Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogs That Are Not This One

I wrote a post about games as art and have started another blog--this one with some more purpose. Go ahead and giv 'er a read.

also, more Pathologic at . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In case you were curious . . .

I didn't quit blogging or anything. I've been working on two projects over the past month/longer that have been occupying more of my time. The first is Pathologistics, a blog I started with my good friend Kevin. After reading an intriguing review, we're playing through Russian game Pathologic and chronicling the blood, sweat and tears shed over the course of that outing.

I'm also meta-editing Aesthetic Experience with my friend Barbara. We write about music--not like most music blogs--from a more personal view, sharing how it has impacted our lives.

On top of that, I'm working on a novel, trying to keep up a pace of 2,000 words per day (every other day, really), so that I have a draft by the end of winter. We'll see how that goes.

I'll keep you more up to date as things develop. PLEASE feel free to check out Pathologistics, cause it's crazy interesting stuff, and if you like music, go to Aesthetic Experience. I'll put some ideas/snippets from whatever I'm writing up here soon. I just hit a breakthrough on my current novel and will post some thoughts soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Last week I went on a trip to the canyon with Sarah, Andrea and Seth. I wanted to replicate the awesome (!) journey mom and I had up the river two summers back, so I took us to the same place where my mom and I made our dangerous descent (and ended up having to walk up the stream, climb up the waterfall and navigate Colorado's equivalent of Emyn Muil). The problem was that two years of erosion managed to wear away what little slope the sides of the canyon had, leaving only crumbling dust that held together what looked deceptively like solid rock--about fifty feet to the bottom of the river.

For about half a minute I thought we could (carefully) make our way down a small crevasse that gave way twenty feet down to crumbling dust, leaving a stretch of near-vertical descent to the canyon bottom. I should have realized after a few steps down--the tumbling rocks, the shifting sand--that any further movement would seal my fate. I should have turned around. I'd gotten Sarah to come down after me and I shouted for her to turn back just as my footing slipped and I slid vertically 30 feet to the base of the canyon. I started up a miniature landslide; rocks the size of my fist skipped down in pairs, narrowly missing my head. The whole time my mind was ablaze--I was terrified. I couldn't stop sliding down. My only hope was to keep my balance, keep from tumbling headfirst so I wouldn't snap my neck or impale myself on a jagged piece of dry timber.

When I reached the bottom I turned around, stared up to see my sister pumping her feet, trying to clamber up the side of the cliff which, from my vantage point, was obviously vertical (how could I have ever thought it wasn't?) My invincibility--the confidence I wield on every walk out to the open space, skirting the edges of cliffs, the crannies where rattlesnakes lay, coiled, trying to escape the sunlight--evaporated in a single moment as I realized that I had absolutely no control over anything. This fear of death, the realization that I was anything but safe, stayed with me as I traced the water upstream. My sandals (a buck from Old Navy, those bastards) broke as soon as I set foot in the creek, and I had to make my way barefoot a half mile to what was left of the waterfall I'd climbed in 2009. It had been a generous ascent before; caked mud and jutting rocks had let me carefully scale the meager 15 foot waterfall, but again, two years changes everything. The holds for my hands and feet were worn smooth, the mud long gone. I was forced to climb around the waterfall, a sheer forehead-slope of cracked mud which looked deceptively like worn rock. It was twenty feet up that I realized again, as I rounded the slope to the top of the waterfall (my path looked something like a parabola--a large inverted U, a steep hump): if I so much as slipped, I would actually fall onto the rocks at the base of the waterfall, and probably break both my legs if I was lucky. The only shrubs I could grab were withered and came out at the roots, and I felt the earth give beneath my right foot; I looked down, saw several clumps of dirt skip down to the waterfall. The grass snapped in my hand. I latched onto a nearby rock and pulled myself forward, crab-walked down the remaining slope to the top of the waterfall, and laid back into the water.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And then ABBA broke in

What's it worth to be a fiction writer in our contemporary culture? The stuff people look at is on the internet, game menu screens, film. What's the place of literary fiction, short stories, novellas? Why does only the pulp get the buzz?

Something else.

I think yesterday I had the perfect moment--a grey Colorado sky, tea in one hand, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard in the other, cradled on my bathrobe, and Bon Iver's Beth/Rest in my ears while, behind me, the cinematic monstrosity that is Momma Mia! was playing on my parents' flat screen TV, blissfully drowned out. I kind of stopped and thought, "Holy crap. This is perfect." And then ABBA broke in.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

(22) Announcement

Again, still trying to figure out and refocus this blog so it means something. We'll see what I write about. Not sure at this point. I'm in the States and finally over jet lag, so I expect to start writing again now or soon. Keep well.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

(21) Memories of Laos

Looking back on it, there was one moment in January 2011, while teaching ESL in Laos, that left me mystified. I was the only American in the office during that stretch—Brad and Stacy had left to have their baby—and as such, I was invited to all events.

I was about a half hour into teaching my 2D class when a student from C came to the door, nopped, and asked if I would please come to the ceremony in the next room. I gave the students a writing assignment and headed over to find the students all standing stock still, with several desks arranged at the very front of the classroom with bottles of water and a tall stack of gifts wrapped in silvery paper.

The head of English, Nakhavet, along with Sifong and myself, sat in the chairs as the students stared dutifully at us. The whole time I was thinking how little I’d asked my students to read, and when it would be over. The head of the class stood up, gave a ten minute presentation in Lao, and the class clapped mechanically for a full thirty seconds. They then gestured to us teachers. Nakhavet stood up, chuckled, and delivered a clipped three minute speech. Then Sifong, in her sixties, stood up and launched into a seemingly urgent speech that, like the tide, ebbed and flowed for a good twenty minutes. I didn’t pick up much, but I heard a bit about water and blessings—one of my fellow teachers leaned over and whispered the metaphor. “The wisdom of teachers spill onto the students to grow them like a spring harvest,” he said.

Finally, my moment came. The head of the class smiled and said, “Please, share wisdom with us.” And although I’d spent three years performing on stage in college, making things up as I went along, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to say. Wisdom? ‘Life’s Lesson’? It sounds like a really entertaining improv game, actually. So rather than manufacture anything of my own, I turned my eyes up to the signs on the walls. Students make an effort to spruce up the classroom with traced drawings or—the eternal favourite—mis-translated sayings from their textbooks.

“Better to be the head of dog than the fail of lion,” I began, then stopped myself. Nobody batted an eye. So I kept on.

“A rolling stone gathers not moss,” I said.

“Money is time, and it is never too late to mend.”

Emboldened by some of the students’ looks, I continued to scan the walls.

“The wise man is always a good listener. And only education leads us to the successful,” I said with a flourish.

Each student sat in rapt attention except for one—the class president—who began to follow my gaze. I let my eyes wander to the far side of the classroom and happened upon the last of the aphorisms.

“Everyone learn from mistake no one is perfect.”

“Where there is a will there is away.”

“Single rod can’t be made a good fence.”

“The blind leading the blind.”

As I said the last one, almost unthinking, the perfect irony dawned on me, and I sat down doing my best to stifle a laugh. The class gave a mechanical clap, and Sifong stood up for a few words before the president handed each of us gifts in turn. As he presented me my gift, he slipped a small package underneath—a personal token from one of the students—which I later unwrapped to find a striped orange and brown tie folded in an old Marlboro box.