Thursday, July 23, 2009

About Cheryl N.

Watching Yute is dedicated to her, but the page were that is stated doesn't go into a whole lot of detail. I knew her through the internet, along with a little bunch of folks who traveled in similar virtual circles.

Once upon a time, this lovely young lady named Cheryl fell in love. This was the love. The sort of love that the young have that will last forever, and save them from the world. Her internet boyfriend was her knight in shining armour.

Finally they were to meet face to face. She got on a plane, and went to meet him. They had a wonderful time, everything she had hoped or imagined. All too soon, it was time for her to go. She got on the plane, and headed home.

While she was in the air, her boyfriend turned to his ex girlfriend for some reason, and was unfaithful. Wracked with guilt, he told Cheryl about it later. I can only imagine her initial reaction, but the result of the conversation was that she told him to choose between her and his ex. He said he had to think about it.

She came online, and lamented all about it. She was upset enough that I and one other phoned her in a conference call. She didn't have much else to say that she hadn't said in text, but it was the sound of her voice that broke my heart. Her simple dream of the perfect love was shattered. We told her comforting things. The kinds of things you're supposed to say, I suppose. Even if true, the cliches don't often have much impact.

Eventually, we felt we'd done our best as supportive friends. Cheryl still sounded very sad of course, but coping. They say when a depressed person suddenly seems much better, it's because they've made a grim decision. I was aware of this, and felt she was still in an 'adequate' cruising altitude of sadness.

The next day I couldn't do online in the first half of the day, but she was on my mind. When I finally got home, I popped online. The others were in shock, grieving. Cheryl was dead. The boyfriend had come online to tell us. I'm not sure how he found out. Maybe Cheryl sent him an email before she did it or something.

There was a suspension of feeling, a numbness. I had to find out all there was to know. Around 4:30 that afternoon, she jumped form her 10th story bedroom window. In a morbid moment of obsession, someone else had calculated how long that fall would take, forcing us all to imagine the last three and a half seconds of Cheryl's life.

A Hoax. Please let it be a hoax. A stunt that Cheryl was pulling to punish her boyfriend. When my wits had gathered enough, I called her number. Her mother answered with a weak voice, and strong accent. I asked if Cheryl was there.

In choppy english, she replied, "No. Cheryl dead today."

What do you say to that? It was true. "Oh. I'm so sorry." I hesitated, wondering what else to say. Cheryl's mother softly mumbled a couple syllables.

"Goodbye, I'm sorry." I said before hanging up.

That was a bit over ten years ago, but I evidently still think of her from time to time. Maybe you're thinking "She must have been a bit off balance to do something like that" or something similar. Something to put the situation into a tidy little box, slap a label on it, and put it on the shelf for when the census people come around.

Yes, she had problems. She was human. Humans have problems. Statistics are people. I know that well enough myself. Two years later I sat in my new wheelchair in the hospital, staring up at a poster of a pie chart about spinal injury statistics. I plotted myself out on it. I was in good company, I suppose.

Even though Cheryl was on the other end of the continent, and you could argue that I didn't know her all that well, I refuse to put her memory into a little box, and stuff it on a shelf in my mind. Maybe the memory is blurring with time, maybe I idealize her a little, but I knew her well enough to know that she was vibrant, funny and sweet.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rally for Yute, and missin' kiddos

Rallying the final edits, rallying the website, rallying the spam! Go forth, my pretties!

In Yute news:

Today I received confirmation that the first (non-final, edition edition) hardcopy of Watching Yute is rocketing in my general direction! Two of the editors have already had a crack at the digital copy, and things are going smooth- but it is definitely not the time ot drag my heels.

(Side note: When I take too many bumps in the street in my wheelchair, occasionally a foot will slip off the front plate thing, and I can often drag a foot for quite a while before I notice, subconsciously blaming dirt in the front axels or something...)

Back on topic! I'm revamping my website a bit. THIS BLOG will finally be introduced into it better, as well as a Wiki that will chronicle characters, equipment, and other factors from Lifehack and Watching Yute... with only minor spoilers. I'm sorry to say that I will not allow the public to EDIT the wiki, just browse it. I don't have the kind of support network that Wikipedia has to prevent vandalism and such- not to mention, I want control over the severity of spoilers given... but it is a BLAST editing it. hehe.

Caitlin News

This week, I'm missin' my lil girl and my wife. They went camping, and I've been doing my best to utilize my toddler-less time to the max. Busy enough that I don't have time to miss Caitlin until my front wheel smacks into a rogue soother or something.

She has a little dinette set, and she's found a long time ago that dragging her little chair to the kitchen will allow her improved reach onto counters...

So, last week she notices that the shower curtain's rings have little plastic fish on them.
"MY'S?" she pleads while reaching for them with one hand, and sighning 'please' with the other. "Hep? Hep?"

I can't reach them either, and to illustrate, I park my wheelchair as close as I can, and reach up. "Sorry bunny, I can't reach either, not that I want you to have them..."

She runs off, and I roll my eyes, waiting to hear the inevitable... the little chair being dragged down the hall across the hardwood, making a horrid screech... on and on, closer and closer. She turned the corner with it, and see me, glad I didn't go anywhere. She places the little chair by the shower, and looks up at the little fish.

Instead of getting up on the chair, she pats my foot, then pats the chair. "Hep? Pees?" She wanted me to use the little chair to get up and get her the fish. "It doesn't work like that, hon!" I'm just glad she got distracted before running to get my reach-extender thing. She knows what THAT'S all about, but hasn't mastered it herself.

In other Caitlin news, Leela the cat has become a little more comfortable with Caitlin, but this is a dangerous complacency. I was watching Caitlin following the cat at a casual pace.... then I see Caitlin grab a nerby roll of packing tape.

Surely she can't get the end of the tape loose- except that my wife had folded the end. "Vrrp!" in less than a second, Caitlin has the end in one hand, the roll in the other, and is still following behind Leela like some creepy stalker. It took me a moment to come to tems with the criminal intent portrayed before me, and Leela was oblivious to the fur-ripping hazard behind her.

"DON'T TAPE THE CAT!" I can barely get out without laughing. This distracts Caitlin long enough, and alerts Leela, who jumps up onto a nearby windowsill. Crisis averted. For now.


Today will likely be the last time I see the German girl that stayed with us for the past year. A few weeks ago her family arrived, and they went on a bit of a tourism junket which included crossing the rockies and hitting the Calgary Stampede. When they left for that, it was teary farewell between her and Caitlin, who would not be here upon her return. She's grabbing some luggage that she didn't need in Calgary.

This past year we were very fortunate with our two students. Aside from this girl, (who I haven't given a codename yet) we had Radar for a third and final year before she went to university. Radar was with us for three years, and as far as 2 year old Caitlin knew, this fun Korean girl was her big sister. Now THAT was a teary parting. They were just wonderful together. Caitlin didn't really understand. As a silver lining, Radar is going to University in Canada... just thw wrong end of it- So I wouldn't be too shocked if we see her again.

Even aside from Radar's bond with Caitlin, I miss the students too. They were a kindly, pleasant presence in our home. I can only hope that the students in the coming year will be even a fraction as nice. Hosting students is rewarding, but emotionally perilous. I always say they we try to treat our students as much like family as they're comfortable with. They're brave, going to the other side for the world at that age, often with limited english. If we can be a positive impact on thier experience... well, we do our best. And I miss em.

Over the last... 4? 5? Years, some students have become more a part of the household than others, and that's fine too. One was so homesick, she could think of little else. We tried, and she was nice enough, but still so homesick. We don't really profit too much from hosting financially. I know there are many hosts out there who treat thier students like cattle, and make money... but we spend so much on special foods, or trips... when we have no students in the summer, the net difference is noticeable, but not a lot when the dust settles.

In hindsight, I've profitted a lot- I have 'adopted' daughters all around the world, and I wouldn't trade that for mere money.

Nor a bigscreen TV.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yute in 'post pruduction'. And I need sleep.

My darlin lil girl Caitlin has managed to con me out of a LOT of sleep in the last 2 weeks, and the last day and a half have been the icing on the cake. I'm so tired I got some messed up 2nd wind, got re-tired, and re-vitalized, and now I may be a member of the undead.

Well, the Yute manuscript is in the hands of the first of 4 volunteer editors, (my dad, Gill) I've been working on some of the promo gear.. bookmarks, signs... and I need a punchy tagline...

Lifehack had something like:

She lost her brother,

She learnt to fight a legion of the dead,
Scavenging to survive for two years.
And then, to make things difficult,
She fell in love with a straight girl.

That worked pretty good. People would walk by, skimming past the first part, all pretty cliche, until they hit the last line, and I could see their faces turn to curiosity. Awesomesauce.

I need a short, short blurb like that for Watching Yute. Key elements that would summarize without spoilers are:

lesbian hero (Quite different from Regan, FYI)
Nanites at work (secretly) in some un-specified manner
Revenge (though I really dont wanna use the WORD revenge of vengence, cuz it sounds too cliche)

it might also mention starting a new life, a violent man, or a coward covering his butt. I think that's plenty to work with... So far I have stuff like:

"She found a new girlfriend at a new position, but secretive nanites are attracting the eye of some violent men"

I dunno... that's not BAD, but I have time to refine it.. any ideas? I might turn this into a contest to announce on the forums, with a copy of the book for a prize.... I dunno.

I need sleep. Why aren't I sleeping? I. Hurt. I'm that tired. And I'm hot. Sweating the kind of sweat that stings your eyes. Am I whining? Yes. Are blogs with whining annoying? Yes. Is that going to stop me? Ehh.....