Thursday, January 31, 2008


Whenever Hillary Clinton laughs, leaning her head back in that merry way and for some reason leaving her eyes on the camera, I imagine rows upon rows of replacement teeth behind the pearly whites she shows.

Like, you know.

A shark's.

Obama, meanwhile, always seems to be holding back an embarrassing expulsion of gas. Look at the tilt of his head.

Watching the debates is a fun experience when you're wildly immature.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

From the Archives: Awry

Here's a piece I did in Reading/Writing Autobiography, about the first time I realized adults weren't infallible. It gets kind of personal, so if you're weirded out, that's okay. I'm a little weirded out too. We can be weirded out...together.

There are spiders on the ceiling above my bed.

No, not really. I’m not dumb, I know they’re not spiders.
They’re mosquitoes: the really big, scary, spindly ones, with legs way too long for their bodies. I close my eyes and can feel a hair-thin leg against my face. I know mosquitoes drink blood, but how much? A lot? These are bigger than the gnats I fight through swarms of; maybe they can kill me

I open my eyes. The slowly moving shadows are just shadows. Stupid of me. But I’m not dumb; they really looked like mosquitoes. I roll to the side, til the bunk rail presses cold into my chest, and look at the baby bed.

The baby bed is my old bed. I’m way too big for it now. Mommy doesn’t throw stuff away, so we use it for my stuffed animals. I have lots, yeah, but they’re not girly or something. E.T. is there. And Animal, and some puppets.

And they’re all looking at me. Yeah, they look at everything, but right now their eyes are all on me.

I roll over, looking at the ceiling, but those shadows look bad. I roll to the wall and curl up, like a baby unborn, but their eyes are hot on my back. It’s not fair; they’re normal during the day. When the lights are off, they get curvy, sharp, but they can’t move—so they watch me.

I ignore them. I’m not a baby. I’m nearly six. That’s old. I listen to my brother’s snores in the bunk below mine; try to think about other stuff. The Ninja Turtles—they’d never stare at me like that. They’d have me help them fight The Foot, and give me pizza. I close my eyes, try to sleep and dream of pizza and ninjas, but something makes me look over my shoulder.
There, over the hill of blanket bluer than my crayons, past the shelf far below stuffed with Foxtrot and Calvin and Hobbes. Just his head visible, cut in half by the safety bar. E.T., friend of kids everywhere, my secret weapon when my cousin visits (I chased him across the yard with him once). He’s staring at me, more so than the others, because he’s got marble eyes that catch the light.

Is his arm moving?

I tumble down the ladder, my brother never waking, and flee down the hall. Usually Mommy meets me halfway. She told me she has a special antenna that all mothers have, they get it installed when we’re born, and she always knows when I need someone.

But she’s not in the hall now. There’s no light under her door; usually it’s on when I get to the staircase. Maybe her antenna’s not working. But I need her anyway, even if she’s sleeping or something, because the hallway’s way too dark, and the animals could be following me. If E.T. can move, maybe he taught the others how to. I push open her door, but quietly.

I can see Mommy, sitting on the left side of the bed. She doesn’t see me; she’s kind of looking at her hands, really close up. The other side’s empty. But that’s normal. Daddy’s boss is mean. Because of this mean guy, my dad goes on business trips a lot, and sometimes he sleeps at his desk. We don’t see him a lot now. I complain about the boss sometimes, ask why Daddy doesn’t get a new job. Mommy just hugs me when I say that.

I don’t say anything. I’ll surprise her.

I get to the front (foot?) of the bed and stop. Mommy’s not looking at me. She’s shaking a little, enough to make the blanket around her move. Maybe she’s praying, her hands are covering her eyes. It’s too dark, I can’t tell…I almost ask, but I don’t want to surprise her. Not anymore.
She makes a noise, and it sounds like a mouse, a little squeaky sound. It happens when she shakes, every couple times. There’re some Kleenex on her bedside table. Her alarm clock makes them glow, turns one of her knees sort of red. The rest of her’s not close enough.

I hear the sound again. It’s…broken, weird, not like her at all. Is she…

No. She isn’t.
Yes, she is.
She’s crying.

I’m not thinking about the animals anymore, or about E.T. coming down the hall. Mommy is crying. I crawl onto the bed behind her, I hug her really tight. She breathes in quick, like she’s scared, and looks back at me. Big bags under her eyes, looking like a raccoon. She hasn’t been sleeping.

“Jimmy,” she says, but her voice is all thick, like something’s in her throat. “What am I going to do? How can I…”

“It’s okay, Mommy.” I don’t let her finish. My voice is low, quiet, like she is when I cry. “We’ll take care of you. It’ll be okay. Don’t cry anymore.”

She stares at me, barely breathing. Her face is all wet, and she seems really small. Then she hugs me back, real tight, and she’s Her again.

I sleep next to her, in daddy’s spot, and wonder why he wasn’t hugging her instead of me.

Mom was like Superman.
Sorry. Little me’s terms. My terms: Mom was invincible. Untouchable. The bastion of sanity as the world falls to pieces around you; if it were a toss-up between God and my mom in a crisis, I’d have taken Mom in a heartbeat. Hell, I thought God was an invisible guy living in a director’s chair in our church. Mom was a living, breathing thunderbolt: wrangling five brothers, paying bills, making dinner. She even tore around in a huge Chevy Suburban I could surf in the back of. And if that SportMart guy wouldn’t let us return my defective bike, she’d stay there and argue until they gave her a better Huffy out of desperation. She was Power.
Mom was a good actress.

The stress never got to her, not in front of us, even when my father vanished on business trips to Boston where I assume he shopped for a new apartment. To us, were perfect: they smiled, and hugged, and slept with me between them in the bed like a boy Berlin Wall. She kept it up always.

Seeing Mom cry in an empty bed was akin to feeling an earthquake for the first time. The room’s corners blur, your footing becomes falling, and you can only look around and ask what the fuck was that? No idea what caused it, nor what’ll happen next. The world cracks a little, tiny fissures spreading along the edges, quietly undermining the whole of everything.
Had I known when I hugged her that she was crying—probably doing that squeaking so she wouldn’t sob and wake any of us up—because my father had left us and didn't seem to be coming back, the effect would have been less a tremor, more a sledgehammer delivered to my center of gravity. There might have been spikes involved.

As it was, it was the first hint that our home was awry. I wish I knew that word at the time; it would have been perfect.

“Hey, Jimmy, how’s it going?”
“I’m okay. Daddy’s not home, though. I think something is…awry.”

Sums it up perfectly.

Mom was crying. Dad was gone. My usual source of comfort was being comforted. I felt a strange sensation then, though I couldn’t articulate it—I was holding up the ground I usually stood on.

What would I have done, were I me now in the same position? I picture me, staring at the ceiling with wary cluelessness. I’m concerned about my Mommy, but more focused on new suspicious shadows. I wish the young me could sit up. Ask her where Dad is. Tell her more than “it’ll be okay,” know more than “mommy is sad.”

But I can’t even say things are awry. So I lie there, knowing that I gave her what I could—I helped Superman back into the air. Then I toss and turn a little, and dream of Ninja Turtles.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Though he's obscured--by swirls of snow, by flashing police lights, and so often by the arm of an officer pushing his hands back up to the proper position--I can here and there see his face.

Looking towards me.

I shrug helplessly, warm in my car, relief that neither car is damaged and no one is hurt melting into amazement.

He's being arrested?

I hit him.

But apparently he's got no license.

Timing's a bitch.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Opposite Day

David Roe was very much alone.

Understandably so. At parties, he was the one in the corner muttering judgment and incessantly tapping his smartphone. He didn't like loud music, he didn't like to drink, conversation seemed to bore him. Those who braved social interaction with the pale, dark-eyed man in the corner felt they could very well have been dead or chickens or on fire for all he cared. For some reason, this air of bitter disinterest seemed to net him more-than-occasional lays, but every woman who went to bed with him couldn't shake the feeling that to him, the sex was pretty much masturbation.

The fact he cut up dead people for a living didn't help his social life.

In truth, to David conversation was at best white noise and at worst something akin to a swarm of particularly eloquent mosquitoes whining in his ears. He didn't hate people, not really, but they were so damned boring most of the time. He'd find himself tuning Scott this or Jen that out at the bar, wondering how big Scott's heart was, how much Jen's martinis had soured her liver. He had better conversations with corpses--at least they told him useful things, like what type of knife created that wound, or how many hours it'd been since the final breath.

David Roe, county medical examiner, was very much alone.

But he wasn't lonely.

Friday, January 25, 2008

To Be Announced

Bad juju.

Check back later.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ow, my Everywhere

Sinking--no, melting--into the big, cushy couch, I peer through blurring vision at the ceiling and listen to the screams of every major muscle group. Making it up here from the basement was a triumph; now it's all I can do to breathe on my own. I hear the thud-thud-thud of footsteps coming up after me; it's almost in time with my shuddering, angry heart.

"So, how're you doing?" Asks the trainer.

"Half-dead," I somehow reply.

"Same time next week?"

My body screams NO!

My pride screams yes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not-so-Final Fantasy

This is a snippet from a fantasy story I started back in college; it's about people hunting magical artifacts. I was reading lots of Terry Pratchett at the time. Can you tell?

Wilkes was the type of man who would benefit greatly from the invention of computers. Saying his desk was a sea of papers would be incorrect. His entire office, his entire wing of the building was a testament to slaughtered trees. At first, Andrew didn’t notice him, didn’t realize there was anyone in the room until unkempt hair poked out of a few stacks of paper that began higher than the others.

“Applying or quitting?” The most irritated voice Andrew had ever encountered, ever asked.

“Uh, applying,” he replied. He kept peering about. Aside from the papers, there really didn’t seem to be much in the room. Forms, notes, and memos swarmed over everything. Even the two chairs were almost unrecognizable, long ago covered in white. One thing did catch his eye, however—something canvas-wrapped, sitting in one corner, mercifully left alone by the paper sea. It wasn’t very big, and the canvas made it impossible to identify, but it wasn’t paper, that was for sure—


Andrew twitched, eyes flicking back to the desk. He could see more of Wilkes, now. The man was peering over his papers towards him, a pair of thin, yellow glasses doing nothing to hide the utterly bothered look in his eyes.


“Applying for what?” There was a perpetual tapping coming from somewhere behind all those stacks on the desk, one that sounded just like Andrew imagined an impatient man’s finger endlessly tapping on a desk would.

“I, uh—“ He looked helplessly towards Mina, who rolled her eyes. No assistance there.

Wilkes sighed and rose from his chair, punctuating his list with gestures of his pen. “Accounting, Diplomacy, Labor, Research, Hunting—“

“Hunting,” Mina seethed, smacking the artifact they'd found down on the desk. A few errant clumps of dirt came off and bumped against the bottoms of the chest-high stacks. Wilkes glared at her for a moment, then picked up the stone.

“And he found this?” He asked, giving Andrew a long, disapproving look.

“More or le—“ Mina’s elbow jabbed Andrew in the ribs astonishingly hard. “—yes, of course I did.” He waited for Wilkes’ eyes to go back to the artifact, then clutched at his side and looked, wide-eyed and unhappy, at the hooded girl. She scowled, unapologetic.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Had rehearsal tonight. Met a cute girl. Actively weighing the awkwardness of getting shot down by said cute girl against the awesomeness of her saying yes to a date.

Jeremy was not a lonely man.

Every day he met hundreds of people, sometimes thousands. Talked for hours about every conceivable subject, argued at length--often won!--on many as well. Always, at that point, raised his skinny fists in victory and crowed triumph to the heavens. Or his ceiling. Mainly his ceiling. And often, oh, so often, he had sex. With women. Well, people who claimed they were women. With chat rooms, it was possible they were lying, but Jeremy didn't want to consider the possibility.

Jeremy was not a lonely man.

But, bathed in the light of his computer monitor at two AM, stripped to his boxers and surrounded by blinking, beeping, humming, looming electronica, for some reason he felt very, very much alone.

Monday, January 21, 2008

But Somebody Has To Do It

"...hey, what time is it?"
"Almost eight."
"Oh, crap."

Death wasn’t a mean guy. Not really. They knew that. He was just misunderstood. As other Gods modernized—softened in their old age—he held fast to his methods. He offered relief, an ending, closure. The Gods agreed it was quite nice of him. After the illness took hold or the body gave out, Death gave the harvested a gentle pat towards wherever they were going. Well, mainly gentle. Certainly with good intentions, oh yes, the old boy’s quite a softie when you get to know him.

There were whispers, though.

Death heard, of course. He could hear the last gasp of a sparrow before it dropped from the sky (more cynical Gods noted he did nothing to stop the subsequent fall); why wouldn’t he hear the murmurs and whispers of a drunken divine pantheon?

“Did you see what happened to—“
“—terrible, I thought—“
“He’s losing it, don’t you think?”

Death would sip his mead (wine was a Johnny-come-lately, in his mind) and smile and say nothing, because even the Gods didn’t fully understand. They liked him; he was industrious, and soft-spoken, and always polite. But he was weird, and antisocial, and always seemed to be fitting you for your coffin (well, metaphorically speaking).

He was the last to leave the pantheon. Once, Loki waited up—cleaned the tables, sang old songs, looked for that jacket he knew he’d left on Jesus’ chair—but Death never left. The pale man sat and sipped and smiled, until even Loki was unnerved and left in an awful hurry.
No one saw his smile fade, then. Noticed his hands tensing on his black overcoat, far too big for his delicate frame (a Celtic deity marveled he could lift a glass with those thin fingers, much less tear off heads; he did not say this loudly). And no one thought the broken glass the janitors found the next days was Death’s.

Watching duels grow into wars, swords turn into bombs, they thought—hoped, really—that the increasing brutality was part of a plan.

Ineffable actions. Mysterious ways.

Without mystery, brutality was anger. And even the dumbest gods didn’t want to consider that. He hadn’t kept hourglasses in thousands of years. Some of the cleverest ones had stolen theirs ages ago, now cradled them like infants; the rest could only wonder where they’d gone. The idea that the strongest among them, the oldest, was capable of malicious rage made wineglasses tremble and ancient breath stop short.

They whispered. They talked. They didn’t understand.
He used to love his job. It was a kindness, a finishing touch. People died young, or old, or unborn, and the final moment was an end to suffering. There were other gods of disease and of murder. He was simply the lightswitch turning off. But the years wore on, and the people got smarter, and then it happened.

They started to cheat.

He stared, incredulous, at his model globe the first time it came up. A tiny clay figure did not crumble at his touch. Someone did not die when they were supposed to. It took him weeks to finish it, and every subsequent failed attempt sent a painful shock through his being.

The cases piled up. They lasted years. And soon enough he tensed when the clay figures shocked; he wanted no more kindness for them, but endings, utter ones, ones that he controlled. The lesser gods fled and faded. No longer did Pestilence inflict plague; no longer did Zeus hurl thunderbolts. The tools of ending were in his hands, and he used them with decreasing delicacy.

Down below, people held the same hopes. Why did the girl suffer so? Oh, there’s a plan for it all, a mysterious framework. It’s not a miserable being hunched over a globe, knowing us and hating us and jumping at our throats when we fail to die on time. That mysterious calendar is right on time, not thrown in a corner, forgotten for years. And when you reach the other side, your taker will help you on your way, not glare at you and walk away, satisfied.

Death wanted to scream it: there is no plan. There is no order, no purpose, no layers upon layers. There is only me, taking your stubborn ones aside, aligning unseen horrors, and sitting back to watch.

Instead, he smiled, and listened to the dinner chats until he could not listen anymore, and then he tore his ears off, and pulled up the overcoat’s hood.

That was not enough. He read their lips, and so he put his eyes out. He could do his job by feel.
He felt the air move with their concern, and that was when even the dumbest gods left for better climes. Somewhere was the inkling something terrible was going to happen.

The last one to check on him saw a being in a rage. He strode, blind and deaf, from one end of his room to the other. The innumerable clay figures lay torn from their globe, spread across the floor. He was screaming, stomping, empty eyes wide in frenzy. And the dust of billions stained his feet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hanging My Head

Dear God.

A month? Really?

Your Occasional Image?
Your Intermittent Image?

I'm alive, I'm just very badly apathetic. And job-hunting. And applying for grad school.

Updates begin anew on Monday at 7 PM. The site will be updated every day at 7, unless I have rehearsal, in which case the update shall come significantly later. But it'll come.

Once a day.