads and it's like a kindling of hate and disgust has been fueled. (Particularly at a really disturbing description of how frighteningly thin and therefore perfect girl!Edward is. It's actually really gross to me).

Also, had a visit from my aunt. She's in Miami for like a day, then on a cruise with her husband and friend, then back to Miami, then off to New York City to see my cousin and uncle. We didn't get to see each other for long but it's been interesting. Got some important news about home which I might write about later. Oh! And presents. She gave me a ton of jewelry: cute bear earrings (that I can't use sadly), a bracelet, and two rings--one of which apparently belonged to my grandmother. I stole the necklace* she gave my mom >.> It's a cute moon. It's Halloween-y. I'll probably show it off later.

Those are my tiny updates :D back to the challenge.

Week 22: One Thing You've Never Done That Most People Have

I'm stuck on that "most" part of the question. I don't know how to give that broad of an assumption about people. So. . .uh. . .let me think?

I've never gone camping. But then again, neither has a good chunk of the people in my inner circle.

I want to say I've never worn a full-face of make-up? But most guys haven't ever worn any amount of make-up. Also, I probably did wear a ton of it when I was in dance back in middle school. (We all did our own make up and hair for the shows. It was actually really fun).

I've never. . .driven a car out of the city I'm currently in? Then again, neither has anyone who doesn't own a car or doesn't have anywhere to go.

Oh! I've never been to a concert? Not an official one. Just small school ones. It makes me kinda sad because Nine Inch Nails actually got close to Miami a couple of times within the last two years--but not close enough that I could go. And even though the Smashing Pumpkins had a concert in here sometime during the summer, Ren and I didn't get to go in the end.

. . .wait, does an orchestral show count as a "concert"? Because I want to a jazz one a long time ago. Got all dressed up for it and everything.

I legit can't think of anything then >:( Difficult question is difficult.

*by which I mean I asked if I could wear it and she said yes. Don't. . .don't arrest me.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Heartbeat

Now Playing: Hiroyuki Sawano ft. mpi - Call Your Name (Shingeki no Kyojin OST)


Here's something I noticed: I haven't featured anything involving romance in these excerpts. I guess because I rarely find any that stand out to me, plus I'm not that well-versed in the overall genre.

But I was thinking back on it, and this is one of the things The Lunar Chronicles does incredibly well. It's already got a good plot on its shoulders and great characters to carry it out--and a really beautiful, unique atmosphere--but the romances are done well too. It's always balanced out, and each character gets to have their own unique relationships, simply because they're different people, of different circumstances and with different priorities.

So far, Scarlet and Wolf are my favorite couple :D It's helped by the fact that they're both already really good, really passionate characters on their own.

This is a very brief scene. It kind of has that balance I'm talking about and it was the point where I became fully invested in their relationship.

Long excerpt ahead--though I promise I did try to scale it down as much as possible without losing impact. There's little to no spoiler.

She swept a kiss against his cheek and felt his body lock up. His heartbeat thundered against her wrist as she clasped her hands together. 
The train rounded the corner, smooth as a snake. Its glossy white body rushed toward them, the vacuum creating a gust of wind that buffeted the trees to either side of the gully. 
Peeling her head off Wolf's shoulder, Scarlet glanced aside at him, noticed yet another scar, this one on his neck. Unlike the others, it was small and perfectly straight--more the work of a scalpel than a brawl. 
Then Wolf was crouching and her heart jumped, tearing her attention back to the train. Wolf braced his hands on the bag. His muscles were still rigid, his pulse galloping, and she couldn't help but contrast it with the uncanny calm he'd had when they'd jumped out of the train window before. 
Then the train was beneath them, shaking the log and rattling Scarlet's teeth. 
Wolf shoved the bag off the trunk, and leaped. Digging her nails into Wolf's shirt, Scarlet clenched her jaw against a scream. 
They landed heavily on the glass-smooth roof, the levitating train barely dipping from the impact, and Scarlet felt it instantly. The wrongness. Wolf slipped, his shoulders tilting too heavy to the left, his balance rocking beneath her weight. 
Scarlet cried out, the momentum of the jump sending her spinning away from him toward the ledge. She dug her fingernails into his shoulders but his shirt ripped out from beneath her and then she was falling, the world tumbling around her. 
A hand gripped her wrist, her fall stopped with a painful yank on her shoulder. She screamed, thrashing her feet as the ground whipped by beneath her. Blinded by the wind-thrown hair in her face, she flailed her free hand up toward him and grasped on to his forearm, squeezing as desperately as she could with slick fingers. 
She heard his grunt--bordering on a roar--and felt herself being hauled up. She beat her feet against the train's side, struggling for any traction, before she was heaved onto the roof. Wolf rolled her away from the edge, landing on top of her. His hands hastily brushed the curls from her face, gripped her shoulders, rubbed her bruised wrist, every ounce of his frenetic energy devoted to checking that she was there. That she was all right. 
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I lost focus, I slipped--I'm sorry. Scarlet. Are you all right?"
Her breaths shuddered. The world slowly stopped spinning, but every nerve hummed with the rush of adrenaline, every bit of her trembling down to her core. Gaping up at Wolf, she wrapped her fingers around his, stilling them. "I'm all right," she panted, attempting a weary smile. He didn't return the look. His eyes were full of horror. "I may have pulled something in my shoulder, but-" She paused, noting a splotch of red on Wolf's bandage. He'd caught her with his injured arm, reopening the wound. "You're bleeding."
She reached for the bandage, but he caught her hand, gripping it almost too tight. Scarlet found herself pinned beneath his gaze, intense and terrified. He was still breathing hard. She was still shaking, couldn't stop shaking. 
Her mind emptied of everything but the gusting wind and how fragile Wolf looked in that heartbeat, like one movement could break him open. 
"I'm all right," she assured him again, wrapping her free arm around his back and pulling him toward her until she could curl up beneath the shelter of his body, burying her head against his neck. She felt his gulp, then his arms were around her, crushing her against his chest.
- Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Blog Challenge: Inspirational Person

Now Playing: How To Destroy Angels - Parasite

Week 21: Someone Who Inspires You

This question isn't fair >:( Not because I don't have anyone to name, but because I have way too many people to name.

A ton of people inspire me. Basically, if you're someone who managed to delve into a creative field and somehow make a career out of it despite external circumstances and a ton of hardship, then I admire you a tonnnn and you inspire me. I want to be you!
  • I'm inspired by Mary Shelley because she was just a young girl when she single-handedly revolutionized and invented a new genre.
  • J.K. Rowling for writing when life was terrible and everything was a failure
  • Lorde for knowing what she wants and who she is at such a young age and not letting anyone deter her from that.
  • Trent Reznor for making music even at the darkest periods of his life, battling addiction and loss, and pushing on to newer things.
  • Chuck Wendig for his humor and talent and how he basically became an Ascended Fanboy.
    • (He got to write for Star Wars! And piss off a ton of homophobic people in the process. Imagine if I got to do that--but for Halo!)
I'm also inspired by people close to me. My parents, for all their hard work and for believing in my writing and my dreams. My brother, for not letting life's crap ever get to him and managing to navigate through life without the occasional emotional breakdown. (I really do need to learn how to do that). All my friends for being cool soon-to-be engineers and theater people and visual artists.

It's a good group to be around :D

Thursday, October 1, 2015

City of Sunlight

Early note: When I talk about Miami here, I actually mean the greater Miami-Dade County area. Because I know technically Miami Beach is a separate city than Miami. And that, for example, Hialeah is a separate city than Doral or Coral Gables. But fuck it all, man, Miami as an area never made much sense to me.

Now Playing: The Cure - The Last Day of Summer

Happy October! Let's start it off the only way it should be--by talking about Death. And hatred? Dislike? Annoyance at a place? You'll have to tell me.

Part of the reason I'm writing this is to show off a new plushie I bought this weekend. It's so cute!

Or. . .or so I think. He's my doll's new buddy and resident Halloween man.

My friends are of the opinion he's, uh, creepy. All staring into your soul, a little too Moe-eyes. I'm of the opinion that they're wrong.

Although speaking of Ren and Silvia. . . .

Around two weeks ago, I hung out with them for the better part of a Saturday morning. Library trip, quick breakfast, quick coffee break and lots of talking, lunch, and then randomly hanging out in Ren's car to watch videos her drone captured as she flew it around. (It crashed into a bush, a car, a couple of walls, and her neighbor's backyard. It was adorable. And the footage was actually in really good quality. I'm guessing the difficulty of controlling it is part of the fun).

While we were at a restaurant, the table parallel to us had three other friends having lunch. One of the guys there was dressed entirely in grey and was talking to the guy across from him. The sleeves of his hoodie were rolled up to his elbows (probably because it was surprisingly hot in the restaurant) and when he leaned forward on the table, I could see the inside of his right forearm.

On it, he had a horizontal tattoo of a skyline. It wasn't as simple as an outline but not an overtly complicated, blurry mess of buildings either. It was at a balance of simplicity and detail. I liked it so much I pointed it out to Ren.

The guy heard me. Him and his friends kept awkwardly glancing at our table afterwards, but even despite that, I managed to get a few more glances at the tattoo. (Hopefully not enough to be creepy. Like, twice, I swear).

I really liked it and kept thinking it'd be cool to have one. But to have a skyline tattoo, you'd probably want it to be meaningful, right? Maybe represent your favorite city?

While talking about it with Ren, I said a tattoo of Miami's skyline probably wouldn't be much because it wouldn't be as recognizable. She disagreed, mentioning a couple of buildings off the top of her head, but we were also talking about other cities (specifically Chicago and Seattle--for a separate reason), and those would most definitely have a recognizable skyline thanks to their famous signature buildings. Outside of the U.S. you could do the other obvious, beautiful cities--London, Paris, Berlin. I remember thinking I would probably prefer a Seattle or Chicago skyline tattoo over a Miami one, yet Miami's my hometown, my city. And I wouldn't pick it.

photograph from Matador Network.
People who know me or who read this silly blog might be able to tell something specific about me: I don't quite like Miami. I've mentioned that at times before but I've never been able to explain why.

I made a friend in my last year of high school named Dario who, despite being around my same age (I was only four  months older than him), was a Junior rather than a Senior. When we became friends, it was already the midway point of the year, and a lot of his friends were graduating seniors, me included.

I started out filling a ton of college applications. Completing them was one thing, starting them up (particularly the essays) was another. And I was pretty proficient at that. I was still undecided about what I wanted to do--I just knew that if I had to go to college, then I'd get out of Miami. Back then, I think I thought once I got out, I would never come back again. (Lolsurprise. Ugh).

Dario and I used to talk a lot about university. I'd finished applying to UF, FSU and UC-Irvine, but I kept thinking about other colleges. Not because of how great or highly ranked or whatever they might be, but because of the cities. Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, anything of the sort.

That time between deadlines and the start of applications was a time I allowed myself to dream. I knew I didn't want to go to university in Miami, that however long or short my time away from home would be, I still needed it to happen. I need to be away for a year or two, to know how I handled being alone, how I handle my own room and my own schedule and my own choices.

I was dead set on leaving Miami for at least a short while and living on my own, but it was not as popular of a choice as pop culture would have you think. A great deal of people decided to remain in Miami for university for an array of reasons, and I remember that while Dario did have some ambition of going to great universities elsewhere, he wasn't wholly opposed to staying here. His family was part of the reason (his mom especially wanted him to stick around for a few more years), but so was one more thing. Our city. He liked it whereas I did not. He guessed that after I left, I'd miss it and come to appreciate it too.

And for a short while I did. But only because Tallahassee didn't exactly put up a great fight in comparison. I missed Miami more in theory than I did in actual practice. I also wasn't far away long enough to stuff my thoughts of it in some nostalgia folder and twist it up into something beautiful. I guess the buses are nicer than the ones in Tally, but to argue against that, the city's too big to go anywhere in less than an hour with public transportation and a lot of them are always late as all hell.

I can complain about the metrobus system and then I can admire the metromover shuttles without hesitation. I hate the summer and springs here, despise how the rain and the humidity turns the street into a sauna. But I like the winters here, the constant breeze and the fact that no one knows how to handle days below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but I love them because they mean cute hats and knee high socks and curly hair without frizz. I don't like the beach but I like the ocean.

Parts of Downtown Miami might have influenced my futuristic cities (the starting points of Ataraxia and Vanguard's Exodus), but I've never truly written about Miami. The reason is the obvious one: I don't like it enough to want to write about it. Chicago is all skyscrapers and crazy weather and I think of yellow lights and overhead trains, so I gave it to Millennium Girl. New York gets to be romantic, funny, silly, a staple of the modern era. Seattle and L.A. feel vaguely futuristic to me too though I know little about them. Las Vegas is the city of lost dreams and perversion so I guess if you want a metaphor for the failure of the American Dream, you grab Las Vegas and let it spit all over people.

But Miami? Why don't I like Miami?

I'm trying to come up with a theory. Mostly, it's the heat. But it's also the culture.

The thing about being an artist who's part of a marginalized group in America means that, positive or negative, there's certain expectations. Growing up, I knew there was one kind of Hispanic American writer and that Hispanic American writer wrote about the struggles of immigration, the clash of two cultures. They sprinkle Spanglish in their work and talk about old traditions of their motherland that survive in adoptedland. They explore what it means to be a "Hispanic American" and at some point they use the term "melting pot" to describe cities like Miami.

And a part of me probably rejects Miami because Miami is capital of Hispanic America. I didn't and don't want to be another tired old Latina author who writes about Doral and Hialeah and what it means to come to this country and what it means to have been born in another and how great my birth country's food is. Blah blah blah, boring boring boring.

So maybe there's some internalized. . .cultural. . .heritage. . .problem thingy magingy that I don't want to get into right now, but what it boils down to is: Miami feels ridiculous to me. There's something about the culture, the people, the way it looks. I know this's really harsh and mean, but it's my hometown and I feel that gives me a free pass to be a bitch about it. I'm not excluding myself from this. It's just that this is the way I would describe it.

Yeah. I would describe Miami as ridiculous.

Maybe I'm just a miserable person who's incapable of appreciating warm days and the bright sun, but that's kinda it. Miami is seriously ridiculous.

I gave Chicago to Millennium Girl because it feels urban. When you write urban fantasy, you pick an obvious city that's dark and mystical and dangerous.

But the Sunday after Skyline Tattoo Conversation, I picked up the nonexistent Death Awakens composition notebook and sent Death on a stroll through a part of Miami Beach I am quickly becoming familiar with. It's all sunshine and tourists and you can practically smell the beach. It's a giant outdoor mall because that's what Miami's good at--the malls. And I had her run into the boy who's starting to look for her--a boy with a Miami skyline tattoo on the inside of his forearm.

You don't think "a story of Death wandering amidst humanity" and follow that with "in Miami Beach." You probably think, I dunno, Manhattan. Or Detroit or something.

I don't know if personified!Death is staying in Miami Beach for long. I'm not even entirely sure why I brought her out there to begin with. But if she is staying or if she does do something there, then, well, I guess I finally wrote about my utterly ridiculous home.

P.S: Though I almost wish I could drag them to Berlin. Dunno why.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.