Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

My Photo
Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

Life Among the Never-Winged Sponsored By:
  • Books Unlimited
  • Thursday, November 30, 2006

    The Last Day

    of NaBloPoMo. Last post.

    Woot! I made it!

    (P.S. Yesterday was a piece of fiction I wote about two years ago. Just to clarify.)

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Avacadoes, Artichokes, Something Like That

    Something else I'm working on, but I don't think it's going anywhere.
    It's mostly fiction.

    Avacadoes, Artichokes, Something Like That

    The hospice nurse, Jenny, is more like a housekeeper than a nurse, always cleaning the dishes I leave in the sink, letting me do the nurse-things like taking Papa’s temperature and straightening up the sheets after one of his coughing fits. She does take care of his diapers, for which I am eternally grateful. We don’t speak much, but smile at each other a lot, as if my grandfather were a newborn baby we must nurture, rather than a dying old man we are trying to keep away from pain.
    She leaves the room when he’s in a talkative mood, so that we can have our privacy. She hums away in front of the sink, wiping the crumbs off the yellowed and cracked Formica countertop, brown-spotted from burning cigarettes left unattended. Her humming is only a little louder than the refrigerator, and I wonder if hospice nurses are trained to be so unobtrusive, or if Jenny naturally has the knack of becoming an inconspicuous kitchen appliance.
    “Paula, you there?” my grandfather asks the room.
    “I’m here, Papa.”
    “Is that wallpaper moving?” He points to the crown molding dividing the wall from the ceiling. It is water-stained, and I guess it could be mistaken for moving wallpaper by a man with bad eyes, I tell myself. I don’t want to think that the cancer has spread so quickly to his brain.
    “I’m not seeing what you’re seeing.” I try to keep my response neutral. I don’t want to tell him that moving wallpaper is crazy talk.
    He watches what I can’t see for a minute. “You know, your mind tells you whatever it wants to. It makes you see what it wants you to see.”
    I probably should have brought him back to reality, but why? I mean, to me this was like the cigarettes I brought him. Good or bad, they distracted him from the pain, and what did it matter now?
    “Tell me what you see.”
    “There’s a man up there on a green bicycle, pedaling away for all he’s worth. Look at him go. He’s trying to get somewhere, sure enough.”
    We both study the brown patches on the ceiling. My grandfather is pumping his legs under the covers, as though he is the unseen rider. He lifts his arm, fingers curling into a trembling fist, index finger extended.
    “Tell that boy he’d better watch out for that train, Paula. He won’t listen to me.”
    “Watch out, boy.” My words must have had some effect, because Papa almost immediately lowers his arm. I tuck it back under the sheets. He mumbles something else about a train and is asleep.

    “Don’t even think about calling me again if you’re going to talk about him.”
    “I mean it. He’s dead to me. He’s a drunk. He’s a bum.”
    “He’s your father.”
    “He was never there! I had no father. He was never happy with me. I was never good enough. Son of a bitch. Let me know when he’s dead so I can get up and dance.”
    “I can’t believe you’re saying this.”
    “When have I ever led you to believe otherwise? Huh? When was the last time I said something good about him? Never!”
    “You took us down to see him one year.”
    “That was to see my mom one last time. I tried to talk her into moving in with us but she wouldn’t leave him. He’s a tyrant. She was scared.”
    “He’s not like that anymore. He thinks she’s still alive sometimes and he talks so sweet to her.”
    “That’d be a first. She was never good enough either.”
    “So, how’s he treating you?”
    “Nice, mom. He’s quiet most of the time, but when he needs something, he asks politely, and says thank you. He says I’m the only person he’s got.”
    “He doesn’t even know you.”
    “He wishes he did. He wishes he’d pushed you to take us down here more.”
    “Wishes he’d push. Now that sounds like the Andre I remember. So are you giving him booze? That’s why he wants you there. Booze and cigarettes.”
    “He’s not drinking. Hasn’t had a drink in years, mom.”
    “He’s lying. He’d come in so drunk from the restaurant he’d be falling down, and he’d deny it.”
    “Well, I haven’t seen him take a single drink the whole time I’ve been here, so.”
    “He’s hiding it.”
    “Where? He’s skin and bones. He can’t be hiding it under the sheets, I’d see it. There’s nothing in the dresser but odds and ends. He doesn’t get out of bed anymore.”
    “He’s hiding it.”
    “He still smoking?”
    “Well, yeah.”
    “And you’re getting him cigarettes, aren’t you?”
    “Yup, that’s what I thought. Wants you there to fetch him smokes. Shit. He shouldn’t be smoking anyway, damn fool. That’s what killed him.”
    “He’s dying anyway. What’s the difference if he smokes now? It’s his last pleasure.”
    “So will you please come down to say goodbye, mom?”
    “What are you, stupid? I’m not saying it again. He’s been dead to me for years.”
    “But you care that he’s smoking.”
    “I’m hanging up now. Goodbye.”
    “Fine. I’ll call you when he’s dead.”
    “Good. I’ll buy my dancing shoes today.”
    ”Mom, that’s so--”

    So much for reconciling my mother with my grandfather. Not that I had much hope. I’m glad that he couldn’t hear the conversation. I think it would have hurt him. I’m having a hard time seeing an old man – no, the skeleton of an old man who weighs less than the pillows propping him up – and thinking of him as a tyrant and a drunk. Ok, maybe a drunk, because everybody in this city is a drunk as far as I can tell, but a tyrant? He gets this look in his eye, just before he asks for something, a drink of water. It’s like he’s afraid to ask me, doesn’t want to trouble me, even though my sole purpose of coming down here was to make sure his last days are comfortable. This is a tyrant? I guess people change, and I wasn’t there in his heyday, but still. People change.
    He always talked quietly to me on the phone. ‘So, you learned to cook yet?’ he’d say, and I knew he was teasing, and I knew he was also serious. He didn’t order me to learn. He just asked.
    We’ve only been calling each other for the past year, a little less than that, actually. I don’t really know what made me pick up the phone. I’d been feeling rootless, I guess. Mom’s not much of a nurturer, as you can probably tell. She smokes too much, too.
    My own father has a different family with different, younger children who are much more talented than I, with better prospects of becoming someone, so dad and I don’t talk much beyond Merry Christmas. He’s never remembered my birthday. I don’t send him a Father’s Day card. That makes us even.
    If you’re a shrink, go ahead and tell me I’m looking for a father figure. Or do me a real favor and make sure Papa is ok while I run down to the corner and pick up a couple packs of Winstons for him.

    When he wakes up a little later, he’s back with it. The first thing he does is ask me for a smoke. I hate that I hesitate, influenced by that stupid phone call. I take out a fresh pack, and Papa watches me tear off the cellophane like a hungry diner watching a maître d' lift the lid from a silver platter. Before I tear off the top, he tells me to tamp the pack down. He tells me this every time. I lift out the first cigarette and hand it to him along with his silver Zippo.
    “Have one yourself, Sugar,” something else he tells me each time.
    “No thanks,” I say.
    “Prob’ly best. That’s how come I’m so sick. Ruins your sense of taste too, did you know that?”
    “I didn’t.”
    “Sure does. Got so I couldn’t taste what I was cooking at the restaurant. Had to go off memory. Nobody complained, ‘cept this one old feller from Michigan said I was trying to kill him. I don’t think he’d ever tasted cayenne. No one else said anything about it.”
    “You’re probably right about the cayenne, then.”
    “You like Cajun, Sugar?”
    “From what I’ve had here, yeah.”
    “Lemme give you something then.” He looks around the room. “Katie? Fetch me that book yonder.”
    “Mamiere’s gone, Papa.”
    He takes a drag from his cigarette as if he hasn’t heard me.
    “See that old book up there on that shelf? The first one on the left? You go get that and bring it over here. Please.”
    I cross the room to the bookshelf, maneuvering my way around islands of clutter. There are piles of newspapers, cardboard boxes closed and taped shut, faded advertisements for rum imprinted on the sides. Seventeen years of widowerhood has taken its toll.
    The binding is yellowed from cigarette tar, the red letters faded from age. It is a cookbook, one of dozens in this bookcase.
    “That’s the one, Shug. Bring it on over here.”
    I carefully make my way back to his bedside. He puts out his cigarette and takes the book from me.
    “Now. I wasn’t able to cook for you but once. You remember that, Shug?”
    “I do.”
    “You were just a little girl when your mama brought you and your brother on down here. You remember?”
    “Yes, Papa.”
    “Well good then.” He taps the cover of the cookbook. “This here book has my favorite recipe in it. When I’m gone, I want you to make it, ok?”
    “I can’t answer him for a few seconds. We both just look at the worn cover.
    “I want you to make it and remember me, y’all promise to do that?”
    I nod. “Which one is it?”
    “Well now, let me see.” The book opens with an audible creak. Some of the pages are food-stained, some are loose. He turns them slowly, with increasing difficulty as he tires. “I think it’s under appetizers.” He continues turning pages, pausing now and then to read the name of a recipe. He reaches the end of the section and tries salads next.
    “Do you remember what it’s called. Papa? Maybe we can find it in the index.”
    “It’s got avocadoes in it, and artichokes. Hey, Kate? What’s that dish I like so much?”
    She’s not here, Papa, remember?”
    “Kate? Show Paula here the recipe. You know the one.”
    I don’t know what to say while he keeps turning pages. Finally I ask him, “Avocadoes, artichokes. What else is in it?”
    “You put the artichokes into the avocado halves. There’s a sauce. Katie?”
    He begins coughing and Jenny looks in at us from the kitchen. I don’t know what to say to her, either. I take the book from him and he gives it up without protest. His coughing is bad, worse every day. When he finally stops, he’s looking at the crown molding again.
    “That old train,” he whispers. “Better catch that old train.”

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Untitled #4

    Or --

    No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

    Hey, boss? Can I talk to you for a sec?

    Sure. What's up?

    I've got a difficult case.

    What? Someone trying to sneak into heaven again? Falsifying their good deeds?

    No. She was the nicest person you could meet on earth. She belongs here.

    So whats the problem?

    Well, she doesn't want to be here.

    What do you mean she doesn't want to be here? Everyone wants to be here. Oh, wait; she's one of those! Doesn't think she's worthy of heaven.

    No, that's not it.

    Oh, she's one of those. Thinks heaven's not worthy of her.

    No, she isn't Martha. No, this woman is unhappy here and wants to go to hell.

    Why in God's name would she...wait, she's not happy? Everyone's happy here.

    And that seems to be the problem.

    I'm not following.

    Look, just come with me. I'll let her explain.

    Leads a good life on earth, and she's not happy up here? This should be interesting.

    Ok, what seems to be the problem?

    I want a transfer.

    You want a transfer.


    Ma'am, do you know what you're asking for?

    Yes. I'm not happy here, and I want a transfer.

    To hell.

    Yes. Look, I'm completely lost here in heaven.

    How so?

    I like doing nice things for people. It makes them happy. It makes me happy. It makes the world a brighter place. But I can't do a lot of nice in heaven.

    What do you mean you can't do anything nice here? Everything's nice here.

    Yes, that's the problem! My little drop of nice gets swallowed by the ocean of contentment. It's frustrating.

    I don't understand.

    Let me give you an example. The other day I'm flying around heaven, and I see a stranger. I feel like doing something nice for him, so I swoop down, pluck a perfect rose out of the Garden then I flutter down in front this guy, arm extended, rose in hand, and say something like, 'You looked like you could use a rose.'

    He says something back like, 'Oh. Thanks. But really, I was happy already.'

    'You were?'

    'Yes, I was.'

    'Really happy?'


    'Well, did I at least add to your happiness?'

    ' No actually you didn't.'


    'Nope. I was perfectly happy before you gave me the rose, and I'm perfectly happy now.'

    'Oh. Well. Have a nice da—'

    'I was.'

    'Right. Never mind.'

    So I flew off feeling dejected and useless, and I that's when I decided I needed to go were I'd be appreciated.

    You are appreciated here. Heaven is your reward for living a pious life.

    Some reward! I don't feel appreciated here at all. I've still got a lot to give. That didn't just go away when I died. That's who I am. I'm someone who wants to make other people happy. But this place is saturated with happiness! It's so happy it's making me un-happy.

    She continued. Hell, on the other hand. Now there's a lot of potential happiness, a lot of potential niceness just waiting to happen.

    She looked dreamy. Yeah, it would take a while, but I think I could do some genuine good in hell.

    Are you kidding me? Do you know what it's like down there? What sort of agony you'd be in?

    Well, sure, it would take a while to get used to the pain and suffering, but I would. Never underestimate the capacity and determination of the human spirit to adjust to its surroundings, no matter how dire.

    Dire, she says. You're talking about hell.

    What? It's not like they can kill me. I'm already dead for chrissakes! What's the worst they could do; mix up the torture? Scare me with giant spiders and flesh-eating zombies? After a few years of that, at best I'd get bored.

    Ok, so you're bored in hell. Then what?

    Then once I got used to things, I'd go around helping other people feel better. And it wouldn't take much to do it. A kind word, a smile, a gentle caress of the cheek. Soon I'd convince others to forget about their pain too.

    You'd get them to forget about the pain of being in hell.

    That's right. And we'd go around helping other poor, tormented souls.

    Well what about the demons?

    The demons?

    Yes, the demons. You know, the big, scary fellows inflicting all that torture on those poor souls. You don't think they'll just let you walk around helping people do you? What are you going to do about them?

    Oh, I'll be nice to them too.

    Yeah. That'll work.

    You ever tried it?

    Of course not!

    I'm not surprised. Heaven's for slackers.


    Yes! Heaven's supposed to be full of good people but no one does anything nice for anyone else around here.

    So are you calling me a slacker?

    Well? When was the last time you did something nice for someone?

    I don't HAVE to do something nice for someone! We're in heaven!

    My point exactly! It's finished up here. There's nothing to do. But the work's not done down below. It hasn't even started.

    What are you talking about?

    I'm talking about lovingkindness! That's what they need in hell.

    What they need in hell is unending suffering and torture, the bastards.

    Oh, that's nice coming from an angel! Do you kiss your Lord with that mouth?

    I beg your pardon!

    Look, just give me my transfer. Now. I'm going to hell where true kindness is still appreciated.

    Fine. You know...just...fine. Here. Here's you right of refusal for your Father's mansion, your canceled salvation, and this is your ticket to hell. Don't forget to turn in your wings, harp and halo. St. Peter will give you back whatever's left on your damage deposit. You'll need it where you're going.

    Thanks. About flippin' time. Audios and God bless, jerk!

    Oh, and don't let the Pearly Gates hit your ass on the way out!

    Sheesh! She didn't seem very nice to me.

    She's no angel, that's for sure.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Writers and Crazy People

    Marvin Hill -- The Fisher King

    If you've ever read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you'll remember a small but crucial difference between the movie and the book, concerning The Emerald City.

    In the book, Dorothy and Company were given green-tinted glasses before they were admitted to the City. Once inside, they marveled that the buildings, the people, the animals, everything was emerald.

    At this point, even the youngest child reading the book was in on the secret of the Wizard's power.

    Being a fiction writer is like going into the Emerald City with those green glasses on. Everything you look at is filtered through the lens of your work, turning it all the color of your choice. So you report back that yes, indeed, everything looks green in this place. It all makes sense.

    Crazy people wear these glasses too. And everything they see is colored as well.

    The difference between a crazy person and a writer is that the writer knows he's wearing the colored lenses; the writer is in on the gag with the wizard.

    Well, usually.

    Anyway. I'll have a silly little story for you tomorrow.

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Why I Love My Dad

    The latest email from my dad:

    I listened to an interview with Tom Waits, very
    interesting and funny. Go , program :
    All Things Considered" , Tuesday's show. On his
    new threeCD anthology, he said the Disney Co.
    threatened to sue him over "Heigh Ho" from
    :Snow White, they claimed he changed the lyrics,
    but he did not. As he says,"It took the skip
    out of their step". I downloaded the song, and
    as Tom is the world's worst singer, it sounds
    like a nightmare in a slave mine.
    Diamond Dave

    He attached the song (fallen off a Russian server, like most of his mp3s) in his email. And as much as I love Tom Waits, D.D. is dead-on with this one.* ^

    But I laughed through the whole thing, as did my dad. He's picky about his singers, (though he likes The Pogues; go figure) but he appreciates a good joke.

    And he still doesn't believe me when I tell him he's the coolest dad ever. I mean, did YOUR dad take you to see Blondie when you were ten? Did he take you to see the Van Halen 1984 tour? And sing along? Did he say 'go for it' when you told him you wanted to grow up to be a back-up slut singer for Sting?

    I didn't think so.

    And that's just starters.

    * I had Tom's “Heigh Ho” playing on my laptop while typing this, and O requested loudly and repeatedly that I turn it off, because, “it's like listening to pain.”

    ^ I've since played it half a dozen times. With its goofy horns and Tom's hellish voice, and the 'clang clang clang' warning bell from a train crossing, it's really growing on me.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Saturday lag

    I can't wait til NaBloPoMo is over. I'm not interesting enough to post everyday.

    Happy Saturday.

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    When Black Friday Comes

    Marvin Hill -- Kitchen

    Black Friday.
    Most of the dishes are clean,what food wasn't distributed has been put away, and you will NOT get me near a shopping mall.

    Thanksgiving was the BEST. No family, no fights. No weird vibes. No martyrs. Just friends and bliss. And food buzzes all around.

    But, it was also the end of an era. Schmoop and Stucco have hied north, for good. I'm still letting it sink in.

    No, I'm not letting it sink in. I'm fighting it, like Declan fights sleep. Like Jack fights waking.

    I have a lot of acquaintances, a few friends, but not a lot of friends who know me. There is a difference. S & S are in the tight circle of those who know me (there are a few of you out there, and you know who you are). God knows why they want to be there, but they are, and I say thank you.

    Schmoop's one of my Messy Kitchen Friends. If you don't know what that means, I can't explain it to you, not without crying.

    I guess I could look at it this way. I'm losing friends who are close and close by, but I'm gaining a vacation spot.

    Hmm. Nope. Still feels hollow.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    The shirt says it all.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    A Good Place

    As I type this, the Holy Bird is resting in the Sacred Brine of Many Tasty Ingredients. I'll be cooking and cleaning like a Martha-possessed fiend tomorrow (Wednesday) after I post this, but for tonight, all's right with the world. Mentally, I'm in a much better place than I was last year (scary, I know).

    I finished the last of my food shopping this evening. Pulling into Safeway's parking lot, I found a spot facing west and sat in the car watching the sunset. So did four other drivers. We sat staring out our windshields at the pink and blue fingers of something too large to comprehend. I got out of the car and walked backwards toward the store, unwilling to take my eyes off the last fantastic light. Three employees stood outside without saying a word. I tuned around and we all stared at each other with goofy looks on our faces.

    Inside, a man's voice interrupted the preemptive Christmas music over the loudspeakers with this announcement:
    “Attention, Safeway shoppers. If you are near the front of the store, please take a look out the windows at the beautiful Colorado sunset. If you moved here from Iowa, or California, or Texas, this is a reminder of why you are here...that's all.”

    I live for things like that.


    I can only imagine that tonight's reaction was actually residual from Monday night's sunset. That one...God, THAT was a sunset.
    The sun disappeared behind long-fingered clouds, and the light between sky and ground turned a golden pink color. The air blushed.
    Fairy light. There were no shadows.
    Orange clouds spread across the sky like brushed out downy feathers. The blue behind them was bright and pure as midsummer, and just as distant. Season as mirage.
    Tree branches darkened first, but for the very tops of the highest trees – the blessed beautiful treetops reflected the last light like they were dusted with copper. The sun dropped below the mountains, and the sky between the clouds went bright orange while the clouds went purple. The glow around me disappeared. The sky hoarded its brightness.

    Jack saw me outside. He opened the sliding door and came out to stand next to me. He looked at the sky, laughed and said, “Look at that! The sky is a mess of orange clouds.”

    The dark tree branches crisscrossed the opulent sky like a back-roads map to secret apple orchards, prized pumpkin patches, wind-harvested corn fields edged in granite stone walls.
    It was more than a sunset. It was the face of Autumn. With a look, it explained the holidays. Watching it, you understood Halloween and Thanksgiving.

    So powerful, so archetypal, that night it had me dreaming about a sunset. In the dream I walked along a beach hand in hand with someone I could not see, and the sunset colors were so bright you could hear them, and I knew we'd always been walking there, and we always would, and it would be enough.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006


    So. O and I were talking this morning, jumping from topic to topic, when I stitched a few things together, and came up with an Idea. For a book.

    Yeah, I know. Got one already. Got five already, truth be told. But this is for a work of non-fiction. An experiment really, in the spirit of Nickel and Dimed.

    I told O about it immediately, and we started jotting down notes.
    "There must be rules, too."
    "Do you think we'd get our families to go along with it?"
    "Well, they'd have to, or we could refuse..."
    "Yeah, we could."
    "What about..."
    "Well, that would count as..."

    Anyway, I don't want to tip my hand as to what the experiment is, because I need to do some research and see if it's been done already. And I need to do some general research, get some stats, interview some people.

    It would begin on January 1st, last a whole year (if we could make it) and change our lives completely.
    O's on board. But that's not surprising, considering what he does for a living, and what he reads for leisure.

    Oh, and there'd be a blog about it as well. Gotta check out copyrights.

    Anyway, this might not last past today. God knows I've had ideas die on the table.
    But this miiight be fun. And challenging. And I could at least get a magazine article out of it, if I shortened the timetable.

    Monday, November 20, 2006


    Anybody who has a Sitemeter has done a post on Weird Searches that Brought People to My Site.

    But I have a fun little twist at the end.

    winged reaching chained -jewelry -necklace -attic -ball (One could write a poem...)

    rights of wifes ownen husband house (hoo-boy)

    position for rectal exam (this one seems silly to ask)

    lord please dont let me be miss (...issippi? Unmarried?)

    first rectal exam (no comment)

    Nextdoor Nancy (not your typical girl next door)

    just another love letter blog (Yay! Somebody's looking for my book!)

    blue angels bikers (yum yum)

    grey stockings (heh)

    nancy who "has converted" (to what, I have no idea)

    fractalog (Yay! Another brainiac!)

    "put yer hat on" (only if you want to be in the band)


    be careful it's gonna rain frogs (doesn't everyone's mother say this to their kids on grey mornings?)

    designer office chair (wish I had one)

    "Prostitution in Space" (I'm all for it!)

    snow patrol funeral and bells walking (I'll add it to the poem...)

    justanotherloveletter.blogspot (Woot! A fanboy!) "pee pee dance" pee (And this BEFORE I reviewed Urinetown)

    Nancy Dancehall (Another fanboy!)

    how did the Jewel scarabs get its name (I want to know that too. Come back if you find out.)

    pictures of amish friendship bread (Got 'em.)

    shockandawe (It's a word?)

    Lucky 13 Owl (Huh?)

    cartoons of descartes (Go buy one from Marvin Hill)

    But what if we all had meatjacks*? What are the search words that would lead someone to your head? What are the words that make your ears perk up when you hear them, words that you keep bumping into on the street? What's rattling around in your brain pan right now? Not necessarily descriptions of yourself, but some of the words you think about.

    Here are some of mine:








    “love and gravity”


    “fractal geometry”




    “Dark matter speeding up gravity”

    "cars from the '20s, '30's, 40's"

    "Old pick-ups"


    "never go home again"

    *You know, the little gizmo popularized by William Gibson's novels, which allows a person to plug their brains directly into their computer.

    Sunday, November 19, 2006


    The musical.
    Was freaking hilarious
    and disturbing.

    The punchline was, “Hail Malthus!”

    If you don't know who that is, follow the link, if you dare.

    Combine that with peak oil, and it's like taking the red pill, Neo.

    Anyway, Urinetown was not performed in a theater in Denver,

    but in the hangar of a water waste treatment building.

    A building often referred to as “The Gotham Building”

    because of its Batman-comic-book-like architecture.

    Made for a good bit of 'ha-ha, isn't that clever?'

    But the acoustics were dreadful.

    Missed a lot of good lines.


    the lines we did catch

    were sharp and cold as dirty icicles

    and just as dangerous, as they hung over

    a few peoples' heads.

    The storyline: Sometime in the near-future, a permanent drought

    forces people to give up their private toilets,

    and public toilets are run by one corrupt company

    Urine Good Company

    that charges horrific amounts of money

    to use them.

    Public urination is a crime.

    Private urination is a crime.

    Enter one Young Unlikely Hero,

    One Young Heroine, who happens to be the daughter of

    Urine Good Company's president.

    Enter Love.

    And Urinetown is the name of the mysterious place

    where naughty piddlers are exiled.

    You don't want to know about Urinetown

    But you find out anyway.

    And the narrator, Officer Lockstock;

    Metatron in a police uniform.

    I was in love.

    I was scribbling notes in my head.

    Brilliant performance.


    I seem to be

    trapped in a second-rate

    Lisa writing style.


    I'll give it back


    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Speaking of Eunuchs

    Marvin Hill -- Nirvana Pie

    Every time I think I've come up with something totally absurd in my fiction, I get hit with the banana crème pie of reality:

    All-singing, all-dancing eunuchs taxing

    November 13, 2006 10:13am

    Article from: Reuters

    DANCING and singing eunuchs are knocking on doors in the Indian city of Patna in a bid to embarrass shopkeepers into paying their taxes.

    The shock strategy, in which sari-clad and heavily made up eunuchs accompany officials on their rounds of crowded shopping areas in a country notorious for tax evasion and non-payment, has been declared a success.

    "Some paid in cash, while others quickly wrote checks. The shock therapy, which we plan to use sparingly, was a grand success," Atul Prasad, a top official in impoverished Bihar state, of which Patna is the capital, said.

    The novel tax-collection technique kicked off last week with boisterous eunuchs loudly demanding that mortified shopkeepers pay up - to the bemusement of scores of onlookers.

    Taxmen pocketed 425,000 rupees ($12,484) from defaulters in a few hours.

    I didn't think they still made eunuchs.

    Friday, November 17, 2006


    I woke up in a panic over finding a job.

    Other than a design gig here and there, I've been out of the workforce for four and a half years. And those damn software companies didn't bother holding off on all their software updates until I was ready to go back. InDesign? Web design? Wha?

    I may be behind on everything else, but I'm two years ahead on my worrying. I wasn't planning on going back until the boyos were in first grade. But I've found myself searching Monster late at night, and felt my stomach clenching up as I read the qualifications, the job objectives, the drier than mummy farts Corporatespeak.

    I don't want to go back into a cubicle.

    I'm not lazy. I never played a single game of Solitaire or web surfed. I always worked hard. But I got my ass handed to me all the same, the last time I was trapped in a cubicle.

    I've freelanced for eight and a half years. Before that, I was a graphic designer in a two-person marketing department for a life insurance company. I got along great with the woman who hired me, but she grew tired of the horrid atmosphere of the place and left a few months later. She warned me first, said I might want to apply for her job (the salary was staggering) and hang on as long as I possibly could, squirreling away the pay difference.

    I applied. I wore my best suit. I gave my spiel to the president. He asked if he could keep my resume. I said sure. He said he wanted to show the woman he'd already hired what a skilled assistant she'd be getting. And it was fun watching me interview.

    So I became someone else's job perk.

    My new boss, 'Helen', laid down the law on her first day. I would file. I would stuff envelopes. I would set up slide projectors. I would be given little in-house design projects as time off for good behavior. Any design projects I had currently going for agents were to be terminated. All material would henceforth come from corporate, damn the 7% response rate on my stuff versus their 2%.

    Then 'Helen' tried to win me over with unicorn stationary.

    But the real problems started not long after when I caught a 65-year-old perv cornering a 19-year-old worker in his office.

    I told our HR person, a woman, 'The Eunuch' about it, at the behest of the 19-year old, 'Astarte'. I was not the only witness; 'Stacey' The Eunuch's assistant was with me. Stacey gave her testimony as well. Astarte was sent home for three days. When she came back on the fourth, they gave her $2,000 to sign away her rights to sue. And she lost her job immediately. Security escorted her out, just as they escorted out every woman fired from that office.

    My job disappeared right after that. I had the option of applying for a new one they'd just created. I'd have two bosses instead of one. My duties would expand to cleaning my new boss' desk and emptying his wastebasket. No graphic design work.

    And no desk.

    In the morning I would sit in a chair Boss #1's office, (when I wasn't filing of course) and in the afternoon I'd sit in a chair in Boss #2's office (when I wasn't wiping his ass of course).

    I declined their kind offer.

    They asked me to stay until they could fill this charming new position. I did (stupid, stupid me) while I looked for a new job. I should have spent my time looking for a lawyer. One evening, security came for me. I was escorted to HR, told my performance was 'disappointing', and asked to sign some form. Then I had 15 minutes to get my shit and get out of there while both security and the Eunuch stood over me. I think I left half my stuff there. I was escorted all the way to my car.

    Not my brightest moment.

    I went freelance after that. I did well, until I had the boyos.

    Even as I type this, I feel my blood pressure rise. Should I go back to school, retrain? I just don't feel confident enough to continue freelancing. But are my experiences typical of the corporate world?

    How difficult is it to re-enter the 'working world' after kids? Anyone have any tips?


    Thursday, November 16, 2006



    He is completely analytical. The first time I talked to him, he told me he admired someone who could write fiction. He told me he'd never written a story in his life.


    No, not ever ever, he promised me.

    He had no idea whatsoever how the process worked. I felt like I'd asked him if he liked the view and with that question I'd discovered the first blind person.

    Does anyone else know someone like this?

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    New Formula

    One half-liter of tequilla and amaretto
    One Chicory espresso cappuccino
    Hours of childless blah blah blah
    One N. Dancehall feeling no pain.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Time for a Medical Update

    Marvin Hill -- Infinite River

    In 1908, John McTaggart of Trinity College, Cambridge, published a paper proving that time does not actually exist.

    Would someone please tell that to the shit that is growing inside me? I'm afraid it's firmly convinced that time does exist, and is using that excuse to spread in the most painful way possible. Meanwhile, I'm not looking at surgery until January, possibly February.

    Emotionally, I'm feeling ok; some up days, some down. But overall, I'm in a better place than I was this time last week. My ob/gyn gave me a prescription for (insert long string of letters here, that when put together become unpronounceable in only the way medical words can)-progesterone, which is supposed to reset my clock, so to speak. I have to say it has helped with the mood swings.

    I've got an appointment with my old fertility doc (who will be doing the actual cutting) for Dec. 7th -- too far away for my taste.

    In the meantime, I'm looking at some massage techniques and acupuncture to try and keep this shit from spreading.

    Anybody have any suggestions for pain relief? Heat helps, and Excedrin Migraine, strangely enough.

    Geting my mind off the pain helps too. So anybody wanna talk about McTaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time, and the paradox of the A-Series versus B-Series view of 'time', and that if the B-Series is the omnipotent viewpoint, that for all his omnipotence, God cannot tell time?

    And more importantly, does that make him the POV in that insipid Chicago song, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    All I Have to Say

    Marvin Hill -- Heart of Quartz

    What if you COULD tear a page, and set free the animals drawn there?
    What if you could bring to life whatever is penned there?
    What would happen with all the abstract words?
    Like the word 'love'?
    Freed from the page, would love have a shape and a color we could recognize?
    Would love be a word we'd finally understand, once we felt the weight of it in our hands?

    I've been turning the last four questions over and over, hell, for years now, trying to answer them in the book.
    But the last few days the questions have been pressing up behind my eyes, like kids looking out the windows at the new-fallen snow.

    So it's no wonder I woke up with part of a song in my head. This is what I can remember:

    Words hang in the air
    but they're not really there
    Can love be the same way?
    How can I tell you I care
    when words are all I have to say?

    The shape of an oak tree
    A bright green wing
    a garden blossoming.

    Until they invent
    something shiny and new
    Words are all I have to say.

    I think it's the idea that when a powerful love comes over you, words just aren't enough, but they're all we have.

    Sunday, November 12, 2006


    Somewhere overhead geese are flying through the falling snow.

    The house is quiet. The coffee cools.

    How's your morning?

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    Instead of Saturday Cartoons

    Jack has a new game. He draws an animal on a piece of paper, hands it to me, and I tear the paper in half to set the animal free. We are now housing four dragons -- Ginger, Cinnamon, Coffee, and Lighter (my favorite). The paper must be torn in a special way, or the captive dragon in question will be injured, and must go to the hospital.

    Now Jack is working on drawing pandas. Dragons need to eat, after all. And here I was, assuming they were European when in fact he's been drawing Chinese dragons.

    Anyway, he's given me another great idea for the book, just a little detail.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Friday Filler

    Gone writing. I can at least PRETEND I'm in that Novel in a Month Contest Thingy. But since I AM in the Post a Day Contest Thingy, I gotta post this.

    So you're on hold. Pretend you hear elevator music.

    In the meantime, PLEASE scroll down to Tuesday, Nov. 7: An Excerpt from Just Another Love Letter.

    Criticism, people! Gimme criticism!

    Love ya. Mean it.


    O's dad is not doing well today. He's going to the emergency room. Good thoughts, please?

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Physical Therapy

    Marvin Hill -- Winter Garden Bed

    I needed to dig. I needed something to harvest.
    I needed proof that I'd done SOMETHING with my summer.
    The warm weather broke records. The sun on my straw hat deluded me into thinking that it was summer, that somehow the season had not passed in a blur, I'd only imagined it had.

    But the garden didn't lie. The pale and broken stalks of corn, the fallen leaves, the friable earth; the garden was tired.
    Looking at it, I wondered why I maintain this little patch of dirt that has no hope of actually feeding my family beyond a few summer treats. My dreams are so much bigger. But in this season they've grown friable too.

    So I dug. I unearthed potatoes as big as my fist. I pulled up the last Scarlet Nantes carrots, their spicy perfume rising from dark holes. I tucked in the parsnips to sweeten over the winter. I put the bed to bed. And I felt better. Much better.

    Now I'll wait until January, when the seed catalogs come. Wait until I'm stirred back out of my lethargy by promises of exotic colors and luscious tastes and vibrant green leaves and...and...and...

    And I'll dream big again.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Post-Election Day Blues

    Looks like Congress is singing the blues.

    I won't tell you whether that makes me happy or not, because one of the great ideas with voting in a free country is that no one has to know how you voted. Another great idea is that if you are a citizen who has registered, you are actually allowed to vote.


    Let me tell you about my voting experience yesterday. Then you make the call.

    There were no lines at my poling place, just as there were no lines the last time I voted.* As I walked in, a departing voter (we'll assume he voted; but maybe not) said something I didn't catch to one of the election judges (the only man, the rest were women), who responded to him in a gruff voice. One of the other judges quietly said to him, “You're being awfully strict.”

    Before I could open my mouth in greeting, he pointed to a table and said. “Fill out one of those yellow cards. But before I'll let you do that, take this pen over there.” He pointed to a pen at his elbow. The other judges tittered a little. I picked up the pen and did as he asked. I brought my yellow card back over to him, along with my driver's license. He found my name in the list. I got ready to sign my name next to it.

    But first, he had a problem with the address on my license. Fine; it's my old address, so I quickly produced my checkbook with my current address, just as I had the last time I voted here.

    “Hmmm,” he said. “Well. The photo on the license dooooes look like you. But. I need to see your signature for comparison." (What does this have to do with my address? I wondered.)

    I signed my name on a piece of paper, knowing what his reaction would be before the ink even dried.

    “These signatures don't match,” he said, as if reading from a cue card.
    “I promise you, it's me. Do you want to see my credit cards?”
    “No. It does look like you on the driver's license. But.” He waited a full minute before delivering his verdict. I stood there turning redder and redder. Everyone in the room watched us.
    “I'm going to let you vote provisionally.”
    “Yeah. Here's your ballot. Fill it out, fill out this envelope, and you vote will be counted later. If there aren't any problems.”

    One of the other judges led me to a table out in the wide-open, and told me to fill everything out. Then she apologized. I got out my notes with my votes and filled in the ballot. Then I filled out the envelope with my personal information. Before I finished, before I could put the private ballot into the envelope and put away my notes, two of the judges approached the table and asked if I had finished. They were polite, but I believe my voting privacy had been compromised, as one of the women looked down at my notes before I had a chance to sweep the paper back into my purse.

    Is this voter harassment? You make the call.

    *I have a theory for why my particular, well-to-do poling place doesn't draw in the crowds, and I wonder if it has anything to do with the way I was treated. My area is a stronghold for one of the parties, and it is only the members of the other party and independents who bother to vote. Pure speculation on my part.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    An Excerpt from Just Another Love Letter

    In a hurry...gotta vote.

    Here's a piece of me.

    There is something that happens when we die, a mystery so secret, no writings of it even exist, though it may have been perceived in dreams, translated into snatches of song like all other truths.

    We live our lives, feel our feelings, think our thoughts, hate our enemies, love our friends. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we hurt, we heal, we cry and laugh until we can’t tell the difference anymore. We are full of energy, then less, then we become still. Or we are taken by surprise, our lives ending not at all where we though they would. Either way, all these feelings and thoughts and actions that go into making up ourselves come to an end.

    We come to an end.

    That is when it happens. The great mystery.

    There is a bird. Sometimes it is a raven, sometimes a sparrow. Sometimes a dove or a hawk. It can be any bird imagined, so long as it has wings to fly. This bird lives in each of us; we each house a secret bird. That bird has one purpose and one purpose only and it happens after we have stopped. No one can see it, but when we die, our death opens the cage, and the bird that lives within us escapes and takes a look around. It tests its wings, preparing to fledge. It will fly only once, but it will fly far, far away. After it tests its wings, it looks back down at the body where it has nested. Then carefully, oh so carefully, more carefully than a mother holding her baby for the first time, more gently than a whisper, the bird reaches back into us, searching. When it finds what it wants, the bird pulls back away from our bodies, bringing with it clenched securely but oh so gently in its beak, a long strip of paper, thin and delicate as an onion skin. When the paper is safely removed, the bird tests its wings again, waiting for the wind.

    You cannot feel the wind, much as you cannot see the bird or the paper, but the wind is real and it comes, lightly at first, not even strong enough to rustle the paper held tenderly in the bird’s beak. It grows to a breath, then a waft, a draft, a breeze, then a wind, and it is just enough to lift the bird on its fledgling flight. The bird rises, wings beating at your previous heart rate. It rides the current, up and up, so much as directions can be told in a place without directions. You could say the current carries the bird out, or in, for that matter. The paper flutters in the wind, with the beat and pulse of the wings, moving with the rhythm of the flight.

    The bird, your bird, for it is as singular as you were, flies to where it needs to go, carrying the paper that had been its nest mate, that had been wound up so tightly inside you. The wind carries your bird to its final destination, which is a place outside of all other places, outside of heaven, hell, purgatory, and certainly our own universe. It is a place that is never quiet, and here is why.

    The bird sees its destination at last, circles once, twice, its flight entwining with that of other birds – a feathered host of holy movement. Yes it is holy, this sight, this airborne dance, for it happens after death, yet precedes birth. Your bird spirals down toward a house built entirely of cedar, a place of sweetness. There is an opening at the top through which it flies to alight in the rafters beside other birds bearing other strips of paper. Here your bird will make its only sound; one small chirp, signaling to those who labor below that it has arrived, and that the paper it has carried such a great distance is safe.

    Some birds are made to wait, some are called down immediately. When your bird is called, it will open its wings again and glide down from the rafters to the outstretched arm of an attending angel. The angel will smile at your bird, speak soft and kindly words, stoke its feathers. No matter a nightingale or vulture, rook or robin, rest assured, your bird will be treated with compassion.

    The angel escorts your bird and your paper into the next room, where the two will be separated from each other forever. Your bird turns over the strip of paper to the angel, entrusting it into the angel’s care. If there is remorse for its loss on the part of your bird, or joy, or relief, it is not evident. The angel treats the paper just as gingerly as your bird did, holding it gently, examining it for punctures or tears; for wounds, as it were. Then also, the angel determines which instrument shall be used to play the music that is written there.

    You see, the paper has recorded your life and your life is music. It is not a song unto itself but a movement in a larger symphony that plays unending in the second room of the cedar house. It is a song of immense complexity that never repeats itself, that will not be classified, it is a hymn and a psalm and a jig and a sonata and an open-mouthed cry for life.

    The house built all of cedar is never silent. On the day that death ends, it will be silenced, and the crafting of this beautiful song will cease forever.

    The length and complexity of your music does not depend on how long you lived, but on how much you lived. There was a Zen-practicing hermit who spent eighty-five springs on earth, whose music was composed of only two stanzas, both subtle and brilliant, while the music of one gypsy child went on for hours, as intricate and convoluted as a Celtic knot.

    An instrument is decided upon by the attending angel, who is a master of all instruments, and he takes his place in the orchestra among his myriad companions, all engrossed in music making. Imagine an orchestra made up of thousands upon thousands of angels playing every type of instrument ever conceived, from two sticks struck together to a calliope. Your piece will fit, and it will be played against others, and it will all sound very fine. Your angel takes his seat, the instrument is waiting, the music stand holds your paper securely, your bird perches atop the stand to act as spectator and witness.

    The angel waits for his cue and plays, and everything that you were comes pouring out in a sound so small compared to the symphony that you might think yourself lost. But it is now that you are truly found. As the notes are played, you are woven back together; you are reborn. If you were enlightened on earth, here you are enlightened. If you were small-minded and cruel, so you are now. Nothing new is added, nothing taken away. You are as you were; free to continue on, to change or not, to grow or stagnate. You have your life back, and your will, and your loves and hates and all that has made you who you are, between the opening of your mother’s womb to the closing of your grave.

    The bird, your bird, listens. If it listens with joy or sorrow, no one can tell. Even the angel who watches your bird, smiling up at it between notes, cannot tell. And when the final note of your part in the symphony has been played, your bird will tuck its head beneath its left wing, and it will die.

    The angel, the one who played you, will take up your bird with all the gentleness the bird showed the strip of paper, and carry it out to another house, the Vault of Birds, as it is called. He then places your bird in a niche in the wall made just for it, and retreats back to the other house; Mammisi, as it is called, or Tanjo-Ji – The Temple of Birth – to wait for another messenger with another strip of musical life. And so on.

    Perhaps there lives within your bird, another bird. No one knows, so that would be a greater mystery. One thing is known, and that is that God Himself occasionally walks through the Vault of Birds, and when He leaves, the birds disappear with Him. The angels speculate on this, jumping to the natural conclusion that the birds are manifestations of the Holy Spirit. But, as we know, angels are rumor-prone.

    In the meantime, you stand naked, twice-born, in the Temple of Birth. You will not remember this. Why should you? You cannot remember your first birth, can you? Another angel will take you by the hand, speaking soft words to you, treating you with compassion, whether you deserve it or not. Right now, you are as an infant, and infants need gentleness, don’t they?
    Aren’t you glad?

    You will be lead to a door and encouraged to take a step through it. This door will open to wherever you need to go, and once you step through, you will come to your senses again. The angel does not bother to look where you have gone. It is none of his business, and he has birds to attend to.

    The angels inside The Temple of Birth have never themselves flown. Still, they are envied by every other angel who has ever sailed high heaven or swifted through ether and sky. For their life has meaning and purpose and beauty, and they are witnesses to creation, and beyond that, to hope of life eternal. With them, God shares just a little bit of the satisfying gift of formation, though they merely restore what was. They are the glass in the mirror of your reflection.

    And your reflection turns and continues on its way. Your way. Go.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Ever Have a Day Like This One?

    You were shining, warm and happy inside. You awoke to find your tea light had gone out, and you feel like this?

    Hormones. The doc said they were fine, all within parameters. But that knowledge doesn't help when you're sitting in the car, and the sun is too bright outside, and there's something running around under your skin like a mouse, eating you from the inside out, and you can't point to it, you can't catch it, and you can't help the tears and the fears, and the only thing that pulls you back together is seeing a long black car from the twenties go driving by the other direction. You close your eyes after that, and hang on to the image, turning it around and around, like it's a brand new word made solid in your hands. And the words means, 'steady now.' And the words means, 'hang on.' And the word means...

    I think it means, 'hope.'

    Ga. This is why I don't post everyday.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006


    Early Saturday morning. The house is quiet.


    I sit up in bed.


    I hear the boyos call each other's names. They sound uncertain. They are making sure the other hasn't been stolen away by the



    that is now rattling the windows. Before I can get up, they run into my bedroom


    and jump into bed, shock on their faces. They cower against me, and I put my arms around them, even though I can no more protect them from the sound than I can stop it.


    Shouting over the pounding that has robbed them of their dreams, that is shaking the walls of our home down to the foundation,


    “Mommy! What IS IT?”


    “It's a helicopter, sweetie. That's Air Force One.”


    “That's Bush?”


    “Yes. That's Bush.”


    “Mommy? I'm scared of him.”


    So. What has your President done for YOU lately?

    Englewood's Finest

    But first a concert review. Even though I suck at reviews.

    Schmoop and I went to see Shawn Colvin. Lovely, lovely show, made even better by the venue – The Gothic; a small, funky venue on Broadway in Englewood. Shawn was at her finest – sweet-voiced, funny, engaging the crowd with her songs and stories. Too bad the Village Idiot had to keep shouting “Steady On!” (at least it wasn't Freebird) or she might have sung it. No matter. She sang 'Polaroids', one of my favorites (and I had to laugh at the lately-appropriate last verse).

    Normally, I clap politely for the opening act, but Brandi Carlile really caught my attention. She's just signed with Colombia, and she recorded her new album with T-Bone Burnett. Not too shabby. I think she actually received a better response from the audience, which seemed half-asleep during Shawn's performance. Brandi's best song was, “Throw It All Away”:

    This love branches out like an oak tree
    Reach for the sky and roots to the sea
    So when you're shaken down and broken
    Find some peace of mind in knowing

    I'd throw them all away when I'm hollow
    Deep as the sea goes, all I know is
    I would throw it all away...away

    Like Schmoop said after her performance, “Shawn who? Who are we here to see?”

    True to form, Englewood's Finest made a pointless guest appearance on our way home. Officer Shaped-Like-A-Penis pulled me over to tell me I had a tail light out.

    Yeah. Where were you when my house was robbed twice? Or during the home invasion? Or when our garage was vandalized? Or when your buddy officer asked who O and I pissed off after our tv was stolen?

    Issues? Me? Never!

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Idea for a Kid's Book

    Anyone know a good/cheap illustrator?

    Ok, one LAST creepy/kid-inspired post, and then Halloween will be out of my system.

    What can I say? the spirit hit me hard this year.

    This was inspired by Jack, who gleefully shouted the first line as he ran outside to play.

    Yeah, I know. Shoulda named him Pugsley.

    Now we have spiders for hands.
    We swing through the trees on vines of silk
    Catching the other kids.

    Now we have spiders for hands
    We never have to wash them
    They are self-cleaning.

    Now we have spiders for hands
    We used to endure kisses from old Aunt Doris
    She doesn't come around anymore.

    Now we have spiders for hands
    we play in the cellar
    unafraid of the dark.

    Now we have spiders for hands.
    We don't chew our nails
    They chew us.

    Now we have spiders for hands.
    No more broccoli
    We sip blood through our palms.

    Now we have spiders for hands
    And the bullies don't bother us
    But sometimes I miss my hands.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    What Are You Wearing?

    So did you dress up for Halloween?

    I know Lisa did. She looks cute in her wings. Popeye went as an...erm...plank *snort*.

    I did too. We had a Halloween party to attend, and my original idea of going as a dead dancer just didn't come together. Maybe next year. With about ten minutes to go, I pulled out a long grey dress, grey stockings, black Victorian lace-up boots, fluffed out my already generous hair, painted my face, threw my new grey shawl over my head, and went as The Ghost of Stevie Nicks' Solo Career.

    You know who didn't get to dress up for Halloween? My boyos. One boy in their class doesn't celebrate Halloween, or anything else, so no costumes for anyone. The class next door was decked out, including the teacher.

    See, here's where celebrating cultural diversity breaks down.

    We don't want one to feel left out, to feel different (even though his parents have chosen to raise him differently) so we'll all feel left out. Solidarity. The lowest common denominator.


    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Pop Rocks

    Pop Rocks!




    I'd forgotten about these things. Seriously. I don't know how; when I was a girl I ate enough of them to become an urban legend.

    The bus dropped us off at school at least half an hour before they unlocked the doors. We stood freezing in the church doorway (unlocked, Mass and warmth inside, but we froze to stay cool) and pawed through the morning's ill-gotten goodies – a brown paper bag filled with candy from the forbidden convenience store across busy 20th Street.

    We weren't allowed to go there by ourselves. We couldn't even be seen there alone on weekends. It didn't stop us from trying, obvious as flames in our plaid skirts and white blouses. The school secretary's office faced the street, and she knew us all by name.

    Enter the parents. Specifically, G's parents.
    G's last name was Montana, and it rhymed with her first. She was in our class but a year older than the rest of us, an advantage to her when puberty hit us with a sap and stole our alliances.
    G's parents wanted her to fit in. She was an only child, adored as the One Who Made It Full-Term. Every frozen morning included a stop at the forbidden store. Five dollars bought G the warmth of a circle of girls, all reaching into the bag, finding the candy they'd requested the morning before.
    My treat was Pop Rocks. I loved the way they sounded in my mouth; like the all words I couldn't say aloud magically turned to glass shards melting between my teeth, leaving behind a sublime and secret sweetness.

    Then this morning here was a package in my hand, a treat for a pirate the night before.
    What is it? they asked.
    Something magical, I answered.
    Open it, they begged.
    I did. I placed a pinch of the sweet pink crumble on their outstretched tongues like a sacrament.
    I watched their surprised smiles like a newly-discovered icon.
    I pinched a bit for myself, when they weren't looking. My mouth crackled with all the words I still need to say.

    Like these.

    Pop Rocks!




    Oh, and something else from childhood:

    Rabbit, Rabbit.

    Ok, so I still do it.

    Oh! AND, I'm participating in NaBloPoMo, and will have the logo up as soon as Blogger stops freaking out.