Memories of Rain

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20160819_104703I used to love the rain. But that was many years ago, you see, before the skies stayed dark.

Before.

The knocking of the drops against the window wasn’t yet a constant patter, a patter we don’t even hear anymore. Well, a patter you probably don’t hear anymore, but I do, I do because I remember a time when a sunny day was just as likely as a rainy one.

Or even more so.

As I said, that was long, long ago.

There came about The Change, and though you know it, so convenient from your side of history, packaged and neat with a beginning and an end, we didn’t see it looming over us, inevitable, a hulking arbiter of what would never be again.

Maybe I’m lucky to be old. To have had my youth when there were birds and bright flowers, and the sun was as certain as your galoshes. I wonder, sometimes, if it misses us, up there, on the other side of these endless clouds.

That’s silly, isn’t it?

The sun? Missing specks like us? Because what are we but the dust of the universe, floating on all this water, awash in all this water. Around us, only the water.

I can see I’ve lost you, that look in your eye, that quick glance to your phone. And you’re right, I’m nothing but an old woman, plopped here by the one on the shift before you, left to stare at the drops rolling down. Always the drops rolling down.

If we knew, we could have stopped it, The Change. We could have handed you something else entirely. Instead we’ve given you mud and muck and gray skies.

What’s that? Oh yes, I understand, you have to finish your rounds. You’ve been very patient and kind, listening to me. You’re right, of course.

You can never miss what you never had.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Cutest Videos Ever and My Q&A Today!

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So weird not to have an installment of Jane Storegoer today! Jane’s tale is all complete, but we can still have fun…at my Comedy Book Week Q&A! Ever wonder what the other side of my head looks like? You can come find out AND ask me questions. It’s like heaven.

A very low expectation heaven.

And before it starts at noon Central U.S. time, you can take a stab at defining a word I made up to win a copy of Aunty Ida!

And now, for sitting through all of that, and hopefully clicking the links and hanging out (it’ll be fun! I assume!) here is a collection of what I got when I googled the cutest videos ever.

Please prepare for cuteness overload.

TV Talk: Orphan Black

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If you follow me on twitter (wait, you don’t follow me on twitter? Why wouldn’t you follow me on twitter?! Just hit the little “follow me” thingy over there on the sidebar. It’s OK, we’ll wait. Done? Awesome.) you might notice that I like to live tweet TV. A lot.

And yet I rarely talk about TV here. I’m not sure why that is; I tend to focus on writing and books and whatever weird things pop into my head. So I’ve decided to add a new feature with TV Talk. Will it be a regular one? We’ll see.

Anyway, tonight is a new episode of “Orphan Black,” one of the best shows currently on television. You’ll note I didn’t say “sci-fi shows.”

There’s no question it’s sci-fi, as it explores the moral and ethical implications of cloning technology. The thing is, though, that sci-fi tends to be shoved into a little box of genre, and all the art of it becomes eclipsed by the execution of big ideas.

Between its taut writing and phenomenal acting — seriously, Tatiana Maslany is so incredible, it’s difficult, mentally, to keep track of the fact that she is just one person — “Orphan Black” is in an elite category of shows redefining the boundaries of television. Suddenly television is the long-form of storytelling, and “Orphan Black” takes full advantage (as does “12 Monkeys,” but we’ll talk about that one later).

It’s innovative, completely captivating, and populated with a uniquely talented cast, but yet when the Emmys rolled around, it was ignored. Why?

Back to genre.

Nothing reflects us to ourselves quite like science-fiction. We can imagine where we’re going if we keep heading in a direction; we can imagine what will happen if we don’t. We can take social issues out of their sensitive context, and give them a fresh, non-confrontational setting.

The truth can be found in sci-fi, as it always was. Even Ray Bradbury fell victim to the  science-fiction branding; people rarely talk about the crystalline, effortless nature of his prose. Rather, they focus on the brilliant images that prose creates in their minds.

Telling a story vividly, excitingly while giving a glimpse of things possibly to come shouldn’t lessen its artistic value.

It should add to it.

P.S. You may notice I didn’t give a whole lot of details on the show itself; I’m very anti-spoiler. Watch it! Let me know what you think, if you agree with my assessment, or if you think I’m totally off-base.

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, Me Inside Me Presents: “Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28 in Donny’s Skybox Theater. Tickets $13; Students $11 SCTC Students: $7  Click here for tickets.

Want to know what happens to Jane Storegoer before everyone else? Sign up for my spamless newsletter, and get new episodes in your inbox on Fridays!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

In with the Old

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In honor of the new year (which is less new by now in some parts of the world, and not quite here yet in others), I’m posting a short story from my collection Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Odditieswhich, incidentally, is available for free. Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is an amazing, fruitful and exciting year for everyone.

In with the Old

“It’s nothing personal,” she said as kindly as she could muster, “it’s just time.”

“But I’m not nearly as used up as they said I would be,” the other one said, “not nearly at all. I’m not wrinkly, or old – I’m kind of in prime time.” She gave herself an once-over, careful not to break her bond with the contraption behind her.

“Unfortunately, we really need the machine.” She sighed and tapped her pen on her clipboard. “We only have a few more hours.”

“We?” said the woman in the machine. “We only have a few more hours? You’re going to install that thing,” she gestured with her head toward the giggling baby making faces at the man in the white coat at the other end of the room, “and go on with your routine. You think I don’t have it down by now? Daily dial turnings, just one click. Then you, with that pretend-serious look, yanking that lever. You think I didn’t notice you enjoy those lever pulls? Well I did. And you do.”

“Now come on, Wanda, there’s no need to be this way. You can go out with dignity.” She shot a look across the room to her coworker. He was too enthralled with the baby to get her message for a little help.

“What am I supposed to do now? I was huge, I was everything.”

“You’re sounding like a bad movie.”

“They don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do when it’s over.” She relaxed her grip on the copper handles inside her chamber, her visible gears going slightly slack down her arm toward her shoulder, the teeth just a bit looser. The worker took that as a good sign. She quickly tamped down her encouragement, in case Wanda saw.

“There are always retrospectives,” the woman said. “You know, ‘Best ofs.’ And there’s still plenty to do in the first few months, while people are getting adjusted. You know, rent checks, 18-month calendars, that kind of thing.”

“And then what?” said Wanda. “Then what happens? Where do I go? What do I do?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” the woman said, finally able to return to her script. “You see, we have this lovely facility, all of you go there, you know, when you’re finished. Here,” she slid a glossy folded paper from beneath the clip of her board and held it toward Wanda. “There’s even a brochure.”

The pictures were bright and multicolored, with others sitting and laughing, eating, strolling by the water, the patina of their clockwork innards glinting warmly in the setting sun. It didn’t look too bad. She nearly let go of the handle to take the brochure, to open it, to see what kind of crafts there were, as promised on the cover, when she remembered.

“No,” she said.

“Wanda,” said the woman, her tone sharpening, gaining hardness around the edges, “I’m afraid you haven’t got a choice. It’s time.”

She shook her head as much as the chamber allowed, which wasn’t much. “I’m not going.”

“But what are we supposed to do with him?” She pointed her pen at the baby, who turned, stared at them and burst into a full beam, his tiny gears engaging as he reached his arms toward Wanda. “It’s his turn now. Don’t you want to give him his turn?”

Wanda closed her eyes. It wasn’t fair, she thought. It went by so quickly, her lifetime of usefulness, her purpose, and now she was supposed to retire off with the rest of them, with some anonymous body of water and a dining hall and crafts. Though crafts are nice. But still, this was her machine, it was hers.

The worker had moved away, but she could hear her talking softly, her sentences interspersed with the cluck of her two-way handheld.

“No, no, I’m telling you it didn’t work.” Something unintelligible garbled through from the other side. “No. Clamped on, completely. Like a vice.” Again, soft electronic murmuring. “It’s like Oh-Three all over again.” More garble. “What? She can’t hear me. I’m away from the chamber.” Indistinct chatter. “Fine, fine, Trinity. Like Trinity all over again.” She waited for the response. “That would probably be best.” After a long interlude of murmur, the handheld fell silent.

“Umm, Wanda?” said the worker several minutes later, the ice in her voice retreating. “I’d like you to meet someone.”

“Not interested,” she said, her eyes still closed. She knew the truth, the worker had practically said so herself, with the conversation she thought Wanda couldn’t hear. She was only a number to those people. Oh-Three indeed. “What do you call me when you’re out of the lab?” she said, her eyes still completely shut. “When you’re talking to your buddy over there at lunch or wherever it is you go?”

“Wanda,” the woman said, her discomfort obvious even to Wanda and her closed eyes.

“What do you call me? One-One?”

“Wanda, really, there’s someone here you should meet-”

“Or Eleven? Do you call me Eleven? A number to you, that’s what I am after all this time.”

“I thought she couldn’t hear,” she said to someone, though Wanda wasn’t going to bother to open her eyes to see who it was. “I swear, I wouldn’t have used the technical–”

“Technical?” said another voice, a new voice, a male voice. “Technical? Really? Is that how you’re describing it?”

“Well-”

“Her name is Wanda, you know,” he said, his tone both relaxed and oddly engaging despite the rebuke. Wanda couldn’t help herself, she opened her eyes a crack.

“I’m Oden,” he said with a half-smile. “I’d shake your hand, but I understand your position. Obviously,” he said. His gears were slightly rainbowed with a healthy dose of age. Wanda thought they made him look distinguished.

“Oden,” she said. “So I?”

“Replaced me, yes.” He took a step toward the chamber, careful to keep a distance. “Flip of the switch and it was me in there. And you over there,” he said, and smiled at the baby, a real smile, not a put-on one.

“What did you do?”

“I went,” he said. “It was time. It’s how it works, you know.”

“I know,” she said, looking at her feet, so comfortable in the only spot they’d ever known. She glanced up and met his gaze. “I know,” she said again.

“The place really looks like the brochure,” he said, offering her his hand to help her to step out. She considered it, but didn’t lessen her grip on the handle.

“What about the crafts?”

He took the hand he’d been holding out and dug into his pocket, his gears gliding smoothly along. He pulled out a wallet. “I made this,” he said. “Stitched it myself.” She took in the uneven stitches and frowned. “I’m not a very good crafter,” he added quickly, “but they are fun to try.”

“Hmm,” said Wanda. She glanced at the worker who looked at the clock on the wall and back at Wanda, her face full of cautious hope. Oden set out his hand again.

“The sunsets are every bit as pretty,” he said, “and the best part is there are no more dials, no more levers. No more chamber.”

“But I like the chamber,” she said, scooting back to be further back within it.

“You like the chamber,” he said, “because all you know is the chamber. Take a leap.”

“No, no,” said the worker, “that’s him.” She pointed at the baby.

“You understand you’re not helping the situation?” Oden asked her.

“I do, yes, realize that now.”

“So what do you say, Wanda?”

She gave her chamber and the lab a final look over. She could probably make a better wallet. She could certainly make a better wallet. Maybe they’ll have pottery. Slowly, she released first her right hand and then her left, and placed it in Oden’s outstretched palm. The machine beeped behind her while the worker anxiously watched the clock, the man with the baby leaning, ready to place him.

She stepped out of the machine.

The woman grasped a crank on the side of the box and turned it furiously so that the chamber got smaller and smaller and the arms shorter and shorter. The man, watching the clock rather than her or the baby, placed the baby where she had been moments before but where she would never fit now. The baby giggled.

Without looking back, Wanda took Oden’s arm, and together, they headed toward the door. They reached it and disappeared into the flash of sudden white light.

The worker leaned against the machine, her hands shaking. “Happy New Year, everyone,” she said weakly.

Get Aunty Ida FREE Today through Saturday!

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In honor of her upcoming sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended), Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) is FREE, starting today, and running through Saturday, all around the world. So grab yourself a copy, and enjoy. Just make sure you read it while wearing a helmet. You wouldn’t want Aunty Ida to see you thinking.

Click away to grab your free copy:

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Have a great Christmas if you celebrate Christmas, a great day if you don’t celebrate Christmas, and an early Happy New Year to all 🙂

Who Needs Tomorrow? The Future is Today

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We are, without doubt, living in the future. Huge portions of our lives take place somewhere that doesn’t even exist, not in the physical sense, anyway. In our pockets and purses, we carry the kind of computing power that once couldn’t possibly be achieved by full rooms of machines, whirring away as hard as they could. We have a probe gathering data on the surface of another planet.

Another planet.

And here’s the strange thing, when you think about it: there is yet still more future to come. Technology evolves, so fast sometimes it feels as though it’s spinning ever outward toward things of which, from here, we can’t possibly conceive. Our culture, a much more slow-moving, plodding beast, struggles to keep up with it.

There times where I find myself remarking, often to myself, that I love living in the future. I love the internet and the universe it offers. I love easy information, once the treasure in a hunt through card catalogs and careful paging through indices, now in front of me at any time a question strikes my fancy.

It’s ironic, because I watch nearly every period drama that comes my way, studying the details, the nuances, the flavor and cadence of life in another era. Flounces and corsets and fringed dresses and circle skirts, whatever decade, whatever century, I watch them.

But not with any sense of nostalgia. Not with any longing for a time I’d be constantly be battling for breath against the crush of whale bones. Not for a time when transportation came with four legs and I’d be grateful for it.

It’s almost with a sense of relief, a sense of knowing how it could have been, and feeling lucky I live now, when every day confirms the future is now.

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

The Great Paradox and the Indies

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Therin Knite is at it again with another Awesome Indie Book Roundup, and this one has a ton to offer, including five free books. And if you missed the first one on March 8, don’t despair, here’s the link.

It also features, among a bunch of fun options, a book of time-based ridiculousness by yours truly. Go check out the excellent company my book is keeping, and meanwhile, here’s a time paradox for you.

 


The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management
by Isa-Lee Wolf. Amazon for $2.99. Avoid the time paradox, they say. Paradoxes will rip apart the very essence of space and time, they warn.

Oops.

It’s too late for that for Amber, a clerk at the Time Management Center, who spends her days filing time innies, outies and midlies. When she finds herself being hauled up the side of Mount Chicago, sprawled over the shoulder of a man she doesn’t know, she senses that something is off. Then again, it happened on the heels of one of her lowest days, a day she was relieved was over. Until it wasn’t. The Spokes, which should keep everything when it’s supposed to be, aren’t doing their job, and it doesn’t help that their coffee’s not so great either.

Even worse, the whirling cone of infinity is back in her kitchen, she keeps running into herself everywhere, and people are on to her about what she was doing—but shouldn’t have been doing—with her time files. For Amber, the Great Time Paradox is vastly overrated.