Monday, May 24, 2010

Fire, Fire

We bought a grill yesterday. My sister and her husband were coming over for dinner, and so my fiance got it set up while I was out at my writer's critique group.

He was so eager to show it to me as soon as I got out of the car. He asked me to come over and help him move it, then turned one of the knobs and showed me how it lit up, exclaiming "FIRE" in that deep man-voice guys always do.

A half-hour later, we were desperately cleaning the house, and I asked him for the shed key so I could put something away out there. He walked me out and we stood in the backyard for a second talking about something insignificant. Our back fence is just a few trees and some dry brush away from a freeway on/ off ramp, so the sirens we heard pull up and stop behind our house were not unusual or even really noticeable.

What stopped our conversation was the crackling sound I heard from beyond our fence. My fiance saw the smoke, and we both came to the same conclusion at the same time.


When you live in SoCal, you don't mess around with fire.

He ran for the hose and I ran for the pets; it only took me ten minutes to coax one cat out from under the bed. By that time, the alarm had settled from oh-no-not-this-again to oh-hey-those-nice-firefighters-have-almost-put-it-out.

Time flashes in those moments. What do you grab? Can you even find the most important things to take? Life first. Always life first. But beyond life, what?

Suffice to say, this isn't the first time fire has chased me into action, but it is the first time that I didn't have any warning whatsoever. The fiance and I spent a good half-hour after our hearts stopped racing talking over a plan for when--not if, but when-- it happens again; something we hadn't done yet. But the truth is that there is never any guarantee that there will be time to make those choices. There's a different set of priorities if you have three days or three minutes to prepare, and you can never know which it will be.

A couple hours later, we struck up our domesticated fires again and bent them toward cooking dinner, and all was right in the world. It's amazing the difference between control and chaos. One can be a tool, the other adrenaline and change.

This won't be the last brush we have with fire living here, but it is the first time it's so literally struck close to home. And a little PSA: don't be a jerk and throw cigarette butts out of your car window, ESPECIALLY into dry brush. I mean come on. That's just ridiculous.

You never know whose life you might irrevocably change by something so small and thoughtless. If it weren't for the amazing fire department in our city responding before we even knew there was a problem, I don't like to think about how the day would have ended.

What would you take with you if you had three days or three minutes?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Cat Burfler

*This post is about cat vomit. If you are offended by cat vomit, do not read on.*

She comes in the night, or during the day while we're at work.

She knows us-- too well, it would seem, because she knows when we're most likely to not be home, or not paying attention.

She bides her time, waiting until the perfect moment, and then burfles on our bed.

It was imperceptible at first; just a tiny puddle on the comforter. But as she learned our limits, she began to push them. Soon, it was several times a night. From the comforter to the under blanket, to one day-- when she was bravest of all-- our sheets.

Her stealth is unparalleled; she is the whisper of a ghost. One moment there, the next gone, leaving only her calling card and a load of laundry for the next day.

I wash our sheets daily with bitter tears.

I can feel her greediness increasing with each incident. Like a grasping demon she claws for the next big score, and I know what the ultimate prize is-- our pillows. I dread the day I come home--or wake up-- to find my worst fears are true. There are some things that cannot be taken back, no matter how good the return policy.

So I write this post out of respect for our cat burfler, that she may be appeased and leave us to a restful night's sleep without the unpleasant discovery of the shattering of our dreams.

Oh-- we believe we may have pictorial evidence of the culprit. If you squint really hard in this picture, we feel she may be the dark, soul-sucking shadow over our other cat. If anyone sees this cat burfler, do not approach. Please just leave a comment here letting me know and we will contact the appropriate authorities.

Edit: Picture was broken, should be fixed (if a little smaller) now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


A belated (whoopsie) thank you to Amalia Td for gifting all of us at the Archives with an award. This is my public self-flagellation for somehow not knowing that I didn't follow your blog, Amalia. My very serious bad.

To anyone else who has given me an award, if I miss saying thank you for it... well... please always feel free to smack me. It's not like I don't care, I am just gifted with the memory of a flatworm*.

*No offense to any flatworms. I mean, everyone knows flatworms are smarter than nightcrawlers**, right?

**No offense to nightcrawlers. You guys totally have it over the woolly caterpillars***.

***No offense to woolly caterpillars. But seriously, you guys are just dumb. Come on... crossing the road by the hundreds at feet per hour? Not a very good way to keep the species goin'. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Etymology day-- Daisy

I've got wedding flowers on the brain, hurray for you! Today's word is daisy, etymology again from here.

dægesege, from dæges eage "day's eye," because the petals open at dawn and close at dusk. In M.L. it was solis oculus "sun's eye." Daisy-cutter first attested 1791, originally of horses that trotted with low steps; later of cricket (1889) and baseball hits that skim along the ground. Daisy-chain in the "group sex" sense is attested from 1941. Pushing up daisies "dead" is attested from 1918, but variant with the same meaning go back to 1842."

One of the things that fascinates me the most about Old English, Latin, and the Romantic/ Latin-derived languages is how we can still see their influence/ roots in today's spoken word. It's easy to see how "day's eye" became daisy.

Since I have the maturity level of a seventh grader, I find it interesting that "daisy-chain" as a sexual, er, thing, goes as far back as 1941. Shocking!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In which I have something similar to what might be called an angsty rant. But not really.

Criticism is an unavoidable part of life as a writer. Even if nearly everyone likes your work, there will still be someone who doesn't.

There is a difference between critique and criticism, but it's narrow. I see a critique as something you offer yourself up for; criticism is unsolicited. Also, critiques tend to be nicer and more constructive.

For the purposes of this post, I'll lump them both under "crit."

Right now, I have a piece in a contest, and all the writers who have also entered the contest have to critique other entries.

The comments on my piece have been mostly positive, but there is one commenter that I feel just doesn't get it. And this, right here, is the most frustrating part of being a writer-- no matter how careful or explicit you are, you can't control "it." IT is intangible, and impossible to grasp. You either get IT, or, you don't.

Likewise, I can't control the other writers and whether they get my writing or not based on the sample offered. And it's hard to not be able to argue back. Even when we have IRL (in real life) critique groups, it's hard for me not to defend myself, because I do put incessant amounts of thought into every word that goes on my pages, and wrestle with every decision to do something out of the ordinary, or in style.

Now, I probably sound like a spoiled brat, so I'll back up and say that I don't usually have this reaction to every crit I receive. Even if something is hard to swallow, I'm pretty good about taking the crits that resonate with me. If it really will make my writing better, why would I want to ignore that?

What I have a hard time with is people who "don't get it." And I don't fault them for not getting my work, because not everyone will. It's so hard to not respond, though, and correct misconceptions. Yes, I intentionally capitalized that letter. No, "fiction novel" is okay if it's part of the genre (at least last I heard).

But I won't respond, at least not there, because a.) as per my post at the Archives on Monday, I will remain professional online, and b.) it's not a habit I want to get into. If I'm serious about being published, I have to understand that there is going to be criticism of my work. And I can't track down every person who doesn't get it and correct them, can I? Likewise, I don't want to be *that* person. *That* author who has a public meltdown over a bad review and ruins their rep forever. If I'm going to have to take it from a lot more people someday, I may as well learn in the small scale now.

What's hard about criticism for you?

Monday, May 3, 2010

In which I say nothing of consequence but point you to other people who do and a place where I did

Confused yet?

Good. That's how we like things here at Confuse-An-Author, Ltd.

(Bonus points if you catch the reference).

Anyway, I'm over at the Archives today, and Taryn Tyler has an idea of sheer brilliance-- seriously, go check it out.