though my memory rusts, I will always see the icicle tusk.

So we were supposed to have this life-threatening winter snowstorm deep freeze thing today… but at the moment, it’s just extremely cold. Which is bad enough, okay, but seriously….?

People’s obsessions with weather used to annoy me, but then I got obsessed too. Or at least mildly interested, maybe because of my interest, always, in the atmosphere of everything. Some of the most lovely and interesting weather I have seen happens very late at night when Oliver has to drive me home and try not to crash. Fog, mist, rain, sleet, snow– movie-set snow, snow like moon dust or sand, and last night’s snow that seemed to hang in the air like fog, casting everything mysterious and white.

I don’t very much appreciate the atmosphere of danger that ice imparts, though.

Darn! I wanted a snow day, an excuse to drink excessive hot chocolate and lie around listening to records and reading books and maybe finally topping off the candles I made with Bug and Marie, which have been sitting in a box waiting patiently while I gallivant around in everyone’s Christmas break. “Yeah, you really need a break from… nothing,” Oliver said.

But it wasn’t a break! Actually, I think my brain has been more active lately than it’s been in ages. I’ve been reading every day, chewing my way through alleged classics and The Secret History (yum); I’ve been researching and gathering materials constantly for my current “Robots” story; I’ve been absorbing my surroundings better than ever, remembering more conversations, getting better at character sketches.

This probably still sounds like a break, actually, and I’m not saying that this was super difficult for me, or that any of this felt like work. But lately I keep remembering what someone in my writer’s group once said to me. She was talking about the advantages of keeping a journal as a writer, and she said that you start out just writing things down when you’re looking for inspiration, or when you’re waiting for the “grist”, as she called it. But then after a while you realize that you’re not writing stuff down while you’re waiting for the grist anymore; that stuff has become the grist. For me this isn’t all totally intentional, gathering grist– but thinking about that advice, I have become more aware of (and hopefully better at) the practice.

This probably also sounds like I’m all, “I’m taking time to focus on my Art” [*adjusts tortoiseshell glasses*], but… I did lie around a lot, too. Whatever.

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This is my jam!

Lately I’ve been thinking about the radio. I don’t usually listen to the radio, but my (*coughs out the word*) boyfriend (I cough this not because I dislike the current state of affairs, but because it just sounds weird to say. Like I should at the same time be flipping my hair and chewing bubblegum with vigor.) listens to a particular radio station in his car, and it’s starting to grow on me.

Because what happens is, you hear the same songs all the time, and it’s like the soundtrack to your life, but it’s one you don’t choose and have ultimately no control over. Which I guess sounds kind of depressing, but that’s not how I mean it. It’s like inspiration that you don’t and actually can’t look for. Plus, you’re listening to the same thing everyone else is listening to. So not only is it the soundtrack to your current life, but also everyone else’s current life. Somehow that’s a comforting thought, although I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just tired of being the only one in the whole city who sees fog and starts singing, “See how the fog from the port in the bay / lays like snow at the foot of the roanoke / hear the frog going courting / til the day he croaks”. (Sorry, but once the weather gets cold, it’s like my brain is a CD player in which a Joanna Newsom mix is permanently stuck.)

Which reminds me of what the radio reminds me of: Weather. Or maybe the constellations. You can’t control it or when it changes, though it does. And even though it’s kind of in the background, it still somehow affects you and everybody who is currently experiencing it.

I used to listen to the radio. Not in the car– I had a little yellow portable radio thing, and I used to sit on the swings in our backyard listening to… I don’t even remember what station or type of music. (It could have been NPR, who knows.) (Actually, it was probably the classic rock station. My childhood musical taste pretty much consisted of whatever Dad was listening to.) And then some years later I had a teacher who would put the radio on whenever the class was doing mindless homework, and everyone loved this one pop station so much that even I listened to it at home. Now whenever I think of it, I remember cold, sunny days and open windows and late afternoons.

Deeeeeeeep, man. I know. I am having all these deep thoughts while I avoid eye contact with my manuscript that I should be editing right now, so that I can instead sit here blogging and eating leftover mei fun.

Last night on the way home from the Chinese place I ate all the fortune cookies. One of the fortunes was, “There is absolutely no substitute for a complete lack of preparation.” I read it aloud to Mom, and we tried to decipher its meaning. I jokingly (sort of…) said that it must be a bad omen for my trip to Kansas. Yep, I’m leaving for Kansas in a couple of days, to visit Eliza at her college Out West. It’ll be my first-ever all-alone plane trip (or trip of any sort). And even with her and Poor Bill’s helpful tips and advice, do I feel totally unprepared? Pretty much.
Mom: “I think it’s backwards. Wait. Read it again.”
Me: “It just sounds like a spam robot message. They have computers making this stuff up. You know they do. Nobody actually sits around writing these.”
But people actually do sit around reading them, apparently. What, I like to have something to read at meals! Why do you think they have stuff written all over cereal boxes, huh?

Although once, I did get a pretty interesting fortune that I still remember, and relate to. It said, “Life is like learning to play the violin in public.” I’m pretty sure some variation of that was already a saying before I found it in a fortune cookie, but whatever. I relate to it both on the intended simile level and through the fact that I actually do learn to play instruments in semi-public, since I always used to play the flute on our front stoop and I still prefer to practice my whistle outside. Amidst the ceaseless smacking of basketballs and the weird disembodied voice that calls from the school up the street, and the churchbells sounding and the trains in the distance, why shouldn’t I join in? I add to the character of the neighborhood. Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I chirp out yet another imperfect rendition of “Blackthorn Stick”.

So that’s kind of what’s currently going on… Kind of. An overview. Not really. Actually a side note. Actually I don’t know what’s going on.

But you get the gist. Soon to Kansas. Travel. Musical obsessions. An overactive brain. Also fall.
Also, I should probably go get ready for work.

“The Knight is sliding down the poker. He balances very badly.”

I just remembered that at the County Fair, I spotted a guy wearing a Wawa shirt. So of course my next move was to clutch the sleeves of the DHFs and stage-whisper, “Look! Look! Look! Over there!” Then we all stared fixedly at the guy until he started to notice and inched away.

Off on a tangent already and I haven’t even started. Well.

Today I volunteered at my place where I volunteer which because I am paranoid I shall not name. (Even though it has ten names anyway.) I’ve told you about this, right? No? Jeez Louise. The summarized/edited version, then: Mom works there, got me to volunteer there on their volunteering day, and I was set to work in the Health Center (where people can come and get checked for free by these nurse/pharmacist/podiatrist people). I like coming, being busy, being out of the house, helping.

The nice nurse lady was there today, the nice, quiet lady. Then there was the lady of the infamous “Kenyan is not in Africa” shirt story. See, because there’s a college called Kenyan which one of her children goes to (as I was told thrice the first time I met her), but it’s not in Africa. Hence, she has a shirt that says, “Kenyan is Not in Africa”. (Personally I think a Wawa shirt is much cooler.)
Her: “Kenyan is not in Africa… Haha, get it? Because it’s Kenyan but it’s not in–”
Guy in line: (with an extremely concerned look on his face) “Ma’am, Kenya is in Africa.”
Her: “No, it’s a joke, because it’s Kenyan and it’s not in–”
Guy: “But Kenya is in Africa.”

When that happened, the person I was working with decided to use it as a segway to start talking in fifty different accents. Today, I had a different colleage, and she wasn’t very talkative.

Nor did she quite appreciate my comments in what tiny conversation we did have, about the weather…
Her: “What kind of weather do you like?”
Me: “Cold. Chilly and drizzling, bare trees. And winter. I like weather that’s atmospheric, you know?” (And I’m sure you, dear reader, can guess that by ‘atmospheric’ I was not referring to a meteorological term.)
Her: “Yes, that’s a good day for staying inside. Watching TV.”
Me: (thinking) “…’That is not what I meant at all; / That is not it, at all.'”

But it was a good day after all, though, because I got to use a huge walkie-talkie. Also, I got alphabetizing practice.

Which reminds me! I had another interview at the library (a different branch) yesterday! And I think it went really well! And I sorted a cart! And I got it perfectly correct! Also very quick!

Ahem. I did not use all those exclamation marks. I am very deadpan and dry-humored.
OK, not really, but I try to be. I want to be all cool and “Yeah, clever one-line comeback, sly smile”. Instead, it’s usually: “…then I fell into the closet door again! And my dad was like, ‘Please don’t continue to replicate these circumstances.'” (True story, by the way. Happened last night. And that reply came via text message that for once wasn’t accidentally in all-caps.)
I think people find it weird that I tell funny stories about my family rather than myself. Even non-funny stories. The majority of my anecdotes are about my family, and often I am either a side character or a mere observer. Is that weird, really? Or am I just imagining people think so?

~Pen

PS: I have quoted so many things in this post that I believe I have reached my quote quotia. But this, used for the title, has been in my head all day:
‘…”My dear! I really must get a thinner pencil. I can’t manage this one a bit; it writes all manner of things I don’t intend–”
“What manner of things?” said the Queen, looking over the book (in which Alice had put, “The White Knight is sliding down the poker. He balances very badly“). “That’s not a memorandum of your feelings!”…’ ~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

we need a hero

Dodge and I were talking about superhero movies…

Dodge: “Spiderman is lame.”
Me: “Don’t insult Spiderman!”
Dodge: “Psh. Ohhhkay.”
Me: “Fine. Well, I like Captain America better anyway.”
Dodge: “Does he have a gun?”
Me: “He’s in the army, so yeah, obviously. And a shield. Which makes him better than Spiderman because Spiderman doesn’t have any cool weapons.”
Dodge: “He shoots a web, oooh! He flies between the buildings! What if he had to fight someone on a farm in the middle of nowhere?”
Me: “That’s why he doesn’t live in Kansas.”
Dodge: “Like, the superhero of Kansas would have to be a tractor or something. Tractor Man! Half man, half tractor! You know, he tried to make a supertractor and then there was a radiation leak–”

Hah. Speaking of sci-fi accidents, I demand to speak with whoever made the weather go crazy. Seriously, 80 degrees in March? The summer is going to be hot as H-E-double-hockey-sticks. And about as fun.

Oh wait. I’m going to the beach. With the DHFs.
Never mind!
This summer is going to rock! Yeah!

Plus, at least our new backyard will be shaded, and at least there are a million birds out there (seriously, Dodge and Dad saw a turkey back there yesterday. A TURKEY. Sitting there in a suburban backyard. Then it flapped off. I didn’t see it, and I still kind of don’t believe they actually saw it and are just trying to see how gullible I am). As a summer project I want to learn to identify which songs belong to which birds. I’d also like to actually go bird-watching, with binoculars and all. And go to the park on a regular basis, in order to keep some kind of hold on my fleeting sanity. Plus I really, really feel like reading a ton. All the Lord of the Rings books, of course! Finally. I think I might at last be able to manage it.

But I’m also enjoying spring… For what I think is the first time, it doesn’t feel like a wimpy season. I suddenly feel like running a lot and planting a million flowers and blooming trees. I went to the home improvement store the other day to get my compost bin, and I saw these purple and white columbine flowers… and then I pretended I didn’t desperately want to get them to plant in our yard. I can’t believe this! I’m turning into a flower sort of girl! How… How… something. At least it was columbine and not gerbera daisies or something, though. I haven’t completely changed!

Yet I am changing. I feel this is going to be a year of transformation.
As long as said transformation doesn’t include rabid tractors or radiation leaks… ;)

~Pen

(When the sirens wail, we need a hero here! And when the air conditioner drones on and on.)

as the city clears and sun ascends

Yesterday evening we had a huge storm. Dad, Dodge, and I were watching the weather people on TV get really worked up over it. “Funnel cloud spotted! Tornado warning!”

Poncho came running into the living room. “WROOOP! WROOOP! EVACUATION!”
Me: “What?”
Poncho: “Mom says evacuate to the basement! WROOOP!! WROOOP!!”
Dad: (in a squeaky voice) “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
Me: “Uh, maybe we should, just in case.”
Dad: “Look, I see it on TV! It’s not coming.”

Except it sort of was moving northeast, toward us
So, I grabbed my jump drive, my copy of Jane Eyre, and a few other miscellanious objects and set off for the basement. Dodge sent the dogs downstairs just in case, though he stayed upstairs with Dad. Poncho and I ran up and down the stairs intermittently, trying to find out if the storm was coming closer to us.
Me: “Hey Dad, if the storm is going to hit us, you’ll let me know, right?”
Dad: “Nah, I think I’ll just stay here and watch it.”
Dodge: “Wouldn’t it be great if it swept our house away?”
Me: “If we were in the basement, yeah… Dundundundanana! Dundundundanana! What a quick solution to our problems!”
Dad: “Hey, will you go upstairs and grab my phone off the bedside table?”
Me: “Um… I guess…”
Dodge: “Nice, Dad. Send her into danger.” (Although he did not volunteer to take my place… Chivalry is dead. )

The storm ended up just below us, and the radar showed the eye of the storm in purple hovering right atop Parma. The worst we got was some serious rain for maybe 15 minutes, and then everything was calm again. Well, everything except the newspeople. They were still wigging out on TV as the very colorful blob of the storm moved east, leaving our area drenched but safe.

I called the DHF shortly after, to make sure they were all right. Which they were, happily. :)

So that was the excitement… It feels like summer now! Hot, muggy, stormy. Yup.

Yours till the funnel clouds,
Pen

the weatherman is sure there will be more

It’s been snowing here for about three days straight, I think. It’s perfectly wonderful, of course, since we won’t be sick of it until a month or two from now. Actually I don’t get sick of the snow, or the cold even, but the salt grime. And most of all the not-being-able-to-wear-skirts-that-drag-the-ground.

I took a walk yesterday as it was snowing. Just a few blocks. It was really nice, and quiet, and I love the whole atmosphere of mystery during winter. The long nights, the grey, silent days… maybe that’s why my novel is set in a kind of perpetually-wintry city. Unlike rain, when snow falls it makes no sound. Somehow it’s just cool to stand anywhere you’re alone, maybe with some bare trees nearby, and just watch the snow fall. Silence. It’s beautiful and kind of creepy at the same time, like you’re in this magical world but you’re also the only person inhabiting it.

Yep, you heard right, I have now declared my love for the season of winter. “Oh that I were a glove upon that hand”…. etc, etc. More like, “oh that I had a glove upon my hand”, but whatever.

So. The snow. Winter. Life is good, as those incredibly irritating t-shirts (and now bumper stickers, apparently) say. Man, I hate those. It’s like, yeah, life is good, but it’s not all cartoon inner tubes and smiley stick people. Geez.

Uh, what was I going to say before I went off on a tangent? Oh yeah. Life. Pshh. Never mind, I don’t feel like being all talkative anymore. I kind of feel like just sitting here listening to music and pretending to be a teenager. Is it possible to feel too young to be a teenager and too old at the same time but still simultaneously feel like a teenager is exactly what you are? 
If it’s not… I have achieved the impossible.

Brrr!

It’s cold! Last I checked it was only 11 degrees. But there’s snow, so that makes it worth it a little. I like snow and winter and all, becuase it’s pretty and snowflakes are amazing. But summer has got to be my favorite season, and not just becuase there’s no school. It’s warm and you can be outside all day and te sun is shining and you wish it was cold but then you take it back…. ahh. And this summer is going to be especially fun becuase I’m going t have a garden with vegtables and maybe some flowers, I haven’t decided yet, and also a pumpkin patch. I took the seeds from my Halloween pumpkins and saved them the right way so I can plant them in the spring.

But on to a different subject. It just makes it even colder to think of summer! I just finished reading Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke. It was really good, and despite the fact that they came very close non of my favorite characters died. Yay! I loved the ending. But then I couldn’t read anything else for like two days. Whenever I finish a really good book and then try to start another, it just doesn’t pull me in like usual, so I end up rereading the end ofthe other book like five times. Oh well.