My Own Private Polar Express

Here I am, right in the middle of this big storm hitting the East Coast.  It’s all people at work have discussed for the last week, and there’s a good possibility that I’ll likely be the only one in the office come Monday morning.  But for right now . . . well, it’s like I’m in The Polar Express.

We all know about The Polar Express.  It’s the weekend survival flight the Advanced Flight Two students go on if they want, and most want.  I’ve already written that Penny and Alex did theirs, and it’s a good certainty that Emma and Kerry will do theirs.  They’ll get jaunted off to somewhere in Canada, and using just simple maps compasses, they’ll fly back to the school.  They have camping gear and some food, but they’ll also have cold and snow.  Tons of fun, right?  Well, the kids who have thought about this for two and a half years do.

Last night I walked home from dinner, loving the snow as it fell, then grabbed my camera and headed out to get pictures.  While I have photos at various points along the walk. most are taken at the Capitol Building, which is like five blocks from my apartment.  And when these were taking, maybe an inch had fallen and things weren’t too messy.

Walking up towards Capitol Park.

Walking up towards Capitol Park.


And into the park.

And into the park.


Pine St Presbyterian Church, across Third Street from the Capitol.

Pine St Presbyterian Church, across Third Street from the Capitol.

These are up in front of the Capitol Building.  I walk this way to work every day.

Walking in from the south.

Walking in from the south.


Close to the main entrance showing the dome.

Close to the main entrance showing the dome.


Down the main steps looking north up Third Street.

Down the main steps looking north up Third Street.

But of course I got pictures of myself.

Yeah, just stand off there--

Yeah, just stand over there–


Now a little closer--

Now a little closer–


And I'm ready for my close up

And I’m ready for my close up

So I went to bed just a little tipsy ’cause I’d been drinking, and when I woke up this morning this is what I saw:

Looking north up Second.

Looking north up Second.


And south.

And south.

Everything was pretty much hell outside.  I’d promised that I’d go back this morning and get pictures, and I did.  But . . . it was a mess.  During the evening about eight to ten inches dropped on the city, and the sidewalks weren’t cleared at all.  Most of the roads were clear, but there wasn’t anyone out, and walking in the road was the only way to get around.  I actually got snow in my mukluks because there were areas where the snow was up over the tops of my boots.  In fact, up in Capitol Park, the snow was almost as high as my knees.

So now Harrisburg in the light of day . . .

Back in Capitol Park.

Back in Capitol Park.


And the building from Third Street with no way up the steps.

And the building from Third Street with no way up the steps.

The drive up to the building was clear, however, so I walked up–

The dome from the ground.

The dome from the ground.


Looking back at the Capitol from the park after the walk was cleared.

Looking back at the Capitol from the park after the walk was cleared.


Looking a lot more tired and less happy now.

Looking a lot more tired and less happy now.

At the end of the park walk is Willow Street and Third Street, one of the busiest intersections in the city during the day.  Now it was a ghost strip, ’cause there wasn’t anyone on the streets.

Looking into the intersection.

Looking into the intersection.

As I said you had to walk down the streets because there was about a foot of snow on the sidewalks.  So I did:  I walked right down Third Street back to my apartment.  I was like wandering through a snowy Walking Dead set due to almost no one being around.

Down Third.

Down Third.


Standing in the middle of the intersection of Market and Third.

Standing almost in the middle of the intersection of Market and Third.

Finally made it back to my apartment building and what do I find?

Snow.  What did you think I was going to find?

Snow. What did you think I was going to find?

There you have it:  Snowmageddon 3:  This Time It’s Personal.  And here it is, hours later, and it’s still snowing–maybe for another six hours.  But I did find time to get some video:

Don’t worry:  the zombies won’t get me.  At least I’m not in District 12 . . .

Return of the Last Week

Does that seem cryptic?  Like, oh, god, what sort of “Last Week” are you describing?  Hummm, maybe a little cryptic, but that because I come from a different time and place, not unlike a certain traveler who was on over the weekend.

A week from today is Labor Day, or as some people think of it, the traditional marking of the end of summer.  After that day women aren’t supposed to wear white shoes, men are suppose to stop wearing shorts, and everyone’s suppose to adapt to the idea that fall is here and winter’s around the corner.  It was also, in some places the start of the school year, and depending on the calendar, school either started today, or it started next Tuesday.

That simply isn’t the case any longer.  Today we start school like the first week of August, people don’t much give a damn about what they wear well into fall (something I’ve noticed as I’ve adapted my change in clothing and watched how other women to the same), and winter is now a meme to tell people to brace themselves for some life-changing shit.

And my head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, so totally not a spoiler.

And his head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, depending on the medium of your choice, so totally not a spoiler.

So we are in the last week of summer.  It’s here, and soon it’ll be Friday, and summer is going . . . well, it’s not going anywhere.  Fall doesn’t officially come for almost another month, and looking ahead for the weeks to come, I doubt that we’re going to see fall-like weather soon.  Which is good, because I don’t have all my winter clothes together yet.  I can get through fall okay, but winter–it’s gonna be a tough one in The Burg.

The only true season I ever used to pay attention to was summer, and that was because I grew up in a house with no air conditioning until about 1970, and so summer was as time of dread.  It was hot and sweaty and miserable, and I couldn’t wait for cooler weather so I could sleep and enjoy going outside without enduring the sensation that I was melting.

The summer’s been mild this year, and where it was super sweltering I’ve manage to stay out of the direct rays and stay comfortable.  Winter is suppose to be a total pain in the ass this year, and that only bothers me in the sense that it’s necessary to go out and share the road with hundreds of drivers who lose their minds whenever there’s the smallest amount of snow on the ground.

However, it’s not the weather going away that I’ll think about this year.  The summer was one of dramatic change for me, and in this last week I meet with my therapist and talk about all the stuff that’s happened in the month since I last saw her.  I’m sure they’ll be a lot of discussion about what’s going to happen at work this winter, and not a few mentions of my emotional state over the month of August.

And then we can talk about what’s coming in the fall.

All-in-all, it’s not been a bad summer,

Maybe I need to get out and enjoy what their is of my new life in the fall.


Changing seasons, changing gender appearance–pretty much the same, don’t you think?  It can still make for a good hike on a nice day.


Days of Winter’s Future

Is it possible to starting thinking that when you’re approaching sixty thousand words and you’re still in Chapter Five, that maybe you should start considering where you’re going to cut the sucker up?

I’m not at that point yet, but it’s getting there.  I’ve four scenes left in this chapter–though I’m already considering cutting two because they may or may not be necessary–and then it’s on to Part Three, Chapter Six, and the first week of school . . . and I’ll be sitting around sixty-five thousand words then.  Hey, no one ever said these things happen quickly.  Hey, the novel is made in the editing, right?  Just write it out and chop it then.

Last night I reached a point in my story where I’ve started introducing strange things.  Strange as in one of my main characters doesn’t believe these things should happen, but he’ll keep an open mind on it.  See, this where where I put all the stuff behind that I believe and dip the toe into the fantasy pool and write things that shouldn’t be, because that’s what writers do:  they make shit up.

With that in mind, I did this:


Cold. It was so cold. Kerry watched chunks of ice drift away to his left as he scanned the far shore of the river, a couple, maybe three kilometers distant. No people were, nor were there buildings—nothing but frozen shoreline and hundreds of trees.

That wasn’t true about the place where he stood. There were remnants of structures all around him, crumbling foundations half-buried in snow and tundra. To his right were the crumbling spans of a bridge leading to a small island a few hundred meters off-shore. Those were the only indications that people once lived her, however. All else was history: no docks, no roads, no power, no water save the slowly flowing, semi-frozen river.

He was alone.

Except . . .

He heard movement to his left. He turned slowly, feeling the weight of a pack on his back and something else in his left hand. A person was walking towards him, covered head to toe in white clothing designed for a not-so-average winter. They, too, carried a large pack on their back and something long and black in their right hand. There was a pair of goggles pushed up onto their forehead and their lower face was covered by a balaclava, leaving their bright gray eyes outlined by the fur of their parka hood.

The other person spoke; it was only then Kerry realized the person with him was a girl. “What is this place?”


That is a vision, something that happened because of–well, tea.  And he had and answer for the question asked, but that isn’t the above vision, so you have to wait for the book to come out to find out what he said.  Sure, I know, but that’s my job to know, because I’m the one who put the thought in his head.

I love the scene I’m writing at the moment.  There are a few things left to do, then I want to go dark for a bit, then talk some truths between my main characters.

Then I get my kiddies to school.  No, really, it’s time for classes.

Has been for a while.

Waking Up in a Snowbound Valley

The last few nights have been, shall we say, pretty mediocre.  I’ve been getting my sleep, but the thing I’m really missing out on are my dreams.  When I was back home–the Real Home, that is–I was sleeping in and getting some rest.  Now that I’m back at The Undisclosed Location, the sleep is back to being languid, and while I’m getting rest, I’ve had better.

I’m missing my dreams, though.

I’ve been keeping up with my editing, though.  Knocked off another six thousand or so words just last night, and a little over four thousand the night before . . . I’ve probably edited close to thirty-five thousand since just Thursday or Friday, and I’ve probably another twenty thousand or so to go.  I’m being realistic in thinking I won’t make my 1 October date for submission to Harper Voyager, but it will go out next week.

This is all good, but something happened this morning that’s never happened before.  Let me set it up:

I was in bed; I think I’d woke up the first time about 4:30 AM.  I was dozing back and forth between being half asleep and half awake.  I let the alarm go off, then laid there for a while, because I don’t like to get out of the bed right away.

It was during this time that I started to doze again, and when I feel that coming on I’ll do something to remind myself that I shouldn’t fall asleep, or I’ll be late for work.  And I wouldn’t want that, would I?

So about the time I was suppose to be hauling myself out of bed, I found myself in a state that was . . . well, it was one of those strange moments when I could have been awake, but I didn’t feel like it.  As my eyes opened, I caught myself saying, “Don’t worry, Emma.  We’re gonna get home.  I promise.”

That wasn’t me speaking; that was one of my characters, talking to another character.

It was strange that I did that, however.  Yes, I was thinking of a scene with those two characters the night before, and they were on my mind before I dozed off to sleep.  But I didn’t dream of them; I don’t remember what I dreamed about.

But when I said those words, I knew where I was:  I was in a tent, in Quebec, up near the James Bay Project, and there was a blizzard raging around us.  I had to get up, break camp, and head for home by . . . lets just say we had to fly.  There was little food, and the feeling that our chances of making it home were low.

But I was feeling up.  I knew we’d make it–or, at the least, I was trying to appear that way, because I knew it was going to be a long day.

This is going to be a long day; I know it.  I felt it last night, and I’m feeling it today.  Things to do, people to meet, and writing to be had.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get into bed about midnight.

Then do it all again tomorrow.

Sometimes, I think I’d rather be flying through a blizzard with a good friend at my side.

As least I’d know that if I go down, if I don’t make it, I’m not going alone . . .