i_id: (Steampunk me)
Dear brain,

Generally, the characters come first. Okay, not usually the main characters, but a character. A face, a name, a quirk, a history. So why have you given me this whole story and no one to populate it save the hollow plastic redshirts?

I at least need the main two.

Let's call the antagonist Outrage, shall we? He is my mysterious, deliberate, ruthless, cruel murderer who tries to express his frustration with all the wrongs of the world by attacking its symptoms and symbols. He is bitter and violent, long past the breaking point of a rope stretched thin by too much empathy with the suffering of the many. So much that he's discarded the importance of the suffering of the one, even his own. Is he a former reporter, maybe, jaded with the shallowness of the public eye? Or maybe he spent too long mewed up with only the news for interaction with the outside world. Prison, perhaps, or a hospital bed. Maybe he's a soldier sent home injured and forgotten in a hospital bed somewhere especially neglectful. He's definitely American, ethnocentric even as he rages against ethnocentricity. Blindly hypcritical. Probably of middle-class upbringing with a tense but not an abusive youth. Fails to see that media coverage is the fault of the media, not its subjects. Possibly once tried to bomb a televison station or newspaper office and had it go entirely unnoticed.

I think, when he realizes that media coverage of his own exploits is doing precisely the thing he hates so much, he will do one of three things: Simply stop, turn himself in, or become his own last victim.

And then I also need Investigato, my methodical, level-headed, compassionate protagonist (Sounds boring, doesn't he?). He will have to grasp Outrage's patterns and motivations without ever sinking to agreeing with him, even if he might share some of the same views of media injustice. Empathy for Outrage's reactions, but not his actions.
I have a little bit of the shape of him. I think he is a married man, with an adopted son or daughter. He is, by necessity, an FBI agent. What drove him there, with his background in journalism and psychology, and his happy childhood, untouched personally by crime?

Think on it.

Yours, affectionately,
Hats _|=|_
i_id: (Illogical)
The question:
If you could, would you want to live forever? Why or why not?

My short answer:
An absolute forever? No. It would mean not only outliving my friends and family, but also anyone's memory of them. Eventually, an immortal would outlive their country, see it fall into the ruin of society that we seem inevitably headed for. They would see the mountains they know erode to dust, see the oceans rise and fall as the earth ages. They would hear their language die. They would see stars wink out and the eventual expansion of the sun and obliteration of the earth, and they would still be here.

But if you meant more in the short term, sure, I'd love an extra thousand years or two.
i_id: (Here's Matt!)
Dear world.

There are a lot of things to be afraid of right now. The entire Middle East is boiling, like ant-hives poured one into another, and it's spreading at an alarming rate. Iran has warships in the Suez Canal. As of today, the Somali pirates are holding at least 33 ships and 712 hostages. Last year, they collected ransoms for more than a thousand, the country's only income. TSA, the folk responsible for keeping our airways safe, are being shown up as frauds and thieves every day. Gas prices in the US will hit four dollars a gallon again this summer. Unemployment in the US is recovering, but the dollar is not. It is now a lie to call our President the leader of the free world. That same President has made no move to repeal the abominable Patriot Act. A state in the Union is about to pass a revision to a law that would, in effect, make it legal to kill a doctor who performs abortions. A huge number of American citizens don't have the right to marry who they love, adopt children with that loved one, or hold them as they die. A celebrity who tortured dogs to death and another who raped a young woman are being paid thousands of times more than any teacher just to catch a ball.

It is so hard, right now, to be only one person when you ache to rouse those around you, all of them, to these outrages.

I meant to finish this post with the beautiful things, the things that make this world still worth living in, but it felt like an insult. I can't point to one good, beautiful thing and say, 'This. This weighs against rape or murder or corruption in the karmic balance of the world.' But they add up. They do not erase the bad. But they are the reasons why we have to fight the bad. "To take arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing end them," to take one of those good, beautiful things out of context.

So here are a few of those beautiful things after all. )

One voice.


Feb. 21st, 2011 12:46 am
i_id: (Lightbringer)
Sunrise punctuates the end of my shift, like the intake of breath after a speech. It accompanies me home, turning the black world of my workday through gray and blue to warmer shades. When I drive over the bridge, the new sun floods my rearview mirror, seeming to hurry and rise, so that I don't miss this little slice of daylight before I creep into my room to sleep behind covered windows and muffled doors. Ahead of me, west, the setting moon perches atop the mountain like the seed pod of a silver dollar plant, <i>lunaria annua</i>, washed delicate orange in reflection of the nascent sky behind me.

As I drive, I see banks of snow geese lifting from the fields where tulips are beginning to poke stiff green leaves through the soil, their whiteness overwhelming and their numbers stunning. I see two ducks skimming the waters of Fidalgo Bay, so perfectly in sync that they look like a double exposure, two matching silhouttes with slow-beating wings until the lead looks back, checking on his friend. I see a coyote, watching that same creamsicle moon from the bank beside the freeway, its fur the same color as the winter-sere grass. An owl, blinking sleepily and picking at his night's hunt. A bald eagle, head under its wing on the peak of a crumbling gray barn.

I am alone at work, eight hours without another soul. I am not, for this drive.
i_id: (Default)
The Lady Washington that I served aboard is made of tar and iron and fir and oak, but she is not a relic of the 18th century. She's a replica. Most tall ships still sailing these days are: The Lady, the Bounty (All three of them), or the HMS Surprise; all replicas of one sort or another.

The original Lady Washington was built around the 1750s, in Boston, at the time a British colony. There's no knowing what name she was given first - those proto-Americans kept horrible records. But in the course of the American Revolution, she was re-Christianed, despite the renaming of a ship being bad luck. But there was a war on. These things slip through the cracks.

Whether or not she was involved in the war, we don't know. I kind of doubt it. There is a Letter of Marque from the time for a ship named the Lady Washington, of her approximate size, but 'our' Lady Washington was a squat little thing, built wide and round to hold as much cargo as possible, and not the sort of ship to be privateering up and down the coast. In all likelihood, the only guns she boasted were a pair of six-pounders and a stern swivel or two to scare off small boats of nefarious intent, all four manned by only one gunner among her twelve-man crew.

Bos'un-gunner Sara touches off the starboard gun in its usual roar of flame and
smoke. Poor Sara, everyone else in the picture is wearing rain gear, but she's in
period-appropriate wool, kneeling on a rain-slick deck. Now that's dedication.
(Picture credited to Alabama Holman, the "Pixie Pirate.")

Our replica doesn't have six-pounders, but we do have a pair of threes, which throw up a fine enough blast, especially when you can echo it off stone walls or the glass faces of buildings. Prefabricated warehouses, also, toss back a perfect reverberation. We don't load shot, of course, not even for our ferocious battles with the Hawaiian Chieftain. (Not even when they fling moldy bread.) We judge whether or not a shot was true by the echo off her steel hull. You can really hear a good shot; the report comes right back to you, sharp and clear.
The battles were, in many ways, the best part of the job. Frantic and ponderous all at once, we put our two ships, nearly 300 tons between the pair of them, through their paces, spinning them around each other by changing sails, stealing one another's wind. Our captain's favorite move was box-hauling the spars, putting them at right angles to one another to effectively stop the Lady in her tracks. Chieftain, hot on our quarter, would be forced to fly right past, and all we had to do was swivel towards the wind to not only take a good shot at her stern, but take the weather-gage.

On the left, the Lady Washington heading towards the camera, and on the right, the Hawaiian
Chieftain in profile, approaching a buoy in very, very crowded Lake Union, Seattle. That little
electric boat in front of the Chieftain harassed her every time we went out to fight.

In a good three-hour battle, each ship would fire twelve to twenty shots, generally in twos (Although the Chieftain, with her modern deck layout and enormous bos'un and mate, could occasionally muscle all four of her guns down to her main deck to rake us with a broadside of four), wind depending. On a calm day, we might sit with our sails slack most of that time, trying to entertain three dozen passengers, all asking why our battle isn't more like the broadside-to-broadside cinematic fights of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Well, that's a movie, folks. At sea, real battle was slow. Two ships on the open ocean might take days, even weeks maneuvering for the perfect position. A chase could take you halfway from the coast of Spain to Brazil before you'd get close enough for a single shot. Very, very good gun crews might shoot three rounds in five minutes, but the wind was everything. And you didn't want to be shooting them while leaving your boat where they could shoot you back. You wanted to fire with your boats at right angles, either into their bow to take down spars and crew, or up their transom and hopefully destroy their rudder, their means of steering. Either one meant a disabled ship, with the right shot. Firing into their broadside, the best you could hope to do was kill a few crew and maybe destroy a gun, or maybe sink their ship, your valuable prize.

That's me, in my period costume and not-period (not flattering) safety harness, watching
the Chieftain try to take for position across Bellingham Bay. If I remember right, this
was a nearly perfect sail, sunny with a moderate breeze. Just look at those waves.
(The Lady won, of course.)

So our battles are not as exhilarating as they could be. We don't board, we don't damage, we shout friendly invective. ("Rufio! Rufio!" always gets a response, in the same cadence, of "Movie quotes! Movie quotes!") But we have three hours, not three weeks, before we have to set our spectators back on dull dry land. We want to give them a little taste, just a flavor of something real in our imitation.

[This post was written for [info]therealljidol  Week 12, and is part of a series of entries looking back at the time I spent last year on the Lady Washington. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and please come back for more. I also delight in explaining terms, so please ask away. Thank you for being here.]


Feb. 4th, 2011 02:09 pm
i_id: (Steampunk me)
Suddenly, a wild JOB appears!

Hats uses Masterball!

JOB has been captured!

I am now the Night Auditor at La Conner Channel Lodge and Country Inn. Starting tomorrow. All hail.
i_id: (Default)
Leave a comment saying, "IT’S TASTING TIME!" and I will give you five words I associate with you. Then post about what they mean to you, along with this, at your journal.

Pur gave me these five words: Scarves, hats, Hats, grues, OCEAN! So here goes!

Five Prompts. )
i_id: (Voyager)
The tradition of setting coins under the mast of a ship is an old one, older than Rome. A sailor stands a good chance of dying without a grave, of never being buried. Never would a sailor be laid to rest near the graves of his family, with the ritual coin set under his tongue to pay for his passage into the afterlife. The coin under the mast is that coin, surety for the afterlives of all souls aboard. Under the foremast of the Lady Washington, in the hole in her keel for that sturdy timber, there are three such coins, one for each time the mast has been set in place.

Tar and twine. )

The Lady at her home dock in Aberdeen, WA.
The Lady Washington at her muddy dock in Aberdeen, WA,
sails all furled and flags flying, taken from the bridge above.

This entry was written for [info]therealljidol . More information about this part of my career can be found in this entry. Thank you for reading!
i_id: (Voyager)
On board ship in Astoria, or, Here's what you were missing in the foc's'l, Kris. )

This entry is nonfiction, and was written for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol: Week 9: Marching Orders. Constructive criticism is always welcome, and I'd love to know if anyone is interested in a series of posts like this, detailing daily life on board a tall ship.
i_id: (House - Holmes)
This morning, I almost slept through my doctor's appointment. My alarm went off at seven, again at eight, chiming unattended in the silent, sleeping house until eight-twenty, when the right two neurons finally connect in my brain. It's pouring outside.

Under the cut lies medical stuff. It was scary for me to go through, and I'm not all the way over it yet. Be gentle. )

This entry is nonfiction, and was written both to document this morning for myself, and for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol: Week 8: First World Problems. Constructive criticism is welcome, but be sensitive of the content please.


Dec. 31st, 2010 03:03 pm
i_id: (Flamethrower)
I try not to make these kinds of posts. But things are going very wrong, right now. Personally, for me. It's not interpersonal conflict or money or anything I can fix, it's just fear, and I'm in limbo of not knowing.

So I'm just saying that I am in need of support right now. Hugs and good vibes and prayers, please.
i_id: (Default)
My dad is a good dad. Not just a good man, but a good dad. When we moved into this house, when I was in second grade, he built us a playhouse. It was a nice big playhouse, though he never quite finished the roof, or mounted a door. The windows were sheets of clear plastic. We dealt with a leaking roof by cutting a hole in the floor for drainage. It was so blue it hurt to look at in the winter, and it sat right outside my bedroom window. It was a space station, an orphanage, a restaurant, and a den for lions and wolves together. Briefly, it was my bedroom, when sharing eighty square feet with my little sister got too offensive to an adolescent's sensitivities. Its last gasp of usefulness was as a house for three rabbits, who thoroughly destroyed the linoleum floor.

I had no use for it through high school, of course, and neither did my sister in her turn, four and a half years younger.

But Mother did.

She hung a velvet curtain for a door, and painted over two of the three windows, built rickety shelves along all the walls, and turned it into her own workroom. She ran an extension cord out under the back door and around the corner of the house, and hung lamps inside and out the little shack.

It's been ten years, now, since I left high school. The playhouse is dilapidated and ugly, painted one inadequate coat of green over that old blue paint. It's listing to the north, decidedly trapezoidal. It's a blight on the property, even with the new roof.

I can't see that roof without feeling a certain discomfort. It shouldn't be there. The rest of us, my sister and Father and I, want the playhouse to be gone. We'd like nothing more than to tear it down, as we did the old garage when it was its time to go. But Mother, through years of persistent battle, convinced Father to put up the trusses and sheeting. There's a pile of mouldering shingles under five years of cedar fallings that she means to use to waterproof the plywood, and no amount of reason can convince her otherwise.

And why is she keeping this shack? It's no longer her workshop. When we remodeled, the largest room in the house was given over to her, the entire upstairs of the large new addition. But that space is full. So too is the attic of the original part of the house. And a corner of the garage. And the room she shares with my father. And the space that will be our linen cabinet, if it's ever empty long enough to be finished.

In what used to play my playhouse, now, the remains of those rickety shelves are filled with molding magazines and snail-eaten boxes full of ruined fabric. But those magazines might have an idea in them she's never heard before. And that fabric might be saved if she can only wash and sort and iron it. Someday. And that playhouse might endure as long as the one that her dad brought home, the one that still, half a century later, sits in her mother's yard at the edge of the wood. Full of discarded things that might someday be useful. For it to be torn down would be a waste, an unendurable waste, the destruction of her own memories and plans. She's ready to fight to keep hold of those; she always will be.

I want to look out my bedroom window and see the trees of our back yard. We have a small forest on our small city lot. We have cedar and madrona, douglas fir and laurel, lilac and holly and dogwood and apple. Just like her father's playhouse, ours is set against a background of beauty. But all I see, sitting here at my desk in my old bedroom and typing before the window, is my childhood squatting there beneath the cedar tree, mildewing and filled with scraps and could-bes.
i_id: (Default)
Go sit inside a minivan. Take the seats out of their places, line them along the sides. Build a counter, a cabinet, a bed in the back. A bathroom the size of a washing machine. Cover the windows with duct-tape, except for narrow spaces at the top. Climb in and out through the sun roof. Now you have a model of the inside of a small sailboat.

Bring in your food. Enough for two months with no ice or electricity. Canned goods, rice, beans by the bag. Become friends with tuna, with Spam. Fresh fruits and vegetables for the few days they'll last, just enough for one person. All the onions you can stand to keep up your health, and vitamins for when they run out. Eggs coated with oil so they don't need kept cold. Water, forty gallons of it at the very least. Find places to put it all.

Bring in everything you need for three years. Bring your clothes, your tools, your books, your life. Pare it down until it fits, and then eliminate more until you have space to breathe. Remember to worry about weight.

Bring a spare of everything important. Don't forget four spare tires, an extra steering wheel, an extra radio and axles and an alternator. A whole spare engine, if there's room. Where you're going, you will be the only mechanic, and there will be no stores. You'll be as far off-road as it is humanly possible to get. Be prepared for everything you can imagine, and then read disaster books so you can imagine more.

Do you feel ready? You're not. But it's time to go. It's time to sail around the world.

This is my entry for LJ Idol Week 06 - Not of Your World. All of my competitors' entries can be found here; please do go and read them. This entry is inspired by my oncoming trip, sailing around the world in a 25-30' sailboat. Con-crit is always welcome, and I hope to answer further questions about this cruise in upcoming idol entries. Thank you for reading!
i_id: (Default)
I had a good job, in North Carolina. Well, it was a reliable job. It might have become a good job in another three years, four, five. I was being groomed to become assistant manager, given the long shifts, the late shifts, put in charge of the store's yearly Inventory. It was heady responsibility, really.

I took my lunch breaks alone. There were never enough of us there to have more than one person in the back room at a time, nor was there really room. It was a tiny place, a closet behind the stock room with a broken TV on a shelf, an unclaimed box of pizza rolls in the freezer that no one dared touch, a filthy microwave and a table with a rickety top. The chairs were all various faded shades of orange and had stuffing poking out of them.

I brought books to read each day, for that precious thirty minutes. Feeding my imagination was more important than feeding my stomach. For two weeks, it was House of Leaves, and I scared myself silly. For another week, it was Wicked. And then it was Maiden Voyage.

Maiden Voyage is a book about Tania, an aimless girl in her late teens who is given a choice by her frustrated father; go to university, or take the tuition money and sail around the world. The book reduced me to tears. Here I was, earning easy money telling teenagers they can't buy beer with fake ids and old women they can't buy perfume with food stamps, earnestly looking into moving up the ladder, out of the store and into the corporation, and this book, this travelogue of a scared young woman sailing alone (save a cat) across the Equator and into adulthood made me a sobbing wreck in my own break-room.

I was late getting back to work that day. I spent an evening doing the math. And twenty days later, I quit. I quit and moved across the country, out of my the apartment that sucked my paychecks dry and back in with my parents. Since then, jobs have been scarce. I made the decision to escape a career right at the ultimate downturn of the economy, and since then, I have worked perhaps eleven months out of twenty-five, two of that for room and board and sailing experience alone.

I scour the want-ads, looking for a boat. I need one sturdy and small, with a narrow full keel, a full-stepped mast, and a stern-mounted rudder. I need a steering vane and a storm jib, vaccinations and visas, a life raft and an EPIRB. I need charts and a compass and a nest egg large enough to fly me home if I destroy it all on a reef in Tonga, distracted by blue whales and a storm. I will risk my life, and live in a space smaller than most minivans for three years or so.

When I get back, maybe I'll think about a career again. But it won't be selling beer and perfume.

Links are for those who do not know what these parts of a boat are, as I know I have some landlubbers on my flist.

This is my entry for LJ Idol - 05 Afterthought. Thanks for reading, and remember to vote on Saturday!.
i_id: (Default)
In the middle of all my rage against the TSA lately, I need to remember that airports themselves are not the enemy.

i_id: (Here's Matt!)
I nearly chose to abstain entirely from this round. But two people, independently, suggested I write this entry, and a third jumped in with a generous, open hand. I got the hint. It still wasn't easy to write, and it doesn't say everything I wanted to say. My viewpoint is limited, and much of this is opinion, both mine and my friend's, but I make the effort to support it with reason. And it is all true. Thank you, Tod, for being such a good interviewee.

Trigger warning: Below is, among other things, mention of rape and violence.

Imagine that everyone's very first reaction to you is that you are lying to them. )

The 20th of November is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Worldwide, candle vigils and moments of silence will be held to remember transgendered men and women who have died in the preceding year due to ignorance, violence, and self-violence. Please remember this day.
i_id: (G is for Grue)
The Yellow Dream is my favorite nightmare. My dreams tend towards the cinematic, high-adrenaline blockbusters full of action and narrative and geography. Yellow Dream is abstract, a little art piece, three minutes and ten seconds on youtube.

When I was small, we had four bowls. They were made of plastic, lightweight and thin and so smooth that when you touched them, you expected to find oil on your fingertips. They were the precise yellow of powdered cheese. I have not seen any of them in years, since I was nine or ten. I remember them being in the playhouse, for a while, but it's a storage shed now, and nothing comes out. They're still here, somewhere. Nothing ever leaves.

The Yellow Dream takes place inside those bowls. There is nothing but dry oil and that yellow, all around me. I can feel it before I even fall asleep, against my knuckles and the backs of my eyelids and between my teeth. If I'm smart, I get up, move, escape and stay awake.

If I'm not, I see the threads. Just two, at first, trailing from above. Two threads, and they're crossed. Messy. Unacceptable. I lay them straight, and the world is right again, tidy and clean and bright.

But over there, four threads are knotted loosely together. They itch at me, pull at me, threaten to trap me. I lay them straight, and this place is perfect again, so clean and smooth.

Then a dozen. I begin to shake, I know what's coming. I lay them straight.

They don't stay straight.

They knot.

The world is wrong.

Then there are a hundred. A thousand. I try to lay them straight and my arms get caught in the knot, fingers twisted and tied, tourniquetted by the threads that escaped my control, that threaten to crush me.

I wake up, sweating and swearing in this house, this home that is not perfect and smooth and never will be. I lie back, force my breathing calm by counting stars. One, two, three, ten, twenty, forty-one. Above me is the tangle, waiting. My hands are tied.

This journal entry was written for LJ Idol: Week 2 Deconstruction. Constructive criticism is always welcome. LJIers, feel free to friend me or watch my LJ IDOL tag.  
Thank you for reading!


i_id: (Default)

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