Monday, June 30, 2014

End of June Update: Busy Month

This moth has been much busier than it was supposed to be.  I still have a good deal left to do before I go to Boston for my Residency, but I'm also kind of looking forward to getting away and getting rejuvenated.  Always, after Residency, there is about a month or so when things just flow and I am alive with ideas and ability (or so it seems to me).  I sort of missed out on that after last residency because of some personal issues going on, but this time I feel better.  I feel okay on more fronts.  There are other stresses, but these aren't like what was going on in Spring.  

Our kitty cat, Yoda, is hanging in there but we have come to terms with the fact that he may not be around very much longer.  We had a bit of a sob fest last night and in a way that helped.  We are going to enjoy every moment with him and spoil the shit out of him.  He's a very good kitty and when the time does come for him to leave this world, he will leave it thoroughly loved.  

Also job-wise things are the same as they always were.  I'm frustrated that the driving job did not pan out - and I highly suspect that it is a case of sexual-orientation discrimination - but I'm glad for my bra shop job and until they close us down or throw us out, I'll hang in there.  Hannah wants to move back to Kansas to be with her grandparents in their last years.  I understand this but it's frustrating too because there's just no money.  I love it up here, I love the weather, I love the lake, I love being near my family.  I know that Hannah wants that, too.  Wants to be near her family and friends.  I love the people down there as well.  But it's still hard.  Very hard.  For one: moving sucks.  Two: I don't want to be away from my dear friends up in Idaho as well as new friends we've made with the IEPG.  This is a very good group of people.  They aren't pushy, they aren't clicky.  They are just a nice group of spiritual friends.  This is the first time... perhaps ever... that I've felt passionate about exploring a spiritual path of any kind.  And Hannah has blossomed so much up here with this group, too.  

In other news, I've started a DnD campaign with my friends and I'm playing a snakey-type character named Erla (oh the glory of recycling character names!).  Also my friend is opening up commissions to try and get her art out there in the world and also to make a little money.  A couple of my friends are doing this actually and I'm very proud of them.  Hannah requested a commission from one of them: Tory Kasper.  When the piece is completed and we've paid for it (and from what I've seen so far it's going to be adorable!) I'm going to post it up here and give her all the props!  She feels bad charging us but as far as I am concerned this is a win-win for us both because I get to help her out and promote her art and she gets to know the client and know that we will appreciate the piece very much.  I haven't asked for a commission yet because I might ask for a really detailed one as a later date and pay her appropriately for it - meaning I need another pay check before I send in my request.  

On the creative front for myself, I've started drawing again.  I would like to scan some and post it up here on my blog but I need to work out the old drawing muscle and get a little better than chicken-scratch.  That might take some time.  I'm still writing and my mind is absolutely filled up with good ideas for this story, I just need to funnel it all out through my hands into my keys and onto a word document.  I am not going to reach the goal I had set up for myself for June but I am going to have quite a bit accomplished and I'm just going to keep going from there.  I do believe in this story and I really enjoy the characters.  Here's hoping that Residency lights a fire under my ass.  I think it will.  I know it will.  Also I can't wait to see everyone again!  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I don't think were in Kansas anymo-... wait, no, we're totally in Kansas...

This is a tiny segment of what I've been working on.  I'm a good deal farther along in the story but I am rather fond of a few images in these first few paragraphs.  Things to keep in mind as you're reading this is that Bertram has a bandana tied over his mouth as a makeshift medical mask to keep the dust out of his lungs, and it's the year 1936.  We're smack dab in the middle of the Dust Bowl.  This is very short and just meant as a taste, but comments and critique are always appreciated.

One of the boxcars was open, just a slit, and there was a man leaning out – old or young, I couldn’t really tell. His hat blew off. I squinted. Sweat dripped down into my eye, startling and stinging me. I blinked and the man was gone. At first I thought it was all a mirage – wasn’t Edgewater a dessert after all? – but then I saw a tangle of arms and legs tumbling alongside the train, stirring up a fresh thick cloud of black dust. The fellow must have jumped, though why anyone would purposefully throw themselves from a train into our little corner of the world was a mystery to me. Finally he ran out of inertia and sprawled out on the ground like a sacrifice on the slab. I blinked again. He was still there. 

The entire event had taken four, maybe five, seconds but somehow I felt like I’d been sitting there, holding my breath, willing his rag doll body to stop tumbling for the better part of an hour. Suddenly there was a man where there hadn’t been one before and the violence of his arrival reminded me of the time I watched Mama pull an oversized calf from Mr. Morris’s heifer. Before I knew what I was doing, I hopped down from the pick-up and ran toward the new arrival baptized in Kansan dirt.

My legs were jelly when I got down the hill.  My heart thumped so hard it rattled my insides. I’d never been this close to a moving train before. For a few seconds all I could do was tremble. The train seemed to breathe; exhaling gust after gust of friction heated air. The little bandana was no match and it fluttered about my mouth, the corners snapping my chin and cheeks. Up ahead of me was the man. He was on his hands and knees now, pawing through the dust like he’d lost something.

As I walked closer to him I saw a small bag in the dirt and wondered if this was what he was looking for. I picked it up and brushed it off. It was made of leather and had turquoise beads and feathers attached to the fringe at the bottom. On the front flap was an intricately beaded emblem of a bird. It looked like a Medicine Bag but the man in the dirt didn’t look anything like an Indian.

I shook the bag. It seemed empty. I looked at the man again and saw him looking right back. His face was absolutely caked in dirt but I could see his eyes just fine and they were the most vivid color of green I’d ever seen. The caboose finally passed us and the metal heartbeat of the train faded into memory.

Amanda LaFantasie © June 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Things and Stuff

First up are the things I'm looking forward to: *clears throat* I'm looking forward to getting trained for the PTI driving job this Thursday, I'm looking forward to going to the doctor's this Friday to get my knee checked out (oh, I sound so old saying that!).  I'm looking forward to reading all sorts of good things very soon, some of which my friendy-friend lent me.  Totally looking forward to working out more and more at the Kroc and getting into shape!  I'm looking forward to the upcoming camping trip the 20th through the 22nd.  Also I'm looking forward to introducing my second semester mentor at the faculty readings at the residency!  Last but not least, I'm looking forward to tackling some more of my dust bowl novel tonight.

Things that I'm not looking forward to are as follows: Totally not looking forward to reading a bullshit article for workshop - I've already read this article once and loathed it, and I have a feeling Sandra (the woman running the second half workshop) loves it.  Also, while we're on the topic, not looking forward to having Sandra for workshop as she loathes me about as much as I loathe that article and it's quite a bit.  Not looking forward to having to change over Hannah's and my Driver's Licenses (but it's so we can have the job we're both looking forward to so this one is only a minor annoyance).  Not looking forward waking up at seven on Thursday (but again it's for that job so it's a necessary sacrifice).

And now for stuff!  I have a list of cool shit I absolutely need!  Mostly I need this Game of Thrones T-shirt which reads "F*ck the King."  I also need all of Saga, as well as The Worst Hard Time, The Dream Eater, and Deadlock Volume 1.  Some of this stuff is meant for practical purposes, some is meant for pleasure.  Other stuff!  I totally know what I'm going to wear to introduce Sterling at Residency (the purple and lace) and I also know what I'm wearing to graduation (the black lace dress)!  The fact that I have cute outfits picked out is sort of a big deal for me!  Usually I have no clue what I'm even going to pack for Boston until the night before and then I usually end up forgetting something important *cough* like bras *cough*.

Monday, June 9, 2014

General Update! JOBS AHOY!!!


The other day, we attended a graduation party for D, cousin of mine.  It was so nice to watch him open his gifts and hanging out with everyone.  He's a nice young man and Hannah and I are going to take him camping with us at some point this summer.  His future is like an open book right now and I'm excited for him.  Sadly, being at a family gathering also reminded me how much I dislike certain members of the group.  My uncle J for instance is a complete asshole.  He and a family friend (or rather a man who happens to be married to a dear family friend) were rude and loud and argumentative throughout and when my mom asked them to keep it down so that my wee little cousins could read D a story, my uncle and this other man acted like spoiled brats and fought back with her saying they'd be as loud as they damn well pleased and then made faces at her as she left.  Not cool.  I wanted to play their game and cut them down, but I didn't want to ruin D's party.

And then my aunt S started bitching about another cousin of mine and, once again, I had to escape rather than do anything to ruin the mood.  I found out later from my mom (who is not please with J, the friend, or S) that my aunt badmouths my mom because she thinks it's wrong of her to condone my sinful relationship with Hannah.  S is a giant hypocrite and I thought I cared if she fell off the face of the earth.  But I guess I don't.  Thank goodness for family like D and several other cousins.  And thank goodness for my friends who feel like family.  Bickering is one thing, but being an all-out asshole is another and I'm pretty much done with assholes.  The child part of me wants to get married up here and rub it in S's face as hard as I can that Idaho as a whole has progressed so why the hell can't she?  Ugh.  Enough ranting. 

Also my computer is on its way back to me.  They took it completely apart and put it back together and couldn't recreate the problem so we are all crossing our fingers that the situation is resolved.  I have 90 days when from I receive her to try her out and make sure she's all good to go.  I really can't afford another computer right now.  I have the extension for the man who's been working on the problem and if there's even a hint of an issue, I'll be on the phone with him again.  I hope it's all up from here as far as my Vignette is concerned.


This morning I was incredibly productive.  I think it's because things may actually finally be turning around for Hannah and I a little bit.  Yesterday PTI called us both to come in for training.  Hannah's training is for today but mine will take place on Thursday because I have work with the bra store today, tomorrow, and the next day.  Of course they would schedule me for several days on the week I'm due to start another job.  *Sigh* But they didn't know.  I didn't even know.  I'm very excited about this job however.  Essentially it's transportation of rail crews (a driver and a conductor) from one site to another.  It's mostly just driving but I'll get to learn a great deal of trains and about the history of freight in America which is actually pretty nifty!  

So this morning, because of all this new excitement, I've managed to get up super early, shower, get Hannah to work (with a packed lunch that I made her last night ^_^), clean out and wipe down the inside of my car, start up some laundry, pick up the bedroom and bathroom, and still have enough time to blog about it all.  Who knew getting up at 7:30 would leave so much time in the morning.  If only I were a starling and not an owl.  

Last night I stayed up for quite a bit working on The Summer of August Hunt.  I am liking August so far and I adore Bertram who is my POV character.  I'm trying it in first person.  At the residency in January, Randall Kenan told me to go with it and even though it's a bit of a challenge, I'm going to stick it out.  I can always change things later.  That's the beauty of writing. 

Later today, Hannah and I are going to donate plasma.  I'm hoping that this week and next week are the last times we have to do this for a long time.  Neither of us enjoy needles (I have an actual phobia which I've overcome for the sake of donations) and if we both start getting some income from this driving job then we will be, for the first time in what seems like forever, pretty darn well off.  We can start paying down bills, improve credit, and work toward a future together.