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{Tuesday, September 30, 2003}

Not much, it seems.
Damn. That took me ten minutes to write? How sad. I mean, with all the practice I've had cranking out sentence after sentence, you'd think I'd be able to just spit something out. What did I do yesterday. Um.
I wrote a song.
I sang another that I wrote the day before.
I prepared for yet some additional songwriting.
I took a step towards becoming a musician. A writer writes. A mucisian musics. The only way to be either is to do something. What did I do yesterday? That's just it. I did. It's fun to think, it's fun to be, but doing, that's what it's all about.
I did yesterday. Yup. I did.

by MisterNihil 11:41 AM

So, what did you do yesterday?

by Sharon 10:02 AM

{Monday, September 29, 2003}

Aaron Flesher could remember the future. He knew that in 2044 they would start terra-forming Mars and that they had established the first colony there some 12 years before that. He knew that in 2054 the U.N. would recognize artificial intelligence as sentient and therefore deserving of human rights. He remembered when they discovered evidence of life on Europa in 2066 even though it clearly had died out millions of years before. He remembered the first contact with alien life carried on radio waves from deep space. He remembered a great many things from the later half of the 21st century and he knew, he absolutely knew that these were memories not premonitions. None of this would be of particular interest was it not the year 2029.

What Flesher didn’t know was why he knew so much of the future and so little of the present. This place, this time seemed so primitive to him and so alien. Not alien in an otherworldly sense of the word, as, this was his Earth. The world was as he knew it, as he remembered it, but of an earlier time. How then, he wondered, had he come to be here, some 30 years before his birth. There was no such thing as time travel either in this time or in his. Had he somehow come detached from the time continuum or perhaps his consciousness found a way, intentionally or otherwise, to travel back in time? If so, why, and how and how would he return?

What Flesher didn’t know, and never would, was that in fact time travel did exist, or more accurately, once existed. It was a reality of his time, the latter part of the 21st century before he was sent back to the year 2029 to prevent one Dr. Albert Kemmelman from laying the groundwork for such an abomination against reality. In 2032 Kemmelman was to, or would have, or did in one reality, publish his research titled “A Dissertation on Time Slippage” that in turn sparked the first practical research into time travel. Once such travel was made possible by the most brilliant and well meaning of scientific minds the world was thrown into chaos. The paradox of changing the past was inevitable and seemingly irreversible. Until that is, agent Aaron Flesher was sent back to see that this atrocity was never started in the first place. Mr. Flesher succeeded in his mission of “negotiating timeline paradigm” and, for the time anyhow, the development of time travel was never begun.

He sat and remembered a future reality, a time familiar yet distant from which he was stranded with no possible explanation.

A bit of time travel/sci-fi info:
Hugh Everett III graduated at the Princeton University in 1957 under the supervision of the famous American physicist John Wheeler. In his doctorate thesis Everett had developed the first formal scientific 'no-collapse' theory that describes parallel worlds. He proposed that infinite time-branching-off into every possible direction is equally real as the time we experience right now. His thesis on the subject is known as the Many-Worlds interpretation of the quantum theory. Although the latter has been overlooked for many years, today it is gaining increasing acceptance and becomes the main challenger of the standard and rapidly retreating Copenhagen interpretation. It ought to be stressed that many years before the appearance of Everett's thesis, Clifford Simak had thoroughly described parallel worlds (esp. alternate Earths) in his science-fiction works using almost identical philosophy in a poetic atmosphere and flavor of rural humility and beautiful autumn weather.

by Shawn 3:50 PM

A topic ripped from the headlines of Mister's Real Life:
Thanks to Negotiation, We Fixed the Problem.

And Thanks to Sherbie for the advice.

by MisterNihil 11:15 AM

{Saturday, September 27, 2003}

Happy Birthday

by Sharon 8:09 AM

{Friday, September 26, 2003}

I don’t believe in hell, but if I did, I’d be going. And I’d be in good company as this whole sacrilegious post was her idea.

Dateline: March 15, 0001

Onlookers today were shocked as political and religious activist, Jesus of Nazareth, most recently of Galilee, reportedly cast off his robes and did bare his ass to the crowds assembled at the hill overlooking Jerusalem. Jesus, the self-proclaimed messiah and charismatic leader of the unwashed masses was quoted as saying, “You bastards, I devoted my whole life to you people and this is the thanks I get? I mean come on! I turn water to wine, do the whole loaves and fishes thing, walk on water, over rule all that old testament crap with the selling your daughters and stoning your wives and you’re gonna nail me to a cross?! A cross?!

Witnesses described the assembled leaders of the Hebrew community as shuffling their feet and looking away while commenting on such trivial matters as the weather and outcomes of various gladiatorial matches while whistling tunelessly. Biggius Diccius, a Roman soldier stationed at the event was quoted as saying, “Jesus Christ, surely this was one pissed off son of God.” He then stabbed the crucified Rabbi just for good measure.

Most members of the crowd refused comment including those who our sources suggest were members of the one-time carpenter’s posse. One in particular, Simon Peter, did fervently decry, “Wha, me? Hell no, no idea who that poor slob was, no siree-bob, not me, nothing to do with him. Nope, nope, nope.”

Supporters of the Rabble-rousing Rabbi were hoping for a last minute reprieve from Roman Prefect of Judea Pontius Pilate who reportedly had washed his hands at the whole ugly affair claiming that the Rabbi clearly suffered from abandonment issues concerning his father.

In other news, poultry farmers report strange goings on related to their cocks and various synagogues reported drapery vandalism.

by Shawn 10:23 PM

"The best conversations happen on this couch." He was smoking a cigarette and staring up at the skylight in our dim apartment. "There is no better place for intellectual discourse."
"Yeah." I'm not much for a turn of phrase. I just like to be part of the conversation.
"So, what is the topic for the day? Shall we discuss foreign powers and the intervention domestically? Or the state of the current economic climate that drives ones such as ourselves to the straits in which we wallow? Or perhaps merely the morality that shaped the pair of us and the astronomically unlikely odds that they should be so similar?"
I shrugged. "Galilean moons," I said. It was the first thing that came into my mind. I don't know where I heard it.
"Galilean moons."
"Yes. Hrrmph. Well. Give us half a tick."
"Sure." I knew it would take him a moment. He usually came up with something if he thought hard enough. I hated doing it to him, but I loved to watch.
"Uh huh." I said, hopefully.
"Well, of course, there is hardly news on the Galilean moons, those of Jupiter. Is this what you wanted to discuss? Io, Ganymede, Europa, and so on?"
"Ahhh. Then where, prey tell, did the word Galilean come from?"
"Cars. Dealer, I think."
"I fear your rhetoric is beyond me in the tiniest and least significant way it can be. Pray, what is the relation betwixt the Galilean Moons of Jupiter and a car? I say, if you play this right, it's worded like a classic jest. One is reminded of the Raven and Writing Desk Enigma."
"Um. Yeah. On the T V. There's this guy. Gil Leland. He sells Hondas."
"Sometimes I don't know why I stay in this hovel, listening to your constant tirade of drivel. (I say, do you have another smoke? Think-eaw) (puff puff) Ahh. I say, do you follow sport?"

by MisterNihil 3:00 PM

Galilean moons

by Sharon 12:04 PM

{Thursday, September 25, 2003}

I'm heading to Texas for a week starting tomorrow, so:

one foot out the door

by Fred 7:38 AM

{Wednesday, September 24, 2003}

You can map the nation in radio reception, if you drive long enough. Set the digital on scan, and let it expose the shape of the landscape for you, in sound.

Philadelphia is a city, densely packed with news and classical music and fringe. There are many people talking. The spheres overlap like Venn diagrams. One conversation intrudes on the next.

Allentown is urban and failing. Take your pick of Top 40 pop stations. They interleave with Latino beats, and Spanish. WMUH brings strange sounds from the hearts of Muhlenberg. The call letters of the NPR station proclaim its independence: WDIY.

In State College you step between country stations like picking your way through a field of cow pies.

Austin rocks with Mexican stations, oldies, hard rock. My 80s station was replaced by another Mexican station. There is less country music here than in Central Pennsylvania.

And then there are the spaces in between. Through the mountains, through the desert, away from everyone, where the radio skips the length of the dial returning nothing but a soft exhalation. There are still places that are quiet. There are still places that are wild. There is hope.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

Her petticoats rustle as she moves towards the train’s dining car.


She is dancing with a large purple dinosaur


Veiled like her namesake, she feels the passion of her redeemer "Our Father, who art. . . "


She is a sentry posted on the outskirts of town. It is raining.


She is “Born to be wild” with Steppenwolf.


On her knees, she hopes to persuade her boss to move her out of the scullery,and in to the parlor


The friendly pump asks if she would like a free carwash with her fill up


by mews 1:39 PM

station to station

by mews 10:26 AM

{Tuesday, September 23, 2003}

So it came up—not by me—that I met Neil Gaiman, and then someone asked for the story. So I wrote...

Mmf, sick. Hurty, tired, ugh.

But I'll perk up to talk about Neil Gaiman, f'sho. ^_^ There's not a particularly exciting story behind that picture. I first met him at Armadillo Con, which is a small, cozy, literary-oriented sci-fi con in Austin, attended more by writers and editors than by fans--a few hundred people. (It's where I shouted down Bruce Sterling because he was being a pedantic neenerhead.)

That Dillo Con was about two weeks after our arrival in Austin, thereby confirming in my mind that I had come to a Magical Fantasy Land. Eternal summer, music festivals, steak, meet Neil Gaiman: I'm home.

Because it was a small con, he was sitting in the lobby chatting about stuff (movies he liked--recommended Iron Giant, which I then found and loved--tv, comics, just general junk) with about 10 folks gathered around. So I just kinda sat down, too.

The photo, a few years later, is from Aggie Con, which is a much larger, much more fannish con, in College Station, TX. Jaime Blashke was the moderator for Gaiman's panel; I'd befriended Jaime at Dillo Con (listening to a slightly tipsy author blather on at length about Godzilla movies will endear you to him), so Jaime asked if I'd sit in the front row and take some pictures while he interviewed Gaiman. After the panel, I returned his camera--and he asked if I wanted one. Do I?! *beam*

Gaiman put his arm around me.

So that's why I look like a big, grinning moron in that picture.

Folks followed up on the Sterling comment, so...

Sterling's kinda fun, in a ranty sort of way. I always have an approach-avoidance thing with his panels--he'll be outrageous, but he'll get my blood pressure up. At the shouty one, he was talking about blogging, but he was totally missing the point. He had a list of most-frequently-linked blogs (his wasn't on it), and he was talking with derision and scorn about the lack of worth on that list (his wasn't on it).

I finally couldn't take it anymore. "Bruce, I'm surprised you, of all people, could so totally miss the point. It's about the democratization of information," which earned me a derisive snort. He started to get back into his rant, but I had more to say. He had a microphone; I had blond hair and a revealing shirt. (Go with your strengths, ya dig?) So I persisted--with blogging, finally, is the chance to have your voice heard, and on September 11th, when the major news channels had nothing and nothing and nothing to say, individuals in New York were blogging first-hand accounts. Real, unfiltered, unpolished. Truth.

And in the reigning silence, I knew I'd made my point. He came over after to look at my little spy cam.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

“You waltz beautifully”

“Thank you. It helps to have such an experienced partner”

“So how did you meet?”

“Well my apartment building caught fire. There was smoke everywhere, I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t n see how to get out. I could hear my kids screaming in the other room, flames climbing higher, and higher. Jesus It was terrifying. I thought I heard the sirens. I passed out. He came and got me. And you, how did you meet.”

“Oh you know, nothing so dramatic. We took it kind of slow. He wasn’t ready to commit. He teased me for a while, kept me guessing. It was pretty painful actually.”

“But he brought you here tonight. That must be a relief.”

“After three rounds of chemo anything is a relief. Looks like it’s my turn to dance.”

by mews 8:33 PM

How did you meet?

by Sharon 11:48 AM

{Monday, September 22, 2003}

I know what you are. You are the dead leaf whisper that nudges so gently telling me secrets quiet, contently.

Liquid black eyes and well-yellowed teeth
with a paper thin smile and purposeful grief.

I see you in shadows cast by black things
and know who you are by your tell-tale ring.

Even in the brightest day, just behind his eyes he could see the smoky wisps of madness reflected in the mirror. He could see the “other one”, quiet and patient, waiting his inevitable turn, confident that the day would soon come when he, the waiting one, would slip silently and unceremoniously into the forefront.

In the mornings when shaving he could see a strangeness in one eye, usually the left, and knew the other him, the darker him, was watching. Ever waiting. In meetings he would occasionally use a turn of phrase that wasn’t his own and he knew the other was seeping out in small ways, reaching out into the room, into the real world, his world, and touching his friends through breath and words corrupt only in that they belonged not to him.

In the quiet times, when the family was asleep and the day was at end he would sometimes entertain thoughts of letting the other out for a time but knew once done there was no turning back. Instead he would allow a brief visit and a discussion of sorts as a pale white face with black eyes, shiny and mad, would roll to the surface of the stagnate waters of his mind. Then the two would sit in the darkness and comfort of the old house and whisper to one another of secret things, of names and games, of hidden things and spider webs, of dripping water and wall paper and of creeping things and children sleeping.

by Shawn 11:59 PM

He presses his face against hers, and the sun does not move. She thinks back to their hike to this overlook. In her memory, they climbed it together, laughing, hand-in-hand.

She turns the memory over. She is solid and vibrant, but he is cut out of paper and hastily pasted in. His back is not even colored in. She breaks the embrace and looks at him. Looks at his hair, his eyes, the wildness behind his eyes. There are trees and woods and wolves there.

She stands and brushes the seat of her pants. "I know what you are now." She hooks her backpack and walks slowly from the clearing, never looking back.

He watches her, leaving. He knows she will wander lost for days. He knows she will find her way out again. He imagines her reaction to the months she has been missing. For a time, he looks hurt.

Then empty.

Then wolfish. And he lopes into the twilight, as the sun sinks into the trees.

by Sharon 10:34 AM

I know what you are.

by Sharon 10:22 AM

{Saturday, September 20, 2003}

Sushi is in, my ever so humble opinion, the perfect food. It is nutritionally balanced, with carbohydrates, protein and various and sundry vitamins and minerals. It hits all the perfect notes on the taste bud scale, the sweetness of the ginger, the salt of the soy sauce, the searing heat of the wasabi. It is a veritable feast for the senses. When properly prepared, sushi is beautiful to the eye, aromatic, fantastically tasty, and a tactile delight. Sushi is sensuous, and hands down the sexiest food going. A bottle of champagne, enthusiastic partners and some quality sushi; now feed one another this delectable treat and let the good times roll.

by mews 11:59 PM


by jal 2:55 PM

{Friday, September 19, 2003}

It's like living with a two-year old

by Bryan 9:54 AM

{Thursday, September 18, 2003}

The peasants are revolting, I think we’d all agree,
And so it is with pleasure I pass this new decree,

From this day forward we shall put to use our unwashed hoard
For what we need is entertainment and they make for fine surf boards.

So we’ll head on down to the kingdom’s coast, we are surfing-bound
And be sure to invite the entire village, as they tend to drown

by Shawn 2:00 PM

I try not to be smug. But I have to admit to myself, often to my friends, and now, here, to the whole rest of the world, that I am a flawed and petty person. Ergo, I can be smug.

I get dragged along to Renaissance faires. I'm not sure how disdainful I have to be in order to convince people that I loathe these things, but apparently, it's more disdainful than I've been, because I keep getting stuffed in a bodice and hauled off to them.

See, people figure, if I'm in the SCA, I must be into these things. But that would be precisely the reason I'm not. Here's a choice: Do you want to heft live steel in your hands, pummel some knight who desperately deserves it, and learn calligraphy and weaving from a guy who ground his own inks to make his own fresco; or do you want to pay 15 bucks to watch dumb ol' Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (again.)?

I shouldn't be smug.

But people thought I was insane when I hauled my hand-made, full-circle, wool cloak to Texas. ('Tis a thing of beauty, I tell you.) I've received dismay and faint embarrassment when I've worn period, 14th Century, Normandy garb. (Granted, it predates the Renaissance, so I guess I wasn't playing the game correctly.)

On a bitterly cold, gray, bleak day, ankle-deep in Texas mud, when the rain never let up, I was warm, dry, and completely unconcerned about my machine-washable, cotton, easy-to-replace, historically accurate garb. And that cloak is always stylin'.

by Sharon 11:22 AM

posting for Shawn at his request

lets go serfing

by mews 10:53 AM

{Wednesday, September 17, 2003}

Oh to be dangerous. Challenge your audience. Spit on what they hold dear, money, power, influence, faith. Jerk them out of their comfort zone and show their quaint ideas of morality and values to be so much grist for the bourgeois mill. Point out that their passions are pallid, their self-centeredness supreme. Dismiss sentiment, but be certain to be ironic and clever. Do not proselytize.

Or you can offer the dangerous supposition that life is beautiful, laughter a sacrament, imperfection an inspiration, love a wonder. And maybe, just maybe happiness need not be equated with a lack of depth or stupidity.

by mews 7:58 PM

Ok look, this is a bit over 10 minutes and a shameless diatribe. Read at your own risk.

The first thing that came to mind for this topic was a sort of homage to Clifford Simak’s Time and Again, at least I think that was the title of his book that dealt with a guy returning from the future with a book advocating recognition and rights for robots. Wars were fought over this new philosophy. It struck me, when I read it 25 years ago, how a simple text can create such chaos in society and how resistant or accepting people can be of what they read or hear.

I read this book long before the advent of the internet and it was written in the 60’s or 50’s I believe, when groups of Americans were struggling for basic human rights (as they continue to do of course). I assume it was a parable. So, with that in mind, what started out as a piece of science fiction turns now to a political/religious/sociological diatribe. Lucky you.

I’ve heard it said that medieval man was particularly susceptible to the religious propaganda of paintings due to the perception that clearly the painter had to have seen the event being represented as how else could he have painted it? This may seem silly by today’s standards until you consider that people continue to be as misled by writers, newscasters, politicians, religious zealots and ad agencies as ever they were in the middle ages.

When I was a child I was subjected to a literal interpretation of the bible. To consider a word of the scriptures were parable was blasphemy. Today I know people, my age and younger, that believe the world to be 5000 years old etc. I know people that read Rush Limbaugh and take what he says for gospel. I know people the GOP’s destruction of our political system is for the best. I know people who believe everything they read, but are careful not to read anything that they’re not ready to believe.

But, my point, in so much as I have one, is that one of the great technological advances of recent years is the exact thing that so many political and religious leaders have spent hundreds of years trying to suppress: the dissemination of information. The internet, print and television has done wonders for putting information in the hands of the common man. And yet, there are no filters. There is no one saying, Wait, you can’t publish that, it’s crap, it’s a lie”. No, of course not, we have to act as our own filters, we have to read, hear, watch what’s put in front of us and decide for ourselves whether or not it has merit. This is as it should be even if our current leaders oppose it. But, we are still peasants looking up at the painting of Ezekiel and assuming it to be gospel.

by Shawn 4:29 PM

I'm going to be fired if I keep this up. I keep taking 10 minute breaks, one-a-day, more or less, and cranking out these little essays and fictions. If I am found out, if somebody tabulates how much time I actually spend writing and how little I spend doing things that make money, I'll be fired. Probably. It's hard to say, really, as they can't seem to make up their minds whether I'm doing a good job or not. I guess you'd say they're satisfied with most of it. They're dissatisfied with, for example, the bit where I spend 10 minutes a day writing. I also spend a few minutes in the afternoon playing games. I think I deserve it. I work between, but I don't work during. I take breaks. Is that so wrong. And I crank out 600 seconds worth of whatever today's flavor happens to fall on. What is it today? Butterflies and moonbeams, or a Rainbarrel full of Sadness? Nope, today it's dangerous writers. Dangerous writers produce deadly writings. Dangerous writers (I'm going to be fired) are a threat. This doesn't even look like work. If the interface were, perhaps, a little less colorful and a little less happy, looked a little more like a boring terminal interface, I could sure pretend this was work. But it's not. It's 600 seconds (actually up to 300 now) worth of not work, waiting between doing my job and doing my job, waiting between paying for myself in this retail establishment and going home, I'm taking a moment to put words on paper for 10 little golden minutes. Time does fly, I think, when you're just dumping thoughts and trying not to get fired. "No Sir! I'm not slacking!" But I am. So, dangerous writers... what's the difference between dangerous writers and not dangerous writers? Is it plot? Is it purpose? Sure, that works for me. Dangerous writers have purpose. Safe ones have none. Look, time is running out, sand is slipping through the hourglass. the 600th grain still sits and glints on top but hasn't fallen yet. There are just sixty more little seconds. I'm running out of words, and I'm going to be fired. Maybe not today. Maybe I got away with it again. It looks like. Yep. Here it comes. It's rolling in little circles at the bottom of the houglass and falling onto the pile below. It's fallen. Time is up

by MisterNihil 3:09 PM

dangerous writers

by Fred 7:51 AM

{Tuesday, September 16, 2003}

Marcus stepped lightly to his left and flicked his thick, dark curls out of his eyes. The schlager felt heavy and comfortable in his hand. He didn't need speed, as this French fop with his pathetic wire whip would soon learn.

Jean-Pierre matched Marcus's side-step with a step of his own to the left, circling. He kept his epee pointed at the left eye of his opponent, the house of the soul. Disengages and quick ripostes would win this duel. The schlager would be a heavy blade to push aside, but once deflected, it would barrel on like a confused elephant. Jean-Pierre grinned.

Marcus roared. He leapt forward, catching the slender blade on his buckler, but the Frenchman rolled away before Marcus could bring his own sword to bear. Again, they circled.

Marcus stood with his left hand forward, holding the light buckler at arm's length so that its 10-inch diameter cast as large a shadow of protection as possible; his right hand rested cocked back by his hip. He scoffed at this Jean-Pierre, clearly Agrippa-trained, turning his reedy body sideways, trying to disappear like a piece of parchment viewed edge-on. His left hand, mailed but useless, hung in a ridiculous curl near his ear.

The German stomped with the heavy boot on his forward left foot, then pivoted, using the momentum of his body to fire his diamond-bladed schlager towards his enemy's gorget. But it swept air. The cur had leaned back like a contortionist, until his blond ringlets nearly touched the ground behind him, then sprung back to lay a neat cut, as sweet as a kiss, below Marcus's eye, his quillons flashing with the flourish. "Ha ha, ees Parry 9: Don't be there," he jeered.

Marcus was less amused. "You vant to dance? Fine. Ve dance." He moved the buckler below the tip of the epee, then swept and planted it firmly on Jean-Pierre's chest, pinning the blade between. Jean-Pierre's smile fell away. Close like lovers, he could smell the anger in the German's breath. Marcus placed his hand near Jean-Pierre's palid face and drew the length of his blade through the tender gap between jaw and gorget.

by Sharon 11:59 PM


No really right now stand up move. Shake that thing. Writhe. Undulate. Do the pelvic thrust. Come on it will make you feel better. Dance in the elevator, on the bus. Twirl down the grocery store aisle. You need it. The world needs it. Dance as if no one is watching. Grab yourself a little joy. What is it going to cost you? Maybe a little dignity. You can get that back.

I was in line at the post office today with my two year old today who spontaneously burst into song as he often does: “DA NYAH NAH NAH NA NA NYAH OO TO CALL__ TEEN TITANS”( theme song from the Teen Titan cartoon) and he started to dance, so I danced too. I would love to say that everyone else in the post office started dancing as well in some sort of suburban musical: “Eastside Anecdote” But that is not the case. We made a few people smile, several chuckled, and a couple of folks were embarrassed. I think one woman was kind of annoyed. So what. We skipped back to the car and jumped in a couple of mud puddle for good measure. No, not dignified, but it was delightful.


by mews 7:59 PM

I bow to the monster. I reach my hands out, one up one down, and embrace the slimy, formlessness. We begin the dance that will last a lifetime. I twist, squeeze, and grin grimly. I pull and fight against my monstrous partner. I remember that I still have a knife. The slime on my hands is toxic. It is already getting sticky, and I can see the blood dripping and coagulating between my fingers. The dance goes on. I reach with one hand and pull a knife from the block. Long and steel, it is sharpened sex, and I bring it down into the monster. It is small, now, smaller than it seemed before. I slice, pull, slice, and the dance continues. When it is in manageable chunks, I dispose of it, plopping each piece in turn into the pot of boiling stock and vegetables. I bow to my partner, I think of the chicken soup in my future, and I go to wash the blood from my fingers. The dance is complete. It will never end.

by MisterNihil 5:45 PM

lets dance

by mews 10:56 AM

{Monday, September 15, 2003}


dream castles
in the sky
your thrumming
enveloping me
taking me away

u a
p b
s a
i n
d d
e o
- n
d m
o e
w n
n t

will your
miss me?
bartering our loveloan away
is not
the end
in a sense

by Faith 9:46 PM

I stayed here 'til midnight,
My whole Sunday night.
I'd've rather been slacking,
But that wasn't right.

Testing starts Monday,
And three days ain't a lot.
Because of the timezones,
By 10, the day is half shot.

No install on Friday,
The code was too buggy.
On a creepy, empty Sunday,
At least I've got Sluggy.

Debugging and fixing,
I worked here 'til late.
Now I'm back at my desk.
Elapsed time in hours is eight.

Groggy and grumpy,
But at least I did mine,
So the testing can start--
You're not gonna install 'til nine?!

I should go get some coffee,
And pretend I'm well rested.
Throttling you
Would simply get me arrested.

by Sharon 8:52 AM

a poem...

Can't think: too dumb;
Inspiration won't come.
No ink, no pen --
Good wishes, Amen.


by Faith 8:27 AM

I can feel it there, in the back of my mind, a shadow black and sticky watching, waiting, a thing passively intrusive malign in nature yet subtle in demeanor.

We are the watchers of dreams, the caretakers, or if not, the wardens of dreams. We have, since time immemorial, observed and, in our own gentle way, molded the dream space of the human race and recorded the results. We have given you such imaginings and desires to allow you to crawl from the jungles and conquer your world; to create tools for death and protection; to discover new lands and slaughter those that stand in your way; to bring about things of beauty and spirit; to fulfill your destiny, the destiny we laid out for you. And yet now, now something not of our making presses in upon the outskirts of dream. Something dark and purposeful and far more cunning than anything we’ve devised.

The lay lines of communication and structure on which we depend have been eroded away and chaos has been inserted, ever-so subtly, in their place. We can no longer see one another in dream space but instead simply feel each other’s presence as well as that of “The Other”. We are losing control of your dreams and in turn the structure that has allowed us to allow you to master your world short of destroying it.

The shadow reaches out, ever farther, ever bolder.

by Shawn 12:13 AM

{Saturday, September 13, 2003}

Lines are Down

by MisterNihil 4:40 AM

{Friday, September 12, 2003}

She had had money once, or a damn good dental plan. Quite a few well-executed crowns, and a truly beautiful gold on lay. They stopped doing those over fifteen years ago, too expensive, too much time. She loved animals. There were several grubby photos of various pets, a ratty old leash, MAX painstakingly embroidered on a red collar among her effects. They were artifacts from another life; a time when she had a name and something to love. She was not very old, mid-forties probably, no pregnancies, she had not been using long. Diabetes got her before crack did. She was unclaimed. No one would come looking for her; there would be no calling hours, no service. But there would be a simple memorial.

Allen cleaned her up. Included the leash, the collar, a couple of photos, and a private blessing: “If you have Gods may they find you”. He pulled out of his locker a block of soapstone and a ledger. He wrote down the date a brief description, and her ID #. Then he carefully etched a hatch mark on the stone, and consigned her body to the flames.

by mews 5:42 PM

There was a time when I cared about her. There was, I promise, a time when I would have raged against this little death. Any little death, honestly, and I wouldn't have put up with it. It died slowly, I'm sure it must have. I didn't see it happen. I just know I walked through her and saw nothing. She's just another neighborhood, and I'm sad to say she's just another not my neighborhood.
Nativity only matters just so far. I lived here for almost twenty years. My family lived here for about twenty-five. There should be some history hanging in the air; something should stop the locals and make them look at me and just fucking know that I belong, secretly. My license says otherwise, but my heart must cry for this. Mustn't it?
But I walk through her, seeing places that should fill me with memories, the stoop where I broke my leg, the window where I first saw a woman naked, the doorway where I first kissed Gina goodbye, the corner where we used to play catch, the balcony on the Hoffwitzes' apartment where we used to sit and eat pumpkin seeds, and it all just looks like a stranger's house. It's just the streets I have to cut through on my way to somewhere. It's a route, not a destination.
I want to run and put her behind me. I want to see the back of my old home, my mother neighborhood. I was born here. I thought I'd die here. Now I'm a little afraid to even be here for fear of the strange buildings now eyeing me, sizing me up as if wondering what kind of morsel I'd make, waiting to chew me up and destroy me like it did Johnny Ringo and Gina (I never should have said goodbye.) and old man Eisenhauer.
Seeing her makes me want home. It makes me want to be home, and that's somewhere else.

by MisterNihil 3:00 PM

He said he was gonna post...
anonymous block

by Sharon 12:11 PM

{Thursday, September 11, 2003}

Flush-choog-ka-choog-gurglegurgle! Bye bye keys!
Flush-choog-ka-choog-gurglegurgle! Bye bye wallet!
Flush-choog-ka-choog-gurglegurgle! Bye bye cell phone!
Flush-gurgle-gurgle-hissssss-gurgle-gurgle... Um.
The toilet's backed up, but the act of defiance was finished. Mostly. Just the edge of the screen of my cell phone is peeking out from the bottom of the toilet. I can see the letters fading, and there's a drip of water filling it slowly. It almost feels sadistic.
I look at the mournful screen for a long second while I reach for the plunger. It's going down. Oh yes. I beat savagely at the bottom of the bowl with the stick end, the place the rubber end down and begin the Ritual of the Plunge.
And the phone's gone. I can't see it any more, and that's what counts. I put the seat down and sit, and unlace and remove my shoes. I pull off my socks, yank my belt off, and unbutton my shirt. I drop my pants, and stand in my boxers and tie before the mirror. Is this how you quit your job? Naked? Sure, why not? I open the door and step out into my office. It's time.

by MisterNihil 3:01 PM

The words clanged loud in my ears. If I stared at him long enough, he would take them back. But I didn't know how long "long enough" might be. The doctor stared back at me, blinking placidly over his white, over-washed hands. Here was a man who was used to having all the answers; he never chewed his cuticles.

In the echoing resonance left by the words I would not hear, the silence grew louder. I could hear my own breath, frightened and ragged, and I hated the weakness in the sound. I felt betrayed, first by my body, then by medical science. The known side effects were an acceptable risk. I faced here something outside the known side effects.

Other people modified their genes for small-minded fantasies, like longer legs and straighter teeth, slim hips and smooth hair. This experiment was to transcend that. I wanted musical aptitude, a gift for languages, the presence of a strong orator. And I had all that, so far as I could tell.

I hadn't bargained on what I would lose.

It wouldn't be long before I went insane. The brain needs to dream. My poor, mundane, boring dreams were a casualty of one of the greatest genetic modifications to date. And this prim doctor, with his perfect cuticles, sounded almost bored when he delivered the words that still echoed in my head: "Nothing you can do will bring them back."

[With apologies to Beggars in Spain]

by Sharon 11:52 AM

nothing you can do will bring them back

by Bryan 11:06 AM

{Wednesday, September 10, 2003}

Rixi held her legs very still. So much had led up to this moment, she didn't want to ruin it by appearing nervous. She was no longer a nymph. Today, she was an adult. Her community had gone to a lot of expense to prepare her Awakening Day feast. She was determined to make them proud of her.

Council members droned on, each in his or her turn, imparting advice for fledgling adults. Rixi tried to give them the respect they were due by their age, but her mind was on the coming feast. She wasn't hungry at all; she was too nervous. It all hinged on the feast.

When the musicians began, the platters were presented. Here, in her honor, lay all the delicacies of her people: a salad of flytraps and honeydews; hedgehogs, steamed until they unfurled; rich, red slices of meat that were probably aardvark; spiny mammals arrayed in their pornucopia.

Her welcome into adulthood, the act of defiance that marked Awakening Day, the feast of insectivores steamed and cracked on the table, beckoning and frightening. The members of her community looked on eagerly. Rixi rubbed her legs together for a chirrup of triumph and fell to.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

Dorian, Joey, Thom, Kev, Bret the First. Davy, Bret the Second, Sven, Cal, James. She considered them her harem, nevermind that each was safely sequestered to different pieces of her past. First kisses, first loves, explorations, experiences, and enlightenment.

At her desk, by day, she was as the storied Reliable Miss Byrd. But, oh! the nights. She would wake at any hour, drenched in sweat, the fresh image of one or more of her dream-time lovers almost as tangibly present as the too-real sensations taunting her untouched flesh. Her dreams, more accurately her nightmares, were a pornucopia of past loves -- at times even together, united in their torturous mission of filling her nights with almosts, could-haves, and might-have-beens.

She often wondered, waking from such visitations, if she had been such a reprehensible girlfriend to deserve such nightly torment, waking each time only moments before the gift of release could come to her.

Her therapist opined that the agony was self-inflicted. Ghosts aren't real, get a grip, move on, start over, let it go.

So she tried. Started dating. Made progress, even, with Alan, and the dreams began to diminish. Until.

She awoke with a gasp, her face flushed, eyes taking precious moments to clear those again-vivid illusions and come back into focus. And, focusing, finding an aghast Alan, abandoning her bed on their first night, hurriedly dressing and making no attempt to hide his disgust as he fled to the sanity of the street.

The next night, her dreams numbered eleven.

by Faith 11:58 PM

Pornacopia dot com huh?

Yeah, isn’t that a great name?

No. No, not so much. Well, the name does indeed fit the concept, it’s just…um, do you really think you’re going to get venture capital for a site that sells phallic food on-line? I mean, just why would anyone go on-line to buy carrots, cucumbers, bananas, and whatever those long squashes are?

Not just phallic food, erotic foods of all sorts. Both genders and all interests.

Um, ok, so why not just run down to your local grocery store for all of, um, your erotic food needs?

Because it’s 1999 man! I mean come on, no body wants to go to a store if you can order it on-line!

And someone’s going to give you money to get this obscene little venture off the ground?

Of course. Like I said, it’s 1999! Venture capital dudes are just lining up to throw money at anybody with an idea for a dot com. And especially something like this; it’s a sure hit, money in the bank baby!

I see, and as far as the name goes, what was your second choice?

Porn of Pleanty, but I was afraid that was too subtle.

by Shawn 11:08 PM

Her long hair hung in loose curls. The negligee clung to her smooth skin showing her curves off to their full advantage. She smelled of clove and amber. She was a goddess. He was waiting for her. Candles were lit, a fire laid and the living room converted to a den __ of pleasure. She felt her beauty. She embraced her power. She stepped on a Lego and swore forcefully, hopping around the semi-darkened room.

He knew her body. He knew what she wanted. He kissed her tenderly. He knelt behind her on the floor fondling her soft breasts, nibbling the nape of her neck. He took her in his arms kissing her more insistently, tongue probing. He lowered her to the floor, glancing her head off the leg of the couch. She returned his kisses, rising to meet him; she bounced her forehead against his teeth.

Laughing they collected themselves. He turned on the sacred sex cd: Deep Forest I. They sipped champagne. Their eyes met. Their ardor stoked by the interruptions glowed. Their need, their passion, entangled in a sweaty embrace. At last their much-anticipated coupling began. Their union, sweet amour and boasting such heat. Oh the heat. The smoke detector went off. He forgot to open the floo.


by mews 2:40 PM

"Well, if you call your magazine Pornucopia, people have certain expectations."
I am looking at Henry, looking at me. He has been crying in the ashes of the building in which his apartment used to be.
"But (schnrk) Pitchforks and torches? It's not like I killed anybody (schnrk)."
"But Henry, you know how people get if you deny them porn. The magazine wasn't cheap, and they subscribed with certain expectations. Noboby thought... I mean, not that you're an ugly man, or anything..."
"I know. What am I going to do now? They burned down my home. I'll never get the second issue out in time."
Henry is nothing if not thorough. I wouldn't even have thought of putting out a second issue, but I hear he started a story in the first, and wanted to finish it. Poor Henry.
"Look," I said, "If you need a place to stay, you can crash on my couch for a while."
"Oh yeah... and you have a computer, right?"
That bastard.
"You're not dragging me into this, Hank. If you want to publish another issue, you can just use the melted slag-heap of a computer you have left. Or go down to Kinkos like the rest of the freaks. You can stay with me. You can't put out a magazine that will endanger my life."
"There wasn't anything bad in it. And like you say, I'm not ugly."
"Stop it Henry. If we wanted to see you naked, we'd peak in your window at night like normal people."
"I guess you're right."
He stood, and we sauntered off together toward my apartment.

by MisterNihil 1:11 PM

Posting for Shawn who is rushing out the door to get our child to school on time


by mews 10:57 AM

{Tuesday, September 09, 2003}

Look I’m sorry.
It’s my job.

I spoke with F. last Thursday. I told him that this round of experiments was not supporting his hypothesis.
I told him that there was nothing amiss with the method. I told him that we had plenty of skeletal muscle fibers. I even showed him the separate contractility test I performed.

I tried.
I really did.

He wants me to run the experiment again. He wants me to duplicate P.’s results. I don’t want to get her in trouble. She is defending her dissertation next week. Her results make perfect sense.

In theory.

Jesus I’m sorry.
I really really am.

I am sorry your pink eyes never saw the sun. I am sorry you never foraged for fresh clover. I am sorry I called up that radio show and suggested you and your kind were merely furry test tubes.
I don’t even know you.

I ‘m so sorry.
It wont hurt. Okay, it will but only a little, when the needle goes in.

Don’t struggle.


by mews 5:07 PM

turn me over
in your careful hands,
calluses and probing
to see all my lines(
hidden imperfections
laid naked for your scrutiny,
i am a flawed thing(
me like)
you don't want to see
the flaws
so you look closer,
to fail to see(
beat your eyes
'til starbursts form
and still you will not see,
because to see
is to hurt,
to stand with me,
to sense your own reflection,
how small i am.(

by Sharon 1:56 PM

Don't look at me like that! It's hardly my fault that Comcast can't get their act together. I never wanted to go a month without 'net access, believe me. And trust that my clients aren't thrilled about it, either. Apparently Comcast didn't think I actually lived in Portland. Perhaps they thought Chicago? It isn't quite all fixed yet, but we're getting closer.

I could easily go on for 10 minutes, or 100... but I think you'd look at me even more oddly, then.

by Faith 1:27 PM

Sheena is a punk rocker.
Gina, however, is not a punk rocker.
She is an actuarial consultant.
She works for a consulting firm which works for an insurance company. She assesses risk. She likes to write the word assesses because she likes repetitive finger motions. Gina is not a punk rocker.
She drives often.
She especially loves to drive in the country where there are no people. She allows her car to carry her miles out of sight of civilization, besides the road. She imagines that the roads were built by ancient civilizations that murdered each other thousands of years ago. She sometimes finds a diner, parks, and walks for miles, alone.
Once, she came upon a cow.
"Don't look at me like that," she said. "I am not a punk rocker. I am an actuarial consultant. I assess risk. You are a cow."
The cow continued to stare.
Gina turned right around and walked back to her car. She did not look back at the cow, but she knew by the prickly feeling in her neck that the cow continued to stare. She did not particularly dislike cows, but she did dislike this one. She decided it was the fact that she was wearing leather shoes that made it stare at her.
She arrived safe at her car, started it, and drove home. Then, in the morning, she went back to work.
Gina is not a punk rocker.

by MisterNihil 11:21 AM

"Don't look at me like that."

by Fred 8:46 AM

{Monday, September 08, 2003}

"One Nation, Under Goddess, with liberty & justice for all."
It's amusing to me. This got a friend's daughter in trouble. You have to say God. You don't have to believe in it, but you have to pledge loyalty to a flag and a country which are, apparently, under a masculine god, and you have to acknowledge this. I wish I had something clever to say about this. All I can say is good for Sidney for saying that, and it's too bad she got thumped for it (figuratively.) She was raised wiccan, which of course means they go to the Unitarian church.
Soon after, the school decided to ban all-black clothing. I suppose that's not so bad, in itself, but why is all black worse than, say, all pink or purple? Isn't it creepier to see Goth-boys and -girls in Mauve with Chartreuse stripes? I suppose it's a message to all those kids out there who only buy black clothes: it's time to spend more money, like a good little consumer. That, or buy yerself some bleach and "fix" your clothes. Grey isn't black. That's all I'm sayin'.
It's the future police state in action. It's a way to condition our children to accept that those in power can do what they want, particularly if it's absolute nonsense and bullshit. Then, when they grow up and learn that whatever ass-backwards administration is in power is doing some ass-backwards thing to sap civil liberties and keep the people quiet and docile, these kids will accept it. They'll vote along party lines, they'll support those in power because they're in power, and they'll accept whatever bilge the broadcast news is blackmailed into spewing (I shouldn't say blackmail. They report what they're told because they want to, not because they would be barred from press conferences. Really.)
I wish I had something productive to say. I wish I had something useful to say. Instead I'll just go back to work and be a good cog in the corporate machine.

by MisterNihil 12:33 PM

Kicking off silly word play week with:

something wiccan this way comes

by mews 10:08 AM

Oh my this sucks. I had an idea but no time to refine it for: Something Wiccan this way comes.

God’s coming, and boy is she pissed.

In January of 2084, following nearly a century of utter disregard for the environment by World America (originally named the United States) Wicca was brought on-line. Air, land and water quality had deteriorated to the point that it was generally accepted that no one -no one human that is- was capable of saving what little was left of the Earth’s natural resources. And so it was with tongue firmly in cheek that the engineers at Advanced Intelligence, the leading manufacturers of artificial intelligence, christened W.I.C.C.A., an AI whose sole focus it would be to solve the Earth’s environmental problem.

It should be noted that by this time in history humans were producing fully autonomous, sentient beings and indeed some were even recognized as life forms and granted citizenship. Most however were still considered slave forms. Still, no one really anticipated any problems when WICCA was brought on-line and presented with the problem of saving the Earth. But that was in fact the problem, you see, the wording. No one thought to distinguish the well being of the inhabitants from that of the host planet.

By June of 2084 most of the planet’s 23 billion humans had died, many more would follow but some were destined, and determined, to live a simple, if at times harsh but harmonious life. A life no longer a slave to technology as there was no longer technology to rely on. Most were unable to survive in a world without power, computers, central heating and air, carbon fuels, fast food, plastics, autos, manufacturing and robotics. Gaia had come home.

by Shawn 7:39 AM

{Saturday, September 06, 2003}

If I ran the circus...

by Sharon 3:05 AM

{Friday, September 05, 2003}

Right Now,
Flowers are blooming,
Grasses are growing,
Children are growing,
Passions are growing,
Wishes are coming true,
Dreams are dying,
Strangers are dying,
Cells are dying,
Loved ones are dying,
Mountains are crumbling,
Birds are flying,
Babies are learning to walk,
Toddlers are learning to talk,
Bullies are learning to hurt,
People are learning to lie,
Butterflies are sunning themselves,
Lizards are sunning themselves,
Mayflies are making more mayflies,
Humans are making more humans,
Politicians are making mistakes,
Priests are hearing confessions,
Penitents are accruing guilt,
Sinners are getting away with it,
Pagans are dancing in the woods,
Friends are falling in love,
Friends are falling out of touch,
Friends are sitting down to tea,
Enemies are honing weapons,
Innocents are praying for peace.
All of us,
Right Now,
Are living.

by Sharon 12:01 PM

Instead of posting fiction today, I thought I'd put a piece of news up instead. It fascinated me, and I'm really looking forward to reading the follow-up stories. I want to see how it turns out.
Two fascinating facts about ancient cultures have been recently discovered, and with any luck their ramifications on our society will be massive. Recent excavations in Ethiopia have uncovered surprising texts written in that country (or the part of Africa that would later be designated as that country) concerning interesting pieces of social history.
First, a little history lesson: In Ethiopia, evidence of walled cities with plumbing have been discovered. These cities predate the romans by thousands of years. The people of this country had a written language and wrote extensively on philosophy and science. They designated themselves historians of the world, again a thousand years before the Romans took that title for themselves. They were crushed by neighboring countries and northern invaders, as well as the spread of the desert through central Africa. The Romans and Greeks marauded across the country, taking what was left and burning cities. Modern civil wars were the result, and also finished the job of destroying this once-great culture. It is the reason, plain and simple, that we think of Ethiopia as an emerging nation. They were once great, and have been crushed.
So, that said, one of these texts has been discovered, miraculously undestroyed, beneath the ruins of a city, in what would have been the sewer. Carbon dating puts the scroll at just over three thousand years old. It is hand-written and badly faded in parts, but it

You know what? I can't keep this up. The set-up is too good to waste it on the joke I had. About half of the history of Ethiopia I presented here is true. They're really a fascinating country, and they did, it seems, invent plumbing before the Romans. There are the ruins of large cities with pipes throughout. When white explorers came to Ethiopia, it was so easy to ignore the ruins for the dying people, that they did. It shows that there were great and powerful civilizations in the past, and that warlords destroyed them. It shows that the peaceful scholars already lost. They were walked over by the civilizations that built weapons instead of telescopes, that used broken glass shards to repel invaders in walls instead of grinding them into lenses. It says we already lost.

by MisterNihil 11:32 AM

Do it so I can see

by MisterNihil 9:35 AM

{Thursday, September 04, 2003}

I couldn't help staring at his hands. I mean, how much evil can you do and still keep a manicure like that? He held his chemical gloves--elbow-length, thick, black rubber--in one hand and slapped them noisily into the other while he paced.

I tore my gaze away from those perfect fingernails and scanned the laboratory. A Jacob's ladder sent purple arcs of electricity to the heavens. Beakers and test tubes and coils of glassware burbled and percolated in an elaborate array along the north wall. The center of the room was dominated by a large table with leather restraints. And they chafed.

The Doctor cackled again. "What made you think," he crowed in his wheedling glee, "you could thwart my brilliant plan?"

The fact that you would tell me about it before you dispatched me. "Clearly, I underestimated your genius," I said out loud. I hoped the molar mic picked up both sides of the conversation. "I couldn't figure out what the giant lenses were for."

He sneered at me and gave a satisfied slap with the gloves against his open hand. "To focus the sun, you imbicile. How else would I detach a glacier from the mountain-side?"

"I can see that, now." HQ should have dispatched the calvary by now. Just a little longer... "But riding it as a sled into the valley? What then?"

The Doctor stopped pacing and gaped at me. "That is where the mind ray comes in, of course." He rolled his eyes and waved a hand in dismissive disgust. "I needed the ray to cause the villagers to hitch themselves up as my Glacier Sledteam of Doom!" He cackled again.

There was the confession. The boys in white hats could burst in any time now, as far as I was concerned. Time to give the signal: "What about the hamsters?"

The Doctor flushed and then looked sullen. "None of your business."

by Sharon 11:56 PM

Where I'm from, we like television. We like to watch.
We teach television. History of Friends, Seinfeldian Theory, I Love Lucy and her Contributions to Society, Days of Our Lives and Ongoing Stories 101. I have two masters degrees in Sit Com Lore and Daytime TV (concentration on GameShows). It's probably because of my education that they chose me.
I was watching television the day it happened. I only point it out because I hadn't had time to for a while before that. I'd been so busy thinking about it that I hadn't had time to watch. I was about to defend my doctoral thesis on The Price Is Right and the Pricing of Hair Dye in the 60s, and I had watched every episode up to 2002, when Bob Barker officially attained super-stardom and the show became a parody of itself. I was actually watching for pleasure, something I didn't get to do often, when they came through the window and landed on my coffee table. They stood on my TV guide, the one with Matt LeBlanc, and looked up at me. They had little, beedy eyes and little slack mouths. They were cone-shaped and grey. One of them spoke.
"(schlorp)Greetingsh earsh(schlorp)ling. We come in peashe(schlorp)." The one who spoke then crawled over my coffee table, and up my leg, past my chest, and around to the back of my head. I felt it burrow into the back of my skull and I could feel it wriggle a little in my brain. Then, all of a sudden, I knew that they secreted a chemicle which allowed them to burrow into us without harming our skin or bone, and that they could communicate telepathically with us as long as they were in contact with our brains.
The alien explained to me that I was wasting my time with all of the television. That studying it as if it were important was wasting my greater potential, as a race-jet pilot in space, where they planned to win a race against the Ghocks for the first time in more than three centuries. The Nhredjz needed a champion from another planet, and I had been selected.
Just at that moment, my girlfriend came in and heard me talking to the Nherdj in my head, and saw the little feet sticking out of the back of my neck. She heard me atmitting that Television was not as important as getting out of the house and racing jets in space. I'm sure she blanched.
She reached behind my head and grabbed the little feet, which she yanked until the conical alien came out of my brain. She flung it to the ground and stomped it until it stopped wriggling. The other Nherdjz scampered back out of the window.
"Is that was was doing it?" she screamed. "Is that what made you think?"
I've never been so ashamed. I sat down at once and started watching Price is Right again.

by MisterNihil 9:11 PM

6:15 am Morning Edition on NPR:

Yet another story on the gay marriage controversy, looking forward to the day when sexuality is a fact rather than an issue, when people who love one another and want to commit to building a life together can choose marriage, civil union, or living together in big sloppy-ass sin.

6:40 daily workout:

Chatting with the other early risers at the fat girl gym about the physical and emotional benefits of regular exercise and the sinister ways the American Beauty Myth and our societal obsession with the diet of the moment subverts our progress on the road to healthier living

7:30 coffee with my sweetie:

The poetry of the everyday, and a reminder to tune into its beauty

10:40 Picking blackberries with our neighbors:

A metaphor for parenting: thorny and difficult when unprepared, as I always seem to be, but what a reward sun-drenched sweetness, yours for the taking, but only for a limited time.

A telephone message from my brother’s fiancée asking me what song I was singing at the wedding __ in two days:

Should I give a little speech about marriage, advice, a joke? Perhaps I should make a joke about marriage advice; maybe advise them in my speech that marriage is a joke. Oh and maybe I should come up with something to sing.

12:20 Blowing dandelions with my two year old:

The blessed randomness of nature and love.

1:15 Lunch:

Maybe tuna.

by mews 7:46 PM

What made you think?

by Sharon 1:59 PM

Why this should come to the surface now, after all these years, I really can’t say. There’s been no trauma, no significant events, no obvious triggering of suppressed childhood memories, of which I’m aware, so why now? I honestly can’t say. And yet, there it is. There it sits on the surface of my mind a thing black and horrible, having risen, not coincidently I’m sure, like a corpse through the fetid waters of a swamp, to haunt me in what is otherwise perhaps the happiest time of my life. Maybe, maybe it’s some sort of cosmic irony that it is now, when I’ve the most to lose that my peace of mind should be compromised by this wicked apparition from my past.

Don Campbell and I were childhood friends and, in our younger years, spent many an afternoon playing with GI Joes, playing games of cavemen and cowboys. Later, in our teens, we turned to hunting and trapping as country boys tend to do. While it was years ago, when we were maybe 14 or 15, I remember one time when we were walking back from hunting when I stumbled and my 12 gauge fired off accidentally. Fortunately Don was walking behind me at the time.

We remained good friends into our high school years until Don met a girl, whose name escapes me at the moment, and then drifted apart. Still, we had a lot of good years together in that whole coming-of-age time of life with motorcycles, cars, girls, lousy beer and late night discussions of the future. And yet, and yet now I realize that we never did come of age together. Now, 25 years later, my memory is filled not with cars, beer and hopes for the future, but with blood and mud and snow. I see my friend laying in the nearly frozen mud and slush of an Ohio corn field in late November. I see thick, dark blood bubbling up through a camo hunting coat and eyes, wide with panic and confusion. And I wonder how my mind manufactured such an elaborate web of protection for all of these years and just how complete it was.

by Shawn 9:58 AM

{Wednesday, September 03, 2003}

Why I'm stuck, for this post: 1, 2, 3, 4

by Sharon 11:59 PM

My coworker is looking for a way to separate the papers from crayons, in order to switch them to other crayons. It's for what she calls the best prank of the year. It seems like an easy one to see around, doesn't it?
She has a cousin who's partially color-blind. She's planning to give her crayons for Christmas. I have to admit, I'm pleased with the whole idea, of being able to switch the labels on crayons to puzzle a cousin. It's pranky, but not horribly vicious.
I think it's a little sweet.

by MisterNihil 3:40 PM

Shades of Gray

Unless Jon decides on something else

by Shawn 12:43 PM

{Tuesday, September 02, 2003}

Friday, a little after 5pm: A voicemail message from Jon says he's thought of something we could do this weekend. I'm having a great day, so I am only mildly miffed that he doesn't say what.

Friday, by 6pm: Jon is calling bed-and-breakfasts in Fort Davis, Texas, to find lodging for Saturday night. Overall, they are nearly polite when they tell him firmly, "no chance." A faulty telephone line makes an entire exchange unreachable, eliminating many of the most likely choices. He casts the net wider, and finds a bargain on an adobe in Marathon, 90 minutes from Fort Davis.

Saturday, 7am: We aim the car west and set the cruise control at 79.

Saturday, 2:30pm: We roll into Marathon and find our lodging. The adobe was built by its owner, using bricks made of paper pulp and cement. It's cute and interesting and eco-friendly. I take a picture of a walking stick bug.

Saturday, 7:30pm: We eat a delicious dinner in a train-car diner in Alpine, Texas. A whiteboard on the wall asks if you're bored of small-town living and offers spiced chai as an escape. The chai comes from a mix and tastes like gingerbread cookies.

Saturday, 9:00pm: We are admitted to the McDonald Observatory visitor's center. I make a bee-line for the restroom.

Saturday, 9:10pm: Seated in the outdoor amphitheater, we are treated to a charming introductory talk about Nature, and collecting things in bags (or light buckets, as the case may be). Don't ask him to show you the Milky Way. We laugh; it is fun. Lightening jeers us from the north and the east, but overhead remains clear. I am stubborn; it will clear up. It owes me, after all.

Saturday, 10:30pm: The clouds are more stubborn. We troop inside for a slideshow about the planets. Mars never broke through the clouds.

Saturday, 11pm: Thinking about an 8-hour drive to see a globular cluster I'd seen last month through my friend's telescope, I plunge into the gift shop, intent on consoling myself with a shirt. After all, it had been the telescope I'd come here to see, not Mars. Of course, I hadn't seen the telescope, either. It's separate from the public telescopes at the visitor's center. I hadn't quite planned this out. But at least my shirt glows in the dark.

Saturday, 11:05pm: At the checkout, a man standing next to me is folding shirts. Someone jokes with him about being "reduced to folding shirts." He's the Facility Manager of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (third-largest telescope in the United States). I turn to him: "I came from Penn State to see your telescope!" He asks me, "Well, have you seen it?" "No," I admit, "but I figured I could come back tomorrow for the tour."

He frowns. "The tour will take you into the visitor's gallery. But you want to see the telescope, don't you?" I nod vigorously. I stare in disbelief, grinning so wide my eyes water, as he writes down his name and number, so that I may call him tomorrow for a tour. "Count on it!" I tell him.

Saturday, after 1am: I collapse after driving 90 minutes in the pitch dark and the driving rain, passing about 10 cars, 2 semis, and 1 train, in total, and can't sleep.

Sunday, 9am: Back to Alpine, past the diner, on to Fort Davis for the best poached eggs I've had in ages.

Sunday, just after noon: We meet Dr. Fowler on a mountain top, and enter a secret employees-only door in the only shiny-domed telescope I've seen. He shows us computers. He shows us the 91 hexagonal mirrors that make up a 10-meter by 11-meter matrix. He shows us the backs of the mirrors, with the sensors that detect variations in the distances between the mirrors and the motors that correct those variations. He shows us the climate-regulating, freezer-like enclosures that house the spectroscopes, the brains of the HET. He shows us the bits of a spectroscope still under assembly. He tells us about two new classes of star that have been discovered, smaller than previously known, and I feel clever when I ask, "You mean, smaller than M-class?"

Sunday, by 1:45pm:We begin the much-longer journey home. I continue to reel from my husband's generosity. I have achieved a six-year goal; I have seen the third-largest telescope in the United States. And I have learned that the Manager of said telescope could really use a good tech writer.

by Sharon 12:30 PM


by Sharon 12:00 PM

Labor Day: Working in the Coal Mines

Like most, I can’t say I’ve ever really celebrated Labor Day. I did however get the day off from work and, for the most part, spent it working on projects around the house and cleaning the garage. My 2-year old wants to help whenever there’s work to be done, “Yeah, M big help” he insists. At times he is, usually a ½ hour task takes an hour with his help, and yet, it’s a worthwhile investment. My 8-year old is much less interested in helping.

Yesterday however, I found myself asking for their help. Not because I needed it, but, quite subconsciously I suppose, because that’s how my dad and I bonded when I was a child. He worked a full-time job at a factory and ran the family farm; he was the hardest working man I’ve ever known. We never played a game, went to movies, read comic books together, told stories, played pretend or action figures, went on bike rides or wrestled; we worked, we worked side by side. We bonded through a shared experience of sweat and fatigue. We said very little to one another – he was a quiet man – and yet in the silence of a job well done we said a great deal. I’m not sure I ever realized that, certainly not at the time anyhow. But yesterday, with my 2-year old manning the garden hose and my 8-year old cutting down cardboard boxes, I realized it. Yesterday I celebrated Labor Day with a job well done.

by Shawn 9:43 AM

{Monday, September 01, 2003}

In light of the Labor Day holiday...

working in a coal mine

by Fred 6:12 AM


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