Friday, July 30, 2004
Well hello again! It's been a while! I love to see your shining smile!
I feel like I've been neglecting my blog a bit... Poor thing. It's getting a bit wilty and forlorn looking, don't you think? I've just been awfully busy lately. You see, this week, I've been doing actual WORK at work, and that's rather a new concept for me. In addition, this whole fan fiction thing has gotten me writing like I haven't written in years. For those of you who think I'm insane to do it (and you may well be quite right) let me just legitimize it by saying that in the last two weeks I have been exercising writing muscles that have long lay dormant. I am stretching and flexing and taking little jaunts into the world of narrative prose and it feels wonderful. Oh, certainly, my little exercises in blogging have helped tremendously. They were like walking around a bit before the race began. But this story is going to be long. It's going to have a complicated plot. It has characters that need to mature and grow and be happy and sad and excited and afraid and everything in between. So all right, they're not all my characters per se, but they've given my writing new life, and for that, I think they should be praised.
You see, I honestly thought I might have lost it. It's one thing to say to yourself, "Oh, writing is like riding a bicycle. You never forget." While that may indeed be true, when was the last time you sat on a bicycle? A part of me thought I had forgotten. A part of me didn't even want to go near the proverbial bicycle for fear that my attempts to ride mightn't be as good as they once were, back when I was in practice.
Terrible extended metaphors aside, if nothing else, this little bit of fluff has morphed into a religious experience for me, reminding me that I do, in fact, remember how to do this and -- wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles -- I do, in fact, still love it.
So bear with me any of you who still read this blog. I will not forget you entirely as I go my merry way with my random fan fiction flights of fancy. I will remember the humble beginnings of my renaissance and continue to blog, not matter how sporadically it may be.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
The first time I ever saw Empire Records was from the floor of Mrs. Gerard's Latin classroom at about 4 o'clock in the morning with Michael and Suzanne and Julie. We'd had a disgustingly long rehersal for the musical (Once Upon a Mattress I think) and subsequent lock in, but everyone who was sleeping in the auditorium wasn't really sleeping, they were making all kinds of noise, and Suzanne had the key to her mom's classroom, so we went up there and watched movies and slept on the cold hard tile floor. I think we had sleeping bags, but it still wasn't very fun.
I don't really know what the point of telling you all of this was, except that I really don't want to work. I think I'm going to go to lunch.
Sorry I haven't been blogging much in the last week or two. My brain has been wholely consumed with the mild obsession of writing a Harry Potter story. Yes I know. It pains me to admit how much of an obsessed freak I am, but you probably wouldn't be reading this if you didn't already know me pretty well, so this is probably old news...
ANYWAY... Brandon and I have been pouring our combined talents into creation of said Harry Potter story. It picks up where book five left off because I just can't stand the suspense any more, so we decided to make up our own sixth year. It's called Harry Potter and the Sect of the Serpent.
If you'd like to look at it, here's a link:
It's much too long to post on this blog. In fact, although I've only published two chapters, I'm already working on writing chapter six and I'm already up to more than sixty typed pages. So no worries about being left hanging!
If you read it, please review it and let me know what you think. Brandon and I LIVE for those reviews. =)
Monday, July 19, 2004
I was living in the apartments at CSF, or some very like them, and I was going up my stairs and I found my childhood teddy bear sitting outside the door of my apartment. So I picked it up and went inside, and once I was inside, Allison came in the apartment and told me that I had left my laundry in the dryer and that now some guy had it, but she had rescued my bear for me. And I said thanks, and that it was OK, because I hadn't put any of my underwear in that load.
Then my sister was there and we walked across the street to Richardson Square Mall and we were walking around there and she was telling me about her classes and how hard they were, and then I went back to my apartment, and Aaron was there and he was drunk because they were having a party downstairs and he wanted to show me these Polaroid pictures he had taken of his friend Trey (who, as far as I know, is a figment of my imagination) while he was drunk and how he didn't have any clothes on. And I kept laughing and acting like it was funny, but I really just wanted to go to bed. And then the party moved upstairs to my apartment and this girl I knew in high school, but wasn't really friends with, Carrie Williamson was there and this guy Trey and everybody ended up asleep on my bed except me, because I couldn't get comfortable with all these people all around me.
Friday, July 16, 2004
Let's go to the fireman's dance.
That was on my French Phrase Calendar yesterday. As usual, I had to ask myself how often the average French person would need such a phrase, and then I recalled a play -- I think it's by Ibsen -- that some friends and I performed a scene from for a French competition. The play is called (in English) The Bald Soprano and, as far as I could tell, has nothing to do with either music or hair loss.
The scene we performed revolved around two couples having dinner together, when the doorbell rings. A fireman is at the door who quite politely asks if the couples have any fires which need to be put out. He is very disheartened to hear that the couples have not even a candle which needs extinguishing.
There really wasn't any point to this story, but there really wasn't any point to the play either, so I suppose it fits.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
"He can really get to you, can't he?" he asked, attempting to make his voice sound light. She looked up at him finally, her large brown eyes wide and frightened.
"Who is he?" she whispered. Charles had to give her credit. Her voice was controlled, even if the rest of her wasn't.
"He is... Alpha." He looked around to make sure that his sergeant was still safely outside and that the door was firmly shut. "To tell you the truth, Doctor, even I don't really know who he is, and I've been his guard for almost five years."
"Five years? He's – you've – been down here for five years?"
"He's been down here a lot longer than that. And I'll tell you this: this place -- his cell, these quarters – they weren't built in a day. These rooms were honed from solid rock without anyone in the entire central compound ever knowing it had been done. His cell is extensive. Really," he said looking around with a laugh, "this place is the cell. His is practically a mansion."
The Doctor leaned back in her chair. He could tell from her face that she was still trying to assimilate what was happening to her.
"It doesn't make sense," she said finally. "None of it makes sense. Why me? Why this assignment? I'm not at the top of my field, not even close! I work hard, and I do a good job, but I'm no prodigy. There are plenty of doctors older and wiser than I in my medical center alone who would be better qualified, so why did they pick me?" Charles shook his head.
"You don't have any idea?"
"Something he... Alpha... said. He said I resembled someone. That the resemblance was remarkable. And then he said 'Where in the galaxy did she find you?'" The young woman stared at him. "She who? Who was he talking about?"
Charles shifted uncomfortably in his chair. It was times like this that he was reminded that he was a man who knew too much. It was always a question of whom you could trust, how much you could reveal without it getting back to those you couldn't trust. The Doctor seemed to sense his reluctance. She leaned forward and set her tea on the desk.
"I can't work like this," she said simply. "I don't know how they expect me to help him with all of this cloak and dagger mumbo jumbo all around me. Hell, I don't even know what's wrong with him!" She looked at Charles intently. "You said you were beginning to be concerned for him?" Charles nodded.
"Well he's always been a bit odd. He's a genius, or so I was told. And he certainly seems to be. He's always tinkering with some bit of something or another or drawing something or reading something. The only things he ever asks for are books or data chips. But lately, lately he hasn't been himself. I never see him working on anything any more except a drawing. A drawing of a room, or a deck on a ship. I'm not sure. He hides it whenever I get to close." Anna frowned.
"Would you say he's becoming obsessive?"
"That's precisely the word for it. Obsessive."
"Well, being locked away like this can't be good for his mental health. I'd be shocked if he didn't have a few obsessions, a few quirks."
"But it's more than quirks, Doctor. I agree with you. A man cut off from the world for as long as he's been is bound to be a bit queer, but now he's started talking to himself, or to be more precise, to other people, as though he's having a conversation with them that no one else can hear." Charles bent and reached into a drawer under his desk and retrieved a file.
"My sergeant out there was the first to notice it when he was taking him his dinner. We thought for a while he might have somehow built himself a communicator, that he really was speaking to someone on the outside. We did a full sweep of the cell. Tore the thing apart." He pushed the file across the desk at her. "Pissed the hell out of him, too. But we didn't find a thing. It's all written down in there." The Doctor opened the file and glanced at the first page.
"Have you heard him?" Charles nodded.
"On several occasions."
"What does he say? Who does he think he's talking to?" Charles sighed. Poor old Alpha. It almost felt like a betrayal to bring this pretty young doctor in. Charles knew that Alpha's pride was about the only thing he had left, and bringing in a doctor would hurt.
"It sounds like he's giving orders sometimes, or discussing strategy. He'll say something like, 'We've got to go after them. They have something we need.' Things like that. Other times, it sounds like he's just chatting with friends."
"Have you ever heard him use names?" Charles nodded again.
"Only once. He was talking about someone who had died, I think. Or someone who was missing. I couldn't be sure."
"What did he say exactly?"
"He said, 'We have to keep searching. We have to know – I have to know if Blake is alive or dead.'" The Doctor looked at him quizzically.
"Blake? Are you sure?"
"Quite sure. Does it mean anything to you?" The Doctor shook her head. She was staring at her hands, probably thinking. Charles said nothing. Let her think.
"Commander," she said finally, "what will happen if I accept this job? Will they put me down here with you? With... him?" Charles was surprised. He heard the implication in her question and was impressed that she'd drawn the conclusion so quickly.
"You mean, once you get in, will they ever let you out?" She looked up at him again with those same frightened brown eyes. "I wish I could tell you. Where Alpha is concerned, they've thrown out the rule book. From the rumors I've heard from other men posted down here, for the crimes Alpha committed, he should have been executed a dozen times over. He gets anything he asks for – anything at all – no questions asked. And from what I've heard tell, the men who waste their lives down here, either disappear completely, or turn up as rich governors on outer worlds somewhere." He shrugged. "I didn't have anything to lose, but everything to gain by accepting this post. You, well I don't know about you." The Doctor leaned forward and glanced around.
"I'm afraid I already know too much," she whispered. "I'm afraid that if I turn them down, I might just disappear like the men you mentioned." A chill went down Charles' back. She was right of course, and it made him feel sick. He didn't say anything.
Suddenly, the intercom on his desk buzzed. He pressed the speaker, and his sergeant announced that the Doctor's escort had arrived to take her back to the surface. They both rose in silence.
"They've told me I'll be given a week to make my assessment and decide..." she said before he opened the door, "So I guess I'll see you again." Charles swung open the heavily reinforced door.
"I look forward to it."
On the top floor of the central compound, Martin Faure was feeling decidedly ill at ease with his orders. He had shuffled the meaningless papers on his desk several times already in a vain attempt to keep his mind occupied as he waited for his next instructions. Still his mind tumbled over and over the things he knew, and the much more numerous things he did not know.
The intercom on his desk buzzed, and he was glad. No matter how terrible a thing is, it can never be worse than the anticipation of it.
"Good evening Madam." He found that no matter how many times he spoke to her, the visage on the communicator screen never ceased to cause his stomach to clench and his teeth to grind.
"Supreme Commander. I trust things went according to plan."
"The Doctor arrived on schedule and I briefed her as you instructed. She had her first visit with the prisoner this afternoon."
"Yes, I know. It went well. Better than I had hoped."
"I'm very pleased to hear that, Madam."
"But I'm afraid that Alpha may have made your job a bit more difficult."
"He alerted the girl's already piqued suspicions. She's not a fool. Really, Faure, you must learn some subtlety. It is the thing that distinguishes rulers from subjects and kings from pawns."
"It is imperative that our little ingénue make the right decision. She is the cornerstone of my plan."
"And if she should decline?" There was a pause, long enough for Faure to realize that his question was a foolish one.
"See that she doesn't Faure."
Friday, July 09, 2004
This happened to me today and I honestly have no idea how I got on the mailing list for this newsletter, but I really quite liked it. It's called Liquid Treat, and it's a digest of new trends, products, etc. that are interesting from a design point of view. To tell you the truth, I'm all for it! For example, after going to their website to see if I had ever been there before (which I hadn't), I stumbled across this little gem of a site called Uncommon Goods which hosts a collection of just that -- uncommon goods -- which are uncommonly well designed and not uncommonly expensive. For example, I loved the idea of a greeting card album. What a great gift for someone celebrating an occasion when they're likely to get a lot of nice cards -- like a graduation, the birth of a baby, an important birthday or a wedding (hint hint).
And as you all probably already know, I am a big fan of kitchen utensils, but I found all of the little gadgets in the helping hands category especially cute, whimsical, and uncommonly useful. =)
So hooray for the email fairy! She can send me THIS kind of unsolicited email any durn time she likes!
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Eight, nine, ten...
"How far down are we going?" Anna asked, hearing the note of concern in her own voice. The soldier never moved. Never blinked.
"Level 26 ma'am."
Anna sighed silently. It had been the same since she'd received the cryptic message from the medical center nearly a week ago, no one telling her anything, explaining anything. She'd been put on paid administrative leave for absolutely no reason and with no explanation, and before she'd even had time to take a breath with which to start screaming about it, a second message had arrived, marked with the Federation crest and coded eyes only. She'd protested with the messenger -- another faceless soldier in black -- that she wasn't cleared for that level of security. That man had also rarely blinked.
The message was a summons from the Supreme Commander of the Army Space Corps. Arrangements made. Travel papers unquestioned, barely looked at. Transport shuttles waiting for her, recognizing her, without ever asking her name. The whole business had unnerved her more than she hoped she'd let on, but the worst part had started when she stepped into this damned lift not more than an hour ago.
Then she'd been riding up, straight up, to the top floor where the met with the man her father had described as the biggest son of a bitch of them all. The man in charge of the entire Federation armed forces. A man she had no reason to meet.
A loud ding shattered her thoughts as the lift came to a halt and the doors slid soundlessly open. Anna's escort stepped courteously to the side to allow her to exit first. She walked past him, unable to take her eyes off the long white corridor that opened in front of her.
Once out of the lift, the soldier again took the lead as they made their way casually down the long empty corridor. Not a single door or passageway opened off the corridor, though Anna thought she sensed a slight curve to the walls.
After more than five minutes of walking she was beginning to wonder where on Earth the man was taking her. The Supreme Commander had spoken of a prisoner. A prisoner in need of specialized medical care, but this was unlike any prison Anna had ever heard of. Finally, an end materialized in the form of a single door. The passageway widened slightly to accommodate an alcove off to the side of the door where there was a desk, a computer station, and two more soldiers.
Without speaking, Anna's escort presented the guard seated at the desk with a data chip, turned on his heel and walked back towards the lift. Anna stared at him, completely unsure of what she was expected to do.
"Doctor?" the guard said. Anna jumped at his voice. She smiled sheepishly.
"I guess so. All of this has got me a little confused." The man returned her smile kindly.
"I understand. Sometimes the security measures are hard for civilians to comprehend."
After her meeting with the Supreme Commander, a general -- or commander, or someone -- had told her “everything she needed to know” and in so doing had told her nothing at all. No one was to know her real name. She was not to ask her patient for his name, and she was not to give him hers. She was to live in the central compound for the duration of her work under an assumed name, and everyone associated with her work would know her simply as Doctor. The general had told her it was necessary for her safety, for everyone's safety. He'd told her a lot of things. And nothing.
The man stood and extended his hand. "You can call me Commander." She shook his hand and he gestured for her to come around behind the desk. As she did, she realized that there was a door, expertly concealed in the wall behind him. Concealed from whom, she wondered. Who would be down here to see?
The Commander led her through the concealed door into what looked like an officer's quarters. The forward part seemed to double as an office, while the rear contained sleeping quarters, mess facilities, and leisure facilities. For a moment, she wondered in horror if this was what was meant when they'd told her she would be given "quarters" in the central compound. A wave of claustrophobia washed over her.
The Commander went around to the desk in the forward portion and opened what looked like a bank of safety deposit boxes in the wall. He punched in a code and removed one of the boxes.
"Now," he said, "I'm going to let you in to see Alpha in a few minutes, but first we have to go over the ground rules." He sat down behind the desk and motioned for her to sit. "I have to emphasize, these rules are for your own safety. Alpha is not to be underestimated." He stared at her for a moment, as if willing her to understand with his eyes. She nodded weakly.
"First, nothing goes into or comes out of the cell without being cleared by us, and anything that goes in, has to come out. Everything has to be accounted for, every bit of gauze, every cotton ball, every pencil you take in there has to be logged, inspected and filed. Everything." He picked up a clip board and pushed it across the desk. "In a moment I'll ask you to empty your pockets and everything will go into this box," he pointed at the metal container, "and it will stay in there until you come out again, OK?" She nodded again.
"Second, you'll be given a radio signal to take with you into the cell." He picked up a small square of metal from his desk with a single button in it and handed it to her. "This is so you can call for a guard if you need one. There aren't any recording devices or listening devices in the cell. We won't know what's going on in there, so this is your only way to contact us if you need help." Anna stared at him, wondering what kind of madman she'd been sent to play doctor to, and why, if he was so dangerous, they weren't watching him at every minute.
"Finally, you'll only be allowed in the cell for an allotted period of time. You're only to assess him at this point."
"Assess him?" Anna interrupted. "Assess him for what?"
"Assess his health, both physical and mental." He leaned forward conspiratorially. "We've started to notice that he's gone a bit... funny. Talking to himself, and to... other people."
"There are other people in there?"
"No." The Commander abruptly stood and passed her the clipboard. "I think that's everything now, Doctor. If you'll just empty your pockets..."
It didn't take very long for Anna to divulge the contents of her pockets or for the Commander to note them in his log. She was amused, and somewhat bewildered that he included "blouse, skirt, two shoes, undergarments (presumed)" in his inventory.
The Commander then led her back out of the office to the little alcove at the end of the corridor. The other guard snapped to attention as they passed, and fell into step with them as they walked up to the door.
On either side of the obviously heavy metal door was a handprint recognition panel. Anna recognized the device from the medical center where they were used for restricted sections. What she didn't expect was the retinal scanner and the voice recognition prompt, and the code words to which both men were subjected before there was a soft and somewhat anticlimactic click.
The younger officer stepped back while the Commander opened the door. He held it open and, apprehensively, Anna entered.
The cell, as the Commander called it, was like no cell Anna had ever seen. It was not a single cramped room as she had been expecting, but a large, even gracious living area that appeared to branch off into other rooms; it was minimalist and functional in design, yet tasteful nevertheless. A bookshelf on the wall housed a small, but probably priceless collection of actual books. Potted plants had been placed around the room. Anna stared. The Commander walked over to a panel in the wall and pressed a button. A few seconds elapsed. Then, there was a voice on the speaker.
"Your visitor is here, Alpha." The Commander turned back to Anna. "Remember what I told you about the radio signal," he said softly. "Press it once and one of us will be here in seconds." She nodded, and then, to her horror, the Commander turned and left, the door clicking much more ominously as it closed behind him. Anna stared at it for a moment, and then remembered who she was waiting for and turned around.
In the doorway opposite her stood a man. He looked to be about fifty, with dark hair graying at the temples, and a few harsh lines crossing his face. His expression was blank, but his black eyes burned cold and hard as he stared at her. She saw something – recognition? disbelief? fear? – in those cold eyes, but she couldn’t place it.
"Who the hell are you?" he whispered hoarsely. Anna felt a bit frightened at the intensity of the question.
"I'm a doctor," she replied shakily, "your doctor." In an instant his expression changed. The eyes softened slightly to include curiosity.
"Doctor?" She noticed how his muscles remained tense and his eyes alert. Who was this man they had buried so far beneath the earth? A killer? A maniac? Some sort of madman? And why on earth had they chosen her? She forced herself to remain calm as she nodded.
"Your guards were concerned about you. They wanted me to--"
"You're a shrink," he said, sounding suddenly amused. He walked forward abruptly, like a cat springing from a crouch and stopped a few feet away from her.
"Yes," she replied. "I'm a psychiatrist, but I'm also a medical doctor. I was made to understand you haven't been feeling well--"
"The resemblance is uncanny," he said quietly, studying her intently. "Where in the galaxy did she find you?" Anna didn't know how to respond. She decided to distance herself from him. He's your patient, she thought, you're his doctor.
"Resemblance? To whom? Where did who find me?" His expression changed again.
"Let the games begin, eh? Very well," he walked away from her and took a seat on one of the couches that lined the room. "What's your name, or should I ask, what do they want me to call you?" He gestured to the couch opposite him. Anna moved to the proffered seat, her clinical mind taking over her fear, analyzing him to protect herself from her own paranoia.
"Doctor will be fine. And you're Alpha," she said.
"That's right. The alpha and the omega. I was there at the beginning and I was there at the end." His eyes trailed off for a moment.
"The end?" she prompted. They snapped back to her, razor sharp and analyzing her every bit as much as she was analyzing him, maybe more.
"That's a very long story, Doctor, one I'm not sure you're prepared to hear."
"Well, as far as I can tell, I'm here for you, so I'm prepared to hear whatever you'd like to talk about." He smiled, the gesture cold, twisted, mocking.
"That's not exactly what I meant. It's just that I wonder if you fully grasp the responsibility attached to this position you've accepted." She looked at him questioningly. " Or perhaps the better word would be vulnerability."
"I'm afraid I'm not following you."
"Come come now, Doctor. Certainly it has occurred to you that you're being sent to assess the mental stability of a very secret, probably very important, probably political prisoner."
"And certainly this caused you to realize that you might be privy to some possibly very secret, possibly very important, possibly very classified information that I might have locked in my head." Anna stared at him, her professional shield melting back into fear at his implications.
"And I can tell by your expression that you realize that that kind of information, the kind they bury instead of eliminating, the kind they hide instead of disposing of is not going to be allowed to walk around in the free world once your job here is done." Anna didn't know what to say. She felt a horrible sick nugget of truth forming in her stomach. Whoever he was, whatever he was, if she found out about him, they'd hardly be likely to just let her walk away.
"That's right, Doctor. I'd think twice about taking this job if I were you. Once you decide to be a part of this charade, you're a part of it." From somewhere behind her, there was a soft click. "Ask my old friend, the Commander." She whipped around, and found, to her great relief, that the Commander was in fact standing in the open doorway behind her. She leaped from her seat and hurried to his side.
"All right there, Alpha?" the Commander asked, sounding almost genial.
"The alpha and the omega, right Commander? The beginning and the end..." Anna hurried out of the cell, not waiting to be instructed by the Commander. She stood by his desk, hugging her arms to herself, suddenly cold in the sterile white hallway as the two officers once again shut and locked the door.
The Commander approached her, concern written in his eyes. "Come inside and sit down," he said softly.
At first, I thought you were just anxious for the film to start. Your amusing catcalls and loud shouts of "I've got it!!" every time they called a number for the raffle just got funnier and funnier every single time you repeated it! But I dismissed it as puerile youths unaccustomed to spending more than two minutes without some sort of media stimulation. So when the lights dimmed, I thought that the film would act as a cellulose pacifier for you and your delightful companions.
Oh how wrong I was!
I should have guessed from the lengthy discussion you had during the opening sequence about the filmmakers search for a mountain that would match the paramount mountain in size and shape, that this wasn't going to be just any ordinary film watching experience for me or the other patrons around us. And when you shrieked in ear splitting falsetto at the scene with the darts, the scene with the tarantulas, the scene with the dead body, AND the scene with the huge rolling boulder, my suspicions were confirmed.
My favorite part, however, was not the running commentary you and your friends obviously thought would be so entertaining for the rest of us, nor the lengthy arguments you had about the nationality of certain characters, nor the whistles and catcalls you performed when the heroine appeared for the first time. No, my absolute favorite parts were the bodily noises you continually made, clearing your throat, snorting your nose, and burping so loudly and so close to my ear that I was able to guess what you had for dinner! Thank you!
I also particularly enjoyed the fact that, after I asked you to be quiet, you made crying and sniffling noises, and then loudly announced to your buddies that you couldn't talk because the "freak" next to you would get mad. Yes, you were right. I was getting mad.
Yet you continued unabated. Even when my normally unflappable fiance leaned over and suggested very colorfully and vividly exactly how and why you should shut up, you were still insistent on sharing your obviously priceless point of view with the entire theater.
And as an added bonus, your delightful friends got up not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times during the movie for more popcorn and sodas! I must say, being that close to them that many times during such a short time span was an experience I will treasure.
When you started trying to actively engage me in your dialog by shouting "Watch this! Watch this! This is great! He's got a hanger!" you obviously assumed that I had not seen this film half a dozen times before like everyone else in the theater. Perhaps that's why you looked so surprised when I stared at you as though you were a raving lunatic. Alas, I shall never know.
It was, I must say, with a heavy heart that I watched you and your friends rise from your seats for a fifth time, a good twenty minutes before the movie was over and file painfully slowly out of the aisle. Your witty parting statement of "It was nice sitting next to you," brought tears to my eyes, as did the curse words my fiance poured forth with as you trod on his foot and departed.
And to the other patrons sitting in front and behind us: thank you so very much for your unending support during these altercations! Your absolute silence I'm sure really shocked the offenders and made them consider that their actions might be affecting people other than themselves.