November 30, 2005

Count Down to Brown

Brown University--the dream of my life that exists slightly beyond the reach of reality--the MFA program that recieves 700 applications and accepts, yes, 5. Their deadline is approaching. I feel it weighing down on my neck like an approaching guillotine. December 15th.

December 15th. I sent the letters of recommendation. This year I sent Helstosky's instead of Prof. Evenson's as he seems to have spelt my name wrong in the letter. I guess I am not even supposed to know that, given the whole sealed and secret letter of rec process. It rather sucks, I know, that Prof. Evenson is now the chair of the department at Brown.

December 15th. I have finished my personal statement. I am working on organizing my writing sample--this is the blade of that guillotine. It counts for 99% of my application's merit. It must be good. But I still feel rather sick, a yucky cough with copper-tasting phlem. Yeck. I feel rather daunted about organizing and prioritizing my pages. Which one should be first. Which to include. Which version. Must get a hop on.

December 15th. Well, I suppose, given the chances of failure, I need only be worried about my own opinion of the work I turn in. The chances, even statistically, are so small that I should not, I cannot, pin my hopes on Brown. I must look at it as though I am competing only against myself, only for my own good opinion of myself. (Sheesh. Everyone falls back on that one when they are scared or disappointed with how they finish the race. Competing against yourelf! Doesn't make it not true, I suppose, but it does reek of a cop out.)

December 15th. Enough blogging, girl. Time to get a move on so you can stop blue-ing over Brown and move onto the schools that you will get into this year. You will.

Nectar of the Fire Gods

Now my Uncle Mike is a great guy for many reasons. He is an awesome waterskiier. He fosters informality and rampant cussing at family gatherings. He's the blond, spiky surfer, the baby of the family, and always will be. But I must say that the current laurel that crowns his beloved brow is the salsa.

Ah yes. Uncle Mikey's salsa. He brought a gallon tub of it to Thanksgiving. I don't know how it survived the night to end up leftover in my fridge. (Perhaps it helped that The Boyfriend and I sneaked it out early. HA!) What I am curious about now, however, is the alarming rate at which this gallon tub of habanero and garlic goodness is disappearing. Oh, and the inversely small rate at which all other food in the house is following suit.

Yes, Honey. I know you can hear me. I know that you have been eating it for snacks, lunch and dinner. Though the garlic and vegetables are good for you, I don't think that mountains of chips are. Oh, and speaking of things that aren't good for you, there's always--#1: not eating much of a lovingly prepared dinner due to pre-meal salsa-ing and #2: eating all of this gnome's salsa behind her back!! Just because you are home more doesn't mean you get to eat me out of house and home. Nuh uh.

I'm sure you remember when you found my hidden stash of chocolate chips and said, hmmm, these are hidden in plastic in the freezer behind the peas--they must be put there just for me! Unless we want a repetition of such hostilities, I do request that you cease and desist presently until a peace accord can be reached.

November 26, 2005

Yes, Turkey's a Pretty Boy. Yes, you are. A Pretty Boy My Turkey Is.

Ah yes, he's a beauty, isn't he? I should really say, wasn't he? The small Tupperware in the fridge hardly qualifies as continued existence. Too little of a Tupperware. A 25-pound beast and he went sooooo fast. There is not nearly enough leftovers as I could have wished.

I suppose that is because he was so damn good. I tell you, it may seem very nasty to rip open the layer of connective tissue between the skin and the breast meat in order to spread herb butter underneath in malleable lumps. (You can swedish massage them in from the outside.) You have to really go up to the elbow doing that. I really grossed out The Boyfriend. I can't blame him. It reminds me of dissecting pidgeons in Biology II in high school--the connective tissue that adhered all the organs together. But, ahem, excuse me.

I owe it all to Bon Appetit magazine and my trusty, blue squid. Ah yes. My squiddy came in so handy. It was a gift from my loving grandmother on my birthday this year and every one who ever has a basting need should really pick one up. They're machine washable, heat safe up to 600 degrees. With a small squeeze you can suck up juices, be they broth or melted butter or the hard-to-get-to drippings in the bottom of the pan. Then, squeeze again to release the juices and spread them on top of your lovely, dead bird. When the boyfriend went to carve my big monster, the juice ran out onto the counter top. Was a bit disturbing, really, until we tasted the taste-bud soothing breast meat. Not a dry cut in the house.

I also highly commend Bon Appetit for their Carmelized Onion Gravy recipe. Excellent match with the Spicy Sausage and Apple Stuffing.

An Arizona Thanksgiving for sixteen. We played pool in the club house with the doors open to a nice breeze. We ate poolside in the warm, afternoon light. Watched the sun go down. Hope everyone had as amazing time as I did. Though my family may be hard to beat--love you guys! (Even if you make me watch football!)

November 22, 2005

Fever and Delusion

Do you ever get mad or upset about something that you know you have no right to be mad or upset about but cannot help being selfishly and stupidly mad and upset about it? Please say yes as that will make me feel like less of an ass.

Yes, I have done such a thing. I have committed such selfish stupidity by being upset that the Boyfriend one upped me by being sicker than I was. Hmmm. I know. Doesn't make much sense. I should probably be sorry that I gave it to him really. I'm the one who works with kids. Therefore, I am the germ transmitter, emitting my invisible frequency of phlem and fever through the ether. I am also the antibody factory--I hardly ever get sick myself having developed an immune system of iron after so much exposure. So hell, it was going to be nice to be the sick one for a change. And yes, honey, you did a great job of being nursey on Sunday.

But then, after a long day at work, still sick and very proud of myself for not complaining, and having gone straight from work to my writing class (sorry guys about the hoarse and squeaky voice), I just wanted some sympathy and a pat on the back. There there. Here here. Instead, my sweetie is in bed with a temperature of 101.7 degrees.

And what do I do? I tell him that no, he is not allowed to be sicker than me. I'm truly an ass. I am still a sick ass, so have some pity on my sniffy self, but an ass nonetheless. I think I shall go up and bring him tea. However, there is still a part of me that is jealous because he gets to work from home with his pajamas and cough drops and I am off to be reinfected.

Ahh, but I love him. And I suppose if it is my job to be the caretaker, at work and at home, I'm up for it. Maybe I should give Ubermilf a call for a peptalk? Or a good recipe for chicken soup.

November 21, 2005

Flash Fiction Friday

So anyway, my boyfriend Steve is totally pissed about the way I keep forgetting shit. Or, well, about the way my forgetting shit seems to screw him over. When it just affects me, he better stay the hell out of it ‘cause it’s only me it affects but I can’t blame him, really, when he gets screwed too.

Like, I know I was supposed to tell him that his boss called and asked him to come in an hour early. All the tomatoes and cucumbers for those sandwiches got left out in the rain because he missed the food delivery. And when I called him up on his cell to see if he could bring me home a Spicy Italian on Ciabatta, he yelled at me about forgetting shit and said I was lucky if he brought me a Veggie on wheat. And those vegetables weren’t really so soggy.

“Sheila,” he says. “Where is your ring? That little silver ring I brought you from Mexico?”

“Damn,” I say. “I must’ve forgot to put it on after I washed my hands back at the mall.”

“I brought that back for you from Mexico, Sheila!” As if Rocky Point really counted as Mexico and the ring were really anything but his way of compensating for a drunken weekend with his buddies. Snort.

“You gotta stop saying ‘I forgot,’” he says. “That’s not a valid excuse.”

“It’s valid if it’s true,” I say. “You said I shouldn’t lie to you. And I’m not lying. I forgot.”

I keep telling him that the forgetful part of me is that part of me that he loves anyway. It comes from the creativity I do. You know, I painted the walls that arty shade of wine. No, it’s not pink, it’s arty. I cook a lot. I design clothes too and I will do that for my job someday. And I know I said I would pick up all the stray thread from my sewing machine that got stuck in the carpet but I forgot. I will do it tonight, okay?

But I think I have forgotten my last. Guess I didn’t remember that Steve’s precious little car that he loves so much only takes Unleaded gasoline. I didn’t really look until the tank was half full anyway so I figured it couldn’t make too much of a difference this once. I’m stuck on the side of Wadsworth. In the turn lane with the hazards on and it’s scary because people honk as they fly by so fast that it rocks the car side to side. I hope I can get through to him on his cell on the first time ‘cause my battery is low. I was going to charge it this morning but, well…

November 18, 2005

My True Colors (according to a silly internet quiz)

How Republican am I? Hmmm. I ask myself this question out of fear that a tiny elephant is hidden somewhere in my subconscious. I was reassured by the following results:

I am:
"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that getting a blowjob is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

Won't Mommy be proud? And Dad be shocked that there's even a quarter of it in there someplace!

Acronyms and/or Phrases that I have Learned from The Boyfriend…

Part I: so I can understand what it is that I am falling asleep to

  • JSR's
  • Apache Forrest
  • XSLT
  • "Red" or "Blue" Laser Quality
  • 1080P Picture Quality

Part II: that drive me batty

  • To "render," as in to render some code
  • RPG's - for those of you who aren't "gamers" that means Role Playing Game (or Realistically Pretty Geeky)
  • "Dump In," as in "well, if you follow that road it will dump into downtown"

Part III: that I absolutely love

  • Being on the "bleeding edge"
  • To "gen" something - to verbify creation!
  • 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound
  • BMW - R1200GS (wheeeee!)

November 16, 2005

My lunch has taken offense...

And just what is so wrong with Spaghetti Squash, huh? Is it really so nasty to think of me sitting there and eating Spaghetti Squash from my little Tupperware square during my lunch break? We had it for dinner last night. It's even better the next day. Or, is it the smell as you sit beside me? What can it really smell like? Sweet and starchy with tomatoes and green chilies, some cheese. Not an overwhelming aroma.

It's just because it's a vegetable, right? One of those things that come out of the dirt that are supposed to taste like dirt and that no one in their right mind would eat unless they are on a diet or made to by their mother. I happen to like squash--butternut, yellow, zucchini. I've even ordered, and enjoyed, butternut squash ravioli with a butter sage sauce. On several occasions. I am very pro-squash and I have thought about buying such a bumper sticker but I'm afraid people will think that I play that ball game with a racket and a connotation of pompousness.

It flakes into noodles, just like real spaghetti. Though spaghetti is less real if you think about it because it's manmade. This squash is all Mother Nature, baby. It tastes good. Do you want to try some? No, please. Don't try it just to be polite as you are insulting my Spaghetti Squash. There, there little Squash. No, it just makes more for me.

A Character Sketch / A Sketchy Character

Do you ever wish that your whole life could be just like a prescription drug commercial? No, you probably don’t. You probably wish for your six figure income to become seven. You probably dream of your gorgeous girlfriend wearing sexier lingerie for your tri-weekly sexscapades. Maybe it’s just me, the guy with his feet up on the coffee table, robe spilling open over his stomach. The guy whose carpet smells like feline urine, though I have no cats, whose idea of dining out requires tapping a straw against the table to remove its paper shell. Maybe it’s just me with my thumb on this remote that has such inane television fantasies about the honeyed moments of those soundtracked drug advertisements.

Anyone would have to admit the ads are alluring, though. All those meadows and red checked picnic cloths, men with women hugging firm on the back of motorcycles. It’s always a family get together or a formal wear special occasion. Kids in bubble baths and slow dancing with strands of pearls. So many rosy-glowed images of scrapbookable moments—weddings, funerals, and holidays. Sigh. How I envy them.

It took me a while for it to really sink in that these shiny, happy people in these spots are sick. Well, not really. They’re actors but they are actors pretending to be sick, struck down with serious disease and misfortune. Misfortunes of various types and severities: allergies, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, herpes, depression, obesity… My personal favorite is “Do you ever have trouble concentrating? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or anxious about facing everyday life? Are you often tired or lack energy?” No, no. I’m always perfectly whelmed, thank you. Why don’t they just come out and ask, “Are you human?” Why don’t they just say, “Pop our pill in the hope of android-like perfections and perpetual smiles. Soma, the face of the future!”

And the actors never seem to suffer from the side effects so speedily read over scenes of bicycling through vineyards or of sun on a beautiful face, wildflowers. No nausea, dry throat, scratchy eyes, loose bowels, irritability, mild swelling, tingling, hair loss, loss of appetite, bleeding ulcers… And remember! Those with erections lasting more than four hours should seek prompt medical attention. Because three hours, three and a half, that’s perfectly alright but four—now it’s a problem.

Shiny, happy people in big straw hats, gardening. Goofy, grinning people who can again take charge of their health/enjoy their life/not let [insert condition] get in their way! Happiness for sale, a smile a ‘script, but only for those without liver damage, high blood pressure, glaucoma, or family history of stroke and seizure. Oh, and those taking MAOI inhibitors, whatever on earth those are. Every commercial for every yummy little drug prohibits those MAOI-ers. Poor folks, unable to pop any of those fun-filled capsules of sunshine and acceptance. And remember! It’s unsafe to suppress your herpes outbreak when suffering from late stage HIV or AIDS. I don’t know if herpes suppression would top my list of life worries if I was in that situation. It wouldn’t even be #1 on my list of STD dilemmas.

Even if I do realize that, yes, I do hold a certain advantage over these ill people with their sparkling eye, it’s not an advantage I crave. Alone, unhealthy but in a broad and general sagging skin and mood sort of way. But if I was one of them, I could be loved and glowing with a cool, attention-grabbing and very fixable disease. And I mean fixable in a way that doesn't require any effort on my part. See, if I was taking this Procrit to increase my red blood cells after chemo, you know, so I could attend my nephew's soccer game... that's not such a bad life really. You'd have a nephew and mowed grass and snapshots and a feeling of defiance, the glow of someone who has both stopped fighting the inevitable but also knows they are strong enough to face it.

At the point of my life depicted in this kind of commercial, I know that I could be preplanning the final moments. I would be relishing that pale-faced movement of leaning forward, clumsily patting a teary-eyed loved one’s hand and whispering last words. Carefully scripted and poignant last words worthy of being echoed around the Thanksgiving table for generations. “Remember Uncle Clark?” “Just like my late son once said…” See, if I lived in the ads, I would be noble. I would be missed.

Then again, you probably have much more interesting fantasies, ones that don’t involve painful and prolonged illness. You can probably get attention and love from family and loved ones without resorting to diseased martyrdom. Then again, this is me. A balding ex-hypochondriac whose ass has molded this couch, whose fingers know this remote by touch.

Who dreams of a shiny, happy pill of dreams. If only they made one for what I’ve got.

November 15, 2005

This Desert Life

So my sister is off to the airport and on her way back to the big CO and I must say I will miss her. Yeah yeah and her husband too, even if he won’t let me take his money at poker. Back to that square state of yellowed leaves, thin air (love that skinny air), and my mother, who I saw for all of six hours this weekend when in town.

You know, there are many signs of adulthood. Many rites of passage that our society recognizes as changing a child into an adult. Bar and Batmitzah, marriage, first communion are some of the religiously affiliated events. Other societies have gauntlets and public tattooing. The more secular, and widely practiced, rituals include:

  • Getting your driver's license
  • Your first business card with your Sans Serif name on it
  • Throwing up out a car window on your 21st birthday
  • The first time you owe on your taxes
  • Opening a 401k
  • Not needing a co-signer for a major purchase
  • Cooking your first turkey, all by yourself

It is amazing to me, however, how many times I stumble upon one of these moments, just how many times I look down to find, gee, yes, my shoelace is untied. Just when I thought I was mature enough to at least remember the rabbit ears tying technique. One of these moments relates back to my family, my sister, my mother—how suddenly adult you feel, how greeting card sappy, how visionary about who you are and who you were, when you realize that you truly miss them. Remember when you couldn’t wait to get out on your own? When sharing a bathroom was a world war? When you were not like your mother and never would be? Well, yes. And my jeans had to be at least 2 sizes too big and flannel was all the rage.

We all stumble upon such lucid moments when we can see the chasm that separates who we are and who we were. It’s often disturbing that I cannot relate to the younger version back there in the distance and equally disturbing that, someday, I may find my current self just as inscrutable. So yes, I miss my sister and my mom out here in the desert of Arizona and, don’t worry, that’s not a sad feeling. That’s a good thing to know, that I’ve found out about my world. Being grown up isn’t all bad and even I, the consummate child, find it happens on occasion. The sad maturity fact that I haven’t come to terms with? That I actually have to buy as many presents as I receive at Christmas. Damn it. Don’t like that one too much.

November 14, 2005

Love is in the Air

You know, every once in a while, when the wind blows just right and your muscles twitch with remembered movements and your mind drifts to champagne and flowers, you just need to get up and dance the electric slide in high heels with your slightly intoxicated family and friends. Maybe throw in a little conga line and some tamborines. (Yes, we had tamborines.) Perhaps a few incriminating pictures and a bit of wine nausea to remember the event or, if you are the really lucky one, a horrible bride maid’s dress to hang like a forgotten lamp shade in the closet until Halloween.

Yes, it is of weddings I speak, two of which I had the privilege of attending this very weekend. Needless to say, I am full of passed hour devours and airline peanuts and the bubbly head of last night’s champagne toast and elated at all the love and fidelity that is sweeping the world. Look at all the loving people. How lucky to be in love and to have cake. What a wonderful feeling when the groom gets up to say his vows and reads verbatim from the journal he kept when he and the bride just met—“Sometimes things are just right,” he had written and, the next week, “It’s official! I have a girlfriend.” Forget about the divorce rate in this country for a moment and how much the gift cost and let us revel in the joy of shouting from the rooftops about love.

Not that I’m in a hurry to be the one doing the shouting and wearing the white dress. Ha, no. In fact, I’ve mastered the art of dodging the bouquet as it sails overhead in its ungainly way. I’ve been known to push cousins into the fiendish projectile’s path. Sorry, Brezie. Brooke on the other hand seems to have a knack for snatching the garter belt which I don’t know how to feel about, scared or proud. No, I’m happy to be simply cohabiting at this point.

And maybe it’s the mild jetlag talking. In and out of Colorado in 36 hours can do that to ya. But, golly gee whiz, I’m happy for you guys! Congrats again Matt and Amanda! Congrats Pops and Julie! I love you guys. Hopefully you know I mean that this time since it doesn’t have that sappy, alcohol induced, Budwiser commercial smell to it. I love you guys! While I may not think that marriage is necessary for happiness or social/personal completion, it sure does give you faith in the power of love. The almost inevitability of love. In the universality of love and the powerfully personal uniqueness of each love. Sigh.

And if not for the time honored tradition of the wedding, when else would I get to electric slide?

November 10, 2005

Shoo Fee, Don't Bother Me...

The blog—the online community of kindred spirits, the free and easy transmission of news or information, and a handy soap box to whine, moan, and complain. And everyone has to listen, or at least we pretend they are listening, which makes it all the more cathartic.

So here’s mine and it’s not a new one. I’m sure it’s happen to a lot of people out there (except for the entirely glued together boyfriend, who keeps every receipt for seven full years in a locked file box and updates his Quicken nightly). I had an NSF fee. Y’all know what that little acronym stands for—it stands for the $36 dollars that the evil capitalist fat cats over at the house of greed they call a bank deduct from my account because I happened to not have enough to cover a transaction. Yup. They make up money, they invent non-existent money, in order to take from a more-than-empty pot. They reached their hand into the honey jar and started digging with their fingernails at the clay bottom. Makes you want to deposit a punch or two. Or drag their disemboweled intestines through the ATM withdrawl slot. Yes, I would like a receipt with that.

And, for a transaction that was covered by a deposit made the same day, but, oh too bad, later in the same day. So it takes them 24 hours to get their crap in enough order to credit or debit my account, for it to show up either through telephone or internet banking. They get a whole 24 hours to push their pencils around. But my few, slim, little dieting hours—sorry, too late. It even took them three days to take the NSF fee out! By then the balance was back in the triple digits and the fee made no sense at all. Three days because the fee doesn’t accrue until the business day after the action that caused the fee and there was a weekend in there somewhere.

If I had a back yard, I think I’d seal it all in a mason jar and bury it and be done with the whole shebang. Knowing me, I’d forget where it was but, hey, that will just make it forced savings now huh? Follow the treasure map to the retirement fund! Or, if only the money in my mattress would accrue interest. Serta-ficates of Deposit (SD's) and Z-Bills (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz) could be in my portfolio.

Ok. I’m done with my ranting now. Stupid pigs. Stupid freaking clowns that have had me simmering on the surface all day. Stupid bank. Ok. Now I’m done.

November 08, 2005

A Matter of Geography

So how exactly do I feel about the Deep South? Especially a place a syllabically challenged as Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I’ve never been there but I’m told that if I strain my eyes, I can see the giant insects from here, the buzzing and hot sticky humid stinging variety of bugs. Even with as brilliant a writer as Michael Martone on the faculty, whose humor and imagination inspire me, I don’t know if Alabama is a place I am dying to go, let alone live in for two years while earning my grad degree. However, there are two high points of this Deep South alternative, both, I’m afraid, relating to the school’s slightly off-putting location. One, tuition does not make my cholesterol spike up. Two, I think I could get in. Hmmmm.

Then again, there’s always the YukonAnchorage, Alaska to be specific. Good program with lots of assistantship opportunities but no real names I know among the faculty. Has the same two high points as ‘Bama. But in this case, the geography is strangely alluring to me. The surrealism of extended daytime hours—and the sunlight that would give to allow explorations on the motorcycle of the untamed state—and the depth of the winter blackness. It seems an ideal place to write, what with the snow swirling outside a window of a snuggly log cabin with a (faux of course) polar bear rug. I know I’m being fanciful but there is something there for me, a kernel of curiosity.

I’m weighing my alternatives now as my first two deadlines for applications are approaching—both of them stellar, high class, prime grade programs with astronomical chances for admission. Brown accepts, and I’m not joking, 5 fiction candidates a year. And NYU, man, New York City. Imagine. Yes, I can imagine my rent and grocery bills for sure. Hoo-wee.

But Brown had always been my number one choice and so I hold out hope. Prof. Evenson, if you are out there, if you are just in telepathic reception mode, please, have pity on a little girl who wants to go to Providence. You will love her writing sample. You will put it at the top of the list. You will stomp a red stamp across all that hard work that reads: ACCEPTED. Maybe I should brush up on my ESP.

November 07, 2005

Now Kate, be nice and share with your friends...

Another creative writing workshop, another lesson in diversity of opinion. And thank the lord for the objective journalist who reminded some of us that, yes, in fact readers have different tastes in books and, no, you are not writing the piece, they are and they will write it how they please--be it with scars that remain unexplained or with multiple amputations, regardless of the improbability of such an occurance.

But I shared the blog address with some of my colleagues. Gasp! I did what? I broke anonymity online. I am allowing people who know what I look like to look at my blog. I am allowing people who can talk to me in real life to electronically post comments about my cyber life. I must admit that anonymity can be very fun--all the words spiraling along the arm of the milky way into artful oblivion. Or, caught and appreciated by strangers, whose feedback is so much more honest and valid than family, friends, or those people who will need to look you in the eye across a table or a room or a turkey dinner.

I don't really mind the invasion, however. It is only a minor twinge of vulnerability, really. As if I gave away the address to my naked picture site--sorry, that one's a secret. But all any of us, aspiring writers or just avid bloggers, really want is community and feedback. Exercises and deadlines to compell the creative process. So, hey, I brought in a few more for the team! Go me!

Anyway, if you are from my writer's group and you'd like to see some more of my little shut-in (that's what I call her), I post things on here from time to time. Don't know how much I will in the future--this blog is relatively recent and I am still in the first flush of it. The two Shut-In Detective posts are from the same piece--part of her inner life, a personality that springs out of boredom or isolation. Would like to know what you think, if you know you want to think something about it.

As for the comments I received about my story, which was workshopped tonight... well, the negative comments were exactly what I expected for the most part and I got some suggestions that really make me want to sit down and pound on the keyboard some more. Which is great, considering that today is the first day in weeks (not counting weekends) that I haven't written something. We get by with a little help from our friends. To add to the Beatles, I say we get by with a little criticism from strangers.

Shut-In Detective and Case of the Once-Dirty Laundry

The name is Dick. Private Dick. Sounds much dirtier than Public Dick although, come to think of it, you could get in a lot more handcuffed trouble for the latter. Just Dick in and of itself, sheesh. Those poor boys whose mothers thought that Richard was such a noble name.

But you know that don’t ya, Sweet ‘Art? You came to me already with some trouble and the trouble was that the clothes are stained. You do that so well, dontcha? But that’s not the trouble, the trouble was that you thought the clothes might be stepping out on you, sneaking around your back and coming up clean. You had no proof but women’s intuition but you could sense another woman’s scent on them, a scent not your own, I got it right? A downy fresh scent. Maybe the scent of one of those slutty, little, fluffy and giggly teddy bear types.

So I put a tail on his ass. You betcha I did and I got some answers. They may not be what you want to hear, ma’am, but can’t be as bad as you fear. No, don’t open the envelope. You need to be sitting down for the pictures, you need to be prepped. So I tailed ‘em. Turns out right to the spot you said they’d be—The Washing Machine—a somewhat linty and humid dive right off the kitchen. It seemed everything was locked down pretty tight and hidden behind closed doors but from the noise of the place, it was jumpin alright, jumpin straight into deep shit. ‘Scuse me. I managed to get my foot in the door, rather my hand in the door, rather when my hand got in the door everybody froze—noise, movement, everything just halted. Closed the door—all resumed. Opened it again—ice, frozen like ice. It was like I was a cop walking into a speakeasy—no one was speaking easy. There was lots of noise, I’d open the door—silent and still. Close it—lots of noise, open it—silent and still.

Seems there was a secret pass code, a key of sorts that fit into a tiny slot to the right of the door, makes the door think it’s shut, see? Some key that would make every one think the door was all safe and snug so they could go on with their fornicating. No one can freeze old Dick out for too long. I tried my finger in the slot but no good, too big. I ended up jimmying it up with the end of a wooden chopstick leftover from take-out, hope you don’t mind. And then, sure enough, the show began again. Well, the pictures tell the tale but yes, they were wet and yes, they were lathered. I did my best to turn away from the lurid spectacle but their dancing was so mesmerizing, primal really.

From there, it was over to next door—The Dryer—for sobering up, for erasing the evidence of that slick and splashy cavorting. I tried my chopstick trick but it seemed they’d grown wise. They all flew out to attack me, all heavy jeans with hot, metal buttons and rivets.

Yeah, Doll. I know it’s not what you wanted to hear but perhaps now you can sleep at night. It’s not my business whether you stay with this no good laundry or not. Perhaps you can get them to go back to you, back to the passionate hand-wringing and drip-drying of the honeymoon era. But Dick is always here for ya. My rate is 73 ½ cents an hour but the undressing you with my eyes, of course, is free of charge.

It's not me. It's definitely you.

Breaking up is always hard to do. Whether you have good reasons or not.

I said, well, I have moved on with my life. I've grown and expanded while you have remained stagnant. I need more intellectual stimulation. And, frankly, you're not that attractive anymore. Not that you ever were a real looker, you know. You were convenient and cheap, I suppose. I don't love you and I don't know if I ever did. It's over and I'm moving on with my life.

That's right. I dumped the Yahoo! blog. Yahoo for me! This site is just so much more user friendly and the community is more active and vocal. I have been baptised in the river and come up blogging wet. So if you'd like to, check back on occasion to receive the normal dose of useless thoughts and promising fiction...

... and to keep up to date on where Gnomey is now.

November 06, 2005

Flash Fiction Friday

The champagne cork was on the floor and in her hand was her boyfriend. Right in the palm of her hand. Not wrapped around her finger. That would be too possessive, too commanding. After all, she was in his pocket as well. Right in the hammock of his pocket. No, he wasn’t wrapped or contorted around one of her digits. He wasn’t a toy to bend to her will. Rather, they were both playthings for each other, shiny and colorful toys that wanted to be played with. They were ordinary people in a cubicle and coffee ordinary way. In a grocery shopping, TV watching ordinary kind of way. And it was only in combination that they became an amusement park of fun. They were toys that could, and would, bend any sort of way imaginable and in every room in the house. At the drop of a hat or a lift of the skirt. They were toys that imagined in an idealistic, playful way that they were the ones who made up the game in the first place. That no one before could have played it in quite this way, quite this well, could they?

The champagne cork was on the floor and rolling into a crumbed-up corner along with all their fears of being unlovable and dying alone in a house full of cats. The spatula in her hand, the veal in the skillet, the bubbles gently rising in the half-full flutes. And she was in revel, reveling in the domestic moment of commercial-perfect domesticity, finally understanding why such advertisements would make one teary-eyed and heart-swollen. She was cooking in a very feminist way. Barefoot and juicy with the artistic aspect of the act, of creating something fabulous from nothing at all. Or, well, from many things that alone were raw, dead, dry, pungent, and inedible but together would feed her artistic soul and her mate’s stomach like birds in a bush. Rather, like birds killed with stones that didn’t fall into the bush. However that phrase goes.

She was moving into his place because it made sense, what with the neighborhood and the equity. She wouldn’t really miss the small studio four miles away with vaulted ceilings. Vaulted and painted with a mural of self-created love—a love that loves for the emotional value of a thing, for the worth of its history and because it is a reflection of our own soul—not for aesthetics. She wouldn’t really miss the baseball hats. They really did get in the way of those casual displays of affection, like kissing a duck below its beak, and she believed her eyes were truly as pretty as he said. She believed it now as much as she did then, when they met, when he wooed her in holey weekend jeans and, well, a baseball hat.

In her hand was her life and she added in the mushrooms to absorb the broth, sprinkled the sage across the top with a flourish of the wrist as he sat the adjacent room, still too in love to pick up a paper in his impatience. It was early enough in the relationship that he didn’t know he was becoming dependent, that he was being shown into the comfy recliner in front of the TV that we call relationship land. It was early enough in the relationship that she thought it was cute, that dependence, and not at all repressive or gender-specific but only yet another venue for the expression of her joy.

It was too early to realize that she couldn’t divide the food equitably, with equal portions on two plates without eventually dimpling her thighs and making those nostalgic weekend jeans quite tight. It was too early to know that his getting off this early from work was not going to be a regular occurrence, that he knew the continued presence of veal on the table required his continued presence behind his desk. The desk where the little framed picture of her, sans baseball hat, was angled.

No one could yet have foreseen how the Lifetime Movie Network and prime time sports would separate the cuddlers on the couch. Because she was wrapped in his arms as they prepared to watch their rented movie, blissfully full of veal, blissfully happy to be blissfully alone and not in some bar or online dating site looking for bliss. Rather, it was not a couch but a love seat and, though his legs were slightly cramped, that was okay. Because there was the smell of each other’s shampoo in their nostrils and the warmth pressing against their chests was not the chill of lonely nights with feline companionship, but of love. It was too early to know that cuddling was not, as they insisted, something they just discovered was in their nature but an urge that would unconsciously fade with time. That they could laugh about together, knowing they had been through so much since those days, laugh as he took off his knee-high black socks and she rubbed lotion into the rough skin of her elbows.

“To us,” he said, raising what remained in his wine glass. “I love you.”

“To us,” she said, the champagne in her hand. “I love you. And always will.”

But it was still too early to know.

November 05, 2005

The Shut-In Detective and the Case of the Missing Minutes

So they’re just gone, huh? No cops on their tails or vengeful unpaid debts but just gone for nothing, good for nothing, just left. But good enough to be found again, like mislaid petty change. You got the right cat for a stake-out, don’t worry, and the fridge is even nearby. Poi-fect.

So we assessed. Not you, me, my ass sitting to assess but (on the subject) you have a fine one too. No, assess. No short ride either but a 24-hour assessing ass, full of coffee and potato chips and stealth. Yes, 24. Minutes, seconds, moments—sneaky devils are hard to pin down. Whoever said that a stitch in time saves nine should have stitched them down better. I tell you, the ticking of that instrument of eternal vigilance is diligent as grass growing and just as entertaining. And for something so regular, it sure does drift through the ear and get lost until you’re not sure if you’ve seen or not or heard or not or dreamed or not or how much of thing you are trying to track has drained away as you found yourself contemplating the uneven drip of the kitchen faucet.

Your friend, the one you suggested might help? Turned out to be quite a lead, quite informative with her little beep and the “at the tone, the time will be…” coded talk. Thanks for her number. I synchronized and waited.

Six hours. I thought you’d lost your marbles since it seemed you weren’t losing anything at all. Twelve and I saw one minute, one after the figure that sexy little stool pigeon on the phone told me. I checked it twice, Doll, and sure enough—one minute and about thirty seconds thrown it to boot. I looked real close at that tiny hand and yup, there were thirty to boot.

But ninety seconds ain’t much to scoff at. Could be a coincidence, right? So eighteen hours rolls around—more than two minutes missing—and I began to see why you called me in on this one. Such a subtle acquaintance is time but one that we rotate everything around, a keystone for the building of our everydays and something to hang our goals on, to compare them with. And this dupe was stealing it from you subtly, dripping it away. Why? Out of forgetfulness? Vengeance? How far up did this cover-up go? Two minutes and fifteen seconds pocketed by the perfidious pilferer. 135 seconds of life sucked away. I began to doubt if this stoolie friend of yours sang the truth. How long you known her and who’s she know and who knows her, and all that jazz. She’s tied up in this time game somehow and who is to know who to trust?

And the big twenty four came. One rule still applied—time did still march on, even if it was missing a few steps along the way—and the grand lost total ran to three. Three minutes. Now three may not seem like a great deal. One, two, three. Peanuts. But let me put the problem into a scale you can understand. That’s three minutes a day, 0.75 seconds an hour. So you just had 2 ½ commercials chopped out of your primetime reality show and how will you know what chocolate snack to crave or what new movie the latest A-list, B actor is in? You won’t, that’s how. Three minutes a day. That means every month, you will lose 1.4 hours (defining “month” to be a set of four weeks of 28 consecutive days instead of some stupid 30 days has September or leap year February crappola). That’s half a good book of time or three batches of cookies. And every year that’s more than eighteen hours, one more hangover you won’t have time to recoup from. Two nights of sleep you won’t get. One season of Dawson’s Creek you just won’t get back.

It’s a backstabber, ma’am, plain and simple, and drip drip goes your blood between your shoulder blades and between the cracks in the floor. And I hate to say it, but I don’t know what to do with that one. This conspiracy runs deep, way too far up the flag pole to be poking your stick at that anthill. Dick is speechless, adviceless. Dick feels powerless. The only thing I can recommend, only one thing to plug that drain in your soul. Buy a new clock, Sweet ‘Art.

November 04, 2005


Just thought I would clear up a few more of the rules in Kate World, where the laws of the gravity are slightly different and violation of the rules results in crankiness, violent pillow throwing, and, hmmm, not much really.

  1. A kitchen that is cooked in will always have a sticky floor. A kitchen that is never cooked in is the home of french fried couch potatoes. But uncooked in kitchens, well, those are the lochness monsters of Kate World--they don't exist.
  2. Ironing boards come alive when out of sight. Their awkward legs love to pop out of corners and behind doors to shwap unsuspecting televisions or pieces of furniture. We must learn to cope with the sneaky ninja beast or have wrinkled clothing.
  3. Water is not messy. Water is clean. Water is the substance we use to dissolve and wipe away non-water-based messes. If water is spilt somewhere, it will dry.
  4. Blankets are necessary for their weight and comfort. Not for their warming value.
  5. All disagreements shall be settled by a friendly, cutthroat game of Dr. Mario.
  6. No one shall beat the great and all mighty Kate at Dr. Mario. She is penicillian! She is Tamiflu!
  7. All disagreements shall be settled in favor of the great and all mighty Kate.
  8. There is as of yet no vaccine for the epidemic of forgetfulness sweeping this world. The only treatment is constant yet respectful reminders, unconditional love and tenderness heaped upon the disease's victims, and the misappropriation of blame.
  9. Hair dying and nail painting are allowed in any room of the house.
  10. All vehiclar transport devices must be named.

Enjoy your voyage today in Kate Land. Management is not responsible for damage to life or limb. This ride is unsuitable for those at risk for heart attack or stroke, pregnant women, children under 5, or those unable to receive massive kindness or mindless cuddling.

November 03, 2005

Lead me not into Temptation

In the middle of my kitchen island sits a bowl, a crackle finish green bowl with a fluted lip that is usually filled with fruit of some sort. Plums, often apples this time of year, and even a large squash on occassion. Basically, whatever won't fit in the fridge after the tri-weekly store run that won't immediately spoil. I figure the visibility of the fruit--that vibrant color and the sheen of it in the flourescent light, which reminds you to wash off that wax they put on to make us more likely to buy it--the visibility makes me eat more of the things that we Americans are supposed to eat more of. Then again, I have to admit that even if I went rummaging through my cabinets and fridge, that I wouldn't find much that the USDA food pyramid says is a "sparingly" no-no. Open that crisper door right now and you'd find a few heads of broccoli and some soy-rizo spicy sausage. Oh, and an entire Costco case of vanilla soy milk.

Which leads my eyes directly back to my pretty little bowl. My shapely green bowl. My girlie, fruity bowl which at the present time is overflowing with Hershey's mini chocolate bars (assorted ) and Reese's mini peanut butter cups. I personally blame the enticing Target display, which hypnotizes any shopper with it's bright colors and mountainous assortment, brainwashing that one bag is sin, two bags is still restrained. Everyone else is getting six. Mommy? Can I gave six? I blame that and Brooke's deprivation of trans fats. Can't keep the boy on my health food forever, even if he does eat brown rice with a smile (and chopsticks!). I just couldn't say no to him, though he easily vetoed my suggestion of some fat free gummy bears or skittles. Chocolate. Oh lord, lead my not into the valley of the chocolate...

So, considering the fact that we had nary a one trick-or-treater, my pile of candy, that threatens my delicate little bowl with its caloric weight, sits there like a houseguest. Like a gift certificate that you have to spend, a bullet you have to bite. I have considered chopping up the chocolate and stirring it into some cookies. Perhaps I could half and half the white and wheat flour in the dough to lessen the nutritional impact. I tried to get Brooke to put them up in his office to get them out of my sight and, I admit, to make him the victim of their temptation as he was the one who fell prey in that hypnotic superstore.

But I shall have to survive for now with them sealed in a gallon Ziploc bag in the pantry. Where they whisper their presence in my ear as I work. Where they beg like doggie treats, passing themselves off as rewards. As in, nice job on finishing that story--have a chocolate. Excellent work doing those dishes--have a chocolate. Did a sit-up? Good girl, have a chocolate. I suppose I am an excellent Pavlovian candidate. Gee, I wonder what else I can train myself to do?

For more information about how your Halloween candy set you back, check out these stats:

  • Twizzlers 1 treat size pkg.= 45 calories
  • Almond Joy 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Milk Duds 1 treat size box = 40 calories
  • Butterfinger 1 snack size bar = 100 calories
  • Milky Way 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • SweetTarts 1 treat size pkg. = 50 calories
  • 1 Tootsie Pop 1 pop = 60 calories
  • 1 Tootsie Roll 1 small roll = 13 calories

Or, have fun with this interactive game:

November 01, 2005

Running the Numbers

Ordering 10 sets of official transcripts: $50
Sending out 8 GRE scores: $120
Archival of Letters of Recommendation: $25
Application Fees -
Iowa : $60
Brown: $70
Washington: $45
Johns Hopkins: $60
NYU: $80
Columbia: $100
Syracuse: $65
Georgia State: $50
U Mass Amherst: $40
Tuition per year: between $11,300 and $32,264

My desperation, frustration and fear of expensive rejection:

**Majorly Fun Activity: Who can come up with the most apt explanation for the initials MFA?**

For example: Moneyless Fiction Addict...