Dream of the Dolphin
a.k.a.
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore

Free Story!

Tuesday, April 30, 2002
 

So wait, I put the lime in the coconut...?

As promised, here is the medical update.

I got referred to physio (which I don't have time to go to at the moment) for the knee. Which is pretty much as I expected.

As for the breathing thing, the doctor thinks it's a combination of things that stemmed from my cold two weeks ago. There's a possibility that it's mild athsma, but he doesn't feel it necessary to have me tested yet. He gave me antibiotics for the sinus infection I didn't know I had (whoopee.) and a puffer for the breathing thing (which is kind of intimidating -- I have to rinse immediately after using it or I'll get thrush. Joy). But I can breathe clearly now (the rain is gone), so I'm a great deal happier.

See. I told you I was fine.


( 7:40 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, April 29, 2002
 

Okay,

According to the Farscape Lexicon, the word frell first entered into Farscape in episode 9, "DNA Mad Scientist", when Aeryn tells John, "frell you". I seem to recall it appearing earlier, but I guess I was wrong. Course, I started with DNAMS and only saw the earlier episodes in reruns, so that may explain it.

And for those of you who keep bugging me about it, here's the lowdown on my health situation (or lack thereof):

My knee is giving out. I don't know how or why, but it's not working properly, and now I'm limping everywhere. It hurts to bend or overextend too much. I'm not overly concerned because it has happened before, only then I actually knew why. I'll talk to the doctor about it tomorrow.

I'm having trouble breathing at night, especially when I'm trying to sleep. Again, no idea why. I'm breathing normally, but it feels like the amount of room in my lungs is shrinking, until I try to take a deep breath and there's nothing there, at which point I cough a lot, can breathe again, and the shrinking lung capacity starts anew. It's better when I sit up, and it got better when I swigged the Benelyn last night, so again, I'm not horribly worried, but I'll talk to the doctor about it tomorrow.

Finally, don't worry. If I were in imminent danger, I promise, I would go to the hospital. But as distressing as some of this can be, I'm okay, and those of you who've e-mailed me have more important things to worry about than me. So relax, I'll be fine, and I'll keep you posted when I learn something (which will very probably be "you have gimpy knees and a cold").


( 3:48 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Frell

Coming up on 2 am, and I can't sleep because I can't frelling breathe.

Okay, okay, you win universe. I'll go to the doctor on Tuesday.

Sheesh.


( 2:09 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, April 28, 2002
 

Blame it on the Rain

I'm sad.

It's nothing specific, nothing concrete. I think it's borne of the fact that 1. Adrian kept me up till 3 am with his loud car-chase-and-explosion noises despite repeated requests by me to turn it down and I haven't recovered from the sleep deprivation, and 2. it's raining heavily and the pressure changes are frelling with my head.

It's mostly just nebulous feelings of unease brought about by too much serious thinking. Thinking about writing and submissions, thinking about school, thinking about where the frell I'm going to live in September and with whom. Big things that need to be addressed but I don't want to.

The lack of food isn't helping either. I have nothing in the fridge and I really don't want to go out in the rain. ::sigh::

See, all this could be made to vanish if HE'D just write to me...


( 5:07 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

And Speaking of Thrown Gauntlets

Julie has just opened up WonderZone 4 to members of the newsgroup. This is a concept I have loved since I first heard about it, and longed to be a part of. And at 6 cents a word, it's pro rate, which means if I can land a story in it, I'm one step closer to being able to apply for grants. Talk about two birds with one stone.

'Scuse me, must go write.


( 12:04 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Oh, you SO asked for it...

Boy, does Keanu Reeves suck.

I mean, boy, do I hate that shifty-eyed, look-at-me-I'm-a-serious-actor git. Bill and Ted's was fun, but he REALLY should have stuck to confused and clueless. Ah, how I feel for the unfortunate masses who pine for the feeb from the squinty school of Shakespearean acting -- "I am a villain, therefore I squint" (or was it "I squint, therefore I'm a villain"?). The poor boy quite obviously had NO clue what he was saying when he delivered those lines in Much Ado About Nothing. I pity the people who went to see him in Hamlet (which is Shakespeare's LONGEST play). I swear, by the time Hamlet finally got offed, I would have been cheering (had I not already succumbed to the urge to gouge my eyes out with a spoon). But he was great in The Matrix, you say? May I point out that the whole point of his character was that he was CONFUSED AND CLUELESS. Taking method acting to a bit of an extreme, huh?

Disclaimer: I'm sure he's a perfectly nice person, but the boy really CAN'T act, and I'm NOT one to let a thrown gauntlet lie.


( 1:26 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, April 25, 2002
 



( 11:12 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, April 24, 2002
 

If I were a superhero

This would be my theme song.

Accident Giiirl
Your life will never bore you
Accident Giiirl
Watch for that cliff before you

(ooooooh - THUNK)

See her get hit by a car
Sliced open by her guitar
We love your fatigue so chronic
And your blood disorder, how ironic
Accident Giiiirl

(cool guitar solo)

Accident Giiiirl
You're limping to the rescue
Accident Giiiirl
Watch out when danger tests you

Stay away from pointy objects
Falling squirrels, and toboggan wrecks
You hit your head when things stick out
Be careful or you'll put your eye out
Accident Giiirl
Heee-eeeey
ACCIDENT GIIIIIIIRLLLL!!!!!



( 11:11 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Perfection

Tami had an epiphany today, and good for her. You have no idea how proud I am.

Making the decision to start submitting my stories was one of the hardest things I ever had to do (and if I knew then what I know now...I actually got NICE rejections from MZB!). Yes, I am a perfectionist where my stories are concerned. But one of the biggest lessons I've learned as I've branched out into this wild and wacky world of publication is "join the club". I am not the only one who pores through manuscripts I've gone over dozens of times looking for the one last typo. I am not the only one who frantically counts the pages in the envelope while waiting in line for the post office, to convince myself that one page has not mysteriously been sucked into a vortex of lost pages somewhere between my house and the P.O. I am not the only one who occasionally has to have the manuscript pried from her fingers while someone holds her down to stop her from running to the drop slot and trying to get the envelope back.

No, I'm just a drop in the bucket there.

The difference between me (and many others) and the great mass of writers-who-don't-want-to-submit-their-work is that I finally bit the bullet and did it. Oh, the number of conversations I've had with someone who claims they're a writer that goes like this:

BUDDY: "Oh, you write Fantasy stories? Well, I'm a writer too."

ME: "Oh really? That's great. What have you submitted?"

BUDDY: "Submitted?"

(These conversations don't really piss me off unless that first line is said in a tone of benevolent condescension, which I get way too often).

And the thing that separates the next level from that is that I keep submitting my work that gets rejected.

Rejection is a painful thing, especially at first. Hell, I got a nice rejection from MZB and yet haven't looked at Heart of the Forest since (I really should do that). The only reason I stuck with Kichani is that Variel blossomed into his own entity during the submission process and stubbornly kept insisting he wanted a novel until I wrote one. And then came the whole grandpa fiasco, but Holly convinced me to keep writing and keep submitting, and so I did, and look at the results. I realized that I'd never graduate from a person who writes stories to a writer until I got off my ass and did something about it. And I'm not talking about a published author, either. I haven't sold a thing yet. But I am a writer.

Most rejections are just form "This isn't right for us" rejections, but as I kept submitting, the rejections got better. From the "this is a perfectly good story, unfortunately we just bought a similar one better suited to our needs" from MZBFM to the most recent from Ellen, they keep getting better. And as they do, I learn. I learn what I've done right, that the stories I write now get better responses. I learn what editors like and what they don't. And I learn life lessons about work and rejection that strengthen me, toughen me, and feed back into the writing to strengthen and toughen my characters.

This just came back from the editor of Teknobooks, who does the DAW anthologies, about Jory's Song.

"Yes, I did take a look at Sarah's story, and while I don't have a place for it, if she hasn't already, she should submit it to Realms of Fantasy or F&SF, any of the major fiction markets, really. I thought it was very enjoyable and character-driven, and should be able to find a home in one of the magazines.."

So many people don't submit because they're afraid of this first step. Or they get here, get rejected once, decide the world isn't ready for their genius (which is bad) or that their writing must be worthless (which is worse) and never submit again. They expect to write the Great American Novel (now why don't people want to write the Great Canadian Novel? Asks the girl who was told by an Iranian transfer student that she reminded him of Anne of Green Gables so maybe there already is a Great Canadian Novel) and have publishers beating their doors down to get it.

Writing lesson #1: It doesn't happen that way.

Writing is work. Writing is rejection. Writing is putting your heart and soul on the line with no guarantees that anyone will want to buy what you wrote. It's going to the post office time and time again, so that all the postal workers have to do is look at you with your envelope and shout "we're out of IRCs' try down the block!". It's learning from your mistakes and using them to make your writing stronger. It's about stuffing the frelling story back into the envelope and sending it out every time it comes back, until it ends up in the right place at the right time and finally sells.

Why do we put ourselves through this hell? Because we are writers and we love doing it. If you're not finding joy in the hell you put yourself through, you're in the wrong line of work.

::climbs off soapbox::


( 2:25 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Phase One Completed



And yet another phase one completed, I finished book one of Elysium (not the novel, but the first part of the novel), though I'm beginning to suspect that I may have a duology on my hands.

All I have to say is, sometimes I feel really sorry for Gavin:

*********

My words would come back to haunt, for so too was it that surely as Gavin came to Windhollow Manor, he would leave again.

The family assembled in the courtyard, the horses in their black harnesses shifting uneasily, sensitive to the undercurrents running through the assembly. Eveline looked as though she would be perfectly happy shoving me under the horses' hooves, and Sirellia appeared to have swallowed a lemon. I stood a little apart from them, helping Gavin tie his cloak properly.

"Stupid fashion," he muttered as I pulled the trailing cord under his right arm. "Give me a hunting cloak any day. Throw it over both shoulders, fasten the clasp, and off you go."

"Hold still," I said, tying the cords together in the appropriate knot. It was tricky enough at the best of times, but someone had come up with the bright idea of attaching large tassels to the ends of them. "There." I smoothed the fall of the fabric over his left shoulder.

"Where did you learn to do that, anyway?" he asked.

"From a book."

He grinned. "It figures." He reached out and pulled me close, and I slipped my arms around his waist, ignoring the hiss of indrawn breath from Sirellia's direction. "If you ever need anything, for any reason..."

"I don't want you to go," I whispered.

He laughed softly. "Besides that."

His arms felt so good around me, I didn't ever want him to let me go. I hugged him tighter and burst out, "Oh Gavin, I wish you were my brother."

Behind us, Delyn made a strangled sound and became very interested in adjusting the girth on Gavin's saddle. I pulled away and saw Sirellia trying to hide her smile. I looked helplessly up at Gavin, and couldn't figure out why he looked as if I'd just hit him with a shoe. "What?"

"Nothing." He took me by the shoulders and planted a kiss on my brow. "Take care, Mari."



( 9:26 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, April 23, 2002
 

( 12:02 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, April 22, 2002
 

This Just Ain't Right

How can you compile a list of Canadianisms and not include "timbit"????


( 10:11 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

I Heard the Owl Call My Name

Strange start to Monday. First off, after the balmy 30 degree weather LAST Monday, I wake up to snow. I wake up to snow at 8:40 am, having to be at work by 9.

Funny thing is, I'm not the only one who overslept. As I was fetching my things from the laundry room (all slightly damp since our dryer is broken), Stephen and Emily came flying down the stairs, both of whom have exams, both of whom were late. Nick and Adrian were already gone.

Funnier thing is, I woke up because I heard someone (female) calling my name. But I know for a fact that when I woke up, Emily was in the shower.

Weird, huh?

Oh, and a small addendum to those who wrote me about the cast-iron-bitch post, no, I was not referring to anyone in particular. The specifics of the conversation were me telling Jenny about my sensitivity issues and saying that life would be easier as a cast-iron bitch, and her saying that was true, but it'd be awfully lonely.


( 9:39 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, April 21, 2002
 

Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

So, yesterday morning, I awoke at five to seven thinking "since when is there a magic fingers in my bed?"

Yup, earthquake. First one I've ever felt, and definitely the weirdest alarm clock ever. Apparently the epicentre was in Lake Placid and it was a 5.1 on the richter scale. All I know is it freaked the crap out of me. I sat up, aware that my bed was shaking (I have a lot of wind chimes and dangly stuff around my room, too, so it was pretty noisy), and my thought process went something like this:

OhGodohGodohGod, whaddoIdo whaddoIdo whaddoIDO?????????

By the time I finished freaking out, of course, it was over, but there went my ability to sleep for the day.

The rest of the day was pretty anticlimactic after that. Went to work, went to Yonge, found a place that sells Farscape DVD's for $25, and picked up the entire first season of Buffy on DVD for $30 (after having to endure the "music" playing over the PA that sounded like someone ritually slaughtering an elephant to the accompaniment of someone who had seen the drums played once). Watched a lot of episodes today (it was SO good to have a day off) and remembered how good the first two seasons were. Yeah, yeah, I still like the show. But back then, it worked so much better. First, you had Angel. Sarah and David have so much chemistry it's scary, and as fun as the Buffy/Spike thing is, that's missing. Second, the whole high school dynamic has been lost. It was used as a metaphor for adolescence -- all teenagers think school is Hell and mom doesn't understand anything, but in Buffy's case, it's literal. She had a vulnerability back then she lost as she grew older, that really drew you in. That whole triangle of Willow likes Xander, Xander likes Buffy, Buffy has Angel was great.

What really made it hit home was Prophecy Girl (last episode of the season). You know which one I'm talking about. The one where Giles finds that prophecy that says that the Master will rise and the Slayer will die. When Buffy finds out about it and naturally gets upset, there's a moment where she turns to Giles in tears after her furious outburst and says "I'm sixteen years old. I don't want to die."

And bam, right there, is why I fell in love with the series. Its characters have so much depth, so much power. Joss takes convention and twists it, but the characters remain pure, deep, real. He's drifted from that in the more recent seasons, but watching Season One again really drove home why I fell in love with the show in the first place.

Not bad for a midseason replacement, Joss.


( 9:12 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, April 19, 2002
 

It's a Beautiful Day

Had an interesting conversation with Jen last night, concerning my oversensitivity and my tendency to become a nervous wreck every time I say or do something that might make someone I care about mad at me (this has been a paralyzing fear of mine since the "by the way, nobody likes you" dinner in high school).

There's a character I created (currently homeless, as she was a character I inserted into a TV show -- I do that -- and took off on her own) who has a lot of my outlook in her. She was born into a telepathic society, where there is no anger or hatred because everyone feel what everyone else does. Everyone is a part of each other. She's never been anything but happy until this somewhat psychotic crew yanks her away from her world to cover their own asses. For the first time, she's faced with people who practice deceit as a matter of course, and she's completely lost. She gets hurt all the time, but she stubbornly remains completely open and naive, willing to believe the best of people. She gets by day-to-day with finding the joy in something, anything, whenever she can. One of the crew, concerned, confronts her about this. This is her response:

"Yes, it's true. I do get hurt, easily and often. But John, it's so easy to find the joy again."

I'm aware that I'm naive and too sensitive. I'm aware that I'm too trusting sometimes. But this whole "you have to divorce yourself from your feelings in order to be successful" attitude society has makes me sad. I care about what people think and how they feel. Why is this a bad thing? Yes, I do get hurt a lot. But ever since the epiphany I had in third year that made me feel this way, I haven't succumbed to the depression that plagued me through high school. Near nervous-breakdown sure, but that's different from thoughts of worthlessness and suicide. I get hurt a lot. I cry a lot. But the little things make me so happy. Someone sent me a book they thought would make me happy, and I ended up near-euphoric for a week despite being too sick to get out of bed.

This is me. It's who I am. I'm not trying to be fake or phony. This is really the way I see the world. Offer me friendship and I will return it without strings. I've developed a pretty good true-friendship radar over the years. I enjoy being happy. I enjoy making other people happy. Some people see me as stupid, or hopeless, or foolish because I feel this way, but if you are one of those people, I want you to ask yourself something.

Are you happy?

As Jen pointed out last night, being cold an aloof might protect you from being hurt, but life is awfully lonely when you're a cast-iron bitch.


( 12:19 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, April 18, 2002
 

Barely Hangin On

The inestimable Tami has graciously given me the link to my song, so you can listen to it here. This woman has serious talent, people. And I'm not just saying that because she wrote a song about me. :o)

BARELY HANGING ON

You got though another day
When you never thought you would
And you kept from screaming out
Though lord knows you probably should
Keeping it together
Gets harder day by day
So many things to too many people
And you know who'll be the one to pay


Chorus:
You're the calm one, you're the gentle one
The one who keeps the peace
When war is breaking out, without a shout
You're the shoulder, the steady boulder
You mend their hearts and heal their cuts
Without a pause, against the odds
*But if they could only see you
When everyone is gone
And there's no one to be strong for
Your barely hanging on


When there's too much taking
From your life without some give
In the end you'll find you've lost yourself
That's no way to live
Chorus
*




( 11:42 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Words of Wisdom from the Dermatologist

Saw this in Dr. H's office, handwritten on yellow construction paper and tacked to her bulletin board. I thought it was pretty cool. Almost want to distribute it to my old teachers.

Tell me and I might forget.
Show me and I might remember.
Involve me and I will understand.




( 8:52 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

This IS me

Having received a couple of e-mails on the subject, I feel compelled to say that yes, this blog is me. I really AM this naive/optimistic/nauseatingly cheerful/whatever. There's a line in a song Tami wrote about me to that effect, and if she gives her permission, I'll post it for you. I'm the kind of person who goes around grinning like an idiot because it's nice out, or because there's a kid in a pink bunny suit hopping down the street on a pogo stick. I've been through so much crap in my life that in my third year of university, I decided that I was going to make every effort to find the joy in life, and ignore the sorrow. It's a survival mechanism.

Yes, I actually do spontaneously burst into song. I've always maintained that life would be better if we lived in a musical. Think about it. We'd never fight with anyone, we'd just have choreographed song and dance numbers.

That said, things are not all bliss in the land of sunshine and roses. I'm under a huge amount of pressure on multiple fronts right now. Things are NOT always easy for me (case in point, I had to send an e-mail yesterday that wasn't BAD, just soul-exposingly honest, that had me shaking for ten minutes before I could hit send and has my stomach in knots every time I get the new mail beep). There are days (like today), when it's an epic battle (complete with marchers, drummers, minstrels, and that flock of women with bells on behind the lines) just to get out of bed. But I keep doing it, because maybe today will be a kid-in-bunny-suit day.

I'm 23 years old, and Dr. T has given me orders to reduce my stress because this abdominal pain is step one of an ulcer. Ulcer risk. Me. Sunshine and roses girl. At 23.

It's not easy to keep going sometimes. But I do it. Because I have friends who love me (here and across borders), I have writing that makes people happy, and there are people who are counting on me for the emotional support I give them. Gladly.


( 8:52 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, April 15, 2002
 

Turtle power!

A few updates to the expansination blog today -- turns out the DAW anthology guy didn't want the story for the anthology, but as a sample of my writing for consideration for further issues. Which is still cool, but d'oh! So I'm sending Jory off to Ellen. I don't think it's her thing (since I'm fairly sure she's not doing the fairy tale anthologies again), but what the hell. At least it's out there and she's getting a feel for my work.

And thanks to that really weird hallucination, I have this idea brewing. Nothing substantial yet, but I'm trying to fine-tune this impression into an actual story idea, because the impression itself is pretty darn cool. So never knock your childhood heroes, however weird they may be. They just may come back to help you later on.


( 6:41 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Once again..

Mimi makes me spray liquid out my nose (this time it's apple cider, the sick juice of choice). Her caption for this link was she looks so happy. Anyone named Sheila make sure you're not drinking anything.


( 12:09 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, April 14, 2002
 

And Speaking of Delirium...

Check out Skeletor and Gang.

Got a really good piece of feedback on the first eleven chapters of Elysium:

"Listen, about Elysium: I started reading it one evening when I got back from work exhausted, drained, ready to faint, having vowed to go to sleep by nine. I told myself, "a few pages, then off to bed". One in the morning, and there I still was, eyes glued to the screen... I can attest to it, it's compulsively readable."

Hurray!



( 11:33 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Saturday, April 13, 2002
 

Delirium is a funny thing...

I know I spent most of last night awake (specifically, I remember looking at the clock and reading 4:38), but I've just remembered that I spent most of it thinking that I was a ninja turtle...

Ah, fever dreams...


( 10:29 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

So much for being human...

I'm sick.

I'm not talking about slightly peaked here. I'm talking wrapped in blankets, sweating and shivering, head and teeth aching so much you can't sleep, throat hurting, nose clogging, get that food away from me, somebody kill me and put me out of my misery sick.

Which means today will be spent in bed watching movies, cause that's all I have the energy to do.


( 11:20 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, April 11, 2002
 

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Okay, here's something fun from nostalgia-land (I just watched the movie again too).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue #1

And for those of you getting ready to jump on me about copyrighting issues, don't. It was posted by one of the creators (Laird, I think).

God, I used to love the turtles. The movie still makes me happy (and once again, the Henson Company reaches godlike status in my mind). :o)


( 9:39 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Serious time

No glib or rambly stuff today, I'm afraid (well, possibly rambly, but definitely not glib), so if you're one of the...mmm.. how many were you... four people who read me to cheer up, skip this post, okay? I'll post something else above this for you.

My grandmother is in the hospital -- cellulitis in her hand again. The Altzheimer's is so bad that she can't deal with the treatments (she keeps ripping the IV out) so they're admitting her. While she's in there, they'll be assessing her to see if she needs to be in a home.

Jen asked me how I feel about this, but I couldn't tell her. I don't know. I'm feeling something all right, but I have no idea what it is that I'm feeling. It's not that I want my grandmother in a home, but she's gotten so bad lately that she wanders off, my parents have to put her to bed now, and she's just really weak. My parents aren't exactly medical care experts. Am I a horrible person for not saying "I don't want her in a home"?

I don't know how to deal with this. No one close to me has ever died before. There was Pauly, and Mrs. Cheesman when I was in grade three, and my cousin Damian who I barely remember, but that's it. I know that Granny's getting really bad, but I can't wrap my mind around the concept that she's not going to get better from this, so it goes off into the land of not being able to cope and all of a sudden I find myself on the internet looking at ninja turtle sites without really knowing how or why I got there.

As you can probably tell by the near-incoherency of this post, I'm confused. ::sighs::


( 9:36 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, April 10, 2002
 

To beeee human again, only human again...

Yes, now that I have decided that a change of employment is in order, guess what? My fever broke. I'm still tired as hell, and I think I've done something to my knee, but I'm finally once again in control of my thermoregulation. Huzzah! I feel somewhat human for the first time in two and a half weeks!

Jory, Mirror, Mirror, and Savage Beast are now all in the hands of the movie producer (or, more technically, in Tami's hands -- it's up to her to pass them on from there), and when I get any sort of news, I'll let you know. If you don't hear anything, I don't know anything yet, I'm not just trying to be mean.

Neil Gaiman just posted an explanation of slash fiction in his blog that reversed the diet coke I was drinking. Knight Rider slash fic. Never woulda thought it existed. Though after learning about the Crichton/Rygel slash, I shouldn't be surprised.

And, for the curious who WON'T STOP ASKING ME, Julie Czerneda kicks my ass with her big literary boots on. :o)


( 11:30 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, April 08, 2002
 

Some Raving, Some Ranting, and Some Really Cool Stuff

It's been a strange day.

First off, check out Tami's new splash page that she designed. See the books on the desk? Look closely at the titles. The are, from left to right, "Jory's Song - Sarah Jane Elliott", "Elysium - Sarah Jane Elliott", "Kichani - Sarah Jane Elliott" (note the little griffin on the cover). I thought that was pretty cool.

So Jenny and I went to see the new version of ET today. As Jenny said when we came out, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Some of the new scenes were okay. But most of the CGI was distracting, stupid, and pointless. They digitized over the puppet in most of the shots to make the facial expressions and arm movements more fluid, which is just distracting, because it's just the slightest bit unreal. It's like, you know something's wrong, but can't put your finger on what. It's like the new ET is a pod person. "What have you done with the old ET?" There's also this bit at the beginning that used to be when ET makes a break for it, you see the plants move, a little bit of his heart light, and that's it. Now he goes leaping through the forest, chases after his ship, and walks down to the town.

This is stupid for three reasons -- first, because (after reading the book), I knew that ET comes from a swampy planet. He's on a strange planet with weird gravity, and his shuffling klunky movements WORKED because he's an alien and it's not his natural habitat. So what the hell is he doing LEAPING????? Second, because it was great in the original version when you were only given hints of ET and didn't actually see him till he's standing in Elliott's room. But now there's full body shots. ::smack:: And third, it was much better, suspense-wise, when you didn't see him walk down. You knew it was ET in Elliott's yard, but there was nothing to tell you that, so it upped the suspense a little and built up the pace.

They left in most of the foul language the kids use -- shit is in there several times, but he dubbed out Michael's "nothing but hell-shit" when he's singing at the fridge. Most people wouldn't notice that, but my brother and I used to piss ourselves laughing at that line, and I miss it. It made the kids more real. Kids swear. Live with it. And didn't Elliott's mom used to say about Michael's trashing of the driveway "when I catch him, I'll kill him"?. Now it's sounds like "when I catch him, I'll catch him." Huh???? We KNOW she's not actually going to kill her child, Steven. Sheesh.

And what the hell was he thinking, CGI-ing over the Government Agents' guns with walkie-talkies??? Never mind how weird it is that the agents are striking X-File poses with walkie talkies, which just looks dumb (Jon Stewart's take on it was all the agents are saying into the walkie-talkies "where the hell are our guns?"), but it really lessens the impact of the scene. Where's the danger (and what the hell kind of government agent takes on a strange alien with a walkie talkie? What are they going to do, throw it at him?). Yeah, they pulled guns on the kids. It's not like they used them. And there's this quick, triple frame close up on Elliott as he's heading toward the roadblock and what used to be a really big gun, and his eyes widen in horror. And now it's like, "dear god, he's got a walkie-talkie!" It used to be a really cool shot, and now it's just weird. What the hell is Elliott afraid of now? That the agent will throw the walkie-talkie and trip up his spokes?

Some stuff was interesting. ETs pupils dilate now, and the spaceship looks a lot better, but that's about all that the CGI improves. It's just distracting. When will they learn that just because you CAN CGI doesn't mean you SHOULD. He's nowhere near as bad as Lucas (and ET, fortunately, was made in the days where you had to keep the audience's attention with a story and not a whole bunch of nifty CGI, and that at least endures), but most of it wasn't necessary. I know, I know, the studio can get more money if it offers something new to the audience. But it was fine the way it was. I think they should have left it alone and offered the deleted scenes on the DVD. I'm just sad that when the DVD does come out, it'll most likely be that I HAVE to have the new version. It's still one of my favourite movies, it still made me cry, but there was nothing he needed to improve.

And finally, for the cool news. I'm not getting into it, because there's nothing to get into at the moment, but a movie producer has asked to see a sample of my writing. And she's the kind of person who'd say in answer to my rant on how I'd never turn Kichani over to anyone unless the Henson Company does Variel, "so we'll get the Henson Company." Nothing may come of this, but I still find it pretty damn neat.


( 12:40 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, April 07, 2002
 

Screw it

That's my new philosophy.

After all the crap at work (there's now whisperings about a "time limit" to be applied to me because of the receipt thing, and if there's one thing that bothers me more than whispering behind my back (I mean, come ON people! I was a high school outcast, I know what falling to a whisper in the midde of a conversation means), it's blowing things out of proportion. I admit it, yes I screwed up and forgot about it, but I WAS waiting on an address and it's ONE RECEIPT! ::pant, pant::), I have decided that it's time for a change.

Now.

I've applied to Guelph, Seneca and Kingston for their vet tech programs for September. I've decided that reception was fine for summer jobs but if I have to do that for the rest of my life (or another year) getting treated the way I do, someone is going to end up with a sledgehammer to the head, and it probably won't be me.

I'm going out and buying a bob wig (I can't bob my own hair -- it's too curly and I am not going to spend the rest of my life slaving to a high maintenance hairdo. I think I was twelve the last time I used a hairdryer for anything but emergencies or drying my clothes). Probably in neon blue.

I'm dyeing my hair as soon as Tami comes to spend a weekend.

And I'm going to start ENJOYING what I do and DOING stuff I enjoy.

Came home to Newmarket tonight (ostensibly for a physical on Monday, but it didn't hurt that Enter the Haggis was playing up the road from my parents house. I haven't seen them in a while and decided it was damned near time. And damn, I missed those guys. Do me a favour. Go to their website, go to the "swag" section, and buy the CDs. I want these guys producing music for a long time.

I discovered the band in my first year of university, when this really cute, talented musician named Duncan said to me at a Celtic Night, "you should come see my band", and they played at the Ceilidh. I fell in love. Awesome Celtic rock. The lineup has changed a couple times since the first CD, "Let the Wind Blow High", which is great and fun in its own right (featuring such gems as "Donald Where's Yer Troosers"), and the new one blows me away. Much harder edge to it, and the musical growth these guys have experienced is astounding. "Aerials" is a truly wonderful CD, and so much more musically mature than the first one. "Let the Wind Blow High" has most of the fun dance tunes, but "Aerials" has the songs that make me tear up and are serving as background for many a Fionaverse scene. It's so much more complex and rich than the first one. So if you buy the CD, they get to keep growing and maturing and putting out better and better CDs... :o)

Yet back to ETH live -- the poor guys were crammed into what I think used to be the pit where the pool table was in the Lion and Firkin, which is NOT set up for a live band, so there was pretty much NO line of sight except for the lucky bastards who got to stand along the partition, and the sound was crap. That aside, these guys are still a hoot, and I did get to dance to Donald. Brian still has the certain something around the eyes that grabbed my bard character in the Fionaverse and ran off with it (although I would like to know when exactly he and Trevor switched hair). I think Craig recognized me, which is cool. But I'm realizing I need more research before I can write my musician characters. I need the terminology and the vibe, and a year of high school jazz choir ain't gonna cut it. I mean, it's not going to look very good if I were to write something from the POV of a musician like:

"What the hell do you mean, Brian's a bard?" Craig demanded, jabbing her with the whiny-fingering-bit of the bagpipe for emphasis. (I'm fairly sure that's the chanter).

But after doing my lab-tech-by-day, mad-Celtic-dancer-by-night routine for two songs, Tami got sick and had to go home, and there was no way I was hanging out in a bar full of skeezy guys by myself. This is yet another instance in which male companionship would be a very good thing. ::sigh::

And I forgot my Elysium disk at home, dammit. So much for writing this weekend.

I've also, thanks to a roundabout trip from Sheila's blog, discovered the blog of Mimi Smartypants, which made me choke on Diet Coke through my nose, so I'm adding it to my links. I love Moaning Jesus Guy.

And, thanks to Mimi, something scary-but-fun. Check out Item #67 (UPS guy) for a particularly hilarious (in a creepy kind of way) item.

And, thanks to my Dad's frelled up mouse, I've done this whole blog (links and all make it HARD!) with the mouse upside down, trackball removed, fiddling with the rollers inside.

Random? Yes. Disjointed? No argument there. Silly? Undoubtedly. But it's my blog, and I needed to vent, dammit. And I do feel much better now. :o)


( 1:25 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, April 05, 2002
 

Words of Wisdom

"Hard SF? IMHO if a story is so laden with justifications and explanations that you can't be engaged by the plot and characters, it's not hard sf, it's a tech manual with purple prose squeezed in the slots. "

This is a quote from Julie Czerneda in one of my favourite newsgroup posts, which I'm posting here for the sole reason that it got deleted and I want to be able to find it again. Hey, it's my blog, and I can do what I want with it. :o)


( 12:58 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, April 04, 2002
 

Gnnnnnggggg!!!!!!

And other muffled noises of frustration.

It's turning out to be a Day, and I'm feeling well-and-truly whomped on all sides.

First, there was the Fish Thing. Karin wanted a day off, fine, so I agreed to take on the morning feedings for her. So I had to be in at the lab by 7:30. Which means getting up 2 hours earlier. Fine, okay, I can do this. Until I couldn't get to sleep till 2 (after crashing for 5 hours yesterday afternoon). So I'm running on 5 hours of sleep. Okay, fine, I can still do this.

Then I check Julie's newsgroup, and Julie kicked my verbal ass telling me why I shouldn't go to Clarion. Under normal circumstances, this would be a good thing (her reason being, I'm too good to go), but she was rather vehement (I think she's afraid it'll only hurt my writing), and due to the fact that I'm running on 4 hours of sleep, left me feeling alltogether whomped.

Then, Edward walks in. There was a receipt he asked me to do last year. His exact words were something like "so-and-so needs another receipt for $150". I check my database. So and so isn't in there, so I ask him for the address, and he gives me a "yeah, yeah, later" type response, which in hindsight probably meant "I'm not listening." Fine, so I said, "get me the address and I'll write the receipt." He didn't give me the address. So I ask him the next week, "Edward, I need that address", and get another "I'm not listening" response, I guess, or he thought I was asking about something else. Eventually things got busy and I forgot.

So today Donna calls from the offsite office and says "where's that receipt". I don't have it so she gives me the address and I write it. Then Edward comes in to get it, asks me what happened, I tell him you didn't give me the address, and he reams me. It's the same address as his, so kept shouting "I can't see why I wouldn't give you an address I'm so intimately acquainted with". I say I can't either, while vainly trying to keep my place on this incredibly frustrating tally he interrupted me in the middle of. He yells "no, we're going to talk about this, let's have a conversation", and it gets worse from there. Add that to 4 hours sleep, whomped, and in a not unconsiderable amount of pain (health thing), and I burst into tears as soon as he leaves my office.

Which is an improvement. Usually I start crying during a reaming. I must be growing up.

It's gonna be a loooooong day.


--Addendum -- the fire alarm goes off, which around this place is akin to saying the door closes or the phone rings. So I stay at my desk while Ahmed pelts upstairs, the alarm shuts off, so I stay put. Then Edward calls and tells me I'm dead. "We will lament your loss. Temporarily."

So I go upstairs to get lunch, and it's gone. I'm stuck making tofudogs and toast. And let me tell you, hot dogs are bad enough, but tofudogs are like hot dogs without the charm. And I have another 4 hours at the lab once this job is over.




( 12:51 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, April 03, 2002
 

Kayla in the Temple of the Lady

I've just realized that half the people reading this blog have no idea who Kayla and Variel are, or know a thing about the odd, platonic-but-unbreakable bond between them. I was trying to find a scene without spoilers to post, and I ran across this exercise I wrote last year. Variel is barely in it, but the brief appearances he does make go a long way toward demontrating the odd little relationship between the two of them. Besides, I think Kayla needs the exposure. Variel has a tendency to overshadow anyone he's put up against.

************

“No! Absolutely not!”

“I wasn’t asking your permission.” Kayla frowned as she selected what she needed and placed it in the pack to take with her. “I was stating a fact.”

Variel pulled the pack from her hands. “Kichani, I cannot allow you to go.”

“You cannot stop me.” A great talon drove into the earth, pinning her ankle to the ground. She rolled her eyes. “Fine. You can stop me. But you won’t.”

“Give me one good reason,” the griffin growled.

She looked up, meeting his dizzying golden gaze. “Because I have to do this.”

Variel released her ankle and took hold of her, the great talon wrapping around her face and pinning her in place. Kayla could feel the cold, hard weight of the griffin’s claws tighten as Variel stared into her eyes, searching, scanning the depths of her soul for the answers he hoped to find. She stared back, unblinking. She knew it was pointless to fight his hold on her -- she would not be moving until he permitted her to -- but she would not be the first to look away.

After an eternity, the griffin released her. “Don’t go,” he said.

“I have to.” She stood and placed a hand on his shoulder. “We have been apart before.”

He spread his wings, unconsciously cupping them around her. “But seven days, Kichani! Anything can happen in seven days.”

Kayla swung the pack to her back, letting her breath out in a rush of frustration. “Has it ever occurred to you that I might just be able to take care of myself?”

“Not really, no.”

She glared at him. “I’m not the child I was when you plucked me out of Meladon.”

Variel sighed wearily. “Shendriel’s wings, I know that, Kichani. But I loathe the idea of being parted from you for that long. You have the most remarkable ability to attract trouble, and I would feel better knowing that you are safe.” Kayla smiled fondly and slung her arm around his shoulder. Variel gave it an absent caress. “You are definitely growing. You weren’t able to reach me a month ago.”

“You see?” Kayla nudged him with her hip. “I’m growing up. I promise, I’ll be back before you know I’m gone.”

Variel studied her, and Kayla was shaken by the regret in his eyes. “True. I suppose I must let you go eventually. But Shendriel’s wings, I do not like this.”

Kayla placed her arms around the griffin’s neck and buried her face in his feathers, breathing in the heady scent of him. No matter where she went or what happened to her, that scent would always mean home. And now she had to leave it. “I will go quickly. I will be back as soon as I can.”

She began to push away from him, but was stopped by the talon on her shoulder. “Be careful, ke’ichan.”

She grinned at him, and tried not to cry as she pushed away into the trees.

Seven days did not sound like a great deal of time, but it had been a long time since she had been parted from him for even that long. Or at least, if they had been apart, they each knew where the other was. But she had not told him where she was going. She couldn’t. She had no way of knowing if he would understand, and she was afraid. Afraid of him, afraid of herself, afraid of what lay ahead of her. But when she had seen the Lady’s novice in the village, when she had realized what lay nearby, she hadn’t been able to help herself. She wasn’t even sure why she was going -- though she was sure it was her own choice and not another manipulation. She just knew that she had to go.

She hadn’t realized just how much time she had been spending with the griffin until she was forced to be without him. Hadn’t realized how, even when they had nothing to say to each other, Variel’s presence made the silence warm... companionable. She hadn’t been this lonely in a long time.

On the third morning she left the forest and the silent tug of direction that Variel’s teachings had given her, and followed the roads between towns and villages out of the simple need to escape her solitude. It helped a little, but the further she went, the more novices and priestesses she saw, and that only served to replace one unease with another.

It was all too soon and not soon enough when she reached the Lady’s Gates. Two pillars of white stone stood sentinel on either side of the road that led off into the woods. Kayla stared up, past the elaborate carvings to the symbols that crowned the pillars. Three crescents intertwined, a crystal where the three met, encircled by the unbroken hoop that was the full moon. For the first time in many months, Kayla tugged the amulet from its hiding place beneath her clothes and let in fall against her chest, a perfect replica in miniature of the carvings before her. She stood before the Gates, too afraid to go forward, too afraid to go back.

There were footsteps on the road behind her. Soft footsteps, hesitant footsteps. Had they been more determined her hand would have gone for Lyssia. As it was, she remained staring at the gates.

“Are you lost?” asked a light, soft voice.

Kayla turned. It was the novice, that same novice she had seen in the village. The one who had sparked the need for this whole... she refused to call it a pilgrimage, but she was at a loss for another word to describe it. Kayla smiled. “No,” she said. “Not anymore.”

But the novice wasn’t listening. Her eyes had drifted down to rest on the amulet, and were wide with something that could have been anything from awe to fear.

Did you really expect anything else? said the other part of herself. You know what you are to these people.

The novice showed no inclination to move, so Kayla settled her pack again and passed between the gates. Her brisk pace left the novice far behind, still staring as though the Lady herself had come to exchange pleasantries on the road.

The late afternoon light was softened by the leaves it had to pass through to reach her. The tree-lined path and the birdsong surrounding her were meant to elicit a feeling of peace -- the birds currently chorusing in the trees were not native to this part of Taramor -- but Kayla did not feel it. Too much of her was focused on the trees, and on what might lie behind them. Combat awareness that had become instinct when she was with Variel simply dominated her without him. Kayla wasn’t sure what to think about that...so she didn’t think anything. Then she came round the bend in the road, and had no more room for thought.

The temple was beautiful. A vast, breathtaking edifice of white stone stained gold by the late day sun. It was not the great hulking fortress of stone to which Kayla was accustomed, but a flowing, almost delicate structure, full of arches and rounded towers and windows of coloured glass. It was incredible.

It was terrifying.

Kayla drew in a deep breath, bit her lip, and started down the hill toward the entrance. There was a guard there, a great towering priestess who dwarfed even Kayla in both height and presence, but the woman took one look at the amulet and went white. Kayla wasn’t sure whether she wanted to smile or cry, but the priestess let her pass uncontested.

The stillness inside the temple was almost oppressive. Kayla knew that the priestesses of the Lady took no vow of silence, so she assumed that they just had little to say. That, or they had received word of her arrival. She glanced around, met several timorous stares from novices peeking through doorways, and sighed. The latter, then.

Her feet seemed to know where she was going, but it took Kayla several moments to realize that she was heading for the Sanctum. The priestesses realized it shortly after she did, and there was a flurry of activity and whispering in the hall before her. A young priestess, just out of novicehood by the look of her, was thrust out of the tangle of vestments toward her. The girl seemed afraid to meet Kayla’s eyes.

“Hello,” Kayla said.

The priestess jumped, and braved a glance at Kayla. “Forgive me,” she said in a tremulous whisper, “but you must purify yourself before you enter the Sanctum.”

A quick stab of annoyance lanced through her before she could stop it. She delivered herself a swift mental kick. Come now, Kayla. You are upset because they treat you differently, and now you want special treatment? What is the matter with you? She smiled down at the priestess -- Variel was right, she was getting taller -- and placed a hand on the priestess's shoulder, trying not to flinch when the girl jumped. “Of course,” Kayla said. “Lead the way.”

The look the priestess cast her made Kayla extremely uncomfortable. She didn’t want to name it. She was afraid of what might happen if she did. So she followed the girl through the warren of corridors until they reached the purification room.

The room, like the rest of the temple, was built of smooth white stone. Carved reliefs circled the room just below the ceiling -- mostly scenes of women at the loom or in the garden, though she could pick out a huntress or two -- each spaced by the three interlinked crescents. At regular intervals along the walls were four sunken alcoves, again bordered in relief. One contained various coloured vials and flasks, one a vase of flowers, one a pile of cloth, and one a silver basin. There was one door opposite the one through which she had entered, but it was closed.

At the centre of the room was an enormous sunken bath, clouds of steam rising from its surface. The priestess approached it with two vials she had selected from the alcove. She unstoppered them and poured their contents -- one a clear blue fluid and the other a thicker, rose paste -- into the bath. She then gestured to Kayla and left the room.

Kayla hesitated only a moment before slipping the pack from her shoulders and placing it against the wall. It took her longer to muster up the nerve to remove Lyssia, and the blade was not happy about it. Kayla winced at the stabbing pain in her gut. “Quiet you,” she hissed. “We’re at the heart of one of the most holy places in Taramor. No one is going to steal you, and I seriously doubt I’ll have need of you in there.” She gestured at the door. After an agonizing moment, the pain subsided. Kayla sighed.

The boots, thick with road dust, were the next to go. Belt with dagger and breeches next, and then the vest. Kayla ran her fingers over the ragged stitches, now coming apart, where she had attempted to piece the shredded garment back together. She wondered what the priestesses thought of her. That thought weighing heavy on her mind, she pulled her tunic over her head and set about unlacing her breast band. When that was off, she was out of delays. She looked down, running her fingers over the sheath that held her throwing knife to the inside of her arm. It was her last remaining weapon, and despite what she had said to Lyssia, it galled her to set it aside. More, it frightened her. But she did it. The only thing she did not remove was the amulet, which hung hard and cold between her breasts. She bit her lip, gave one last glance to her meagre pile of belongings, and crossed to the bath.

Whatever the priestess had placed in the water had turned it milky white. It was quite warm, but not uncomfortably so, and seemed somehow thicker than ordinary water. It clung to her, holding her. She glanced down, and could not hold back the bitter smile. She could not see anything below the surface of the milky water. She could no longer see her scars.

She raised her hands to her hair, and pulled out the feather that capped one of her braids. She stared at it a long moment before she placed it on the floor and deftly unwound the braid. She repeated the process for the next one, startling at the unfamiliar touch of the soft curls against her cheek. She unwound all of them, save the long one that hung over her breast. She merely removed the feather from that one -- Variel would hate to see it wet. She shook her head, letting her unbound hair whisper against her naked shoulders. How long had it been since she had last let it loose? Not since Variel had cut it... She sighed, and sank beneath the surface of the water, pushing the hair back from her face. She surfaced again, and picked up the cloth the priestess had left for her. She began to wash, frowning as she rubbed the cloth over the odd pearlescence of her scars, over the indentation in her arm where the wrist sheath had been, over the deep groove in her shoulder where Lyssia’s scabbard strap had dug into it. She washed until the marks on her arm were gone. She washed until the marks of the scabbard were gone. And then she began to cry. She wasn’t sure why.... she just kept washing. She washed until the tears were gone, and only then did she notice that the water had turned cold.

She pulled herself out of the bath and hurried across the cold marble floor to the alcove where the cloth awaited. Sure enough, waiting on the top of the pile was a warm, thick blanket. She pulled it from the alcove and wrapped herself in it, breathing in the faint scents of jasmine and lavender. She rubbed herself down briskly, opened the blanket to rub down her hair, and froze.

She extended her arm before her, trembling slightly. The water had stained her skin, bleaching it a snowy white. The scars were still visible if one knew where to look, but the milky water had covered their iridescence, masking them. She raised a hand to her hair, holding out a lock before her, and that too had been stained white. Only the rune on her arm had failed to take the stain. The red of the Shenareth rune still blazed bright and vivid, like blood against the snowy whiteness of her arm. Kayla shivered, banishing the memories of blood-on-snow from her mind, and glanced down. The amulet was still bright silver.

Kayla reached for the second pile of cloth, and pulled out a flowing gown of white. The gown had no sleeves, but gathered at either shoulder with clasps that were twins to the amulet. It had no waist, but beneath it lay a long white sash. Kayla picked it up and ran a length of it just beneath her breasts, pulled it around to cross over once across her stomach, and brought it forward again to tie just below her waist. The dress reached to her ankles, but the cloth was so light that it brushed with barely a whisper against her skin. Kayla felt very vulnerable and very exposed. And the door that had been closed to her was now open.

Kayla moved slowly, for even the soft tread of her bare feet sounded like thunder in the vastness of the Sanctum. It was enormous -- the roof rose into a dome of glass, through which poured the silver light of the full moon above, casting the Sanctum into sharp relief. The walls were carved in full relief, but this time the scenes were more unsettling than the ones ringing the purification room. They depicted scenes of suffering and torment on one side: the carnage of war, the ravages of famine, the devastation of plague. But the other side of the sanctum did not depict the aftermath. Rather, the people from the first scenes had risen, their faces shining with joy and relief, the starving babies now round and fat, the plague-ridden villagers now hale and whole, and somewhere upon each of them wash the mark of the interlinked crescents.

And at the centre of the great round room stood the Lady Herself.

The statue was enormous, at least three times Kayla’s height, and was nothing short of a masterwork. The Lady’s flowing robes, a more elaborate version of those Kayla wore, draped and twisted about the Lady’s form as thought they had just caught a passing breeze. One hand was placed against the Lady’s breast, and the other was outstretched, reaching toward Kayla. In it, she held an apple. The statue was carved of the same white stone, but Kayla knew that even if it had been painted, the waves of hair that tumbled to the Lady’s feet would still be the colour of moonlight on snow. The skin would still be the same lily white. The eyes, wide and staring straight at Kayla, would be the same uniform white, devoid of iris or pupil. For she knew that face. She knew the Lady’s face. She had seen it before in her Dreams.

She had not known what she had expected to find here. But she felt nothing.

“I must admit, I did not expect to see you here.”

Kayla turned, and the woman standing behind her smiled. Kayla quickly took in the vestments and white veil, and nodded. “High Mother.”

The High Mother nodded to her, brushing back a strand of hair that had once been gold, but now showed mostly silver. “Warrior.”

Kayla winced. “Please, I beg of you, do not call me that.”

“Do you deny what you have done?” The High Mother raised a brow.

Kayla shook her head. “No. But I did none of it because prophecy bade me to do so. My motivations were for the children who were in peril.” Were Variel here he would tell her to mind her slipping idiom. But Variel had never felt farther away.

“And yet that is what the prophecy foretold. And you bear the sign of the White Lady around your neck.”

“I bear the gift that is companion to my blade,” said Kayla. “I do not wish it to mark me so.”

The High Mother stared at her. “Is that why you hide it so?”

Kayla nodded. “You have seen how your acolytes have treated me. They either fear that I shall strike them down where they stand, or they stare at me as though the Lady hath deigned to walk among them.”

“Kayla, child, that is not reason to hide yourself away.” The High Mother placed a hand on her shoulder. Kayla blinked at her, shaken by the High Mother’s use of her True name. “Why have you come here, child?”

“Tell me thyself, if thou knowest all that hath come to pass.”

The High Mother laughed, gently. “Child, we know only what we need to know. We knew of the prophecy. We knew of the Warrior’s coming. But we know nothing of her motives.” She raised a hand to brush gently against Kayla’s cheek. “Calm yourself, child. You need not speak the language of the court for Her. Calm yourself, and tell the Lady why you have come.”

Kayla drew in a shaking breath, fighting to bring her nerves under control. “I cannot.”

“You can.”

Kayla, trembling so hard that her legs threatened to give way beneath her, turned to face the terrible beauty of that statue. “I hate Her,” she whispered. “She has ruined my life. I just want Her to leave me alone... leave us alone... yet everywhere I turn I see Her prophecy, Her sign. Wherever I go, I find Her, or Them, pushing me to do Their bidding. The greatest dangers we have faced can be brought back to Them. I hate Her for all the torment She has put me through. I hate Her for everything She has done to me!” Her voice, which had been escalating in volume throughout her outburst till the very stone of the Sanctum rang with the strength of it, broke on a sob.

“And yet that is not the source of your distress.” The High Mother’s soft, gentle voice washed through the Sanctum like a gentle rain, silencing the throb that Kayla’s words had wrought.

Kayla collapsed to her knees and shook her head.

“Tell her child.”

She stared up at the frightening radiance of the statue, blurred by her tears. “I hate You,” she whispered. “I hate You for everything you have done to me. And despite all of that, I still love You.”

Kayla dissolved into a spasm of weeping, and the High Mother’s arms were around her, cradling her gently, rocking her as her governess had so many years ago. Kayla clung to the High Mother and sobbed until she feared her heart would break. She wept until she had no tears left. And the chill that had pervaded her since she entered the Sanctum left her, until she was suffused with a gentle warmth. She rubbed her eyes and allowed the High Mother to help her to her feet.

“What is that?” she whispered.

“Your answer,” the High Mother replied. “Child, we cannot always understand why the Gods do what they do. But as cruel as They may seem sometimes, They always love us.”

“That’s hard to remember when all you can feel is pain,” Kayla whispered.

The High Mother sighed. “You are very much like Her, you know. Especially now, marked as you are by Her oils. Not everyone picks up the colour, you know.”

Kayla grinned bitterly. “You will forgive me if I have had enough of Her marks.”

But she was greeted only by silence. She turned, and the High Mother was facing her with a ghost of what Kayla had seen in the faces of the others staring out from her eyes. “What?”

“May I see it?” the High Mother asked.

Kayla stared blankly for a moment before she realized what the High Mother wanted. For a moment she considered denying her, but she couldn’t see what point that would serve. Instead she sighed, turned her back on the High Mother, and released the clasp over her left shoulder.

She heard the High Mother’s intake of breath, and judged that the marks, like the Shenareth rune, had been untouched by that which had turned her skin white. She knew what the High Mother was seeing, though Kayla had only seen it herself but once, in reverse, with the help of Ellery’s wardrobe and hand-mirrors, and a good deal of contortion. Just beneath her shoulder, in the deep red-brown of a birthmark, lay the three runes of the Trine, pointed and bristling with the essence of gryphonic power. And below that, the entwined circle and crescent that was the joint mark of the Bright Lord and the White Lady.

“And these have been here but a year?” the High Mother asked, her voice sharp with amazement and disbelief.

Kayla turned, pulling the cloth up over her shoulder, and frowned. “But a year. And you see now why I hide them.” The High Mother opened her mouth to protest, but Kayla silenced her with an upheld hand. “No. Even you, who receive knowledge as you need it and do not think twice of that power. Even you fear me. I am not what everyone believes me to be. Despite what they think, I am just a girl. I eat and sleep, laugh and cry like any other girl my age. Yet you insist on treating me like a God.”

The High Mother reached out to her in uncanny parody of the statue behind her. “You are Aliyah t’Meladon, the Warrior of the Moon. You belong with us.”

Kayla shook her head. “I am Kayla Shenareth. And I am going back to the one individual I can count on to treat me as just another person.”

With that, she turned her back on the High Mother, on the Sanctuary, and on the Lady. Kayla now knew why she had come. She had made peace with her Goddess, and though it was not the peace that the Lady wanted, She would abide by it. But more importantly, Kayla now knew exactly where she belonged. And she would have to walk fast if she was to get to him by the end of the allotted seven days.

#

As the sun set at the end of the seventh day, she knew she was not going to make it. She had been forced off the roads quite early. Oh, she had been making excellent time, for everyone who caught sight of her cleared the road for her. But she couldn’t stand the stares. Couldn’t stand the fear in the eyes of everyone who saw the colour of her hair and skin. After a few hours of being treated as a combination of deity and leper, she fled into the forests, where the travel was slower but blissfully solitary.

She walked until it was too dark to see where she was placing her feet. With a sigh and a silent apology to Variel, she curled up in the shelter of a fallen tree and wrapped her cloak around her. She wasn’t sure how far she still had to go, and now that she had no goal in mind save reunion with Variel, the loneliness was a thousand times worse.

She spent the next day wandering through the woods, searching unsuccessfully for a place to bathe. On the day after that, she followed the soft music of a shallow stream to its source and endeavoured to remove the stain from her skin, but no amount of scrubbing restored her natural colouration. She could scrub until she abraded the skin, but the only colour that brought to it was the blood that seeped through to stain it red.

She scowled at the cloth and stuffed it angrily into her pack. When that didn’t make her feel any better, she threw the pack into the bushes, but that only made her feel foolish, and very naked.

“Maybe I am losing my mind,” she whispered, and went to look for her clothes.

She had only just located her breastband when the rustling in the undergrowth alerted her to the fact that she had left Lyssia behind. She had only a moment to panic before the wind was knocked out of her and she was thrown back through the bushes on to the bank of the stream.

“Nine days!” Kayla’s teeth ground painfully together as she was lifted from the bank and shaken before being slammed back against it. “Nine days! Do you have any idea how worried I have been!” The white spots floating in front of Kayla’s eyes resolved themselves into a towering golden figure, and the grip on her shoulders became the familiar clamp of talons. “I knew this was a bad idea, I just knew it! I nearly broke a wing trying to find you, picturing you lying wounded or dying in a ditch somewhere, and now I find you playing in the water! Honestly, Kichani, what is the matter with you? Of all the selfish, childish, irresponsible things to do! I ought to just leave you here, that’s what I ought to do. I don’t know why I troubled myself to come out after you.” Variel gave her a final shake and stepped back as she struggled to her knees. “After all I have done, I get no thanks. Is that fair, I ask you?” He snorted derisively, cocked his head at her, and scowled. “Why are you white?”

Kayla stared at the griffin, speechless, as he waited impatiently for an answer. Her laugh caught on a sob, and she flung her arms around him, wetting his feathers with tears even as she shook with laughter.

Variel stiffened. “Kichani, are you all right? Did I hurt you?”

“No,” she gasped between the laughter and tears. “Oh, Variel. Thank you.”

He craned his neck to stare at her. “For what? Yelling at you?”

Kayla shook her head and clung tighter to him. “For being you. For treating me like me.”

“Oh.” The feathers that had been rising on his neck settled down again. “I can yell at you some more if you like.”

Kayla drew back and grinned at him. “I think you’ve done enough of that for one day.” She slung her arm across his shoulders and leaned against him. “Just talk to me.”

“What shall I say?” He lowered himself to the ground. Kayla scrambled over his foreleg to nestle against his chest, sighing in contentment as the deep thrum of his purr shook her down to her bones.

“It doesn’t matter. Say anything. I missed the sound of your voice.”

As he dipped his beak to brush the hair from her face, she raised her hand to caress it. He drew his head back and caught her fingers gently, nibbling carefully on the tips of them and brushing them with the feather caress of his tongue. He released her, and sighed contentedly. “I missed you too, Kichani.”


Copyright Sarah Jane Elliott, 2001


( 1:05 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, April 02, 2002
 

I've Got A Little List...

What can I say, I'm in a list-making mood. These are the things I would buy if I had money. And I'm not talking huge windfall, I'm buying a car type money. I mean if I hadn't had this huge credit card bill, the top ten, utterly-frivolous-but-still-in-my-price-range (kinda) things I would buy.

The Top Ten Frivolous Things I Would Buy If I Had Money

  1. Farscape DVDs -- volumes 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 & 11. Because it's a wicked show and my videotapes are wearing out.
  2. Neil Gaiman's Sandman -- Volumes 3, 6, 8, 9, 10
  3. Tanya Huff's "What Ho, Magic!"
  4. Flash Girls CDs -- particularly "Play Each Morning Wild Queen"
  5. A renfaire cloak from the cool place on Queen West (and while I'm at it, I just might get suckered into another bodice or blouse).
  6. Jim Henson's The Storyteller, and Jack and the Beanstalk DVDs
  7. Jewel's "This Way" CD.
  8. The Muppet Show DVDs
  9. The really cool sparkly bracelet at Cat's Cradle (okay, THAT one is stretching the affordable rule a bit).
  10. The really pretty antique lily-of-the-valley tiara at the Newmarket Antique Mall (because a girl can never have too many tiaras).



( 12:17 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

My Life as a Yo-yo

It's just all up and down lately.

I'm having a down day. Really down. It's an I-could-barely-drag-myself-out-of-bed-want-to-go-home-NOW-oh-please-why-doesn't-somebody-shoot-me-I'm-sooooo-tired-and-I-HATE-mono kinda day. It took half an hour just to be able to walk in a straight line this morning (I actually crashed into my desk/bunk bed, which has a set of wind-chimes hanging from it, so the resulting crash was pretty spectacular). Donna said I could leave early, and I'll have to take her up on that. .

I've also discovered that the balance on my credit card, thanks to Florida and various other endeavors, is now larger than my bank account. True, I only have to pay off $30 this month, but I fully intend to treat every credit card statement like a bill to be paid -- it's too easy for me to get into debt. So I've transferred a whack of money from my savings account and I'm holding my breath till I get a couple more paycheques into the bank. If it weren't for my Lightner Grant I would be in SOOOO much trouble right now -- as it is, I'm merely mildly screwed, since I've technically already transferred that money to chequing in February.

And I would love a day off. I've been at the lab every day of the weekend for ages, and it's not going to let up any time soon.

While I'm at it, I'd love $1,000,000. I'd buy you some art. A Picasso or a Garfunkel.


( 10:50 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, April 01, 2002
 

And on the lighter side

Now that I've edited that post so much the P&P button is sore (with one final note I forgot -- I adore museum short fiction, but when it hits novel length, THAT'S when it loses my attention), here's a list of my top ten (plus one) Most Frequently Read authors on my shelf (in more or less order of frequency):

Most Frequently Read Authors
  1. The StarDoc Series, by S.L. Viehl -- These were the mono books. When I was too tired, sick, or depressed to do anything else but lie around in bed, these were the books that kept me awake and laughing. Featuring incredibly real characters with depth and life, these are definitely the books that see the most use. I actually needed a second set because I read the first too much.

  2. The Web Shifter series, by Julie E. Czerneda -- Another wonderful SF series featuring humour as well as poignancy (hey, we needed a main character who explodes when she gets stressed out), with an incredible, heartwarming relationship between the two main characters. The relationship is so good it gets nominated for romantic SF awards, even though Julie is constantly baffled by the romance part.

  3. War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull -- One of my all-time favourites. Fairies, 80's rock in Minneapolis, and a cute guy who turns into a dog. What more could you want? (Except maybe tissues)

  4. Deerskin and Beauty, by Robin McKinley -- One of the two museum authors on my list. Beauty is absolutely gorgeous, with Deerskin close behind, yet both never lose the characters at the hearts of the books. I first read Beauty in Grade 9, and spent the next three years trying to get my hands on a copy. Fairy tales told as they were meant to be told.

  5. The Blood series and Keeper series, by Tanya Huff -- Though they can be incredibly dark at times, these books also make me laugh more than any other on my shelf. I think it may be the dry, slightly self-mocking humour I love that's missing from most museum books. The relationships are very gritty, the characters somewhat flawed, which makes them all the more real, despite the fact that one of them is the undead bastard son of Henry VIII. The Canadian setting doesn't hurt either. And I can't read the Keeper books at night anymore without waking up the house laughing. Dean, the polite, cooking, cleaning, Newfie hunk is also particularly appealing (if envy-causing).

  6. Summers at Castle Auburn and the Samaria trilogy, by Sharon Shinn -- these books are wandering the line between museum and comfy couch, though I'm leaning toward the latter. I certainly have no problems reading them, no matter what my mental state. They're both exquisitely written, with wonderful love stories. Castle Auburn is an original fairy tale, along the lines of a McKinley book. It has a familiarity, like you should remember this story from your childhood, that's extremely comforting. Corrie is a brilliant heroine, who is strong and independent without sucumbing into that pitfall of denying her femininity. And the Samaria Trilogy, though billed as SF, seems more like a fantasy (a la Pern), with more love stories that keep the pages turning. And I have a weakness for guys with wings.

  7. Strandia, by Susan Lynn Reynolds -- I found this one in either early high school or late elementary school, I can't remember which, in the YA section of the library. The story of Sand, a young raeth daughter on the island of Strandia, who pretends not to be able to call the providers during her wedding in order to escape marriage to a man she doesn't love, and the subsequent story of her exile. I originally picked it up because it had a dolphin on the cover, but the story and characters quickly won me over. The aforementioned providers are actually dolphins -- the raeth women can call them to bring in fish, but Sand can actually communicate with them, and has a very special relationship (there's that word again -- are we detecting a theme?) with one of them. It won a Canadian Young Adult Book Award, but it's listed as out of print at Amazon, which is a shame, because it really is a wonderful book, and I'm starting to lose the cover. There are a bunch of copies in the Z Shop section though -- I strongly urge you to buy one.

  8. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine -- a light-hearted retelling of Cinderella for a younger audience, and a Newberry Honour Book. It's written for a younger audience, but that in no way diminishes the charm of the story or its heroine, or the sweet love story between Ella and Char.

  9. Sandman and Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman -- the other museum pieces. Gaiman is a genius, and it shows. I think that they can be both museum books and on my comfort shelf because Neil isn't at all self-important when he's writing, and it makes the prose so much more accessible, while remaining absolutely gorgeous and leaving me seething with envy. Sandman is the singlemost brilliant thing I've ever read, and Neverwhere has my favourite ending of all time.

  10. Alien Taste, by Wen Spencer -- I just found this book, and I'm so glad I did. The story of Ukiah Oregon, a young man raised by wolves, now making his living as a PI in Pittsburgh, it at first seems too odd to be believed. But that's what makes it so great. Wen's characters are extremely deep and familiar, so much so that they could be the people next door. Another great love story, with moments of tenderness (I love Ukiah's moms) and sheer weirdness (one word -- mice), that has me tapping my foot for the sequel's release in June.

  11. The Crossroads Trilogy, by Nick O'Donohoe -- BJ Vaughn is in her final year of vet school when a surgical rotation takes her into the kingdom of Crossroads, where she must treat the mythical creatures that aren't supposed to exist. This was the series that made me realize I wanted to be a writer. There are some things that I don't like as much about it now (after Variel, any other griffin seems somehow wrong), but it's still a great read.


Now these are by no means ALL of the authors on my shelf, but they are the ones that are the most battered and beat up, and the ones that comfort me most often.

....


( 12:47 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Reinterpretation and Clarification

Got an interesting e-mail about my museum vs. comfy couch ramblings, asking if I considered LOTR museum or comfy couch, and why free character-driven fiction can't be serious and thoughtful too.

Short answer: There's no reason it can't. It's not a matter of theme, but a matter of prose. There are some books on my shelf that are both museum and comfy couch pieces. But not many. And this is not to say that comfy couch books are poorly written. They're not. They're extremely well written (which is one reason why they're comfy couch books). They're just well-written in comfy style rather than cerebral artsy style. Example: Holly Lisle's "Secret Texts" deals with a number of issues in a serious and thoughtful manner, but it's comfy-couch prose, not museum prose. The comfy-couch prose tends to me more easily-accessible to someone who's spent her day analyzing data on rhodnius urine and just wants to soothe her brain for a while in something warm and comforting. I don't think of one as superior to the other. I think of them as different, the same way SF is written differently from Mystery is written differently from Fantasy. Some people prefer museum over comfy couch. Some people view stories I think of as museum stories as comfy couch stories. It's an intuitive rather than emperical categorization. For example:

(Quickly- written) example of my attempt at museum prose:

We used to escape to the fields, she and I. Oh, it drove our parents mad, but that's the way things went with Lena. She never cared for consequence. She lived in the moment, breathless and alive. Lena glowed. Those of us around her turned to her like flowers to the sun, and thrived beneath her light.

Lena was like that.

I remember the smell of those fields, wild and green. I remember the taste of the sweet berries that grew there, bursting across the tongue like a kiss. I remember Lena's lips, stained purple, curved upwards as she laughed.

Lena was always laughing.

I remember lying beneath the tree that day, wreathed in a fragrant curtain from the flowers that grew there.

Honeysuckle, Lena tells me. A frivolity planted before we were born, by a colonist overcome with nostalgia. Central Imm sterilized them, of course. They learned their lesson on that first world. These beautiful blossoms are barren, their seeds falling sterile into the nurturing earth. When they die, the flowers will be forgotten.


vs.

The same thing quickly rewritten in my usual comfy-couch style:

I had a friend when I was a girl. Her name was Lena. My parents thought she was trouble -- she never really cared about the consequences of her actions, so she was always getting us into trouble, but we never would have questioned not going with her. We all loved her. There was something about her that just drew you to her, no matter what she was asking you to do.

We used to run off to the fields when we got into trouble. We would hide there in the long grass, beneath the shade of the big tree that Lena said was almost-an-oak, and feast on the sweet berries that grew there. She taught me the name of the flowering blossoms that grew there. Honeysuckle. The blossoms were sterile -- Central Immigration learned their lesson about imported exotics on the first colony world -- which made me a little sad, knowing that when these flowers died, there would be no more. But I wasn't sad long.

I was always happy when I was with Lena. And Lena, well, she was always happy. That's just the way she was.



Both of them can have good prose and characterization. It's just that most of the time, the main focus of my personal comfy couch books are charaterization, wheras the main focus of my own personal museum books are on form and structure of prose. Somebody else may put different pieces in their living room -- comfy couch and museum are subjective categories tailored to each person who uses them.

Bear in mind that I use this blog for brain ramblings, when I'm trying to vocalize the strange and confusing thought processes happening in this mess I call a mind in order to make some sort of sense to them, so nothing I say here is my definitive take, or what I feel is the be-all and end-all correct definition of something. I'm in no way claiming to be an authority on anything, so don't take my words with the same weight as, say, Northrop Frye. But sometimes rambling does lead to sudden understanding. That said, here was my response to that letter:


Museum and couch stuff is really a personal thing -- some people like putting couches in museums and some people fill their homes with museum pieces.

Personally, I find it a museum trilogy -- it's one of those things I get stoned for as a fantasy author, but I can't read them without resorting to bashing myself over the head with them to keep myself awake (and this is not because they're museum books, but because I find the prose really dry. There are many musuem books with prose I have little trouble reading. Just not this one). I respect them, and do read them occasionally, but they're not my couch books. They're epic and gorgeous, but not comforting. The prose is very structured and stylized, not free like a comfy couch book. There's only two characters I can connect with at all (Sam and Gollum), and because of that I have huge problems getting through the prose. It's a completly personal thing. Additional note -- most of what I can't stand in the books was "fixed" in the movie, making it one of my favourites of all time. OTOH, one of my best friends and a person I greatly respect in all things English, who introduced me to the works of Emma Bull and Neil Gaiman (both now on my comfort shelf) has LOTR on her comfort shelf and has delivered Tolkien papers at international conferences. Prime example -- it's a personal thing.

There's no reason why character-driven fiction can't be serious and thoughtful. I've just found that most of my comfy couch books tend to be heavy on character, but easily readable prose, and my museum books tend to overshadow character for a poetic turn of phrase. This is not a rule, and only my personal opinion, but it's why I don't have many museum books on my comfort shelf.

There are exceptions. There's an unpublished short story by Lena de Tar -- "On the Phenomenon of Death and Departure Among the Sound Imperceptive Brainys of Sierra 6X7.5YR" that made me weep with both its remarkable characterization and its beautiful prose. Others include much of Neil Gaiman and Robin McKinley. I turn to Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night's Dream for comfort sometimes. But the fact remains that with most of my comfort books, I turn to them because I want to be soothed and feel like I'm among friends in my living room (reason number one why it was the StarDoc series that kept me company during the mono phase -- Sheila's characters are real people and I don't have to fight through layers of rhetoric to find them), which I can't do when I'm trying to figure out if the purple aardvark is a metaphor or actually stealing the main character's car.

See? More rambling. :o)


( 11:27 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Quote of the Day

Yeah, I know, I know, this is Sheila's thing, but I couldn't resist this one:

"Look, it's crazy for people to try to be as thin as we are. We have personal trainers and personal chefs. It's our job to look this way."
-- Sarah Michelle Gellar, when asked what her "secret" for being thin is.

Amen, sister.

I've always fought with my weight. I still remember when I was in Grade 8, when I talked to my doctor and she said "look, to be blunt with you, you're not a thin person. You have very heavy bones, and you will never be skinny unless you work all the time at it and never let up." My weight has fluctuated greatly over the years -- I was down to a size 5 at one point, when I had air conditioning and no job in high school summers and could work out every single day. I'm back to step, but only when I have time, and with my crazy schedule, it's difficult to find more than a couple times a week to do it (and I haven't done it since Florida). I could weigh all my food then and have my parents buy it for me -- now I'm stuck with a) what I can afford, and b) what I have time for. I find myself stuck away from home for meals a lot these days, and have to make do with Pita Pit, or whatever happens to be open.

I'm not that heavy, physically. Yeah, granted, I'll never be accused of being waifish, and photos of me are not kind at the moment, but I'm still pissed at this podiatrist who blames me for my foot problems because I'm too fat. First, because what the hell else can I do? I do step 3-4 times a week and exist mostly on salad. But second and mostly, I'm pissed because he looked at the scale and pronounced me grossly obese. Yeah, the number was high (I'm not saying how high -- it was over 150 and under 200), but what he didn't take into account, and didn't ask, was that I'm built big. I'm not out of shape -- I ran across Yorkdale Mall when I was late for my bus without being winded (FYI, it's a 10 minute walk). When I was a size frelling 5, I weighed 150 pounds.

Sarah Michelle has it right. I wish those of us who don't have people to make us skinny could just stop worrying about it. But we're the same people who demand that the celebreties be skinny and start poking fun at them if they're not.

Maybe it's time we started worrying about the important stuff.



( 9:54 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sarah Jane Elliott
The often frustrating progress of my life and writing...

(Once known as "The Mystic's Dream", now known as "Dream of the Dolphin", but inclined to change title depending on what's stuck in my head)

Okay, I liked "Confessions of a Post Graduate Pity Whore" a lot more than I thought I would. That line is still hilarious. But I've started writing again, so it's time to go back to before. :o)





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