Box Hunter Adventures

I think it happens to everybody when you start to move. You realize that you need boxes. You need a LOT of boxes. You need ’em now.

You don’t want to pay for ’em at a box place, either, ‘cos that’s highway robbery, damnit.

So out you go, skulking through grocery stores, hardware stores, art supply stores, liquor stores–anything that may possibly have boxes. You become adept at approaching total strangers to ask if they have boxes. You scurry home with prizes that reek of apples or sunkist oranges or Budweiser.

The corollary to this, of course, is the sense of triumph when you find a really good box. A BIG box. The sort of box one could put an appliance in, say. Or an odd shaped box, one of the tall, sturdy, narrow ones that will fit a lamp or a sword collection or any of the awkwardly shaped dross that populates our lives, or one of the long, low ones that can fit an entire barong mask collection, or–a real score–the big, flat matboard boxes that precisely fit the large canvas-and-masonite collection that leans against my studio wall and which is terribly vulnerable to stray furniture corners and careless feet.

Trying to explain this sense of glee makes you sound completely nuts, but what the hell.

James admits that I outdid myself this time. Our apartment looks like the ancient and sacred box burial ground. I have gotten lucky and hit hardware stores right when shipments came in, resulting in some fabulous finds. I gloat. I pat the boxes when no one’s looking. I know that I don’t have enough to move us completely, but I’ve managed to get my library packed at least, and I need to use some of these before I go get more, just to clear up space, if nothing else. I am aglow with the warm fuzzy feeling of a hunt gone well. And there was much rejoicing.

James spent the weekend transferring the website to a new host prepatory to our move, and now has all kinds of nifty new site stats, which he showed me.

The major search that leads people to www.metalandmagic.com is, predictably, “ursula vernon” but a few have also showed up under “irrational fears” and (to my great amusement) “a lot of nudity.”

I can’t help but think that someone trying to find a lot of nudity will be disappointed by the mildness of my site, but I hope they enjoyed it anyway.

This is gonna sound weird.

I miss my RPG characters.

Having gotten disgusted with too many of my fellows in on-line RPGs some years ago, and having moved away from my tabletop group some months ago, I have no gaming going on whatsoever at the moment, and I am left feeling curiously bereft. It’s not that I have any burning need for escapism at the moment, and no time to do it in even if I did, but still…I miss ’em. I miss Jackal, who made her living through organ piracy and had all the charisma of a leperous warthog, and who’s only saving graces were zealous loyalty and the sporadic ability to kill people by touching them. (There is something strangely liberating about being absolutely and completely objectionable.) I miss Knight-Errant Severl the Unsympathetic, organized crime aficianado who masqueraded as a paladin, who could do the most heinous things in public and, for reasons I’m still not clear on, almost always got away with them through sheer force of personality, and the fact that the line between being Noxiously Good and Noxiously Bad is very thin and easily danced on. (The key is self-assurance. People will go along with anything if you are A) self-assured, and B) they suspect you may hurt them.) I miss my psychotic samurai Mouse, who assumed that impossible odds simply did not apply to her, and who believed herself to be a person of great honor and high moral standards, and was always shocked to learn that everyone else in the party thought she was a deranged serial killer. (To be fair, both sides had a point.)

On a completely unrelated note, until watching monster movies on the Sci-Fi channel, I had no idea that crocodiles exploded. You learn something new every day.

I am hoping to someday locate another good RPG group, although the GM would have huge shoes to fill–Chris, our Shadowrun guru from St. Paul, was one of the most blindingly creative GMs I’ve ever met, even if he did insist on a little too much realism in explosions (i.e. nothing blew up, ever, unless a great deal of plastic explosive and knowledge went into it.) Cars never exploded unless you threw grenades into them. Possibly we should have been using crocodiles.

I miss the stupidly over-the-top stunts that one can do in RPGs. I miss having a character that could kill a giant granite gargoyle by smashing a pitcher over it’s head. I miss charging into a room with a katana, no back up, and ten or fifteen foes, and believing that I had better than even odds. I miss dangling from the roof of a careening van full of zombies, being shot at, stabbing randomly through the windows, and feeling that the situation was totally under control. I miss taking on Elder Gods with rocket launchers, or building complex devices out of large aquariums to expose vampires to sunlight with the least amount of collateral damage. God help me, I even miss the time Mouse accidentally snorted a shoggoth and had to have her sinuses roto-rootered, possibly a low point in the history of Lovecraftican encounters.

Someday, I’ll get moved, and have time for this sorta stuff again…

I keep looking at interior decorating stuff.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

It’s moving that does it to me, I think. I am moving to what is effectively a blank canvas. I find myself staring at websites that have galleries, and not the good kind, but the kind that use words like “chintz” and “floral motifs” and discuss stencilling.

I’m not sure what chintz is, but I’m pretty sure I hate it.
Chintz angst.

Best. Summary. Ever.

Jan 7 1943

Nikola Tesla dead. The inventor of alternating current, Tesla was driven mad by Edison and spent his final days trying to invent a death ray.

I am torn between the hope that when I die, my life can be summed up in such a pithy and amusing fashion, and the realization that happy, productive people are rarely that funny.

Hmm…what would I want a one-sentence summary of my life to look like…?

“Founder of the Wombat Nouveau art movement, Vernon lived a long and productive life and left behind a respectable body of artwork including the famous Chicken Descending a Staircase, before dying in a freak wildebeest accident at the age of eighty-four.”

Yeah, that’d work.

Follow the Yellow Brick Meme!

Why the heck not…following the current trend, here’s a list of Jobs I Have Known:

– rat cage cleaner (in my extreme youth, since my dad raised rats for pet stores for many years)
– vet receptionist
– retail cashier zombie
– deli worker (I sliced! I diced! I cut cheese!)
– insurance claim reader (I read 20 page handwritten forms about how their insurance agent misled them. I was allowed to cut multi-million dollar checks, often without QA. Good thing I’m honest…)
–freelance illustrator
– street light hotline worker (I sat and took calls about people’s street lights being out. Almost as much fun as it sounds.)
– freelance illustrator
– staff artist for video game company
– freelance illustrator

It took awhile to get the freelance thing to stick, but hopefully the third time’s the charm…

Packing Mode

Today, I stood with a Sunkist Orange box in one hand, held a Sharpie aloft in the other and intoned “It…begins.”

Then I packed ’em. Eight boxes in all, not a bad start. James’s new employers are paying to fly us out there to apartment hunt, but we don’t know the exact date yet, other than “Soon!” However, having given notice on the apartment and reserved the truck, we know we’ll be leaving the last week of January and since that’s, oh, maybe twenty days, I figure it’s time to start packing the non-essentials.

James fears my packing frenzy. This is probably wise–FEAR MY PACKING!–but it really is a good thing, since I always seem to get hit by this vague, restless, roaming pack-it-or-throw-it-out bug a few weeks before the move and wind up doing most of it well before crunch time. So that’s good. On the other hand, if he didn’t keep trying to convince me to take a break after every single box, there is admittedly a good possibility that I will have us living out of boxes before too long–I’ve done it before. It’s the packing frenzy. I become a sort of tireless juggernaut, wielding packing tape and fitting things together like some demented three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. I can pack for hours in this mode, without getting tired or bored (which beats the hell out of exhaustedly boxing crap at 3 AM the night before the move!) I even remember to pack each plate with the sheets of newspaper in between, and to bag the candles to make sure they don’t melt all over everything. Possibly I missed my calling in life.

Hopefully I’ll be able to maintain said packing devotion–we JUST moved a few months ago, and I fear I may be straining the kindness of the Packing Gods. I may need to go sacrifice a white yearling furniture dolly on the bumper of a consecrated U-haul or something…

I hate it when good artists are crazy.

I mean, I know that this is terrible and wrong and bad and judgemental of me, but there y’are. I was randomly surfing, clicking away at a site that shall remain nameless (nobody I know on LJ, anyhow, and since I am not saying something nice, I will not link, because that would be more than a little rude) and saw a piece of surprisingly competent, fairly interesting art. I was intrigued.

Then I scrolled a little farther, read the associated text and manifesto, and discovered that they were either batshit insane or doing a shockingly good imitation–not the “I’m trying to be edgy and dark!” kind of self-conscious insane, or even the mildly-eccentric I-stay-up-all-night-carving-voluptous-deer-women-with-chainsaws insane, which is fine, I know that guy, he’s great, but the “My houseplants talk to me in my sleep and tell me to wear tinfoil underwear for Christ!” kind of insane. (Which is often surprisingly hard to fake, and I’m not doing it justice at all–absurdly crazy is easy, just sing to the eggplants, but getting that faint patina of rationality right, then diving off the deep end–well, you almost gotta BE crazy, or else have a great ear for dialogue.)

Anyway, I sighed, and stared at the ceiling a bit. I know, I know, critique the art, not the artist, who am I to judge, etc, etc. I know. Yes, beauty produced by a mind that’s across the sanity horizon and picking up speed is still beautiful, and I’m about as equipped to comment on other people’s sanity as a walrus is to hydroponic gardening. I’m not trying to justify this–it’s bad of me. I am 100% in the wrong. But still. Somewhere, on some level, a little voice goes “Aw, nuts,” and throws its hands in the air. It’s sort of like when you learn that an artist you admire is a raging asshole or a raving misogynist or evangelically religious in the bad way. I dunno if it’s some complex thing related to the way that people build their mental image of the artist behind the art, or if it’s just that inevitable twinge of… something …disillusionment? I dunno… when you learn that you are admiring things by people that you maybe wouldn’t choose to admire. Sort of like I feel reading “Cerebus”–he’s a great little aardvark, but man, some of the things Dave Sims says about women outside of the comic make me want to scream “Killer Squid Falls From Above!” and drop off the ceiling with a machete. (Not that this would neccesarily prove anything, but it sounds like it’d be cathartic.)

On some level, I guess we want artists to be paragons, and to think talent is associated with virtue. And hell, if anybody oughta know that we aren’t, it’s me! (Which is not to say, as so many claim, that all good artists are jerks, either–I have known many who would give you their last drink of water in a desert. They’re all individuals, god knows.) But still, there I am, getting that little mental wince. In my defense, it could just be the knee-jerk response to the association of insanity with art, which I really think we gotta get over–out of the garret! Out! But still, that’s no excuse. Obviously enlightenment for this particular artist is still quite a long ways off.

As part of my pre-moving ritual, I went through, winnowed out more books that I can bear to part with, and threw ’em in a box to lug to the used book store. I tried Changing Hands first, because they’re picky, but pay better, planning to take the dregs over to Bookman’s.

I get to Changing Hands, which is a Cool Liberal Bookstore of the sort that has a larger section for poetry than science fiction, where you can get scented candles and I Ching thingies and bumper stickers about the inadvisability of hugging with nuclear arms. Like I said, they pay REALLY WELL which is why they’re generally my first stop, and to their credit, they carry a solid science collection, although it is totally dwarfed by the New Age and bodywork section. (What the hell is bodywork, anyway? I keep hearing references to it, and since it doesn’t appear to be either manual labor or Bondo, I’m stumped. Izzit like that reiki thing?) Like many liberal bookstores, it is a combination of things with which I agree whole-heartedly, and things that make me want to grab someone and shake rationality into them until their teeth rattle. But that’s life for you.

So anyway, I get to Changing Hands, and discover that there are police cars. And tape. And a lot of people milling around. My first thought is that someone has gone nuts and done some really aggressive bodywork inside–possibly with a scented candle–but this would not explain the crowd. I circle the block slowly, discovering that the crowd is stretching not just around the store, but around the BLOCK. (And it’s a big block.) Hmm. Hmm, hmm, hmm. The last time something like this happened, the head of the Hell’s Angels was doing a book signing, they had a platoon of cop cars, and there were about fifty Really Big Motorcyles out front. (No word on what he thought of the scented candles.) Hmm. And people are waving Insert-Democrat-for-President signs. Huh.

I stop the car, I get out, I meander my way through the crowd until I can see the sign. Ah. Hillary Clinton is signing books. That’d explain it. Probably not the best time to bring in a load of books for sale, as the line is now revealed to wind completely through the store twice.

So I drove over to Bookman’s, sold about half of ’em, and got a cool book on Tiffany lamps. Them’s the breaks.