Archive for the ‘30 Days of Me’ Category
So, I’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate the amazing debut novel of A. M. Tuomala, a great friend of mine. Tuomala is a fantastic writer whose story-telling and picture-painting skills I have always admired, and this novel has been a thing of beauty since it began. From publisher Candlemark & Gleam:
For three hundred years, Erekos and Weigenland have fought to hold the borderland between the two nations. As the first storms of the flood season scour Erekos from the swamplands to the feet of the mountains, the Erekoi king discovers a dangerous new weapon that might be able to end the war: the witch Achane, who has raised her sister from the dead.
Achane and her sister, dragged apart on the very doorstep of a temple, must work to find each other again before the magic that binds them also kills them. In the process, Achane must overcome her grief—and the temptation of the king’s plans for Erekos.
Meanwhile, on the mountainous border between the two warring lands, the student Erlen finds his research interrupted by the encroaching conflict. Driven by a militant love for this neutral territory and its people, he determines to defend his newfound homeland at any cost.
In a land where gods walk the earth and myth manifests along the rivers and in the mountains, ordinary men and women must fight to make their own stories before the war unwrites them all.
You can find Erekos by A. M. Tuomala here, read a sample chapter, and purchase a digital copy of your very own. I’ve already got mine.
Day 19 is something I regret.
With one exception, I don’t regret.
That’s not to say I like remembering stupid things I’ve said or done, or pain I’ve caused another person, or terrible events I’ve survived. However, had any one of those hurtful or depressing or enraging things not happened, I would not be where I am right now. It’s all part of a path, the highs and lows of human experience, and – however much I may or may not enjoy an individual thing – I am who and what I am because of the sum total of what I’ve done and where I’ve been.
And I’m pretty cool with the present.
Of course, there remains that one, lone exception.
A few years ago, I met a brilliant young man. We became incredibly close friends; he was practically a housemate, and we were in each other’s heads more than anyone else. We were partners-in-crime and confidantes. I even did my best to help him when he adopted two children, first a girl and, later, a boy.
After being so close for a couple years, a chain of misunderstandings and hurtful words began a downward spiral that, even once recognized and acknowledged, we could not stop with all our apologies and efforts. Six months of a slow dissolution ended with him moving well out of my reach. Our parting was as amiable as it could be, recognizing that we could no longer work as we had before, wishing each other the best, doing what was necessary so the children could be happy.
I regret that ending. I regret that I could not be, and am not, a part of his life. I regret that I cannot watch those amazing children come into their own.
I miss them all dearly, and I suspect there will always be an emptiness in my life where they once were.
Day 18 is my favorite birthday.
(If the title totally confuses you, check out the Barbarian Birthday Song!)
Sometime in my preteens, I discovered a great and valid-ever-since-then truth about my friends: they do not get along.
I am a rather laid-back person. I can befriend a wild variety of people and relate to them one-on-one with no issues. But those people cannot always relate to one another, occasionally just being too far apart on the spectrum of subjective reality. And that’s okay. One doesn’t have to “get” or get along with everyone. My friends are all awesome in their own ways.
But it did mean that I stopped having birthday parties pretty early on, and instead had little get-togethers of two or three friends, which was usually still too much of a clash.
As an adult, my preferred way to celebrate my birthday is to go out to a favorite restaurant and spend the dinner with a close friend or two. For the three years I lived in Colorado, Pat was my friend of choice. And it is because of him that I have happy birthday memories at all.
Day 17 is my favorite memory.
I don’t do singular best-ever favorites. Really. I am not that linear. So I’ll pick one of my favorites, and perhaps share others later on.
When I was seventeen, in late spring, my sister‘s parents invited me along on their family vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. Having not seen the ocean since Myrtle Beach in South Carolina when I was itty, I eagerly agreed. They were incredibly generous and insisted on paying my way, for which I am forever grateful, as I couldn’t have gone otherwise.
It was unspeakably odd watching the land flatten slowly as we left my beloved mountains behind, but the bridges once we got near Chesapeake Bay were amazing. We stopped at Fisherman’s Inn on the bay, where I had my first taste of cream of crab soup, which became one of my favorite foods that I can get nowhere else. We also saw a few wild ponies on Assateague Island in passing, and I put my toes into the surf for the first time in years.
I was struck then, well and truly, with the ocean’s magnificence. It attracted me like a magnet. My sister showed me how to move with the waves, not stand against them, and I spent the next hour doing the exact opposite of what she’d said, lunging at each wave as it rolled to meet me. I was sent tumbling a few times and surfaced with wild laughter, while my sister shook her head and her parents eyeballed us from the shoreline.
We stayed in the Carousel, an amazing hotel right on the waterfront, which enabled us to have convenient night-time beach walks. We strolled the boardwalk and found dozens of hole-in-the-wall shops, bought little trinkets and toys, and generally cavorted around.
It was easily one of the most formative experiences in my life, and certainly the highlight of that year.
Day 16 is my first kiss.
Up until I was seventeen or so, I was largely asexual, interested in “dating” only through social expectation and the vague thought that it’d be nice to cuddle with someone. But, seeing as I had animals in the house, the platonic physical companionship was already a done deal.
In my senior year in high school, a girl I’d known for years finally got it through my thick skull that she liked me. And I found that I rather liked her. So we started dating, she with this wonderful combination of suave and shy, and me with this slightly-less-wonderful combination of curiosity and confusion.
I have never been a socially graceful creature, I assure you.
One late evening, we were listening to music, all the lights out, in the privacy of my upstairs room. We were sprawled on the floor, snuggled comfortably, and talking. “May I kiss you someday?” she asked me.
My heart skipped a few beats, but to my credit, I didn’t stutter when I said sure. At least, I don’t think I did. The conversation continued as though she’d never asked.
A few minutes later, she rolled over and kissed me.
My brain shorted a fuse, my lungs decided that deflation was an awesome idea, and I went into an internal panic. (Exhibit A, forever unsuave.) At a total loss and not willing to ruin the moment, I played mockingbird and mimicked what she was doing. It seemed to work. (To this day, I credit my good kissing to her.) We kissed three more times that night, each time sending my brain into spin cycle. It took a long time before my heart didn’t seize up when our lips touched.
Though we broke it off after we went to separate colleges, I’m happy to say that my high school sweetheart and I are still good friends, and we still visit each other (though I’m in Nevada and she’s in New York) whenever we get the chance.
Day 15 is my dreams.
I should preface this by saying that my dreams are crack-tastic. (In politer company, I might call them eccentric.) My dreams normally resemble certain genres of video games – there’s usually someone or many someones trying to capture and/or kill me, and I get to evade and survive in any way possible. Sometimes there’s futuristic tech, sometimes magic, often telekinesis and/or shapeshifting, and usually modern martial arts and weaponry. I especially love the ones where I get to see (or be) my creatures.
Last night’s dreams, however, were rather tame.
I dreamt of an older lady hitting on me drunkenly, of attending an SJ Tucker house concert, and of getting rowdy and wrestly with a group of random young men who were all being informally instructed by J’s sensei. (That one involved knives and tests of strength, which makes it the most typical of all these snippets.)
Most notably, though, I dreamt that I woke up, looked at my laptop (which stays on the nightstand, playing music while we sleep), and saw the shipping status of my package was listed as “on truck for delivery” some forty minutes prior to my awakening. I stumbled out of bed, put clothes on, and checked the door– only to find the dreaded sorry we missed you slip. And I was about to cry as I flipped the paper over, saw a phone number, thought maybe the delivery lady was still nearby and I could call her and catch her and–
And then I did wake up, and looked at the tracking page for my package, and saw that it was on the truck as of twenty minutes ago. I staggered up and got dressed. But there was no bad news stuck to my door in the waking world, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
I did, however, spend the rest of the day hovering nervously and staring down the street, my ears atwitch at every noise that sounded like a truck in the driveway.
And at 3h30 PM – keep in mind, I got up somewhere around 9h30 – a FedEx truck finally pulled up and handed me my brand new sexy black electric bass guitar.
I named him Kitten.
Day 14 is about my partner, J.
(It was supposed to be another ‘what you wore’ thing, but man, my wardrobe is not that exciting. Flannels and jeans and sneakers. Whoop-de-doo. So I changed it.)
If I wrote a song about J, I would call it Steel-String Shaman. That’s almost telling enough, right there.
J is a dashing fellow with hair down to his hips and a sense of style that trumps mine ten times over. He’s a talented musician, rocking the guitar (6- and 12-string both) and ethnic drums (djembe, doumbek, bodhran), and he can improv incredibly well with anything from pennywhistles to mandolins to harmonicas. He’s also a craftsman and artist, skilled with pencil, paint, clay, and wood. Along with these creative hobbies, his passion is working with animals; he’s served as an emergency vet tech for years and has worked with dozens of wild animals in zoos and sanctuaries. He’s also an avid martial artist and the reason I began studying Bujinkan ninjutsu.
To make a long and glorious story short, J and I met through a mutual friend when I was still living in Colorado (and he in Nevada) in the summer of 2008. We fell hard for each other and decided to go for the long-distance thing – we didn’t miss a single day talking to each other and managed fairly frequent visits. The following summer, I packed up and moved to Nevada to be with this incredible person that I had grown to so love. We’ve been together for over two years now, living together for over one, and I could not possibly be happier.
This may, in fact, be why I felt the urge to give J a ring I’ve had and worn every day since I was seven. It was handmade for me and is the most precious thing I own, no matter how simple and plain-silver it is. It was all very romantic, of course – we were at dinner earlier this month, and I got down on one knee, held the ring up, and asked solemnly… “Hey, wanna ring?”
He did. And I smiled.
Day 13 is this week.
For which I will cheat and talk about what’s happened since Thursday before last, the ninth. Mundane things like work and feeding the cats will be omitted in favor of a more interesting tale. I already mentioned that I was working on a couple of songs, but this requires backstory to fully convey the impact of such a statement.
You see, I don’t– or didn’t– write songs; I don’t easily find original melodies that I can remember, let alone that I can play on a given instrument; and it’s nigh-impossible for me to combine good words and good sounds into something that resembles a song instead of slam poetry.
But music is my lifeblood, and I have yearned to be able to create it. I love to sing, and my voice can do interesting things– nothing operatic like my incredibly talented and skilled sister, maybe nothing worth more than an open mic night at a coffeeshop, but the only instrument that I have mastered is my voice. And while I can play piano and various percussion, and I am oh-so-slowly learning guitar, and I can mess around with my harmonicas and travelsax and didge… I can’t do any of these things well enough to write music with them.
Until Thursday the ninth, when J and I were at the Irish pub we visit every week for their Celtic music session. Sitting outside, I scribbled some might-be lyrics and then played with them aloud until I found a tune to go with them, then continued singing until it was polished to a gleam. I was amazed and giddy that it worked and sounded good, especially with such personally significant lyrics. Since that night, four people have heard my recording-of-questionable-quality of that song, and all responses have been positive.
And since that night, I have finished five songs (lyrics and vocal melody only, but for one that has drumming) and come up with lyrics for six others (some of which will have rhythm guitar and/or drumming), plus one unfinished lyric-snippet and a little melody on piano. I picked up Mel Bay’s Mastering the Guitar off my shelf and got 30-some pages into it in two nights, and will be diving back into my book on music theory so that I can more easily craft accompaniment to these and future songs.
My world has exploded with such a muse-dump, rife and rich with potential and excitement for what I am doing and what I can learn to do. Inspired by the likes of SJ Tucker, Heather Alexander, and Alexander James Adams, I plan to experiment further, with the help and participation of my partner and my sister. Between us, we have half a home recording studio and an incredible variety of musical instruments, and the passion and talent to Make Things Happen.
I’m wildly excited, and I can’t wait to see what we can do.
Day 12 is a photo post!
(Day 12 was actually not included in this meme. So I made this part up.)
The following are recent photos from our August trip up to Seattle, Washington to see J’s brother take (and pass!) his blackbelt test in southern-style kung fu. The first three are from coastal Oregon, which is a place where we would very much like to live someday. The fourth photo is from Discovery Park in Seattle, and the last is from I-5 N going through inland Oregon towards Seattle.
Day 11 is my siblings.
This is where it gets somewhat entertaining:
- I was born and raised an only child.
- I constantly refer to my sister, a young woman named Kaitlyn. But we aren’t biologically or marriage-logically related.
- I have an older sister that I’ve never met, who was given up for adoption when my parents were 18. Her name is Bobbie Sue. No one knows where she is now or how she turned out.
Since I know nothing about Bobbie, I’ll talk about my heart-sister, Kaitlyn. I called her my sister because ‘friend’ seems far too shallow to encompass the depth of our relationship, and since we were both only children, it was rather nice to have an extra family member close to our own ages. We met when I was 14 and she was 11, and though we came from vastly different households, we were so similar in interests and hobbies that we may as well be literal siblings. We also look alike, amusingly enough – we have similar eyes and hair.
Kaitlyn has been my confidante for as long as I’ve known her, the unwavering partner-in-crime to all my hijinks and success and bad days. She and my partner, J, are the two most important people in the world to me.
Kaitlyn is currently living in DC, quite far from my corner of the desert in Nevada, but we still make all efforts to see each other a few times a year. We keep in touch via online journals, instant messaging, Twitter, and cell phones. Though we’ve both changed immensely since we met – hard not to, given that neither of us are kids anymore – we’ve stayed close and comfortable with each other. I don’t think either of us have friends who haven’t heard of the other; we are a constant part of each other’s lives.
Instead of trying to describe my sister, I’ll tell you a story instead:
One Saturday night, back when I was living in Colorado and she was at college in Ohio, Kaitlyn was not happy. It had been a bad day. She wanted a hug, and her local friends were all preoccupied or absent. She and I were talking on IM, and much like xkcd once pointed out, sometimes typing *hugs* is not enough.
So, we each got in our cars and drove twelve hours to meet in a random town in Missouri. We had breakfast at IHOP, completely delirious from sleep deprivation at this point since we’d started out late at night, caught a few hours of sleep in a hotel, had another meal at TGIFriday’s, and then drove back home. We got a few hours sleep before she had class and I had work on Monday morning.
And it was totally worth it.