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I'm writing the month more or less in reverse, so I can tell you now that
shit just got real.
You'll learn things that you never wanted to know about a random internet person, though these things are neatly packaged in linear narratives. The Crazy, it seems, has taken its proverbial meds this month, and has found a cohesive outlet for otherwise suppressed neuroses.
(All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental?)
Welcome to the November 2012 Batch. Please empty your pockets and relinquish sharp objects before crossing the threshold.
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Modern-day interactions and situations hold no real poignancy for me in real time. It seems that it takes years, if not decades, for these memories to age appropriately, for me to be able to look at them and say, "I learned something/I learned nothing/ I'm sorry/ I'm not sorry/ No, actually, I'm really sorry/
Fuck you, fuck you, you're cool, fuck you, I'm out.
We get numbed by the daily mundane, but then for some reason a mundane detail resurfaces years from now, re-framing our whole lives.
What did I do today, and what did it mean?
Random things I would say to people who I have always wanted to meet:
LeVar Burton: "Geordi, Reading Rainbow was the fucking shit!"
Bill Nye the Science Guy: "Bill, man, science is the fucking shit!"
Bob Ross: "Yo, Bob, your squirrels were the fucking shit! Also, your paintings are the shit!"
Grover, of Sesame Street: "Gover, Dude, you're not real but you're the fucking shit!"
Carmen Sandiego: "Yo, Carmen, your ensemble is the fucking shit! Also, I never learned where Zimbabwe was on the map."
Wishbone: "Arf, arf, arf, fucking shit, arf!"
I am the worst PBS fan girl ever.
There's GMC and Hallmark and Lifetime (and Lifetime Movie Network!) and ABC Family and ION and they all deliver my personal brand of crack this season.
These are the sanitized, feel-good, low-budget Christmas movies, starring once-popular actors and actresses. Kristy Swanson. Joey Lawrence. Mario Lopez. Meredith Baxter(-Birney). John Corbett. These movie play non-stop since the beginning of November, and I cannot stop snorting their cheesy acting, the moral tales and the happy endings.
It is as if my cynical gene switches off, and I de-evolve into a gooey mess of a primitive life-form.
They all fall neatly into the same category: Misfit/outcast/Type A workaholic ruffles locals'/family's/friends' feathers over the holidays, but through a series of trials (saving a dog/light the town tree/saving the local diner/falling in love with the local bachelor +/- adorable kids), they learn how to work together/assimilate/relax/not be an asshole.
They learn the true meaning of Christmas/the meaning of family/the meaning of true love, and it's a miracle!/the work of God!/the magic of Love!
I realize my Christmas calling is that I need to write a shitty Christmas movie.
A leisurely chat with a colleague segues into a nebulous area of politics.
The colleague says that she voted, but drops her voice in a conspiratorial tone: "Yes, but I have to be careful about what I say around here." She nods her head in the direction of an adjacent cubicle. "But I know you understand."
I am momentarily confused. She notices and says, "Wait, you're Republican, right?" I shake my head, and there's a tense moment where I feel like we should be reaching for weapons.
But instead she laughs. "I had no idea! But you dress so
A Christmas Wish for Timothy
Teleplay by: RO
EXT; XMAS TREE FARM- DUSK
Small children run and giggle in between rows of a trees. An early 40's, rugged but handsome TIM MARTIN appears exhausted but relieved.
Here you go (hoists tree into bed of pick-up truck). This here is our nicest fir, it will see you and your family through 'til the new year.
(Smiles and drives off)
An impossibly cute child approaches TIM. This is TIM JR.
They seemed nice, Dad. I wish we had a family for Christmas.
(sighs) I know, Timmy.
(TIM and TIM JR hug).
Well, time to close up for the night.
A WOMAN pulls up in an Audi t4. She steps out, dressed in fine clothing. This is MADISON MERRIWEATHER.
(talking on cell). No, you tell him to get me those figures! I don't care! No,
I'm sorry ma'am, but we're closed for the night.
I gotta go. (hangs up phone). I need a tree, like now. I'll pay whatever!
Sorry ma'am, we'll open at 6AM. There's a snowstorm coming through, so you should probably stay at the town's charming local Inn.
Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Mares eat oats and
While in medical school, we had a brief course introducing us to the world of hospice. An afternoon was to be spent weekly with a hospice patient. Our medical school, it seems, wanted to teach us how to be
I was assigned to a frail but mobile lady, in the last stages of pancreatic cancer (But really, in pancreatic cancer there's only two stages: alive, and dead.) She had a fridge stocked with Ensure, a liquid protein mix that was supposed to sustain her through her anorexia.
I was 23 years old, and self-involved. I was overworked.
I was an under(non)-paid student, a turd in the medical hierarchy. An afternoon spent free from the oppressive thumb of the administration was as good as a having a day off, and as I sat in this lady's assisted living apartment-home, I couldn't help but think she'd rather spend her final days with someone who wasn't a stranger, someone who wasn't quietly contemplating new, covert ways to check her watch.
She told me a story about a small pup she had when she was younger. A tiny dog, her dog. One that favored her over her sisters.
She'd show off the dog's favoritism; when her sisters would call it, she'd merely tap her pocket, and the dog would come running to her instead. She had in fact trained it; she kept treats in that pocket, unbeknownst to her sisters.
She stared wistfully beyond me, and said, "I loved that dog."
And I, having not learned yet how to be a
, had no idea how to gracefully extract myself from the visit after a story like that.
I did feel guilt at the time, for feeling like that; I feel more guilt as time goes on.
My own small dog rests near me, looking at me curiously, and then sits upright for a treat. He doesn't know I'm a recovering asshole, though I'd prefer if he did, so that he can make an informed decision (but love me anyway).
We were told that after our visits had ended that they would inform us when our hospice patient had passed, but I never did hear anything.
I hope she was able to escape into that memory, unaware of the presence of that stupid young girl who couldn't see two feet beyond her nose, and found some comfort.
I will not stop using big words in my personal life. (I will use them because they are the best words for that feeling, I will not make sure you know the definition). I will not hang around after you finish drink five to my two. (I will know with almost eerie accuracy your every move after that.) I will not flip the fuck out the next time you pull some passive aggressive shit on me (but I will the time after next.) I will not gently peel the band-aid (I will rip it, and I will like it.)
Quite possibly the best random writing prompt I've come across lately is the following:
"Write a speed metal song about a femur."
I accept the challenge, Sir. (Read as fast as possible for the desired effect)
Femur for a Demon
Rabid Dog Rabid Dog
Foaming at the mouth
Rabid Dog Rabid Dog
Coming for your God
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(Guitar solo x 7 min)
Rabid Dog is evil
Rabid Dog needs food
Bone for a rabid dog
Femur good for you
Femur for a demon yeah!
Memory Speed Round!
Michigan: I picked up a sleeping mole in the yard, brought it to my mom and told her it was a "kitty."
Michigan, part II: Found a red crayon and made sidewalk art outside a church. My mother made my sister scrub it off, since I was only 5;she was supposed to be watching me.
D.C.: We walked around the Capitol at night, after our first rift. We were the only ones at the Jefferson Memorial; it meant nothing.
Maine: That time I went to an idyllic part of Maine and found out it wasn't-
Often I write about songs or bands or YouTube here on 100words, partly because I cannot
(definition: type words with general sentence structure) without a sonic backdrop, but also because in another dimension Chuck Klosterman would be sitting in his bathrobe lamenting his student debt whilst
travel the country writing quirky vignettes about music and Americana.
I love me some music, but I have negative musical talent. [As in, (-) musical talent.] I cannot sing, I cannot play an intstrument, though not for lack of trying (Flute, 1991-1992; Ukulele, 2007-2008).
I have two formative stories about music.
Ukuleles went through a period (or may still be, I'm unsure) of hispter-oid coolness, where young women would don 40's style and play cafes, ironically covering songs like "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Gin and Juice."
That seems cool and all (sure I'd love to be an Andrews Sister) but I really wanted to play because it was cheap, and it had only four strings.
I actually took lessons, bringing my teacher tabs from "Doll Parts" before I even knew what a fret was. I knew this was illogical for my skill level, but goddamnit, I wanted to ROCK.
I also wanted to impress my family with the fruits of my months' long practice, so when I visited them around Christmas time, I had "Greensleeves" more or less on lock.
They listened patiently as I said things like, "Oh, wait, hold on, let me tune it" or "My nails are long, that's why it's tinny." I finished the song, and I can honestly say it was
My sister, who had played violin for four years as a teen, picked up my Uke, held it like a violin, and played "Greensleeves" better than I.
I no longer play Ukulele.
From what I remember of my elementary education, musicals seemed to be an important, or at least was large part of it. We had actual music class (before Arts budget cuts were the thing to do), and we performed many a musical program in front of (most likely) bored/over-enthusiastic/drunk parents and relatives.
(Of course, I remember the words to all those shitty programs to this day.)
We hit all the classics ("Ooooooooooooo-klahoma where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain....") but we also did some contemporary songs as well.
To this I say: Bette Midler, fuck you.
"From a distance, the world looks blue, and green, and the snow capped mountains white..." began a particularly jingoistic program. This is from "God is Watching Us" by Ms. Midler. (Also, this was in a public school).
At age ten I had no real concept of separation of church and state, but the concept I did have was that
I wanted the fucking solo part in that song
The part went to the class's least popular kid, and I had no real concept that she chose him over me because he was
, not because she felt sorry for him.
When I was 17, I spent a few weeks in Spain, on a school trip. I found myself peer-less, wedged between a census of Girls I Was More Popular Than, and Girls Who Were More Popular Than Me. (I straddle both worlds, bunking with the braces and funny smells, but spending the evenings out on the town, talking about hair, boys and diets).
Another tour maintained four boys, a perfect ratio to our four girls. The other three quickly brainstormed ways to catch the boys' attenion. When one accidentally dropped her hair clip in the toilet, it was serendipitous.
My favorite clip! But the toilet is so icky! How am I going to get it out?
The boys heroically fished out the clip, and an alliance was formed for the remainder of the trip.
This small act of controlled psychopathy (or, "manipulation") bothered me, for I had neither seen it employed
(It couldn't possibly be that easy; surely the boys could see through it?)
nor thought to employ it myself.
(It is important to me that others know that I am the kind of girl who is not afraid to shove her hand in a toilet.)
Lana Del Rey, I really don't like you (as much as I can "not like" a person I've never met), but your music is enchanting.
I'm troubled that your nose has an unnatural plasticity, and that your real name--Elizabeth "Lizzy" Woolridge Grant--was changed to something exotic, though ill-fitting. You had a very awkward
Saturday Night Live
appearance that made me feel equally embarrassed for you and also delighted in schadenfreude of it all.
If I knew you in real life, we'd be frenemies. I wouldn't like you, but I'll be damned if I didn't want to be you.
Mary Poppins always unsettled me for some reason as a child, and as I view the Disney movie now, I cannot help watch it through a literal world view.
In the scene where the children return from an outing with Mary, she's having them swallow medicine preventativley. (You see, they've gotten themselves wet at some point as they cavorted with cartoons in the sidewalk chalk drawings).
They excitedly titter back and forth about their lovely day, but Mary
actively denies that any of it had happened,
and that the children are
simply making it up.
That's fucked up, Mary.
I had completely forgotten about 1990's
Born to Sing
, by En Vogue, and as Pandora randomly brings up a song, I rush to Amazon to get the mp3 album.
[Once upon a time I wore the cassette tape down to threads, and spent an evening performing microsurgery with a pair of tweezers, scotch tape, and a pen cap. It was a success, and between choreographing a dance to "Hold On" and playing Barbies, I fleetingly contemplated a future in medicine.]
I still know
all the words to every track
from an increasingly obscure band's debut album from 22 years ago.
Without a hint of sarcasm, one of my regrets in life was not seeing En Vogue in concert when I was in fifth grade.
My friend Jessica got tickets to the concert.
This is where I talk about how my parents forbade me from going to a concert on a school night, with the friend and said friend's mother of dubious parenting rigor. And then I screamed/begged/snuck out.
In fact, it was
who decided not to go.
It was a school night.
Jessica wore the band's shirt to school the next day and said it was
Since I'm trying to keep it real this month, I should talk about how I was putting an ice tray in the freezer and was blindsided by a flashback about the time we spent a weekend at a Vermont Inn, and you shaved my legs while smoking a cigarette, because that was the manliest thing you could think of doing. You had always wanted to do that, because all the drinking and Hemingway-reading just wasn't doing it for you anymore, and as I watched you drag the razor delicately I realized your hands were shaking some, like a boy.
Things are getting too real around here. I'm beginning to understand the allure of magical realism. You get to talk about things that are real and possibly painful but disguise it as dancing, talking ponies who drink tea.
It's like telling a story but prefacing it with "I have this
In that case, this evening's events: My four legged friend Mr. Dog tugged at my technicolor robe and said, "We must attend to the Dreamworld, for two, three hours after work today! In Dreamworld there are many stall-less public restrooms and falling teeth scenarios we need to address."
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