I should be working on my NaNoWriMo novel right now, but it's hard to plot past Chapter 13 because that's the end of the first "half" and to be honest the second half needs more substance.
I was going to work on the second half today, at the Light Rail Write-In, but things… happened. The idea was that a bunch of local NaNoWriMo people would get on the Light Rail (pretty much a shiny trolley) and ride it all the way to the end of the line and back, while writing furiously. Nice idea, but not quite how it turned out. Here's the summary that I posted on the NaNoWriMo forums, for all the people who couldn't make it:
Let me be the first to say it: WOW.
I'm sure everyone will get to hear about part of this on the local news tonight, but to give you a firsthand account of the whole thing...
The five of us met up and got on the light rail at 19th ave and Montebello as planned at 10:30am, and for the first few stops everything was pretty quiet. We all chatted a bit before even turning on laptops to conserve power and be social, and bitched a little about the parts of our NaNos that were giving us trouble. Once we were all booted up we had a ten-minute word war, which I lost dismally due to a complete brain fart.
That's when things got strange... we were stopped at 24th and Jefferson at about 11:00, and an entire carload of clowns got on, in full makeup - keep in mind these are clowns we're talking about, so when I say a carload I mean about twenty. I don't know about everyone else (feel free to chime in and add details, guys) but I for one found myself unable to write much.
A few stops down (it was either Mill or College) two of the clowns start to argue, and there's some shoving. One stumbles out of the door and trips, hitting his head on a bench. While everyone is just standing around stunned, the doors shut and we leave without the guy. This makes the argument even worse, as you might expect, and they're yelling pretty bad. There's no driver or anything there though, and I would assume that they must monitor the cars but if so they weren't doing anything about it.
This is going to sound strange, but so far as I could tell the argument was caused by a clown being angry that one of they others said he was gay due to - I shit you not - the fact that his big fake nose was blue. Apparently it's the clown equivalent of a rainbow bumper sticker. Don't ask me who decides this stuff. So within a few minutes we're at the next stop (they're pretty close together) and by the time the doors open it's a full-on fistfight. All of us are getting up, planning on moving to a different car or catching the next train entirely (all but one of us had bought a full-day pass anyway) but as we're leaving the fight actually spills out onto the platform... where a police officer gets knocked down onto the rails right in front of the train.
Okay, yes, that's a SLIGHT exaggeration. The train was still quite a bit away, but in my opinion still too close for comfort - and in the police officer's opinion too, as he starts telling the clowns they're all being detained. Most of them are trying to push back into the light rail and one actually says "I'm not with these guys" as if the police officer is going to believe that the dude is dressed up like a clown by complete coincidence. We end up just crossing the street to get away from the mess because it doesn't really look like the light rail is leaving any time soon anyway.
There's some places to eat, including a *bertos, a pizza place, and pita jungle so we decide to eat and then either catch the next light rail or maybe even turn around and head back the other way, depending on how burned out we are on writing and how long it takes to eat. Sounds like a good plan, and we're all still kind of giggling over the clown incident, but then as I'm finishing my chicken and cheese burrito I realize I don't have my laptop with me anymore.
Let me explain - this is NOT my laptop. It belongs to my work, and I really shouldn't be using it for this stuff anyway. It's a Bad Idea. So I can't go back to work and say, "Whoops, sorry, left that on the light rail... somewhere... for some totally non-work reason." I also can't just cross my fingers and hope that it shows up in some lost and found somewhere. So I gather the other NaNo'ers and ask for suggestions. Amazingly, one girl (I'm so embarrassed and sorry to say I've completely forgotten your name. I suck.) knows someone who lives in the area. She gives him a call and we all wait together there on Apache for him to arrive... and man, what an arrival.
The dude (Dave - see, I remember *his* name just fine) has one of those classic huge vans, with an eagle airbrushed on the side. The inside is... wait for it... fake wood paneling. Aw, yeah. So all of us fit inside and we start trying to outrun the light rail so we can get my computer back. I tried to thank everyone for coming with me (and will try again: thanks, guys!) but pretty much the sentiment was that this was more exciting than anything else they would be doing anyway, and so I was doing THEM a favor by losing my laptop in the first place.
We caught up with the light rail not once but twice, neither time sure that it was even the right time and coming up empty in both cases. By the second one everybody was starting to change their mind about coming with me for this adventure because Dave was an absolute psycho on the road. I'm talking about U-turns across four lanes of traffic, making sudden lefts from the right-hand lane, you name it. We were very much afraid for our lives - but I was even more afraid of losing my job. So everyone else (including Dave's friend) gets back on the light rail and I stick with Dave because he seems convinced if we just catch up the next one we'll find it.
We didn't catch up to it. You can't always follow the light rail track exactly in a car, and Dave got turned around somehow. Finally we gave up and Dave offered to drive me back to my car - a generous offer, because we weren't all that close to it. On the way, Dave points at something and starts laughing. I look, and there's a clown on the side of the road trying to hitch a ride - and he has my laptop bag over his shoulder. You should have seen the look on his face when we let him into the van and then demanded that he hand over the laptop and his nose.
Yeah, that's right. Kept it as a souvenir. It is now hanging from Dave's rear-view mirror.
So, all that to say that while I didn't get anywhere near as much written as I wanted to I couldn't have had a better time if I tried. Thanks so much to everyone who showed up, and to Dave, and I guess - in a way - to the clowns, too.
If you want to see a picture of the clowns on the light rail, it's here: