Sunday, December 13, 2009

Final fiction...

Here is my final short fiction for the year. It turned out completely different than what I originally intended... but oh well. It has been a great class and a wonderful opportunity to exercise my writing muscles. Thanks for reading!

Archilochos colubri

My dad has never been around, but my dad has always been around. He died when I was 9. When I say he’s been around, I don’t mean his memory. I don’t mean he’s alive in my heart. I mean that up until last year, I saw him. He died in a plane crash when I was just 9 years old; he was a very successful businessman but his wings couldn’t hold him up. I mourned him in a normal way, all seven stages. I had a normal tenth birthday, minus my father and plus my manically depressed mother, and I was starting to move on. He came back when I was 11. I saw him for ten years and he constantly reminded me that I would never live up to his legacy. He constantly reminded me that I would never fufill the goals he had set for me. My manically depressed mother didn’t understand what I meant by we speak regularly. Later, it was explained, that this was the first symptom of my own psychosis, but at the time, it was merely a petulant irritation.

Therianthropy (from n. therianthrope and adj. therianthropic):

Part man and part beast, from the Greek theríon, meaning "wild animal" and anthrōpos, meaning "human being.” It refers to the metamorphosis of humans into other animals. Therianthropes have long existed in mythology, appearing in ancient cave drawings.

That is when I started watching them. I could sit on the back porch, the whiteness of real sunlight drowning out my father’s nagging voice and just watch them. The gentle thrum was the first indication of their arrival. Turning away from the sun, the glimmering bottle of sugar-water hanging from the porch roof would catch my eye. Slowly but surely, the thrum of their wings would come, and one at a time they would drink the homemade nectar. The male, smaller, brighter, the patch of red on his neck as sweet as my morning grapefruit, would drink, leaning back into his meal like the fattest of satisfied connoisseurs. The female, larger, the white tips of her tail waving constant surrender against her darker feathers, would with far more purpose than the extravagant male. In their rituals, I found my senses entranced, my father quieted, and myself at home.

Soon my agoraphobic mother insisted I stay inside while repeating her mantra, it isn’t safe out there. So I moved the feeder in front of the blue-trimmed kitchen window; if I watched the blur of their wings I could be hypnotized away from everything that held me down in my life. I absorbed every tidbit of information I could about them: the Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochos colubri. I memorized their migration patterns (a harrowing journey across the open water of the Gulf of Mexico) and, in every spare second, I recited their anatomical nature (lift is created through the up and down motions of the wings, but forward motion, only through the down beat).

Diagnostic criteria by which Lycanthropy can be recognized:

1.) A patient reports in a moment of lucidity or looking back he sometimes feels as an animal or has felt like one.

2.) A patient behaves in a manner that resembles animal behavior, for example crying, grumbling, or creeping.

3.) A patient holds a belief in current or past transformation.

I remember how it began that first time. It started with intolerance to protein, so I stopped eating protein. I then gave up carbs, milk, and anything solid in favor of sweet fruit juices, which I craved constantly. My paranoid schizophrenic mother tried everything to make me eat. Nothing worked; anything more than juice, and my body would expel it violently hours later. My father yelled at me, stop being an idiot, but I ignored him. I got lighter; the pounds just fell off. But the lightening was more than weight. I was diaphanous; I was emptying out, bones and all. And my spirit was buoyant, that was the most noticeable part. Physically, I felt increasingly trapped, caged, but my spirits soared.

I sat every hour in the kitchen, watching out of the blue-trimmed window, my unprotected bones grinding against the wood of dining-room chair. I closed my eyes and turned my face into the patchy morning sun gushing through the windowpanes. Through the squint, my eyelashes reflected brightly coloured circles, the most lavish of blossoms. Everything was attainable and I could feel my true-self arriving.

Definition of Clinical Lycanthropy:

Lycanthropy, the belief that one has been transformed into an animal (or behaviour suggestive of such a belief), has been described by physicians and clerics since antiquity, but has received scant attention in the modern literature. Some have even thought the syndrome extinct. However, in a review of patients admitted to our centre since 1974, we identified twelve cases of lycanthropy, ranging in duration from one day to 13 years. The syndrome was generally associated with severe psychosis, but not with any specific psychiatric diagnosis or neurological findings, or with any particular outcome. As a rare but colourful presentation of psychosis, lycanthropy appears to have survived into modern times.

-From Keck’s Lycanthropy: alive and well in the twentieth century.

I waited for an opportunity, and I knew when it was time to take flight. My heart began to pick up, sending blood in a tumultuous flood to my veins. The beats were incredibly fast and surprisingly earsplitting. And before I knew it, I was out the window and flying with my own kind.

Monday, December 7, 2009

King Harald the Viking!

I'm reading the Saga of King Harald. Harald was a viking. In my opinion, Harald was THE viking. Because of this, vikings have been inspiring me lately. I painted this for my friend Serena's 21st birthday gift. I am finished with class on Wednesday, and will spend Thursday sleeping. Then I will do some work... but will not be forced to do anything for a whole week. It will be gloooorious. After that... HOMEWARD!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Methinks I like this whole kindle thing. The more I look at it, the more I realize how awesome it is. I could put all of my travel guides and language books, as well as any other books all in one little, lightweight place. I would also have free 3G wireless internet access. I think the smaller one with the international wireless would be my best bet. My interest is really expressed best through an XKCD comic.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I sure have a lot to be thankful for this year.

First, I'm thankful for my parents who love and support me no matter what. They keep me in loop, support my crazy ideas, and even cheer me up after a particularly horrible lab.

Next, I'm thankful for my niece and nephew. They brighten every single day, through stories, sometimes hearing their voices, or even through just looking at their pictures all over my room.

I'm thankful for my sister and her husband whose house I spent many-an-hour at this summer.

I'm thankful for the Olives, who take care of me and are exceedingly sweet to me out here in Tacoma.

I'm thankful for Shannon, who I don't get to see nearly enough, but who makes my day regardless.

I'm thankful for all of my friends all over the globe, but especially those here on the coast who go through the daily grind with me, who let me stay on the floors of their dorms, and who trek around Seattle in the rain with me.

I'm thankful for the rest of my family, who have always given me nothing but love.

And I'm thankful for Paul Simon.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

an amendment

As an amendment to my former post, I would also like a couple pairs of ankle length wool socks. :D

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Kirsten has requested that I put some things that I would like for Christmas up on the internet. It makes me feel weird to do this. But I will anyways.

I would like many of the books from this website including: Don't Smell the Floss, Scandalabra, In Search of Midnight, Over the Anvil We Stretch, What it is: What it is, Live for a Living, The Last American Valentine, and I Love You Is Back, as well as any of the others.

There are also a ton of books that I would like from Amazon, mostly about Viennese and Austrian History including (but not limited to): The Xenophobe's Guide to the Austrians, The Spell of the Vienna Woods: Inspiration and Influence from Beethoven to Kafka, The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey, Rick Steves' Vienna, Salzburg, and Tirol, The Empire of Austria; Its Rise and Present Power, The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938, Lonely Planet Read This First: Europe, The Rough Guide to Austria, The Rough Guide to Vienna, The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, Europe by Eurail 2009: Touring Europe by Train, and Frommer's Europe by Rail (Frommer's Complete).

Lastly, there are many movies that have come out/will be coming out that I would like. Please ask Mom what they are, because I think she generally has a pretty good idea.

In conclusion, there are lots of other things that would be awesome, but I can't think of them. When in doubt, ask Mom, because she's good at guessing what I like. :D

P.S. An anonymous tipster has given me the advice that a kindle to put these books on might be a good investment. I can't say I disagree. :D

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

spring semester

I registered for spring semester today. Most of it turned out how I had originally planned. The only class that is different is that I am taking Logic and Language, a philosophy course, for my math credit instead of The History of American Transcendentalism. A little different, but I'm going to get math out of the way, so... woohoo! The course description reads: This course presents an account of deductive inference in natural language. The logical relations of mutual consistency and equivalence are defined for sentences of English, as is the notion of a valid deductive argument expressed by sentences of English. Theoretical and technical devices are introduced both from standard symbolic logic and from generative grammar, with a focus on grammatical structures that determine logical force. Also considered are philosophical issues about language, mind, meaning, and truth. Readings introduce such important figures in 20th-century thought as Gottlob Frege, W.V.O. Quine, Paul Grice, and Noam Chomsky.

So, hopefully good. Formal logic, language and reading as opposed to math. I will take almost anything over numbers. :D This way I can save the dinero I would have spent on a summer math class for studying abroad next year. It should be a good (and challenging) semester.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween Photos

I'm in the gold. ;)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Funny Joke. :D

The American Kennel Club has decided to recognize these new breeds of dogs that are the result of cross breeding: Collie + Lhaso Apso: Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport. Spitz + Chow Chow: Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up alot. Bloodhound + Borzoi: Bloody Bore, a dog that's not much fun. Pointer + Setter: Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet. Kerry Blue Terrier + Skye Terrier: Blue Skye, a dog for visionaries. Pekingese + Lhaso Apso: Peekasso, an abstract dog. Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever: Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists. Newfoundland + Basset Hound: Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisers. Terrier + Bulldog: Terribull, a dog that makes awful mistakes.Bloodhound + Labrador: Blabrador, a dog that barks incessantly. Malamute + Pointer: Moot Point, owned by...oh, well, it doesn't matter anyway. Collie + Malamute: Commute, a dog that travels to work. Deerhound + Terrier: Derriere, a dog that's true to the end. Poodle + Min Pin: PooPin, a dog for constipated people.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Enjoy Your Tea (short fiction #2)

Enjoy Your Tea

When I was young, my Nana’s cottage was only a few miles out in the country from my family’s house in town. Every Saturday morning of my twelfth year, my eight-year-old sister Jenny and I climbed onto our pink bicycles and pedaled past the green grocer’s and the bowling alley, out of town to the gravel road that led to her house. On sunny days we played tag and ran barefoot across her soft green lawn or helped her pick pea-pods the size of my hands from her garden. She made us cucumber sandwiches for lunch and encouraged us to fill ourselves with hand-picked raspberries, laughing as our lips and tongues were stained purple and helping us clean our sticky hands and feet in the claw-foot tub in her bathroom.

Even on days that it rained and that gravel road turned into a swamp, we put on our rubber boots and yellow coats and went to Nana’s. We walked our bicycles next to us because if we tried to ride them through the mud, our tires would slide around and we would end up in the ditch. The rainy days were my favorite.

“Rachel, would you open the curtains and let some of that weather in?” she asked me as she plucked the whooping kettle from her woodstove’s blackened surface. Nana’s house was toasty, snug and filled with smells from the stove that instantly brought the essense of the forest to Nana’s kitchen. Jenny and I threw open the sheer white curtains and watched the rain drizzling down the windowpanes and pounding on the pea-pods. Nana smiled and poured hot water into her bone china teapot. While the tea steeped, she opened the cedar chest she used as a coffee table and the uniquely heavy smell of that particular wood washed momentarily across the room. She pulled out three porcelain teacups and saucers: two sets in white and one set in navy blue.

She arranged them on the kitchen table, placing a white cup in front of me, a white cup in front of Jenny, and the blue cup in front of herself. After she poured my cup, I put my face in the steam, inhaling the scent of licorice and looking at the loose leaves sinking into the tea. Nana asked about our week and we revealed all the juicy details of our small town childhood as we sipped. When our cups were nearly empty, Nana instructed us to hold them in our left hands and to swirl the leftover liquid three times, counter clockwise. Then we flipped the cups onto the saucers and spun them three times.

“Read mine first,” Jenny squealed. Nana looked to me with her watery blue eyes and I smiled, nodding that Jenny could go first without objections from me. She picked up Jenny’s upside down cup and held it close to her face as she stared into the leaves, looking for any symbols that popped out at her.

“Aha!” she exclaimed as though surprised at the discovery in her hands. “Jenny, have you been lying to your parents?” Nana turned and stared into Jenny’s face. She pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow.

“No?” Jenny stuttered and blinked.

“Well, maybe you aren’t telling them the whole truth? Because I know you’re a smart girl, but I also know that school can be tough. They’ll understand a lot better if you tell them now instead of letting them find out later.” Jenny blushed and looked at her feet. She had told me a few days ago that she was doing poorly math class and had been hiding a note from her teacher under her bed for the last week.

Jenny nodded. “I’ll tell them when I get home tonight.”

Nana smiled appreciatively and continued. “In happier thoughts, I think your birthday party will be quite spectacular this year.” She squinted, turning the cup in her hands. “Oh yes. Quite good. I think that your Mum might even agree to you having that sleepover if you work hard for it.” She set the cup down and leaned over to kiss Jenny on the top of the head.

“Is it my turn?” When Nana nodded and picked up my cup I asked if she could show me where the symbols she saw were.

“Yes Rachel, of course.” Jenny scooted closer so she could see too. Nana peered silently into my cup for several minutes, turning it in her hands and contemplating the contents.

“Here it is,” she declared. She pointed to a blob of leaves near the handle. “Do you see this curvy road? It means you’re going to go through a difficult transition like all young women do. But this mule drinking from the faucet at the end it? It means that you are generous and patient and that those qualities will help you get through it all.” I glared at the blob, willing it to become a mule or any animal for that matter. Jenny giggled at the consternation on my face. “That’s all your cup says today.”

I looked at her in disbelief. She hadn’t even looked at the whole cup. “But what about everything at the bottom of the cup?”

Nana leaned to me now and kissed the top of my head. “I don’t worry about the bottom of the cup, and neither should you. Your life will be better for it.”

I never put much stock in Nana’s predictions. My mum claimed that I should listen to what she said. “I don’t know what to call it Rachel,” Mum explained, “but your Nana knows more than most people. She insisted that you were going to be a girl even when the doctor told us you were a boy. Your father and I painted the nursery blue and were completely ready for a little Matthew. Your Nana just shook her head and knitted a big pink afghan.” But having my leaves read was a childish wonder that did nothing but give me goose-bumps and made me feel special; as I grew older, I became more interested in stressing about my future instead of speculating on revelations in a teacup.

As Jenny and I grew up, we stopped visiting Nana’s cottage as often. When we went, we helped clean or weed her garden. We saw ourselves as too mature to play in the garden and get our tea-leaves read. I became involved in high school and then college. I worried about my future and worked constantly to assure that it would be successful. I had less and less time for Nana.

I had just graduated from college and was working as a waitress a few states away when my mother called to tell me that Nana had passed away in her sleep the night before. I was able to get a few days off to go home for her funeral and to clean out her house.

I was assigned the task of sorting through the cedar chest she used as a coffee table. I sat on the floor, letting the familiar and thick scent of the cedar embrace me. On the top of the contents were memory books of the most recent past: my college graduation, Jenny’s senior prom, and Mum and Dad’s thirtieth wedding anniversary. As I searched deeper into the trunk, the archaeological layers of memories grew older. The leather bindings on photo albums containing pictures of Nana’s own wedding were barely holding together. When I got to the bottom, I saw my old pink afghan, heavily faded from age and wear; when I grabbed its soft folds, I realized there was something wrapped inside. I delicately folded back the corners of the knitting, revealing the three porcelain teacups and saucers: two sets in white and one set in navy blue.

My mind raced to possibilities of predicting my future. Perhaps I could finally find out what my future might look like. The leaves would tell me where I was going. The leaves would tell me if I was on the right track. I pulled a fragile white cup from the blanket, the cool porcelain a relief beneath my fingers. I was ready to take the cup to the kitchen to start the leaf-reading process, a tiny fold of paper fell to the floor. I picked it up and unfolded it, recognizing the delicate swirls of Nana’s handwriting immediately:

Rachel. It doesn’t matter what the leaves say, the point is to enjoy your tea.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

love today...

Well. I just got my ass whooped by a biology test. That was an excellent start to my wednesday. I only 100% knew the answer to one question. I have a French test this afternoon, but that I am not worried about. The Mika concert was AWESOME! The best part was that he had messed up his foot/ankle and was wearing a moon-boot just like I had to wear this summer. It made my day. This picture is of Maddie and I in the lobby of the Moore theatre in Seattle. I'm going to try to squeeze in a quick nap before I head to Anthropology instead of posting photos of my new toy like I originally intended. They will come tomorrow or Friday methinks.

Monday, October 26, 2009

fish are friends...

A few nighttime photos of my lovely Olive for this dreary monday morning. Good news though, I got a 9.5/10 on my biology quiz, plus 3 extra credit points for a 12.5. That is the best score I've had all year. Also, my friend Maddie won tickets to the Mika concert in Seattle tonight, so we're going to that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

fall break: Seattle edition.

Yesterday was the last day of my fall break. I spent saturday working, Monday sleeping and working, and Tuesday working. But Sunday I went to Seattle and visited Mariska and Emily. Mariska and I studied at a café, studied at the park, and studied in the SU business building. I had the most delicious toast EVER for dinner. Slathered with crunchy peanut butter and jam, and just the way I like it. Mariska found a chessboard and legitimately awesome chess set at the park which we took back to her room and investigated. It had all the pieces except for one Pawn, which she replaced with a Russian stacking doll. We also went to Atlas, which is an awesome second hand store that also happens to have a record section. I went on a major shopping spree and spent 4 dollars. I bought the Simon and Garfunkel's Live in Central Park record, Simon and Garfunkel's Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme, Steve Miller Band's Fly Like an Eagle, and Cat Steven's Foreigner. It was a good and cheap trip. I enjoyed myself immensely. I hope everyone else had a good weekend, and now I'm back to the grind for a short week of class. <3

Friday, October 16, 2009


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

busy busy...

This week is my midterms week. Somehow, I ended up with only one midterm. One would think that this is a happy thing, but instead, this one midterm is not only one that requires a lot of preparation, but it is also in a class that I care about, therefore I have spent the last couple days studying my little hiney off for my history midterm. I wrote 8 essay outlines, only one of which I will have to use. But I'm excited that I know the information, I'm excited to take the test, and I'm excited to be a history major. So although studying hard and consistently is not something I've ever had to do, and is not something I tend to like, history requires it of me, and I will do as history requires.

The above is an illustration of my friends and myself. Clockwise from the top left is Maddie, Madie (my former roommate), Hannah from Chicago, and myself.

Well, I am going to continue on my long and arduous journey through the first 8 centuries of Europe including (but not limited to) the rise of Christianity, the invasion by the Germanic tribes, the fall of Rome, the rise of aseticism and monasticism, the rise of the Byzantine Empire, the rise of the Arab Empire, and the fall of Byzantium to the Arabic Empire.

This weekend is fall break, and hopefully I will get to take some photos that I can p0st. Have an awesome Thursday and Friday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

good ol' ted.

I'm still sick, although I think I'm on the mend. I was pretty miserable for a while last night. My sinuses were so full and so full of pressure that I had a migraine which in turn made me nauseous. It was ridiculous. So I sat in my tiny bathroom with the shower on full blast for a while, just breathing steam, then I huffed some vicks vapour rub, then I begged a friend to run to the drugstore and buy me decongestant. Something worked in the end, and I was given relief. Biology test today and anthropology project due. I'm not going to work this weekend because I'm coughing and spewing everywhere. I hope everyone else is staying healthy. <3

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Slow on the update...

I apologize for my lack of updates. I've just been incredibly busy. I got a job and have been working hard and studying hard and playing hard. Occasionally (frequently) I nap hard too. So here is a photo of Serena and myself that I've fiddled with. It is becoming fall here, and other than being sick (currently) I'm enjoying it thoroughly. I hope everyone else is enjoying the autumn and I'll try to update more frequently from here on out!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

more bits of summer...

Here are a few more pictures from Shannon and my trip to Double Falls. (look! a yak!)

Yesterday was supposed to be raining, but it rained before I got up and then was sunny all day. Today is also shaping up to be quite beautiful. I'm waiting for my pot of tea to steep, and when it does, I'm going to curl up with my book about the fall of Rome and get some reading accomplished. I already finished the reading assignment I had in my "Inuit Morality Play" book. There will probably be some napping in my near future as well as some watching Firefly and doing some more things from my to-do list, but my day is pretty empty.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

last taste of summer...

here are a few photos I took on a trip to double falls with my besties, Shannon. there are a few here for you Dad (the water stills)! we had an awesome time, and I miss her mucho out here in Tactown. i've just been looking through the photos from our adventure to cheer myself after an exceptionally crappy science lab. :D (click to enlarge, as always)