Two friends of mine – freshly minted friends at that – posted this on their Facebook.
I want you to comment on this status about how you met me. But, I want you to lie. That’s right. Just make stuff up. After you comment, copy this to your status so I can do the same.
I confess, I couldn’t do it. Everything you read here is true.
Note: Makes much more sense if you know a bit about Hvbris – actually, that’s a lie. It makes a little more sense.
How I Met Ben and Kelly
A Thief Joins The Party
Once, upon a sea-side nearly red with fire and so queerly
Made, not of water clearly, but of molten stone and glowing ore
I met Hellion and her Hobbit, roasting apples with a gobbet
of dream-drake and dragon raw bit spitting venomed juices on the floor.
Morsels rare from the Flame King’s store.
Ah, distinctly I remember! It was a rare Octember
And all of Hvbris, every member, danced like spice-mad children on that shore.
Frightened, I wished to hurry on past the dancers and the fury
Of these jests of judge and jury; nobles of the Flame King’s corps.
Whispered of and known in lore.
“Thief!” they called me. “Thief and Trickster!” I but shrugged for betwixt her,
Him, and their freakster band who flaming danced on sandy floor
They knew my crimes, my silver tongue so well that mouth and breath and lung
And sad songs sedately sung would all be wasted should I implore.
So I shrugged, and knelt before.
“Sprite, you are here at this court not just for crimes but for your sport,
For your cleverness, sharp retort, for laughing as your victims swore!”
This was new. I had expected to be tortured and perhaps selected
To remain a monument to the Flame King’s perfected glory and love of gore.
I listened, rapt for more.
“I the Hobbit and she the Hellion are fomenting grand rebellion
Against the Flame King! Fell Yennon! Foul Shogguth! The Thing Which Sleeps Behind The Door!
All his princes, his daughters demonic, all his fiends and beasts draconic
All will die dread deaths ironic. Lackey is a role we have outwore.
You will join us in our war.”
“Am I then to be your flunky?” I asked. “Join the Monster, and the Monkey
Artist, Elf and other funky followers I’ve not met heretofore?
And what need’ve you, what calling for a thief and trickster hauling
No sharp, smart sword mauling, just cleverness and a mouth that’s too cocksure?
A jester to cry ‘Hail, God-Emperor!’?”
That is when they made it known I was not to be some warrior thrown
Into the bloody battles shown to be the usual way kings are toppled o’er.
They wanted quick and stealthy, someone with no want of wealth he
Who romanced, robbed and ran for his health, he who was a trickster at his core.
That was me, every pore.
I’ll not tell the tale, not here, not now. Some other time I’ll tell you how
I stole the crown from the Flame King’s brow and Hobbit was made God-Emperor.
It’s an exciting song, the highest good against the foulest wrong,
A story silly, sad and strong and I wind up in the King’s boudoir.
Another time. And not before.
I wrote this as a birthday gift. The birthday was mine, the gift was intended for everyone else. It was 2009 and I was miserable, and that came out in the story, but also there was a bit of self-mockery too, because after all, how bad could a birthday be?
I would make some comment apologizing for this turn of phrase or that, but that seems silly. I’ll let it stand or fall on its own.
He was good at brooding, January. His sister, February, always said so and she was a fine brooder herself, all grey eyed and wan. January liked to brood with his eyes downcast, hunched over his thoughts like reprimanding schoolteacher.
He thought of all the children born while he held court, whose foreheads he had kissed in blessing. He thought of all those who had died. He had closed their eyes with his long, thin fingers and blessed them too, for all who were born or died while he held the crown were his, and he loved them all.
It was a good brood, with a nice melancholy and a hint of bittersweetness, and January could have savored it for a while longer, had he not been interrupted.
It was one of the twins – June, he decided, though he had enormous trouble telling the difference. That June was a girl, and July a boy had never seemed to help much. Of course, the twins said they couldn’t tell all of winter apart, even February, who didn’t have a beard.
“Thank you, ” January said. “But it’s not my birthday. Not really. And I’m not sure it ever will be.”
“How sad, ” June – or quite possible July – said, “To bless all the children and watch them blow out candles and open presents and grow older and wiser but never have a birthday yourself.”
She’ll be a first class brooder herself. Or he will, one, January thought. He had considered the more sunny siblings a bit superficial, but perhaps he had misjudged.
“I got you a present. For your birthday.”
January, confused, began to explain for a second time the problems in assigning any kind of date of birth or really date of anything for a spirit and personification of an aspect of Time itself when he was what was in June’s hand.
It was a snowglobe. January took it carefully, wrapping his fingers around it. It was surprisingly light – cheap even, made of plastic, not glass. The snow little more than glitter.
He swirled the snow around. No matter how hard he shook, it was always the same, the tempest never roared the little plastic cottage down, nor did its residents open the door, relieved when the storm abated. It was cold, and static, every shake exactly the same.
“Why did you – ” She was gone, fled like sunlight to the horizon.
January shook his globe. And brooded.
Today, I began my 30th year round the sun.
My birthday is tucked conveniently near the New Year. I feel sorry for other people who have a birthday in, say, June, and have to do yearly reevaluations of their lives every sixth months. On the other hand that makes for a seriously contemplative run of weeks there at the turn of the year, arcing from Thanksgiving and onwards, weeks into January. Still I don’t mind.
The day of my 26th birthday was sad. Sad enough, in fact, I don’t really remember it. My wife and I had split, and I just generally felt wretched. I hadn’t been happy for a long time, but my first birthday alone in a decade rubbed it in. You could call it the trough.
The evening of my 27th birthday was like a candle. Hardly enough light, but much better than what came before. New friends took me to dinner, old friends long thought lost arrived spontaneously. Looking back on it now, my 27th birthday was kind of crappy, but just having dinner with someone, having someone choose to spend a little of their time with me was enormous.
On my 28th birthday, my life changed. Now, by itself that’s not that dramatic. Our life changes all the time, often without the decency of letting us know. I was living rent-free in a spare bedroom, I had thrown or given away most of my worldly possessions, my job sucked, my creative life was essentially non-existent, and I was saddled with debt that I didn’t know how to pay. All of that was true when I got up that morning, and was still true when I went to bed that night. But I knew – and you’ll pardon me for not saying exactly what happened – that my life could be different.
My 29th birthday, this birthday, featured a surprise party. It took place in my new city, made possible by the holiday from my new job, and was peopled by theatre friends, new creative partners, and old friends all. It’s not that my birthday was amazing – though it was – it’s that my life is amazing.
I don’t have any grand statements or wisdom. In a way, I don’t have anything to share, really. But when things are good, sometimes you have to say so, just so that later, when things aren’t good, you can remember what good was like. Also, perhaps, to cover the karmic debt for bitching for all the years before.
Tonight, I go to bed smiling. Seems to be a trend.
So, here are some potentially unmanly things about me that I think are totally awesome anyway, so let’s just deal with it, shall we?
1) I love Rhianna
2) I love young adult novels, especially with plucky young female protagonists.
Okay, really, neither of these things is that unmanly. I mean, who doesn’t like Disturbia (which happens to be playing as I write this)?
As for plucky young female protagonists, I’ve been spending some time with Tiffany Aching, but as soon as I can I’m going to go out and purchase Across the Universe. And I’m so excited I could blow a valve. And it’s not just because of the awesome trailer:
Nor is it because of the super-secret-mega-awesome-not-quite-launched-at-the-time-of-this-blogging website, where you can read the already heart wrenching first chapter for nothing more than a click.
No, I’m excited because of Beth.
See, Beth Revis is an old friend of mine. Beth loves stories, and words, and great big spaceships, and the poetry of the stars. We grew up together in the tiniest towns in the most rural part of North Carolina, and we sat on buses and did plays and sang songs and when we were feeling proud and ambitious we talked about the book we were going to write Some Day.
And when I compared my stories to Beth’s stories, well. I always wanted to read Beth’s stories.
Penguin Teen is being really nice to me, showing me lots of cool stuff (including that never-before-released author video above) because I’m a blogger and they apparently haven’t caught on to the fact that it’s not 2003 any more and that blogging is passé. But the real secret is that I was going to write this post anyway, because Beth deserves all the success in the world. And because the world has some dark and scary things in it, especially lately, and, well – I think the world deserves a really good story. And that’s what Beth has in spades.
“But Erik,” I hear you say “while your recommendation carries much weight (and we are sure it is unbiased by all the awesome swag), and while the trailer does zoom about with much grandeur, and the (still super-secret) website zooms with sexiness and awesome, and while I am intrigued by tantalizing first chapter, I am in need of even more cool stuff before I will be swayed!”
Fine then. Ask an ye shall receive. Between 11:11 am and 11:11 pm, io9 will just be plain givin’ away the first 111 pages of the book. That’s right, today, on 1/11/11 the launch date of the book, you can get a novella length chunk of text from one of the hottest new authors on the scene just cause. With such ample information you don’t need a sales pitch from me. I think that the book will convince you of it’s own merits.
Go. And Godspeed.
Rhianna (unrelated): Disturbia
Today was my last day of work at my current job. This is the letter I sent the staff.
Dearest Blue House -
Our six year anniversary was back in August, and I’ve been thinking a lot about us. I know we’ve been doing the long distance thing since May, and that’s been working out okay but, well… there is another job.
And it’s not a better job! No, actually, in a lot of ways it’s a worse job. It’s not as interesting or as challenging as you are, not as exciting and not as (oh god, I’m gonna blush) flexible. But, and I hate to say this, she is easy. And things have never been easy between us, and I could use some easy in my life right now. You know I moved up here to rediscover my passions and I could use a job that leaves me the kind of space to do that. And that’s not you.
And yes, this new job has money. A lot more money, and I won’t pretend that wasn’t part of my decision, though it was by no means the only one. I never told you this, but Microsoft and Google both hinted that they were interested and I never did anything about it. It was never just about the money.
I want to talk about our kids.
Obviously, they’re going to stay in your care, and that’s probably the hardest thing for me. Genie, Mailer, even poor JukeBox – I love my kids more than just about anything. I have more time invested in JukeBox’s internals than I had in my failed marriage. I’ll be 30 soon, and when I look back over the last decade of my life, these guys will be what I have instead of writing, instead of films, instead of songs, or lovers, or any other work of days and hands. I’ve stuck around this long because of them and it’s been hard saying goodbye over the last couple of weeks.
I’m sure this isn’t surprising to you, not after all we’ve been through. And, I think, this will wind up being easier for you than for me. I, inexplicably some would say, gave you the best years of my life. Take care of what I left you. I’ll try to take care of myself.
- Erik Harrison
Senior Software Developer (retired)
The Blue House
November may have been the greatest month of failure for me, ever. And, in a way, I’m super happy about that.
Don’t get me wrong. I would have preferred success – and I even managed some. But this month is a month of failure because it has been a month of ambition. I’m not used to ambition, or at least not used to having the balls to follow through on it, so that in and of itself is an accomplishment.
The first thing that I attempted and failed at was National Novel Writing Month – a writing “contest” where players attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Writing and I have had a contentious relationship over the years and the sheer size of the task has always been too daunting for me even to try it. But try it this year I did, and while I came nowhere near close, I have 15,000 words I didn’t have before, and learned more about writing than I ever have at once. I’m still kinda fond of the book that almost was, and might try to knock the rest of it out in December. One of the reasons I didn’t finish the book was because of -
The Visit, a play I did with The Little Theatre Of Alexandria. As you can tell by the linked review both the show itself and my performance were a mixed bag. The production was, quite simply, cursed. Multiple things went wrong with regard to casting the show and keeping it limping along, and I myself was brought in with only a week to rehearse before we opened, and I had five (yep, five) roles in the show. It’s not a performance I’m really proud of, but I jumped into the show at the last minute and made a showing of it, which is the kind of foolish bravery that I admire in others.
Undermining my energy during performances and contributing to overall exhaustion, I also worked through 4 weeks of the Couch to 5k. This isn’t so much a failure as an ongoing project. I slowed down around Thanksgiving and due to rain, but I’ve pretty much kept to it. In fact, today I did my first uninterrupted 20 minute run despite the rain and the bone chilling wind. I used to hate people who loved exercise because I always suspected they were lying, and judging me for sitting on my butt. I don’t know about the judgey bit, but I’ve become one of those people, and I’ve managed to avoid too much self loathing. A win!
A second, qualified win – I have taken a new job with the AAMC. I still don’t start work for another week and a half or so, but the interview process and the offer came during November, so I’m marking it in that month’s column. Who knows if this will work out in the long term, but even in the short term it gives me a path to real health care and fiscal solvency. I don’t know how I’m going to handle getting up in the morning – this will be my first real person job basically ever – but I’ll try my darnedest. I may learn to use coffee as a stimulant after all.
Comparing where I am now with where I was this time last year, or the year before that, I am made aware of a long arc that marks my attempts to get on my feet. And not on my feet again, but for the first time – I have deferred adulthood for a decade now, and I intend to prolong it further if possible, but with a little more sophistication. Next year I hope to be talking about failure again. I have always and will always fail. But this new thing will be to fail at new things, rather than the same things over and over, and to, perhaps, turn a few failures into qualified successes.
Who knows. I might even cease to be such a whiny ass by the time I’m 35 or so.
I just know what all of you are doing today – between gulping down giant portions of fatty starches and sweet starches and proteins – is waiting to see what I’m going to say about Thanksgiving.
The first and most important thing is to give thanks. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year – more, really, than I know how to talk about. This has been a hard year for a lot of people, not just friends and family, but the whole world. Look around your Thanksgiving table this year and more than likely you’ve got a few more sad tales than you did last year. I’ve been uncommonly fortunate over the last 18 months, and only more so as the year has wound on. I’m extremely thankful, especially for the friends and family who have taken more care of me than I deserve this year. Thank you Sarahbeth and Gracia. Thank you Mike. And especially right now, thank you Rebecca. Thank you all.
The second most important thing is this: it doesn’t take that long to cook a frickin’ turkey! Who decided we should spend ten hours drying out that poor bird that DIED for your meal. Come on! A 14 pound bird should be done in 2 and a half to three hours at 350 degrees, depending on your oven. Salt and pepper inside and outside, brush the outside of butter, put it in a preheated oven. Last hour of cooking, slap a double thick piece of aluminum foil over the breast to keep it from drying out, cook till the juices run clear out of the dark meat, and don’t open the damn door to check on it, or baste it, or adjust anything. Let it sit 15 minutes before you carve it and it’ll be the best turkey you’ve ever had.
And brining that sucker isn’t hard either! Google it!
I love all y’all. Here is to another year.