REPORT A PROBLEM
The same guy comes by Barnes and Noble at least once a week when I’m working. He’s been in several sitcoms. He’s tall, skinny, and has an awkward voice. He once played a waiter on
– the episode where the whole restaurant hates Monica because she replaced their chef. That guy. Yeah. Remember him?
Hot guys come in there, too, with their girlfriends and boyfriends or just themselves.
The guys in
The Price Is Right
audience are occasionally cute. But they’re partially crazy because they’re in
The Price Is Right
audience. And I don’t really dig even partially crazy guys.
JESSANNA LEAH BURBANK'S LIST OF IMPORTANT QUALITIES IN A MAN I WOULD WANT TO MARRY AND STAY WITH UNTIL IMMINENT DEATH (NOT FOR A MAN I WOULD MAKE OUT WITH IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY, A MAN I WOULD DATE OUT OF BOREDOM, OR A MAN WHO IS JUST INCREDIBLY GOOD-LOOKING AND BEARS A SLIGHT RESEMBLANCE TO EWAN MCGREGOR OR SPIDERMAN’S BEST FRIEND WHO TURNS EVIL)
my best friend
not from Maryland
doesn’t cut his toenails in my presence
makes homemade ice cream and pizza
to be continued at my discretion...
I implore you to do some simple things in Barnes and Noble.
Leave your trash on top of the merchandise. I recommend leaving your gnawed straws on top of the Harry Potters.
When at the customer service desk, become as frustrated as possible when they cannot find the red book with the word “the” in the title.
If you enjoy manga, please read our collection in the middle of the reference aisle while you wait for your Botox-high mother to finish in the new age and diet sections.
Finally, as a parent use the escalators even with children in strollers.
The wedding party departed early in the morning, when the sun could not be seen on the horizon yet light danced on the air. Despite the horses and birds available for transport, they traveled on foot. The bride’s bare feet winced from the calluses forming as they snuck through the dry quarry. The previous night, she received a full body massage from the palace’s masseuse. Her feet were exfoliated, moisturized, and pampered. Now, as she faced the unknown in their escape, her feet ached in protest. Her groom-to-be offered to carry her and her father demanded she accept his offer.
The honey dripped from the cold stoneware into the molded dish. Her weathered hands shook as she placed the dish in front of him. “I do not have any other food in my cupboards. Tomorrow morning, we can search the garden for ripe fruit and vegetables.”
The man nodded, his hood still swept over his scarred face. His bandaged hand scooped up the dish and poured the honey down his gullet in a swift, solid motion.
She hobbled towards her bunk. She rested her cane against the bed and squatted down to pull out an apple crate full of blankets.
Elizabeth and her grandmother never ate indoors. The floor enlivened everything it touched, which made the table a stoic servant and the chair a friendly hugger. However, the crumbs from food tended to be mischievous creatures, intent on burying themselves into the crevices of the cottage. If Elizabeth or her grandmother attempted to sweep them away, they screeched and grasped the broom straw until they were shaken off or dunked into the well. The crumbs never died. They simply divided until their infinitesimal size precluded them from bothering the residents of the little cottage over the creek in the woods.
Charlie bought an air balloon ride to impress his friend, Stacey, a dimwitted girl who was ignorant that her overly friendly ways often left men thinking she cared exclusively for them. He led her into the park, blindfolded of course. “You can look now,” he said.
She tore off the blindfold and gasped. Charlie stood before a heart-shaped air balloon, holding a bouquet of red roses for her. A trio of violinists began playing her favorite song – “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.
“Oh, my god, Charlie. You are like my best friend, ever!” she smiled, wide-eyed.
When I was in sixth grade, I would read autobiographies by George Burns. A sixth grader is typically ten or eleven years old. So, as an eleven year old, I would check out books from the public library by a man who was over ninety or exactly one hundred or dead. I can’t remember. I was the nerdy girl in overalls and a t-shirt and Converses who would try to explain to other sixth graders the magic of vaudeville and Jack Benny’s friendship and how Gracie Allen wore a wig and long sleeves. I was a strange cookie back then.
Ten days passed in the jungle. Unlike his time in the desert, he could not locate the sun easily without climbing a monkey-infested tree. He could not test the water in the still, murky puddles but thirst plagued him, forcing him to drink. This practice resulted in a parasite feeding inside of his lower intestine. Sweat clung to him desperately but he remained clothed, fearing malaria. He circled endlessly, praying to find another human being, a bird or horse for transportation, or a river, which would hopefully lead to a village of people who would not kill him on site.
When the sweat pours into your eyes and little black dots dart across your vision, you still strain yourself against all emotional and physical restraints. The blood thrums in your veins and smiles, excited with your movement. You boast your physical prowess on the field, in the water, in the ring. Your endorphins jump and flip as you exert yourself. The power of the body moves your emotive state as you try, as you practice, as you excel. Loosen your muscles and jump into the air so you can fall as hard as you can, your sweat in the dust.
The lilac scent in the plaza attempted to drown the odors of sewage coming from the drains. Yet, children still squirmed and proper old ladies squished their noses against their faces. It was obvious the BRAND SPANKING NEW mall was built on top of an underground sewage plant and no amount of advertising or foliage could hide it. The rats were especially discouraging. They’d dive into the fountain like unsynchronized swimmers, plopping in to fetch pieces of ice cream cones and faded pennies. The teenage girls with their huge sunglasses avoided the plaza and parked valet and shopped in Nordstrom’s.
INT. JIMMY’S HOUSE – NIGHT
Jessi sits at Jimmy’s kitchen table. The lights are low. His house is quiet, for once. He leans against the counter, studying her.
JESSI – How long?
JIMMY – Since I first saw you.
JESSI – Oh, well then.
JIMMY – It’s not like that.
JESSI – Well, you first saw me and automatically knew, huh? Just like that?
JIMMY – Why are you angry?
JESSI – Because… because… you’re supposed to be my friend.
JIMMY – I am.
JESSI – Why didn’t you say something?!
JIMMY – What do you think I’m doing? Do you think this is easy? Instead of rejecting me, you’re mad.
No one understands how I miss the heat, the humidity. It feels like summer in the South. There are seasons in North Carolina. Here, I feel like I’m in a constant rush for something with no end dates in mind. School and seasons provide end dates. Los Angeles is a perpetual state, a machine that traps me and makes me forget that time and life are rushing by me. I miss those markers, those deadlines. I miss the idea of knowing where I’m going. I’m without a net with a support system thousands of miles away.
A date in June.
Mathematical Consideration of Affection with Conditional Statements
If I love to listen to anything you tell me
If you are the first person I want to call when I’m lonely or bored or successful
If I want to hug you in a sweet moment
If our thoughts coincide
If our words match as they leave our lips
If we fit together and balance each other’s ups and downs
If the stupid, the inane, the insignificant suddenly matter more than the huge, the daunting, the terrifying
If I enjoy your company, even when you’re being a pain in the ass
The veranda of our beach house was chilly in the mornings, even though we felt hot all through the night. I often curled up on the porch swing with my current reading material until he woke up and padded out onto the sandy, wooden floor of the veranda. We’d eat fruit and bacon and waffles for breakfast in our pjs and lounge around making fun of
. By ten, we’d be ready to walk down our path through the dunes, the scent of salt and the murmur of the ocean’s laugh teasing our anticipation as if we were children.
I want to be known as a regular at a restaurant. Not a bar – to me, I feel like I would need to change my routine if I’m known as a regular at a bar. There seems to be very little small town friendliness anymore, especially in a metropolis like Los Angeles. The idea of entering an establishment and having everyone know my name is welcoming. The neighborhood companionship seems to be gone; each eatery I step into day after day feels the same. I am a consumer, not a neighborhood figure. I am an entry in bookkeeping, not CeCe.
INT. BAR – DAY
Charlie sits in the bar, reading a newspaper. Mac enters, overjoyed.
MAC – Tonight is going to be awesome!
Charlie puts down the newspaper.
CHARLIE – I know!
MAC – Well, for me it is. I get to run the bar. By myself. Not with you. You still have to do shit chores.
CHARLIE – Doesn’t bother me tonight.
MAC – What? Why not? What’s going on? Usually things suck for you.
CHARLIE – Not tonight!
Charlie shoves the newspaper into Mac’s hands.
MAC – Sci-fi convention? What a bunch of lameasses. Dude, you can’t go to this. You have to help me out
After four nights of working four to midnight, I sympathize with Johnny Appleseed. The man walked all over this country planting trees, barefoot and with no thanks thrown his way. He did it out of the goodness of his heart and today we praise him for his kindness, even if he wasn’t real. I’ve done nothing remarkable for the old U S of A but after working for corporate America the last few days in a shitty pair of flats, made by Americans in name only, my feet sure as hell hurt like they’ve walked over the entire country barefoot.
make me feel small
jumping up for the dunk, jason dropped the ball. kenny snatched it up and bounded across the court. he scored against jason’s team, whooping in exhilaration as he hung on the rim. jason glared at kenny’s head, which shined with sweat across the tips of his shaved hair. lily clapped and laughed from the sidelines. kenny scooped her up into his arms, threw her over his shoulders as he tossed the ball to jason. “stop it, you’re sweaty, no don’t,” lily cried. kenny spun her around. jason rolled the ball away and stomped off the court.
Lights bob, suspended in the twilight’s spirited air, among the forest’s branches. They whiz and dart or haunt and mesmerize the fairies’ festival’s attendants. Not living but hardly dead, the balls, the streaks, the sparks of light appear once a year to delight the denizens of the lush grove. The fairies flit, dodge, and chase them. A few winged folks will find themselves in a quiet spot, the pan flutes of the celebration whispering in the distance. There, they’ll stare into the depths of the eternal light and learn a truth, a gigantic murmur, a truth universal yet deeply personal.
A sense of quiet, nothing rushing, invades my mind. Creativity fades and basic needs become paramount. My nose is stopped up, my stomach is aching from rich food, and my eyes want to shut, to let their lashes brush against my pillow. The to do list is all that comes to mind – laundry and health insurance and bills and car repairs. One day off this week seems cruel, as if that one day will be here and then fade so fast that I’ll long for more. Instead, I’ll have another stretch of workdays, of wanting to succeed or go home.
She’s so effing hot
, he thinks.
God, I want to get with that so bad.
So, God grants his wish. Suddenly, he’s dating that hot bitty at the bar with the itty, bitty skirt.
Man, she’s great. She puts out all the time and loves to give head. But, dammit, we have to go to the stupidest places. Martini bars and romance novel sections of bookstores and Build-A-Bear. I mean I guess I love, well, like her. She’s totally hot and her knockers are … woah! We really don’t share the same interests. At all. But that’s okay with me.
The god promised to never shed her beautiful face, to allow her to remain as youthful and lovely as ever. He loved her, her body, and refused to let her beauty die. When she spurned him, threw out his affections, and dared to care for another, he did what many deities are known to do. He raged. He could not retract his promise for his role as moral guide for all mortals would be questioned. So, he grasped her chin in his hand as she gazed at him with remorse and changed her warm, fair flesh into cold, alabaster stone.
The wick bitters black, withers into ash, and weakens its wax base into creamy drips. The torch it bears floats in the air, climbing up to the heavens, yet easily whipped by the breeze’s whisper. At the light’s tip, orange cheerfully borders dull white and pasty yellow. This pale light barely comforts its carrier. Instead, the piercing violet flame injects faith into this cold, despondent soul. Its strength, its craftiness, its wickedness bleeds heavily into the evil world he stumbles through, searching for an end, a hope. The candle burns his scratched, aching hands and still he wanders into dark.
INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON
Tyler and Cassie sit watching The Muppet Babies and putting together a puzzle.
TYLER – When I grow up, I’m going to be Kermit the Frog. He’s awesome. Will you be Miss Piggy?
CASSIE – No.
TYLER – Why not?
CASSIE – She’s not as cool as Animal and Gonzo. I want to be Animal because he plays drums. Gonzo is number two because he’s blue and one day he’ll be big and blue like Violet from Wonka Factory.
TYLER – They’re boys. You’re a girl.
CASSIE – Fine. If I grow up, I’m not going to be Miss Piggy. She’s stupid.
He sets his skateboard on fire at the pond’s shore and watches his youth burn in front of him. The lit joint crumbles in his hands; his system is immune to its effects. He smashes the joint into the dirt. He cries, trying to ignore her presence and trying even harder to ignore Biff’s. She sits silently next to him and wraps her arm across his shoulders.
He pounces up and ungracefully kicks the burnt pieces of the skateboard into the pond.
“I’m getting my haircut tomorrow,” he mutters as he struts away, his hands buried deep in his pockets.
The beekeeper, the mercenary, and a bear Cash growled as the dawn approached. The castle was still hours away. In order to slip in with the guests, he needed to arrive into the town soon.
The vial of honey still sat hidden in his pack, a homing beacon for Dooberry, the bear. He bumbled behind Cash, moaning. His eyes, wide and gentle, pled for friendship and food from the cruel human.
Cash spat at him, “Go away. Leave me alone you - ” And he flew into a fit of curses too vile to be scribed in any fairy tale.
The blade pierced the air and sliced through his Adam’s apple, his juices spilling over his neck. He gasped for breath, his hands seizing the ground as their veins pulsed to burst through skin. He couldn’t yank the blade away for logic lay beneath his panic. If he were to remove it, he’d die even quicker. Instead, as he coughed up blood, he reached for his own knife. He massaged it and his attacker laughed at his seemingly useless gesture. In the midst of a chortle, the attacker saw the knife’s glint a second before it chugged into his heart.
The bulletin board remained bare from Wednesday until late the following Thursday. Professor Cracken was not the only one checking it throughout each day. Whenever the bus dropped Hasselhoff onto Friendly Street, she would always run to the American Studies office in search of a trace that someone had responded, had completed the task. At five eighteen on Thursday afternoon she came to a room of people staring at a torn piece of paper from a reporter’s notebook. She slid through her classmates and stared at the paper from the edge of the crowd. “I did it. You did not.”
I challenge each of you to complete the following task by next Friday (not this upcoming one!) at five o’clock. No later. That may seem like I’m being generous – a college professor giving you two whole weeks for your first homework assignment. But here’s the task. Call the bus station and find out the earliest departure. Leave on that bus from the station and travel on it until it makes a complete loop. Have five conversations with strangers during that bus trip. Do not start with a typical conversation starter. All conversations must begin with a question on your part.
The Tip Jar