To Ride Hell’s Chasm, by Janny Wurts

Hell’s Chasm terrifies me, and it does so because Janny Wurts’ talent for writing about a harrowing flight through some of nature’s most unforgiving terrain is second to no one. I didn’t even really understand the title of the book until the lead characters come to the titular Chasm itself, and then I could think…

Kings of the Wyld, Nicholas Eames

As if the fantasy genre and heavy metal weren’t connected enough, along comes Nicholas Eames to tighten the leather straps and forever marry two oddly similar forms of entertainment in Kings of the Wyld, the first in a series that thrums like a Jimmy Page riff in a genre full of entry-level chord practice. What’s…

Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

It took me ten days to read The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. I could have probably read four or five books in that time, but instead I chose to invest myself in this sprawling fantasy epic that clocked in at over 1200 pages, in the mass market paperback version, and while I found…

Fantasy Bingo 2017

There is a fun little challenge over on the fantasy reddit called Fantasy Bingo that I’ve opted to participate in. It basically gives you a bingo card and you fill it in with fantasy books (mostly) that match each square’s category. There isn’t really a prize for making a line or filling the whole thing…

Zen Center Day 6 – A Redwooded Farewell

I decide upon waking that I need to try to meditate one more time before I leave this place. While the entire experience has been meditative in its own right, I have not consciously sat and cleared my mind very often, which in some ways was the entire point of this trip. I slip into…

Zen Center Day 5 – The Heights

Thursday marks our last full day of work, and I spend it with a variety of people. As we stand in the circle to mark the beginning of the day, I feel at home. It’s easy to fall in to the rhythms of these people. I don’t really know anyone here, even if I’ve met…

Zen Center Day 4 – Trees of Liberation and Prayer

I sleep in on Wednesday, which means I linger in bed until 6:30am. It’s easier to wake up at the zen center because everyone goes to bed between nine and ten every night. The rhythms of nature are the alarm clock, and people seem content to follow that. I clear trails again today with Carlos,…

Zen Center Day 3 – Oceans and Pubs

On Tuesday, I awake from my ten hour slumber and feel refreshed but melancholy that I let a night slip away from me. I skip the morning meditation and instead write for a bit before breakfast. My goal for the day is to see how the pre-dinner meditation at 5:15 is, and if I will…

Zen Center Retreat – Day 2, Meditation and Work

Day two of my retreat begins at 5:50 in the morning, which is one of those times I’ve only seen a few times in life. My advantage lies in the fact that 5:50am in California is actually 8:50am in Michigan, but the lack of sun makes it feel early. I don my brand new mediation…

Zen Center – Day 1, Meet and Greet

After tea, there are a few hours left before dinner and the official start to the work week. I use the time to acclimate myself to my room, change out of my travel clothes, and shove my useless, mangy socks into some deep dark hole in my suitcase. I decide to wander the grounds. What…

Zen Center Retreat – Day 1, Tea House

I drop my things in the guest house; also in the Japanese style and pushing my geek buttons pretty hard. All the rooms revolve around a central hub, two levels high, and there is an openness that doesn’t exist in Western architecture. There are paper windows open to the common area, and though I can…

Zen Center Retreat – Day 1, Arrival

The flight from Kalamazoo to Chicago only takes 30 minutes. I’ve never flown in a plane so small. Walking down the aisle to reach my seat is an effort of contortion, but the one long row of seats on my side is comfortable in its elbow-roominess. A 6:00am flight is beautiful in September. The darkness…