I’ve been on the road, trying to keep up with reading, working on poems and stories for publication and ringing in a new year with family and friends. Hope everyone had a happy holiday, or at least walked away with some good stories (ideally both).
My poem Lab Art of a Half-Life has been published in the Winter 2017 issue of Gyroscope Review! The issue is available online, and I am thrilled to be included among such a talented group.
I’ve been a slacker for several weeks now. Of course, I blame the holidays, but I’ve narrowed down a list of 5 things in particular that kept me from a proper writing schedule:
Christmas lights. These sap-ridden hellions will turn you into a human lint roller, cripple your hands and drive you mad. My job is to take down the tree lights, and every year it’s like wrestling an electrical green cobra. I always make sure the kids are in school so they remain blissfully unaware of my raging hatred for them. This year I was choking the tree to get the lights off when it fell on top of me, in what would be the most comical non-filmed Hollywood blockbuster moment. I suppose I deserved it, but now I reek like a cabby pine freshener with bits of candy cane and glitter stuck to me.
Trump. This might seem like a stretch, but I’m exhausted by all the holiday political talk. If he really wants to make America great again, he’d deport himself to a remote island and stop making America — a nation built on the strength of immigrants — look like ass clowns to the rest of the world. I mean, he made an awesome Halloween costume and even made SNL comical again, but when will this man’s ego run out of steam? He’s like Veruca Salt in Willie Wonka demanding an Oompa Loompa. It’s time for him to go down the garbage chute with all the other entitled children.
Travel. The effort it takes to see both sides of our families is a path riddled with delays and shin damage from no legroom and the seat reclining in front of me. I tried editing only to be distracted by my tray-table lap dance, which sounds sexy but really just involves staring at a man’s thinning hair follicles shimmy in frustration. Reclining fully is called first class, dude. You gotta pay for iiiiiitttt……
No sleep. For the last two weeks I’ve either woken up hung-over, due to family obligations to party like it was 1999 when I was a 20-something rock star, or not knowing where I was, due to sleeping in a twin bed built for a 10-year-old.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That’s right. We nerds have been busy seeing this movie enough times to pass as clones. My daughter, in particular, took advantage of my glowing approval that there’s finally an ass-kicking hero who isn’t a boy or a man. But I’m starting to have my limits. We saw it opening night in a crappy theater, then she proceeded to see it the next day, in a theater with stadium seats, in a theater with reclining seats, in 3-D, in 3-D and reclining seats, in IMAX, in IMAX where apparently food and beverages are served, etc. I love Rey. She loves Rey. We all agree, Star Wars is great again without Daddy Lucas crashing the party, but I’m broke and I need to get back to my own story before I start dreaming about Harrison Ford, or more likely, Chewy. …Oh, Chewy, you’re the ultimate snuggie.
Hope everyone is recovering nicely and off to a good start! Thanks for making 2015 a rewarding year in blogging.
It’s official — I’m a tree killer. I’ve bought enough reams of paper at my local Staples to call attention to myself. Here’s a picture of the recently deceased, right next to my THE BOSS mug, given to me to claim my matriarchal post.
So at Staples the other day the salesclerk asks me, “Back for another ream of paper?”
Why he recognizes me, I don’t know. It’s not like I’m walking into Staples with my BOSS mug. But he does and he calls me out on my tree killing and my need to edit on paper or I’ll miss everything. I don’t tell him my toner was low and I just printed out 237 worthless pages of my manuscript before noticing I couldn’t read the middle section of each page, turning my novel into a Mad Lib; and that my 7-year-old painted suns and rainbows on the rest of the sheets.
“What are you? Writing a novel?” he asks.
Ugh, anything but that. I’ve written whole posts on how I prefer outlandish lies over admitting writerly pursuits. (Even Grammarly is not accepting my word “writerly”. It’s giving it the red, middle finger.) Just a month ago I told someone I was a pole dancer in my spare time. It didn’t go well. Apparently it wasn’t a suitable, made up profession for a wedding conversation. My husband dove in before I could elaborate, “She won’t admit it, but she’s a writer,” he said, slipping it in while maintaining his own appropriate “nice weather” conversation. Then he set me up for a whole bunch of crappy questions he knows I hate answering.
“No,” I lied still.”I just have a lot of crap to print out.”
“Wow. But I just sold you a ream yesterday.”
I really wanted to ask him where the duct tape was, or if they have a mug making station so I could update my philosophy to DON’T QUESTION THE QUEEN. But he starts telling me to buy a case of paper and then use the mail-in rebate to save $20. He’s about to send me off on a rant about how I hate mail-in rebates, surveys and loyalty cards – i.e. busywork, which is my true profession. So I drop the brick of paper at his cashier station.
“Your loyalty card?”
“I don’t have one.”
“If you sign up today you can save .35 cents. . .”
“For .35 cents I’m not loyal. In fact, I’d be cheating all over town for a better deal and more convenience.”
He’s not sure if I’m messing with him. I know the look well. Smartasses receive it ten times a day. But I’m totally messing with him and he gives me a half-smile.
“You’re messing with me.”
“Indeed, I am.”
“You’re writing a book or something, aren’t you?”
“No,” I say, pretty impressed with his gumption, but I can’t be out-gumped. “I’m just a boss. And I got a mug at home to prove it. Bosses have a lot of rules to print out.”
He shakes his head and laughs. “You need any stocking stuffers? Chargers? Plug-ins?“
“Absolutely not. I plan to have a wireless Christmas. No wires. Nothing electronic. No recording my daily steps, breathing, heart rate, manuscript rejections, the miles I run, the times I complain, the number of singalongs to Santa Baby in my best floozy voice.”
This happens every holiday season. I am always one step away from prepper in a cabin. Nobody better get me Ted Koppel’s book Lights Out for Christmasor there’ll be a peanut butter shortage.
“Receipt with you, or in the bag?”
“Neither,” I say, grabbing my single ream of paper. I’m half way out the door when I realize I forgot to get a new toner cartridge, which is like $70. I should have just bought a new printer.
So then I spend the next half an hour filling out my loyalty form, selling my pride, which was around a $10 savings (not bad), when I notice my cell phone is almost dead.
“Throw in a car charger, too,” I add while Santa Baby starts playing in the background.
There are only two seasons in the Valley of the Sun–hot and Bruno Mars hot–thus I have come to rely on marketing cues for seasonal changes. Fall arrives when the barrage of pumpkin-flavored products hit the shelves, so you can eat, bake, lick, and snort yourself into a Thanksgiving Day coma a month before and after the holiday.
Likewise, when I begin to hear “Well, the weather outside is frightening…” and it’s 75 and sunny, I know winter is approaching north of where I stand and Christmas season will be upon us. The local sign holder on the corner will be forced to wear a Santa costume, stumbling around in the blazing heat like broke Winthrop in Trading Places, waving an ad that reads: Yee-Haw!Hot Tubs for Sale at Blizzard Prices! And The Salvation Army will be ringing their bells outside of a Walgreens as I stop to purchase my $5.99 sunglasses that will inevitable end up in some bathroom stall, right atop of the toilet paper dispenser in my attempt to correct the underhand rotation. Over the top, people!
So 2014 was the year my 6-year-old decided to question the man in red as he appeared in three different locations with various beard lengths, weight gain, sobriety and distinct aromas of beef and cheese. Santa helpers, I always reply. I admit, during Christmas I sit on a throne of lies, trying to keep track of the web I have woven so that she may enjoy a few more years of blissful make-believe. I am the catcher in the rye, positioning these damn elves on the shelves in clever little hiding spots trying not to make eye contact because you’ll swear their eyes are shifting. Total creepers, they are.
But Christmas is over and now that the remote control helicopters have all crashed and burned and the newly minted Barbie has been stripped of her Vegas clothes and lays naked in her plastic penthouse sipping cocktails next to a headless Ken, I’m able to pry open my laptop and reflect on events, and list some necessary changes for the New Year.
Do more of this: write, write, write.
Less of this: bitch, bitch, bitch.
Yell more of this: You can do this!
Yell less of this: Pull your freakin’ car over you lunatic and learn how to drive!
Tell my son more of this: I know your disgruntled disposition is due to fluctuating hormones typical in adolescent, teenage boys and I understand.
Tell my son less of this: Somewhere there is a kid in China that would love your first world problems.
Laugh at this: New Yorker cartoons.
Laugh less at this: Look! There goes the Steamin’ Weenie food van! AAAAhh-haaa-haaa!
Cook more of this: green stuff.
Cook less of this: brown stuff.
Happy New Year’s, and may all your resolutions be obtainable with an app!