NaNoWriMo: Day 6

Day’s Verse:
Then he said, “Is there anyone here who, if a child or animal fell down a well, wouldn’t rush to pull him out immediately, not asking whether or not it was the Sabbath?”
Luke 14:6-ish

Hi readers! Quick update: The novel is currently at 16,207 words, or 32% of the way to my goal of at least 50,000 words. Next week I will have a couple days with no updates as I teach in Pateros, but don’t worry, I’ll be back later in the week. Now back to your regularly scheduled No’.

Paul / Friday, July 20, 8:35 am

“Honey, isn’t it about time for you to think about get going?” Carol’s voice floats down the hallway, reaching me as I sit at the breakfast table, sipping coffee and perusing that morning’s Seattle Times. I glance at the ornate ship’s clock mounted above the stove, estimate that I can ignore Carol for another 3.75 minutes before she feels compelled to come in here and pry my butt out of the chair, and take another sip of my coffee. All those years shipboard, I became accustomed to coffee black, none of your fancy creamer or sugar, just a fast slug of caffeine before heading out.

Hmm, looks like the Mariners are about as bad as always. Lost to the Oakland As 7 to 0, and they were even at home. Typical. It doesn’t seem like so many years ago when they were exciting, back when talented players like Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez gave fans cause to hope. Now they’re a has-been team, with an ambivalent fan base that dwindles as season after season they offer, at best, mediocre play.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the quality has dropped since they started bringing those Japs on the team. When we were stationed in Japan, I never trusted those slit-eyed sneaks; I always thought they were figuring out the top three ways to kill you at any given moment. Quality of the team has definitely dropped since they started letting that kind of rabble onto the field.

“Paul, it’s almost 9:00. You’re going to be late.” Suddenly she’s standing right next to me, hand covering the pathetic Mariners report, a disapproving look on her face. Fortunately, I’ve had 50 years to get used to Carol’s disapproving stares, and they simply aren’t that effective on me anymore. Sometimes I pretend they work, to let Carol feel like she’s influencing me. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Day 6”

NaNoWriMo: Day 5

Day’s Verse:
It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.
Ephesians 2:1-2ish

Daniel / Friday, July 20, 9:10 am

As soon as the rocking and rolling stops, I go into firefighter mode, knowing this is an emergency situation and I have the tools and training to begin mitigating risks to civilians. I’m not afraid or alarmed, just very calm, like an analytical robot just thinking what steps to take. I know what to do in situations like this, it’s my bread and butter, and I’ve has tunnel-specific training.

Situation: I am in my partially-crushed vehicle in a collapsed, or partially collapsed, tunnel.

First of all, I have to assess my injuries. Then I have to do a survey of my available tools and collect everything from my car that might be useful – too bad I don’t have that lunch, I imagine I’ll really want it pretty soon. Then I have to get out of the car, assuming I’m not significantly injured. Then I have to find any potential fire hazards and mitigate those to the best of my ability, although with an earthquake there may have been methane gas released that I can’t do anything about. Then I have to find a safe place to start staging survivors who are ambulatory, and see about helping other people as best I can with these limited resources.

So, first off: Physical condition. Arms seem to be moving fine, no apparent broken bones, although my left wrist is extremely tender to the touch – possibly broken, possibly just sprained. I can work around it. Legs move OK. Head and neck – ah, definitely some whiplash, and my back feels pretty battered, but if I had a spinal injury I’d probably know by now.

That’s definitely blood running down my face, and I can feel this scalp wound is probably fairly bad. Something, presumably a roofing tile, hit the top of the car and shattered the windshield. In there I must have whacked my head or something whacked it. Now I’m glad that stupid little vanity mirror has lights, cuz I can see my pupils look the same size. Ice would certainly be a plus, but I’m guessing it’s tolerable.

Let’s see, can I reach that sweatshirt…? Good, OK, so if I cut the sleeve, I can wrap it around my forehead to stop the blood from getting in my eyes, that’s a good first start. My First Aid kit is totally wrong for this type of situation, and anyway it’s way in the back of the car, so maybe I can get it but maybe I can’t. Even finding a means of egress is not going to be easy.

God, I keep coughing. This is terrible. I can hardly see, which isn’t surprising, I know the dust factor is going to be a real significant problem. Handy sweatshirt to the rescue again, this time for a face mask, since unfortunately SCBA isn’t standard-issue for us to carry around in our personal vehicles, and besides, it’d run out way before I get out of here.

Just gotta make do with what I got, so there, that strip tied across my nose and mouth is hard to breathe through but at least I’m not sucking in endless dust and then coughing it out again, total waste of energy. It’s better than nothing.

Now the interesting part: Do I have anything useful? And can I even get out of here? Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Day 5”

NaNoWriMo: Day 3

Day’s Verse:
Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
Ephesians 1:12-ish

Daniel / Friday, July 20, 8:49 am

She’s really something, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Damn girlfriend who can’t just leave well enough alone. Women are always wanting fix me, like “Oh, you’re pretty good, but you’ll be just right after I tweak this.” For once, I want to find some woman who’ll just leave well enough alone. I don’t want my woman to always be performing some kind of relationship chiropractics all the time.

When I met Claire, she was the kind of something that turns head and drops the jaws of all the guys in sight. It was this come-hither yet innocent slink that some women use, and I know it’s a total device to get attention but I attend anyway, and when I saw her I knew I had to have her. The leaves nothing to the imagination top – and what it didn’t force us to imagine – and those incredible runner’s legs didn’t hurt, either.

We “hit it off” right away, and I recall watching her dress slither to the floor, following the curve of her hips on the way to pooling around her feet. Her eyes had this glitter, an intensity I’d never seen in real life. Her blond hair flowed over her shoulders and covered, without hiding, her amazing tits. When she stepped out of her dress, it was, if not the most seductive thing I’ve ever personally experienced, close to it.

Why did it have to go beyond the one-night stand I was thinking of? Shit, thanks for the good time, it was fun, have a good life. That’s my style. Claire, on the other hand, seemed to think that post-coital goodbye kiss was the prelude to something, some kind of relational foundation-building that’s gonna form the solid base of some blissful “till death do us part” paradise. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Day 3”

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

Day’s Verse:
We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.
Ephesians 2:3-ish

Jon / Friday, July 20, 8:17 am

“Mother, please. You shouldn’t need to ask about this anymore. It’s been over 20 years.” I’m walking around the house, trying to gather my work stuff together while holding the phone with one hand. I wonder if I can shave without her noticing. Speakerphone microphones pick up ambient noise too well to get away with that, I suspect, but I may have to resort to that if this conversation goes much longer.

“But, honey, I just want to spend more time with my darling grandkids. You’re all so far away.” You’d think her grandkids were toddlers, not surly teenagers, the way she talks about them.

“Yes, New York is still 3,000 miles from Seattle, just like when I left. In 1990.” My voice has that caustic edge that drove her crazy when I was 18. It still drives her crazy, and even if my kids are almost 18 now, I succumb to the sarcasm demon all too often with Mother. Something about conversations with my mother always brings out my best sarcastic streak.
Every phone call with her – which always take place early in the Seattle morning, just another of her little jabs at the fact we’re not even in the same time zone – ends the same way. Recriminations, oh Jonny, you’re so far away, when are you coming back to New York? My answer’s always the same: Never, Mother. We’re settled in Seattle.

“I know that, Jonathan. And why can’t you just say you’re from Four Corners? It’s a lovely village.” Four Corners is what longtime residents like mother call Speculator, NY, a village nestled far away from anything in New York State. Yes, it is lovely – for a visit. There’s a reason I left for college in New York City and never came back. Speculator, NY, population approximately 350, had its heyday in the 1920s and spent the following 90 years remembering its glory days.

I sigh, explaining it yet again. “Because, Mother, nobody out here knows where Speculator is. I can just say I came from New York, and that’s perfectly true.”

“But people think you mean the City, not the State.”

“Yes, Mother, that’s the idea.” I’ve learned that it’s not worth adding snide comments about my former hometown; Mother’s heard them all, but she loves it there, and nothing will dent her armor. I don’t want to dent it, really; it’s a fine town. Just not for us.

“That’s lying.”

“Only by omission.”

“Seattle is so far away, I suppose nobody there would have heard of it.” Now we’re getting back around to the point of this conversation, which is to make me feel guilty about moving away permanently.

“As I said before, yes, it’s still the same distance away as it was when I left. That was the point, remember?” That, and the Seattle grunge scene sounded like a happening place for an aspiring musician, even if I was a little older than average.

“Oh, Jonathan, sometimes I have to wonder if you even care about me anymore.” She makes herself sound extra-frail when she says this kind of thing, trying to guilt me into uprooting my family and moving across the country just so she can see her “darling grandkids” more often. As far as I can tell, they have minimal interest in spending time with their Guilt Trip Queen Grandmother. They’d rather spend that time texting their friends.

I sigh. “Mother, please.”

“Janice married a nice local boy and they’re close enough we can do Sunday dinner every week.” And I know for a fact, courtesy of the Grandkids Grapevine, that Janice’s kids dread and loathe those Sunday excursions. Mother continues, oblivious: “Janice’s kids are just wonderful, and they adore me and Poppa.” Poppa, aka Harold, is Mother’s second husband; Janice’s and my father finally succumbed to Mother’s nagging and gave up the ghost a dozen years ago. I’m sure he’s peaceful, except for when Mother visits his grave for a little post-decease recrimination session. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Day 2”

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

Day’s Verse:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8

Welcome to National Novel Writing Month. This blog will exclusively feature regular updates as I write a 50,000 word novel this month. Unlike previous years, I’m attempting a more serious novel. I welcome all productive suggestions, thoughts, and comments. Without further ado, installation one:

Christina / Friday, July 20, 11:43 am

I’m not prone to philosophizing. By and large, I leave that to people with the PhDs. I’ve got better things to do than worry about the Meaning of Life or whether there is a God. But now it seems I’ve got all this time, and my brain’s going a thousand miles a minute, but I can’t think of anything else to do that I haven’t already done. Really, there’s not that much; in another place, I’d be out there doing something to help. Here and now, though – well, all I can do is wait. And hope.

Even in the dim light, I can make out Clara sleeping. She’s at a stage where she spends more time asleep than awake, it seems like. Her eyelashes are extraordinarily long and beautiful against her remarkably clean white cheeks. When was the last time she was this clean? Yet here, after everything, the dust and dirt don’t seem to have stuck to her. She looks like some statue of the quintessential sleeping baby, a mold from which all other sleeping babies have been stamped. Not that it’s actually true – as soon as those eyes open, she’ll turn back into the howling harpy we all know and love.

I envy her ability to live in the now. She doesn’t know anything other than this present moment, can’t anticipate or fear for the future. All she knows is that she’s hungry, or tired, or her diaper is dirty. It’s a gift that children have. I see it in Ethan, too. He gets so absorbed in whatever he’s doing – coloring on the walls with marker, say, or unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet just to see what happens – that time stands still for him.

Clara and Ethan remind me of so much that I’ve lost as an adult. We grownups go through life thoughtlessly, passing through each day to just get to the next one. Get up, feed the dog, feed the kids, kiss darling spouse goodbye, trudge off to work. Nose to the grindstone. The next day, do it all again. Before long, years have gone by, and you’re not sure where they’ve gone. Oh, maybe you have some highlights, your trip to Maui or the week you spent in the mountains, but what about every day, every minute?

If Clara could talk, I think she’d chastise me, her mother. Live more, she’s say, Live more and achieve less. Find your enjoyment in doing a thing, not achieving a thing.

But right now, that adult achievement mentality will keep us alive. I have to keep thinking about the future, not the present moment. If I dwell too much in the now, I’m pretty sure I’ll just fall apart and we’ll die in here. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Day 1”