We Must Escape!

In honor of V-Day, friends, I’m going to tell you about what we did for V-Day. I surprised my husband with a trip to a local escape room.

Do you guys have these where you live? In case you don’t, these are places that offer a number of rooms (and they are literal rooms) filled with clues and puzzles. You have one hour to solve all the puzzles and escape! (A lot of them are literally that–figure out how to get out of the room–but some have a goal you have to achieve before escaping, such as solving a mystery.)

We quite a few around here, and they’ve been on my radar for a while, but we haven’t managed to get to one before. But Friday we had a free night, so I booked us a room at a new one close by because they wouldn’t smoosh us in with random people (some places will stick small groups with other small groups, and that did not sound like a good date).

The end goal for our room was to steal the diamond before the detectives arrived. Our gamemaster was very sweet, giving us a rundown on how the whole process worked since we’d never done one before. She warned us that it might be a little hard for just two people, especially first-timers, and let us know how to ask for a clue if we needed one. And then she locked our phones away and let us into the room.

It was …

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Don’t Rely on the New Year

Happy January, friends! I have yet to buy a 2018 calendar, so I feel awash in time, like I’m unmoored just past the last buoy.

In early January, it always seems like everything is new, untouched, wide open with possibility. New Year’s resolutions have yet to be broken, the whole year looms ahead, and you can do anything you put your mind to!

Or can you?

The radio said something like 95% of New Year resolutions are broken before the end of January. I forget the exact psychology, but I read something once that said you should never try a new habit at an expected time, i.e., you shouldn’t say “I’ll start this in the new year” or even on a Monday. Something about giving yourself too much time to talk yourself out of it (or talk yourself into how you’ll fail again). Something about how it becomes too easy to give up the first time you fail.

I dunno. Not my area of expertise.

I’m not one for resolutions, which in some ways is a good thing. Because it seems like every few years, something comes along right at the new year that makes it hard to turn over new leaves.

This year I’m sick. And I’ve been sick for about three weeks now. Not dangerously sick, but lingering sick. I lost my voice for a week, which was not awesome, and rehearsal for a musical I’m supposed to be doing started this past Saturday, but I cannot currently …

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The Princess, the Pie, and the Sorceress

The Princess, the Pie, and the Sorceress

by Kit Campbell

 

“Uh, my dark queen? There’s a princess at the door.”

Morgwyn, sorceress, looked up from where she was spreading models of her minions across a map of the countryside to find one of her dwarves standing in the entrance of the hall, hat clutched in his hands. “What?”

The dwarf swallowed. “There’s a princess at the door.”

There was, indeed, a princess at the door. She was beautiful, of course, dark hair curled and twisted into an elegant updo, and she wore a thick cloak of the finest wool over what was, no doubt, a ridiculous gown. Behind her was a large traveling trunk that she could have in no way carried herself. Morgwyn could just make out the backs of a couple of attendants as they fled down the mountain pass.

Morgwyn almost asked if she could help her, but caught herself in time. “Yes?”

The princess sighed and rubbed one temple. “I’m dreadfully sorry about all this.”

‘All this’ seemed to be the princess and the trunk, though that didn’t clear anything up. “And?”

“None of this was my idea. You may rightly tell me to go away, and I shall do so.”

With what non-existent attendants, Morgwyn wanted to ask. “I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” Should she have cursed her by now? Probably, but it had been a long day of plotting, and she could use …

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Adventures in Pencil

Hello! So, last month I talked about the drawing class I was taking. It’s over now, and I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t quite what I wanted, if such a thing even exists.

But I thought I’d share the end results with you.

Here’s our main project, the Escher hand:

You can see the remains of the grid. And my “interesting” shading. I was much faster than everyone else (probably because I couldn’t be bothered to be accurate with my shading) so I finished this after three classes.

The last class, one of the other people had also finished his drawing (he was working on it at home! lucky bastard has grown children who do not live at home) so he brought along a picture of some aspens he’d taken. We used the grid method on it again.

This took me about 3/4 of the class. Notice, again, my lack of patience with a gazillion little details and the switch to being more stylistic than realistic. (Though I do like the end product.)

And then, because I figured I should probably draw in drawing class, I found a photo of a grumpy owl on …

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It Gets Everywhere

The stars have aligned, friends, and I am finally taking a beginning drawing class at my local rec center. (I’ve tried to take this class a few times before, and it either gets cancelled, or it’s at an impossible time, or…)

It’s two hours every Monday for the duration of October, and apparently each month the teacher picks a technique for everyone to practice. This month we’re doing straight pencil drawings (which is good, because that’s what I wanted, and if it were charcoals or pastels or something I would be disappointed) and working on reproduction using a grid. Basically, you draw a grid on whatever you want to copy, and a grid on your paper, and then you painstakingly copy everything, square by square, to help you get everything in the right place.

We’re doing M. C. Escher’s Drawing Hands (just one hand, so as to not go insane). I mean, we are anyway, but it’s the thought that counts.

On one hand, I’m not wild about copying another picture, even one by Escher. It’s a good technique to know, I suppose, but I’d really like to learn more about how to draw in general.

On the other hand, I get two hours to myself to do nothing else but draw, which is relaxing and wonderful, and it really helps clear everything out of my brain.

So, you know, it evens out. Though I do really just want to learn how to draw, and shade. Specifically shade. I am …

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I Would Like to Be Neil Gaiman

My significant other recently brought me home a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats from the library, which is a collection of speeches he’s given or essays he’s written on various topics, because he was listening to the audiobook version and thought I would like it.

This book is massive. I am not getting through it terribly fast.

But what’s currently hitting me is that not only is Neil Gaiman asked to talk to people on a fairly regular basis, he can seemingly do so while being profound and not suffering from a nervous breakdown or imposter syndrome or crippling self doubt.

That sounds very lovely.

Of course, maybe once one has several decades of successful career behind them, it gets easier. Who knows?

Not me. I’m participating in my library’s local author showcase on Sunday (for City of Hope and Ruin) and 5 minutes in which to present myself and the book, and I’m a nervous wreck. 5 minutes! In front of probably not that many people, because I did one for Shards and, like, 10 people came. It’s not the end of the world if it goes badly.

But still…

It doesn’t help that my notes from Shards (which I was going to copy the formatting on) have disappeared into the nether.  Oh well. But a little confidence boost would be a huge help.

Done talks? Have suggestions?

 

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Unwritten

Unwritten

By Kit Campbell

 

When his break started, Coren tucked his hard hat under his arm and left the site. Sure, they were encouraged to eat there, but it wasn’t required, and Coren hadn’t been here long enough to deny himself the right to explore, when he could. This site was downtown, the skyscrapers towering overhead, blocking sun and sky from view. He could head in any direction, and there would be new people, new things, new experiences.

Yet he was not surprised when he found himself in front of the bookstore again, its exterior painted a deep green, its interior dark and coated with books in varying states of disuse. Of all the places he’d found in this strange city, it felt the most like home.

Despite that, he never set foot inside.

 

#

 

His own book he kept at home. It was large, leather-bound, with gold filigree along the edges. There was no title on the cover, and if there had been one inside, it had disappeared. Coren had come to understand that books were supposed to have text on each page, from start to finish, but this one was missing large swaths where the words seemed to have faded away into nothingness. At first he had assumed it was his parts that had vanished, but it was seemingly random, as occasionally his own name stared back at him from the page, along with those compatriots with whom he had shared …

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Sometimes Life Does Eat Everything

I’ve always been one of those people who has believed that there’s always time for creativity, that no matter how much life throws at you you can always eke a little bit in, here or there, that as long as you schedule and try, you can reach your goals.

And now I know better.

I’m not really ready–nor am I sure I ever shall be–to talk about my current stressors, but let me say that now I understand what people mean when there’s just no more spoons left, when you physically, emotionally, mentally just have nothing left to give.

And on one hand, it’s agonizing, to have creative goals and not be able to make any headway on them, especially when I have managed to do so many times before. But on the other, I know that this happens sometimes, that it’s temporary, that life is everchanging and even if I’m only getting to write twice a week it’s still something. And it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Sometimes this happens, and you just have to roll with it.

I am not a failure just because other things in my life have taken precedence.

And even the smallest burst of creativity feels so good now. Last week I patched some holes on the smaller, mobile one’s sock monkey (he now has matching bracelets) and it felt amazing even though it took me 15 minutes and is not the cleanest sewing job I’ve ever done.

(In related news, I cannot find …

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I Really Just Want to Talk about Dinosaurs

I could write you an introspective post on creativity, friends, but that sounds boring, so I’m going to talk about dinosaurs instead.

For a reason that will go unmentioned, I’m spending all week at either the zoo or the museum. In a few weeks, the zoo is going to be opening an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs throughout. They’ve had a Carnotaurus for a few months advertising this fact.

Dinosaur!

He’s pretty scary, as far as robot dinosaurs go. Sure, he mostly just moves his head and growls, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching children come to a dead stop and stare at him with utter terror.

I get it. You’re not expecting a 9-foot tall carnivore to suddenly rear up out of nowhere. (He’s kind of hidden around a corner, and now they’ve planted palm trees to screen him.) Especially not one that moves and growls. And even after they’ve realized it’s not real (or their parents have explained that dinosaurs are extinct and that this is a robot), the kids still are skeptical.

They keep their distance. If they do get up close, it’s to giggle and run away a moment later, as if they’ve done something very brave.

(My question is: who decided to design its arms so that they tuck up backwards against its …

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I Miss My Kitchen

Oh, friends. I have no kitchen. I have not had one for slightly over a month, and it is terrible.

(I am also aware that this is such a first world problem. I have had to wash the dishes BY HAND OH NO)

(But seriously, I hate doing the dishes even under ideal circumstances so this has been hell.)

We live in an early ’80s house, which is an interesting period architecturally in that it lacks the vintage chicness of older houses and the mod openness of newer houses. Also, sometimes they put carpet in bathrooms, because that makes logical sense somehow.

In an attempt to improve Feng shui or whatever, the previous owners of the house essentially removed all the cabinets from the kitchen. I mean, they were hideous; we saw another house of the same floorplan that had left them in. They stretched the entire length of the kitchen, leaving a weird foot-and-a-half gap between cabinet and counter where you could kind of see into the family room.

So removing the cabinets was a definite improvement, Feng shui wise. From a functional kitchen standpoint, it was less than ideal. So, for six years, we have had a single cabinet to store all our dishes, and apparently this was slowly driving my husband mad.

And now this madness has resulted in the complete redoing of the kitchen. And I do mean complete. We tore out the floor. The walls. The ridiculous drop ceiling. The wiring. The lights. The plumbing. …

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