And as far as my money situation goes, my sister has volunteered to co-sign for my loan. And I'm doing some spec design for what may turn out to be a semi-regular freelance gig doing graphics and layout. Honestly, if I could get my toe in the door, I can easily see working as a one-stop shop for small publications, doing design and copywriting.
But I'm still pushing hard to make it as a creative artist. That's always gonna be the number-one goal, even if I may have to detour every so often to avoid humiliation and starvation.
Last night great steps were taken on the novel as well -- I really panicked when I started reworking this section. The early sections of the novel have been through repeated drafts over the last four years but at this stage, it's all first draft and I was horrified to find that events occurred and people did things just because the story needed them to. As we all know, that spells S-U-C-K.
The writer's group, bless them, was able to help me figure out how to have the required events occur because of the character's drives, and have the events resolve due to the character's will and competence. Tell you what, it's coming right along. When the former Marine and Oakland cop gets enthusiastic about the tough guy stuff, the landscape architect praises the scenery, flora, and fauna, and the religiously devout member of the group loves the hallucinatory gnostic sequences, well. It's encouraging.
But enough of me.
SEVENTH-DAY SQUIRT GUN
Lemme tell you about my buddy Rhaj. I knew him back in high school, and while I hope he's still alive I have my doubts. Poor bastard had lupus and had it bad; he had dialysis scars the size of tangerines all up and down his arms. Normally I wouldn't go into detail when describing the appearance of a pal (or a character, for that matter) but there's a point in the story where you're going to want to have a clear picture of Rhaj in your head. He was, to be blunt, the most chimpanzee-like human I've ever seen -- heavy brow, weak chin, a fierce expression, and a ropey little body that was covered in coarse brown bristles. I say this as a fairly simian son of a bitch myself. Rhaj was a great guy but he could be shocking to behold.
He was also the kind of person who is just not prone to putting up with shit. You did not want to fuck with him. He was entirely capable of nice behavior but he had a mean streak to him that I greatly appreciated.
Now I'm a bit of a freak; I'm up as early on a Sunday morning as I am on any other morning, i.e. usually around three o'clock. I also enjoy polite, friendly discussions involving diverse viewpoints. So I've always enjoyed the occasional religious nutbar showing up on my porch.
Rhaj was not like that. Rhaj liked to sleep in on Sundays. And he hated religious nutbars.
(For the record -- everyone's a little crazy, and for my money religion is pretty much institutionalized delusion. I regard it as an acceptable vice as long as the toper in question doesn't get all publicly drunk on Jesus or Mohamed or the Easter Bunny or whatever and start trying to stone the unbelievers.)
One Sunday morning at an hour Rhaj described disbelievingly as "Seven o' fucking clock!" Rhaj's bell rang. Cursing all the way, he climbed out of bed and stumbled to the front door wearing nothing but his pelt and his underwear. He opened the front door, leaving the screen door closed, and saw a group of people who were dressed a bit more formally than he was standing on his porch. Copies of Watchtower in their hands, they invited ol' Rhaj to consider the possibility of God's kingdom right here on Earth.
I want you to take a moment to visualize Rhaj. Imagine a mangy chimp with thick glasses, his body covered with keloid scars from intrusive medical procedures and an expression of sullen resentment and utter contempt on his face, clad in nothing but a pair of ragged briefs, seen through a screen door.
You with me now? Good.
"Give me a second," Rhaj said. He went back to his room. He grabbed a squirt gun. And he walked past the front door to get to the kitchen.
The Seventh Day Adventists watched him do this. He made sure they saw the squirt gun in his hand. And as they waited there, they heard him running the tap as he filled the gun.
And they stood there as Rhaj came back to the door -- still in his briefs -- took steady aim, and squirted the living fuck out of the group standing on his porch, Watchtowers and all. Then he slammed the door in their faces and returned to bed.
Rhaj didn't smile a whole hell of a lot, but as he told me this story a grin gradually crept over his face. I hope that someday something makes me feel as good as squirting those Seventh Day Adventists made Rhaj feel.