Thursday, May 31, 2007

THE END (of part one)

I'll begin part two either tomorrow or next week, depending on how well the plotting goes.

Coffee with Fallen

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

There is a ring on his finger I don’t recognize. He plays with its green jewel—smooth to the touch.

We are not really sitting in this cafĂ©. That’s why it’s all impressionist brushstrokes and conversations in forgotten tongues.

How does it end? That’s all I really want to know.

“You know.” He reaches to add more sugar to his coffee. “I only really do beginnings.”

Pink Snow

Created as a writing exercise.

Like pink snow
The blossoms fall
Stirred by the wind
In the branches above our heads.

The blossoms fall
So briefly in season
In the branches above our heads,
Crowning us like pagan royalty.

So briefly in season
Our cherry blossom love
Crowning us like pagan royalty
Our entire reign lasting one spring afternoon.

Our cherry blossom love
Stirred by the wind
Our entire reign lasting one spring afternoon
Like pink snow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Today is STRAY Day



Using all of the authority the internet has foolishly given me... I declare today... STRAY DAY.

Now go party with Rachel Vincent, she can't celebrate all alone!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A fragment

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

It’s not dread, I swear. Dread would suggest a dislike or reluctance. The way one dreads discovering they’ve been given the gristly bits, and they’ll need to either chew through or find a way to distract the rest of the table while they spit in their napkin.

It’s not dread at all, it’s fear. The kind that keeps those tittering on bankruptcy awake at night listening for loan sharks. The kind that the hero never has when he faces the dragon, the orge, the aqua-scaled leviathan.

That—that it is fear, pure and simple childish fear—is the grain of truth in all her excuses. Fear is why she says the slumber parties can’t be at her house. Fear is why she doesn’t tell them she was with me at the mall, eating chocolate ice cream after trying on ridiculous feather boas at Claire’s.

She thinks I don’t know that she’s afraid of what the magic would do to a normal person. I guess she has good reason, since it reduced three Dells to silicon sludge before her parents gave up and bought her a Mac. (It was what she had wanted in the first place.)

It’s for the best that I don’t meet this family of hers, that my BFF comes over to my house instead, so she isn’t sitting at home, pondering what she could do to seem more human.

55 words

I've submitted this to the website that the idea for the exercise came from, but they did not take it.

“You owe me twenty dollars.”

I crossed a room to tell the stranger this. Naturally, he was baffled, but the money was already earned.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked, in that indignant way never mistaken for courtesy.

“Your eyes have followed me all night, good sir,” I said. “I worked hard for that smile.”

The Magician

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

The world is a sane place, a good place. To have a life filled with as many blessings as I’ve had, one would have to believe that.

It’s not luck—not in a Win the Lottery or Chosen in a Contest kind of blessing. It’s the older magic that flows in and out of my life. Friends who are there when needed—regardless of the years and distance. Safety during those moments that I was adventurously foolish.

There are many different kinds of success. Marriage and children is one, travel and experience is another. When we have one kind and not all, it doesn’t make us unfortunate or unsuccessful. Our goals are our goals, and the world twists and turns so the ones that truly matter can be achieved.

Not given. Achieved. It’s not a matter of semantics, but a worldview. “Given” implies that we are entitled to things, and we are not. Sometimes they’re gifted, but they’re not promised. The world does not owe us happiness, even if we are sometimes surrounded by things that make us happy.

All of this is tempered with what frustrates and infuriates us. The hardship and loss and pain. It’s not punishment, but an ebb and flow of the magic.

The world is a good place because we make it a good place, my child. We keep it sane.

Colors

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

WHITE

It’s not a name but a state of being. Immediately you would assume purity and piety, but that isn’t it. White is death—the gleam of teeth seen from the corner of your eyes. They’re in your throat before you can think to run.

He is called white in the tongue of a people who understand symbols and ceremonies. Ranks and chains of command.

We think it is an honor to be set apart as one called white in a family of white. It is separation. Distinction. An inescapable fate resonated by his very name.

PURPLE

Purple would be the same—what we’d see as royalty. We ignore how it fades, becoming a tired lilac. There was a court woman called Purple, and she faded, wrinkled, and passed on. But her words are unchanging. The world’s first novel was written by the woman who history calls purple.

We are eager to seek out the royalty of this color and wrap ourselves in it. But purple fades past lilac if given enough time. It fades to white. Royalty fades, too. Those who wore awe and fear like a purple become names in a history book. Not even written in purple or gold ink.

GREEN

Green is more fickle than purple and harder to predict than white.

Green is life and sickness. Virile and vile. Vitality and venom.

You can’t trust green. Not the ever-changing shades of greed and envy. Green has claimed many shades of purple. They mingle and transform into a muddy brown that makes even the most regal of colors common and vulgar.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Further Swag Notes



Upon realizing I'd never bothered to show the other side of the folder that I thought was pretty cool... here you go. There's some kanji in the bottom corner of the front side (not this image) and I have determined that it does identify the blond fox is O-Inari-sama. This delights me to no end, as it proves me correct in having gone "blonde fox Inari!" and also having gone much earlier than I had ever seen this image "I bet Inari's just a blonde fox." (I told you it was a Girl Shiro folder, Katy.)





Syaoran all put together, and declaring my suitcase completely free of feathers. Observe his lovely goggles. (Am I the only one who feels this statue makes him look like he has a girlish hourglass figure?)



In case you didn't believe me about the cookies. (Sorry, it was taken with my phone, so it's pretty small... which is funny in its own way!)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Clearly I needed a bigger suitcase

Ok, so I already gave away a few gifts and there are a few others that I don't want to show because they're Christmas/Birthday things.

Ye olde Japanese Swag Poste...



The magical snack foods of Japan, or what took up more room than it should have been alloted in my suitcase. I know you probably can't read it... but those Maid Cookies? They're called "Maid in Tokyo." Because puns are wonderful!

Should be pretty obvious what most of this stuff is. Lots of kit kats, beside a bag of 'soda' candies in the flavors of Grape, Melon Creme, and Cola. They have fizzy powder inside them. The pink and tan box is animal crackers that contain a "cock" cookie. The orange and green box is a special crunch chocolate mushroom snack. (Not containing any real mushrooms, I promise.) The pink little box is rosehip gum, because it sounded odd. The orange little package behind it is Valencia Orange hi-chews.



1) It's a jar of six two-piece kit kats that came CHILLED from a vending machine on the side of the street in Kyoto. Aside from umbrellas and Happy Family Condoms, it's the damn weirdest thing I've ever seen in a vending machine.

2) 100 yen or about $0.90 to win 4 boxes of Mousse Pocky from a UFO catcher at the Namco Wonder Tower in Kyoto. I think Hel for showing me how it's done!




This has got to be the most pathetic anime and manga goods haul I've ever made, which sort of goes to show that I'm not really up on it so much. (Or I'm getting more picky about what I'll buy.)

1) Buso Renkin Infinity—a character guide for the new-ish series by Nobuhiro Watsuki, who created Rurouni Kenshin. This book appears to also contain summaries and screenshots for the anime episodes.

2) Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle 18—the latest Japanese volume of Tsubasa by CLAMP. You can read up to volume 12 in English from Del Rey manga. (I think #13 comes out in June.)

3) A folder with two different images on it. The problem being it's a B4 size, so anything put inside it has to be smaller than 8.5" by 11", but I think I'll just frame it anyway because I really like the back image.

4) A mobile screen cleaner featuring Fay D Flowrite from Tsubasa. There was some discussion over which one to get... I like Fay, because I'm a sucker for blonds, but Hel pointed out that Syaoran is most cute, and we all know Kurogane is the most badass.

5) A gatchapon of a Syaoran figure from Tsubasa. I'll take another picture after I've put him together.

6) A black Chi statue won from a Club Sega UFO pull machine in Shinjuku. We were trying to get the Angelic Layer one.

7) A gatchapon of the Tsubasa version of Chi. For the first couple days we could not escape Chi. She stalked us.

8) An official Kingdom Hearts keyblade keyring. Yes. I know. But I want you to know that I did not buy the Roxas figure... no matter how many times it was pointed out to me in Akihabara. (I told them, it wasn't worth it if it didn't have dual keyblade fun.)

9) Mokona from Tsubasa. Hel won two of them from a UFO catcher, so she's got one. When you wind him up, he "walks" across a flat surface.

10) Tochigi Hello Kitty mobile charm... Tochigi's famous for strawberries. It and the other two were gifts from my friend Wasim, who lives in Oyama, Tochigi. I think I had to substitute teach in that prefecture once.

11) Hello Kitty dressed like an eggplant. No, I don't really understand it, either.

12) Apparently there's some kind of Candy Land or Candy Castle...uh...something in Tochigi. So it's a Candy Castle Fairy Hello Kitty.

13) A Masturi Festival Saitama Hello Kitty Pen. Yes, I realize this suggests I like Hello Kitty almost as much as I like Tsubasa. I don't. I used live in Saitama.




Um... that yellow dog thing is apparently a door stopper. That says "Please love my little friend." The sushi...we think it's made of sugar.



These are gifts.

1) It's a purple coin purse. A coin purse especially chosen because it's purple. I'm hoping that's a big enough hint to the person getting it.

2) It's a paper doll. No, really. I think she's funny.

3) She's not a paper doll and weighs considerably more.

4) Loose leaf green tea. At least I hope it's loose leaf and not the entire leaf.

5) It's a pen! ...yeah. Look, there's not much else to do in Narita airport than spend some remaining yen on souvenirs.

6) Socks for wearing with Japanese sandals.

7) A lucky cat mobile charm/key ring. Look in his belly and see him chilling in Japan with some cherry blossoms. I tried to find a black one. I could not. (Yes, that I looked for a black one is a hint.) The lucky cat brings money into business and good luck to people.

8) It's a little mirror with a Japanese girl that you use as a keychain. I assume it's too look over your shoulder when you're on an uncover stake-out.

9) Sakura flower "Japanese crafts." (WTF.) They're little bells, as bells are said to drive away evil spirits. Or bring good things to you. They're lucky... and on almost every keyring intended for girls in Japan.




Shrine stuff—much of this is gifts, too.

1) Dreaming in Red's new mascot: Aki-chan. Aki is a super sweet kitsune plushie. She was deemed the cutest, which may be because she has one ear that is tipped back a little and makes her unique. The tag around her neck reads "Fushimi Inari," as she came from the Fushimi Inari Taisha.

2) A charm from Fushimi Inari Taisha that brings good things to you and keeps bad things away. One of the few charms that didn't have a myobu on it.

3) A charm from Fushimi Inari Taisha for safety while traveling.

4) A myobu-head keycharm from Fushimi Inari Taisha...to bring good things to you. It has a bell and everything.

5) A charm for good health from Fushimi Inari Taisha.

6) A mini-myobu plush to keep away bad things and bring good luck. This is for someone who's going to Japan next summer to teach with Nova. I thought she might like a friend to keep an eye on her. ;)

7) A charm for Safety in Traffic from the Daibutsu in Kamakura.

8) Ok, we're not certain, but we think this is a good luck arrow. I don't know the specific story behind them, but I've seen them before and went looking specifically for one. They're not really common, so I was thrilled to find this one at Sensojii (Asakusa Kannon Temple) in Asakusa. I'm guessing the boar has to do with it being the year of the Boar/Pig.

EDIT 6/18/07: I've learned these arrows are "hamaya" or demon-breaking arrows. They are customarily sold at New Year's for bringing in good fortune and keeping away bad.

So you see all this and you think "WOW, that's a lot of stuff... but what about those amazing Japanese fashions?"

Let me tell you something about Japan. If you're bigger than a size 4, you don't fit in their clothes. And if you're larger than a size 8, good luck finding shoes. I do not fit in a size 4. I haven't for about 2 years now. I do, however, have size 7.5 feet....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

White Peach Kit Kats and other crimes against chocolate



See, one would expect a cherry blossom special kit kat to be...I don't know cherry flavored? No! The "Itsumo Sakura Saku mo" kit kats taste of white peaches. And it is not good. While the Hokkaido Milk white kit kats are most delicious, this means a 50/50 chance the infamous green tea kit kat will not be tasty. That would be a bad thing, as I bought a snack-pack of them to share at the next movie night. Along with those hysterical chocolate mushrooms. Only these look like they have corn flake crunchies or something in them. And mango pocky.

Sorry, guys, it's going to be a night of experimenting on our poor Western taste buds.

Oh. So I finished typing up the mess of an attempt at a draft of chapter 19 that I did over the plane. Clearly it was a sign from the gods when my pen ran out during the first portion of it. "STOP YOU ARE MAKING A MESS OF THIS." I'll just keep writing and see if I can salvage something of use from it all later.

Postcards should have arrived...I've heard from Karen in the UK and Karen in the US that they did.

You wanna see some of my swag?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So I'm back

It was an amazing trip, and I'm working on turning the brief point form notes I took into an actual travel memoir. Which should be good because I'm still feeling a little burnt out with regards to book one. I met some new friends, saw some old ones, and inflicted futons without the cushioning matresse pads on two others. Hopefully, we all recover.

A couple of not so wonderful things happened, but they're great story fodder and the good and wonderful things far outweight them. Every opportunity, Japan pulled through and reminded us that there are kind and compassionate Japanese people. The Kannon took good really good care of us, kept us safe and able to find a hotel despite an incomprehensible map.

I love Fushimi Inari Taisha. It more than made up for not returning to the Ryo-zen Kannon. Good god, that place is absolutely mind-blowing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gone



I won't be wearing those shoes.

See you on the 17th.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Disneyland & Gwen Stefani

RT Conference? Pfft. Forget that, everyone knows the real fun was here in CA!

(I stole these from Jim's Blog.)



The crew was Jim, Rachel O, Christina, Emory, and myself.




Christina was screaming "OMG OMG" before the Tower of Terror even started.




We were there because it was Rachel O's birthday.




Although, Jim was the princess. (Apparently.)




Even Emory put on a pink cowboy princess (or was it a Rodeo Queen?) hat. Afterwards, the people in the shop gave Emory a pin that declared him an honorary citizen of Disneyland.




I think this should be my new blogger image.



GWEN!!
Well, Rachel, we had more than enough fun for you... and I'm surprised you couldn't hear the concert from Texas!


It thrills me that she appears to be paler than I am. That gives me hope that I, too, can be like Gwen Stefani when I grow up.




It was this little Harajuku girl's birthday. She had a sign in the crowd and everything. AND a little cardboard key attached to her back. Now, all I need is three other girls and I will be set for Japan!

Seriously. I could have held auditions. There were that many kids under 15 there.

Watch an under ten minute version of the concert! (From Fresno, as no one seems to have their LA stuff up.)