Monday, January 30, 2012


            Animals for sale, including cows, horses, and chickens.
            Adult milk cow for sale. Likes apples. Hauls apples from the orchard.
            Cow is able to pull ten times its weight, plow fields, haul apples, etc.
            All around the pen were animals of all shapes and sizes, but only one cow. She wandered around and about the pen slowly, picking apples up out of the baskets. Pretty animal for a cow. About seven feet long, five feet high. A gigantic head and an even bigger udder. An aroma of flowers, not like you'd expect of a cow.
            If I amassed enough farm animals, I would have a farm. My daughter always wanted a farm and farm animals and we never had the money. Now she would have this cow always.
            I was going to get this cow any way I could. Would this guy allow haggling, I wondered?
            The salesman's accent was faint enough, "Astounding cow, beautiful cow, graceful cow."
            "It's just a cow," I countered.
            "What is your angle?" He asked, suspicious.
            "A gift for my daughter," I replied, to atone for years of sins.
            "We could argue prices for hours, but would you just accept my offer?"
            "Even if the prices are aggravated, I am able to pay." I am not easily aggravated.
            "What do you think would account for that?" A queer question for a salesman to ask.
            "Are you a genie? And I am supposed to guess what you mean?"
            "Amen to that. I am not angry, I'm merely negotiating."
            "You haven't even named a price yet." Now I was getting aggravated.
            "Perhaps there is no price." A priceless milk cow that hauls apples?
            "Well then I guess I tried my best. Anyway, if the cow is not for sale, how much for a bushel of apples?"
            He clapped his hands once and jumped off of the fence post, "A thousand. I will throw in the cow for free."
            Without a moments hesitation, in which I might have missed my chance, "I accept."
            "Look there, we have agreed on a price for the cow, and the apples. People say that I am argumentative. I like to think I am perfectly agreeable if you get my meaning. A lovely cow for your daughter."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Words Sit and Argue

Language is always an abbreviation.

People like convenience. They shorten their greetings and their farewells to be courteous yet short. A grunt might suffice for an acknowledgement. A look for a yes or no. Thus it is that language comes in and goes out. Even an "in" word gets shortened over time, and its meaning changes as it goes. They even shorten each other's names. Speaking is not saying your meaning. The words you choose, sounds, looks you give are a queerer but more communicative language.

Languid, its allies' answer abounds.

I disagree. People come to their meaning slowly, as I do. Almost lazily. The norm is to give more words than are necessary. Shorter words, maybe. But always more. It takes more time, but the meaning comes faster. As for looks and grunts, I worry my ally has spent too much time in the world, and less pouring over books. People may like convenience, but writers prefer length and depth. As do I.

Gulls sit elsewhere; swear bonds.

Both are fouled. They are seagulls, prating and arguing over who is right. Each swears to their side, one with looks and one with books. They promise to follow their laws they come up with and they break them. Neither sits on the outside, as a storyteller should. Neither sees both arguments and disregards them. Neither understands that all of the answers are right. And all the answers are wrong. Why can't we have both and all, my swearing seagulls? Do not prate. Listen again.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Two

To continue would be a mental pain, a regret. There are two.

The commoner remains awake, watches with hostile intent, the very seed of women's paramour.

A term of duration is set before him, is set before her, and they must stay in one place, never moving, and watching one another.

Her, the girl-child, and him, the young devil gentleman.

They do not feel the physical pain, the mental pain, for each other, but for themselves. Selfish even in their waking, sitting, watching.

They are just bodies, with a term set before them, and little pain to endure.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Memory Box

                      Moving from place to place is difficult. I find containers and containers of eight by tens of memories I had long forgotten. Today I broke a trencher Danielle glazed for me in the third grade. I sat over it and remembered the day she gave it to me, out of the blue, for no reason at all. She explained that she knew I liked blue, and that it might be nice for some of my necklaces. Danielle was not someone I wanted to be thinking about when every one of those years and years of pictures had her in them. Elizabeth called me to explain that she couldn't invite me to her graduation party because Danielle and Kate and Lisa would be there and she wanted as many of "us" there as possible. She promised we'd go to dinner. Just think, she organized her own graduation party and now she was organizing a whole other dinner for herself because I, the one who always plans her functions, couldn't possibly be invited. I set aside a few pictures of Elizabeth and I for framing. She seemed to be the only one besides family that I wanted to look at every day. And yet, she was stuck too. Because of me. Because of them. And no one remembered a time (those millions of times) when none of us could dream of being torn apart.

            I literally picked up the phone four times before I actually called Amalie. I mean legitimately. Danielle gave me this steely glare of uncertainty, like our friendship depended on me dis-inviting Amalie to my party. And it didn't help that my mother had specifically asked me if I was inviting her and her parents. She seemed to get it. Took it well. The whole time I was remembered my fourth birthday party, the one where we rented out the old gymnastics pavilion. Amalie and I bounced on the damn trampoline for hours it seemed, practicing fearless flips and jumps until I thought I might vomit up my cake. I don't even remember the other girls who were there. I have a picture of us buried in the foam pit, hair stuck to our cheeks and statically flying outward. Amalie has her chin on top of my head and her arms around my shoulders with her hands out. Two peace signs to make four fingers. She was more excited than I was. She was almost five of course. I hadn't even met Kate and Lisa. Danielle was the girl who always wore an apron and played in the play kitchen while I sat alone in the reading corner, listening to her boss around the boys through one ear and straining for the bell with the other. Amalie was in the other class, and I would get to see her at the bell, when we filed past each other, switching rooms. We always smiled and waved at each other.

            I don't like being disappointed in my daughter. She told me it was Danielle and I accept that. But I miss Amalie and her facts, and her mother's jokes. I'm not really sure what happened. Lizzy tells me Danielle's boy toy finally gave up on her. Amalie has something to do with it. Little girl dramas that I don't miss. I remember braiding her hair because her mother didn't know how. The girls matched in their braids and dresses, and we would walk them to the grocery store after school, getting vegetables for their dinner. Me explaining how to goad my Lizzy to sit still, Adele spilling her woes about her ex-husband, warning me not to follow her path. The girls would race carts down the aisles as we walked leisurely. Those were my afternoons. So when my Elizabeth chooses between the girl with everything and her best friend forever, I'm disappointed in the answer. I don't like it. I wish I could fast forward or rewind back a few clips. Perhaps ask Kate and Lisa how "the group" was doing. But I can't. I called Adele last week to wish her a happy birthday. She sounded tired.

            Now I really am all she has. My little Amalie is sitting in her room at the top of the stairs with a box of photographs. I recognize the box. Her father left it in his closet, filled with pictures of us during our engagement. Now it is full of old memories for her too. So much sadness in an old shoebox. Too much for such a young girl. I picked up the extension when Lizzy called; I heard her cruel words. Lizzy is a good girl, and I love her so, but who is my baby going to call from Arizona when a boy breaks her heart or she needs cheering up? Certainly not me. If things were different, she could talk to Elizabeth's mother, or gather the girls around her for protection. Now she is all in the cold. Penguins huddle for warmth. Those that don't, don't survive. My girl is strong I know. But everyone has a little weakness in them. And those memories are the only ones she has. We spent our days with Lizzy and her mom, and our nights hosting sleepovers for Lisa, Kate, Danielle, and Lizzy. Sometimes we went on vacation with Lizzy and her parents, me always a bit of a fifth wheel. There were no holidays with my parents or my brothers, no trips to visit Amalie's paternal grandfather in Boulder, no penpals, no neighbors. She is so isolated because of that. And now Lizzy has chosen, and so it shall be. My daughter notices me at the foot of the stair and half smiles, "I've forgotten the laundry?" She has.

            I'm the one crying myself to sleep at night. I'm the one with nothing. Elizabeth gives me puppy eyes when I mention her graduation party. Kate and Lisa whisper to each other instead of to me. Amalie has ruined everything. Everything. I practically had to miss all my rehearsals because my parents decided I need a vacation. I had to reduce my reserved tickets on the last day because I had put her name down in advance. Now Elizabeth might not even come because she wants to do some dinner with Amalie. If I saw her at Elizabeth's party I would die. Good thing she's going away. I hope she burns red in Arizona. I hope she makes no friends. This way, I can call Elizabeth any time I want to make plans and I won't have to worry about her being around. Kate and Lisa will come too. It'll be just as before. All of the honest people in the room. Elizabeth said her mother was concerned about Amalie's mother. She should be concerned about me and my feelings. I bet Amalie's mother told her some story. And Amalie looks all innocent, like she didn't ruin my life. Well I'm going to call her. I need my ring back anyway. I need my life back. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012


1. Please call me. I wait countless hours. I barely eat. I didn't sleep last night.

I know what you said. I understand it. I…I can't find it. The point. There must have been one.

Perhaps last summer?  I ran too far ahead. You tripped.

Or at Christmas. I criticized your mother's turkey. You musn't have liked that.

Was it last week? By the grocery. You looked away. I thought. I thought you didn't see.

Well. Anyway. I should go. But please. Call me. I wait.

2. I suppose. I was wrong. To call. I mean. I am calling. I apologize for calling.

I wanted for you to feel guilty. Do you? For not explaining. Not justifying. Not showing me.

What was it? Who was it? That stupid French guy. The one at the grocery.

Did he so warmly touch your shoulder? Did my touch feel cold?

I feel cold. Towards you especially. I want to yell. To scream. Your silence, it stings.

Don't bother. Do not bother. Calling is useless. I hate you.

3. So sorry. So incredibly sorry. I don't know. I don't know what came over me. It came over me.

I would never. I could never. I don't hate you. I love you. I mean. I did love you. I mean I do.

Oh I do. And it hurts me. It is in vain. So painful.

I want to forget. Or go back. Perhaps I was too critical. Perhaps I didn't say it enough.

Perhaps I did. Who knows really. I miss you. Please call.

4. I will do anything. I will change anything. Anything. I mean it.

I will shave. Tomorrow. Tomorrow the beard is gone.

I will cook dinner. When you get home from work. When you are sick. I will. I promise.

If given the chance, I will. I will call you. Every time I go to the bar. Every time.

We will laugh together. The stupid, vapid girls. My boorish friends. The crappy football team.

Just tell me what. I will wait.

5. I suppose. Well I suppose I should stop. Calling. Stop bothering you. Clearly, you won't call.

Clearly. I suppose. I suppose I am doomed. Doomed to this life. Without you.

I've packed a box. Your things. A hairbrush. A stuffed monkey. Your running watch.

Sometime. I will leave them. Right outside your house. Under the awning. So they don't get wet.

I won't knock. Or call. I'll just leave them. I can't right now.

I touch all of the places. Places you touched, sat, brushed by. I feel your energy. I try. Release it.

It hasn't quite happened. So I'm keeping it. The box. Until then. The release. Then I will.

6. I wish. I want to take back. These last calls. All of them.

You deserve your privacy. I feel. Slightly better now. I'm getting used to it. Being without you.

I barely wince at the box. I realized. You don't want. Those things. Just reminders.

I don't want. Them either. So. I've left them. Goodwill. You know.

After this call. I'm going to erase your number. Goodbye. Is all. And I'm sorry.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolution, Resolved, Resolve

In this New Year, 2012, I would like to write. Obviously this proposition occurred to me in 2011, but I will fully realize it this year. What does this involve?

The first order of business is this blog. Its mere existence is credible, but I would like to take some direction now. To instill a sense of order on it. For this, I am using the writing aid, The 4 A.M. Breakthrough: Unconventional Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction which I received as a Christmas gift. A creative writing class I once took used the prequel, The 4 A.M. Epiphany, and I loved the exercises. They are numbered and categorized by the form of writing help they give (patterns, concepts, people, places, and things) and further divided into topics. I will not be giving the form or topic as I go because I want to try more fluidity than the exercises give leeway for. Every Sunday from here forward, I will write in the style of an exercise in the book. I will probably start in order and later begin to jump around. I am hoping that by providing a structure, a direction will reveal itself.

Part of writing is not always fiction. Therefore, I am going to focus on my grammar and editing skills. In 2011, I accepted a job at the English Language Center at Vanderbilt University as a writing consultant. I will meet with students and their writing samples, providing them with rules and corrections they can make themselves in the future. Although it does not involve me editing for them, it does give me a chance to teach something (and so I need to know the material). Teaching others is the best way to learn (thank you EdPsych). I have not made a decision about my feelings regarding this job, as it has some qualities of assimilation, a topic I'm not familiar enough with to judge one way or the other. I will decide based on my individual successes and failures within the consultations.

Lastly, as a form of assessment and reflection on the success of my resolution, I hope to participate in National Novel Writing Month (November) by writing a set of short stories (total of 50,000 words). The topics and organization will hopefully be prepared in advance through my writings on my blog. I have attempted NaNoWriMo once before and was not successful, so perhaps with a clear direction the second attempt will prosper.

People make New Years Resolutions about all types of things from exercising to being a better human being. I realize that for me, this is a huge undertaking, and it will help me in numerous ways as a result. I hope to be happier doing what I love, to increase my skills, to form a good body of work, to maintain my audience (if any), and to have a "break" from my daily grind once a week. Something for me, and hopefully, for all of you.

Happy New Year!