Sunday, February 28, 2010

Notes from the Studio

So...this is kinda what a studio session looks like (especially on days where there are more than 4 hours to put into it) and more to the point, this is what today's has been like.

1. Caffeine. Coffee is made, tea is made, mental checklist run through.
2. Restring what needs restringing, then break 'em in (I prefer that a)I not have to retune in the middle of a section and b)I prefer the slightly more rounded tone)
3. Tune up
4. Warm up
5. Review (though this has probably been going on the whole time). What song, what section, what instrument, what order.
6. Plug in.
7. Play.
8. Repeat.
9. Listen and/or drink coffee.
10. Tune.
11. Play.
12. Listen.
13. Repeat.
14. Play again.
15. Play again.
16. Curse mistakes.
17. Shift guitar strap.
19. Move patch cord
20. Listen.
21. Listen again/smoke cigarette.
22. Play.
23. Curse weight of Les Paul
24. Pull out hair while smoking cigarette.
24. Drink juice.
25. Listen and feel relief.
26. Rub shoulder.
27. Switch guitars for next piece.
28. Tune.
29. Plug in.
30. Repeat prior 26 steps.
31. Find comfortable spot to listen to final takes (ie, sofa, lounge chair, prone on floor-whatever works).
32. Break to eat.

Rules to remember:

No noodling until engineer says it's safe
No plugging in or unplugging until engineer says it's safe.
Do get lost in a good riff going well.
Enjoy the dry take playback - if it's clean and sharp dry, it's gonna smoke when it's wet (for non-musicians: "dry" means sans effects, "wet" means with effects on).
Trust the engineer.
Trust your gut.
Trust your hands, your ears, your heart.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day - An Excerpt from Red Light

Red Light
by JD Glass

When I showed up for my ambulance rotation the next night and once again presented myself to the nurse's station, Carol and I were old friends.

"Hey, Scotty!" She waved as I neared.

"'lo, Carol," I waved back, "what's in store for me today?"

She gave me a big smile. "You're riding with Tigger and Trevor—the terrible twosome of the trauma trade." She said that last part in her best game-show voice.

"Okay," I drawled affably. This was going to be one hell of an adventure, I was sure—if I didn't screw it up.

Some of my anxiety must have reflected on my face, because Carol tapped my arm. "You'll be fine," she said, "and you'll be with two of the best guys on the road—you couldn't ride with better," she assured. "Come on, I'll take you outside to meet them."

All I could do was bob my head in agreement because here it came, the moment I'dreally been waiting for as I stepped across the same tiles I'd walked over the night before on my way to the ambulance bay.

Through the glass doors I could see the backs of two ambulances and four uniformed figures chatting in a corner.

"Oh, here," Carol said, stopping at the locker that was just inside the passageway, "give me your jacket," she told me as she unlocked the door and reached inside, "grab your wallet, and put this on instead."

She handed me the standard uniform jacket the hospital personnel wore, and I goggled at it as I did as she asked.

"Don't want you to stick out, do we?" she asked me, grinning as she adjusted my collar.

"Uh…I guess not?" I hazarded, still struck dumb. I patted my chest to make sure my wallet was in place, then readjusted my gear belt across my hips so I could reach everything: holster with tools on the right so I could grab them easily, pocket mask just behind my left hip. I shifted the jacket once more so it fell comfortably.

"Let's introduce you to the guys," Carol said, clapping me on the shoulder. We walked through the sliding door.

After meeting Tigger and Trevor, they took me through the "one hundred"—the check list of items the state required onboard, the items the city required, and the items the hospital required. This particular hospital was a "voluntary hospital"; they voluntarily linked to the 911 system by contract and agreement.

"Okay," Trevor said when they were done and had shown me where everything was, "let's get started. You get to sit in the jump seat." He grinned, pointing at the seat that faced the head of the stretcher.

They hopped into the front cab and Tigger started the engine. We pulled out slowly as the radio crackled to life.

"Five-five Eddy, what's your current status? Over."

Trevor grabbed the mic. "This is five-five Eddy, we are currently one hundred and enroute to our see-oh-are, over," he said crisply as we pulled out onto the main street.

"Redirect five-five Eddy. Respond to…" the voice continued, giving a street location and the reported patient condition, which Trevor wrote down as Tigger turned the rig around.

"Hold on back there!" he advised, then flipped the lights and sirens on.

My blood pounded in my head with excitement and nerves. Where were we going? What would we find when we got there? What was—

"Hey, Tigger?" I called from the back over the din of the siren.


"What's a see-oh-are?" I asked as we sped through the streets.

"C, O, R," he yelled over from the front, "stands for 'center of rove.' It's the actual cross street in the middle of the area we respond to."

"Oh. Thanks," I yelled back, adding that information to my mental file.

The first call was a fifteen-year-old male in a playground who'd at least severely twisted his ankle, if not broken it.

His friends clustered around him, and as I took the first set of vitals, Tigger quickly examined his leg and foot.

"That sneaker's got to come off," he said, shaking his head.

"I can't pull it off," the boy said, his words catching as he spoke. He had to be in pain, because the visible skin above the sneaker had already turned a reddish purple and was terribly swollen.

"I'm sorry, guy, but…" and Trevor put his hand on the boy's shoulder, "we've got to cut your sneaker."

"But…but…" he spluttered, and Tigger sent me to the back of the rig to pull out splints while they handled the distraught patient. Trevor not only insisted I apply them, which was very, very cool, but he also had me present the patient when we got to the ER.

Once we transferred the patient off our stretcher, we cleaned the mattress pad and set it up with new sheets. I learned very quickly that this was SOP (standard operating procedure) and would happen after just about every call.

The next thing we responded to was an MVA on a side street: a driver had run his car through a stop sign and T-boned another vehicle.

"This," Trevor yelled over the siren as we drove, "is what we refer to as an 'All-State' call."

"Why?" I yelled back.

"Because," Tigger chimed in, "it's all property damage—you'll see."

When we got there, the driver of one car spoke to the responding officer, gesticulating wildly as he tried to explain himself, while the other driver sat in his seat, hands fixed firmly to the wheel. He knew who he was, making him oriented to person—he was Guy Carlotti; he knew where he was, so he was oriented to place—he said he was up shit creek because this was his wife's new car; and time—he knew the date. This made him "Aye and Oh times three," which was what I wrote on the PCR.

Tigger took tension on his head, meaning he held it between his fingers and lifted slightly—just enough pull to lift a six pack of soda is what we were taught—and this would be enough to relieve pressure from the head to the spine in case of a neck injury.

Trevor had me fit him for a cervical collar, which I slipped into place around his neck, and on a three count, we shifted the patient as a single unit so we could place the short board behind him, then fastened him to it, at which point it was safe for Tigg to let go of his head. We had to maneuver a bit to get him onto the stretcher, and the cops helped us with that, because Mr. Carlotti was no lightweight.

Once inside the ambulance, and at Trevor's subtle insistence, I got to perform the entire examination drill: A, B, C, D, E. Although the patient's blood pressure was slightly elevated, the rest of his vitals were within normal ranges, and except for his statement that he felt "a pain in the neck" that he said would turn into "a pain in his wallet," the examination revealed no bruises, no bleeding, no broken bones, no signs of internal damage, and he was able to wiggle his fingers and toes.

Again, the guys had me present the patient in the hospital: we had a forty-year-old male who'd been in an MVA. He had a slightly elevated blood pressure, or BP, and was complaining of neck pain. He was aye and oh times three, his eyes were PEARL: pupils equally active and responsive to light, positive bilaterally for clear lung sounds, positive all four quads for nerve response, which meant he could wiggle his fingers and toes, and had no medical history to speak of. I may not have presented it in the right order to the attending doctor, but at least I presented all my findings and left absolutely nothing out.

After we transferred him from the stretcher to a bed and Trevor got someone to sign off on the paperwork, we set up the stretcher and picked up a new short board on the way out.

There was another MVA. The driver "RMAed"—refused medical assistance.

Two asthma attacks. Check vitals, check lung sounds, present paperwork, and set the stretcher.

A fifty-six-year-old male with chest pain, a history of CHF—congestive heart failure, with visible jugular venous distension bilaterally. A check of his vitals revealed a rapid pulse and elevated BP.

We administered oxygen, and for the first time, when I listened for lung sounds, I heard rales: the distinct sound of cellophane paper crinkling that meant fluid in the lungs. The patient also had pitting edema, which meant that his extremities were so swollen that when I pressed a fingertip to the skin, an indentation stayed there for several seconds or longer.

Needless to say, we took him rather quickly to the Emergency Room.

After that call, things quieted down a bit, and the guys drove to a Chinese food place off Bay Street where we picked up some food to go.

It was getting very close to the end of the shift. Tigger parked the rig on Edgewater, a large lot that faced the bay, and it was neat listening to them talk, while we ate fried rice and smelled the salt of the ocean as we leaned against the front of the vehicle.

The radio crackled. "Five-five Eddy, come in."

Trevor grabbed the mic as he hopped in the front, and I clambered through the side door and settled myself into the jump seat.

"Oh, man!" Tigger groused from the driver's seat as Trevor wrote down the address and we pulled out of the lot. "It's Danny again. The skell probably ODed to avoid getting busted."

"Can they do that?" I asked.

"Sure," Trevor chimed in, "while we can override on the scene to declare the medical emergency and go to the hospital, the cop can choose between continuing the arrest afterwards or letting it go as a medical—that's the cop's call."

"Saves 'em a lot of paperwork if they let it go," Tigger added.

When we got there, I had a feeling they were wrong about this being a medical override. Three patrol cars were there—one parked in front by the curb, another perpendicular to it, and another parked right on the lawn—and as we walked into the pile of sticks that was supposed to be a house we passed a living room where two cops held a skinny, unkempt man who constantly screamed, "You ain't taking my boy from me—you ain't! You ain't!"

Another officer stepped out from the hallway. "This way," he said, and beckoned us over, "the kid's Danny junior."

Suddenly, I was scared, scared that I wouldn't remember anything, that I didn't know enough, scared that whatever I saw would so throw me off balance that I'd vomit and forget everything, forget my job. I felt my head go light as the skin on my face tingled.

We entered the kitchen and stopped almost immediately. There, on the filthy, ripped linoleum that was covered in old food, dirt, and blood, lay the patient. Prone, head twisted to the side, a pediatric male approximately two, maybe two-and-a-half years old—the back of his head matted in blood and suspiciously flat either from the crib, or a fracture. A partially avulsed eye on the facing side. Multiple contusions over visible torso. Vomit all over the floor and a filthy Winnie the Pooh shirt. An incongruously fresh diaper.

His little lips gaped open and closed, open and closed, like a fish trying to breathe on land. I think my hands may have shook as I slipped my gloves out of my back pocket and over my fingers before I took another step and then…

It was all right there in my head, a litany of orders I followed, thought became action before I was fully conscious of it. I was the new man, so I set the regulator, then cracked the O2 tank as Tigger passed me a pediatric non-rebreather air mask. I'd hold tension on his little head because with this kind of damage something in his neck had most likely been injured. Besides, I had the least experience, and this was something even the most rookie of medical personnel could do. I carefully cradled his skull in my fingertips to take the pressure off his spinal cord. Airway. A full minute count for respirations and I called the time and quality on them.

His breaths were irregular in quality, but he was breathing enough according to protocol, and we administered the maximum oxygen allowable.

Trevor soaked some sterile pads in saline, and Tigger produced a cup from somewhere and handed it to him. Trev first carefully covered the bulging eye with the soaked cotton, then with the cup, taping it firmly in place while Tigger oh-so-cautiously slipped a cervical collar around the little guy's neck. I spoke to Danny Junior the whole time, as did the guys. Every now and then I'd see the cops shuffle in and out of the room, or from the corner of my eye catch a pant leg shifting uncomfortably.

On the count of three we carefully turned and affixed Danny to a short board, still speaking to him, reassuring him that he was okay, that no one was going to hurt him. I watched Trevor's hands shake just the slightest bit as he secured the headrest to the board so I could take my hands away from Danny's head. Clear fluid slowly dripped out of one little ear.

A finger of ice stabbed at my sternum as I caught Trevor's eye. That fluid wasn't a good sign.

Tigger told the cops what hospital we were going to go to and radioed ahead to alert the crash team as we moved the patient to the ambulance, and just as we got inside, Danny's hands, which had been balled into little fists, went slowly limp.

Tigger drove like a man being chased by the devil itself as the sirens blared over our heads. In the less than two minutes it took us to get to the emergency room, Danny's blood pressure had skyrocketed, his pulse rate had dropped, meaning bradycardia had set in—and then he stopped breathing.

I used a modified jaw thrust and a pediatric Ambu-Bag to force air into his little lungs, and the protocol that we had been taught—that no one rides the rails of the stretcher into the ER, we're supposed to use a slow, step-by-step progression—got trampled underfoot when Tigger ripped the back door open and Trevor urged me tersely, "Ride it in—don't stop, don't stop!" as I stood at the top of the stretcher, feet balanced on the aluminum tube that created the base, stomach pressed into the mattress for balance.

The crash team met us as we sped through the doors, and it was Trace's hands that met mine and allowed me to stop artificial respirations so she could drop a tube down his throat. Blood frothed on Danny's lips, and in that second we lost his heartbeat.

The flatline buzzer screamed in my ears, and the next thing I knew, a pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and yanked me away.

My head jerked, a sharp steel snap of muscle, to see who it was. Carol. It was Carol. "Come on, Tori," she said very gently in my ear, "your shift is over."

"But…" I gestured to the stretcher that had to be made, the paperwork that lay neglected on it, "I've got to—"

Carol shook her head as she gently guided me back to the nurses' station. "You're done for the night—you're done with your rotations." She flipped deftly through the stack of paper behind the counter.

I was confused as I shucked my gloves, rolling one into the other to prevent contagion, and I dropped them into the nearest red bag. What the fuck? I had another two nights left. Had I really fucked it up so badly that they didn't want me back in the ER?

"What?" I asked, "I'm supposed to—"

Carol pulled a sheet of paper from the deck, wrote something quickly, then thrust it at me. "You pass, Scotty, you pass. Call me when you need a job."

I took it from her hands and folded it slowly as I gawked at her in disbelief. I was done? I passed? But what about the rest of my shift? What about Danny? I peered over my shoulder where the crash team had pulled the curtain and worked. The stretcher we'd brought the child in was gone, so were Tigger and Trevor.

I felt Carol's eyes on me. "It's okay," she said, and laid a hand on my shoulder. I met her eyes, cool and clear blue, which held intelligence and compassion. "Do you smoke?" she asked as she handed me my jacket.

"Uh, sometimes?" I answered, confused. I switched out of the jacket I'd been wearing. What did smoking have to do with anything?

Carol's hand traveled from my shoulder to pat my arm. "Why don't you go out by the bay, have a smoke, and I'll meet you in a minute?" She peered around my arm, behind me, where the crew still struggled behind the curtain to keep Danny alive. "It won't be long."

"Okay," I agreed, holding my jacket before me dumbly. I felt nothing. My brain didn't work. She could have told me to go do anything and I would have done it—I didn't even know how I breathed, just that it happened, air in, air out, an automatic response to signals sent by the lizard part of the brain, signals sent, received, and interpreted by nerves that I couldn't feel as I walked out the bay doors.

Several long boards rested against the wall, and a short board. The head rest was still affixed, I noted, and it was smeared with blood.

Tigger and Trevor had gone. They'd left a gaping space on the tarmac where the ambulance had been, and I don't know what I stared at as I finally lit a cigarette under the glare of the bay lights.

I felt her before I heard her.

"Carol said you'd be out here—would you like to get a cup of coffee with me?" Trace asked in a low throaty voice that held none of the past night's banter, but an evenness instead, an evenness I could understand.

I exhaled quietly, my gaze still focused on the parking lot lamp as I answered. "Sure." I tossed my cigarette to the cement and ground it under my boot. When I felt the light pressure of her fingers on my elbow, I didn't pull away, but I could feel my muscles automatically tense, as automatically as I breathed.

"Do you want to stay here, or should I pick you up when your shift is done?" I asked. My voice was strange, flat, a clipped sound in my ears as it floated out into the air.

Her fingers closed around my arm. "I'm off now. Let's go."

In my car, I followed Trace's directions, and instead of going to a café or a bar, I drove toward her place, a nice condo off the water along Father Capodanno Boulevard.

"Hey," I began, an urge growing in my chest that prompted me to speak, "do you mind if we stop at the beach on the way?"

"Why not?" she agreed, and patted my knee.

I tore my eyes from the road to glance at her. "Thanks." I grinned slightly and made the turn. Seconds later, I pulled into the parking lot, found a space close to sidewalk that led to the beach, then cut the engine. Trace hadn't moved her hand and I covered it with mine.

"Take a bit of a walk?" I asked. Her eyes seemed almost colorless in the darkness of my car, as the light that reached us from the lamps on the boardwalk cast the rest of her into deep shadow.

"I like to come here to think, too," she said softly, and she unlocked the door.

"Thanks," I said again, because I had no other words, and I eased out of the car and waited for her just at the edge of the walkway.

It was cold and the wind whipped about, kicking the sand up, and we hadn't even gotten onto the beach proper yet.

Trace smiled and we walked together under the boardwalk instead of over it, to the water, the water we could barely see as a black gleam on the horizon, but we could hear, a steady thud that grew as we waded through the sand.

I let her take my hand as we neared the hard-packed shoreline, and the slip of her fingers against my palm stopped me from walking, brought me back from some edge I hadn't even known I was approaching.

I closed my eyes and just took it all in—the sound of the waves as they pounded down, the smell of the salt in the air, the harsh whip of the wind as it lashed my hair against my skin. I could feel the heat of Trace's body as she closed the distance between us to stand next to me, her shoulder nearly level with mine.

The warmth appealed to me, called me, and I put my arm around her to give some of that back, to get more of it. She let go of my hand to ease her arm around my waist.

"I really appreciate this," I said into her ear so she could hear me over the wind and the waves.

Trace shifted in response, her lips brushing against the delicate skin behind my jaw. "These things…they're never easy," she said. Her mouth pressed into that spot, a blossom of heat in the cold that surrounded us. "Not the how, not the why, they're just not easy."

I understood that, in the same place that told my hands what to do, in the same way I understood my ABCs, but it was the part that told me how to breathe that put my other arm around her, that found her eyes and traded the salty scratch of the wind for the surprising baby softness of her lips.

Trace leaned into me and I was so raw, I was aching, I was starving, and when her tongue slid along the roof of my mouth I reached for her hips and pulled her to me urgently.

Her hands molded under my jacket and up my ribs, massaging along the muscles with a need that fired my blood. The heat that rose from my cunt threatened to take my head with it. Her leg slipped between my thighs and I needed more, more of everything.

"We can't do this here," I gasped, breaking away from that kiss that had brought me back to sanity.

Trace's fingertips dug into my arms as she scraped her teeth along the exposed column of my neck. "I'm less than four blocks away," she murmured into my jaw.

Although her place was less than a minute away, it took longer than that to get there because we tripped along the sand, kissing, biting, allowing the hard rake of fingers to slip from cloth to skin and back again, and when we were actually in the car I drove with her hand held tightly in mine.

I'm not sure how Trace managed to open the door, reaching behind her that way, but once we were inside and the door slammed shut, Trace slammed me against it with a kiss that rolled in my mouth like the ocean as the nerves tingled along the skin of my back where it had hit the hard surface.

My clit strained against my clothes when the hard tips of her nipples pushed against my chest and my tongue met hers to explore the cunt-like softness of her mouth. My fingers methodically undid the knot that held her scrub pants up so I could slip my hands beneath the thin cotton and cup the bony prominence of her hips. When her thigh slipped between mine, my hands drifted from her hips directly to her ass, and I gripped her firmly so I could ease her along the flexed muscle of my leg. Hers snugged up against me perfectly.

"Oh…" I groaned softly, grateful for the pressure on my clit, equally grateful for the jolt of Trace's body against mine, for the slight, steady shudder that ran through her frame as her hips rode my thigh.

"Want more," she breathed into my neck. I didn't know if it was a question or a request as her teeth again worried the muscle.

She straightened against me, grabbed my shirt, and led me to the couch, her scrubs falling along the way as I kicked off my boots and her hands relieved me of my holster. The clang of it as it struck the ground seemed to hang in the air, a thin metallic whine that rang into the dark. I ignored it as my pants followed and we fell onto her sofa, a tangle of legs and shirts and skin.

Trace sighed, a sound that wavered as my fingers quested along her stomach to find the prize I wanted and my lips marked her neck.

"Take what you want, baby," she urged when I finally held the slight rise of her breast bathed between my lips and the hardened peak between my teeth, "take what you need."

I stretched along her, above her, suspended. I watched the dark gleam of her eyes and I burned, I burned with a need, a hunger that threatened to turn my bones to ash.

I took her mouth as I took her body: a sharp sudden thrust into slick wet heat, a heat that seemed to meld with the burning of my bones when she tossed her head back.

"Yes…please," she moaned, and pushed frantically against me, on me, pushed so hard it had to hurt as she dug lines into my back, marking my spine as surely as I'd marked her neck. I could feel the skin split, the fluid rise and bubble behind her touch, and still I burned, we burned as her hands finished their trailblazing to grab my ass and she shoved her leg between mine, spreading me, anchoring me to her.

Burning. I was burning as my fingers filled her over and over, burning as my clit rode hard, even harder on the tendon of her thigh. Burning. There's the floor. Burning. Tiny limp hands. Burning. Little lips open and close, open and close until they stop, and then—

Trace grabbed my head and pulled me to her for a kiss that filled my mouth with blood and my blood with fire. She gave me no warning but the quickest glide of her fingers as they trailed down my ass to my thigh. She showed me the same mercy I showed her—none.

She filled my cunt completely.

I was the fire bleeding down the mountain, the liquid slip between her legs, the flame that took us both as she buried herself in me.

"Harder…" I urged, a harsh breath that scorched my throat as it flew out. And the burning…stopped.

Gotta get more? Grab your copy of Red Light here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

To Be and To Become


I was doing laundry today and letting the random flotsam & jetsam that drifts through my mind do its thing, when something occurred to me as I was folding the clothes:

the idea of human beings being "unique" because we are tool users, and the question of biology versus being.

Well, there are plenty of other living creatures that use tools: birds build nests for shelter, certain apes use twigs to remove insects from holes, there's a species of octopus that carries discarded coconut shell halves around to use as a portable hide-a-hole.

Somehow, in my mind, I thought about gender, identity, its construction, reconstruction, and assignment.

And I thought and thought...

Human beings are not born with shells - so we "discovered" caves, then learned to build homes. We're not born with fur, so we learned how to make clothes. We don't have wings, but we build planes. We cannot breathe underwater, we created submersibles, SCUBA, and submarines. We can't see at night, we can't sting our enemies, at least, not as part of our biological gifts, but we can don night vision goggles, shoot arrows, bombs, and bullets.

There's a section in TH White's "Once and Future King" (and yeah, I know, some people hate it, but I don't) about when God speaks to all the embryos/creatures created and asks them what they want. They ask for hands like spades and special teeth, and bills and gills and all such manner of things. But the human embryo asks to remain an embryo since that is its original design and in doing so, answers a riddle that the creatures didn't realize had been posed.

And it hit me, these questions and answers about who and how and why we are, in the ways we can change, the ways we don't, the things we argue about as right and wrong.

Our bodies...are NOT our destiny. Sure, there are things that are limited by biology, and so, we use a knife to cut meat, a shovel to dig, a rocket to reach the moon, a surgeon to fix a tear, change a face, or even a persona.

We are not merely tool users, we are tool innovators, constant Manifestors and Evolvers of Potential, individually and collectively.

It seems the more esoteric philosophers are patently and materially (as in real-world) correct: we dream, and we become, through years of trial and error, via shifts in perspective and in our every day actions.

All of it, these palpable touchable things, from medicine to machines - are the literal material manifestation of dreams. And none of these things - from the "minor" every day of clothes and shelter, to the "major miracles" of our current modernity - absolutely none of them emerge with us from the womb.

We are squeezed out bloody, helpless, and naked. We are given a body that follows a basic template. Some of what happens after that is dependent on our surrounding environment, but the rest? It is absolutely, positively, 100% up to us.

To be human is to be a modifier - and to build upon the accomplishments that precede. What do you want to be? Someone invented SCUBA and the submarine, Orville and Wilbur Wright gave us wings. A team of human beings brought us to the moon, gave us ears and eyes that penetrate deep into the night skies, discovered how to sculpt flesh.

We once wore skins, now we have designers. We lived in caves, now we have architects. We listened to the radio, now we exchange - sometimes "real time" - information via the internet.

We change our environment, from paint to temperature, to suit our needs, moods, and moments. We use machines to accomplish things that are biologically impossible - for humans. We consider none of this "unnatural" and in fact, consider those unable to do so deprived.

And so I concluded: you don't like your hair? You cut it, tint it, shape it, hide it. You can correct and color your eyes. You want to fly? Take a plane. Swim in reefs? Get the appropriate tools. And if you're a boy who wants to be a girl, or a girl who wants to be a fix that, too, in whatever way works for you.

Now I've got to walk the dog. Wonder what I'll think about next!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In the Blue Moon of the New Year

...things have started off in an interesting way. I've been watching as one day at a time, things that seemed so remote a possibility as to be improbably have become actualities. It makes me think that yes, this is THAT year, the one where dreams and wishes so often and dearly longed for and perhaps even relegated "forgotten" can come true.

And so...I wonder. And I dream. And Hope, that tiny little niggle that drives us, that can take us to the edge of despair then drop us over, raises her head, proves she's hard to swallow and outlives even the worst of all possibilities.

On a professional level, there's a lot going on: I'm literally in the thick of three new novel titles:

Tin Can Knights
I Am the Gun
The Gabriel

Work is also progressing (slowly but surely) on two graphic novel/comic titles: Sakura Gun and Three Dragons. Interestingly enough, there are also companion novels for these, so not including other sequels (and yes, for those waiting, they will be coming - one of the is in progress, another two are in the very early outlining process).

I've got a lot of work ahead of me, but it's all stuff I'm looking forward to.

On a personal level, I've made some amazing new friends, learned, grown, and have taken some very definitive steps in new and better directions. I am extremely lucky to have the family I do, and I've finally figured the trick of balancing my time - so I can spend more of it with them, as well as with all of you :-)

Amazing what can happen during a Blue Moon, no?

Rock on!

PS: For those in town, I'll be doing a reading/signing/q&a at Bluestockings bookstore in NYC, January 30th @ 7pm, along with Rachel Kramer Bussel and Cheri Crystal. I'm very much looking forward to seeing as many as can make it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Behind the Curtain

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic, not just for me, but probably for everyone. There's been holiday shopping & prepping, there's been severely ill family members, there's a deadline for writing and for recording.

Of course, there's also the not-invisible background that critical things in my actual life are being decided by people I've never met but have somehow ended up with the power to declare whether or not I'm entitled to the same rights as every other human being...ho hum.

That's why I don't watch tv ;-)

All these balls are being juggled somehow -- and with the exception of the recording, most things are proceeding a bit more slowly than I'd like (in the case of the political arena, much more slowly, but that's another story).

Anyhow, this is an open letter so to speak, to everyone who has emailed, facebooked, myspace messaged, and otherwise gotten in touch with me only to receive a shorter answer than usual: I'm sorry. There's a LOT going on -- most of it good, and all of it that's productive, I'm certain you'll enjoy in the near future.

In the meanwhile, I'd also like to thank Queers On the Verge for this: and for those that asked what's coming up, here's the list :-D:

1) January: Reading/Signing/Q&A @ Bluestockings with several other authors in (date to be announced super soon)

2) February: is my Birthday (and yes, I celebrate all month long :-D)

3) March: Interview w/ Q&A on blog-talk radio, interview in Curve Magazine and...release of the first single from The Charm Alarm's newest recording

4) April: Deadlines need to be met (and boy, do they!)

5) May: Gigs with The Charm Alarm, and a couple o' few reading/signing things

6) June: Yet another deadline, and the rest is to be planned...

I'm laughing at myself - there's so much more than that going on, but these are the things I can discuss at the moment. Maybe in another day or so, I'll have some sketches done during "down time" while recording to share with y'all. For now, here's a shot taken while I was paying attention to something else in the studio:

Hope everyone's having a wonderful December so far.

Rock on!

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's funny, being a 'creative" person - generally speaking, people think you just "sit down and do it" - meaning, no effort, no sweat involved. Well, sometimes, there's sweat;, sometimes there's joy, and sometimes...there's a pencil sharpener.

Yes. A pencil sharpener. While working out (meaning layoing out the groundwork) for a new project, I pulled out my handy-dandy pencil, a sharpener, and an eraser (because there's a lot of foundation lines even in a sketch). I let my hands do what they needed to do, which is learn what I challnenged them to: some new poses, positions, styles. And...this is what they came up with:

Tomorrow will see me in the studio, in fact, the rest of this week will be a little cyber-quiet because I'll literally be in the studio with The Charm Alarm recording our new album, but I may get a little downtime here and there, and if I do, maybe there'll be some more sketches, maybe even some completed ones - to share. Happy Turkey Day to all those celebrating!!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Once Upon A Time...Part 2

He was large where she was small, she was quick where he was deliberate. He was of Earth and Water, she was of Air and Fire and between them, they were both carried by and bore steel.

And so in the first few days, they reconnected and rediscovered one another, delighted to find that what they had enjoyed in the last budding of childhood had blossomed into something fine and beautiful, a true friendship that would have no compare.

In the many hours of the many days and nights they worked together, these Knights (for such they had become) saved lives, really and truly and on more than several occasions, each other's as well.

In the quiet times in between, in the desperate times during, and in the sorrow and rage that would inevitably follow after witnessing and being unable to truly aid in one of those many situations that prove that Evil, though usually hidden, does on occasion bare its face to all (and no, you may not ask, dear reader, for they were sworn to protect you from it and I have promised to do so as well), they healed each other, too.

Sometimes they spoke, sometimes they listened to music, and other times, they let the silent comfort of an unconditional and unbreakable Love fill the space between them as they sat in the front of their tin can, attempting to grasp the "why" of the unmentionable.

But it was not only the job they shared and spoke of; together they shed tears and blood, laughter and hope, for in their closeness, they spoke of and told each other everything (EVERY thing) and in that baring of primal self to one another, they knew in an unspoken way, that they were
connected, and nothing on Earth, above it, below it, or within it, could ever change that. They had not only truly become Best Friends, they realized that they shared a soul.

Now, dear reader, I'm sure you are wondering why they were Best Friends and not something other, and the reason behind that is simple: not all soul mates are lovers (nor are they meant to be) and these two had already pledged their hearts to others: he to a woman who became the mother of his children, and she to a woman whose fire matched her own.

One day, during a silent moment in between calls, our two Knights had grabbed some pork fried rice (for they were very hungry after the last adventure!) and parked their tin can in an old parking lot that faced the bay. The island that held the Navel of the World sat before them, the bridge from their forgotten burg to the Holy Land of Brooklyn soared across their right.

They ignored their neighbor, another who sat in a similar tin can, for he was not a true Knight as ours measured them: he had just revealed that he took pictures of some of those difficult scenes - not to teach or to learn from - but to make ugly jokes of, and our heroes had just been made unhappily privy to both.

Both disturbed and uneasy that such a one as that was among their number, and so they sat in their ambulance and ate in grey silence, not even the radio on to disguise the occasional call of the gulls that wheeled before their windshield.

He was a Knight who served the Light and had knowledge of steel, for such had once been his trade. His thoughts turned in the quiet until finally he said aloud, "Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a sword that could never be handled by anyone that wasn't pure of heart?"

She was a Knight who served the Light and had knowledge of swords (for that was one of her past-times, despite the fact that both women and women with weapons are frowned upon). His words fired her imagination, stirred her knowledge of things esoteric as well as her memories of an amazing tale she had read (that had in part, set her on her path. It was titled Daggerspell and written by an amazing person named Katherine Kerr, should you be bold enough to begin
that journey, brave reader) and she sat up from her slump and gazed at him.

"It would need something special, something magical, changed,
charged, at its core," she told him and he agreed.

They stared at one another for a moment, excitement filling the air between them.

"I know what it should be!" he declared and a huge grin broke across his face. "I know how to make it!"

And he told her, and her delight grew and matched his. "I know who should wield it!" she answered.

She pulled out her pen and some scrap pieces of paper (napkins from the Chinese food). They talked hurriedly, she wrote frantically, for at any moment, the radio could and would go off, sending our Knights out into danger again.

But it was in that exact moment the seed for a new world was planted - and this is where the story
really begins.