Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Blog for Personal Whatnots (Follow me through NaNo 2009!)

Dear anyone that may be reading this:

I am sorry that I kind of quit blogging for a while. Mostly, I was busy goofing off and I really didn't have a structured day to sit down and do some blogging, so I just didn't really do it.

Another reason was because this blog was originally just for updating the status on my writing, and then I turned it into a personal blog when I quit doing Becoming. I never really liked the url but I didn't want to just up and change it.

So I decided to start a new blog. Mainly because I'm going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year and I want to blog my progress (not saying I'm going to blog actual parts of my story, but I will blog about the story). I also am going to post things about writing in general, what I've learned from NaNo, and the ins and outs of my life.

Please check out my new blog at http://arielle-writing.blogspot.com/ . I'd really appreciate followers, comments, and anything else you can throw at me.

-Arielle

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's been a while.

Life has been so hectic! Here's what's been going on.

I graduated! Yay! It was stressful at the end, with some of the harder classes I was taking. But I passed everything, walked across the stage, got my degree, and now I'm done! Here's the pictures from graduation. No one actually got me walking across the stage. Apparently my dad, who was in charge of the video and the still photos, got distracted or something. Oh well.

I got married! Another big thing. It rained on the day of the wedding, which everyone says is "good luck," but I think people just say that to make you feel better about the fact that it rained. Other than the weather, everything turned out perfectly. We made bacon explosions for the wedding and they were a big hit. We only made two because of time constraints, and they disappeared within minutes! My parents also rented a chocolate fountain which was a big success as well. It was so yummy! For pictures from the wedding and the wedding shower, head over to either of these sites:

Brandon's MobileMe Gallery
The Photographer's Website

After the wedding, we went to the Salado inn and spent the night, since we weren't leaving for our honeymoon for a week. Click here for pictures from the inn.

That Sunday, we opened gifts and wrote thank-you cards. Then we headed up to Houston for the week before our cruise.

We left the following Sunday, May 24th on our cruise. The cruise stopped in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It was supposed to also go to Cozumel, but the canceled that stop due to the swine flu. It was a blast, though. Brandon lost some money in the casino, I bought a beautiful necklace in Grand Cayman, we met other newlyweds, and we had lots of fun. I will post pictures to that probably next week after we show them off to our family. I haven't been home since the cruise, so I want to show them off in person before I post them online.

After the cruise, I've been on the job hunt. I've applied for a bunch of jobs, and only been called in for one interview. I think it went well, though, but I may not hear anything about it until August. Until then, I'm going to do some temp work for an employment agency hopefully while I wait for more chemistry and forensic science jobs to come open or until I hear back from the job I interviewed for.

I've been cooking and doing some cleaning. I made a roast chicken one night, and last night I made a pizza from scratch, the crust and the sauce! Tonight, I'm trying out an orange chicken recipe. I really like cooking.

I also finally finished Bitten. I posted the last chapter today, so go check it out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Science is cool!

I've been looking into a lab job lately and I've started paying more attention in my classes, because it might be something that I actually will use.

Last week in my molecular genetics lab, we did a restriction digest. We were checking to see if our little plasmids had the correct fragment inserted into them against a known sample (positive control). We used special enzymes called restriction enzymes to cut, or digest, the plasmids into fragments, and then we incubated them and ran them on an agarose gel. I know it's really nerdy, but this is one of the best gels I've ever ran. Normally they're really fuzzy and they don't look like they're supposed to or nothing shows up at all. I'm kinda proud of it.

Here's my group's gel:

The greyish square is the actual gel which we stuck into a special machine that shines UV light on it and takes a picture of the gel. (I put it in a little bit crooked, oops!) What you are supposed to look at are the really bright lines. Those are DNA fragments.

Anyway, the lane on the far left is called the ladder, it's a special thing we have to use that is lambda phage DNA already cut with an enzyme and the sizes of the base pairs are known. We can used the known sizes to determine the sizes of the base pairs of our DNA fragments. One kid in the class screwed his up by putting the ladder in all the tubes, thinking that it was the dye we were supposed to use. His gel didn't even turn out though, because he forgot to put ethidium bromide in it when he was making it, which is what actually causes the DNA to flouresce. We have to e-mail his group the picture of our gel so they can have something for their lab report.

The second lane is our plasmid that was cut once into a linear fragment, the fourth lane is the positive control. As you can see, the fragments traveled almost the same distance, which means they are the same size!

The third lane is our plasmid that was cut twice with two different enzymes. The top fragment is our fragment of interest that we cloned into the plasmid while the bottom fragment is the plasmid it was cloned into. The fifth lane is the positive control cut with the same enzymes. Again, they're the same, which means we did it right.

Pretty much, all that means is that we had what we needed, but then we threw it all away and started on something else, so it doesn't really mean all that much in the long run, but oh well. It was still fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Hitchhiker - Short Story

Everyone knows that picking up a hitchhiker can be a risky thing to do. But on my long, monthly drives from El Paso to Houston and back, the human interaction and conversation was all that kept me sane.

Most of the people I picked up were dull, wordless creatures. I had to pry conversation from them and it was often awkward and uncomfortable. I would turn on the radio to fill the silence as we drove.

Others spoke so much that I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I would get their entire life stories along that ten-hour drive (sometimes less depending on where I would pick them up and let them off). Not that they didn’t have interesting lives and stories to tell, but it wasn’t conversation; it wasn’t engaging. Some of those chatty people, I just wanted to turn on the radio and drown out their voices with the first music I could find.

But every now and then I would get some that was the perfect companion. I guess sometimes just you take a chance and you get what you’ve been waiting for over a long time.

I picked her up early in my journey, at a gas station right outside El Paso, the last stop before the empty miles of nothingness ahead. She was going to San Antonio, almost three-quarters of the way to Houston. It was pretty much on my way, and neither of us looked scary or creepy to the other, so she came along.

Her name was Hazel, possibly a strange joke played on her by her parents, or maybe they just liked the name. Nothing about her was hazel, I noted as I glanced over at her. She was looking out the window, the bright, hot Texas sun glimmering on her golden hair as it caught in the wind. Her blue eyes glittered in the light, shining with intelligence.

She was an actress. Or at least, she’d tried to be one. She was told over and over that she was good, but she just wasn’t good enough. She was hitchhiking her way from California because she was completely broke after about a year of trying to find work and failing. She was going back to San Antonio to live with her parents for a bit. Maybe she would go back to school.

She was full of stories about some of the people she’d met, some of the things she’d seen. I didn’t know if they were true or if she was some kind of pathological liar, a storyteller with a vivid imagination, but she was interesting and full of life, and the stories made the drive through the lands of nothing but scrub brush and dry, sandy earth go much faster.

I would often glance over at her as she spoke. We didn’t even need the radio. Her blue eyes shone as she told me about.

I looked back at the road, deserted all around. We were the only car for miles, maybe more. The roads here were never really crowded, especially in the middle of the week, but if I would have put a little thought into it, I would have noticed that there were no cars at all, coming or going. We hadn’t passed any. We were all alone. But I was oblivious. I was too enchanted by my new companion and her fantastic stories. I was continuing the conversation with questions, asking her to go on, telling her what little I knew about the business and letting her explain things to me in more detail.

“Honestly,” I said, “This is one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had in a long time.” I just had to take another look at her, though. I should have had my fill. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe I should have just gone on driving, talking to myself.

Because I couldn’t look at her – she was gone.

In my shock and surprise, I immediately slammed on the brakes, everything in the car shifting forward, my entire body jerking in the seatbelt, bruising my chest and knocking the wind out of me. I was glad to be alone on the road, otherwise I would have gotten rear-ended.

I shakily pulled the car over to the side of the road and got out, looking around. The flat terrain confirmed my suspicions. I was alone. Hazel was gone.

I hit the unlock button and went over to the passenger side of the car, searching the seat she’d been sitting in for clues, for evidence that someone had actually been there. That I hadn’t just imagined her. The seat was warm but this was Texas. The seats were always warm. The sun took care of that. Her stuff was gone as well, the small backpack she’s been carrying had been sitting up in the front seat with her, despite my offer to throw it in the trunk so she’d have more room for her legs.

There was nothing, no proof of her, not even a whiff of perfume lingering on the fabric. I sighed and sat down in the passenger seat, trying to figure out my situation. I closed my eyes and let the wind play over my face and through my closely cut hair as it blew through the open doors. I felt something tickling my face and my eyes flew open.

A single long strand of blonde hair, still stuck to the headrest of the passenger seat was being blown across my face. There was my proof. She really had been there!

But did I really want that proof? Along with the proof came a different predicament.

Where was she now?

I got back behind the steering wheel and started the car, quickly making a U-turn, kicking up dust all around me. I floored the gas pedal and, tires skidding on the asphalt, I drove back in the direction of where I’d picked her up. We’d driven over 200 miles, but I didn’t care. Somewhere over the 200 miles in-between where Hazel went missing and where I picked her up, there had to be more evidence, or maybe Hazel herself.

I glanced down at the gauges on my dashboard. I was going over 150 miles per hour. I eased off the gas pedal and took a deep, calming breath. I’d never find anything if I was speeding past it all.

I drove and drove, but I saw nothing. No Hazel, no cars, not even any animals. Was I all alone?

About fifty miles away from the gas station, my car began to lose momentum. I pushed down on the pedal with my foot, but it did nothing. The car began to stutter and stall. I let it roll to a stop on the side of the road. I looked down at the gauges and cursed.

I was out of gas.

I let my rage out on the steering wheel, pounding my fists into it until they were sore and aching. I had just gotten gas. How could I have run out? Did I drive further than I thought?

I got out and slammed the car door, kicking the tires and door panels in frustration. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, but I had no signal, of course. I thought about smashing it, but I was finally coming to my senses, my anger at myself and the world slowly ebbing.

I looked around to view my surroundings. The desert was mostly scrub brush and low bushes growing in the dry ground, but I and noticed for the first time a hint of color against the bland landscape. It was a small blue object, a few yards away from me, lying off the road next to a bush.

I walked over to it to get a better look. It was a backpack, dark blue cloth, with two zippered compartments. It looked exactly like the one Hazel had been carrying, but it seemed fuller. Was it hers?

I picked it up, the weight surprising me. I turned to take it to my car.

My car was gone.

I stood there for a moment, stunned. The bag fell from my hands as I slowly walked to where my car had been parked on the side of the road. Had someone stolen it? I surely would have heard something, I didn’t walk that far away.

I looked in the dirt to find the tire tracks, something to convey what had happened. There were marks where I drove the car off the road and they stopped where I’d parked it. There were no tracks leading away.

First, my passenger had vanished, now my car. All I had was a worthless cell phone and a dirty backpack. The closest gas station and hint of civilization was fifty miles down the highway, where I’d originally picked Hazel up.

I trudged back to the backpack and opened it. Inside were a few bottles of water, some granola bars, and a blanket. I sighed and began walking along the highway, in the direction of the gas station. I hoped I would see a car, maybe they would help me, but no one drove by.

I drank when I was thirsty, I ate when I was hungry. When nightfall came, the temperature dropped. I curled the blanket around me and went to sleep on the asphalt on the side of the road. It was hard on my back, but it was warm.

The next morning, I started walking again. I didn’t run out of food or water, and still no cars came. I checked my phone so often for a signal that my battery died. I just left it there on the side of the road.

I didn’t know how far away the gas station was anymore. I could have been hours or days or minutes away. I was so awash with hopelessness that when I finally saw the sign with the familiar logo on it, I cried.

Then I saw a familiar figure sitting on the curb in front of the store and I stopped dead in my tracks.

“Hazel,” I said as I stood there dumbly, staring at the blonde girl, her hair blowing in the breeze as she looked up at me with those blue eyes. There were no cars getting gas, but as I looked around, there were people sitting on the ground, the curbs, leaning up against walls, all holding little cardboard signs for Albuquerque, Dallas, Austin, Brownsville, Oklahoma City, and more. The more I looked, the more people I saw.

Hazel scooted over on the curb and smiled at me, patting the concrete next to her. She laughed at me as I just stared at her and then she said, “Did I tell you the story about the time I picked up a hitchhiker?”

-----

I wrote this story based on this prompt. Click the link for more information! Hope you liked the story, write your own if you think you can do better, which you probably can. :P

The Hitchhiker - Short Story Prompt

I've been meaning to post this stuff, but I'm a slacker. Here is a prompt that was sent to me by Bharat, who hasn't posted to his blog in a long time, but I know he's still alive.

The story that I wrote from it comes in the next post. I changed and expanded the original prompt a bit, as you can see if you read the story, but I kept the original concept. If you like this prompt and want to write a short story from it, just e-mail your short story to arielle_harris@baylor.edu and I will post it. Don't forget a link to your own blog or website so I can promote you a bit. If you have a prompt you want to give me, you can e-mail that as well.

More info is in this post.

Everybody said picking up a hitchhiker was, well, stupid to be maddeningly understating. But everybody wasn't having what could possibly be one of the most brilliant conversations of their life with Y. I guess sometimes you take a chance and you get what you've been waiting for for a hell of a long time. I glanced over at her, our conversation had reached a lull, and it didn't bother either of us. She was looking out the window, bright Texas sun glimmering on her golden hair caught in the wind. I looked back at the road, deserted all around, we were the only car for miles.

"Honestly," I said, "This is one of the most involving conversations I've had for a very long time." I just had to get another look at her. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe I should have just gone on talking. Because I couldn't look at her... she was gone.