It Gets Better (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to the continuation of last week’s Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre, All About the Author Edition!”

“To catch up on what you may have missed or forgotten,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “click here. Or simply read on. Given the slapdash way Will scripts these things, there will probably be an info-dump summary soon after curtain-up.”

“Nobody asked you to go all theatre critic on me, minstrel. Anyway!” Another smile for the audience. “Make yourselves comfortable as we now present to you: ‘It Gets Better’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a table set for two. On one side sits Robin Hood. On the other, Allyn-a-Dale, dressed like Danielle in a casual Allyn-a-Dale cosplay. Behind them, the backdrop shows other occupied tables in silhouette. A dark roasted scent spritzes into the house, transporting the audience toward a 4D coffee shop experience.]

Robin [hand up like, ‘hold on a moment’ ]: So, let me get this straight: You left your job and residence in Yosemite National Park, applied along with Tirzah Duncan for a spot in Fresno’s new Amazon fulfillment center, stormed the stronghold anyway when she got hired but you didn’t, and briefly ended up taking orders at a Burger King drive-through?

Allyn/Danielle [glancing out at the audience like, ‘called it’ ]: In info-dump summary, yeah.

Robin: Whew.  But you said ‘briefly’. So you weren’t there long, right? What happened next?

Allyn/Danielle [brightening ]: Ah. Now we’re getting to the good part. It began around the same time I started at Burger King. You see, there was this neighbor of the Duncans’…

[The general stage lights dim, leaving two bright spotlights – one on Allyn, and one stage left, where enters Lady Marion Hood, arms full of half-painted holiday lawn ornaments.]

Marion/Neighbor: I don’t know how in the world I’m going to get all these spooky decorations finished in time to sell for the Halloween rush! If only there were a reliable someone in the neighborhood with time, artistic talent, and the desire for a little ready cash.

Allyn/Danielle [raising a hand ]: I think you’ll find I match that description fair well. Fret no more, for so long as I’m working under 20-some hours a week, I shall help you with your professional painting projects.

Marion/Neighbor: Oh, thank God!

Robin [as the general lights come back up, returning the stage to the coffee shop ]: Painting, eh? Sounds fun.

Allyn/Danielle: It had its moments. Mostly, I was just glad of the gas money it provided.

Robin: Why, do you have a car now?

Allyn/Danielle: Oh, did I skip over that part? Yeah. Used Camry. Insurance shopping. Ongoing games with the DMV. There’s been a lot of adulting I don’t have time to recall in detail.

Robin: Well, outrageous gas prices these days notwithstanding, it’s gotta be handy having your own transportation to work.

Allyn/Danielle [smile spreading across face ]: You mean, to the Amazon fulfillment center.

Robin [astonished ]: But… you didn’t get the job…

Allyn/Danielle: Not back in summer, no. But applications reopened in September. And this time, I got in.

[A shout of “BABE!” erupts from offstage, and in rushes Will Scarlet as Will Scarlet, sweeping Allyn from his chair and into a hug. The lights sparkle and dance in pink and red; gold confetti rains from above.]

Festival Lights

Will: I’m so happy for you, Dani-babe! You’ve slogged through so much – circumstances less than ideal, both outside your body and inside your brain – but at last, it gets better! At last, the full-time Fresno employment you’ve been trying to land since leaving Illinois! WAY. TO. GO!

Allyn/Danielle [half laughing, half trying to wriggle into a position more comfortable for breathing ]: Thanks, Will. For the flamboyant congratulations, and for supporting me inside my head all along the way. But put me down so I can tell Robin about the second best part!

Will [depositing Allyn back in chair ]: By which you mean, the Best Part, Part 2!

Robin [amused and intrigued ]: What news can possibly bear that distinction?

Allyn/Danielle [grinning at Will ]: Cue the lights.

[With a snap of Will’s fingers, the celebratory lights are replaced by the two flashback spots on Allyn and on Marion, returned to stage left.]

Allyn/Danielle: Huzzah and alack, good neighbor! My hours are soon to bump up to 40 a week. I must needs bid goodbye to Burger King and, I fear, to assisting with your painting projects.

Marion/Neighbor: Alack indeed! You’ve been wonderful, Danielle, and I’m sorry to lose your aid. But hey, I’m participating in an art show across town, next week. I hope you’ll come.

Allyn/Danielle: I’ll be there.

[The backdrop lights up like an evening backyard full of vendors’ tents. Jazz music wafts through the air. Will steps up to share Allyn’s spotlight, back in his Tirzah costume.]

Will/Tirzah: Hey, check out that little guesthouse by the pool!

Allyn/Danielle: A ‘for rent’ sign in the window. Too bad we probably can’t afford anything in this neighborhood.

Will/Tirzah [pointedly ]: We probably couldn’t score an extra photo session with John Barrowman at Comic Con either. I’m gonna go talk to people. [steps out of spotlight ]

Allyn/Danielle [shuddering with social anxiety ]: Better you than me. Oooh, someone’s selling a really cool coat!

Robin [taking Will’s place in Allyn’s spotlight ]: Tell me your Best Part sequel isn’t just a new coat.

Allyn/Danielle: Could’ve been, depending on the coat, but no. Look ye there.

[He nods toward the second spotlight, which follows Marion and the newly arrived Queen Guinevere, dressed in a snazzy old-lady pantsuit, across the stage.]

Allyn/Danielle: Robin, meet Flashback!Art Show Hostess/Landlady. Ma’am, Robin Hood from the future.

Guinevere/Landlady: The future?

Robin: By way of the distant past, yes.

Guinevere/Landlady: Huh. Well, Danielle, I’ve spoken with Tirzah, and our mutual neighbor friend here – [gestures to Marion ] – speaks highly of you as a person, so how would you two crazy kids like to rent my guesthouse?

Allyn/Danielle [gasping ]: We can afford that?

Will/Tirzah [back in the spotlight ]: With our Amazon salary times two? Quite reasonably.

Allyn/Danielle: And… how soon can we move in?

Guinevere/Landlady: Next week should allow time to finish having the bathroom painted a lovely blue.

Allyn/Danielle: My… favorite color… [swoons into Will’s arms ]

Robin: A new job, AND a new house?!

Will/Tirzah [beaming at a thousand watts ]: And all settled in before her 30th birthday, too.

Allyn/Danielle [coming to ]: I mean, we still need a dining table, but yeah. We actually made it. [teary smile ] We’re finally… home.

[Robin and Will group hug Allyn tightly. Marion and Guinevere raise plastic cups from the art show’s mini bar in a toast. The party music segues into a jazzy version of “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, just because Danielle really likes that song. And the curtain comes down on the happy tableau – though, as far as Danielle’s real life is concerned, it may still be on the rise.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you, rarely enough, to real life,” says Allyn, “for providing us with inspiration for our art to imitate.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves (or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

The End Times of Yosemite Dan

On the first of December, 2017, I entered Yosemite National Park for the second time.

My inaugural visit to the park had been just that – a visit, as a tourist.

Five years later, I was about to become a resident.

That was seven very short, very long months ago. Back when the days were winter cold, the nights all layer upon layer of stars, the waterfalls abundant and full, an ever-present roar behind the call of ravens and Steller’s jays.

Now we’re deep into a scorching summer. The falls fade fast. The mountains blur out behind a choking veil of smoke. The sun burns red. Not far away, the woods just straight up burn. Wildfire has come to California. The park’s crowds of sightseers thin. The humidity overwhelms the Majestic Hotel’s walk-in refrigerators, forcing hundreds of pounds of refugee food into cramped trailers on the back docks.

Aesthetically, it all looks rather like the end of the world.

Realistically, it’s only the end of my time here.

My Tirzah left for Fresno a month ago, and with her departure came a familiar feeling. An itch of entrapment. A need for escape. The lonely ache for home that’s only ever further from reach when she’s gone from my side.

It was time to go.

Well, first it was time to find Fresno employment, so I wouldn’t be ditching the park and an income all in one go.

‘Twas a frustrating job hunt. Blame it on my curse: For whatever I most desire, I am forever doomed to call into the void, often without so much as an echo in response.

But finally, a former manager of Tirzah’s hired— well, not Me so much as Tirzah’s Highly Recommended Friend. I shall simply have to show my new boss why employers are always bummed to see the back of me. Lord knows my current manager is loath to let me go.

Most Valuable Employee tweet
Narrator: “Alas, her flight was to be none so swift and easy…”

And part of me is sad to leave the Yosemite I’ve come to know. I’ve seen her blanketed in snow, spilling over with floodwater, playing in the wind. I’ve wandered her pathways and rivers, climbed her boulders, crossed her fallen trees. I’ve smacked her mosquitoes and painted her ducks. I’ve treasured every rainbow she gave me.

Yosemite Watercolor, Mine_Rivertime
“Rivertime” –  Deshipley, 2018; watercolor, painted en plein air in Yosemite National Park

She actually gave me many things – memories chief among them.

And independence.

Resilient courage.

The reassurance that no matter how life’s challenges flatten me, I’m tough enough to eventually rise up for more.

Also, hella biceps.

There is much I’ll miss. But I’m ready to move on. Ready to leave Yosemite Dan behind, and be… still me. Just, as of next week, planted somewhere else.

Next chapter ho…

Open Journal: Home is… Where?

My sad, stressed-out brain, one morning at work: “I want to go home.”

Me: …

Brain: …

Me: “What home do you mean?”

Upon reflection, I didn’t mean my Yosemite tent-cabin – although, without another six hours to go on the clock, I’d have gratefully settled for that.

That was before the employee housing office handed me and Tirzah a third roommate – who is, first impressionally, a not unpleasant young lady. But to my highly sensitive, germophobic, and socially anxious self, no space I have to share with an outsider is strictly safe. And if I feel unsafe, how can I feel truly at home?

For ages, home was my parents’ house. It had my stuff. My food. My family.

Many a dream transported me back to the condo called home for my first seven years – to the patio off the living room, and its view of the pond with its willows and ducks.

Most fond memories take place in the little yellow house that followed – three years of horsing around in the basement; making crafts during cartoons in the TV room; more hours of playing, writing, and learning on the computer than you’d think a single day could hold.

Then the place I’ve lived the longest – our Victorian beast in a Michigan-shore ghetto. The house that first gave me my own bedroom, and (after years of begging) a dog. The heavy sliding doors that compartmentalized half of the first floor. The kitchen too laughably small for all five of us at once. The stuffy attic braved only for necessities like fancy clothes and drum practice. The computer room with its cantankerous printers. The sun room with its karate-sweat mats and invasive ladybugs. The driveway that never seemed longer than in winter, when it was covered in snow and the blower was busted, so out came the shovels, day after day.

Photo Shoot Stairwell
Not to mention my favorite photo shoot stairwell.

This was home. Until I outgrew it. There is – and is no – going back.

On vacation, home’s wherever you happen to leave your bags. The hotel or hostel or guest room you ditch to explore and to experience; to shop and sightsee; to get sick of your companions, all your good times saved for later in Polaroidsdisposable camerasdigital cameras … selfies. Then back you go, to flop wearily onto questionable comforters, surfing through the local channels for anything fun or familiar, wondering where dinner’s coming from – head back out, or order in? Depends how sunburned, waterlogged, footsore you feel.

That room’s your home base, ‘til the traveling’s done. But you know it’s no more than a placeholder.

I called Germany home, however half-true it was. (The forest truer than the house shared with [never mind him].)

I called that apartment behind a Chicago store home, however temporarily.

I may sometimes call home the down-the-mountain destination for which Tirzah and I fight public transportation every weekend. Her parents’ home. Where I happened to leave most of my bags.

Me: “Is that where you meant? Or there? There? Or there?”

Brain: …

Me: “Well?”

Heart: “You know where we mean.”

I don’t know exactly where. I don’t know precisely when. But what is meant, I know.

Home will mean my stuff. My food. My Tirzah.

Safety. Privacy. Solitude.

Adult annoyances, doubtless. Rent, utilities, homesteader headaches.

Not all of it fun. But all of it ours.

Mine.

That place at the end of your vacationexile … odyssey,

where you stagger in late, let your bags drop for the last time,

and breathe.

The Continuing Adventures of Yosemite Dan

Yosemite Dan

“So, how’s life in Yosemite National Park?”

I’m glad you asked, unspecified italicized voi— Wait. Didn’t you already ask that question, back in January?

“Danielle. It’s practically June. Things may have changed.”

You’ve got me there, voice. Heck, has anything at all stayed the same?? Let’s run down the list and see…

The Job:

For one thing, I’m no long a steward in the dish pit of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. (Not officially, anyway…) As of the end of March, I’ve been promoted to Storeroom Clerk. Same hotel, different end of the dining service spectrum: Instead of cleaning the dishes post-meal, I help stock the ingredients that make the meal possible. The job description includes helping the lead storeroom guy put in regular resupply orders, LOTS of heavy lifting when the deliveries come in (hey, Carpentry-Fail Danielle! Chin up, babe – you get stronger!), and helping cooks and servers locate where we put everything.

“How do you like the new job?”

I’m so tempted to add that question to my blog’s FAQ page… People are constantly asking me that, and I have to search an answer other than, “I’m constantly terrified I’m going to screw up and let everybody down and get yelled at and wanna die and—” I don’t know whether to blame the new job for this weeks-long anxiety attack, or if my brain just decided I’d been too chill for too long, but here we are.

Still, the new job comes with a higher hourly wage. So there’s that.

The Cast:

Unofficially? You’ll still find me in the dish pit, from time to time. Because the cast of Joes has undergone a drastic overhaul. Several Joes, both mentioned and omitted, have left the pit for other positions, with too few yet arriving to take their places as the busy summer season approaches*. Although, one very special Joe has lately joined the force.

Call her BFF Joe. Better known, Tirzah Duncan.

Yosemite - Work Besties

That’s right – my bestie came to live with me in Yosemite! And, y’know, to work with me, which we got to do for about two weeks before I moved to the storeroom. But that’s 90% of the reason I still don the latex gloves and vinyl apron in the never-ending battle against dirty dishes: No way am I leaving a skeleton crew that includes my girl Tirzah to struggle alone!

So between my official position, the dish pit overtime, and, oh yeah, the whole self-publishing author thing, I’m working something like 2-and-a-half jobs, and I have the total lack of energy to prove it.

Yosemite - New Job

The Perks:

Did I mention the part where my best friend and I are in Yosemite together??

Yosemite - Together Forever

I mean, given that we’re working two different full-time gigs, we don’t get to see each other as constantly as we’d like. But as of her second week here, at least we’re roomies! In a tent-cabin, right outside the dorms that used to house me. Though a bare third bed warns that the Powers That Be may eventually try to saddle us with a third roommate, the current situation is perfectly livable (and, with our dual paychecks, because #YaySteadyMoney, more than affordable). Moreover, the manager in charge of our schedules has been gamely working to accommodate our need for matching days off, meaning that we’re generally able to visit our loved ones in Fresno every week.

Which is extra good, because Tirzah would probably snap and drown Muttering Joe in a tub of pre-soak solution, otherwise.

The Takeaway:

It’s not a perfect paradise, but it time and again appears that I’m becoming adult enough to handle it. One helpful coping strategy is remembering that all things are temporary. I’ve only got to deal with all the stressful parts until I don’t. And until then, I have only to lift my eyes to the mountains to recall the parts I’ll miss when this chapter is behind me.

Yosemite_Mountain View

*Speaking of a surplus of job openings: Want a gig in one of the most gorgeous locations in the world? The dishwashers of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel want YOU!

…Assuming that you’re a reliable worker, game to be a(n often unsung) heroic part of a fast-paced kitchen environment.

Serious applicants, grab your resume and check out this link!

The Life and Times of Yosemite Dan

“So, how’s life in Yosemite National Park?”

I’m glad you asked, unspecified italicized voice*. It’s been… something else.

Yosemite - Adventure Usual

*(Or didn’t I name that voice, at one point? I wouldn’t put it past me.)

The Job:

I’ve been about a month working in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel as a dishwasher – ahem, make that as a Majestic Steward, according to my manager.

Yosemite - Majestic Steward

Running rinsed flatware, glassware, utensils, and more through the pair of heavy-duty machines. Working with the team to keep the kitchen’s dishes in some semblance of order for the chefs and servers. Walking the line between mind- and body-numbing repetition and cracking the puzzles of how to make everything fit on the shelves – like a living video game that dries out your hands and tweaks out your shoulder.

Two weeks into it, aforesaid manager sat me down to say that he was very much impressed with me and wished to groom me into his managerial position. Color me both flattered and terrified! Of course I strive to shine in whatever role I’m given, and due recognition for my efforts is always appreciated. But… a manager? At the Majestic? Whether I’m psychologically competent to handle the responsibility aside, I’ve never planned to stay in Yosemite long-term. By the end of the year (at the latest), I want a place in Fresno with the BFF.

This I told my manager, largely anticipating that would be that. But, “Oh, Fresno?” he says. “The company has a branch in Fresno. Let me make a phone call…” And he totally calls over there to see what kind of position might be available for me within a year’s time.

If that’s not a sign to go ahead and accept the position of his protégée, what in the world is?

The Cast:

I wasn’t long on the job before I started thinking this would all make for quite the book.

Yosemite - Outlaws AU

Not that I’m big on memoirs (unless you count the upcoming Inspired, which I halfway do), but something in the rom-com vein would suit. …minus any romance, at this point, since none of my coworkers have yet to make a move on my heart. That’s just as well. Amusing as these characters may be to read or write, they’re hardly Deshipley love interest material. I mean, just get a load of these guys – all, for the sake of identity-protection, to be called Jo[e]*.

*(As life would have it, Joe is the actual name of one of my coworkers. Which? I’m not about to tell.)

Mansplainer Joe = Here to make sure that I know he knows what I should know. Because I guess my quick competence is only visible to actual bosses, not just bossy people.

Dead Inside Joe = Going through the motions without any memory of why he once cared, if ever he did. Should probably get a different job before there’s nothing left of him to save.

Muttering Joe = What’s that he’s saying? Nobody knows, and I suppose it doesn’t matter, given that he’s 9 times out of 10 talking to himself. Freezes with overwhelm when the servers pile the unwashed dishes too high at the sink. Will be taking his break now whether there’s anyone to relieve him or not

Super Joe = This elderly man doesn’t speak English (I think he’s some kind of Eastern European?), but he can pull and stow dishes like nobody’s business. “He’s a superhero,” Dead Inside Joe says candidly. “Whenever he’s here, I feel safe.” Clearly, the Majestic Steward that Gotham needs right now.

Sociopathic Witch Priest Joe = …Or so he claims. There’s no telling how much of his manic chatter is true, and how much is him just trying to keep himself entertained. Can verifiably wash and load dishes at the speed magic, if and when he can be bothered to work at all. Loves my high-level use of English. Thinks we should plot a murder together.

Boy Band Joe = Looks like an early Nick Carter. Proudly calls himself the weirdest person here. (Which, wow, have you not met Sociopathic Witch Priest Joe?) Can barely keep it in his hairnet. Low-key resents the manager acting like this is a job to be taken seriously.

“It” Girl Jo = Or is Boy Band Joe the only one hollering for her attention all night? Whatever the case, I’ll totally buy her as the queen bee of the dish pit, proving that you don’t have to look like (or be) a Mean Girl to read as popular. Knows her job and gets it done. Caught me proofreading “Inspired” and showed an interest. Obviously one of the smart ones.

And those are just some of the folks I encounter day-to-day, to say nothing of the rest of the kitchen’s colorful crew. Come at me, Netflix; let’s collab on the next hit original series.

The Perks:

One free meal (often big enough to split into two), plus random tidbits to be had throughout the day. I’m saving like whoa on groceries!

Yosemite - Yum

Yosemite - Fruit

Yosemite - Veggies

Steady money via a job I don’t hate. I began to doubt I’d live to see the day.

Yosemite itself. Sure, I spend most of the winter’s limited daylight hours laboring indoors, but nature’s glory is never far, and is miraculously healing. My head and heart, praise God, are feeling healthier than they have since before the trauma at Germany’s end – and that goes for some of my characters, too.

– Seriously, my characters love it here. The trees and rivers and mountains fill them with joy. And since they’re inside of me, the benefits are partly mine to share.

– When I’ve got two days off to rub together, the BFF is just a few hours away by bus and train. Our reunions are always sweet, and keep us going strong until we’re back together for real.

The Takeaway:

For now – and for once – I’m fairly sure I’m where I’m supposed to be. Certainly, I’m feeling well taken care of. And whether this experience ever makes its way into a book or onscreen, I know it to be well worth living.

Yosemite - Nature

*Music Intensifies* (CONCERTO Release Spotlight)

Officially, I’m not blogging during the month of December! But low key, I’m posting today to spotlight the latest release from Xchyler Publishing, because I do occasionally roll like that – like that time I had a review stop on the blog tour of “Forte” by JD Spero. Well, guess what?

Forte_Banner

New young adult urban fantasy – CONCERTO – “the spellbinding sequel to FORTE by award-winning author JD Spero”, released this week!

First, the blurb:

Samantha McGovern sacrificed her magic to save her home town. Finally, after more than two years, stirrings within her whisper of a reawakening. However, nothing can offset the misery of parting with her boyfriend. How can she keep Jason when he’s moved on to college life, but she’s still trapped in high school for another year?

In Boston, Sami’s new friends help her rediscover her power, and, reunited with an old crush, he now seems into her. Sami struggles to ignore the intoxicating charms of Miles Eichen, but with Jason’s increasing distance, it feels like a losing battle.

When her strange visions begin to come true, Sami discovers a new purpose to her magic—magic stronger than she could ever imagine. Millions of lives are in danger, and only she has the power to foil a great evil. However, it will take a different kind of magic to repair the rift between her and Jason.

Next, the cover:

Concerto by JD Spero, full spread cover

Chick-a-plao! Does that look like hot stuff, or what?

And now, a word about our author:

JD Spero

Johannah Davies (JD) Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English, Russian, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.

www.jdspero.com

If “Concerto” looks like a read you want in on, then make like a cool kid and get yourself a copy – or, if you’re behind the game, you can first catch up with Book 1. Congrats on your new book baby, JD Spero! And Ever On Wordians, I’ll be back in January. *peaces out*

The Year of Winging It

I’m a gal who likes to have plans on plans on plans for things as far in advance as possible.

You would not know that, based on my behavior this past year.

I. How much wood would a wood fan work if a woodwork job would work?

At year’s start, I was working a data entry job that, under a change-up in management, had grown increasingly miserable. I wanted to run, but I didn’t know where to – until, on a whim, I said, “Why not try carpentry?”

Since, y’know, I liked wood, and I heard carpenters make good money, plus it’d be skills I could take with me anywhere, meaning I wouldn’t have to feel tied down to the Chicago area.

…Once I’d completed my 4-year apprenticeship, anyway.

So began the months-long process of getting into the pre-apprenticeship program.

II. Trippin’ down the road

In the meantime, early summer found my sister and me on a road trip to—

Me: “Where you wanna go?”

Sister: “I dunno.”

Me: “Pittsburgh? I hear Pittsburgh’s nice.”

Sister: “Ok.”

Sure, there was minimal planning before we set forth. We booked our hotel rooms in advance, and mapped out a budget of roughly how much we expected to spend. But otherwise, the whole venture was explore-as-you-go. And by and large, the results were good, including walks along water, art shows and animals sanctuaries, an impromptu viewing of “Wonder Woman”, and more.

Road Trip Triptych

III. Wish granted

Not long afterward:

Me: *is depressed*

Mom: All right, none of that. I’m sending you to see “Aladdin”.

Me: !!!

And I mean, you can’t always make your brain less sad by saturating it with a dazzling onstage performance of your childhood heart’s first love. But it sure worked wonders this time!

Aladdin Onstage Triptych

IV. Will Scarlet dies smiling

Then came carpentry school and Temporary Apartment and – the year’s highlight – a visit from BFF Tirzah Duncan! Her coming was very much planned. More spontaneous was our attendance at the Wizard World comic con.

Me [scrolling on Facebook]: “Oh, hey, it’s gonna be in Chicago the weekend you arrive.”

Will Scarlet: “Wait – JOHN BARROWMAN’S going to be there?!?!?!”

Tirzah: “Ohmygosh, can we—?”

Me: “ORDERING! PHOTO OP! TICKETS! NOW!”

Will: *weeping*

John Barrowman Photo Op 2

Honestly, the Barrowman thing was an entire blog post unto itself.

V. Lightning Strikes Twice

Weeks later, I’ve dropped out of carpentry and am questioning absolutely everything about my life. But then—

Me [scrolling on Tumblr]: “Wait – MAGGIE STIEFVATER has a book tour stop in Chicago in two days?!?!?!”

Will and Tirzah: “Babe, you should totally—”

Me: “ORDERING! SIGNING LINE! TICKET! NOW!”

Maggie Stiefvater and Me

This, too, was an entire blog post unto itself.

VI. Living the dream?

Back at my parents’ house, prepping for my split-decision move to California. I knew I needed to land a paying job, so I started filling out online apps for everything from clerical gigs to warehouse work. Not that I really wanted to do any of that.

Hypothetical voice: “So what do you want to do, Danielle?”

Me: “I don’t know! Why can’t somebody just pay me to run away to the woods?!”

Yosemite National Park: “So hey, that dishwashing job in our super fancy hotel you applied for? It’s yours.”

Me: “…”

VII. What comes next:

I have no idea. There’s a month left in 2017 – the year Will Scarlet laughingly (and rightfully) dubbed my Year of Winging It. Anything could happen, particularly if my unpredictable pattern holds going into 2018 and beyond.

It’s a terrifying prospect. And yet… *looks back on it all* …just maybe it’s the life I’m meant to live.

For now.

Fortnight of Fright: Flash Fiction From Danielle E. Shipley & Tirzah Duncan

Books Take You Places

FoF2014Hi, friends! Today we have Danielle E. Shipley, author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas and the novel Inspired (see her other features on my blog here and here). Also contributing is Tirzah Duncan, writer of novels, short stories and poetry. They are here to share some truly awesome flash fiction to help us celebrate Fortnight of Fright this year. I have always been a fan of Danielle’s work and after reading this post I am sure that you will want to read more from her and Ms. Duncan for sure. Take a gander below and don’t forget to head over to Amy Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!

Once upon an October years ago, there transpired what might only be described as a supernatural occurrence:…

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Open Journal: October Thoughts

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Danielle is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged, unionized carpenter apprentice.

But here in our world, that does not hold true.

I wanted to drop the pre-apprenticeship program Day 4. My parents said it was too soon.

Fair enough.

Skip ahead to the beginning of Week 4. I still wanted to drop the program. My parents still said it was too soon.

This did not feel anything like fair enough.

I muscled through to the end of Week 5, then said goodbye to this career experiment before it could morph into a 4-year commitment and – *shaky breath* – dropped out of carpentry school.

Me. Danielle E. Shipley. A quitter failure disappointment dropout. It barely computes.

But the fact is, I gave it my best while I was there. And I learned things, and managed to improve in skill and strength over those few weeks’ course. And it still just wasn’t for me.

What is for me? I have no idea. Maybe I’ll find out in California, once I’ve moved there after Thanksgiving.

Yes, that’s the new plan.

Transitions. That was the theme, about a month ago, at the Fall Paint Night held by my sister’s associates, Ascension Performing Arts. In honor of autumn, season of change, we turned our canvases into trees.

APA Fall Paint Night

I chose at the start to take my piece in a golden direction – my muse whispering that change could be a golden opportunity. I wasn’t sure how far I believed him. I’m still not. But I painted as if I’d taken the words to heart.

APA Fall Paint Night, Golden Opportunity

Speaking of Ascension Performing Arts: They’re holding their Fall Benefit showcase this Friday. I attended the event a couple years back, and it was a grand night of good art – both visual and performative. This year’s theme is “Be the Light”. And this year’s roster of fine artists on display during their gallery hour includes – oh, hello – Danielle E. Shipley. Given my imminent move, it will likely be my last in-person authorial event in the Chicago area for some while. Let’s make it the best one yet. (Ticket info here)

Also on the horizon, November – better known to much of the writing community as National Novel Writing Month. Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Danielle will have made herself sign up, with or without any driving inspiration.

Not here.

Maybe I’ll challenge myself to a reading month. I’ve got way too many ebooks sitting neglected on my Kindle app. But my writer self isn’t in a place to create for joy right now, which is what I’d want NaNo to be. So I’ll dedicate what energy I’ve got to other things.

My first European adventure is behind me. My tentative carpentry aspirations are finished. My life goal of publishing all three Outlaws of Avalon novels before my death has been met. (My depression brain suggests that I could go ahead and die now, but I’ll try to keep on living.)

Now it’s into a new unknown – my back to the home of my youth, my face to the west, where dwell two of my dearest non-imaginary friends. I am full certain that this will be weird and scary and full of angst, because that’s how life is everywhere. I’m (trying to be) hopeful that it’s where I’m supposed to be. …At least until the season of change cycles back around for me again.

One Small Step for Woman, One Giant Leap Toward Adulthood

TGW Song, Will - CopyWhaddup, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. Because Danielle promised she’d finally post about what’s going on in her life, but for some reason, she doesn’t like talking about herself. Which, wow, makes absolutely no sense to me, because talking about myself is like 80% of what I do. No worries, though! ‘Cause she’ll always have me to do the talking for her. ^_^

So! Here’s what’s new, Part 1: Danielle’s gonna be a carpenter.

That is, she is currently, as this post goes live, getting ready for the second day of her first week (out of 9) of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters pre-apprenticeship program.

Holy moly, hold the phone, since when is author Danielle E. Shipley interested in carpentry?! Well might you ask. (And I mean, you might have asked. I didn’t actually hear anyone asking, but some of you are bound to be curious, right?)

It all started when Danielle was at some other job, and she’s like, man, I need to be making money, but can it be through doing something that doesn’t suck the soul right out of me? So she decided to try carpentry, since it involves two things she already knows she likes: Creating things, and wood. Plus, she’d get to feel like Little John or a Pontipee brother, which I guess is a plus?

How does one become a carpenter? In many steps over much time, that’s how. Like, to the point that trying to remember everything we did to get here is kinda fuzzy, but I’ll throw out what I can remember.

– Go down to the nearest union carpentry training center and ask, “Hi, I’d like to be an apprentice. Please to tell me how?”

– Obtain a letter from your district that’s basically like “Hey, I officially recognize this person’s interest in entering this program”, to be placed in the pool of hopefuls. (You gotta ask first. And provide personal information. And hope Santa didn’t notice what a punk you’ve been all year.)

– Take a math proficiency test. Reading proficiency, too, but they don’t cover that in the test prep session a week before the exam. They do yell at you not to bring cell phones in the school building, though. I guess some staff member got murdered by a cell phone, once. #NeverAgain

– Get notified while on a road trip with your sister to Pittsburgh that you passed the test! (The road trip part may actually not be mandatory, but Danielle is just that thorough.)

– The notification will basically read, “Congratulations, you haven’t failed YET. Now you have until X date to get a note from a doctor that clears you as physically fit to be a carpenter, OR YOU’RE OUT.” Letter writers are never quite as sunny of disposition as they were before watching an associate get cell phone murdered.

– A doctor’s appointment, which you’d think would involve, I dunno, some running or lifting or other evidence you’re not a weakling, but no, all Danielle had to do was bend down, touch her toes, and promise she wasn’t entirely suicidal. Okay then!

– Search hither and yon for hardcore work boots made for little lady feet. (The suffragettes died for this.)

– “Congratulations, you haven’t failed YET. Now show up on X date to pee in a cup and prove you’re not on drugs, OR YOU’RE OUT.”

– “Congratulations, you’re not on drugs! See you at orientation!”

– We actually had no idea after passing the math test exactly when she’d be scheduled to start the program. All the tributes who haven’t yet died a horrible death get put in a lottery based on their test’s date, and your name’s up when it’s up. Could be weeks, could be months… For Danielle, it was actually pretty quick. Took the test… back in May, I think? And started the program yesterday. And if she makes it through the 9 weeks, then the 4 years of actual (paid!) apprenticeship will begin, and she’ll be on her way to becoming a fully competent journeyman! Her mother and I will be so proud.

What’s new, Part 2: Danielle’s got her own apartment!

Temporary Apartment

Temporary Apartment, she calls it, since it’s just for the duration of the 9-week program. After that, she’ll find another place*, because the main idea is to not have a hellish commute between where she lives and where she works.

IT’S SUPER EXCITING, because after all her adventuring in Europe, her parents’ house just wasn’t doing it for her anymore. She needed a proper Dani Space. And now she’s got one. Way to fake adulthood, girl!

 

*Full disclosure, it’ll be mostly her mom finding the other place, just like it was mostly Mom who found this one, and Dad’s name on the lease. Like I said: Faking adulthood. She’s getting there, though. X)