Monday, January 21, 2008

Sushi, Sunlight, and $6.56.

The chime tinkled roughly as the I opened the door with a little too much force... all the occupants in the restaurant glanced at me as if I'd just disturbed meditation. Hey, the door did say 'Push' after all. A smallish woman looked at me with malice, and clearly mouthed "How dare you..." with narrowed eyes, and took up her steak-knife in a balled fist. (Ok that didn't actually happen, how many sushi places have steak-knives? It was just an awkward moment.)

I sat at the table and ordered my meal, thinking that I've been waiting two weeks for the cable guy to arrive. No, not the spookily-bendy Jim Carrey-style Cable Guy, I'm talking about Shaw Cable. Yes, once more I'm hoping to become a resident of the 21st century and finally have internet at my place, anything to take my mind off the cloud cover that's been suffocating the city since I got back. It snowed today a little, slushy, sleety snow, but snow nonetheless.
My meal arrives, this place does awesome sushi.. David and I came here last year before I went home, it's cheap-ish, and good enough for me to make a return-visit, just to make sure I wasn't dreaming about their insanely-tasty dynamite rolls. To verify that it was real I took a photo as well..

I took out my iPhone, and covertly connected to the wireless network nearby, checking out AshtonX and AppleInsider while I ate. I'd love to post progress on the project I'm still working on, but it's just not in the cards. When I give things away I tend to give big things away, mostly by accident, so I'm unrealistically secretive with the things I do just in case.

But I digress, the meal done, I hop up to pay.
Then I realise with a quiet "Crap!" that I can't pay. I have about $8.00 on me. How am I going to explain this - the guy hardly understood me asking for a glass of water. Somehow I do though. I tell the guy I'm infinitely apologetic, and that I'll be back the next night to pay him properly. He nods disbelievingly, disapprovingly, and disenchantingly, and I leave. Holidays are helpful for many things, but not my bank balance..
So I'm in debt. $6.56 in debt to be precise, and I can't stop worrying about it. It's like a pea under my pillows, a thorn in my side, a weight on my shoulders. Pick one. I couldn't sleep, then I woke up grumpy, then I went to work and sat there thinking about it most of the day. It's $6.56! What in the world is up with me?

I'm getting ready to leave that night, I hit the net and make an account-to-account transfer of my last $20 so I can get something out of the ATM, and my boss appears next to me, and says that a client urgently needs a redesign done. Looks like I'm staying late.
Now I'm stressing even more, thinking I'll never get this guy his money back, I'm gonna break a promise because I can't get to the restaurant before close, and I hate breaking promises more than Oprah hates tomatoes (statement unverified). I fly through the job as quickly as I can. Luckily I finish what I need to do and do it well enough that I won't miss sleep over that too, and bolt out the door.

I leap off the bus 2 stops early and bust out a twenty from the ATM near my place, then run the rest of the way to the restaurant.
The lights are off, door closed..
Turning around in a circle with a frustrated grunt, I lean against it, and it swings open, the chimes tinkling roughly. I glance around in surprise, and out of the kitchen, light still on, comes the owner, looking surprised and somewhat shocked at the windswept mess that just plowed in his front door. His wife appears behind him. They probably think they're about to be held up, she's got a worried expression on, he's just glancing at me confusedly like my head was a basketball. I walk to the counter and hand him the money - plus tip.
He glances at it for a moment, and then he bursts out laughing. After a few moments he pats me on the shoulder, and in his thick accent says "You promise!". His wife sighs audibly and begins laughing also. I thank him again, and walk out the door, and hear him say "How about that!". Guess he never expected me to show up again.

I got home and fell asleep in my blanket on the living room floor, for some reason I'm that tired. When I wake up and bus to work the next morning the hills are lit up. The clouds are still covering Vancouver, but the mountains are bathed in white, new snow, blindingly bright because of the clearing in the sky above them. I forgot how bright sunlight actually was. Nice day though. Nice day.

Jimzip :D

Oh mucho dramatic! I forgot why I try not to write when listening to music! You'll just have to forgive that little ending. ;)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2 Weeks Later...

I stepped slowly off the smouldering steps into the surrounding parkland, my head spinning, midday heatwaves baking the smooth marble under my feet. As I regained my wits I glanced around.

He'd gone too far this time.

The city was eerily silent around me, no voices, no cars, the breeze provided a soft rustle as it whipped dried leaves around in circles on the pavement. A torn sheet of newspaper blew against the barred fence of the park and stuck there. I should have seen this coming. The signs were there all along but I was too focused on what I thought was important, too blind to see the obvious that was staring right back at me. Seth.

A defeated cry echoed through the empty park, it came from behind me. Did it just call my name or am I going crazy?


Nope, not crazy. It sounded like Alison. As I looked and she called again I realised it was Alison. So she was still alive.. I turned to face the direction of the din, and not a second later she came stumbling out of the bushes, face bleeding a little from large scratches up her cheeks, and looking scared. "I'm so sorry.." She said as she got closer, the panicked look in her eyes giving her an edge of sincerity. But I didn't have time to acknowledge her, he was getting away. Leaving her standing there like a hopeless child, I walked off pointedly in the opposite direction. This was her fault too to be honest - I can't take all the credit.

The silence was suddenly broken as the sound of gunfire broke through the noiseless shroud around us.. I dropped to the ground.
Shit. They found us.
I turned around, Alison was looking around frantically. She was going to get shot if she didn't move quickly. She glanced my way. Those eyes. Cursing my stupid crappy idiot human self, I got up and ran to her, slamming into her torso (as gently as one can slam into someone else while running for their life), and landed us both with a dizzying thump into the same bushes she'd stumbled out of moments ago.

"Ashto-.." She started, but I covered her mouth. There'd be time to listen to her excuse for an... excuse.. later, if we lived. She obviously hadn't woken up properly yet and didn't realise the gravity of the situation, but I had enough of my faculties in order to be reasonably peturbed.

I saw them entering the park cautiously through the thick leafy shelter we lay behind. At first only one or two, then hundreds. We were done for.
Like the well-trained personnel they were, they strafed, hopped or crawled into the park, and checked every inch. Like I said. We were done for.

I needed a miracle to save us now. But what I saw instead chilled me to the bone.
At the front of the armed band of militants, leading with a small device in his hand and smiling as if he'd just won state, strode Alex.

(Yay! This is an unofficial addition to the story of Ashton X! It's probably not by any means the direction the actual story will take, but it was fun writing it! You can find the real adventures of Ashton over at!)



Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A day and night in the City Of Angels.

"We'll miss our connection." The girl muttered to me as we sat slouched in our chairs at Melbourne International Airport.
I glanced her way with a questioning look, but she wasn't talking to me, she was talking to her friend, a young guy in a black baseball cap sitting opposite us. With a sigh, I grabbed my bookmark, unzipped my pack to stow the material away, and rubbed my eyes. When I've read the same paragraph twelve times and still can't take it in, I know it's time to give up trying to read.
It had been two hours, and still no sign of the missing flight attendant that was causing our boeing 747-400 to sit motionless at the departure gate.
"Silly bitch." the guy said, and stretched his arms behind his head with a yawn, signaling that he was probably as tired as I was.
I closed my eyes and eavesdropped for a while. I couldn't read, and listening to people talking was both more interesting and less energy-consuming than talking myself.

There were about twenty of them. All from a university in Boston, all part of a swim-team which every third year is treated to a training camp in Australia.
After a few minutes the conversation turned to someone they knew named 'Toad', and I lost interest hearing about his Tasmanian exploits, and went to get a juice. After purchasing it the announcement on the PA system told me that I had just been offered a 'refreshment' voucher from the airline - mentally striking myself for not waiting an extra minute, I went and sat in the cafeteria nearby, once again taking out my book. This time I got a full three sentences further than my last effort before the PA system boomed into the bustling terminal and announced that we were now boarding.

Coincidentally, after locating my seat I found myself sitting next to the girl from the gate lounge (who's name I discovered was Carina), and a brief and stilted conversation ensued. She didn't seem to like flying too much, and she didn't even tell me that, the large fluffy toy penguin she clung to during take-off confirmed it.

The flight itself was painless, I love flying and looking out the window is, for the most part, entertainment enough. Luckily I'd also loaded The Temple Of Doom and a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica onto my iPhone however, so even if option A got tiresome I wouldn't be stuck reading the passenger safety card in the seat-pocket in front of me.

When we finally landed, I found that Carina's prediction had been right. Despite the five-hour layover we were supposed to have in LAX, we'd arrived so late that my connecting flight to Vancouver had already left.
After two more hours navigating through the sea of bleary-eyed travelers at Customs, and the baggage re-check station, I finally spoke to someone about my situation. The lady informed me that the other two flights to Vancouver that day were both fully booked with waiting lists, and that the only possible flight was the next morning. Glancing at the time, I decided that a night in LA was the lesser of two evils, and I had no intention of hanging around the airport another 8 hours 'on-call'. Something told me that the 7 passengers ahead of me on the waiting list for the fully booked flight weren't all going to suddenly leave.

After arriving at the hotel, I threw my bags on the bed, and decided that I still had half a day to explore the city. Where better to start than Santa Monica Boulevard?

The cab ride was pricey but worth it, it was a beautiful warm day despite being winter, and the beach would be a welcome change from the airport any day of the week.

The Santa Monica pier was bustling with hundreds of faces, out enjoying the afternoon sun, I reasoned that this must be because for once the LA skyline was blue instead of orange, but as well as taking some snaps of the pier and the ferris wheel, I had another reason for coming here. A tingle ran through me as I took out my iPod and hit the display. A picture came up of a beach, palm trees, and shops lining a wide-sidewalk. My favourite album, despite having an illustration as the cover, depicted this beach, depicted Santa Monica. I'd wanted to see if it was real since I'd heard 'Holiday From Real' the first time.

I clicked my earphones in, started the album, and set off down the beach before the sun slipped below the horizon, on the same sidewalk I'd looked at so many times in that picture, off to explore the City Of Angels.

Jimzip :D

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