Saturday, November 4, 2017

London, While I'm in the Neighborhood

S.R. Karfelt, writing, author, writers life, Glitter Globe

My hope was to have a book signing while I was in the neighborhood, but it didn’t work out. That’s okay. I’ve gotten business trips and vacations horribly mixed up from my years in the engineering world.

Like when I’d be stuck at the optical fiber conference and on the west coast it seemed a good chance to stop and visit a customer in Arizona. That’s how it goes when you have a small business. Multi-tasking is mandatory. I could stay with friends in Tucson and take care of business while seeing friends I’d otherwise probably not have the opportunity to visit.

That business is sold and I’ve moved onto my dream of writing full-time now. Still when I’m planning a trip I consider what else I can do while I’m there.

It’s like when you go upstairs to get the laundry; you grab a stray coat, pick up dirty glasses, and clean a toilet. While you’re in the neighborhood.

While at a workshop another writer invited me to come visit her sometime. You have to be really careful when you invite me to visit sometime. I just might show up. I said as much. She proceeded to tell me what dates would work for her. It took some back and forth, and a couple months of pushing the trip to a more convenient time, but it’s finally happening!

Still, once we had the dates down, I did google bookstores in that area of London and spotted a familiar one. So I called my publisher and asked if I could have a book signing there. In the end it didn’t work out, but I tried. On top of that I decided that while I was in the area I needed to take a tour to see Stonehenge. I’ve never been to Stonehenge. That tour also takes you to Bath. You know, while you’re in the neighborhood.

When I mentioned I’d be staying in the Watford area of London, someone told me that’s where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Well. That set off a whole new round of WHAT!!!! CAN I GO THERE WHILE I’M IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD? My Watford friend was willing by now because I’d already done the whole book signing yes, no, yes, no thing to her. Not to mention the whole should I take the tour that goes to Stonehenge AND Bath or the one that goes to Stonehenge and Cotswold? The Cotswold one offers tea with clotted cream…

Sadly the Harry Potter tour tickets are sold out until next year. I’ll just have to live with that.

It won’t be easy.

Meanwhile I caught a plague of a cold that I’ve been trying to drown with hot tea, and gargling with salt water to cure my sore throat. That means that I'm behind on all those mandatory multi-tasking things that hit us in the real world. Taking care of Gummy (who isn't doing so well), paperwork, housework (I don't actually do that one, but I feel like a better person if I put it on the list), etc. etc. I have managed to pack and hope to head out as planned leaving Gummy in the capable hands of other people for a bit, and hoping that the paperwork gods are feeling benevolent. Unfortunately I did not have time to lose twenty pounds and get super-fit while coughing and using all the tissues. Oh, well. I’m not even good at multi-tasking. I’m barely good at one thing at a time.

One thing I am good at is having days with nothing scheduled so that I can wake up and go do something fun and exciting, or meander and do nothing. That's what I'm looking forward to. Those are always the best days. I don’t even know why I’m trying to multi-task in the first place. It’s not like I can see everything or do everything, and when I try I end up missing living in the moment in my hurry to get to the next thing.

Isn’t it annoying when you realize you know better but slip into old bad habits?

Lately I've noticed when I talk to people that I talk really really fast. Like I've got things to do, places to go, Gummy's to tend to, my house is a wreck, have I paid bills? What day is it? Where am I right now?

I really need a vacation. 

This week I've seen articles circulating online about all the things wrong with the USA. Most of them are things that are out of my pay-grade to have an opinion on at the moment. I'm up to my last nerve on current events and I don't have the time to have an opinion on everything. All my minutes are being devoured by the real world. When I do get online I find myself wasting valuable time doing things like researching whether or not it's viable to raise a herd of alpacas so that I don't have to mow anymore.

One entire hour got lost to that this week. In the end I reminded myself that I live in the shire and can't even grow rosebushes because they can't take winter winds that require the stamina of twenty below zero. Pretty sure alpacas come from South America. Oh, my gosh. I'm trying to justify and remind myself why I can't have them! 

I really need a vacation.

The one thing I saw circulating online that I did agree with about the USA is that we don’t get enough vacation. We get globally ridiculed a bit because of our tendency not to know geography well, or not to know the politics of some other countries. Personally I think those things are just a side effect from living in a great big busy country where you only get two weeks a year for vacation.

This trip to London will take me two days of travel. I live in a small town and have connections. When I go to Greece it takes me three days to get to Alonissos. Most Americans don’t have that kind of time. The reason I can do it is because I can write while I’m stuck in an airport or on a plane.

That’s my opinion and observation. I think many problems facing our country could be well-served by increasing vacation time for everyone. We all need to chill. I know I sure as hell do.

 Right now my chill plan is to roll with whatever delays come my way and enjoy my journey, hang out with a friend, and just be there. In the moment.

But if you’re in London, give me a shout out. Maybe we could meet up. You know, while I’m in the neighborhood.

(I really stink at this.)

(You should still get more vacation, don't you think?)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Lily's Bitchy Epiphany—A Bitch Witch Vignette

The Glitter Globe, S.R. Karfelt, Fiction, Bitch Witch
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Predecessors of marionette lines ghost from the corners of my frown down. The rest of me is fine, in the finest sense of the word. But all I can see is the future of those lines.

Cascade happens to all witches. It’s a fucking balloon payment on the horizon.

          I thought there’d be more time. Far more.

Outside dark energy beckons from treetops, rippling through the moonless night, promising another quick fix. I know better. I know how this works. I know these lines are the beginning of my end. My tipping point.

My reflection in the window confirms it, but so the hell what? If nothing else I am pragmatic. I pause only long enough to decide to rack up the biggest debt ever made to dark matter and invite slouching shadows inside.

          Make me gorgeous. Again.
          It works. Again.

There’s just enough time to slip into my dress and stilettos before my niece is at the door.

          “Aunt Lily? Everyone is here and dinner is ready.”

It’s the third time she’s banged on my door. I open it just as she scoots to the top of the stairs, and Claude—who the hell invited that asshole?—is jogging up the steps to hit on her. She’s barely a teenager. I sense the aftershock of my spell heading my way. This one’s expensive. No armload of stray cats can repay a spell once cascade hits. Besides, there aren’t any. My bleeding-heart niece keeps calling the SPCA. She’s a panther pretending to be a kitten. It’s annoying as shit.

The aftershock is nearly on me so I direct it at the girl and Claude. I think she senses it because she runs down the first two steps before it hits her. Claude doesn’t notice a damn thing beyond her bouncing breasts before it hits him face first. He nearly flies down the stairs. Backwards. The girl rolls, head to heels before momentum stretches her out and slams her down the last few steps.

Damn, it looks painful.
She’ll be fine. Like all the women in the family she has the witch gene too.
          Not that it won’t leave a mark. But she’ll heal fast.

          “Goddammit, Lily!” Sissy, shouts from the bottom of the stairs. It’s a stupid thing to say considering her daughter is sprawled at her feet, not to mention Claude’s broken and bleeding on the marble. Besides being a pedophile he knows we’re witches and he still comes around. I’ve never had much sympathy for stupid and really don’t care if he bleeds to death, but I do care that Sissy is being inappropriate. Most of the guests freaking out have no idea what we are. They’re here because of the money or to fuck me.

Only the second motive ever pays out for anyone.

          “Is she—Sarah—okay?” I try to sound concerned. Someone is calling an ambulance and most of the rest return to examining Claude. The musicians are warming up in the ballroom. I put my hand on Sarah’s back and hiss at her to get up. Sissy is glaring daggers. What the hell is her problem? I pay more attention to the kid than she ever has. 

          “It’s her birthday!” Sissy has the meanest eyes. Who would have thought she even remembered when Sarah’s birthday was? “Her sixteenth!”

          Shit! Why didn’t Sissy mention that sooner? It hits me that she’d planned to use the extra dark matter drawn toward the girl for herself. I search Sissy’s face for signs of cascade and find it. And she didn’t even bother trying to fix it!

Once more we’re in this thing together. It’s good not to have to face it alone, even if she’d stab me in the back in a heartbeat. I kind of respect that about her.

Sissy turns her back on everyone else, including her daughter, to growl at me. “No one will get any now! It won’t come if she’s hurt!”

Blood and power arrives at our sixteenth year. I’d have scratched someone’s eyes out for trying to claim my birthright. This girl’s different than me and any other witch I’ve ever known. She won’t know what to do with dark matter even when her own body begins to generate it.

          “Pick a man for her,” I say, eyeing the half dozen strangers. They all want something from us, but we don’t give. If I have something to say about it tonight, neither will Sarah.
          “She’s just a girl, and not an attractive one at that! Plus she has a broken rib. Can’t you sense it? She can’t just will it away. Not with an aftershock of that magnitude! What the hell did you cast?”
          “Do try to keep up. I’m not offering her up to one of those leeches. I’m giving her one to use.”
          Sissy blew out a breath. “Do you think she’ll do it?”
          “She’d better.” I hoist her to stand, trying to look like a concerned Aunt and noting she’d at least tweezed the unibrow. “Giorgos,” it's the name I remember. He's one of those working on staunching Claude’s head wound. “Please help my niece!” They’re all surgeons but I feel a pang of disappointment as the best-looking rises. I should have given her Stephanos. Still, dark matter is more important than more bad sex. Giorgos takes my hand and I put Sarah’s in it, nodding toward the dining room.

          “If you don’t know what to do,” I whisper in her ear, “you’re dead to me.” 

She heard every word and there’s only so much time I’m willing to waste on her. I’m a witch in cascade now. I turn my attention to Stephanos as a thought floats to the surface of my mind. Everyone falls apart in the end. Maybe it’s about more than us. The thought startles me. How long has anarchy been slouching around in my head? Ridiculous. I rest a hand on Stephano’s arm. Tonight it’s all about me, and he’ll do.