Monday, June 30, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Topped off?

I took this photo a couple of days ago, and now this station is down to $4.65. Have we finally seen the worst? A while ago I dreamed I pulled up to this station and the price was $7.75 a gallon. A couple of folks suggested maybe it wasn't a dream, but a premonition. Let's hope not.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cough, cough

Saturday's thunderstorm was cool (and weird), but it's still raging in the form of wildfires. Thousands of lightning strikes + dry vegetation = disaster.

Hard to capture in a photograph the oppressive, hot, stinky, heavy, making-me-choke-and-giving-me-a-headache-while-my-eyes-water smoke. But you can see a map of the fires.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The color of monkey

A teenage girl works the register at the craft store's only open checkout lane. She's figured out the hair and makeup thing and is now figuring out the power her beauty has on scruffy teenage boys.

In line before me, a scruffy teenage boy.

She takes her time checking him out. He's buying items to make hippie-type neckaces, and they chat easily about nothing. The boy's buddy calls to him from a nearby aisle -- an additional item has been found. But the boy is reluctant to leave his place and says he'll get it later.

The girl ensures him that it is, in fact, fine to go get the item. She'll wait.

No, he says, that's OK.

No, really, she says.

I'm thinking, don't mind me, I'm just here for the paint. Orange and lemon, to be exact. I like how lots of colors are named after the thing that is that color. Orange, lemon, olive, watermelon, midnight. I think there should be more to cover very specific shades, so you can walk into a store and say "Yes, I'm looking for 'monkey.' Actually, maybe it's closer to 'bat.' No, the flying kind."

The boy finally has to admit that he might not have enough money to purchase the extra item. This could have been a setback, but the girl appears to have awarded points for honesty. Encouraged, he jingles the coins in his pockets and suggests it's too bad there isn't a 'save the baby kitten' jar in which to deposit some of them.

"Save the baby kitten," she repeats, punctuating it with the throaty, you're-so-funny laughter that undoubtedly kept the boy awake half the night.

I think about pointing out that kittens are babies, so that's actually a redundancy.

But they were speaking a different language.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pulling the plug

I broke the dam, damn it.
For so long, forever it seemed, feeling nothing. Numb. Moving through the days to get through the days. And now, the floodgates have been breached. I cry easily. I welcome it. I’m feeling something. I’m breathing, I’m painting already, weird, incredible stuff, and my whole body is sore. It’s happening so quickly, this regeneration, and even though I have a few weeks left to be at work I’ve already moved beyond it, far away.

Before and after

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hold on to your hats

Overheard at Movies 10, exiting "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull":

Senior citizen woman: "What did you think of that?"

Senior citizen man: "Well ... I think there's something wrong with it. He never lost his hat."

Yes, sometimes in real life, you lose your hat.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So much for that

I quit my job yesterday. It came down to choices and priorities, on both sides. I'm still mulling the emotions of it and am bouncing between "Crap, crap, crap, crap! No paychecks!" and "Hey, my stomachache is gone."

What I do know is that I will miss being in a newsroom. The reason I'm in graduate school now is because of the way I've seen my writing and critical thinking grow with the kind of daily criticism, guidance, mistakes, successes, mentorship, stress, pressure, frustration, excitement, deadlines, dead ends, humor and craziness found in newsrooms.

I knew if I had a fraction of that kind of focus on my fiction, I could take it somewhere.

God, there are so many reasons to mourn, and to be dejected about the state of newspapers today. Journalism is transitioning, which, in classrooms a few decades from now, might be discussed as exciting. Being in the middle of it is rotten.

I'm so grateful, though, for what I will carry with me, to another newsroom, or not.

So, in honor of the humor and craziness part, I'm sharing with you my favorite news release ever, which I saved from a newsroom in Wisconsin. It's appropriately fitting for Northern California. Here it is, as received:

"On 03-28-00 at approximately 5:15 a.m. Mr. James Hughes was traveling eastbound on CTH H, Approximately .7 mile west of CTH K, in Clark County near the Panther Creek bridge when he observed what he described to be a large creature, approximately eight feet tall, step off the roadway and go into the ditch. He estimated this creature to be in excess of 500 pounds and walking on two legs. Mr. Hughes also advised he felt it was carrying something in its arms, possibly the carcass of a goat. Mr. Hughes stated this creature appeared to have a grayish colored hair all over its body.

On 03-29-00 Mr. Hughes reported this incident to the Clark County Sheriff's Department. At that time a deputy met with Mr. Hughes to investigate the incident. Mr. Hughes also took the deputy to the site, however no physical evidence was able to be obtained.

At this time the Clark County Sheriff's Department does not feel further investigation is needed. No further sightings have been reported. From information gathered it does not appear this creature is a threat to anyone."

(Don't worry. It's 500 pounds and carrying a carcass, but you're good.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baby, there's a full moon tonight

It's a good day for howling at the moon.

Many thanks to peachesandplums for pointing me to The Daily Coyote in the first place.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Start pedaling

You've gotta love a documentary that opens with: "Oil is the excrement of the devil."

Take a look at "A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash." Its basic message: We're screwed.

Fodder for bleak fiction, no doubt. But crikey, what are we doing to ourselves?

The quote above, incidentally, comes from Perez Alfonso, founder of OPEC.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The caribou are missing

The other day I watched "Into the Wild," which is about a man who disappeared on purpose and trekked to Alaska, where he lived in an abandoned bus. (Vague spoiler coming later.) In one brief scene, he watched a small herd of caribou walking through the snow and it brought huge tears to his eyes...

I told a friend at work last night: I can't remember the last time I felt that way. My caribou are missing. Or have run away. Or have been made into sausage.

I just completed the first semester of my MFA program, and I thought I'd be happy, or relieved, or celebrating. I'm just tired. Much of this is compounded by continuing impossibleness at work and trying to balance the two. Some days the idea of disappearing on purpose, trekking to Alaska and living in an abandoned bus has its appeal (aside from the unfortunate conclusion).

Alaska or no, the caribou must out there somewhere.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

From the archives

A Costa Rican memory. Note the barely visible hummingbird to the left.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Semi stupid

Heh, heh, heh. Sure, here you go, you almost-handsome charmer, you.

Keep your eyes on the damned road, Mr. Driver of a 60-ton vehicle. Thank you.

Words I Made Up While Doing Schoolwork In A Hurry #7

Tell me, where is "Untopia," and why is it called that?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Words I Made Up While Doing Schoolwork In A Hurry #6

Someone give me the definition for "dring."

C'mon, you. Give it a whirl.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Jurassic House

It's not a purple house, but it merits an equivalency rating. It's got dinosaur murals painted on two sides and several hedges clipped into small yardasauruses. Found it at the corner of Whistling and Churn Creek in Redding.