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{Thursday, July 31, 2003}

 
Shit, now I have to change all my plans; I have tickets to the islands for next week, guess that’s out the window. Fine! And what about my dinner plans, well, for that matter, ALL dinner plans. Sushi, that’s what I’ll miss the most. I love sushi.

This is such a pain in the ass; my whole life changed, just like that. One minute I’ a reasonably successful financial analysts and then, BAM, the whole thing’s down the drain. No more fishing trips with Glen, no more afternoon drives with Nancy, no more softball league, of crap, I can’t coach my kid’s soccer team any more. Ok, I’m fine with that one. No more trips to the beach, yard sales, gardening, no more business lunches in the park, what am I saying, no more job period! Unless I can work evenings. No, that’s ridiculous, how would I hold a job without ever meeting with clients, showing up for meetings or working a weekend?

I hate being a vampire.

by Shawn 4:41 PM


 
when blood howls:
a roar,
thunder,
pounding hollow in my ears,
crashing in and
closing in.
time constricts vision
constricts
to a pin-prick instant.
Here.
Now.
this.
everything before
and everything after,
blurred with bright white light,
obscured,
so that only
the singularity of this
remains.
knees rock and lock.
my ears are full
with insistent susurrations
that resolve into
"Yes."

by Sharon 4:27 PM


 
I don't know why I haven't been posting lately, but...
This changes everything.

by Fred 8:16 AM




{Wednesday, July 30, 2003}

 
Pins and needles. The waiting was almost more than I could stand. Sitting in the DPS (Department of Public Safety), waiting for the driving test results. The Simpsons was on. I had a book open on my lap. I couldn't think.

The permit test had been nerve-wracking enough, with all that studying and quizzing and memorizing of numbers. But now there was a huge chunk of metal and a great potential for destruction involved. I don't know how test administrators stay sane.

I had re-read the same infiltration into the Ministry of Magic three times. Bart and Lisa were griping about the animated educational throwback for nostalgic Gen Xers that had replaced "Itchy and Scratchy." ("We need another Viet Nam. Thin out their ranks a little.") I couldn't sit still. This driving test was such a big moment.

And then there was Jon--smiling! And... hiccupping, but that's Jon for you. He had passed. As of Tuesday, July 28, my husband has a drivers license. Hoorah!

by Sharon 11:59 PM


 
Permit

by mews 11:42 AM




{Tuesday, July 29, 2003}

 
I was Mercy Lewis, a "fat, sly, merciless girl of 18." How nice, to have that written into the stage directions. How nice to also be fat and 18 at the time.

But anyway, The Crucible, with No Refund Theatre, the Atherton Hall players, and I was one of the bad guys. I don't really remember any of my lines anymore. But I remember what Goody Proctor said, recounting the execution of Giles.

The inquisitors asked Giles if he would confess to witchcraft. He would not. They lay great stones on him, and asked him again. And all he would say to them was, "More weight."

Everything is in flux. Change is imminent. And yet, possibly not, so I have to keep on as if nothing will change. I had potatoes for lunch, to dissuade myself from quitting.

And I sat down at my desk, set my jaw grimly, and thought, "More weight."

by Sharon 10:07 PM


 
I avoid scales. I have not owned one since my bout with bulimia in my twenties. Numbers tend to freak me out. I have lost a bunch of weight in the last six months, but still I am wary of taking note of the actual poundage. I know that at one point in late May the tally had me down thirty pounds, since January. I do not want to be the kind of person who obsessively tracks the numbers. Weight is something I have struggled with my entire adult life. I do not want to. I want to embrace the me that I am regardless of size. And its not as if I am a little person now, some people lose thirty pounds, and would need to be hospitalized, me I can lose five pounds on a haircut. I want to not care that I lost thirty pounds. But dammit I am proud of it. I feel better about myself now. My husband feels better about me too. I wish that were not the case.

I think a large part of why I am feeling better, is because I am exercising a lot, and doing something for myself (not always easy for me) other than eating. You know the energy increase, the endorphins all that really do make a difference. I would like to claim that these are the reasons I feel better, but the cosmetics do creep in, and something far more insidious: smugness. It is addictive, this feeling, self-satisfied, and maybe just in the tiniest, ugliest, high school corner of my brain, morally superior.

I stopped dieting in June. I am still exercising a lot, and I feel good, so why avoid the numbers? Because now maybe they have gone up.

by Shawn 7:22 PM


 
Drowning in a field of red
Happiness created dread
fell apart on Wednesday
Buried again and again
And I cried for you
More Weight
Pressing businesses decay
Define and drop and melt away
Departed with a sigh and say
Repleat with juniper & Gin
And I cried for you
More Weight
Messy business rubbing clean
A sticky red serves to demean
A happiness always to repay
Fondle and wait to begin
And I cried for you
More Weight.

by MisterNihil 2:47 PM


 
more weight

by Sharon 12:05 PM




{Monday, July 28, 2003}

 
when Saturn returns

by Sharon 9:43 AM




{Sunday, July 27, 2003}

 
I'm stealing this one from a back issue of the Onion:
Reduce unwanted stress by not giving a f@ck

by MisterNihil 4:13 AM




{Friday, July 25, 2003}

 
Permit

by mews 7:22 PM


 

by mews 7:22 PM


 
I avoid scales. I have not owned one since my bout with bulimia in my twenties. Numbers tend to freak me out. I have lost a bunch of weight in the last six months, but still I am wary of taking note of the actual poundage. I know that at one point in late May the tally had me down thirty pounds, since January. I do not want to be the kind of person who obsessively tracks the numbers. Weight is something I have struggled with my entire adult life. I do not want to. I want to embrace the me that I am regardless of size. And its not as if I am a little person now, some people lose thirty pounds, and would need to be hospitalized, me I can lose five pounds on a haircut. I want to not care that I lost thirty pounds. But dammit I am proud of it. I feel better about myself now. My husband feels better about me too. I wish that were not the case.

I think a large part of why I am feeling better, is because I am exercising a lot, and doing something for myself (not always easy for me) other than eating. You know the energy increase, the endorphins all that really do make a difference. I would like to claim that these are the reasons I feel better, but the cosmetics do creep in, and something far more insidious: smugness. It is addictive, this feeling, self-satisfied, and maybe just in the tiniest, ugliest, high school corner of my brain, morally superior.

I stopped dieting in June. I am still exercising a lot, and I feel good, so why avoid the numbers? Because now maybe they have gone up.

by mews 7:22 PM


 
This is a true story.

Back a million years ago when I was in college studying behavioral neuroscience, I took a three credit independent study course with my developmental psychobiology professor. He only took three students, and we were all supposed to participate in every aspect of a rather ambitious study of the nigro-striatal pathways of neonatal rats. Well as it happens the other two students, who were pretty little co-eds, (an appetite my professor indulged at every opportunity leading to his eventual dismissal) could not hack the unsavory aspects of animal research, so those fell to me.

I was responsible for maintaining the breeding colony, identifying subjects, performing “surgeries” on new-born rats, taking test subjects and controls through a series of behavioral test, and harvesting the neural information. Okay so that’s the resume version. Maintaining the breeding colony consisted of putting various stud males in with breeder female rats, and rotating the studs, and tracking births, in case studly was shooting blanks. After the babies were born, I went through them and immediately killed the female by overdosing them with ether. The lucky lucky male babies were identified using a combination of letters and numbers: the first two letters were based on the mothers’ identity, the second was their litter number. So RA 7 would be the seventh male offspring of female RA (to amuse myself I named the mothers, RA would have been Randy Amy or Rough Alice). To sort the seven little boy rats from one another, we were taught the neat trick of cutting their toes off in a designated way. RA 7 would be missing the fourth toe on the front right paw, and the third toe on the left. When the rats reached the ripe old age of two weeks, they would all be anaesthetized, the controls had a nice little nap the subject had a neuro-toxin injected into their brains.

When our rats were teenagers, one of the pretty girls or myself took them all through a series of tests to see if their motor or “cognitive abilities were compromised, or if the remarkable brain compensated for the early imposed brain damage. We charted their response times and decision making ability etc. Then we needed to know what level of chemicals were actually in the brain. A gas chromatogaphy machine measured the level of chemicals in the brain, but first we had to “harvest the brains” that was my job because no one else would do it. It was very important that the rats not be agitated as this condition can screw up your numbers later. FYI rats are easily calmed by repetitive motion: I would dangle them from their little forearms, and swing them back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, gently squeezing their furry bodies. Occasionally I would sing. Then I cut their heads off. I threw the writhing spurting body in the sink, and very quickly removed the brain from the severed head. The beheading was accomplished through a primitive guillotine, very like a paper-cutter.

While I was busy preparing myself for the burgeoning field of rat decapitation, I also worked weekends and holidays at a group home. Dead Week at the end of my semester of independent study, saw me over-booked in school and work. I was carrying nineteen credits, and scheduled myself to work several swing shifts and midnight shifts because I was saving up for a new bike to replace the one destroyed earlier that year when I was hit by a car (but that’s another story). I had to go into the lab and acquire several brains for the experiment. I also had to cull (read kill) several old studs who were not performing. Usually these old guys were offed using ether. But supplies were dwindling due to the end of the semester, and I had several brains to damage for the next trial. So I decided in the interest of efficiency, and to boost our control numbers to cut off the heads of these studs (or unstuds as it happens) as well.

I had been in the lab for hours damaging brains, cutting off toes, dissecting skulls. I was scheduled for an overnight shift, and had been consuming diet coke at an alarming rate. I was the only person in the building, and I was feeling a little jumpy. I had done all the fine work, and now I was guillotining controls. I got down to the last rat. He was old for a lab rat, and very large. His fur was greasy and starting to yellow, and he had nasty British teeth. I finished “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, squeezed his big head into the guillotine, and the hydraulic elevator started its descent into the basement. I jumped, and nearly missed. It’s the nearly part that caused all the trouble. I cut just the top part of a live rats skull and dropped him when he bit me with his Prince Charles choppers. Now he is loose in the lab, streaming blood and brain matter. My thumb is bleeding profusely. Did you know that rats can scream? I cornered him with a push broom, threw a waste paper basket over him and got the asbestos glove out of the lab drawer. Then I completed the job. I cleaned up the lab, caught the bus and went to work. When I got my grade report, the department only gave me two credits. That was quickly remedied.

by mews 7:22 PM


 
Ya know, Margaret has far more gross stories than I so I won’t even try to chime in on that, instead, what is gross anyhow? While it seems there are a few universal things that we, in the U.S. of A. consider distasteful, I’ve always found it to be pretty subjective. Case in point: I was recently trying to pin down where we wanted to position ourselves in the MMORP I’m working on. The example I gave was that, a severed head is really just passé; a pile of heads is actually sort of comical in fantasy terms; a pile of severed hands or feet is somewhat disturbing; a pile of severed baby hands and feet is more disturbing; finding the still-living, former owners of said hands and feet is, in fact, disturbing.

But why? Why are severed feet worse than a severed head? Well, the one-time owner of said head is no longer suffering. He or she is now an inanimate object. Coming across severed hands and feet doesn’t imply death and, in-fact, may imply just the opposite. Why chop off someone’s hands if you intend to kill them. It’s not the hand (or foot) itself that’s troubling, it’s your imagination filling in the blank, that is, projecting the suffering of the victim, that is off-putting.

I don’t have a lot of gross experiences myself. I suppose there are a few things – again, addressing the subjective nature of “gross” – that others might have found distasteful. I used to trap animals, which entailed skinning them. You hang, say, the muskrat, from a rope around the tail, making cuts around the tail and the ankles, and pull the hide down over the face and off. Then place the inverted skin on a stretcher. While a little bloody it’s really pretty straightforward and relatively clean unless the stomach sack breaks. Come to think of it I still use that same knife for slicing food when I go camping.

When I was really young I used to play in a sewer ditch. Probably not something I’d do today but it seemed a good way to cool off at the time. Of course, growing up on a farm, I spent a great deal of time shoveling out trenches (something I doubt they ever show on Green Acres) and, while I usually wore boots, when running around out in the cow pasture I often didn’t. Use your imagination.

So, again, it’s all subjective. Yesterday in the lunchroom we were discussing a custom of eating live octopus and monkey brains. I certainly wouldn’t fault anyone for doing so, but, that might just register high enough on my personal gross-o-meter that I would give it a pass. Now haggis, that’s gross. It tastes exactly like what it is.

by Shawn 3:33 PM


 
I offer you a challenge, rather than a topic:
Gross me out.
G'wan, I dare ya. And then I'll retalliate.

by Sharon 12:14 PM




{Thursday, July 24, 2003}

 
  In the dark of a newly set sun, he moved from house to house, counting children. Seven in one fat, happy home. Two in another. A third without any. Three in the next. He moved from window to window, counting children, tallying on a pad which he carried in his pocket. The streets were deserted. He didn't see a soul. Those walking in the street would not be counted. They all wanted to be counted.
  When he finished, he looked at the pad and counted the meticulous tic marks. One-hundred-seventeen. He did a quick mental calculation, and wrote a glowing number twelve in the air, in fire. He left it hanging there and walked to the next neighborhood, window to window, counting children. He finished there (a bored neighborhood, he thought, reaching two-hundred-twelve children.) He wrote a fiery twenty-one in the air, and walked at a leisurely stroll back to the first neighborhood.
  There, at the foot of the hanging twelve were a gaggle of dirty children. They looked up at him expectantly as he approached. He took a small box from his pocket and opened it. A glowing light shone on the children and they fell, one by one, to the ground. He counted as they fell, up to twelve. There was a thirteenth here, staring wide-eyed at him. He closed the box and put it in his pocket. The state wasn't an orphanage. Some communities would try this kind of thing, pawning off the unwanted on him. He glowered at the child, which ran sobbing back toward one of the buildings.
  He turned, leaving the child and its parents behind. He stalked back to the second neighborhood, where there were a small group of children standing under the fiery numbers. There were only six of them there, shivering in the evening chill. He took out his box and shone the light on them. The six of them became still and fell to the ground. He turned, the box still open, and walked to the first house. There were eight people in the building, three of them adults. The box killed the adults and took the children, totaling eleven, and he moved on to the next house. He only had to empty three more homes before he reached his limit.
  As he walked back out of the neighborhood, the occasional eye showed between curtains. People often became jumpy when the tithes got ugly. There would be a Meeting in this neighborhood in a week to discuss Community Spirit and Togetherness. It would result in a draft which would select the children before he came back in a year. It was only the third year of rolling tithes, but most areas had acclimated quickly. These were the first four houses he'd Scoured in a month or more.
  He moved on to the next neighborhood.

by MisterNihil 2:17 PM


 
I have powerful nightmares. I recycle them into my writing. Two days ago, I leapt from the bed and fired up my laptop because the dream was so vivid and needed to be recorded.

Today I woke from one of my favorite sorts of dreams, the kind that make me feel warm and safe and happy... and then disappointed when I realize I am alone. I dreamt I was with my friends from CTY. Humper and Adam and Nancy and Katie and Achmed and Floyd... the whole gang.

I don't remember the details of the dream, just that we were together and laughing. I dream about them every now and again. It's where I most want to be. Waking from them feels like the mornings when I can tell I've spent the night in Faerie--or the Dreaming, or Narnia, or wherever it is. I don't know the name of the place. I don't know what it looks like. I only know that it is where I most want to be, because it aches to not be there.

I miss those friends. Part of me is glad for the dream, because even a little time with them is wonderful, but mostly it just makes me miss them more.

We live on three coasts now, and probably a few different countries. Some of us make comfortable incomes; some of us are following dreams; some of us can't quite find a direction. A few of us are married, but most of us are not. (Some of us should probably marry others of us, but none of us has.) We're distant, we're busy, we're distracted.

But in the night, when we are able, we find each other, and hug and laugh and play Mao.

by Sharon 11:52 AM


 
Gathering

by Shawn 6:05 AM




{Wednesday, July 23, 2003}

 
Who are you again?

by Fred 4:31 AM




{Tuesday, July 22, 2003}

 
Priscilla Adkins was well read, well dressed, attractive in a vaguely horsy way, and an heiress to a modest fortune. She was an ardent supporter of the Global Adventure Society. She spoke seven languages fluently, and was proficient in four others. She attended the finest salons, and was invited to the best parties. She was also, at 28, well along the path to “old maid” status. She did not know why this was the case. But her acquaintances certainly did. Priscilla had an inexhaustible appetite for complaint. There was a rather a bumper crop of well read, well dressed, attractive in a vaguely horsy way, heiresses to choose from, and many of them lacked her enormous capacity for bitching.

Priscilla decided that she would instead seek adventure. She booked passage on the Southern Star Steamer and headed for uncharted tracts of the Big River jungle. Priscilla’s letters to colleagues complained that her quarters were cramped and in need of dusting; and the voyage was over-long and the seas rough. Priscilla had been equipped (woefully inadequately) by the Global Adventure Society. The Society provided her with sturdy satchels, journals, partial maps, a letter of introduction, a list of possible contacts, and rumors of pygmies, cannibals and tribal mysticism. Nevertheless, she arrived at the mouth of Big River, chartered a small river craft (quite derelict) and crew (somewhat shady) and sought out the legendary Luvadamuff Tribe.

Priscilla’s Journal indicated that her translator knew of the tribe and location, and reassured her that the Luvadamuff tribe was a peaceful people. She also entered in her journal complaints of her translator’s pidgin English his hygiene, and his tendency to laugh when she questioned him about tribal customs. Her journal indicates that her translator promised her that she would not be harmed and assured her that she would indeed be eaten. The last entry in her journal describes the Luvadamuff tribe:

“THE PEOPLE ARE DARK SKINNED AND ABORIGINAL IN FACIAL CHARACTERISTICS.
THEY ARE SMALL IN STATURE WITH THE TALLEST COMING TO JUST ABOVE MY WAIST

THEY APPEAR TO BE ORGANIZED IN SMALL FAMILY GROUPS, LIVING IN HUT LIKE STRUCTURES WITH ELABORATE SLEEPING QUARTERS BUT NO INDIVIDUALCOOKING OR BATHING ACCOMMODATIONS. THE ART IS CRUDE, AND FEATURES A GREAT MANY DEPICYIONS OF SEXUAL PERVERSION. FEMALE GENTALIA ARE PROMINENTLY FEATURED

ALL MEAL PREPARATION APPEARS TO BE DONE AS A COMMUNITY AT THE CENTER OF THE CAMP. THEIR DIET APPEARS TO CONSIST PRIMARILY OF NUTS AND FRUITS GATHERED FROM THE RAINFOREST, AND A GREAT DEAL OF FISH.

I AM TO BE THE GUEST OF HONOR TONIGHT AT A FEAST.”

No further entries were found. The Luvadamuff tribe was never located by any other member of the Global Adventure Society. No further complaints came from Miss Adkins. She is missing and presumed eaten.

by mews 6:09 PM


 
"It's Pretty Soldier Sailor Linguist!"

I knew this already, but writing a year of these essays has made it really apparent: Jed made college a lot more fun.

In our dorm, dry-erase boards were a significant form of communication and social commentary. Sure, people would leave each other notes, but they would also post manifestos and opinion polls and jokes. And the communication was certainly two-way.

With a reference to Sailor Moon, Jed would leave notes on my door addressed to "Pretty Soldier Sailor Something-or-Other." My favorite was Pretty Soldier Sailor Linguist. I started signing in on the PSSFS answer sheets under that moniker, or variants of it.

And it fits, because I can write that phrase in phonetic transcription. I can diagram it using X-bar Theory. I can converse comfortably about conversational implicatures and performative utterances and lexical accessing and all manner of stuff that has nothing to do with software development.

At heart, a part of me will always be Pretty Soldier Sailor Linguist.

by Sharon 3:17 PM


 
Cunning linguist

by mews 12:36 PM




{Monday, July 21, 2003}

 
Faith is travelin'.
time shift

by Sharon 1:37 PM




{Sunday, July 20, 2003}

 
I’m told I look very young for a 40-year old –a compliment that any 40-year-old likes to hear – which is remarkable only in that I am in fact 105 years of age. I’ve seen the turning of two centuries now, although admittedly I was merely two years old for the first, and, baring any unforeseen accidents may well see the next and perhaps even more. I’m not sure it would be fair to say I know myself to be immortal so much as I’ve no reason to believe otherwise.

I would like to say I know the reason behind my long-lived nature but, truth to tell it is, after all of these years, a mystery. I am, obviously, not a vampire nor as far as I can tell, blessed nor cursed by any of the other traditional explanations for the immortality of legend. Recently I was intrigued by the series of movies and television shows concerning a people known as immortals of which the main character was a highlander. It did set me to wonder if these stories were based on fact and that I was in-fact such a person. Unlike those of the stories, however, no one has ever contacted me so as to explain my involvement in this society, and, fortunately, thus far no one has assaulted me, sword in hand, in a secluded and foggy alleyway. Given the fact that I’ve never learned the first thing about sword play it would be a short and ugly encounter.

This brings me to another point: I’m not well-versed in such things as science fiction and fantasy. I mention this only to say that such popular works of fiction that I have read might suggest I travel the world in search of my origins. Perhaps I should search out ancient temples of the Himalayas, study ancient wisdoms of the Americas, scour the jungles of Africa or the back alleys of Paris. Truth to tell I’ve done none of these things; I’ve lived a most ordinary life in all respects, other than it being an unusually long one in which I’ve aged little, if at all, in the past 60 years.

And so, not feeling sufficiently compelled to become a world traveler in search of this peculiar aspect of my life, I will continue my life as a simple potter and hope no one shows up at my door convinced that “there can be only one” for whatever reason.






by Shawn 10:45 AM




{Saturday, July 19, 2003}

 
My dad had a bumpersticker that said
you, too, will be old soon
on the back of his truck.

by MisterNihil 4:18 AM




{Friday, July 18, 2003}

 
Last weekend was the Oregon Country Fair. My family spent a lovely day at the Fair. The Country fair has neither bumper cars nor Blue-ribboned heifers. It started out as Renaissance faire, morphed into a hippie fest, and has evolved into a counter-culture carnival of the weird and wonderful. The fair site is acres and acres of forested trails winding along the Long Tom River in Oregon’s Willamette valley. There are many permanent booths set in the trees, hundreds of temporary vendor carts, along the trails, and a chinese dragon greets you at one of the entrances. There are affirmations hanging from the trees, structures dedicated to contemplation, yoga classes in the shade, and you can learn to juggle in a meadow. You can buy any hand-made item you can conceive of there (and many that you never would have imagined) it is probably the faerie wing capital of the world. But I have never gone there to shop. You go for the energy.

Everyone at the fair is beautiful. And so are you. From the nouveau hippie chicks with their beautifully painted titties, to the sixtyish women wearing tutus and sparkle paint. There are Bikers in kilts, and dancers on stilts. There is music everywhere, rock and roll at the Main stage, acoustic folk at the Shady Grove, belly dancers at the Gypsy Caravan, vaudeville lives at the WC Fields stage to name but a few, and all along the trails are smaller groups of musicians playing for change. Every once in a while a parade comes by. And of course there is the drum circle. Dozens of percussionists play together. The drumming arouses the Dancer. The Dancer inspires the Drum. Together they are a pure, primal exaltation of YES.

The Fair is a license to reconnect with the child in you, and with you, (if you happen to bring yours along) play dress-up; clap your hands; get reacquainted with glee. It is an opportunity to don your faerie best and cast off your mundane ties. It is an invitation to dream of a better world and to remember how very good this one can be. I spent a good deal of my time at the playground with my kids playing on the enormous copper slide built around an ancient Cedar. Every time I went down that slide staff volunteers sang out: “Big kid coming down.” I spent the whole day smiling.

by mews 8:10 PM


 
at the fair

by Sharon 12:09 PM




{Thursday, July 17, 2003}

 
What's that noise?! I startle, looking over my shoulder to see what I can see. Hm. Nothing there.

Again! I twirl around this time, hoping to catch the noise-maker with my speedy appearance. Waiting ... nope. Nothing there.

And again! Maybe jumping around is faster. I leap into the air behind me, ready for a fight. Still. Nothing. There.

Quietly, waiting. The noise again. I pause, feign nonchalance, and then POUNCE! Catching my tormentor with my fierce jaws, I bite down hard and give him a good shake.

Damn. My tail. That hurt. I slink off to nurse my wounded pride.

by Faith 6:09 PM


 
I turned around to find the thing that made the sound

by Bryan 11:55 AM




{Wednesday, July 16, 2003}

 
There she was, breezing toward the bus stop. It was too late to exit gracefully; she'd already spied me.

"Darling Cecil! I haven't seen you in nearly a year! How are you, dearest? You know, we really ought to keep in better touch. We were so close, after all! Are you still grieving over Elliott? Because you shouldn't dear, not really. Oh, yes, he's a handful. Quite more than you could handle, I imagine. Sometimes, darling, I really do think I'm going to kick him right out of our bed. Yes, it's true, but making up is such good fun, he's so good at making me forget! Oh, but I probably shouldn't be telling you this, dear. Of course, I'm sure you're over him by now, it's been so long, don't you think we can be friends again? We were so close, after all! Oh, would you just look at the time! I do prattle on so. Anyway, darling, do ring us this weekend, our number's in the book now. I'd so much love to have you over, and I'm sure Elliott would be quite interested to see you again, too, my dear. So much to catch up! Oop, there's my bus, must go! Ta!"

And that, dear friends, is how I missed my bus.

by Faith 6:30 PM


 
Something wicked this way comes

by Shawn 11:11 AM




{Tuesday, July 15, 2003}

 
Amanda was taking a study break. She had been excited when she got into the honors courses as a junior. She might even get college credit if she did solid research. But her temporal sociology paper was not going well. She needed a diversion. She went down to the Safeway on the corner and was picking out some junk food and caffeine when she saw him. He was gorgeous: sandy hair, hazel eyes, glinting with sweet mischief, a thoroughly kissable mouth that broke into an easy impish grin that revealed dimples you could park a truck in. He carried himself as someone who has been told repeatedly that he was wonderful, and had come to believe it. He had a jaunty walk and a thrilling lack of self-consciousness, an absolute lust for life. He flirted audaciously, and indiscriminately. In short, this guy was a charmer, and he held every woman (and not a few men) in the supermarket in his thrall.

It occurred to her then that he would make an excellent case study for her paper. What would this guy be like in twenty years? She purposely bumped him garnering a harsh look from the older woman (clearly his mother) accompanying him, and slapped a tracer on him. “I’ll see you in the future Buddy” she said, and flashed forward in time to check out Price Charming at twenty-two

by mews 6:31 PM


 
“I’ll see you in the future”, William tried to sound confident, his voice revealing but a slight hint of the panic he was really feeling. He held Tangerine’s gaze as long as he could; any longer and it would be obvious that it was in fact he, who was looking for reassurance.

Time travel. All the math was right. Sixty-seven years and millions, no, billions of dollars had paved the way to this moment, when two Temporalnauts sat on the launch pad waiting to make history. So-to- speak. It was sound science, laid out by the most brilliant minds of the 22nd century. Every possible scenario had been played out again and again in computer simulations; every contingency had been accounted for and every system had a dozen failsafe redundant backup systems ready to kick in. There was however one problem: No one knew if time travel was possible.

In theory, and countless simulations, it was not only possible but far simpler that one might think. Most of the time and money spent by the project was done so exploring why it might NOT work. It turned out that the key to time travel was a simple matter of deciding to slip out of the currently accepted linear paradigm. Mind over matter as it were. Granted, it required a mind augmented by a billion dollars worth of electronics, but still, it came down to willing oneself out of the timestream and into the future. The researchers decided it was safer for all concerned to travel forward instead of back in time to avoid the messy issue of changing the past.

William sat back and tried to relax. He could feel the link kick in and a moment later he was no longer William, not in the way that matters anyhow, now he was but one part of The Tesseract – the name given to the sentient unit made up of three humans (two time travelers and one stationary controller) and the computer A.I. – that would now usher in a change in the universe.

by Shawn 3:51 PM


 
I'll see you in the future.

by Fred 4:32 AM




{Monday, July 14, 2003}

 
I remember sitting in a pizza parlor (though I can't remember the name of the pizza parlor), watching him flex his fingers.

When we hiked at Pedernalis Falls, I was fascinated by the rocks. Here was something so stationary, so permanent, depicting the memory of dynamic water. A photograph of water would not capture the movement the way that these rocks, lovingly sculpted for centuries, did.

Greg's hand was like that.

His skin was yellow and pink--scar-colored--and intact, but it was a frozen fluid. This was skin that had flowed. He told us, that day, over pizza with yellow cheese gapping to reveal red sauce, how it happened. As a teenager, he'd held a job in a factory. A machine sealed plastic by pressing it between two hot, metal plates. Greg got in the way once.

I was probably 15, in that pizza parlor. I wish I could remember its name. They had a delicious white pizza.

by Sharon 11:59 PM


 
(reposting this for Margaret from the office)


Paul Revere Jones a.k.a. Pinky, once again regretted his hasty departure form
his mother's house. His thin jacket was ill equipped to protect him from the
late December cold of the Catskills. Emmy Lou Jones would never forgive her
son for the murder of Mrs. Tubbs. He had acted out of rage and a long
simmering resentment. He took that Meat hook and bashed her right between
the eyes. She was dead before she hit the ground.

Joe Tubbs was a lazy old boar, quite content to sleep all day and night, but
his mate was a mean old sow full of spite and malice. Mrs. Tubbs had given
Pinky his nickname six years earlier when he was a mere boy doing his
chores. He went to slop his mothers prize hogs, and Mrs. Tubbs mauled his
left hand, taking his little finger clean off. This morning, he had gone
down to the smoke house, which was ironically stationed next to the sty. He
was going to fetch the Christmas ham when he saw Old Joe Tubbs trying to
scratch himself on the stile. Pinky ambled over just intending to lend a
scritch to the old fella when that wicked old pig came over and tried to
take a bite out of his calf. He struck without thinking and now he was
wishing he had a scarf.

He figured he would hole up in the hills a while until his mother cooled
off, but he had gotten turned around in the woods, and darkness would be
falling soon. He was starting to feel a rising panic. Just then he heard a
raspy voice. "You look like you could use a bit of a warm-up young squire."
Pinky then saw a most extraordinary fellow. He was a bit on the short side.
His garments were an odd mix of household appointments and wildly
unfashionable clothes: his shoes were fashioned from pink bathmats; he wore
orange woolen trousers and a Kelly green sweatshirt from Slippery Rock
University; a red gingham café curtain was wrapped around his neck as a
muffler; and a lurid blue tie sporting a portly hula girl was tied around
his exceptional head. Multi-colored Christmas lights blinked off and on
illuminating his face, and what a face it was. His eyes were black raisins
crackling with mischief. His nose was a parsnip. His mouth was wide and
full of kernels for teeth. His head was an enormous radish. "Would you
care for a wee nip young master? I have had six or seven beers this
evening, or I would join you. C'mon it will do you some good"

Pinky threw caution to the wind and sampled the fiery liquid in radish-head'
s flask. He woke many many hours later. The air was warm and floral-scented. Pinky was in a silken chamber attended upon by huge moths. "Oh thank goodness you awoke the guests have all
arrived " fluttered one." "We were ever so afraid that she would never
marry again after the last time." The bride entered then. She was an
enormous Preying Mantis, of a lovely spring green, and she wore a gown spun from spiders-silk and an elegant purple hat. She chittered at her attendants and then spoke to Pinky in a rich
contralto. "You are to be my bridegroom.” The ceremony took place on the Shores of Lake Penelope. “And now we consummaaaaaa” Jay, an uninvited guest swooped down upon the bride, knocking her hat in the lake and carried her off as an offering to a visiting dignitary, Cardinal Birdsong. The marriage was legally binding; Pinky inherited a lovely rose-covered cottage and never had to slop hogs again.







by mews 5:11 PM


 
Repressed memory flooded Candace's mind. She didn't remember any of it, and after the very traumatic moment all she had was a new repressed memory, the picture of a fire in her mind's eye, and a single tear, running down the side of her nose. She was momentarily paralyzed then sat down hard on the stone steps where she had stood. She stared out at the shops along the boulevard until the tear ran into her right nostril and tickled the hairs inside, making her jump and sneeze. She remembered the fire again, but again only a flash. It was red; it was hot; it was clearly fire; she had seen small fires before, but this one seemed to be big.
She stood and turned right and left, looking up the street. She was aware that she had just repressed a memory, and that it was a memory of repressed memories, and the word "meta" came into her mind and left like a leaf blown in by the wind. She descended the stairs to street level and turned back to look again at the building. It was an old grocery store in which she had bought an apple, a box of crackers and a mini cheese wheel. She held the plastic bag in her hand. With a tiny jolt, she remembered about the apple and reached into the bag. It had a soft spot coming on one side; never a good sign with apples. She bit into the crisp side, determined to salvage what she could. She hated the soft spots on apples.
And Fire.
The voice hissed in the back of her mind. Candace had never hated fire before, any more than anybody else. It was hot and it could hurt you, but beyond that she had no problem with it. She bit again into the apple, chewing happily and trying to remember what she had remembered and forgotten again so infuriatingly just moments before.
She walked up the street to her apartment building, and started up the stairs to her room.

by MisterNihil 3:11 PM


 
No matter where you live (as long as it's in the US)(the continental US)(The 48 contiguous states, at least)(and Puerto Rico) it's after noon, so
Fire
when ready.

by MisterNihil 3:00 PM




{Sunday, July 13, 2003}

 
"Are you out there, can you hear this?"


--Dar Williams

by Faith 7:04 PM




{Friday, July 11, 2003}

 
“Let’s make a Deal”! Pinky’s head swam amidst the cacophony of blaring music, cheering audience and chaos of plaid, lime green jumpsuits, wide ties, sideburns, and leisure suits. Twenty-five years and four days later much of the experience of being in the audience was a blur, but, several things stuck with her: Monty Hall was shorter than she imagined, his brown and yellow striped tie was hideous, the handsome man in the sport coat that sat next to her was named Steve, and she had no crackers in her pocket. If she had she would have won a dinner for two at The Brown Derby, and she would have invited Steve. Her husband Joe had refused to come with her on the trip insisting that the whole thing was just a bunch of bullshit. She would have invited Steve, they would’ve had a wonderful evening together, and then, who knows?

Twenty-five years and nine days later Joe Tubbs was called down to the lake front to answer questions about his wife’s alleged suicide. It seems her hat had been found on the shore by Phil Harbilnger, who was combing the beech with his metal detector. Going by her maiden name, a point that in itself was a bit suspect, Pinky Jones had left a suicide note in the lunch room of the Westland Savings and Loan where she worked 3 days a week.

Tubbs doubted it was an actual suicide, for no particular reason other than he just didn’t imagine Pinky having that sort of resolve. Still, it did simplify his life considerably. He was pretty sure she knew about his on-going affair with Suizie, the loan officer at Westland savings and Loan, and this meant he would avoid the unpleasant confrontation and likely divorce. He didn’t love Suzie by any means, but she could certainly suck a golf ball through a garden hose, and that was something in itself.
Twenty five years and three days after Pinky had been on Let’s Make A Deal, Earnest “Radish-Head Smithers was working on his 6th beer of the evening when the slightly dumpy yet reasonably attractive middle-aged teller from the Westland Savings and Loan walked into Benny’s Sea-side tavern. Ernest could be found here most evenings and Wednesday night was no exception. She knew him well enough to know he was poor enough that money would buy discretion enough, and eight beers later she had charted a boat.

That night, as Earnest “Raddish-Head” Smithers slept below deck, in a drunken stupor, Pinky Jones slipped into the water and swam off towards shore and a new life in Canada.

by Shawn 4:31 PM


 
The Pinky Jones had gone to the dogs. William hardly recognized the place. If it hadn't been for the hand-stenciled P and J on the sign above the bar (or the familiar sight of old Ernest "Radish-head" Smither drinking himself blind at the far end of it), he might have suspected he was lost and walked back outside.

"What'll ya have?" the bartender asked, looking up. He eyed William with a kind of bored suspicion. The name "Louis" was stitched in red across his lapel, while a hideous clot of metallic purple and brown polkadots that might have been a tie hung around his neck.

"Is Joe Tubbs around?" William asked. He took a seat. "I need to talk with him."

"Huh," said Louis. "That's gonna be tough. Tubbs's been dead for 'bout five years now. Talkin' to 'im ain't gonna do you much good."

"What?" asked William. "Dead? When'd that happen?"

The bartender sighed. "Like I said, 'bout five years ago. Got himself drowned in Lake Penelope. Him and that pretty wife of his."

Louis paused, wiped at a corner of the bar with his rag.

"'Course, all they ever found of her was her hat, washed up on shore."

"I didn't even know he was married," said William. "I've -- well, I've been away."

"Hardly married more'n a week," said Louis. "But still, legal and bindin'. Her kid's the one who got the bar after Tubbs was gone." He leaned in closer. "I think you can see we've seen better days."

"Yeah," said William. He frowned. "I haven't been here in a while, though, not since -- well, not since that night on the seventh when Ernie down there drank himself to the hospital with twenty-three beers. I was kind of hoping Joe'd be able to give me a job."

Again the bartender sighed. "Tough to manage when you're sleepin' with the fishes," he said. "And the kid, she don't hire nobody. 'Tween you an' me, she ain't even paid the property taxes on this place the past couple'a years."

"It's changed a lot, that's for sure," said William.

"Yeah," said Louis. "I dunno. She used to have this judge, a real cracker, in her pocket. But he up and died last April. I guess the new guy doesn't take kindly to bribes. Only matter'a time before they shut us down."

"Oh. Damn. I was really banking on Joe still being here. I really could use the money."

"Wish I could help ya, kid," Louis said. "But one thing the Pinky Jones ain't doin', is hirin'."

by Fred 4:11 PM


 
She is sitting on a park bench. She is expecting an answer. She is wearing a pink hat with cherries on top. She is pretending to read a book, but hasn't turned a page in twenty six minutes. The book is written in French. She only speaks Chinese, but the average person walking past on the street could not know this. She is expecting an answer.

He is walking past a tree again, looking up at the branches. He knows she expects an answer, and he knows what is in his pocket. From where he is, he can see her sitting on a park bench, over the pond in the middle of the park. She hasn't seen him, he believes, or if she has, she has fooled him. He sighs, shrugs and begins the long trek around the pond to where she sits.

She is waiting by the pond, expecting an answer. She is looking only at one word in the book, et, which is a conjunction. She knows this. It is the one word in French she knows, and is a useful one. Out of the corner of her eye, she spots him walking around the pond. She doesn't flinch or look up, but sits, staring at the one word of French she knows in a book full of strange words and stranger symbols. He walks past, and a piece of paper flutters out of his hand to the ground. A long moment later, she stands, stretches, and walks over to it. She picks it up nonchalontly (a word she does not know), and walks over toward the garbage can. She crumples the paper and palms it, pretending it throw it away. She walks some hundred feet before carefully uncrumpling it, and reading what she hopes will be her answer. Luckily for her, the paper is written in Chinese. On it is written:
1. Where did Pinky Jones Go?
2. Why did Her Hat wash up on the shore of Lake Penelope?
3. Was the Marriage Legal and Binding?
4. How ugly was that necktie?
She shutters.

by MisterNihil 11:51 AM


 
Topics like magic:
A List of Questions Instead

Please write a story that answers some or all of the following questions.
1. Where did Pinky Jones go?
2. Why Did Her Hat wash up on the shore of Lake Penelope?
3. How Many Beers did Ernest "Radish-head" Smither drink on the night of the seventh?
4. Was the Marriage Legal and Binding?
5. If she'd had a cracker in her pocket, how would things have been different?
6. Was it Murder, Suicide, or Tax Evasion?
7. How ugly was that necktie?
8. Who died, and how? Was there a crime committed?
9. How can Joe Tubbs sleep at night?

by MisterNihil 4:37 AM




{Thursday, July 10, 2003}

 
It was an Xmas present. She had always wanted a quality mountain bike, and now she had a good one and a great place to ride it too. Okay. No more excuses then. She took it out on the trails. And what trails they were. Twisting through the woods, they climbed up and down hills under a glorious canopy of second growth forest. Some of the cedars were a couple of hundred years old; there were brambles and undergrowth, fern and fungi. The sun shone. The beautiful green of the trees were set against a brilliant blue sky.

She left behind the cares of her homely duties. She was mighty. She was extreme. She careened down the trail at break-neck speed. She bounced over roots and artfully arranged logs and mini-ramps. Sweat poured off her chunky form. She had been warned to stay on the beginner’s trails. They told her that the advanced rider paths got pretty hairy. Adrenaline coursed through her veins. She forgot she was a middle-aged housewife, and headed around the blind curve. Then she remembered. The hill was damn near a 90-degree angle. It leveled out with a wooden ramp jumping a small creek. There was a chunk of wood missing from that ramp. AIEEEEEEAAAY.

by mews 4:33 PM


 
flat tire

by jal 6:59 AM




{Wednesday, July 09, 2003}

 
"What'll ya have?"

"Can of air please."

"We got Mountain Mist, Ocean Breeze, or California Smog."

"California Smog? What's that?"

"Our number one best seller. Like standing on the freeway in Los Angeles in the middle of rush hour one hundred and eighty years ago. Relive those glorious, exhaust fume-filled days of yesteryear."

"Gee, how much?"

"Ninety-eight Ameri-credits even."

"That's pretty steep."

"What can I say? It's good smog. You won't find air like this in any industrialized nation on the planet, guaranteed."

"Or my money back?"

"I never said that."

"Well, I've never actually smelled smog before..."

"Few have. The clear-air regulations of 2175 made it all but impossible. Betcha ain't never seen a real live carcinogen neither."

"A carcino--what?"

"Carcinogen. An agent or substance what causes cancer. They were all the rage a hundred years ago."

"Gee, do you -- do you have any?"

"What kinda antiques dealer would I be if I didn't? Lookit here."

"It's just a little white stick."

"You set one end of this stick on fire, the other end in your mouth, and through a simple and prolonged process of inhalation you're dead of lung cancer in thirty or forty years, you mark my words."

"Golly. I don't know anybody who gets lung cancer anymore."

"It's a great conversation starter."

"How much?"

"Two fifty-seven, but I'll throw in this easily ignitable piece of scratchable wood which the primitive tribes of this area once called 'a match'."

"I'll take it!"

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
They said it was the air conditioning, making people sick, so they'd quit..
They said there wasn't nothing to worry about and there wasn't nothing wrong with nothing but the air conditioning.
They said, don't panic, don't worry, don't think about it. They'd get a new unit.
I knew better, though. I see them at night. I'm the only one, now, but I know. They transferred me off the night shift, but I saw 'em before I left, creepin' in the ducts. It isn't the old a/c. Not just the old a/c.
It's the squiddies.
The unit they brought in was off a ship off the South Pacific that had been lost. When it showed up, two years later, the Chinese a/c units on it were already obsolete, so they sold 'em at cost to the highest bidder. They hooked them things up to the building, and everything was pretty fine, for a while.
Then I started seein' em. Them squiddies, peeking out of the ducts. I could hear them, if I was real quiet and it was late at night. Nobody else knew, and when I made assistant manager and up the day shift, I didn't see them any more. They only comes out at night, so they only eats the maintenance folks. They started moving people back to the night shift now, and I know it won't be long.
They keep taking about attrition rates an' employee loyalty, but I know: It's them squiddies.
I seen them eat Redfield my last night on the graveyard. That's how I know. Me and him was walkin in the tunnels under the building, looking for rats and they just spewed out a vent and all over him. It was like he melted and there was just puddle of them clear, blue squiddies. Then one of them jumped up and turned its one big eye at me, and it just looked at me, not moving. Then they all jumped out of that puddle of redfield, and turned to look at me. I turned and ran, but not before I heard 'em start drinking him up, like slu-u-urp, slu-urp and I almost hadda stop to vomit. I held it in and ran, though.
If they put me back on that night shift, I'll quit, but I'll be the only one. They said Redfield deserted, but I know: he's in them squids, gliding through the air shafts, lookin for another easy meal.

by MisterNihil 3:39 PM


 
CANNED AIR

by Bryan 3:31 AM




{Tuesday, July 08, 2003}

 
I wake up. I'm late for my wedding. It's half-past-two already. I'll never get my hair ready in time. I pull on jeans and a shirt, figuring I'll tie my shoes once I'm there. They can't start without me, right?

There's construction everywhere. Traffic is crawling, there are orange cones blocking every route, there are stupid men with flags in my way. I am getting later and later. And now I am lost. I don't remember where the wedding is, it's somewhere in Nazareth, and I'm trapped in gridlock on I 35. Which exit is it? I don't know. I could just get onto the frontage road and drive through traffic lights until I find it, but they don't have frontage roads in Pennsylvania. My face is too greasy for wedding photos.

I wake up. Thank god, that was a dream. But I am late for work! I have an install today, people are waiting on me, and it's two hours later in Brazil. I'm letting Amy down. I pull on a t-shirt and can't find my jeans, so I hope no one will notice.

There's contruction everywhere. Traffic is terrible. My project is getting later and later, we're going to miss our install window and have to wait until after moratorium, and I'm trapped in gridlock on I 35. My cell phone battery is dead, I can't call in. Why am I even on this stupid highway?

I wake up. Stupid work dreams. I don't work anymore, I'm on maternity leave. But I'm going to miss my plane. I'm going to have the baby next week, and I haven't told Mom yet, and I have to catch this flight up to Pennsylvania. I pull on a dress. My jeans won't fit. My shoes don't fit either, but I struggle with them. I nearly fall down the stairs.

There's contruction everywhere. Traffic is beastly. I'm going to miss my flight, my contractions are starting, and I am trapped in gridlock on 183. Jonathan took the bus, he'll be there already, wondering where I am. I can't drive! I'm going into labor!

I wake up. It's Saturday. Toastmasters can kiss my ass.

by Sharon 5:23 PM


 
What it is, he thought to himself, is enough to make you think twice about love.
First, you have to just have that fleeting thought, but then you have to listen to that voice in the back of your mind and the one coming from her mouth and stop and really reconsider what it means. Love. It's forever, right? I mean, that's the presumption. It's powerful, right? It can move mountains and make men stop drinking beer. It's what makes the world go 'round.
But those are all first thoughts. They're all what you thinkbefore you think.
If love were forever, you'd never get new shoes. If love were that powerful, most men would be dead the first time a woman was mad at them (so, like, before age 6 for most of us, he chuckled). If It made the world go 'round, then... what? He ran out of steam.
And he stood, blank, and he thought again.
Love is:
He pictured two fat, cherubic, naked people hugging and looking holier-than-thou, saying something insipid and infuriating like "Love is Gazing at Him Through Two Black Eyes," or "Love is Three Beers and a Tequila Chaser." He hated those comics. When he was a kid, he'd rip them out of the paper every Sunday and burn them in the back yard. He'd laugh gleefuly as they flared and blackened.
He turned back to her and said, "Yeah, I'll go get milk."
"Thanks, Hon," she said, not looking up from her book.

by MisterNihil 3:54 PM


 
Mawwiage: A dweam, within a dweam


by Shawn 3:41 AM




{Monday, July 07, 2003}

 
“I go out walkin' after midnight
Out in the moonlight, just like we used to do
I'm always walkin' after midnight
Searchin' for you

I walk for miles along the highway. . .”

But you must know that. Surely, you remember. That is how I came to be in this condition. Hit and run. But you know, I still haven’t figured out why. Did you get scared? Was there someone else? What did you gain from taking everything from me? Was it just the thrill? It was sure no accident.

“I stop to see a weepin' willow
Cryin' on his pillow
Maybe he's cryin' for me. . .”

Do you ever? Or are you the no regrets type. Do the night winds whisper to you? Are you lonesome in the gloom? I always imagined We Who Walk as cold specters. Wraiths. But that has not been my experience. We burn. Every one of us has a mission, a passion. The fever upon me is vengeance. It will not be quelled, until. In the meantime,

“I go out walkin' after midnight
Out in the starlight, just hopin' you may be
Somewhere a-walkin' after midnight. . .”

by mews 7:51 PM


 
A recall notice? For ME? Aren't those things for parents that never heard the screams of their infants when they got their heads stuck between the bars of a crib and came wandering into the room just too late to save the kid but with plenty of time left to sue? I mean, what of mine could cause danger to small, unsupervised children? Well, okay, you got me there.

Oh. It's for my car. Damn. I thought my relationship with car dealers was over. Kaput. Finished. Having negotiated my first purchase of a FSBO* car, my triumphant success left me swaggering past the evil auto giants, vowing never to return. Yet here they are, back from the dead, refusing to gracefully exit my life upon request. Hmm, much like a few other people I could name. Maybe it's me. Heh.

Where was I going? Something about dead. Right, like I'm supposed to be if, uh, let's see what this says: if I continue to drive at highway speeds on a flat tire, the tire might disintegrate, which might puncture the wheel well and then the fuel neck, causing a fuel leak, which in turn, were I to then exit the vehicle and smoke a cigarrette while changing my tire (now nigh on impossible, with a destroyed wheel), that might cause a fire. Small children belted into the backseat and left in the running, fuel-spilling car might die while I wandered off to find a bucket of water.

I knew there had to be small children. There's always small children in these things. Or maybe it's just a device: like authors, referring back to their first paragraph to find closure, recall notices must involve small children. Children lend legitimacy. Or something. But hey, at least I got kids in the both first and last paragraphs! Take that, Volkswagen.

---
*For Sale By Owner

by Faith 6:20 PM


 
Dead shifted his weight from one foot to the other in an uncomfortable fidgeting action, it didn’t help; he was annoyed at the prospect of returning to the Meat World. And while he appreciated the intended irony of the Grateful Dead musak that played on the, insufferably long, elevator ride from The Shadow to the land of the living, he found the wanton butchering of one of his favorite bands unforgivable, particularly when coupled with a 57 minute, gratuitous ride. Gratuitous in that the elevator transition was strictly metaphoric, as, there was no actual space separating the two realms per se. It was just put into place to offer travelers a time to reflect and adjust.

Dead was on the job. One of the nastier Pit Shades had flown the coop and headed topside, the Big Apple specifically. This never ended well. The Council had decided Dead was the agent for the job as, when alive, he was a detective in New York and then, as now, always got his man. Or, well, apparition, spook, demon, ghoul or what have you.

One thing the elevator ride did afford him was a chance to strategize. Shades favored the nightclubs, so the best plan was to hijack a Skin, glamour his Soul Club into a cane (quite popular with the neo-punks these days) and following up leads. Shades were quite capable of subtlety but tended to be boisterous when they first hit the surface; this is when they would leave clues. In the shape of corpses that is. His wire-wrapped iron club shifted into the likeness of a common walking stick as the elevator doors opened onto East 53rd street. To a passersby it was simply an empty cargo elevator.

by Shawn 3:41 PM


 
...more than that, I'm tired. I mean, the need to eat... b-b-b... it'll always be there, but since I started on coffee and pudding, I don't miss it too much."
"Thank you, Billy. That was very brave. Would anybody else like to share? I see we have a visitor. Sir, would you like to share?"
"Um... yeah... My name is Robert-"
"Hi Robert!" intones the ensemble."
"-yeah. Thanks. Um... and I eat brains."
"Now Robert, we all used to eat brains, but remember: every day you don't eat brains is a day you aren't a brain-eater."
"Um, yeah. So, my name is Robert, and I'm a member of the walking dead. I've been dead for about two years now, and I only just heard of the group. I used to eat brains all the time, y'know? I'd just eat brains all weekend until I thought I'd pop, but now I'm ready to try to go straight. I never liked it, I just couldn't help myself. I didn't know I had a choice.
"See, my dad was a zombie, too, and I thought, like, because he was and I'd grown up seeing that, that it was OK. I didn't even think, hey! I could, like, not eat brains. I've been trying since I found you guys, but I broke down in the lobby and at a little bit of a bellboy's brain. But you know what? I didn't like it. I'm ready for this."
"Thank you Robert. That was very brave."

I was gonna do a post about being alive and awake, seeind how it's Monday and all, but there hadda be a zombies post, yeah? Funny thing, both posts were gonna start with that line.

by MisterNihil 9:21 AM


 
Seeing how it's Monday and all...
back from the dead

by Fred 5:00 AM




{Sunday, July 06, 2003}

 
(Trying to do some Blogger trouble shooting to see why Margaret's post isn't going through) Shawn

I caught it (him?) in the garden. He was just like I remembered him, horned furry head, scaly legs, many pointed teeth, terrible sharp claws, and of course there were the stripes. There was one exception though, “Wow its really you, I haven’t seen you in years. Umm you’re smaller than I remember.” “Yep, of course you were just a little kid last time I came by, I am surprised you can see me at all. Grown-ups usually can’t.” “Really? Oh I see you just fine, but man I thought you were so much bigger.”

“Nope I have always been the same size. That’s cause of the book of course. Maury got all kinds of credit for drawing me and my pals, like he made us up or something. He didn’t, he just had a really exceptional garden. Those drawings are actual size. If you pay attention to some of his other books you will see that same kid over and over. Ever read In the Night Kitchen, same model, and Pierre, same model. Even Really Rosie, he just changed the hair a bit.

“Well you know that’s fascinating, and I think you’re just swell but what are you doing in my begonias, besides the dancing I mean.” “Oh I probably came to remind you.” “Remind me of what?” “Remind you that you can still see me.” “Well thank you.” He left then. So I put down my garden shears, picked up the cat and waltzed among my flowers, and memories.

by Shawn 6:27 PM


 
(Trying to do some Blogger trouble shooting to see why Margaret's post isn't going through) Shawn

I caught it (him?) in the garden. He was just like I remembered him, horned furry head, scaly legs, many pointed teeth, terrible sharp claws, and of course there were the stripes. There was one exception though, “Wow its really you, I haven’t seen you in years. Umm you’re smaller than I remember.” “Yep, of course you were just a little kid last time I came by, I am surprised you can see me at all. Grown-ups usually can’t.” “Really? Oh I see you just fine, but man I thought you were so much bigger.”

“Nope I have always been the same size. That’s cause of the book of course. Maury got all kinds of credit for drawing me and my pals, like he made us up or something. He didn’t, he just had a really exceptional garden. Those drawings are actual size. If you pay attention to some of his other books you will see that same kid over and over. Ever read In the Night Kitchen, same model, and Pierre, same model. Even Really Rosie, he just changed the hair a bit.

“Well you know that’s fascinating, and I think you’re just swell but what are you doing in my begonias, besides the dancing I mean.” “Oh I probably came to remind you.” “Remind me of what?” “Remind you that you can still see me.” “Well thank you.” He left then. So I put down my garden shears, picked up the cat and waltzed among my flowers, and memories.

by mews 6:24 PM


 
I caught it (him?) in the garden. He was just like I remembered him, horned furry head, scaly legs, many pointed teeth, terrible sharp claws, and of course there were the stripes. There was one exception though, “Wow its really you, I haven’t seen you in years. Umm you’re smaller than I remember.” “Yep, of course you were just a little kid last time I came by, I am surprised you can see me at all. Grown-ups usually can’t.” “Really? Oh I see you just fine, but man I thought you were so much bigger.”

“Nope I have always been the same size. That’s cause of the book of course. Maury got all kinds of credit for drawing me and my pals, like he made us up or something. He didn’t, he just had a really exceptional garden. Those drawings are actual size. If you pay attention to some of his other books you will see that same kid over and over. Ever read In the Night Kitchen, same model, and Pierre, same model. Even Really Rosie, he just changed the hair a bit.

“Well you know that’s fascinating, and I think you’re just swell but what are you doing in my begonias, besides the dancing I mean.” “Oh I probably came to remind you.” “Remind me of what?” “Remind you that you can still see me.” “Well thank you.” He left then. So I put down my garden shears, picked up the cat and waltzed among my flowers, and memories.

by mews 12:23 AM




{Saturday, July 05, 2003}

 
wild thing

by mews 6:56 AM




{Thursday, July 03, 2003}

 
When the aliens came back and explained everything it all made perfect sense.
We didn't really spontaneously evolve from monkeys. They implanted a bio-chip in monkey brains. Those monkeys produced monkeys with better brains, which evolved, slowly, into us. It's what happened to them, they said. It's the real circle of life. One race evolves, develops space travel and finds a lesser species to help along.
It would have been uncharitable for us to push them away. They were so kind as to help us when we were just monkeys. They just needed a place to stay for a while. No trouble, really. We set them up in model homes in the Hamptons. They were immediate, if momentary, celebrities. Everybody wanted to be seen with them. Until the strange deaths started.
Of course, we couldn't blame them. It was just what they ate. The Olsen twins went first, brutally murdered and dismembered in their Malibu home. Then, most of the cast of Friends. After the show ended, I think many of the die-hard fans were glad to see the cast stopped from making any future movies that would pollute the memory of the show. When they started eating senators and supermodels, we started to protest. Of course, then it was too late. One of them had managed to get elected president, and the rest were in congress. They were passing laws.
Soon, it wasn't illegal for them to eat people. In two generations, though, it became trendy to be eaten by the aliens. People formed long lines to try for a chance to end their existance at the fangs of the still-president alien.
I stood in line for almost three days. When I got there, I asked if they would like to eat me. They turned me away. I noticed, sitting there and crying, that they only ate popular people. I stood in line for another three days and befriended one of these beautiful people, hoping to sneak in on her looks. When I got to the door, they took her and turned me away.
I asked why. They said that, when the world was young, they programmed into our heads a need to pamper ourselves, an aversion to work and wildness. They want people who are popular, because they programmed us to respect what they regard as tastiness. They compared it to creating a cow that wants to be veal, or a goose that can't help but stuff itself until its liver explodes.
They said I wasn't tender enough.
I left, feeling worse than ever.
They did say, though, that if I wanted to fit in, I should go to Australia. They don't eat Australians.
Yet.

by MisterNihil 5:34 PM


 
That seems to be going over like a Bag of Hammers in Scared-of-Hammersville, so how 'bout this topic:
Tender
Enjoy. The other's still also the topic, but I'm all about options.

by MisterNihil 1:03 PM


 
Is it in fact your birthday Ben? If so, cool, congratulations!

Birthdays are a funny thing; when I was a kid they were a time I anticipated for weeks. Then, for years, they were just sort of another day although I knew I’d probably get a card and a check in the mail from the folks. I was not necessarily the easiest person to buy for. I think my “eh, whatever” attitude had a lot to do with being from the Midwest and that whole stoic thing. But the once I was married it became more of a special occasion again as Margaret is huge into celebrations and ceremony. And now with kids: even more so.

Looking back there are a few birthdays that stand out: On my, 12th maybe? I was hit by lightning; that was a hoot. On, I think, my 15th I wrecked my dirt bike and crushed a bone in my face. On my 31st Margaret bought me a motorcycle completely out of the blue; I was stunned. And of course my 40th with the threesome prank will always be a favorite.


by Shawn 12:22 PM


 
In light of recent posts:
So, Shawn: You say it's your birthday?
It's my birthday, too.
(dananananana-na-na!)

by MisterNihil 3:19 AM




{Wednesday, July 02, 2003}

 
It was a lovely spring morning at Sweet Dirt Organics. The free-range chicken milled about happily as various workers applied soapsuds to leaves and set free nematodes and lacewings on various crops. The pest control specialists Jerry and Ludwig were walking distractedly among the rows of zucchini surveying the damage wrought by an aphid like critter. “No luck with the ladybugs or wasps eh?” observed Jerry. “Nope looks like we’re going to have to resort to a more violent approach,” said Ludwig. “Meaning what exactly?” asked Jerry. Ludwig stooped down to pick off several tiny insects from the leaves. “Squash like a bug” “And vice versa!” laughed Jerry as he joined in the carnage.

by mews 9:37 PM


 
We are sitting in the livingroom of his house, he and I. There is incense burning in every corner and on every surface. The air is pleasantly thick, and I am drowsy. I think he has ingested something which makes him talk, but I tuned him out ten minutes ago. I refocus to pay a little more attention. I'm rewarded with this:
"I have this idea, man. I mean, like, there's two meanings of squash, right, only like, not just the fruit or vegetable or whatever it is, the plant, right, but also, like, putting something heavy on something soft and pressing, right, is squashing, but, like, so is a kind of indoor raquetball sport, right, like squash, right, they have courts for it and Carnegie Mellon were the national champs, right, like, recently. You know what other sport I never got into, man, is curling, right, only it's like horseshoes only with blocks of granite and on ice, right, like, and you sort of bowl the granite over the ice, right, and these girls sweep away the ice so its smoothe. Yeah, like Bocce, only not on sand. You know what they call bocce in France? Le Big Mac HAA-HAHAuhukHAA-HAHA So, right, and I was thinking..."
And I tune out again. He's nice, I guess, but he babbles. So I lean back my head until I'm looking straight up at the light fixture in the middle of the room, which has been off since I came here, and every time I've been here for almost five years, and I sigh. The air is thick and I am tired. I doze happily and quietly.

by MisterNihil 4:33 PM


 
squash

Vegetable or action? Your call.

by jal 8:51 AM




{Tuesday, July 01, 2003}

 
Speaking of giving everything I have ... it is 3:30 AM Eastern & I am still at work. It is dubious whether or not I will get paid for these hours, as the time has far exceeded that quoted to the client... and I have at least twice this again before the work will be complete. I have never tested the limits of my staying power, but my longest stint of consciousness lasted 26 hours. It looks like this one may require me to go to 38. Anyone want to place bets?

Okay, so that wasn't 600 seconds, but the ... Sngglh-huh? er, screen. mmmh, that. thing. fuzzy... uzzzzzy... Zzzzzz...

by Faith 9:51 PM


 
I burn my candle at both ends.
It will not last the night.
But oh, my enemies, and ah, my friends,
It gives a lovely light.
--Edna St. Vincent Millay


You don't want to hear about my job again. I don't want to hear about my job again. And anyway, I'm not giving. There is some taking going on, but it isn't consensual.

No, let me talk, instead, about Fire.

Fire has been the focus for this year. I have a red-yellow-orange bracelet--embroidery floss, in the style I learned when I was very young, from my father's friend's daughter, during a sleepover with The Older Girls--around my wrist, reminding me. I'm trying to eat spicier foods.

But it's not about food.

It's about going All In. Holding nothing back. Sincerity. Truth. Honesty with myself and, by extension, with others. Choosing to do a thing, and once choosing, giving myself up to it utterly. I am a Writer. I am a Wife. I am a Rock Climber. I am Fire.

Each Monday, my friend Frank pokes my wrist and asks, "How is Fire working out for you?" Hmph, weekly reminders on our self-improvement projects, we could do without. Well, okay, my New-Age Office Assistant is keeping me more focused than I'd like to admit. Some weeks I grunt noncommitally. Other weeks, with flames behind my irises, I tell him it is going well.

Right now, Cyndi Lauper is telling me not to be afraid to let them show; my true colors are beautiful. Cyndi knows about Fire.

And I've got code to deploy.

by Sharon 6:35 PM


 
Giving it your all huh? I guess I know a little something about that in that I have been doing this mom thing for the past eight years. I speak as a woman who was completely bushwhacked by motherhood. You see I always wanted children, I babysat from and early age, and have always truly reveled in and respected the individuality of kid people, and never once have I treated other people’s children as scaled down adults. I knew I wanted to be a mother, and in fact felt that I was destined to be one.

I really had no idea. It took us years to conceive our first son (and we worked and we worked at it). The pregnancy went off without a hitch. I became a MUS, a Margaret of unusual size (picture a denim-clad tool-shed), but I loved being pregnant. It tripped off all my earth goddess triggers. The delivery was not quite what I expected though, and I read all the books too. My first child came into the world via c-section after (and I am not making this up) SIX DAYS of nonproductive labor, in which I had contractions day and night every fifteen minutes. We then endured thirty-six hours of progressively stronger contractions, with eleven hours (of those eleven hours, three or four involved pain meds, but no epidural) of contractions so fierce that they were jumping off the monitor strapped around my enormous tum. Then we had abdominal surgery. This was how my mothering career began, and that boys and girls was the easy part.

Everyone told me that nothing prepares you for the impact parenthood has upon you. The hours, the physical drain, the huge amounts of emotional energy required, and the bone-crushing boredom of it. But mostly nothing and I mean nothing prepares you for how much you love them.

I had a pretty good handle on love before my kids were born. I had long-time, deep and abiding friendships stretching back 10, 15 years; I was truly madly deeply in love with my husband; I had pets that meant a great deal to me. But as powerful as those relationships were, and many continue to be, I don’t know if I would have given my life for them. Because for my children, I would, and will if it ever comes down to it without hesitation.

by mews 12:04 PM


 
Giving everything you have

by Bryan 3:34 AM


 
On being 40:

By the time you’re 40 you begin to get conservative; you slow down physically; tire more easily; have financial stability and are well into the career from which you’ll retire in 23 years. Yep, that about covers the misconceptions I had about turning 40.

So anyhow, I turned 40 today and thought that, to celebrate, I’d subject all of you younguns to a bit of self-indulgent prattling concerning the perspective, or lack there of, that one has, or not, when you can honestly say, Why, I haven’t heard that song for 30 years”. Hee hee, I actually got to offer one of my coworkers advice on buying a motorcycle a few weeks ago by telling him, “Well, I’ve been riding motorcycles for 30+ years and I suggest…”

Thing is, 40 doesn’t feel any different than 39, which, bears a striking similarity to 38, which, is not unlike 37 etc. etc. As far as I can tell I’m still 23. Naw, 24 maybe, 23 sucked. I didn’t feel any need to go out and buy a hot, red sports car or plastic blond. I did however buy a new mountain bike as I live next door to a forest with some pretty extreme bike trails. I’m probably more of a screaming liberal than I ever have been although, admittedly, time has allowed me perspective on what makes conservatives tick. Perspective on, not condoning of.

Some things have changed though: I may get a hair cut. It has after all been about three years and it’s once again long enough to become a danger with power tools. I have no real illusions that I’ll ever be truly stable financially, in spite of having a really good, well-paying job. Oddly, I no longer seem to be obsessed with this. In fact, a few days ago my son was trying to decide on buying an issue of Ultimate Spiderman or Hero Clicks and I actually heard myself say, “Why have money if you’re not going to spend it”. I think Margaret fainted.

Speaking of jobs, money and such: Things have changed quite a bit career-wise. While I’ve been a professional artist ever since leaving the farm but there were no computers in the industry when I started out. Now, well, I’m sitting here typing away on my laptop, the same system I use for painting and 3-d modeling. I recently committed the cardinal sin of the work place and passed on several executive level jobs to take one as a staff artist. I don’t think I would have done that 10 years ago.

I told one of the founders of my company today that I pretty much had the same interests I did when I was 14. His response was, “Porn?” Well sure, but actually I was referring to comic books, games, motorcycles and girls. Come to think of it, 40 is a lot like 14, only with more toys.





by Shawn 1:35 AM


 
Oops, I meant to post that to 600+

by Shawn 12:23 AM


 
On a 40-related note I wanted to share one of my birthday presents with all of you, mostly so as to demonstrate what a scary, scary person I’m married to.

Margaret went out to a karaoke bar on Friday along with our friend Rhonda, and was joined by several of Rhonda’s friends. So, today I get an email from Rhonda, the gist of which is that, while she’s very flattered, and thinks I’m a terrific guy, she feels she just wouldn’t be comfortable with a birthday ménage a trios. She went on to explain that, while she does want to have a child she feels this would be an awkward situation all around. Needless to say, I was stunned. It was also all I could do not to break out into hysterical laughter at the office, as, then I’d have to explain it. While I suspected this was a joke I really wasn’t sure as it was worded very seriously. Further more, I could easily imagine Margaret convincing Rhonda I had in-fact suggested this, leaving me to explain otherwise.

About an hour later - as I was trying to decide how to respond – I received another letter from Leah, another woman that was at the bar that night, explaining that she too was very appreciative that I would consider her for such an encounter, but, feels her husband would be jealous having not been invited. A few minutes later, another letter from another one of Rhonda’s friends with a similar apologies and best wishes for a happy birthday. By that time I was about in tears from not laughing.

All-in-all, throughout the day I think I heard from 10-12 people, including Leah’s husband, also apologetic but with helpful advice on where to find willing participants. Each one, skillfully crafted, increased in absurdity until the final one, written by Eric, the husband of an earlier letter writer, managed to work a little orphan Annie costume into the mix. Still, I think my favorite sported the heading of, “BIG-ASS SLOPPY THREESOME CANCELLED”.

The lesson here is that Margaret, able and willing to conceive of and orchestrate this, as well as convince a dozen strangers to take part in this practical joke, is not one to be trifled with. She claims it was in payback for a minor email joke I had pulled a week ago. I’m not convinced.

by Shawn 12:22 AM



 

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