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After a Two-Month Hiatus
Has returned, with several life lessons
that she will now, in turn, impart on You,
the Wisened Masses,
or perhaps the Collegiate Stoner
who has stumbled upon the site
after a fatal typo Google search
away from naked pictures of J. Lo:
1. A watched phone never rings.
2. You can do anything, if you breathe through your mouth.
3. “We are social animals, and everything we do is because of other people, because we love them, or because we don’t.” (Miranda July)
4. It is impossible to write, when you are happy.
Lazy re-telling of a TEXT MESSAGE conversation (hey, I’m mixing it up!), regarding the VP Debates:
802: I don’t think she’s mentioned this- is Alaska an energy producing state? /sarcasm
603: I can’t get past the “I’m An Alaskan Hockey Mom” schtick.
802: She’s not saying “nookyalur”, is she???
603: Oh yes.
802: Ok. I thought I was hearing things. I think I just vomited a little.
603: Just a little? I had to stop watching because of a Mallory-Weiss tear.
802: I’m confused. Is she from Alaska?
603: Fuck this, I’m going to bed… and everything like such as
(Cool, dark industrial room. No windows; naked bulb hanging from the ceiling illuminates pervasive asbestos particles. PROTAGONIST sits, blindfolded and bound, to one of two chairs in middle of room.)
Enter INVESTIGATOR, nondescript lanky figure in G-man-esque clothing. INVESTIGATOR approaches PROTAGONIST, smacks PROTAGONIST against cheek once, to which she appears unfazed save for bloody lip.
PROTAGONIST: (licks lips) My doctor tells me I need more iron in my diet.
INVESTIGATOR: Funny. You’ve been thinking of a catchphrase all afternoon, haven’t you?
PROTAGONIST: Yeah, pretty much. That work for you?
INVESTIGATOR: Are you the sassy sidekick or the sexy butt-kicking hero?
PROTAGONIST: I was going for the latter.
INVESTIGATOR: Needs more leather.
PROTAGONIST: I’ll get in touch with your mother, then.
INVESTIGATOR: (chuckles, pulls up empty chair, sips coffee) You’re new here, yes? Tell me, PROTAGONIST, how have things been? I hear things. I hear lots of things. Vinny Twofingers tells me he saw you south of the Mason-Dixon line last month, is that true?
PROTAGONIST: Sweet tea is delicious.
INVESTIGATOR: It’s hard to perfect, really. The trick is to mix before you chill.
PROTAGONIST: I’m not here to play Susie Homemaker and swap recipes. What is it that you want?
INVESTIGATOR: Oh, PROTAGONIST, you play coy. But I know; Vinny knows.
PROTAGONIST: You know nothing.
INVESTIGATOR: I have ways of finding out certain… things.
PROTAGONIST: (hesitates) Things?
PROTAGONIST: (whispers) You told him.
INVESTIGATOR: Oh yes, PROTAGONIST. He knows. He knows… that you’re happy.
INVESTIGATOR: (maniacal laugh) In fact, he’s going to be calling you at two in the morning. He’ll be drunk, and he’ll be remorseful. And he’ll say lovely things that you’ll be able to etch out from in between the slurs and the raucous bar music. And you’re little world will come crashing down.
PROTAGONIST: He’s… supposed to be dead.
INVESTIGATOR: Is that what you told yourself?
INVESTIGATOR: Suit yourself, but in the days following, you’ll get texts, requests for coffee, platonic invites. It won’t stop until he’s on your mind all day.
PROTAGONIST: You underestimate me.
(Flurry of activity; PROTAGONIST has freed self from chair with vial of acid, street name of “Sweet Tea” imprinted on label. PROTAGONIST inflicts swift roundhouse kick, rendering INVESTIGATOR unconscious.)
PROTAGONIST: The trick is to mix before you chill.
(END SCENE; Collect obscene amounts of Box Office Money after Angelina Jolie is cast—improbably—as PROTAGONIST.)
No, the mystery of the Tootsie Roll Pop isn’t How Many Licks—such endeavors are better left to the capable hands of Lil’ Kim—but instead the evanescent “star” that is located on select few wrappers. Intermixed between 1950’s children playing Kick the Can and Net Weight (0.60oz), sits the lone luminary body, with rumorours promises of additional ‘Pops, if only enough wrappers were collected. We believed such trifles, in the Eighties, when a quick search on the internet couldn’t disprove otherwise. We believed that there was a benevolent force that would reward our fidelity in the currency of youth.
Calloway spun wonderful tales of a youth spent on the lam from responsibility. Of train rides through Punjab, of sweet Sri Lankan tea concoctions, of retired British military generals committing their twilight years to Bengali plantations.
Calloway was twenty-two, backpacking through the Himalayas and relying on the decency of village apothecaries; he had contracted hepatitis. On the sixth night, when his fever broke, he dreamt of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who had kissed his forehead and promised good fortune. I am not a believer of the ethereal, but his yellowed, leathered skin told me Calloway was not inclined to lie.
I can’t go back to the Co-op.
Technically, I can. But it’s going to be weird and awkward in a way that rivals a blind date arranged by your mother. I’m going to go to the wine aisle, look for Sangria again, and trying not to be spotted by the Hipster. He’s going to want to know if last week’s Cabernet suggestion filled the void that only the Producto de Espaňa can right now.
And I’m going to have to break it to him, in words appropriate for a third grader, that it just didn’t meet my standards for inebriation.
Ashtanga yoga, as endorsed by a certain several hundred-words, seems punishingly rewarding. This is, somehow, appealing to me now. This is thematic and pervasive in my life: the grueling pull up the mountainside, all for the intoxicating panoramic; the 12-plus years of schooling and training, for that nanosecond of awe that comes with truly understanding the human body; the winter nights when it is cold and there are wolves, for that springtime kiss.
I leisurely eat a cube of Baker’s chocolate, letting my sticky sweet fingers pull the cursor down the page.
If only every crucifixion guaranteed an ascension.
It’s an innie. It’s a little above the pudge, slightly to the left. It’s a blind sac, and I know it terminates somewhere in the subcutis and fascia. I try to clean out the lint every once in a while with a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol. It doesn’t burn, but the prodding gives me a strange, uncomfortable feeling, like chewing a tough portion of meat; requisite and unnatural. This feeling will prevent me from ever getting a belly ring. And yes, I have a few stray tenacious hairs that don’t belong, and feel the tweezers every few weeks.
Wanted: Motivated individuals for membership in newly-established Secret Society.
Mission statement aims to infiltrate of the ultrastructure at the basal level, spreading influence through the highest echelons of power via subtle coups and backroom deals. In the grand tradition of the Free Masons and Illuminati, there will be secret handshakes, secret passwords, hazing initiations, conspiracies and cover-ups. Positions available include figure-head, treasurer, PR. Exciting entry-level positions also available. Benefits package includes full medical and dental, intrigue, and sex, and drugs, and rock and roll. First meeting Wednesday, 9PM, at the Hoboken Community Center. Light refreshments and cookies will be served.
The Methuselah Prize is awarded to individuals providing significant scientific contributions to the discipline of age-advancement, elongation or prolongation. Apparently, the majority of lifespan extension comes from, among other things, calorie restriction: calories + celluar machination = energy + waste = cellular degeneration. I learn of this poorman’s Nobel during a lecture only peripherally related to my line of work. I sit in the back row, noshing on a complementary fruit plate. A hand raised from my row, from a corpulent, graying man: “Quelching cellular senescence is completely viable. It does not, however, account for the variable of
The Sun Also Rises
in 100 words or less, as dictated by the Narrator:
I say, I’m awfully tight. I am so tight that it’s amazing I have the energy to go to Parisian cafés. And drink. And be bitter and impotent. A lovely chap, that Brett. A bit of a lush. I feel most sorry for Cohn. He’s quite in love with her. I feel sorry for him, but more for myself. A drink is in order. It’s been two pages since I’ve had any wine. I shall walk down to that small café. It is a good café.
It was an innocuous start: in the beginning, there were two, mother and child. A third became a devout disciple. Four and five were almost simultaneous, hailing from the ends of the earth; six was hailed as damn near immaculate. Seven and eight were Gemini, and anointed as such. Faces of perfection, lives lived in the shroud of infallibility. All were blessed; christened by the masses.
There will be more, many more. There’s an army being built. We’re endorsing it. We’re transfixed. We embrace the apocalypse.
I don’t understand why Brad and Angelina can’t just get a puppy or something.
Jorge was a little more twitchy today than usual. His suit, rumpled and cleaved as if he had slept in it, clung to the stickier parts of his body: his armpits, his crotch. His cornflake blue tie was slung hastily along his collar, tied so that the skinnier portion hung centimeters lower than the wider portion.
It was Tuesday morning, and he stood at my door, smelling of acetone.
"Jorge," I said. "I can’t help you today. You need to pull your shit together."
"Nah, man. Nah. I’m all set. There’s too much blood in my caffeine system, that’s all."
Nathan was told that if he started playing the clarinet, it would help him get chicks.
His older sister, Jeaneatte: “Why would you want to play guitar? Spend all your days in a musty garage with four other dudes. Sausage. Fest.” (Jeaneatte would later attend Sarah Lawrence, then date a Lawrence and a Sarah.)
His mother, Joyce: “I love you just the way you are.” (Joyce had just finished reading
I’m OK, You’re OK.
His friend, Todd: “Anyone can play
on the guitar, but the clarinet? ...Man, I’m so fucking high right now.” (Todd found Jesus in the Eighties.)
Not that Nathan couldn’t find girls on his own merit: his hypnotic grey eyes ensured that he’d never spend his Friday nights watching Dr. Who reruns (March, 1982), or haunt the dormitory laundry room every night over Winter Break (December, 1989).
There was Tracey, sophomore year: “Bethany, pluck your goddamn unibrow. Did Nathan say anything about me when you two were at the arcade?”
…and Jillian, Biochem 101: “Bethany, Nathan said you could help me study for the midterm. He says you’re pretty smart. We’re getting pizza afterward. I’d invite you, but I know you’re on a diet and shit.”
…and Tracey #2, Banana Republic Assistant Daytime Manager: “Bethany, Nathan said he’d drive me home after our shift is over. Can we borrow your car? There’s a sale at Sears, maybe you can hang out there.”
…and Bethany, childhood friend: “Nathan, I’ve known you since kindergarten, when we’d run around in circles until one of us fell down. I’ve known you since middle-school, when you went through that awkward clarinet phase and I got braces. I’ve known you since college, when I got drunk off of Boone’s Farm for the first time and puked in the back of your Cavalier.”
Bethany was told that if she were thinner, or prettier, or smarter, that it would help her get guys.
Her older brother, Jason: “Get the fuck out of my room, Troll. MOM!” (Jason and his girlfriend lived in her parents’ basement for five years until his parole officer found out.)
Her mother, Mrs. Brown: “Bethany, pluck your goddamn unibrow.” (Mrs. Brown was legally somewhere in between Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Smith, after the divorce was finalized.)
Her Cat, Mister Mister: “Meow Meow FATASS.” (Mister Mister was buried in the family’s backyard after an unfortunate sparring match with the neighbor’s Cavalier.)
Not that Bethany couldn’t find guys on her own merit: she had a quick, self-deprecating wit that made even the football team Captain laugh, followed by a hearty pat on the back and a “You’re alright in my book, Bethany Uni-Brown.” (Gym class, September 1982).
There was Trevor, sophomore year: “Bethany is my favorite Fruit Fly, but Sweet Jesus Tweezer, let me at her eyebrows.”
The Daily Grind
editor: “Bethany’s the best journalist I know. I’d marry her, you know, if we were both unmarried at 40 and all our important parts were all withered and essentially nonfunctional.”
…and Robert, local politician: “Bethany is my soulmate. But I can’t tell my wife. It’s polling push-time. But afterward, yeah, after that, I’ll definitely tell her I want a divorce.”
…and Nathan, childhood friend: “Bethany, I’ve known you since kindergarten, when I was the new kid. I’ve known you since middle-school, when I went through that clarinet phase, and you let me kiss you just to see what it was like to kiss with braces. I’ve known you since college, when you puked in my car and were too drunk to remember that I told you I was in love.”
Frustrated by the inanities of writing prompts as proffered by the Interwebs,
has composed the following as possible catalysts for future 100-word endeavours:
1. Caribou and wine. Discuss.
2. A smoking monkey and a retired cop go to Hollywood to pitch an action-packed buddy comedy. Write an Oscar-worthy screenplay.
3. McCain becomes President, Fox News has a heart attack. Cause of death?
4. Girl Friday takes an extended weekend, goes on coke binge. Discuss the neo-feminist implications of post-modern analysis in the context of the patriarchal hierarchy.
5. A four word story?
The gauntlet has been thrown, Writers.
Caribou and Wine
The giant caribou head that hung—and practically usurped—the wall of
had a name. Gary had stumbled out onto the back porch to take an early morning leak—too many Jacks, and after that ran out,
—when he saw the beast.
Gangly, wiry legs supported the prehistoric body, even as it was dwarfed in comparison to the massive antlers. The two stared at each other for a while, and then didn’t.
The Baylor University Name and Tracking Environmental Registry left ear tag remained attached, even as BUNTER was mounted on the wall.
is going out of business. I have no need for more linens or things, but I know this fact now because of the portly, hobo-oid gentleman holding a giant sign promising Closeout Deals at the corner of the Williston intersection. The man, whom I had mentally named Bud in the brief 2 minutes and 45 seconds I sat at the light, was wearing a flannel button-down, a hefty wool cap, and oversized headphones. The sign could easily have been of the End-Of-Days variety.
“What do you think he’s listening to?” my travelling companion wonders aloud.
“I bet it’s NPR.”
Britney liked to take long hikes, alone. Six years on an overcrowded Navy vessel, months spent adrift in the Pacific had fueled her craving for land and solitude; on the Appalachian Trail, both were guaranteed.
As the new CTO at the Norfolk Base and bonafide, lifelong gearhead, she didn’t seek the wildness in order to “unplug” from her daily work so much as to investigate how the natural world functioned, and the quiet with which to process her conclusions: the trees were Macs, and the insects were Vistas. The black bear that stood now, twenty feet from the trail, was…
…was really fucking close, and squinting at her.
Bears can squint?
she asked herself as it lumbered toward her.
Ten feet closer now, it stood on its hindlegs, twitched its nose to taste the air, and extended its massive wingspan across the divide, striking Britney across the face with a bear-claw bitch slap.
She reeled, landed on her back, and grabbed her hiking pole. She positioned it straight up, between her legs, blessed herself for not skimping on the Clearance pair, and let gravity work toward its predictable conclusion as the bear went airborne and landed on top of her.
What are YOU doing this for? What brings you back to the written word, day after day, month after month? Are you exercising? When is your marathon? Do you have an endpoint? Or do you just keep going, and going, wandering aimlessly around the page? What are you getting out of it? Is it a compulsion, like washing your hands three times after touching a brass doorknob, or calling me up at three in the morning? Is it addiction, like coffee in the morning, or gambling? If so, what's the high? What does it compare to? Why does it matter?
i still frequent the (remotely) aforementioned off-the-beaten-path hospital bathroom on my way to "coffee" (only it's not coffee these days, and it's not diet coke; both have been temporarily tapered and/or eschewed in some hair-brained sadomasochistic desire to treat my body like a spiritual conduit by banishing earthly addictions; i've been reading too many ethereal texts lately.)
i always wisfully eye the plastic toilet paper roll holder, looking for that mysterious black writing to appear again, from an unknown hand, for a sign, for something.
and i got it.
it reads now, "testa".
what the FUCK does that mean?
heat is on full blast
window is open
is getting a red nose
and a scratchy throat
one part bitter air
times three (or four)
is soundgarden, down on the upside
times three (or four)
so loud i can't think
(who needs that)
and probably singing, loudly
is destination unknown
any direction will do
is the wool flip flops
the oversized hoodie
(inside out, of course)
the jeans with the rip in the ass
(covered by the hoodie)
when i'm damn ready
oh hey. yeah. yeah. i'm good, i'm good. how are you?
well, i think i can do that.
yeah, i mean, i suppose i could do that too, but you know i'm going to have to check my schedule first.
well, it's on my blackberry.
yeah, no it's in my car.
yeah, i'll have to get it later, but it's like ass-cold out right now, and i think i'm getting sick.
yeah, i tried that, it's placebo really, just vitamins and herbs. nah, i'll be okay...
uh.. wait, what?
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