Hokey Pokey (What this blog's all about)

A writing challenge I've given myself to write every day for six months. After some posts, I'll put in a comment with a brief explanation of the inspiration for the piece. Some posts will be practice for bigger projects: character sketches or settings. I don't really know what all will happen which is why I'm doing it.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 28

End of life decisions?
I can't even make
end of week plans
a series of yeses and nos
each time I check
off an option
I kill him
organs: skin, lungs, heart
hearing is the last to go
did you know?
I hear his heart
after it stops.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 27

Simon taps his fingers on the steering wheel, considers getting out of the car. When he gets out, he'll have to go in.  When he goes in, he'll be displaying himself for people to draw.  He's not sure that he's ready.  The nude part of figure modelling, he is prepared for.  The open studying of his arms, that's what is truly terrifying.  All his life, people have stared at him.  Open stares have been rare.  Usually only drunks and small children stare openly.  The other looks are stolen.

When he was a kid, people would steal glances and whisper louder than they thought, "Thalidomide Baby."  Then there would be knowing nods and piteous looks.  His mother would shuffle him away, her face beet red.  She'd be furious, ashamed, angry, and silent.  He didn't know what it meant.  Not then, anyway.

He was older when he figured out why she was so upset.  The guilt she felt for something that hadn't been her fault.  She'd been throwing up, losing weight.  You're not supposed to lose weight when you're pregnant.  And so the doctor had prescribed Thalidomide.  She'd been relieved and felt great the rest of her pregnancy.  But the rest of her life, her feelings were more complicated.  "Thalidomide Baby," didn't describe it.

The saving grace in aging was that the younger generation no longer referred to him as a "Thalidomide Baby."  Well into his sixties, he couldn't imagine anything more infuriating than some 20-year-old calling him a baby.  Except maybe the 20 something that he'd encountered in a hotel bar one night who'd told him about amputee porn.  No matter how infuriated Simon had obviously been, or how he yelled at the dumb little shit to shut up, the kid just kept on about how much money Simon could make if he made a porno.  That kid hadn't known anything about Thalidomide.  He'd just seen him as a youtube video or wherever kids watched things like that.  Kids now just didn't know what Thalidomide was. 

When he was a kid everyone knew what it was.  Knew and had a story for him to make him feel better.  But he felt just fine.  He'd been a relatively fortunate victim of the drug.  He had hands and feet and arms, albeit short ones.  His hands had grown onto the ends of his three quarter length arms at an odd angle that made carrying a cup of coffee precarious, but his functioning was fine, easy even.  He could even plink out a tune on the piano.  There were plenty of less fortunate victims who had no arms and no legs at all or had a lone thumb on one shoulder.  He remembered seeing a video once about a woman with no arms.  Instead of feeling any connection to her, though, he was repulsed.  He could hardly bare to look at her eating with her feet on national television.  He was disgusted at the thought of her feet patting someone on the back during a hug.

He looked at his hands now.  They were his.  They were perfect.  He loved them.  His mother had loved them.  She kissed her fingers and touched each part of him before bed every night.  He'd loved that when he was a kid.  Kiss, forehead, kiss, shoulders, kiss, fingers, kiss, legs, kiss toes.  He'd felt the sacred value of his every inch.  His hands worked.  They were his.  And to him they were beautiful and perfect.  Just as they had been to his mother.

Fortified with the thought, he steps out of the car and heads across campus toward the building where the figure drawing class is being held.  Two drunken Fraternity Babies stumble past.
"Whoa man!  Did you see that?" one mutters to the other.  Then, "I wonder if that dude could learn to walk on his hands."
The second boy, suddenly struck by the brilliance of the idea, "Maybe he'd be super awesome at it!"  Then he calls loudly to Simon.  "Hey bro?  Can you walk on your hands?  Because that'd be super badass!  If not, I'd totally try to teach you if you want."
A smile spreads across Simon's face involuntarily and he laughs, "Not tonight.  I'm on my way to figure model."  He's really amused now. 
"No way, really?  I don't have the balls for that, yo."  The first drunk.
"Cool, man.  Have fun!"  The second.
"Thanks."  He says.  And walks toward the building with an entertained spring in his step, feeling good about his choice.  Feeling good about his body.   He will think of this interchange and wonder what an art student might come up with for him to do with his hands.  He'll use his hands to strip down and model.

His perfect hands.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 26

Ice hangs from everything in a ten foot radius.  The trees are encased and sparkle in the spring sun.  Each blade of green grass is also refracting its shivers to the surroundings.  There's no obvious cause.  No sign of a water main break or an overzealous sprinkler system.  But maybe it was a sprinkler conducting spring reconnaissance.  Peaking it's head out of the ground, chasing a groundhog who long overslept his duty, it saw the signs of spring, got excited and said "BOO!" coming in watery excitement all around. 

It's a beautifully confounding sight to behold now.  Rainbows tossed in every direction while surrounding dandelions and tulips bud their noses out in curiosity.  Girls showing wintry skin shiver by in shorts thinking they should have worn another layer.  And dogs, sniff by wanting to lift a leg to see the yellowy steam arise.  If it had truly been a sprinkler, surely the dog would be the best moment for a sneak attack.  "Raise that leg at your own risk," sneers the rogue sprinkler.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 25 (Lame Grad School Essay)

I worked for a long period of time today on two essays, (neither of which should have taken very long.)  I don't blame you in the least if you skip this post.  I also don't have it in me to do more writing today.  I'm completely wiped out.  So here's my lame essay:

Learning and Career Objectives

                Statistically, the more advanced a person’s education, the more income the person tends to make.  I have spent the last ten years making very little income from being, first a Special Education Teacher who mainly focused on emotional and behavioral problems, and then, a Caseworker at Social Services.  Earning a Master of Arts degree would help increase my earning capacity which would benefit my family as we expand and grow.  Growth in income is a reason to complete a Masters program, but it is not my most important reason.  

                My growth as a human being would be expanded by this degree program.   A large part of my career and adult life has been spent in service to others and I have found that a valuable way to spend my time and energies.  The jobs I held were the kind that, when told to others, illicit piteous responses.  They’ve been the kind of jobs that generally make people cry.  The idea of crying at work has always raised my hackles and my response is to dig in and prove that I am strong enough to maintain my composure in the face of tragedy.  I have felt that if children have had to endure, then I can respectfully keep it together.  I find there is value in being the strong one for kids and do not regret my demeanor at work.  However, while discussing my interest in this program with a professor at Regis, I found myself near tears.  I thought, “If I do this, I will cry.”  This idea, rather than putting me off, attracts me.  It would mean significant growth both academically and personally.  I am ready to embrace that challenge.

                While meeting the challenge may mean a career in writing, it may also mean a return to teaching.  I am not overly focused on one outcome versus the other.  This degree would increase my earning capacity as a teacher and qualify me to teach in an area I haven’t taught in before.  I love teaching and especially enjoy working with adolescents while they are newly forming their more complex ideas, so this idea appeals to me.  It could also mean a career in writing.  Either way, it means improving my writing.  Writing is a soul-bearing activity and I am prepared to engage fully in it.  Historically, I have spent a lot of time on the first draft of writing and then have a tendency to walk away from the piece.  The main objective I have for myself in this program is committing to reworking my writing through editing, peer review, and polishing a final project.  A further objective would be to learn to submit work for publication and then to be published. 

                I have never taken an online class and enjoy the face to face contact for building my skills.  However, I live 70 miles from Denver in the mountains where snow is a frequent obstacle.  Therefore, a combination of online and in person classes would work best for me.  Weekend intensives would be ideal for meeting face to face for classes, but I believe I could also be successful with online directed studies. 

                Whatever the modality, the Master of Arts Creative Writing program is sure to be a challenge for me.  I’m further challenged by having a small child and a husband and needing to balance the needs of home with that of an education.  To meet all of my obligations, student loans and effective time management will be key.  I will need to have time that I reserve and protect for my studies.  Thankfully, I have a husband who is supportive of this endeavor and extended family who live in the area and are also willing to help with my son.  As I said previously, I embrace this challenge.

                I hope Regis will be the University where I get to pursue this endeavor.  My education at Saint Louis University prepared me well both academically and practically.  I enjoyed the Jesuit philosophy of education and feel Regis would be a good fit for me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 24

Marlo avoids getting out of the car.  When she gets out, she'll have to go in, strip down, and model.  She's agreed to splay her giant body before a class of probably 19 year olds.  She has sought out this challenge.  But now that it is here, she is afraid to step one tiny, tootsie toe out of the vehicle.  Once she sets herself in motion, there'll be no end for the next few hours.  Why has she done this, again?  Oh yeah, because she is pregnant.  And intellectually determined to be proud of the behemouth body she's grown.

Ever since finding out she was pregnant, she's felt disconnected from herself as a nude adult.  She's felt odd about changing in the dressing room.  She's been unable to have orgasms during sex.  Modelling is her committment to herself to get over it. 

She reminds herself of all the reasons she's doing this.  It is for her.  It is to embrace all of pregnancy.  It is to allow a rare opportunity to figure drawering affectionados who don't often get to draw a pregnant subject. Yes. Yes.  She means to do this.  She has planned what poses she can stay in for one minute, two minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes. 

She opens the car door and steps out.  She walks slowly to the building.  Someone offers to help but she's focused and says no, thank you.  People always want to help you when you're pregnant.  But she just wants to be anonymous for the moment.  She is focused on her task. 

She checks the name on the building, sees it is correct, opens the door and steps inside.  Within the entryway there is a listing of all the rooms in the building and a map that shows her where she is heading.  She walks on, faking self-assured.  Actually feeling self-assured. 

She's worn light easy clothes.  A long skirt she can slide off easily and a loose top that offers still more room for growth.  Flip flops.  She finds the room and feels herself begin to hesitate.  To doubt.  She pushes past it and opens the door.

"Philip?"  She asks as she struts, or as close to that as a waddler like her can muster, towards the front.

"Marlo!  I'm so glad you made it.  The students are buzzing with excitement.  We're so grateful you were willing to share this with us."  He purrs.

She does not make eye contact with the students.  She's not sure if it's better to face them now or to look them in the eye once she's naked.  Holy shit!  She's about to be naked in front of a room full of people with breasts 4 sizes bigger than normal and a belly.

Phillip shows her to a screen where she can 'disrobe.'  She steps behind the screen and steps out of the flip flops, points each toe like a ballerina.  She pictures staring right into a man's eye, challenging him.  She steps out of her skirt.  She imagines reaching her arms straight up toward the sky, her hair cascading down her back, thanking god for this gift.  She pulls her shirt over her head, lets it fall.  She visualizes sitting, wrapped with arms and legs around her, protecting her from the devil.  Then she removes her bra.  She forgoes the robe... and...

Walks onto the stage.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 23

The banging and clanging was enough to set the hair on her neck on edge.  She grew impatient with the boys' constant racket.  She'd taken them to the beach the day before, trying to get some reprieve.  Sometimes it was better to take them somewhere; it would at least mean she didn't have to pick up the house fifty times a day.  But this time, the twins had taken turns sprinting toward the water and therefore, she did the same.  It was January, not a time for swimming.  Just for finding shells and throwing it in the water.  For a walk and looking at your foot prints.  A time for photographs with bright coats against a grey sky.  A time for picking up sticks to write in the sand.  Or stepping from rock to rock to rock with no plan or destination in mind at all.  At least, that's what it had been when she was a child. 

The boys loved the beach.  They liked putting the sand in their mouths to see who would swallow the biggest handful.  They liked poking at each other with the sticks, no matter how many threats she made about that.  They liked sprinting toward the water, seeing how far in they could get before wimping out or getting caught. 

At home they challenged each other to dangerous ends.  They would pull out all the drawers in a dresser in order to climb as high as they could get.  They'd chase the cat around as a team.  She'd been a nice cat before the twins.  Now she looked haggard and old.  It made Carla feel guilty for having taken the cat in to begin with.  She felt responsible for taking a sweet stray, and turning her into an abused housecat. 

But she had faith that they would be kind still.  She'd seen one take care of the other when he actually got hurt in their challenges.  They saved their most ruthless and tenderest of moments for when they were alone, speaking their silent twin language.

People winked when they were younger and made comments about boys being boys.  Then, she'd pictured them a pair of goal-scoring strikers on an unbeatable soccer team. 

Now, people caste their eyes down, judging her and yet piteous of her at the same time.  Now, other parents pictured police knocking on her door in a few years.  Now, she pictured them beginning a revolution.  Sure, they might still play soccer, but bigger things were in store for them.  The world needed some bigger, better shit disturbers.  Now, she was prouder of her rebels than she admitted.

Journal 2

I'm pretty proud of myself so far with this blog.  I enjoy it.  I'm sticking to it.  I've put out quite a bit of work so far.  Here are some ways I've pushed myself and the outcomes.

1. Write in the 3rd person.  This sounds simple but I've always written in the first person so changing this up has been a challenge.  It's starting to come naturally to me now and I think I like it better than 1st person.
2. Write in the present.  I'm still working on this.
3. Develop an idea every day.  This is probably the part I'm most pleased about.
4. Choose some male characters.  My favorite of this is Day 15.
5. Not eating constantly while writing.  This was also a huge challenge.  I just like to crunch something in my mouth while I think and write.  But with my highly restrictive diet, that's been next to impossible.  And since I've never been keen on being overweight, (it makes it awfully hard to hike up a mountain,) I'm glad this habit has been changed at least for now.

For now, I'm not going to set a particular goal for the next week related to writing.  I've been applying to grad school and applying for jobs.  So I'm going to try to keep up with the pace I'm setting for myself of writing every day.  I've also gotten a couple of new piano students, one of whom is a professional musician with a studio in his apartment.  He wants to record his lessons.  I find this idea terrifying.  So in keeping with my current theme of pushing myself, I'm going to do it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 22

His wife walked in from work the way she often did: huried and frustrated.  She had a list of what he hadn't done already spewing from her mouth before she ever asked about his day.  It made it hard to start his evening's work. 

"Did you call the financial planner, like I asked?" she pecked.

He didn't get a chance to answer before she went on.  "I heard from the life insurance carrier.  Remember how I said the company's going backrupt?  Well, I'm figuring out where to get your insurance from now and so you'll probably have to have a physical.  You'll also need to stop smoking pot since they usually ask for a drug test." 

Pot helped him weather their relationship he thought, (now high.)  He was mainly just there as a target for her frustration, a blank sounding board that she read her own thoughts aloud to without regard for a response.  That, and an occasional prop in her search for an orgasm.  She was too busy to cheat, too focused and functional for an affair, but he wished she would have one just the same. 

He rarely interrupted but she'd gotten home late and he had a new student arriving.  "Can we talk about this later, I have a student arriving any minute."

She glared at him a moment before going upstairs to whatever it was she did while he taught. 

He looked at the pile she'd left by the front door and exhaled before hanging her jacket and putting her shoes in the mud room.  He considered chucking her briefcase out the door for a fleeting moment and then set it inside the entryway closet.  No mud to sweep up, that was good.  He sat at the piano and played arpeggios to the ticking of the metronome.  It was a kind of meditation for him, like a buddhist digging a hole, then filling it up.   His fingers travelled steadily up, thumbs curving under, then down, middle finger crossing over.  Up and down his fingers plinked, easily.  Tick, tick, tick, tick the metronome went through his method.  The doorbell rang in rhythm with his playing so he waited until he finished and got back to middle C before answering.

"Well, actually I took her out on my way in.  I'm actually the serial killer here to take her place.  What was she here for again?"
His eyes popped.
She laughed, loud and long.  She held her stomach, she laughed so hard.  "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't say things like that when you don't know me.  It's just, you should have seen your face!" 

He wasn't used to this kind of student.  Her emails had been like this as well.  Light, full of jokes and personal tangents.  Not at all like his usual email which went something like "I'm looking for a new teacher for my nine year old.  Hers is moving to Houston.  She's had three years of lessons..." etc.

Ashley would say that she just realized while typing that she had put on two different shoes that day and OMG, it's 4:00, how has no one said anything?

She had never played an instrument, much less the piano.  She couldn't carry a tune but had inherrited a Steinway baby grand so felt the piano needed the love of someone's fingers.

Their first lesson, she got him to laugh aloud several times.  She laughed often and easily.  She had a graceful long neck she revealed when she threw back her head to set her laugh loose.  There was a thin scar that ran from behind her left ear down to about an inch above her voicebox. 

Hours and several other students later, he found himself thinking about that scar.  Wondering what it would feel like to run his index finger along it. 

He sat down at the bench and slurred some notes out, picturing her laugh.  Away he tapped plinking out nothing in particular, until his wife interrupted him.

"Could you start the dishwasher before you go to bed?"
He nodded.
Then, "wanna fool around before it gets too late?" an eyebrow raised.

He nodded and found himself upstairs.  He lay on his back while she chewed away at his manhood.  He moaned and pulled her up toward his face.  She turned her head to the side and said "Fuck me, daddy."  He hated when she did this.  Hated the dirty talk that made them other than who they were.  The separation between their real selves that meant they were never closer, even when they were one.  They weren't one.  He caressed her and pictured kissing Ashley's neck.  Running his tongue along that magnificent scar.  He traced that line on his wife's neck and felt her adjust herself, her pelvic bone grinding into his, using him to come.  He let her, of course.  He relaxed back and thought of the metronome, the arpeggios.  He moved methodically now with his body.  But his mind was dancing around the keys, thinking of something different.  Moments later, the point of no return and he was pulsing.

"No, no, NO!"  His wife.  "Damnit!  I was so close!"

He'd been close too.  He'd nearly said, "Ashley."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 21

If it is he that should go first
She'll save his sadle
the labors of love in the years of oils
will peel her onion soul
layers she'll pile on each season
winter coats warming
until her time to meet him

And if it is he,
her wedding dress will hold him
it's antique pressed lace arms
enfolding him
until scents are gone
and fibers turn to dust
and it is his turn to meet her

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 20

She's always thought of the worst case scenario.  She pictured her car as a tire pops and it's sent flying over the divider to the other side of the highway crashing into 3 oncoming cars, all with children in them, and then flipping and landing in an embankment.  It's always been this way.  She picks up a rock and handles in in her pocket, picturing how she could use it to defend herself against the rapist she's seen in the parking lot with his white van.  She sees herself falling in the bathroom and cracking her head on the toilet and laying in a pool of blood calling for help for hours, cold.

She's always lived this way.  Planning escape routes, picturing attacks.  She knows it's not normal, but it's normal for her.

When she does her prep-cooking for a dinner, she pictures the knife missing and slicing off a finger- her thumb usually.  Sometimes it's less extreme.  A beer sitting too close to the edge of the table always spills on the floor of her mind. 

She didn't realize how much worse it would get when she had a child.  She still pictures the situations that could arise, but they're worse.  Now they connect her to another place.  An alternate reality that also happens.  A narrow grasp of quantum physics slips through her fingers when she checks to be sure her baby is still breathing before she goes to bed.  She's terrified now.

She's terrified of brushing too close to the other reality.  The one where her sweet baby girl falls off the bed and instead of being stunned but fine, is flight-for-lifed to Children's Hospital for life-saving procedures.  The one where this beautiful face she stares at until she gets a crick in her neck while nursing turns blue chocking on parmesan cheese and just like that her life is over.

She doesn't want to find the space between these two worlds of probability.  It's improbable that she'll get in a car accident but it's possible.  Spliced somewhere between here and infinity is a place where her child will never learn to feed herself, a place where her daughter gets snatched at the park.

She loses weight.  Stops eating, thinking of choking or food allergies.  She picks at a hypoallergenic diet her husband encourages her to take on.  She has trouble sleeping.

Her husband begins to worry.  He knows she's always been a worrier, but the lines on her face are writing a concerning tale lately.  He sends her to the doctor for a solution.  It comes in a pill to calm her down.

And now, she stares at the pill.  If she takes it, there will be a reality where her perfect baby is poisoned by her breastmilk.  There will be a world where she has a reaction to the medication and doesn't wake up.  If she doesn't take the pill, her husband may not tolerate this much longer.  She'll be alone with a 10 month old.  Or worse, there will be a reality where he takes their daughter with him. 

The possibilities, probabilities stretch before her.  She stares at the tiny white pill in her palm, undecided, immobilized by the vast infinity of here to nowhere and all the in betweens.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 19 (a cheat)

I did some writing but none of it was remotely publishable (not even for the extremely relaxed standards of this blog.)  I was too distracted by my thoughts after going to an information session about grad school.  I’m thinking I’ll apply.   For a Creative Writing degree.  Because I’m that sucker.  Really it’s because it’s something hard, that I feel passionate about.  Everything I’ve done in my education and my professional career has prepared me for giving and for helping and this.  This would be for me. 

At the meeting with this professor, I kept thinking I was going to tear up.  It was the damnest thing.  Nothing was going wrong in the conversation.  Quite the contrary.  And then he told me that when he was in college there were students who took bets on who was going to cry.  That type of statement usually raises my hackles.  I’m usually ready to duke it out and prove that I’m not the spineless worm you might take me for, I’ll not cry!  But, in this situation, I thought, “Oh my god, I’m going to cry.  If I do this, I will cry.”  And instead of scaring me, this made it clear that it is exactly what I should do.  That it will push me to develop parts of myself that I’ve stifled.  Because this is something I don’t know if I’ll be good at or not. 

And because I need some help and some structure to my writing.  More than just a commitment to daily writing.  I need help with the rewriting.  I just finish something and then run away from it like hell and hope it doesn’t follow me.  So I’ll probably be publishing some stuff you don’t want to read soon like my admissions essays. I’ll be working and reworking those.  Should be *yawn* fascinating.  Nature vs. nurture is one of the topics, I hear.  Yuck.   

Anyway, tomorrow I should have a short story post about a mom.  Then sometime coming I should have a poem I’m working on with a friend about women hating women.  I like the topic.  It’s easier to talk about than write about.  Which means it will be a special challenge not to be long winded about it.  And that means it’s right up my sixmonthsofwriting alley.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 18

There seem to be all these situations where she knows she should keep quiet.  She thinks, "Nope, shut up.  Not a word.  Blend."  When her mouth opens anyway, she's annoyed. 

There are all these ways you can dress and doll yourself.  She thinks about it when she watches TV shows.  The way you think the actor is a particular personality type but it's really just because of how some costumer/hair/makeup people got him to look.  Then you'll see that same actor is something else all tatted up and playing an ex con and wonder which is more like him. 

She plays this game with her own look.  Sometimes she wears things and does her hair so that people will look right at her.  Directly.  Like she's an object that demands attention.  The rule in that case is, that you have to act like you didn't dress that way on purpose.  Like it's how things always are for you.  You walk puposefully and don't notice all the looks.  Those looks are like trees, they've just always been there. 

The opposite, is what she's trying to pull off.  In this scenario, you want to never be noticed.  You're playing an extra in life.  For this look, its a good idea to have neutral clothes that are somewhat baggy.  They can't draw any attention to positive aspects of your figure if you're a woman.  It's easier if you're average height.  Tall or extremely short people have a tougher time going unnnoticed.  Mousy brown hair in a pony tail is ideal.  Black, less so.  Blonde, unthinkable.  Eye makeup is a no, no.  Glasses are helpful.  And she is in trouble with this look.  She is blonde and tall with striking blue eyes.  She dons dark rimmed glasses, and they help.  But platinum is harder to hide.  She doesn't wear makeup and makes no eye contact.  She reads a book behind her lap top while she waits for class to start, hoping it helps.

And she promises herself, again, promises herself, she'll keep quiet.

She makes it through a Biology lecture, then Economics.  She's already taken a whole series of History courses this way.  But she wishes she could take a drama class.  Technical drama specifically.  She wants to know how to run sound and lights and build sets.  But she's not sure if she should risk it.  Maybe she could attend the lecture but not the lab.

She almost got caught in an English Literature class once.  For once, she did exactly what she was supposed to do: stayed quiet.  But it had backfired.  The professor asked her what her name was and what she knew about the Bronte sisters.

"Clara," She'd lied.  She was prepared with that one, less so with what followed..  "Only that they're the only thing worse than having no writing role models for girls, is having the Bronte sisters."  She'd quipped.  If she had just shrugged and said that they were three pioneer women writers from the 1800s, the professor's eyes would never have rested on her.  Why couldn't she just stick to the cement-flavored nonanswers everyone else gave?  She'd argued with the professor for nearly 20 minutes.  She'd been really interested in that class but had been unable to finish the course for fear of being found out.

Clara doesn't pay to go to school.  She sneaks in.  It's not like there are locks or gates or anything.  They just drop all this fancy, expensive schooling right in the middle of the city and expect a girl not to get curious?  Come on.  So she takes classes.  She learns about ancient societies, and trigonometry, and whatever she feels like going to.  She arrives on time, never too early, and NEVER late.  And the professors never notice.

She's sure of herself now.  She's got a system for how to find classes, how to blend, how to get the most out of them.  She's getting cocky.  And she really wants to take the drama class.

One day, she has a few beers with a guy before class.  She never drinks before class, but he's cute and she makes an exception.  She lies about her name.  Clara.  It's the first day of the semester.  She loves that.  The stress on people's faces as they bustle to a new class.  The not-so-chance encounters between students who make plans, then break them.  She likes the energy of the new spines on books and the blank new documents.  She likes that she hasn't forgotten anything or screwed up on being quiet, yet. 

So she goes to the Theater Tech class.  And realizes quickly that it is a mistake.  There's way too much interaction in this class.  How do you blend, when within ten seconds of walking into class, she's already been asked to join a group that will work together for the duration of the term?  The class is not about acting.  It is absolutely not about acting.  But someone has to be on stage when you're working on lighting or learning about sound. 

Sound.  They're working on sound.  And beer.  Beer is working on her.  The group chooses her to be the one on stage and tell her to sing.  Anything.  They're working on sound, so sing, Clara.

She belts it out.  And she knows.  Immediately she knows.  They heard her.  Her glasses won't help.  They saw her.  She's been noticed.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 17

If you put your evil to my good name, temptation would be both our master. If we give in and hold hands we can unzipper the space between here and Midori. It would splice a small hole for just us to come on through. ON the other side, the skies would be emerald and the freshwaters a deep purple. We'd think it wind first when it blew and the metal-tipped gold leaves would rustle and sing to us from their windchimes. The leaves produce the gold as a by product in place of CO2. For who needs more atmosphere than a setting such as this? This place where beings forms are neither seen nor smelt, but are felt in the wind. They are feelings with textures like velvet and amphibeous skin. This is a place where energy is converted. Electrodes can get out of those ruts they've been in. Be swayed to move about. So lilypads bloom with amethyst and sometimes boogers turn to coal. Life energy stumbles upon this place and experiences the conversion from time to time.

In goes a sassyfrassy type and out comes something that has felt the gauzy touch of a being. And that energy is just changed. A neutron here and tweak there, and poof a buddha is born with a penchant for jokes.

Lately Midori has grown in species as on Earth 10 species an hour goes extinct. All that energy needs a place to go and sometimes it lands here. Midori grows in diversity as a result, reinventing its plants and animals once a week or so. There are epiphets now like pollen, glistening in the pink moonlight. Some are soft, like cottonwood, others prickly and you don't want to get caught in a whirlwind of their regret.

There are tubular shaped plants with feet that step out of your way. They're filled with fudgy sludge and its uncertain whether you'll find one that is rich and creamy or putrid. An occasional suicide or tragedy lands itself here and when it does, it goes into the great sand dune. The sands there are every color, including ones that flitter patterns and colors never before seen in this realm. The locals call the sands The Ash, for out of their fecund grains, ideas rise up. You may lie down to die, breathing in the bits and pieces, suffocating and dissolving into the perfumy inspiration. And you may just break up and become the New, adding to the heaping sands. Or you may arise, each thought you express a strand of jewelled brilliance.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 16

Martina walked the golf course waiting for her father to arrive, like she did every morning. She was irritated at him for always being late. She was trying to help him damnit! It was this kind of irresponsibility that got him into this mess.

Her father was the mess. He was aging rapidly and his Alzheimer's was running the golf course into the ground. For the past several years he'd forgotten to pay the taxes. Just forgotton. That was why she was now attempting to get him out of debt. He'd staunchly refused to walk away from the business, however. She had degrees in marketing and hospitality, not to mention the fact that she'd grown up on this course. She knew all the regulars and they loved her.

When she was little, she loved coming to the course. She loved the feel of that grass on her bare feet. When she was really little, she used to get into trouble for taking her shirt off, like her brother did, and lying down and rolling on the ground, feeling the grass on her chest.

Now, a grown woman in her thirties, she hated coming in the morning. She hated the cold ankles that came with wearing tennis skirts and ankle socks before the sun was up. She hated that, even though she was on time, early morning golfers would arrive before her to tee off. She wanted to arrive, have a few calm moments to unlock doors, read her email, and collect herself with a cup of coffee before facing customers. More than anything, she hated that her father was never there for opening.

Her emotions were set before he'd arrive. She was angry. He would forget his sunglasses or a license or a tool he'd brought home that they really needed to do work on the grounds that day. And she'd be disdainful of his condition and the results. Downright pissed at the thing he'd forgotten and the necessary trip back to his apartment to get it. He'd be the object of her anger over a condition neither of them could do anything about.
This morning was no different.

It was chilly. She could see puffs of condensation sprawl when she exhaled. She was wearing a sweater, but a sweater and bare legs aren't enough. She stood next to the large storage building where they kept the carts and the riding lawn mowers and ladders and all other manner of equipment. She squatted down and rubbed her cold calves, wishing she'd gone in earlier to get a cup of coffee for the wait. Then she noticed the cat.

The thing was haggard. It had blood caked on its brown fur. It stunk of puss and putrefaction. It's pathetic-ness was directly matched, if not surpassed, by her compassion and the flood of caretaking she felt. She reached her hand out and kissed at it.

"Here, kitty. Here kitty, kitty. I'm not gonna hurt you. Come on over here." she cooed, kiss kiss.

It's nose met her fingertips and she saw that it was missing an eye and sections of it's face. Yet it purred when she pet the parts she dared to touch. She was afraid to pick it up. And afraid not to. She didn't want to get blood on her clothes or grow attached to this scraggly mass. She didn't want to deal with the three steps ahead her mind had already traveled. But she felt compelled to help it. Like, God herself had dropped this needy mess in her lap to fix. Like a small child whose been told by a stranger that of course he can have that piece of cake- that's what god was doing to her with this cat. She would have to help the thing.

She picked the thing up as gently as she could and carried it into the storage facility. There was a small office there with unclaimed lost and found items. She dug around in it and pulled out the softest items of clothing she could find. She made up a cardboard box for it and grabbed a thermal wrap from the gift shop to keep the thing warm. Then she started making contacts.

She emailed friends and friends of friends to see what to do about the cat that was surely dying. She would have called but it was only 6:15 am. In the process of caring for it, she saw that one large section of the cat's left forehead and ear were hanging in a flap. It made her stomach lurch, but she distracted her mind until it passed.

She left the cat and peaked to see if her dad was here yet. He wasn't. Idiot.

She compulsiving checked her email. She must've hit refresh a dozen times. Nothing. 6:31.

The truth was, this was a barncat, she reasoned. Which meant, you didn't grow attached to it. It was part of the scenery like the gravel in the parking lot or the pansies in hanging by the entrance. This barncat had been attacked by something. Maybe it had been another cat, or a coyote (though the coyote probably would have eaten the cat,) or maybe a racoon. There were often juicy trash bags a racoon would enjoy, left outside the kitchen. She really needed to talk to the kitchen staff about not leaving those bags out. They attract vermin. And a pest problem was the last thing they needed.

She'd come to help with the business a few months ago, after finding out that her father was facing jail time for failing to pay taxes for all those years. She'd pled the judge to consider her father's mental incapacitation from the Alzheimer's, but he was still considered competant. Apparently, all you need to be 'competent' is a pulse. So the judge had not allowed her to take over his business matters and help him unless he voluntarily gave it up to her. He was ultimately responsible for the back taxes. She would only be able to do whatever her father allowed her to do to help. She did some creative book keeping to get the courts some money to keep him out for now. For now.

Her father had never been especially organized or business savvy. But he'd managed to start the business from scratch and keep it for all these years, even so. Where was he anyway?

She thought about what to do about the cat. Her mind wandered over the possibilities. In her mind, a kindhearted veterinarian came to the course and offered to take a look. He cleaned the cat's wounds and gave Martina some ointment and some instructions. The cat got better and moved in with her. It was a devoted companion that lived with her until she was old.

But it was a barncat. And you don't get attached to such things. Plus, she had enough caretaking to do with her father and the golfcourse. She didn't need another thing to need her. The expense was no small thing to consider either. She certainly couldn't afford vet bills right now. Especially for a barncat that wasn't hers. Not really.

Still, she couldn't do nothing. It wasn't right to let the thing suffer. She remembered seeing her father hit a mouse over the head with a shovel when a barncat got ahold of it when she was a little girl. She'd cried and cried. Her mother had tried to explain about suffering then. Shovel to the head. That's what people sometimes did. It was more humane than leaving things to suffer. She shuddered, and disregarded the idea. She didn't have such a brutal, close act within her.

The cat would have to be put down though. It was suffering. And it trusted her to take care of its suffering. So her options were to incur a vet bill that she could not pay. Or to shoot it.

She thought about shooting it. Shooting it was fast. It was less close range than the shovel. It was quicker. With the shovel there was the possibility she would lack the fortitude for the requesite amount of force. There was no such risk with shooting. She'd only shot a gun once and had visibly startled every time a shot went off. But what other option did she have?

She knew where the gun was. She went to get it. 6:49.

She loaded bullets into the clip. Three. Just in case the first one was jammed and the second one wasn't enough. She knew she couldn't take it, if she had to reload. She felt terrible enough about the suffering the cat was going through as it was.

She stalled another fifteen minutes or so then went to the cat. She brought it some creamers she found in the mini fridge by the coffee maker. She brought the ultra-pasturized, round, white containers to the cat. An offering. The cat sniffed politely, and declined.

She stroked it. It. She was about to kill an it. She didn't know how to tell a male cat from female. She attempted to peek at its butt. She didn't know how to interpret what she saw. Somehow this made it worse. Why would the universe entrust the suffering of something to her if she couldn't even determine gender?

Tears began clouding her eyes as she gently stroked the cat where it was not injured and listened to it purr. Purrrrrrrrr. It looked up at her and she felt it's suffering, it's plea for help. She raised the gun.

"Tina?" Her dad called.

And her feelings thickened. Her father took the gun and told her to wait outside. He was her powerful dad again and she was just a scared, little girl.

She waited outside. Trying not to hear, she listened that much harder. She heard one shot and the tears poured from her.

He came out to where she was sitting on the ground without a care for her skirt or any other part of her appearance. He kissed the top of her head.

She suddenly desperately needed her dad. Needed him to be her dad forever in the way children who are sick or have had their feelings hurt need their parent. Her sadness about the cat mixed with the desperation of the situation with her father. With her need for her father, her anger evaporated. She was grateful now. For once, he'd gotten there right on time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 15

He is simple. He likes red grapes but not green or purple. He understands the difference. Some are green some are purple. Then, good ones are red. His laugh is an expulsion of bliss. It is childishly direct, utterly devoid of the self-awareness an adult laugh has. He doesn't cover his mouth if it is full of food, just lets bits fly where they may and rides the bliss. He openly cries at sad things. If he saw a stranger crying, he would walk up and gently hold her hand and ask what was wrong. He loves Barney, (the purple dinosaur,) because Barney loves him.

Warren is getting close to 30. Technically he's only 26, but someone at a party once told him that "30 sneaks up on you." He kept checking behind the shower curtain and around the corner, nervous for weeks until his mom explained that it just meant that time goes quickly. He still lives with his mom. He's been working on her for months. He thinks he's ready to move out on his own. But she's afraid. Her emotions are not simple. Her fear is dark and deep. The lists of her fears is long and complex. He thinks she's just scared he'll do something dumb or that someone will call him dumb.

"Don't worry, mom. I know I'm not dumb." He said. "And I know what to say if someone calls me dumb. "Dumb means you didn't try. I try. I might not be smart, but I try. I'm not smart in the ways you're smart but that's ok. I'm nice. That's better. But if you call someone 'dumb' that's not nice. I'm sorry you're not nice." Member how I said that that one time when that mean boy called me 'dumb'?"

She did remember. The swell of pride she'd felt. The truths he knew sometimes, they were so deep. Sometimes those extra IQ points she felt just seem to complicate the world. Nuance is overrated. She knew this truth when she saw Warren laugh. Her beautiful genuine son. That laugh was gold. But it didn't pay the bills. It especially didn't pay the bills for Holly Creek Sheltered Living's adult apartments. See? Nuance.

She started teaching Warren to drive after 10 months of daily nagging. He was perfect. He took every rule as law and followed her instructions perfectly. Until she got to the part where she told him to hit an animal in the road. Then he pulled the car over and asked her to drive while he cried and said he didn't think he could drive after all. She hadn't wanted him to drive until then. Then, it was too late.

Maybe she should let him tour Holly Creek after all. It couldn't hurt to look. Plus he could use some of his money for rent. It would help. She doesn't know about his savings. He's been saving money for nearly 10 years and plans to use it to move and to pay his own way. He's got close to fifteen grand. He can't count it, doesn't know that total, or the value. But he saves it just the same.

He moves in 6 months later. She's still afraid. Old fears, new fears, mixed up fears. She's afraid to enjoy the freedom of her own house. Afraid of facing the fear of what will happen to him when she's gone. But he's happy so she tries to simply, simply focus on that.

He's been planning this and its finally worked. Warren has never had sex. He's hoping to change that before "thirty sneaks up on him." He got an apartment. He heard you can't get laid when you still live with your mom, so he got an apartment. Now the girl. The girl...

He and his roommate try to talk to women. They follow advice from the internet. They go to bars and the library and the grocery store. He liked the librarian. Wanted her to have a soda with him and come to his apartment but she'd said no. That was a very strict rule. If a girl says no, you have to stop. No matter what. No means no.

Warren is a kind soul. He is just the sort of soul a woman like Cameron needs to show up when he does. He finds her on his walk home from work. She is laying on the ground crying. He gently holds her hand. She has cuts on her face, her hands. Her leg is turned a funny direction. No one has ever been so gentle toward her. She doesn't report the attack to the police; just asks Warren if he can take her to the hospital.

She has a car. He knows how to drive it. But he is afraid. He knows if there's an animal he won't be able to hit it. And the rule is, if an animal runs in front of your car, you hit it. He won't though. So he's afraid to drive. Also, he only has his permit and his mom told him that he can only drive with her. He tells her this and she nods. She promises there won't be an animal this time. Tells him his mom will understand that it was an emergency. He carries her to the car.

He's still holding her hand when they get to the Emergency Room. She lets go when its time to fill out forms. He is quiet and waits to take it back. He doesn't speak until she does. He is quiet in the face of all her sadness. He is unrushed, sweet, kindess.

When they check out of the hospital, he offers to buy her a soda. He tells her he has never had sex. That she is pretty and nice and that the first time is supposed to be special. He tells her that he asked the librarian to have a soda and go to his apartment but that she said no.

Cameron doesn't say no. She doesn't say no. She doesn't say no. And at the end, he expells pure, simple bliss.

Journal 1

What I've been doing:

I started this blog to challenge myself to just write! Write more! Write faster. Write things I've never written before. And I'm thinking I'll stick with it.

I'm also working on this diet that is really restrictive which is another whole challenge. I like to cook. I don't announce how much usually. I associate liking to cook and being good at cooking with a personality that is NOT mine. I like people like that. LOVE to eat at their houses. I'm just not one of them. I see myself more as a slap-it-together girl. What I like about cooking is the thinking about it part. The part where my mouth imagines tastes together to see if they fit and what would make them fit. The other part I like is having a houseful of people. That's the part that feels like my personality: a houseful of laughter and raucous conversation, where you can say anything. What I like about the diet is that I'm not having processed foods or sweeteners of any kind, which seems good. I like the challenge of figuring out what I can eat and how to make it. I like the conservationist aspect: I'm not buying nearly the amount of packaging and I'm using all my vegetable scraps to make stock to cook in. What I don't like is that I don't know what I'm doing so haven't had the houseful of people part. Oh, and I lost 2 lbs. I'm a healthy weight and technically don't need to lose weight. But I'm a woman and am pretty much always happy to see 2 lbs gone.

I've also been hanging out with my boy a lot. Adoring him. Playing. Snuggling. And OH the reading! There are days where over the course of the day we spend close to two hours reading together. He walks around with Aristotle in his hands because he likes the feel of books. I can't imagine something better than my child loving the feel of books. Wait, except yesterday, when he was holding a book and had a ski helmet on his head, because why wouldn't you walk around the house with a ski helmet and goggles that are ten sizes too big. I love this time with him so much that I've done a shit job getting a real job. And crunch time will be here soon. Before I know it. And I'll have to buckle down and get a job. I don't relish the thought. Maybe I'll win the lottery and won't have to do it. Or someone will randomly say "why you're the perfect person to be a ghost writer for my novel." Such thoughts are my joyful escape.

Here's what I don't like about this blog: the writing's mediocre at best. I don't love putting out there for view when its not worth reading and then asking people to read it anyway. But I need the structure of a blog to hold me to the task of daily writing. I also don't like how negative and dark the writing all is. I feel like it's a cheat. I know dark. I like dark. Its an easy out for a character to die. Its harder for me to write about joy or happiness or deep, positive connection. It's also more meaningful.

-- -- --

Here's what I like about this blog: I enjoy the time. I like thinking of phrasing. Its forcing me to follow through on ideas that would otherwise be fleeting. I like that this is hard, and that I'm not immediately good at. The things I love most in life, I had to work really hard at in order to keep up with the big kids. I want to be one of the big kids one day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 14

She smeared dark lipstick on her thick lips. No mistakes. No regrets. She took that motto and chewed it up. Swallowed it bones and all. Let its sinew sit between her teeth. Let it sit feeling it in her gums. Then spit it out in her every action and inaction.

She could be violently truthful as a result. She had a biting wit. She wore spangly earrings and changed her hair color often. Just as often she let roots grow out without a care until she felt like doing something different. She was inconsistent with bills. Even less so with phone messages. She wore what was on top if she didn't feel like thinking about it. But had her favorite skull and cross bones underwear and mismatched socks. Those she would search through a dirty laundry hamper for if she was in need of a good day.

As a lover she was desireable. Selfish and sensual. She'd break your sweat and if you didn't time things right, you might be left wanting. She chose lovers the way she chose her clothes; functionally. Easily.

For all that, she attracted girlfriends. She'd listen and answer their calls at any hour. She'd drop what she was doing for a friend in need. On more than one occasion she'd been known to take a baseball bat to a guy that had mistreated a friend. She was given to action. She didn't mince words. If a girlfriend bitched and moaned about a man who was no good for her, she wouldn't announce it right away, but her opinion was known in time. And it was tough for an honest friend not to see the truth in her.

The relationships were all rays though. They went in one direction. She didn't feel. The girlfriends could come and go. The fucks the same. She was who she was. Did what she did. She did things on principal alone.

No regrets. She had enough. She stuck the gun in her mouth. No mistakes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 13

Old now,
he pours his sorrow into soup
he eats straight from the can
hoping other flavors take over
gnarled, hardwork hands dwarf
his flimsy swirling spoon
letters float to the top
spell out an answer
"let go"
arthritic hands don't release simply
or completely
so he swallows
every mixed drop

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 12

The fury in her
Big and strong
was a mugger
who snatches at you
grabs and doesn't let go
It rose and choked her
puked all over a good day
She ignored it
wiped it off with a napkin
checked her lipstick
and went on like it never happened.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 11

She’s seated at a laptop
She could be a teacher
But she’s not
Badge hanging from lanyard,
Adulty and boring
Boring clothes
Unreadable looks
Unreadable questions
Unaskable answers
I didn’t know anything
Except through her questions
“Has anyone ever touched you in places where your bathing
suit covers?”
“What about your sister?”
She’s another story.

Short stories, long stories.
She tells them all.
In her skinny pen
Skinny legs
Skinny face

My face is
u n
r e

or something…

ROUND- dead

Not merry-go-round.
Not merry. Just round.

My sister’s long and lean.
Her roundhouse is long and lean
Her legs are long and lean

She can fight.
Did she?
Fight, I mean?
Its one of the many questions I want to ask but can’t.
I wonder if that lady asked.
The lady with the clacking shoes
Klickity-clack, klickety clack
Sharply down an empty school hallway
everyone in class
In a conference room in the counseling office
No idea why I’m there
I wonder why I can’t remember
Anything about her
That lady
Klickity-clack, klickety clack
Klickity-clack, klickety clack Klickity-clack, klickety
What did she look like?
What did she say?
I wonder if my sister remembers
Her questions
Her answers
I had nothing to say
But my sister,
my sister had lots to say
About my father
Dirty laundry loads
Gross, man-loads
Loaded-questions, loads

I wonder if she misses him now
I do
Miss, miss, miss
All the meanings
Miss when the aim is off
A Miss is unmarried
Like an ugly duckling
like me
Will always be
A missing, longing feeling

For a father I’m not allowed to miss

Miss miss miss

Mmm smiss miss
Hot chocolate warms my belly
Keeps me company
Smiss miss,
The miss

I know where the jail is
Shackles and court rooms

No te precupas!
He tells me over and over with his eyes

BRIGHT orange
Mmmm… peel under fingernails
The scent filling the air
My fingernails busy

Safer than digging into my palms
Its enough to have the peel for now

I promise myself, “Later.”
Later comes.
I make it come
I will myself into the future
In a bathroom during class
Out of food
With a paperclip in hand
Digging in my skin
Releasing the orange peel
The missing leaking out

Eyes scan a crowded hallway
Stop on certain key figures
Slim figures
Athletic figures
Stylishly clad figures
Miss other figures
I am missing.
Always missing.
In the middle
Lost in a crowd
In the middle
Not youngest or oldest
Not the abused one (that poor girl,)
Not the boy
The missing one
I shove granola in my mouth and continue on
Shove hands in pockets and glare on
Behind thick, black eyeliner
I glare through the middle

At the health teacher who won’t look
At me
When you talk about childhood obesity
Healthy eating
I eat healthy
Crunch, crunch through healthy
Cut, cut through my thigh
Stinging, glorious healthy thigh
MMmmm chicken thigh
Soothes my thigh
Misses my diet
Misses Smiss Miss

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 10

Hilton lived on a culdesac with all girls. He had sisters and older neighbor girls and younger neighbor girls. Even the dog was a girl. Sometimes he'd buck them and pick at them and other times he just gave in to being a presence among all that pink and dollness. He'd tell them of hauntings or do things to make them scream. Girls are tattletails though so he didn't do that much. They always told. And then he'd have to go in.

This Saturday in particular, he wanted to be out.

The night before he'd been at another pink-girly thing with his mom and his sisters. It hadn't been a baby shower but it might as well have been for all the gushing and frosting. It was a fundraiser at one of his mom's bridgeclub girls houses. They were raising money for breast cancer awareness and his mom hadn't wanted to leave him home alone.

He begrudgingly went and even wore the khakis and tie that his mom requested of him. But he struck the deal that he could find a quiet spot in a corner and play his video game. He lingered, overhearing who had lypo and when the next deal on botox was and on and on. He wandered over near a group of women who had younger children and they sat discussing diapering and babyfood. One of them had a baby with her. He'd always been good with babies. LIked the way they smelled and how easily he could make them laugh. It was better than thinking of any of his mom's friends getting the fat suctioned out of them through a tube so he picked his spot and plopped close by them. He got out his caming system and turned it on.

One of the women captured the attention of the group intensely. She complained about the up front costs of cloth diapering and how much money you could make running a diaper service. She was pretty. She had a tasteful amount of makeup that was carefully applied. Her outfit matched her necklace and earings and bracelet. She looked put together, especially for a new mom, but not garish like some of his mom's friends.

Hilton made eye contact with the baby and smiled. The baby smiled back. He went back to his game but glanced up and saw that the baby was now straining against its mother trying to get to him. He put his game aside and made faces at the baby who squealed in delight.

"His name's Coltrain." the baby's mother explained, smiling at the attention her pride and joy was receiving. "He likes you." She added.
"Its ok, I'm good with babies. I have 3 younger sisters. He can come over here." Hilton told the mother, who, relieved, let loose the kid. Hilton played with Coltrain and the women went back to their conversation.

He barely heard them continue to talk about all the options with diapers and how much you would have to charge for what and on and on. His mother did not mean for them to stay at the event long since Jada, his sister, had ballet lessons later. So she came and got him and they left, the baby crying when they did. That had actually been the highlight of his evening. His mom had made him watch the other two girls while she took Jada in to her lesson and they'd been banshees. Then when his mom came back he'd gotten in trouble for not keeping them under control. He'd spent most of the evening grounded to his room for talking back when he objected.

Today, it was a perfect, sunny day. NOT a day for being grounded to his room or sent in for scaring the girls. Today was new and fresh and full of possibility. Hilton pushed through the front door. He let the storm door slam behind him then stood, uncertain on the stoop. He shoved his hands in his pockets and started walking next door where he saw Missy and Ella.

"We don't need help from a bo-oy." Ella said.
Missy nudged her in the ribs, "Its fine, Hilt... come on over."
"What're you guys doing?"
"We're setting up a lemonaid stand." Missy told him.
"No one ever makes any money selling lemonaid," he proffered.
"Yeah, you have a better idea?" Missy asked, hands on hips, waiting.
He thought for a minute, "Actually, I do."

He told them his plan for selling diapers on craigslist and explained that he could get some from the basement of his house where his mom kept them. The agreed to check their basements too. They'd get hold of all the diapers they could, take a picture with Ella's new camera she'd gotten for her birthday, then upload the picture and create an ad. By the next day they'd be rich, and they wouldn't have to spend all of this gorgeous day sitting, sweating, at a stupid lemonaid stand.

It worked. They sold all 150 diapers they found to a woman who came and picked them up and gave them $35 for the whole lot. Rich, they wandered to the grocery store to spend their wealth.

Hilton bought a candybar for himself, a lemon for his weird sister Charlotte who ate whole lemons at once, and the rest he had put on a gift certificate for his mom to help with the groceries.

When he came home later that afternoon, his mom was busy and told him not to bother her. So he didn't mention the gift card or the diapers. He went up to his room. He hadn't gotten his video game back yet from yesterday and knew now was not a good time to ask. So he flipped through an old Rippley's Believe it or Not book and waited for dinner.

At dinner his dad talked about mergers and his douchbag boss and mom gave him the look that said not in front of the children.

Then Charlotte pulled out her lemon and started eating. Just bit right through the rind into all that sour. It made Hilton's mouth pucker and water just thinking about it.

Both his parents suddenly looked quizzically, "Where did you get that?" Dad asked.
"Hilt gave it to me with his money. He's rich now." She proudly explained.
Hilton handed his mother the gift card and told his dad the story. "I know how you're always saying you have to evaluate the cost of your own time. And mom, at the thing last night, these ladies were talking about how much diapers cost and so I got this idea. We got all these diapers together from the basement of our house and Ella and Missy helped and well, we sold them all!"

"Aren't you so proud of me?" His look exclaimed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 9

The blackness didn't bleed.
No matter how he stabbed or prodded.
It quivered or shook or blew
ideas in circles
round and round
and poof!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 8

Nancy's been dead for just a few weeks. They flew by. I avoided going into "the residence" until now. Calling it that makes it easier. Farther away. Remote, unreal.

Nancy found her way into our family. She wasn't a part of it the way your best friend is or your priest. She was more like the stray dog you're nice to because that's what you do. She found a place in our home and stuck with it. Just stuck.

She'd come over and let herself in (we never lock our doors.) She never ate anything, even if we had a big meal, just talked and talked. Talked in a way that it didn't matter whether you were listening or participating or not. There was only one side to her conversations. She told us about the way the government was trying to get us dumbed down and that was why kids couldn't do basic math anymore and that was why she refused to have a calculator in the house, even though it hurt to hold a pencil and did we know it hurt to hold a pencil? Because its excruciating, and she's out of her meds but the damn doctor won't give her more unless she comes in to see him. The bastard! He's in on it. The conspiracy with the government. Even her doctor can't do basic math. Can you imagine? A doctor who can't do math.

And on and on like that.

I turn the key in the 7 consecutive locks and step through the door.

The smell knocks me back. I step onto the lawn and breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

One more deep breath and then I step in. I walk the path. Nancy's path. Little more than a foot wide with piles on either side. Some are nearly as high as the ceiling, others are only about waist high.

I make my way through the residence. There's grassy shit on the carpets where the goats were. Or maybe it was the swan. Animal control came out as soon as we got word that Nancy was gone. They removed 5 dogs, 2 goats, and a swan. No cats. Nancy wasn't a cat-person. She always warned us that the barncats were going to be the detah of us. She said she knew cats were plotting against people. Did you know about how they smell your mouth while you're sleeping? They're stealing your life force.

I walk out the way I came in. Its enough for today to just overcome the smell. To just get a dry run through. I promise myself I'll come back. I'll come back.

-- -- -- -- --

It takes me a week to go back. A week of stewing and strategizing. A few days of calling Social Services and the courts trying to find anyone else to do this. But there's no one. Western states can be like that. Small government. They'll have none of it. No involvement, no help. Ironic, given how much Nancy though the government wanted into her house.

The second time, I'm prepared. I have gloves and waders. I wear a gas mask and know what the inside looks like. It makes a difference when you can picture the path. When you spend time ahead of time picturing what ways you'll turn, what things you'll touch.

The kitchen path is elevated. Its got the same mix of trash and unknown on either side but the pathway itself is on magazines. Stacks and stacks of magazines and papers. I pick up an old National Geographic. The 30-year-old-plus kind. The ones we looked through as kids searching for pictures of native women's boobs. I flip through, transported for a moment.

I don't have a plan, not really. I know I need more than one trash bag but its all I bring. I wear the gloves and the mask and the waders but I don't bring more than a trash bag. What did I think a single trash bag would do?

I drop the trash bag and the magazine in the pile and leave. I'll come back. Later.

-- -- -- -- --

I stir in bed, thinking I should get up. Knowing I should get up, really. All the shoulds. And Nancy's house at the top of that list. Not a to do list. A should list. I should start getting rid of her things. Her nest of crap. Hoarders hold on to valuable things right? I turn it over. The things that could be in all those piles. Money shoved in the folds of ancient magazine pages and between mattresses. Jewels stuffed in pillows and under the sink.

And flip, I turn the idea to the other side. The fingernails and skin cells and feathers in layers of crap. The many times Nancy had been unable to pay her bills and had talked about it. People who can't pay their bills don't have money stashed, do they? She was pretty... different. So maybe.

I try this to cajole myself into doing something about "the residence." I feel a familiar twinge in my bladder and squeeze and squirm and then sit still, hoping it'll pass. Once I stand up, I'll commit to some sort of action. Or inaction. I'll either take a shower and get my ass out the door, or I'll go back to reading or watching TV. Maybe I could bake a cake. That's sort of industrious. Less lazy.

I don't do either. I doze. Wiley thoughts cross this level of consciousness. I wake less rested than I was hours ago when I could have had a whole day stretching before me. Effectiveness is slipping as I picture the layers of feces.

Maybe I could just do the magazines today. I picture magazines flying from the back of a pickup truck as I careen down the highway, strewing the truth of the last decades behind me. Would I fit it all in one load? Should I? I flirt with the idea of leaving the residence as it is. The swan comes back. Enjoys the summer on the pond behind Nancy's. The luxury of being a beautiful bird with her own private place to shit indoors.

I picture letting her house rot and compost itself until. Until, what? I die. Until the state changes its mind and cares about my predicament.

Nancy made me the executer of her estate. The executioner of her stuff. The sorter, compiler, decomposer of her state. Why? Because I was there. Because she came over and I didn't send her away. Because my kids listened to her stories or were polite enough even as teenagers that she had a spot. She glued herself to us and I was the closest idea she had to a functional person to take care of details. Glued to her spot. Until she wasn't. My fantasy of ignoring Nancy's crap continues. Exept I butt against a wall when someone steals her identity. I shake it off and get up to pee.

Some magazines today. Just some magazines to the recycling center.

After I pee, though, I don't climb in the shower. I think showering before going would be futile. And not showering before I leave the house is not an option. So I climb back under the covers. Maybe this is an after dark job.