Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advocating Your Library By Bringing In Others

Advocacy can't come from just once source  in order to be effective. In order to really be effective, advocacy must emanate from many different sources. If my graduate degree has taught me anything (and with the price tag it's got, I pray it has), it's that the key to getting a library to survive is collaboration. In the schools, it's collaborating with teachers to make lesson plans. In all libraries, it's figuring out what your community wants and then facilitate it for them.

Gaming in libraries is big right now. One of the biggest draws in the high school library where I did my secondary fieldwork was Game Day, where kids could bring in their YuGiOh cards, playing cards, board games, and what have you, and instead of using the library as a place for books, we had attendance skyrocket that day. We ran out of chess sets. I taught some kids how to play checkers - not that I'm very good, but I do know that the pieces can't move up and down, and there's no such thing as castling in that game - and the whole thing was a tremendous success. Loretta didn't even have to advertise it much, and she won't have to advertise much for the next one: the kids are doing it for her. I guess that would be the key to getting others to advocate for your library: tricking them into advocating for you.

How do you do that? You figure out what they like, and you give it to them. Finding out what they need is harder. Here are some tips.

  • Get ideas from your community. Who better to tell you how to draw people into the library than your customers? They know what they want, and if you ask them, they'll tell you. 
  • Try whatever comes to mind. If it doesn't work, you're one step closer to figuring out what does. 
  • Conscript others, because ideas are better when they're bounced around by several people. 
And here's a quick video I made to advocate my hypothetical library:

Monday, November 12, 2012

NYLA Writing - Playing Catch-Up

So while I was at NYLA, I didn't get much of a chance to update this blog, and that's okay. I had a lot of fun, and I outlined my experience in an earlier post. I didn't get much writing done, but here it is. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish on time with all the stuff that's going on in my life right now. 


“I don’t need any help dealing with guys,” Kristina said.
“That’s not what Mark tells us,” Harrison said with a condescending pat on the shoulder for Kristina. “He says you need some serious training.”
“You were never satisfying, Kristina,” Mark said. He began rubbing his sore knee. “I hope your skills with your lady friends are better.”
“Oh, you’re one of us!” Harrison squealed. He clapped his hands together and jumped up and down in front of Kristina, and she resisted the urge to kick his legs out from underneath him.
“You mean I’m a gay man?”
“No, you’re  one of us!” Harrison squealed again. “One of us queers!”
“I’m flattered, really,” Kristina said. “But I’d rather be one of me instead. I’m much better at that.”
“Of course, of course,” Harrison said as he swept his hands in front of him apologetically. “Being one of us is all about being who you really are.”
“That’s the most backwards thing I’ve ever heard of,” Kristina said. She turned to Mark. “Have fun flirting with an engaged guy.”
“Oh he’s not flirting with me,” Harrison hissed through his broad grin. “I’m flirting with him.” Harrison smacked Mark straight on his ass, and Mark laughed. Jack continued to play on his phone. Kristina rolled her eyes and left the boys in their corner near the bar. The cute bartender with no brain from before who had served her a drink smiled, handing her another.
“Your friends keep buying you drinks,” she said, and nodded over in the direction of Liz and Aiden’s table. “You’re a very lucky lady tonight.”
“Why do I not believe you?” Kristina said. She took the drink anyway and began to take a big gulp before someone in a red evening dress came out of door near the bar. She waved towards Kristina and smiled hopefully.
“How are you, Kristina?” Scarlett asked. “Are you looking into that thing we talked about?”
“I have been,” Kristina replied. “There’s nothing to look for.”
“Okay,” she said, confused. She sighed deeply and began ringing her hands. “I hope everything turns out for the best.”
“Hey, sug.” The voice came from one of the bartenders who looked like she square-danced straight out of the Bible Belt. Her half shirt was tied up just north of her belly button, and her Daisy Dukes were tasteful, or at least as tasteful as Daisy Dukes could be. She had long, rich blonde hair and a friendly smile, and despite the fact that she looked like a Shove the Dove conservative, Kristina couldn’t help but feel a warmness radiating from her.
“Hello, Brandy,” Scarlett said with a wave.
“Ready for your set, hon?”
“Almost,” Scarlett said. “Just came to the bar for a glass of water.” Brandy smiled and filled one up for her. While Brandy’s back was turned, Scarlett gave Kristina a significant look, as if to say ‘help me’. Kristina gave her a thumbs up, and Scarlett took her drink and sauntered to the back room of the Dingy Den. Kristina went to sit back with her friends.
The other bartender came over to her table with a tray full of drinks. Kristina smiled. “Great service here,” she replied.
“We’re lazy,” Clara said. “We wanted to get beers without getting up.”
“Plus, I like to take care of my customers,” the bartender said. “You’re good to me, so I’ll be good to you.” She passed a dark beer over to Clara and a much lighter one over to Quentin. Kristina smirked.
“What kind of beer did you get?” Kristina asked the married couple.
“I got myself a Guinness, and got him a Land Shark,” Clara replied. She shared her friend’s smirk, and Quentin noticed both of their faces.
“I like light beer,” he said defensively. “It’s delicious.”
“It’s water,” Clara said. “Dark beer is the best kind.”
“I know, honey.” Quentin planted a quick kiss on her right temple. “We also won’t bring up your fondness for hard lemonade, which is even less a real beer than Land Shark.” Clara glared at him playfully.
“You two are adorable,” the bartender said. “I’d like to take you home and cuddle your brains out.”
“We have a strict agreement wherein we only sleep with each other,” Quentin said, holding up his right hand so she could see his wedding band. “It’s called marriage.”
“That’s part of why I’m still single,” the bartender said. “Are any of you?”
“Technically no, but I wouldn’t kick you out of my bed,” Kristina said. “Everyone else here has a ring, so I might be your only option at this table.”
“Well, that’s very sweet of you,” the bartender
“Thanks,” Kristina said. “What’s your name?”
“Molly,” the bartender said with a grin. “It’s nice to meet you. Are you local?”
“Yeah, but I don’t get out much,” Kristina said. “I haven’t been here before. Kinda like it though. When do the pianos start dueling?”
“They’re getting ready,” Molly said defensively. She turned around and began to walk back to the bar. “Hold your horses.” Kristina sighed and took a sip from her beer.
A few minutes later, Kristina watched as Scarlet came out of the same door followed by a man dressed in a suit and a red tie. The two of them walked over to the pianos. Scarlett took the far one, on the other side of Liz and Aiden’s table. The other pianist flashed a winning smile at the crowd, though he didn’t seem to notice that it went unnoticed. Scarlett smiled weakly at the crowd and waved as well, and it went unnoticed as well. Everyone was animated and interested in their beers and their conversations.
Kristina watched as Scarlett’s nimble fingers flew over the piano keys, and the crowd immediately quieted down. Kristina recognized the piece; it was Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man. It took some serious fingers to play piano like he did. She clearly had some talent. Her accomplice began to pound out the bass line and a counter melody, and his eyes followed his fingers across the black and white ivory. He and Scarlett plunked out their parts on the piano and the chatter in the bar dropped away completely.
It wasn’t surprising that everyone had stopped paying attention to each other and more to the pianos, because Scarlett had finished putting her outfit together. She had finished her makeup, and her red dress was accentuated by her flashing lipstick. Her shortly cropped hair had been styled and pulled back into a small bun just above the nape of her neck. How she played piano that quickly in those gloves, Kristina had no idea. She must have the dexterity of an acrobat. As the music began to wind down, the second piano player cut own and only Scarlett was playing, softly and not nearly at the speed she was before, just plunking out a tuneless ditty while her partner talked.
“Welcome to the Dingy Den,” the second pianist said. He had a loud voice, and he knew damn well how to project. He filled the whole bar with his words, and Kristina almost didn’t notice his prominent bald spot. “It’s nice to see all of you folks out here, coming to see little ole me. We’re sure glad you chose to come out here tonight, and we’re sure glad to help you all have fun. Everybody make sure to order a drink from one of our sexy bartenders, cuz otherwise, you just won’t have as much fun.” He segued back into a song that Kristina didn’t recognize and continued to play. Mark sat down next to her, a crumpled piece of paper in his hand.
“Well, I beat you,” he said. “I got the digits.”
“They know you’re not gay, Mark, right?” Clara asked seriously. “You did tell them that you’re not gay, didn’t you?”
“Of course,” Mark said. “They know, they just gave me their number in case I decide to change my mind.”
“You’re unbelievable,” Kristina sighed, and decided not to push the issue any further. The pianists continued to play on the stage, and Kristina looked around at the four friends that she knew from high school. Clara was always smart, but now she would be a successful… something or other – Kristina didn’t catch whatever the hell it was Clara did nowadays, but she and her husband looked like a million bucks. Liz and Aiden had the same deal, just with two kids attached. Liz was a high-powered lawyer, judging from her pencil skirt, and she probably made millions every year, at least enough for Aiden to stay home with their boys. And Mark? Well, at least there was someone here to make Kristina feel good about herself.
How’d they do it? Where was Kristina’s life going? She was working at this shitty college in the middle of nowhere, her doctorate was going nowhere, she hated her parents, and so on. She had a great relationship with Nikki and Sarah, but it could be better. If only they got along.
“Hello, Kristina?” Mark was staring her in the face, tapping on her forehead. “You in there?”
“What do you want?”
“We’re going to dance,” Mark said. “Liz and Aiden are already there. So are Clara and Quentin. Do you want to feel left out?”
“I don’t mind,” Kristina said, irritated. “I like being left out.”
“Oh come on,” Mark said. “Have a little fun. You know you want to. Dancing is fun. I seem to remember you doing a lot of it while we were in school.”
“I am a very different person now.”
“Not that different,” Mark said. “Please? It’ll make me feel a lot better about myself.”
“And since when has that been a priority of mine?”
“It’s always been a priority of mine,” Mark said. He extended his hand in front of her. “I want to dance with you. Don’t you want to dance?” Kristina looked at the couples dancing on the floor in front of her while Mark kept his hand extended.
“Fine,” she relented. “Why the hell not?” She took his hand and he led her out onto the dance floor past another couple. She saw Jack and Harrison not far away, dancing cheek to cheek. It was quite adorable. She smiled a little. Mark put his hand on her waist, and she nearly slapped it away.
“You forget how to dance?”
“I forgot how to follow,” Kristina replied. “So if we do this, I have to be able to lead.”
“Can you do anything else?”
“Would you like me better if I followed? Cuz that’s not happening.”
“I wouldn’t have you any other way.” Mark snaked his arm around her back and Kristina pulled him into a spin. The music was no longer a poppy piano remix, but something classical, probably Vivaldi, but Kristina didn’t know enough about music to know which one. It could have been Pachabel’s Canon in D for all she knew. Whatever it was, it lent itself to a nice waltz, and Kristina felt herself becoming swept up in it. She led Mark over the dance floor, past Liz and Aiden, past Quentin and Clara, past the gay couple, and she even let Mark spin her around for good measure, just to let him hold on to a shred of his manliness. The music stopped abruptly, and Kristina came to rest. She looked frantically around for the rest of her group, but they were perfectly fine. The only person missing from the bar was Scarlett Powers.
“Why did the music stop?” The attractive young man who had sat down with Cadie Harris held onto the hand of a frail but attractive brunette. “Where’s the other pianist?”
“I’m not sure,” said the bartender. This time it was Brandy, the southern looking one, who spoke. “She seemed fine, but then she just up and ran off the stage like something was on fire underneath her.” Scarlett had run out of the place in a hurry. She must have had a reason to leave in the middle of her precious set like that, and a damn good one at that. Who, or what did she see? What had scared her into running off in the middle of her song? Kristina tramped over to the table and picked up her coat.
“Where are you going?” Mark asked. “The guy will probably start playing again soon enough.”
“It’s not working out for me,” she said. “Who waltzes in a bar, anyway?” She pushed past him and ran up onto the stage and back into the backstage area. She pushed past someone on her way out, multiple someones in fact, and as she came to the door, she saw that it was already propped open. Scarlett must be going for her car. Kristina ducked out the door and raced over to the parking lot on the other side. Scarlett was indeed getting into her car.
“Scarlett!” Kristina called out to her. Scarlett didn’t appear to hear her. “Scarlett, don’t turn the ignition!” Scarlett looked out the window of her car at Kristina. Her eyes widened, and from a distance, it looked like she jammed her key into the ignition and turned it. Kristina ran towards the car as quickly as she could.
The resulting explosion was something Kristina never thought she’d witness firsthand. It wasn’t like in the movies, not at all. The flames weren’t huge and towering, but they had consumed the entire car, as well as its passenger. Kristina heard the tortured screams of the piano player, smelled the sickening burnt flesh as Scarlett cooked inside that hunk of melting steel and glass, and it was only when she tried to reach out to the car that she realized she was lying face down on the pavement. She got up and ran over to the car, but two pairs of arms grabbed her from behind.
“Let me go!” Kristina screamed. “She’s dying in there.”
“No, sweetie,” Clara said gravely, and Kristina became aware that she was being held by Clara and her brother. “I don’t think she is.” Kristina looked back at the burning car. No movement. No one was moving inside. Kristina wrenched out of their grip and got as close to the car as she could, but it was pretty clear from a distance what was going on: Scarlett Powers was dead.

NYLA Conference! What I learned

So this weekend, for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I went to the New York Library Association conference. My Twitter following exploded, I met a whole lot of cool people, saw a lot of awesome stuff, and hopefully did some serious networking. Also, the food was amazing, and there was free coffee, and lots of free books. It was my kind of place. I took away quite a bit from the conference as well. Here's what I learned from the presenters, the booths, and the programs:
  • Know what your community needs. If they're not telling you, you have to ask them. 
  • Don't neglect the so-called "special interest" groups. 
  • Some people, for various reasons, may be afraid to go to the library. Find out what you can do to alleviate that fear. 
  • If you read from your Powerpoint, you've already lost your audience. Similarly, make sure your voice is clear, audible, and has varying tones. 
  • Apps are a powerful tool, but make sure the ones you're using teach what you're trying to teach. Don't get caught up in the novelty of... well, novelty, and assume that using apps alone will make you more relevant.
  • Improvisation is necessary for growth. Creative problem solving and thinking on your feet can mean the difference between project implementation and shelving.
  • Don't be afraid to fail. Failure isn't a bad thing, it's a learning tool. 
  • Print is not dead. Just... no, it isn't. There are ways to resuscitate it if you look. 
  • The hardware of tablets is not what we're about now. What we sell when we sell tablets is the services they offer. 
  • Prepare your examples ahead of time, or make a video tutorial to demonstrate it instead of using it live. Know for sure that your programs and examples will do what they're supposed to in order to avoid looking foolish. 
  • Unglueit is a fabulous idea and a wonderful way to get content out to the public. 
  • SLOs are important, especially for elementary-aged students.
  • You don't have to be an educator to make use of the AASL standards, CCLS, SLOs, IEPs, APPRs, BBQs, and all sorts of other acronyms. 
  • Mobile websites are difficult to design and implement, but will boost the usefulness of your current website. 
  • Mobile websites need to be tested and trouble-shot on a number of different devices before they can be implemented, because all tablets, iDevices, and smartphones are not created equal. 
Of course, these are all filtered through the lens of my brain. Take what you want, or don't, and 

Cool people to follow on Twitter who I met at NYLA: 
  • Rebecca Stead (@rebstead), author
  • Eric Hellman (@gluejar), entrepreneur 
  • Polly-Alida Farrington, (@pollyalida), technoshaman
  • Unglueit (@unglueit), the aforementioned Creative Commons making program
  • Jenica Rogers (@jenica26), Rockstar Librarian and tech geek
  • Sue Kowalski (@spkowalski), Middle School Librarian 
  • David Weinberger (@dweinberger), author of the Cluetrain Manifesto
  • Toph Lawton (@HieAnon), presenter, TA, and Rockstar Librarian in training
...and of course, me, @IllyriasAcolyte. I do use Twitter, I swear. Watch me tweet. Well, as soon as I finish NaNoWriMo. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day Seven Writing Results

“Fair enough, I guess,” Quentin said dejectedly. Kristina rolled her eyes. No help there. Mark was going to get his ass kicked by an engaged fairy and it would be all her fault. She tapped lightly on his shoulder, and when he didn’t respond, she tapped harder. He shrugged her off, and she rolled her eyes. Kristina kicked him hard in the back of his knee. He went down on the floor. He wasn’t hurt, she knew that, and she had a lot more to say.
“Mark, what in the hell are you doing?” Kristina asked. She turned him around and faced the two gay men. Shortie was immediately welcoming of her, waving at her and wrapping her in a big hug. He smelled strongly of vodka and rum.
“Hi!” He shook her hand vigorously. “My name is Harrison Blunt. I just got engaged.” The smile wouldn’t drop from his face.
“I see that,” Kristina said, electing not to bring up her little tirade from a moment ago. “Who’s the lucky lady?”
“That would be me,” said the Giant, looking up from his phone. “Although I think only one of those qualifiers describes me right now.”
“We’re both very lucky,” Harrison said, blushing. “Do you want to see the ring?”
“I don’t think anyone in here has missed it,” said Kristina. She was trying hard to keep the condescending out of her voice and failing miserably, and she knew it. “It’s the size of Pennsylvania.”
“Jack spared no expense,” Harrison the Shortie said. He was still beaming with the light of a thousand fluorescent light bulbs, and it was just as annoying. “Isn’t it gorgeous? We may not have much in the way of material goods, but we’ve got each other, and that’s the important part.”
“Isn’t that… special?” Kristina said. She didn’t often try to be PC, but this was her night out, and she’d be damned if some saccharine gay couple would spoil it. “This is my friend, Mark. He and I used to date in high school.”
“Yeah, he told us,” Jack said as his ton dropped a bit lower. He patted Mark on the shoulders. “If you like, sweetie, we can give you some tips for dealing with guys.” 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day Six Writing Results

Kristina got back into her seat next to Aiden. She caved. Aiden raised his glass to her, and she clinked it as quietly as she could. Things weren’t going so badly so far. There was still nobody here, the pipe bomb had been disarmed, Scarlett was ready to play her stuff, and Kristina was out with friends that she hadn’t seen naked.  Going out with Nikki and Sarah separately was fun, but when all she saw was either one of them at a time, girls’ night out got a little repetitive. She loved seeing Sarah and Nikki socially, but they never brought friends.
She sipped from her beer while Aiden prattled on about something his boys had done at school, but Kristina wasn’t really listening. She was sure it was all very interesting to him, but she really couldn’t care less. She made it seem like she was paying attention by nodding at all the right moments, smiling and laughing, agreeing, and altogether keeping him talking. That was what you did when you were out with someone, right?
“Don’t you think so, Kristina?” Aiden turned to her with quizzical eyes.
“I try to avoid doing that at all costs,” Kristina replied.
“What was I talking about?”
“The mating habits of the East African crocodile,” Kristina guessed fruitlessly. “I zoned. Sorry. It happens sometimes. You should be used to it by now.”
“Yeah, probably,” Aiden replied. “But it’s just been so long. Do you pay attention to anything?”
“Of course I do,” she said. She pointed over at the bar, where the gay couple from before was seated. “You see those two over there? The Giant and the Shortie?”
“I don’t know that I would call them that,” Aiden said. “One of them is only slightly taller than the other.”
“Yeah, sure, but how else are we gonna tell them apart?” Kristina asked.
“One of them is a blonde, and the other is a brunette,” Mark offered helpfully. “That’d be the first thing I’d notice.”
“Whatever!” Kristina said with finality. “They’re dating, obviously.”
“Your powers of observation never cease to amaze me, Kristina.”
“Shut up, Liz. Let me finish: they’re not just dating, they’re recently engaged. Shortie has been flashing the ring all night long. He won’t put it away. It can’t have happened more than a few days ago, and it’s most likely that it happened earlier tonight. I bet I can tell you which one proposed. I bet it was the Giant.”
“You mean the one not wearing the engagement ring?”
“I’m not finished,” Kristina said. “I didn’t say that he necessarily wanted to propose. There’s some kind of pressure there. I’m not sure what, but my money is on a crumbling relationship. You see the guy he keeps making eyes at over on the other end of the bar?” She pointed over to where Cadie Harris was sitting, and the attractive young college guy who had come in with his girlfriend hadn’t noticed the Giant’s eyes. “He’s looking at other guys on the night of his own engagement? That is not a man who is ready to get married.”
“Maybe they know each other,” Aiden suggested. “The taller guy could be doing a double take. Maybe they don’t know each other.” The four friends watched as the Giant’s eyes flicked down to the college boy’s feet and traveled up his body before finally resting around his waist.
“I’m sure they’d like to know each other,” Kristina said condescendingly, patting Aiden on the leg. “Now shut up and let me finish. It could be a money thing. Look at the Giant. Look what he’s wearing.”
“He’s dressed to the nines for going out to a dive like this,” Liz said. “He’s got a button down and slacks. It’s not a bad one either. He looks like he just got off work.”
“Are you even paying attention?” Kristina said. “Don’t look at the clothes themselves, look at the brand and the wear. Look how faded his two-dollar loafers are. Look how frayed the laces have gotten at the edges. He’s worn those for a few years at least, if he didn’t grow up with them. His clothes are clearly Walmart brand knockoffs. Look at them. Do they look like the dress clothes of someone who has a real job?”
“What do you wear to work, Kristina?”
“I’m a stripper, Liz, I don’t wear anything,” Kristina snapped. “And the other guy, Shortie. T-shirt, jeans, sneakers. But look at them: the sneakers are clearly pretty new. The jeans don’t look like they’ve ever been washed. The t-shirt is a Hollister, so clearly he isn’t poor. We all know that Hollister costs an arm and a leg and your firstborn son.”
“As opposed to Hot Topic, which is so reasonably priced,” Mark quipped into his beer.  “Which is, of course, why you shopped there for most of high school.”
Kristina ignored him. “And look at Shortie’s ring. There’s nothing there. It’s just a regular old band of metal topped with cubic zirconium.”
“You can tell that from over here?”
“Look at the size of that thing,” Kristina said, pointing. “There’s no way a guy who wears those clothes can afford a diamond that size.”
“Mine’s bigger,” Liz said quietly.
“Motion of the ocean, dearie,” Kristina said with a sneer. “Let’s see, Shortie is going to college on daddy’s dime, the Giant is working somewhere around here doing something blue collar, construction or waitressing, probably, maybe bartending, though he isn’t quite pretty or cool enough for that. I bet he was a big fish in his high school, probably in sports – I mean seriously, look how built he is – but now the real world sucks and he wants to get married before he’s too old and no one will want him anymore. Sad, really.”
“You can’t possibly know that.”
“I can and I do,” Kristina said to Aiden. “Watch him slouch. Look at his fingernails. He’s got nothing there either. He has no money for a real engagement ring, no money for clothes, no job prospects, but this handsome guy is interested in him for some reason.”
“And why is that, all-knowing one?” Mark asked with a smile. “What reason could such an apparently rich guy have for wanting to marry such an apparent loser?”
“He’s all decked out in daddy’s money, but not daddy’s love,” Kristina said, which was more of a guess than she let on. “He wants somebody to take care of him when daddy’s money runs out.”
“Okay, you definitely don’t know that,” Aiden said. “How could you possibly know that.”
“Look how much he’s showing off that rock,” Kristina said. “Could he be trying to draw any more attention to himself?”
“Maybe he’s just happy.”
“If he was happy, he’d be showing off his fiancé instead,” Kristina replied. “If he was happy about the engagement, he’d be celebrating with his fiancé instead of hanging off of him like a scarf and showing the rock to everyone in sight. He’s happy about having emotional security. Watch him cross his arms when he’s at rest.” As if by magic, Shortie stopped talking and moments later, he crossed his arms across his chest.
“He’s trying to make himself small,” she went on. “It’s not cold in here, and he’s crossing his arms with the ring facing outward. He wants people to see it, but he still needs to hold his guts in with his forearms. He’s not confident, but he wants everyone to look at him. What an interesting contradiction. These people sound interesting, or at least they would be if I hadn’t just completely and totally figured them out.”
“From the looks of things, I’d guess that she’s got a handle on that,” Mark said. “I forgot how little fun you were when you pulled your Sherlock Scan, Kristina. Have some more beer.” And at that moment, the door opened, and a sharply dressed couple walked in.
“Clara!”Aiden thrust his hand in the air and waved her over to his seat. She had changed out of her pencil skirt and jacket and instead put on a dark red t-shirt and jeans. There was a man with her whom Kristina could only assume was Mr. Clara. What had she said his name was? Dukane? He was dressed smartly in a pinstripe suit that was completely and totally out of place in this dive. The two of them made their way over to the table, and Liz, who was on the end, scooted further around the circular booth to make room for the couple.
“Hello!” Clara said brightly. “I’m so excited you guys are all here. It’s been forever since we were last together. We were all such children then. It’s unreal.”
“Aren’t you going to introduce us to this strapping young gentleman?” Mark said as he raised his glass. “Well, introduce them. Quentin and I have already met. Haven’t we, Q? He likes it when I call him Q?”
“Sure, that can be the answer we go with,” Quentin replied. “I tolerate you because you’re related to someone I love.”
“That’s close enough, right?”
“I feel like you and I are going to get along swell, Quentin,” said Kristina. She cast Mark a sideways glance. “It’s not fair that you got to meet him first. If you’re not careful, you’ll make me jealous.”
“I’m a little insulted that I have to try,” Mark said as he threw a hand to his chest. “I had hoped my manly, rugged good looks were enough.”
“Aw, isn’t it cute? It thinks it’s manly,” Kristina cooed. “Look how adorable.”
“I don’t need this from you,” Mark said, pretending to be hurt. “I can get any guy or girl I want in this bar.”
“Including the one whose engaged?” Kristina scoffed at him and clapped him on the back. “Get on it, son. If you’re really so desirable, prove it. Steal the fiancé. I’d say we have faith in you, but that’s a lie.” Kristina pushed him out of the booth and he stumbled into the table next to it, apologizing to the couple whose table he knocked into. Kristina gave him an encouraging wave and he slipped over to the bar and waggled his eyebrows at Shortie.
“Oh god, I can’t watch,” Clara said, hiding her face in her hands. “Let me know when the train wreck is over.”
“Train wrecks are too slow, too difficult,” Liz said, watching Mark flirt. “This is definitely a car accident. It’s something you can’t see coming nearly as easily, and isn’t nearly as preventable. Oh god, it’s like watching a monkey drive a Prius.”
“Yeah, thanks for that,” Kristina said. She got up and began to walk towards him.
“Wasn’t this your idea?” Aiden asked.
“If he actually starts hitting on this guy he might get into a bar fight,” Kristina said. “And I am so not jumping in to save his ass when that happens. Are you?”
“I think I’m obligated to as his big sister,” Clara sighed. “Quentin, will you defend my honor on my behalf?”
“Do I have to?”
“Only if I tell you you have to.”
“Fair enough, I guess,” Quentin said dejectedly. Kristina rolled her eyes. No help there. Mark was going to get his ass kicked by an engaged fairy and it would be all her fault. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day Five Writing Results

Kristina lit her own cigarette and took a long, slow drag from it. “Is there any more mundane minutia you want me to take care of for you?”
“You talk funny.”
“Yeah, I know. You’re not the first person who said so. I like to see it as a personality quirk, something that makes me endearing. Is that all, then?”
“It is,” Scarlett said. “I’ll just go, then. Thank you. I have to be backstage for my set.” Scarlett walked towards the back entrance, and Kristina rolled her eyes and took another long smoke. She took the cigarette down just in time to see Scarlett turn her ankle and tumble to the ground with a soft cry. Kristina rolled her eyes again and tromped over to her. She offered the singer a hand.
“Did you just learn to walk yesterday?” Kristina said.
“It’s the heels,” Scarlett said. “I thought I’d be more used to walking with them by now, but I guess sometimes you never get used to these things.” She fished through her little purse for a moment. “My keys,” Scarlett said. “They fell under my car.”  She looked up at Kristina with pleading eyes.
Kristina sighed. “I’ll get them.” She got down on her belly and began to shimmy across the pavement underneath the car. While she was underneath Scarlett’s vehicle, she banged her head against something heavy, made of metal. Cursing loudly, she flung her hand to her head and pulled out from under the car. She pulled her hand away; no blood. Well, at least there was that. She was sure she hadn’t been high enough up to hit her head on anything significant, but she took a peek underneath regardless.
What she saw was a tangle of wires and soldered metal. The pipes were duct taped together underneath her car, with a triggering device wired to the insides of the pipes, likely containing some sort of gunpowder or C4. Kristina owned a well-read copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook. She immediately pulled out her own key ring, ignoring Scarlett’s confused cries of terror, bundled the trigger wires in her left hand, and cut them loose. She shimmied out from under the car and stood up, grabbing Scarlett by the shoulders.
“You had a fucking car bomb underneath your fucking car!” Kristina yelled. “What the hell is wrong with you!? How do you not notice that?”
“How could I?” Scarlett asked, panicking. “It was underneath my car! I don’t generally look underneath my car when I drive it.”
“You didn’t notice that it felt different? Heavier?”
“How much heavier could it have been?”
“Enough to be able to tell,” Kristina replied. “Cars are sensitive, moron. A change in weight will affect the feel of your driving if you’re smart and you pay attention. Haven’t you ever driven home with too many groceries?”
“I don’t think this is the same-”
“Whatever,” Kristina interrupted. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and began to dial 911. Scarlett slapped the phone out of her hand, but Kristina caught it.
“What are you doing!?” Scarlett screamed. “I’m being followed! If you call the police, they’ll come for me.”
“You want that. You need to tell the police, Scarlett,” Kristina warned her. “Like, right now. There’s a bomb under your car. It didn’t hop on for a free ride. Someone put it there on purpose.”
“Yeah, but you disarmed it.”
“I cut the wires leading to the trigger mechanism,” Kristina said. “That’s not enough for me to feel like the bomb is ‘disarmed’. Can we at least wait to use that word until it’s off of your car?”
“Okay, I suppose you know best,” Scarlett allowed. “Are you sure that you know what you’re doing?”
“No, not remotely,” Kristina said, finishing her cigarette. “Which is why we need to call the cops.”
“I have to go onstage, Kristina,” Scarlett said. Her eyes were large and pleading again.
“What, have you got millions of fans to disappoint!?”
“No, I’ve got to get up there to show whoever put that bomb under my car that he can’t control me,” Scarlett said. Her gloved hands gripped Kristina’s shoulders tightly. “I can’t let him win. I can’t let him scare me off.”
“How do you feel about him killing you off?”
“I don’t want to die, but I can’t let him win, either,” she replied with desperation in her voice. “Please help me. Just keep an eye out for people in the bar. Look for anyone suspicious. I can tell from your writing that you have such good situational awareness; you’re sure to notice anyone suspicious lurking around, right?”
“I will, but you know who would be better at this job?” Kristina asked. “The fucking police department! It’s their jobs, their careers, to do all this stuff. They would be able to help you a damn sight better than my sorry ass! You need to get some professionals on this shit, Scarlett, and quickly.”
“Okay, after my set, I’ll call the police,” Scarlett said.
“Honey, you’re playing Billy Joel tunes at a piano bar in the middle of Sodom and fucking Gomorrah ” Kristina said severely. “No one cares if you finish or even start your set. You need to call the cops and get them on this before you literally explode, or someone shoots you.”
“I promise, after I get off the piano,” Scarlett repeated. “The minute I get off the piano, I’ll call the police. Unless you see someone suspicious, then you should probably shoot them or something.”
“I’m pretty sure that was a joke, but I’ going to take you literally there,” Kristina said. “Is cancer time over? Can we get away from all the car bombs and shit and just go inside?” Kristina’s brown eyes caught Scarlett’s, and Kristina tried desperately not to melt. Kristina put a hand on Scarlett’s shoulder and guided her carefully towards the door. Scarlett’s hand snaked behind her and rested on the small of her back. Kristina’s breathing sped up and she removed her hand.
“The door.” Kristina pushed the door open and waved Scarlett inside the bar. “You have a set to finish. Scarlett floated through the entrance, past the bouncer, and Kristina began to worry.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day Four Writing Results

The walls were also made of brick, and all along them were corkboards peppered with flyers, business cards, lost cat posters, and the like. Advertisements for bands were the most popular kind, and there were even a few playing here on some weekends, after the main event, of course.
The main event was more than obvious: in the far corner, back up against the wall, sat two baby grand pianos, black as Ann Coulter’s heart, but a thousand times more gorgeous. Kristina hadn’t seen many pianos up close – she wasn’t really involved in music programs or band, so most of the pianos she saw were on television – but she had always hoped they would be this beautiful. She wanted to go over and touch them, but she figured that would be against the rules. This must be the dueling piano part of the bar. Kristina sincerely hoped that two people would pick the pianos up and wield them like broadswords, but that was unlikely, awesome though it would be. 
There weren’t that many people in the bar that night. Kristina counted six aside from herself. A gay couple sat at the bar, nursing something that looked like hot chocolate. The other group consisted of two people Kristina didn’t recognize, a college-aged boy and two girls. They were sitting in the corner with a pitcher of beer. Cadie Harris was the third person at the table. Kristina tried to make herself small so Cadie wouldn’t see her. That was the last thing she needed tonight, to run into one of her students out on her first night of drinking this semester, especially that student. The last person was someone she knew all too well. Mark Eddowes, Clara’s brother, waved her over to the corner of the bar nearest the pianos.
“Long time, no see, Kris,” he said with a grin. Mark always had a grin on his face. He shared Clara’s sandy blond hair, but his wasn’t as neatly kept. He was wearing a plaid button-up and nicer jeans than she remembered being part of his wardrobe, and his arms were crossed over his chest.
“Don’t call me Kris,” Kristina reminded him.
“You used to love that in high school.”
“I also used to love Tim Burton in high school,” she said. “Now I’m old enough to know better.” Kristina flagged down the bartender, a pretty little thing with short, dark hair, and ordered a beer.
“You’re only getting one? You’ve changed, sweetheart,” Mark said. He swallowed the rest of his drink and ordered another one from the same bartender. He took a sip from it and set it back down on the table with a loud smack. “But I suppose the night is young, and so are we. Are you still single?”
“It’s complicated,” Kristina said. It was not worth explaining what she had with Nikki and Sarah to Mark. He would probably be all for the concept of polyamory and free love (read: the freedom to be a man slut), but wouldn’t understand that Kristina didn’t just need both women for sex.
“Everything about you is complicated,” Mark replied with an audible sigh. “You don’t seem to have changed much.”
“Neither have you,” Kristina said, trying not to stare at his hips or crotch. “You’re still hitting on everything that moves.”
“When you look like this, you have to spread the wealth,” he said, sweeping his arms up and down his body to indicate how hot he thought he was. Kristina rolled her eyes. “Why, keeping this body monogamous would be a crime, don’t you agree?”
“Yes, I do,” Kristina said. “Adultery is a crime in this state, right?”
“Only if the Republicans have their way,” Mark quipped. “But in all seriousness, how have you been? You kind of fell off the map after we graduated from high school. I live an hour away from here, and this is the first time I’ve seen you since then. How is that even possible?”
“I’m a very private person,” Kristina admitted after taking a sip of beer. “I don’t really get out much.”
“Now that I don’t believe,” Mark said. “What happened to the girl who would hold me down and take my lunch money in fourth grade? What happened to the overconfident chick who would buy us beer for our parties? You used to be so awesome.”
“I’m still fairly awesome,” Kristina rationalized. “I just have a job now, a career. I have a life, two relationships to maintain, a doctoral program to study for, a writing career to start, and all sorts of shit to keep me busy. I can’t go out drinking every night like we did in high school and undergrad.”
“Maybe not every night, but more than once a semester,” Mark said. “When was the last time you were out?”
“Last August, maybe?”
“You don’t remember?”
“It was a while ago.”
“That’s my point exactly,” Mark said. “Why don’t you come visit me more often? I live an hour away and you never come and see me. What happened to the whole Fab Five thing?”
“You do live an hour away,” Kristina repeated. “And strangely, you never bothered to contact me, either. You keep saying that I should come visit you, but when was the last time you tried to get in contact with me?”
“Your sophomore year, when you told me to eat a dick?”
“Yeah, and you haven’t since.”
“You made it very clear that I wasn’t supposed to.”
“You’re right, I did,” Kristina said. “Why do you suppose that was?”
“Because I’m too much awesome for you to handle?”
“Because you can’t keep your hands to yourself,” she said. “When dealing with me or with anyone, really. Sarah and I have an agreement now: we can both sleep around as long as we agree to it before hand. She chooses not to, and I’ve only got one other partner. It works out great. With you, you’d sleep around and not tell me. You wouldn’t be careful, you never were, and everything would go to hell in a hand basket pretty goddamn quick. You know that.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” he said. “We were always pretty disastrous as a couple.”
“Not nearly as bad as Liz and Aiden,” Kristina said. “Speaking of, where are they?” Not a subtle subject change, but it would work.
“Clara and her douche husband are going to be late,” Mark said. “And Liz and Aiden went out to the ATM.”
“Let me guess,” Kristina ventured. “She had the idea and he followed her out like a little hound dog.” 
“Just like high school all over again,” Mark agreed. “Aiden hasn’t had an original thought since he came out of the womb, poor guy.”
“That’s why he and Liz make such a great couple,” Kristina replied. “She likes ordering people around and he likes taking orders. They’re a perfect match, made in Heaven and all that.”
“I thought you didn’t believe in Heaven.”
“And I thought you were smart enough to take the hint that I’m done talking about me.”
“Maybe if you talked about yourself a little more, you’d have gone out more than once in the past year.”
“What is the matter with you?” Kristina said. She began to raise her voice. “You say things like that to me and I’ll feed you your own testicles. Maybe I just don’t want to talk about myself. Ever thought of that, asshole? Maybe I don’t want you to be in on my life. What now?” Kristina was right in his face, practically spitting all over him.
“Getting a little out of hand, aren’t we, sweetheart?” Mark said.
“Don’t call me sweetheart either,” Kristina spat. “I’m not your sweetheart.”
“Calm down, Kristina. You’re such a drama queen. You always have been.” Standing near the door was another member of Kristina’s former clique, Liz Pryce, or, according to Clara, Liz Pryce-Caughdenoy. She hyphenated her name because she’s better than everyone else. You know she is because only the best kinds of people wear their power suits to the bar and pin their hair up in an obnoxious beehive.
“Liz,” Kristina said. “How are you? How’s your dog?”
“You know Aiden and I don’t have a dog,” Liz replied. “How’s your cat?”
“He’s doing well, actually,” Kristina replied coldly. “He’s visiting Sarah’s parents. Sarah is there as well. They’re having a lovely time bonding, or so I hear.”
“How nice,” Liz replied, uncrossing her arms. “I’m glad that you two are getting along so well.”
“Geez, if you ladies weren’t ladies I’d tell you to just whip it out and measure so you could get it over with,” Mark said as he took another swig of his beer. “What is up with you two?”
“We’re best friends, obviously,” Kristina said sarcastically. “She and I have our differences, but we trade barbs because we love each other, or something like that.”
“It’s like high school all over again,” Liz said with an exasperated sigh.
“Yeah, I find that life often is,” Kristina replied. “That’s the reason why so many people hate it so much.”
“What are you babbling about?” Liz asked. “Aiden, would you like something to drink?”
“Nothing for me, hon,” he said. “I’m driving home, remember?”
“You can’t have one drink?”
“Maybe later, Liz,” Aiden said. “Why don’t you get yourself something nice? Let me buy you something.”
“No, it’s alright,” Liz said. “Today was payday anyways. I can get you a drink if you like.”
“Get yourself a drink,” Aiden repeated calmly. “I’ll stay here and catch up with Kristina and Mark.” Liz smiled warmly at him, glared coldly at Kristina, waved at Mark, and made her way towards the bartender. Aiden turned away from her and touched Kristina lightly on the shoulder.
“How are you, Kristina?”
“I’m fine, Aiden,” Kristina replied. “You’re a brave man to marry that Ice Queen.”
“She’s not that bad,” Aiden said defensively. “She’s nice to me most of the time, except when she gets stressed out from work; then she kind of shuts down. Other than that, though, being married to her is great.”
“Please tell me she’s a stay at home mom,” Kristina pleaded.
“Actually, I stay home with the boys most of the time,” Aiden said. “I like it. It’s good to have a chance to get to know my kids. They’re good boys. Roan, our oldest, is in band this year. He plays trumpet. He’s… well, he’s not very good. He’ll get better, I’m sure.”
“I’m sure,” Kristina repeated. She tried very hard not to lose her focus. Aiden was a nice guy. “He sounds like a great boy.”
“Kurt, his little brother, he’s the same way,” Aiden said, beaming. “He’s going to turn into a wonderful young man someday, just like his brother.”
“And his daddy,” Kristina added, and Aiden’s smile got even wider. “Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good set up there, Aiden.”
“It keeps me busy and happy,” Aiden said with a smile. “It really is nice to see you. How have you been?”
“Really good,” Kristina replied. “I’m looking into getting my doctorate, I’m in a healthy relationship, and my cat loves me. Things are looking pretty good for me right about now. I’m working at Devlin for Professor Atkinson.”
“I didn’t go to that college, so I have no idea of who that is.”
“She was kind of my mentor in undergrad,” Kristina replied. “She’s a professor of Mythology and History at Devlin, and she won a bunch of awards from some museum. She’s incredibly smart. I’m really lucky to get to work for her. She may not be doing very exciting things at Devlin, but she’s more than willing to help me do some later in my career.”
“Oh, good for her,” Aiden said. “Well, I hope you succeed. You were always so smart. I half expected you to become president someday.”
“Let’s not get out of hand,” Kristina said. “That is one hot potato I’m throwing at somebody else if I ever get the chance. No one comes out of that looking okay.”
“But still, it’s good that you have something positive going on,” Aiden said. “The other half of me expected to hear that you’d been found in a gutter somewhere, or somebody would find your body, all hollowed out and emaciated from drug use or something.”
“Was that really something everyone agreed on?”
“Not everyone,” Aiden replied sheepishly. “But not no one.”
“Great,” Kristina mumbled.
The ditzy bartender who Kristina had ordered her drink from set another down on the table for Aiden. “From the blonde woman over at that table.” The bartender pointed over to where Liz and Mark were sitting. Aiden sighed deeply. He walked away from her and went to sit down with his wife and Mark Eddowes at a table over by the pianos, probably hoping to get a good seat for the upcoming musical number. Kristina figured she should join them any minute now, but Clara still wasn’t here. She had no idea where Clara was. Wasn’t it her idea to meet here? She must not have wanted to come in the first place. She was probably just being polite, and Mark and Aiden and Liz had shown up here by accident. That must have been what happened; either that, or Clara was trying to prank her for all the stuff Kristina pulled in high school. Kristina never put much thought into what other people thought of her. She couldn’t have cared less. She didn’t care in high school, and she cared even less now, but she wanted Clara to show up and go drinking.
“Kristina, come sit with us,” Mark said. “We have a pitcher now. Come have another beer.”
“I’d rather fellate a cactus,” Kristina said. She downed the rest of her drink and grabbed her coat. “Clearly, this was a mistake. This was fun. Let’s do it again next decade.” Kristina stomped out, slinging her coat over her shoulders and thrusting her arms inside the sleeves. She stormed out the door, pushing her way past the bouncer. The night air stung her cheeks, and she really wished she brought something to cover her face. Kristina ducked into an alley near where she parked her car, and tugged her coat closer around her chilly arms. She saw someone out there, taking a drag from their own cigarette. The figure wasn’t in the light quiet yet, but Kristina could tell it was a woman.
“Excuse me,” Kristina said. The figure stopped smoking and turned her way. “Are you feeling all right?” The figure came into the light, and Kristina could see her more clearly.
“You’re Kristina Pagan, right?” The woman had dark hair cropped at her shoulders and big brown eyes, like a deer. Her bright red dress hugged her curves in ways Kristina hadn’t seen on many women before, and she wore elbow-length red opera gloves. Why she was dressed like that, Kristina had no idea. She recognized the woman from somewhere, but couldn’t place exactly where it was.
“That depends,” she said. “Who’s asking?”
“Someone who really needs your help,” she replied. “I work here in the Dingy Den.” And then it hit Kristina: this was Scarlett Powers.
“What’s the matter?” Kristina was trying not to act starstruck. “You want to know which god to pray to to revitalize your performing career? Cuz that’s about all I can help you with.”
Scarlett leaned in closer and whispered in Kristina’s ear. “I need you to help me get out of here.” A chill raced down Kristina’s spine as Scarlett’s breath hit the most vulnerable part of her flesh. “I’m in a lot of danger here in Morhurst, and I need to get out. Can you help me do that?”
“Maybe,” Kristina said breathily. “But why me? What have I got that you can’t do yourself?”
“You’re the mystery writer, yes?” Scarlett said, and Kristina tried once again to keep her eyes from lighting up. She had no idea that anyone had actually read her book. “You wrote One for the Road?”
“I did,” Kristina replied, still failing to contain her excitement. “I had no idea anyone bought it. Did you buy the eBook or the paperback, because I get more money if-”
“Please,” Scarlett said. “I have to get out of here, and you were the only person I could think of who could help me.”
“What about your co-workers?”
“What about them?” Scarlett said with worry in her voice. “Paul hates me and would rather see my car explode, Molly has barely even noticed that something is wrong she’s so oblivious, Brandy has kids to worry about, and Miranda just wants to milk her cash cow.”
“I don’t know who any of those people are.”
“Just take my word for it when I say that there’s no one else I can ask,” Scarlett hissed. Her eyes were wide and desperate. “You have to help me, Kristina.”
“Okay, I mean, if I can I will, but I have no idea how you expect me to help,” Kristina said. “What do you want me to do?”
“You’re a mystery writer and a mystery fan, right?” Scarlett said. “There’s something very, very wrong around me. Every city I’ve been to in the past few years, there have been some pretty horrific murders. A girl was strangled in the hotel room next to mine in Chicago. In New York City, my pianist was shot in the head. Buffalo was the city where those five people were killed in back of that club.”
“Um, sweetheart, you toured in Chicago, New York City, and Buffalo,” Kristina said. “I’m pretty sure that not all the murders in those cities have to do with you, but if they do, kudos. That’s quite an accomplishment.”
“You’re not listening to me, Kristina,” Scarlett pleaded. “Someone is following me. Someone is following me around and killing people around me. I know it. I can feel it in my gut. There is something wrong here. I need your help, Kristina.”
“Okay, fine,” Kristina replied defensively. “What do you want me to do?”
“Solve the mystery, obviously,” Scarlett said. “Before I’m next.”
“Do you think you’re in danger of being next?”
“I think it’s possible enough that I don’t want to tempt fate,” Scarlett said. “I took this job to get away from the private concert scene. No one I work with knows where I live. I don’t have any regular hang out spots, and I tried to keep my personal life as private as possible. This is the only place where someone would regularly be able to catch me. I don’t know if he’s followed me here tonight, but since you’re here, could you keep an eye out?”
“Yeah, whatever,” Kristina replied. “I’ll keep an eye out for shady people, you know, if there are any around.”

Agents of S.T.E.A.L: A World-Hopping Hunting Game Using Google Earth

The sinister syndicate of S.T.E.A.L., or the Syndicate for Total Earth and Artifact Liberation, has stolen ten major artifacts from five museums around the world. Their leader, world-renowned crime boss Snee Kee, has orchestrated the most daring heist the world has ever seen. He would organize five of the greatest international thieves to steal five important artifacts from major museums all around the world:

  • Sacre Blue, the famous French thief, took the statue of Winged Victory from the Louvre,
  • Hal Capone, the famous American thief, stole a rare statue from the Hun Dynsasty out of the Met,
  • Maury Arty, the famous English thief, stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London,
  • Al Dente, the famous Italian thief, stole La Pieta from the Vatican,
  • Peter Burg, the famous Russian thief, stole a suit of armor from the Hermatate in St. Petersburg,
Each of the five master thieves fled the country, and based on the intelligence of the head of operations (the teacher/teaching librarian), agents will use Google Earth to track the path of the suspects and recover the stolen goods! This project would ideally be done with older elementary age students, probably grades 3-5, and would help children demonstrate digital literacy and searching skills, as well as following directions. 

3.WS.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life.

Day 3 Writing Results

I know, I'm a little late, but it was a Saturday night, and I had a party to go to at my friend Lauren's house. 

“They aren’t all like that,” Nikki sighed. “Some of them are more interesting, and you know it. You’ve just got to show them the brilliant gal that I know and occasionally have kinky sex with.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” Kristina said. “I am pretty brilliant, and not all murders are straightforward. I want to do something that interests me, you know? I want to do something I’m good at. I want to get my doctorate. I want to be able to run my own museum. I want to have my life mean something, be something, you know?”
“I do,” she replied. “That’s why I’m a coroner. I get to help figure out whodunit, just like you want to. Really, how many mysteries can you get into running a museum?”
“Probably not as many as if I worked as a homicide detective,” Kristina admitted. “But I’ll talk to your chief about it later, if I want. I really can’t handle TAing, studying for my doctorate, and applying for a new job, all at the same time. Plus, isn’t detective work kind of a career thing that you have to put in several years as a cop first to get? I’m more about committing or enabling petty crime than stopping it. Can you imagine me as a police woman?”
“Are you trying to turn me on?” Nikki said with a grin. “You could get a pair of handcuffs, read me my rights, and then violate the hell out of them, and preferably me as well.”
“Is sex all you can think about?”
“No, sometimes I think about BDSM,” Nikki quipped. “And I think sometimes, you do too.”
“Maybe more than sometimes,” Kristina said. “Maybe a lot of times.” Nikki grabbed Kristina by the wrists and pinned them to her pillow. She crashed her mouth into Kristina’s and positioned herself on top of the other woman. Kristina suppressed a moan and wedged her foot against Nikki’s chest, kicking her off. Nikki fell backwards off the bed, which had no footboard, as she pulled Kristina with her. Kristina wrenched her wrists out of Nikki’s hands and grabbed her by the neck, crashing their mouths together again into a violent kiss. She rolled out of the bed and onto the floor, grabbing a pair of mostly clean jeans off the rug in front of the dresser. She tugged them on over her legs and buttoned them up before yanking the middle drawer open and grabbing a shirt. It was a dark maroon T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of some store whose name eluded Kristina, and it went rather nicely with the jeans, as far as Kristina knew about any of that stuff.
“You’re no fun,” Nikki moped as Kristina pulled the shirt over her head. “But I hope you enjoy yourself tonight.”
“Thanks,” Kristina replied as she smoothed out the wrinkles in the shirt as she grabbed her coat off the floor, closer to the exit. “I’ll probably be back around two AM. I can drive there myself. I’ll drive home too. I don’t plan on getting too crazy. I do have about twenty more papers to grade before Monday.” And with that, Kristina marched out the door to go out to the bars for the first time in months.
 Kristina had never been out to the Dingy Den before. She’d heard of it – mostly because it would be impossible not to – and she’d always wanted to go, but all the other times, she’d come up with so many good excuses:
As she walked down the brightly lit street on the way to the bar, her hands curled around her keys. She didn’t expect to need a weapon, but in Morhurst, you never knew what to expect, and it was always good to be prepared. She took her hands out of the pockets of her peacoat, holding her car key between her pointer and middle fingers, again, just in case.
It was mid-November in Western New York, and the peacoat was essential at this point. Buffalo had gotten slammed with snow not a few days earlier, and if Buffalo was getting snow, Devlin couldn’t be too far behind. They’d already gotten a light dusting this month, but nothing that stayed. Still, it was an ill omen, and Kristina had lived in Devlin since she enrolled there at eighteen, almost a decade ago, so she knew what to expect by this point.
The Dingy Den looked pretty close to what she expected from Morhurst. It was a sturdy old building built of brick, nestled in between two others practically identical to it. The door was heavy and made of old oak, and the windows were made of some pretty impressively thick-looking glass. The sign was newly painted, and the words were scrawled on it in swirling blue letters on a black background. It had a very ethereal feel to it, which was weird for a bar.
At the door, Kristina produced her driver’s license for the bouncer, one of those gym rats who looked like they could bench press a car if they wanted. He took it, looked at the not-so-recent picture of the innocent sixteen-year-old girl with mousy brown hair and braces, and took a look at Kristina. She ran a hand through her pink hair and sighed, trying to cover her exasperation.
“I haven’t bothered to update my driver’s license photo in a long ass time,” she clarified. “It’s me though, I promise. I can show you my Devlin ID if you need more proof.”
“No, this should be okay,” he said, and handed her license back to her. “You’re not driving home right?”
“No, I’m meeting someone inside whose driving later,” she lied, and took her license back. “I’m pretty responsible.” That part, on the other hand, was probably true, or at least as true as a statement like that could be.
“Have fun,” he said, and waved her inside. The inside was decked out with old-fashioned LPs all over the walls, signed and hastily scribbled by various artists. Kristina doubted the authenticity of most of them, especially the most prominent one, the White Album, which hung above the bar. It was supposedly signed by all four Beatles, but Kristina didn’t believe for a second that a one of them had ventured into Devlin, not even for gas, but it was an amusing visual, so mission accomplished, she supposed.
The walls were also made of brick, and all along them were corkboards peppered with flyers, business cards, lost cat posters, and the like. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2

I'm going to pick up from the previous paragraph because I think I posted (I know I wrote, at least) the wrong last name for Clara's character. 

“My office hours are almost over, actually, so if you’ll come back later, I can…” Kristina trailed off when she saw who was at the door. A smile crept across her face. “Clara. Clara Eddowes.”
The blonde lady standing in her doorway smiled warmly. “It’s actually Clara Dukane now.”
“Wow,” Kristina marveled. “You’re joining the ranks of wedded bliss, eh? That’s exciting. I expect you’ll be farting out a couple of kids pretty soon.”
“I’m actually planning on having them the old fashioned way, with my lady parts,” Clara said with a smile. “I came up for a conference and thought I’d come visit you. I knew you still lived in Devlin but I didn’t know you worked here now.”
“Yup, go Angels,” Kristina said. She’d always loved the irony of the team name for her college. It had almost coaxed her into playing a sport, almost. “If I was going to work anywhere, I’d rather it be for Professor Atkinson.”
“What else can you do with a Bachelor’s in mythology?”
“Quite a bit, actually,” Kristina said. “I’m studying to get my Doctorate in Mythology. Hopefully, I can become a museum curator and run my own wing someday.”
“That sounds very exciting,” Clara said with a grin. “Listen, the reason I came up to say hello is because my husband and I are in town, Liz and Aiden are in the next town over visiting relatives – his I think – and Mark lives just an hour or so south of here. I thought it might be high time to resurrect the Fab Five. How would you feel about that?” Kristina tried not to let her eyes light up. She hadn’t seen the Fab Five since they parted ways at the end of high school.
Kristina was the Lancer  in her high school clique, the Fab Five, to which she later applied the concept of a Five Man Band (Kristina would never admit it aloud, but she spent too much time browsing TVTropes). Clara was the popular one, the Leader, the one who everyone knew and got along with. She was in marching band, jazz band, honor roll, graduated in the top one percent of her class, and everyone who was anyone wanted to work with her. Kristina was the Lancer, the second-in-command, and Clara’s best friend as well as her polar opposite. Liz was the Smart Guy, the one who aced every test and came up with every plan. Mark was definitely the Big Guy, the muscular one, the one who stood up to most of their physical challenges, and Aiden fell squarely into the role of the Chick, the heart of the team. If only he got a monkey for a sidekick, he might have been remembered as a major member of the group by others instead of that weird kid who hangs out around someone else’s clique.
“I haven’t seen them in such a long time,” Kristina mused. “What are they up to now?”
“Well, Liz and Aiden got married, to the earth-shattering surprise of absolutely no one, and Mark is… well, you’d probably do better to see for yourself when you come out with us tonight.”
“Oh, I’m coming out with you tonight, am I?” Kristina asked, raising an eyebrow. “Were you planning on telling me that?”
“I’m telling you now, slowpoke,” Clara said, snapping her fingers. “Catch up.”
“Oh I can’t, see, I have very important plans tonight,” Kristina said. She threw her hands up in the air in a mock gesture of hopelessness. “I’ve got very important plans to stay inside with Rigel. We’re going to be watching a movie and eating ice cream together off the same spoon.”
“Is Rigel your boyfriend?”
“He’s my cat.”
“So he’s a substitute for a boyfriend.”
“I’ll have you know I’m in a happy, stable relationship with two different women,” Kristina said. “We’re all three of us okay with it, and there’s probably still room for more.”
“I should have known you’d never be able to share,” Clara replied warmly. “Maybe you’ll meet a nice new gal when you come out to the bars with us tonight.”
“I haven’t been out drinking in quite some time,” Kristina said. “I don’t know if I have any cash on me either. In fact, why don’t you ask me again next weekend? I get paid next Thursday, so I’ll be more able to do something then.”
“Yes, but you’re missing the part where I won’t be here then,” Clara said. “You won’t get to meet my husband, you won’t get to see Mark for the first time in almost a decade, Liz and Aiden will have to get rid of their babysitter-”
“Liz has kids.” Kristina could not believe what she was hearing. Liz Pryce would never in her life have had any patience for children.
“Liz and Aiden have two boys,” Clara clarified. “Roan and Kurt. They’re absolutely adorable, though you probably wouldn’t want anything to do with them. If I recall, the only person less likely to have a gaggle of rugrats was you, Kristina.”
“Elizabeth Susanna Pryce has children,” Kristina repeated. “I’m still not over that. Are you sure she hasn’t been replaced with a pod person or something?”
“It’s highly likely,” Clara said. “But then her kids would be pod people as well. I think that’s how pod people work. You’ll have to ask her when you go out with us tonight.”
“You’re really dead set on my coming aren’t you?”
“Almost as dead set as you are on not coming.”
“I would like to see the gang again,” Kristina said wistfully. “It’s been way too long.
“We’re going out to the Dingy Den in Morhurst,” Clara said. Morhurst was the next town over, and was considerably more like a real city that Devlin’s sheltered little bubble allowed it to be. “We’ll show up around eight. You should meet us there. I’ve never been to a dueling piano bar before. I’m not even sure what it is, really.”
“I may meet you there,” Kristina said. “But I wouldn’t hold your breath. I’ve got to go.” Kristina hurriedly packed her lunch and her laptop into her backpack and stood up. “Thanks for the invite.”
“No problem,” Clara said, but Kristina barely heard her as she pushed past her in an effort to get out the door. “I’ll see you later?” But Kristina was already long gone down the hall.
“I don’t know if I want to go or not.” Kristina was in Morhurst, wrapped in a blanket. The waning light of the Friday afternoon streamed in through the open window of Nikki Carson’s apartment. Kristina’s clothes lay in a crumpled heap on the floor, and the weather was just right so that she could be comfortable naked, not too hot and not too cold. She didn’t typically talk with Nikki about her social life, but with Sarah out of town…
“Fuck ‘em,” Nikki said bluntly. “You should stay here and have sex some more.” Her clothes had also been lost about an hour ago, almost as soon as Kristina walked in her door. They’d turn up eventually. They always did. Fortunately, Nikki and Kristina were about the same size, so they could share clothes, though Kristina didn’t much feel like going out dressed as Nikki Carson. Her clothes all smelled like cigarette smoke, and they were mostly sweaters, which wasn’t exactly her style.
“As much as I enjoy your carnal company,” Kristina began. “I haven’t seen these people in almost a decade. I adored them then, and I’ll probably still adore them now. I at least owe it to them to try, right? These people got me through high school and kept me sane.”
“You don’t owe them anything, Kris,” Nikki told her as she took a long drag from her cigarette. “You’re much cooler than everyone else that works at that college.”
“Please don’t call me Kris,” Kristina replied. “And I know you think Devlin is a scam.”
“All I’m saying is that I can learn all the same things from Wikipedia that you learn from your fancy college,” Nikki rationalized. “Either that or Google.”
“Because of course, the internet never lies.”
“There’s Google Scholar,” Nikki said. “And any normal person knows how to parse information from the internet. It’s a skill everyone is born with.”
“No, honey, I promise it isn’t,” Kristina said. She rubbed her temples and tried not to think of Cadie Harris. “Besides, they pay me. If I had no money, I’d have no home, and I’d have to live regularly with you instead of Sarah, and wouldn’t that be the worst thing in the world?”
“Yeah, probably,” Nikki mused, taking yet another deep drag of her cigarette before it fizzed out and went dark. “I’m not exactly the domestic type.”
“Yeah, me neither,” Kristina replied as she stared out the window. “I’m also not exactly the ‘go out to bars with friends’ type. I’m more the ‘drink scotch alone while watching television’ type.”  
“I have some scotch,” Nikki said. “Would you like some? I’ll trade you some for my blanket back.” A mischievous smile crossed her face and she effortlessly flicked her cigarette into the garbage without looking at it. She was quite talented at that. She was still completely naked, and Kristina had trouble focusing on her eyes.
“Do you want to stay?” Nikki asked as she stepped lightly over a discarded pair of jeans with no clear owner and crawled onto the bed. “You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to. You know that right?”
“I know that,” Kristina answered. “I want to stay. On the other hand, I really should go. Clara and I were practically sisters in high school. We haven’t talked in almost a decade. We should have talked at least once since then. I didn’t go to my high school reunion. Clara and I went to different colleges. She lives and works in California. She’s married now. Liz is married now, with kids. What am I doing with my life?”
“You’re wasting time in that college doing bitch work for Kendra Atkinson,” Nikki responded as she entwined their legs together. “You should spend more of it here with me. Better yet, I’ll get you into the Morhurst PD. You would make a kick-ass detective, and you’d get to do something with your life. How would you like that?”
“It would be nice,” Kristina said noncommittally.
“But?” Nikki added. “You have but face.”
“But I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do,” Kristina finished. “Where am I going to go? What happens when Sarah graduates, and she wants to move?”
“Can we not talk about that?” Nikki said with a sigh. She rolled her eyes. “You said that we wouldn’t have to talk about relationship stuff. You have a whole other girlfriend for that. You and I are pretty much just about the sex. Sarah doesn’t seem like the type to handcuff you to the headboard.”
“I think she would be much more comfortable letting you do it,” Kristina agreed. “But you know what I mean. I don’t know if I want to go work for the Morhurst PD. All the murders there are so generic. They’re all stabbings and shootings for terribly pedestrian reasons. How’s a gal supposed to exercise her brain solving a case where a husband shoots his cheating wife practically in broad daylight?”