Friday, November 19, 2010

Reprints: I'll Note You In My Book Of Memory

Reprints are essays written in another time and place, reposted in part because the archive holding them is going away and in part to remind me that I used to write pieces I enjoyed reading.  A new Reprint will appear each Friday until I feel like ending the series.

I'll Note You In My Book of Memory was originally posted on April 2, 2004.

I have seen the sun flash green and set as a fading ember over a calm Pacific shore. I have seen the sun rise through the misty vapor of a fog shrouded Peace Bridge. I have seen the rolling foothills of the Catskills caught in autumn; ripples of vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds brought forth during the slow death of leaves. I have seen the sun set off the island of Miyajima, sinking into the Sea of Seto, rays streaming through the half-submerge offshore torii gate. Nice, Paris, Geneva, the Falls of Niagara shifting from steady calm to roaring turbulence in moments, and Chamonix by dawn at the base of the French Alps.

The Grand Canyon, through the clear air of a quiet Arizona morning, is a luxurious assault upon the senses on scale with my most treasured memories. The Grandview trailhead rests at 7,400 feet of elevation and overlooks the immense sprawling wonder of the world that is the Grand Canyon. The canyon stretches for 277 miles, ranges in width from nine to eighteen miles, and drops over a mile from rim to river. It is composed of a rich history of stone worn by water, weather, and movement. However, those are merely the clinical facts available to anyone. In the physical presence of the canyon, the end-unseen scale has a corporeal effect upon mind and body.

I stood at the top of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and looked out over a different world, eyes wide.

Words failed me. That font of perspicacity unto which I rely so heavily, the mercury-swift routines that draw forth from my mind language to capture the essence of the moment (sometimes to great comedic effect), had left me adrift. I knew then the struggle of the third grade student pressed to expand his book report from a paltry eighty-five words to a soaring even hundred, having used all the relevant adjectives at his command and begun to seriously consider the technical merits of fifteen cleverly placed 'verys'. Casting about in my mind brought to me a snippet of text written by Douglas Adams:

"Space," says Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you might think it's a long walk down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."

Adams also mentions the minds inability to think of more than seven distinct items at one time, and that nine tenths of the human mind consists of boxes filled with penguins.

At the trailhead, the canyon is all; it is your entire world view. You cannot see beyond the North Rim from the South, and, looking behind you, all that is visible are high elevation trees and the stupefied faces of onlookers caught in the same mental overload as you yourself. The effect is profound, your mind empties of all the baggage you brought and fills, instead, with the Grand Canyon. The penguins are blasted from their boxes. Locking your keys in your car that morning melts away like frost in sunlight. The only things that stay in your mind are the canyon, the miles before you, the pack on your back, the vertical drop, and a sharp knowledge of your water resources to the ounce. The other two of seven are the Grand Canyon, and the Grand Canyon.

My pack weighs approximately forty-five pounds; lighter than the group average. A side effect of taking up my recent outdoor hobbies has been the forward thinking and financial ability to purchase gear with a consideration towards weight. I have ten pounds of water on me captured in a pair of thirty-two ounce Nalgenes and a seventy ounce Camelpack. One hundred and thirty four ounces for a three mile hike in, a long caving session, and a hike out the next morning. A significant portion of that water is targeted for food preparation. I am carrying three freeze dried meals and a flameless heating kit comprised of salt tablets and their chemically activated heating pad partners. It is a lot of food and a tight ratio of water, however, my preliminary calculations indicate it can be done. The pack also has twelve pounds in technical caving gear. Shuffling pack inventory and weight to accommodate all of the scheduled activities of the weekend was a challenge, but when the pack is cinched and settled it remains well balanced and highly accessible.

Entering a trailhead draws the attention of the seasonally small group of tourists there only to observe and move on. We few are prepared to venture below the rim, and traverse trails built by miners at the turn of last century. Those that remain can only look on and wish they could see and experience the wonders we are about to witness.

Our goal is the Horseshoe Mesa. It is a modest goal only three miles distant by trail, although probably closer to two had we wings and a propensity for straight lines. The vertical drop totals 2500 feet. The Kaibab limestone is the topmost layer of the canyon. It is steep and the trails cut through it bear switchback after switchback. The trail is rough, composed of head-sized rocks dropped in place and mortared with dirt. In the moments of rational thought wherein the view is not dominating my existence, I shy my analytical mind firmly away from the thought of finishing the weekend stepping up these uneven and often considerable rough stone steps. My more experienced trip partners take no such mercy upon me and grudgingly point out our eventual fate and the quad-muscle agony it is likely to inspire.

We drop past the Kaibab and walk along the Toroweap limestone in a brief horizontal stretch that takes us onto the adjacent canyon wall towards the Coconino stairways. Our view now stretches out for miles beyond, and at least one down, towards the streams and rivers far below. Water is always farther away than it seems in the canyon. The trail to the Horseshoe Mesa is more feral than the tourist friendly paths far to the west. There will be no water within easy reach at any point during our stay, although the mesa camping area was rumored to possess a chemical toilet.

The Grand Canyon is home to the largest continuous exposure of Redwall limestone in the world. It is rumored that there are over 3,000 potential caves in the park. Within thirty minutes of passing the trailhead, we have spotted at least eight leads; potential entrances into the underground depths of the world. Even if the leads we saw are reachable, we will not be entering them on this trip. The park has a strict permit system in place, and if campers, hikers, or cavers are found in areas to which they lack permits, severe fines will be levied. Nevertheless, cavers can dream. We while away the morning hike with pointing fingers, exclamations, and proclamations of “Just imagine” and “Wouldn’t it be something”.

We pass fellow travelers moving in both directions. Each time, friendly greetings are exchanged by both sides. Where are you coming from? Where are you headed? What are the trails like? The population of the Grand Canyon that day is low, as it is most days, and each person is a kind neighbor. Stops come at intervals and sometimes suddenly. While navigating a switchback, the worn heal of my left boot plays it’s not-so-funny trick of turning under my ankle. I pitch sideways into the waiting embrace of an agave cactus. Fortunately, I use one of my team to break my fall. Also, fortunately, I do not topple him backward into the cactus or forward into the air. Two of the silicon tipped cactus points push through my kakis, my Polypros, and into my leg, snapping after sinking an inch deep. Nothing is visible from a cursory examination of my pant leg, but flexing my quads feels odd. A quick peel of layers reveals the blunt bases of the two offending points, and a minute or two of blood-slicked picking eventually yields the points from their warm embrace within my left leg. I take some water and a bit of a Powerbar to calm my jitters while I assure the team that I am fully functional. A quick application of Neosporin and a Band-Aid and I am ready to continue. Someone remarks, “Patrick zero, Grand Canyon one.”

The remainder of the hike is uneventful, unless you count the continuous parade of ridiculously beautiful landscape spilling out before us, screaming “Look unto me and live in a perpetual state of shock.” I have run clean out of adjectives worthy of the occasion. When I return for another visit, a portion of my pack weight will be reserved for a pocket copy of Roget’s Thesaurus. The verbal conundrum is in no way helped by the extensive visibility of that ultra clear day. We may have spotted a cloud, far to the west and north; maybe, one.

Horseshoe Mesa is home to Last Chance Mine, which, at the turn of the twentieth century boasted a copper vein of over seventy percent purity. The trails we have ventured in upon were originally built by the miner team that worked Last Chance. We pass the opening for the mine, but give it only a cursory glance. Mines are dangerous. There is no way to tell when one will switch from a safe horizontal to a lethal vertical. The campsite is located on the eastern side of the mesa, next to a thousand foot cliff. Two or three miles away, across the adjacent valley, a stretch of the South Rim flashes cave lead after cave lead at us. We setup camp, grab some food, and prepare for the next bit of adventure from our event list.

There is a cave on the mesa that does not require a permit to enter. It is the only one of such permissibility in the canyon. It is a splendid example of the breed. That it is the sacrificial bone thrown to the dogs, as far as canyon caves is concerned, gives us all a moment of wistful pause. The moment passes, we hike the distance to the cave and proceed to tackle it with all available energy for the next five hours. There are booming joint passageways, dusty rooms with thirty foot ceilings, dome-like rooms built by erosion, and rooms carpeted with large chunks of breakdown. The cave is warm, dry, and dusty. The tilt of the canyon means that water does not effect South Rim caves in the same manner as North Rim caves. We see a five foot length of cave bacon, scores of stalactites, marshmallows, popcorn, and in the last room we reach, a seven inch soda column. After gliding, crawling, and climbing through chamber after chamber for five hours, we call the expedition and return again to the surface.

Sunset is approaching, and the walls have begun to glow upon our return to camp. The hike, the cave, and the agave cactus have tired me to a satisfied puddle of exhaustion. Dinner, slowly prepared. Packs and garbage, methodically prepared against unwanted nocturnal visitors, again slowly. Tired muscles make everything an effort. The magical glow of reflected sunlight from the Redwall fades to rust as the sun dips beyond even their lofty sights. Venus shines forth brightly, and the half moon lights the world. As the stars make their appearance, the Hunter, the Bear, the Lady, the Spoon, it strikes me that civilization exists in a completely different world than the one I currently occupy. Horseshoe Mesa, population five. My cave pack on a rock for an impromptu pillow, I lay prone gazing at the majesty of the night sky free of all light pollution save the reflected light from Luna. The grayish-blue light of the moon washes the canyon clean of its immensity. The nearby mesas and cliffs may as well be yards from the camp, as their shadows can give no measure to their true distance.

We talk on and off for an hour, often falling silent as the natural beauty pervade our senses in slow crashing waves. The promise of an uphill march and a less than perfect night’s sleep combine evilly with the exertions of the day; one by one we drift away to our sleeping bags. Sleep comes easily. I am kept warm throughout the night by the technology of my Polypros, a sheer, light weight and breathable fabric covering me like traditional long johns.

Morning arrives and I am treated to another memorable sight; sunrise on the Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon. Vishnu’s Temple catches the golden rays first, and the wall of shimmering light slides gently and steadily down the slopes of the distant mesa walls. Camp is nearly completely broken down by the time the sun has risen high enough to be visible from our position. It took us two and a half hours to hike in. Someone comments on the likelihood of exit times being twice that of entrance times. Five hours to hike out seems a bit much. We endeavor to make it shorter.

And then we hike. Our packs are lighter on the way out, however, any recognition of this is promptly obliterated by the weariness of our previous day’s activities. I have consumed too much water. The drawback to the Camelpack is the lack of knowledge concerning how much water you have sipped away. The first Nalgene went towards lunch the previous day and Gatorade to wash it down. The cave was much warmer than expected and forced the consumption of the entire second Nalgene. At dinner the previous night, I decided to forgo the planned hot breakfast. This leaves me several ounces short of a pint. It is a mile to our first major break point. We consume caffeine drinks and check our water supplies there. I am given a spare pint from a more experienced teammate with a knowing smile and the promise of a secret tip if we all live to see the top of the rim.

The second mile is part gentle and part cruel. The Coconinos stairway is essentially a cobblestone street, three feet wide and raked at a twenty percent grade. Footing is excellent, but the path keeps going and going, twisting around switchbacks only to continue onward and upward. The caffeine and the Powerbar have kicked in for mile three. We pass my agave with a sardonic smile and the knowledge that the rim is near.

I reach the trailhead two hours and fifty-five minutes after leaving the campsite. It is an odd feeling to encounter canyon-goers not geared for any activity other than picture taking and picture posing. Again I am struck with the otherworldliness in which my hobbies exist. I look frazzled and unshaved, probably a bit dirty from the cave, and certainly in need of a shower. I am greeted at the top by our fleet of foot lead man, his camera, and an ice cold beer. High-fives, rock-fists, bottle-clinks, and congratulations pass back and forth, repeating and renewing as the remainder of the team crests the rim.

After group photos and more water (my ounces completely drained five minutes before the rim), I turn to gaze back out over the canyon. As with so many things on this planet, it is deadly, beautiful, and secretive. I am struck with the realization that, though the canyon cuts deeply into the surface of the world, I have yet to scratch more than the surface of the canyon. It was my first trip into the Grand Canyon, it was my first sight of it, and my first time caving in the canyon. Once more I have forged memories to hold with me for my lifetime.

The title of this piece is from Henry VI, Act ii, Sc.4. In casting about for phrases to help me capture my feelings, I also found this piece of Shakespeare with which I will close:

“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought” - Sonnet 30

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Replenishment by Interlude

I came off the weekend with empty tanks in the creative department.  Travel again took me to the woods of central Massachusetts with a brief pass through of Boston.  I missed all the fun TSA enabled scanner shenanigans at the airport.  The places I went must have set up shop just after I passed through.

Last week I had an idea of a manga and this week I decided to make my iPad flex a bit more than its typical softball serve up of Netflix, Kindle, and email.  My capacitive pen arrived last week and I have been testing it out off and on with the application Adobe Ideas.  On Monday night I was attempting to learn manga basics for the face.  It struck me that I had reached the end of the utility of Adobe Ideas...I could pull in a photo layer and I could work with one drawing layer.  What I needed was a multi-layer drawing application with colors and other neat tricks.  I said goodbye to Adobe Ideas and went to the App Store.

Well well my great surprise Adobe Ideas had an update locked and loaded.  The update contained everything I wanted.  There was a $5 in app upgrade fee and suddenly my Adobe Ideas app became the exact thing I wanted.  I’ve been screwing around with learning to draw for the last few days.  Right now, at least, it is easier for me to try to draw something everyday than to write something everyday.  I am certain it is just a honeymoon phase, but I am fine with it.

Tomorrow at work is a big Thanksgiving pot luck.  I need to step out to buy materials for my award winning cheesy potatoes.  I need to return in time to enjoy Mythbusters.  I need to put all my new comics from today (being new comics day) into their protective sleeves with backerboards.  I should transcribe a page or two of book edits...but I am probably going to spend the rest of the night reading comics and drawing on my iPad.  I don’t even have time for any Rock Band 3 tonight.  I think that qualifies as a 1st world problem.  Anyway, to sum up: Adobe Ideas for the iPad with the layers upgrade is completely worth the price.  

Here is my first real anything, appropriately titled “First Eyes”:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reprints: My Martian Watch Seems to Have Stopped

Reprints are essays written in another time and place, reposted in part because the archive holding them is going away and in part to remind me that I used to write pieces I enjoyed reading.  A new Reprint will appear each Friday until I feel like ending the series.

My Martian Watch Seems to Have Stopped was originally posted on January 16, 2004.

A unique opportunity awaits just over the horizon as we lock our sites onto the red planet. Time is a man-made construct, and throughout the history of man we have shown our willingness to adjust it, sometimes grudgingly, to suit our needs. Pope Gregory XIII chopped out 10 days in 1582 to eliminate error derived from too frequent use of leap years. England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Daylight savings time has a yawn oh so interesting history starting with Ben Franklin's essay "An Economical Project", hitting the US on April 30th, 1916, and continuing through present day with only a few exceptions. The point, though, is that time is a construct that we can change to suit our needs. The opportunity is Mars.

The Martian day, called a sol, is 39 minutes (and 35 seconds) longer than an Earth day. This is presenting a variety of challenges to our noodle barn at the national aeronautics and space administration. The primary challenge is how humans on Mars will deal with time. One of the proposed solutions is to extend the Martian sol to time increments of 24 hours, 60 minutes, and 60 seconds (or 24:60:60) but lengthen the base unit – the Martian second – by 2.75%. In essence, every ten Martian seconds would be about ten and a quarter Earth seconds. This sounds plausible for those of us that passed our higher math courses in college. But time – remember, man-made construct – has cultural significance. Do we really want to have to constantly clarify which unit of time we are talking about? Look at the struggle of the temperature scales of Celsius and Fahrenheit. Temperature is constantly reported in both scales. Some people think in one versus the other, and children are forced to learn a conversion factor so they can manage reading a thermometer as an adult. Do we really want to say the Martian Manhunter won the Interplanetary Rubik's Challenge in 2 minutes 12 seconds Earth and 2 minutes 15.63 seconds Martian? Consider all of the records we keep based on speed, consider movie play times, CD time counters, the god-damn atomic clock. A stretched day would just be one more hassle to people who need to pay attention to details such as hooking up their environmental suits correctly and keeping track of solar flares.

Another suggestion is to maintain the 24:60:60 with no adjustment…and watch our people on Mars slowly go bat-shit insane as they start getting up at dinner time and going to bed after breakfast. Adaptation is the primary trait of our species, however, asking a population to live on a schedule that fails to synch with their environment is asking too much. The occurrence of psychological breakdowns and mental disorders would skyrocket. This is not a problem that can be overcome by ignoring it. A healthy solution must be implemented.

There is a solution, an interesting one, one popularized in the realm of science fiction; the time-slip. In a column that has never seen the light of day, I extolled for several paragraphs (ok two) on the necessity of Mars travelers to read Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is a brilliant book that details the activities of the first one hundred colonists, a select bunch of the brightest and most talented our planet had to offer. Robinson deals with the length of the Martian sol by using the time-slip. At midnight, 12:00:00 a.m., clocks freeze for 39 minutes and 35 seconds. At 39 minutes and 36 seconds, the clocks click to 12:00:01 a.m. and continue as normal. For just over 39 minutes, the populace is freed from the constraints of time.

The effects are profound. A daily release from the stress, strain, and worry of an ever-present lethal environment is psychologically stabilizing. Imagine the euphoric wash of relaxation you receive when someone reminds you that, instead of it being 2 a.m., it is once again 1 in the morning because of daylight savings time. You feel refreshed, you feel free, and for one hour you get to steal back time. Now imagine that happened every night for nearly 40 minutes.

This is the opportunity that awaits us. With the increased interest in Mars, and the possibility that a manned mission isn't just another round of campaign lies, we are placed to save the mental health of an entire planet. And perhaps someday, somewhere on Mars, one friend will complain to another that the cheap knockoff watch he bought from the peddler on the corner was a rip-off because it never stops ticking. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A random encounter with the RCDB

The Internet is ... much larger than it was when I first encountered it in 1994.  Before the, for me at least, my conceptualization of an interconnected network of computers consisted of bulletin board systems.  The local BBS’s were a central part of my high school life.  Flame wars, discussions, more flame wars, and games doled out in turns allowed per day consumed a significant portion of my time.  At college everything expanded.  Browsers, Mosaic and Lynx, became available.  They took you places.  Those places were horrible and not navigable but you could get there.  

I wonder if being profound is as exhausting as it sounds.  I enjoy being hack sometimes.  Tonight, for example, when I sat down to write absolutely nothing interesting popped into my brain.  I pushed a few words around but nothing stuck together.  I have started reading Stephen King’s book “On Writing”.  Sometimes when I read about the craft of writing it makes me hesitant, as if becoming more aware that I am not as talented as I wish pushes back the words.

In a desperate attempt to stir something I went to and started clicking away.  Most of the random crap was precisely that, however I happened into a database of rollercoasters.  I am a librarian...I like databases.  I like to know that there are oddball resources out there.  The about page says the site hasn’t been up for a full two days yet:  

Roller Coasters:5035
Amusement Parks:2148
Model Lines:96
Application built:Monday, November 08, 2010 10:31 PM (64-bit)
Application startup:Monday, November 08, 2010 10:32 PM
Uptime:1 Days, 19 hours, 19 minutes
Hits since startup:651859
Hits per minute:250

I enjoy rollercoasters.  I love the Viper at Darien Lake.  Once when I was a teenager, I went to Darien Lake on what must have been an off day or maybe some sort of “we were the only people there” event thing.  (I can’t recall...maybe it was a Soccer thing).  Regardless, the lines were non-existent.  I rode the Viper seventeen times in a row.  Getting back on took as long as it took me to race through the empty pipe-lined queue.  That night, when I was tucked away in bed, every twist and turn in the Viper rolled back through darkness behind my closed eyes.  It was an odd night, but I still love the Viper.

And here is the Viper entry!  

I haven’t thought about the Viper at Darien Lake or all the fun times I have had there in a long time.  Metallic played there once and only once.  It was a year after the Black album came out.  They were so loud Darien Lake asked them never to come back.  Danzig and Social Distortion opened.  I remember not liking Social Distortion, thinking Danzig was a monster, and One live was epic.

I am going to go now.  There are other treasures to find in this little (new) database.  There are other memories to unlock.  Maybe I will get some more of that book read tonight, too.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Best Five Years: The Registrar

Best Five Years is an idea for a manga style series I thought of the other day.  It takes place at a small college in a middle of nowhere town.  

A young man passes a sign with an arrow.  The sign reads: “Registrar’s Office”.  The young man turns the corner and encounters the back of an incredibly long line.  The young man is dressed as a student.  He is holding a folder of papers.  His hair is a bit frazzled.

“Ugh.  Look at the line.  This is going to take hours,” he says aloud to no one.  The young man looks at the line of students all carrying folders of papers.  Some are looking bored, some are talking to each other.  He notices another sign a short distance away from the line.

The sign reads:  “If you can read this, use this line instead.”  

The sign has an arrow that points toward a man seated behind a counter off to one side.  There is no line in front of him, however.

The young man looks around at the line he is in.  Several other young men and women have filled in behind him.  The young man walks away from the line and approaches the counter and the man.

The counter is set higher than the floor so that the young man has to look up just a bit to see the man.  There is a small plaque next to the man which reads, “The Registrar”.  The man smiles.

“And what would you like to register as?”, the man asks.

“Uh...huh?” the young man replies, looking confused.

“Your registration.”  The man points a finger at the folder with papers.  “What did you want to register as?”

“My...uh...classes?  I need to register for classes.”  The young man looks back at the line he left.  The line is grayed out, and indistinct.  Everything around him is sharp and in focus.  “This is the Registrar’s office.  The sign...”

“Ah...ah...I see.  Interesting.”  The man pauses.  They look at each other.  The man smiles.  He has pointed teeth like a cat’s.  “You are at the Registrar’s office, correct.  I am the Registrar.  And you...are different.”


“You can see the sign.”  The Registrar points at the sign.

“Well...that line is crazy long.  What do you mean, different?”

“Very few can see the sign.  That is why we have it.  What is your name?  Wait!  Don’t answer that.”  The Registrar taps a pencil on the desk and squints at the young man.  “Everyone needs a name.”

“I have a name.  It’s...”

“I said wait.  You can’t use that name.  Not here.  Not now.  You need a different name.”

“Huh?  Is this some sort of names have power kind of weirdness?”

“mmm?  oh, no.  Don’t be silly.  It’s just that everyone I deal with has to have a Japanese name or a very good reason why they don’t.”

“I’m lost.”  The young man looks skeptical and motions as if to back away from the counter.

“Reg-Ist-Rar.”  The Registrar taps the plaque with the pencil and resumes staring and thinking.

“Why do I have to have a Japanese name?”

“It’s the way things are done.  You can’t walk around with a name like Steve or Joe and be a part of a story like this.”

“A story like what?”

“This”  The Registrar gestures around the room.  “College.  Day one.  The great adventure.  The next years of your life with change you, mold you, they might even kill you.”


“Don’t worry, most everyone survives in some way...ah ha.  I have it.  Yukio.”


“Your name is Yukio.  Yukio Ishihara.”

“Yukio Ishihara.”

“Yes.  You should learn how to spell it as soon as you can.  Terribly embarrassing thing to forget.  So, Yukio Ishihara.  I am the Registrar.”

“You said that already.”

“And what would you like to register as?”

“That too.”  Yukio sighs, and slumps his shoulders.


“I don’t know.  I thought I was just signing up for classes.”  Yukio gestures with the folder of papers.

“All well and good, but it is incredibly important, Yukio, that you make some decisions before you leave this office today.”

“Is there some sort of list I can look at?”

“List?  You have no idea where you are, do you?”

“Reg-Ist-Rar.”  Yukio points at the plaque and scores a point.  “Are you the reason that line is so long?”

“Not at all, that line is headed somewhere else entirely.  Everyone in it is veiled.”

“Veiled?” Yukio looks back at the indistinct line.

“Out of tune, out of step.  They only see the world they live in and nothing else.  You, on the other hand, are standing in my line.”

They stare at each other for a moment.  The Registrar blinks.  “I think we can rule out extra-dimensional visitor.  Probably shape-shifting alien as well.”  The Registrar makes a note on a paper in front of him but out of view.

“Yukio, you have to give me something to work with.  Do you want to be defined by a singular distinction...such as the guy that plays guitar.”  The other line is shown again, this time one person holding a guitar case is highlighted.  “Perhaps the photography kid.”  Another view of the indistinct line, highlighting a woman with a camera around her neck.  “Sports?  Soccer, swimming, frisbee golf?”

“I kinda suck at all of those things.  Well, I can swim, but...I mean...who can’t swim?”

“You would be surprised.  Ok...ruling out singular distinction.  Are you proficient at martial arts?  Trained with an aging master or uncle or something?”

“No...that sounds cool though.”

“Well unless you are asking me to check Time Traveler, it is a bit late to get that one...crossing out ancient ninja powers and time traveler...”

“I like to read, does that help?”

“Mystical texts?  Rare manuscripts?  Sanity destroying tomes?”  The Registrar looks up hopefully.

“ science fiction.  Some sword and sorcery stuff.”

“Only child, orphan?”

“No, I have...”

“Not important, just yet.  Don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.  Um...great personal tragedy?”

“Well, yeah, I see...”

“Wait...don’t just blurt it out.”  The Registrar holds up his hand.

“I thought you wanted to know.”

“It has to be doled out over time.”

“There isn’t much to tell, it was a long time ago and...”

“Doled. Out.  Drips and drabs.  I am crossing out Writer as well.  You obviously have no grasp of dramatic timing.  Hmmm. not...too many limbs...not enough eyes...”  The Registrar crosses out several more items on his list.

“ are a troublesome person to quantify.  Why are you here?”

“Back to this again...”

“No, I this smallish college town.  Why did you choose here of all places?”

“Well...I had to decide between this or another place, and I looked at the brochures for a long time and finally just said What the hell, it’s an adventure right?  I mean, anything has the potential to be better than high school.”

“hmm..wait what did you say?”

“High school sucked.”

“No...I mean yes, of course it did, we all feel your pain...but you said ‘Potential’...potential...yes, I think we have it, Yukio.  You have potential.”

“I have been hearing that all my life.  It’s not that great of a compliment.”  

“One moment.”  The Registrar writes something on his paper.  “Yes...oh my are in for an interesting time, Yukio.  All the classics, if I am reading this correctly.”

“I need History of the World, I have to have 4 credits of history.”  Yukio points at his folder.

“Not the classes, Yukio.  The people, the stories, the encounters, the parties, the late nights, the food, the eight days of nice weather.  I think you are going to see it all.  The moon lit ninja battles, robot incursions, temporal shifts, dimensional shifts, steamy alien shifts, talking stuffed animals, and maybe if you are lucky some devils!”

Quick cuts and some imagery of the insanity suggested by the Registrar while he foreshadows for Yukio.

Yukio: “...”

“I don’t believe...most...of what you just said.”  Yukio says.

“And that is the best part!”  The Registrar smiles.  “You aren’t walking around like the veiled here, Yukio.  You are going to see just how odd college is for the rest of us.  And now...with that settled, you need to go stand in line.”

“Wait...what?  I have to go back there?  It’s twice as long as when I left it!”  Yukio points angrily back at the veiled line.

“No, no, no.  --That-- line.”  The Registrar points to a line with about ten people in it.  Some of them have wings and horns, one of the people is a 7 foot column of hair with feet.  The people towards the back of it look more normal.

“Why...uh...why do I have to wait in a line, now?  I thought you were the Registrar?”

The Registrar smiles again.  Its a big smile.  “Two reasons, Yukio.  1.  You need to register for classes and 2.  You have to stand in line at the registrar’s office on your first day because that is where you will meet some of your closest friends.  Welcome to college.”  The Registrar winks and disappears.

Yukio looks surprised and then a bit pissed and stomps off the the end of the unveiled line.


About Me

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.