Take a chance and steal away this movie moment ♥

I finished my PSA for Fair Trade coffee AND the accompanying blooper reel today! *STOKED!!* (AND I fulfilled my chapel requirements! Triple scoreee!)

Marilyn Manson...

...ate my girlfriend! Awwwww, lil baby Relient K video!

Wow this thing is so bad it's good. I mean you just can't go wrong with an oversized Marilyn Manson walking around the streets of PA eating people's girlfriends, even if the picture quality is enough to make you cry and the cheesy graphics are soooo... educational-film-circa-1990. And the lyrics... we won't even go there. I'm embarrassed for them. I will say that the line "disgusting trash on MTV, it makes her smile" was supposed to be "disgusting crap on MTV," but Toby Mac, who produced the thing, made them change it. Rofl. Oh the days of Relient K's hyper-Christiandom. Can't say I miss those days... maybe the pop culture references though. And Brian Pittman. It's weird that only two of the guys in this video are even still with the band.

I'll bet Matty T was younger in this video than I am now. How weird is that.....


This Sunday, I'll be walking 20 miles through Cambridge, Boston and thereabouts to raise awareness of hunger. The idea is to get people to sponsor you to walk, and the money goes to feeding hungry people in the Boston area. My project bread homepage has a little more info about the event and also tells you how to donate. I know that, as college students, we're all poor here, but let's think of those who have even less than we do! You don't have to donate a lot, but please contribute however much you are able! Thank you!

Also, let it be known that I still miss Brian Pittman. I will always miss Brian Pittman. ='(

Get busy living or get busy dying

Again I have that awful feeling that life is flying past me. Well, not exactly past. I sure don't feel like I've missed out on much this weekend. But another day is gone; where did it go? The whole weekend - what happened to it?! Will time ever go back to normal speed? Please, stop the ride, I want to get off!

It occurred to me that this must be what it's like to have life flash before your eyes. That in turn made me wonder whether I was dying. Right now! This very instant! Dying and detachedly, powerlessly watching my life as if someone were cueing to the end and skipping all the parts I'd been waiting to see. What if that's really what death is like? If it's not so much a lightning quick montage as a fast-forwarded flashback of your entire life? Maybe we're all just flashbacks in each other's death scenes. Creepy, eh?

But then it also occurred to me that the question isn't whether I'm dying, because that has an easy answer: Yes. We all are, every second of every day. But every second of every day, I am also living. And so it goes: we are living and dying at once. The real question is whether we allow the dying to outweigh the living and give in to this whirligig, this kaleidoscope, this accelerating gyroscope - or whether we wring the moments from each day and taste the whirling colors every second we're awake.

Airborne Ultimatum

Not that I am under the delusion that anyone's paying attention during this hectic and stressful finals season, but I shall post nonetheless! I just finished playing ultimate frisbee on the quad and it was AWESOME! We lost however many rounds we played, which I expected the moment I wound up on the team opposing the Bathrobe Guy, and it was so hot that "ultimate" quickly degenerated to "mediocre," and then even more quickly to "inadequate." Doesn't matter though. I forgot how much fun that game can be, especially when the guys don't treat you like a girl. That's just lamesauce. I might not be as fast or be able to throw as far, but I can hold my own and it's nice when the guys recognize that. Whew. I'm beat! Time for foods, shower, and work. In that order. I'm looking forward to the thunderstorm I'm convinced is a-brewin' out there. Tut tut.

Old-skool lovin!

Smash it up!

Moments after my last post, I noticed a status on my Facebook homepage that said there was going to be a show outside of Lane at 10. Then I heard the guitars all the way from Ferrin and realized they meant a SHOW! I booked it over there. I had just been thinking, shit, I haven't been to a show in almost 2 months! No wonder it feels like Armageddon is coming! Yeah, these guys weren't Relient K or anything, but it was fantastic just because they were a band with amps rocking out on the lawn by the dining hall, and that simply does not happen around here. There were 2-3 dozen people in attendance and it was a decent crowd, with some dancing, moshing, headbanging, etc. Especially on the part of Tie Dye Brian. Then, during the last song, some friends of mine showed up and went nuts, which finally gave me an excuse to look like a loony, too! It was sad that it had to be the last song though. They would've kept going except some guys came over and said people were complaining about the noise because they wanted to sleep. Sigh, only on a campus where 98% of the population has to get up early for church on Sundays would a Saturday night rock show be curtailed in such a tragic manner. Here's hoping this happens again, only minus the premature ending! I will certainly encourage it when I interview the front man tomorrow for this year's final issue of the Tartan.

^ They covered this. It sounded cooler louder XD


I feel really strange right now. I want to regress. I want it to be the 1990s. I want ska to be in. I want not to care what I'm wearing and believe in fairies again. I want all the good bands to get back together - Five Iron Frenzy, Juliana Theory, Kids in the Way - and I want all the good bands that are still together to play the old songs for me. I want the radio to play "Good Riddance" and "Closing Time." I hated high school, but some strange part of me wants to go back to it, or rather, not the circumstance but who I was then and what the world was like. Does this sound cracked out yet? I've only been out of high school two years. The world has not changed that much. And have I already forgotten the ridiculous drama and - shudder- the horror of ALGEBRA? Yet I want to regress so badly that my heart is going to break if I can't. I think I can partly blame the fact that suddenly every day is like grasping water, and no matter how many hours I'm awake and how much awesome I cram into those hours, it disappears just the same. I am constantly going to bed, it seems, and constantly waking up for a new day, and each action follows the other more quickly than I ever imagined it could.

Yet I simultaneously long to spring forward, to branch out. I feel... like a Jack in a box. I've got this little cube I call home, and all the time people are cranking and cranking, and I'm cranking myself, and I just want to leap forward into something new and exciting! I need MOTION! CHANGE! LIFE! But I feel stationary. Static. Stuck. Sometimes I'm so inspired and driven, but at this moment in time, I want to do nothing (not even write my book), think nothing.... maybe even be nothing. I want to get on the highway and drive somewhere, anywhere but here.

I'm not depressed. I've been fabulously happy these past couple weeks, spending time outdoors, seeing human beings again (which honestly didn't happen for the first 60-70% of the semester), laughing, making new friends, having adventures, exploring, blasting happy (old-skool) music while speeding down the highway. Today was positively gorgeous. I played frisbee, found a new trail or three in the woods, went to the beach, got ice cream....

But something is wrong.

I have this eerie sense that something is coiled and waiting to spring. Maybe even the apocalypse. And I'm absolutely terrified.

It's hard for me imagining the flaws in this design.

I know debris, it covers everything...
And still I am in love with this life <3

Words of wisdom: The more hours you're awake, the more awesome you can fit into your day.

I've been up since 7AM, and though my eyes are at the burning stage of exhaustion, I'm pretty wired. Today was easily the best day I've had all semester. Actually I've had a good string of days this week, so good that I'm starting to wonder if I've moved to a higher plane of existence where every good thing is intensified. My sense of every good song, of every good meal, of every single little white flower blooming on the dogwood is heightened, and every bad thing is so simple to just let go....

7:00 AM: Woke up to eat and shower before attending my first Symposium event at 8. Symposium day is a big deal at Go-Co. Classes are cancelled for the day and students have the opportunity to go to a dozen or more events that conform to a theme (this year's was Creation Care) and receive up to 6 chapel credits for their attendance at various events. Many choose to use the day for studies or fun, as I did last year, but I needed to get some chapel credits out of the way, hence the 7AM wake-up call.

8:00: The three "8AM-8PM" exhibits are not yet in existence. Bugger, I could've slept another hour at least!

8:20: Chapel credit #1 for "Materialism and Creation Care: Change or be Changed" art exhibit. Easiest chapel credit ever.

10:00: Chapel credit #2 for Alternative Medicine discussion panel. No one warned me they were going to talk about acupuncture. I was good with the herbal stuff and the dietary stuff and even some of the chi stuff; in fact, I may even look further into some of that. But not the needles.

11:30: Chapel credit #3 for "One Carbon Footprint" acre-wide display that was conveniently set up en route back to my dorm AND gave out free temporary tattoos when you signed the chapel credit sheet!

12:00: T-shirt tie dyeing with the floor. Jeez that stuff is hard to get out of your skin. I think my high school science teacher said it doesn't "eventually wash out;" if it fades, it means you've absorbed it into your blood stream. Well guys, if I get cut within the next few days, I'll probably bleed purple and green; consider yourselves warned.

1:00: Chapel credit #4 for "The Politics of Creation Care" forum - a friendly debate over whether global warming exists and the actual severity of the problem, which both sides can agree is a lot less than Gore made it out to be in "An Inconvenient Truth." The oceans are not going to swell 20 feet in the next century. Maybe 2. Our efforts are probably better directed toward other causes, but this is not to say we should be careless about our emissions, etc.

3:00: Chapel credit #5 for "Discovering Answers to the Ecological Crisis Around the World." If the event name sounds familiar... remember the sunflower/windmill poster I made a little while ago? This was what it was for. It was basically students recapping agriculture-based missions trips they'd taken in the past year, which made me want to live on a farm more than ever before because now I've seen that it's absolutely feasible to sustain oneself off the land.

3:20: Chapel credit #6 for "Single Stream" recycling video, looping in Lane all day. The thing was all of 1:30 in length. I take back what I said about the art exhibit being the easiest chapel credit ever; this one takes the cupcake.

3:30: Finally free, I went for a walk in the woods along a trail I found yesterday when it was pouring rain. It was prettier then; you've never seen greener greens than the woods when it's raining. I was listening to my rainy day soundtrack when "Where the Falls Begin" by Mae came on.

There's a line in that song that says, "you walk this spinning wheel, forgetting how to feel and how long since it took your breath away." I was thinking about that and I realized that the beauty of this world is enough to take my breath away each and every day, if only I pause for a second to notice it. A moss-covered stump could be an emerald throne. A red-winged blackbird could be the king. Sun glancing off wet blades of grass could be his diamond veil. Not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of these.

I must've been out for an hour and a half and walked 5 miles during that storm. But it was still a lovely walk in the sunshine, and a bit more strenuous than my usual route, which made me feel healthier. When I was almost home, I noticed a huge black bird sitting on a dead branch across Coy Pond, stretching his wings. And I mean HUGE. The way he spread his wings made me think of Death, spreading his arms to welcome all into his bosom. Morbid, I know, but I thought it anyhow. And then, wouldn't you know, along comes the massive white bird - call him Love or Purity or Jesus or whatever - and makes a splash landing at the other end of the pond. Gorgeous! and the poet in me was thrilled that Death was not simply waiting for me to cross the waters and embrace him, at least not without Life getting in the way.

5:00: Video editing demonstration from a prospective professor. He was pretty good I guess. He was Texan and called us "y'all," which reminded me of Ash's dad. Sometimes I miss that family. I should visit once school lets out.

6:25: I realized Lane would be closing soon and hurried over to get dinner. It was pouring when I got outside and I was mad that I'd left my rain coat in the computer lab, but my timing turned out to be PERFECT: the second I arrived on the dark side of Lane with my food, a rainbow appeared over Coy Pond! The huge windows offered an amazing view. The rainbow had its foot in Coy Pond. You always thought the end of the rainbow didn't exist, huh? Well I've seen it! Hah! Sorry, there were no little green men or pots of gold. It's a shame really. I could use a little gold right about now. But it's still got to be lucky or something - even if your good fortune is only being fortunate enough to see it!

7:00: Worked on rough cutting my video production project and it's essentially done. Everything is synced up. The titles look great and are actually on the screen long enough to be read, unlike the rougher rough cut from yesterday. Once again Cam was a great help, and great company besides. He hadn't slept much. Tee hee. Sleep deprived people are so entertaining. He was beat boxing....

8:45: Talked to Boyfriend. We might not get to see each other this weekend because he's supposed to have the music video he's working on done this week. I'll miss him, but he's worked really hard on this thing and the little bit I've seen has been phenomenal, so I know it'll pay off.

9:00: Hung posters for the writing center event coming up on Monday, at which I'll be reading a lil excerpt of Before the Empty Moon, so you should come! This poster is another masterpiece of mine. I would've preferred another full page picture like the one for today's event in spite of greater cost or ink consumption or whatever the heck the complaint would've been. Full page color is so eye-catching. But this was what they said they wanted, so I delivered.

11:00: Met Cam and crew at Lane to shoot another video, but this time, he was behind the camera and I was in front of it. Granted, I was only an extra, but so was everyone, really, and because I was the first one there I got the important job of shooting a guy on his way down the stairs. No no, I don't mean filming him walking down the stairs. I mean I whipped out a handgun and took him out while he was walking down the stairs. No no NO, I don't mean a GUN gun, I mean a HAND gun. Observe. Loads of people showed up. We got to shout "BANG BANG!" a lot, cower behind upturned tables, take some people out, get taken out by some people, hide in trash cans.... and slink out of an elevator to shoot the guy on the stairs.

1:20AM: And that's a wrap!

The Umu has awoken! Look out for the Yom Yoms!!

1) Are you really ready for 111 questions?
Bring it.

2) Where are you taking this test at?
Dark side of Lane.

3) Was your last real relationship a mistake?
The one before this one you mean? I wouldn't say so.

4) Who did you last say “I love you” to?

5) Do you regret it?
Course not.

6) Have you ever been depressed?
Not clinically, but I've had my phases of wanting to curl up in a hole and die for weeks at a time.

7) Are you a boy or girl?
As far as I know, I am a girl.

8) Do you have a job?
I work at the writing center and I babysit. But I'll be needing something a little more substantial this summer if anyone's got any connections ^_^

9) What is your relationship status?
taken <3

10) How do you want to die?
Either quickly and epically (i.e. doing battle with orcs in Mordor) or painlessly in my sleep.

11) What did you last eat?
An apple, a cranberry muffin and a carton of milk. Lanefood = nom.

12) Played any sports?
Sure, I did the usual rec team sports (soccer, softball, basketball) when I was little before my parents finally figured out that I hated team sports. I guess ballet, horseback riding and tae kwon do count too.

13) Do you bite your nails?
Not habitually.

14) When was your last physical fight?
Erm. Probs last weekend when I glommed onto Boyfriend to stop him from leaving for work. Rofl

15) Do you have an attitude?
Only toward dumb people

16) Do you like someone?
I like many people.

18) What is the background of you computer screen?
Zombie unicorn

19) Are you gonna get high later?

20) Do you hate anyone at the moment?
Hate is a strong word but I really really really don't like you.

21) Do you miss someone?

22) Twirl or cut your spaghetti?
Some disastrous combination of the two.

23) Do you tan a lot?
Eh. I don't "go tanning," per se, but if I'm outside a lot in the summer I can get pretty dark for a white kid.

24) Have any pets?

25) How exactly are you feeling?!

26) Ever eaten food in a car while someone or yourself is driving?
ALL the time

27) Ever made out in the bathroom?
Can't say that I have

28) Would you take any of your exes back?
Heck no at all. I dumped them for a reason.

29) Are you scared of spiders?
Eeeeeew yes! I don't trust anything with more than four legs, especially not things that dart around and dangle over the heads of unsuspecting victims on invisible little strings.

30) Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
Wow! Totally! I would love to see what Jesus was like, go to a Shakespearean play, experience the 1960s....

31) Do you regret anything from your past?
I'm going to leave The Pantsless One's answer for this one.
yes and no. there are a lot of things i wish had gone differently, but the past, especially past mistakes, makes us who we are

32) What are your plans for this weekend?
still working on them. Maybe Japanese food? Maybe home?

33) Do you want to have kids?

34) Did you ever kiss someone whose name starts with an M?
not to my knowledge

35) Do you type fast?

36) Do you have piercings?

37) Want any more?

38) Can you spell well?

39) Do you miss anyone from your past?
Yeah, but the most important ones are the ones who've stuck around.

40) What are you craving right now?

41) Ever been to a bonfire party?

42) Have you ever been to jail?

43) Have you ever been on a horse?
Yes! and I miss it every day.

44) Kissed someone in a pick up truck?

45) Have you ever broken someone’s heart?
Quite possibly, but we won't talk about that.

46) Have you ever been cheated on?
I hope not

47) Have you made a boyfriend/girlfriend cry?
I hope not

48) What time is it currently?

49) Would you live with someone without marrying them?

50) What should you be doing?
Designing a poster for a writer's night event

51) What’s irritating you right now?
My retardedxcore video assignments

52) Have you ever liked someone so much that it hurts?

53) Does somebody love you?
yes =)

54) What is your favorite color?
ALL OF THEM!! But especially Gabe Saporta purple, Orange Amp orange and lime green.

55) Have you ever changed clothes in a vehicle?

57) Do you have trust issues?

58) You are over half way done with this. Are you sure you want to continue?
no. But I shall.

59) Do you have any siblings?
I have a lil sister

60) Do you have a good relationship with your parents?

61) Do you live with anyone?
The fam

62) Do you believe your most recent ex thinks about you?
Yeah, we're still biffles.

63) Who was the last person you cried in front of?

64) Do you give out second chances too easily?
Oh yes.

65) Is it easier to forgive or forget?

66) Is this year the best year of your life?
Definitely not but I'm trying to change that

67) What was your child hood nickname?
Fairy girl XD

68) Have you ever walked outside completely naked?
no hahaha I was the prudiest kid you ever met, even before I knew what "prudey" meant.

69) What is your motto in life?
Carpe diem

70) Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
Yeah, it's just sometimes hard to see that reason.

71) What is the last thing you did before you went to bed last night?
Set my alarm for today

72) Do you have a best friend?
I've got a few. Some for school, some for home.

73) What is bothering you?
The fact that I should really be working on this doggone poster because it has to be delivered TODAY.

74) Have you ever been out of your country?

75) Do you play the Wii?
I HATE the Wii with a burning passion. Except super smash, but only if you play it with game cube controllers.

76) Are you listening to music right now?

77) Do you like Chinese food?

78) Do you know your fathers b- day?
August 20, 1 week before mine

79) Are you afraid of the dark?
only when I think it's hiding massive beasts that want to eat me.

80) Is cheating ever okay?

81) Are you mean?
mostly just to Boyfriend. ^_~

82) Can you keep white shoes clean?
Can anyone?

83) What was the last song you listened to?
"Put some clothes on" by Breathe Carolina

84) Do you believe in true love?
Yes and no. I think it exists, but sometimes you have to make it. Love isn't just a feeling, it's something you have to work at. It's hard work and that's why so many couples don't last - they think that if the feeling is gone, then it's not worth sticking around. Which is dumb.

85) What are you currently wearing?
jeans, tshirt, hoodie, flip flops

86) What do you wear to bed?
mismatched PJs, generally including an oversized t-shirt and pants that aren't quite long enough.

87) What is the weather like right now?
gorgeously sunny! =D

88) Do you like the outside?
love it! I wish the outside could be my ring tone.

89) Are you currently bored?
ugh. yes.

90) Do you wanna get married?
One of these days

91) Is it cute when a boy/girl calls you baby?
I guess?

92) Are you hungry?

93) Have you ever made out for more than a half hour straight?
hehe... probably.

94) What makes you happy?
Sunshine, friends, the sweaty toothed madmen, being outside, jumping in puddles with my galoshes on, concerts, Relient K, music in general, ice cream, vegetarian food that actually tastes good, animals, flowers, dresses, Chucks.... I could go on.

95) Would you change your name?

96) Ever been to Alaska?

98) Do you watch the news?
no, it depresses me.

99) What’ s your zodiac sign?

100) Do you like Subway?
eat fresh! yeah Subway rocks

101) Would it be hard to kiss the last person you kissed?
no, it would just require an hour and a half of driving to get to him. =(

102) Your best friend of the opposite sex likes you, what do you do?

103) Do you talk like your friends?
yeah I pick up a lot of mannerisms from the people I spend time with

104) What do you plan to do with the rest of your day?
we'll start with that poster. Mail stuff to my sponsor child. Call the place I applied to for the summer. Astronomy class. Video project. First aid certification class. Writing my story is probably not in the cards for me today.

105) Have you ever seen someone you knew & purposely avoided them?
cough-Angry Frodo-cough

106) Do you have a friend of the opposite sex who you can act your complete self around?
I pretty much act myself around everybody.

107) Who was the last person of the opposite sex you talked to?

108) Does it matter if your boyfriend/girlfriend smokes?
Gross. I can't take the smell.

Well that was a complete waste of my time and yours! Hope you had fun!

Silent Arithmetic

New video from Mute Math! God I wish these guys would go on tour already.

MUTEMATH - Spotlight

I'm not a huge fan of this song, but I am impressed that they managed to make yet another cool video of nothing but the band playing their instruments. If you haven't seen the "Typical" video... I'd get on that if I were you. It's better than the "Spotlight" one.

Stoked on life!

Wow! Today was amazing! Prepare for uber-happy ADHD post of glee!

I worked on my book for about 5 hours and ironed out some mountainous wrinkles. They might still qualify as molehills, but that's what revisions are for, you know? So that was really satisfying. I'm getting close to done with Part One: Versitas. Sure, I'm borrowing a lot from the last draft, but don't worry: I'm not giving away any huge secrets this time around, which was the reason I had to scrap the 90-page draft I wrote over the summer.

I just want to hurry up and get to the good stuff! The villains. The sea voyages. The battles.

...the zombie unicorns.

Question of the day, and if you're reading, you better post your answer: what the flip does a zombie unicorn eat? Sure as heck that thing's not an herbivore.

So yeah. After working on my book all morning, I joined up with Cam, who wins the hero of the day award for how much help he's been with this PSA project.

Here's what the thing's going to look like. Fred goes to Claymore for coffee and an apple. When he gets outside, he finds Jeff sitting on a bench, typing on his brand new computer. After Jeff gushes over the amazing new user interface, Fred suggests a trade:his Macintosh apple for Jeff's Apple Macintosh computer. Then there are a couple graphic overlays encouraging viewers to buy fair trade coffee so farmers can make a living off their product. The final shot shows Fred running away with Jeff's laptop with Jeff in hot pursuit.

The reason Cam wins the hero award is because he helped me get the mass amounts of equipment I demanded, then he, Bean and Caitlin helped me figure out how to work it all. On top of that, he and Bean starred in the thing. Since they're really close friends, their chemistry was great and their acting sincere. The whole production was just FUN. In the reasonable time span of 3 hours, we had a lot of great laughs, a lot of great bloopers, and still managed to get all the shots I needed for the final video, which will be a lighthearted work of staggering genius!!! I'd love to follow up on the series idea and have Cam always be the kid that tries to rip people off. At any rate, we will definitely be working together on something in the near future. Expect great things.

Me: All right, we're going to do the chase scene one more time. This time, Cam, don't run so far. Make it the most cartoonish chase scene you could possibly imagine. You're not actually trying to get away, you're just running in circles around these trees to piss him off.
Cam: Sweet.
Bean: Can I throw the apple at his head?

XD <3


The next segment of Before the Empty Moon, hopefully to be critiqued tonight if my constellation test doesn't take too long.

Just to refresh your memory:
1. Does it make sense, does one event follow the previous event, are new concepts well explained?
2. Does it hold your interest? Where and why do you get bored?
3. Do you want to read more?
4. (I know, I'm adding more! Sorry) How do you feel about the characters? You don't have to base your opinion purely on this excerpt. I'm just curious how they're coming across thus far.

If you haven't read the first and second installments...
Beginning of Chapter One

It took us five days to make it around Upper Saranac Lake, and Dad never left me alone with Jesse for more than two minutes. By the last night of our trip, the secret was burning a hole in my tongue.

A thunderstorm cut our bonfire story time tragically short, but at least we’d already pitched the tent and hung the bear bag. All that was left to do was crawl into our sleeping bags and wait for the Andasi to take us.

Sleeping proved to be nearly impossible, though. Dad’s warning and the prospect of telling Jesse coupled with the cold and wet made for a particularly restless night on my part. Fantasies of all the things I’d like to do with magic kept lapsing into fitful dreams in which I was controlling the storm. I clashed the clouds together like cymbals and stirred the treetops with my finger. I breathed onto the beach and scattered sand like stars. I twirled and twirled across the thunderous purple sky, spilling diamonds on the water and trailing my regal veil in the waves. My footfalls were as big as a valley, but they left no crater because I weighed nothing; I was made of sky. And I held wind and water and lightning in my hands, but darkness threatened at every step. Though every stride carried me across lakes and mountains and even nations, the line of day receded before me and I couldn’t shake the coming night. I didn’t know what would happen if it caught me, but its hunger for me was like rusting iron on the backsides of my teeth. Relentless. Insatiable. I knew I couldn’t withstand its might if it overtook me.

I woke with a shiver, feeling only marginally more rested than when I’d gone to sleep. For all I knew of Jamus, I was a stranger to nightmares, and this one had deeply shaken me.

The first strains of dawn were leaking through the dripping foliage and seeping into our tiny haven: the storm had passed. Jesse was nestled into his sleeping bag so that only his brow showed. It was furrowed as if he were concerned about something, and while I watched, he murmured something and rolled over. Dad was nowhere to be seen, which explained the cold spot at my back. Tired as I was, I sat up, struggled into my fleece and went to see if he was puttering around the campsite. Having no luck, I checked near the trees we’d suspended the bear bag from, but he wasn’t there either.

Back at the campsite, Jesse was crouched beside the sopping fire pit, poking the sodden ashes with a stick. He looked up, blinking, obviously half-conscious. “Where’ve you been?” he grumbled.

“Looking for my dad. Did he tell you he was leaving?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Wonder where he is,” I murmured.

Jesse shrugged. “He’ll be back. You know how it is with him.” It was true: my dad was known for disappearing and appearing at random, seemingly into and out of nowhere, and could be gone for an entire day without anybody knowing his whereabouts. Still, he’d never done anything like this while we were camping, and I was worried.

“I had a dream…” Jesse said, rubbing his face and muffling the words with his hand. We both considered dreams very important because of what we knew about Myriad, so I gave him my full attention. “We were on the Reservoir. In the paddle boat. It was just like it always is, but then the water started to boil and evaporate. It turned black, and as it evaporated, it darkened the sky. I was terrified because I knew that when the water was gone, all that would be left was a monster of some sort. The dream wasn’t clear what kind of monster it was or what it would do, but I knew the thing was hungry, and I was the meal it wanted.” He shuddered and drew his arms tight around himself. “I felt like it would’ve done anything to get me.”

“That sounds a lot like what I dreamed,” I remarked, and told him about the darkness. “I feel like the Andasi are telling us the same thing…. But the monster didn't get you, did it?”

“No, I never even saw it.”

“Me either. So I guess that’s a good sign.”

There was a pause. Then Jesse said, “We tried to stop it from coming. Or I did. For some reason you weren’t doing anything, but I remember… I did some sort of magic….”

Then I remembered. We were finally alone, and my words broke through the dam of secrecy. “Jesse! Magic is real. I’ve done it!”

“You have? Where was I?” I loved that he believed me immediately and unquestioningly.

“You were there. It was when Dad was talking to Mr. Castillo before we left.” Jesse’s eyes widened expectantly. “Let’s walk,” I suggested.

Jesse heaved himself to his feet and we set out in the direction of the rising sun. Pine trees left cool, clear droplets on our faces as we brushed past. Early morning mist wrapped itself around their trunks and branches, clinging thick enough to shroud the campsite from view almost instantly. It was the sort of fog that could keep a secret if you asked, and I spoke again.

“I don’t remember ever hating anybody before,” I said. “But I sure hated Lila’s dad that morning. And you know what my dad says about emotions.” I looked at him meaningfully, and he nodded. Jesse knew the adage as well as I. “When Castillo came down that walkway all big and bad, ready to ruin our camping trip, I wanted to kick him. And then, when he started shoving his finger in Dad’s face, I just lost it. I wanted that finger to fall off. I thought, that’ll show him!”

Jesse swallowed a laugh.

“I hardly realized what I was doing. Of course, now that my head’s cleared, I remember thinking about the skin cells coming unstitched from each other and the bone pinching and coming unfastened from the knuckle….”

“Castillo’s finger didn’t fall off, Samjay,” Jesse pointed out in his no-duh tone.

“Well, thank goodness my dad was there to stop it,” I said.

“Mmm.” Jesse sounded skeptical. Then he burst out, “He was playing with his fingers! The whole time they were talking! I’ll bet he was doing some sort of counter magic or something.”

“I’ll bet you’re right.”

The sun began to eat away at the fog as we walked. The raindrops wobbling at the fingertip of every pine needle seemed to hold miniature suns captive inside of them and the forest glittered like something out of a fairy tale. “Do you think I could do magic again?” I asked.

Jesse shrugged. “If it took that kind of emotion to fuel it, it must be pretty hard.”

I thought. “Maybe there are different degrees of magic, though. A human body is complicated, so maybe it takes more to affect one.”

“So something simple… like a… a leaf,” Jesse said, picking a glistening green specimen off a nearby beech tree. “Could you make it, I dunno, change color? Or wilt?” He held the leaf out to me and I took it gingerly by the stem. I thought about a cell and all its tiny parts. I thought about the chloroplasts pumping out juicy green life. Then I imagined them all stopping still in their tracks.

Nothing. I realized I was holding my breath and let it out with a big puh. “Maybe I’m not supposed to think about it so much,” I said. “Maybe I just need to… think about the result more than the process. That’s kind of how it was with Castillo.” Jesse nodded encouragingly and I tried again. This time I pictured the leaf going brown and crumbling between my fingers. Still nothing.

I looked hopelessly at Jesse. “I don’t know what’s wrong. Obviously it worked fine the other day.”

“I wouldn’t think something was wrong,” said Jesse. “There are so many different interpretations of how magic works, it’s hard to say exactly what you should be doing.”

He was right, of course. But it frustrated me that I could’ve done something so dramatic before and now I couldn't even change a little leaf to brown. I glared at the stubborn specimen.

Suddenly the leaf caught fire in my hand. I shrieked, dropped it, and stumbled backward in terror. Jesse, practical young man that he was, rushed forward to stamp out the flames and steady me. We watched the smoke curl upward to mingle with the mist and vanish.

Jesse’s face was pale enough to blend in with the fog, but he feigned fearlessness. “Well. I guess that makes you about the coolest person I know,” he said faintly.

I shook off his hands and started walking again. “What, because I can make body parts fall off and light things on fire?” I snapped.

Jesse was flabbergasted. “Are you angry?”

I sucked on my scorched fingertips, deep in thought. “I’m scared,” I admitted. “I don’t know what I’m doing. All the magic I’ve ever done has ended disastrously. What if Dad isn’t there next time and I really hurt someone? There’s just this sudden weight. I want to do good with my magic, or else what’s the point?”

“You’re getting ahead of yourself,” Jesse consoled me. “You can’t possibly know everything about magic yet. I’m sure with practice you’ll be able to direct it however you want.”

At once we both stopped dead, for quite suddenly, a cottage had emerged from the sparkling mist ahead of us. It was bathed in the kind of golden light that only happens when the sun goes highlighter pink, and everything about it, from the ivy-laced rock wall to the snow white gables, shimmered like the pines with an infinite number of twinkling raindrop Christmas lights. Though the fog revealed its secrets at random, there was no question that the cottage hadn’t been there a moment before.

So I just realized my spatial synaesthesia extends to movies as well as time, numbers, and music. I don't know why I never noticed before. I guess it just seemed normal that The Wizard of Oz had that spiraling shape and the weird tumor at the part where they go to the Witch's castle. It's just always been like that. Castle in the Sky is easily the wackiest though. Think if you handed a two year old a crayon and some paper. That's Castle in the Sky. o_O

Sweet temptation

Just a TASTE. Just to get you salivating for more. Mwahahahaha.

Yeah, no, this post is not about the obscene amount of candy I received for Easter. Ugh, fat attack, here I come.


We reached the north end of the Adirondack range well before noon and set out on foot, following a river that, at times, dwindled to a burbling brook and, at other times and seemingly without any warning at all, unfolded into wide blue lakes dotted with the colorful canvas sails of families and kids at summer camps enjoying themselves on the water. The clouds had finally surrendered to the sun’s advances about the same time we hit New York state, and not a wisp of white remained to mar the vast blue dome of sky.

By lunchtime, I couldn’t help wishing for a bit more cloud cover. I was sweating, if not buckets, then at least goblets, and I was on my fourth reapplication of sunscreen in half as many hours. All four of our Nalgene water bottles were empty, which meant we would have to spend the next half hour or so pumping lake water through the filters to refill them.

“Jesse,” said Dad, producing a dull and dented metal pot from our food bag. “Would you run this down to the water?”

“Sure thing, Zee,” said Jesse. He took the pot by its handle and started down the overgrown slope to fetch the water.

“I’ll go too!” I volunteered. The longing to splash cold water on my face was almost too much to bear, not to mention the brambly hill looked like a challenge and I was ready to bet Jesse I could make it up faster than he could.

“I need your help with this, Sam,” said Dad. He was crouching beside a broad stump and had the map spread out in front of him. He never let us see the map, so it wasn’t hard for him to convince me to stay.

But as soon as Jesse was out of earshot, he folded the map away and looked at me sternly. “What have I always told you about emotions, Samantha Jane?”

I was dumbfounded. He was angry with me? I opened my mouth, but no excuse came out. I wasn’t even sure what behavior I needed to excuse. I finally mumbled, “I didn’t offer to go get water so I could be alone with Jesse.”

Now it was Dad’s turn to be confused. “What are you–” He shook his head. “Never mind that, Sam. What have I always told you?”

He might as well have asked me to recite the Pledge of Allegiance for how well I knew the old rhyme. “‘Emotion fuels intention. Through intent we can invent. But caution, heart, lest subtle art spark brighter than you meant.’ So? Why do we need to talk about this?”

“Because you, my dear, are a passionate young lady. I’ve trained you well, and I can usually trust you to control yourself, but this morning, talking to Mr. Costello, I spent half the conversation keeping his finger from falling off. Any ideas about that?”

Little black spots crowded the edges of my sight and I sat down hard on the stump. I had actually done something just by wishing? Something… magic? “I… I didn’t really mean to….” I rubbed my eyes in an attempt to clear my vision and my thoughts. My own voice seemed to reach me through a long tunnel. This couldn’t be happening.

Then Dad’s voice came floating down the tunnel, calling my name. I felt his hand cover mine in the comforting way only a father’s hand knows how to do. I blinked hard and forced myself back into reality, albeit a reality that had just shifted on a fault line beneath my feet. “No harm done this time, okay?” he said. The anger was gone. “But you need to be conscious and cautious. You have more power than you think.” I nodded mutely. I wondered if he meant he was going to teach me magic. How did one go about doing magic, anyway? Was I likely to mess up again and actually cause someone harm by accident? There was so much to ask, if only my mouth would form the words!

Jesse appeared at the top of the hill and I tried to compose myself. He joined me on the stump and started pumping water through the filter while Dad searched the bags for lunch. As soon as Jesse had filtered enough water to fill a bottle halfway, he handed me a drink. “Do you have heatstroke?” he asked worriedly.

I gulped down the water. Dad hadn’t wanted Jesse to hear what he said about magic or he wouldn’t have sent him away like that, so I would have to wait until we were alone to tell him what I’d learned. “I’ll be fine,” I assured him. “Want to hand me the other filter? I can help.”

“If you’re sure….”

A minute later, Dad presented our traditional smorgasbord of crackers and condiments – cheese, pepperoni, peanut butter, honey, mustard, jelly, pickles, and, for some reason, a can of tuna fish – and we ate while we pumped water, being careful not to drop so much as a crumb of food. We had clementines and chocolate raisins to top off the meal, packed up, and set out again. I wished Dad would go somewhere else for a minute. I was dying to tell Jesse about the magic.


Welcome to my new and improved world of nonsense! In case you didn't notice, I've made a few changes lately.

1. First and most obvious, I am now a dinosaur.
2. Second most obvious, Domo is eating my layout. Deal.
3. My archives are named after massive underground tombs and I've got an upside down exclamation point in my "about me" section.

In other news, I picked up Derry from Mike's Mobil today. Mike's a good guy. If your car has a physical, emotional, or spiritual breakdown, he'll take good care of you. I also bought "Wincing the Night Away" by The Shins, which has some really fantastic artwork AND CAME WITH A FREE STICKER. Best idea ever. I'm so doing that with my next book. Free promotion BY FANS, FOR FANS. YEAH!

Is it a physical possibility to enter REM sleep within the time frame of half an hour? Because I conked out at Paul's earlier and definitely had some dreams going on within the 20 or so minutes we were asleep, and I didn't think that was possible. I also, uh, pulled down the wall of his basement after that.... >_<

Worked a lil bit on the story today. Maybe I'll be nice and post some more this weekend. Burnt offerings of mp3s are welcome. XD

We are heffalumps!

Some days I just lie on my bed and laugh and wonder what the hell is wrong with me. Today is one of those days. I feel like I've been awake since... oh, wait, I HAVE been awake since 7:30. That explains it. I got up early to take my car to Firestone to see if they could figure out why it starts screaming and flashing lights at me every time I drive it.

Jenniferin was kind enough to come along and drive me back, though of course, not without a pit stop at good ol' sketchball, greasy-walled Denny's for breakfast. Well, in the end it turned out that Firestone wasn't sure what was going on with my car, so they made up some bull and sent us to Mobil, where the mechanic proceeded to make fun of the Firestone guys for screwing around and completely misdiagnosing the problem. Long story short.... I'm just hoping I'll have a Derry to drive home tomorrow night.

I procrastinated a lot today, but since I was awake for so long, I still somehow got a lot done. I finished the promo poster I promised to make for the environmental club's symposium event, and I must say I am very pleased with it. It's really colorful, thus, eye-catching; and when you're trying to attract kids to symposium events, you need to be eye-catching.

You know you totally want to go to that event now. ^_~

I also revised my Fair Trade PSA script and made up a storyboard for that, which was time-consuming and, frankly, not as helpful as it's cracked up to be, as I can already see the shots in my head when I write up the script. Well, I guess it was a learning experience. I learned that next time I'll just do the production plan.

I'm off to the Prancing Pony now to see whether Evan remembered writers' group tonight. I've got a chapter I've been dying to post, but not before screening it. So y'all better hope he's there.

edit: He wasn't there. I know, I know. Break out the Kleenex.

Quote of the night:
Me: Boyfriend, I want a fucking dragon.
Paul: Yes, dear.

Out of a gunny-sack fall red rabbits.

Mr. Beckett's most recent Saturday Night Music Club featured a number by the Shins, and after hearing it, loving it, and searching the Shins on imeem, I found this gem of lyrical fabulosity. I know it's utter nonsense. I feel like Alice in Wonderland listening to it. Yet somehow it makes so much sense. Every last word rings true. The percussion is what drew me in at first, though; it looks like caves with stalactites dropping rainbow tears into glittering pools. Don't you see it? All right, all right, maybe I'm having a crazy synaesthesia moment. Sorry. But listen anyway; it's a brilliant song!

Hurled to the center of the Earth again,
The place where it's hot, love,
You know, it hurts to breathe in,
And the watershed you balance on is begging it,
Well did he ever know,
Will he ever know?

The trees in the moonshine are a dark lattice,
So you catalog in the angle you notice,
In a vacuum you are charged to record this,
So you won't make it easy on me.

I can't go into this no more,
It puts too many thorns on my mind,
And the necessary balloon lies a corpse on the floor,
We've pissed on far too many sprites,
And they're all standing up for their rights.

Born on a desert floor, you've the deepest thirst,
And you came to my sweet shore to indulge it,
With the warm and dreaming eyes of an orphan,
But there is not enough,
There is not enough.

Out of a gunnysack fall red rabbits,
Into the crucible to be rendered an emulsion,
And we can't allow a chance they'd restore themselves,
So we can't make it easy on you.

Undaunted, you bathed in hollow cries,
The boys with swollen, sunburnt eyes,
A reward for letting nothing under their skin,
So help me, I don't know, I might,
Just give the old dark side a try.

Don't cast your whirling eyes on the shore
‘til we even the score.
I still owe you for the hole in the floor,
And the ghost in the hall,
Who decides who paddles over the falls?
Yeah, who makes the call,
Who makes the call?

I know there's an eventual
Release from every scale of crime,
But the necessary balloon lies a corpse on the floor,
We've pissed on far too many good intentions held by clever sprites,
And they're all standing up for their rights.


I feel like a completely different person from three weeks ago. Remember what a mess I was then? I was miserable, pessimistic, and unable to find joy or beauty in anything. I wanted to give up on most everything, or at least go to sleep til it was over.

Now I'm simply content. With what? I don't really know. All I know is it feels like the sun is out even though it's raining. It feels like things will be okay. Three weeks ago, I looked at my options for fall 2009 and despaired. Now I'm looking at roughly the same schedule and I can't wait to get there! I wasn't going to do more than 14 credits, but I can't get around the fact that there are just so many classes I want to take! If I get my way, I'll have all 3 of my favorite profs. Fall '09 is going to kick serious butt.

But more than that, for the first time in a long time, I can say that I'm attracted to Jesus. I went to church yesterday and couldn't stop thinking what a beautiful thing he did for us, dying on the cross like that so we wouldn't have to. The other day, Boyfriend asked if I was sure I couldn't sneak him in the back door of heaven. Yet isn't that exactly how all of us are getting in? There's no other way to get there but Jesus sneaking you in and saying, hey, it's okay; she's with me.

Now think about this for a second, because this is what really got me yesterday. What kind of king does what ours has done? The amount of pain and penitence he bore, and none of it rightly his! He didn't have to go through all that. We sure didn't do anything to deserve it. It's love. Beautiful, unconditional, sacrificial love, and we owe him nothing less than total abandon. 100% love. 100% obedience. Are we capable? No. But we can try.

I haven't prayed much this year. It's hard to pinpoint when it all started. It's just that, in a place like this, they force-feed you Jesus and it's hard to want something that's being shoved down your throat. Now, for the first time in I don't know how long, I don't feel like it's a lie for me to talk to God. I've been all over the board in the past 365 days. Praying or not, though, I've always known what was right. I have a strong inner sense about these things. Call it intuition, call it conscience, call it the Holy Spirit or some blend of the three. A few weeks ago I came crawling back and asked God to open a side door for me. And he did. I knew he would. When you align your desires with his, anything you ask for is yours. Well isn't it just like me to look at that door now and wish he'd left it locked. I've never cut myself or anything like that, yet sometimes I amaze myself with the amount of pain I'm willing to put myself through.

But I've always known what was right.


Today was a shopping extravaganza. I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice to say that my wallet lost a lot of blood... but it was not in vain, for I now have: a belt that matches the shapeless purple Miyazaki heroine dress I bought back at Halloween, a lovely button up shirt, flip flops that only cost $8 yet somehow are actually attractive, aaaand TWO FABULOUS SUMMER DRESSES! Bring on the sunshine, baby.

Also, Charlotte Russe played my favorite Cobra Starship song while we were in there. Hot.

Yes, we actually went to a thrift store. Yes, the clothes actually smelled like grandma's... unfortunately.

Isn't it interesting how the shape of something can determine how good it tastes? Pokemon shaped Kraft macaroni and cheese tastes way better than the little noodles. Conversely, Goldfish shaped like basketballs do not taste as good as the lil orange fishies. They just don't.

The Goose is getting fat

New from the Starship of Cobra!

Why does Bruce Leroy glow? All I've seen of The Last Dragon is the little clip they posted in their blog, in which Bruce Leroy was glowing.

Golden Goose was awful this year. I mean, not all of the acts were awful, but they were not an entire Friday night worth of good, either. This thing went from 8 to 11 or so, and they could've squeezed the three redeeming aspects of the show into probably 40 minutes: Drake, who hosted it; C.S., whose video was this hilarious infomercial about the cement block as the latest and greatest in workout equipment and whose stage performance was a Blok class turned Disney musical; and Jordan, who painted himself blue and got some blue friends to help him impersonate the Blue Man Group. They had the white piping and everything. It was effing brilliant.

As for the other ten contestants, many of their videos were actually about being in Golden Goose, which is pretty dumb, and most of the performances were dance numbers of various degrees of failure. Which means some of them didn't fail that badly, but neither did they stand out from the crowd as creative or original. Honestly, I would've left and taken Boyfriend with me if I hadn't promised my editor I'd review the show for the Tartan.

And now I don't know what to write, because I don't want to be hated by everyone on campus for saying it was garbage, but there aren't a lot of good things I can say about the experience. I guess I'll try and write it like a news piece rather than a review, thus keeping it as objective as possible.

On the bright side, a bunch of us went out to Denny's after. I hadn't eaten dinner, so it was a fabulous way to top off a not-so-fabulous night.

I've been asking people if they've ever dreamed they had more than five fingers on each hand. You see, back when I was trying to teach myself to have lucid dreams, I read up on controlling your dreams and the first step is to determine you're dreaming. So you do a reality check. I never remember to do them in dreams, but the idea is that if you do them enough in real life, the habit will translate to your dreams. So there are checks like flipping a light switch to see if it has an effect, checking a clock periodically to see whether the time jumps around, checking a mirror to see if you're what's reflected or if it's just shadows, and, of course, checking to see that you've got five fingers on each hand. I always thought this one was bull. I don't pay that close attention to my hands in dreams, but I really don't think I've ever had more than five fingers per hand. Well recently, I remembered to check, and as I watched, a sixth finger grew out of the side of each hand. It was... a very enlightening experience.

Can you keep a secret?

This is it: the complete prologue of Before the Empty Moon. I haven't posted any of my writing in a while, and this is all I've been working on. So you got lucky! Because I wasn't going to leak it. I was going to make you all bring me flowers and candy and concert tickets before leaking this thing. ^_~

If you're going to comment, do me a huge favor and pay attention to three things:
1) Does it make sense? Or are there too many new names/terms/ideas to keep straight? Are new concepts explained well enough?
2) Does it hold your interest? If not, where and why do you get bored?
3) Does it make you want more?

Have fun!


It was the sort of car ride you’d expect to end in a crash. We were teetering on the brink of dawn with the sky turned upside down over our heads like a bowl of molasses so that neither the sun nor the car seemed to be making any progress. The radio leaked static now that the CD had ended and no one had anything to say. The only other sound was the concrete whispering to the tires of Dad’s faithful ’95 Camry.

My best friend Jesse was sulking in the back seat and trying to hide it by doodling in the sketchbook he always carried. Even my dad, ever the optimist, was brooding behind the wheel. I had my forehead pressed against the cold hard Plexiglas, watching the white dashes streak past until they blurred into one another and faded into the same flavorless grey as everything else. Every bump reminded me how awake I was. How real it all was. How I’d gone into freshman year with two best friends and come out the other end with only one.

Lila Castillo wasn’t dead. Not literally anyway. Let me back up to where the story began, or at least to where I came in.

Once upon a time, there was a man who was made of paradoxes. He was fierce and humble, dignified and defiant, a craftsman and a caretaker all at once. He was a friend; he was a father – and not just to me, his daughter, but also to Jesse, who had never known his father, and to Lila, whose father was an incorrigible realist and frowned upon creativity of any sort. My father’s insistence that there was more to humanity than met the eye drove Mr. Castillo especially mad.

That brings us to it, then: Dad didn’t think like other people. He believed in dreams, and not the way most people tell their kids to “follow their dreams.” He believed that what we experienced while sleeping was a world unto itself, a world called Myriad where real heroes and villains clashed like the characters of storybooks.

My father reared me, Lila and Jesse on the chronicles of that other world. According to the lore, man was no different from any other creature wandering the planet at the beginning of time. Then Fëanáro established Myriad and appointed muses to script fantastic dreams for the people of our world, Versitas, and to bestow upon those we call “artists” the gifts of inspiration. By enabling us to dream, Fëanáro completed mankind. He gave us hope and raised us above the beasts of the earth. Ever since, Myriad has served as the Grand Central station of humanity’s collective heart.

Growing up, Jesse, Lila and I understood the establishment of Myriad’s muses, the Andasi, better than the Senate. We respected them more than we respected the principal of our school. We feared Jamus, the Andasi’s outcast, more than terrorists in the Middle East. We had our priorities straight; so, naturally, everyone else thought we were completely bonkers.

And so the other grown-ups rejected my dad, writing him off as a bad parent, a dreamer, a lunatic, or (worst of all), a liar. “Crazy man Quinn” they called him, and “Zany Zechariah.” You see, people don’t like being told Myriad is the fount of their hope and inspiration. They want to think their ideas come from themselves, not some distant, invisible strangers who deign to give us humans our dreams. Artists can be particularly stubborn about this. Sooner or later, all the greatest ones either recognize the hand of the Andasi in their work, hence their quirkiness, or go crazy and start cutting off their ears and stuff.
Then there are those who, like Mr. Castillo, simply can’t stomach the schmaltzy idea of hopes and dreams. For them, Myriad’s right up there with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. It’s a story for kids. Nothing more.

But Dad kept his chin up, a statue of steadfastness in the face of mockery. No one could change his mind about anything, and that was how I knew he was telling the truth in every one of the far-fetched yarns the other adults hated so much. Dad would never lie to us. I knew it. Jesse knew it. Lila had known it when we were young; we spent most of our childhood years searching for a secret passage to Myriad, or else pretending we were heroes of the lore. I was Adayla, princess of light; Jesse was Asa, king of the sea; Lila was Haligh, empress of the earth. The three of us scoured the woods around the Reservoir out back of my house for any signs of Myriad and staged battles in the state park beyond that. It was one thing when we were children; searching for another world and calling each other by imaginary names was, if not normal, at least acceptable at that age. But as our peers outgrew those kinds of activities, we were forced to become more and more secretive, and even so, we were each other’s only real friends in the small, suffocating world of the Scituate, Massachusetts public middle school.

Since as long ago as I could remember, Dad would convince Phoebe, my so-called mother (who was hardly more tolerant than Lila’s realist father), to let Lila and Jesse stay over some weekends and he would tell us stories late into the night. Then, once he’d tucked me and Lila into the full size bed in my room and Jesse into one of the twins in the guest room, we would scamper out through the windows to convene on the rooftop and talk about Dad’s stories, our own stories, or our latest scheme for finding a way to Myriad.

But once we started high school, it was nearly impossible to excuse or disguise what we were doing. It was especially hard to fool Phoebe. We dropped our Myriadan names. We started an environmental club at school, hoping to pass off our adventures as tree-hugging eccentricities. But free time was harder and harder to come by as our parents signed us up for all the extracurriculars we would need to get accepted at the best colleges, and in the end, we had to give up searching in favor of plotting and theorizing. I remember our last conversation like it happened just this morning.

“If we dream every night,” Jesse theorized, “then we must go to Myriad every night. It’s just a matter of controlling what happens when we get there.”

I objected. “Even if you learn to control your dreams, they’re still just dreams. You don’t wake up with battle wounds every time you dream about slaying the kraken, do you?”

Lila muttered, “I don’t dream about slaying the kraken.”

“Besides,” I continued over her. “Don’t you think someone would have noticed by now if people were vanishing off to Myriad every time they fell asleep?”

“Are you saying you don’t think it’s there?” Lila asked. Her bottom lip stuck out like she might cry if I said it didn’t exist.

“No!” I objected. “I’m saying that there must be a way to get there physically, not just in our heads.”

“Because it has to be more than a state of mind,” Jesse added. “Things don’t happen in a state of mind they way they happen in a place, and Myriad is a place where things happen. Real things!”

“Exactly,” Lila agreed. “But we’ve always known this. How do you suggest we get there? Because I’m pretty sure we’ve tried everything short of a rocket ship.”

As always, neither Jesse nor I could answer her with any degree of certainty.

“What if you just have to look at things a certain way?” Jesse finally said. “We’re using our imagination now, so theoretically, we could be there already.”

We hushed and looked around in silent wonder.

“Looks like Versitas to me,” Lila grumbled.

“I don’t think the Andasi like us to know too much,” I said thoughtfully. “They’ll give us hopes and dreams because that’s what Fëanáro made them to do, but they’ll never let us see the hand that’s feeding us.”

You might call it an obsession. And you wouldn’t be wrong, but you have to understand that to our knowledge, humanity was on the line. Every able body had to play a part in the resistance against the Jamus, the Rogue Andasun. If he got his way, the people of Versitas would not be a people for much longer. Jamus has been working against Fëanáro since the creation of Myriad, trying to cut off the unworthy leeches of Versitas from the source of their inspiration. He doesn't actually have the authority to do anything of the sort, of course. Instead he sends nightmares to punish us and unleashes whatever wars and plagues he can think of on the realm of Myriad, knowing that sooner or later the strife would bleed through to our world. Only Fëanáro had the power to do away with Jamus, but until the day he put his foot down, we would fight for him and for the sake of all that Myriad added to humanity, if only we could find our way there.

Anyway, that was how it used to be, but things started to change in high school. Lila became difficult to pin down. A seemingly endless onslaught of schoolwork and all-too-frequent martial arts lessons filled up her time. Dad kept saying to let her be, that she would come back to us when the timing was right. He was so certain of it that I truly thought she’d be on our side again within weeks, if not days, but winter dissolved into spring, and it was clear that the inseparable trio had separated.

Summer finally rolled around and Jesse and I hoped we could resurrect the old camaraderie, but Lila got a job at the dairy hut on route 3A and constantly used that as an excuse not to see us. All I have to say is, there are laws against making a fifteen-year-old work as much as she claimed to be working. I would have valued her honesty almost as much as her company, though admittedly, paddle boating around the Reservoir and snooping around the state park weren’t the same without her.

It wasn’t like Jesse and I were still actively searching for a secret passage to dream land. It was just nice to know that we both expected the same things out of life. Somewhere in our hearts, we both still believed that the time would come for us to make our way to Myriad, and if nothing else, we mutually understood and appreciated each other’s weirdness in a way the others at school never could. Lila never quite overcame that weirdness, even when she cut herself off from us. What hurt the most was that she still refused to come back.

The four of us had an old tradition: as soon as school let out for the summer, Dad would take us on camping adventures as often as Jesse and Lila’s parents would allow. It was the best ever for Jesse since he didn’t have a father of his own to do that sort of thing with. Dad used to wake him up early and the two of them would have “man time” catching and gutting fish for breakfast while Lila and I slumbered happily in our two-person tent. But best of all, far away from critics and doubters, we didn’t have to hide what we were doing. Dad could tell us all the stories he wanted without making Phoebe angry. Jesse, Lila and I were free to discuss whatever we wanted without raising any eyebrows. And, we could search in earnest for any signs of that other reality overlapping ours, because let’s face it: the world is a lot bigger than the state park near home. The way to Myriad could be anywhere.

Dad taught us to look for anything out of place: moss and lichen growing on the wrong side of trees and rocks, non-native plants and animals, areas of mysteriously dead or thriving flora, signs of rain on a dry day….

It wasn’t often that we found anything noteworthy, but the few times we did, Dad marked it on his map and made us camp and fish far away. It drove us crazy that he never explained why. I always thought some Myriadans might wander into Versitas while we slept and I wanted to see them when they came. Maybe Dad thought the same thing and feared it for reasons I couldn’t have understood.

In one last desperate attempt to win back, if not Lila’s belief, then at least her friendship, Jesse and I begged my father to take us camping the summer after freshman year. We were fifteen years old, and with the loss of one of our number, even Jesse and I were starting to play tug of war with the real world. There was so much pressure to act like everyone else, to think like everyone else, to make oneself into a clone of everyone else. We weren’t antisocial by a long shot, and the fact that nobody wanted us around was almost enough to make us give it all up. We would never admit it, but Jesse and I needed the camping trip as much as Lila. We were on the cusp of something new and frightening, clinging to the old ways but thirsting for change. It was a make or break kind of summer, and I hoped to God we wouldn’t break.

Usually we would’ve camped at least twice by mid-July, but this would be our first excursion of the year. I think Dad had recognized the rip tide we were caught in and feared we had moved on, so naturally he was thrilled that we wanted to go. He cracked out his collection of maps and immersed himself in planning the journey. Part of the adventure, after all, was never camping the same site twice. He tauntingly refused to let Jesse and I look at his plans. He wouldn’t even say what state we were going to. The curiosity would have stretched out the days leading up to the trip if they hadn’t been such a whirlwind of finding long underwear and socks and hiking boots that fit.

The Friday morning of our departure finally dawned – if you can call it “dawning” when the sun has yet to rise – and Dad and I set out. Jesse was waiting for us on his stoop, wearing a fleece and stamping his feet to generate warmth. He crashed into the back seat and thrust a handful of CDs in my face. I shuffled through them and popped in our favorite album for starting the day, U2’s “The Joshua Tree.”

We pulled up by Lila’s house. But it wasn’t Lila who came to greet us; it was her father. Before we had even shut the car doors, he was striding down the slate-stone walkway wearing a scowl that could have curdled milk on the spot.
Jesse and I quickly ducked back into the car, where I hand-cranked the window open a crack to listen to his conversation with my dad. “That guy scares me more than anything we might meet out in the woods,” I whispered. “Wolves, bears, or otherwise.”

“I bet he could make Jamus cry like a little girl,” Jesse agreed darkly.

Mr. Castillo reached the sidewalk and spat, “She en’t going with you.”

Jesse sucked in air through his teeth. “Ooh, skipping the formalities? Your dad won’t like that, Samjay,” he remarked.

“Top of the morning to you, Mr. Castillo,” Dad replied cordially, inclining his head in a tiny bow. I fumed silently. This guy didn’t deserve my father’s warmth, especially if he was about to spoil our camping trip. I pressed down the car door lock so I wouldn’t be tempted to jump out and kick him in the shins.

Meanwhile, Mr. Castillo folded his arms and chewed his lip, searching for words behind dark, furrowed eyebrows. Jesse couldn’t resist a chuckle. If there was one thing in the whole world that terrified Mr. Castillo, it was my dad. “Zee: one,” Jesse tallied. “Castillo: zip.”

“Look, Quinn, you know how I feel about you,” said Lila’s dad, jabbing an accusatory finger in my father’s face. Dad didn’t so much as blink, but I flared up. How dare he! I dug my fingernails into my palms, wishing that finger would somehow, miraculously, detach itself from his hand and fall twitching to the pavement. That would teach him to disrespect Zechariah Quinn!

Mr. Castillo was on a tirade, and my dad coolly waited for him to finish, fiddling behind his back with the chunky ruby class ring we never saw him without. “For fourteen years I’ve tolerated you feeding nonsense into my little girl’s head,” Castillo ranted. I noticed he was still waving his finger around. “But I won’t stand for it anymore. She’s a big girl now, and she needs to start acting like it.” He must have realized how crazed he looked, because suddenly he shoved both hands deep into the pockets of his black leather jacket and tried to look nonchalant.

“I respect your opinion, Mr. Castillo,” said Dad. “However, I must disagree with you. Camping is an activity that requires a lot of maturity, responsibility, and resourcefulness, not to mention its health benefits-”

“Quinn, she en’t going,” Mr. Castillo interjected.

“Perhaps it would be wise to talk it over with Lila.”

Mr. Castillo’s eyebrows shot up. “Talk it over!” he roared. “I don’t know how your family does things, but I make the decisions in this house, and I say she en’t going!”

“All the same,” Dad persisted, “let’s hear what she has to say.”

As if they’d scripted it, Lila appeared on the stoop just then, wearing a black bathrobe and a frown. Jesse and I exchanged a triumphant glance. Castillo was going to cave now. He had to.

But it turned out Lila’s frown was for my father, not hers. “Zee,” she said sleepily, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t take the time off for something like this. Looking for a magic gateway to another world was a fun game when we were kids, but you know how it is. Everyone has to grow up sometime.”

Do they? I thought. Maybe everyone else, but not us. Never us! And we weren’t “looking for a magic gateway,” as Lila had so derisively phrased it. We were just camping.

Dad jerked his head in some semblance of a nod. “Of course I know how it is,” he said. “Well, I guess that settles it. Mr. Castillo, sorry to have bothered you. Lila….” He embraced her, and she awkwardly returned the hug. “We’ll miss you. You’re always welcome if you ever change your mind.”

Lila pulled away. “Thanks, Zee. Have a good trip,” she said curtly. She saluted to me and Jesse in the car and shuffled toward the door, followed by the man I couldn’t help blaming for her change of heart. Mr. Castillo stood scowling by the door until we pulled away.

So that’s how the three of us came to be speeding west on the Mass Pike at six thirty in the morning, one friend short of complete.

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