13 February 2017

Fiction Monday

Tetris Effect protagonist - after.

A little piece of fiction for your Monday, and a painting to go along with it. Enjoy!

The Tetris Effect
by Constance Brewer

I don't dream.

When I tell people this they rushed to reassure me they don't remember dreams either. I pretend they understood what I meant. Remembrance is a non-issue. I don't dream at all, not since the aliens took me.

Say 'alien abduction' to ordinary folks and they titter. In my case abduction is not entirely truthful, since I went voluntarily. Hell, I begged them to take me. They were understandably reluctant; their victims usually didn’t choose themselves. They wanted scientists. I swore up and down my liberal arts degree was valuable. I gave my word, and shook their hands, all of them, including the ones sticking out of their forehead.

I call the alien 'they' because it wasn't a single alien, it was a rotund carcass with numerous consciousnesses attached to it. The alien acquired them over the course of time in an assimilation process I never quite understood. Random parts protruded from the otherwise normal alien. Once in a while a body, human or otherwise, would eject from the alien with the fetid slurp of a boot ripped from swamp mud. Alien mitosis was far messier than the Earth version.

Absorption into the mass wasn't as painful as it could have been. Uncomfortably gooey and strikingly similar to the sensation you get when your foot falls asleep.  Afterwards, there was the disorientation of looking south when the alien walked east, the lack of muscle control, not to mention the disconcerting awareness of an alien hand protruding from your groin as a bizarre companion to Mr. Happy.

In the end, desire to see the universe aside, I didn't last a month as an alien implant. I wasn't fully absorbed; I was rejected, expelled with a sucking pop. They apologized profusely, explained they were afraid I would upset their multi-minded balance. It wasn't personal, a few felt I'd be a valuable addition, but they were outvoted.

If I lasted a year, I’d have been privy to all the cumulative knowledge stored in their bloated body. Full awareness, not just the flashes of unfamiliar insight that skittered across my brainpan and vanished before fully sinking in.

As I cleaned the blue slime from my naked skin, I thought maybe it was because they finally realized that while they slept, I spied on the dreams flickering across numerous brainscreens. I ate exotic foods, fought monsters, swam cobalt seas under triple moons, piloted immense spacecraft to remote universes, and met untold foreign species. One night I glimpsed a life form so incredibly unfamiliar, so vicious and frightening I scared everyone awake attempting to muffle my screams. That xenophobic reaction was my undoing.

I returned to Earth alone, distressed, and plagued by paralyzing nightmares. I'd dream of these new horrors attacking from space in wave after wave of glittering terror. Apparently I'd absorbed a lot more than I realized watching alien dream theater. I couldn't shake the image of the razor-fanged extraterrestrial. I knew someday it was going to appear and devour not only me, but my entire planet, person by person. 

My nightly screaming woke the neighbors, scared the dog, and forced my decision.

It took several weeks to track down the country where the aliens currently body-mined. I was never sure if it was 'my' alien that I talked to or another with numerous humanoid appendages protruding from its body. In the end, it didn't matter. They understood.

With a sharp mental scalpel they banished the nightmares and rewired my brain so I'd never need sleep again. I could remain alert for travelers not quite as accommodating as them; their many-toothed cousins fondly called 'GrxbyPk’. The closest my alien soggy brain could come to an interpretation was, ‘Interstellar Harvesters'.  

I don't dream, and that's probably a good thing.


*Originally published in Everyday Fiction

30 January 2017

Embracing Poetry Mind

Poetry Mind can be a challenge, an obstacle, or a puzzle that guides you to the top of the mountain.

My brain has taken a mini vacation the past few weeks, occupied with getting through the holidays and on into the new year. It was a fallow time, with little creative writing going on. I suddenly realized I needed to get myself back into "Poetry Mind" to get myself back into writing.

Poetry Mind is that state where the possibilities for poems seem endless. Chance encounters, the color of the morning sunrise, a package that arrived in the mail all become fodder for new poems. After editing a manuscript steadily through Oct-Nov-Dec I was not keen on just editing more poems. I want the thrill of the new. I wanted to fall in love with a poem all over again.

To help my journey back to poetry mind, I tend to do a version of the old wedding saw, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue". Something old is rereading a poetry book I know and love, and losing myself in the language. It doesn't even have to be poetry, I reread Lord of the Rings to lose myself in Middle Earth - when I come out the other side, I am refreshed. The familiar brings confidence.

Something new is usually getting a new poetry book by an author I've always wanted to read, or picking up a few literary journals I haven't read before. There is a sense of excitement as I turn the pages. Who knows what new and inspiring poem will shoot forth from the page to worm its way into my brain? Maybe it's a new way of looking at word play, a turn of phrase or deft language handling that will twig my Poetry Brain.

Something borrowed means I appropriate an image or a line from a poem and use it as a jumping off point. I twist it, turn it, hold it upside down and shake vigorously. If it's firing on all cylinders, Poetry Mind takes off with a roar, or at least burns some rubber. Poetry Mind likes to play catch with its friend, What If? Together, they are excellent jump starters.

Finally, we have something blue. To me this means I need to get outdoors, go for a hike, take in a park, commune with nature in any way, shape or form. Deep breaths of fresh air coupled with a panoramic view of Mother Nature soothes my Poetry Mind and leaves it open to the possibilities. A dash of all four somethings, contemplated, usually provides the motivation to get me back in the state I need to be to write. Poetry Mind.

How do you reach your Poetry Mind?

23 January 2017

A Few Eagles For Your Day

Bald eagle, hanging out by the roadside, waiting for lunch to wander by.

Sometimes lunch wanders in front of a car. Eagles aren't picky.

In case you were wondering, these aren't small birds. That's a full grown doe he's feasting on.

High in a dead tree, calling to others of her kind.

Even with a telephoto lens, the birds were aware and kept a wary eye on me.

What's better than one eagle? Two or more. Watching, always watching.

08 January 2017

Listen Up!

Since I didn't do an end of year round up, I thought I'd do some posts on what I'm reading, listening to, writing, knitting, baking. Something like that. First up is what's on the iPod of late.

Listening to the David Bromberg Band's newest CD - The Blues, The Whole Blues, and Nothing But The Blues.

Next up that gets a lot of play time on my iPod is Krishna Das. He mainly does Hindu devotional music called kirtan. He has a wonderful voice and very soothing songs. The following video is called My Foolish Heart.

I like a bit of metal in my life, so I'm listening to Disturbed's Immortalized album. I keep coming back to the least likely song on the album, a remake of The Sound Of Silence. The power of David Draiman's voice is phenomenal.

Okay, Okay, I'm still a few years behind on things. Listening to the last Linkin Park album The Hunting Party. It creeps into my playlist when I least expect it.

And we'll end with a blast from the past - at least for me. I've always liked John Denver, and I make no apologies about it. My favorite song of his below.

01 January 2017

It's 2017 - More or Less

First sourdough loaf of 2017. What kinds of things are on the rise for you this year?

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions. But after the train wreck that was 2016, I thought I'd look at what I could be doing more of, and what I could be doing less of. So here is a kind of mash up of end of 2016 review and 2017 goals.

Do more of – writing, of course. Poetry is foremost on my mind, but it's been pointed out to me where I could strengthen my older fantasy novel, and in doing so, maybe generate some ideas for the all over the map middle of my second novel.

Do more of – submitting my work. I was a bit slack in 2016 about submitting poems, and was kind of happy when they were rejected so I could work on them some more. Thanks to some help from a stellar editor, I have a better grasp when something is done, or on the verge of abandonment. This is the year I also need to submit my now completed/edited/mostly finished poetry book. I did get work accepted by magazines I'm fond of, so that's a plus.

Do less of – worrying about said poetry book. If I let myself, I would fine tune word by word, comma by comma for the next 10 years. In that way lies madness. I need to let go, and go forth as is. Same with the fantasy novel. This year I vow to throw those children in a snowbank and get on with creating.

Do more – creating. Not just with the written word. I've been slack on my painting, drawing and printmaking. Even photography hasn't been as robust as in previous years. I signed up for a watercolor course, a digital photography course. I've been making jewelry. I need to work with my hands in order to let my brain get on with the writing planning.

Do less – hopping from project to project. I know, I know, the above sounds like that's all I do. But as in knitting, I am going to try and finish one project before I start another. It may not happen, but that's the goal.There's a satisfaction in finishing something that carries over into the next project.

Do more – knitting. I let myself slack off over the summer and it was hard to get going on Christmas knitting, but I struggled up out of the mire and did it. Same with weaving. The hardest part is warping on, and that can be done to music to make it go faster. Spinning might take a back burner this year until I figure out the long-draw. This is where videos aren't cutting it as teachers. I need a real person to position my hands and point out my mistake that I'm not seeing.

Do less – angsting about what 2017 will bring. Much of it is beyond my control.

Do more - outside. I need to take more hikes in the mountains, walks on the plains. Not only is it good for jump starting my overall creativity, it's great exercise. The gym can get boring – although it does put you in good shape for shoveling piles of snow off the driveway. Over and over again. (Anyone got a snowblower for sale?)  

So that is a quick list of my plans for 2017. How about you? Anything you'd like to do more or less of? Let me know in comments. Happy 2017! Go forth and conquer!