Saturday, July 14, 2018

Sleep is the New Sex

Some days, I crave the flavor of sleep. I can make breakfast all the while thinking of its textures. I can make lunch for Coop imagining the moment my brain goes pop into my subconsciousness and I kick involuntarily.

You know that feeling. I know you know that feeling. That blip and then you're flying low over water, where you dream in metaphors, where you dream of sex, where love is in your house, you know, your house.

I dream about my house on a cliff, about to fall off, crowded with strangers, often when I've had to talk to too many people that week. I dream in metaphors, that when I wake up, still in the dream, the fear I had been running from was me all along.

I dream I am eternally in school and will never graduate until I get it right. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the ultimate dream of the last best orgasm of hope-to finally get it right and to be able to fall asleep, blessed sleep, forever falling, never landing.

That's a whole different view of the abyss. Is it bad that I don't fear death the way I'm supposed to. I just know there are things I must accomplish before I die. I need to get Nick out on his own, publish the books I wrote and the ones I still need to write. There is satisfaction in having finished the last one. Something clicked into place. Something led me one step closer to falling, forever, into the abyss.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Beyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

I'm always reading something. I just finished reading Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. It was a twist in perspective, still relevant, and I miss Franken's voice in our political commentary. I also read So You want to talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo, an awesome tutorial for a dorky white woman like me. But sometimes ...

When I get tired of reading the serious stuff, the political stuff, the social justice stuff, I read books intended for kids. Don't ask me why I read middle grade adventure, but my latest was Beyond the Moon by R.J. Wood, the second book in The Voyages of Jake Flynn series. I used to tell people that I read to see what my son was reading or what he might like to read next. Since he's seventeen, I had to change my story so I started telling people I read kid books because I needed to be able to recommend stuff to my students. That's a good ruse, right?

But none of it was true.

I just like reading books intended for kids. Adventures are the best. Bring an awkward kid into a new universe. This awkward girl still loves characters like Jake Flynn. Plus, I always wanted to learn to sail so the nautical themes draw me farther in. Twist space and time, add compelling characters, then I'm completely hooked.

In Beyond the Moon, Jake Flynn's latest adventure brings me back into the story after I met him in the first book, Destiny's Gambit. There, he'd gathered a motley assortment of friends, the best kind, and discovered that he had talents he'd never dreamed a boy could have.

Here's an excerpt:

Far from civilization, in a clearing surrounded by the wild leafage and vines of an ancient rainforest, sat a wide pool fed by a stony creek. Near and far the calls of birds and animals mixed with the sounds of gurgling water in an endless discord. The air was warm and humid, made more so than usual by a furious rain shower just an hour before. Normalcy ended here. The vegetation was not the expected shades of green and yellow, but rather a tie dye of fantastic colors that ran the rainbow spectrum. This was not Earth, it was the Calico Jungle of the planet Abongo.
Jake Flynn stood on a red blanket of thick moss that ran along the bank of the natural pond. His hands were shoved deep within his pockets while he reflected on the past few weeks. The last of the wounded crewmen had died that morning, and the full responsibility for what had happened in the battle above Nystal washed over him. He stood there lost in thought for a long while, until bright sunshine broke through upon the pool. A perfect reflection of the vibrant foliage formed on the still water. This caught his eye, and he glanced up at the light, but it had little effect on his mood that better matched the brooding darkness under the jungle canopy. He took a deep breath for a moment of relief.
Jake returned to his purpose. He reached down and picked up a stone from a small pile he had gathered earlier. The smooth rock hurtled out over the pond with a tight twist as it went. Splunk! It landed with a splash that sent a short spray of water up into the air. He reached down for another stone. This one skipped thrice before it submerged. Perfect circles atop the water rippled toward the banks of the pond. Jake watched the rings expand until he became captured again by his own thoughts. Once more the sounds of battle and the cries of the injured returned. He stood frozen there well after the water had become motionless once more.
It was not until the clouds above closed in again that Jake emerged from his inner self. The image on the pond was gone now and replaced by an ebony sheen. Footsteps met his ear and he turned his head. Someone was coming. The bushes rustled, and he prepared to bolt. Out came a girl his own age, Jehnna Marik. She held in her arms a shaggy house cat with a large head.
Jehnna took one look at Jake and exhaled in a huff.
“You still worrying about the carpenter’s mate?” she asked as she came forward.
Jake had already heard Jehnna’s opinion on the matter. Mourn the loss, but move on. It was a sentiment shared by the rest of his companions as well. None of them seemed to understand. Being a Corsair, a Cosmic Magian who could power and fly ships, and having people look up to him as the ‘Justicar’ was a lot of pressure for a twelve-year-old.
“Where did you get that cat?” he asked. Jehnna motioned back the way she had come.
“Back there, up the ridge a way by a cave. It was limping. Poor thing. It had a thorn in its paw, but I got it out. It bled a little, but seems fine now. It’s a baby you know.”
The cub resembled an earth tiger, but its fur was a speckled grey save for a pink spot on its wounded forepaw. Jake’s eyes widened and he looked around.
“Jehn, put it down,” he said with new found caution. “We have to get out of here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Now, Jehn!”
She bristled.
“Don’t order me around like I’m one of your sailors. If you want me to do something, ask, nicely!”
The loud snarl of a big feline rumbled from the ridge up behind Jehnna and the jungle grew quieter.
“What was that?” Jehnna asked, her eyes wide.

The hard part of having talents is that things don't always run smoothly when you have to use them under pressure. Leadership comes naturally to Jake, but he doesn't know if he wants to be a leader. He just wants to find his father. If it were me, I'd take all the flying skills and see the universe, without having to battle an evil snake-woman.

There's always an snake-woman or someone equally disturbing, isn't there?

 Jake and his crew pull it together, race through an asteroid field with evil in hot pursuit and danger closing in on all sides. They travel into cultures rife with complexity and ancient beauty. I could close my eyes and see the universe that R.J. Wood put on his pages. This story is rich with detail, and complex characters all vying to get to Jake before his powers are fully realized. Only his intuition and his friends save him.

So, forget that the lawn needs to be mowed and dirty dishes fill the sink. Take a break from resisting the current administration in DC. You just want to sit on the couch with your son's copy of Beyond the Moon.

Never mind that he wanted to crack the spine before you got to it. You need an adventure. You deserve an adventure. Go for it.

Thank you for listening, jules