100 Words on Revenge

I’m doing another one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenges. This time, it’s 100 words on the subject of revenge. And according to Microsoft Office, this is 100 words right on the nose!

 

Untitled

When you’re gone, I sit down to write the list of all the ways I will get my revenge, pending my ability to evade the law. But as each idea falls across the page, I cross it out. TP-ing is harmless. Slashed tires are cliché. Salting your lawn is expensive. I don’t have an original revenge idea anywhere in my head, and that’s when I realize I need to just let the whole thing go. No point in prolonging the drama if I can’t be theatrical about it. The list goes in the trash. I go on with my life.

Flash Fiction Challenge – Plucked From the Pages of History

Chuck Wendig is hosting another of his excellent flash fiction challenges. I haven’t participated in a long time due to various other projects, but I’m trying to get focused on writing flash fiction again. So here is my effort for “Plucked from the Pages of History.”  The person (well, people) I chose are more famous than historical, but I couldn’t resist the idea when I got it. At the end of the post, I’ll talk a little bit about where I got the idea, but I want the story to exist on its own first.

____________

“I’m too tired for this,” Stefani says as she kicks off her eight-inch-high stilettos. She throws back a shot of vodka, but even the burn in her esophagus won’t stop the tears forming in her eyes. “I can’t take it anymore. First thing tomorrow, I’m hosting a press conference and coming clean.”

“No!” her manager snaps. “You can’t. It will ruin everything.”

“I’ve spent years pretending to be two different stars at the same time. Now, it’s killing me. Let’s just let the world in on the joke so I can move on with my life. Besides, it will give them something to talk about. I’m not sure I’ve been talked about enough lately.”

“But you can’t! Your other half still has–”

Stefani interrupts him by throwing her glass against the wall.

“Has what? The tour got canceled. Did you see that last pathetic attempt at a show? I was so exhausted, everyone thought I was totally strung out. It was fun for a while, but being two people at once is exhausting.”

“Well, you’re not hosting a press  conference.”

“What am I supposed to do? It’s not like anyone will believe Amy just disappeared off the face of the earth.”

“If I may,” a friend says. “I believe Shakespeare had a solution for this.”

Stefani raises an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”

Romeo and Juliet. She fakes her own death, remember?”

“I also remember that not working out so well for her.

“That’s because she didn’t have your entourage,” the manager says. “Yes, this plan is genius. The only question is, is a drug like that actually available?”

The friend laughs. “This is the 21st century. Of course it is.”

***

Five days later, Stefani comes to in a swanky hotel room. The first thing she does is flip on the television. It’s all over the news: Amy’s body found dead in her flat, everyone assuming overdose.

Stefani smiles and checks her schedule. New songs to write, a tour date to make, and a meeting to plan her performance at the VMAs. She goes to the bathroom to shower and prepare for the day. Looking in the mirror, she notices hints of roots starting to appear in the mirror.

Maybe I can quit bleaching now, she thinks.

________________

This story doesn’t draw much on truly historical figures, but was inspired by me hearing that Lady Gaga started bleaching her hair because she kept getting confused with Amy Winehouse. With the power of Google Image Search, I did note some striking similarities. And then I couldn’t help but wonder: what if they weren’t actually different people?

So that’s where that one came from. I hope you enjoyed it.

 

Infinite Summer – Halfway There! (Early!)

This evening, after work and a haircut and dancing, I sat down to read a bit of Infinite Jest. A few minutes ago, I reached the section break of page 507, which, according to the Index, means I am just over 51% of the way finished with the book. Also according to the Index, I don’t need to be there until August 6th. Meaning that, despite my struggles with the novel, at least I’m still reading! And I’m likely going to finish ahead of schedule – or, at the very least, I have a buffer so if I experience a setback, I can finish on time.

I love the comics featured at this post from Infinite Summer. Like the character in the first comic, I feel like I’ve been reading this for 100 years. Except I’ve only been reading for a month! I can’t believe how long this month has felt in my reading life. And I imagine I’ll feel the same way at the end of August, too. Even though I’m struggling and I expect I’ll feel lukewarm about the content (though not the style, which I adore), I’m going to finish this thing.

Infinite Summer, Day Whatever

So the whole plan to blog about the entire Infinite Jest reading process clearly fell apart. Blame it on life.

But just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. In fact, I’m well ahead of schedule. I’m currently on page 434, and I only need to be on page 295 if I want to finish on time. Hooray for that!

I feel especially accomplished because my initial enjoyment for the novel faded pretty quickly. I adore Wallace as a prose stylist. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to see him deliver the 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College. I think his nonfiction is brilliant. But I’m not particularly enjoying Infinite Jest.

There are moments of stylistic brilliance, of course, and that’s what keeps me hanging on. Well, that, as well as sheer determination to finish the book, to be able to say that I read it all the way through, from first page to final endnote. And there are plot points I enjoy. Just about everything that has to do with Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House has me hooked. But the plot about the Enfield Tennis Academy bores me. I don’t know if it’s because I generally find high school boys to be uninteresting literary subjects (Lord of the Flies and The Catcher in the Rye both bore me), or because not enough is happening to sustain my interest, but those sections just don’t do it for me. Nor do the bits about international intrigue.

*shrug* Well, it’s not for everybody. At least I’ll be able to say I gave it a fair shake.

 

Weekend Adventures

It’s been quite a weekend! Friday started out with dinner at Kerby Lane Cafe, where I met with some dance friends to help plan a competition that’s taking place in October. After dinner, I met up with Jon and we went out for beers at the Pourhouse Pub, and then turned in a little early. It was a low-key Friday night that felt great at the end of a long week.

On Saturday, I slept in, and then it was time for our usual Saturday morning jaunt to Torchy’s. After tacos, my friend and I drove out to Longhorn Cavern, where we went on an amazing tour.

It's gorgeous, and we haven't even gone in yet!

The tour was amazing. First off, our guide clearly enjoyed his job, and was very charismatic. We got to see some amazing geographic formations, learned a lot about the history of the cavern and Texas, and got to experience a few moments of total darkness. The whole thing ran a little over an hour and a half, and I even came away with ideas for stories.

The Queen's throne room
The gem room

After walking through the cavern, we stopped for a late lunch at Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, where we dined on great food and even better pie.

Once I got home, I did a little yoga, took a shower, and then went out to Trophy’s to see Jon and his band Groove Think.

You can barely see Jon, but he's in the back, on the keyboards.
Our friend Denise, enjoying the show

After the show, Jon, Denise, and I went to Black Sheep Lodge for drinks and delicious fried food.

This morning, I slept late again (yay!), and then Jon and I got brunch at 24 Diner. After swinging by Black Sheep to pick up the card that Jon forgot, we went up to Williams-Sonoma to get a wedding gift for some friends.  When we got home, I did some yoga, and then it was time to head out for the Inaugural Austin Writergrrls Literary Festival, held at BookWoman.

Local poet Cindy Huyser shares a poem

The reading was fantastic, and it was fun to celebrate the local women authors who have published books this past year. I admit, I spent more money than I planned, but local bookstores are always worth the extra cash.

After the reading, I went over to the hospital to have my writer’s group. One of the participants was a bit late, and since I had my camera with me, I got some great shots of Reesa’s daughter.

Cutest baby ever!!

After writing group, I came home just in time to catch the amazing season premier of Breaking Bad. Now I’m chilling out, working on some writing, organizing photographs, and generally winding down before another workweek begins.

Two Recent Poetry Publications!

Although I haven’t been devoting much time to poetry lately, some of the pieces I sent out earlier this year have been accepted and published. First, a poem called “Awake at All Hours” appeared in the most recent issue of Ardent! The piece was inspired by reading Eavan Boland (though is not an attempt at imitation), and is one of my final poems about insomnia (since soon after that, I quit having insomnia.

And earlier this week, I got my copies of the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar, which includes a piece of mine entitled “Traversing Houston by Bus.” Although you wouldn’t know it reading the poem, it was inspired by riding around on a party bus with the fabulous folks at D’Amico Dance and performing a west coast swing flash mob routine at various spots in the city. That was the day I started to love Houston, and I tried to capture that in the piece – the fact that the city still confuses me, but I’m finding things to adore about it. I’m really happy with that poem, and glad to see it found a home in the calendar.

Infinite Summer, Day 3

I got up to page 55 today.

In recent months, I’ve complained quite a bit about literary fiction. Much of what I read in literary journals bores me. It’s beautiful, elegant – and nothing happens. I’ve gotten quite enamored with well-written genre fiction which, as one person put it, has both action and ambiance. Given that just last week I was complaining about lit fic, I was nervous about whether or not I’d really enjoy Infinite Jest. I was beginning to wonder whether or not I could still appreciate literary stories. And then, on page 49, I realized I was going to love this book.

I can’t quite explain the specific reasons why I’ve suddenly decided I like the book. There was nothing specific. I just read “Hal likes to get high in secret, but a bigger secret is that he’s as attached to the secrecy as he is to getting high.” I don’t even get high. But something about that line – it hit me on such a visceral level, that I was hooked. It doesn’t matter what our secrets are; for many people, what mattes is that we have a secret at all. There’s something about having that hidden nugget of your life that helps you feel in control, despite all the variables and chaos you have to deal with on a daily basis. Just a thought, something worth exploring later.

There’s no turning back now. I’m looking forward to the journey of this book.

Most of what I read today touched on themes of secrecy, and since that’s what really stuck with me today, I’m looking forward to seeing where the secret motif goes as the book continues. I might try to focus on that throughout my reading, because I know this book will go in so many directions, it might be good to pick a thread and use that to guide my explorations. Or maybe I’ll go off in another direction. Or maybe I’ll end up directionless. We’ll see.

Infinite Summer, Day 2

Finishing out today on page 42. Reading this was a lovely way to spend my lunch hour.

Assorted thoughts:

  • Forget the footnotes. I can’t read this book unless I’m in the presence of a dictionary! Not that I’m complaining. This will be the most work I’ve done to expand my vocabulary since I stopped being a student.
  • “I’m an O.E.D. man, Doctor. If that’s what you are.” – I’m totally an O.E.D. woman. I hope to be able to use this line someday in conversation.
  • “Praying for just one conversation, amateur or no, that does not end in terror? That does not end like all others: you staring, me swallowing?”  – I feel like an unfortunate number of my conversations end this way. I pray that I get one, sooner or later, that does not end in terror.
  • I’m not a big fan of the medical attache. Interesting that 47 pages into a very long novel, I’ve found two characters that I don’t like, and I’m still inclined to keep reading.
  • “Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar” broke my heart.
And I loved Kevin Guilfoile’s introduction, “Fiction’s Dirty Little Secret.” I’ve had similar responses to some of my literary stories – people reading things that I didn’t potentially put in there, but that really worked. It was always a thrilling experience for me to make people have those reactions.
Anyway, I’m still too early in the novel to have substantive comments. And I’m definitely looking forward to responding to what the Guides have to say!

Infinite Summer, Day 1

I’m ending day one a bit ahead of schedule; I read halfway through page 27 on my lunch hour at work.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I skipped the Eggers introduction. I don’t typically like to read introductions when I’m starting something new and exciting. I wanted to go into this book not knowing anything (other than it’s awesome, and it’s long, and there are endnotes). I’ll read the Eggers introduction when I’m done.
  • This book is going to expand my vocabulary. I’ve already had to look up three words. Whee!
  • “My chest bumps like a dryer with shoes in it”  – best line of fiction ever?
  • “The integrity of my sleep has been forever compromised, sir.”  – I hope I get to use this line someday.
  • I don’t like Erdedy. But I love that Wallace has made him so unlikeable.
  • “He . . . realized intellectually that the feeling of deprived panic over missing something made no sense.” – I need to remember this more often.
Endnote to Matthew Baldwin’s introductory post to Infinite Summer 2009: When I told a guy in a bar that my favorite novel of the last decade was House of Leaves, he replied with, “Oh, right. Infinite Jest Junior.” House of Leaves is one of my top-five favorite books of all time. I’ll be interested in seeing how Infinite Jest compares and contrasts.
That’s all for now. I don’t have a whole lot to say so early on. More later!

Weekend Adventures

I realized as I sat down to write this post that I didn’t actually take any photos this weekend. I guess after weeks of travel and taking touristy photos at every turn, I needed a break from the camera.

This weekend was fairly low-key. Last weekend we were in NYC, two weekends before that I was dancing in Philadelphia. I’ve had a lot of travel, and I just needed to chill out and relax.

Well, chilling out didn’t happen much in the literal way. Our air conditioning went out at 5 a.m. on Friday, and by the time we got home from work, it still wasn’t fixed. Fortunately, I kicked the weekend off eating sushi with my friend Missy in the blissfully temperate Korea House. After that, though, it was off to the toasty apartment. We had repair people in and out most of the night trying to diagnose the problem. As it turns out, it was a mechanical issue with the A/C unit, AND we had a problem with the circuit breaker. The A/C unit itself got fixed, but we couldn’t run it until the breaker was taken care of, and that wasn’t happening that evening. Fortunately, a neighbor loaned us his portable unit, so the bedroom was comfortable.

Since I was already sweaty, I decided to head out to Kick Butt Blues and dance for awhile. I stayed for a few hours and got to socialize with some of my favorite dancers. And I was actually cooler than I would have been at home!

After a still-sweaty night, I woke up on Saturday, took a cold shower, and then went for a dip in the always-cool Barton Springs. Afterwards, I made my way to the downtown Farmers Market. I picked up eggplants, yellow tomatoes, leeks, chipotle-cilantro pasta, whole goat’s milk, and antelope sausage. I hadn’t been to the market in months, and I was excited  by my finds.

After hanging around the cool bedroom watching Veronica Mars, Jon and I went climbing at the Austin Rock Gym. We took the basic belay course. Unfortunately, I still have a lingering fear of heights, so I didn’t have the best time. I hope that Jon gets a climbing buddy soon, because rock climbing is not my ideal way to spend a weekend.

I wanted to cook dinner with my fantastic farmers market finds, but I wasn’t about to attempt it in my hot kitchen. So we went over to my dance partner’s house and cooked him dinner! I made a quiche with the antelope sausage and some of the tomatoes. Then we watched a film called Red Belt, which was quite good.

Today, I woke up and did some yoga, and then met my friend Gillian at Curra’s for brunch, followed by more time at Barton Springs. Then I went to visit my friend Reesa in the hospital. While I was out, the electrician came by and fixed the breaker, so I arrived at a cool apartment! To celebrate, I made the pasta from the farmers market, using the rest of the tomatoes, the goat’s milk, and some goat cheese to make a sort of tomato sauce/roux blend.

Tomorrow begins another week! I have a lot of plans, including beginning Infinite Jest. If all goes according to plan, I’ll write about my reading experiences here. Stay tuned!