One-Star Review (1/365)

I am on the path. I know the start weight.  I know the score.  The feeling.  The muscle memory of January 1.  This is the easiest day of the whole thing.  The simplest to find the Fitbit and get it charged.  To look up a few low-carb websites.  To add a couple glasses of water to your morning.  To eat some cheese and be distracted by the newness of it all.

This is the day for all of that to happen.

I have gained weight over this year of undocumented emotional indulgence.  The roller coaster of are they, aren’t they, will they, won’t they, do they, don’t they has taken its only just now acknowledged toll.  I’ve pretended that I feel the same, even if stairs leave me slightly ought of breath, if I feel slightly overclocked sometimes, a mind and heart racing without any particular stress to trigger it.  There are signs that are subtle and not that double orders of chile cheese fries have an impact to the body.

I don’t feel the resonating thrum around the idea of providing this page with yet another, probably annual at this point, mea culpa.  I don’t feel like a public face palm is all that valuable to me, personally.   I was mad earlier, overlooking the scale, not shocked, but disappointed that I thought that the magic in my magical thinking was hardcore enough as to invent a workaround for the Law of Conservation.    That I could eat violently – eat against imperfection – and end up perfect.  End up unmarked and not carrying all of the impact of adding dessert at every meal, of cravenly eschewing anything remotely green in color (the chile was mostly red in hue). As ever, the value to me, or to you now, is in the path forward where either we do a little better at not fucking things up, or we don’t.  I mean, as much chatter as I can provide us both about it and we all know I can chatter with the best of them when I’m of a mind, the things I do today are what the rest of my life will look like if I don’t break the chain.

I have my plans.  My flexible suggestions that I am going to be writing into law once I am sure I am not going to spend every day breaking them.  I am writing them down, but not here.   Again, not until I am doing something I can comment on.  Day One, as has been explained to me at my new corporate job, is energy and excitement and press releases and the whole embodied concept of LAUNCH! It’s important and necessary to cast your boat off the shore hard and get moving.  But it’s Day Two, it’s the realization that people – perhaps you, dear reader – have moved on.  The excitement for them is already behind them, scratched out of their bullet journals, and it is on you to design and sustain your own passion and maintain it so you can sell it back to them all the way down the road.

So I have done the Day One Showing Up.  I have provided myself the rationale.  I have not eaten a single marshmallow of the bag of marshmallows that have sat next to me on the couch all day long.  I have joined the hordes of perpetual failure: I have started a diet  and I hope I achieve my goals with it.  But this is the same group that is winnowed out into those who get somewhere, who do make it.  It has to come out of the pool of everyone who is willing to say, goddamnit, okay, maybe my Id can’t run me from morning to night and I have to put my foot down.  All of us tryers standing at the shore, taking the shove into the waters we know, pulling ourselves into the waters we don’t.



So Rough, So Rough

Amelia rose back up on her feet.

The mouth.

“Does he eat your kind?”  She blinked again and yanked Amelia by the wrist with an unexpectedly forceful tug, pulling her towards the slab nearest them.   Amelia persisted, “Does it eat…everything?”

The priestess shrugged, unperturbed by the question or the images it evoked.
“Always.  Hungry.”

“I, no, no, I am outright refusing.” She tried to pull her arm back, but it was no use, and the being began to place it in the open metal ring, so she drew back on her heel and kicked the strange being in its chalky, worn ankle.   It was just enough to break concentration and Amelia pulled her arm back, leaping as swiftly as she was able ten feet out of the cannibal priestess’ reach.

She did not pursue further, choosing instead to pluck at a pouch at her side, a long brown leather sack, poorly stitched closed at the bottom with a horrifying form of sinew.  There was no decoration to help Amelia understand pr help defend herself, nothing save the blue discoloration that so many items had here.

Amelia’s throat was dry as the powdery walls, but still she swallowed hard as she heard the words in English, then echoed back at her a second, third, a fourth time, as the priestess began to spin in front of her.  “Alw-ay-sh-un-gree!”  She threw four stones as she spun, and hurried to collect them in a specific manner Amelia could derive no meaning from.  And with that, another face appeared on the priestess’ own, one with a mountainous strength that followed through in her body as well.  She lumbered towards the adventurer, a good foot taller than she had been before and three times as wide.  Amelia made a mad jump towards the corridor that had lead her here, but already, the priestess had her wrist again and lifted her up, carrying her back to the slab.

Now she dropped her there on her back without care and latched one manacle closed.

“Stop, stop, please.  Where am I?”  No response to her words or her squirming.

“Where is the …dagger, the…sharp?”  She made cutting motions with the side of her palm until the priestess’s face showed recognition.   Making her own swift motion, the blade appeared in her hand and she lunged for what might have been a painful strike against her shoulder when a dart sunk into the priestess’ neck and the white robes sank with her into the floor, as as bright blue rose off of her form as if it were steam.  Suddenly, amidst the roughly-hewn cloth the frowsy-headed girl from the upper level returned, still along the floor.

Professor Kafele.

“We must get out of here and get to your father.  If they know…”  She held him closely, carelessly, as if all of the frantic energy that months of isolation built within her, all the terror that ran through her as a current needed to be discharged in one moment.
When she pulled herself away from his grip to speak again, he looked back at her as if thunderstruck.  “My father is here…how has he….?


The beast king pulled the leg full from its socket and with no further exaltation, no drumbeat or ceremony, gnawed down upon it.  At such a distance, she could not make out its eyes beyond a sense that they were closed as the flesh was rendered from the bone by its monstrous tusk-like teeth.  Blood, thick and dark, ran as furiously as her own slowed, down its front.  It had no care of the mess it had made, the sacrifice, the being who would only truly be dead three excruciating minutes from now.

Where had Ammon sent her?

Even witnessing such horror, Amelia noted something strange about the air in this place.  A powdery blue color, translucent like the air itself had been painted to match a Robin’s egg, tinted the vignette.  She shivered in her own skin until she felt a light touch at the hem of her dress.

She tore herself from the macabre scene in response to the pull at her ankle, and saw the little girl, gripping the hilt of Amelia’s prized dagger.  She was frightened, spitting out a brief, unintelligible phrase, as her wide eyes strained even wider at the woman she had arguably taken captive.   She was afraid, the expression shifted to show in the tautness at the corners of her mouth, the sudden presence of her minutely jagged teeth, but only that Amelia had caught her, and she spun on her bare heels and ran with blade held loosely in her hand down the corridor.

Amelia gathered her skirts, fighting the dazed feeling that spun like a dervish at each of her temples, and knotted the ties on her boots back up.   She re-pinned her hair to little effect.

“Little girl!” She hissed as loudly as she dared and stumbled forward after the child thief.  She had no earthly idea where she was now, but nothing promised safety beyond what had just been taken from her.

Amelia’s eyes swam in the inky darkness that overtook her within a handful of steps as she turned the corner in the carved-out passageway.  After tripping on something she could neither determine nor kick away, she slowed herself, afraid to run and break a limb.  The quiet was painful, even in the depths of Capri there had been the surge of water, even in the untrafficked crypts and tombs she had been called to visit, she had footfall or some assistant to whistle tunelessly and calm her.

It was impossible to continue and not question how closely she traveled to her doom.   Still, she would starve up in that cave, starve or wait to be fed to whomever…whatever that was.   Still, bravery meant only one more step, and she had not been raised to cower, sensible though it would be.

The corridor tunneled down and sloped around in a long, meandering spiral until finally, finally, it began to open up into a larger room lit once again by torch light.  Another single creature, hooded, in white stood at its center, surrounded by eight flat slabs of stone each several feet up, off the ground.   They were empty, but the ropes, the splattered blood, indicated that they had not and would not be empty for long.





More Not Stopping

It ought to have been oblivion. If there was a god who presided over earth, who culled lambs from goats, who lorded over what must and must not be, she had not met him as she traversed this portal.  Perhaps…she ought to have been torn through the light and into the darkness as was her due.    Instead, Amelia squinted, alive, but her vision not fully returned to her.  But there was a warm hand stroking her face, sized as a child’s would be, tenderly, rhythmically, along her jaw, over her nose, heedless of her features.   A young girl, surely attached to that hand held Amelia’s head in her lap as she made this compassionate gesture, singing.  The voice was childlike, as well, though, not lilting and pleasant.  It was as if a player piano ticked off the prongs of the song from her voice box, an automaton’s nonsense song.  Every now and then she heard a word of her mother tongue, un hippotome, un phantome, tu vas mourir.

At this, Amelia found her strength and will and gingerly pulled herself up. The pins that had held her hair in place drooped to the side, her shoes were gone, but she was otherwise unaccosted.  She looked around at what was a cave lit by fire and the light that flooded in through its open mouth.  Dusty, but not unlike the first images she had seen of the excavations of the Egyptian pyramids, a sloping bar carved into cave wall that must serve as some sort of seating.  There was nothing else to speak of save another exit that lead through darkness deeper into the cave.

“Did you save me?”  She looked at the creature, small, with a wild shock of reddish, much brighter than her own.  What looked back seemed a rather moonstruck child, adorned in a necklace of abalone and a rather dirty white shift.  Much as her song had seemed as though Amelia had ought to be able to understand it, she stared as she was spoken to as if reading Amelia’s lips might help her to know her language.

The girl held her face up to hers, scanning it with both curiosity and fear.  She could be little more than seven or eight, too pale to had spent long in the sun.  A series of repeated words, of gesturing, left them no closer to communicating.

Amelia crawled forward, away from the girl who blinked slowly at her, as if she were witnessing a doll of hers come to life.  She kept moving, scraping the front of her dress along the dirt floor, until she could peer over the edge.

Here, just as the Professor had described, a massive valley was laid out before her and in the center, structures that would not be out of place in some ancient rite of sacrifice.  She could see the dais, already blooded, and some figure being drawn against its will up the steps.  Behind that, on some marble throne, towering above, was seated what could hardly be a man and yet…it could not be otherwise.  A giant, a titan, a beast with a man’s face, a maw scarlet even at such a distance.  Amelia’s eyes grew wide as her body grew cold.  It had to be a lie even as she understood Ammon to have been telling the truth.  It beggared belief.

Amelia knew she had not been saved.


Give up on the words and you give up on your soul.

There is a bump on my face that is likely the latest in an aggressive campaign to reclaim my teenage years by covering the entire expanse with zits.  That or a massive face cancer.  One or the other.


She folded her hands, hand he now saw for the first time, even through the lace of the gloves.  He, this time with no care or consequence for the touch, peeled the gloves away and saw the burns that their first test had marked her with.  The acid produced in this break between worlds, a snapping of an aloe stalk, where in this world, it soothed, in theirs, it bled pain.   Amelia saw the line of suffering trace down her fingertips, move through him and settle, with force, behind his eyes.

“I am so very sorry.
“They do not hurt now.”
“They should never…”

“I do not understand, Ammon.”

“The falcon is not mine, only a sign sent from their side that I would recognize.  A device, I have now come to see that could only have ever been from your father.  It is nothing like the marks they make on their own.  It danced before my eyes at the Manor you’ve learned so much about, drew me away in the middle of my lesson.  I imagine young William must have been…no, I do not recall anything but following it, a sign and sometimes a bird, as it moved through the halls, up the stairs and out the front door.   Places I was never to be, but I didn’t think…I just chased it into the woods.  A day later, they found me, surrounded by…well, it burnt the wild grasses just as well as your fair skin.  It had seemed a dream.  A madness.”

Amelia gazed as this reverie overtook the Professor, and her thoughts travelled with him, seeing the blue ring that had opened above the table on some Midland afternoon, sun pleasantly moving through the trees exactly matching the horrors.

“That night I passed through against my will.  When last I saw you, it was by choice, a choice I…I have learned so much now, now that we are close that I wish at moments, I had flung myself into sea rather than come to bring you back to…”

“I had to mastermind this plot without his aid, thinking I was protecting Mr. Willoughby, Laurence, though

“As I belong to my father, as you belong to yours, so too, does Laurence belong to the King of these…cannibal people, indeed, he is something of their prince.  Though this King, if one could deign to call him such, has no love for his son.  Whatever loyalty remains to Laurence, what awaits him upon his return is something worse than death.”

“Worse than death, good sir, you’re positively shaking…”

“There is no time.”
“If I am to return, I am to return with a sacrifice.  And the Tormented peoples believe that the strongest magic is to be found in what a man has made.  The king hungers…he can no longer be appeased by invention, by charm, by kaleidoscopes and toys.  We cannot distract him with anything but the return of his own blood.”



i am outright dumb these days.

with a red, fiery, ruby-scratched throat

I am ill and dumb.

It is a weird spot that I am in, but I have decided that the usual barrier can come down as easily as it arose.  Simply by the doing of what needs to be done.  So five hundred words are going to appear on this white screen.  They are not going to resolve me to great purpose. They are not going to absolve me of my terrible failure.  They are not going to suddenly be 250,000 words or howsoever many words I am behind.  They are just going to be simple, small words, written only to comfort me in response to a question:  can I write five hundred words again?

I need to believe I can.

I could tell you about Seattle, about the delicate panic attack that overtook me in the city of vast hills and the kindness of my friends who took me by the crook of their arm up the hill to the lovely Japanese restaurant where I a deeply memorable meal I will have to look up the name of.  I could tell you about the ineffable power of Laura Bailey and her charming husband whose kindness and cheer was enough to drag me out on those same unknown city streets, unsure as a newborn lamb on my legs, to have her sign my comic book.  Who I was brave enough to speak to even if it was just one brief sentence.  I acquitted myself well.  I could tell you about the Korean chicken, the Weiner documentary, the chilly night on the air mattress, my grand thoughts as I rode the train and navigated the ebb and flow of the aforementioned panics and currents of extreme bravery.  Of cosplayers and good coffee and the time I spent alone and observant, among my people, a part of them and apart from them.  I could tell you about Patrick Rothfuss’ Princess tale read aloud to us, the charm of being read aloud to.  The grand laughter, the art, the ideas, the numb brain, the pleasant absence of self-definition.

I could tell you how I am sick as hell today, despite it being deeply, deeply inconvenient.  My excessive worries about Monday-Wednesday and the crazy workload I need to address tomorrow so I am not drowning when I arrive for meetings I cannot work during.  I could tell you about my new boss and her hands-off, independent approach that I should be a 1000% glad for now that I have been made to understand that I don’t have to chase after her with calendars to tell her where she needs to be and when – but that leaves me disconcerted as to whether everyone else is going to treat me as fair game.

I could tell you about the boy.  The man. The movement towards a goal that is happening tomorrow, but is still not enough.  His desires and mine and the sliding windows that never seem to be open at the same time, but yet, here I hang, half-defenestrated, awaiting this rope to be pulled back in or cut loose.

Somehow, I’ll say none of these things and yet do enough.

Thirty-seven little extra words to apply to my statement in arrears.

Attack of Opportunity


It is a terrible poison to find that when what you pine for is granted to you, your heart flinches and begins to target anew.  It’s a terrible curse to hear words and beneath them hear this guttural chant, these fiendish songs ring out that speak of the end of all things.

It is so strange.  So surreal.  So within my grasp at the same moment it is flung far from my heart.  To know that I can no longer turn back and ever expect to cross this river.  That, alas, I cannot swim, but nevertheless I find myself diving in.

I did not expect this and now I am to write you a letter tonight that professes my deep affections, affections I surely have because I read back and realize I have shared them before.  Shared them over a long summer of hopes and dreams that aged and iced into this intermittent winter that is half-summer and half-slick, frosted windowpanes glittering around and in front of me as far as the eye can see.   We’re here now and I think you think nothing has changed and I think I think everything has.  Neither of us can possibly be right.

You tell me on the phone about this joke of a thing, entering a raffle to win a prize, to win a trip to somewhere nearby.  Nearby as in – in the state.  In the same region, as in the way real people exist in relationship to one another when they think about their relationships.

Still the offer is intangible, hedged, locked in the roll of a dice as we joked.   Should I?  If I?  Would I? Would that be okay.  I was all encouragement.  I was every moment delighted.  And why not?  Why not after presents had been sent and dear, kind remarks about my sweetness and loveliness and overall charms?  How can I be both so moved and so cynical at the same moment?

But it had a real location.  A place I knew, if not well, then, at least a place that is here.  And how I have wrestled in my mind over this.  After all of these internal struggles of concern over being left in the dust to some other person out there in the world, of wanting just the security of a Facebook status change and feeling entirely thwarted in such regards, suddenly, there’s this suggestion provided apropos of nothing.

I will adjust, I will calm and this will either pass or be brought up again.  The frenzies of the morning never seem to make it to the night.  I am not to be tossed aside

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned about the email from my dear friend.  There are things going on and I need to concentrate and lock it down and make it happen.

At least got those nails painted.

Procellosus (15/365)

The power of Fred.

It’s real.
Not that I’ve suddenly gone off-course.  I just am quite aware how draining and exhausting and bleh being OTR can be even if you’re entirely prepared for it to be happening.  Yesterday, even with great intentions, I found my steam running out much earlier and much more frequently than the previous day had indicated. I wanted to do another 3 miles of walking and just laid there.   This may also be because I did, now that I think of it, go and see the sister, and get the groceries and scrape the car and carry and do my best with my very short frame to fling a giant plastic tote of recycling over my daffy head into the bin.   And the part that matters was seeing the sister and hearing how despondent she was with her relationship with the guy person in her life and me talking about mine and needing so desperately to DTR (which I, in my great obliviousness, had never heard of, but means Define the Relationship).  It threw a lot of energy into a weird place.  Because I know I need to this, but every time I attempt to even parse the words or make the space for
But the dishes got washed.  And the laundry got put away.  And that’s an astonishing big deal so that I know tonight when I go home, I can cook without any junk in the sink to deflate the idea of steak and spiralized squash noodles.
I have also ordered things that are perhaps not so straight-forwardly cleanly low-carb.  Along with some great things, but a few questionable items that I know are going to slow things down.  Still, I am hopeful that my awareness will be half of the battle and that expanding a boundary in the short-term is better than calling the whole thing off.
Tomorrow, we’re being provided lunch.  I’m slightly freaking out that I can eat any of it.  I just have to bring some of my questionably low-carb home items to back me up when there’s quiche and sliders or whatever the catering throws out on the table (can’t hope for fajitas where the culling is fairly straightforward.
The middle of the month, there’s a meeting with my cousin that I thought of as my one-off, cheat meal.
But end of the month I’m going to Seattle.  Food there is…?
If I’m honest, I’m questioning this isn’t asking for trouble.
Because at least in my mind I want this to be the year of focusing on this.  I want this to be the year January-December where I’ve put time and effort and energy into the old bod.  Gross.  Into my health mildly together.  Into not being utterly beholden to Food and Ideas About Food, to Food as Narcotic.  I want, just as I’ve proven with this posting exercise, to be able to steady myself day after day after day and see what that accretion of time and effort can build.