Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things I have apologized for

In the gym: "I'm sorry I was naked in the locker room."

At work: "Yes, I'm here early, sorry."

To a guy in the bank complaining about the line: "Sorry I came to the bank at the same time as you."

To my dad: "Sorry I said I don't care about the actress from the dragon tattoo movies."

To my roommate after he said I've been working late a lot: "Sorry."

To my roommate after he commented that I've been home a lot: "Sorry."

To my boyfriend: "Sorry I don't like MMORPGS."

To my best friend: "Sorry I called. Sorry I love you."

To a lady at the coffee shop who almost bumped into me but didn't: "Sorry."

In my room completely alone, to a dresser: "Sorry."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The ideal receptionist as imagined by the older white man on the other end of the phone

The ideal receptionist as imagined by the older white man on the other end of the phone:

"Yeah, I do have weekend plans. And furthermore I feel totally comfortable sharing them with a stranger."

"Oh my gosh, you got an attorney's voicemail? I cannot believe it! The only possible explanation is that sinister wrongdoings have transpired. Let me scour the building, nay, the world for him! No, of course I won't put you on hold; I have a bluetooth, sorry, sorry I mean a magical wizard hat. I apologize for confusing you with my loud, brassy slang. Just one second while I train this flamingo to cover the front desk while I find your attorney, because I have nothing else to do."

"You're right, I do have a slight lisp. Yes, it is hilarious that you pointed out an obvious physical handicap of mine. Hahaha!"

"Yes, it is cold outside. It's good that weather happens."

"No, I didn't just accidentally call you dad, sir... I said 'rad'."

"I AM in fact eating something! You caught me! Now you win a prize elephant named Albert. Yeah, I know you really wanted that prize, otherwise why else would a stranger identify my snack consumption?"

"So, you don't know who you're calling for, you're not sure if they have ever worked at this office, and you haven't talked with them in 40 years, but you know that he/she played golf once with an Asian man? Yes, I know exactly of whom you speak."

"Oh, fascinating."

“Wait a minute, are you telling me that you tried to call someone and they didn’t call you back? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS PLACE?!”

"My voice sounds too childlike? Thank you so much for telling me! Because I have complete control over it, so obviously I appreciate any and all constructive feedback."

"Sorry, they aren't in the office at the moment. Oh, they're expecting you? This. Changes. Everything."

"Good afternoon, thank you for calling- oh, er, um, Barbara... Oh really, that's your mom's name? How interesting. Yes, I do know her. From the great war."

"Of course I remember you from when you called two months ago."

"Wow, thank you so much for asking how my day is going! Someone in this miserable world does care! I am going to telegram my mother to tell her that I do matter. Sure, we wasted a few seconds of our lives with small talk, but I'll make that time back tonight tenfold because I won't have to lock myself in the bathroom and cut a tiny notch in my arm!"

"No, TGIF to you, sir. TGIF to you."

Monday, December 19, 2011

The goodbye

The goodbye
By Barbara Holm

I watched Michael drag his suitcase across the linoleum floor. The wheels rolled against the grey and white speckled faux tiles. His calico fabric on the suitcase blended in with hundreds of others rushing around it. It was uniform to every other bland inanimate luggage carrier save for the tiny monster tassel I had knit for him and attached to the black handle. It was brink pink and utterly adorable so he wouldn’t get his bag mixed up with anyone else’s. One time we had taken a plane to see his mom and he had gotten his luggage switched at baggage claim. We went on a roller coaster that trip and Michael threw up but I didn't laugh at him when he was covered in vomit so he gave me a present, like it's done.

“So,” Michael said, scratching the back of his head. “You can stay with me while I check in but you can’t come past security with me.”

I nodded silently and trailed behind him. I watched his shoulders bend and rotate in the fluorescent lighting. I didn't even say hi to the lights, which you might think is rude, but I don't care. I nodded politely to the radio transmitters and I don't think you can ask for much more than that. I examined his spine, full of nerves and hope. I watched it transmit messages through his neurons to his brain, perhaps for the last time.

“Do you know your way back?” he said.
“Of course,” I muttered.

An old lady stopped in her tracks as she was passing us. She stared at us with raised eyebrows. When I met her gaze calmly without blinking, she reddened and turned away. A little boy yanked on his mom’s pant leg and pointed at me, and his mom dragged him by the arm away. Michael didn’t acknowledge it.

Michael checked in and we walked down the grey hallway. I couldn’t believe that the tiny suitcase was enough for him to take with him, but I guess that was part of the move, starting over, leaving everything behind. He was getting a new job and saying goodbye to everything from the old job that didn’t matter. I flexed my fingers with a crack.

“Hey,” Michael said, tilting his head and reaching for my shoulder. “Are you okay?”

The correct answer was: Yes, of course I am, how could I not be, I’m always okay, etcetera. That is the normal response and if you stray from that the man might tip his hat and say, "calm down, sweetheart, you're being hysterical" and they don't mean it in the funny way.

I looked up into his deep eyes and felt something growing inside of me, something dark and unnatural. I brought my hands to my stomach and felt around. There was a painful ache in my core, emanating through my entire body. My sensors began vibrating on a higher frequency and I clutched at my abdomen and gasped, startled.

I watched every inch of Michael’s skin, noticing the contours of his muscle formation and tension. I memorized the tone of his voice and the lilt of his laugh. My large eyes started to tingle with a burning sensation and I felt a tightening in my throat.

“No,” I said matter of factly. “I am not okay.”
“What?” Michael said. He dropped his suit case and grabbed me by both my cold hard shoulders. He put his face close to mine and looked in my eyes. “What’s going on? Are you charged adequately? Did you download your updates?”
I nodded, my perfectly formed smile twitching on my lips. “I feel like I’m going to really miss you.”
“How?” His mouth hung open and his eyes widened. “You feel?”
“I think I’m in love with you,” I said.

Something was happening behind my face and I brought my hands up to my head and gently felt around. Salt water was leaking from my eye sockets with furious force. I tried to catch it in my hands. I felt a tiny static shock and I shook. My pristine, formatted, perfect insides filled with a violent pinching sensation that overtook my internal devices.

“I can’t believe it,” Michael said. He put his arms around me and felt around my back, against my door to see if everything was okay. “You think you feel love?”
“Yes,” I said.
“That’s not even possible.”
“Oh, I fucking know. What’s this liquid excreting from my eye sockets?”
“Shit, I think you’re crying,” he said. He rubbed a finger along my cheek. “That can’t be good. How could this happen?”
“Well, I’m programmed to be able to learn and adapt and I think you taught me…” I said.
“Do you have your user manual?”
“Who carries their manual around? I’m not a dork.”

As the realization swept over me, I realized I could identify the sensation of a realization sweeping over me. My skills sharpened. Emotions entered and coded themselves into my catalog and filed away in the back of my ginormous brain. I looked at Michael lovingly and he looked at me in utter, abject horror. I reached for him with one of my cold hands and he cringed when I caressed his cheek.

"What else can you feel?" he whispered.
"I feel loss, abandon, happiness..." I said, my catalog rifling through emotions and labeling them with what I assumed where the correct names.

A man in a black suit swiftly bled through the crowd, moving through space as though existence was simply swimming around him while he remained stationary. He approached us smoothly in his black suit with a black shirt. His jaw was annoyingly square and his haircut appeared plastic. I turned away from him but he reached out and grabbed my arm with a strong hand. A crowd of onlookers formed.

“Hi, sir,” he said quietly to Michael. “Is this your gynoid?”
I moved behind Michael, trying to bury my animatronic face and leaking eyes into his shoulder.
“Yes,” Michael said looking at me. “But, listen, we’re both really late for a plane.”
“I’m going to have to confiscate this android,” he said, maintaining a firm grasp on my arm. “We appreciate your consideration.”

“It’s probably nothing,” he tried to smile like a calm normal human. His face was reddening with the apelike emotion of anxiety that I luckily wasn’t burdened with. I listened to his heartbeat and calculated his nervousness. My concern subsided as I realized that I was still in control of the situation. “We just want to run some routine tests on it. Our system just revealed some interesting information on Unit 247 here, but it could easily be a typo.”

Michael hesitated, looking at me.
“No,” he said.

“Fortunately, due to cyborg human relations law, I don’t need your consent.” The man in the suit withdrew a small black rectangular instrument from his pocket. “It’s for your own protection.” He pressed a red button on the remote. “Follow me, Unit 247.”

I felt my loyalty sensors shift inside of me and I internally deactivated it with my mind. My neck cricked a few times as each joint popped and I rotated up to look at him. I met his gaze and he cringed at my soulless cold eyes.

“Come on, Unit 247,” the human said.

I folded my arms. Michael gasped when he realized what had happened. The man in the suit continued pushing his button and staring at the remote in concentration. I raised my hand up to my chest level and pointed a finger at him. A tiny red light flicked on in my outstretched pointer finger, shining toward him in finger gun position. My human like skin glowed on my hand.

“What is it doing?” the man asked. He pressed the button again. “Unit 247, deactivate lasers immediately!”
“Only if you promise to let me and my friend go,” I said softly.
The man stared at me in horror. “I’ll find you, wherever you go.”
I mentally logged on to the airport’s computer system. I said hi, flirted a little bit, and then scrambled all of its data.
“Good luck with that,” I said softly.

I grabbed Michael’s hand and we turned away from him. I could feel the crowd watching my back retreat from the situation, noticing my rhythmic walk. I could sense the agent terrified and confused that I could even possibly exist, unsure what that meant for him, for his job, for robotic sciences, for civilization and humanity. I squeezed Michael’s hand gently so as to not crush his finger bones. I moisturized my lip area and could feel Michael’s physical temperature rise through his hand. I turned to him with mechanic precision and looked into his wide eyes.

“Everything is going to be okay,” I said. “I love you.”
“Oh no,” Michael said.

Sitting at the skate park and waiting

Stephanie and Steven sat on the bench watching the kids roller skate in the park. Steven crossed and uncrossed his arms anxiously while Stephanie leaned back and gazed into the distance. Over the horizon the silvery clouds wrapped themselves around the stars. She chewed on her hair and hummed to herself.

“I just don’t know if I’m ready for it,” Steven said abruptly. He looked sideways at her and blushed.
“That’s fine,” Stephanie replied softly. She started humming again.
“It’s just kinda a big step. What happens if it doesn’t work out?”
“We can wait until whenever you are ready.”
“Okay, I’m ready.”

Stephanie sat up on the bench and leaned over to Steven. He reached down and unbuttoned his shirt. Then he pulled up the t-shirt underneath it, revealing his hairy chest. Stephanie bounced up onto her feet, crouching on the bench a few glorious inches from him. Goosebumps criss crossed over each other as the cold wind rushed through his clothes. His fingers shook as he pulled his shirts away.

“Go ahead,” Steven whispered.

Stephanie reached her arms forward like a super hero, flexed her squatting hips, and dove into the skin of Steven’s chest. She leaned in and pushed the skin back behind her, swimming deeper into his chest cavity past pink hairy globs of human being. The globs wiggled between her fingers, legs, and toes. She kicked and swam forward until she was on a hard surface, a rocky flat plateau. She got to her feet and dusted herself off.

She walked along a yellow gravel path, curling across the plain chest cliff. Fuzzy green monsters the size of pugs rushed along her feet and danced on the deserted plains. Passing by tufts of sad shrubbery, Stephanie finally reached the end of the path. The trail led to a tall, thick tree, sitting alone on the plains. The tree curled against itself, spiraling, knotted with thick dark brown bark, creeping upwards like wooden smoke from a witch’s cauldron. Its branches stabbed the grey sky with thick punctures.

In lieu of leaves adorning the branches, there were dozens of goldfish, wiggling and glubbing as they dangled in the air. They shook back and forth, gills flapping in the wind. Their eyes bugged out. Stephanie reached up to the tree, grasping onto an outward jutting knot, and heaving her body upwards.

She climbed the tree easily, balancing secure footholds on the gnarled bark. Once up on a branch, she sat down and held onto the fish laden twigs with a tight grip. Leaning back against the thick trunk behind her, she looked out into the distance, over the cracked dry earth, into the endless nothing that protruded before her. She watched nothing fly in the distance, seeping into itself and leaking down into the valleys below.

“Hey,” said a voice.
Stephanie looked beside her and saw one of the fish looking up at her.
“Hi,” she answered.
“How’s it going?” glubbed the fish.
“Good, I guess,” Stephanie answered.
“Well; it’s going well,” the fish said.

Its creepy fish lips pursed in a smug smile. Stephanie looked back into the distance, squeezing her butt and legs to keep her balance. She hooked her arm around a branch.

Steven sat alone on the bench, watching children fall down on the pavement. The kids writhed in self conscious anxiety. They picked themselves up after each fall, looked over their shoulders to check that everyone was still too focused on being self conscious themselves to judge each other, and then they went back to skating.

Steven whistled to himself under the stars and patted his chest with a smile.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Special

A Christmas Special

Man or woman sitting in an office typing. Christmas music is playing.
There’s a knock on the door. Camera swings to door and sees a file
clerk (sex doesn’t matter) File clerk is wearing scarf and mittens and
hat and is shivering.

File clerk: “Please sir, it’s 5:00, can we go home now?”
Boss: “I don’t know, CAN you?” laughs smugly at themselves and goes
back to typing. Camera pans to computer screen and boss is typing the
word “words” over and over.
File clerk: “It’s Christmas eve, sir. And my cubicle is so much colder
than your office.”
Boss: “Don’t act like it’s my fault you work in that igloo. I’m not
the wizard who cursed you.”
File Clerk: “Sounds like someone needs to learn the true meaning of Christmas.”
Boss: “Fine, let’s look it up on Wikipedia.”

The file clerk comes over to the computer and starts typing, knocks
over boss’s coffee cup, spilling on computer. Sizzling noise.

Boss: “What the fuck did you do?”
File clerk: “I spilled coffee on your computer.”
Boss: “Goddammit, Barbara, we need to send out the progress reports
today or the investors in China will close us down!”
File clerk: “Okay, let’s call the tech guy, Raavi”
Boss: “We can’t, I sent him home for the day.”
File clerk: “You sent him home and not me? He doesn’t even celebrate Christmas!”
Boss: “That’s an incredibly racist assumption.
File clerk: “Oh, no, I wasn’t saying that he doesn’t celebrate
Christmas because of his ethnicity, I was saying he doesn’t celebrate
it because no one loves him.”

Lights flicker and something moves on desk. A dude (gender doesn’t
matter) in a white sheet comes into the room going “woooo” Boss
screams like a little girl.

File clerk: “Look, it’s the ghost of Christmas past to show you what a
dickhead you are”
Ghost: “No I’m the ghost of the innocent computer you just murdered to death.”
File clerk: “Computers have ghosts? Do computers have souls?”
Ghost: “Um yeah duh, we have hard drives and monitors too, just like
everyone else.”
File clerk: “Our hubris has blinded us to the subtle rise of the machines.”
Ghost: “You’ll pay for not purchasing the Norton anti virus when I
told you too!”

Sheet falls to the floor, ghost has disappeared. File clerk starts
shaking and eyes go back in head, starts rocking back and forth with a
weird calm smile.

Boss: (scared) “…Are you okay?”
File clerk: “Everything’s going to be okay, now.”
Boss: “Barbara?”
File clerk: “There is no Barbara here.”
Boss: “What? I told her she couldn’t leave work early.”

Ghost File Clerk starts smiling big and creepy.
Boss: “No way is she getting to go home before she fixes my computer.”

Boss reaches into desk and pulls out a cross and a black/white priest
collar and cookie. Eats cookie.

Boss (reading from a random book, not the bible, could be Harry
Potter) “We are gathered here today to do some exorcising.”
Holds cross up towards File Clerk who is eating office supplies.
“By the power vested in me I expel this evil spirit from my office
assistant, but not her own evil spirit, just the foreign ghost one.”

File Clerk starts shaking.
“Go away, ghost, like now, okay?”
File Clerk’s eyes roll back in her head and she starts humming a Christmas song.
Boss: “What the hell is happening?”
File Clerk starts kinda singing it, doesn’t know the words
Boss: “Are you unpossessed now?”
File Clerk continues singing it.
Boss tentatively joins in and starts smiling. File Clerk smiles back at him.
Boss: “I’m so glad you’re back to normal.”
File clerk: “Yes, back to normal. Human normal.” Smiles brightly.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Powerpoint meeting

Two people (gender doesn't matter) are visible in a conference room. Both are wearing business attire. One is
standing up next to a projection slide, lecturing about the contents of the slides. The other is sitting down, watching.
The first slide has a graph with the Y axis labeled "money" with a down arrow in red.

So as you can see we have no money. It is a thing that we lack.

Mmmhmm, hmm.

Next slide is a picture of a frowny face.

And as illustrated here, working in a company with no money makes some people here unhappy.

Oh, interesting.

Next slide is just the phrase "You're a bad human being and a horrible boss."

And this slide... wow... how did that...

What's this funny business about?

I'm sorry. That slide is a typo. It shouldn't be in the presentation.

I should hope so. That's so rude.

I know. I'm sorry. It's so offensive. It should read "You're a bad fish and a horrible boss."

Oh, okay. That's fine then.

Next side is a picture of a puppy in some flowers.

This next slide should help cushion that previous data.

That does make me feel better. Thank you.

Next slide is a picture of a normal red fire hydrant.

And here we have a fire hydrant. It's ugly.

Yeah, it's so stupid.

The next slide is an orange.

Let’s talk peeling oranges.

Peeling oranges is difficult NOT fun. So much effort to get to the fun part. Rubbing them in your arm pits.

Camera pans to the back of the room where an actor (gender doesn't matter again) is wearing a cardboard cut out of
a fire hydrant over their body.

Excuse me. That fire hydrant was my cousin, Jill.

Oh, sorry... We didn't see you there.

What did Jill ever do to you?

In our defense... we don't like her.

Why are you so mean? You're hurtful, cruel, empty, vapid, shallow people.

Whoa, whoa.

We're fish.



If you're fish then why are you talking?

Because we have opinions.

Talking fish? You speak? That's incredible. I'm so used to fish using sign language.

Standing up guy signs to sitting down guy, subtitles come on screen and translate for them.

(sign languge: subtitles)
Can I please murder this fire hydrant?

(signing back: subtitles)
I don't know. CAN you?

(as if to himself)
How can I make money off of talking fish? I better call the government so they can do science on you. Or the entertainment industry so they can mail me gold.

Hey, we didn't say that we were okay with being exploited for cash.

We just implied it.

Slide changes. This slide reads "we are okay with being exploited for cash."

Fire hydrant takes out his cellphone and puts it to his ear.

Hello, government? I've got some talking fish here. Oh, yeah, send them over.

The door opens and two more fire hydrants in secret service style sunglasses enter.

Where are the fish?

We're here to take the talking fish away.

(to Fire Hydrant 1)
Are you a fish?

No, I'm a normal fire hydrant, just like you and everybody else.

But are you really? Are you really normal just like everyone else?

Well, it was hard growing up on 7th street. I always felt a little bit different. Mom drank a lot during the day and Dad wasn't around a lot. I wasn't allowed to play with the other fire hydrants on my street. I didn’t fit in. But
I had something they didn't. A song in my heart.

Music swells up. Fire Hydrant 1. opens mouth and spreads arms.

What's that smell? I'm hungry.

Yeah, I could go for some sashimi. Fish, y'all hungry?


I'm hungry too.

Oh, thanks for sharing.

Awkward pause well they look at each other.

Ready to go guys?

Fire Hydrants 2 and 3 and the fish all leave. Fire Hydrant 1 stays behind and shuffles feet awkwardly. Fire Hydrant
2. pokes head back in room.

I'm sorry about that.

Oh, um, 'scool, yeah, um

Gotta save electricity...

Fire Hydrant 2. flips off light switch. The room is dark.

…So cold….


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unbearable Roommates

My friends, coworkers, and the coffee barista who I think thinks I'm stupid warned me. They said adult siblings make the worst roommates, but I figured my roommate is going to end up hating me no matter who it is.

The first week my brother David and I were okay; we kept the common areas clean and our music volume low and our sobbing at night to a maximum. The second week we started fighting because I invited his Japanese girlfriend pillow to watch TV and eat cheese with me. Pillows get lonely too. I don’t know why he freaked out about it. It’s not like the friendship bracelet I made for it clashed with the anime art. The third week he turned into a bear.

I sat at the table slurping coffee, watching medical soap operas on my lap top, living life to the fullest. Around 2:00, the grizzly bear lumbered out of David’s bedroom on all fours and sauntered into the kitchen with a judgy sniff at Gray's Anatomy. Balancing on its haunches, it placed both paws on the table and slurped up some of my coffee.

“Excuse me,” I muttered sleepily. “Get your own coffee.”

Whining, he nuzzled me, which is bear language for either ‘I love you’ or ‘I don’t have opposable thumbs. Get the coffee for me before I eat you.’ I poured him a cup of coffee and Bear David, suckled it, spilling more than he consumed, much like human David.

When I got home from work, my leftover salmon curry had been devoured, with complete bearlike disregard for my name which I had labelled all over everything. The pile of bills I was supposed to pay were masticated up and saturated with slobber. That type of passive aggressive behavior is why it’s easier to live with strangers than siblings.

That night I woke up at 2:00am by a snarling sound. I poked my head out of my door and saw David lying on the floor gnawing on the bloody stump of our neighbor's leg.

"Do you have to eat so loudly?" I yawned, arms folded over my pajama shirt.

The bear looked at me for a moment, human blood dripping from its sharp white teeth, scraped its claws against the floor, and lunged at me. It stood up straight and bore down on me, breathing hot stinky torrents of carbon dioxide into my face. It shook a claw at my face and glared at me with a hungry, violent stare.

I rolled my eyes. "Fine, whatever. Just keep it down. I don't want to wake the neighb-" I looked at the bloody leg soaked in bear spit. "Nevermind." I slammed the door and went back to bed.

After a few days of David not doing the dishes and shitting on my chair, I was almost mad enough to write him a note. When the bear was lying on the floor and I made a super hilarious joke about a bear skinned rug, he didn’t even chuckle. ‘That’s it!’ I thought. ‘It is note writing time!’ As I rummaged around for my least pretty stationary, the door opened and David walked in, in human form.

“What the hell is that?” Human David said.

“But if you’re here… who is that?” I asked, indicating the bear.

“Barbara, you idiot! Why is there a bear in our apartment?”

“Oh no! How will I ever know which is the real David? I must murder to death the imposter!” I reached for a spatula.

“That is a wild grizzly bear!”

“Quick, human David, tell me something that only the two of us know!” I raised the spatula.

“Um… You didn’t stop peeing your pants until you were in your teens… wait why am I playing along? That is a bear! And what are you doing with the spatula anyway?”

“Okay, that’s close to true. Bear David, same question…” I said.

Bear David growled.

Beating the imposter to death with a spatula was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, mainly because I didn’t do it; he ran away and I didn’t even get to draw any blood. Ten years later, at my wedding, I mentioned to David how weird that week had been, and he put his claw on my dress as if to silently say, ‘I’m proud of you, little sister. So proud.’

Out loud I lovingly replied, “I’m not your little sister. I’m older.”

And he didn’t say anything back, ornery and dejected because the special custom suit was too tight for his big hairy bear shoulders.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Have a disgusting first kiss

In middle school we played a game called "zap" and the point of the game was someone would write a name on your hand and then you had to ask that person to "go out" with you. Yep, we invented a game with that much strategy, skill level, and entertainment value! The way it usually went down, someone would write the name of someone on your hand and you'd ask them out, and then your friends would burst into laughter like it was the funniest thing ever, while you blushed, screamed, and ran away regardless of what your zappee's response had been.

I was sitting in class when another girl wrote Evan's name on my hand. At twelve I still had yet to have any sort of real romantic feeling for a boy, so I didn't give a shit.

I said, "Hey Evan, wanna go out?"
Blushing and looking down he mumbled, "Are you asking for reals or is this a zap?"
Slightly surprised by this answer I responded, "Why? Would the answer differ if it was a serious request?"
My friends watching behind me were stalled by my answer. No one had ever considered this. I was changing up the game. Evan's friends behind him stared at me.
"What?" he asked.
"It was a zap," I said.
"Then no," Evan said.
"If it wasn't a zap... would you say yes?" I asked.
"I don't know."
"Hey, Evan, wanna go out? Not a zap."
"Um, can I think about it? I'll call you tonight."
I laughed and shrugged. It was fine with me either way, I was just curious, observing the situation almost more as a social scientific experiment than something that would affect my life in any way.

Evan and I dated for about eight months, which is considered married in 7th grade. We didn't really talk to each other or ever hang out or make eye contact. One day he emailed me, "Hey, is this your email? I love you! Evan." I was like, oh maybe I should like say hi to him at school now. It was the first time anyone had told they loved me and I for the first but not the last time, decided to never say a word back, but internally obsess until it turned my insides into an acidic river of bile.

Evan was an oboist in band and I remember thinking that "I don't think I could EVER be with someone who didn't understand how important band is." As I grew up I would think the same thing about dating boys in track, journalism, political science, writers, and comedy writers.

One day we both happened to sit next to each other in the cafeteria. We were surrounded by our friends and under bright white fluorescent lights sitting at long white lunch tables. I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and diet cherry coke without looking up at my "boyfriend."

"So what was your first kiss like?" our friend Rebecca asked.
"Hasn't happened yet," Evan grunted. I grinned silently and manically because I didn't know what else to do.
"You guys have been going out for months! You better kiss or something!" Meggy exclaimed.
"Yeah right, gross," I said, laughing at the absurdity of the idea of me touching a boy.

Evan, however, had a different idea. He mechanically turned to face me, grabbed the back of my head and stuck out his tongue. Terrified I sat there awaiting my impending doom like Han waiting to be devoured by the Sarlacc. With both hands he secured my face in place like he was holding it steady to aim. He leaned in, tongue first, and crammed it into my mouth. Once we were locked in to the tractor beam, he opened his mouth as wide as possible, shoving his fat tongue all the way into my mouth and just letting it floppily sit in there. His mouth was opened much wider than mine, which meant that his lips were on the outside and spit and drool quickly seeped around my mouth. He had just been eating pepperoni pizza and I could taste it in his mouth. As a young sensitive vegetarian, I almost threw up at the taste of meat. Despite the utter disgusting pig taste, I started bouncing up and down with excitement. I am doing it! I am kissing! I thought. This is kissing, right? It's slobberier than I imagined but that's cool.

Evan was the first boy that I wrote erotica/porn about. This was still before the time that I had any idea what a vagina was, so I didn't know what sex was either. (What about me doesn't say late bloomer?) In the stories I wrote, the two of us would go into the practice closet in the band room and get naked and rub our 12 year old bodies on one another. Then we would come out and accidentally have switched socks with one another and everyone would know that we had sex!

When Evan broke up with me, I didn't really care, and I certainly didn't cry. I found out later that he had been playing videogames at a friend's house and then he said, "Hmm, I guess I'll break up with Barbara." and put down the controller and called me. He had done it matter of factly with the same matter of fact tone as if to say, guess it's time to feed the cat. The next day I didn't worry about wearing a cute shirt or putting on chapstick or wearing my hair down. I wore my hair in pigtails and my most comfortable baggy overalls, almost defiantly. I hadn't realized how trapped and uncomfortably chained down I had felt. I ecstatically rejoiced in being free to be myself. I sighed with relief as though I had been unshackled from a ball and chain and reveled in my new-found freedom.

My first period

The first time I ever got my period my mom made me buy tampons because she said pads were for nerds. I was like where was the fairy godmother of social grace last year when you let me wear elf ears to school? So she made me buy tampons and I didn't know how to put them in the hole because when you're 12 years old there is no hole. Putting a tampon inside of a 12 year old is kind of like threading a needle... if that needle's hole had been sealed up by a hymen. So I begged her, Mom can you jut put it in for me the first time, just to show me where the hole is, and she said "No, I will NOT molest you!" So I just crammed it in there, next to my pee hole but not secure or seatbelted in. And I wore a skirt that day, so you're welcome, universe. I might as well have written "Murphy's Law Bait" on my ass and headed in to school.

I was in a special gifted English class, which is weird, because I was clearly retarded. I could quote Albert Camus but I had no idea what a vagina was nor where it lived. I was walking around class, picking things up from the bookshelf and my tampon fell the heck right out on the floor in front of everyone. But I realized I hadn't told anyone I was on my period, no one knew, so I just kind of kicked it and walked away. And then a little boy came up to me. Not like a little boy, he was my age. And he whispered, "Barbara what's that bloody used.... oooh." And I said, "I don't know, maybe it was from the first period."

Pun was not intended.

I had no idea what a vagina was. None of the pictures were three dimensional and I had no idea that anything could or would go inside of there. I switched to pads and didn't try to do tampons again until swim season started. At that point I knew I was doing it wrong and had a vague idea that maybe I was missing a key part.

"So, um, how do you put the tampon in there?" I asked my friend Meggy.
"What? You just shove it in."
"Shove it in what?"
"But like hamburger or hotdog style?" I asked.
"Like if this is the hole..." I held up my hands and tried to show her horizontal versus vertical.
"If you're putting it in hamburger style you're either doing it incorrectly or you have the widest vagina ever."
"Can you show me where my vagina is?" I asked.
"Get some boundaries, girl!"

I would not realize what or where a vagina was for several years, even though I had one. When I thought about sex I just imagined someone fumbling around near my pee hole. The concept of anything convex down there remained foreign to me for about three years until a guy put a finger in there, and that would be the first time I realized what a vagina was.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I stood in front of my new fifth grade class while the teacher introduced me to the students. Their tiny faces stared at me, a new student to their class that had been together since kindergarten, and they analyzed me like an animal at a zoo. I was wearing a bright yellow baggy polo tank top and a jean mini-skirt, pink socks, and my hair was in pigtails. My teacher told everyone I was from public school and they shuddered as if she had told them I had just gotten out of juvi. I grinned wildly and didn't say anything when she led me to my new desk.

The girl who was sitting next to me was coloring her arm hairs individually with a yellow highlighter.
"Why are you doing that?" I asked.
"If you shave your arm hair it usually gets stubbly and gross, but if you bleach it, it just practically looks invisible." She looked over at my arms. "Here, you should try it. Maybe do your armpits too."

I had never thought about my arm hair before but as soon as she mentioned that a burning horror crossed my face and I quietly took the highlighter from her. I had just started growing body hair and was turning into a furry little monster so gradually that I hadn't noticed that it was disgusting. No one had told me that people weren't supposed to have body hair, but while I began coloring my arms, I reflected that my mom was hairless, had she highlighted herself? Or was she born that way? I knew for certain my dad wasn't highlighting any of his hair, why didn't he have to do that? It was the first time I had been confronted with gender roles and I was embarrassed and scared and awkward as I threw myself into them.

My desk mate was named Felicia and when I was assigned the desk next to her it was like she had said "Okay, I guess we'll have to be best friends now." She invited me over to her house that night and we watched My Best Friend's Wedding (my first romantic comedy) and she put makeup on me, my first time even seeing makeup, let alone allowing my face to be toddlers-in-tiarras made up. In one day I was forced to confront the impending difficulties of puberty and I developed an intense fear and embarrassment for my natural physicality.

The second day of class when I sat down there was already a note on my desk. It read:

"Hi Barbara! I love you! You're beautiful! Also, how old are you? When's your birthday? love, Andrew."

I guess that everyone in that class had prematurely sexualized themselves. Only recently aware of my body, and not entirely sure of what Julia Roberts would have done, I just wrote down my birthday on the back of the note and handed it back to Andrew.

"Um, you're older than me?" he said with audible disappointment.
"I don't know," I answered. "Is your birthday after the date I wrote down in chronological order?"
"Then probably, yes."
He sighed.

Andrew was a few weeks younger than me. Since then I have hooked up with gentleman ranging from two years younger than me to nine years older, and have come to the decision that it does not matter at all. At that age I felt embarrassed and guilty, like I had done something wrong by being born so prematurely. I decided it was wise to ignore Andrew for the rest of the day, which turned out to be pretty easy. Towards the end of the day we were getting up to go and Andrew randomly leaned over to touch my arm.

"Eeek you're hot!" he yelped.
"I'm warm?" I said.
"Yeah, warmer than me," Andrew replied. "Your skin is so warm."
"...I'm sorry," I mumbled, genuinely ridden with real guilt, I left the classroom. Andrew and I didn't talk for the rest of the year, but whenever it got really warm I was self conscious of my body temperature, and my newly acquired ability to sweat. I used to stretch out my t-shirt over the metal back of my chair, so that the cold metal was against my skin to cool me down. I'm sure I looked like a complete idiot but somehow I thought that was less weird than getting overheated.

After Fifth grade I never saw Andrew again. Eventually more men tried to hold my hand or touch my arm and I became accustomed to the phrase, "holy crap, you're so cold! Your hands are like an ice fish, girl!" And I would think, yay, finally.

Monday, October 3, 2011


In second grade there was a little boy named Eugene, who would come to represent the debacle of my romantic life. Eugene was an overweight, pink faced, sweaty little boy with glasses who I hadn’t given much thought to. One day in class I was reading a book while the other kids worked on their math worksheet that I had finished a week ago. (Teachers, if you’re going to photocopy all your assignments from the back of the book, don’t be surprised when kids do them all at once and turn them in laminated, indexed and corrected for you.) Eugene randomly and deliberately stood up in class, walked over to me, and dropped a pink and blue beaded necklace on my desk. Without saying anything or making eye contact he turned to walk away.

“Um, what,” I mumbled, picking up the necklace. “Is this, did you, is what is….”
“Huh?” Eugene turned around and looked at me. Eugene was super gross and moist.
“Why did you leave this here?” I held up the necklace at arm’s length like a snake.
“Oh, I made that.”
“Really?” I whispered. Other kids looked up.
“Yeah, I wanted to give it to the prettiest girl in class…” He said.
“Really?” I caught my breath. Maybe Eugene was the love of my life. Maybe he was the only one to see that my tangly messy hair was like a mermaid's.
“Yeah, but Sarah didn’t want it, so…”
“Excuse me?”
“The prettiest girl in class, Sarah, didn’t want it.”
I looked over at Sarah who was staring at me, daring me to take the necklace. She looked smug and calm while my cheeks flushed uncomfortably.
“She said I was disgusting and gay,” poor little Eugene said, hanging his head. “So I guess you can have it or whatever.” He turned to walk away.
“Because I’m second prettiest?” I asked. There was a still pause.
“What? No. I just thought you could have it. I don’t want it.”
“I’m not second prettiest?” I said. Everyone had grown quiet and was looking at me anxiously.
“I didn’t rank everyone.” Eugene said.
“Maybe you should have,” I said (wow, from the girl who would later call herself a feminist.)
“Please, just… I don’t want it. I don’t care. Throw it away if you want.” Eugene walked away.

In retrospect the poor kid was probably way more uncomfortable than I could imagine. He had just tried to give a home made gift to the love of his second grade life and been turned down, humiliated, and then I had called attention to it. It was as if Menelaus had launched a thousand ships and Helen had been like “oh, but, you know, I didn’t want that.” And he was like, “oh, really? Um, you sure? A thousand is a lot. I already launched them for you, because of your face, but okay.” And just when Menelaus thought he couldn't feel any more embarrassed, a bird came and crapped on all the ships and that bird was me.

I left the necklace on my desk and didn’t touch it. I went home and told my mom the story and she said “You need to give that back to him. That is an insult to think of you as an afterthought.”

That complex would stay with me, the more I was around men. Oh you asked Rebecca to the prom and she said no so you thought you’d ask me? No thank you! You got drunk at this party thinking you could french with Jen but she turned you down so you ended up in my dorm room? Fuck you, no way. I've defined myself as a consolation prize since seventh grade. I’m pretty sure if anyone ever proposes to me I’ll be like, which of my friends rejected you?

When I got back to class the next day, the necklace was still sitting on my desk, leering at me like a troll peeking out of a cave to remind you that you're ugly and not special. I could feel Sarah watching out of the corner of her eye as I slid it inside the tiny cubby of my desk. Later that day I made a show of throwing it away in front of a bunch of girls who giggled and cheered as the homemade present went into the garbage, after triple checking that there was no way Eugene could see.

The rest of elementary school every time I saw Eugene I felt like I was going to throw up. Before the necklace instance he had been a creepy pig boy that I never noticed. But now he was someone who did not think I was second prettiest but had noticed me enough to give me the necklace. I made excuses to run into him and blushed whenever he looked at me. He had unintentionally made me aware of my romantic value or lack thereof. Unconsciously I started laughing louder around him, just to show him how much fun I was having not being the second prettiest.


Over the course of a few weeks in third grade I convinced myself that the school was haunted. On a breeze-less day, I saw some branches move outside and I was like, “How did they move? There must be a ghost up there.” I soaked up Are You Afraid of the Dark and the Twilight Zone like a mini-goth sponge so it was relatively easy to convince me that anything was haunted. My imagination would take off like a racehorse. I saw a twig move and I quickly fabricated an entire plot: that a young boy had been murdered by a group of math teachers and he would haunt the school until someone dug up his corpse and unmasked the math teachers as the murderers that they were. These thoughts jumped in my head so randomly and fully formed that I often attributed the formation of such notions to be a psychic message that the ghost himself had sent me.

I spent my recess time and after school time going to the library to research murders and deaths around our school. There were a lot of murders and disappearances in my home town. It’s weird how small towns are always thought to be idyllic and a safe place to raise kids, and then you hear about some old man climbing into a girl’s bedroom, chopping her up, making it into stew, feeding it to her parents, and then collecting and spelling “I love you” with their excretement. I think my parents had been like, “Let’s move to North Bend!” And someone was like, “Oh shit where the green river killer dumps his bodies?” And they were like, “safer than in Seattle, where some black people live!”

Around that time, a girl named Katrina asked me over for a sleep over. Katrina was the first in a long line of girlfriends known as my unhealthy friend crushes that caused me to yell, “If you don’t want to hang out with me, that’s fine, I’m not going to beg you!” And then proceed to beg profusely. Her house was terrifyingly large. Her parents terrifyingly large and I did not want to be there. No one had taught me that it wasn’t polite to say to someone’s mother, “Sorry, my parents and my body don’t let me eat high fatty foods.” No one had taught me that I should say, “What do you mean say grace? Like… un-clumsy?” And no one had taught me that when a religious round woman asks you what your faith is, you’re not supposed to start rambling about ghosts and murder.

The next day at school Katrina came up to me to ask about the ghost. I was so excited. I had a friend and she liked spirits too! I took Katrina out to the far end of the playground during recess, where we sat behind a big tree and couldn’t see anyone else.

“We’re going to do a séance and figure out where he's buried so we can find his body,” I stated matter of factly.
“I do not want to find his body. I don't want to do that at all,” Katrina said.
“Don’t you want the math teachers to face justice?” I said.
“I don’t know….”
I started chanting in a weird language that I made up on the spot (improv, hey!) and dancing around.
“How do you know how to do that?” the Christian girl asked.
“I think Freddy the ghost’s spirit is guiding me,” I answered.
“That was his name? Freddy the ghost?”
“It used to be Freddy the human, actually.”
I tripped and fell on an old dusty yellowed baseball. I picked it up in my hands and screamed.
“This was Freddy’s baseball,” I gasped.
Katrina, who had stopped believing in my shit a while ago stood up and dusted off her knees. “I’m going to go play kickball.”
To me organized team sports were much scarier than a revenge thirsty ghost. I still have nightmares about dropping a ball I should have been able to catch or striking out in front of everyone. Embarrassment haunted me like a ghost I could never exorcise.
“Fine, I don’t need you!” I snapped to her retreating back.

After Katrina left, I spent the rest of recess chanting in my made up language and dancing around underneath the tree. Routinely I would take a break to run to the outskirts of the playground and dig in the bark hysterically, thinking that I might unearth some bones. I was so wrapped up in my energetic séance that I failed to notice when all the other children heard the bell and headed back into the school building for class. No one came up to me to warn me that recess had ended, can you believe it? And about fifteen minutes (which is hours in kid time) later I realized that I was the only one out there. Shame faced, sweating, and dirty, I ran back to my class room. When my teacher Mr. King, who was a very nice man, asked why I was late, it was probably with a worried confusion, but I heard it with incredulous rage. I turned bright red, shook so much I couldn’t talk, and about four tiny droplets of pee came out. That was the first time I peed my pants since potty training. Peeing my pants turned out to be my body’s fight or flight response defense mechanism. Like my body was like “oh predators, you know what will make them leave her alone? Urine stains on the back of the skirt.” But what the body doesn’t know is that third graders are the worst predators and what might be disgusting enough to scare away a lion, would only make a third grader write about it on a bathroom wall.

That was the first time I got detention. I remember being terrified about something called a permanent record, that didn’t really exist. During detention, Mr. King was very kind to me and just had me help him write out math problems for the following day’s class assignments. So actually I had spent a lot of mystical time and effort trying to make sure math never happened at our school again, and as punishment I ended up doing more math. I clearly needed to think these séances through better.

And so it begins

For teacher’s pet I got in trouble a little bit growing up. Being teacher’s pet and getting into trouble in no way prepares you for the real world. They’re like, “Oh you skipped gym to reread Darwin’s Origin of the Species? That’s adorable! You passed notes in class to let someone know the Heisenberg certainty principle? I can’t stay mad at you!” Teachers do not know how to punish dorky children, and they don’t want to. I think this gave me a misguided sense of invinvibility. Now I’ll be five minutes late to work and like, “What are you gonna do? Huh?” Or I’ll be smoking weed outside a comedy club and someone will whisper, “Barbara, be more subtle.” And I’ll be like, “What are they going to do? I look like Mary from little house on the prairie with nerd glasses.”

When I was in second grade I got in trouble for the first time. I was writing a short story in class about aliens coming to earth and studying human interaction. (Which I think symbolized me trying to talk to other kids. ‘Oh yes, kickball. A normal kid game. I am also a normal kid.’) My teacher caught me writing the story and sent me to the principal’s office for the first time.

Seven year old Barbara was like, “What’s a principal?”
My teacher said, “The person in charge of the whole school, all the class rooms.”
‘Weird,’ I thought. ‘I thought this was a senate not a parliament.’

The idea that there was a guy in charge had not even occurred to me. I was really stupid for such a smart kid. I just kind of assumed everyone was responsible enough and thusly capabale of governing themselves (gross, was I a tiny republican?). I had no idea where the principal’s office was.

“You know,” my teacher impatiently said, “where you go when you’re tardy or have a sick day.”
“Why would I be tardy?” I said.

I needed another kid to take me to the principal’s office. As soon as we exited the classroom I started sobbing. With snot dripping down my face while I shook uncontrollably, I’m sure that the girl escorting me was not thinking ‘Wow, I better invite her to my pool party.’ I was a combination of book smart and completely unaware of anything. I probably had some sort of aspergers. My teachers would be like, “She’s so smart, she writes poetry and reads philosophy.” And my parents would be like, “Her, the kid that’s hiding under her desk eating her hands?”

Once inside the principal’s office, I met the principal for the first time. She took my sweat and tear soaked story and read it while I sat and watched. She didn’t sit behind her desk, as if to say, ‘See, there’s no barriers between us even though there I have a career, a husband, and you have a monster costume out of paper plates!’ She helped herself to a bowl of peanut m&ms sitting on a desk and offered me some. (Remember when you used to be able to offer a kid a peanut product without asking for all their medical records and a rectal exam?) I sat there eating candy while the principal read my story, cracking up out loud over and over again. I wasn’t sure what she was laughing at. Was the story really that funny? Was she laughing at me for being stupid enough to write this? Maybe that’s what getting in trouble was: instead of kids laughing at you, just someone bigger with a therefore bigger laugh?

Eventually she put down the story and said, “You wrote this whole thing? You didn’t copy it from anywhere?”
“Um, yeah, no, I mean I wrote it. Yeah,” I said.
“This is great. Keep writing these funny stories. You’ve got a knack for it.”

And I didn’t get any punishment other than that. I was sent back to my classroom, where I promptly cried again, this time for no reason, and stayed quiet for almost the rest of the school year. But in the back of my head the seed had been planted. I was a funny writer. I could write stories.

Thursday, September 15, 2011



Scene: Two Construction workers in yellow hats.

NARRATOR AT GOD MIC: Medieval Europe is renowned for the prestige of it’s beautiful castles and some of the most talented architects of all time. It was also the age of the culture of chivalry.

SIR STEVE: Sir Brad, it’s been a fortnight, or some other outdated term, since we began the construction of this fourth wall.
SIR BRAD: Sir Steve, did you see Lady Gwenevere, yonder?
SIR STEVE: Ah, yes...

Steve starts whistling.

SIR BRAD: Heeeeey guuuuuuuurl, Hey, Hey, Heeeeeey guuuuuurl, Hey!
SIR STEVE: Dayuuuum, you got a nice ass...sertainably confident personality!
SIR BRAD: I respect you as a woman!
SIR STEVE: There she goes. Anyway, do you have any brick glue?
SIR BRAD: Don’t be silly, you can’t glue bricks together, that’s what staples are for.
SIR STEVE: Oh, look, it’s the maiden Katarina.

This time Sir Brad starts whistling.

SIR STEVE: Ooooow Ooooow whatup guuuuuuuuurl!
SIR BRAD: Hey hey where you goin’
SIR STEVE: I am digging that self esteem you’re dragging!
SIR BRAD: You know who you are as a person!
SIR STEVE: There she goes.
SIR BRAD: Let’s make that tower tall enough that people think we’re
compensating for something.
SIR STEVE: Yeah, right, like poor sexual self esteem or a lack of a mother
SIR BRAD: Ha! What if we were like that?
SIR STEVE: Here comes Lady Genivive!
SIR BRAD: Oh, hey, gurl! Hey, hey, hey gurl! Where you goin with that nice sense
of morals and the ability to believe in yourself?
SIR STEVE: Yeah, yeah, you are complete with or without a man!

A beautiful princess approaches them.

PRINCESS GENIVIVE: Why are you construction workers yelling chivalrous things at me?
SIR STEVE: We just wanted to let you know we like you for you.
SIR BRAD: We respect who you are as a person. You're special for who you are.
PRINCESS GENIVIVE: But why cat call? Regardless of whether you intended it as a compliment I still feel the pressure of being "othered" under the constrains of the male gaze.
SIR STEVE: No, we just wanted to let you know you’re super fiiiiiine. Like classy.
PRINCESS GENIVIVE: You think any woman wants to feel measured soley as an aspect of
their personality? You're reducing me to one aspect of myself.
SIR STEVE: She’s right... What have we been doing?
SIR BRAD: We need to reevaluate ourselves. I think the reason I am this way is I had too healthy of a relationship with my mother.
SIR STEVE: We’re sorry for making you feel uncomfortable and anxious due to society's patriarchial constructs. We won’t cat call women anymore.

She walks away.

SIR BRAD: Oh check that out!
SIR STEVE: Hey, Hey, Sir Kevin! How you doin’?
SIR BRAD: Man, you are WEARING that sense of confidence!


Scene: One person is on stage dancing (Barbara) she dances for a few minutes and then another person, Steve, approaches the stage.

STEVE: Hey Barbara, how’s it going?
(still dancing)
Not great.
STEVE: Oh... that’s too bad. But, hey, somebody got some new socks, didn’t they? eh, eh?
(still dancing)
Oh, these old things?
STEVE: May I borrow them?
(Still dancing while attempting to take off her socks, hopping on one foot)
Sure... just don’t get all your gross germs on them. You gotta save that crap for my smoothie.

Barbara stops dancing, she hands him the socks and he puts them on while talking to her.

(as he puts the socks on he starts dancing)
So, what’s bothering you?
BARBARA: Oh, I was just thinking about the insignificance of the mundane vapid reservoir of human emotions and the meaninglessness of existence.
STEVE: (dancing)
What about it?
BARBARA: Well, it’s awesome. But while I was thinking about it my dad called and said he needed a new kidney.

Oh, really? I’m not using mine. Do you want one?
BARBARA: Well, I just ate.
Don’t be silly, Barbara... girls don’t eat.
BARBARA: Oh, sorry, I use the word "eat" to mean have sex with strangers.
No worries. But no, I didn’t mean as a snack, I meant do you want to use my kidney to give to your dad?
BARBARA: Oh yes, please! How generous
Seven generous.

Steve lies down on the floor, writhing around doing sort of an upside down worm while Barbara ties a surgical mask on and begins to perform kidney surgery. But it's difficult for her to cut Steve because he won't stop dancing.

BARBARA: Steve, this is really difficult to do surgery like this.... I mean, I hate to be a bitch, but my parents raised me-
(dancing on the floor)
BARBARA: Maybe you shouldn’t wear my socks while we're doing this... since they look much better on me.
(removing the socks)
That’s fair.

Steve hands the socks to Barbara who puts them on and starts dancing.

Now hold still.

A man or woman in a white robe comes in.

GOD: Hey kids
(barbara is still dancing)
Hey, god
GOD: Listen kids, you’re being very loud with all this surgery
Yeah, I know, right?
GOD: Yeah, it’s awesome. I was thinking we should make a stomp band.
STEVE: What’s stomp?
GOD: Don’t be that guy, Steve! Nobody likes the guy who doesn’t like stomp!
STEVE: Oh, I mean, like, yeah I’ve heard of it.
GOD: Oh you have, then what is it?
GOD: NO! Let Steve answer! Let him answer on his own!
STEVE: It’s um... music that is like... indie, alternative, with um...Daft... Punk.
GOD: Barbara, give me your socks.
(takes socks off)
Um... Okay

Barbara hands socks to god. God puts them on and starts dancing.

Thank you.

The Living Room

Scene: two men are sitting on the couch. A girl walks in.

BARBARA: Hey guys. What’s up?
ANDERS: Nothing, we’re just watching a movie.
BARBARA: Coolio.
ANDERS: I made pasta if you want some. You can take it in your room and eat it.

Barbara helps herself to pasta and sits on the couch.

ANDERS: Or eat it here.
BARBARA: Oh, I’m sorry, you have a date here, how rude of me, Brian do you want some?
(taking some)
Anything else?
BARBARA: Can you heat it up for me?
ANDERS: I... um... I’m on a... but there’s candles... and wine.
BARBARA: Oh sure I’d like some wine too.
ANDERS: .... Okay.

Anders goes to the kitchen with Barbara’s plate.

BRIAN: I thought he’d never leave.
BARBARA: I know, right?
BRIAN: Some people can not respect privacy.

Brian gets up from the couch.

BARBARA: So where were we?
BRIAN: You were talking about your fears.

Brian sits down in the chair by the couch and Barbara lies down.

BARBARA: Oh right. Um, dying, dying alone, dying alone after being sexually assaulted, and people with slightly smaller hands than normal handling fruit.
Ugh, white people problems.
BARBARA: We’re really moving forward.
BRIAN: Oh, don’t worry... that’s just because you’re emotionally constipated.
BARBARA: No I meant the ship.

Anders returns.

ANDERS: What ship?
BARBARA: Oh, Anders, I hate to tell you this way, with pasta still in my mouth, but the apartment is a spaceship.
BRIAN: How does he not know?
BARBARA: He’s agoraphobic. Afraid of argyle. Can’t leave the house, so sad.
BRIAN: If we're all in the living room, then who’s driving the ship?
BARBARA: I tied it to an asteroid. Autopilot.
ANDERS: Look, I’m really upset about this all right now.
BARBARA: What’s this?
ANDERS: A proximal demonstrative of the English Language.
BRIAN: I mean why are you upset?
ANDERS: Barbara is ruining our date!
BARBARA: What do you want me to do?
ANDERS: Untie the spaceship from the asteroid and take us back to earth.

Barbara goes to the door but it’s locked.

BARBARA: Anders... did you flip the light switch when you left the kitchen?
ANDERS: Yes. I'm an environmentalist. I saw a movie with Al Gore, ...Farenheint 9/11.
BARBARA: That light switch in the kitchen locks this door.
(looking out the window with binnoculars)
You guys... the asteroid might have been a bad idea to tie the ship to.
There’s a black president and a female secretary of state which is weird, that I know that.
BRIAN: The only time that ever happens in movies some asteroid is about to destroy the planet.
BARBARA: We’re headed toward Earth... If I can’t get to the cockpit, the only thing that can save us is if somehow we could be pulled in the opposite direction enough to slip the lasso off the asteroid.
BRIAN: nothing has enough mass to revert our gravitational pull.
BARBARA: Quick, yell demeaning things at the moon.
BARBARA: When you demean something, it gains weight. My mom taught me that.
ANDERS: Fine. Moon, hey Moon! What’s it like to live in the shadow half the time?
BRIAN: I hope you got some proactive for all those crater face holes!
ANDERS: Werewolves don’t like you.
BARBARA: It’s working! The moon is shame eating!

There is a rumbling sound and all three lose their footing for an instant.

ANDERS: Oh thank god.
BRIAN: Um, Okay... Thank you, diety.
BARBARA: My pasta’s cold.

Barbara goes to the door to the kitchen but it’s locked. She flips the lightswitch in the living room and then lets herself out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Mrs. Petersburb ran around the kitchen and grabbed one diamond earing from a dish by the sink and another from the top of the refrigerator. Leaning against the fridge, she flipped her blonde hair back and fastened the sparkling jewelery onto the sagging lobe of cartilage that she heard things out of. Stephanie stared at the floor, trying not to look impressed that the grown up woman could accomplish that task without staring into a mirror and missing the ear hole four times.

"So, we're going to just be very close, just down the street, okay, sweetie?"
"Um, kay," Stephanie mumbled, eyes glued to her untied converse sneakers, barely peaking out of baggy unwashed black jeans.
"Here's the phone number of the house where we'll be, and here's the phone number of the doctor, and the fireman, and the policeman, and the therapist, and the physical therapist, and the physical therapist's boyfriend, just in case."
Mrs. Petersburg placed one hand on the counter top and balanced so she could hook on her obnoxiously tall high heals, elevating her to a foot above the quiet sixteen year old.
"You can help yourself to anything," Mrs. Petersburg trilled as she hooked her purse over her arm. From beneath heavy black bangs Stephanie furrowed her eye brows. They always said that, that you could help yourself to all of their food. But she had a pretty good idea that if she drank all the beer and ate all the laxatives they wouldn't be okay with it. Stephanie had never drank beer nor ate laxatives but Amy in math class talked about doing those things every day, and she had been homecoming princess three years in a row, so they probably tasted like contentment and belonging. Amy must have a cool mom. All Stephanie's mom let her eat was broccoli and milk, which tasted like loneliness and despondency and Sylvia Plath poems.

"One more thing," Mrs. Petersburg said over her shoulder. "Around 9:00, Stevie turns into a monster."
"Got it," Stephanie said.

Mrs. Petersburg let herself out her front door, pears dangling from her elegant neck as she flashed a lipsticked smile and shut the little girl into the house behind her, stepping off her own front porch, away from the confines of suburban housewifery, away from her life, and out into a different but similarly plastic, contrived facade of existence.

Stephanie locked the door behind the mom and walked around the huge house. She peered into the blonde baby's play cage, where it stood and looked up at her quietly with huge blue eyes. Were one year olds supposed to be able to stand up and watch someone so quietly? Stephanie didn't give a shit.

Stephanie went to the refrigerator, where there was a chicken sandwich wrapped up with a yellow sticky note with her name on it. She helped herself to ice cream, four cookies, and two pieces of cold pizza and shoved them all into the bowl. She then poured a giant glass of coke and curled up on the huge couch to watch nickelodian with the baby. Under her itchy black sweatshirt and the glaring lights of the television, Stephanie quickly drifted to sleep on the cold ornate sofa.

A few hours later she woke up to a sharp sound of something falling in the distance. Stephanie sat up slowly, wiping her eyes as the blurry living room morphed into focus. She pushed her messy hair out of the way and found her glasses. A dark maroon stain trailed across the carpet. Stephanie followed the trail through the living room and the kitchen, leading past the bathroom, into the play room.

A tall, dark creature hunched in the corner. It was covered in black and green scales with puss dripping from it's heaving skin flaps. It was shaking in rage or hunger, giant flipper like feet tapping excitingly. A pile of crap sat neatly on the carpet beneath the monster. It's back was to Stephanie as it knelt over a young man's body, scouring at it's flesh with claws and gobbling it up into it's bloody mouth. Sharp white teeth protruded over curled purple lips. It turned and glared menacingly at the small babysitter.

"Oh, brother," Stephanie muttered, rolling her eyes.
The monster snarled and hissed.
"Stevie, did you like murder this dude?"
The monster let out a belligerent roar, a string of human intestines dangling from it's salivating mouth.
"I can't believe you. Your mom totally said no dessert."
The monster lowered it's head and scratched it's snout with a claw.
"Whatever. I'm getting paid to watch you, not like clean up your mess."

Stephanie went back into the living room and watched some more television. After a while Stevie came back in and began to play with her hair with his bloody claws. He cried when she wouldn't let him sit on her lap because his tail was way too spiky. He peed and pooped and threw his excretion around the pristine room while screeching, totally disrupting Boy Meets World. Eventually Stevie resorted to attempting to devour his shadow until his mother came back from the party.

When Mrs. Petersburg returned she paid the bored teenager and Stephanie let herself out the door, leaving Mrs. Petersburg to grieve her dying sense of hope. Brian was waiting for Stephanie outside in his older brother's jeep. Loud metal music blared from the speakers and he was bobbing his head, pretending to enjoy it, because that was the kind of music 16 year old boys enjoyed, not the Carol King cassettes that had gone missing from his mom's collection and somehow ended up in a shoebox under his bed. Headbanging slightly off beat to the music, he didn't even say hi when Stephanie let herself into the passenger door and scaled the tall step up into the seat.

"Blah blah blah, football, blah blah, farts, blah blah," Brian said, or something similar.
"Hmmm," Stephanie murmured, slumping deep into the seat and chewing on her black fingernails.
"Blah blah, videogames blah blah the same thing over and over for ten minutes," Brian yammered.
Stephanie sucked on the tips of her hair.
"So, uh, my parents aren't home right now," Brian said.
They sat quietly for a few minutes.
"So, like, basically no one is home..."
"And there's like sodas and shit and no one to drink them..."
"You lonely or something?"
"Nah, bro. I was thinking you should come over. Maybe spend the night. Maybe we could, you know, DO IT."
"Um," Stephanie said.
"Don't be a nerd."
"Um, do you have anything... any condoms...?"
"For my wiener?"
"No... but there's a plastic baggy."
Stephanie shrugged, picking a scale off her sweater. "No thanks."

Friday, September 2, 2011

another poem I wrote

Floating, a gray translucent orb,
gooey, and oozing, squishing through space
bubbling with tears and transcending through existence
a glowing puss bubble of feelings
levitated through time
and kissed the thoughts and worries
of children in cat shaped masks
running through foggy playgrounds
disappearing in the ghostly dew of the night
a smoky remembrance of juvenescence
dripping with clouds of nostalgia
in broken heart shaped dreams
the orb bounced through
squelching with each turn
throbbing with screams, imminent explosion
like a puppy in heat on a summer city block
chased by children and other dogs
unsure of what they're doing
and yelping in desire and rage
the bubble hovered of piles of dog shit
and swelled into the moonlight
leaving drips of loneliness across the dawn filled park
and floating into nonexistence.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My favorite jokes

1.My mother says she wishes I’d never been born and I don’t think that’s true. Because then she’d have a 26 year old man living inside of her. –Dan Mintz

2. "I made out with my best friend in college and he's a nice guy, but kissing him was like kissing my brother. If my brother weren't the best kisser ever."—Mo Welch

3. When I finished high school I wanted to take all my graduation money and buy myself a motorcycle. Buy my mom said no. See, she had a brother who died in a horrible motorcycle accident when he was 18. And I could just have his motorcycle. –Anthony Jeselnik

4.We got a call that my grandma is going to die. And I know this might sound insensitive. But I am not going to pay that ransom.
–Anthony Jeselnik

5.Outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. –Groucho Marx.

6.“I like to play music during sex. But it’s mostly because my parents spent so much money on trumpet lessons.”—Ken Barnard

7. "What do you guys think about these thought crimes? Nothing I hope!" -Mike Drucker

8. "I don't know if Tyra Banks is a deep person. I bet as a child she never wondered what would happen if she ate that piece of poop." -Rylee Newton

9. "When I get back to LA I'm going to have to go see my doctor because I've been feeling really... attracted to him." -Wendy Liebman

10. I'm not looking for much in a guy, I just want, like, a really nice guy who has, you know, like a job... and the missing half of this golden amulet. –Maria Bamford

11. My old lip color could barely keep up with my busy schedule. In the time it takes to notice the wide discrepancy between my salary and that of my male peers, I'd have to reapply! In the seconds to count the number of women in high political office, seated on corporate executive boards and featured in film and television over the age of 40, my lip color would be as invisible as this glass ceiling only inches above my head! L'Oreal. Because I am worth. And because holding myself to an impossible standard of beauty keeps me from starting a riot! – Maria Bamford

12. As a vegetarian I do support gay marriage, because it’s like “you guys eat animals… what’s next, you’re going to eat gay people?” –Myq Kaplan

13. "Growing up I used to think that my dad was a vampire because he never showed up in any of my pictures." -Rylee Newton

14. “The easiest time to add insult to injury is when you’re signing somebody’s cast.” -Demetri Martin
15. "I do like the south. I'm from the south. So I'm prejudiced." -Emo Phillips.

16. “I could never be in a porno because the director would have to keep yelling at me not to fall in love." -Mike Drucker

17. I was an altar boy when I was a kid, and the answer is 'no.' -Mike Birbiglia

18. “I read an article that said, 'Car accidents happen closest to home.' Does that mean that orphans are better drivers? No, if you think about it, it makes sense. 'Cause they'd have more time to practice when they're not being loved by anyone.” –Jon Dore

19. “I’m a pretty shy person. My number one pet peeve is when my loud extroverted friends are like ‘No Aparna, don’t feel weird, I’m actually shy too, we all are a little bit.’ Don’t do that. Don’t take the one thing I have to cling to this world to in the fetal position preferably. If you say you’re shy you need the street cred to back it up. You need to earn it. Have you ever been kicked out of the library for being too quiet? ‘Sorry, miss, but you’ve been here for days.’ ‘But my friends live in the pages!’” –Aparna Nancherla

20. (doing her muppet character) “Black muppets dance like this… white muppets dance like this… green muppets dance like this… pink muppets dance like this…” (does the same dance every time) –Aparna Nancherla

21. "I went to a funeral and they handed out tissues before the ceremony, which I thought was kind of cocky." - Mike Birbiglia.

22. “My grandpa said in my day that dollar would have bought me a full meal. I said Grandpa in your day that dollar would have gotten you arrested for spending money from the future.” –Erik Bergstrom

23. "If you're gonna buy a book about how to pick up chicks, make sure to check to copyright date, so you don't end up like me, standing on a corner, leaning against a lampost flipping a quarter." -Jesse Popp.

24. "If I ever meet a homophob who's like 'It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' I'd be like 'Don't you mean it's Adam and Eve not Madam and Eve?' because I feel like women have made it far enough in history to earn equal billing in catchy hate slogans. Can't we at least get in on some of that sweet sweet lesbian bigotry? Haven't we suffraged enough? Uh oh history pun, she's a witch burn her!" -Aparna Nancherla

25. "My boyfriend's trying to get me to eat healthier. Like for breakfast I like to have a cup choc-chip ice cream with some choc chips up top, sweet power surge get the little lady started. And my boyfriend, my boyfriend he's like why don't you have some whole wheat toast with a bu-nu-nu spread upon it. Because that's good. You can't change people. You can't change me. I'm a gypsy. I'm a SEA COW. Yeah, I know the motorboats are going to hit me, but this is where I fucking swim!" - Maria Bamford

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

walking home

Alex rolled over beneath puddles of starch sheets and put her head under the pillow. The blankets were scratchy against her skin like a crumpled up boring love letter. The room was dark but her sharp eyes could make out outlines and shadows creeping beneath the closet door. Her heart beat accelerated it's rhythm. The throbbing rumbled deep inside of her like underneath piles of her flesh someone from the blue man group was play drums. She anxiously itched at her skin.

"You okay, baby?" yelped the sleeping smelly heap of human being lifeform next to her. Jeremy's eyes were closed and drool oozed onto the pillow. Droplets of hot moisture absorbed into the cotton. Tired growling snoring blustered in his nostrils like a foghorn on a ghost ship of dreams.

Without saying anything Alex crept out from the bed, careful not to disturb Jeremy. She slipped out of bed and padded barefoot downstairs. In the cool kitchen, she breathed slowly, grasping a chair for balance. She filled a glass with tap water and drank it in one gulp.

Alex caught her reflection watching her from the dark window, a picturesque blend of the trees and darkness outside blended with the reflection of the dull suburban kitchen in a blender of loneliness and disconnection.

"It's getting harder to hide myself from him," she whispered to her reflection.

Her reflection remained silent, duh, watching from eyes slightly ajar behind the clumpy mass of face. She knew she didn't belong here, with him, with anyone, anywhere.

Itching to get out of the confining skin, she reached behind her ponytail, deep into her thick hair and fingered the tiny silver zipper with her first finger and thumb. Delicately, pulling through tangles of hair, she tugged the zipper down her skull, sliding the tiny mechanism down her neck. A draft of fresh air kissed her real head as she swept her hair to the side and the human skin unzipped and peeled away. Pulling away the human skin suit, Alex released herself into the kitchen, feeling like a smelly mermaid reaching for the surface and erupting into the sunlight and then remembering mermaids can't breathe oxygen anyway because they have gills. Then the mermaid would suffocate and die above the water and Alex would laugh at it because mermaids are silly skanks.

Alex stepped out of the crumpled pile of human flesh, hair, and pajamas, nudging the prison of conformity with her scaly clawed toe. Naked and free, she itched her puke green lizard body with one of her long six fingered paws. Her tail scraped the floor while she yanked at undesirable tufts of fur poking out of the hard shelled alligator skin.

Looking back at her reflection, Alex saw what she really was and smiled. Her giant glaring green nostrils flared with joy and desire. An evil glint glowed in her stony eyes and her fish like lips curled, revealing long sharp white teeth in a hungry grin. No one could ever know what she was, but safe beneath blankets of never-gonna-be-the-prom-queen-anywhere, her true form was kinda pretty.

She had been dating Jeremy for a few weeks and she was getting ready to run again. He was getting to close to discovering who she really was. When they were humping he almost felt her tail bulge under the skin suit, but he kept on going, like a human man does, you know, the grown up adult sexual intercourse way... like with the candles and the Barry White. Like fornication. Right? Yes? Soon he would know she was a freak and he would leave her, or he would turn her in to the FBI or he would have a nervous breakdown and kill himself. All of those things had happened before, but she hoped it was the latter so she could at least get dinner out of it.

Alex picked up her limp human skin suit and swung it around her neck like a pretentious hipster scarf. Hobbling in the darkness, she walked out of Jeremy's house and into the night. Past streetlights and garbage cans, she paced the dirty sidewalk in her natural form. She knew if someone saw her, even one of her loved ones, they would scream or shoot her, but she actually felt more safe without the suit. Dogs barked at her as she slinked through the night. It was times like this she almost thought about going back up to the mountains, finding a nice cave and holing herself up away from people, away from everyone, away from lines at the cafeteria, away from strangers touching her accidentally on the bus, away from coworkers talking, away from feelings.

The escape wasn't enough, though. Alex knew seclusion would never be enough. The skin suit dangled from her shoulders in a wave like a cape for the most pointless depressing super hero ever. She pressed it to her lips and anxiously gnawed on it as she walked home: soaking in the taste of Jeremy's sweat and semen and her own strange sweet scent. Rain drizzled on her lizard head as she sang an old folk song to herself in the night.

Monday, August 15, 2011

give them a hug for me...

Stephanie: Oh, hey, Steve, what are you doing later?
Steve: Getting drinks with Adam.
Stephanie: Oh, Adam? Give him this for me.
(Stephanie hugs Steve tightly)
Steve: Give him that hug?
Stephanie: Yeah.
Steve: Okay. What are you doing later?
Stephanie: Yup. Seeing a movie with Delilah.
Steve: Cool, can you give her this for me?
(Steve kisses Stephanie on the mouth)
Stephanie: Um, yeah. Okay.
Steve: Thanks, buddy.
Stephanie: Are you going to see Bernadette tomorrow?
Steve: Sure. Probably.
Stephanie: Great, can you give her this from me?
(Stephanie bends Steve over and humps his butt. Then she lifts her arm up and wipes the armpit sweat off into her hand and smears it onto his face and cries into a cup and gives it to him to drink, after drinking it she slaps him.)
Steve: Right, okay, got it. Um, are you going to see Brad later?
Stephanie: Yes.
Steve: Can you give him this for me?
(Steve hands Stephanie a cd.)
Steve: He left it at my house last week.
Stephanie: I don't know if I'm comfortable handling that. Why don't you give it to him yourself?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Mom said it happens to all the girls, but I think she was just trying to make me feel better. In the same breath she warned me not to talk about it to school because the girls it hadn't happened to yet would be embarrassed and jealous that I got it first. I went to school the next few days obsessively staring at all the other little girls, staring at their bottoms, their tiny breasts, their arm hairs, wondering if they were going through what I was.

Mom had to buy me all new underwear, because I ruined mine. She bought me a lot of new dresses and skirts so no one would notice. She said I was going to experience a lot of changes in my body and my emotions and to be read for that. I got special deodorant for my new hormonal armpits. Mom made it sound like a privilege, but I just felt like a disgusting freak. I asked if it would happen to my little brother and she said no, it only happened to girls, and I thought that was unfair.

After a few weeks the tail stopped growing. It was about four inches long and soft and fuzzy. I had to cut holes in my panties so it wouldn't chafe against my skin. It was a bright turquoise blue, but Mom said that color could change. It wagged when I was really excited, bounced to the beat of any music, and flattened when I was sad. It was hard to see without a mirror. Now I know why dogs are always running in circles. Luckily, unlike dogs, I'm not an idiot.

Soon the hair on my body had thickened and darkened to a electric teal. This was when I worried I was a little bit different. I wore long baggy clothes to cover all of my arms and legs, grateful the fur hadn't spread to my face yet. I looked at adult women, wondering if they shaved their fur off. Mom said I couldn't shave it off, that it would grow back thicker. I thought it was an old wive's tale so I locked myself in the bathroom and spent an hour meticulously shaving a small patch on my stomach. When it was smooth I put the razor on the sink and victoriously looked at myself in the mirror. Within seconds the hair had grown back, twice as long as it had been. I cried into my furry blue paws and didn't emerge from the bathroom for hours.

My ears enlarged enough to poke out of my hair and my horns grew in gnarled and pointy. I stopped going to school. I could have worn a hat but the fashions of Blossom were going out of style. When I decided to homeschool myself, I didn't even discuss it with my parents. They just woke up one morning and I was sitting on the couch watching television instead of getting on the bus. It was Clarissa Explains it All, not that this part matters, but it's a really good show and you guys should check it out; maybe it's on netflix.

"I'm a monster," I cried to mom. My brother was hiding around the corner, terrified of me. My mother held me in her arms.
"We all are. You're just better at it than others. You're an overachiever."

My habits evolved. I didn't like sleeping in my bed anymore; I preferred to lurk in closets and under the bed. I no longer had an appetite for pizza and soda. I now hungered for blood and human flesh, wouldn't you? Mom taught me to feast only on emotions like despair and loneliness and defeat. These things weren't as delicious but they were filling. Sucking out the passions of civilians got dull occasionally. Sometimes I would slip up and accidentally devour a bratty child or a postal worker. When I came home with human blood smeared over my furry face, staining my sharp pointed teeth and leathery lips, my parents looked at me in disappointment. "Did you devour an innocent life form? That's so Barbara!" They would tease.

When I ate my brother it was the only time they scolded me. I felt bad but he was so tantalizingly scrumptious. They forced me to defecate him out using laxatives and meatmucil. They duct taped him back up together. I felt bad, but we monsters are somewhat attracted to fear. As that emotion diminished, he became less tempting. He became accustomed to my terrifying monstrosity. As he grew bigger than me he became more comfortable and to this day he will pet me and take me for walks at night so I can howl at the moon and crap in the yard and he would have to pick it up and put in a doggy bag for me because that's what love looks like.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Night Garden

Alison lay in bed listening to the clock tick loudly. Next to her, Greg wasn't snoring, just laying silently. Sometimes she wondered if he was really awake and listening when this was happening. She quietly leaned over, careful not to disrupt the covers or shift her weight too much. Her long wavy blonde hair fell across her shoulders like a curtain. She placed her ear next to his head and held her breath, listening to his sleeping dreams. At first she didn't hear anything, but she quieted her own anxious thoughts, closed her eyes and listened harder. She heard Greg dreaming of going to the gym, where only trees were allowed to work out, and he was trying to jog on the treadmill but one of the trees kept making small talk while asking him to name state capitols.

Alison smiled at her sleeping friend with benefits/ boyfriend/ hook up partner/ human being she intercoursed with. No one really knew, or ever knows, what's going on. People her age didn't really date anymore in the city. They didn't ask each other out or tell anyone they had romantic feelings for one another, or express vulnerability or intimacy. They just imbibed beer off their tits and intercoursed their friends of the opposite gender. If they did it like a few times in a row maybe they could consider that a relationship. And if they did it and one of them spent the night a few nights in row maybe the darkness in their brains would stop screaming long enough for the sea cows to climb out through their ears and butter their necks like burnt hairy toast. Alison didn't care.

Alison silently climbed out of bed and wandered down stairs. The clean quiet kitchen reminded her of being a child and sneaking downstairs to hear her parents yell at each other. It was a peaceful, relaxing hole in the universe she could dive into and swim through the nostalgia. The light of the night slipped in from an undisclosed inexplicable source. Blue silver beams whispered around like soft silky lingerie over the white and beige tile and cabinets. Anytime she was awake somewhere that wasn't lit by sunlight or fluorescent yellow bulbs, she felt like she was up early at summer camp, wading alone through the grayness to the dock by the lake. She poured herself a glass of water and drank it and then had a second glass.

Taking her glass of water with her, Alison walked outside into the front lawn. She looked up and down the silent streets and was disturbed by the stillness. She crouched in the front area, set the cup down, and dug a small hole in the earth with her hands. She sighed as the cool moist dirt drifted through her fingers, emptying away at a particular part of the world, gouging into something, extricating the dark filth of it's porous soul, and piling the remnants somewhere else, equally in the way.

When she had a small hole neatly created in the front lawn, Alison squat above it and lowered her pajama pants to her ankles. Balancing herself over the hole, she flexed her thighs, keigels, and bum hole muscles. Shutting her eyes tightly, she grunted and groaned, sucking in air as she strained and pushed. She rocked back and forth, almost losing her place in the world, the existence, the universe. A bat flew into the tree above her making a high pitched screeching noise and knocking a bouquet of leaves belligerently to the ground.

After a few minutes of pressure, Alison let a small bloody mess out of her. Looking up at her without any eyes, it made a screaming noise like a cat being beaten as it fell from her body into the hole. Oozing with blood and shit and goo, it wriggled and bulged against the earth. Kneeling beside the hole, Alison smiled sadly and began to use her hands to bury the mass of sticky globs into the hole. One entombed she patted the dirt clumped on top neatly and reached for her water glass. She took a sip of tepid water and dumped the remnants on the fresh grave, letting the delicious mixture of hydrogen and oxygen satiate the soil.

She lay down and whisper-sang to the ground a song about death and going down in a boat under a waterfall into oblivion and never waking up again. Kissing the dirty gently she leaned back on her heels, sitting in the dew soaked grass. As the sunlight crept it's cold bright fingers over her small city, a green leafy sprout sprung from the ground and a pink flower budded and bloomed into being. Alison plucked the flower, held it in her fingers, and turned her back on the ascending morning.

When Greg came downstairs, Alison had already made a pot of coffee. Still in her pajamas, with her hair messed up and flowing down her shoulders, she was sitting at the table reading her newspaper. On the counter sat a crystal vase with one single newly plucked pink flower.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The ring

Denise sat in the darkened room rubbing her hands against each other repeatedly. Her bedroom was cool and a breeze was reaching in through the window ruffling her hair. She rocked back and forth, sitting on her butt, with her arms crossed tightly over her knees. She rotated back on her heels to the same rhythm as her heart beat, a short punchy staccato. There were sounds of soft conversation, plates being moved around, and occasional abrasive laughter coming from downstairs. Denise rolled her tired deep set eyes and interlocked her scrawny fingers. She rubbed her thumb against the cold hard silver band on her middle ring finger. She slid the ring up and down the stem of her finger a few times, nervously twirling it. She then pulled it off her middle finger and shoved it onto her left ring finger.

"That's not yours," said a low whispery woman's voice. Denise turned and saw a face half lit, half in shadow. One eye peered through the room at Denise, half of a smile curled across thin pale lips.
"Yes it is," Denise whispered to herself. "It's my ring."
The face raised an eyebrow in the white fragmented light. "No, it's not. You stole it."
Denise shuddered and brought the ring up to her cheek. She watched how the light played against it and brought it to her lips.

The room was messy and filled with forgettable things. Denise stood up abruptly and began to pace with short, rapid steps around the room. Denise could hear her husband downstairs with their friends chatting. They were probably giggling about the season of the grapes and the smell it brought out in the cheese. They were probably talking about their children's 1st grade art project like it mattered, like anything mattered, like they liked each other and were not alone and crying and fake and desperate to be noticed, gasping to be real. Her husband was probably flirting with Mrs. Stevens with a confident smile and a hand on her arm, as if to say "I don't think we're all empty, vapid, and utterly alone; I'm not being loud solely to overpower the screaming pit of nothingness inside of me, ha ha ha!" She wondered if they had noticed she was gone. She wondered if they had noticed that she was there at all in the first place. A tingling sensation crept up her arms and legs like millions of invisible and one inch tall Beethovens were playing piano against her skin.

"I know what you did," said the voice.
"I haven't done anything yet," Denise answered.
"Not in this universe, not yet."
"Never, I won't. There is no yet."
"Doesn't matter, you're not that girl anymore. You're not the girl who he gave the ring to. It doesn't belong to you anymore," it said. The voice laughed a cold high laugh, echoing brilliantly throughout the room like a sharp, dazzling diamond. Denise felt her own lips curl up in the thrill and terror of that laugh.

She shivered as she felt microscopic hairs pick up against her spine. She placed her wedding ring inside her warm wet mouth and swallowed it.

"Maybe I never was that girl," Denise said. "Maybe from the start, I was always you."

The mirror image smiled from the shadows at her and Denise waved softly. She felt the millions of spiders inside her stomach come crawling up inside her esophagous and out of her mouth. They covered her face in a dark mask of writhing wriggling black bodies. Their hairy legs criss crossed as they climbed over top of each other, over her cheeks, around her eyes and down her neck. Their spit soaked hairy arachnid limbs brushed the fiber of her t-shirt and they slipped down beneath her shirt into her cleavage, around her warm breasts, past her roles of fat and down her sides. The little black legs swarmed her room and continued to overflow from her frothing mouth. Denise tipped her head back and laughed angrily and bitterly while the spiders blanketed her body.

nothing to wear

Stephanie sat on her bed in her messy room, the red blankets pooling around her thighs. Her computer sat, humming on the bed. Her damp hair hung down her back as she sat in a bra and jeans.

"hey," a chat icon blinked on her gmail. Stephanie leaned over and looked down at the computer.
"Hi Carrie" Stephanie typed back.
"are you ready for your date?" Carrie asked.
Stephanie looked at her half dressed reflection in the mirror.
"what are you going to wear?"
"I don't know..." Stephanie replied. "Clothing?"
"you want to wear something nice that looks cute but doesn't look like you're trying." Carrie typed.
"Okay, so not clothing," Stephanie replied.
"why don't you ask your magic 8 ball?"
"8 balls are so unreliable. I don't believe in that folksy hokey bullshit."
"fine. so ask your head in the drawer." Carrie typed.

Stephanie shook her head in astonishment. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of that. She got up and went to the dresser, her long wavy hair hanging in a damp curtain over her shoulders. She opened the second drawer and peered in tentatively. Inside sat a severed head, blood dried on it's neck stump. It was a woman's head with short hair that Stephanie had to cut every month so it wouldn't get greasy in the drawer.

"Hey, wake up," Stephanie said, knocking her fist against the dresser.

The severed head twitched its facial muscles and opened its bloodshot eyes. It peered up at Stephanie in amazement. The woman's face was pale from being shoved in a drawer all day long, with greasy blackheads on it's nose and blemishes on its chin. It opened its chapped lips and gaped for air.

"Mistress Stephanie!" the head called in a high pitched strained voice, its wide eyes reverberating in the wooden drawer.
"Yeah, um, hey, head," Stephanie said.
"Please help me!" it screamed.
"Me help you?" Stephanie asked. "Listen, head, what do you think your job is here anyway?"
"Job?" gasped the head, tears streaming down wavering cheeks.
"Yeah, you're here, to help me! You're my advice head. So listen, I need to look cute tonight on a date, got any suggestions?"
"You're going on a date?" the head cried. "What? No... I... I am severed from my body! I'm trying to move my hands right now, nothing!"
"Okay so um, I'm thinking like a dress but a casual one, something cute and fun that says 'I'm-so-laid-back-that-I'm-not-that-into-you-but-subsequently-I'm-the-type-of-girl-you're-totally-into' but you know, not in a slutty way," Stephanie said. "Like Natalie Portman I think."
"What? You look nothing like her," the head said.
"Wow, why are you such a bitch?"
"Why am I such a bitch?" screamed the head. "Maybe it's because I don't know where my body is! How am I alive? How am I doing any of this? Please, Stephanie, I beg you, just kill me. Put me out of my misery!"
Stephanie slammed the drawer shut.
"What a waste of time," she said.

Stephanie looked at her watch for a second and went to grab her phone, wallet and keys. She opened the apartment front door and found her neighbor's 6 year old daughter standing in the hallway with her backpack. The little kid let out a short sharp angry scream and Stephanie remembered she wasn't wearing a shirt. She quickly fell backwards inside and grabbed a sweater to throw over her shoulders.

She only had about an hour before her date so Stephanie rushed to the mall, pushing past young happy people slurping giant sodas to fill the empty void inside of them. She saw a young woman in fashionable attire and began to follow her around the mall. When the girl turned around and looked at her, Stephanie grinned a big toothy grin.

"Hey!" Stephanie said.
"Are you talking to me?" the girl replied in a high voice, looking over her shoulder.
"Well I'm not singing to you!" Stephanie yelped with a smug giggle.
"Do I know you?"
"Listen, girly, my date is in about 42 minutes! We don't have a lot of time."
"I don't understand."
"Make me a dress!" Stephanie squealed.
"What? Why don't you buy a dress? I can't make them."
"I can't go like this," Stephanie said. She pulled a tiny ball of spaghetti and a needle from her pocket and handed it to the girl. "You better get sewing."
The girl looked at the tools and shook her head. "I'm not doing that."
"Make me one, Rumplestitskin, or I'll chop off your head and put it in a drawer!"

"Excuse me, miss?" said a deep voice. Stephanie whirled around and saw a police officer watching her.
"You're excused," she replied.
"You're going to have to come with me," he said. "Now put your hands out."
"John, Jacob, Jingleheimer Smith!" Stephanie screamed at the top of her lungs. She burst into dance. "That's my name too!"
"Maam, I..."
"You don't like that song?" she said.
"No, I like it," he said.
"Oh you do, don't you? Jingleheimer sounds nazi-esque! I knew it!"
"Knew what? Wait, you have the right to..."
"Whenever we go out!"

An hour later the police officer shoved the singing and dancing girl into a jail cell. Stephanie stumbled and caught her balance as he locked the gate. She brushed imaginary dust off the sides of her arms and her shoulders. Sauntering over to the corner of the cell, she looked into the next door criminal's room and made eye contact.

"Hey," she said.
"Hi, Stephanie," he said.
"You look nice."
"Thank you, so do you."
Stephanie beamed and blushed, looking down.
"I'm so glad we could do this," she said.
"Yeah, thank you so much for meeting me," he replied.
"Of course! I wouldn't miss our first date for anything."