Tuesday, October 24, 2017

SOL no. 57: Chaika is Definitely a Ninth (Part Two)


Well. It's sure interesting to be two dimensional.

So weird. You need to think about how to get around by projecting yourself on walls, tables, and other things. And if your perspective hasn't figured out that two things aren't actually near each other, well, have fun with your top half being five feet away from your bottom half.

I have actually thought about after watching that one Doctor Who episode, but that's not what this slice is about. Shadows are two dimensional.

(Shadows. Get it? Also that's a different Doctor Who thing, but I also like that episode.)

I went to what my pal Claire calls Penguin School. It took me a bit to get that-- their mascot isn't a penguin? What the... oh. Penguins. South. Haha.

It sometimes takes me too long to get Claire's references, even though they're very obvious in retrospect.

First thing I notice as I walk up: WHOAH. Big building. Not like East big, but BIGGGG.
Second: Hey, it's kinda purple. Like the bricks. Is that because their colour is purple?
Third: holyshirtisthatagargoyle?!?!?
And yeah, South has gargoyles. Like, legit gargoyles.
If ever there was a way to give me a good first impression, it is a purple castle complete with gargoyles.
Apparently this one is a teacher holding up "Final exams." Just yes.
At any rate. South was pretty different from DSST, right off from walking in the door.

When I shadowed DSST, I got there before the students. As my neighbor and I were the only shadows, there was not a system.

With South, there was a line of eighths checking in in the lobby. A few ninths and tenths hung to the side, waiting to be paired up with us.

My shadow was a girl who I'm going to call... um. Turbo-pseudonym-generator says... Ruth! Sure. Ruth.
(Thea she's nothing like Ruth G, but I'm just going to go with this)

Ruth looked like the stereotypical white sporty girl. Medium blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, average height and skinny, pack of gum easily accessible in her backpack. She introduced herself to me and we started walking towards her first class.

From here it is less of a slice and more of a chance for me to remember, because by the time I'm fourteen I'll sure as hell have everything mixed up.

AP Human Geography
I was so excited to see this class. Unfortunately it had started quite a while before I'd gotten there, so Ruth and I walked in on the last two minutes. Goddamnit.

Engineering
This class had a pretty strict teacher. Ruth and her group of people measured a box using a silver pinchy thing, a ruler, and a measuring tape. They were talking about precision and accuracy. Elective I think.

Photography
This is an elective. People had a homework assignment to take pictures of an egg and make it sexy in some pictures and creative in others. They presented their work and got feedback. Everyone had a site. I liked this class a lot and the teacher was awesome.

Biology
They took notes on their computers. Pretty straightforward. It was about like cellular respiration. the amount of computer learning is pretty intense. I think everyone has their own computers.

Lunch
We just hung on the lawn in front. I read Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. They (including another shadow) were sociable.

Math
This was simple stuff. Slope intercept stuff, rotating lines, etc. I participated. Some of the kids weren't really being helpful and were playing on their phones.

English
The book, Fences, wasn't one I'd read. They were working on essays so I just worked on my homework.

Spanish (Tour/Senate Room)
I liked the Student Council people. Even though our tour was cut short I learned quite a bit about each of them and they were very welcoming. There are like 10 shadows. God. Also there's a lot of clubs-- theater, crew, gymnastics, wrestling... it's not like I'd do those last two but wow.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SOL no. 56: Chaika is Definitely a Ninth (A Trilogy in Five Parts)


I am deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeefinitely a ninth.

Don't ask. 100% a pure flesh and blood, three dimensional ninth grader. Not a shadow of a ninth. Not at all.

I got to DSST early this morning, like 7:45 early. My neighbor/carpool, who I'm going to call... um... I never thought I'd use a pseudonym for this person. The temptation to do something like Arnold is serious, but I think I'll just go with "my neighbor." He doesn't come in much. His dad doesn't either, so "Neighbor's dad" will work.

Wait a second, you're saying. DSST doesn't do shadows for their high schools. Right?
You are right. But um, since my neighbor's dad is the Senior Academy dean (the Shae for elevenths and twelfths) he made an exception for Arnold my neighbor and I. The DSSTers didn't really seem to notice. I just said I was Grace's three-dimensional shadow, and that worked.

Oh, who's Grace? Sorry I'm getting ahead of myself.

My neighbor's dad took us on a tour of the building. It's basically the letter E with a weird blob at the top; fairly hard to get lost in. Then, shortly before 8, the doors opened and the students came in. For the next ten minutes, I stood there awkwardly, nervous as all hell. I glanced at the faces of the students coming in. I knew one ninth who'd be there, but I was half expecting to see, like Nic or McKenna (both pseudonyms) from camp, or maybe one of those nice high greens. Nope. I didn't even catch Seahawk Ninth, though I knew he was here somewhere.

Eventually, though, a short boy and a girl about my height walked over to us. "Hey," the boy said to the... um. Principal? Organizer? I don't know. We were standing in front of his office, though, and he'd apparently emailed these two kids to say "you'll have shadows." The boy said hi to my neighbor and we walked off. The girl, whose hair was blond with dark roots, was introduced to me. Her real name is not Grace, but the name Grace works, so y'know.

My first impression: She looks like Olivia. If Olivia were blond. And half a head shorter. I know, the round glasses and shoulder length hair really gets me. Her face looks nothing like Olivia's-- rounder. Younger. Less likely to smack me with a battle axe while humming "Sweet Caroline."

Don't ask.

After we had the assembly circle thing, Grace did attendance with her (crap what are they called? Assisters isn't right. It's something with an A. Advisories! Yes. Advisory.) which is pretty much like homeroom, near as I can tell. We all sat in a circle (us ninths and tenths and the two lonely eighths) while the elevenths and twelfths loomed above. I imagined Rowan doing this. I have no idea what school he goes to, probably an obscure one.

Grace was friendly. She's a chatty person with a bunch of slightly weird female pals. I hung around her because duh, and while her group was nice they weren't my go-to for friends. I require nerds. Her first class was Physics. The teacher, a very brisk, to-the-point man with a mostly empty 5-gallon jar of candy (I do not joke) taught the class about displacement and distance. I'd never heard of displacement, but figured it out in about five minutes.

NOTES FOR LATER REFERENCE:
-We didn't use Soh Cah Toa
-It was 93 degrees
-Yardsticks are great inventions
-Don't hide in the curtains

Second class: Math. I don't know if it was Algebra 1B or what, but it was sophomore math. Neighbor's dad later told us it was a combination of Algebra 1 and Geometry. Proof I need to brush up on my 1B skills.
NOTES
-nothing really

Third class: CE. I think it stands for Creative Engineering. They worked on Scratch projects. Grace had coded an Etch-a-Sketch.
NOTES
-Two "units" depending on period, software (Scratch, SketchUp, etc.) and robotics
-Units switch
-They have a 3D printer but it's small
-Juniorseniors build trebuchets because what could possibly go wrong.

We then had lunch (it was early because today was weird for DSST) and afterwards did Humanities
NOTES
-Humanities=Literature
-Their short story they analyzed was about werewolves in the 1800s
-Grace and a freshman boy took the personae of two of the werewolves-- the prim and proper human and the one who still wants to be a wolf-- and roasted each other for the entire class

Then there would have been elective then.

Advisory:
NOTES
I don't know. Was it supposed to be a formal lesson or teambuilding? The only thing that happened was hangman on the smart board.

Then they had this big colleges show up thing and that was weird because, um, I think I'm going to worry about high school first. Grace collected flyers. She really wants to go to the school of Mines.

SPANISH
They had a test on their computers. I did math homework. RIP Europa.

General observations
The students all have computers, school issued, that they use almost all the time.
Teaching style is really "here's a worksheet go do it and we'll talk" except for CE which is more project based
I like it though, but I haven't found the nerds.

I don't know. Um. Next Tuesday will be the second installation of Shadowing: A Trilogy in Five Parts. That will be the South chapter.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

SOL no. 55: Disappointment (warning depressed)

I know, I'm the worst.
Forget sol no. 52, I have 3 others still in the works. I have pictures but nothing else.
Sorry. For now you'll have to miss out on Lena's brother making electrocution art and my dog swimming.

(On a slightly better note, even though this is SOL no. 55, it's my 62nd published post! I have doubled the challenge.)

So have an overly sentimental poem. It's meant to be spoken aloud.

And for the record, "Leah" does not even know this exists. I only slapped her name on here because that's how it was in my brain.

ALSO: THIS CURSES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

BOLD is Chaika
Underlined is Leah

This is year three.
(At the same time) This is year two.

I've done this before.
I know the drill.
But seriously.

I know what you're going to say.
We're stuck in the past.
This is about living in the moment.
For god's sake, your call and response is "Eat the mouse! YOLO!"
"Quit moping around and live life."

Yeah. We know.
I can't get out of the twentieth century.
I can't get out of twenty-sixteen.
We know.

But still.
It's not our AS.
Our Order is gone.
Order?
Order of the Trash-Can Fleur. What Elizabeth calls us.
It's gone. 
Yeah. 
Worse-- been replaced.

Replaced by a lot of well, assholes.
Deities. And a couple perfectly fine people.
No nerds.
Not really.

The only real weirdness I get is in math.
Lucky.
I am. It's still a mess.
Without the ninths, it's all a mess.

It's about them being gone. Them not being here. What that does to other people.
Ninths, if you're listening, you may discover that without Ivan or Oliver, eighth nerd Phil has taken to being a popular sporty kid.
Or at least he tries.

But it's also about who they've been replaced with.
There are some perfectly good sevenths--
--two in our class--
--some perfectly fine kids. And then the others, the loudest ones are...
...Immature?

Yeah. Mentally immature, in many cases, but also vocally.
I mean, we were ready to tell the Quinn-line joke on our trip.
Raring to go, us eighths.
And remember, the Quinn-line joke is named after Quinn.
Who was a seventh at the time. He made it as a seventh.
And of course Remy and Gabe are all ready to ask it, and then Max says no.
Max
Says 
No, we aren't ready.

And he's right. He's perfectly right. A seventh asked me later, I told her, and she was horrified. 
He's right we aren't ready.
But what does that mean for this "Order?"

And don't forget everything else.
The Spanish fiasco.
A potential math cap.
"Snack time" in Matrix, whose only real cause is that I don't get credit for Algebra II.
Recess-before-lunch, whose only real cause is obscene lines.
What the f**k happens now?

Everything so far has been meh.
I talked to another eighth girl today and she said
"Our overnight was not good."
And I agreed.
It wasn't that I'd done it before, though I had outside of school
We'd been to Sustainable Settings and it was great--
It was the lack.
Lack of something we can't put our fingers on.

Just a lack.

And of course on everyone's mind
So much has been taken.
So much is gone forever.
We've lost our friends and our Order and everything that made us AS
Some of us have lost much more.

So... what now?
What now?
We're going soon.
What now?
We doubt we'll be missed by many.
What now?
We're going soon.
Out of this former paradise.

What now?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

SOL no. 54: Hurricane Season

I wasn't quite two years old when a little tropical depression started swirling east of the Bahamas.

I obviously don't remember that particular storm, but I remember news about the impacts stretching on for years, and I clearly remembered visiting its destruction almost eleven years later, seeing the ravaged houses and empty land. I particularly remember sitting on an island in Alabama, puzzling over how odd that depression had been. I mean, most of her kind start much farther away-- closer to Cape Verde than the Caribbean. But no, this little depression kicked off much closer to her final destination. Unusually warm water fed her, and she turned into a monster that covered almost half the Gulf of Mexico with her swirling clouds before tearing into the United States.

Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

That Atlantic hurricane season was unusually devastating-- four Cat 5 storms (Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) and five names retired (EmilyKatrinaRitaWilma and Hurricane Stan, a Cat 1 who directly caused around 100 deaths in Mexico and Guatemala. Stan's torrential rainfall, though, caused flooding, mudslides, and about 1,662 deaths mostly in Guatemala.)
In addition, the hurricane season got really weird towards the end. The 2005 season actually bled into 2006, used up all of the names allotted to it and then some, and broke multiple records. This is all knowledge I have picked up since then-- as I said, I turned two in late 2005.

I do remember Hurricane Sandy, though. 2012. I remember calling my cousin who lived in New York before the storm hit, and remembered her describing the precautions they were going through. The bathtub in their apartment was filled with clean water, they had generators and flashlights and lots and lots of batteries. They lost power partially through the storm, and third-grade-me bit her lip and hoped they were all right. (They were fine, but New York and the surrounding area was flooded.)

And now, five years later, there are more Hijak hurricanes. Two humongous Hijak hurricanes that will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars. Hijak hurricanes are my own term invention-- the middle series HIJK in hurricane names. It's Hijak because it needed another vowel to be pronouncable and these storms tend to hijack people's lives and the weather patterns. Hijak hurricanes are a tad before the middle of the season, and are disproportionately catastrophic. Katrina was a Hijak. Duh. So were Ivan, Isabel, Hugo, Jeanne, Irene, Ike, and Harvey. I found these names on the list of costliest hurricanes. And 23 out of 76 of the retired hurricane names start with HIJK. Weird.

And right now the United States has just finished H and is moving on to I. H(arvey) flooded Houston, and my phone just dinged with a distinctive ringtone. "BBC," I thought. It was. The centre of Irma is now on the Florida mainland, it said.

Hurricanes. I have never lived through one, never even experienced a hurricane's dying downpour somewhere in Tennessee or even Missouri. My city has only been flooded once this millennium-- a multi-day rainpour in 2014 that, by Atlantic standards, was small.

But whether you live in Miami or Quebec, NOLA or California, Veracruz or Vancouver, Galveston or Seattle, chances are good you know someone who has been affected by the Hijaks this year. Harvey relief fundraisers are everywhere. I give it three days before Irma fundraisers hit Denver in earnest. These things are everyone's problem. Even though it's sunny here and cars are grinding the gravel underneath the dappled yellow leaves of the maple tree next door, hurricane season is a cause for people to forget other things they might squabble about and pitch in-- donate, adopt a pet rescued from Houston (this is happening a disproportionate amount in Colorado for reasons I do not understand), send well-wishes to your family and friends in the path.


It's raining in Florida.

Somewhere outside Miami, a woman grits her teeth. Her knuckles are white on the phone in her pocket as she waits, anxiously, for her husband to text her. He's an Uber driver making last rounds of evacuations. Helping random strangers. He isn't even bothering to take the money. Please be fine. Please be fine. Please be fine, she thinks, well aware her husband probably has other things on his mind than texting her. She takes a rattling breath. In, out. In, out.

Somewhere in Puerto Rico, a man digging through the wreckage of a building hears the whine of a dog. He runs out and finds a German shepherd chained to a pole, clearly abandoned by its owners. The apartment is in ruins. The dog is hurt and dehydrated, but the man gently unchains it, picks it up, and carries the poor animal to his van.

Somewhere in Houston, a policewoman is patrolling the submerged streets on a borrowed dinghy. The sun glints off her sunglasses as she hunts for people still stranded from Harvey. The water swirls around the boat, filthy and brown. Finally, she hears a voice. "Ma'am! Ma'am!" The policewoman turns towards the sound and sees a man waving at her, leaning out of the second story of his house. The first story is underwater.

Somewhere in New Orleans, a man switches off his radio. He can't hear any more about Florida right now. He drives through the Lower Ninth ward on his way home. As he reaches a familiar intersection, he resolutely stares straight ahead. There is no way he is going to look left, going to see the ruined skeleton of his brother's house, going to see the place his headstrong brother camped out during Katrina. They buried the poor devil a month later. The man stares straight ahead and sends prayers to his cousin in Florida. Be safe, Charlotte. Be safe.

Somewhere in New York, a woman groans and crinkles up the paper she's been working on for days. The math is wrong. Redesigning the subways to be safe after Sandy is no small deal, and it's hard to get it right. The 90s station on Pandora plays a familiar song, and the woman bobs her head to the beat, humming to the tune. Finally, she takes a deep breath and gets another map.

Somewhere in Miami, a man feverishly glances at his phone. Rain is pouring down on the windshield of his car. He can see the drawn, worried faces of the family in the back seat. People the man needs to evacuate. The Uber app tells him to turn left, but he almost doesn't hear it over the noise of the rain. He swerves left, tires of his Toyota skidding slightly on the slick streets. The man climbs a hill and is suddenly out of Miami on the highway. The speed limit is 60. Between his urge to finish evacuating people for the day and the slipperiness of the roads, the man is going 75. He passes a police car on the side of the road and is momentarily worried about getting a ticket, but if there's a cop in the car, they clearly don't care. The man has fifteen more minutes to drive, the app tells him. Fifteen minutes to the nearest shelter. The man starts mentally composing the text he'll send to his wife. She'll be glad to hear from him.

Monday, August 28, 2017

SOL no. 52 Preview

I'm leaving for a fall trip today, but I wanted to get one last thing out before I did. Enjoy.

The Torch is tired.

Bone tired. And scared.

There isn't wind, but the cold seeps through her thin, mottled cloak and spreads out on her skin like a heavy mist. Her breath puffs in the cold, frosty air. She shivers. Isn't it supposed to be Thundermon? The summer solstice was two weeks ago. Thundermon isn't supposed to be this cold. 

She's out of her depth, she knows that. She's a Torch, except she's not... it's weird. But now she's guarding a contingent with as many Lancers as Riders, a whole host of Arrows, and a few Fleurs... mostly her group, too. Tarantulas, that is. She relies on them to be her Order, and now they are relying on her to guard them.

But she's not a good guard. She knows that. The cold bites her through her yellow blanket and her blue cloak, her eyes strain to stay open, and even when the enemy approaches she isn't sure whether to wake up the others from their precious sleep or not. She wants so badly to stay in their good graces, she isn't sure whether it's better to be too cautious or not cautious enough.

And in addition, she's terrible at swordplay. The short one-hander leans against the wall in front of her. Wrapped grip, pommel, crossguard. A good sword in the hands of a worthless fighter. She can't fight for her life, she knows that. She's a meat shield. A moving target. She's more than willing to sacrifice herself for them, but she knows she's worthless. She's volunteered to sacrifice five-six hours of sleep for them. It was the least she could do.

The Fleur's timepiece reads 12:30 in the morning. The Torch grits her teeth. She has an hour and a half still to go. But her partner, a Lancer, only has half an hour left. Staggered shifts. One of the Rider's strategies, and the least entertainingly nerdy one. The Lancer is as jittery as if he'd been caffeinated. He keeps pacing back and forth, swinging his sword. Stressed?

"God," he mutters. "God. I'm so bored. I'm going to go out and fight them."

"What?!" hisses the Torch. "Don't be dumb. Why?"

The Lancer shrugs. "Something to do. And they won't kill me-- I'll be back soon after losing solidly."

The Torch blusters and hisses at the Lancer, but she can't convince him to change his mind. He swings his hand-and-a-half sword and walks out, feet crunching loudly on the path, towards the enemy camp.

The enemy guard-- a Rider, the Torch can just barely see his distinctive teardrop shield-- looks up suddenly. "Why...?" he says.

The Lancer nods back. "Not an invasion. I was... dunno, bored. Let's spar."

The Rider shrugs. "Sure."

The Torch doesn't see what happens. A few minutes later, the Lancer limps back to her. There's a bit of blood from a graze on his leg but he looks fine. Happy, even. The Torch assumes he sparred with scabbards on.

Not for the first time, and not for the last, she wishes there was a wall.

Half an hour passes. The Lancer leaves to spar with his friend twice more, returning beaten but happy each time. The Torch has time to reflect on the night.

The first half of her shift, she'd been with the only other female Torch here. It was almost as cold, and really tense as she found the pair of Lancer enemies-- siblings-- sneaking around their camp. They couldn't enter through the back or sides, but it still terrified the Torch when she'd seen them walking-- out of range-- back from behind her camp. The Lancer siblings knew how to sneak. They were both good hands at swordplay-- a formidable pair. More importantly, they had infinite patience and apparently didn't get tired. It took them ten minutes to silently move about 50 feet, but they were silent. The Torch had good hearing and the night was completely still, but they'd still managed to get past her.

Silent, those Lancer siblings-- silent and stealthy until they decided to not be.

Fifteen minutes into the Torch's shift, they had emerged out of fighting range and begun singing. It was an interesting move-- keep the defenders awake-- but worked. At that moment, the Torch's arm still stung from her cut on her right forearm. She hadn't thought much of it, but later she discovered there were bloodstains on her shirt. Great. And the Lancer siblings had started singing.

The surprising thing was that they actually weren't bad singers-- the girl had a somewhat throaty speaking voice that the Torch hadn't expected would translate well into singing, but it wasn't actually that bad. And the boy-- well, the Torch had never bothered to imagine the boy singing, but the two of them managed not to kill anyone with the discord.

And then nothingness. Just the cold. And some blood. And the Torch's nerves singing opera.

She wishes there was a wall.

Done reminiscing, she checks the Fleur's watch and turns to the Lancer, who is inspecting bruises on his calf. "You're watch's over. Who's-- Nicolai."

He turns. "What?"

The Torch's pulse is racing. "That's more than just their night guard."

"Really?" The Lancer squints into the darkness.

"Yes," hisses the Torch. Should they wake everyone up? They had had maybe three hours of sleep maximum, and if there was an attack now they might only get one or two more.

The Lancer is silent. The enemy gets closer. It's definitely an attack, or a feigned attack. Eventually the Torch makes up her mind. Glancing at the Lancer, she clears her throat. Her voice is high-pitched with nerves. She shouts the keyword, loudly. Hoping to sound more confident than she feels. She shouts it again, along with "Everyone, wake UP!" There are a couple groggy groans, but the Torch needs more. She glances at the Lancer. "Cover me. I'm going to wake them up."

He frowns at her, but it's too late. Her yellow blanket is forgotten, her blue cloak trailing behind her as she bursts into the castle. "WAKE UP! ATTACK! C'MON, GUYS!" she yells, repeating the keyword. There's more rustling of blankets now, and she hears the Rider ally's voice. "What's--ah, s***."

"Someone get a light!" yelps an Arrow.

The male Torch turns on a flashlight, and the crew grabs their weapons. The Torch hears the Lancer guard yelp as he's taken down, and then it's their turn as the enemy bursts in. The Torch weighs two options. One, she fights and dies. Two, she hides. The Torch chooses option two. Not because she's afraid of fighting, but because if she isn't taken down her comrades won't lose again. And she can hide, no one will be looking for her. And it's dark. The Torch slips around the walls, to the back of the castle, and cowers under the window. If anyone finds her, she's screwed. The fight seems to go on for hours. The Torch sips air, shivering from the cold and from nerves. She tries to be silent. Lancer-sibling silent. Eventually the noise dies down.

"Is that everyone?" It's an Arrow attacker to his teammates.

"I think so. Oh, Rowan, you down?" A Lancer girl, an attacker.

"Yeah," says the Rider. "He got me."

The Torch doesn't see where the Rider is gesturing. She doesn't make a sound. She doesn't move.

"Well, then," says the Arrow attacker, "Let's go."

The Torch still doesn't move for a minute, enough to hear the quiet grumbling of her comrades. "Down two," the male Torch says. "Well, at least they won't attack again."

"Yeah," says the Lancer who had guarded. "I mean, we'd have to attack-- and win-- three times to up them. They can get sleep now."

"On the bright side," says the male Torch, "so can we."

That's when the Torch slips in. "Guys," she says in a hushed voice. "Guys. They didn't get me."

"You hid?" It's the Rider.

"Yeah," says the Torch. She's glad it's dark-- her face is flushing. "I mean-- I'm worthless in a fight, so--"

"No, no," says the Rider. "Good. I mean, weren't you sleeping out there for that reason?"

"Yeah," says the Torch, relieved the Rider isn't contemptuous.

"And on the plus side," says the Rider, "we're only down by one. Still. I think we should cut our losses. It's almost 1:30 AM. Get some sleep, everyone."

More rustling as the comrades get back under their blankets, weapons by their sides. The Torch moves up to the front to continue guarding. The Rider, still standing and tending to his glasses, looks up. "Who else is on guard with you?" he whispers.

The Torch shrugs, and then realized how effective that is. "I don't know," she said.

The Rider walks up to the front. He wasn't supposed to guard-- the Torch was sure of that-- but she appreciates his company nonetheless. They stand in silence for a while. Two o'clock comes, but the Torch is reluctant to leave.

"I don't know who to wake up," she said.

The Rider shrugs. The Torch sees this, or at least sees his silhouette. "It's okay. I can do it. I'm not going to go back to sleep."

"Thank you," the Torch says. And, just in case he didn't hear her, "Thank you, Rowan."

It was a long night. The Torch has a long day in front of her. But as she folds herself under her yellow sleeping bag, holding the pommel of her sword with her blue-jacketed arm, sleep has never felt so welcome.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Update

Hi, everyone.

Again, I have a couple things I'm working on. I finally finished SOL 51, but 52, 53, and 54 will take a while to be here. Reason: they're gigantic. Even by my standards.

In fact, I created a (currently hidden) whole new blog for the past two weeks because it's that big. Expect linking posts soon.

The rest of the two weeks involve ducks, communists, hatchets, too many javelins, an abundance of awesome capes, songs about mortgage, the Pope of Darkness, and weirder things. See you soon!

Okay, update on the update. The KHI stuff (above) is taking too long, and there are other things I want to focus on. Like electrocuting trees and my dog at the eclipse. So... KHI stuff might come out, but it also might be out of order. I'll likely use reverse scheduling to make it happen in the first two weeks of July, so it won't be at the top. That's all.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

SOL no. 51: In Search of Chocolate Totoros

Last night Thea sent me an email.
Clever smudginess there. Heh.

Instead of replying via email, I called her to work out the logistics over the phone. That way there won't be a 30-minute lag. Of course I wanted to come, the question was simply if I could, seeing as we live half an hour away from anywhere interesting. So my parents, Thea, and I set it up. I'd take Dad's phone, get on the light rail tomorrow, and meet Thea at the Convention Center.

It wasn't that bad. I had worked up all sorts of irrational fears about traveling by myself, but it was pretty nice. Near Yale, two young women sat across from me. I noticed one's bizarre goggles, but shrugged that off and returned to my book. But I kept glancing at them, and noticed they were in cosplay. Harry Potter cosplay. The one in front of me was clearly Luna Lovegood, with Ravenclaw socks, a Quibbler dust jacket around her book, and the goggles-- spectrospecs. The woman next to her was also wearing robes, but she was just "a Hogwarts student." 

As the ride went on, I noticed that most of the people in our car were bound for Comic Con. Not all of them were in cosplay-- some, like me, probably still had to get their costumes out. A loud Slytherin behind me was having a heated discussion about the vilification of her house.

I got off the light rail station underneath the Convention Center. There were herds of people disembarking. I texted Thea. I'll meet you at the Blue Bear. Wearing red cape. I walked there and opened up my backpack.
I will sprinkle in cool costumes from Comic Con to break up text.
I'd stolen a black backpack from my dad. On the outside, the key chain connector I'd gotten from Lockheed Martin (don't ask why) held Kimie's Baby Groot and my Supermarine Spitfire. In order to make the Spittie connectable, I'd encircled its wings with a huge ring connector. Logic. In the backpack itself was some money, water, snacks, a book (Everybody Sees the Ants), a fake wounds kit from 3rd grade, a cape, a jacket, a scarf, and goggles I'd taken from last year's AS play. I put the nice black velvet jacket over my red shirt, and then clasped the mahogany cape around my throat, and pushed the silver goggles on my forehead like a headband. I wasn't cosplaying anyone in particular, but being me I started inventing a character. I won't bore you with the details. She wasn't a very good character.

I sat at the foot of the Blue Bear, watching a whole assortment of superheroes, cybermen, Hogwarts students, and dozens of other characters-- I recognized a satisfying amount of them-- pass me by. Then, my dad's phone dinged in my pocket. I pulled it out and saw a message from Thea. We're close. Mom's finding parking. I'll come meet  you. And soon I saw her-- a short girl with brown hair, wearing an entirely black outfit with tally-marks scored across her skin.
"I feel like you're looking for something, but I can't remember what," I said.
Thea laughed. "Hi."
Soon Thea's little sister Bailey (dressed as someone from Naruto), Bailey's friend, and Thea's mom, also with Silence tally-marks, joined us.
For details, I recommend clicking on this photo and zooming in
Comic-Con really appeared to be bigger on the inside. We walked up the stairs, and I was in sort of a haze of awesomity. Thea and I split off from the others and wandered around in a daze.

I won't go into a ton of detail, but we had a blast. We nerded out. We bought matching necklaces of Eren's key-- not because either of us are huge Attack on Titan fans, but because the key is a symbol within our friend group. Laura put it on her banner. And also its pretty. We took pictures of... mostly Dr. Who costumes. Thea is a Whovian, in case you didn't notice. But there were these two people who went over-the-top for costumes. I think they weren't at Comic Con to convene-- presumably they'd do that later. But their costumes, well, I'll give pictures.

I also have a video of Dalek Girl gliding-- yes, gliding, on wheels using a motor-- down the street to get in line. (I sort of assumed the person behind the dalek was a girl. Sorry if it's not.) I would show it, but it won't transfer. Sorry.

At one point, we were meandering in the back-left corner when an enticing display caught Thea's eye. "Oh, hey, a chocolate shop!" she said, and we promptly went over there. It was a chocolate shop, but better than any shop I'd ever seen. Scattered on the big table were boxes displaying chocolate... everything. Totoros, Harry Potter wands, emblems and faces of characters and groups from Star Wars, Star Trek, the  Marvel and DC universes, different mangas, and dozens of other things. The two women behind the table were running a healthy business. Thea and I eventually purchased a trio of chocolate Totoros.
We then heartily devoured them. Turns out that the Totoros themselves were made from dark chocolate and white chocolate, but their stands were-- get this-- mini-Oreos covered in milk chocolate.
YUM.

We meandered around Comic Con for a while, picking up merchandise and eating lunch. Eventually, we found ourselves, once again, at the chocolate table. This time, we purchased a pair of treats-- a brownie-batter-filled Dalek and TARDIS. We'd had some trouble with the odd number of Totoros and attempted to cut the third one in half. 
Here is Thea's TARDIS:

And my chocolate Dalek:
EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE EX-- CRAP I'M MELTING
What a Dalek looks like when its "head" has been blown bitten off.
Yeah. That's all. We meandered around Comic Con for the rest of the day, buying mostly Dr. Who merchandise (but some sciency things, like my Schrodinger's Cat shirt) and taking pictures of costumes. I then went to Thea's house and hung out until my dad could pick me up to take me to Taekwondo. Good day.

Finally, I have one last thing. I drew Thea and myself in costume. It's not a very good drawing and I'm probably going to redo Thea's hair and make the keys better.  Also, I have to colour it, but there's no way I would finish before going to Geneva Glen in two days. I still have to finish packing. I apologize for the bad quality, I hastily took a picture.
Thanks for making this possible, Thea. I had a blast.