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Cataclysm Shit

Because I needed some place to post this before going public.

Ah!  Bears! Cataclysm Tanking (v4.0.1)

Latest Update:

It’s that time again, folks.  Time to completely relearn how to tank with the release of a new expansion, and hopefully, this guide will become your one-stop shop for all your Bear needs.   After 4.0.1 hits, [i]Visit your trainer[/i].  You will need to retrain several abilities, as well as some new ones.

The current version of this guide supports level 80 tanking, and will not touch upon level 85 until release night.  I cannot stress this enough.

I am still researching every day.  The information contained within is subject to change and subject to being utterly wrong(especially with numbers and mechanics being constantly tweaked leading up to, and after, Cataclysm release) at any time.  If the latter is the case, inform me [i]constructively[/i](I will not respond to blatant trolling) and I will revise with all due haste.  I strive to have one of the most accurate tanking guides available.

Index

i – Spell Additions and Changes  [sctn i]

ii – Talents, Bonuses, and Mastery [sctn ii]

iii – Stats, Gearing, and Reforging [sctn iii]

iv – Gems, Enchants, and Glyphs [sctn iv]

v – Threat Generation [sctn v]

vi – Professions [sctn vi]

vii – Frequently Asked Questions

Change Log:

[sctn i]

Spell Additions and Changes

All spell coefficients are for level 80 (with the exception of Thrash, which is 85) and will be revised upon Cataclysm release(12.7.10).

Leather Specialization (Level 50) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=86530

Increases your primary attribute by 5% while wearing Leather in all armor slots.  Feral specialization grants Agility while in Cat Form and Stamina while in Bear Form.

Mastery (Level 80) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=87491

Allows you to benefit from mastery rating.  Check your talent overview pane for additional details.

(More on Mastery below)

Skull Bash (Level 22; 15 Rage, 13 yard range, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=80964

You charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 5 sec.

(Acts like a charge, can be used in Melee range)

Pulverize (Requires 3 Points in Rend and Tear; 15 Rage, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=80313

Deals 120% weapon damage plus additional (404 * 120 / 100) damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 3% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10 sec.

(Talented to last 18 sec.)

Thrash (Level 81; 25 Rage, Instant, 8 yard range, 6 sec cooldown) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=77758

Deals AP*0.192+304 damage, and causes all targets within 0 yards to bleed for AP*0.033+189 damage over 6 sec.

Faerie Fire (Feral) (Level 24; 30 yard range, Instant, 6 sec cooldown) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=16857

Decreases the armor of the target by 4% for 5 min.  While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible.  Stacks up to 3 times.  Deals (AP * 0.15 + 1) damage and additional threat when used in Bear Form.

Lacerate (Level 66; 15 Rage, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=33745

Lacerates the enemy target, dealing (265 + (AP * 0.115)) damage and making them bleed for (5 * (21 + (AP * 0.0077))) damage over 15 sec, and causing a high amount of threat.  Damage increased by attack power.  This effect stacks up to 3 times on the same target.

Swipe (Bear) (Level 36; 30 Rage, 8 yard range, 6 sec cooldown, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=779

Swipe nearby enemies, inflicting 383 damage.  Damage increased by attack power.

Maul (Level 15; 30 Rage, 3 sec cooldown, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=6807

An attack that instantly deals (8 + $ap * 0.36 – 1) physical damage.  Effects which increase Bleed damage also increase Maul damage.

(Also off the GCD)

Thorns (Level 6; 36% base mana, 30 yard range, 45 sec cooldown, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=467

Thorns sprout from the friendly target causing (400 + ($SP * .421)) Nature damage to attackers when hit.  Lasts 20 sec.

Survival Instincts (Level 30; 5 min cooldown, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=61336

Reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 sec. Only useable while in Bear Form or Cat Form.

(Bearwall!)

Frenzied Regeneration (Level 52; 3 min cooldown, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=22842

Increases maximum health by 30%, increases health to 30% (if below that value), and converts up to 10 rage per second into health for 20 sec.  Each point of rage is converted into 0.3% of max health.

Berserk (Level 40; 3 min cooldown, Instant) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=50334

Your Lacerate periodic damage has a 30% chance to refresh the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability and make it cost no rage.  In addition, when activated this ability causes your Mangle (Bear) ability to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown, and reduces the energy cost of all your Cat Form abilities by 50%.  Lasts 15 sec.  You cannot use Tiger’s Fury while Berserk is active.

Clears the effect of Fear and makes you immune to Fear for the duration.

Savage Defense (Level 40) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=62600

Each time you deal a critical strike while in Bear Form, you have a 50% chance to gain Savage Defense, reducing the damage taken from the next physical attack that strikes you by 65% of your attack power.

(Down from 100% Chance on crit, and up from 25% of your AP.  Beefy.)

[sctn ii]

Talents, Bonuses, and Mastery

Cataclysm brought out a new way to do talents and specializations.  Trees have become more simplistic (now with only 31pt “final” talents), open up various bonuses for that spec, give one class-defining spell, and provide a Mastery Bonus specific to that tree.  You will also find that you cannot progress down other trees until you have spent 31 talent points in your chosen tree.

Talents –

There are 36 talent points available to use at level 80.  There is still speculation going on as to what is the “best” spec.  Regardless of what you choose, the standard will be 0/33/3.  Now, why not 0/31/5?  You can’t get to the second tier of Resto until level 81.  There is no point in taking Natural Shapeshifter until Cataclysm comes out.

Below is a list of talents what I consider mandatory and what I consider optional.  Keep in mind that you will have to take some of the optional talents to get to the lower tiers, and that some will be better than others for this choice.

Mandatory Feral Talents

Tier 1

2/2 Feral Swiftness

3/3 Furor

Tier 2

2/2 Infected Wounds

2/2 Primal Fury

2/2 Feral Aggression  (Some will argue against this.  I find that having the max armor debuff up before anyone has even hit a boss is a must.)

Tier 3

1/1 Feral Charge

3/3 Thick Hide

Tier 4

1/1 Leader of the Pack

2/2 Brutal Impact

Tier 5

1/1 Survival Instincts

2/2 Endless Carnage (The longer the buff is up, the less downtime on Lacerate you have, the more Berserk procs you can get.)

2/2 Natural Reaction

Tier 6

3/3 Rend and Tear

1/1 Pulverize

Tier 7

1/1 Berserk

Mandatory Resto Talents

Tier 1

3/3 Heart of the Wild

Optional Feral Talents

Tier 2

3/3 Fury Swipes (This may get moved to mandatory.  I was seeing good things from this on Beta.)

Tier 3

3/3 King of the Jungle (For those of you with 4T10; The bonus *may* be bugged with the Enrage change)

2/2 Stampede (Not too much use for this currently)

Examples(Not much variation, honestly):

http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#0ZfMGbRubzrck0c

http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#0ZfMGroubzrck0c

http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#0ZfMrfoubzrck0c

Bonuses –

Feral specialization will give you:

Mangle (Level 10; 15 Rage, Instant, 6 sec Cooldown) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=33878

Mangle the target for 230% normal damage plus (260 * 2.3) and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 min.

Aggression – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=84735

Increases your attack power by 25%

Vengeance – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=84840

Each time you take damage while in Bear Form, you gain 5% of the damage taken as attack power, up to a maximum of 10% of your health.

Feral Instinct – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=16949

Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Prowling.

Mastery –

Mastery: Savage Defender (Level 80) – http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=77494

Increases the damage absorbed by your Savage Defense ability by 32%.    Each point of Mastery increases the absorb by an additional 4%.

Feral Mastery is one of the more powerful Tank masteries currently.  It will scale [i]very[/i] well with gear.

[sctn iii]

Stats, Gearing, and Reforging

Stats –

Keep in mind, I’m operating under the assumption that the stat conversions have not changed.  If there is concrete evidence supporting otherwise, please inform me immediately.

In no order of importance:

Agility

Grants AP, Crit, and Dodge.  No longer grants Armor.

1 Agi = 2.1624 AP
1 Agi = 0.0129744% Crit
1 Agi = 0.0225641% Dodge

Strength

Grants attack power.  Not an amazing stat for Bears, as it only grants AP and nothing else.

1 Str = 2.1624 AP

Stamina

Grants HP.  The more stamina, the better.

1 Sta = 14.8665 Health

Critical Strike Rating

Increases chance to crit.  With Savage Defense being bumped down to a 50% chance on crit, Crit will become a larger part in gearing.  Currently, crit levels are high enough to where this should be a non-issue with the Pulverize buff, and it is still a mediocre stat for threat.

1 CritRating = 0.022% Crit
45.91 CritRating = 1% Crit

Haste

Increases attack speed.  Maul is no longer on-next-swing or the biggest contributor to threat.  Haste’s threat value has decreased significantly with this change, and will likely be reforged to something else on every piece of gear it appears on.

1 HasteRating = 0.03965% Haste
25.223 HasteRating = 1% Haste

Dodge Rating

Increases chance to dodge.

1 DodgeRating = 0.0220982% Dodge
45.2525 DodgeRating = 1% Dodge

Hit Rating

Increases chance to hit.  Still important for threat, but not important enough to need to be capped.  Hit cap is 263 across the board.  Heroic Presence is now Draenei exclusive and does not affect party members.

1 HitRating = 0.030% Hit
32.79 HitRating = 1% Hit

Expertise Rating

Decreases an enemy’s chance to dodge and parry.  Should still aim for the dodge cap (26 expertise) through gear.

1 ExpertiseRating = 0.0305% reduction in dodge & parry chance
32.79 ExpertiseRating = 1% reduction in dodge & parry chance

Cap vs Level 80 mob = 5.0% (Dodge) / 5.0% (Parry) = 163.95 (20) / 163.95 (20) Expertise Rating
Cap vs Level 81 mob = 5.2% (Dodge) / 5.2% (Parry) = 170.5 (21) / 170.5 (21) Expertise Rating
Cap vs Level 82 mob = 5.4% (Dodge) / 5.4% (Parry) = 177 (22) / 177 (22) Expertise Rating (Heroics)
Cap vs Level 83 mob = 6.5% (Dodge) / 14% (Parry) = 214 (26) / 460 (56) Expertise Rating (Raid Bosses)

Mastery Rating

Increases your Mastery.  Points in Mastery increase the effect of Savage Defender.  This is a [i]very[/i] important stat.

Armor

Decreases the amount of physical damage you take.

1 Armor = 6.251 Armor (Bear)
1 Armor = 6.8761 Armor (Bear with Thick Hide)
1 Armor = 7.013622 Armor (Bear with Thick Hide & Armor Metagem)

Damage Reduction from Armor % = Armor * 100 / (Armor + (467.5 * AttackerLevel – 22167.5))

DR% for Lvl83 Boss mobs = Armor * 100 / (Armor + 16635)

Armor cap (75% DR) for Lvl83 Boss mobs = 49905 Armor

Gearing –

Up until Cataclysm, gearing will be largely the same.  The only major difference is the ability to use AGI accessories (cloak, neck, rings) in place of tank accessories.  Stamina is still the main stat.  Everything you’ve heard about healer mana only counts for levels 81-85, so you will not have to drastically change your gear around.

Idols, or Relic items (as they are now) have been changed to nothing more than stat sticks.  This makes the 264 slot the clear winner.

Bonus armor on items has been drastically reduced.  Things like Bile-Encrusted Medallion and Devium’s Eternally Cold Ring still have green “bonus” armor, but it’s been reduced by 500 or more AC.

Reforging –

Nifty little system here.  Simplistic in its design, and you can’t really screw it up.  The biggest change you will do to your gear currently is reforging Haste into Mastery.

[sctn iv]

Gems, Enchants, and Glyphs

Gems –

A few gems had their color changed around.  There are only two relevant to Bears.

Hit Rating – Blue (Old: Yellow)

Dodge Rating – Yellow (Old: Red)

This means that Hit/Stam gems are gone.

The gemming scheme is largely the same.  Gem for STA, use 1 gem to activate your meta in a good socket bonus, gem for more STA.  Don’t gem for dodge.  Don’t gem for hit.  Don’t gem for expertise.  Don’t gem straight AGI.

The only gems you should worry about:

Solid Majestic Zircon – 30 STA.  Still THE tank gem.

Shifting Dreadstone – 10 AGI/15 STA.

Nightmare Tear – +10 all stats.  Now the better choice to activate the meta.  Best used in a yellow slot with a good bonus.  (Stam or 8-9 Agi).

Meta:  Austere Earthsiege Diamond: 32 Stamina and 2% increased armor value

Anything else is less than optimal.  That said, here’s a list of other gems that can be used, but really shouldn’t be:

Delicate Cardinal Ruby – 20 AGI

Accurate Dreadstone – 10 EXP / 10 Hit

Guardian’s Dreadstone – 10 EXP / 15 STA

Enchants –

[b]Head[/b]:  Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector – 37 stamina and 20 defense.

[b]Shoulders[/b]:  Greater Inscription of the Gladiator – 30 Stamina and 15 resilience

Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle – 20 Dodge rating and 15 defense rating

[b]Chest[/b]: Powerful Stats – +10 to all stats

[b]Belt[/b]:  Eternal Belt Buckle – Adds an additional gem slot to your belt

[b]Legs[/b]:  Frosthide Leg Armor – 55 Stamina and 22 agility

[b]Boots[/b]:  Greater Fortitude – 22 stamina

Tuskarr’s Vitality – 15 Stam and minor run speed increase

[b]Bracers[/b]: Major Stamina – 40 Stamina is the cat’s meow.

[b]Gloves[/b]: Major Agility- 20 agility is the best option early on.

Glove Reinforcements – 240 armor  Good, cheap to get.

18 Stamina to gloves – Gives the most EH out of the gloves enchant.  Suitable and recommended for ICC.

[b]Cloak[/b]: Major Agility- worth an additional 22 agility

Enchant Cloak Might Armor – 225 armor to cloak

[b]Weapon[/b]: Blood Draining – Permanently enchants your weapon to sometimes grant Blood Reserve when striking an enemy or inflicting damage with bleed attacks.  When you fall below 35% health, Blood Reserve restores 360 to 440 health per stack and can crit.  Lasts 20 sec.

Mongoose – Permanently enchant a melee weapon to occasionally increase Agility by 120 and attack speed slightly.  Requires a level 35 or higher item.

Glyphs:

There are now 9 available glyph slots.  3 Prime, 3 Major, and 3 Minor.  Once you learn a glyph, you learn it for good.  No more carrying around stacks!  However, you will need to buy a reagent if you want to remove or replace a glyph. 

That said, the Bear glyph options are fairly cut-and-dry.

Prime:

Glyph of Berserk – Increases the duration of Berserk by 5 sec.  http://cata.wowhead.com/item=45601

Glyph of Mangle – Increases the damage done by Mangle by 10%.  http://cata.wowhead.com/item=40900

Glyph of Lacerate – Increases the critical strike chance of your Lacerate ability by 5%. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=67484

Major:

Glyph of Faerie Fire – Increases the range of your Faerie Fire and Feral Faerie Fire abilities by 10 yds. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=67485

Glyph of Feral Charge – Reduces the cooldown of your Feral Charge (Cat) ability by 2 sec and the cooldown of your Feral Charge (Bear) ability by 1 sec.   http://cata.wowhead.com/item=67486

Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration – While Frenzied Regeneration is active, healing effects on you are 30% more powerful but causes your Frenzied Regeneration to no longer convert rage into health.  http://cata.wowhead.com/item=40896

Glyph of Maul – Your Maul ability now hits 1 additional target for 50% damage. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=40897

Glyph of Rebirth – Players resurrected by Rebirth are returned to life with 100% health. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=40909

Minor:

Glyph of Challenging Roar – Reduces the cooldown of your Challenging Roar ability by 30 sec.  http://cata.wowhead.com/item=43334

Glyph of Dash – Reduces the cooldown of your Dash ability by 20%. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=43674

Glyph of the Wild – Mana cost of your Mark of the Wild is reduced by 50%. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=43335

Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth – Your Rebirth spell no longer requires a reagent. http://cata.wowhead.com/item=43331

[sctn v]

Threat Generation

A lot has changed with a Bear’s threat generation.  It is a bit more interactive with the buff to Berserk (Lacerate dot has a chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle and have it consume no rage).  If you’ve ever played a prot warrior yes, it is a Sword and Board effect, though it operates vastly different from it as well.  More explained below.

The best™ threat rotation is still in the works, but it is safe to say that we now follow an active priority list rather than a set 1,2,3,4 type of rotation.

The absolute biggest change we’ve received is the removal of on-next-swing abilities.  Maul, sad to say, has had its damage, threat and priority sent to the backburner to be used as a rage dump only.  You have 70 or so rage?  You can maul.  As long as you have solid incoming rage and are not in danger of rage starvation, use maul on cooldown.  Maul is even off the GCD, so yes, you can macro it, though I highly recommend modifier conditions in the macro.

Single Target:

Priority:

Mangle / Berserk Procs

Lacerate (At least 1 stack)

Lacerate x3 (If Lac isn’t at a 3 stack, get it there)

Pulverize Buff (With 3 stack Lac only)

Pulverize itself (With 3 stack Lac only)

FFF to refresh (did you not pull with it?  For shame.)

Demo Roar

Let me explain what this means.  Mangle is now our top threat ability.  It needs to be used on cooldown always.  It needs to be used after every Berserk proc and before Lacerate ticks again.  If Lacerate is down, via Pulverize, at least one stack needs to be reapplied in order to benefit from Berserk again.  Later down the road, Pulverize’s buff will be critical to our survival, with Savage Defense’s proc chance being lowered to 50% on crit.  Pulverizes damage itself is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s nowhere near as potent or important as Mangle.

Here’s where the confusing part begins.  As I said previously, Berserk is our flavor of Sword and Board.  However, it comes from a dot ticking, and not forced through GCD abilities.  If you’ve played a warrior, then you know its rotation goes:  Shield Slam > Force SnB > Force SnB > Whatever the hell you want if no proc.  That 3rd GCD after a Shield Slam doesn’t matter because once it’s over, Shield slam will be off cooldown no matter what.

I explain that, to say this:

[i]Do not Pulverize on the 3rd GCD after a Mangle.[/i]

Why?  Pulverize consumes Lacerate stacks.  Lacerate needs to be up in order for Berserk to proc.  Mangle has priority over everything else.  Here’s what would happen if you Pulverize before a Mangle:

Pulverize (1.5 sec, No Lacerate)

Mangle (3.0 sec, No Lacerate)

Lacerate (4.5 sec. Hey it’s up, but ticks after 3 seconds….)

Lacerate (6.0 sec.  Lacerate ticks at the end of the GCD)

That’s at least 2 potential Berserk procs that were missed out on because Lacerate was down for a long time.  You don’t want more than 1 GCD of downtime on Lacerate (I.E. Pulverize then Lacerate right after), and you can’t, or shouldn’t, Lacerate with Mangle available.

The 3rd GCD after a Mangle can be used on Lacerate, FFF, or Demo, but not Pulverize.  It is better to use Pulverize on the 1st GCD after a Mangle, and even better to use it on the 2nd GCD after a Mangle.  In fact, with relation to when Lacerate ticks, the most optimal time to hit Pulverize is the 2nd GCD after a Mangle.  It doesn’t hurt to hit Pulv directly after a Mangle, but you then run the risk of Berserk procing right when Mangle comes off cooldown, thus potentially wasting a proc.  If you Pulverize on the 2nd GCD after a Mangle (and Lac immediately after), you will get a Lac tick right after you’ve pressed Mangle, resulting in a potential 2 Mangles in a row.

As you can see, this is getting rather messy.  Hence the major importance of the Priority chart listed above.  You wanted something less boring, right? ;)

Again, whenever you Pulverize, DO NOT do it on the GCD before Mangle comes off CD naturally (3rd GCD).

AoE Threat:

Well, it happened.  Swipe Spam is gone.  Swipe is now on a 6second cooldown AND costs 30 rage.  AoE tanking will be a major pain until Cataclysm hits and we get Thrash at 81.  C’est la vie, right? 

The best approximation of AoE threat is this:  Swipe on Cooldown, Mangle the Primary Target, Tab Lacerate otherwise.  Maul if you have the Rage and it won’t interfere with the rage for Swipe (I.E. more than 60 rage).

Start marking Skulls.  DPS that don’t focus and work with the tank will die.  DPS that think they can operate the same way they have been for all of Wrath will die.  That’s all there is to it.

[sctn vi]

Professions

[u][b]Profession Bonuses [/b][/u]

[b]Jewelcrafting [/b]– Very Flexible, Allows you to equip 3 Dragon’s eye gems that are much more powerful than standard epic gems. (They are no longer prismatic)

[b]Blacksmithing [/b]– Allows you to add two Blacksmith only sockets to your gear

[b]Leatherworking[/b] – You get a much improved Wrist enchant

[u]Fur Lining – 102 Stamina[/u]. A 62 stamina increase over the standard tanking bracer enchant (1013 HP)

OR a resistance enchant worth 70 additional Resistance to a specific type of magic… could prove very useful in Icecrown.

[b]Mining[/b] – Flat stamina bonus

[u]Toughness[/u] – 60 stamina

[b]Enchanting[/b] – Gives you the ability to enchant your rings

[u]2x Enchant  Ring – Stamina[/u]  -60 Stamina

[b]Inscription [/b]– Gives powerful shoulder enchants

[u]Master’s Inscription of the Pinnacle[/u] – 60 Dodge rating and 15 defense rating

An improvement of 40 dodge rating over the Son’s of Hodir enchant

[b]Alchemy[/b] – Mixology – You receive an increased effect and duration when you drink any elixir or flask you are able to make.

[u]Flask of stone blood[/u] – gives 650 more hp and lasts 2 hours instead of 1.

[b]Tailoring[/b] – Special Tailoring only cloak enchants

[u]Swordguard Embroidery[/u] – Embroiders a magical pattern into your cloak, causing your damaging melee and ranged attacks to sometimes increase your attack power by 400 for 15 sec.

You have to give up 22 agility for this enchant… Terrible profession for us…

[b]Herbalism[/b] – Lifeblood, haste rating

Uses your skill in Herbalism to absorb energy and nutrients from the earth, instantly healing minor wounds and granting 240 haste rating for 20 sec.  Can be used while stealthed or invisible.

[b]Skinning[/b] – Critical strike rating increased

Master of Anatomy – Increases your Critical Strike Rating by 40 (0.88% crit)

[b]Engineering[/b] – harder to explain

[u]Mind Amplification Dish[/u] 45 stamina, eight more than Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector at the cost of 20 defense rating. Plus mind control!! – http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=67839

[u]Flexweave Underlay [/u]– 23 agility and parachute to cloak… So 1 more agility and a parachute..

[u]Reticulated Armor Webbing [/u] – Permanently inserts reticulated armor webbing into gloves, increasing armor by 250.

[sctn vii]

Frequently Asked Questions

(Coming Soon!)

Wrapped in Bacon

She couldn’t figure it out. Whatever angle she looked at it with, it just didn’t make sense. Like one of those stair paintings… they went nowhere despite looking as though they had a purpose or direction. And just like those stair paintings, she couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t stop trying to rationalize what could not be rationalized.  A sigh forced itself from her lips and she rested her left forearm on her forehead. She shifted on her bed of earth, drawing a leg up and opening her eyes to stare at the endless canopy of stars.

It’s a paradox, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon… because everything’s better wrapped in bacon. She smiled slightly at this thought, remembering the British Lit. professor it had come from.  At the time he had been talking of satire.  Certainly not about what occupied her mind now.  Bacon, she thought.  I haven’t had bacon in months.

How was it that something so maddeningly frustrating could keep her this captivated and leave her wanting more?  It was so unlike her.  The more she saw, the more she feared, the more she craved… It was different.  It was new.  It was frightening.  She wanted to know why and, despite her best efforts, could not begin to understand.

Knowing was becoming a matter of principal.  She was determined to make sense of it.  If that meant losing herself to it, then so be it, but perhaps then she could rest easy.

Man, I wish I had some bacon…

I saved a bee’s life yesterday…

It was a lazy day.  I was lounging on the hammock by the pool, texting Jason, and just thinkin’ about stuff.  I was about to go back inside; – the day was hot, and I was in dark jeans and a dark tank – I had sat up and swung my legs over the edges of the white rope hammock, just staring at nothing… When I noticed a poor insect had gotten itself into a bit of trouble in the pool.

I watched for a bit.  The water rippled in a circle around it, sometimes looking like a satin ribbon whispering in a breeze about its legs as it struggled to free itself from the clutches of its watery nightmare.  I stood up, checking the most recent text I had gotten on my orange, enV phone, flipped the phone open to its qwerty keyboard (which is awesome for those that don’t care to learn how to text via number pad…), and sent my response.  With a quick snap, I closed the phone and made as if to go back into the house, when I again noticed the poor bug that was struggling to survive.

It’s a strange feeling, watching something you know is about to die, and also knowing you have the capacity to save it.  Like playing God.  I knelt down at the edge of the pool, studying the now-confirmed bee closer.  It’s transparent wings were wet… useless.  Antennae barely keeping above the surface of the water.  Six black legs twitching furiously, dark, orange-yellow and black striped abdomen dipping down into the water as though it would be enough thrust to free it, yet its wings hung limply down its back.  It only succeeded in turning itself in a circle.  Every now and again it ceased its struggle and I wondered if it had finally given up.  No.  A moment’s rest to calm its screaming limbs that were quite possibly burning from exertion, before frantically, futilely trying to free itself.

Maybe it knew it wanted to live.  Maybe it was just a simple creature and all it was relying on was survival instincts.  I can’t pretend to know what goes on in the minds of bees, but I imagine this one was crying out, “Oh shit, save me!”  I took pity on it.  Why? I don’t know.  I glanced around behind me, knowing there had to be a dried up leaf I could use to scoop it up.  I spotted one with a nice long stem, picked it up, and reached out to the poor creature.  I didn’t know if the disturbance the leaf would create would cause my rescue project to swirl away from me, so I angled in from behind, dipping the leaf in and getting the bee stuck on its edge.

Success!  I placed the dried leaf on the concrete walkway around the pool and continued to watch this now-fortunate bee.  It seemed disorriented as it tried to grasp what just happened, and by what good fortune it was rescued.  If I didn’t know better, and if bees could feel emotions, I’d like to think it was grateful to me.

I stare down at the notebook resting against my knees. Blank. The top of my black, gel ink pen is tapping furiously against my chin. My brow is furrowed in thought as ideas, scenarios, descriptions, and sentences flow through my mind like a river. As ever flowing as a river is, it never stops, it is unable to be caught and held. Fleeting.

I lean my head back against the patio furniture, squinting against the morning sun that’s rising to my right. Clear blue skies… cloudless… with a temperature of already 90 degrees. It’s only 8:30am. I sigh. I can feel the need to write those ephemeral thoughts down on paper, the want to get them flowing through my pen instead of through my mind and lost to the void, yet as soon as I place the pen to paper, they vanish. Like seeing a certain star out of the corner of your eye, only to have it disappear when you move to focus on it.

I take the pen away and close my eyes. The thoughts come flowing back. Funny, they remind me now as a school of minnows swimming through the Niagara river. Their scales flash and twinkle up at me as the sun hits them while they swim along. Inviting me to join them; join in their fun. I go to touch one, but the moment the tip of my fingers touch the surface of the water, they scatter, afraid of being caught.

Perhaps I should have learned to fish before I became a writer.