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In the valley of death, at the midpoint of summer, the heat is suffocating. The rickety one-unit air conditioner sputters and coughs, and kicks into low gear when toggled on, but not before blowing a puff of smoke to the exterior. The dusky grey cloud, I realize, is not miscellaneous particulate matter, but rather fur, from an unknown tenant that had lodged itself into the filter in the winter months. It leaves a musty smell permeating the small bedroom, and I reluctantly switch it off, lighting an
candle. My friend, the smoker, tells me it clears anything, and fast.
Lazy re-telling of an AIM conversation, thinly veiled as 100-word quasi-fictional entry:
R: you know, it'd be easier on me if you told me where you're moving. it'll cut hours off my stalking time
s: cleveland heights
R: so i get your couch, right?
s: sure… we'll have a futon
R: WE’LL? HA ha! you're cohabitating!
R: have fun not being able to fart at your leisure
s: there are multiple rooms
R: for your housewarming gift, i will get you a set of matches
R: …is my middle name
R: that, and "Eunice"
When the pager goes off, there are a select number of things you don’t want to hear when you call back. One of which involves: “In my 24 years here, this has never happened.”
This call usually comes in the middle of the night.
The request: several units of red blood cells for transfusion. For a patient declared legally dead the day before.
She was an organ donor patient, having ended her 28-year-long strife with a single GSW to the head. In a summer field. Berry picking with her family. She had slipped away unnoticed, when the shot rang out.
A drive-by, the family immediately assumed, and hit the deck. A drive-by was, to them, the logical explanation. A drive-by, on a Berry farm, during daylight, in rural Vermont.
I relate this story to my colleague, trying to consolidate the black-white of death into an acceptable grey. The patient was dead, but still had blood—albeit other people’s blood—perfusing her end-organs—also, for other people.
“Does she have children?” the colleague asks, after I run down the circumstances.
“Were they with her?”
“Damn. I bet those kids aren’t going to be able to eat berries ever again.”
Oh, Writing Prompts. How I have such a love-hate relationship with you. Sometimes, there’s a word, or a phrase, that sparks something, a long-lost memory, something I can extrapolate on, or stew in.
Most of the time, though, you are absurd. “Write about a sunny day,” you generically suggest, and I cackle. “Is there a God? Explain why or why not,” you propose, as if my literary exercises should share a border with theologian theses. “Detail your magic carpet ride”; a suggestion clearly penned by Steppenwolf. No prompt tells me it’s okay to click close the laptop and watch TV.
Like the proverbial Carnival ducks in a row, Jonas Phelps, M.D., was picking off the gait disturbances of the passers-by. He'd point his bony finger, cock back his thumb.
To the overweight blonde: "Foot drop. Peroneal nerve injury. Probably secondary to the Cheetos, or a rough night with Cletus. Bang."
To the lithe 20-year-old: "Knee flexor instability. ACL tear, probably 2006. Took a wicked turn on the moguls when he was still smacked out on the previous night's coke binge. Bang."
Whether he knew the backstory by sight, or from his 29-year patient constituency... Small towns make for easy psychics.
From the safety of the freeway, I see the Hospital nestled amongst the trees. There's a dry, warm breeze gushing through the open windows of my car, and I'm happy.
This cicumferential stretch of freeway loops the Hospital; at any given direction the road takes me, the sun moves, but the position of Hospital remains constant.
I give the institution a hearty middle finger out the window, waving it back and forth a few times, but I hold my breath; it was like confessing that you don't believe in God, but waiting for a lightening bolt to strike you dead.
there's a women's restroom tucked away on the main floor of the hospital, far off the trafficked path. it's quiet, and i stop there often on my way to coffee.
someone has put a black Sharpie to the plastic toilet paper dispenser. it reads "embrace the chaos." as i leisurely piss, i contemplate all the various scenarios that would have driven someone to write that particular saying in this particular stall.
it stayed there for five months before maitenance found it, and the first day i realized it was missing, i have an uneasy sense that chaos isn't the touchy-feely type.
i'm laying on the floor, near the door, where my neighbor's wi-fi is the strongest. i haven't locked the door, not fully; i look up, and see the possessed knob move, slowly. the latch is in a three-quarters position, just enough to allow the intrusion.
i am far from afraid. this is the third time this has happened. i yank open the door, and a confused girl jumps, says sorry, wrong apartment: the downside to living in a cookie-cutter complex.
thank god i'm moving. at least in my new place if someone breaks in, they're gonna be serious about it, goddamnit.
We found ourselves on the back fire escape, loaded and bored. It was somewhere around midnight, and the neighbor's garage motion-sensor light would periodically flick on, giving us pause; us, holding our breaths, ultimately finding ourselves giggling like drunken church mice. (Little known fact: church mice are both lushes and have the ability to giggle.)
Wearing only boxer-shorts and tanks, the escape grate left intricate patterns on our exposed thighs, pock-marking our plush spots. We shifted periodically; every new position we contorted ourselves into prompted another existential debate:
"Do you think Smurfs have genitalia?"
"Don't be stupid. All living beings have Junk."
i am so blocked.
i am consulting online tarot, anatomy text books, buddhist thoughts-of-the-day, friends, family, paul oakenfold, diet coke, not cigarettes (but i'm thinking about it), e-mail, always e-mail, vaguely-flirtatious text messages (to someone who is probably more blocked than i, but in a completely different sense, and mostly by my hand), laundry, copious amounts of wine (last night) and water and aspirin (this morning), napping, a lot of pacing, day-old co-op scones, staring at the wall [an (un)favorite pastime], hanging off my couch, my bed, the countertop, any and all uncomfortable positions.
i can't write. i have nothing to say.
today was an epic fail. knowing that i'm on-call next weekend has pressured me into feeling the need to accomplish something spectacular this weekend, given that i will be tied to the fucking truck soon enough. however, this drive has actually been counter-productive, as the pressure to perform has overwhelmed me: i've spent most of the day milling about my apartment, alternating guzzling red bull and other stimulants with laying in bed, bleary eyed, staring out the window. this masterbatory cycle will play out until around ten o'clock tonight, an arbitrary bedtime that i feel most adults subscribe to.
Jerry really didn't need a birthday cake. At 57, and 57-times-ten pounds, the sheet of unadulterated processed confection wasn't so much a "Congratulations!" as it was a challenge to see if he could repeat the awesome feat of making it to 58.
It was a sticky Sunday, and as tiny beads of sweat trickled down the crevace formed by his supple man-cleavage, Jerry waited quietly for his mother to light the solitary candle. Parkinsons and age prolonged this task, as his mother's bony hand wanded back and forth across the cake a few times, as if to bless, or curse, it.
were painfully adorable.
a grown man has no business being adorable, but
since you were barely on the cusp, i allowed it.
had a sly little grin, mischevious, with a faint twinkle
in your impossibly dark eyes
that was actually a symptom
i remember this from medical school now (i had to dig out my notes):
"An oft-encountered condition
striking males aged 18-29,
manifested acutely as atelephonia,
There is no definitive cure;
management is supportive care,
including, but not limited to,
juvenile diary-esqe rants
to kin and/or girlfriends
relasing HIPAA protected information regarding
the state of his equipment
and sexual relations
with his best friend."
Possible Entries to
(picture of kitten in background, text superimposed):
i ate four scones today
and started drinking at noon.
(flowers, Times New Roman font):
i didn't shave my armpits for a month
because i wanted to see
how long they'd get before i started
to disgust myself.
(picture of couple with woman's face blocked out, frantic hand-written scratch):
meat smells good to this vegetarian
in theory, anyway.
(copy of parking ticket, constrution-paper cut-out letters):
i listen to MegaDeath
when i bake cookies for the elderly
(crudely-drawn stick figure, dollar bill):
Hillary should have been president
if i see one more goddamn Obama sign
I'm going to carry on in my daily life
with no change whatsoever.
5:30 am is a little mind-altering. for instance, did you know that the word "eating" is buried in the word "cheating"? or that while "prey" and "pray" sound the same, they're spelled different, and mean different things, but are still chillingly interchangeable?
("It's like we're looking down on Wayne's Basement, only... that's not Wayne's Basement.")
the undulating circadian rhythm that has awoken me at this god-awful hour has had its fun with me, leaving me with incoherent prose. i'm wrapped in a towel, having gotten as far as the shower, and my fingers are drifting off to sleep, my body close behind.
a cheerful entry:
a cheerful, joyous, and genuine entry:
a completely non-sarcastic, non-grating, altruistic entry:
a completely non-sarcastic, non-grating, non-blasphemous, genuinely kind entry:
a non-disgruntled, blissfully unaware, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed entry:
a lovely, lyrical, ode to simplicity and contentment entry:
a concise haiku exalting nature's brilliance-as-entry:
a kid-friendly, G-rated, SFW, Tipper-Gore-endorsed entry:
a uniting, inspirational, hope-laden, promise-promising, baby-kissing, eldery hand-shaking entry:
an epic poem-entry where good prevails and evil is damned:
an entry not fueled by cigarettes, booze, sleep-deprivation, self-deprecation, or self-flagellation:
an entry not having to do with, nor referring even peripherally to, myself or lazy snippets from my lazy daily life:
an entry without typing errors:
an entry that makes sense:
An entry about liver medicine and what so-and-so ate for breakfast:
The liver pills were yellow, the rheumatiz pills were blue. Each time they were crushed up and added to the breakfast slurry fed through the his PEG-tube, retired army captain Jay McPhee couldn't help but think that the plastic tubing and bag jutting out from his gut was like being attached to the world's shittiest Ziploc baggy.
Yellow and blue makes green, he said each time, to the pretty nurse. And she laughed each time, but Jay knew better. She would probably be the last female who would ever find his new appendage funny.
The downside to having an Eastside apartment was the traffic. Today, it was pedestrian. Hundreds of protesters clotted the main street with propaganda: “Burn in Hell, Hippie Liberal Scum!” they chanted. “God Hates Fags!” they sang, in heavenly meter that could have easily been a lullaby, and, frighteningly enough, probably was to some.
Derek dangled a stack of pink fliers out the window, giggling as he tossed them into the atmosphere. The Chosen Ones below were baptized with our propaganda: Billy Graham, in women’s underthings, under the header “Homosexuality is SIN-sational!”
The upside to an Eastside apartment was the view.
I knew a Southern Boy. His name was irrepressibly Southern; a grand, Cadillac name, of which he was a “III”. Having come from a proper upbringing where forgetting a “Sir” would get you whipped, where a Nanny—also a sort of “III”—was the primary caregiver, where a trustfund was built on the interest of centuries-old money, he brought a certain cultural sweet tea to the stoic North.
He had his own take on the locals, spurred by a mischievous interest in The Things Not Talked About.
“The more you stir the Turd, the more it stinks,” he would pontificate.
The faerie, she talks to me. In antiquated sepia tones, she contrasts the Technicolor of the real world. She moves haltingly, not unlike stop-motion animation. She appears from around corners, plays underneath the sheets, naps in the cupboards. A spry little creature, she insists she’s only a distant cousin of the woodland nymph, and is actually closer in lineage to gnomes. She giggles. A lot.
My faerie got into my liquor cabinet. I use a spatula and a dustpan, holding the soused insect at arms length, as I speed-dial the Super, to let him know we Have a Little Problem.
A love-song left to the very capable hands of R. Ro:
(intro: soft guitar, dreamy barely-legal female humming)
you left me outside
i bought a white, $36 tee-shirt
you pulled the car around
and said you'd let me stand in the rain
but don't forget to put the shirt on first
i'm more than just a nice pair
the rain's gonna mess my hair
the boys'll stop and stare
i know you don't care
don't make me call your girlfriend
and tell her
that you're into
some freaky shit
cuckholding? what the hell is that?
(outro, cameo by DJ Clue giving a shout-out to all the tasties in the club)
“I love him. I LOVE him. I know. He’s gay. Gayer than Clay Aiken riding a spectral unicorn through San Fran, singing showtunes. But, he loves me, and my handbag, and that’s all that matters.
When did I know?
He told me a story, once. He had a posse, when he Came Out, with whom he would troll the streets in an El Camino, with pink suede interior. There were two, three to the jalopy, with the
on perpetual repeat. They would slow down as they approached women on the street, and cat-call: ‘Bitch, I’mma steal your Boyfriend!’”
He taught me how to blow smoke rings.
Yes, it was that simple all along:
Relax the jaw.
I get it on the first try.
You don’t know how long I’ve been trying to do that.
I am officially a tortured artist. I’ve mastered the deep, contemplative scowl, the disdain for other perceived inferior artists, paradoxically coupled with soul-shaking insecurity. I get to pace about endlessly, odd-hours spent laying in the middle of the floor, blowing said smoke rings, until Inspiration finally comes home after the clubs close, throwing me a shred before passing out on the couch.
A list, regarding that redhead:
A list, regarding that redhead that is really a blonde:
A list, regarding that redhead that is really a blonde but should be a redhead:
A list, regarding that redhead this is really a blonde but should be a redhead, and never brunette:
At her worst:
At her best:
Someone you know, someone you know very well.
Someone you know, someone you know very well, all too well.
She is not:
She is not:
Someone who cries yourself to sleep most nights of the week, because:
In love with her.
In that millisecond that it took for you to grace my cheek with your lips (almost your lips), was not a millisecond, in case you were wondering why I was looking at my watch; it was just in my line-of-sight when I was looking at your hand, which so happens was near my own, attached to my arm via the wrist; the aforementioned wrist of which was encircled by the watch. It took a little longer than a millisecond for you to run your almost-lips almost near my lips before you pulled back, and asked me what time it was.
At 1:28 AM
Is there a distinction, or do they blend?
I saw a tumor the other day
That obliterated a pancreas (sort-of)
It kind of obliterated everything in the general vicinity
Most likely arose from the pancreas
Really, though, a lot of things do that
The lines are blurred between twilight and dawn,
it’s not like you flip a switch and one ends as
I’m not really into poetry
And this looks a lot like shitty poetry
But the lines between prose and poetry are a
little blurred right now
Come on, make it better.
Ew. No. That’s gross.
You’re grosser, times infinity, no takebacks.
It’s bleeding more now, I’m gonna die, and it’s gonna be your fault.
It’s a scrape, you can’t die from a scrape.
What if, it gets all infected and crap, and then they have to cut off my hand, and then I grow back, like, a claw in it’s place? I’m going to come after you with my claw-hand in your sleep.
You can’t regrow a hand! Let alone a claw!
Well, I guess we’ll find out now, won’t we.
*INBOX: 1 New Message*
hey, nice 2 see ur like one of 8 ppl I know who still uses IM
Re: Atari girl in a Wii world
Wow! It’s been a while… how are you? I'm old school. kids these days with their facespaces and whatnottery... in my day, all we had was IM to hold our social lives together.
*INBOX: 1 New Message*
u haven’t lost ur sense of humor. when u come @ again, my girlfriend and i will pull out the donkey kong for u.
Rosetta lay as a beached whale, in the middle of my sand-brown carpet, a small gathering of on-lookers crowding around, unsure of what to do next.
"Shall we try to roll her over on to her side?"
"I think she had too much shrimp at the buffet spread."
"Is that a moan? Is she groaning? Did she just say help, or kelp?"
"Should we get a doctor? ...or a Marine Biologist?"
"She can hear you, you know. Her kind has supersonic-hearing."
I knew why Rosetta surfaced. She was on her way somewhere, and the tides brought her here instead. It was just easier to stay.
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The Tip Jar