Spoilers, a vignette

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Dec 242013

“How’d you do this year?” she asked.

He didn’t jump. Just like all the other times, he knew she was there just before she said anything. Her visits never scared him. Unsettled, but never frightened. She didn’t work that way.

“Okay,” he said, as if such a bland non-answer could hold any meaning. “Not as well as I wanted.”

She chuckled. It was a light sound, empty of derision. She had never laughed at him. Sometimes she just seemed to find him amusing. “How many times has it ever gone as well as you wanted?” she asked.

He stared down the length of his slouched, seated body and let his eyes focus on nothing somewhere near his knees. “Always.”

She leaned forward from her seat next to him on the park bench. Dark hair fell in wispy strands around her face as she did so, glowing like incandescent filaments when they caught the fading sunlight. Her eyebrows turned up in a look of sympathy and concern, the corners of her mouth quirked up in perpetual wry amusement at life itself. “You set awfully high standards for yourself.”

He shot her a sidelong look out of the corner of his eyes and shrugged deeper into his wholly inadequate jacket. Clear though the sky was, the sun had done nothing to dispel the winter chill from the air. “I have to.”

“I know.” She did. She studied him for several moments and he continued his oblique observation in return. Everything about her smacked of impossibility. Her features were severe and soft, her eyes huge and shrewd, her lips full and thin. As ever, she wore a light, breezy gown that would have been at home in the height of summer or climbing into bed at night, but she paid the frigid weather no mind. “What will you do next year?”

“The same,” he said, “only better.”

She turned to look out across the pond, staring into the waning sunlight. It should have hurt her eyes, but she didn’t work like that. “Nothing different?”

He shook his head. “Nothing different. If I keep piling on new things, I’ll never finish the old ones.”

She nodded, her head rising and falling in time with her deep, even breathing. “You’re learning.”

He chuckled. “I’m shocked myself.”

Her eyes came back to him and the smile she now wore was that same strange, distant but knowing smile he’d seen so many times before. “I’m not,” she said. “It was only ever a matter of time. You were always going to get here eventually.”

“At least one of us thought so,” he groused. He shook his head immediately after, dismissing the reaction. “No, I knew it too. You’re right.”

“I think you’ll make it this time,” she offered. “Maybe, just maybe you’ll even go farther than you think.”

He arched an eyebrow at that. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

Her smile changed again, becoming an impish grin. “Spoilers.”

The wind kicked up and she was gone.

“Spoilers,” he grunted.

Goals for 2013

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Jan 142013

Rather than resolutions, which strike me as unrealistically rigid, I opted instead to set a few goals to strive for in 2013. Here’s that list, for those curious.

  • Write (at least) two books. This is the biggest and most ambitious of the goals. Seeing as how it took three years to get Ashes done, shooting for writing two books in a single year is an enormous leap. I set an aggressive timetable for the New Book and my success at adhering to that timetable will go a long way toward the success or failure of this goal.
  • Get to and stay at 170 pounds. Holiday fooding is not kind to one’s experiences with the scale. While I haven’t breached 190, I came damn close. My objective is to get to and stay at 170, which is slightly more lean than my exact “optimal” weight.
  • Do 20 consecutive pull-ups. I can currently do somewhere between six and ten, so I don’t anticipate this will actually take much doing.
  • Complete my Ambassador model and complete at least one more model. I’ve been working on the Ambassador model since August 2012, which has included a great deal of re-learning of skills that atrophied while not in use when working as a tech artist in the game industry. A lot of that time went into doing and re-doing the same thing over and over, which while frustrating also ended up informative. It’s my hope that, like writing Ashes, the stumbling blocks and pitfalls of this “first” experience will result in a substantially faster second one.
  • Learn to play (at least) two songs reasonably well on the guitar. I haven’t picked up my guitar in months and that’s a tragedy. Two songs strikes me as a small-scope, attainable goal.

These are my personal goals, as opposed to larger goals that involve other people/family things. I think they’re all attainable, so long as I keep my eye on the ball.

What do you think? What are your goals?

Jan 032011

I saw a lot of people glad to be done with 2010. The general feeling seems to have been that 2010 was a less-than-satisfactory year. For my part, I’m inclined to disagree: in March, I got a new job at an awesome company working with awesome people on an awesome project; in July, my groomsmen took me to Atlantic City; in August, I got married and then went on my very first cruise; in October, Cody and I went as a very convincing Rose and the 10th Doctor for Halloween; in November, my parents finally came down to Maryland for Thanksgiving; December featured one of our best New Year’s Eve parties ever.

So, y’know, go 2010. May 2011 be as good or better.

To that end as is custom this time of year, I have a list of goals that I’m planning to work toward this year. They’re not “resolutions” and they’re not carved in stone; either notion is folly. But they’re things I care about and want to get better at, which I think carries more weight.

  • Devote some time each evening to writing or playing guitar. The main thing here is taking care of my “daily chores” in WoW, and then setting it aside while I spend some time doing either of the above activities. Once I’ve put some good effort in toward either, I’ll allow myself to go back to playing more WoW. I love my WoW hobby, but I can’t continue neglecting my others!
  • Get better about watching my diet again. I’ve slipped a bit since the wedding, which is probably entirely unsurprising to anyone who’s gotten married. I haven’t backslid irrevocably or anything drastic, but it’s noticeable enough to me that I want to do something about it. So, I plan to. Having a Droid will, I hope, make keeping track of my food intake a little easier.
  • Finish unpacking the house. This includes getting some additional furniture (bookshelves) and also tidying up the pantry shelves so that we can actually start making use of the damn thing.
  • Build the vacuform machine I’m always talking about. I intend to for Halloween to be very interesting this year.

That seems like an ambitious-enough list to start with.

Apr 222009

Cody and I are both treating the imminent acquisition of our house as a massive paradigm shift, after which everything becomes possible. I’m not sure if this is realistic, but it’s true all the same. Here are just a handful of things that are “going to happen” once we move.

Continue reading »

Play Guitar!

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Oct 232008

One drunken night, I proposed to a friend of mine — while playing Rock Band — that we should form a real band.  He plays bass, Cody can sing quite well, and I would teach myself to play guitar.  While that latter notion might sound preposterous, it’s not quite as outlandish as it first seems because my dad’s been playing for well over 40 years.  I also have a number of friends who play, so the base for training is pretty large.

After recovering from my drunkenness over the weekend, I decided that it wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.  Why not learn how to play guitar and then form a band?  I spent some time reading up on guitars, learning guitar, what guitars were best for beginners, and so on.  I also got a list of things to look for when buying a guitar from my dad. I then grabbed the aforementioned friend and dragged him, along with Cody, to Daddy’s Junky Music in Burlington.  

We spent two hours there, my intent being to look, see what they had, and do some more research.  They had a number of very nice guitars, including a Seagull S6 — universally recommended as one of the best-sounding beginner guitars, though the most expensive of the lot. I decided it was more than I wanted to pay. Most of my deliberations were over a $200 Epiphone. We discussed a lot of things with the sales guy there, going back and forth on deals and so forth.

And then one of the stock guys, who had been coming in and out putting guitars on the wall the whole time, brought in a used Seagull S6, marked for less than $200. It was pretty much a done deal at that point. I bought the guitar.

I’ve spent every day since then practicing. The internet has a ridiculous treasure trove of resources for a novice guitarist, including several excellent learn-to-play sites that focus on developing in stages. YouTube is another great resource. In just three days, I’ve gone from knowing literally nothing about playing guitar to being able to play the five common major chords (CAGED), though not without still glancing at the neck to ensure my fingering is correct. My calluses are well on their way, accelerated by using the Eric Clapton trick of applying rubbing alcohol to them three times a day. And my dad is overjoyed. My original plan was to go down this weekend and surprise him for his birthday (he turns 65 on the 30th), but my allergies have more or less destroyed that idea. So instead, he’s coming up to visit. He’s also bringing his Martin.

After this weekend, which I hope will be very fruitful for my guitar-learning endeavors, I plan to take up regular lessons. I’m not sure where, yet. The salesman who sold me the guitar mentioned that he provides lessons, though he had also often emphasized that he wasn’t much of a guitar player. Of course, his definition of “much” and my definition are quite different; he had a pretty good set of licks he was able to play for demonstration purposes. There’s also a fairly well-regarded music school located here on Main St. that I’m considering.

One of the biggest regrets I have in my life is not pursuing my piano lessons when I was young (really young). Once I left Montessori, I stopped playing, and never really progressed beyond my ability level from that age. Learning to play something like guitar, so radically different from the piano I was at least marginally familiar with, always seemed out of reach. That drunken idea of forming a band, coupled with a quote from Babylon 5, made me realize I had nothing stopping me from learning guitar but myself.

Marcus: I could teach you [to speak Minbari] if you like.
Ivanova: No. I don’t have the time; it would take me a year.
Marcus: And assuming we survive this; how old will you be in a year if you don’t learn to speak Minbari?
Ivanova: The same.
Marcus: Exactly.

So, I decided to take Marcus’s, and John ‘Cougar’ Mellencamp’s advice, and learn how to play guitar.

You may drive around your town
In a brand new shiny car
Your face in the wind and your haircut’s in
Your friends think you’re bizarre
You may find a cushy job and I hope that you go far
But if you really want to taste some cool success
You better learn to play guitar