Inferior Imitator

ep·i·gone n. A second-rate imitator or follower, especially of an artist or a philosopher.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I had a really good Christmas. There was much togetherness, laughter, eating, UNO and Firefly. I also got a really good haul.

The big present this year: a digital camera. Now I have no more excuses, and I'm so excited to start using it. It's a Canon PowerShot SD 200 Digital Elph. It is a great little camera, so far. It's about the size of a deck of playing cards, has a two-inch display, 3.2 MPs, and did I mention it was small? You know how I love small things. Look for more pictures in this space in the future.

From Calvin: one of those game sets that has ten classic games you can play, like chess and checkers and Chinese checkers and backgammon and cribbage. He picked it out himself. Cassie said he wanted to play checkers with me, but we ended up trying to play chess. I warned him it was hard, but he wanted to try. He did pretty good, too. Scratch that, he played for longer than anyone expected. I tried to tell him what his options were, and he kept asking, "Can I move this one?" He liked to move the pawns. It was so cute. He enjoyed his walkie-talkies, too. He used them to call Lew names from the next room.

From Ken: a dream journal and a dream interpretation book. A hint to stop talking about my dreams in my blog? Just teasing. I'm testing it out, though things like a Die Hard-style showdown at a mall kind of tests the extent of the book.

From my sister and brother-in-law: two framed pictures of us on the trip up there, one an 8x10 of the three of us at the Bridal Veil waterfall and two 4x6s of Exit Glacier and Resurrection Bay. I'll have to figure out where I want to hang them now, probably in the living room. Em also got me a Jem t-shirt which says "Truly Outrageous!" on the back. Awesome. I also got a bracelet with an Emerson quote on it.

From Lew: a Serenity package including the movie, the soundtrack to the movie, and the Finding Serenity book.

Also from my parents (besides the camera): a shirt and sweater set, lots of Victoria's Secret underwear (yay! I can throw some old ones away!), socks, various candies, eyeshadow, the complete set of the Little House books, the coat Lew went back for - more on that later, and...drumroll, vintage Flash 'n Sizzle Jem/Jerrica doll, still in the box. Mom had bought two of them - Em got Glitter 'n Gold Jem/Jerrica - years and years ago, and forgot to give them to us. She thought that it was about time we had them. Isn't that so cool? Never been opened. I felt like I was ten again.

So, this coat...I opened Lew's present and was very suprised to see the Serenity stuff. Very happy to see it, but confused about the coat. So I told him the story about seeing his car, and he started laughing and told me he went back to get the cashier's phone number since she had hit on him while we were buying Emily's gift. I laughed and told him that was a much better story than the one I had posted on my blog. After a couple of hours, I finally got to my last present, from Mom and Dad, and opened the jacket. That was a suprise. Emily had told them I knew about the coat, and they worked the trade and the cover story for me. They're all so devious.

And we were all together again, which was was the best present of all. It was a very good Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I haven't been too inspired lately, but here's some things I've been musing about:

I'm extremely disappointed that Jon Stewart is on vacation this week. I keep hearing things that would make excellent segments, including this gem by a Congressman in reference to Ted Stevens, "I love this man! I love him, I love him!" Seriously! I heard tape!

Last night, all of a sudden, my body decided I needed fourteen hours of sleep. The only explanation I can come up with is that I was fighting off yet another cold. No sniffles today. Good job, body!

My ablility to concentrate on what I'm doing decreases exponentially the closer Christmas comes. I've decided I'm taking off at noon tomorrow. There's no way I could make it to the end of the day with any sort of production value whatsoever.

I can't wait for tomorrow! I get to see Emily, and I get to bring home presents, and I don't have to be at work anymore (as of noon)! I [heart] vacation!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yeah, another dream. This one I actually got to finish.

As a member of the B.P.R.D., I see some weird stuff. The tupperware container I was holding in my hand was not weird in the slightest, but the scientist who had handed it to me was trying to convince me otherwise.

"I've been working with that goo you brought back on the last mission (B.P.R.D.: Into the Deep), and it has some really interesting - and powerful - properties." It looked a lot like pancake mix to me, except for the purple droplets swirling about the surface. "I've been mixing and experimenting, and I think it's going to do what we need it to do but for one missing ingredient."

Missing ingredient. There's always a missing ingredient. I accepted the lid to the tupperware and stowed it in a pocket.

* * *

The members of the mission team decended the steps. The underground lab was state of the art, but of course Nazis had the highest standards. The main attraction was a circle of suspension chambers, each containing a latent figure. We stood in awe as we surveyed the extent of the damage. They had obviously been the subjects of some grotesque experiment. Some sported limbs that were obviously not their own, or were missing pieces altogether.

Hellboy broke the silence. "Let's blow this joint." Liz Sherman agreed. "We should put them out of their misery."

Hellboy reached into his utility belt and pulled out explosive devices, and handed them to Liz, Abe Sapien, and myself. "One each."

We worked quickly. My last placement, I made the mistake of eye contact. This figure was a little less grotesque; it was a child. It had none of the disfigurement of the others, but I knew instantly that the experimentation had been the most extensive when the full force of its anguish hit me: "Help me."

The psychic connection was strong. I knew instantly how to remove the child from its prison, and flipped the appropriate switches. The cryogenic fluid drained and the chamber rose. Abe cried, "What are you doing?" as the child fell into my arms.

"Saving this one," I said softly.

Hellboy finished placing his last charge. "Let's go."

We raced up the stairs, and I lagged last carrying the child. I reached the top of the stairs and stopped short. Nazis. Damn.

Hellboy dropped to his knees with the appearance of surrendering. Liz and Abe did the same. I was grateful. Between the forthcoming explosion and their subsequent fight, they were going to give me the chance to escape with the child.

The child had another plan, however. I felt a prick on my arm, and the next thing I knew, it had between its thumb and forefinger a hair dripping with a green liquid. (In my dream, the green liquid was the blood of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, who was standing behind us, but how the heck am I going to explain that? Even in fantasy, there has to be some logic.) I didn't know what and I didn't know how, but I knew I wanted whatever it was no where near me. The hair and its payload was instantly in the arm of the Nazi Capitan that stood next to me, and he was just as quickly writhing in pain on the floor.

The explosion was right on time, and I had just enough time to register my friends leaping to their feet before I took off. I easily reached the door in the confusion. Where was the van? We had parked it under this tree, but I concluded the Nazis must have taken it. I glanced at the child in my arms and ran. There was a safehouse around here somewhere.

It was closer than I thought. Too close, actually, to spend more time there than was enough to catch my breath and grab some supplies. That plan was quickly scrubbed when the words echoed in my head, "I am Shana."

Shana. My beloved Shana. Relief and shame spilled over me in equal waves. Shana. I had let her die. I had held her in my arms and watched her die. I had had to then leave her behind that mission, and grief had haunted me since.

Now she was again in my arms, and I was again responsible for her survival. "You won't get her this time." I had lingered too long. The Nazis were sure to be on my trail; even Hellboy couldn't keep them all busy for long. I scooped the child back into my arms, lighter and inexplicably smaller, like she was growing younger. I ran out onto the back porch. The screen door slammed as a Nazi disguised as a police officer rounded the corner of the house. "Hello, officer," I said. "There's been a disturbance. Have you seen anyone run through here?" He knew I was B.P.R.D. and I knew he was a Nazi, but we continued the charade as he moved closer. "No, I haven't seen anyone. Should I be concerned?" He was almost within arm's reach now. "No, but it might be a good idea to go back inside and lock your doors." Bingo. I threw a throat strike, and he reeled, choking. I smashed his temple with my elbow, and was off before he hit the ground.

I ran as fast as I could, trying to hold the child, who was now a baby, steady against my body. The baby kept growing smaller and smaller. "Wait," reverberated in my head. I dropped to the ground, panting. "I will not survive this," the child communicated psychicly, "I have much to tell you."

"I am not truly Shana. But Shana's soul resided in me for a time, and I absorbed her memories, which is how I knew you and knew you would protect me. My name is Emma Watson, and I am an extraordinary being, one which the world has never seen, nor will ever see again. The Nazis discovered me long ago and have been performing experiments ever since, and have done much damage with the knowledge they have gained.

"But you must put a stop to it, now. Listen, my blood can do it. Mix it with the Tears of Drakna and you can open the Hellmouth." My hand went to my pocket. The baby nodded. "You must take it now, before I am gone." I closed my eyes as my hand closed around my pocketknife. This child, this poor being, the things it might have been able to do for the world. Now it was sacrificing itself to end it. I took my pocketknife and the tupperware container from my pocket. So that's what that purple stuff was. I made a cut in the tiny baby's arm and let the drops fall into the mixture, which began swirling and turned a deep red. I laid a gentle kiss on the babe's forehead, and left it to it's well-earned rest.

The Hellmouth. I had the picture in my mind. I had often walked past the spot without an inkling of what it was. Children played King of the Mountain on this flat boulder and now it was the only hope for mankind. The Apocalypse was our only hope. Fancy that.

I raced and knew the Nazis were close behind. I could see Hellboy, Liz and Abe down the street, and only hoped they could hold off the army; I only needed a few seconds. Reaching the rock, I ripped the lid off the container and poured it onto the surface of the rock. The gray swirled into red, into purple as as the great mass disappeared and a countdown started. 11...10...9...

A countdown. Funny. Even funnier was the image of a happy face that appeared between each number. ...8...7...6... It was like I was looking at one of those 3-D hidden images, where you have to unfocus your eyes to really see the image. ...5...4...3... My friends and the Nazi soldiers surrounded me, watching. "All those Apocalypses you tried to start, and here's the real thing!" yelled Hellboy, triumphant. ...2...1.

Then I woke up. But I'm sure mankind was saved and the Nazis all died.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My brother made me go to the mall on the Saturday before Christmas. He called me while he was still on I80, asking me to help him with his Christmas shopping. I relutantly agreed, and told him to call me when he was about 15 minutes away, and I would meet him at Coral Ridge Mall. He did so, and while I was still on my way, he called back from the mall parking lot saying, "I must be nuts!" That's what I told him.

So many people. Ugh.

So we successfully shopped, and we parted ways. I called Todd back, since he called asking if I wanted to go eat with him and Kristen. We settled on a time, and I had about half an hour to kill, so I decided to go back to J.C. Penney's to try on some clothes I had been admiring. I drove over to that corner of the mall, and started pulling into an open parking spot. Then I thought I recognized the car next to me. SHO Taurus, check. Muscatine county license plate, check. Suitcases and boxes in the backseat, check. Mountain Dew cans in the cupholders, check. It was my brother.

Sneaky little bastard went back to buy the coat I had squealed over. I didn't go into the store. I can feign suprise.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sorry this is turning into a dream journal, but I actally had a really cool sci-fi dream last night, and I want to remember it. (I think it was heavily influenced by having seen Aeon Flux on Sunday.)

It was several hundred years in the future, and we as a society were living underground in an elaborate series of caves. I was some sort of priestess, and it was time to perform a ritual involving a two-story tall arch in the central hall. The halls were decorated in dark wood façade, and the second story was ringed by a balcony with various store-fronts and hallways (very mall-like, but fancy). The ceremony consisted mainly of me hitting at the arch, which was made of ice, until it collapsed. Something went wrong with the ceremony, and the arch would not fully collapse. Upon closer examination, I discovered that a small plastic thread was at the center of the ice arch, and the ice was clinging to the thread.

Then the arch was suddenly made of black wrought-iron, and I had to clean it in order to re-perform the ceremony. As I was soaping down the arch, the source of the problem appeared. A ghost flew past me, and as priestess, I was able to discern its agitated state. The existence of ghosts were a known fact, but they generally did not wish to be seen and kept to themselves. It wished me to follow, and so it led me to a little-used alcove high above the main corridors of the caves, so high it was at the surface. In this alcove there was a tinted window to the outside. Outside on a promontory were wandering about ten ghosts, and my guide indicated to me that these ghosts were somehow corporeal, and as such could not pass through the window to return to their rightful haunting grounds.

They had been in a corporeal state for some time, and one ghost had figured out how to become incoporeal for a short time, and made a rush for the window. He almost got stuck halfway through, and I used my power to assist him the rest of the way. Here the dream ended, but I knew that this second ghost and I were supposed to work together to figure out what sinister force had enough power to make these ghosts corporeal to trap them here and why.

If I'd had this dream a couple months ago, I might have done NaNoWriMo. It's rare that I have dreams that are so involved and fantastical with such a linear plot, although I might not have been able to express that here. I really wanted to go back to sleep and continue this dream, I was so interested in where it was going.

I also dreamed that I was in charge of handing out Valentines that had been purchased for people. Some idiot organized the list by type of Valentine instead of by name, so when people came to pick up their card, it took me forever to figure out which one to give them. People started getting pissed at me for taking so long, and yelled and pointed. I went ballistic and started cursing and beating on people. I was very disturbed about that one.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sleeping really hard, for me, tends to produce dreams, and I've been a heavy sleeper lately, quite possible due to the cold I've had for about a week now. I seem to be getting one symptom at a time. While that allows me to function, going to work and such, it sure makes for an extended convalescence.

I had Survivor on the brain last night after watching the season finale. In my dream, I was, of course, a contestant. The challenge I remember the most involved trying to solve a puzzle on a series of computers. At each one, you would earn a "prize" and your goal was to win four pieces of chewing gum and two maraschino cherries and store them in your mouth. I finished first, and showed my mouthful of "prizes" to Jeff, who was quite disgusted by the fact that I had eaten the cherries. "They're in there somewhere!" I protested. I won immunity anyway. I also remember trying to make an alliance with Meghan, who was in her pre-pregnancy state, and looking quite fetching in a bikini, frolicking on the beach. Someday my subconsious will catch up to reality: last week, I dreamt I attended Will and Annika's wedding, which was held in my Grandma's basement.

Speaking of Survivor, this was actually a pretty good finale. My opinion of Rafe dropped about 10 points after the last two episodes, though. I don't know why he was so suprised that other people didn't play the way he would have. It's one thing to play the game "ethically", it's another thing to expect others to. Especially if "ethics" means "what's in Rafe's best interest."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bandwagon jumping! (Snowfall update: another 4 inches yesterday.)

Favourite traditional carol:
O Holy Night. I can't sing it worth a damn, but when it's sung well, it gives me chills. Silver Bells is right up there, too. My favorite Christmas hymn is What Child is This, favorite Advent hymn is Savior of the Nations Come.

Favourite 50s/Swing-type Christmas song:
I don't remember when he did it to know if it qualifies, but I'll say Elvis' Blue Christmas

Favourite modern Christmas song:
Amy Grant's Breath of Heaven

and a bonus:
Favourite Christmas movie:
I'm not sure I can decide here. It's a toss up between National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story. I saw a magazine lately where they were selling full-size replicas of the lamp.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Last night I dreamt I was reading a recipe for cookies where the main ingredient was horse manure.

In other news, it is REALLY cold. It's like -10 degrees out there (-23C), and it might make it out of the single digits, but probably not. At least it didn't snow again last night. It's snowed four times in the past week, and there's about 5-6 inches of snow on the ground. It's been a long time since we've had snow in December; I think the news said it had been five years. Five years without a white Christmas. I think that at least when there's snow on the ground, the low temperatures are easier to bear. If there's no snow, the cold just doesn't seem like it matches what I'm seeing.

It's weather like this that makes you want to re-read The Long Winter and thank God that at least there's no snow on your covers when you wake up.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sometime last night, I woke up with my entire left arm asleep. In my semi-awake state, I reached over with my right hand to pick up my left arm, and I screamed, because I thought there was someone else in bed with me. It was like I was picking up someone else's arm. It was the weirdest thing: it was like my brain didn't even recognize that I had a left arm, let alone that I was touching it with my right. I shook out the arm and it woke up, but I was a little spooked.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I think I got the perfect Christmas tree. It is a little too big around for the space, but the tree isn't really the problem there. It has a wonderful shape, and there are holes below each branch for nestling ornaments. It made it a little difficult, wrapping lights and beads, since I'm used to a thinner tree, and I had to do it twice to get the spacing right. I got my lights up outside this morning before the snow started, as well as my garland. It was a little frustrating, having shoveled my drive this morning, just for another four inches to fall.

I ended up going out in it, too. Silly, silly me made a hair appointment at the mall on a Saturday afternoon in December. This is why I shop on the internet. Add a snowstorm on top of that, and traffic was horrible. The worst part was sitting at a traffic light for ten minutes because some genius couldn't figure out how to pull up and trigger the light. I should have gotten out of my truck and walked up there. I couldn't believe how many people were out and about. Imagine if the weather had been nice.

I love decorating for Christmas, especially the tree. Everytime you pull out an ornament and hang it on the tree, it's like decorating the tree with memories. "Mom found this one in an antique shop. Grandma and I each bought this same ornament that one time at Farm and Fleet. I thought this glass bird was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen." A lot of the older ones are variations of ornaments Lew and Emily have, too. When I remembered that, I got all sad, because they're never all going to hang on the same tree again. But the memories will always make me smile, because who can help but laugh at five people stuffed into the cab of old Greenie singing Christmas carols?

Friday, December 02, 2005

I am so freakin' nervous. I'm testing for my red belt tonight, and I feel so unprepared, it's not funny. I'm terrified of blanking on my forms, like I've been doing all semester, I have no idea with which kick I'll have to break a board, and there's a really good chance I'm going to get lightheaded, dizzy and pass out.

Wish me luck.