Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Middle of Nowhere, Slightly to the Left

Some days I feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere, slightly out in left field, and completely unprepared for anything to be thrown my way. And while some would argue that's how life is meant to be lived, sometimes it's not as great as it's cracked up to be.

So, right now, after a long Wednesday in which I'm just sitting here, at my laptop in my fourth floor single (which, psychologically should say something, I think, just don't ask me) with some Starbucks chai/cider steamed creation thing (that's absolutely delicious, by the way, and the best way to warm up) it's got me thinking. And thinking, for me, sometimes is good, and sometimes leads to many, many other issues that need to stay particularly buried.

I've got great friends. I was lucky enough to find some real keepers in high school, but I found some outstanding ones in college, too. And they aren't on the soccer team. I'm not lacking in that department, I'd even go so far as to say that I'm lucky, especially when I was so sick last year and they helped me through. Especially the two weeks I went no dairy products - at the end of my two weeks (when the doctor's figured out that dairy didn't make a damn difference) we went to Friendly's to celebrate, and they bought me the 12 scoop party bowl. And then helped me eat it. These are the girls that I go to when I've got problems, and I just need to talk, veg, or a shoulder to cry on. They're damn close to family, if not all the way there.

So, I took a Facebook thingy - one about the week you were born. As you can probably figure out from the very name of my blog, I'm a sagittarius. I love it. I really do think it fits me to the letter. This is what was posted at the end of clicking on my birthday five times in a row.

"You are hard to control and in many ways one of the most independent of people. You ...must feel free to act on your impulses and intuition. Honor and trust are high on your list of priorities and you believe in fairness for yourself and others. You have a strong nurturing side when it comes to animals and children and the less fortunate. You often act impulsively to protect the defenseless. You try to project an air of self assurance and confidence but underneath you are sensitive and insecure. You have enormous willpower and are immensely loyal. You are often unreasonable but do not balk at an open discussion. You are witty and enjoy debate. You have a great need to give rather then receive. You only open up to a few people and share your innermost thoughts. Strengths: Honorable – Intuitive – Responsible Weaknesses: Over Competitive – Impulsive – Temperamental ."

I don't have any issue embracing this, and those who know me will sit there, read it, and go, "Yeah, that's Louise all right." I guess the point I'm trying to make is stated really clearly in almost the exact middle of this explanation of sorts. "You try to project an air of self assurance and confidence but underneath you are sensitive and insecure." Maybe not so much insecure as afraid, afraid of what will happen, can happen, and has the potential to happen. I've got the courage - the semi-stupid shit I've done over the years, the way I sometimes leap before I look will give you that. Like, the comment I made to one of my friends at dinner tonight when our mutual friend, one of my closest ones, was sitting with the guy she's currently crushing on. Automatic response out of my mouth: "He breaks her heart, I'll break his nose." To which my friend looks at me and deadpans "You know he's a black belt, right?"

Some people say you need courage to share your writing. I love to share what I'm working on. Do I get butterflies sometimes when someone else that I don't know very well is reading it for the first time? Hell yes, but it's a bigger joy for them to read it and comment back to me than it is for me to stand there and freak out about whether or not I should have shared in the first place. Another one of those leap first, look later things.

With some things, like men, for instance, it's vastly different. Sometimes it's a struggle to not clam up and become quiet. I saw the guy I have a massive crush on, mostly because of his athletic skills (seriously, that's a majority of the attraction) and partly because he's absolutely adorable (in a Murphy sort of way, if you know what I mean). But will I ever the courage to say anything to him? Probably not. Will I almost always be a fish out of water when approached with anything like that? Most likely. But it doesn't sit well with me. Never has, never will. It's almost like my courage takes a backseat and self-conscious nervousness comes out in spades. And I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. Fight that feeling. It's not a particularly good one to have. Makes you doubt yourself, which is never good.

So, while in some cases I might in the middle looking out and around, in other cases, I'm in the middle of nowhere, slightly to the left. If somebody could drop me a map and a compass that would be fantastic. And maybe some cookies, too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Red Shirted

Somebody remind me to please never wear my best, bright red sweater to Acting again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

RE: 4th Floor Madness

It was a YouTube video. From the room of the girls 2 doors down (meaning around the corner.)


4th Floor Madness

Someone is currently horribly singing to "My Heart Will Go On." The only thing I can't really figure out is if someone on my floor is butchering it, or it's the floor below me.

Not that I'm really going to go find out. But dear God Almighty, it's horrible.

More horrible than when I mutilate "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.


Okay, so I've just woken up from a nice, hour and a half nap (which I desperately needed, by the way) and I'm really ready to focus and do the work I need to do.

In a recent chat with my chemistry professor/advisor (he is both to me, poor man) he suggested that I make, literally, a to-do list. Which, after some thought, is a really, really good idea. So, as I sit here shoving paper through my printer to print out my acting homework and my education seminar reading, while the rain is pouring outside and the wind blowing (it's been freezing all day - my room finally has some semblence of temperature now that I have the door open to the way-warmer (not really, it just feels that way) common room) I'm thinking about what I'm going to put on that list. How I'm going phrase it. How I'm going to decide what takes priority over something else.

Well, today is Monday. (Insert "Thank You, Captain Obvious or some variation here). Which means tomorrow is Tuesday. (Again, follow directions above.) Tuesdays are a little crazy for me. I begin my Tuesday morning, bright and early with my education seminar at 7:30 in the morning, taught by way-too-perky morning-people professors. Why am I complaining? Out of the family (besides our parents) I am the morning person. In that regard, I am a 180 from my lovely sister. I would have to wait for permission on Christmas when she was in college to wait until 9 to go upstairs and pry her rear end out of bed. Then again, I was also 9 years old. Anyway, 10 years later, I'm still the morning bug. I like my classes in the morning (leaves my afternoon's free for when I would have soccer practice) and I like being done relatively early (when everyone else is just rolling out for their first class). So, that being the first thing I would need, and following Spock's incredibly Vulcan idea of this "logic" thing, it would be the thing I would need to get done first.

Now, after my teaching seminar I drive out to the school that I've been placed in to observe an actual high school chemistry classroom. I do this from about 9:30 until a little after 11 where I drive back to campus and head to Acting I. Still following Spock, my Acting homework would be next in line to be done. Tuesdays become a little hectic because immediately following that (and by immediately I mean 10 minutes later) I have to be in Chem lab. In complete chemical safety attire (no HAZMAT suit yet, people. Just closed-toed shoes, no glasses, and safety goggles. But no way in hell am I wearing my good clothes that I wore to high school in that lab because, let's face it, shit happens. Also usually why I wear a bandanna over my hair, but that's mostly to keep fly-aways in line and so I don't have my gloved hands near my face).

I have a formal lab report rough draft due tomorrow. I have no started the thing. Therefore, I predict that the bulk of my afternoon (what's left of it) will be spent on that. I have no problem. It's one of those things that absolutely must get done. So, if I can get to the stuff on my list after that, that's gravy. What I don't get to, will invariably get shuffled to tomorrow's list (which I plan on writing tomorrow morning, possibly at breakfast. Maybe during the beginning of physics lab). The important thing however, is this:

Don't keep shuffling things from one page, one day, to another. Otherwise, Louise, they will not get done.

Which, honestly, is what I've been doing so far.

And a month into the school year, you might think it's too late. But it's not. It wasn't too late for me to learn the proper way to tell pericyclic reactions apart, recognize them, and use them for an exam. It wasn't too late to write a decent history paper, all while studying for said chem exam. Three weeks in is not too late. Not if I get everything together now. Which I plan on doing.

My goal is kick my procrastination habit. I've kicked a lot of things in my life, but I get the feeling this is going to be the hardest. But, honestly, I wouldn't be who I am, and I wouldn't be where I am, if I shied away from a challenge, especially one as mounting as this.

I'm a great one for talking my friends up when they need it, giving them encouragement and the little shove to get them back on their feet and back in the thick of it. I tell them they can do it, they can do anything they really, really want to do, if they put their mind to it and slug it out, slogging through the mud.

Now it's time for me to follow my own advice. And I think I'll do just that. Now, not later.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Crossing

Okay, so here's a scene from my novel that one of my professors (he's not actually my professor, but we sit and go over the prose aspects of parts of my novel, but I haven't heard back from him this year, mostly because he's only doing one class..if that, this semester, so he's not around. Still working on that) told me that I needed to write. Well, I did, and while we haven't gone over, I'm still trying to decide what to do with it. Whether I'll throw it in at the beginning (which, I now have the idea to rewrite) or put it in as a memory. Yes, my novel deals with vampires (no, they don't sparkle) and gypsies. It also deals with a whole host of other things, but they're not really important right now unless you get really, really lost. I'm actually just looking for a little bit of feedback, since this is one of the more emotional pieces, especially to see a character backstory. Lemme know what you think, and I really hope the formatting works this time.

Ral had his knees on the couch cushions, curtain parted slightly and staring down the driveway. His mother’s red Corsica stood there, a brushed burgundy in the dying rays of the late November sun. Floppy bangs nearly brushed his hazel eyes and he blew air toward them with an absent toss of his head. Headlights caught his gaze and he pushed himself up a little straighter and then deflated as they went past the driveway. The waiting was always the hardest part; waiting for the right car to come along and meander up the driveway. Wait for the passengers to get out. Wait for them to come up the steps. All while Ral’s anxiety would multiply tenfold. He saw his father only a few times a year, his birthday being one of them, and one night (part of a night, actually, Ral usually had a bedtime) was never enough.


He looked over his shoulder at his mother. If it bothered her to only see her husband a few times a year, she never said anything. At least where he could hear.

“He’ll come,” Vilasia said, coming to kneel beside her son. “He wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

“I know. The sun just can’t disappear fast enough.” Ral didn’t know why his father always waited for the sun to set before coming to see him, but that was the way it was. He’d tried one time to bring it up, to ask, and had been met with cold silence and hard looks between the adults. Ral hadn’t asked again.

Vilasia smiled, kissing her son’s unruly mop of hair. She was not about to explain why exactly her husband needed the cover of darkness to leave his house to her son, no matter how much she loved him and wanted him to know about both sides of his past. It was also part of the agreement she had not only with the rest of her family but also with the other gypsies in the area. It was how she’d been allowed to keep her son.

There was the slam of a car door and the crunch of gravel and Ral tipped himself backward off the couch in his haste to get to his feet.

“Easy, baby,” Vilasia laughed, helping him stand. Ral took off like a shot to the hall, standing by the coat rack and fidgeting his impatience. She watched him from the doorway, a fond expression in her eyes and a smile that turned to a grin when the door was opened. Ral, for his part, had at least waited until Maerton was all the way through the door before launching himself at his father. Maerton caught the boy easily, picking him up easily. Ral was little for his age, skinnier than his mother and grandmother liked, but Maerton always picked him up. Ral had the feeling that his father would be able to pick him up until he was at least fifteen.

“Hey, kid,” Maerton said, giving his boy a squeeze. He set Ral back on his feet and crouched so ice blue eyes could meet hazel. “You been good?”

Ral did his best bobblehead impersonation.

“Yeah, you’re always a good kid.” He stood, ruffling Ral’s hair even further and approached his wife.

“Maerton.” Vilasia allowed him kiss her neck before being enveloped in his arms. She missed this. She might have had Ralurick, the better half of the deal, but she missed the closeness and love that Maerton gave to her. He was, and had always been, her protector. She picked her head up enough to see Tim, Maerton’s little brother, walk by on the way to the kitchen, her kid slung casually over his shoulder.

“Midget and I are gonna help Manny in the kitchen,” Tim said, smiling broadly, the tips of his fangs glinting in the light from the living room.

“Tim.” Maerton’s tone was warning.

Tim closed his mouth, wrinkled his forehead, and then showed his teeth again. “We good?” He tickled the boy on his shoulder, laughing at Ral’s delighted giggles and continued on the way to the kitchen.

“Mother doesn’t mind, Mert,” Vilasia said. It wasn’t quite the truth but Maerton didn’t need to know that. Her mother hadn’t approved of her even so much as looking at Maerton when she’d first encountered him and well…even Ralurick’s appearance in the world ten years ago hadn’t changed her opinion much.

“Would you two get out of the frosting!”

Maerton raised his eyebrows and looked toward the kitchen. “That’s your kid.”

Vilasia snorted, disentangling herself from her husband. “That’s your brother.”

Dinner went off without a hitch, Tim sitting nowhere near Manny after the cake incident, Ralurick sitting across from his parents and beaming because his family was all there. The plus was that it was his birthday. Cake was served after dinner – Manny glared at Tim as she set it on the table, the four-inch frosting-less space faced away from the birthday boy – Vilasia wished for a camera as Maerton interlaced his fingers with hers beneath the table. Her little boy was ten. The agreement had held true for another year.

Ral sat in the living room a little while later watching The Great Mouse Detective that Tim had given him among other Disney movies, the adults in the kitchen with coffee, or in the case of the men, something a little stronger and much more organic. Manny had retired to her room, leaving her daughter and the Fosters alone.

“He’s ten, V,” Maerton said softly, rolling his shoulders to get the kinks out of them.

“No, Mert.” Vilasia didn’t have to look up to know what he was thinking. She had the agreement to think about, what the gypsies would do to her little boy if he were to cross that line. To placate him, she prepared to say the same line she had told him for the past four years, which was, “Maybe next year.”

“Timmy was turned when he was seven,” Maerton said, ignoring his brother’s wince at the use of the nickname.

“And I’m sure Tim turned out just fine, but this is different.” The circumstances are different. I have to live by the agreement. “Another year, Mert, please.”

Maerton looked at his mug and jerked his head. Vilasia took that as a yes. “I need to get some things from the attic, for the apartment. Keep an ear on him.” With Maerton’s sensitive ears he’d hear Ral coming long before he saw the boy. Those same sensitive ears tracked Vilasia’s steps all the way to the attic. With a hard look at his brother, Maerton headed silently from the kitchen to the living room.

Ral was curled in the couch cushions, eyes glazed as he watched the TV screen. “Hey, Dad.”

“Hey, kid.” Maerton looked down at his son, fully knowing that Vilasia would never forgive him for this. Ralurick, too. Manny would probably want to kill him (if she didn’t already) but it needed to be done. He couldn’t wait another year. “I have another present for you.” Guilt twisted his gut and he shoved it aside, allowing the colder nature of what he was to surface. This had to be done.

“Okay.” Ral, trusting as always of his beloved father, followed Maerton from the living room into the darkened sun room on the back of the house. The potted plants cast crazy shadows as the moon shone through the windows onto the painted hardwood floor. Maerton settled on the folded futon and patted the space next to him. Ral stumbled a bit in the dark, glad to be pressed against his father’s bulk on the futon.

“Come here.” Maerton pulled the boy into his lap and hugged him tightly. The vampire inside him told him it was the right thing to do, the father in him screamed to leave his boy as he was, as he could be. He could hear the blood beating, Ral’s heart kicking up a little from the darkness, the overall mood of the moment. He kissed the top of Ral’s head.

“I love you, Ralurick.”

Maerton’s teeth found his son’s vulnerable neck in one swift motion and Ral’s entire body seized, flinging him headlong into an abyss, fanged demons following swiftly behind him.

My throat hurts.

It was the first rational thought that Ral had when he jerked his eyes open, still staring at the plant silhouettes in the sun room. He scrambled to his knees on the futon, his skin raw and itchy, overly warm. Was he getting sick? And where was his father? Maerton had been sitting out there with him, watching the moon through the windows and wasn’t there anymore.

He worried his lower lip with his teeth, wincing when he tasted the copper-tang of blood. He didn’t think he’d bitten that hard…He slid off the futon and onto the floor, his legs shaky and knees weak. He was definitely getting sick if he felt like this. Mommy will have to let me stay home from school…

Shivering, he rubbed his arms and immediately wished he hadn’t; it was painful, like he’d just
tried to rip his own skin off. His stomach rumbled as he wandered through the house, queasy and hungry at the same time and his mouth felt full, like his teeth has somehow gotten bigger without him knowing.

Ral wandered into the kitchen; Vilasia and Manny sat at the table, coffee cups between them. “Mama?” Tears pricked his eyes; more blood filled his mouth. He’d sliced his tongue somehow.

“Baby? Where did you go?” Vilasia turned in her seat to look at him and her eyes went wide. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth, his lips chapped and cut. He was alabaster where he should have been still losing the golden summer hue of his tan and his eyes were same ice blue as his father’s. “No.” It was out of her mouth before she had the conscious thought to say it and Ral recoiled from her, fear plastered on his pale features. “Baby.” Manny must have heard the raw panic in her voice because she turned as well, hiding her surprise marginally better than her daughter at the sight of her grandson so drastically changed.

“Ma – ” Ral couldn’t get the word out without catching his tongue. His lower lip wobbled.

Vilasia was out of her chair and kneeling in front of him, wiping away both tears and blood. She kept her touches light; his skin would be extremely sensitive. “Mom, can you get me a wet washcloth?” Ral opened his mouth; she shook her head. “Don’t talk right now, baby. Let me get you cleaned up.” She looked over her shoulder. Her mother hadn’t moved. “Mother! Wet washcloth, now, please!”

Manny snapped out of her stupor and headed immediately for the laundry room.

“Ralurick Emmett,” Vilasia said softly. Blue eyes looked at hazel. “I know you’re scared, baby. We’re going to get you cleaned up and then we’re going to explain this, okay? I need for you, first though, to be really careful of your teeth.” She opened her own mouth wide and pointed to her incisors. “These ones, baby. They’re sharp.”

Ral pulled his lips away from his teeth as he was told, confused at Manny’s coldness to him as she handed Vilasia the cloth. First and foremost he wanted to know why exactly his teeth were sharp enough to cut him. And where had Maerton gone?

I am going to kill that bastard, Vilasia thought savagely, carefully dabbing blood away from Ral’s mouth, wondering how he’d managed to get it near his eye. I am going to kill him for what he did to my baby and I’m going to kill him because he didn’t stick around long enough to teach the basics. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Another realization hit her then, this one worse than what her baby boy had just become. The agreement was now null and void.

“Mama?” It was a whisper because Ral figured if he whispered and didn’t move his mouth too much he wouldn’t slice himself up further.

Vilasia looked at him and sat on her rear on the floor. Ral crawled immediately into his mother’s lap, his ear seeking her familiar heartbeat for comfort.

“It’ll be okay, baby,” she crooned softly, stroking his hair and rocking him gently. “It’ll be okay.”

No, Ral protested in his mind, remembering the look in his grandmother’s eyes, the look in his mother’s eyes when he’d first entered the kitchen, it’s not going to be okay.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reflection Points

I know that when those of you who are following me see that I've updated (usually just Heather, really, let's be real since I haven't really figured this out yet) it usually means that I have a new addition in the "Murphy and Me" pile. Those of you who somehow stumble upon this and read it, thank you so much for doing so. However, if you look at my earlier posts (Early June and May and before that) you'll see that some of them are reflective and oddly introspective. But, it's not like I'm ripping pages out of my journal for the world to look at it. I'm just...I don't really know what I'm doing, which actually reflects my everyday living habits.

See, there's this whole notion that when you get to college, you automatically either know what you want to do with your life, and you figure it out very quickly once you get here. Well, I'm the type of person that A) I don't know what I want to do, and B) I don't want to limit myself. I like a lot of things: I like to write (which is something, I'm going to say, that I do fairly well), I like to act, sing (sometimes not publicly, and if you catch me singing, then I either know you extremely well or you got really lucky), take midnight adventures, go on general adventures, bake, cook, and simply do and be a variety of things. College is a chance to branch out and explore your horizons. That's what they tell us. When you get there, however, they want to know what you like so that they can put you in classes and maybe channel you into something structured by the end of your freshman year. But you don't actually have to declare until the end of your sophomore year.

I'm a sophomore.

I'm currently going out of my mind this semester because I'm a chemistry major and somehow taking organic chemistry II and physics I not only in the same semester, but back to back. Couple that with my teaching placement twice a week (I was worried about hours and it's fun) and a history class that chugs its way through a chapter of an English Narrative History a day (we meet three times a week, by the way) and it's a recipe for disaster.

Now this is where I would normally say that I also have soccer. But, for the first time in fourteen years of playing, I don't get to say it. I'm still in the program, yes, but I'm completely on my own, doing fitness work to get my fitness level to where it needs to be. It's not what I expected, and certainly not what I wanted. Then again, life is rarely fair. Mr. Murphy and I get along quite nicely, and I don't mean the one in "Murphy and Me" and I sure don't mean the The Boondock Saint. That's the way I've always rolled. And I will continue to roll that way.

This wasn't meant as a sort of free-for-all in terms of bitching about the amount of work to do (it's college, it's meant to be a challenge) but more of a general reflection point because I've had all this bottled up in my chest for the past week and a half, almost two weeks. And it's not even October. But I'm not alone. There are the rest of my sophomore class currently in the same boat, maybe even worse off than I am (I know people who take multiple languages/people who take genetics and orgo in the same semester) and the way we get through it is by doing the little things. Going out with our friends; having movie nights in with the girls; going to the outlets; and, in my case, writing.

Which brings me inevitably to my novel. And how my writer's block on my current composition book is gone, but the one on my typed stuff still remains. Considering that I'm currently "off book" (gone on a tangent, if you will, because it's better than what was originally there) there's not really much I'm going to be able to do until I can kick my brain into helping me get back on track. And I think I know part of the reason that it's such a struggle.

The part that I'm currently at is when, after Ralurick comes back from being captive among the enemy (The Baron) and has escaped with his healer, (Keina, Jack's mother), the love of his life Bella (if anybody so much as mentions Twilight there may be no Murphy for quite a while) says that she's leaving him. Which puts Ral in an emotionally raw situation. Considering the clusterfuck that my love life is, I think my mind is trying to steer away from something potentially reaming. That's all well and good, but I really need to get this written. I really need to finish this thing. And I really need to find a publisher willing to look at an unsolicited manuscript, read, and go "Hey, this chick is good. Let's publish her!"

I'd like to not be on the outside anymore. I'd rather be in the middle, not knowing which direction to look in because everything's happening at once. And the chaos is beautiful.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Murphy and Me X

((Yay!!! Double digits posts!!! Anyway....))

As usual I met Sasha and Cara in the dining hall for brunch the next morning. Not many got up to be there early. If they did, they'd get quite the fashion show.

Meaning the football team lookin' sharp.

Meaning an eyeful of Murphy in dress pants and suit coat.

"You're drooling," Sasha muttered.

I probably was.

Murphy looked around somewhat hopelessly, and was nudged by Devan. They moved for the omelet line, Murphy digging in his pocket.

"Is that Murphy?" Cara asked. I'd forgotten that she didn't know what he looked like.

"Yup." I couldn't help but blush. Which increased when my phone buzzed against my plate. New text. I flipped it open. It was from Murphy.


I smiled. It was something he'd send; something little, sweet, and utterly Murphy.

Hello. I sent back.

We watched him dig for his phone, Devan looking over his shoulder. His shut and seconds later mine buzzed. Sasha and Cara leaned in.

Hi hi. good morning. what'd u have 4 breakfast?

I looked at my mostly-eaten waffle and send him a message back. He hit back pretty quick.

& thats wheat?

I didn't really know what to say, so I sent it wont kill me.

We spent most of our separate but combined time having a conversation in little 160 character messages, all while carrying on social niceness with the people sitting around us. Sasha and Cara couldn't stop looking at each other, then at me, and grinning. I decided I didn't want to know.

My inbox got one last message as the football team stood.

see u there.

Which I dutifully sent back, good luck!

"You are so gone," Cara said. "So gone."

My cheeks attempted to incinerate themselves.

We left shortly after, already having worked out that I would walk up to Cara and Sasha's, pick up Sasha (Cara had dance rehearsal) and we would go to the football game together. But first I needed to get some things - like a sweatshirt, and my backpack - first. The fourth floor walk was nothing anymore, but I stopped short when I saw my door.

There was a hat hanging on my door handle. More specifically, a baseball cap.

I picked it up and a note fell out. I looked at the inside of the hat and crouched for the folded piece of paper. M. MacRiley was written on the underside of the brim. I unfolded the note. In untidy, slightly slanted writing was:

Didn't think you had H-gear, so I'm letting you borrow my hat. It's been Febreezed, so don't worry. See you at the game.

The edges on the brim were frayed from use. It looked well-worn. On the back by the strap was an embroidered 54. I was guessing his jersey number.

I couldn't help the grin as I opened my door, packing my bag and then standing in front of the mirror, the hat in my hands. Murphy's hat. I had to move my messy bun of hair lower and tighten the strap. It was beat-up, slightly gnarly, and on my head. Which meant I would soon start to smell like Febreeze.

There were a few stares as I left, earbuds firmly in place for the trek up the hill. Sasha was sitting on the steps to her building. She looked at the hat.

"That's not yours," she pointed out.

"I know. It was on my door."

"So you put it on your head?" which, honestly, I expected and therefore turned the lecture she immediately launched into, with me adding only to the conversation by mumbling something about Febreeze and boys.

We found places to sit in the stands after the National Anthem was played, glad that our team was on our side of the field. It had been a while since I'd gone to a football game, I'd forgotten how certain things worked. Well, minor details, really, not big concepts. I knew the point of the whole thing. I'm not a complete dumbass.

Sasha pulled a "program" from somewhere and we confirmed that, indeed, Murphy MacRiley was number 54. We located him on the sideline, standing next to - hey, who would have thought - Devan Starrett, 47.

We must have lost the coin toss because after the kick off the defense was on the field. Including Murphy.

"Here comes Macho Man," Sasha muttered. I shoved her shoulder.

I then, based on my next observation, concluded that Murphy was either channeling a particularly violent spirit hellbent on destroying anything and everything in its path or wanted to impress me very badly. He did this by sacking the opposing quarterback two plays into the game.

When he trotted off the field, his duty temporarily done, took off his helmet, slapped his teammates high fives and other manly things, and started looking through the crowd. I knew when he found me - he grinned bright orange. He'd forgotten to remove his mouth guard. I grinned back.

"Okay," Sasha said, leaning on the bench behind her as though she were relaxing on a couch. "Let the chest-thumping begin."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Murphy and Me IX

Quite honestly, Friday came too soon.

It was a little like being blindsided.

I sat in the locker room, the newest Jay-Z song thumping through the speakers, my leg bouncing with nervousness. First game of the season. Sasha, next to me, nudged my leg with hers. Out of the team, she knew. Sasha was the only one who knew of Murphy.

Which, now that I had the name bouncing around in my head my heart kicked it double-time. That actually happened on a fairly regular basis, come to think of it.

"You'll be fine," Sasha whispered.

I gave her a small smile.

"Do what you always do."

"Which is?" Now I was a bit confused. Did she mean do what I do when I ran into parked cars or when I actually did something marginally useful, like my physics homework?

"Be you. And kick ass."

We stood together and I was reminded of the fact that not only were we best friends off the field, we were close on the field as well. She was my fellow central defender, my left foot, so to speak. And no matter what happened with Murphy, she'd always be beside me (figuratively and literally) and always have my back (again, figuratively and literally).

With that, we left the locker room.

Lord Almighty I didn't want to move.

I was at Mac's, ice strapped to my perma-swelled ankle and one hell of a bruise forming at the top of my shin. Not my fault the girl didn't come quick enough to get the damn ball and it had almost wound up in the net, complete with my leg whacking against the post.

And Murphy and Devan had witnessed the entire thing, including but not limited to the short kid trying to defend corner kicks, badly-timed slide tackles, shanked passes, and going up for a header and winding up in the side netting of the opposing goal with the goalie.

He'd cheered to. For us. For me. Which gave me a serious case of the warm-fuzzies.

Mac let me go, settling for my slight hobble with a small, wry smile. Sasha had already gone and probably gotten dinner with Cara. With my uniform already in the laundry, all I had was my backpack to pick up in the little cubbies outside Mac's. I walked out the doors into the autumn twilight and learning against the fence to the field was Murphy.

He saw me and smiled.

The only thing that could have made it better was if he had been holding food. Specifically Chinese.

"Good game," he said.

"Thanks." I adjusted my backpack - a fidget - and limped down the stairs.

"That from when you hugged a goal post?"

If I had been hoping he hadn't seen that, it just died epically, complete with flame and explosion. "Yup." I paused. "He doesn't give very good hugs."

"He's probably a little cold. Stiff. Might take him a while." Murphy grinned. "What do you want to do for dinner?"

"You didn't eat?" I was a little shocked. I thought he would have eaten with Devan and some of the football boys.

Murphy shrugged. "I figured you'd be hungry after this. And tired." He shrugged. "It's Friday."

What the hell did that have to do with the price of rice in Mexico? Or the hopefully soon consumption of food products, more specifically.

I must have looked truly confused (or stupid, they're fairly interchangeable) because he clarified, "Order out?"

The man was a genius. "Chinese?"


"I like the way you think." Really I did.

A short time later, after I had showered, Murphy came up the stairs bearing Chinese delivery. So the fourth floor didn't have a legit, traditional common room, but rather a sort of small open space at either end of the building. Coincidentally, one of these spaces was right outside my door. I sat in the old, beat-to-shit armchair, legs propped on the ugly yellow square ottoman, and was kind of relaxed.

Okay, really relaxed and I was about to get fed, which made it ten times better.

It was then that I realized, apart from the word "chicken," I had completely forgotten to tell Murphy what I ate. And I really only ate two things (both of which are chicken) when it came to Chinese: sesame and General Tso (but only when absolutely necessary).

"Chicken." Murphy handed me a square plastic container. "It's sesame. I figured if you didn't like it then I'd have to eat it."

Was he actually blushing? I think he was. He was nervous.

And it was really cute. For me, at least, probably not so much for him.

"Sesame chicken's my favorite," I said and watched his face light up like the Vegas nighttime skyline.

"Good, because I didn't wanna share my beef and broccoli anyway," he said, clearly teasing. Still, he dug into his food with some gusto and I wondered when he'd eaten lunch. Or, if he was like me, had only eaten breakfast.

Which reminded me that you can't use your college ID to pay for delivery. It didn't qualify as a meal through the meal plan.

"So, what do I owe you for dinner?"

He looked at me like I had told him that not only was the world flat but I could also fly, all while singing opera.

"You don't," he said. He held up his fork to stop my inevitable protest. I almost ignored him. "You're having dinner with me, you're coming to my game tomorrow, and you didn't laugh when you found not only my nickname from the boys but also that I have a stuffed dragon that I sleep with." He shrugged. "That pretty much covers it."

I was a little dumbstruck, and, in hindsight, I'm blaming my next piece of brilliance on the "dumb" part.

And man, it was a doozy.

"Okay, so if we trade numbers that'll cover the rest of my tab?"

Yeah, not one of my finer thought-processes.

Murphy went a little slack for a moment before recovering beautifully with a, "That'll work." Sasha was going to have yet another field day.

Least I managed to get my phone out of my pocket and spill only a little of my rice on the floor. And by little I mean half. Give or take a few grains.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Murphy and Me VIII

I did eventually get my keys out of my room. Eventually.

The rest of pre-season passed in an almost-blur. Before I knew it, the rest of campus had moved in and classes were starting. Half awake and kind of behind for getting to breakfast, I ran into Murphy going down the stairs.


It's a really good thing he's solid.

He braced himself against the wall, me plastered to his back.

"Sorry," I said, stabbing myself in the top of my head with a bobby pin as I tried to do my hair. While going down the stairs. I'm impressed I didn't stab him somewhere semi-vital.

"It's good," he said, pushing away from the wall. He turned, looked at me. Smiled. "Morning."

"Morning." He looked adorable. Well, he always looked adorable but, damn...who needed breakfast when I had a morning-dose of Murphy?

"Running late?"

"For breakfast." We started down the stairs. "You going to breakfast?"

He shook his head. "Class."

We got to the first floor. He shuffled his feet. "Um...Our first game is Saturday. Will you come?"

I did a really good impression of a lake-trout. He wanted me to come to his game? I can't explain what I was feeling, exactly, was good. Really good.

"Yeah," I said. "I'll go." No idea what I had agreed to, but from the smile - part relief, part shy - I'd done good. Real good.

"Friday," I blurted randomly.

Murphy looked at me oddly.

"Our first game," I clarified. What was I thinking? Seriously. Was I thinking at all that moment? Had my bobby pin done some damage?

No, I realized. I'm just a moron.

"Yeah," he said. "Friday's cool."

"Sweet," and then awkwardness descended. My stomach growled. Murphy chuckled.

"Feed the beast."

Which I took as sufficient permission to flee. Which I promptly did.

"Sasha. What are you doing Saturday? In the afternoon?"

Sasha looked at me over the table cluttered with notebooks. Not already a full day in and we were swamped. Well, Sasha was swamped and I was along for the ride.

"Um, nothing, at the moment," she said. She narrowed her eyes at me. "Why?"

I fidgeted. "Because Murphy asked me to come to his game and I said yes. And I don't want to go alone."

Sasha gaped at me. "He asked you to watch him play?"

"Yeah." My fidgeting continued. "And I'm pretty sure he's going to be sitting on the hill Friday." Which, now that I think about it, makes me sort of nervous.

"Did your brain take a vacation and not tell you?"

I bristled but it was true, though. Maybe I'd stabbed a vital part of my brain with a bobby pin. Could I use that as an excuse for my physics homework?

"Probably," I said, realizing my professor would find the attmpt highly amusing and then deny me spectacularly. Then he'd explain the physics of the smack-down he would have just given me. Wonderful. "Look, if you don't want to go, you don't have to." I searched for the ten-pound brick that was my physics book.

"Oh no," she said, a little too cheerfully. I was leery now. "I want to go." She grinned ferally. "I wanna see what macho-man chest-pounding thing he does to impress you."

I smiled weakly, feeling a headache coming on. This was going to be a truly memorable weekend, I could feel it.

And not only was it Monday, but I was not looking forward to it.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz