Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 31: Bivouac

Because Julie told us this story of camping at Red Rock Canyon after lab meeting today.

A thin pad provided insulation from the ground, and Sheila was snug in her sleeping bag. The stars above her were impossibly bright, a million nightlights to watch over her. After such a long day, her arms and legs were almost numb: she didn’t notice the feeling of insects as they crawled along their way. She only heard the ever-present crickets.

And the explosions. The mining operation two miles away required copious amounts of dynamite. Every blast erupted in her ears and sent the campsite rumbling, jolting her awake in the fear that the ground was falling away under her.

And, miraculously, I'm done. That one is a little too punch-line-y for my tastes. I'm noticing again what I noticed the last time I wrote these: that the easiest way to tell a story in 100 words is to use the form of a joke: a long build-up and then a quick reversal. Or set-up and punch-line. I'd like to try to get away from that, but I'm not entirely sure how in this format. There's just so little space, I feel like you can either have a description (no change) or a joke (change).

I'll probably continue. I'm also thinking of changing, or loosening, the format: adding slightly longer stuff, and maybe some poetry (although poetry is not my comfort zone, so maybe not). But I'll be here tomorrow, so check back!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 30: Lucre

I have this image of a pirate, one hand half falling off, tugging in vain at a chest full of gold as the tide comes in and fills the cave, drowning him. Because if anything reminds me of pirates, the word 'lucre' does.

The reflected light from the coins tinged his eyes and skin gold as he grinned in the torchlight. Twelve long years, and finally success. His crew had abandoned him, losing hope one by one. But that only meant more gold for him. His left hand ached with gangrene; but a tiny fraction of the loot would buy him the world’s finest hook. Whoever said piracy wasn’t a lucrative career had obviously never discovered a lost treasure of this magnitude.

He could guess why, as he reached down with his one good hand. The chest – one of perhaps twenty – wouldn’t budge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 29: Bedaub

“Are you sure? It looks like enough to me.”

“No! More!”

Mary sighed, looking from her two-year-old daughter to the Halloween costume. She wasn’t sure where she could fit more lace on the princess dress. It was nothing but lace ruffles, pink ribbons, and frill. Mary was almost worried that, upon donning the costume, her daughter’s skin and hair, and maybe the rest of her too, would suddenly transform to lace. “Darling,” she began, but her daughter interrupted.

“More lace!” the little girl yelled, with a pout, eyes wide and tears welling at the corners.

“Where?” Mary demanded.

“I dunno.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 28: Afflatus

Meaning "divine inspiration".

At first, he didn’t know what to do about the episodes. He thought they were seizures; although doctors said nothing was wrong. It seemed more frequent around computers, so he avoided them.

But instead, his hands would erupt in pain, twisting as if to find phantom keys.

So he started to carry around a foldable keyboard to attach to his phone.

Mercifully, most of the episodes were short, five-minute bursts. Few struck at inopportune moments. And so he stopped thinking about them.

Until he looked at what he was writing. And then had it translated.

When had he learned Chinese?

One more week and I will have met my goal. I'm considering doing this again next month; it wasn't trivial, but it wasn't impossible either. The only difficult part was dealing with the convention; hotel wireless was no fun, and so I had to find a friend's house where I could mooch computer time the first day, and write them after I got home the second and third days. Still, 100 words isn't very many.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 27: Equivocate

Not sure how this turned out. But I think this idea is better than my first idea: the fuzziness and confusion of a bad sound system.

Henry was happiest when telling stories about his childhood. Without siblings, living so far from his hometown, there was no one to correct him when he told his children, “My adventures could fill a bookshelf,” or even when he just smiled and refused to answer their questions. His role as historian was his pride and joy. And he crushed doubt with an iron fist: his children would take his word for anything.

They told him so.

It was only hard in the quiet moments; those spring mornings when the blanket of fog would clear and reveal the emptiness behind it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 26: Verisimilitude

I went to a dance show my first year at Stanford, and the director of the traveling company who was performing talked after the show. One of the things she said was that she didn't care if something wasn't physically possible, she wanted to create the illusion - that the impossibility of it was part of the dance, and part of the spectacle. I think magic shows are always like that, self-knowingly like that. But dance sometimes doesn't realize it. You go to shows to see things that aren't real - basically can't be real - but that seem real at the time.

There's something here as in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, too, especially the players -- what's the difference between seeming true and being true; what's the difference between theatre and life? (Obviously there's less difference if you're Rosencrantz or Guildenstern, or even Hamlet.)

And there's also the degree to which seeing the real-seeming can attune you to the real. Or something.

Not sure I like the story, though. Or really know where it was going. But I need to post now, since I'll be at the hotel for the convention all day tomorrow, and their internet is dodgy at best.

It wasn’t a simple illusion, like flying. When you pull an actor up by a harness and swing him across a stage, every audience member knows what is going on: flight. They give you the benefit of the doubt, ignore the wires. They don’t leave the theatre saying “the flight was good, but he should have been on fire too.”

None of that applies to faking emotion. But in return for the difficulty, the ambiguity, and the disbelief, the return was phenomenal. Because flight would always mean one thing, but a good actor in a great scene could redefine love.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 25: Bumptious

A costume-themed one, in honor of the steampunk convention this weekend.

"Your costume is wrong," the voice-over intoned. "You may not know how, but it is full of flaws and inaccuracies. Details that may be invisible to you but ruin the effect for those around you. Don't be that person with an 1850s day dress and an 1880s bustle! Fact-check your costume!"

An image flashed of a woman, apparently ostracized for her poorly designed garb and very sad.

"Hipster historical will tell you what's wrong with your outfits. Stop by our offices in San Francisco or Berkeley for a free fact checking. Because however much you know, we know better."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 24: Kismet

Can you tell I really don't like the idea of predetermination?

“Why don’t you just dump him?”

“You don’t understand. He’s my soul mate. I’ve known that I would end up with him since I was five years old. I dreamed about him.”

“You said you didn’t love him anymore.”

Morgan sighed. “Of course I don’t love him. This isn’t about love, or happiness. It’s about fate. If it was just love, I could leave. But this is one of those things, written in the laws of the universe. Or mandated by our past lives, or something. It has to be this way.”

“He makes you miserable.”

“Fate isn’t always happy.”