Blackout

“Ouch!”

“Oh!”

“Who’s that?”

“Taylor? It’s me, it’s Petunia!”

“Pet – d’you know what’s going on?”

“No, listen, I think there’s been a power-outage.”

“…Duh.”

“I mean – I think it’s not just the building! I looked outside and everything’s black, it’s creepy.”

“Well, want to come back to my place? I can find some candles or something.”

“Taylor, come on, is now really the time to hit on me?”

“What better time? It’s dark, there’s a sense of danger in the air, you’re all helpless…”

“Shut up!”

“It’s too easy to get you mad. And that hurt, by the way. How did you even manage to find my shins?”

“I’m gifted.”

“Okay, I can hear you rolling your eyes. Geez. Anyway, seriously, come to my place – I won’t hit on you! – and we’ll try to figure out what’s going on.”

“Fine, fine.”

“Alrighty, here we go. Just try to sit there – yeah, that’s the couch, right there – and I’ll be back in a second.”

“Don’t you have a flashlight?”

“Huh? I can’t hear you, just a second, I’m in the closet!”

“I said, don’t you have a flashlight?”

“Yeah, but no batteries, ’cause I’m an idiot. Here we go. Good thing I smoke, right? I’ve got about a thousand lighters floating around here.”

“You should tell your doctor that next time he tries to give you another nicotine patch: ‘No, no, it’s good I smoke, really, because if I didn’t, I’d never have lighters around!'”

“Seriously, you’re the most sarcastic woman I’ve ever met.”

“Thank you – I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“So why were you in the hall without a flashlight yourself? Or a phone, for that matter. I just went out to the fusebox – I thought it was just my place that lost power.”

“Oh, um… well, to tell the truth, I kind of locked myself out of my place.”

“You what?

“Yeah, yeah, you can stop laughing now, it’s not that funny! You know how I got that new door-handle last week that makes it so you can’t open it from the outside without a key? Kind of worked against me tonight. I thought it was just my place that was out of power, too, and I went outside and I forgot to take my keys with me… Oh, shut up, will you?”

“Sorry, sorry, it’s just- that’s hilarious. Miss Excuse-Me-But-I-Think-A-Hundred-Bucks-Are-Worth-Extra-Safety uses her new safety against herself.”

“Shut up, Taylor. Geez. Seriously, can you just try to figure out what’s going on?”

“Sure, sure, I’ll see if my phone is still online…”

“Good, you do that. Okay, I’ve seen your apartment before, so I know that that’s new.”

“Um, Pet?”

“I mean, what deranged girlfriend gave you that thing? It’s hideous! I mean, come on, a fake antelope head? How tacky can you get, boy?”

“Petunia?”

“Huh? What? What’s wrong?”

“I’m not… quite sure. The network on my phone’s working, but the news is saying some really strange things…”

“Okay, now you’re freaking me out.”

“Um – there’s some sort of death-threat on Google News. It says ‘The Magliorandi are a peaceful race, but have expressed in no uncertain terms that they will destroy our planet if the human race will put up a fight.'”

What?! Let me see that!”

“…”

You idiot!!!!

“I can’t believe I had you going again! You’re just so easy, I can’t believe it! Ow! Ow, okay, no need to punch me so hard! I was just kidding!”

“You had me trying to decide between chocolate and pasta for my last meal, you jerk!”

“Pasta? I mean, seriously, pasta? That’s a lame last meal.”

“You know who’s lame? You are.”

“Nice, nice, I see you turn into a six-year old when you’re scared.”

“As opposed to you, who’s a six-year old all the time. Jerk.”

“Fine, but you’ve got to admit that aliens landing on earth is way more interesting than ‘Power should be restored in several hours, and all residents are asked to stay inside while work-crews will be on the streets, rectifying the mass power-line failure.'”

“You’re still a jerk.”

“Fine, fine, fine. But seriously, pasta? As a last meal? Pasta?!”

“Why, what would you have then? Jerk?”

“I don’t know – maybe a really expensive steak with fancy sauce stuff. Or some tiny gourmet French dish or something like that.”

“See, I would totally want to go with someone I just know I love. Like chocolate. Or pasta.”

“Yeah, but if it’s your last meal, shouldn’t you milk it for all it’s worth?”

“You’re such a- a- I don’t even know what. If it was my last meal on earth I wouldn’t care about trying to use anybody, I’d just want to eat something I like.”

“Oh, well, okay then, Miss Holier-Than-Thou.”

“Geez, Taylor, seriously, will you shut up?”

“I’m offering you hospitality and all you’re doing is abusing me! Is that any way to treat a man?”

“Yes.”

“Fair enough. Want a game of Scrabble?”

“Sure, might as well do something useful while I wait – like kicking your butt.”

“Uh-huh. We’ll see about that.”

“Fifty bucks say I beat you?”

“You’re on.”

A Schedule

Ancient Greece, course number 10110, exam at the New High-School at 4PM. Tomorrow.

That sounds like I’m taking an exam IN ancient Greece. But no, I haven’t learned the secrets to time travel… yet.

The day after tomorrow, Friday, is the day before my birthday. I’ll be going with my friends to a cafe in Jaffa to listen to some jazz and then walk around the flea market.

Saturday, June 26, is my birthday. I’m turning twenty. Last year, I was extremely depressed before my nineteenth birthday, but this year, I don’t feel much of anything. Does it scare me that I won’t be an official “teen” anymore? Yes. Does it scare me that “twenty” sounds so grown up? Yes. Is there a little part inside of me that’s screaming at me to get down on the ground, play with dolls, make faces at boys I don’t like, and stay a child forever? Yes. But then, there are good things that come with age. I can’t think of anything that I didn’t have last year or the year before, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be. Anyway, I have more important things to figure out at the moment – like getting back to health so I can get back to college.

Yes, I’m going back to college – I hope, I think, I want – but not yet. It’s going to be spring-semester. So meanwhile I’m here, until October when I need to send my letters in and proclaim that on all fronts, I’m better.

But how am I going to spend my time? What am I going to do? Well, I have a few objectives, none of which are easy:

1. I’m going to relax. I swear, hand on heart, hand on my favorite teddy, hand on my favorite book, I swear that I don’t know how to relax. Not really, not for stretches of time. There’s always something I should be doing. Something I’m supposed to be doing. Something productive, that looks good on a resume, that will make me busy so that no one will be able to tell me that I’m wasting my time. So, once and for all, I’m going to say NO to that overachiever inside me – I’m going to tell her that I’m taking a break, whether she likes it or not. This may be the one and only time in my life that I’ll be absolutely, 100% free to rest and relax and catch up on my gaming, my reading, my fun. I don’t know if I’ll manage, but I’m going to try. You may think – this is the easiest damn thing in the world, how can this be a hard thing to do? Well, let me tell you, you don’t live in my head. This is going to be a real challenge, and it’s probably going to be the one thing I won’t manage to do.

2. Having said all that, I don’t want to loll around in bed all day, every day. I just want to do something that I want to be doing. So, my next objective, is to finish the four games I have that I’ve not yet finished, that were expensive, and that I REALLY want to play. You may say what you want about video/computer games, since I know there are many people who are against them. But you know what? To me, they’re stories. They’re stories I get to be in, get to participate in and get to anticipate and wait for what comes next and to be responsible for it. It’s like an extremely interactive Choose Your Own Adventure Book for me.

3. Take drawing lessons and maybe voice lessons. I’ve always wanted to know how to draw, and as for my voice… well, I’ve always been one of those people who sing along to everything – including making weird noises when the horns/piano/guitar are playing. But it’s scary, putting myself, my voice, a deep part of who I am, out there to be scrutinized and looked at and played around with. So this idea is still going around my brain and I’m thinking about it.

….and, the most important of them all:

4. I’m going to write. I’m going to make a schedule. I’m going to put aside two hours a day, every day, starting next week, and during those two hours I’m going to be dead to the world. I’ll take no calls, I’ll see no friends, I’ll make no excuses. Can I get up to make coffee? Sure. If I go on holiday, will I take a break? Possibly. But I’m treating this as a job. Not in a bad way – not at all. This is exciting me almost more than the rest of them. Because if I dedicate, say, half an hour to writing in my blog on an average day, then the other hour and a half will be going towards one of my bigger projects. There are three serious ones at the moment, and I’m going to have to play around with all of them and choose which one I want to be serious about right now. But I’m going to do this. I have to do this. I have to see that I’m able to do this and enjoy it. Because, as every writer I’ve ever heard has said, part of writing is just learning to sit your butt down and write. And write. And write.

**

So there it is. My summer schedule. All wrapped up in four nice points. Now I just have to stick with it.

Boggle

Boggle is an under-appreciated game. Big Boggle even more so. You may be asking, what is this strange word? You may be asking, has she finally gone totally batty? Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s a really well known game and the only reason I’m not aware of that is because there wasn’t one [not even one!] set of Boggle at The Black Squirrel, which is the Sarah Lawrence student-run cafe.

Boggle, in case you don’t know, is a pretty simple game. There are sixteen six-sided dice, and there’s a sort of box thing that has little openings the size of those dice. And then there’s a cover. You shake it around until the dice fall into place, and then you see only one side of each of the dice, and those are the letters you get to work with.

You then need to try to write down all the words you can find in that little box of letters in front of you.

That was probably one of the worst explenations of Boggle ever written, but what can I say? I don’t remember how the rule-book words it.

The point is, it’s a fun game. It’s a wordy game. It’s a game I’m really good at. Scrabble? I’m okay. Quiddler? Well, both my brother and Sir B. F. beat me every single time. They have strategies, you see. If you haven’t heard of Quiddler, I highly recommend looking into it.

But Boggle – that’s a game that plays to my strengths. I write fast, I remember that words like “pot” and “tin” and “teem” can all be written backwards and mean something else, so I always get two words when I see these.

It might be possible, ever so slightly, to tell that it’s 1:24AM and I don’t have much to write about. I spent a half hour today starting to write something that Anne Lamott recommends doing in her amazing book, Bird by Bird. Anyone who wants to read a book about writing that’s both honest and hilarious should read it.

So now, without further babbling, rambling, chatting or similar, I bid you, good fellows or fellowettes, good night.

Fun House Mirror

It grows, grows, grows,

The time stops, then flows,

The truth that nobody knows,

Is how it grows, grows, grows.

**

It hurts, hurts, hurts,

Danger no longer flirts,

They’re filled out now – her shirts,

And that hurts, hurts, hurts.

**

It numbs, numbs, numbs,

Endless pages she thumbs,

Only they make the heart drum,

‘Cause it’s numb, numb, numb.

**

It gets better, worse, the same,

While the wild impulses are tamed,

Moods shift as if in a game,

So it gets better, worse, the same.

Wet-War

Clifford had drawn his gun. Things were bad if he’d reached that point: he hated drawing his gun unless it was absolutely necessary. Guns meant needing to aim. Guns could slip out of his grasp if he was distracted. The grenades attached to his belt were his most preferred weapon, but he’d run out of the lot of them. He knew he’d been hasty and he cursed himself for a fool. He should have known better than to waste the grenades all at once.

There was no going back now, however. Clifford crept down the alleyway he was in. There was a tall wooden fence on one side of him and red bricks belonging to the big building next to him on the other side. Approaching from the alleyway, he thought to himself, could be a good move or a bad one. Hopefully, the one he was hunting wouldn’t think to ambush him quietly from the rear. Clifford was sure his nemesis hadn’t seen him enter the alleyway in the first place, and so he believed that the possibility of being surprised wasn’t a probable one. This calmed him, and he held tightly onto his gun as he tried to make as little noise as possible.

This was the final showdown between him and his enemy. It had to be. The two of them had been fighting this war for years, and it had gotten the both of them in some serious trouble in their lives. They had agreed that this was the last fight they would have. Clifford fingered the scar on his lip and remembered how he’d gotten it the last time he’d come face to face in a struggle with the enemy. He hoped to avoid such injuries this time around. It wasn’t easy explaining to the authorities how he’d come by his scratches and bruises.

Suddenly, a wild yell split the still summer air. Clifford registered a shadow moving quickly towards him around the corner of the building. He burst out of the alleyway, and without pausing to aim carefully, squeezed the trigger on his gun. He felt, in the same instant, a grenade burst at his feet and he slipped and fell, still trying as hard as he could to keep the gun steady.

“Clifford! Jasper!” Another yell, the familiar sound of the authorities, broke through the fighters concentration. A woman, Authority herself, burst out of the red-brick house. She placed her hands on her hips and looked down her nose. “I told the both of you that today is NOT the day for one of your water wars! We have company for dinner, and I need you both inside, now.

“Aw, but Mom!” Clifford whined. “We were just getting started!”

“If you were just getting started, why are there burst water-balloons all over the backyard?” His mother shot him a look that could have frozen stone. “Inside, I said. I mean it.”

Clifford looked at his nemesis, his brother Jasper, and sighed. “This isn’t over,” he muttered. Jasper grinned, good-natured, and answered “We could have kept going if you hadn’t wasted all your water balloons right at first – then Mom wouldn’t have noticed a thing.” With an evil gleam of humor in his eyes, he skipped into the house behind his mother.

Clifford shouldered his big water-gun [it had three tanks that could be loaded!] and followed Jasper into the house. At least, he thought, I didn’t fall and split my lip this time. Mom being mad is better than three stitches at the hospital.

Teenager Sarah – Chapter 1

“This old man… he played 8… he played knickknack on my gate… with a knick… knack… patty-whack, give the dog a bone, this old man came rolling home…” I drone on wearily, getting up to ten and then I’m forced to start all over by the fascinated three year-old I’m baby-sitting for.

I can’t believe I took this job. I have to baby-sit for Max 4 hours a day for the next two weeks until the toddler-daycare starts. I’ve already been at this for a week.

I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but Max is so tiresome! Little kids are supposed to like to sleep a lot, right? Well, not Maxi here. No, no, no, Max likes to PLAY: “I play on pony! I wanna play with puzzle! Make up a game, Sarah!” I’ve made up so many silly games, I’ve rocked him on his wooden-pony thing, I’ve helped him with his puzzles, and he STILL WANTS MORE.

At least I’m getting paid pretty well. I’m saving up for a new amp. I’ve got a really small, pathetic one- only 10V. My parents are ok with me getting a bigger, newer and better one, but they refuse to pay for it. They say that they paid for the guitar and the amp I have and that I should be satisfied. So I’m working my butt off in a baby-sitting job because I started looking for decent summer jobs too late and there was nothing left in my area.

“Sarah! Sing that song about the bucket! I wanna hear the funny-bucket song!” Max calls out after the fifth round of patty-whack. I try to understand what the hell the funny-bucket song is, and then I realize and start singing to him.

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole!” I continue on, singing the Henry parts in a deep voice and the Liza parts in a high-pitched voice, and Max loves every minute of it. He claps along and giggles and repeats “dear Liza” and “dear Henry” in the appropriate parts. When I’m done I open a puzzle for him and tell him that I’m going to make a phone call and that he can start the puzzle without me. He pouts, but starts fiddling with the puzzle-pieces anyway.

I walk to the kitchen and slump myself down at the table. I take the phone and dial Hannah’s number.

“Hello?” Hannah’s mom answers.

“Hi, it’s Sarah. Can I speak to Hannah?” I ask. Hannah’s mom sniffs disapprovingly at the sound of my voice, but calls Hannah to the phone nonetheless.

“Sarah? I knew it must be you; my mom had such a look on her face. She’s never going to get over what you – quote unquote- did to me.”

“Geez, all I did was take you to a punk-rock show. Everyone gets bruised and beaten at punk shows! I mean, we were in the pit for gods-sake!”

“I know – it’s her who doesn’t understand. Honestly, you’d think that at 17 she’d be a bit less protective and give me some independence. I had a blast at that show, but she only cares about the bruise on my collarbone and the split lip. Anyways, what’re you calling about? Aren’t you at work now?”

“Yeah, I am, but I needed some respite from the three-year-old’s excitement. Listen, you up for going out tonight? I mean, I don’t have work tomorrow, since it’s Saturday and Max’s mom will be home to take care of him.”

“Sure! Out where? And with who?”

“I dunno… I didn’t really think it through, I just want to get out tonight for a bit. Are there any good shows around tonight?”

“Wait a sec, let me check the paper. Ok, um, there’s a jazz show at the Pallet club, there’s some lecture at the Secret Theater and there’s some band I don’t know at The Slob. I say the first two are a no-no. But the name of this band at The Slob sounds promising- Dragon Blood. It’s only 5 bucks, and it starts at 8, so I can even be home by my stupid 11:30 curfew. You want to check that out?”

“Sure, I’ll meet you outside The Slob at like ten to 8? Ok, great. Oh, and invite Mathew and Steve, they might be up for a good show.”

I hang up the phone feeling a little more cheerful, and waltz back into the living room, ready to take on the incredibly energetic infant.

Back home, I get ready to go out. There’s not much to do: I don’t wear make-up beyond eyeliner, and I dress pretty much the same for every outing: my black jeans, a black t-shirt [generally sporting the name and/or image of a band on it] and my black Converse. That’s pretty much how I dress daily, only with the bonus of the eyeliner.

I head out at seven-thirty and walk towards my meeting place with Hannah. The Slob is this very cool music club. Apart from their folk-night evening, they normally have pretty good bands that play there. I hope my band will be able to perform there sometime in the not-too-distant future as well. It’s the smallest venue around, but it’s a great place to get noticed.

I arrive at the doors of The Slob and Hannah’s not there yet. I lean against a lamp post and look around hoping to catch a glimpse of her or the boys. It’s pretty crowded, which means that this band we’re seeing has some sort of following. There’re actually a couple of girls in obviously home-made t-shirts bearing the words “Dragon Blood” on them in bright red glitter.

“Sarah!” a masculine voice calls from somewhere behind me. I turn around and see Steve. I hug him, and we begin chatting about the last band practice we had. Steve is the drummer, I’m the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Hannah is the lead guitarist and Mathew is the bassist. They always say, form a band with your friends. That’s exactly what I did 4 months ago when I decided that I wanted music to be my career.

Lucy’s Diary, May 16th

For those who don’t know, Alex and I are slowly playing a little game with these entries. His most recent entry, which this entry follows quite immediately, is here: http://crystalgeek.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/journal-part-ii/

May 16th, 2008, Morning, “Larry’s Diner”

Dear Diary,

I cannot believe that I haven’t had time to write in you until now. As a confidante, you haven’t been much use yet, but don’t fret, dear, you will get to know more than enough now.

Life at P&S is… let us say, fast paced. My mind has been taxed in every area possible, and I believe that instead of getting fuller, it is rather emptying out a bit of its intelligence as the days go by and I learn to conform myself to the strict policy of “no opinions allowed,” the general policy of the teachers here. There are a couple who seem willing to hear us speak with a tone of voice other than a flat, learned-by-heart drone, but those two – the literature teacher and, surprisingly, the biology teacher – are the only ones. Every other subject seems to be taught by rote and meant to be learned in no other way.

This, of course, is frustrating enough. What is even worse than my studies is, unsurprisingly, the general company that I am forced to keep. Peggy, Sophie and Maria – the infamous roommates from HELL – are all so concerned about sneaking razors into the bathrooms to shave their legs that they never realize that they have more than three brain cells at their disposal if they’d want them. I’m sure that with time my brain will melt as well and I will only worry about how to sneak cheap lip-gloss from the pharmacy past the teachers and into the school on our afternoons off – but for now, forgive me, Diary, if I still try to find some use for my poor brain.

The library here is fantastic, which is my only comfort. Oh, that is not to say that I don’t play along with the other girls – I do, because there is no choice – but whenever I’m doing my homework I tend to dawdle for a while after the others have given up, so as to sit in one of the comfy armchairs and read a bit.

You are now wondering, dearest and only friend, what I am doing in a diner on a morning such as this? Well, the truth is that I really shouldn’t be here. But you already guessed that, didn’t you? It’s not as bad as you think though, dearest. We’re allowed out Sunday mornings into the small, dreary town. Sophie and Maria were off to the arcade to look for James Dean types and Peggy and her friend Sue went to the pharmacy to score some more makeup. I decided to give them all the slip, and I came here to treat myself to some pancakes and maple syrup. I must say that the diner is a cozy place, and I’m enjoying the silence immensely. It is hard to be surrounded by incessant chatter all day long without a moment’s reprieve.

Diary, I have just noticed something rather odd. How very strange! There is a young man, very thin, with dark hair and dark clothing, who is sitting at another table – I believe he was on the flight with me! What a strange coincidence, to see him here. Who could want to come to a miserable little place like this? Diary, he is eating pancakes as well, and he looks tired to the bone, as if he were up half the night. He keeps forgetting to take bites though, because he’s on his cell phone, trying to understand someone’s directions to a place called “Gaitec’s Reach.” Silly man, he seems quite distraught – in a good looking sort of way.

Ah, well, I suppose I should order the bill and head back to the girls now… I’ll ask them what Gaitec’s Reach is, though, because it is such a rare, romantic sort of name that I’m quite curious!

I hope to be more diligent about our sessions from now on. I cannot promise a thing though, because I’m still trying to catch up on my studies.

Much love to you, Diary!

As ever,

Lucy

P.S. I talked to my wicked cousin, She-Who-Sent-Me-Here, and I conclude that she’s enjoying the silence of her big, empty house just fine. She says she’s glad of getting me away from all the “bad influences that those little friends of yours were” and that she’s “pleased at your progress in your studies – your teachers send me weekly reports, you see.” Thank goodness I managed to hide my belly-button ring from her, or I’d have lost the only thing I like about my appearance now!