Thursday, December 15, 2011

100 Words: Mother Farkle

I'm making my New Year's Resolution list early this year. It's full of the stuff I never got around to in 2011. Lose weight. Be nicer. Write more. Read more. Curse less.
It's that last one I always seem to dismiss first and foremost. The first day back to work usually has me screaming the EFF word not once or twice, but multiple times.
Last year I tried to stick to it by having somebody hold me accountable. I was to pay Bryan five dollars for every profane word I uttered. One hour and fifteen dollars later, I cancelled the deal.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Age-Appropriate Answers

Let me tell you a true story, except for the names; I'm changing those to suit my fancy and to protect the mean innocent.

I was twenty years old when I was pregnant with my third child. (go ahead. judge me. I deserve it. I was too young to have even one, let alone three children. later on, when I was twenty-two, I had a fourth child. stupid. stupid. stupid.)
All of my children have the same freeloader for a father (I like to call him Earl). I'm not proud of this fact. I'm just throwing that in because it's sort of crucial to the story I'm telling.

When I was about seven months along with my third child, I was sticking all the way out to here, so there wasn't much hiding it from any of my "tsk tsk"ing neighbors or my "Oh Jeez, again?" coworkers, because pretty much anybody who could see me knew that I was pregnant.

My three young foster brothers, for instance, were aware that I was about to spew forth yet another stinkmonster into the world. Our family easily populates half the Earth. We are amazing breeders. We found something we really know how to do and we just kept on doing it. Some of us are still doing it. We are relentless.

Anyway, one afternoon, when I was preggers with the third, I was at my mom's house, keeping an eye on my three young foster brothers who were 11, 10 and 9 years old at the time. (actually, I should tell you that these foster brothers are actually my biological cousins and that they are natural brothers to one another having two half-siblings on their mother's side, which goes to support my theory about populating half the world.)

Back to the story- I was watching the fosters and taking advantage of the laundry facilities all at the same time. I was in the laundry room, just off the dining room and the oldest boy, uh, Jethro, was sitting at the table having a snack and watching me fold clothes. My mom was at work and expected me to run the household according to her strict design until her return later that evening. Basically, I was to keep the boys from murdering one another or trashing the house. I had a lot of confidence in myself that I could do this.

My two oldest were babies at the time, and so they were having an afternoon nap. The other two fosters, Jasper and Judah were playing in their room. I could hear them "fighting" with swords, but there didn't seem to be any actual bloodshed, so all was well. I continued to fold clothes.

Jethro eyeballed me and my humongous belly as I pulled laundry out of the dryer.

"How'd that baby get in there?" he asked, out of the blue. It threw me just for a moment, but this was not an uncommon question, and I had read all the parenting books. I knew that I was supposed to give age-appropriate answers and never divulge more information than the child actually asks. Short simple answers always worked best. Or at least they had in the past.

"Well, moms and dads make the baby and it grows inside the mom until it's born," I answered. He was eleven. Most eleven-year-olds know this. I felt safe giving this answer.

"But how did it get in there?" he asked again. I gave him the once over and checked the clock on the wall. It was nowhere near time for my mom to come home.

I snapped a towel and folded it twice. "Well, the dad puts the baby in there." I turned away from him toward the washer, as if to signal that the conversation was over. But it wasn't.

"But how does he do it? Where does he put it in?"

My shoulders slumped in defeat as I sighed heavily into the empty well of the washer. I was remembering all the way back to when I was eleven and thinking why doesn't he know this? By the time I was eleven, I knew where babies came from. I had seen dogs and cats and cows and hogs and even chickens going after it. I had witnessed kittens and puppies being born. I had even watched out the kitchen window when the vet came to help our Shetland pony give birth. I knew about the adulterous birds and those fickle bees.

"Well, Jethro, the dad and the mom have to like each other a whole lot, and when they get together to show how much they like each other, they make a baby."

He thought about that for a while, chewing on his snack with great intensity. When he took a second bite, I thought I was in the clear. Yippee.

But no.

"I need to know how that happens," he demanded, as if I'm holding out on him, and this forbidden knowledge will somehow help him become supreme ruler of all things Jethro. "You need to tell me where he puts the baby. How does it get in there?" He forced those last two words out so hard, I thought his teeth would pop out.

I looked at my brother, gnawed on my lip as I thought about it for a second, and then just blurted it out, as if it would be more painless if I just got it out in the open in one swift movement. Like ripping off a bandaid, right? After all the kid was ELEVEN! He should have already known this!

"Jethro, you have to have sex to make a baby." There. I'd said it. There was no taking it back.

You may have realized by now that I am not exactly a good decision maker. It doesn't matter how thoroughly or how briefly I think a thing through, I will inevitably arrive at the completely wrong decision, no matter what. As always, I had made the wrong decision in telling my young brother how it is that babies are made.

His big with disbelief...and the look on his face as he sorted it out in his head...ugh. He jumped up from his chair, straight as a board with the shock, the horror of this knowledge. My knees gave out for a second when I realized there was no fixing this. What was done was done. Can't take it back.

Jethro shot around the corner to the bedroom where his brothers, his younger brothers were playing and I heard a muffled, desperate purging of words spill from Jethro's mouth and into Jasper and Judah's ears. A brief moment of silence overtook the house. I imagined this was the moment of clarity that some people have when everything comes together to form a perfect picture in their minds. I didn't want to think what my little brothers were picturing just then. In unison, all three boys began to moan with denial. They made their way back into the kitchen to confront me about my carnal sins.

Tragically, there was no bottomless pit handy into which I could throw myself.

"Is it true? Is it true?" Jasper asked, desperate for me to deny these accusations. "Do you have to have sex to make a baby?"

There I stood before the judge and jury made up of my three poor, sheltered brothers who didn't even know enough of the world to understand about something as simple and primal as sex. In the back of my mind, I was trying to form a defense for my mother for when she came home and realized I'd corrupted her precious children for life. If I could word it just right, I was pretty sure I could turn it around and make it seem like her fault.

"Yes, you have to have sex to make a baby," I told the boys. No sense in changing the story now. The damage was done. Their eyes widened and the "Nu-uh"s and the "No WAY"s overpowered the room. I could barely hear myself whimper with self-loathing. Judah's moment of clarity arrived just then. I could almost see the thoughts form in his head.

"That means you had sex!" he yelled, pointing his finger right at my swollen tummy! I am sure I turned bright red.

"EEEEWWWW!" Jethro moaned, "with EARL!!!"

"THREE TIMES!" Jasper realized, holding his first three fingers up to make sure that everybody in the room knew me for the shameful fornicator I was.

"Yup," I admitted and turned back to the laundry. I didn't want to talk about it further, but you can bet I heard about it later from my mom.

I don't know why she was so upset. Nobody murdered anybody else, and the house looked really nice when she got home.

Monday, December 5, 2011

111 Words. 172 Stories

Yesterday, as I was diligently searching through the follicles on my head, I thought of one hundred seventy two macabre stories to tell you about vanity and my long term love affair with the Guardian of the Fountain of Youth.
Coincidentally, I plucked exactly one hundred seventy two gray hairs from my scalp, and there went the ideas, into the trash, along with my fantasies of an eternally wrinkle free appearance.
(Damn those grandkids.)
All hope is not lost, however, as I was carded at the Walmart on I-27 and Georgia for a Sharpie.
Apparently, you have to be at least eighteen before you can be trusted not to sniff them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Partial Fiction: She's Probably Just Nuts

     Caitlyn Crossman snorted into the cold January air in the small clearing in the trees. With each breath she took, a small puff of fog escaped her lips, hovering for a second before dissipating into the night. In the shadow of the empty mansion, she struggled with an axe that was much too large and heavy for her small frame. She heaved it over her head and brought it down to split the log she had placed on its end on the chopping block. She had seen this done on TV. In theory, all you had to do was swing the axe, and it would somehow manage to magically land in the center of the wood and split the entire thing in one whack. Sounded pretty simple.
     That was theory. In real life, however, no such magic occurred. She managed to hit the log dead center, but, the axe wedged itself in and refused to release the wood. She found herself cursing and slamming the entire log up and down on the block like a hammer. Every slam released a loud "THWACK" sound into the night. It bounced off the trees back against the house and into the trees again.
     "This." thwack "is." thwack "so." thwack "STUPID!" thwack.
     "Having trouble?"
     "AUYAGH!" Caitlyn jumped back about three feet with her hand over her chest to keep her heart from leaping out. The axe fell from her grasp and tumbled clumsily onto the ground. Realizing that she might need it for self-protection, Caitlyn scrambled to retrieve it. She held it up in what she hoped was a threatening pose. The log jutted out awkwardly from the sharp edge. She stared into the trees where the voice had emerged. She was so sure she had been alone.
     "Who's that? Lurking there? Identify yourself, intruder!" she demanded. Somebody moved in the shadow of the trees. She might not have seen him under normal circumstances. The darkness of night had already covered them. The trees around them protected them from any usable light that would be shining down on them from the exterior lights behind the house. She might have had to step closer to see him at all, but he seemed to be glowing blue in the faintest way. Or maybe that wasn't quite the right word. He was definitely luminous, but not quite glowing. Maybe he had some kind of glow-in-the-dark lotion rubbed into his skin. Or maybe he was radioactive. Caitlyn had never seen anything like this. Was this a flashback from the one time she had done acid in high school? Or maybe the combination of moonlight and the small flutters of artificial light were peeking through the branches of the trees and playing tricks on her eyes. She blinked hard and re-focused.
     Oh my. A man.  She knew that some warning bells were going off somewhere inside her head, but she ignored them. A strange man creeping up on her in the dark should have kept her in self-defense mode, but her curiosity had gotten the best of her. She needed to investigate this a bit further.
     It's a strange man, Caitlyn, she thought to herself. And a nice looking one, too. Except for that weird radiance he's putting off. Maybe I'm dreaming. I fell asleep in the library, and now I'm dreaming about unfamiliar, glowing men in my own backyard. I wonder how this one will play out. Is he here to kill me, or maybe to rescue me from this solitary life I've carved out for myself and carry me off into the moonlight?
     What the hell is he doing here, anyway? she thought belatedly. This is private property!
     "I am not lurking," the man stated as he stepped closer. The dry leaves beneath his feet crunched and swished as he approached her. Surely she should have noticed the sound of that before he had gotten so close to her, but her log-thwacking had probably been too loud.
     "Vampires lurk," Caitlyn said. She thrust her chin up in defiance of his presence.  She took in the sight of him. Not quite six feet tall, thirty-something, longish brown hair, a little rugged…nice solid body. She might have spent a little more time admiring his friendly face, but she was distracted by his glowing… (Or shining?) She couldn't take her eyes off him.
     I can't see his eyes in the dark, she told herself. Or his fangs. Do vampires glow? It seemed that she had read that somewhere.
     "I'm hardly a vampire," he said. "If I were, do you think you'd still be standing there, blood still pulsing through your veins?" He seemed to take offense at that idea. Hmm. She lowered her awkward log/axe defense weapon.
     "Demon, then? Or maybe some sort of demigod?"
     "Am I that ugly?"
     "Well you're obviously something, trespasser. Quit skulking around in the shadows. Step out and make yourself known." He huffed a small, white puff of breath and raked a hand through his hair, the other hand on his hip. He looked her up and down with an exasperated expression.
     "And I'm not trespassing," he insisted. "I'm the new caretaker for Canyon's Edge. Gabriella Hughes hired me. She was supposed to tell you I would be here tonight. When you didn't answer the door, I came around to look for you."
     Caitlyn looked him over, giving no expression on her face. He wore old jeans, work boots and a camel-colored work jacket. It was obvious to her that the man wasn't here for a tea party. She nodded once, decisively.
     Gabriella Hughes was her cousin, whom her father John had hired to act as manager of the estate for the duration of his stay in London. She was supposed to keep track of the upkeep on the house, hire cleaning crews, lawn maintenance, things like that. It just so happened that she wasn't very good at the job. She often came to Canyon's Edge unannounced on the pretense that she was "checking on the house." She usually had a friend or two in tow and would parade them through the mansion, pointing out artwork and recalling times of her life she had spent in the house. Caitlyn was supposed to call her whenever she had problems, but she'd had to call a plumber twice herself over the last year when Gabriella couldn't be reached. Her cousin then had the audacity to reprimand Caitlyn for calling the wrong plumber.
     The truth was, if Caitlyn's father or her cousin Gabriella had hired a new caretaker, it was news to her. Even so, she had no desire to give him the impression that she was such a flake, unaware of the things that transpire in her own home. He could figure all that out later. He was claiming to belong there, and until she learned otherwise, she would play along. Besides, Canyon's Edge needed a caretaker. He looked like the capable sort. He might come in handy. She mulled this over for about a half a second.
     "Superhero, then." And it was a statement, not a question.
     "I suppose," he half smiled, not quite sure what to make of Caitlyn. He stepped forward to offer a handshake. Caitlyn took it, expecting a quick shake, but the man held her hand and turned it over once, appraising it. As he did, the luminous shine she was seeing seemed to fade out of him and into her, as if he were on a dimmer switch and somebody had slowly turned it off on his end and turned it on at her end. She watched it fade very quickly out of her own body. It was gone, but not without leaving behind a very comfortable and pleasant warmth. This was a very lifelike dream. Caitlyn closed her eyes tight and then opened them again.
     He made no apologies for his assault of light and heat. Caitlyn assumed he was unaware of his little aura. She seemed to be the only one troubled by it.
     Now that he had come so close to her, he loomed over her. He wasn't menacing. He was just tall. He seemed to have no regard for personal space as he was standing not six inches away from her, pulling her fingers back so he could view the lines of her palm. She had to tilt her head upward to see his face. He looked completely normal, except, he had the weirdest colored eyes. Speckled. (Caitlyn wondered... if this superhero decided to shoot laser beams from his eyes, what color would that laser be?) She wasn't sure he had been emitting any kind of light at all. It must have been lack of sleep that was making her see things.
     "Where are your gloves?" he asked with the slightest hint of reprimand leaking into his voice. "It's cold and you'll give yourself blisters handling that axe." His thumb rubbed harshly across her palm and he splayed it open so she could see it better. "See there, you've already got a little one."
     Quickly, and quite unexpectedly, he lightly kissed the offensive bubble of skin. She was frozen for a moment just staring at her hand and wondering if he had really done that, or if she was still hallucinating or dreaming, or whatever was happening to her. She pulled her hand back.
     "In hindsight, everything's twenty-twenty." She looked him over again. She knew him from somewhere, she decided. A memory played hide and seek in the back of her mind. Alle, alle auch sind frei! She just couldn't recall him. Caitlyn tipped her head to one side as if that would cause the memory to break loose and bring itself forward. It didn't.
     He smiled and nodded. She had thought the glowing had been distracting, but his smile almost took her breath away. She briefly looked behind her to see if anybody else might pop out to help her look at him. She was certain that she shouldn't be the only one enjoying this view.
     "I'm Gavin Young," he said. He turned and motioned to a smaller being that was hiding behind a tree. "And this is my Little Wood Nymph, Grace." True to her name, Little Grace hopped lithely into view as if she emerged from the heart of the tree itself. She wore a deep blue coat with big black buttons and black knit gloves. In one arm, she hugged a big cloth doll with yellow yarn hair and painted on big, blue eyes. The doll was ragged and dirty. Caitlyn knew from experience, the raggier the doll, the more love the child had given to it.
     Grace herself had loose, sandy brown curls that fell to the middle of her back and a nice little face that was pink and full of a smile. The faint light that was available fell on the child's big blue eyes and lit them up like Christmas lights. Caitlyn sized her up with one sweep of her eyes.
     "Wood Nymph Princess?" Caitlyn clarified.
     "Yes, ma'am, that's what I am," Grace agreed in a tiny little voice that had Caitlyn placing her hand over her melting heart. She absolutely loved children.
"And who is this?" she motioned to the doll, who was almost as big as her caregiver.
     "Matilda." The girl gazed down into the doll's face and rubbed her eyes with her fingertips. "She keeps me safe."
     "I see. I'm Caitlyn Crossman, welcome to Canyon's Edge," she told the child, who seemed to be all of three years old. "Have you eaten supper?" Grace nodded. Curls bounced. Dimples appeared.
     "At a restaurant with a pretty waitress," Grace volunteered. She said restaurant like REST-a-RAWNT.
     Well, good. Because there's no food in the kitchen.
     A swift gust of icy winter wind pushed past the three of them, dragging their hair along with it. It pulled at little Matilda, almost stealing her away from Grace. The child pulled the doll closer and the wind moved on with a low groan through the trees.
     "C'mon, Little Ones." Caitlyn held her hand out to Grace. "It's time to go inside. I can see your breath in the air. Unless that's smoke. Have you been smoking, Grace?"
     Grace just laughed and took Caitlyn's hand. They stepped away from Gavin and walked together toward the main house.
     "Watch out for the pixies," Caitlyn warned Grace calmly. "They are vicious and horrible little creatures that will bite your ankles if they catch you out here after dark. I'll show you a trick to keep them away from you sometime if it turns out to be a problem for you."
     Gavin cursed under his breath when he caught himself looking down at his feet for tiny winged creatures with sharp teeth. He stared after Caitlyn and Grace. He watched them drag their shadows across the leaf-littered ground and wondered briefly if he hadn't been dismissed altogether.
     "Are you coming then, Superhero?" Caitlyn Crossman called back to him, an air of dignity in her voice.
     Gavin huffed a little and then set his feet into motion, following behind the strange woman who had just stolen his child away from him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Skills. I Got 'Em.

About an hour ago, my refrigerator opened to the left, toward the laundry room. That seemed really stupid to me, especially since I have one of those narrow kitchens built for no more than two people. You couldn't stand in front of the refrigerator and take out all the things you need at once. You'd have to take out a few things, close the fridge, move over, put them on the counter, move back and open the fridge again for the rest of your things.We had to step into the laundry area just to get to the coffee creamer.

Now it opens to the right, toward the kitchen. 

Did I have to bat my eyelashes and serve iced tea to a greasy guy with plumber's butt? 


I simply waved my magic socket wrench, and voila

Easy. Peasy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Red Flags

I seem to have picked up a predator.

I met him at my high school reunion. I didn't know him in school, except that he was a bible thumper who went around trying to bring every lost soul to Jesus. As you know, I steer clear of bible thumpers. We were not friends in school. I may have actually called him a moron way back then. He says I did, but I don't remember it. High school is a blur.

While I was at the Reunion Gala, three of my old girlfriends noticed that he was "stalking" me, so they gave me the inside story. While he was dating one of them in high school, he tried to make out with the other, and then flirted with the third! What a jerk!

I found out later that he was the one who nominated me for Most Eligible Bachelorette, as if every unmarried woman is on the prowl for a man. Clearly, he completely misunderstands me.

He's been trying like crazy to stick to me for the last couple of months. He texts me, and he comments on my Facebook posts and he sometimes reads my blog posts and e-mails me about them.
Mind you, anything he says in a public forum is "safe." I couldn't accuse him of being a predator outright, based on those public comments alone, but I have dealt with his kind before. I am aware of his intentions, and I know the basics of how his mind works.

He's searching for an in, you see.

He's seeking my weaknesses and intends to exploit them to his benefit. That's how predators work.

He gives me a sob story of how he's not getting along with his wife; she's abusive toward him, and she's making herself out to be the victim. (This isn't the truth. This is just what he tells me. I have a friend who knows his wife, and she swears they have the perfect marriage.) Anyway, Mr. Predator wants me to meet him for coffee so we can talk about his failing, abusive marriage, because he knows that I've been through it, and I will be able to relate to his situation.


But that doesn't work on me, because my past is not a weakness for me. It's just a part of my past, and not a very big part. It only lasted six and a half years. I left that relationship fifteen years ago. Just like high school, it is a blur.

Then he decides he, too, has a novel in him, despite claiming at the reunion that he doesn't read much, just watches movies. So he wants me to read some of his stuff and give him pointers, because he likes the way I write, and all of a sudden, he wants to be a writer too. I tell him I don't have time for that sort of thing. I barely have time to write my own book. If he wants honest criticism, he should take a class or something.

After the first few weeks, I started to not respond to his texts right away. I let them sit there for a while, and then later I would claim to have been busy at work or in a movie, or taking a nap, or writing or picking kids up from school. Once, I told him I was on a date, even though I wasn't. He didn't text back, and I was happy to have shaken him off.

I didn't notice when he deleted me from Facebook, but he sent another friend request a week or so ago. I simply ignored it. Then, out of the blue, he shows up at my job. He told me he was there to try the salad bar. That doesn't explain why he was hanging around the meat counter, but hey, maybe he likes raw steak in his salad, what do I know? I was polite to him. I had to be. I was at work.

Then he sends me a text asking if he's done something to offend me. How was I supposed to answer that? Taking the safe road, I just responded, "Do you feel that you've done something to offend me? Are you under the impression that I am easily offended?" He never answered.

Maybe he gave up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dream: Out There


That's what I was, and I was thankful that I'd practiced being blind as a child...just in case.
But this, this was not the same as toe-ing my way across my safe bedroom, bumping into soft, upholstered furniture, giggling at my own awkwardness.

I crawled sightlessly across a strange, cold, cement floor on my stomach. The coppery, pungent smell of thick blood filled my nostrils, and I realized that the blood was mine. There was little pain at this point. I'm not sure if that's because I wasn't hurt as badly as I made myself out to be, or because my subconscious was repressing the pain in an effort to keep me sane enough to escape this increasingly perilous situation.

Somebody had done something bad to me, and now that it was over and the Bad One had gone away, it was time to find my way back home. Blindly.

My fingertips traced the cracks in the floor. I pushed into them, using them for leverage to pull my weak and damaged body along. The slipperiness of the warm blood helped me to slide myself more hastily.

I had no idea where the exit was. A welcoming waft of air blew past me. I turned my face into it and smelled the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked blueberry muffins.




I followed. I grunted as I scooted, scaring myself by not crying. Surely I should be crying. How inhuman could I be that I didn't think this was worth a few sobs?

Fuck it, I thought. I'll cry later when I'm safe at home with my mom and a basket full of muffins.

But that couldn't happen either. Mom was already gone. Much more gone than I was at that point, and I almost cried at the memory of that, but stifled it when I remembered that I was wasting time thinking about this nonsense. I should have been concentrating on getting the hell out of there.

A wall. I bumped into it and felt along the bottom, struggling to reach a doorway. It seemed to take a very long time, but the closer I came, the louder the low hum of an air conditioner became. I don't know why I didn't notice that before. I could have used it as a guide.

I think I was in a garage. I began to notice the stench of my father, like motor oil and cigarettes swirling in my head. This made sense to me, because he had been a mechanic all the years I lived with him growing up. Nowadays, he's a truck driver, and I have no idea what he smells like.


The passageway was there. I felt along the bottom where the door meets the threshold, and I pulled myself up by grabbing the knob and hoisting my body against the wall. I was heavier and weaker than I had ever been. I wasn't sure if I would be able to walk after this. Just my luck to be blind and crippled in one little outing. This is why I should never have left the house. These are the kinds of things that happen out there.

The light spilled over me like pink, silk ribbons.




Thursday, October 27, 2011

So Many Flakes Out There

I've never understood those people who get out in the snow. They buy snowboards and sleds and go outside  to play around in the cold wet blanket of misery. They roll around in it, cruise through it, pick it up and throw it at one another. They build things with it, like igloos and snowmen and icy fortresses. They spend their day calling their friends and making plans to go snow-sliding together. They can be seen in huddled masses at the park, slinging each other across the down-slopes.Then they return to their houses with their noses half-frozen and their clothes all wet. They are home just long enough to warm their coats in the clothes dryer and change their socks, and then they are gone again.

What's really befuddling is that they seem so happy about it. The Freaks.

I'm the one cuddled up in a blanket with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. I like the way the snow looks as it's falling against my window. I enjoy the peaceful quiet of the neighborhood before the children wake up and discover what Mother Nature has bestowed upon us. I like that my car is parked safely in the garage and I have no need for the ice scraper in the trunk.

But you know what? My grandson, Lyric is coming over today to spend the day with me. He is nineteen months old, and he has never built a snowman.

I just might have to be the one to show him how.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Our mixed breed, roadside rescue, spoiled rotten dog recently decided to go whoring around the neighborhood as if she were the hottest dog in the canine kingdom. That night out on the town resulted in the arrival of five furry little poop machines who are now living in the garage and making me feel guilty for not getting their mama spayed all those times I definitely could have but procrastinated just a little too much. Now we suffer.

I had decided not to name them. Giving them names would make it seem as if they were a part of the family, but they're not. Or at least they won't be for long, because I hope to have a long line of animal lovers lined up to take them off my hands as soon as the little monsters can choke down solid food.

Nevertheless, I have spent the last twenty minutes hunkered down on the garage floor, calling them by their rightful monikers:  Bitchy, Whiny, Fuckin'Hungry, Stinky and Faceplant.

(Bitchy is my favorite. She's so fluffy and cute and she wuvs her Ness, yes she does.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lover's Revenge

Over these last two weeks my poor body has been bruised and beaten during the move from one house to the other. There are big purple blotches in places I don't remember bumping. It's wonderful that the weather has gotten cool enough to wear long sleeves. Strangers will not be leering at me in the grocery store, wondering what violent man has laid his hands on me.

I was estranged from regular internet access for four entire days. My phone is great, but sitting down with the laptop is really the way to go when I'm trying to read blogs, or write them. Not that I had that kind of free time. Moving is an exhausting experience. If I sat, I slept. The dreams were violent and confusing.

I can feel the daily discipline slipping away from me. I can feel the habit of typing out fifteen hundred words a night fading from my fingertips. This is not the sort of thing I'd like to lose. Writing is too relaxing for me.

Did you know I have only had two migraines this past year? When we moved into this new place, I didn't even bother to hang the black-out curtains in my bedroom. That's how confident I am now, about the migraines, that is. I think it's the writing that's doing it. It's strange, really, to think that something that requires so much cognitive thought and decision making can reduce my stress levels so much.

I'm back online now, and my house is slowly being put back together. I moved from a four-bedroom into a two bedroom with no dining room, so naturally, there were a few things to get rid of. Extra beds, the dining room table, the old toy box my dad built in 1977, the refrigerator. Most of those things are gone, but there are a few still sitting in my garage, waiting for some needy soul to come along and claim them.

Matthew and I are going to be quite comfortable here, though I have found a few freeloaders hanging around, taking up my space rent-free. There's the ghost in the fence. I posted a picture earlier in the week. He jumps from picket to picket, watching my every move. On windy nights, he whistles.

There are the puppies and the mama dog. They've been banned to the garage as well, but it'll be a couple of weeks before we let them go.

There was a nice big wolf spider in my living room a few minutes ago. I smashed it. It's juicy corpse still lies there, awaiting Matthew's return, because even dead spiders scare the shit out of me. Even more frightening is the fact that wolf spiders usually skulk about in pairs. My mother told me once that they mate for life, like penguins. That first one was about the size of my palm. Every time I see something move out of the corner of my eye, I seize up, certain that the forlorn lover of my eight-legged friend has come to exact revenge for his death.

 I've got a "smashing" book right at my fingertips. I eagerly await the battle.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Watcher

I wish I had more time and regular internet access to tell you about this guy.

He's been living in my new fence at my new house rent free. And even though I've tapped this post out on me phone THREE TIMES, my Blogger app doesn't want to publish the entire thing. So I'll be back on Wednesday when my internet is up and running at my new house.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

100 Words: Budget Restraints

My dog is too sexy for the fish shaped pieces of dog food. She noses them onto the floor, as if they aren't even worthy of touching the bowl.

She's such a spoiled brat. I've let her get by with it far too long. There was a time when I would simply sigh and sweep them into the trash.

Nowadays, I'm clutching the wallet a little bit closer; everybody has to make sacrifices.

If I am forced to eat tuna fish out of a can, then she damn well better learn to eat those little pieces of fish shaped food.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dream: Needs

I am a fifty foot giant, traipsing around the supermarket where I earn a regular paycheck, and the grocery aisles are arranged like a maze for laboratory rats. I can see the shoppers, racing around, finding their prizes and ringing their bells. They're stocking up on the must-haves and arguing over the want-it-bads.
This woman needs her roast; there's been a death in the family. That woman needs her cake; her granddaughter is turning five. That man has to have the Official Dallas Cowboy beer cooler; the game starts at three.

Each person's event is the most important event, and if we don't meet their needs, their lives will crumble.

I am a small ghost. I slip in between them and fill their carts.They don't see me. They don't hear me; even if they do, they don't recognize me. They don't need to.

I am a person. I need three o'clock. If it doesn't come soon, my world will crumble.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oatmeal for Breakfast

I have a confession to make.

The semicolon scares the crap out of me (with its big scary dot and it ever-precarious comma hanging around on the bottom, mocking me). I never learned to use it properly. I was an honor student in school; we didn't study grammar past the eighth grade. (Did you see that? I used one right there between "school" and "we." Thunder did not rumble. Lightning did not strike. The world still spins.)

I was reading an old interview of Mr London Street. He was asked his opinion on how bloggers could improve their blogging skills; one of his answers was to learn proper use of the semicolon. I couldn't help but to think that is why he stopped following my blog. He simply couldn't drag himself through the muddy swamp of my poor punctuation skills. Woe is me.

I've always been very proud of the fact that I can edit my own writing. I don't need somebody hovering over my shoulder to tell me that "you're" should be spelled "your" or that "effect" and "affect" are two completely different animals. In fact, you could say I've been kinda snooty about the whole thing. After all, only one or two of my real life friends have ever even heard of a semicolon.

This isn't to say that I don't make mistakes all the time. I think every blogger whose blog has been a victim of my comments knows that I get in a hurry and often scrawl crazy things across the screen with no concern for "their" or "there." Just last week on Facebook I misspelled "weird," and it bothered me so much I had to go back and correct it right away! TeenerBeener actually thanked me for the correction.  It put a smile on my face, and from that point on I knew we'd be OCD buddies friends forever.

Today, I stumbled across this Oatmeal Poster displaying the correct use of the semicolon. I'm feeling a lot like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon.

 “Today, I learned, the comma, this a  
comma (,) a period, with a tail, Miss Kinnian, says 
its important, because, it makes writing, better, 
she said, somebody, could lose, a lot of money, if 
a comma, isnt, in the, right place, I dont have,  
any money, and I dont see, how a comma, keeps  
you, from losing it. 
But she says, everybody, uses commas, so Ill use, 
Them too.
-Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

I can read; I can write; I can finally use a semicolon.
This does, however, make me very curious about the colon...

Friday, September 23, 2011

There's not a body down there, silly.

I fell asleep watching Adult Swim again.
I woke at five in the morning to the sound of Bugs and Daffy arguing. It's enough to convince me that Looney Tunes should have hung their hats with the passing of Mel Blanc. The remote is sticking out halfway from under a pillow. I make quick use of it, snapping myself into total darkness. My eyes take a minute to adjust to the shadows.

It occurs to me that I've missed the slide into Fall this morning by an hour. I'm not much of a nature lover unless I'm standing next to an angry ocean, but I do enjoy the quiet magic of the changing of the seasons. Thinking about this gives me an idea for the tapestry I'm going to create this week. I need to go to the store and pick up a specific type of needle for embroidery work. I need to finish the painting on my easel first, though. It's been sitting there far, far too long, and it's almost becoming part of the decor as an unfinished piece. If I die today, my kids would probably hang it on their own walls and convince their friends it's the work of an artistic genius. Half paint, half sketch. I am so friggin' creative.

There's no going back to sleep at this point, not that I would want to. I had a full night's sleep, but that always comes at a price. Nightmares. They weren't as powerful as usual. I didn't jerk back into my waking world desperate to escape my pursuer, attacker, killer, stalker. I only have flickers of images. Dirty children huddled in corners and sounds of anger and war. There must have been some sort of disease or madness going around. In the dream, I mean....

I'm up, and my day has begun. The dog is up. The puppies are up. The damn birds are up. I can't wait for them to migrate. All that cheerfulness this early in the morning is nuts. Who's that happy at five in the morning? Maybe if I go remind them it's autumn now, they'll pack up and head south.

There's a hole in my kitchen floor. We had a plumbing leak yesterday, and the maintenance guy had to cut a square  hole into the floor to reach the pipe.. He'll be back next week to resurface it, but right now, it seems as if we have a trap door in the middle of the kitchen. There are a million and one stories running through my head about that silly trap-door. "The Tell-Tale Heart" comes to mind, and I dismiss all my stories as second-rate baloney compared to Poe.

But still, there's a hole in my kitchen floor...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

He falsely accused me of being pleasant and cheerful.

Me: "Meat market, this is Nessa Roo. How can I help you?"

Mr. Sandoval: "No. I don't wanna talk to you, dammit. I want to talk to the fish department."

At this point all of the seafood workers were busy assisting walk-up customers. They weren't even grateful that I'd answered their phone. They would rather that I had ripped it off the wall and stuffed it in the meat grinder.

Me: "You got it. What can I do for you?"

Mr. Sandoval: "I need to find out if you have any trout."

Me (after getting the info from Caleb, Seafood King): "We sure do. We have rainbow trout fillets and we also have whole rainbow trout."

Mr. Sandoval (impatiently): "No. I don't want fillets. I want the whole fish. I want the head and the tail and the eyeballs and the scales. I'm going to start eating healthier, like the Japanese. I want it Japanese style."

Ooookay. I don't know what the fuck Japanese-style means. I'm thinking sushi, but...

Me: "Yes sir, the whole trout has all that."

Mr. Sandoval: "I want it right out of the ocean. Fresh fresh fresh. I don't don't want any old dead fish."

Me: "We only sell dead fish sir. If you want a live fish, you should probably call a pet store."

Yes. I did say that to him. I also deliberately did not tell him that rainbow trout is a freshwater fish, no oceans involved. Caleb was looking at me inquisitively, and I was giving him the look that said "This guy's being an asshole." He nodded and smiled in understanding, happy that he didn't have time to answer the phone. I can only imagine how the conversation would have gone if Caleb had answered the phone. I'm positive there would have been more profanity.

Mr. Sandoval: "I don't want a live fish! Who would want a live fish? Why would I eat a live fish? I want a dead fish. I want the whole fish. I want the scales still on it. I want the tail."

Me: "Yes sir. We got a dead fish we'll sell it to you for $3.99 a pound."

Mr. Sandoval (enunciating each word, as if maybe I don't understand English, really pissing me off): "Walk over to the counter and take the fish out and put it on the scale and tell me how much does it cost?"

Me (just as pleasantly as I could possibly be, and I mean really laying on the syrup, because I can't slam the phone down. The guy already knows my name, and I'm pretty sure he'd be calling my boss to complain about me): "Okie dokie, sir. Hold on just a sec." I walked over to the counter to weigh a damn rainbow trout, whispering the words "what an asshole" to Caleb on the way back to the phone. 

Me: "It's eight tenths of a pound, sir, and it costs $3.19."

Mr. Sandoval: "Is that the whole fish?"

Me: "Yes sir, that's the whole fish. That's the head and the fins and the tail and all the eyeballs."

Caleb was laughing, and so was Pam, but she was trying to stifle it because she was still assisting a customer.

Mr. Sandoval (suddenly very cheerful, because I think he might have multiple personalities): "Whooo-ee! Okay, lady, I'm gonna call back in a minute and get some fish from you."

He hung up, and all I could think was yippee, because now I knew better than to answer the phone when he called back. I was finished with this jerk. Caleb could deal with him from that point onward.

But no. 

Boss: "Nessa Roo, you have a phone call."

Me: "Is it Mr. Sandoval? I don't want to talk to him. He's an asshole."

Boss: "Too bad. He asked for you specifically. He said he wants to talk to that nice lady he talked to a minute ago. I know it wasn't Pam."

Of course it wasn't Pam. During her entire Seafood Queen career, I don't believe anyone has ever referred to Pam as "that nice lady." I reluctantly took the call.

Mr. Sandoval: "You're such a nice lady. You have been so sweet to me. This is why I only want to talk to you. How long have you worked there?"

Me (in defeat, because now he knows my name, he knows where I work, and he thinks I'm nice, so he's going to be calling me all the time!): "I have worked for this company for fifteen years."

At that point, I made myself comfortable by sitting on top of my double-decker cart, because the guy just kept talking to me about his lot in life, his abusive mother, his bad marriages, his bouts with cancer, and his desire to make something better of himself. He thought I was going to grow up to be something pretty special because I was just so inherently kind, and he was so thankful to have been able to reach me on the phone. 

Caleb and Pam were chuckling and chanting things like, "Nessa's got a boyfriend." I gave them the stink-eye, because they deserved it, and made a silent promise to sneak fish-juice into their soda cups later on in the day. 

Mr. Sandoval: "Okay, I want to buy two of those fish. And this is what I want you to do. Cut off the fins and fillet them for me. Can you do that?"

Didn't he tell me earlier that he wants the whole damned fish, eyeball, fins....

Me: "Well, sure, we'll do that. We'll have it waiting for you here at the seafood counter."

Mr. Sandoval: "Oh no. I need you to bring it out to my truck. I'm not coming in the store. I'll give you the money when you get out here."


Me: "Okay. I can" (find somebody else to do that) "do that for you."

Mr. Sandoval: "And another thing. I don't want you looking at me like I'm crazy when you come out here."

Gosh. I would never have thought that....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Obvious Cure?

Sometimes, for no reason at all other than I might be slightly crazy, I'll start stressing out about my life. I don't know why this happens. Life hasn't thrown me a curve ball. Nothing is going extraordinarily awry. No little surprises have sprouted up lately. Everything is just as wild and turbulent as it always has been.

The ball is still rolling.
The wheel is still spinning.
The fire is still burning.

Everything is just as expected, which means that nothing is going just as expected.

So why am I suddenly getting nervous about something as mundane getting the oil changed in the car?
Why does Halloween suddenly seem like such a chore?
Why am I standing in the grocery store getting upset over avocados that aren't ripe enough for guacamole?
And why are you looking at me like that? You got a problem?

The only extended period of time I've ever felt this way was the five years I spent hauling my kids around in the womb, but I couldn't possibly be pregnant. Aside from the fact that I have remained (relatively) celibate for the last couple of years, I don't even have a uterus anymore, so I'm one hundred per cent positive that there are no little creatures growing inside of me, throwing my hormones out of whack and causing me to have fantasies about stuffing the sperm donor down the garbage disposal.

This constant state of worry stifles my creativity. I cannot think in complete sentences when I am stressed, let alone put them down on paper. No best-selling novels will be written today.

I need an outlet- something with fewer calories than chocolate and more satisfaction than watching rich people shop for houses on HGTV. I need to do something physical to burn this unexplained adrenaline pumping through my system.

(I should clean my house. I should organize my bookshelves. I should go jogging.)


Who am I kidding? I'll never go jogging.

Chew me Up, Spit me Out

The dream I'd had was misleading. I don't know for sure who he was. He was nobody I'd ever seen before, but he warmed me with nothing but a touch of his hand. I wanted to hold on to that fuzzy coziness he brought into the dream. I wanted to think he could be real, but from the corner of my eye, I saw the row of razor sharp teeth beneath his angelic smile.

I jerked back into the cold world at thirty minutes after midnight.

It's times like these I consider Insomnia to be a good friend of mine.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fiction:For Lack of a Blackbird

"I need you to run down to the crossroads and pick up a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread."

   Sandy stared at her older sister as if she'd sprouted an extra eyeball. Perhaps she didn't understand the magnitude of what she was asking. Perhaps she had forgotten about the robbery. How could she possibly have forgotten about the robbery?

   Yeah yeah yeah. Penny understood, but she was getting tired of being the only one willing to run errands around this place. Mama couldn't do it. She was mostly bed-ridden, and when she was out of bed, she was confined to a wheelchair.

   Mama never left the house anymore, not even to go to church. One of the church ladies, Ella Hamlin, faithfully came by on Sunday afternoons to pray with Mama. Then, if Mama had the energy, they would play cards and gossip sinfully. The rest of the week, Sandy and Penny spent most of their free time tending to Mama's aches and pains. Sandy thought she exaggerated her woes, but she would never say so aloud. After all, if it hadn't been for Mama, Sandy wouldn't be alive.

   "It won't hurt you to go to the store, Sandra Francis Powell," Penny snapped. "Just suck it up and get the damn food!" She wadded seven dollars into Sandy's palm and pushed her toward the front door.

   Sandy bitched under her breath as she slid behind the wheel of the Cutlass. It was the kind of car that, when sitting at a red light, the driver would need to keep one foot firmly on the brake pedal and the other foot tapping the accelerator just to be sure it didn't die in the middle of the intersection. Thankfully, there were no traffic lights on the mile and a half of barbed-wire-lined dirt road between Mama's house and Tom's Country Store.

   She thought about bypassing Tom's and driving all the way into town. It was only twelve miles. If she sped, she could make it back in half an hour. One look at the dashboard told her she'd better stick to Penny's plan. The Cutlass was quite a gas guzzler. She'd better not risk it. Penny hadn't given her any extra cash.

   Three cars were parked in front of Tom's. Sandy recognized two of them. One belonged to Marcia Hardy's mom. One belonged to the old guy who lived just down the road with his dogs. She had never known his name, but he always waved to her as she drove by his house. His dogs like to chase the Cutlass as it kicked up a trail of dust in its wake.
   She'd never seen the man in the third car before. He was just sitting and staring at the storefront. Sandy wondered if he was waiting for his wife to come out. She'd probably gone in after something embarrassing, like tampons. Men were such idiots.

   She sat for a few minutes staring back at an ordinary brown cow in the pasture beside the store. It appeared to be speaking to her, though Sandy was (almost) sure it was just chewing on some delicious grass. Somebody had tagged one ear with a bright green plastic tag. Humans could be so cruel.

   Her fingers shook when she released the steering wheel, so she gripped it again, trying to calm herself. "This is stupid," she told herself. Four years had gone by since the robbery. She should have worked through this fear by now. Besides, Daddy was safely locked away in Huntsville. They were never going to let him out of there.

   She checked the sky for ominous signs of impending doom. No dark cloud crept across the sun. No black bird perched atop any nearby poles forewarning certain death. No bells tolled. She released the steering wheel once more, and although she was still shaky, she pulled her hands away and reached for the door handle. Every little step seemed to take super-human effort. She pushed the creaky door wide open and turned her entire body before stepping out of the car.

   The cow in the pasture watched all this. It jerked its head up and snorted. Strings of snot shot from its nostrils. Sandy stepped onto the lot and faced the cow. "Shut up, you heifer," she told the cow. She glared at it for a second and then added, "I think you lost an earring." She slammed the car door and moved toward the front door of the country store.

   She paused there. She had to take a deep breath because this was the closest she'd been to entering this store in four years.  Memories started slamming into her, but she persevered. She was strong. She could do this. The past was the past. How many times had Penny told her to come here and do this? Just face it. Just do it. Just go for it.

   She grasped the handle and pulled. Marcia Hardy was coming out of the store with her little brother Andrew.

  "Hey, Sandy," Marcia greeted her warily. "What're you up to?" She shifted the grocery bag in her arms and placed a protective hand on her brother's head. Sandy got that. If she had a little brother, she might decide to protect him from someone who came from a family like hers.

  "Milk, bread," Sandy mumbled as she passed them by. Marcia nodded and headed for the door with her arm wrapped around Andrew's shoulders. Smart girl, Sandy would think later on.

   "Sandy Powell, did you come out here to see me?" Alton Burkett purred from behind the counter. Sandy rolled her eyes. She'd gone on a few hayrides with the boy, and now he thought he could whisper in her ear any time he pleased. He kept telling the guys at school that she was his girl. He was a royal pain in the ass.

   "You wish, Alton. I came for milk and bread. Where do you keep it?" He pointed them out, and she moved to the back of the store. She passed the old neighbor guy on her way to the bread. He smiled and waved, and for the first time, Sandy noticed his double hearing aids.

   She was still focused on those hearing aids when the first shots tore through the air. She could hear Alton screaming incoherently, but she was also hearing another voice that was only in her mind. The voice from four years before. Her father telling everyone to "Get down! Get Down! Give me that money!"

   "Daddy?" she wasn't sure if that came from the sixteen-year-old that she now was or the twelve-year-old who had lived through it the first time, but it got his attention. He rounded the corner and aimed the shotgun. Neighbor Guy was blissfully unaware that he was being gunned down until he fell on top of Sandy.

   She knew it was her neighbor who was lying motionless on top of her, but in her mind's eye, she felt her mother's weight on her, just as before. The blood seemed to be everywhere, just as before, and just as before, the gunman was more interested in the cash register than he was in the little girl lying helpless on Aisle Four. She heard the shuffling sounds of dollar bills making their way into some sort of bag. Sandy laid motionless, watching him in the convex mirror cleverly placed in the upper rear corner of the shop to discourage theft. She watched him disappear into the bright, sunny afternoon. The sign on the door swung back and forth daring her to "Have a Nice Day."

     Sandy slid herself away from Neighbor Guy. He was dead. Those hearing aids were useless to him now. She saw Alton staring into the Great Beyond from the other side of the register. She half-nodded to the cow as she crawled back into the Cutlass and turned the engine over.

   She didn't remember about the milk and bread until she slipped into her back door and made her way upstairs to the shower.

   Penny popped her head into the bathroom just as Sandy was turning off the water.

   "Well? Didn't I tell you it wouldn't hurt you to go to the damned store?" she harped.
   "Yes, you were right, Penny," Sandy sighed and reached for a towel.  She thought about  Neighbor Guy and Alton lying motionless on the country store floor. She thought about her mother struggling to push a wheelchair across a dirt lawn, and she thought about her father rotting away in prison for his deviant behavior. She held her hands in front of her face and noticed that the shaking had finally stopped. "It didn't hurt a bit."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dear You

 I ask you to write a letter to whomever about whatever. It must begin with "Dear You" and you cannot use names, only pronouns.
(a chain reaction via Shopgirl)

Dear You,

   You call yourself my friend, but I don't think that's how you really feel. You always delete anything we say to each other on Facebook, like you're afraid somebody will see something crazy there. We don't hang out like we used to, and even when we did, it was always a group thing, never just me and you. I don't know what's in your heart, but I get the feeling you were intimidated by me from the beginning. They were your friends first, and I was intruding on your territory. Maybe you thought I was there to take them away from you. I've always had the feeling that I rubbed you the wrong way.
     (I overheard what you said about me and that drummer.)
    You sugar-coat things nicely, though. You seem to claim me as a friend only because everybody else does. You giggle and tell people you think I'm "sexy cute" but I'm not sexy cute, and that's not what they like about me anyway. So they can tell you are lying when you say those sorts of things. Do you think they'll turn their backs on you, just because you don't like me?
     Are you afraid they'll choose me over you?
     The truth is, if it weren't for this imaginary competition you've created in your own head, I'd like you, and we'd truly be friends.

Sincerely, Me
a chain blog, of sorts passed on by Shopgirl. I invite you to pass it on. It is open invitation, because I never know who will or won't want to do it. I wouldn't want to pressure anyone into it, and I hate to miss out on somebody who would want to do it. 
 I ask you to write a letter to whomever about whatever. It must begin with "Dear You" and you cannot use names, only pronouns.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meditation is Good for the Soul, Nightmares Not So Much

Sitting is a healthy thing to do. I try to do it as often as possible. Sometimes, I challenge myself and try to stay awake for my entire sitting session. This usually requires me to do something else as I sit to distract my mind from the fact that I am in the sitting position. I might go sit at the movies, or sit in the park and watch a live band, or maybe sit on the couch and read a book. More often than not, for me at least, sitting leads to snoozing, and snoozing leads to dreaming, and dreaming is not always a restful thing to do in the middle of my sitting.

But I do like to sit and think or sit and write, so here I am gracing you with these words at the end of my unfortunately not very unusually busy day. I have been thinking about this moment since my feet hit the floor at five o'clock this morning.

I'm finally sitting for the first time today. Unless you count the two hours I spent at the pediatric dentist's office, which I don't because they kept calling me up to the desk to inform me that my insurance wasn't going to cover the entire cost of Matthew's treatment, or Jacob's one cavity had magically turned into two cavities since they took x-rays just last week. Every time I got up, I would lose my seat and spend ten minutes standing, waiting for another seat to open up, and I was told several times that I couldn't sit in a particular seat because somebody's wayward four-year-old was using that seat even though I knew that the four-year-old in question was actively climbing on top of the water fountain, pushing the button and spraying water all over the people in the back row who were miserable to be wet, but HEY, at least they had a seat!

Actually, I guess I did sit down for lunch. I dined on (fried) shrimp and finished the crossword in less than thirty minutes. The grocery guys snagged my paper as I was returning to work and cheated off me. Trick's on them though. I'm pretty sure I got 11-down wrong.

Does driving count as sitting? I did plenty of that on Bell St in rush hour traffic. Anybody who's ever tried to cross Plains on Bell St. during rush hour knows that you'll probably spend a nervous few minutes with your tail hanging out into the intersection, praying that the opposing traffic doesn't get pissy and knock off your bumper. I got rear-ended there last month by a guy talking on his cell-phone. No damage, but there was a nasty black smear on my otherwise flawless back-side for a while. It made me feel dirty, and not in a fun way.

My brain is already going into shut-down mode, folks. My eyelids are droop droop drooping and it's getting harder to move my fingers across the keys. I keep re-reading things just to be sure I got it right.

There's a cardboard box sitting on the foot of the guest bed just a few feet away. Somebody has scrawled the word "WINTER" across it with a fat red marker. For a moment, I thought to myself, "Who is Winter? And why is she storing her clothes in my guestroom?"

I think I'll go take a nap.

Friday, August 19, 2011

100 Words: Insect Anatomy

There's a bug of some sort in the trash can beside my desk. I can hear it scritch scritching against the thin plastic liner, trying to escape.

It's been there all morning.

The sound is driving me nuts. I can't concentrate on my writing.

My overactive imagination stops me from freeing it.

It probably doesn't have two inch pincers on its mandibles. It probably doesn't excrete flesh eating acid from its thoracic spiracles. It probably isn't plotting to sting me into submission, devour my left eyeball and lay eggs in my eye socket.

Probably not.

But why take the chance?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Trashy Fiction: Such a Nice Girl

I’m not awake. I’m not.

Aw shit.
I am awake.

It’s not the kind of barely awake when I can pretend I’m dreaming and slip back into unconsciousness as if awake had never happened. My eyes have lost their heaviness and my bladder is screaming for relief. I’m not going back to sleep today.

I am fully, undeniably awake.

The blackbirds are bitching in the eaves outside my window. The triangle of soft light sneaking under the blinds tells me I’ve fallen asleep on the wrong side of the bed. The right side of the bed seems to be blocked by another human being. A man. I’m not sure if I should know him.


Just what I need on top of the alcohol fog left over from last night. I move my head to peer at my new bed buddy. I swear I can hear the slosh as my brain floats around in a skull full of tequila and salt.

He’s still sleeping. Lucky jerk. He is slumbering silently with his back to me. He is hogging most of the bed and all of the blankets.

My territorial self wants to slug him in the shoulder and shove him over, but my hung over, self-loathing, mortified self lets him sleep. No need to poke the bear.

Snippets of last night’s activities are beginning to solidify into an actual memory. I moan and cringe with the realization of what I’ve done.
Flickers of mouth against mouth, flesh against flesh, screams of pleasure and pain. Empty promises.

Geez. What will my neighbors think?

I’ve always been so quiet. I’ve not been known to have such a wild side. I’ve never parked my car halfway in the yard at two in the morning, dragged my drunk ass into the house and had raunchy, loud relations with a man I have known for only one evening. A man whose name I do not know, and cannot, for the life of me, recall right now. I am such a slut.

Gregory? Gilbert?

I am suddenly obsessed with finding out what his name is. I’m thinking back to dinner, before the bar, before the booze, when Sandra introduced us. “This is my friend from work…” Galen? Garth?

I sit up slowly and scan the floor for his pants. Surely he has an I.D. in his wallet, right? I’ll just slip it out and have a look before he wakes up. He’ll never know.

My body is achy with the familiar feeling of having been overly intimate. My thighs are sore, and my breasts are bruised from his excited love bites. I see a friggin’ hickey on the left one, right above the nipple, dammit! What is this? Junior High? Is he marking his territory? Does he think I’m his new girl?

Like HELL!

I hop out of the bed and start sorting through the clothing that has been haphazardly slung in all directions: my panties, my bra, his shirt, a stinky sock (definitely his). I can’t find the pants, and I’m beginning to get pissed that this slumbering, blanket-stealing, bed-hogging, no-named idiot is still in my house stinking up my air with his dirty laundry.

“Hey, Gavin,” I say to him, not bothering to whisper. I just want him to get up, get out and stay gone. I shove his shoulder with my fingertips, but he doesn’t move. “Graham…Grady…” I shove harder and then shake, but the oaf is still non-responsive. “Gordon.” I grab his shoulder now and pull him toward me onto his back.

Somebody is screaming like a maniac. My hand waving in front of me is flinging blood everywhere. I want it off me, but it’s not coming off. A warm gush between my legs lets me know that my bladder has finally been relieved. I won’t have to bother with the bathroom. Apparently, this is just as good a place as any.

Gunther is lying in his back staring into nothing, and the blood is everywhere. I don’t know how I didn’t smell it before. I need to vomit. His neck is just a massive black hole. Somebody has slashed it. I don't think it was me. My stomach heaves and I retch onto the floor, not onto Griff. He’s suffered enough. No need to add vomit to his list of woes.

“You WHORE!” That hiss comes from the corner of the room. One of my Grandma Hazel’s upholstered conversation chairs sits in that corner. I usually toss my jacket and my briefcase there after a long workday, just before I kick off my shoes. Right now, there’s a woman sitting there with a shotgun pointed right at me.

“You think you meant anything to my Gabriel?” she whispers. I don’t know why she’s whispering.

“Who's Gabriel?” I ask, confused. I've never met a Gabriel in my life. What the fuck is she talking about?


I’m not dead. I’m not.

Aw shit. I am dead.

It’s not the kind of dead that you can come back from either. My chest is stinging on the ragged edges of the hole that used to be my heart. Crimson red seems to be the new black. I won’t be slinking back into life anytime today.

I am fully, undeniably dead.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Moving On

We're not that close these days. You ran off to New Mexico, and now you're on the verge of getting married to a girl I've never met, but I'll probably like. Or maybe you're already married. If so, I guess we really have grown apart.

I can't even remember if you called to wish me a happy birthday. You haven't missed one yet since we split up, not even when you were in Fallujah. For some reason, though, you just weren't at the top of the list of people I wanted to hear from.

To dream about you now seems ridiculous. I'm not at a point in my life where I need a friend who really understands me. I'm not missing you lately, and I haven't met anyone who reminds me of you.

But there you were in my dream, smiling, teasing me with your empty promises.

Your mother was there, in the dream, and she was pissed at me. She's been pissed at me for this entire time, I think. She always wanted to be my friend, but I couldn't bring myself to do much more than tolerate her. So into the dream she goes.

My hysterectomy was in the dream, and the kids were there, waving from the side of that crazy cruise ship with the wings flapping. What was that all about?

I stood on the dock, half-way waving goodbye to the kids with one hand, clutching an I.V. stand with the other. I wondered for a second Where are the babies? My grandsons? And then reminded myself they hadn't been born yet. After all, the kids on the ship were only small children themselves.

And then we were back at the resort.

He was waiting for me in the lobby. In the dream I knew he wasn't real, but he could be real, if I could learn to open up, give myself over to him completely. His smile lit me up. His tender touch ignited me in a way you never had. As much as I loved you back then, I never gave myself to you fully. I always kept part of my heart in that safe place, scared you would stomp it to death.

And you would have. I was right to guard my heart from you.

I climbed those stairs to your room and laid on the bed beside you. I watched you snore and wondered where you'd been, what you'd been up to. Why don't I know? Weren't we supposed to still be friends? Isn't that a promise we made to each other?

You opened your eyes and looked right into me, and I knew then, that yes, we'll always be friends.

But you won't always call to wish me a happy birthday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Like a Rockstar!


I'm tired.
I partied like I was in high school all weekend and worked three shifts at work in between. I'm not as young as I used to be, but I held up okay. I slept during red lights. (A girl needs all the beauty rest she can get.)
My 20 year high school reunion kicked off Friday evening and kept right on going, it seems, through Monday.
I had a new grandson just before that.
I gained a few pounds.
Other things happened.
This is the first time I've sat down for any length of time in a few days.
I'd rather be reading, but I'm barely able to keep my eyes open as it is.
I noticed a major spike in my blog stats recently, so I suppose some of my old high school buddies are reading. I think that's pretty cool, but I also think how sad...
I haven't written anything very good or interesting lately...
This photo was taken by Annette Bustillo Watts of the 1991 Tascosa Rebels.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Five Minutes After Midnight

I found this little guy wandering around the hospital, looking for a grandma, so I claimed him.
Damon Ashton
Born August 3, 2011
Five Minutes After Midnight

Thursday, July 28, 2011


My days off are Thursday and Friday. All week long I look forward to these days with the same enthusiasm that the professional world has for Saturday and Sunday. TGIW!

I earn a wage, not a salary. I punch a time clock and I wear a tiny plastic badge that boasts my name. I have to work weekends. Welcome to the world of the low-level service worker. Wednesdays are my Fridays and Mondays are my Hump Days.

Two things about me keep me from being able to enjoy my days off as I should. The first is that I'm a workaholic. I am happiest when I have something to do. My peace and tranquility have the same stench as my elbow grease. I cannot settle down into a lawn chair with a nice glass of iced tea and watch the neighbors water their lawns. I simply must be productive every moment of every day.

The second is that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. This is not apparent when you walk into my house. There are teenagers living here, and it shows in the housekeeping. These are your typical American teenagers- lazy and self-centered with an false sense of entitlement to a lifestyle that they have neither earned nor inherited. They haven't realized yet that this is not The Brady Bunch, and we do not have a full-time maid.

The house is always a mess, and so I am always on the verge of grinding my teeth into smooth little nubs. I want the house to be perfectly clean all the time, but truth be told, I'd settle for just straightenend up and trash free. If somebody would wash the dishes, or at least wash the dishes that they use...

Ultimately, I'd like to be able to sit at the computer and write for hours and hours uninterrupted by the children. I have to get up very early in the morning to do this, but there is always that nagging voice in the back of my head that 's reminding me that the toilet needs scrubbed or the laundry has been piling up for days. It makes it hard to concentrate on my writing.

I can't concentrate very well right now, as a matter of fact. I went into the kitchen to brew coffee and stepped on a pile of salt that was spilled yesterday and never cleaned up because the dustpan is missing. I stared at the pile for about thirty seconds before I realized what was going on.

I think I ought to wake up the lazy kid who left this here and force him to clean up after himself, but that would create an unharmonious atmosphere in the house. The other kid (or kids) would wake up cranky, and the mood for the day would be "Everybody hate Mom. She's being a bossy bitch." Then I would have to deal with the whining and moaning that comes with the attitude problems.

I decide to leave it til later, after I've had a few cups of coffee and a couple of hours of solitude...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Still Bonkers After All These Years

I've always had a tendency to write "straight from the hip" when it comes to posting on my blog. I feel this is somewhat evident. I like to type directly into the "New Post" page and push the "publish" button without editing. I may or possibly may not go back later and fix things up a bit, rearrange things, make it pretty. This method may make my writing more honest, but it is certainly not thorough- not by a long shot.

My blog doesn't reflect the perfectionist that I am when it comes to writing my novels. I know I will never need an editor. I tediously read and re-read and re-think and revise.  Every flaw you find there is completely intentional. This will probably keep me from ever being published.

Lately, I've been re-reading my posts, and I realize there are quite a few holes where there could be adjectives and adverbs. I've thought to myself more than once that I could have described this with more umph, or that with more clarity. I could have said something else in a completely different way.

I post too many dream blogs. (Of course, I am obligated to write those down. My sanity is dependent on it.) But I have decided to post my dreams in the other blog- to segregate them from my "real blog".

My Twenty Years High School Reunion is coming up, and a handful of those folks already read my blog through Facebook. It makes me smile when somebody tells me they enjoy it. Secretly, I wonder if they think to themselves, "I always knew she was crazy, and this just proves it."

A couple of weeks from now, I'll be seeing some of those old familiar faces, and I hope they'll be happy to see me, rather than whispering about me as I pass by. "Did you read her blog about the blackbirds? That woman is a menace to society!"

I guess I'll know when I get to the gala. If I walk in and everybody in the room takes a collective step backward, I'll have to assume they've been reading.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Wide Awake Now

This morning I had to take a shower under freezing water. This wouldn't have been so terrible if we had better water pressure in this house, but since we don't, it takes more time to rinse out my long, brown hair. I tried to keep any part of my nicely rounded body that wasn't being actively washed out of the stream of water so I wouldn't freeze to death. Lucky for me, it's a hot sticky summer, so the chilly water wasn't such a shock to my system.
I did look funny, though, with my naked hiney sticking partway out of the shower curtain.

The maintenance guy came by. He's old and mostly deaf, so he brought his wife along to translate. I told her what the problem was, and she told him in that way that only wives have of talking to their husbands.

She yelled it into his good ear.

Then he went about fixing the water heater and left us to talk about the new S.J. Watson novel. (I haven't read it, but she recommends it.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Don't Try to Find Us

As far as I'm concerned, there are no definite, die-hard, one-size-fits-all rules for dreaming. Each dream is as unique as the dreamer. Some folks say you only dream in black and white, and others claim you can't read in your dreams, but I know both of these are false statements. Some folks say you always know when you're dreaming. Some say they never suspect it until they wake up and sigh with relief.

The other night I had a dream that was as real to me as the keyboard under my fingertips. I could see every vivid color, every slinking shadow, every trick of the light from the corner of my eye. I could smell every tantalizing aroma, and every acrid odor. I could taste the honeyed kisses on my lips and feel the liquid heat and the sharp cold and the rubbery floor under my feet. I could read the love notes written on cerulean paper and the words across the window backlit by a periwinkle sky. I could hear every baby's cry.

It was the baby's cry that woke me. I was startled by it because I realized in the dream that I was hearing a sound that came from the depths of my real house. I sat up and stared into the darkness, confused by the heavy silence. I struggled to hear the cry again. Lyric, my grandson must have awakened, turned over, and gone back to sleep. I waited, stretching that part of my mind out to him, that mother's intuition that strengthens with the addition of grandchildren. He didn't make another sound, but the shuffling I heard from the kitchen, just off my bedroom, worried me.
I threw the sheet back and ventured out.

In the space beside the refrigerator, I found her.

A small, blond-haired, blue-eyed child, malnourished and dirty, as if she'd been sleeping wrapped in newspaper under a bridge.

I was shocked to see her there. My hand automatically covered my mouth to keep myself from scaring the poor urchin with my gasps of horror. I reached for her, but she curled into the space between the fridge and the wall. It took quite a bit of coaxing to convince her I wasn't going to hurt her, or eat her. She stared at me with those giant sapphire eyes, unblinking.

Who had left this girl here? Had they been in my home? Were they still here? Or had she simply wandered in the back door, which is often left unlocked for the ones who return home late?

I carried her in my arms like a baby as I searched the house. She must have been at least two years old, but I thought she was closer to three. She was all knees and elbows. She might not have eaten for days.

Content with my cursory search of the house which yielded no invaders, I fed the child.
Not too much, I thought to myself. Her stomach might revolt and she'd end up puking it all up.

I read once that after the Jews were rescued from concentration camps in WWII, many became ill or died because they had become accustomed to starvation, and the sudden nourishment was too much of a shock to their skeletal bodies. I didn't want that to happen to my new little friend.

I gave her a bath next, wondering if I should call the police or social services. Somebody was missing their child. Surely they had reported it. But on the other hand, this child was a skinny sack of blood and bones. She had scrapes and bruises. She had a look in her eyes that said she'd been through hell.

Whoever'd had her hadn't bothered to take very good care of her. Why should I attempt to return her?

I dressed her in one of my daughter's shirts which fit her like a dress. She smiled and patted her hands down the front of it. She was starting to feel more comfortable with me. I guess she'd decided I wasn't hungry enough to feed on human toddlers.

When I turned her around to brush her hair, I found the note. Actually, it was a tattoo. I rubbed my hand across it a few times trying to get the ink off her skin, but it remained etched into her permanently.
Her brothers had done this to her. My blood boiled and my skin heated with with growing fury. Why would they scar her like this? How could they defile her this way? What were they trying to prove?

Please, save our sister. Don't try to find us. Our mother will hurt her again.

And suddenly, I knew exactly who this child was. I could see her mother's face. I could feel her brothers' desparate love. I could taste the bile in my throat as the realization of this tiny angel's life unfolded in front of me.

I wrapped my arms around her and sobbed into her soft, freshly washed hair. She cried with me.

It was the baby's cry that woke me.

It was the most realistic dream I've ever had.