Sunday, August 27, 2006

My contest entry, "Runaway"

This morning, I finished my entry for the Lonely Moon contest. You can read it here. As with my first contest (the Midnight Road short fiction contest), I was energized by the desire to just write something, and then surprised myself by writing something I actually quite liked.

The story this time took a while to come to me. The contest creator, Jason Evans, provided a beautiful photograph as inspiration, and it did inspire a mood, but then the visuals that came to mind conflicted with the original. Especially, I kept drifting into imaginary snowstorms for some reason. I suppose snow and lonliness go together for me.

Thank you for another wonderfully creative opportunity, Jason.

The next blog

There's a little button on the Blogger bar a the top of my blog. Do you see it, too? "Next blog."

So one day, I clicked the button.

Now I'm a little bit hooked.

It turns out a lot of bloggers on Blogger are writing in a language not of the English variety. I hit the back button and try again. It's not that I mind the foreign-language blogs. It's just that I can't read them.

So I click back and then I click Next Blog, and I do this nice back-and-forth thing until I get something in English. It's often pretty broken English, but really, aren't we all broken in some way or another?

Just now, I read about an elementary school teacher's first few days of class this year. She was witty. She's just started blogging, though, so I ran out of posts almost immediately. I bookmarked her blog and will check back later to see how she's doing.

I looked at a lot of naked man pictures on a blog self-described as a "gay blog." I didn't see much gayness going on, just a lot of naked men and penises.

I read a recipe for curried prawns. I ate too much tonight, however, so it didn't sound as appealing as it ought to.

And I discovered that what appears to be broken English in some cases is some newfangled kind of texting thing going on, which I'm probably supposed to be able to read, but I can't. I mean, I can dish out the LOLs and TMIs like the best of them, but what's up with

gah, I can't even hold this stuff in my head long enough to transcribe it.

When whole blogs are written in this shorthand, post after post, I gotta wonder: Is it me, or are cell phones even more evil than previously imagined?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blogs gone wild!

I migrated my blog over to the "new" Blogger in beta. There are a few unexpected little glitches... like the fact that I can't edit the raw html of my template. But I'm having fun playing with the new controls.

What's new for you is the "labels" function. I can now label my blog entries for different types of content. For instance, this entry will be labeled as part of my "blogosphere" adventure, since it's all about blogging and not at all about my day to day life. Those posts, you'll find in the "what's up with bekbek" section.

As I write this, my blog is black. I'll be playing with the templates, so there's no knowing what the blog will look like when you get here. I think the black is too hard on the eyes, but it sure is dramatic!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Writing by the light of a Lonely Moon

Contest alert! On August 22, Jason Evans announced the "Lonely Moon" Short Fiction Contest. Readers may recall I actually entered the previous contest, quite a new experience for me. This time, the contest will be co-hosted by the incredible Anne Frasier, and autographed copies of her September release Pale Immortal are among the prizes. Why don't you join us?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The topic of death has been circling, lately, like a vulture. There’s no sense of malice in it. Rather, it’s like a disinterested, lazy fact. Like a rock dropping, it doesn’t require effort, nor is there much to stop it. Death and gravity are both just facts of life.

This circling of death started with a friend’s blog. Anne Frasier wrote about experiences of death and questioned how these experiences might play a role in deciding what she and other writers choose as subjects. In the many comments her post received, I read story after story about very personal losses –and was reminded in a powerful way of how little of real grief has touched my own 38 years of existence. Anne mentioned something about a “charmed life” and I wondered, am I living one of those? It sure doesn’t feel charmed, but...

With this whole question fresh in my mind, I heard that another online friend had suffered a terrible blow. Eighteen and in his first week of college, he’d been called home because his father, in the hospital due to a stroke, was not going to make it. With the family depending on this one young man’s strength and decisiveness, I could imagine the stress and the grief was overwhelming. I gave what condolences I could, but that’s just the thing: I could only imagine.

Now, I’ve got a good imagination. I found myself several times in tears about a person I’ve never met outside the virtual confines of an online message board. But isn’t this reaction on par with the tears I shed over a good movie, and the loss experienced by a heroic but nevertheless fictional figure onscreen? How valuable can my little bits of wisdom and empathy be, when they are based on such a lack of personal experience?

Then I found something I’d written after a visit to a hospital.

I felt that my body was burning itself up. My head was just one tremendous pain, that didn’t allow much in the way of thought or control. On the way to Emergency, I started thinking about the man I love, but my brain couldn’t seem to focus on the things I wanted it to. All the lovely moments, all the beautiful imagined futures with him eluded me, and I started silently chanting his name over and over. I wasn’t going to lose the one connection I could still manage. I lay there chanting “Luther, Luther, Luther” while the nice vampire nurse took my blood, and then I sat up to take some pills one by one, calmly saying it would be a shame after all this to choke to death on too many pills.

I’d been freezing for a few days, bundled in layers of sweat-soaked clothing under a down duvet, literally dripping with sweat, but so cold that it actually seemed painful. At the hospital, the nurse made me get out of my bundle of nightgown and housecoat and towel wrapped around my shoulders, because I needed to cool down, and I lay on the bed shivering until they started wheeling me down the hall to the x-ray room. In motion with just a thin sheet on my overheated body, the coolness of the air moving over my damp face suddenly felt lovely, and I know I smiled at that moment. It was possible to feel better. I would live.

I remember being sure that I was going to die. I gave messages to my mother, to take to my friends. But I couldn’t think of any words to give her for Luther. I asked her to call him, but he didn’t answer the phone, and then I was frantic, thinking he should be home and if he wasn’t, something bad had happened. Was he okay? How could I die without being sure?

I realized that I live in fear of losing the people I love. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m just afraid of never seeing Luther again, never hearing his voice, never holding his hand. I don’t believe in souls and afterlifes, so death is truly final. I can’t pretend I’ll still somehow see him and know he’s okay.

My friend James recently lost a family friend. He wrote about the many questions that arise on such occasions. People do struggle to understand the meaning behind death, the impossibility of life and death being so interconnected. When I first read his blog entry, I thought I disagreed. There are no questions, for me. Death is a natural part of life.

But the more I think of it, the more of a crock that proves to be. I question death daily. I cannot accept that I could have Luther taken away from me, whether through his death or through my own. There has to be another answer, a different answer, a solution to the problem. How could I possibly turn a corner one day and not be able to reach out and touch him?

Gods, spirits, souls, meaning, purpose. I think of these concepts as barriers to accepting the finality of death. But even though I don’t believe in any of them, I sit here frowning at the puzzle, thinking in one moment that death is natural and completes us... and in the next moment that there must be another answer. I could die, sure, fine. But stop loving?

I don’t see how that’s right.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

GED update

In addition to my fantastically slow work on the comic strip (see next), I have been taking my time with this GED thing. On discovering I could very likely pass all the tests without studying, I decided to at least review all the available study materials. I bought a GED study book a couple of years ago, so I've been doing those practice tests. And I have been going through some online stuff available at

Here's a cool thing that came up. I was reading about the gold rush in California. You know, it's not like these things are foreign to Canadians, but this is what was available, and I'm trying to prepare for the possibility that I might not know all there is to know about American history.

Anyway, here's the concept: Some guys find some gold, just sitting there. Big chunks of gold for the taking. And another guy says, "hey, cool!" and buys up all the pick axes and shovels and so forth that can be found. And then he makes sure that the entire world learns that there's gold just lying around in California.

First, I have to wonder, is it "pick axes" or some kind of "pickaxe" type of thing? Enquiring minds want to know about the spelling.

Second, what makes a guy's brain do this? I mean, he became the wealthiest man, and he never, ever had to pick up an actual chunk o' gold.

Yeah, yeah, you think it makes perfect sense. Okay, picture this:

The tall trees in your neighborhood start sprouting... ten-dollar bills. The damned money is growing on trees. And you? You don't get a ladder and start picking bills off the trees. Not even the one right there in your own front yard. Nope, you go to Lowe's Hardware and Home Depot and buy up all the ladders. Heck, you borrow money and buy up all the cherry pickers.

I mean, the money is growing on the tree in your yard, and you're not picking it.

I have to say, this story really impressed me.

Simplicity update

The development of the Simplicity comic strip is going slowly, but well. You might think, from my previous post on this topic, that the main character is a cat.

This other character here will argue that it has made more of a sacrifice for the art, and therefore should get top billing:

It doesn't have a name. I guess it can be female.