I dreamed I was in my apartment with one of my guy friends, but it was the middle of the night, and our school has a rule that you can't have visitors of the opposite sex in your apartment past a certain hour, so we were blatantly breaking the rules. But no one would have known a thing if my apartment mates (who were not the same as my real life apartment mates) hadn't suddenly brought a party into our living room. A very loud party with girls AND boys.

Of course we got caught. I stepped out of my room to be like "WTF guys?" just in time to get nabbed with the rest of them. But when I told the RD I had no idea why there was a party in my living room, he let me go without saying a word about the friend who'd been in my room. I was so relieved he hadn't noticed. When I got back to my room, they had transformed the living room into an all-out bar (another no-no - we aren't allowed to have booze on campus, nor are we allowed to turn out the lights in mixed company).

A bunch of us went down to the first floor, which is a guys' floor. Apparently it was all right to be down there if we stayed in the main corridor, which was easier said than done since all the walls and doors were gone; the place was transformed into a huge cafeteria. I saw someone I knew and went over to say "hi," but it turned out he was a zombie, so I went back to my other friends. Suddenly we realized we weren't in the main corridor and thus were technically in violation of visiting laws, so we scurried back to safe ground.

Seconds later I got a text. I didn't know who it was from, but whoever sent it said they'd seen what I'd just done and I should turn myself in for it. I couldn't even tell where the corridor turned into restricted territory, and I'd only crossed for a second! Like hell I was turning myself in.

But this person kept hounding me. Every time I looked at a screen, and sometimes just randomly in the air in front of me, his messages would appear. They were always on a grid of hash marks that flickered in and out like the screen was about to die. It had a very creepy feel to it, like this person that I didn't know and never saw was some kind of ghost or demon, or worse yet, a Fight-Club-esque alternate self. My techy friend was trying to help me figure it out, but he was never there to see the messages and I started to get the feeling that he and the sender were actually one and the same.

Next thing I knew I was being held hostage in my bedroom at home. There was a party going on in my back yard, like a birthday party or something with lots of young kids who might have been my mom's piano students. I was standing in my back window looking out, thinking about how far down it was. The grass was so green and soft that I knew I could jump the one story down onto it without getting hurt, and I was about to when I got kidnapped.

Now I'm in the back seat of a car. I don't know where they're taking me, but it can't be good. They are not good people. I am working on a diversion of some kind. I think it involves food. The last thing I remember is preparing to jump out the back door while the car is still in motion...

Good morning, Saturday.

Luckily things only got better as the day went on. I spent the afternoon with JW and his family. They had about 20, 25 people over for Thanksgiving: Round Two - and that was only about 5% of the family tree. It was so fun. Big families are great. Remembering all those names was good mental exercise, too.

Then I drove home to see Adam Ezra playing in the town next door, in fact at the same place we had my post prom party. I went with my daddy, and it was nice to go do something with him, even though he wasn't crazy about the headliner (and I would have to agree that Adam's music is more my type). But I did get to have a good long conversation with Adam that touched on his tour with Enter the Haggis, the band's new album, my finals, my internship, and fantasy literature, especially our mutual love for The Golden Compass and the fact that, unlike a lot of people who say "your book-in-progress sounds interesting, but fantasy's not really my genre," he actually seemed excited to read what I'm working on. We agreed that when he finishes his album and I publish my novel, we'll trade. Cool beans.

Peace, love, and sweet dreams,
Miss Rex

Brewin's of a Mad Barista #1: Crackle Cider

As an OFFICIAL member of the Claymore crew, I now have the freedom to invent random drinks whenever I feel like it. Oh how I love this job. I wanted to squeeze in my first recommendation while it's still fall because anything based on apple pie goes out of style once winter hits like white pants after Labor Day.

My first mad brewin' is called "Crackle Cider," so named because it is so yummy that it might as well be made of crack. At this time of year, I would think almost any coffee shop should be able to replicate the recipe if you ask. I made a pretty name card for it with lots and lots of glitter glue, but someone took it down, so alas I do not have a picture, only instructions for your own mad brewin'.

To brew Crackle Cider: Start with a cup of hot apple cider, add a shot or so of caramel syrup, sprinkle in cinnamon and nutmeg, and garnish with whipped cream. Drizzle caramel syrup and/or sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top if desired.

It's like a fresh apple pie in a cup. Now some of you may be wary of food-in-a-cup after seeing how the people in Wall-E turned out, but don't let that stop you. It's just this once. It's a special treat. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone.

Peace, love and pie,
Miss Rex

These are a few of my favorite things:

It's Thanksgiving Day, but I won't bore you with an essay of the same things everybody is thankful for today. I have amazing friends and an amazing family and an amazing boyfriend. I have a roof over my head and plenty to eat, I go to a great school, I have a great internship, and I always have something to wear (even when I despair that "I have nothing to wear!").

Of course I'm thankful for those things. But there are a lot of smaller, less cliché things that I am also thankful for, and I think they deserve some recognition. This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for...

Light bulbs.

Text messaging.
Single stream recycling.
Soy milk (picture from Urban Blah).

Bass guitar.
Scott Westerfeld.
Swiss Miss hot chocolate.
Dirty feet.

Neon Trees.
Tuning forks.
Trippy dreams.
Vodka sauce.

Hot showers.
Blue jeans.
Ear goggles.

What random things are you thankful for today? If anyone says "friends and family," I'm spamming your comments section with pictures of slow lorises!

This post is brought to you by my favorite fingerless gloves.

Peace, love and free-range turkey,
Miss Rex

Excavations of Claymore: Thrilla in Vanilla

Ladies and gentlemen, after a very long and sad hiatus, I at last bring you the (I hope) dearly missed Excavations of Claymore. We shall begin with the Thrilla in Vanilla, a vanilla and mint latté.

I've never been anything but honest with you folks, and honestly, I was not thrilled with the Thrilla in Vanilla.

I love the name, and I love the flavors in it, and I really really tried to like the drink itself. I even sampled it more than once, made by three different baristas (including myself ^_^). It just isn't a good drink.

Something about the mint highlights the bitterness of the espresso. I realized that all the other drinks I enjoy that have mint in them either use peppermint (as in Starbucks' peppermint mocha), are iced, or don't contain espresso.

When I first started drinking coffee, I always got it with mint because it overpowered the flavor of the espresso. Now, connoisseur that I am, I have learned that it is better to complement the espresso with flavors like Irish Creme. Like the ugly new benches marring Go-Co's lovely campus every few yards or the hulking, enigmatic monument to gravity, the taste of espresso can't be hidden. Luckily it's easier to embrace than ugly benches...

But the Thrilla doesn't embrace. Perhaps it's just my touchy-feely taste buds, but I'm gonna have to give this drink two stars.

Peace, love and eggnog,
Miss Rex

What the radio doesn't know it wants

Remember how we are all so forward-minded and fashionable around this blog? Well I have another recommendation for you, dear trendsetters. This recommendation goes by the name of 54 Dice.

It's my friend Andrewp's band. Now I'm trusting all you crazy people to know good crazy when you hear it! These guys are experimental and bizarre, yet grounded in classics. By this I mean their foundation rests solidly on guitar, doing well what guitars have done since the days of classic rock, but with innovative interpretations of rhythm, vocals, and harmony vs. discord.

If you're looking for the kind of music the radio doesn't even know it wants yet, be sure to download their free four-song EP! (The website will ask for your email address, but don't worry; Andrewp has personally promised me "no spam!")

Peace, love and sleeping in,
Miss Rex

A Letter to Voldemort

Dear Voldemort:

Normally I would write to someone nicer about this (perhaps Albus Dumbledore or Sirius Black), but, well, first of all, you've had them both killed, but second (and more importantly), I feel that you have a special kind of expertise in the particular matter that concerns me.

I am speaking of the matter of sinuses. Since you, my dark liege, lack the protection afforded by a traditional protruding nose, I thought perhaps you would know of a spell or potion to combat discomfort or infection of the deep nasal passages. It has been a recurrent problem since the days of my youth; so recurrent, in fact, that I can pinpoint the day it will befall me before I even show symptoms. Precisely 365 days ago Monday, I was hospitalized for an especially brutal case of sinusitis. This Monday, I was forced to retire early by a sharp sinus headache and heavy congestion. I am sorry for the graphic description, although I'm sure my liege has seen worse in his decades of malevolence.

I know that you are very busy being evil, but if you get a chance, I would really appreciate your help in this matter.

Miss Rex

Why people don't write first-person fantasy books

When I began work on my current fantasy project, I was eager to be one of the few to write a fantasy saga in the first person. Now I am beginning to see why this is done so rarely.

With fantasy, there's a lot happening at once. Rarely do all of the important characters take the stage at the same time. So, you can either have characters narrate their in-the-meantime stories to the first person narrator upon their reunion, or you can use third person and tell the simultaneous stories more or less simultaneously.

There's also a lot that needs to be explained in fantasy books. When you write a non-fantasy story that takes place in the real world, you can assume your reader knows how things work in that world - he or she lives there! But if you've invented a world, complete with locations, races, religions, cultures, magical rules, politics, and history, it's entirely up to you to make sure your readers know pertinent details.

So your options are to have a really smart first-person narrator who already knows everything, which ruins the adventure by making everything too easy; to have your first-person narrator stumble across information in the form of wizened old sorcerers or mysterious books that reveal information in a conveniently timed fashion (which again makes it seem that things are too easy; the world is helping the character complete this supposedly impossible mission); or to tell your story in the third person, so that you can fill in the details necessary for fleshing out the world and perhaps even create some dramatic irony, which is possible but difficult with first person.

I thought that I would be able to achieve a more distinct and quirky voice for my main character, Anna, by writing in first person, but in fact the more fun and satisfying chapters to read (and to write) have by far been the ones I've done in third person. Somehow Anna has more of a voice when someone else is telling the story for her. Anyway I think she's a little busy combating evil and all that to be giving people a play by play of her adventure. So third person it shall be.

Peace, love and power naps,
Miss Rex

A pirate's life for me

All right, dear readers. I know you are all forward-minded fashionistas, so I feel it is my duty to bring this exquisite design to your attention.

It was designed by my friend the Hippie and it's eligible to win ten grand, at which point you'll be able to sport this epic yet elegant pirate on your bosom for something in the vicinity of $20. But you gotta give it your love! Cast your vote in the next 24 hours!

By the way, in case you ever wondered what the Hippie looks like, the answer is, he looks like this pirate. Yeah, he's pretty much Johnny Depp and stuff.

Peace, love and 1.5 martinis,
Miss Rex


Thus concludes my first weekend working at Claymore! Overall it's a pretty sweet gig. I get to make free drinks (well, one free drink per shift), which means Excavations of Claymore are soon to return! In just two nights, I've already created Crackle Cider and the Golden Mocha. At last my creative taste buds can be exercised to their full potential! Soon my tongue will be nice and buff, like Trogdor's beefy arm. Rawr.

It didn't take long for me to learn to make a quality latté. My organizational skills are a little lacking, but that will improve with practice. The only real downside I've seen is that, every so often, you get a psycho on the other side of the counter.

My first night, two other baristas came in partway through my shift, both thinking they were working a double with me. As they were sorting out the schedule, I was working on drinks for a few different people and paused to rinse off some things (because if the next person orders chai, they don't really want residue of hot chocolate in their drink). This girl at the counter loudly demands, "HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO ORDER?"

The other two apologized and told her they were just trying to figure out who was supposed to be there. She said something along the lines of that wasn't her problem and she'd been waiting there for blah blah (she'd only been there for like, three minutes, and there had been two or three people ahead of her).

I politely told her that I could include residue of banana and hazelnut in her order if she'd like to place it right away.

I think this will be my downfall. I don't take shit from people like her; I dish it right back. Hope that's not grounds for unemployment (grounds... ha ha... that's punny, cause I work at a coffee shop... get it? Ha ha...)

The other downside is, I'm gonna have to make it through my 10:30-2AM shift without making myself any coffee, because I was up until 4 this morning even with the time change factored in. But it was a darn good coffee. Soon to be excavated.

Peace, love and third person omniscient,
Miss Rex

Let's pretend we're in 4th grade, OK?

My internship affords me many wonderful opportunities, one of them being that I can now read books intended for much younger audiences without looking like a lamewad. Secretly I just love middle grade and young adult fiction, but at 21, I'm starting to need excuses that other people will accept as to why I still read high school material. So thank you, Skipping Stone.

Recently I've discovered a marvelous series that begins with a book called "The Name of This Book Is Secret." The second installment is called "If You're Reading This, It's Too Late." I'm about start the third, "This Book Is Not Good for You." I don't care that they were written for nine-year-olds; these books are GREAT!

The tales are quirky and fantastical mysteries full of puzzles and riddles that you can solve right alongside the characters, which is fun EVEN IF you're old like me and have probably heard them all before. And everything in the book is a SECRET, including the setting (that's right, now you HAVE to use your imagination!) Even the author's name, "Pseudonymous Bosch," is a secret. The story itself is so very secret that the narrator continually chickens out, refusing to tell the rest, before bribing himself into carrying on with rewards of cheese and chocolate.

Cass, the pointy-eared heroine, always carries a survival backpack in case of a catastrophe. Max-Ernest, the logical and loquacious hero, lives in a house divided down the middle by his divorced parents, who refuse even to acknowledge each other's presence, let alone cross into the other's half of the house. Guess it's true when they say can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Together these misfits set out to discover the truth of magician Pietro Bergamo's death, but they quickly get tangled up with the Midnight Sun, a society hell-bent on achieving immortality. At last the two prove themselves worthy of admission to the good guys' secret - I mean Terces - society.

There are a zillion reasons to love this series, but one of my favorites is that it's pretty much all about synaethesia. If you don't know by now, I'm obsessed with this strange condition, which cross-wires your senses so that you can see music or smell numbers or, in this case, see scents. So the Secret series is entertaining AND educational!

If you're a kid, put this on your Christmas list. If you're a parent, sneak it onto the end of your son or daughter's letter to Santa. If you're anybody else, just grab any random kid off the street and start reading to them. It'll look legit, I promise.

Peace, love, and coffee!!!
Miss Rex

Fall Back

There was frost on the quad the other morning. En route to an early meeting*, I noticed the tree outside the library was shedding leaves so fast that they had pooled around him, leaving a yellow ring at his feet. I had to wonder what the hurry was.

I always think of Robert Frost at this time of year. But it's never the poem you'd expect. I took the road not taken years ago and I walk it every day. Instead, "To Earthward" comes to mind.

On the last warm day we had in October, I took my shoes off to wade in Gull Pond and stretched out to dry on the rough sand, thinking of the poem's ending:

"When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length."

Or I think of "The Mending Wall" as I wander the bike trails with JW. Stone walls criss-cross through the woods as they crumble into the realm of the forgotten. They once told someone what land was his and what was not; they may have been the one and only tie between two farmers. I think of Frost and his neighbor, who never spoke except to repair the wall between them, saying "Good walls make good neighbors."

The bleak hour is nigh! Winter doesn't officially start until December 21st, but he's already lurking like a peeping Tom. In a few days, we'll change the clocks and night will fall at 4:00. My epic tan lines have faded, even the ones I got from wearing the same Tevas to camp all season (though I don't think the white bikini outline will ever go away). My allergies are getting worse. My acne is getting worse. Even my goddamn vision is getting worse - I had to switch back to my older, stronger prescription when I realized I couldn't read the slides in chapel anymore.

The time has passed for wading and sunbathing and skinnydipping. There will be no more bare feet and no more hippie dresses. It's a sad prospect.

But at least there's Christmas to look forward to! Now if only I can remember to stay away from shopping malls this year...

Peace, love, and hazelnut mocha,
Miss Rex

*I discovered moments later that the meeting had been canceled... to think I could have continued my 80s-cartoon dream about the Star Princess! Alas and alack!


Scott Westerfeld is the only author whose entire volume of work is on my "favorite books" list. It all started in sophomore, junior year of high school with a stand-alone book called "So Yesterday" (which apparently you can read in its entirety on Scott's website). I think, though, that Midnighters is my favorite work of his.

Well, anyway. Scott did an interview with Simon and Schuster on UStream last night. He answered questions received by tweet, blog and Facebook. It was enlightening. The question I asked was, "They say there's no such thing as an original idea. How do you come up with something fresh to say & say it in a unique way?"

Scott's answer: “There are obviously original ideas. What there isn’t is new ideas, completely new, and in fact if you came up with a completely new idea, I bet everyone would hate it. Because they wouldn't know what it was. They would be confused and freaked out and I have a feeling they wouldn’t actually like it. All the people who say they want something original, what they really want is something familiar that they already like but with a new twist they’ve never seen before… What you want is one new thing surrounded by many familiar old things.”

It was really thrilling to hear this guy I've looked up to for years talk about his work, and even more so to feel like he was talking to me - author to author. Someday I hope I can do what he's doing and be an inspiration to other young writers.

The whole interview is an hour long, but if you're into cool people doing cool things, steampunk, Manga, Miyazaki, the writing process, vegetarians changing the world, and how smart people plan for zombie apocalypses, check it out!

Peace, love and steampunk,
Miss Rex

No Teabaggin'

This here's my Silversteinian request that tea bags be put in their proper place in the apartment. Yes, I have found them in all of the places named in the poem. Except the trash. In all fairness, they might appear there on occasion; I would not know, for I do not root through our trash. That's Garby's job. Garby is the imaginary dog Mnomanoms and I plan to adopt to be our garbage disposal, since at present there is no standard operating procedure for compostable materials....

You know, someone told me today that 80% of what people say is miscellaneous rambling. I would have to agree with this stat.

Peace, love, and Leviathan (more on that laters!),
Miss Rex


I woke up from a crazy dream this morning. First I was on a long bus ride from an Italian airport, trying to get to Assisi. My family and roommate were there. Suddenly it was time for us to get off, but I wasn't ready and my shoes were off. I tried to put on my Chucks and found a teabag in one of them. Surely this reflects the number of random teabags sitting out to dry in my apartment (although this situation has improved since I posted a poem called "No Teabaggin'" over our trash can... will post photos later).

Then I was in a posh hotel room with two king-size beds and a whole wall of windows. The decor was mod, mostly reds, blacks and whites. My mom and grandma were there, trying to decide what to order from the hotel's in-house restaurant. I finally convinced them that we'd be better off taking a walk and seeing what was in the area. I checked Facebook to see if my Italian beau would be available for a visit, but he was in Canada.

Next thing I knew I was on the roof with my mom. In the distance I saw an enormous black bird (think Howl in Howl's Moving Castle, except bigger, and not a big softie at heart). The sight of him gave me chills.

Suddenly the bird attacked us, fast as a flying arrow. We battled her up and down the gables and precipices of a spooky old castle and finally warded her off long enough for my mom to say, "Well. You have some really f*d up friends."

The bird was coming back, but my alarm went off before the final showdown... alas.

I need to start blogging again. I told myself I'd keep up with Claymore reviews, but they never have any flavors when I go. Tis a sad state of affairs. But the happy state of affairs is that I will be a barista there come Friday! THEN I shall have flavors! *Insert maniacal laughter here*

The other reason I haven't been around (well, one of many) is that, when I'm not in class, at Skipping Stone, doing homework or working at the writing center, I'm putting all of my creative energy into my novel. Next semester I'll be a part-time student, and both of my classes will allow (in fact, they will require) that I work on my book ALL THE TIME. So I'll probably finish it by summer. And maybe have time for blogging in between.

Then, on to the headache that is publishing! I am blessed to be at Skipping Stone, where our director of publishing has agreed to look over my work and point me in the right direction, whether that be to an agent or editor or publishing house (she has connections with HarperCollins and Penguin... not to mention, Skipping Stone itself publishes YA fiction). I have high hopes, dear friends, that you will be able to hold a copy of Before the Empty Moon in your very hands in the semi-near future!

And now, before your boredom degrades into full-out unconsciousness, I bid thee adieu!

Peace, love and toilet paper,
Miss Rex
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